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true Protestant loyalty to Scripture, that even in this matter, in which we and your deep reverence of the Holy seem, on a superficial view, to be restSpirit speaking there, will induce you ing on Tradition as an authority, we to turn from such offensive parallels are throughout looking to the authowith disgust.
rity of Scripture. “ We are sometimes told, too, that *. There is no irreverence, or want if we reject the authority of Tradition, of faith, it should be observed, in rewe must reject with it our grounds for fusing to acknowledge any thing to be acknowledging the Canon of Scripture, equally binding on your faith and acas also for holding several particular ceptance, which has not an equal eviarticles of our Religion,--for example, dence of its authenticity and divinity Infant-Baptism. I need scarcely ob- with Scripture. You must not be serve to you, that this head of objec- deterred therefore by arguments ad tion has been very fully considered and verecundiam-by reproaches of increrefuted by several of our older divines, dulity—by taunts of your setting up in their controversies with Romanists. private judgment against the judgment It may be enough to refer you to the of God declared by the Church. You answer of Bishop Taylor in bis Dis- ask only for the authority of Tradisuasive from Popery. The objection tion, the like evidence to that on which turns on a confusion between Autho- you receive Scripture. The point at rity and Testimony. Certainly the issue is, that the evidence is not the Canon of Scripture is established by same in kind. It is no question of the Tradition; if by Tradition we mean right of private judgment, in contradisthe constant testimony of the Church. tinction to that of the many, and the But this testimony gives no Divine wise, and the gifted. You ask only a authority to the truths contained in corresponding public universal judgthe Canon. Their divine authority is ment on the case of Tradition, to that a doctrine derived from the internal which you bave for the direction of evidence of it in the books themselves, your private judgment in regard to as other doctrines are ; that is, from Scripture. You believe what God has the express attestation of the sacred said in Scripture, because it has Scriptext to its own inspiration, and the ture-evidence for it; being assured that miracles and other marks of divinity unless you believe' you cannot be accompanying this attestation. As for established in the truth; for that Infant-Baptism ; we know that the there is no knowing any thing of God grace of Baptism is a doctrine of Scrip- but by commencing with believing ture; and that our Lord's command to Him. But you believe Scripture, bebaptize, is in Scripture: and, conse- cause you have full and distinct evi. quently, that the general necessity of dence to its authenticity and its divibaptism is also a doctrine of Scripture. nity. Let Tradition be in like manner But these points being established, it is authenticated and proved divine, and clear that we may be guided, in the you will then as readily believe the administration of Baptism to indivi. word of God so conveyed, if it be duals at this or that time of life, by the indeed such, as you now believe His practice existing in primitive times ; written word. provided we do not prescribe any par- “I do not advert here to the disticular period not prescribed in Scrip- tinction between oral and written ture, as necessary and indispensable to teaching, because, in point of fact, the the due reception of the sacrament, distinction does not exist now. All nor enjoin any thing inconsistent with Traditions are now written. For, as the Scriptural institution of it. Now Bellarmine points out, a tradition differs our Church has not laid itself open to only from a scripture in the circumthese objections. It has left the ques- stance of not being written by the tion of the time of administering Bap- first author of it.' The controversy tism as open as Scripture has left it; then is actually between the Bible and and it does not therefore go beyond the statements of Fathers and Councils. the text of Scripture, nor require, con- To argue your incredulity, therefore, sequently, authority from any other in rejecting the authority of Tradition, source for what it does in this respect. it must be shewn that the statements It simply enjoins, that we should not of Fathers and Councils, are no less depart from an usage in the Church in divine and no less authentic than regard to infants, because that usage is Scripture. most agreeable to the institution of "Nor is it necessary to dwell on Christ. Whether the baptism of in- the distinction of Tradition into Dogfants be agreeable, or no, to the insti. matic and Hermeneutic. It is not tution of Christ, is a point which material to the argument now in hand. Scripture alone is able to attest. So For it is against imputing a Divine authority to any Traditions whatever stated it, “the word unwritten in the that I am contending. I may remark, Scriptures.' We are referred, in proof however, that though a Tradition of of this view, to the indirect manner of interpretations is apparently more con- Scripture,—to the mere hints and allusistent with the assertion of the doc- sions by which often the highest doctrinal sufficiency of Scripture, it still trines are intimated. It is argued, as really impairs that sufficiency, if that this indirectness and incompletesuch interpretations be regarded as ness of form in Scripture, point to positively fixing the sense of Scripture. some more direct and systematic teachThe supposed authoritative interpreta- ing as its exposition and supplement. tions would in that case be the proper This view evidently coincides with revelation; and Scripture would be that before stated, which assigns to but subordinate and instrumental to the Church the prerogative of being the conveyance of the Truth, instead the authoritative source of doctrine, of being itself the direct conveyance of whilst virtually it makes Scripture a the Truth. Further, a system of dead letter apart from the vivifying Divine Traditive Interpretations re- comment of the human teacher, and duces itself to an infinite series; and thus concedes to the Romanist all that is consequently of no practical use. he desires. But such a statement of For, suppose a doubt to arise about Tradition is more likely to insinuate the meaning of a given interpretation; itself into the minds of Protestants, how is that to be solved but by because it maintains in sound the sufanother interpretation of the interpre- ficiency of Scripture; the whole that tation itself, and so on without end? is thus represented as taught by the The only method by which a stop can Church being stated to be contained in be put to this infinite series, is, the Scripture. But what sort of sufficiency interposition of a decisive authority,- is this? Is it a sufficiency to salvation an authority without appeal,-at some in Scripture itself, as asserted in our point. And whether with the Church sixth article ? Quite otherwise. It of Rome we fix that point in the deci- is a sufficiency only for the purpose of sions of the present Church, or in those the authorized teacher. It makes the of the early centuries, we must equally Bible the book of the minister of reliassert a divine authority of Tradition gion, a revelation to the priest,—and at that point. Indeed, the method not the hand-book, as it is, of every adopted by the Church of Rome is the man that has an ear to hear, and a soul only consistent way of getting out of to be refreshed by its living word. the perplexity of the intinite series of And in what way can any thing be traditive interpretations. For those said to be contained in a book which is who would fix the limit,-say of the actually supplied from without ? That Fourth century,—require us in fact to a doctrine is indirectly stated, or only take their interpretations of the doc- alluded to, in some passages of Scriptrines of that century, as authorities ture, instead of being formally stated, without appeal, and consequently as is no proof of its not being sufficiently divine. They virtually agree with the stated in Scripture at large. By putChurch of Rome as to the principle of ting together a number of hints or Tradition. Only they will not let the indirect statements, and interpreting Church of Rome speak for them, but them according to the analogy of they must themselves speak in the faith,' a strong direct proof results of name of the Church. At the same every doctrine of our faith. And time they would relieve themselves of though, as I have said, we are provithe invidiousness of declaring the divine dentially guided beforehand to a knowtruth on their own authority, by throw. ledge of the leading articles of our ing back their decisions on the Church faith, this is no prejudice to our asserof former ages, and overshadowing tion, that on examination of Scripture, them with the name and awe of anti- we trace them all as evidently written quity.
in its pages, though not everywhere in • There is, however, a still more full and express terms, or such as oblige subtile view of the nature of Tradition a man to admit the truths whether he which I must notice. It is that which will or no. But this indirectness of represents it in close and immediate the language of Scripture has been connection with Scripture,-as the greatly exaggerated. From the way supplement of Scripture,--as a full ex. in which the indirectness of Scripturepression of what is covertly contained teaching is sometimes put forward by in Scripture,-or, as a Roman Catholic the advocates of the authority of Trawriter, (cited by Bishop Marsh, in his dition, one might really suppose that Comparative View of the Churches of Scripture was written in cipher, or in England and Rome, c. 7, p. 154) has dark and mystic hieroglyphics ; or that it was merely a suggestive treatise illustration of the weakness and like some of the writings of the philo- waywardness of man's fallen and sophers of old, designed only for the master eye and master hand. Í he truth grovelling nature. But still more is, indeed, that Scripture is written extraordinary is it that our new
--that there are mystics should affect to ground secrets in it which are not read by their notion upon Scripture; whereevery vain intruder into its sanctuary. Still it is open to all ; 'the word is as the very passages which they very nigh' unto us; and the know- quote refutes them. Thus when ledge which is hidden from the wise our Lord declares, “I have yet and prudent, from the conceited, and
many things to say to you, but the curious, and the carnal, will be revealed to babes,'_to those that seek ye cannot bear them now;" he it in simplicity of faith, content with adds, “ Howbeit when the Spirit that evidence whch is adapted to of Truth is come, he will guide their nature and state of trial in the
you into all truth;" but so far world."
from this leading to the inference We have allowed ourselves to that there is still a body of floatgo on extracting at great length, ing spiritual instruction not rebecause the matter contained in corded in the Scriptures ; it these passages ably disposes of teaches us to look to the writings the chief arguments employed to of the Apostles for the additional vindicate authoritative tradition; truths into which they were to be and deserves to be carefully guided; their writings being exweighed and treasured up, to pressly intended to complete the meet the current sophistries upon canon of Revelation.
And so the subject.
also when St. Paul speaks to the Dr. Hampden has an excellent Corinthians, or Thessalonians, or passage upon the justly obsolete to Timothy, of remembering and and exploded “ Discipline of the holding fast what had been deliverSecret,” which our new mystics ed to them, he is obviously referring are attempting to revive, making to those very facts and doctrines the atonement itself an esoteric which were gradually embodied in doctrine to be disclosed only with Holy Writ, expressly that they caution, and to the duly initiated. might not be traditive, and thereThat some of the Fathers who had fore local and liable to corruption, passed their earlier days under but might be indelibly engraved the debasing influences of Pa- for preservation and universal ganism, and who, though they re- extension. ceived the Gospel to their souls' Upon the “Discipline of the health and salvation, never wholly Secret” Dr. Hampden says: shook off the trammels of super
“ That this method of reserve was stition, should have endeavoured adopted by Christian teachers in the to mix up an uncongenial spirit of early ages, is abundantly evident from mysticism with the simplicity of the writings of Clement of Alexandria. the faith of Christ, is not wonder- But it does not require much argument
to shew, that it obtains no countenance ful; it was indeed rather to be from the language or Spirit of Scripture. expected, and to be reckoned The Gospel indeed is full of mystery at among the many things which every point ; but it is not mystic in its render those erring, though holy, address to the world, or its mode of
By it, the Lord has men very doubtful and often fal- destroyed the face of the covering lacious guides. But that any , cast over all people, and the veil that man who has enjoyed the privi- was spread over all nations,' and relege of a sound Scriptural Protes
vealed the mystery of the common
salvation, that had before been hidden. tant education should incline to
Its system certainly was gradually unsuch fantasies, is a deplorable folded to the Christian disciple in the “ I charge
“ Before many
progress of his education under it; as advocates of tradition take their chief it was to the Apostles themselves by stand.)— What,' says Tertullian, is our Lord. But we cannot justly con- this secret deposit, that it should be strue this gradual method into a mystic ascribed to another teaching ? Did it economy of Divine truth itself -- or a belong to that charge, concerning which twofold system of religious teaching,- he says, “this charge I commend unto the one for the vulgar and the unini. thee, son Timothy;" to that precept tiated, the latter for the proficient- again, about which he says, the one written for all to read, the thee, in the sight of God, who quickother borne along on the lips of the eneth all things, and before Jesus priest, and reluctantly communicated Christ, who before Pontius Pilate witeven to the faithful. Nor do the texts nessed a good confession, that thou of Scripture usually appealed to in re- keep the commandment.” What then ference to this point, suffice for the was the commandment? what the purpose. It would take us far too long charge ? It will be understood from to examine them in detail. They have, what is written both before and after ; however, been repeatedly discussed by not that by this expression some covert Protestant writers, and their inconclu- allusion is made to a more remote docsiveness, as evidences of a doctrine of trine, but it is rather inculcated, that secret Tradition, has been amply de- no other should be admitted beside that monstrated.
which he had heard from himself, and, “ I will only remark, in reference to as I think, openly. such appeals to Scripture, that, even if witnesses,” he says.
Who these many they did apply to tradition, in the modern
if they will not undersense of the term, they would not prove stand by them the Church, matters not tradition to be a distinct divine autho- at all; since nothing could have been rity. The very attempt to establish a secret which was produced before many theory of tradition by Scripture-evi. witnesses, &c.” dence neutralizes itself; since it vir- “No testimony accordingly can be tually ascribes the superior authority to stronger than Tertullian's, against the the source from which it seeks to esta notion of tradition being the channel of blish the theory. And if the existence secret doctrine latent under the text of and importance of tradition are to be Scripture ; whilst he sets forth the real proved from Scripture, why, we may importance of tradition, in the simple ask, should less evidence than Scripture sense of a continuous regular delivery be admitted for the traditions them- of Christianity with its sacred docuselves, the particular doctrines sup- ments." posed to be conveyed by tradition. But It will be seen from this passage in fact it is idle to attempt to prove the that while Dr. Hampden has apdivinity of tradition generally, apart from the particular doctrines of which pealed primarily, and, as proof, it is made up. Would we prove there- exclusively, to Holy Writ, he has fore that tradition is recognized in not found it necessary to shrink Scripture as authoritative, if we would from the contest even as respects prove anything to the purpose, we must prove that each traditional doc- the writings of the Fathers, which trine has Scripture evidence for it, and are the chief resort both of the thus acknowledge, by our very process Romanists and the Oxford Tracts of proof, that Scripture is our only existing divine source of truth.”
to prove the authority of tradition. “ Among the Fathers, Tertullian,
He prosecutes this portion of his in particular, is explicit in denying the argument at some length. For doctrine now so closely connected with the particulars we must refer the the notion of tradition, the theory of reader to his pages; the summing a reservation of truths,- of a collec
up is as follows: tion of sayings consigned, not to writing, but to the lips of the Apostles and their “Upon the whole, if the various successors. He denies that the Apos- statements of the Fathers on the subtles concealed any thing from the faith- ject be duly examined, and tested by the ful, as the heretics pretended. • They occasions to which they refer, they will will have it,' he says, that the Apos- be found to amount to strong testimonies tles committed some things secretly, to the use of tradition as an accessory to and to a few, because even Paul used Scripture, but far from proofs of the this expression to Timothy—“O Timc- existence of a body of doctrines, or of thy, keep the deposit " and again, authoritative interpretations of Scrip“ Keep the good deposit."-(Observe, ture, supplementary to Scripture, and how these are the very texts on which of higher authority than Scripture (as
some represent it), inasmuch as there is the Christian as the ground of his conconceived to be no appeal beyond it fidence,-as his oracle of faith, but from the sacred text."
only the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; We conclude our citations with
even as our Lord himself said, Call no
man your Father upon the earth, for the following solemn warning: - one is your Father, which is in heaven;
“We may take warning from the his. neither be ye called Masters, for one is tory of the case in the Church of Rome, your Master, even Christ.'. But where how we outstep the soberness and mo- does Christ speak to us with His own desty of our Church, in our veneration of voice, where does the Holy Spirit antiquity, and our zeal for the mainte. Himself show us the things of Christ, nance of the Apostolical, rather than but in the lively oracles of Scripture? the Scriptural, character of our Church. The words which Christ speaks to us Doubtless we are quite right in this there, they are spirit, and they are life; veneration, and this zeal. But, for that and by them, whether as a Church or very reason, we should watch more as individuals, we shall be judged in the strictly the tendency in our nature to last day.” carry them to the extreme; and espe- We will only add that we cially in such a case as that of our own Church, where we justly feel that we
greatly rejoice to re-echo this can throw ourselves, with perfect con
earnest and Scriptural appeal from fidence, on the testimony of the purest the chief divinity chair of Oxford. ages of the Gospel, and cite the primitive confessors and martyrs as our own We had written thus far, when fathers in the faith. We must remember, above all, in the midst of these
we opened a little publication enour just claims to apostolic descent, tiled “ The Listener in Oxford,” that we are a living Church only as we by the author of “ Christ our Exhold to the foundation,- -as we are built ample," “ The Listener," &c., who up, a spiritual house on Jesus Christ; is best known to the public as a as living stones, fitly framed and joined together in him by the Spirit. it will writerby heroriginal name of Caronot avail us, that we are followers of line Fry. She had probably finished Paul or Cephas, bright as their exam- her Oxford listenings before Dr. ple is of Christian faith and Christian holiness :—but it is because we are of Hampden's lecture was delivered ; Christ, because we look to Him crucis otherwise she might have heard fied, and trust in His name only, that much that was well worth listenwe have hope of eternal life.
ing to. We are unwilling to add “ If any man profited in the school of to the length of the present paper, human interpretation and traditive comment, it was St. Paul. But though he or to break its unity, by connecthad thence profited above all in the ing any second performance with Jews' religion, and was learned in all that of a Regius Professor's prethe wisdom of their doctors and scribes; lection ; but those who prefer the mystic wisdom, he knew not God, and lively popular style of a lady's accounted himself foolish, that he might writing, to the severer arguments receive the truth, as it is in Jesus, in of an academical address, will find, simplicity of faith and love. He would in these listenings and reportings, not have us place the disciple above the
and instruct master, by such a deference to Apos- much to interest tolic names and Apostolic teachings, as
them, The reasoning, though throws into the shade the supremacy of conducted in a somewhat skirthe authority of the Bible. • Be fol. lowers of me," he says indeed, but he mishing manner, is often very immediately subjoins, even as I am of effective. The writer makes good Christ. Only remember, too, with use of her intimate acquaintance what earnestness he asks his Corinthian with Scripture, and her practical sons in the faith, Is Christ divided ? knowledge of the human heart, was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" He and the phases of what is called would have a Christian Church walk “ the religious world ;" though after the example of the Apostles ; but her writing would be improved if he would have them know, that there
it were less desultory, and, we may is but one great example of life and doc. trine proposed to all,--that no man's add, less tart; for she certainly name or authority must be set up to does not scruple sometimes to