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serted that the Church of England rejects tradition by her sixth article of religion ", when it is manifest that her object is simply to maintain the necessity of scriptural proof for articles of faith; while our canons, our ritual, and the whole body of our theologians, have so notoriously upheld the authority of tradition, that it is a subject of unmeasured complaint on the part of those who disbelieve the doctrines of the church
The nature of these various arguments testifies sufficiently that the doctrine of the universal church is opposed to those who employ them. It could be nothing but a feeling of despair on this point, which could have induced men to resort to perpetual misrepresentation, to false pretences, and to untruths. ployment of these weapons by all sects, in order to prevent any appeal to universal tradition, proves two points. First, as the sole fundamental principle on which they all agree is, the rejection of an appeal to the doctrine of the church as a check on the interpre
gustine, &c. of holding Arian own, that its divines have been sentiments. Maldonatus charges apt on all occasions, to join the Chrysostom with Pelagianism.- authority of the primitive church See many instances collected by to that of sacred writ; to supply Crakanthorp, Logicæ, lib. v. cap. doctrines from the ancient counxvi. Reg. xix. p. 340. See also Mr. cils, on which the scriptures are Newman's valuable observations, either silent or thought defective, Lectures on Romanism.p.59—99. to add the holy fathers to the
• Whitby, Dissert. p. 4. college of the apostles; and by
• I have already (Part II. Chap. ascribing the same gist and powers VI.) cited the words of Walchius to them both, to advance the priand of Blackburn. Middleton, the mitive traditions to a parity with author of the True Enquiry, who apostolic precepts."— True Enresolved the Mosaic account of quiry, Introduct.p.xcviii. He then the fall of man into a fable, and traces the prevalence of this evil is supposed to have been an in- principle in the reigns of Henry fidel, says, "Though this doctrine VIII., Edward VI., Mary, (wheu of the sufficiency of the scriptures Cranmer and Ridley unhappily be generally professed through all appealed to it) Elizabeth, James, the Reformed churches, yet it has Charles, &c. Page xli, he comhappened, I know not how, in our plains of the prejudice in favour
tation of scripture, and the assertion of an unlimited right of private interpretation; this principle is the source of all their divisions and contradictions, and therefore must be radically false. Secondly, the doctrine of the universal church from the beginning must condemn that of all modern sects, in every point in which they differ from our catholic and apostolic churches; and therefore on every such point they are in error and misinterpret scripture, and the church is in the right.
But what if two opposite parties both appeal to primitive tradition as in their favour? Some of the Unitarians, &c. do so. I answer that they appeal to some insignificant sect of heretics which the universal church rejected, and which utterly perished many ages ago P. They accuse the great body of christians from the beginning of the grossest errors, and do not appeal to their doctrine; or if they do occasionally cite some of the early fathers, they take care to assure us at the same time that they have no respect for their authority? With regard to controversies between the
of primitive antiquity which pre- tended to tradition in favour of vails in this protestant country.' their errors, but when they were
P See Waterland on the Im- asked whether they would admit portance of the Doctrine of the the common doctrine of the anTrinity, Works, vol. v. p. 327. cients, and be concluded by it, The Ebionites were rejected as they refused the trial — Socrat. heretics.-See Bull's “ Primitiva Hist. Eccl. v. 10; Sozom. vii. and Apostolica Traditio.” The 12; see Waterland ut supra, p. ancient heretics Basilides, Valen- 323–325. As for the modern tinus, the Marcionites, pretended Arians and Socinians, Whiston, to a private tradition contrary to Clarke, Whitby, Hoadly, &c. that of the catholic church. The they either rejected and despised Artemonians pretended that their the writings of the fathers, or doctrine had been formerly held else admitted them only partially, by the church, though it had been rejecting such writers as they long ago condemned and exe- pleased.-See Waterland ut sucrated by all christians. The pra, p. 327, 328. Arians too and Macedonians pre- 9 It is related of Biddle the churches of England and Rome, it may be observed, that while both parties appeal with equal confidence to catholic tradition, the former usually prefer to limit the appeal to the earlier centuries, while the latter are anxious to introduce the testimonies of later times. The natural inference is, that our doctrines have more support from the earlier tradition, and the Roman opinions from that of subsequent ages; that neither are without support from tradition; that the differences are not concerning matters of faith or things necessary to salvation; and therefore that we are perfectly secure in following the doctrines and practice of our own churches, and Romanists were not justified in separating from them!
These are conclusions which may be drawn from facts, by those who are themselves unable to examine the monuments of catholic tradition. The more learned will of course know from actual investigation, that the faith of the universal church which we maintain, is supported by universal tradition.
founder of the English Socinians, the first two centuries, not that that "he gave the holy scriptures he regarded them himself, but a diligent reading; and made use “ for the sake of the adversaries of no other rule to determine con- who continually crake, the fathers, troversies about religion than the the fathers."-Life by Toulmin, scriptures, and of no other au- amongst the Unitarian Tracts. thentic interpreter, if a scruple See Part II. Chapters II. and arose concerning the sense of IX, where it is shown that the scripture, than reason.” After- Romanists separated from our wards, indeed, it is said that he orthodox churches. adduced some of the fathers of
ON TRADITIONS OF RITES AND DISCIPLINE.
TRADITION is sometimes used in the sense of "custom" or “practice,” as in the thirty-fourth Article: “It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one and utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's word.” This leads me to consider the rules for determining what traditions of the church are lawful and changeable, and for discriminating them from those which are unchangeable and necessary.
THE MODE IN WHICH ALL THINGS LAWFUL ARE CONTAINED
The Puritans, and many of the more modern sectaries, have asserted that no rites or discipline can be lawful for Christians, except those which are expressed in scripture; and for this reason objected to several traditions which our churches have received from the remotest ages; as the use of sponsors, the sign of the cross, the ministerial vestments, the offices of archbishop, dean, chancellor, &c. These were according to them unlawful, because they were not mentioned in scripture ‘. Hooker has argued well against this principle in his second and third books. The church has always admitted, that rites and discipline which can be proved contrary to scripture, directly or indirectly, are unlawful: the Article above-cited, and the twentieth, both recognize this principle. The latter says that the church “ought not to decree any thing against scripture.” We also admit that some general principles are laid down in scripture, from which every thing that is lawful may be justified. The question then is, whether every thing that is simply lawful in worship and discipline must be ex. pressly mentioned in scripture. This I deny for the following reasons.
1. There is no assertion to that effect in scripture itself, as will be seen in the answers to objections.
2. Every thing is lawful which is not forbidden by the law; which is not contrary to the law: as the scripture says, "Where no law is, there is no transgression. “Sin is the transgression of the law." Therefore whatever is not directly or indirectly contrary to the divine law of scripture is lawful.
3. The scripture lays down certain general rules for the guidance of the church in regulating externals: such as, “Let all things be done decently and in orderd.” “Let all things be done unto edifying . “ Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God'.” “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church 3.” Therefore the scripture
• See the objections of the Puritans in Hooker, and those of the modern dissenters in Towgood on dissent.
b Rom. iv. i5.
1 John iii. 4.
1 Cor. xiv. 40.