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versal church has always practised. All other forms and ceremonies concerning these sacraments are variable.
Secondly, any rites which may be traced in scripture as means of grace, and which the whole church appears evidently to have received from the apostles, cannot be considered as changeable by the church, for it is to be presumed that such rites were instituted by the Holy Ghost for the whole church. Why otherwise should the apostles have ordained them everywhere? Such are confirmation, ordination, episcopacy, matrimony, reading of scripture in the church, absolution, administration of the eucharist in both kinds, the observance of the Lord's day, &c. These are customs and rites, which cannot without extreme rashness and danger be changed or omitted; and which, if neglected at any time ought to be restored again.
Thirdly, if any rite mentioned in scripture was not given as a means of grace, or appears plainly either not to have been delivered in all churches by the apostles, or to have been generally held non-essential and changeable in primitive times, then it must be regarded as designed only for temporary purposes, and only enacted by the authority of some apostles as chief ministers of the church, and not by all the apostles under the express direction of the Holy Ghost. For had it been designed for the whole church, it would have been universally received by the church. Hence we may infer that the feasts of charity, the kiss of peace, the wearing of long hair, the order of deaconnesses, as not being connected with grace; and the unction of the sick, as not universally received ", were changeable rites.
* The first writer who clearly is Innocentius, bishop of Rome, mentions this rite as customary who lived in the fifth century : Fourthly, if any rite or discipline be not traceable in scripture, it cannot be essential or invariable; for it is not credible that scripture, which contains some rites that are changeable, should omit all mention of what was unchangeable. Therefore all rites which are supported by ancient tradition only, might be omitted by the church for special reasons. Such are trine immersion in 'baptism, the administration of the eucharist to infants, the mixture of water with wine in the eucharist, the use of leavened or unleavened bread in the same, prayers for the saints who are at rest, the time of keeping Easter, the fast of Lent*.
Fifthly, still more may those rites and disciplines be omitted, whose early prevalence may be accounted for without apostolic institution, or which were only received by a portion of the church, or which were not of any great antiquity. Such were various rites suppressed by our catholic and apostolic churches at the Reformation, as being inconvenient and burdensome; the rebaptizing of heretics or the opposite practice; the Roman jurisdiction over other particular churches",
the earlier testimonies are dis- whether St. James's words are puted by Romanists themselves. not to be understood as advice, if it were supposed that the sick not as precept. - Tournely, p. 74. might receive some consolation by * Melchior Canus observes that this rite, it is plain that what the Lent fast, though apostolical, Romanists regard as its principal is changeable.—De loc. Theol. object, the remission of sin, is lib. iii. c. 5. previously obtained by repen- y Though the precedence of tance, absolution, and the recep- the Roman church above the rest tion of the holy eucharist. In- was early and universally acknowdeed it is disputed among them- ledged, and does not appear to selves whether the unction remits have been originally instituted any but venial sins (Bellarmin. by any council ; still in this case De Extr. Unct. lib. i. c. vii; the rule of St. Augustine, “Quod Tournely, De Extr. Unctione, universa tenet ecclesia, nec conp. 68.) or whether the faithful ciliis institutum, sed semper reare bound by any divine or eccle- tentum est, non nisi auctoritate siastical precept to receive it, and apostolica traditum rectissime cre
administering milk and honey after baptism, standing at prayers between Easter and Pentecost. In fine, those rites which are not mentioned in scripture, and which having after some ages been admitted into the church, are found by experience to be injurious to christian piety, in consequence of the extreme abuses connected with them, ought to be removed by the church. Such were the celibacy of the clergy, the invocation of saints, and the use and honouring of images. The practical evils of such rites afford an abundant reason to justify their removal: but it should be observed, that piety as well as prudence would prevent us from affirming, that even in such cases, the divine protection had been so far withdrawn from the catholic church, as to permit it to sanction any practice which was in itself idolatrous or antichristian. The church universal might not always be aided to perceive what was most expedient for the promotion of piety; but this is very different from approving or instituting what was in itself gross and manifest sin.
I. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin ?." Now faith can only be founded on the word of God; therefore whatever is not done by the word of God is sin.
Answer. The word faith here means a full persuasion that what we do is lawful, as appears from the context. But this persuasion or faith is immediately attained, on observing that the law of God does not forbid that
ditur,” does not apply; because stitution. See Part VII. the origin of this precedency may 2 Rom. xiv. 23. See Hooker, be reasonably accounted for with- vol. i. p. 368. ed. Keble, for the out supposing any apostolical in- puritan use of this text.
action: for “sin is the transgression of the lawa.” Therefore there is no necessity that the “faith” here meant, should rest on the express institutions or precedents of scripture.
II. “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, &c. ..SO that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom. ... then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity: yea, every good path b." Therefore no action is good which is not contained in scripture.
Answer. I admit that the wisdom here spoken of, and which enables us to understand every good path, is contained in scripture: but with regard to certain good works, i.e. those of variable rites and discipline, it furnishes general rules only.
III. “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Now no man can glorify God except by obedience, and obedience has respect to the word of God. Therefore every action of man must be directed by the word of God.
Answer. I admit that every action of man ought to be directed by the word of God, but this direction, in the case of rites and discipline, is by general rules, not by specific enactments.
IV. Several passages from Augustine, Tertullian, Jerome, Hilary, &c. are cited", in which the absolute necessity of scripture proof is insisted on: but these passages relate to articles of faith, with which we are not here concerned.
V. Tertullian, in arguing against the lawfulness of soldiers wearing garlands, asks, “ where it is commanded in scripture”; in reply to his adversaries' question, “where 41 John iii. 4.
° 1 Cor. x. 31. Hooker, p. 365. Prov. ii. 1, &c. Hooker, p. See Hooker's Works, vol. i. 363.
p. 378, &c. ed. Keble.
it is forbidden in scripture.” Therefore both parties appealed to scripture as conclusive in the question.
Answer. Tertullian concludes that though scripture is silent on the point, tradition establishes his position. His adversaries' appeal to scripture did not imply that every lawful custom must be expressed there, but that every unlawful custom must be proved unlawful by its opposition to the word of God, which is exactly our principle.
VI. It is injurious to the dignity and perfection of scripture as the word of God, to suppose that it omits any thing which may be convenient or profitable to the church.
Answer. The dignity and utility of the scripture would have been less, if all rites and disciplines which might be useful to the church had been expressly mentioned. For the universality of the church in respect of time and place, would render the expediency of things exceedingly variable. Consequently, scripture would have contained many things obsolete or useless, and instead of comprising scarcely anything but the unchangeable word of God, would have been made up in a great degree of details concerning changeable and non-essential rites. The New Testament in this case would have apparently resembled the Mosaic law; and the liberty of the church from the law of ceremonial observances, which is so admirably reconciled with the order and peace of christianity, by leaving her free to make and vary her rites and disciplines, could scarcely have been preserved perfect, without permitting a licentiousness of private judgment and action that would have filled the church with confusion.
• Tertullian, De Corona Militis, see Hooker, p. 387, &c.