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c. 4, 56.) For, as to the testimony of Jews and heathens, whatever weight it may have, it is not scripture: so that this momentous, and, in the protestant creed, this fundamental article--the canon of the sacred books--cannot by human art be accurately learned from scripture alone : consequently, the scriptures do not contain a full account of christianity.” Ibid.
" When we have agreed what is scripture --what not; we would wish to be informed in what book of holy writ we read a full and clear account of infant baptism, or of the obligation of keeping holy the Sunday? The institution of baptism recorded Matt. 28, 19, leaves it wholly undetermined—whether infants ought or ought not to be baptised. If all must be instructed before baptism, as the text seems to indicate, (Matt. 28) infants ther are positively excluded from the benefit of that sacrament.
But if instruction be not always requisite before the ministration to
of baptism, where is this exemption in favour of infants expressed, cp di
in any plain text of scripture? That there is no exemption, that
would rather appear from Mar. xvi. :16, Acts ii. 38, viii. 37, miksy
and 1. Pet. iii. 21. It is true, we are told, Mar. X. that infants
In short, if
we read in scripture of whole families being baptised, we do not read that there was one infant in any of those families, nor any clear proof that if there had been, they would have been baptised.” Ibid.
« With regard to the obligation of keeping holy the Sunday, f tra
we cannot even learn from scripture alone-with any certainty which day of the week is Sunday.
The Sabbath mentioned in the ten commandments (Exod. xx, and Deut. v.) was not Sunday, but Saturday.
Now it will be allowed by protestants as well as catholics, that the commandments are approved by the gospel, as to all moral and natural duties: we should therefore be inclined to infer, that the Saturday ought to be kept hoły, did we not borrow our light in this instance from some other source than scripture. Nor should we be of course exempt from the obligation of sanctifying the Saturday too, although from scripture alone a proof might be
made out for the obligation of sanctifying the Sunday. This, SCTeK however, is not the case; for the Lord's-day mentioned Rev.
1, does not necessarily designate the Sunday in particular, rathink ther than any other day of the week; nor do the circumstances
of breaking bread (Acts xx.) and collecting alms on the first day of the week, prove it to have been a holiday. For we know that the disciples broke bread daily: (Acts ii.) nor is charity to
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the necessitous a sufficient mark of a holiday--among good christians.”
- To lay aside infant baptism as unnecessary, and to neglect the religious observation of the Sunday, would be an unsufferable liberty even in the judgment of protestants, although these things are in no part of scripture clearly expressed: even with protestants, they are important points of christian faith and conduct. Therefore the obscure manner, in which these and many other not inconsiderable articles, relating both to faith and morals
, are expressed in scripture, as well as the total neglect of all the sacred writers to give us an exact canon of holy writ, and an evident mark of every inspired text is a convincing proofthat the scriptures were not designed to contain a full and clear account of christianity, nor, consequently, to be the only rule of faith."Mr JOHNSON's Vindication, c. 1.
Apostolical tradition one part of the rule of faith.
66 Whether the apostles could have written a full and competent rule of faith, if God had so directed,—is a question perfectly irrelevant to the point in debate. The fact is, they had no such commission. The precept of their divine master enjoined them—to preach the gospel to every creature, and to teach them to observe all things whatsoever he had commanded. (Mar. xvi. 15. Mat. xxvii. 20.) SS. Andrew, and James the son of Zebedee, with other apostles who never wrote at all, but only delivered the truths of the gospel by tradition, complied, we presume, with the full import of their commission, not less than others of the sacred college, who did leave some instructions in writing. Hence it follows, that if none of the apostles or disciples of Christ had committed any thing to writing, the injunction given them to teach all nations, and to transmit their doctrine to the latest posterity-even unto the consummation of the world, (Mat. xxviii.) would still have been observed: all necessary knowledge would have been conveyed safe to the most distant ages--through the channel of tradition. Where then is the necessity of exploding tradition, as a thing which could not long afford us in the ideas of Dr Porteus (p. 6, &c.) any security of the truth? It must be owned, says the bishop, that our Saviour delivered his doctrine to the apostles, and they to all the world-by word of mouth
, and that this way of delivery at first was sufficient ; (and why not still sufficient ?) and that therefore, continues he, St Paul exhorts the Thessalonians, to hold fast the traditions he had taught them,--whether by word or by writing,” (2 Thess. ii. 14.) Some traditions Christ himself, and his apostles, recommended, though they condemned such human inventions as are contrary to revealed truths. (Mar. vii. Col. ii.) But if some
traditions were then approved, why may not they be still approved? Where does our Saviour or St Paul insinuate, that the oral communication of the unwritten traditions, should be authorised only during the first age? Does not the apostle rather, plainly intimate that the same method of conveyance was to be continued in all succeeding generations, when he says to his disciple Timothy; the things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who MAY BE ABLE TO TEACH OTHERS ALSO, (2 Tim. ii. 2.) Is it one iota more impossible to convey safe to posterity, the apostolical creed, and some few other short instructions, than to deliver entire and uncorrupted the several books of the Old and New Testament? The apostle's creed and all necessary doctrines were remembered -even in the tenth and other contiguous dark ages ;--else how come we by them in the nineteenth? If in the conveyance of tradition much depend on the sincerity and truth of persons liable to ignorance and other worse qualities (p. 8. Confut.) is not equal dependence on persons of similar character requisite in the conveyance of holy writ? Great dependence on the authority of others is clearly unavoidable-by all who do not read the Bible in the original languages; the New Testament in Greek, the Old in Hebrew, Chaldaic, &c. Even they who apply their study to Oriental tongues, must yet rely on the skill and honesty of many persons, not only in consulting grammars, lexicons and masters; but in reading only transcripts taken by we know not how many different hands, or copies frequently altered by ignorant, blundering or malicious writers and printers. Therefore the tradition of all necessary points of doctrine might pass with equal safety, as the knowledge of the sacred books,—through the several ages preceding the reformation, when the catholic religion was much more widely extended. So that the hard words popish tyranny and darkness (p. 6. ibid) can fall only on catholic countries in modern times. Yet the very mob would acquit them of the charge of being more ignorant than their ancestors ; and the learned are well apprized, that sound criticism and a sagacious detection of impositions, are now not less attended to by catholics on the continent, than among protestants in the British isles.”
“ The scriptures indeed, while they retain that purity which catholic approved editions actually do retain at present, but of which we have no security for future times, are allowed to be a great help to preserve untainted the depositum of faith, and the chief rule whereby articles of faith may be determined. But they are not the whole rule of christian faith ; they are not the only channel through which we receive the doctrines of eternal life. They were not the only channel of divine faith in the beginning of christianity; the church was christian before the New Testament was committed to writing at all, as is confessed
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Who is the judge and authoritative interpreter of the rule of
faith and morals ?
“ That the catholic church is this authoritative interpreter will manifestly appear, first, if we consider this church as an illustrious society ; secondly, if we reflect upon the privilege of infallibility promised to it by our Blessed Redeemer ; thirdly, if we attend to this same privilege easily deduced from the apostle's creed. The catholic church in the first place, considered merely as an illustrious society, has the least exceptionable title to be the authoritative interpreter of the rule of faith ; as will appear
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7 the following argument :- Whatever deference may be due he judgment of each private individual upon matters spi, the same is due in a greater degree to a decision of sepastors of the church, and that in proportion to the num
uniting in this decision; pre-supposing knowledge and vilities not unequal. Hence the opinion of one private person must be a far less weighty evidence, than the determination of a whole national church, and this determination an evidence
far less momentous, than the solemn decision of the pastors of allow in
the catholic church collectively; especially as church pastors decide upon a point which, of all mankind, they are most likely
to understand. To appeal from the united decision of the and retai
pastors of the church on a point of faith, cannot be less unreaagainst sonable in the nature of things, than to appeal from the uniform
opinion of lawyers on a point of law, or from the judgment of physicians unanimously, on a medical subject. Every one would condemn the temerity of private judgment in opposition to such authority, in these instances. If then the deliberate determina
tion of the general voice of church pastors—be not of itself absohich is grea lutely infallible, (for, considering such a decision in itself, or in
its own nature, is considering it independently of the promises of Christ ;) yet, would wisdom venture to oppose such an authority ?- There are moreover several corroborating circumstances, which concur to ensure to that authority a still more irresistible force of credibility. The present decisions of the church, have also the advantage of long prescription ; even protestants allow them a quiet possession of many centuries before Luther. “ Laity and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages, sects and degrees of men, women and children of whole Christendom
(a horrible and most dreadful thing to think, and not less blasterpreted phemous to say) have been at once, say they, drowned in abo
minable idolatry, of all other vices most detested by God, and damnable to man, and that by the space of eight hundred years and more:” (it might with equal truth have said eight thousand.) See Book of Homilies approved by the 35th article of religion, part 3. “ How strikingly probable will all this appear, if we attend to the nature of the Divine perfections ;-infinite goodness ; infinite sanctity; infinite truth ;--that God should abandon his church in the very sink of impious errors for a series of ages !!! During these identical ages--this same poor abandoned church was in vain attacked by the united malice of tyrants, traitors, infidels and heretics; all raging with fury to undermine and subvert her, all equally foiled in their atrocious attempt! Instead of succumbing under the combined efforts of her mortal enemies, she always enjoyed the special blessing of Providence; was constantly supported by the learned writings of eminent doctors; confirmed by the Divine testimony of miracles ; sanctified by the heroic virtues of numberless saints; illustrated by
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