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Why must not the Traditions the Roman Church boast of, be
received with divine faith, nor with the same pious affection that is due to the Holy Scriptures ?
1. This were to make them as necessary as Scripture; and to
make the traditions as necessary as the written word of God, is to accuse the written word of God of imperfection, as if all things necessary to salvation were not contained in
it, contrary to Psalm x. 7; 2 Tim. ii. 15, 16, 17. 2. The traditions of the Church of Rome, many of them are so
far from being apostolical, that they are false, and, at the
best, uncertain. 3. Most of the traditions of the Church of Rome cannot be
apostolical, because they have not been received in all ages, by all churches, and in all places, which is the true cha
racter of apostolical traditions. 4. Why should others be obliged to receive all their traditions,
some of which are very uncertain, when they themselves reject traditions which are more certain, such as the tradi
tion of communicating infants, and others ? 5. We receive them not, because we see their sinister design
in urging traditions, which is, to make that an article of faith by tradition, which cannot be proved to be so by the
written word of God. 6. If traditions (not bottomed in the written word) must be received
with divine faith, then our faith must be built on the testimony of the church, as divine and infallible, which is absurd.
The Catholic church, with the utmost reverence for the Scripture as the word of God, still maintains, that this sacred word is to be found not only in what is written, but in the unwritten law, preserved in apostolical tradition. The passage referred to by the catechist", by no means militates against this doctrine; but rather, evidently confirms the Catholic principle, that Scripture is not interpreted by private authority, but by the pastors of the church. For the commendations of the apostle cannot refer to the New Scripture, which was then but partially in existence, but must relate to the Old principally, with which Timothy had been acquainted from his youth. Then he observes, that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction ; expressions which by no means imply, that the written word, interpreted by each individual, is the sole rule of faith ; but, on the contrary, that the Scripture is extremely useful, when employed by those who have authority over others, for the important purposes of reproof and correction.
In favour of tradition, it may safely be asserted, that no commission whatever was given by Christ to the apostles to write, but to teach and preach only; that for a length of time, they literally complied with this injunction, and diffused the Christian faith only by oral instruction ; and that when they began to deviate from this plan, their writings, instead of embracing a regular system of religion, of morality, and of sacred laws and ordinances, were purely occasional, and called for by accidental circumstances. On this account they are clearly silent on many points of essential importance.
1 2 Tim. iii. 15, 16, 17.
How is it possible to ascertain from the Scripture itself, that the sacred volume really contains the word of God? Internal evidence is clearly an insufficient criterion : even the external testimony of men, not authorized to pronounce on the question, cannot confer on it a divine authority. The Epistles of St. Barnaby and of St. Clement breathe 'an apostolical spirit, little inferior in appearance to those of St. Paul'; and how are we to ascertain that they are not to be considered as a part of the written word ?
Many books of Scripture are rejected by Protestants as apocryphal; the infidel discards the whole with scorn and derision; and by what means are we to establish their authority as containing the Divine word? By no other than by the authority of that church, which our Redeemer has commanded us to hear”, and which St. Paul pronounces to be the pillar and foundation of truth'. This consideration made St. Augustine exclaim, “ I would not believe the Gospel, were I not induced to do it by the authority of the Catholic church.”
See Pat. Apostol. edit Russel, tom. i. 2 Matt. xviii. 17. 31 Tim. iii. 15. • Contra Epist, Fundamen. c. 5.
In addition to this preliminary step, in ascertaining what is and what is not canonical Scripture, many questions undoubtedly occur concerning the integrity of the text-the accuracy of the translation--the genuine meaning of obscure passages —which questions cannot be resolved by the Scripture alone, independently of any external authority
Besides all doubts on these important points, the sacred Scripture is still silent on many essential articles. For instance, the baptism of infants is ordained in no text whatever; on the contrary, our Redeemer requires previous instruction, which apparently precludes such baptism'. The observance of the Sunday is in no passage prescribed; the Sabbath, or the seventh day, is indeed proclaimed holy; but the alteration of the day in honour of the great mysteries of the Christian religion, is no where specified. The baptism given by heretics was long a subject of discussion in the church; that sacrament has likewise been administered in various ways, by immersion, by aspersion, by infusion ; on all these, and other subjects, doubts may arise which cannot be resolved by the letter of the Sacred writings.
Under these circumstances, we have no resource whatever, but to recur to apostolical tradition, of which the Catholic church alone is the guardian
St. Matt. xxviii. 19; St. Mark, xvi. 15, 16.
and the depositary. Even Protestants themselves, to their utter confusion, and inconsistently with their grand principle, that the Scripture alone is the sole rule of faith, are obliged to recur, in many instances, to the traditions preserved by. the Catholic church. However, therefore, they may contend in words, and continue to misrepresent and calumniate, they in fact, and in practice, give up the question. In opposition to the àpparent will of our Redeemer, they baptize infants; with the Catholic church they keep the Sunday holy, though the precept of the Scripture relates immediately to the Sabbath of the Jews. In the use of the sacrament of baptism, and on many other occasions, they retain the practice of the mother church, from which they departed, and which they incessantly assail with the blackest acts of misrepresentation and calumny!
But the question relating to the absolute necessity of admitting tradition, and of giving the same implicit faith to the unwritten as to the written word, has been long ago decided in such a manner as to preclude all doubt on the subject. St. Paul' expressly declares, Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold thetraditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle. Nothing can be clearer or more precise than this injunction. This distinguished apostle had taught the Thessalonians, and, in fact, every portion of the
1 2 Thess. ii. 15.