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Apostle, may reasonably be applied to the whole volume of the Bible, now that the canon has been completed:—the whole tenor of the Bible is such as to lead us to rely on its own sufficiency unto salvation. We find no intimation of its own inadequacy to this high purpose; no reference to any expositor who whould come after to supply its own imperfection. St. John indeed says, that there were also many other things which Jesus did, as might well be conceived from the small compass of his narrative, but the transient manner in which he has alluded to the omissions in his account, shews that the particulars which have been given in writing tell enough for us to know. There is a completeness, and a compactness we might say, about the sacred volume, to which nothing can well be added as nothing can be taken from it. If we had the Old Testament alone, we might then observe that there were signs of imperfection in the very face of the record; that there was not an universal religion set forth, and therefore another revelation was needed; that it does not appear to be a whole, as not having an end of such a nature, that there is nothing required after it. Indeed its whole tone is the language of its last messenger in speaking of himself, “There cometh one mightier than I after me.” But how different is the air of the whole record, now that the Mightier is come and has added the testimony of his Apostles and Evangelists to the sacred canon ? Nothing is now wanting which can satisfy the heart of man, so far as satisfaction is attainable by us or consistent with our state of probation. The life etermal is now set forth to us in both its awful alternatives of reward and p. with an authority and a clearness which come ome to every man's comprehension; and the way of that life is also pointed out, both in its meritorious cause and its subordinate means, with a reach of thought and copiousness of doctrine, which need no subsequent enlargement from the source of revelation. It may require the aids of human learning, and the methods of art to explain more fully and illustrate to various understandings the instruction given from above; but these are only ordinary means subservient to its general application, in the same way in which its translation into different languages renders the truth accessible to all. But besides the testimony which the Scriptures bear to their own sufficiency, it is impossible to substantiate by adequate evidence any other than a written record of divine revelation. If the writings of the Fathers, considered as records of sacred tradition, have sufficientevidence that their testimony is divine, there is no alternative but that they must be admitted as part of the canon of Scripture itself: if, on the other hand, they have not an evidence amounting to such proof, which no one will venture to pronounce that they have, it remains that they must be regarded only as historical evidence, and in no sense be admitted beyond the word of Scripture. As to all oral testimony, floated down in the stream of the Church, this can never be proved to have originated from God. Though the tradition were ever so current and uniform, it only argues that the institution or the opinion thus handed down is congenial to the human mind, and that therefore such institution or opinion is to be respected, but it has no claim on our religious veneration; nor does its antiquity consecrate it to the office of revelation. The unchangeable nature of an authoritative record of inspiration, appears indeed to offer the only mode of communicating heavenly truth correspondent to the unchangeable nature of the revealer. We all know the fluctuations of statement to which the commonest matters of fact are subject, when they are transmitted through successive oral reporters. And when these varieties of tradition are observable in things subject to experience, how much more must the history of inexperienced facts and modes of doctrine be open to a like mutability in their detail in travelling from generation to generation? If, also; even authentic manuscripts are subject to varieties of readings from the inaccuracy of successive transcription, how much more again must an oral creed be deformed by like discrepancies, resulting from the carelessness of the casual historian, whilst at the same time there is no opportunity of correcting such discrepancies by a comparison of the credibility of the various reporters. The last report is in fact the only one of which we have the means of judging. If it be said that these discrepancies may be over-ruled by a controlling Providence appointing such a mode of conveyance, we argue that, as they have not been over-ruled in the known case of the Scriptures, so neither is it reasonable to suppose that they would be overruled in the case of tradition.
So convinced are even the upholders of tradition of the necessity of some recorded standard of doctrine, that while they renounce the sufficiency of the Scriptures, they most inconsistently appeal to the Creed of Pope Pius IV. and the record of the Council of Trent, as their standards of orthodoxy. Bossuet, for instance, instead of setting forth his “exposition of the faith," as an exposition of Scripture doctrine, presents it to the world as an expression of the mind of the Council of Trent. Consistently with his Church's consecration of tradition to the conveyance of inspired truth, he ought to have stated it to be an exposition of their faith, as gathered from the compound authority of Scripture and tradition. For the principle on which they proceed sets aside the exclusive validity of any twritten standard. Nor are the present advocates of Popery entitled to rest on any written statement of their doctrines. “.
is of the essential nature of their tenets that they should not be embodied in any definite formulary. If they say that these traditions, which are co-equal in divinity with the Scriptures, are all at this time carefully noted in writing, we may answer them in their own words, that “ the unwritten word has not on that account lost its authority." We may still appeal to their current belief and current practices, though they would silence us with bulls, and councils, and creeds, and canons. But the very argument from tradition, confutes the application of tradition to any purpose of revelation. “If there be a universal tradition consigned to us by the universal testimony of antiquity,” says Jeremy Taylor, “it is this, that the Scriptures are a perfect repository of all the will of God, of all the faith of Christ "." How strong indeed tradition rightly understood was against the Papal notion of traditional revelation, is plain from those infamous expurgatory indices, by which care, was taken to expunge from the works of the Fathers, passages condemning the unscriptural practices of the Church of Rome. - We deny then the justice of Dr. Baines's allegation against the Scriptures, when he speaks of the “dead letter of the Sacred Scriptures,” (P.43 and 83,)—it may answer the purposes of a party, who would tamper with the text of authors, thus to detract from the paramount authority of the inspired volume, but the expression to our ears sounds nothing less than profane. Our old-fashioned prejudices will not suffer us to think or speak otherwise of them than as lively oracles of God, the words of life, the words which in themselves are “spirit and life.” It was to the defence which our reformers set up against this degrading view of the Scriptures, that through divine Providence we owe “our existence as a National Church" at this day, and not, as Dr. Baines very absurdly represents the case, to their “refusal to submit their own to a much greater authority.” The exact reverse of this is true—it was their resolute determination of submitting their own to a much greater authority, the authority of the Bible, which compelled them to come forth out of the pollutions of a corrupt Church, which had made that Bible, in Dr. Baines's own words, a “dead letter.” But for this, we should indeed probably have ceased long ago to exist as a National Church,-overwhelmed in the vortex of a triumphant ecclesiastical tyranny, our faith and worship being carried away captive to the Apocalyptic Babylon, the seat of Antichrist.
* Three letters to one tempted to the Romish Church. Taylor's Works, Vol. xi. p. 210. See the testimonies of different Fathers to the sufficiency of the Seriptures, copiously and clearly set forth in the Second Part of his Dissuasiv from Popery. Book 1. Section 2. Vol. x. p. 383. wol. VII. No. iv., q g
* Still our Reformers were too wise to sacrifice the principle of Church Unity, amidst their zeal for defending their inheritance of Scriptural revelation; they maintained also, as we before observed, together with the right of private interpretation and the sufficiency of the Scriptures, also the authority of the Church. This assertion of authority, Dr. Baines interprets
ain in his own private way, as a requisition on the part of the Church to admit her exposition as the authorized one at all events. “The Archdeacon's plan for discovering the true religion, clearly amounts to this, that we receive him and his brethren as the authorized expositors of the Scripture, and submit our opinions and judgments to their decision, if we would be true and genuine Christians.” P. 42.
y He naturally feels alarmed at such claims, for they clash with his own pretensions, and loses no time in warning his reader that the phantom which his fears have conjured up, is “unreasonable and founded on a false assumption." But let him be composed. The Church of England interferes not with the pretensions of the Church of Rome. She leaves the haughty dignity of sacerdotal dictatorship to more presumptuous aspirants, and claims only to be heard at the bar of sacred truth, as a humble, though integral, member of the body of Christ. The authority asserted by the Church of England is perfectly consistent with the prerogative of reason and the sufficiency of Scripture. “The Church,” says our 20th article, “hath power (in . Latin articles, jus) to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith ;” and then it proceeds to limit: this power and this authority by adding, that “it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing contrary to God's word written, (here the sufficiency of Scripture is implied,) neither may it expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another,” (here the right of private opinion to judge of such repugnancy is also strictly reserved, the Church not claiming that her decision should at any rate be received as the Popish Doctor affirms.) Rites and ceremonies are regarded as matter of power or right—controversies of faith as matters of authority,+an accurate discrimination and necessary to be observed, for the nature of positive institutions being such, that they have not necessarily any particular reason on which they are founded, they are consequently direct objects of power, or of the exercise of right, and the Church with whom the right is vested, may accordingly freely exercise it in such things without feeling herself bound to attend to the captious objections of individuals, provided there be nothing unscriptural in them, for in that case there is a reason against them.
But in controversies of faith, it is presumed that there are reasons on both sides of the question, and the Church'thereforé has no power strictly so called—that is, it cannot compel assent to its dictates—for to effect this it must have the means of rendering an apparent reason, no reason: but it has an authority in declaring which is the most reasonable statement of the question; an authority of order in its ministerial capacity, to which every modest and humble mind will respectfully defer. As we should account that man irrational, who should set up his own private opinion respecting a matter of experience against the collective wisdom of the most instructed and reflective observe ers of nature, so should we account that man unscriptural in his religious opinions, who should collect doctrines from the text of Scripture at variance with the expositions of the soundest and acutest Divines. An authority of this nature was certainly derived to the Church in her ministerial capacity through the Apostles, when Christ commissioned them to go and teach all nations, but no power to lead captive the judgment of the people, a human, and not a divine authority as pretended by the Church of Rome in behalf of her priesthood, an authority which we are bound to respect, but not to bow down to with prostration of understanding, which furnishes an aid to the imbecility of private judgment without superseding its exertion. The nature of that authority which belongs to the Church, according to the views of the Church of England, has been so admirably illustrated by Leslie, that though the following passage may be familiar to many of our readers, we cannot forbear elucidating our remarks by adducing it.
“I suppose a man on his road to such a place, and coming where there are three or four different ways, he knows not which to choose. But he finds there several guides standing, who all pretend to be appointed guides of that road, and offer their service with equal assurance, each saying, that the way he points is right, and none other. But the traveller has a chart or plan of the way in his hand, which all the guides allow to be just and right, and would have him walk by it. Only one tells him, he may mistake his plan, therefore he desires he would give it up to him; and moreover that he should be blindfolded, because otherwise he might be disputing the way, which would retard his journey; and besides implied a distrust of his guide. But anotler guide tells him, he should keep his plan in his hand, and he would give him leave to examine every step i. led him by the plan, and then his own eyes should be judge whether he led him right or not; and he would not desire it should be left in his power to lead him over a precipice with his eyes shut. ". . . * * *
“The holy Scriptures are the plan, and the Church of Rome takes them from the people (lest they dispute about it) and requires them to trust absolutely and blindly to her guidance. . . . . ... ----,
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