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the main body of Christian doctrine, could have been fe. cured without oral tradition ; that is, if we could not have known, that those passages which contain the main points of Christ's doctrine, either had been written by men divinely inspired, or what the fense of them was, but from the confonancy and agreement of those passages with the doctrine which was orally preached by the Apostles : how can we be certain either of the letter or sense of other particular paisages, which must necessarily want this confirmation from oral tradition; because “ their first attestation was not universal, nor their na
ture much practical ?” Nay, his discourse plainly implies, that we can have no security at all, either of the letter or sense of any other parts of fcripture, but only those which are coincident with the main body of Christian doctrine; as is evident from these words, p. 116. 66 Tradition established, the church is provided of a cer“ tain and infallible rule to preserve a copy of the feri
pture's letter truly fignificative of Christ's sense, as far
as it is coincident with the main body of Christian “ doctrine preached at first; because sense writ in mens « hearts by tradition, can easily guide them to correct “ the alteration of the outward letter.” This I perceive plainly is the thing they would be at: they would correct the outward letter of scripture by sense written in their hearts; and then, instead of leaving out the second commandment, they would change it into a precept of giving due worship to images, according to the council of Trent; and a thousand other alterations they must make in the Bible, to make it truly significative of the sense of their church. But surely the outward letter of other passages of fcripture, which were not intended to fignify points of faith, is equally liable to alterations : and yet the church is not by tradition provided of any way to correct these alterations when they happen; becaufe tradition doth, as this corollary implies, only furnish the church with a certain and infallible rule of preserving a copy of the scripture's letter, fo far as it is coincident with the main body of Christian doctrine.
$ 10. Again, he tells us, p. 117. Tradition esta“blished, the church is provided of a certain and infal"lible rule to interpret scripture-letter by, so as to afir
“ rive certainly at Christ's- sense, as far as the letter
concerns the body of Christian doctrine preached at
first, or points requisite to salvation.” So that whatever he may attribute to fcripture for fashion's fake, and to avoid calumny with the vulgar, as he says very ingenuously in his explication of the 15th corollary; nevertheless it is plain, that, according to his own hypothefis, he cannot but look upon it as perfectly useless and pernicious. That it is altogether useless according to his hypothesis, is plain: for the main body of Christian do&rine is securely conveyed to us without it; and it can give no kind of confirmation to it, because it receives all its confirmation from it; only the church is ever and anon put to a great deal of trouble to correct the alteration of the outward letter, by tradition, and sense write ten in their hearts. And as for all other parts of scripture which are not coincident with the main body of Christian doctrine, we can have no certainty, either that the outward letter is true, nor, if we could, can we poslibly arrive åt any certain sense of them. And that it is intolerably pernicious according to his hypothesis, is plain; because every silly and upstart herefy fathers
upon it,” p. 40. and when men leave tradition, as he supposeth all hereticks do, the scripture is the most dangerous engine that could have been invented ; being to such persons only waxen-natured words, not fen“ fed, nor having any certain interpreter ; but fit to be
played upon diversely by quirks of wit; that is, apt to, “ blunder and confound, but to clear little or nothing,"
A’nd indeed, if his hypothesis were true, the fcriptures might well deserve all the contemptuous language which he useth against them; and Mr White's comparison of them with Lilly's almanack, (Apology for traditie on, p. 165.), would not only be pardonable, but proper; and, unless he added it out of prudence, and for the people's fake, whom he may think too superstitiously conceited of those books, he might have spared that cold excuse which he makes for using this similitude, that "it was a“greeable rather to the impertinency of the objection, “ than the dignity of the fubject.” Certain it is, if these men are true to their own principles, that notwithstanding the high reverence and eiteem pretended to be borne
by them and their church to the scriptures, they must beartily despise them, and with them out of the way ; and even look upon it as a great oversight of the divine providence, to trouble his church with a book, which, if their discourse be of any consequence, can stand Catholicks in no stead at all, and is so dangerous and mischievous a weapon in the hands of hereticks.
SECT. III. The Protestant doctrine concerning the rule
of faith. $1. Having thus taken a view of his opinion, and
conlidered how much he attributes to oral tradition, and how little to the scriptures ; before I assail his hypothesis, I shall lay down the Protestant rule of faith ; not that so much is necessary for the answering of his book, but that he may have no colour of objection, that I proceed altogether in the destructive way, and overthrow his principle, as he calls it, without substituting another in its room.
The opinion then of the Protestants concerning the rule of faith, is this in general, That those books which we call the holy scriptures, are the means whereby the Christian doctrine hath been brought down to us.
And that he may now clearly understand this, together with the grounds of it, which in reason he ought to have done before he had forsaken us, I shall declare it more particularly in these following propositions.
$2. ift, That the doctrine of Christian religion was by Christ delivered to the Apostles, and by them first preached to the world, and afterwards by them committed to writing; which writings, or books, have been transmitted from one age to another down to us. So far I take to be granted by our present adversaries. That the ChriItian doctrine was by Christ delivered to the Apostles, and by them published to the world, is part of their own hypothesis. 'That this doctrine was afterwards by the Apostles committed to writing, he also grants, corol. 29. P: 197. “It is certain the Apostles taught the same do" etrine they writ;" and if so, it must be as certain, that they writ the same doctrine which they taught. I know it is the general tenet of the Papists, that the scriptures do not contain entire body of Christian doctrine; but that besides the doctrines contained in feripture, there are also others brought down to us by oral or unwritten tradition. But Mr. S. who supposeth the whole doctrine of Christian religion to be certainly conveyed down to us folely by oral tradition, doth not any where, that I remember, deny that all the same doctrine is contained in the scriptures; only he denies the scriptures to be a means sufficient to convey this doctrine to us with certainty, so that we can by them be infallibly assured what is Christ's doctrine, and what not. Nay, he seems in that passage I last cited to grant this, in faya ing, that the Apostles did both teach and write the fame doctrine. I am sure, Mr. White, whom he follows very closely throughout his whole book, does not deny this in his Apology for tradition; where he faith, p. 171. that “it is not the Catholick position, That all its dos 6 ctrines are not contained in the scriptures.” And that those writings or books which we call the holy fcriptures, have been transmitted down to us, is unquestionable matter of fact, and granted universally by the Papists, as to all those books which are owned by Protestants for canonical.
$ 3. 2dly, That the way of writing is a fufficient means to convey a doctrine to the knowledge of those who live in times very remote from the age of its first delivery. According to his hypothesis, there is no pofTible way of conveying a doctrine with certainty and security besides that of oral tradition : the fallhood of which will sufficiently appear, when I shall have shewn, that the true properties of a rule of faith do agree to the scriptures, and not to oral tradition. In the mean time, I shall only offer this to his consideration, that whatever can be orally delivered in plain and intelligible words, may be written in the same words; and that a writing or book which is publick, and in every one's hand, may be conveyed down with at least as much certainty and security, and with as little danger of alteration, as an oral tradition : and if so, I understand not what can render it impossible for a book to convey down a doctrine to the knowledge of after ages. Besides, if he had looked well about him, he could not but have apprehended some little inconvenience in making that an
essential part of his hypothesis, which is contradicted by plain and constant experience : for that any kind of doctrine may be sufficiently conveyed by books to the knowledge of after ages, provided those books be but written intelligibly, and preserved from change and corruption in the conveyance, (both which I Thall be so bold as to suppose possible), is as little doubted by the generality of mankind, as that there are books. And, surely we Christians cannot think it impossible to convey a doctrine to posterity by books, when we consider that God himself pitched upon
for conveyance of the doctrine of the Jewish religion to after ages; because it is not likely, that so wise an agent should pitch upon a means whereby it was impossible he should attain his end.
$ 4. 3dly, that the books of scripture are sufficiently plain, as to all things necessary to be believed and pra- • Atised. He that denies this, ought in reason to instance in fome necessary point of faith, or matter of practice, which is not in some place of scripture or other plainly delivered. For it is not a sufficient objection to say, P:38. 39. That the greatelt wits among the Protestants differ about the sense
of those texts, wherein the generality of them suppose the divinity of Christ to be plainly and clearly expressed : because, if nothing were to be accounted fufficiently plain, but what it is impossible a great wit should be able to wrest to any other fense, not only the fcriptures, but all other books, and, which is worst of all to him that makes this objection, all oral tradition would fall into uncertainty. Doth the traditionary church pretend, that the doctrine of Christ's divinity is conveyed down to her by oral tradition niore plainly than it is expressed in fcripture? I would fain know what plainer words she ever used to express this point of faith by, than what the scripture useth; which expressly calls him God, the true God, God over all bleffed for evermore. If it be faid, That those who deny the divinity of Christ have been able to evade these and all other texts of fcripture, but they could never elude the definitions of the church in that matter; it is easily anfwered, That the same arts would equally have eluded both : but there was no reason why they should trouble