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give a catalogue but of ten of those innumerable miracles wrought by our Saviour, which are not recorded by the Evangelists, with circumstances as punctual and particu. lar as those are clothed withal. If he can do this, it will be a good evidence, that oral tradition singly, and by itself, can do something: but if he cannot, it is as plain an evidence, on the contrary, that if those actions of former times, and those miracles of our Saviour and his Apostles which are recorded in books, had never been written, but intrusted solely to oral tradition, we should have heard as little of them at this day, as we do of those that were not written.
$3. Now to examine his reasons for this exception : ist, Hefaith, p. 13.“ It is most manifeít, that this can
not be made evident to the vulgar, that scripture was “ written by men divinely inspired." This reason is as easily answered, by saying, it is most manifest that it
But besides saying fo, I have shewed how it may be made as evident to the vulgar, as other things which they do most most firmly, and upon good grounds, believe. Even the rudest of the vulgar, and those who cannot read, do believe apon very good grounds, that there was such a King as William the Conqueror : and the miracles of Christ and his Apostles are capable of as good evidence as we have for this. 2dly, He says, p. 13. 14.
66 This cannot be evident to “ the curious and most speculative searchers, but by so
deep an inspection into the sense of scripture, as thall % discover such secrets that philosophy and human indu
Atry could never have arrived to :” As if we could not be assured, that any thing were written by men divinely inspired, unless it were above the reach of human understanding; and as if no man could know that this was our Saviour's doctrine, Whatever ye would that men should do unto you, that do ye likewise unto them, because every one can understand it. But if there were more mysteries in the scriptures than there are, I hope a man might be fatisfied, that they were written by men divinely inspired, without a clear comprehenfion of all those mysteries. The evidence of the inspiration of any person doth not depend upon the plainness or fublimity of the things revealed to him, but upon the goodness of the arguments
which tend to persuade us that the person is so inspired; and the argument that is molt fit to satisfy us of that, is, if he work miracles. Now, I would gladly know, why a learned man cannot be assured of a miracle, that is, a plain sensible matter of fact done long ago, but “ by so " deep an inspection into the sense of scripture, as shall “ discover such secrets that philosophy and human indu
stry could never have arrived to.'
$ 4. 3dly, Because “ all the seeming contradictions “ of scripture must be solved, before we can out of the “ bare letter conclude the Scripture to be of God's in“ diting. To solve which literally, plainly and fatif“ factorily, (he tells us), the memory of so many par“ ticulars, which made them clearer to those of the
age in which they were written, and the matter
known, must needs be so worn out by track of time, " that it is one of the most difficult tasks in the world,
p. 14.” As if we could not believe a book to be of God's inditing, because there seem now to be some contradictions in it, which we have reason to believe could easily have been solved by those who lived in the age in which it was written : or as if oral tradition could help a man to solve these contradictions, when the memory of particulars necessary for the clear folution of them, is (as himself confesses) worn out by track of time. If Mr. S. can, in order to the solution of the seeming contradictions of scripture, demonstrate, that oral tradition hath to this day preserved the memory of those particulars necessary for that purpose, the memory of which must needs be long since worn out by track of time, then I will readily yield, that his rule of faith hath in this particular the advantage of
But if he cannot do this, why doth he make that an argument against our rule, which is as strong against his own ? This is just like Captain Everard's friend's way of arguing against the Protestants, That they cannot rely upon scripture, because it is full of plain contradictions, impossible to be reconciled; and therefore they ought in all reason to submit to the infallibility of the church. And, for an instance of such a contradiction, he pitched upon the three fourteen generations, mentioned in the first of St. Matthew ; because
the third series of generations, if they be counted, will be found to be but thirteen. Not to mention now how this difficulty hath been fufficiently satisfied, both by Protestant and Popish commentators, without any recourse to oral tradition, that which I take notice of, is, the unreasonableness of making this an exception against the Protestants, when it comes with every whit as much force upon themselves. Suppose this contradiction not capable of any solution by Protestants, (as he affirms), and I should submit to the infallibility of the church ; can he assure me, that infallibility can make thirteen, fourteen ? If it cannot, how am I nearer satisfaction in this point, by acknowledging the infallibility of the church? The case is the very same as to Mr. S.'s exception. If I owned oral tradition, I should be never the nearer solving the seeming contradictions of scripture; and consequently I could not in reason conclude it to be of God's inditing. So that, in truth, these exceptions, if they were true, would not strike at Protestancy, but at Christian religion; which is the general unhappiness of most of the Popish arguments : than which there is no greater evidence, that the church of Rome is not the true mother; because she had rather Christianity should be destroyed, than it should appear
that other church hath a claim to it. It was a work very proper for the heretick Marcion, to assault religion this way; who, as Tertullian tells us, (1. 1. contr. Marcion.), writ a whole book, which he called Antitheses; wherein he reckoned
all the contradictions (as he thought) between the old and New Testament: but methinks it is very improper for the Papists, who pretend to be the only true Chriflians in the world, to ftrain their wits, to discover as many contradictions as they can in the scripture, and to prove that there is no way of reconciling them; the natural consequence of which is, the exposing of this facred instrument of our religion, and even Christianity itself, to the fcorn of Atheists. Therefore, to be very plain with Mr. S. and Captain Everard, I am heartily sorry to see, that one of the chief fruits of their conversion is, to abuse the Bible,
$5. Secondly, He says, p. 14. «That Protestants
66 cannot know how many the books of scripture ought
to be ; and which of the many controverted ones may be securely put in that catalogue, which not.” This he proves, by saying, “ It is most palpable, that “ few, or at least the rude vulgar, can never be assured 66 of it.” And if this be a good argument, this again is a good answer, to say, It is not most palpable. But I shall deal more liberally, and tell him, that we know that just so many ought to be received as uncontroverted books, concerning which it cannot be shewn there was ever any controversy; and so many as controverted, concerning which it appears that question hath been made. And if those which have been controverted, have been since received by those churches which once doubted of them, there is now no farther doubt concerning them, because the controversy about them is at an end. And now, I would fain know, what greater certainty oral tradition can give us of the true catalogue of the books of scripture. For it must either acknowledge fome books have been controverted, or not. If not, why doth he make a supposition of controverted books? If oral tradition acknowledge fome to have bcen controverted, then it cannot assure us that they have not been controverted, nor consequently that they ought - to be received as never having been controverted; but only as such, concerning which those churches who did once raise a controversy about them, have been since satisfied that they are canonical. The traditionary church now receives the epistle to the Hebrews as canonical : I ask, do they receive it as ever delivered for such ? That they must, if they receive it from oral tradition, which conveys things to them under this notion, as ever delivered : and yet St. Hierom, speaking not as a speculator, but a teltisier, faith expressly of it, (Com. in Esai. c. 6. 8.), " that the custom of the Latin “ church doth not receive it among the canonical scri
ptures.” What faith Mr. S. to this ? It is clear from this testimony, that the Roman church, in St. Hierom's time, did not acknowledge this epistle for canonical; and it is as plain, that the present Roman church doth receive it for canonical. Where is then the infal. libility of oral tradition? How does the living voice of VOL. III. Вь
the present church assure us, that what books are now received by her, were ever received by her? And if it cannot do this, but the matter must come to be tried by the best records of former ages, which the Protestants are willing to have their catalogue tried by, then it seems the Proteltants have a better way to know what books are canonical, than is the infallible way of oral tradition; and so long as it is better, no matter though it be not called infallible. § 6. Thirdly, He says, p. 15.
" The Protestants cannot know, that the very original, or a perfectly true
copy of these books, hath been preserved." It is not necessary that they should know either of these ; it is fufficient that they know that those copies which they have, are not materially corrupted in any matter of faith or practice: and that they have sufficient assurance of this, I have already shewn. And how doth he prove the contrary ? By his usual argument, with saying, “ It is “ manifestly impossible.” But how do the church of Rome know, that they have perfectly true copies of the scriptures in the original languages ? They do not pretend to know this. The learned men of that church acknowledge the various readings as well as we, and do not pretend to know, otherwise than by probable conjecture, as we also may do, which of those readings is the true one. And why should it be more necessary for us to know this, than for them? If they think it reasonable to content themselves with knowing, that no material corruptions have crept into those books, fo may
And that there have not, we know by better arguments than oral tradition, even by the assurance we have of God's vigilant providence, and from a moral impoffibility in the thing, that a book so universally disperfed, and translated into so many languages, and constantly read in the assemblies of Christians, should have been materially corrupted, so as that all those copies and translations should have agreed in those corruptions. And this reason St. Austin (Ep. 48.) gives of the preservation of the scriptures entire, rather than any other book. If Mr. S. likes it
may Austin to account for it.
$7. Fourthly, He says, p. 15. “The Protestants, at