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highest importance to our eternal happiness, which are not contained in the New Testament; and they farther believe, that these doctrines and precepts have been faithfully transmitted to the present time; and that there is an infallible authority, vested by Christ in his church, to judge of their correctness, and to distinguish those which are true from those which are false (a). On the contrary, we of the church of England affirm, that the Scriptures contain a complete rule of faith and practice, and we reject every doctrine and precept, as essential to salvation, or to be obeyed as divine, which is not supported by their authority.

In proof of the former part of this article we

may first observe, that oral tradition, on account of the prodigious length to which human life was at first extended, had greater advantages in the early ages of the world, than it could have in any subsequent period. Methuselah lived about 300 years while Adam was alive, and Shem lived almost 100 years with Methuselah, and above 100 years with Abraham; but though it thus appears that two interme


(a) It does not appear that there is any collection of these traditions, which is considered as authentic by papists. The Jewish traditions were collected into a book, and comments written upon them, as has been before observed, Part 1. Chapter 4.

diate persons, namely Methuselah and Shem, were sufficient to convey any tradition from Adam to Abraham, yet the simplicity and purity of the primæval religion were so grossly corrupted in the days of Abraham, that all knowledge of the one true God would have been utterly extinguished, and idolatry would have prevailed universaliy, if it had not pleased the Almighty to reveal himself in an especial manner to Abraham and his posterity, and to separate them from the rest of mankind. If to this experience of former times, we add the observation which must have occurred to every one concerning the inaccuracy of reports upon the plainest matter of fact, we may conclude that oral tradition is altogether incompetent to transmit to us, from the time of the Apostles, any doctrines or precepts in which our eternal salvation is concerned. Surely therefore it ought not to be believed, that points of such importance would be trusted to so doubtful a conveyance. It is certain that the Evangelists and Apostles have elivered to us in writing some articles of faith and some rules of practice, as essential to salvation; but if some, why not all? Is it probable that we should receive part of our religion in writing, and part by oral tradition? Is there any mention in the New Testament of authentic tradition,

tradition, which was to be added to the written word of God? of any defects in the Gospels, which the church was to supply by her unwritten precepts and doctrines?

But let us consider the case of the Mosaic dispensation, which was introductory to the Gospel, and was derived from the same divine origin. The Law of Moses was delivered on Mount Sinai under the most striking and impressive circumstances, and it contained rites and feasts calculated to preserve the memory of it; it was temporary, and confined to a single people, who were kept united, and were not permitted to mix with other nations; it consisted chiefly of ordinances, which were to be performed, without any great interval of time, at one place and yet the whole of this religion, thus suited, if any could be, to oral tradition, was, by the express command of God, committed to writing. On the other hand, the Christian religion is designed for the whole world, for men of all countries, languages, and times, and every part of the worship enjoined by it may be performed in any part of the earth. Surely then we may conclude that the whole of the Christian religion was committed to writing-that God would make the same provision for the preservation of the universal religion of mankind, which he did for O



the partial religion of the Jews. St. John, indeed, seems to declare, that a belief of what he alone had written was sufficient to ensure eternal life: "These things," says he, at the end of his Gospel," are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name (b);" and St. Luke tells Theophilus, that he wrote his Gospel that he "might know the certainty of those things in which he had been instructed (c)."

Though the whole Jewish religion was in fact contained in the books of Moses, yet the Jews in the time of our Saviour, had a great number of traditions, which they observed with the utmost strictness. Christ and his Apostles frequently appealed to Moses and the prophets, and encouraged and commanded the searching of the Scriptures; but in no one instance did they acknowledge the authority of the traditions, which were then held in such high esteem; on the contrary, Christ told the Jews, that "they had made the commandments of God of none effect by their traditions (d) ;" and that "they worshipped God in vain, when they taught for doctrines the commandments of men (e)."

(b) John, c. 20. v. 31.. (d) Matt. c. 15. v.6.


(c) Luke, c. 1. V. 4. (e) Mark, c. 7. v. 7.

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Since then oral tradition is, from the very nature of man, incompetent to convey any doctrine to us from the times of the Apostles; since it is improbable in the highest degree that part of our religion should be delivered in writing, and part by oral tradition; since the New Testament contains not the slightest intimation concerning any rules or precepts to be transmitted to Christians by oral tradition; and since the traditions of the Jews were severely condemned by our Saviour himself, and no authentic tradition is referred to, either by him or his Apostles, we consider ourselves fully justified in rejecting all oral tradition as of divine authority, and in believing that HOLY


The antient fathers always speak of the Scriptures as containing a complete rule of faith and practice, and appeal to them, and to them only, in support of the doctrines which they advance. "The Scriptures," says Irenæus, " are indeed perfect, inasmuch as they are dictated by the Word of God and his Spirit (f)." Tertullian, arguing against a certain tenet of Hermogenes, says, "If it be not written, let him fear the curse denounced against those who add to,

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