« PreviousContinue »
ly to the satisfying of their ambition, and other lusts, and carrying on designs of gain, and getting dominion over the people ; what can hinder men fo disposed from corrupting the doctrine of Christ, and fuiting it to their own luits and interests? And what shall hinder the people from embracing those corruptions, when, by the negligence of their pastors to instruct them, and not only to, but also by their being deprived of the scriptures in a known tongue, they are become utterly incapable of knowing what the true doctrine of Christ is ? So that in an age of such profound ignorance and vice, and general neglect of instruction, it is so far from being impossible for errors to over-run a church, that the contrary is morally impossible ; and George's long staff, and advantageous cast of his body, are more powerful causes to enable him to leap over Paul's feeple, than this principle, " That nothing is to be admitted but what defeends by
tradition,” is to keep errors out of a church in an ignorant and vicious age, when few or none are either as ble or willing to inftruet men in the truth. For suppose this always to have been the principle of Chriftians, viz. “ That nothing is to be admitted as the doctrine of « Christ, but what is descended to them by tradition;" how fhall this principle fecure the church from heresy, any more than this, viz. “ That nothing but truth is
to be aflented to," doth secure men from error? or more than this, viz." That no man is to do any thing “ but what is wife and virtuous,” does secure the generality of mankind from folly and vice ?
SECT. VIII. The second answer to his second demons
ftration. § 1. *HE principles upon which this demonstration
relies, are not sufficiently proved by him.. His first principle is this, “. That age which holds her “ faith delivered thus from the Apostles, neither can ito “ self have changed any thing in it, nor know or doubt
that any age since the Apostles had changed or inno. os vated any thing therein. This proposition (he tells
us), needs no proof to evidence it, but only an expliö cation : for since no man can hold contrary to his
“ knowledge, or doubt of what he holds, nor change
or innovate in the case proposed without knowing he “ did fo; it is a manifest impollibility a whole age should “ fall into an absurdity so inconsistent with the nature “ of one fingle man.” But (by his favour) that which he says is no proof, but only an explication, is a proof, if it be any thing; and the force of it is this:
" That or which is inconsistent with the nature of one single
man, is manifestly impoflible to a whole age ; but it " is inconsistent with the nature of any single man to “ hold contrary to his knowledge, &c. therefore impof“ fible to a whole age: and consequently, that age " which holds her faith delivered thus from the Apo“ ftles, neither can itself have changed any thing, nor, “ &c.” So that, in order to the making good of this first principle, Mr S. hath left nothing unproved, but only this proposition, namely, That it is impollible that any one single man that holds his faith to have been delivered uninterruptedly from the Apostles, lhould either himself have changed any thing in it, or know or doubt that any age since the Apostles hath changed or innova. ted any thing therein. And to make out the truth of this propofition, there only remains this to be proved, viz. That it is impossible for any single man to be mista. ken : for if that be poflible, then, contrary to Mr S. a man may
hold that to have been delivered as a doctrine of faith from the Apostles, which was not so delivered.
§ 2. His second principle is this, o could innovate any thing, and withal deliver that
very thing to pofterity as received from Christ by con“ tinual fucceflion.” He proves it thus :
6. Since man " is a rational creature, he must have some reason or “ motive, good or bad, which he proposeth to himself or as an end to be atchieved by his action : and what.
ever his remote end is, his immediate end, in telling
posterity a late invented thing was held immediately " before, is to make them believe it. Wherefore, since
a feen impoflibility cannot be a motive to one not “ frantic, and since it is evidently impossible they “ should make pofterity believe a thing to univerially “ known to be false, as this must needs be, &c. it is “as impoflible this principle should faulter, as that the
66 That no age
“ foregoing age should conspire to act without a mo.
Sect. IX. The third answer to Mr Si's second demon.
ftration. $ 1. O&trines and practices which must be acknow.
ledged to have been innovated, have made the
same pretence to uninterrupted tradition. And of this I shall give several instances; one among the Jews, the rest among Christians.
ist, I Ihall instance among the traditionary Jews, whose persuasion in our Saviour's time was, and still is, that their oral doctrine which they call their Cabala, hath descended to them from Mofes uninterruptedly. Now, here is the existence of such a persuasion as Mr S. affirms to be “ impoflible without tradition's ever-in
deficiency to beget it.” And this persuasion of theirs is most exactly parallel with the pretensions of the Romish church according to Mr S. For here is a multitude of traditionary Jews, manifoldly greater in proportion to the dissenters in that church, than the Romish church is in comparison to those Christians that dissent from her. Jofephus tells us Antiq. jud. 1. 13. 6. 18.) that “ the richer fort were of the persuasion of the Sad
ducees, but the multitude were on the Pharisees side." So that the Pharisees had this mark of the true church (as Bellarmine calls it) common to them with the church of Rome, that they were the greatest number, and so they continue to this very day ; insomuch that although they do not call themselves the Catholics, yet I am sure they call all the Jews that do diffent from them schifmatics. Now, that the Sadducees were for the written law against oral tradition, is, I confess, no credit to us; but that our Saviour reproved the traditionary doctrines and practices of the Pharisees, because by them they made void the written law, is much more to the discre. dit of the asserters of oral tradition. Both Romanists and Pharisees own alike a written doctrine ; but then they both pretend the true sense and explication thereof to have descended to them by oral traditon. For just as the traditionary Christians do now, so Jofephus tells us (ib. 1. 17. c. 3. et de bell. Jud. l. 1. c. 4. et l. 2. c. 12.) the traditionary Jews of old, the Pharisees, did pretend by their oral tradition to interpret the law more accurately and exactly than any other feet. In like manner he tells us ( Antiq. 1. 18. c. 2.) that“ all things that “ belonged to prayer and divine worship, were regula“ ted and administered according to their interpretations " of the law.” And they both agree in this, to make
void the word of God by their tradition; which the Pharisees did no otherwise than Mr S. does, by equalling oral tradition to scripture; nay, preferring it above scripture, in making it the sole rule of faith, and interpreting the scripture according to it. Hence are those coinmon sayings in the Talmud, and other Jewish books : “ Do not think that the written law is the foundation, " but that the law orally delivered is the right founda“ tion ; which is to say with Mr S. that not the scripture, but oral tradition is the true rule of faith. Again, “ There is more in the words of the Scribes (viz. the “ testifiers of tradition) than in the words of the writos ten law.” Again, “ The oral law excells the written,
as much as the foul doth the body;" which accords very well with what Mr S. frequently tells us, that the scripture without tradition is but a dead letter, destitute of life and sense. Hence also it is, that they required the people as the traditionary church does now) to yield up themselves to the dictates of tradition, even in the most absurd things; as appears by that common saying among
them : If the Scribes say that the right hand is “ the left, and the left the right, (that bread is flesh, and “ wine is blood), hearken to them ;” that is, make no fcruple of whatever they deliver as tradition, though ne. ver lo contrary to reason or sense. And, lastly, the doc. trines of the Pharisees were many of them practical ; fiich were all those which concerned external rites ard obser. vances, as washing of hands and cups, &c. So that these Pharifaical traditions had also that unspeakable advan. tage which Mr S. says renders their traditions unmistakeable, that they were daily practised, and came down“clad " in such plain matters of fact, that the molt stupid man " living could not poslibly be ignorant of them.” Therefore, according to Mr S.'s principles, it was impossible that any age of the Jews should be persuaded that these things were commanded by Moses, and ever since observed, if they had not been fo : and yet our Saviour denies these customs to have been of any such authority as they pretended
§ 2. But I needed not to have taken all this pains to shew the agreement which is between the traditionary Jews and Papifts; their own writers fo liberally acknow