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The Difficulties of Romanism in regard to tradition and the doctrinal Instruction of the Church.

THE bishop of Aire's remarks on the authority of tradition and on the doctrinal instruction of the church, I have been led, by the necessary course of my argument, in a great measure to anticipate; my few additional observations upon them will not, therefore, extend to any very great length.*

No accurate investigator can read the bishop's remarks on these topics, without being struck with the singular fallacies which pervade them.

I. The Latin church, as we all know, has handed down to the present time various doctrines and various practices. Some of these are received by protestants; others of them are rejected. Now this eclectic process is censured by the bishop: and he requires us, as we value the praise of consistency, either to receive the whole mass or to reject the whole mass.t

His argument, when thrown into a regular form, will run, I apprehend, as follows.

The Latin church has handed down to the present time the several doctrines of the trinity, the Godhead of Christ, the incarnation, the atonement, transubstantiation, purgatory, and the invocation of the saints. But protestants receive the doctrines of the trinity, the Godhead of Christ, the incarnation, and the

*Discuss. Amic. Lett. iv. v.
† Discuss. Amic. vol. i. p. 196,

atonement: THEREFORE they are bound also to receive transubstantiation, purgatory, and the invocation of the saints.

Such is the bishop's argument; but I am unable to discover the link by which he binds his conclusion to his premises.

The first class of doctrines we certainly receive; because we find them in Scripture, both according to its natural interpretation, and as it was invariably understood by the primitive church nearest to the times of the apostles: the second class of doctrines we certainly reject; because we find them neither in Scripture nor in the creed of the earliest church. Under such circumstances, because we differ from the modern Latin church on some points, we discern no reason why we should differ from her on all points. It is to her praise that she has faithfully handed down the great essential doctrines of our common christianity it is to her dispraise that, from a higher or lower comparative antiquity, she has also handed down an accumulated mass of wood and hay and stubble.* Because we receive the former, are we to be censured as inconsistent on the ground of our rejecting the latter? I see not the justice of the charge. It tacitly implies, that the two classes of doctrines. rest upon the same authority. But here is the fallacy: they do NOT rest upon the same authority.

II. The bishop quarrels with the principle of our English church, that Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that, whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.t

With this principle the bishop quarrels; and he thinks that he can reduce us to an absurdity, not to say a contradiction. Our article, we are told, while

* 1 Corinth. iii. 12.

† Art. vi.

it claims to make Scripture its special basis, flatly contradicts Scripture itself. For, in the second Epistle to the Thessalonians, the observance of verbal, no less than of written, tradition is enjoined by St. Paul.* But the article maintains, that written tradition, as contained in Holy Scripture, is alone to be received.

I am unable to discover the contradiction alleged by the bishop. He seems to forget that our article respects the Bible as it stood in the sixteenth century, not as it stood when St. Paul addressed his second Epistle to the Thessalonians. Now, at the time when that epistle was written, the canon of the New Testament was so far from being completed, that most probably not one of the four gospels, most certainly not all the four gospels, had been published. At the same period also, the Acts of the Apostles, the Revelation, the Epistles to the Corinthians, and Romans, and Colossians, and Ephesians, and Hebrews, and Timothy and Philemon, by St. Paul; the second Epistle by St. Peter, the Epistle by St. James, and the three Epistles by St. John, were not in existence. In short, when St. Paul charged the Thessalonians to hold the traditions which they had been taught, whether by word or by his epistle, the canon of the New Testament, even upon the most liberal allowance, could not have contained more than the following books: the Gospel of St. Matthew, the first Epistle of St. Peter, the Epistle to the Galatians, the two Epistles to the Thessalonians, the Epistle to Titus, and the Epistle of Jude. This being the case, it is no very chimerical supposition, that the matters, verbally delivered by St. Paul, were afterward, in the course of God's providence, committed to faithful writing. Whence it would follow, that the position contained in the sixth article of the Anglican church, though not strictly true when the apostle wrote his

* 2 Thess. ii. 15. iii. 6.

second letter to the Thessalonians, may yet in the sixteenth century have been an incontrovertible verity.

After all, I doubt not that the church of England will readily make a large concession to the bishop of Aire. Notwithstanding the very different states of the canon at the present day, and at the time when the second Epistle to the Thessalonians was written, let his lordship prove that the traditions of the modern Latin church are the identical verbal traditions of St. Paul; and the Anglican church, I feel assured, will forthwith receive them.

III. In the judgment of the bishop, tradition is of such vital importance, that the very canon of Scripture itself depends upon it. By renouncing, therefore, the tradition of the Latin church, we effectively invalidate the authority of the canon of Scripture.

From the frequency and confidence with which this objection is adduced, one might almost imagine, that our Latin brethren deemed us altogether ignorant of the very existence of the early ecclesiastical writers. For the settling of the canon, we resort, not to the naked dogmatical authority of the see of Rome, but to the sufficient evidence borne to that effect in the yet existing documents of the primitive church. Were the candlestick of the Roman angel removed to-morrow, the totally independent testimony, on which the English church receives the canon, would remain altogether unaffected.


The Difficulties of Romanism in respect to the Doctrine of Transubstantiation.

THE disagreement between the church of England and the church of Rome, in regard to the doctrine of the holy Eucharist, chiefly respects the supposed process denominated transubstantiation. On this point, the church of England teaches that the consecrated bread and wine symbolically represent the body and blood of our Saviour Christ; while the church of Rome contends, that they are actually so transmuted in their essential qualities, as to cease being any longer literal bread and wine, and as henceforth to become his strictly literal and proper, and substantial and material flesh and blood. Here, if I mistake not, is the main disagreement between the two churches. With respect to the doctrine of the real presence, they both hold it; but, as we might naturally anticipate, it severally assumes in those two communions its specific colour from the opinions with which it is severally connected. The church of England believes Christ to be really, though spiritually, present with all devout and faithful communicants; so that, although his body and blood be verily and indeed, for every saving and beneficial purpose, taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's supper; yet the body of Christ is given and taken and eaten in the holy supper only after an heavenly and spiritual manner, the mean whereby it is so received and eaten being faith.* On the other hand,

* Church Catech, on the Euch. and Art. xxviii.

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