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SECT. X.

The fourth answer to his second demonstration.

§ 1. IT is not the present persuasion of the church of Rome, nor ever was, that their faith hath descended to them by oral tradition as the sole rule of it. And this being proved, the supposition upon which his demonstration is built falls to the ground.

410

And for the proof of this, I appeal to that256256Decret. primum quartae Sess. decree of the council of Trent, in which they declare, that, because the “Christian faith and discipline are contained in written books and unwritten traditions, &c. therefore they do receive and honour the books of Scripture, and also traditions, (pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia) with equal pious affection and reverence;” which I understand not how those do who set aside the Scripture, and make tradition the sole rule of their faith. And consonantly to this decree, the general doctrine of the Romish church is, that Scripture and tradition make up the rule of faith. So the Roman catechism (set forth by order of the council of Trent) says,257257In praef. that “the sum of the doctrine delivered to the faithful is contained in the word of God, which is distributed into Scripture and tradition.” Bellarmine258258De Verbo Dei, &c. l. 4. c. 12.speaks to the same purpose, “That the Scripture is a rule of faith, not an entire, but partial one. The entire rule is the word of God, which is divided into two partial rules, Scripture and tradition.” According to this, the adequate rule of faith is the word of God; which is contained partly in Scripture, and partly in the tradition of the church. And that Scripture is looked upon by them as the principal rule and primary foundation of their faith, and tradition as only supplying the defects of Scripture, as to some doctrines and rites not contained in Scripture, must be evident to any one that hath been conversant in the chief of their controversial divines. Bellaruiine,259259De Verbo Dei non scripto. l. 4. c. 9. where he gives the marks of a Divine tradition, speaks to this purpose: That that which they call a 411Divine tradition is such a doctrine or rite as is not found in Scripture, but embraced by the whole church; and for that reason believed to have descended from the apostles. And he tells us further,260260De Verbo Dei, &c. l. 4. c. 11.that the apostles committed all to writing which was commonly and publicly preached; and that all things are in Scripture which men are bound to know and believe explicitly: but then he says, that there were other things which the apostles did not commonly and publicly teach; and these they did not commit to writing, but delivered them only by “word of mouth to the prelates and priests and perfect men of the church.” .And these are the apostolical traditions he speaks of. Cardinal Perron261261Reply, observat. 3. c. 4. says, “That the Scripture is the foundation of the Christian doctrine, either mediately or immediately.” And “that the authority of unwritten tradition is founded in general on these sentences of the apostle,2622622 Thess. ii. 15. ‘Hold the traditions,’” &c. 263263 2 Tim. ii. 2.Again, “The things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, commit to faithful men,” &c. And that “the authority of the church to preserve, and especially to declare these, is founded in this proposition, viz.2642641 Tim. iii. 15. That the church is the pillar and ground of truth. “So that, according to him, “the primary rule of faith is the Scripture,” in which the authority of tradition is founded. Mr. Knott265265Charity Maintained, c. 2. sect. 1. says expressly, “We acknowledge the Holy Scripture to be a most perfect rule, forasmuch as writing can be a rule; we only deny that it excludes either Divine tradition, though it be unwritten, or an external judge to keep, to propose, to interpret it,” &c. So that (according 412 to him) Scripture is a perfect rule, only it does not exclude unwritten tradition, &c. By which, that he does not understand (as Mr. S. does) a concurrent oral tradition of all the same doctrines which are contained in Scripture, but other doctrines not therein contained, is plain from what he says elsewhere:”266266Reply to Mr. Chillingworth, c. 2. sect. 179. “We do not distinguish tradition from the written word because tradition is not written by any, or in any book or writing; but because it is not written in the Scripture or Bible:”” Belarmine267267De Verbo Dei, &c. l. 4. c. 2. also says the same. And as for the “interpreting of Scripture” he tells us, that this is not the office of a rule, but of a judge. 268268Charity Maintained, c. 2. sect. 3.”There is (says he) a great and plain distinction between a judge and a rule. For as in a kingdom the judge hath his rule to follow, which are the received laws and customs; which are not fit or able to declare and be judges themselves, but that office must belong to a living judge: so the Holy Scripture is and may be a rule, but cannot be a judge.” Here he makes the Scripture as much a rule for matters of faith as the laws of the land are for civil matters. And in his reply to Mr. Chillingworth, he hath a chapter of above one hundred and fifty pages, the title whereof is, “Scripture is not the only rule of faith;” which (had he with Mr. S. believed oral tradition to be the sole rule of faith) had been as absurd as it would be to write a book to prove that Turks are not the only Christians in the world. Mr. Cressy likewise (not very consistently to himself) lays down this conclusion:”269269§ Exomol. c. 20. “The entire rule of faith is contained not only in Scripture, but likewise in unwritten tradition.”

413

§. 2. Now all this is as contrary as can be to Mr. Rush worth’s new rule of faith. Therefore Mr. White says,270270Tabul. Suffrag. p. 96. “They speak ill who teach that some things are known in the church from Scripture, some by tradition.” And Dr. Holden (in opposition to those who make Scripture any part of the rule of faith) advances one of the most wild and uncharitable positions that ever I yet met withal, viz.271271Analys. Fid. l. 1. c. 6. “That if one should believe all the articles of the catholic faith, &c. for this reason, because he thought they were all expressly revealed in Scripture, or implicitly contained, so as they might be deduced from thence, and would not have believed them, had he not judged that they might be evinced from Scripture; yet this man could be no true catholic, because (as he tells us afterwards272272C. 8.) we must receive the Christian doctrine as coming to us by tradition: for only by this means (excluding the Scriptures) Christ hath appointed revealed truths to be received and communicated.” In the mean time Cardinal Perron (unless he altered his mind) is in a sad case, who believed the authority of tradition itself for this reason, because it was founded in Scripture.

§. 3. And this fundamental difference about the rule of faith, between the generality of their divines and Mr. S.’s small party, is fully acknowledged by the traditionists themselves. Dr. Holden says,273273L. 1. c. 9. That “their divines who resolve faith according to the common opinion, do inevitably fall into that shameful circle,” of proving the Divine authority of the Scripture by the church, and the infallibility of the church back again by the Scripture, “because they dare not 414build their faith upon the natural evidence and certainty of tradition.” So that Dr. Holders way of resolving faith is different from the common opinion of their divines, which he says274274L. 1. c. 3. “does not differ from the opinion of those who resolve their faith into the private spirits;” and this (according to Mr. White275275Exetas. p. 70.) is the very way of the Calvinists, and of the absurdest sects. Nay, Mr. White says further,276276Ibid. that he will be content to “suffer all the punishment that is due to calumniators, if the Roman divines (he there speaks of) do not hold the same rule of faith with the Calvinists, and all the absurdest sects.” So that it seems that the Calvinists, &c. do not in their rule of faith differ from the papists, but only from Mr. White, Mr. S. &c. Now the divines he there speaks of, are the censors of doctrines at Rome, according to whose advice his infallible holiness and the cardinals of the Inquisition do usually proceed in censuring of doctrines. Concerning these divines he 7oes on to expostulate in this manner;277277Ib. p. 73. “Shall we endure these men to sit as censors and judges of faith, who agree with heretics in the very first principle which distinguishes catholics from heretics?” Again,278278P. 144. “These are thy gods, O Rome! upon these thou dependest, whilst prating Ignorance triumphs in the Roman college!” And he says the same likewise of the generality of their school-divines, whom he calls sceptics, because they do not own his demonstrative way. Insomuch that he tells us,279279P. 64. that “few sound parts are left uninfected with this plague of scepticism;280280P. 149. that it P. 67, as. this is an universal gangrene;281281P. 67, 68. that 415there are but few that go the way of demonstration, and these are either wearied out, or else live retiredly, or despair of any remedy of these things.” And indeed all along that book he bemoans himself and his traditionary brethren as a desolate and forlorn party, who have truth on their side, but want company and encouragement. So he tells us,282282P. 101. that “the true scientifical divines dare not profess their knowledge, lest they should be exposed by the sophisters of their church to the derision and scorn, either of their judges or of the people.”

§. 4. So that, upon examination of the whole matter, it appears that Mr. S.’s demonstration proceeds upon a false supposition, viz. That it is the persuasion of their present church, that tradition is the sole rule of faith. For there is no such matter; unless Mr. S. mean by their church a few private persons, who are looked upon by those who have the chief power in their church as heretical: as we may reasonably conjecture by the proceedings at Rome against Mr. White; many of whose books are there condemned,283283Exetas. p. 9. as “containing things manifestly heretical; erroneous in the faith; rash, scandalous, seditious, and false respectively,” &c. And all this done, notwithstanding that the chief subject of those books is the explication and defence of this most catholic principle, That oral tradition is the only rule of faith! To sum up then the whole business: If nothing be to be owned for Christian doctrine (as the traditionists say) but what is the general persuasion of those who are acknowledged to be in the communion of the Roman catholic church; then much less can this principle (That oral tradition is the sole rule of 416faith,) which is pretended to be the foundation of the whole Christian doctrine, be received as descended from Christ and his apostles; since it is so far from being the general persuasion of that church at present, that it has been, and still is, generally disowned. But Mr. White has a salvo for this. For although he grants,284284Apol. p. 38. that “very many of their schoolmen maintain that tradition is necessary only for some points not clearly expressed in Scripture, whence (he says) it seems to follow that they build not the whole body of their faith upon tradition;” yet he tells us, “there is a vast difference betwixt relying on tradition, and saying or thinking we do so.” Suppose there be; yet I hope that men’s saying that they do not rely on tradition as their only rule, is a better evidence that they do not, than any man’s surmise to the contrary is that they do, though they think and say they do not; which is in effect to say, that they do, though we have as much assurance as we can have that they do not. Besides, how is this rule self-evident to all, even to the rude vulgar, as to its ruling power, (as Mr. S. affirms it is) when the greatest part even of the learned among them think and say that it is not the only rule?” But Mr. White endeavours to illustrate this dark point by a285285Ibid. p. 39. similitude, which is to this sense: As the sceptics, who deny this principle, that contradictions cannot be true at once, yet in their lives and civil actions proceed as if they owned it: so the school men, though they deny tradition to be the only rule of their faith, yet, by resolving their faith into the church which owns this principle, they do also in practice own it, though they say they do not. So that the generality of learned papists are just such 417catholics as the sceptics are dogmatists; that is, a company of absurd people that confute their principles by their practice. According to this reasoning, J perceive the protestants will prove as good catholics as any; for they do not only think and say that tradition is not the rule of faith; but that they practically rely upon it, Mr. S. hath passed his word for them: for he assures us286286P. 30, 31. (and we may rely upon a man that writes nothing but demonstration), that “if we look narrowly into the bottom of our hearts, we shall discover the natural method of tradition to have unawares settled our judgments concerning faith; however, when our other concerns awaken design in us, we protest against it, and seem, perhaps, to our unreflecting selves, to embrace and hold to the mere guidance of the letter of Scripture.” So that in reality we are as good catholics, and as true holders to tradition, as any papists of them all, at the bottom of our thoughts and in our settled judgment; however, we have taken up a humour to protest against it, and “may seem perhaps to our unreflecting selves” to be protestants.

§. 5. Thus much may suffice to have been spoken to his two great arguments; or,287287P. 173. as he (good man) unfortunately calls them, demonstrations; which yet, to say truth, are not properly his, but the author of Rushworth’s Dialogues, the main foundation of which book is the substance of these demonstrations. Only before I take leave of them I cannot but reflect upon a passage of Mr. S.’s,288288P. 163. wherein he tells his readers that they are not “obliged to bend their brains to study his book with that severity as they would do an Euclid;” meaning perhaps one of Mr. White’s Euclids; for it does not appear, by his way 418of demonstration, that ever he dealt with any other. As for the true Euclid, I suppose any one that hath tasted his writing, will at the reading of Mr. S.’s unbend his brains without bidding, and smile to see himself so demurely discharged from a study so absurd and ridiculous.


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