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POINT II. PROTESTANTS maintain, That the doctrine of our Saviour and the apostles, as to all necessary points is fully contained in the written word: nor is any other to be believed with divine faith, though delivered down to us by universal tradition, unless it can be from the written word clearly proved.
Contrary to the written word, which clearly testifies that all is not written which is to be believed.
1. “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or by our epistle.” 2 Thess. ii. 15.
Does not the apostle here testify that he had taught some things by word of mouth which he did not write ?
2. “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition he received of
2 Thess. iii. 6. 3. “Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you.” 1 Cor. xi. 2.
Here again the written word bears witness that all is not written, and that the Apostle taught many things to his flock, at Thessalonica and Corinth, by word of mouth which are not in his epistles, which, nevertheless, he enjoins them to believe, as being of equal authority with what he had written.
4. Those things which you have heard from me before many witnesses, entrust them to faithful men, who are capable to teach others.” 2 Tim. ii. 2.
It appears by this text that St. Paul, as well as
the rest of the apostles, took the method of oral tradition to transmit his doctrine to all future ages: first, entrusting it to his disciple Timothy, who was to entrust it to other faithful men, who, without any alteration, were to teach it to others, that, by this method, it might be perpetuated from predecessors to successors, from masters to disciples, to the end of the world; at least, there is no appearance from this text that it ever was the design of the apostles to leave only the written word behind them for the instruction of all ages, as Protestants pretend.
5. “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one,
I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” John xxi. 25.
Is it not clear from these words of the Evangelist, that all our Saviour did and taught for the salvation of mankind is not written? In short this doctrine of Protestants implies a contradition, for if nothing is to be believed with divine faith but what is clearly contained in the written word, then this very thing which Protestants thus boldly affirm is not to be believed, because it is nowhere to be found in the written word. For where is it written that the apostles were either commanded by our Saviour, or had any express design of their own, to write all that our Saviour and themselves had taught? To write a complete body of divinity, containing all articles both as to faith and morals, which they had preached and which we are to believe? It is plain to the contrary that Christian churches were founded, and many thousands of Christians fully instructed in the faith of
Christ, by the preaching of the apostles, before any part of the New Testament was written; and that the different parts of this sacred book were afterwards penned, not with any set design to record all and every thing that Christ and the apostles taught; but, as occasion offered, either to confute some new heresy, or by way of exhortation and admonition to those who had been before instructed in the faith and worship of Christ. word: let the Church of England say whether the following articles are not to be believed, viz., That the Virgin Mary was ever virgin: that the Sabbath was, by divine authority, translated to the Sunday: that the Christian Passover, or Easter, is always to be celebrated on a Sunday : that infants are to be baptized : and that the baptism of heretics is valid: yet, certainly these articles are not clearly contained in the written word; but Protestants received them from the tradition of the Church of Rome. Nay, I can produce one other capital point against Protestants of all sects and denominations, which they all receive upon the sole grounds of tradition, and which themselves must confess is nowhere contained in the written word : I mean what books we are bound to receive for holy writ; which, of all necessary things, as the learned Hooker observes, is certainly one of the very chiefest for Protestants to know; and yet this point is confessed impossible for the Scripture itself to teach. For should one book of Scripture give testimony to all the rest, still that Scripture which gives credit to the rest will want another Scripture to give credit to it; and so on without end. For which reason the reformed Churches were forced to receive those books of Scripture, which they have put into their canon from the tradition of the Church of Rome, and can have no other reason imaginable to believe them true and genuine, but because all Catholic Churches, from the Reformation upwards, believed so before them. Now, let Protestant people consider well how fairly they are dealt with by their instructors; one while being told that they are to believe nothing but what is clearly contained in the written word; at the same time they are to receive the written word itself upon the sole grounds of tradition. What more inconsistent ? to receive the Scriptures from whence they pretend all religion is derived, from the tradition of the Catholic Church ; at the same time, they reject many other points of religion taught by that Church, which stand upon grounds with other points of tradition which they receive, and with their belief of Scripture itself? Since it is notorious that the same Catholic Churches, which, in all ages, from the Reformation upward, attested the books of holy writ now extant to be the genuine writings of the prophets, evangelists, and apostles, did also attest the doctrine of purgatory, invocation of saints, the lawfulness of communion in one kind, the real presence, transubstantiation, &c., to be the genuine doctrine of the apostles : and, by consequence, Protestants have at least as good reason to believe these articles to be true, as they have to believe the Scripture itself, now extant, to be the word of God.
POINT III. PROTESTANTS hold, That every private man and woman among the laity has a right, which no
authority on earth can deprive them of, to judge of the sense of Scripture, and to interpret it for themselves.
Contrary to the express words of Scripture:
1. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Pet. i. 20.
Protestants themselves confess, That as the Scriptures were not written without the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, so neither can they be rightly interpreted without the gift of the Holy Ghost. Now this gift is not given to every one: “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit; to another prophesy, &c. All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." 1 Cor. xii. 8. From whence we may conclude, that the gift of interpreting Scripture is not a gift for every one, but chiefly, as we may reasonably suppose, for such as God has given, apostles, pastors, and doctors to his Church. Eph. iv. 11. As to Protestant people in particular, it does not appear that they have hitherto been endowed with any other gift but that of contradicting each other's interpretation throughout all the Reformed Churches; and this no one will say is the gift of the Holy Ghost: so that Protestants themselves, on the one hand, confessing that the Scriptures cannot be rightly interpreted without the gift of the Holy Ghost: and it being self-evident, on the other hand, that Protestant Churches, from their contradicting one another, have not that gift, we concluded that neither their clergy nor their laity have a right to