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they are evidently promotive of the same good Ends for which they were first instituted. And accordingly antient Practices have been retained, or dropped in the Church, as the same have been found instrumental to Edification, or have been perverted to contrary Purposes.—Now the Customs and Usages of the primitive Church can come to our Knowledge only through the Chanel of ecclesiastical History, or of regular uninterrupted Tradition; to both which a proper Deference is in all reason to be paid in Matters purely concerning Government, and external Administration. That the Apostles delivered many Things relative hereunto by Word of Mouth is apparent from Holy Scripture; St. Paul commands and exhorts the Thejsalonians to jland fast, and hold the 'Traditions, which they had been taught, whether by Word, or his Epistle. (2 Thejs. ii. 15.) Indeed the Subjects of oral Tradition cannot be supposed to have been of the same Nature, nor consequently of the sameObligation, with the great Doctrines of the written Word itself: at least, it cannot be supposed that it delivered any Doctrine but what was to be found in that written Word. For not to insist upon the many Texts, that plainly evince both the immediate Tendency of Scripture, and it's Sufficiency to Salvation, this Truth seems abundantly clear from the Nature and Reason of the Thing. For can a more probable or rational Cause be assigned

why why any essential Doctrine of Christianity was committed to writing than this, that such a Method was most likely to convey it to Posterity in it's original Purity, and was less liable to Mutilation, Addition, and all Corruption whatsoever, than verbal Traditions could possibly be? If therefore the Holy Scripture contains any Thing necessary to Salvation, it seems unavoidably to follow that it contains all Things necessary thereunto; unless we can suspect that the sacred Writers did not take equal Care, and make equal Provision in Cases of equal Consequence to all Christians. The Scripture then is the only certain and immutable Standard of Faith, and moral Practice, to the End of the World; and Traditions are binding so far forth, and no farther than, as they have the Sanction of due Authority, are at the same time agreeable to the written Word of God, or at least are not irreconcileable therewith. In short, what is written bids much fairer to be true than what is unwritten; and therefore, by most clear Rule of Reason, Tradition is to be regarded when correspondent with Scripture, but rejected when it contradicts it.—Indeed, it is pretended by the Church of Rome that Tradition is certainly as true as the Scripture itself; that Tradition has been transmitted, by uninterrupted Succession, through the Church, which cannot err; that the Sense of the Scriptures is only determinable by the Sense of the

O 3 Church; Church; and that the most damnable Doctrines and Positions have ever boasted the Countenance and Concurrence of Scripture, and could not have been over-ruled or condemned, but by the Judgment and Sentence of Church Authority.—But to this it is obvious to reply, that either the Scriptures are as intelligible as to the main Sense and Design of them as any other Writings, or they are not; if they are not, to what purpose were they written? If they are, it is certainly very material whether the Sense of the Church be consonant to the plain Sense and Scope of Scripture, or repugnant thereunto: and it will follow that the Scripture itself, and not the Church, is the proper Tryer of all Doctrine, and the only infallible Judge of all Controversy: will any Man pretend to say, that the Doctrine of Tranjubftantiation is as clearly and rationally demonstrable from Scripture as that of the Trinity? if not, why is equal Stress to be laid upon the Authority of the Church with regard to both Doctrines? That traditional Authority, from the very Nature of it, is more liable to Corruption than Scriptural, we have observed already; and if this Point could admit of a Doubt, we may appeal to Matter of Fact for a Decision of it. Our Saviour directly charges the Jews with making the Word of God of none Effect, by their Traditions. And why may not Tradition be as injurious to the Word of God in the Cbrijlian Church, as it was in the Jewiflj ?—Indeed, could the Church of Rome demonstrate the Infallibility of that Authority by which she pretends to interpret the sacred Books, and to determine all Controversies in the Church of Christ, the Rules and Decrees of her Bishops and Councils must be allowed to be of the fame Weight and Obligation with the Gospel

itself. But this Authority has been often both

disputed and disproved. It may be asked, when did this Authority commence? or to whom was it given ?—No one will deny that it was as necessary for the Peace and good Order of the Church at it's first Establishment, as it could be at any Period since: for Disputes and Dissentions, concerning Points of very considerable Importance, were not uncommon even in the Apostolic Age; and yet these Disputes were not decided by any thing like such an Authority as that in present Question. When certain of the Se£t of the Pharisees which believed, rose up, faying, that it was needful to circumcise the Gentiles, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses; we are told, the Apojlles and TLlders came together, for to consider of this Matter: (Atts xv. 6.) and it seems there had been much disputing, before either Peter or James delivered their Sentiments upon this Occasion. And when they did so, they debated the Point in an argumentative Way; and the final Determination of it was grounded on the Reasonableness of the

O 4 'Thing, Thing, and the concurrent Opinion of the Assembly. Now if such an Authority was lodged in the Church as is claimed by the Church of Rome, it will, I think, be impossible to account for the manifest Impropriety and Absurdity of this whole Proceeding.—And it is further observable, that although the Decision of this Affair was plainly the Result of a regular and rational Debate, it had nevertheless the Sanction of no less Authority than that of the Holy Ghost himself; it seemed good to the Holy Ghojl, says St. James, &c. and therefore the Conclusion to be drawn from the above Account of this Matter appears to be this, that as it evidently discountenances all Pretences to absolute Infallibility in any one Man, or Body of Men, since the Establishment of Chrijlianity, so does it as evidently encourage all pious Governors of the Chrijtian Church, to implore and depend upon the gracious Influences of the Spirit of Truth upon their Councils and Resolutions, and to pray to him to give them a right Judgment in all Things.— Again, we find St. Paul frequently canvassing this very Point in his Epistles, and labouring to convince his Readers by plain Force of Reason and Argument; which however it is utterly incredible he would have done, had there been a known, infallible Authority in the Church, to which he might have at once directed them; and from which there could be no Appeal. And lastly, in

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