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“UNUS BONORUM FONS, DEUS, OMNIUM."
Thine handmaid with thy bounty crown'a !
As on a rugged thorn the rose,
The Editor begs to remind his readers that he is not responsible for the opinions
of his Correspondents.
ON TRADITION. SIR,—A book has just been put out by a divine of note, and of high rank in the university, entitled, “Not Tradition, but Revelation or Scripture]." I beg leave to offer some few remarks upon it, by way of protest against it.
And I must first declare my regret that Dr. Shuttleworth has been so ambiguous in his manner of expression in several places where those against whom he has avowedly written had a right to expect the utmost plainness. I shall notice the places as I go on. The Warden begins his treatise with a quotation from St. Irenæus. Now, in this passage, I remark, first, that the apostles are put above the “ Evangelium,” or gospel ; be that what it may,-“ Dominus omnium dedit Apostolis suis potestatem Evangelii." Secondly, that he represents the Evangelium as written only in the four books of the four Evangelists, and says nothing of the Acts, Epistles, or Apocalypse. On the first point there will, I suppose, be no material difference of opinion, when the second is agreed upon. But of the second, I maintain that it is wholly at variance with the following statement of the Warden
“ Such is the testimony of Irenæus, as given in the words of his Latin translator, to the sufficiency and completeness of the written works of the first teachers of Christianity as a summary of Christian doctrine. That which they originally taught by word of mouth, says he, the same they afterwards put into writing; and those writings are, the books of the New Testament."
I think it right to state, that I neither am, nor ever have been, concerned in writing or compiling any of the Tracts for the Times; and having done so, I choose 10 add, that I heartily approve them.
Now, all English readers would, from this passage, understand all the books of the New Testament. St. Irenæus minutely mentions the four gospels (as we now call the evangelical histories) and their writers; and does not so much as allude to any other part of the New Testament. And the importance of this extraordinary misstatement will appear when we consider that Dr. Shuttleworth claims St. Irenæus as witnessing in this passage to “the sufficiency and completeness of the written works of the first si. e., all the first] teachers of Christianity as a summary of Christian doctrine. For if
, in fact, St. Irenæus does witness only to the written works of St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke (except the Acts), and St. John (except his Epistles and Revelation), a large part of the Warden's argument falls to the ground, for we are left, as far as St. Irenæus is concerned, to take any view that
may otherwise be made good, as to the residue of the New Testament. As, for example, with regard to the epistlesthat they are letters meant for specific purposes, appearing on the face of them, or, however, to be found in them by those who are competent to the search; and neither are, nor are professed by the writers to be, “a summary of Christian doctrine." I request very particular attention to this mistake, and an impartial consideration of its decisive effect on, at least, the Warden's argument.
But I do not mean to avoid collision with the apparent force of the testimony of St. Irenæus to “the sufficiency and completeness of the (four) written works” of the four evangelists. The question, with regard to his testimony, turns upon the word “evangelium." And it will not, I suppose, be denied, that the best authority for its meaning may be expected in the writings of the evangelists themselves. St. Luke, in the second chapter of his gospel, relates, that the angel began the wondrous revelation to the shepherds, saying, “évayyelíšouai uiv χαράν μεγάλην.” “I preach you the gospel, a subject of great joy,” or, “ I bring you tidings of great joy,” as our version has it. I infer from this use of «ευαγγελίζομαι” that the ευαγγέλιον is specifically the announcement, that unto us “is born a SAVIOUR, which is Christ The LORD.” He confirms this view when he says, in answer to John the Baptist's enquiry, “ #twxoi évayyelíkovrai," the poor have the gospel preached unto them.” “Yet the “evangelium,” the gospel, could not possibly then have been the summary of Christian doctrine in the Warden's sense; it could not have meant any sort of church government,-any baptism in the name of the most holy Trinity, any account whatever of the Eucharist. Neither does the occasion on which the evangelists write the word “vayyeAlov" itself, as our Lord's expression, at all countenance the notion, that it had any fuller sense than that which I have supposed-the occasion, namely, of the woman anointing his head; όπου αν κηρυχθή το ευαγγελιον τούτο, this gospel. What gospel? Certainly not any relation of the particulars just mentioned. And now, having seen that évayyédov is used by the evangelists, I have no objection, although not at all bound by the Warden's citation from St. Irenæus, to see how St. Paul uses it. I cannot doubt that he and the other apostles did most fully give out"a summary of Christian doctrine;" but I think they neither profess
to find a summary" in the writings of their fellow apostles, nor to give one in their own. In the third chapter of the Epistle to the Galations, he says, “ The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel (apoevnyyelioato) to Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” In this passage, for instance, I remark, first, that St. Paul used the identical word (for the apò, of course, is merely an adjunct adverb of time) which St. Luke relates as used by the angel ; secondly, that the word is used to mean the same thing—namely, the incarnation of the LORD Jesus; thirdly, that at the time of the event recorded by St. Paul, it was impossible that there could be “a summary of Christian doctrine;" and that, in fact, the Old Testament does not give one ; and therefore, that St. Paul's use of the word does not imply one. Again, in the first chapter of the same epistle, he says, “ Though we, or an angel from beaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Here again we have St. Luke's word used by the apostle ; and can we avoid believing that he was alluding specifically to the one appearance of that angel from heaven who had once for all preached the gospel at the blessed hour of the nativity ?
My inference from holy scripture, and from the passage of St. Irenæus, on which the Warden has built bis argument, is, that the Evangelium, the good tidings, the gospel, is summarily the LORD JESUS incarnate, conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, with its consequences of salvation to us; that the evangelists wrote with the specific design of recording these “ good tidings;" that they did not write to give a scheme of ritual, or church-government, and that their writings do not in any degree profess to give one; that therefore all allusions to ritual and church-government are purely incidental; that we must consequently, according to their intentions, look for a scheme of ritual and church-government elsewhere; and that we do, in fact, find one elsewhere-namely, in the unbroken tra. dition of the church. And I mean to apply this view to all the epistles, as well as to the gospels. And now, before quitting Irenæus, I will quote another passage from him, to which I will, mutatis mutandis, apply the words of the Warden upon the passage which he has quoted; and I also make the quotation in the Latin :
“ Ecclesia enim per universum orbem usque ad terræ fines seminata, et ab apostolis et a discipulis eorum accepit eam fidem quæ est iu unum Deum, Patrem Omnipotentem, qui fecit cælum, et terram, et mare, et omnia quæ in eis sunt, et in unum Jesum CHRISTUM Filium Dei, Incarnatum pro nostra Salute, et in SPIRITUM SANCTUM, qui per prophetas prædicavit dispositiones Dei, et adventum, et cam quæ est ex Virgine generationem, et passionem, et resurrectionem a mortuis, et in carne in cælos ascensionem dilecti Jesu Christi Domini nostri, et de cælis in gloria PATRIS adventum ejus ad recapitulanda universa, et resuscitandam omnem carnem humani generis, ut Christo Jesu Domino nostro, et Deo, et SALVATORI, et Regi secundum placitum Patris Invisibilis omne genu curvet cælestium, et terrestrium, et infernorum, et omnis lingua confitentur ei et judicium justum in omnibus faciat...... Hanc prædicationem quum acceperit, et hanc fidem, quemadmodum prædiximus, ecclesia et quidem in universum mundum disseminata, diligenter custodit, quasi unam domum inhabitans: et similiter credit iis videlicet quasi unam animam habens, et unum cor, et consonanter hæc prædicat et docet et tradit quasi unum possidens os."- Contra Hereses, lib. i. c. 10.
The language of the Warden, with the necessary alterations, will apply well to this passage:
“Such is the testimony of Irenæus, as given in the words of his Latin translator, to the sufficiency and completeness of the tradition of the first teachers of Christianity as a summary of Christian doctrine...... Here is not the slightest intimation that their oral instruction was dependent upon the written record which has descended to our own times. So far is the primitive author from asserting, that the first (?) apostles did not trust any of their doctrines to the uncertain vehicle of mere tradition, that his expressions are scarcely compatible with such a supposition.”
And as the passage quoted by me contains the creed, I will quote, before leaving this part of the subject, the opinion of a writer who will not, I believe, be thought likely to favour anything which implied an over-assertion of the catholic faith, or even what is now called popery; I mean the“ teacher of the church at Kederminster,” Richard Baxter.
In an Introduction placed before the Preface of his “Catholick Theologie,” (folio, London, MDCLxxv.,) after a recital of many passages of holy scripture addressed to the "wrathful, contentious, zealous dogmatists, he lays down fourteen Assertions, apparently intended as conclusions from the preceding passages. Of these Assertions, the fifth is this
“ Though I am not of their mind that think the twelve apostles each one made an article of the creed, or that they formed and tyed men to just the very same syllables and every word that is now in the creed; yet that they still kept to the same sense, and words so expressing it, as by their variation might not endanger the corrupting of the faith by a new sense, is certain, from the nature of the case, and from the agreement of all the antient creeds, which were er professed at baptism, from their dayes; that cited by me (Append. to the Reformed Pastor) out of Irenæus, two out of Tertullian, that of Marcellus in Epiphanius, that expounded by Cyril, that in Ruffinus, the Nicene, and all mentioned by Usher and Vossius, agreeing thus far in sense; and no one was baptized without the creed professed."
And further, (Assertion 7)—
"The church had a summary and symbol of Christianity (as I said before) about twelve years before any book of the New Testament was written, and about sixty-six years before the whole
was written : and this of God's own making : which was yet ever agreed on, when many books of the New Testament were not yet agreed on.
And (Assertion 1)
“A thousand texts of scripture may be not known and understood by one that is justified, but all the baptismal articles and covenant must be understood competently by all that will be saved.”
Perhaps the Warden means the creed when he speaks, as quoting St. Irenæus (p. 4), of “ the sound traditions derived by the church directly from the apostles themselves.” I quote these passages from Baxter to shew what was even his opinion of the existence of a rule of faith independent of the scriptures, and for the sake of his mention of the creed as given by St. Irenæus and now here quoted. I shall bring forward some other statements of bis as to tradition in their proper place.
I come now to consider the passage quoted from Justin Martyr by the Warden, passing by his notices of Clemens Romanus, Polycarp, and Ignatius, with this remark only,—that I see nothing in their silence, if they are silent, as to tradition but what was to be expected;