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“ But what,” he says,
can be worse than to hold impious notions, and not to believe the wise and learned? But into this folly do those fall who, when they are hin: dered in arriving at a knowledge of the truth by some obscurity, do not go to the words of the Prophets, nor to the Epistles of the Apostles, nor to the testimonies of the Evangelists, but to themselves. And on that account are teachers of error, because they have not become disciples of the truth. For what learning has he acquired from the sacred pages of the New Testament, who does not even know the elementary points of the Creed itself? And that which is uttered by the voice of all the regenerate throughout the world, is not yet received in the heart of that old man (viz. Eutyches.] When ignorant, therefore, what he ought to think concerning the incarnation of the Word of God, and not willing to labour in the wide field of the Holy Scriptures, to gain the light of understanding, he should at least have attended with an earnestly-attentive ear to that common and universally-received confession, by which the whole body of the faithful professes its belief in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, by the Holy Spirit, by which three sentences the devices of almost all heretics are destroyed .... But if he could not draw a correct knowledge of the truth from this most pure
fountain of the Christian faith, because, by his own blindness, he had obscured the splendour of the truth, when shining clearly before him, he should have submitted himself to the teaching of the Gospel, Matthew saying, 'The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham ;' and should have sought the instruction of the Apostolical preaching, and reading in the Epistle to the Romans,1 · Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the gospel
· The reader will observe here the phrases “ doctrina Evangelica” and “ Apostolica prædicatio” used for the Scriptures, the former for the gospels, the latter for the Epistles, as is common with the Fathers, and most important to note in this controversy.
of God, which he had promised before by his Prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was made to him of the seed of David, according to the flesh,' [Rom. i. 1–3] should have betaken himself with pious solicitude to the pages of the Prophets, and would have found the promise of God to Abraham, saying, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.' [Gen. xxii. 18.] And that he might have no doubt respecting the reality of this seed, should have followed the Apostle, saying, "To Abraham were the promises made.' (Gal. 3.)” And so he proceeds to show how clearly and fully the doctrine is set forth in Scripture. 1
Here, then, I suppose it is undeniable that, for a knowledge of the truth, men are sent to the Holy Scriptures; and that Leo supposed that it was impossible for a man to have made himself at all acquainted with the Holy Scriptures, who did not receive the “initia” of the creed,
Quid autem iniquius quam impia sapere, et sapientioribus doctioribusque non credere ? Sed in hanc insipientiam cadunt, qui, cum ad cognoscendam veritatem aliquo impediuntur obscuro, non ad Propheticas voces, non ad Apostolicas literas, nec ad Evangelicas Autoritates, sed ad semetipsos recurrunt. Et ideo magistri erroris exsistunt quia veritatis discipuli non fuere. Quam enim eruditionem de sacris Novi et Veteris Testamenti paginis acquisivit, qui nec ipsius quidem Symboli initia comprehendit? Et quod per totum mundum omnium regeneratorum voce depromitur, istius adhuc senis corde non capitur. Nesciens igitur, quid deberet de Verbi Dei incarnatione sentiré, nec volens ad promerendum intelligentiæ lumen in Sanctarum Scripturarum latitudine laborare, illam saltem communem et indiscretam confessionem solicito apprehendisset auditu, qua fidelium universitas profitetur credere se in Deum Patrem Omnipotentem, et in Jesum Christum Filium ejus unicum Dominum nostrum, qui natus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine. Quibus sententiis tribus omnium fere hæreticorum machinæ destruuntur
Sed si de hoc fidei Christianæ fonte purissimo sincerum intellectum haurire non poterat, quia splendorem perspicuæ veritatis obcæcatione sibi propria tenebrarat, doc. trinæ se Evangelicæ subdidisset, dicente Matthæo: Liber generationis Jesu Christi filii David filii Abraham : Apostolicæ quoque prædicationis expetisset instructum, et legens in Epistola ad Romanos ; Paulus servus Jesu Christi,
ad propheticas paginas piam solicitudinem contulisset, et invenisset promissionem Dei ad Abraham dicentis, In semine tuo benedicentur omnes gentes. Et ne de hujus seminis proprietate dubitaret, secutus fuisset apostolum dicentem, Abrahæ dictæ sunt promissiones, &c. (Gal. 3.]” Leonis I. Epist. ad Flavianum Ep. Constant. lecta et approb. in Concil. Chalced. Vid. Acta Concil. Chalced. Act. 2. Concil. ed. 1671. Tom. 4. col. 345.
&c. . .
including the true doctrine of the Incarnation. And he urges attention to the creed for learning the doctrine of the Incarnation, only on the supposition that a man is “ not willing to labour in the wide field of the Holy Scriptures, to gain the light of understanding ;" and still further, so far from supposing that the creed was clearer or fuller than the Scriptures on the point, he urges that if a man should not be able to obtain a correct knowledge of the faith from the creed, he is bound to search the Scriptures with pious solicitude, and submit to the declarations which he finds there; which Leo evidently considers to convey a clear and full declaration of the orthodox doctrine. Can there, then, be a more direct contradiction given to the notion that the full doctrine of the Incarnation is not in Scripture, than is contained in this celebrated letter of Leo, which was publicly read and approved in the Council of Chalcedon, and is inserted in its acts ?
Our opponents, indeed, will find that the early Fathers, far from taking the tradition of earlier Fathers as part of their rule of faith, or supposing that the full doctrine was only to be found there, in this as in other points, made the Scriptures their rule. We,” says Theophilus of Alexandria, when opposing the notion of the Origenists as to the preexistence of the human soul of Christ,“ We, following the rule of the Scriptures, will preach with our whole heart and soul, that neither his flesh nor soul existed before he was born of Mary.”?
Secondly,—It is maintained that Scripture is the only authoritative source of all religious truth,“ tradition" having no authority over the conscience, either as the interpreter or supplement of Scripture, and moreover of all those rites that are to be considered as of divine institution.
This, as we have already observed, is most fully proved by the fact that we have no divine informant but Scrip
Nos Scripturarum normam sequentes tota cordis audacia prædicemus, quod nec caro illius nec anima fuerint priusquam de Maria nasceretur. THEOPH. Alex. Ep. Pasch. II. $ 8. See the whole passage in c. 10, below.
ture, and, therefore, that we have no divine or certain testimony for any point of religion not to be found there. And as regards all really important points, we might also refer to the arguments adduced on the last head, as alone going far to show that Scripture must fully set them forth.
But here, as in the last case, our opponents, with the Romanists, attempt to show that we receive doctrines and practices as divinely revealed, some of which are not contained at all, and others but imperfectly noticed, in Scripture, and take advantage of the appeals sometimes made by us to the practice of the primitive Church on some points, as if they proved that we were compelled sometimes to go to tradition for the proof of doctrines and rites which we receive as divine, though we refuse to abide by it in other points. We shall therefore proceed to consider the examples they bring upon this head, and show that there are no doctrines received by us as certain truths, i.e. as revelations from God, and consequently articles of faith, of which, or any part of which, our belief rests upon the testimony of tradition, but that our belief, in all such cases, is founded wholly upon Scripture; and that we receive no rites as of divine institution but such as are delivered to us in the Scriptures.
The principal passages in which our opponents have spoken of these points, are the following, in some of which the points of which we are now speaking are mixed up with those which we have already considered under the former head, but we quote the passages as they stand. “The matter of fact,” says Mr. Newman, “is not at all made out, that there are no traditions of a trustworthy nature. For instance, it is proved by traditionary information only (for there is no other way), that the text of Scripture is not to be taken literally concerning our washing one another's feet, while the command to celebrate the Lord's Supper is to be obeyed in the letter. Again, it is only by tradition that we have any safe and clear role for changing the weekly feast from the seventh to the first day. Again, our divines, such as Bramhall Bull, Pearson, and Patrick, believe that the Blessed Mary was • Ever Virgin,' as the Church has called her, but tradition was their only informant on the subject.” (Lect. pp. 334, 5.) “ We consider the eucharist is of perpetual obligation, because the ages immediately succeeding the Apostles thought so; we consider the inspired Canon was cut short in the Apostles, whose works are contained in the New Testament, and that their successors had no gift of expounding the Law of Christ, such as they had, because the same ages so accounted it.” (Ib. p. 371.)
“ It may be proved,” says Mr. Keble,“ to the satisfaction of any reasonable mind, that not a few fragments yet remain-very precious and sacred fragments of the unwritten teaching of the first age of the Church. The paramount authority, for example, of the successors of the Apostles in Church Government; the threefold order established from the beginning; the virtue of the blessed eucharist as a commemorative sacrifice ; infant baptism; and above all, the catholic doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity, as contained in the Nicene creed. All these, however surely confirmed from Scripture, are yet ascertainable parts of the primitive unwritten system of which we yet enjoy the benefit. If any one ask, how we ascertain them, we answer, by the application of the wellknown rule, Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus.” (Keble's Serm. p. 32.) “ Without its aid [i. e. 'primitive tradition'] humanly speaking, I do not see how we could now retain either real inward communion with our Lord through his Apostles, or the very outward face of God's Church and kingdom among us. Not to dwell on disputable cases, how but by the tradition and practice of the early Church can we demonstrate the observance of Sunday as the holiest day, or the permanent separation of the clergy from the people as a distinct order? Or where, except in the primitive liturgies, a main branch of that tradition, can we find assurance, that in the Holy