Jeremy Taylor.

The whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 13) online

. (page 12 of 61)
Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 13) → online text (page 12 of 61)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

that is, the religion. But more full is that short sentence
of St. Athanasius ; ' Aurasxs/j j&b ya ilaiv ay/a/ xa/ SEO-
mutfro/ ysa^a/ <T5oj rr,v <rr t c aXrfaias evayytXiav, "The holy
and divinely inspired Scriptures are in themselves sufficient
for the preaching or enunciation of the truth." To the same
purpose are the words of St. Chrysostom ; m " If there be
need to learn any thing, or to be ignorant of any thing,
thence we learn ; if we would reprove falsehood, thence we
draw; if any thing be wanting to correction, to castigation,
to comfort, and that we ought to get it, from thence we
learn it. MJJ^S css/^s/v^g trisov diddffxahov, %%!$ fa Xoyia rou
sou' ovfai; as diddffxn us lxi?\>a' " Look for no other teacher,
thou hast the oracles of God : none teaches thee like thein." n
He that uses not the Scriptures, but comes into the fold
of Christ some other way, that is, appoints a way to him-
self which the law [of God] hath not established, he is a
thief. " For the Scriptures are like a most strong gate,
and keep out heretics from entering, and make us alto-
gether sure of all things whatsoever we will:" " of all
things," that is, of all things of religion ; for that is the sub-
ject of the discourse, and explicitly delivered by him in
another place. " Quicquid quaeritur ad salutem, totum jam
adimpletum est in Scripturis ; In the Scriptures fully there
is whatsoever is looked for unto salvation. "P And this is
so expressed in an excellent place of St. Austin ; q " In iis
quae aperte in Scripturis posita sunt, inveniuntur ilia omnia,
quae continent fidem moresque vivendi, speni scilicet atque

1 Orat. cont. Gentes : in initio. m Homil. ix, in 2 Tim.

u Homil. ix. in Ep. Coloss. Homil. Iviii. in Johan.

P Homil. xli. op. imperf. iu Matt. 1 Lib. ii. c. 9. de Doctri. Christiana.


caritatem." More fully yet was that of Abbot Odilo/ of
the Cluniac order : " Omnis ratio, qua vel Deum vel nos cog-
noscimus, Divinis libris continetur ; " in those things which
are openly or plainly placed in the Scriptures, all things are
to be found which contain faith, and the manners of life, viz.
hope and charity ; " Every measure or manner by which we
know God or ourselves, is contained in the Divine books."
What can be more plain or more affirmative ? But St. Aus-
tin 3 says the same thing over and over ; " Legit Sacram
Scripturam, in qua quid tenendum et quid fugiendum sit,
plene invenietis ; Read the Holy Scriptures ; in which ye
shall [perfectly, or] fully find what is to be held, what is to
be avoided." And again : * " Sancta Scriptura nostrae doc-
trinae regulam figit ; The Holy Scripture fixes or limits the
rule of our doctrine." " In hoc volumine cuncta, quse aedifi-
cant, omnia quse erudiunt, scripta continentur ; " saith St.
Gregory," bishop of Rome ; "In this volume, whatsoever
can instruct us, whatsoever can edify us, is contained."
ndvTCt ra Kagadsdofttva fipTv did, rs I/O/AOU xai vgotpqrZiv xai d-rooroXwi/
xai t\ia.yyt\i6ruv di^o/j^fda xai yivutazo/Aiv xai e'efiofAtv, ovdsv vtgairigu

rovruv svigriTovvrts, said St. Damascen ; x "All things deli-
vered to us by the law and the prophets, the apostles and
evangelists, we receive and know and reverence, looking
for nothing beyond these." And * to bring in any thing
that is a stranger to Scripture,' Theodoret y calls it ' an
extinguishing of the Spirit ;' something contrary to that
duty whereby we are obliged to stir up the grace of God
we have received. " For the Church of Christ dwells in
and possesses assemblies in all the world, being joined by
the unity of the Spirit, and hath cities of the law and the
prophets, of the Gospel and apostles, she departs not out of
her own bounds, that is, from the Holy Scriptures, but retains
her first possession;" so St. Jerome. z And in his comment-
ary on Psalm Ixxxvi. (if he be the author of it, as Rupertus
affirms), expounding those words, ' Dominus narrabit in
scriptura populorum et principum horum qui fuerunt in ea,'
he says, ' et principum,' " hoc est, apostolorutn et evangelist-
arum : " ' horum qui fuerunt in ea ; ' " videte quid dicat, ' qui

r Collat. lib. i. c. 1. Serin." xxxviii. ad Fratres in Eremo.

1 De Bono Viduit. c. i. Homil. ix. in Ezek.

" Lib. de Ortho. Fide, c. i. > In Levit q. 9. x In MicLse. c. i.


fuerunt/ non ' qui sunt,' ut exceptis apostolis, quodcunque
aliud postea dicitur, abscindatur, non habeat postea auctori-
tatem. Quamvis ergo sanctus sit aliquis post apostolos,
quamvis disertus sit, non habet auctoritatem, quoniam Domi-
nus narrat in Scriptura populorum et principum qui fuerunt
in ea ; ' The princes of the people,' that is, the apostles
and evangelists : ' of them which have been in her ;' which
have been, not which are in her ; that excepting what the
apostles say, every thing after them may be cut off, it hath
no authority. For if there be any wise man, any saint, after
the apostles, he hath no authority ; because our Lord saith
in the Scripture or writing of the princes that have been in
her." " Sufficit Divina Scriptura ad faciendum eos, qui in
ilia educati sunt, sapientes, et probatissimos, et sufficientis-
siinam habentes intelligentiam ; indigemusque ad hoc pror-
sus nihil externis magistris;" so St. Cyril" of Alexandria :
" The Divine Scripture is sufficient to make them, who are
educated in it, wise and most approved, and having a most
sufficient understanding, and besides this we need no exter-
nal masters." To the same purpose is that of Anastasius b
of Antioch : " Quod quae silentio praeteriit Scriptura Divina,
non sint scrutanda, perspicuum : omnia enim, quae faciunt
ad nostram utilitatem, dispensavit et administravit Spiritus
Sanctus; It is manifest that those things are not to be
inquired into, which the Scripture hath passed over with
silence. For the Holy Spirit hath dispensed to us and
administered all things, which conduce unto our profit."
" Quicquid est de verbo Dei, quicquid sciri vel praedicari
oportet, de incarnatione, de vera Divinitate et humanitate
Filii Dei, duobus ita continetur Testamentis, ut extra haec
nihil sit quod annunciari debeat aut credi. Totum in his
comprehenditur cceleste oraculum, quod tarn firmiter scire
debemus, ut extra haec audire neque hominem nobis liceat,
neque angelum ; c Whatsoever is of the word of God,
whatsoever ought to be known or preached of the incar-
nation, of the true Divinity and humanity, of the Son of God,
is so contained in both the Testaments, that, besides these,
there is nothing that may be believed or preached. All the
whole celestial oracle is comprehended in these, which we

, * Lib. vii. cont. Julian. b Lib. viii. Anagogicae Contempl. in Hexaiueron.
c Rupert. Abbas Tuitiencis Comment, in lib. Reguin, lib. iii. c. li.'.


must so firmly believe, that, besides these, it is not lawful
for us to hear either man or angel : " and indeed it were not
to he imagined, how the Scripture should be a canon or
rule to Christians, if it were so imperfect that it did not
contain the measures of faith and manners. Kavuv ken
adid-^wffrov, Kaffav fpoffdiffiv xa/ apaieiffiv ovdapZiz e<zidi
said Varinus ; " A rule or canon is an unerring measure,
which at no hand can receive addition or suffer diminution."
And St. Basil d reproved the heretic Eunomius for folly besides
his false doctrine, because that he affirmed tradition of the
fathers to be the gnomon or canon of faith, and yet said,
To<r&jx7j axgifteffregas 8e?ffOai, " that it wanted some additament
to make it exact ; " one part contradicts the other, 'o xavuv
OIITS fe6ff&tffiv ours apaigsfftv ds^srat, IKI) ri> xavuv fJvai dcffo'XXvtr/, saith
St. Chrysostom,' " If any thing be put to it, or taken from
it, it ceases to be a canon." And, therefore, Scriptures are
not the Christian canon, they are not canonical, if they need
to be supplied by traditions. The same is also affirmed by
(Ecumenius, and the very words of Chrysostom are tran-
scribed by Theophylact.

11. (5.) Whatsoever Christ taught to his apostles by his
sermons and by his Spirit, all that the apostles taught to the
Church, and set it down in writing.

This we learn from St. Irenaeus ; ff " Non per alios dis-
positionem salutis nostrse cognovimus quam per eos per quos
evangelium pervenit ad nos, quod quidem hinc praeconiave-
runt, postea vero per Dei voluntatem in Scripturis nobis tra-
diderunt, fundamentum et colutnnam fidei nostrae futurum ;
We have known the economy of our salvation by no other
but by those by whom the Gospel came to us; which truly they
then preached, but afterward by the will of God delivered
to us in the Scriptures, which were to be the pillar and
ground to our faith ;" viz. what the Church was afterward to
minister, the Scriptures did consign, and both of them were
pillars and grounds of faith, the Church XE/rot^/xaJj, the
Scriptures avtiivnxus, the Church by way of ' ministry/ the
Scriptures by their * authority.' To this purpose are those
words of St. Austin ; g " Cum multa fecisset Dominus Jesus,
non omnia scripta sunt, sicut idem ipse'sanctus evangelista

d Lib. i. cont. Eunomium. e Homil. 12. in iii. Philip.

{t Lib. iii. c. 1. Tract, xlix. in Johan.


testatur, multa Dominum et dixisse et fecisse quae scripta
non sunt : electa sunt autem quae scriberentur quae saluti
credentium sufficere videbantur; Our Lord Jesus did
do many things which are not written ; and the holy evange-
list does witness that he botli did and spake many things
which are not written : but those things which were seen to
suffice to the salvation of believers, were chosen to be writ-
ten." And, therefore, St. Austin 8 and Optatus h compare the
Scriptures to the will of the testator : concerning his goods
the kindred may strive, one affirming this, and another that ;
but ' proferte tabulas,' shew the will, peruse the writings ;
then the judge listens, the advocates are silent, the people
are in suspense, the litigants wait : let the testator's words
be read, that must end all contention. Now this will was
therefore consigned in writing, that when our testator was
gone from us, we might not doubt concerning his legacies
and his commandments. The same is by Nicephorus parti-
cularly affirmed of St. Paul,' " Quae praesens oratione sua
dilucide docuerat, eadem per compendium absens in memo-
riam revocans per epistolas dedit; The things which he
plainly and explicitly preached, he being absent, to recall
into their memory what he had delivered, set them down in
his epistles as in a summary." And St. Peter having (as
appears in his Epistle) promised to do something to put them
in mind after his decease (meaning to remind them of the
doctrine delivered), caused St. Mark to write this Gospel.

12. Thus I have sufficiently demonstrated the rule so far
as this topic can extend ; this is by matter of fact, and the
doctrine of the Church. For if tradition be regardable, then
that the Scriptures are a sufficient and a perfect rule of faith
and manners, is competently proved by that which our adver-
saries in this question pretend to regard : but if tradition
be not considerable, then the Scriptures alone are; and there
is indeed no tradition so clear, so regular, so irreprovable
as those which are concerning Scripture. That these books
are Scripture, that is, the written word of God, and that the
written word of God is all that we have of God's will, is
universally delivered by the Christian ; and of that which of
late is questioned, I have given a specimen : for if the con-
current testimony of so many fathers cannot persuade this

8 Exposit. ii. Psalm xxi. h Coat. Pannen. lib. v. ' Lib. ii. Hist. c. 34.


article, then the topic of tradition will be wholly useless in
all questions ; but if they can, as indeed they ought, in this
question, then we are fixed upon this great rule of con-
science : the Holy Scriptures are the great rule of conscience,
both in doctrines of faith, and in doctrines of manners.

13. (2.) The next inquiry is, What use there is of tradi-
tions, and if they cannot be a part of the rule, what aids
do they bring to the conscience in faith or manners?

14. (1.) To this I answer, that tradition is of great use
for the conveying of this great rule of conscience, the Holy
Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. For when I
affirm that the Holy Scriptures are a perfect rule of faith and
manners, that is, that they contain all the word of God, it is
to be understood that it is a rule, a perfect rule, to them who
believe them to be the word of God. For the question is
not, whether Scriptures be a rule, but whether they be a per-
fect rule : not whether they be the word of God, but whether
they be all the word of God that is of necessity to be preached
to the Church. So that the traditions concerning Scripture
itself being extrinsical to Scripture, are also extrinsical to
the question ; and supposing that tradition were the only
instrument of conveying Scripture to us, yet that tradition
must not, cannot, possibly be any part of the question; for
Scripture must be supposed as delivered to us and accepted
for the word of God, before we can inquire whether this
Scripture, so delivered, be all the word of God, or no. And,
indeed, tradition of Scripture is the hand that reaches forth
this repository of the Divine word, but itself is not directly
any part of it ; it ministers to the will of God, but is no part
of the matter of it ; and therefore the common pretence for
the necessity of tradition besides Scripture (because by uni-
versal tradition we understand these to be the books of Scrip-
ture) will come to nothing, because the question of the pleni-
tude of Scripture is after the admission of that tradition
which reports Scripture to us to be the word of God : but it
matters not how or why we believe it, whether by universal
or particular tradition, whether because my priest tells me so
or my father, whether I am brought into it by reason or edu-
cation, by demonstrative or by probable inducements ; if it
be believed heartily, it is sufficient : and then it is that we
affirm the Scriptures so believed to be the word of God, to


be a perfect rule of all that we are to think, or speak, or do,
in order to salvation.

15. (2.) Besides this, to inquire of what use traditions
are, is to no purpose for us, for there is no tradition of any
doctrine of faith, or rule of life, hut what is in Scripture ; but
if there were, traditions would be of the same use as Scrip-
ture is, if the tradition were from Christ and his apostles, and
were as certain, as universal, as credible, as that is by which
we are told that Scripture is the word of God. For the word
which is now written was first delivered, that which is now
Scripture was at first tradition ; and because it was afterward
called so, it hath been made use of by these persons, who,
knowing that the change of words in descending ages is
least discerned by mankind, and that from words which are
fewer than things, most advantages can be made by them
who love every thing better than truth, have pretended
every saying of the Scripture and fathers, in which ' tradition '
is used, to be a competent argument of the imperfection of
Scripture, and of the necessity of a supply to be made by

16. Tlaeadoffig, 'Tradition,' is any way of communicating
the notice of a thing to US : HagsHuxct u/z/V on Xgigrbg avsQavsv
\JK\O rS>v a^aoriuv r,ftuv, " I have delivered to you that Christ
died for our sins." But this tradition is also in Scripture ;
so St. Paul adds, that Christ died for our sins, xara rag
yoafas, " according to the Scriptures ;" k and he commands
the Thessalonians to preserve the traditions which they had
learned from his mouth or from his hand, from his preaching
or his writings ; and this use of the word continued in the
Church for divers ages, even till all traditions that were not
in Scripture, were lost, or made uncertain. " Si ergo aut
evangelic "praecipitur, aut in apostolorum epistolis aut acti-
bus continetur, observetur Divina haec et sancta traditio :"
so St. Cyprian :' " If this be commanded in the Gospel, or
be contained in the Epistles, 'or Acts of the Apostles, let this
Divine and holy tradition be observed." Such was that which
St. Basil calls,' 11 craga3o<r/v TO-J /3a<rr/<T ( ttaros, " the tradition of
baptism ;" aOrou rou Kiw'ou tv rrj 'raoa.doeti rov ffuryaiov (3aw-
rlffparoe craoaSfOwxo'ro; ryv rag/v, " our Lord himself having
delivered or given the order in the tradition of baptism."

k 1 Cor. xv. 'F.pist. Ixxiv. ad Pompei. Lib. iii. cont. Eunom.


Aud St. Irenaeus n calls it a tradition apostolical, "Christum
accepisse calicem, et dixisse sanguinern suum esse," &c.
" That Christ took the cup, and said it was his blood ; and
that the barbarians did diligently keep the tradition," " cre-
dentes in unum Deum et in Christum qui natus est ex vir-
gine; believing in one God and in Christ who was born
of a virgin." Such traditions as these the whole Church had
before the consignation of Scripture-canon, and she retained
them better by help of Scriptures. Tradition is a giving or
delivering of it ; and so long as it is a tradition of God, it is
well enough : but if it comes to be your traditions, there is
in them nothing of divinity, nothing of that authority which
is to prescribe in faith and holiness. So that, in short, the
thing is this :

If God, by his Son, or by his apostles, or any way else,
hath taught his Church, there is no disputing of it ; let it be
made appear that it is a tradition of God, whether written
or unwritten, it matters not. If it cannot be made to appear,
then ' idem est non esse et non apparere,' it is not obliging to
us : we cannot follow the light of a candle that is hid in a
dark lantern, or thrust into a bushel. But that there is
nothing of faith and manners which the Church of God ever
did hold necessary, or ought to have held necessary, but what
is in the Scriptures, I have already largely proved, and shall,
in the consequents, illustrate with other collateral lights.

17. (1 .) In the meantime it ought to be known, that, in the
first ages of the Church, the fathers, disputing with heretics,
did oftentimes urge against them the constant and universal
tradition of the Church; and it was for these reasons. 1.
Because the heretics denied the Scriptures ; so did the
Manichees reject the four Gospels ; Ebion received only St.
Matthew's Gospel, Cerinthus only St. Mark, Marcion only
St. Luke, and not all of that; Valeiitinus none but St. John,
butthe Alogi received allbut that; Cerdo, Cerinthus, Tatianus,
and Manichaeus, rejected the Acts of the Apostles ; the Kbi-
onites, all St. Paul's Epistles ; the Church of Rome for a long
time rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews, so did Marciou ;
others also refused to admit the Epistles of St. James and St.
Jude, the Second of St. Peter, the Second and Third of St.
John, as we learn from Eusebius and St. Jerome. p Now to

Lib. iii. c. 4. Lib. iii. Hist. c. 25. P Lib. de Vina Illustr.


such men as these, and in all the interval till the whole
canon was consigned and accepted, it was of great use to
allege tradition, especially because the doctrine of the Scrip-
tures was entirely and holily preached in all the apostolical
Churches, and by the known and universally preached doc-
trines they could very well refute the blasphemies of wicked
and heretical persons. But in all this here is no objection ;
for all this tradition was nothing else but the doctrine of
the Holy Scriptures.

18. (2.) The heretics did rely upon this topic for advan-
tage, and would be tried by tradition ; as hoping because
there were, in several churches, contrary customs, there
might be differing doctrines, or they might plausibly be pre-
tended ; and therefore the fathers had reason to urge tradition,
and to wrest it from their hands who would fain have used it
ill. Thus did the Carpocratians in Irenseus; q "When they
are reproved from Scripture, they accuse the Scriptures, as if
they were not right, as if they had no authority, as if from
them truth could not be found by them that know not tradi-
tion, for they affirm that Jesus spake some things in mystery
to his disciples apart, and that they required that they might
deliver them to the worthy, and to them that would assent
to them." Upon this pretence Artemon exposed his errors,
saith Eusebius, 1 " arid Papias introduced the millenary heresy ;
and by tradition the Arians would be tried, and St. Basil 3
was by them challenged in an appeal, *$$ rfa gw^siav, " to
custom or tradition ; " and by this Eunomins did suppose
he had prevailed ; and St. Austin ' affirms, that all the most
foolish heretics pretend for their most senseless figments
those words of our blessed Saviour, " I have yet many things
to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." And to this
purpose was that which the Basilidians did affirm ; that * the
mysteries of their sect were no things of public notice, but
conveyed in secret.' Now to such as these there were but
two ways of confutation : one was, which they most insisted
upon, that the Holy Scriptures were a perfect rule of faith
and manners, and that there was no need of any other tradi-
tion ; the other, that the traditions which they pretended
were false ; and that the contrary was the doctrine which all

i Lib. ii. c. 2, et 24. r Hist. lib. v. c. 27.

St. Basil, lib. ii. cont Eunom. 'Tract, xcvii. in Johan.


the Churches of God did preach always. Now thus far tra-
dition was useful to be pleaded ; that is, though the heretics
would not admit the doctrine of Christianity as it was con-
signed in Scripture, yet they might be convinced that this
was the doctrine of Christianity, because it was also preached
by all bishops and confessed by all Churches. But in all
these contests the fathers did not pretend to prove by tradi-
tion what they could not prove by Scripture ; but the same
things were preached which were written, and no other arti-
cles of faith, no other rules and measures of good life : only
because they did not consent in the authority of one instru-
ment, they ought to be convinced by the other.

19. (3.) There is yet one use more of traditions, but it is
in rituals, and in such instances, concerning which St. Paul
wrote to the Corinthians these words; "The rest will I set
in order when I come." Such are, 1. The observation of the
Lord's day, solemnly once a-year, and less solemnly once
a -week, that is, the feast of Easter, and the weekly Sunday ;
2. The government of the Church by bishops, which is con-
signed to us by a tradition greater than some books of Scrip-
ture, and as great as that of the Lord's day : and that so no-
torious, that thunder is not more heard than this is seen in
all the monuments of antiquity ; 3. Offices ecclesiastical to
be said and done by ecclesiastical persons : such as are, the
public prayers of the Church, the consecration of the blessed
eucharist, the blessing of the married pairs and joining them
in the holy and mysterious rite of marriage, the consecration
of bishops by bishops only, and of priests by bishops and
presbyters, though for this last there is not so universal tra-
dition, that every where requiring the imposition of the
bishop's hand, and but in some places requiring the assist-
ance of the presbyters. These three are the most universal
and apostolical traditions, which although they also have
great grounds in Scripture, yet because the universal practice
and doctrine of the Church of God in all ages and in all
Churches primitive is infinitely evident and notorious, less
liable to exception, and an apt commentary upon the cer-
tain but less evident places of Scripture, therefore these
may be placed under the protection of universal tradition ;
for they really have it beyond all exception. And although
in these the Scripture is sufficient to all wise and good men,


to all that are willing to learn and obey, and not desirous to
make sects and noises ; yet because all men are not wise,
and good, and disinterested, tradition in these things is to
Scripture as a burning-glass to the sun, it receives its rays in
a point, and unites their strength, and makes them burn as

Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 13) → online text (page 12 of 61)