Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 89.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada

Q. Are not all necessary points of doctrine contained in the holy Scripture ? and is not the Scripture the sole rule of faith?

A. No; for we find that St. Paul taught many things to his flock at Thessalonica and Corinth, by word of mouth, which are not in his epistles, and yet nevertheless he enjoins them to believe, as being of equal authority with what he had written. We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition he received of us; 2 Thess. iii. 6. And again, I pray you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and "keep the traditions as I have delivered them to you; 1 Cor. xi. 2. St. John likewise assures us, that all our Saviour did and taught for the salvation of mankind is not written; John xxi. 25. In short, this doctrine implies a contradiction ; for if nothing is to be believed with divine faith, but what is clearly contained in the Scripture, then this very doctrine, which our adversaries thus boldly affirm, is not to be believed: because it is nowhere to be found in Scripture; for where is it written in the holy Scripture, that the Apostles were commanded by our Saviour Christ to write all that he and themselves had taught ? In a word, will he Church of England say, that the following articles are not to be believed, viz.: That the Virgin Mary was always a 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; that the baptism of heretics is valid; and that the Apostles' creed is of divine authority? Yet certainly these articles are not clearly contained in the holy Scripture, but Protestants received them from the tradition of the Church of Rome. Therefore it is plain that all necessary points of doctrine are not contained in the holy Scripture. Now, from what has been said, it follows to a demonstration, that the Scripture alone, without the tradition of the Apostles, and interpretation of the Catholic Church, cannot be the sole rule of faith; because, as I have already proved, there are many things that are necessary to be believed, which are not contained in the Scripture. Besides, we do not find that there is one text in the whole Scripture that clearly and expressly affirms, that the Scripture alone is the whole and sole rule of faith. Again, the Scripture alone cannot be the sole rule of faith, because one great article of the Christian faith, is to believe that these books are divine Scripture. Now this we could never have known, but by the tradition and declaration of the Catholic Church; for the Scripture itself no where gives us a catalogue of the canonical books. It no where affirms, that all and every one of those books which are contained in the Protestant Bible or Testament, are the infallible word of God. Our adversaries, therefore, are very unhappy in their choice of a rule of faith, which is not only without any foundation from the Scripture, but even excludes the Scripture from being any part of their faith, as not coming under their only rule by which they pretend to steer in matters of faith.

Q. What is tradition ?

A. All such points of faith, or Church discipline, which are not clearly, or not at all expressed in the Scripture; but were taught or established by the Apostles, and have carefully been preserved in the Church ever since.

Q. How many sorts of traditions are there ?

A. Chiefly two, viz.: Apostolical, and ecclesiastical; the apostolical are those which had their origin, or institution from the Apostles: such as the number of the sacraments; the Apostles' creed; infants' baptism; the Lord's day; receiving the blessed sacrament, fasting; mixing water with the wine in the eucharist; and making the sign of the cross in baptism, etc. The ecclesiastical, are such as had their institution from the Church; as many ceremonies always in use time after time, such as fasts, feasts, blessing of water, candles, bread, etc.

Q. How are we to know what traditions are truly apostolical, and what not ?

A. In the same manner, and by the same authority, by which we know what Scriptures are apostolical, and what not; this is by the authority of the apostolic Church, guided by the unerring spirit of God.

Q. What Scripture can you bring in favor of tradition ?

A. From the 32d chap., ver. 7, Deuteronomy. Ask thy Father and he will show thee, thy elders, and they will tell thee; 1 Cor. iv. 2; Psal. xviii. 5, etc. Again out of the 2d Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, xi. 2; 2 Thess. iii. 6. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, where by word or epistle, 2 Tim. i. 13, et chap. ii. 2. et chap. iii. 14; chap. ii. 25.