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Objected exception as to Infant Baptism.

minable by the laws of historical evidence. Those who lived nearest the times of the inspired writers, had, in some respects, superior* advantages for ascertaining the fact; and their unanimous concurrence in a declaration concerning it, is entitled to the highest consideration, as part of the chain of external evidence substantiating the authenticity of the sacred Canon. But neither does the genuineness of the Apostolic writings, rest simply on the declaration of any Council that they are genuine, but rather on evidence antecedently existing, which afforded the ground of that decision; nor can their authority, as inspired writings, be made in the least to depend on the testimony of Tradition with respect to their authenticity. That testimony is of no other avail, than to establish the historical fact, that the sacred writings composing the New Testament, were so early received by the Church as constituting the Canon of Christian Scripture. The Divine claims of Revelation to individual reception, are wholly independent of Tradition, and these are what are intended by the exclusive authority of the sacred Scriptures.

[2.] The practice of Infant Baptism, considered as a fact, it is equally within the competent province of Tradition to substantiate, by affording in its support the rational evidence of ancient precedent. From this precedent we

may fairly reason as to the construction which was put upon the scriptural command-to bap'tize, by those who lived the nearest to the period when Christian Baptism was instituted, adducing this consideration in support of the strong probability that the practice of Infant Baptism did not originate in a departure from the Apostolic directions. In ascertaining the import and design of the Scriptural command, a stress is with propriety laid on the testimony of ancient writers; but the validity of Infant Baptism itself does not rest upon either the opinions or the practice of the early Christians. Historical authorities must be allowed their due weight, as evidence of the pre-existing law, but the obligations of duty can have no other basis than the revealed will of Christ.

exception as to the Sab

bath.

[3.] The authority of what has been termed objected the Christian Sabbath, is supposed principally to be derived from Tradition, since no specific command substituting the first day of the week for the seventh, as a Sabbath, is to be found in the New Testament. In this case, however, it is not less obvious, than in the preceding one, that the evidence of a pre-existing obligation, and the source of that obligation, are considerations essentially distinct. Waiving, therefore, the question, how far the Scriptures contribute sufficient information for our guidance in this respect, (to say nothing of the arguments in fa-.

Alleged insufficiency

tures, inca

pable of

remedy.

vour of the moral expediency of such an observance, in the absence of specific command,) it is sufficient to remark, that Tradition (which is but another word in this reference for historical documents,) cannot have the virtue of a law, or supply, in the silence of the Scriptures, the place of a rule of faith.

For even were we to allow, with regard to of the Scrip- any one of these points, that the Scriptures are deficient in clearness, and so far practically insufficient, the supposed difficulty is not at all removed by calling in the aid of Tradition, because the authority of Revelation cannot extend beyond what is actually revealed. The rule of faith, that which constitutes the only certain evidence of duty, is, the Divine testimony. Where this leaves us in comparative uncertainty, it is that lower degree of evidence pre-supposed by doubt, upon which we are called to regulate our belief and obedience; and how many are the occasions on which, in the common transactions of life, our decisions and exertions are necessarily determined by mere probabilities! With the judgment of others, respecting the degree of clearness attending Revelation, we have little concern: human opinion adds nothing to the evidence of truth. What is revealed is certain; but it is equally certain, whether it is believed by us or not; and to any declaration on the part of un

inspired men, that it is revealed, no certainty can attach, because that declaration rests simply upon opinion, and cannot oblige the conscience. The only basis of religious duty is the Divine command; but all the commands of God are not attended by the same degree of clearness. What is virtually comprehended in any Divine precept, is as much our duty, though not so obviously, as what is conveyed by specific injunction; but in these instances, the existence or the application of the command is a fact which remains to be determined by a process of Scriptural induction or moral reasoning. Such reasonings, however, although they may serve to ascertain what is duty, cannot be said to constitute the rule itself, or to originate the obligation, any more than the private exposition of a human law can claim to render that law more binding. A declaratory law requires in the instituter, nothing less than the same legislative right which authorized the original enactment. The authority of the sacred Scriptures, is that of Inspiration. A declaration of the import of any part of the Scriptures, must, in order to be binding upon our belief, proceed from men who are themselves inspired. Tradition, then, and human opinion, which have no pretensions to the character of Inspiration, can possess no authority similar to that which in the sacred Scriptures claims our

Reason not

in the same

implicit submission. Thus, the Bible is incapable of receiving any aid in remedy of its supposed insufficiency. It is not merely the supreme, the ultimate, but the only certain rule of duty. That which contributes to establish the certainty of this rule, forms no part of the rule itself; that which adds to its clearness, adds nothing to its authority; our obligations, in matters both of faith and practice, are determinable by that rule alone.

§ 3. A second method, in which it has been sense a rule. attempted to embarrass the application of this fundamental article of Protestantism, is, by contending that the Bible itself pre-supposes and recognises other rules of human action, such as the natural law of conscience, and the light of reason, and that consequently it cannot be justly said that it is the only rule. This apparently irrelevant argument has been gravely brought forward in order to confute the notion that all knowledge is formally contained in the Scriptures. Some of the old Nonconformist controvertists appear to have been betrayed, by their zeal, into this extravagance of opinion, far beyond the protection of the argument. Hooker has much the advantage over his opponent, when he remarks in reply: "The testi"monies of God are true, the testimonies of "God are perfect, the testimonies of God are "all-sufficient for that purpose for which they

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