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The Second EDITION.
Printed for T. Baffet at the George in Fleet-ftreet, and Abel Swalle at the Unicorn in St. Paul's
will appear before I have done) but they finally reft for their fatisfaction in matters of Faith fomewhere else; yet this being plaufibly pretended by them, in their own Juftification, that they follow Tradition; and in their Accufations of us, that we forfake Tradition: I fhall briefly let all our People fee, who are not willing to be deceived, what they are to judge and fay in this business of Tradition. About which a great noife is made, as if we durft not ftand to it, and as if they of the Roman Church ftedfaftly kept it, without any variation: neither of which is true, I shall plainly fhew in this fhort Difcourse.
The meaning of the word.
Which for clearness fake shall begin with the meaning of the word TRADITION: which in English is no more than delivering unto another; and by a Figure, fignifies the matter which is delivered; and among Chriftians, the Doctrine of our Religion delivered to us. And there being two ways of delivering Doctrines to us, either by writing or by word of mouth; it fignifies either of them indifferently: the Scriptures, as you fhall fee prefently, being Traditions. But cuftom hath determined this word to the laft of these ways, and diftinguished Tradition from Scriptures, or writings: at leaft from the Holy Writings; and made it fignifie that which is not delivered in the Holy Scriptures, or Writings. For though the Scripture be Tradition alfo, and the very first Tradition and the Fountain of all true and legitimate Antiquity; yet in common Language Traditions now are fuch ancient Doctrines, as are conveyed to us fome other way: whether by word of mouth, as fome will have it, from one Generation to another; or by humane Writings, which are not of the fame authority with the Holy Scriptures.
How to judge of them.
Now there is no better way to judge aright of fuch Traditions, than by confidering thefe four things.
Firft, The Authors of them, whence they come.
Secondly, The matter of them.
Thirdly, Their Authority.
Fourthly, The means by which we come to know they derive themselves from fuch Authors as they pretend unto; and confequently have any authority to demand admiffion into our belief.
1. For the first of these, every body knows and confeffès, that all Traditions fuppofe fome Author, from whom they originally come, and who is the deliverer of those Doctrines to Chriftian people who being told by the present Church, or any person in it, that fuch and fuch Doctrines are to be received, though not contained in the Holy Scriptures, because they are Traditions; ought in Confcience to inquire from whom thofe Traditions come, or who first delivered them: By which means they will be able to judge what credit is to be given to them, when it is once cleared to them, from what Authors they really come. Now whatsoever is delivered to us in Chriftianity, comes either from Christ, or from his Apostles, or from the Church (either in General, or in part) or from private Doctors in the Church. There is nothing now called a Tradition in the Chriftian World, but proceeds from one or from all of these four Originals.
2. And the matter which they deliver to us, (which is next to be confidered) is either concerning that Faith, and godly life, which is neceffary to Salvation; or concerning Opinions, Rites, Ceremonies, Customs, and things belonging to Order. Both which, as I faid, may be conveyed either by writing or without writing; by the Divine Writings, or by Humane Writings: though these two ways are not alike certain.
3. Now it is evident to every understanding, that things of both forts which are delivered to us, have their Authority, from the Credit of the Author from whence they first come. If that be Divine, their Authority is Divine; if it be onely Humane, their Authority can be no more. And among Humane Authors, if their Credit be great, the Authority of what they deliver is great; if it be little, its Authority is little: and accordingly must be accepted with greater or leffer Reverence.
Upon which score whatfoever can be made to appear to come from Christ, it hath the higheft authority, and ought to be received with abfolute fubmiffion to it, because he is the Son of God. And likewise whatsoever appears to have been delivered by the Apostles in his Name, hath the fame Authority; they being his Ministers, fent by Him, as He was by God the Father; and indued with a Divine Power, which attefted unto them. In like manner, whatfoever is delivered by the Church, hath the fame Authority which the Church hath: which though it be not equal to the foregoing, (the Church having no fuch Divine Power, nor infallible Judgment, as the Apoftles had) yet is of fuch weight and moment, that