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tion delivered from father to son, corroborated by no written evidence, is by no means to be relied upon for any long succession. And, therefore, we find that no nation or country can give any tolerably satisfactory account of the state and condition of their ancestors, before they come to have the use of letters amongst them, by which their manners, laws, customs, and acts, might be transmitted to posterity. But this is no argument against such a tradition as is delivered or corroborated by written evidence, of such things, and in such manners, as we cannot think ourselves deceived by it. All our knowledge of laws, customs, and facts, which we are not ourselves eyewitnesses of must be delivered to us by evidence, such as we have reason to believe, and we have no other way of coming to the knowledge of them. Now we could not be eye-witnesses of what happened before we were born, therefore, we must either say that we can come to the true knowledge of nothing which happened before we were born, which I think none but downright Sceptics will pretend to say, or else that we must believe such tradition as deserves the name of a just and proper evidence; and I conceive that to be just and proper evidence, which we receive from those who could not be themselves deceived in what they relate, nor could have any design or purpose to deceive us in the relation, but, on the contrary, must have exposed themselves to all their contemporaries, if they had given a wrong account of those matters. Therefore, when an author of credit speaks of the customs or practice of the Church at a time when he lived, we have all the reason imaginable to believe him; for in that case it is certain he could not be deceived himself, neither could he write what was false in such a case without exposing himself to all that were living at that time. Thus, for instance, if any one at this time should tell the world, that it is the custom or practice of the Church of England to carry the Host or consecrated Eucharistical Bread in a solemn procession, as they do in the Church of Rome, he must expose himself as a shameless liar, and could never be esteemed an author of any credit, because every man now living in England would know the thing to be false. Nay, if he could say that this was the practice in this realm an hundred and fifty years ago, or any time since the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign, every Englishman would know it to be false, though there is no man now living that can remember what was done in her reign. And the like may be said with regard to any other public part of Divine worship. No man can impose upon the world so far, as to make them believe that any thing is a public practice, which he himself does not know, or see to be so. And though a man might possibly put upon a stranger, who may be supposed ignorant of the customs of the people, to whom he is

a stranger; yet he that had the least value for his own reputation, would not dare to do this to a stranger living among the people of whose customs he pretends to give him an account, especially, if by that account he hopes to obtain a favour from that stranger, and may have just apprehensions of suffering through the displeasure of that stranger, if he should go about to deceive him. We may therefore be satisfied that St. Barnabas, for instance, would not have told the Jews that God had appointed us to keep holy the eighth day, or first day of the week, in memory of CHRIST's resurrection, and abolished the observation of the Sabbath day, if the Apostles had not taught this as the will of GOD: for he could not be deceived in this matter himself, being a companion of the Apostles, and weli acquainted with the doctrine which they taught. Neither could he, if he would, put a deceit in this case upon any others, because all the Christians then living could have refuted him if he had uttered a falsehood in this particular. Therefore, though we do not place his Epistle among the inspired writings, yet we cannot question his evidence as to this matter. And the same may be said of Justin Martyr; if he had told the Emperors any falsehood with relation to the practice of the Christians, it was impossible but they must easily have discovered it, not a Christian then living but must have known it to be a falsehood, if it had been so; consequently he would not only have exposed himself as a shameless liar, but would likewise have made himself liable to the just displeasure of the Emperors, if he had not spoke the truth: nay, if any thing that he told the Emperors had been a new practice, and such as had not been the constant practice of the Christian Church from the beginning, he durst not have pleaded in behalf of such a practice as a Christian institution, for which so many Christians then living could have convicted him of falsehood, it being but forty years from the death of the Apostles when he wrote, and many of the Apostles' disciples who learned the Christian institutions immediately from them being then alive. Justin then could not be deceived himself with regard to the Christian institutions, since he had opportunity of informing himself from the immediate disciples of the Apostles, and he durst not pretend to impose upon the Emperors, nor could have any interest either to write a false relation to them, or to put a cheat upon those that should come after. Therefore what we find to have been delivered as a custom of the Church, by St. Barnabas, or St. Justin, or any writer contemporary to them, that we firmly believe to have been of Apostolical institution. And we may say the same also of those that followed them for one hundred and fifty years after the Apostles, such as Irenæus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, Origen, St. Cyprian, and their contemporaries, who could no more be put

upon, and made to believe that any thing was an Apostolical institution, and publicly practised by the whole Church, than any man of sense and learning could now be put upon, and made to believe that such a thing (though really it was not so) was established here at the Reformation under Queen Elizabeth, and had continued to be the practice of the English Church ever since. And the same may be said if we add fifty or sixty years more to the account, which brings us down to the time of the Council of Nice. A Christian Synod could no more be deceived at that time in declaring the doctrine and practice taught and practised by the Apostles, than a bench of English Judges could be deceived in any law or custom which should be pretended to have been begun here in the reign of King Henry VII. And, therefore, where we have the declaration of that Council, or of any authors contemporary with it, or with any member of it, I conceive we may very reasonably depend upon their testimony for the truth of an Apostolical tradition. The testimony of the Church, therefore, is thus far at least to be esteemed a certain evidence of Divine or Apostolical institutions, and hitherto we may safely follow it without danger of being led into error by so doing; and that which may confirm us that hitherto the Church had not been deceived with regard to Apostolical institutions and practices, is her unanimity in those matters. Whatever was held as derived from Apostolic authority by one Church, was esteemed as such also by all other Churches, which could not have been if there had been a failure in the tradition; for error is various, and all Churches from East to West, from North to South, from one end of the world to another, could never have agreed in an erroneous tradition. Therefore where we find all Churches agreed in the same doctrines and forms of worship, and we are not able to trace the beginning of them, we may safely conclude that they are derived to us from the Apostles: for this is the rule laid down by St. Austin on this occasion: "whatsoever the universal Church holdeth, and which was not instituted by any Council, but has been always observed, that we most rightly conclude to have been a tradition derived from Apostolical authority." And in another place he says, "many things which are not to be found in their writings," (that is, in the writings of the Apostles) "nor in the Councils of later ages, yet because they are observed by the whole Church, are believed not to have been delivered or recommended by any authority but of them." Again, says he, "there are many things which the universal Church holds, and which for this reason are rightly believed to be commanded by the Apostles, although they are not found written." But it is to be observed, that it is only such traditions as have been held by the universal Church in all ages, and all places, such as we can trace up to the Apostolical age, and have the evidence of some

of the Fathers, who living either in the Apostolical times, or so near to them, that they could not but distinguish between Apostolical traditions and later institutions, have given their testimony concerning. And therefore we justly reject the doctrine of purgatory, invocation of Saints, worship of relics and images, and other corrupt traditions of the Church of Rome, because we cannot find any evidence for their universality and antiquity. We can trace the original of all them, and find them many years later than the times of the Apostles: but on the contrary we find the doctrines and customs of the ages nearest to the Apostles to be directly opposite to these modern traditions. It is not then every tradition that lays an obligation upon Christians, but only such traditions as we have good evidence to believe to have been derived from the Apostles, that is, the testimony of those who lived either in the Apostles' age, or so near to it, that they could not easily be imposed upon in this case, and made to believe that to be of Apostolical tradition which really was not so, that is to say, about the time of the Council of Nice, about two hundred years after the Apostolical age. And we may also believe the testimony of those who lived in the century following that Council, since in that time. they could not be deceived in the tradition of what was acknowledged at the time of that Council to be Apostolical. But there is no better rule for the judging concerning the authority of tradition, than that which is given by Vincentius Lirinensis in the beginning of his Commonitory.- ix. pp. 35—42.

Ibid. Introduction to the independency of the Church.

If any other matters not yet received or practised in our Church, should be found to be of equal antiquity and universality, I declare it to be my hearty desire that they also may be restored for I am well assured, that from the beginning of the Gospel of CHRIST to the time of the Council of Nice, and long after during the fourth century, the Catholic Church all over the world was united in one holy doctrine, discipline, and manner of worship. The practice of the Church therefore at the time of the Council of Nice is certainly best fitted to be the standard for every reformation of the Church.-Since then we have seen and experienced the folly of deviating so far from the Primitive plan to gain those who cannot be gained by any thing but the utter extirpation of Episcopacy and Liturgy, and all that is not according to their own novel fancies, why should we not entirely restore our Liturgy to the Primitive standard, and revive those usages, by returning to which we shall plainly lead the van for the introduction of Catholic unity into the Church of CHRIST.

For we shall then want nothing (as we now most certainly do) that is agreeable to the practice of the Primitive Church, when a Catholic uniformity was universally preserved.-The only means to remove this disunion, is by every Church returning to a closer union with the Primitive Church in doctrine, discipline, and worship: for as the church never was so strictly and firmly united as in the Primitive times, and particularly about the time when the Council of Nice was celebrated :-so if ever the Church be as firmly united again, it must be upon the same principles, and practices. The Church never was united but upon the principles and usages which obtained at the time of the Nicene Council: and we have therefore good reason to believe that it never can be united but upon those principles and usages. That Church then, which shall first restore all those principles and usages, may be justly said to lead the way to Catholic Union.p. 7. 10.


But if any modern writer who is of yesterday, will otherwise interpret these words upon his own head, I will reply unto him. what our late blessed Sovereign, the Martyr for the Apostolical Government, said unto Mr. Henderson in his second paper, " if the practice of the primitive Church (said he) and the universal consent of the Fathers be not a convincing argument, when the interpretation of Scripture is doubtful, I know nothing." And elsewhere: "Although I never esteemed any argument equal to the Scripture, yet I do think the unanimous consent of the Fathers, and the universal practice of the primitive Church, to be the best, and most authentical interpreters of God's word; and consequently the fittest judges between me and you, till you find me a better." According to what St. Augustin said of Infant Baptism, but may with much more reason be said of Episcopal Government, that which the Universal Church doth hold, and was never instituted by councils, but hath always been retained in the Church, we most justly believe to have descended from no authority but the Apostles.'-Vol. iií. p. 82.


and defence.

Vindication of the reason

I desire to know, what authority any particular society of Christians of the sixteenth century had to desert from the custom of the Universal Church, from early and more enlightened ages, and which, as our author observes, were better guides as being much nearer the fountain's head, than those so long behind them.

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