Unwritten Word

Unwritten Word "That authority to which the Romish Church could lay no claim from the purity of its members it endeavored to support during the Dark Ages by its arrogant pretensions. The Scriptures, even in the Latin version, had long become a sealed book to the people; and the Roman see, in proportion as it extended its supremacy, discouraged or proscribed the use of such vernacular versions as existed. This it did, not lest the ignorant and half- informed should mistake the sense of Scripture, nor lest the presumptuous and the perverse should deduce new errors in doctrine, and more fatal consequences in practice, from its distorted language, but in the secret and sure consciousness that what was now taught as Christianity was not to be found in the written Word of God. In maintenance of the dominant system, tradition, or the unwritten Word, was set up. This had been the artifice of some of the earliest heretics, who, when they were charged with holding doctrines not according to Scripture, affirmed that some things had been revealed which were not committed to writing, but were orally transmitted down. The Pharisees before them pleaded the same supposititious authority for the formalities which they added to the law, and by which they sometimes superseded it, making the Word of God of none effect, as our Savior himself reproached them. Upon this ground the Romish clergy justified all the devices of man's imagination with which they had corrupted the ritual and the faith of the Western Church (Southey, Book of the Church). SEE TRADITION.

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