[Page] AN EXERCITATION ON THAT Historical Relation, Matth. 15. 1—9. Mark. 7. 1—13.

CONCERNING Eating with unwashen hands;

By way of APPENDIX or SUPPLEMENT To the Discourse, concerning INDIFFERENCIES:


More particularly, to Argument or Reason the Fourth; to prove, That In­differencies enjoyn'd by Authority do not thereby become necessary; or, That the Command of Authority does not render indifferent things, necessary.

LONDON: Printed for Benj. Alsop, at the Angel over against the Stocks-Market, 1680.


Matth. XV.Mark VII.
1. THen came to Jesus Scribes and Phari­ses, which were of Jerusalem, saying,1. THen came together to him the Phari­sees, and certain of the Scribes which came from Jerusalem.
2. Why do thy Disciples transgress the tradition of the Elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.2. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled (that is to say, with un­washen) hands, they sound fault.
3. But he answered and said unto them, Why do you also transgress the Command­ment of God by your tradi­tion?3. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands ost, eat not, hold­ing the tradition of the El­ders.
4. For God commanded, saying, Honour thy Father and thy Mother; and he that curseth Father or Mo­ther, let him dye the death.4. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold; as the washing of cups, and pots, bra­zen vessels, and of tables.
5. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his Father or his Mother, It is a gift, by what­soever thou mightest be prosi­ted by me,5. Then the Pharisees and Scribes asked him, Why walk not thy Disciples according to the tradition of the Elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
6. And honour not his fa­ther or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the Commandment of God of none effect by your tradi­tion.6. He answered and said unto them, Well has Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites; as it is written, This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
7. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesie of you, say­ing,7. Howbeit, in vain do they worship me, teaching for do­ctrins the cōmandments of men.
8. This people draws nigh unto me with their mouth, and honours me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.8. For laying aside the Com­mandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the wash­ing of pots and cups, and many other such like things ye do.
9. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the Commandments of men.9. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the Com­mandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
 10. For Moses said, Ho­nour thy Father and thy Mo­ther, &c.

AN EXERCITATION ON Mat. 15. 1—9. Mark 7. 1—13.

Sect. 1. THe imposed use of Indif­ferencics has been (like the Canaanites to the Israe­lites) pricks in the eyes, and thorns (or goads) in the sides of, i. e. matter of much mischief and vexation to, the Church of God almost in all ages; Especially, in the Jewish Church, when it drew towards the dregs, much of this sediment appeared. How far the Papal, Anti­christian Church is over-run with this ill hu­mour, is notorious: And it's one great evil which our English Church now labours and groans under at this day. 'Tis this, which has been the apple of contention, and bone of division; the stone of stumbling, and rock of offence among us, ever since the beginning of the Reformation, in the time of our Josiah, [Page 2] King Edward the 6th. And after many years freedom from this itch, it brake out again some years since, to our great disturbance, and scratching of one another.

Now for the better fixing our judgements concerning either our Liberty or Restraint in such cases, I shall euter upon a strict exa­mination, and narrow consideration of this portion of Scripture, which furnishes us with one of the most pregnant, and pertinent instances, or Historical passages to this pur­pose, in the whole New Testament; which I shall examine from top to toe, that thereby we may discover how far forth it will help us, either one way or other, i. e. either for Con­formity, or Non-conformity, in such like cases.

Sect. 2. The whole passage contains a dis­course between Christ, and the Scribes and Pharisees, concerning the observation of the Traditions of the Elders, o [...]casion'd by the Disciples neglect thereof; for which the Scribes and Pharisees implead them to their Master, and quarrel him about it: In which he vindicates 'em at large, and blows up the very foundation of their complaint, by showing the invalidity, yea impiety, of these Traditions. This is the general pro­spect of the whole. In handling of which, I shall first distinctly consider the several par­ticulars; and then make such Reflections up­on [Page 3] 'em, and draw such Inferences from 'em, as they naturally afford, and may be conduci­ble to my present design.

The Particulars contain'd in the foregoing General, take as follows. Here are (1) the Accusers. (2) The Accused. (3) The Accu­sation. (4) The Defence.

Sect. 3. First, The Accusers; Scribes and Pharisees which were of Jerusalem; or, which came from Jerusalcm. These may be considered both in reference to their Condition, Scribes and Pharisees; and in reference to their Habi­tation, or the place from whence they came, Jerusalem.

(1) Scribes; this is a Title of Function or Imployment; they might be either Priests or Levites, for we find Scribes of both sorts; Priests, as Neb. 8. 9. Ezra the Priest the Scribe. So Ezra 7. 11. Levites, as 2 Chron. 34. 13. Of the Levites there were Scribes, &c. 1 Chron. 24. 6. Shemajah, the son of Nethaneel the Scribe, one of the Levites. But which soever they were, they were, as to their Office and Em­ployment, Teachers and Expounders of the Law in their Schools and Synagogues; as Ezra 7. 6.—a ready Scribe in the Law of Mo­ses. v. 10. He had prepared his heart to teach in Israel statutes and judgements. Neh. 8. 1—9, 13. Matth. 7. 29. He taught them as one having au­thority, and not as the Scribes: and so else­where. And hence

[Page 4] They were commonly the most learned and conversant in the Law; as is implied by that question, Matth. 17. 10. Why say the Scribes that Elias must first come? and therefore, saith Gerard, Doctissimi quique [...] voca­bantur: and Brugensis, Scribae scientiae authori­tatem sibi vendicabant. Upon this account Herod consulted them about the place of Christ's Nativity, Matth. 2. 4.

(2) Sect. 4. Pharisees; they are generally spoken of as Teachers too, Matth. 16. 6, 12.—leaven, i. e. the Doctrine of the Pharisees. These were such as did separate themselves (as the word signifies) from other men; Yet

Negatively, (1) Not in regard of refrain­ing their society and converse, either publick or private; for, they sate in the great Coun­cil with the Sadducees, Acts 23. 6. and Hero­dians, Mark 3. 6. went into other mens houses, Mark 2. 16. conversed with all sorts of men to Proselyte 'em, Mat. 25. 15. and conferred ordinarily with Christ and his Disciples, as here, and elsewhere: Nor (2) in refraining the publick assemblies, and places of publick worship; for Luke 6. 6, 7. there were Pha­risees in the Synagogue at publick worship. But,

Positively, In respect of a singularity of Holiness and Devotion, which they pretended unto, and took upon them to have, above others. They'd seem to transcend the Rule of [Page 5] the State-Religion, and common Devotion of the Nation; to be in a higher Form than o­thers, and to strain a note above Ela, in the scale of Holiness; and that in these two things especially: (1) In extream ceremoniousness; as in frequent washings, large Phylacteries, &c. and (2) in extraordinary devotion, as in long Prayers, much show of Fastings; tithing Mint, &c.

(3) Scribes and Pharisees joyn'd together. They were both of them, as has been said, the great Preachers and Professors of the Law; and here, as frequently elsewhere, they joyn together to oppose and oppress Christ and his Disciples, and go hand in hand; that what they cannot effect by single strength, they may obtain by their united forces. Scribes was a title of Function, and Pharisee of Devotion: Pharisaei perfectioris ex­teriorum observantiae ex­emplum, scribae scientiae au­thoritatem sibi vendicabant. Brug. the one were pretenders to more than ordinary strict­ness in Religion, the other valued themselves upon the score of their learning: And thus under the Banners and Colours of pretended devotion and learning, they fight against Christ.

(4) From Jerusalem. (1) Not of the ordi­nary and common sort, such as did belong to every Synagogue in inferior Cities, but of the chief City. Jerusalem; and such were, [Page 6] likely, Hi doctrinae & religionis to­tius obtinebant arcem. Brug. Judaei in Galilaed submise­runt Scribas & Pharisaeos, non vulgares illos, quales in Singulis Galilaeae Synagogis ha­bebantur, sed qui Jerosolymis erant praecipui▪ qui eruditione, solertia, & authoritate, addo etiam, & m [...]iâ reliquos su­perabant. Ger. Har of the ablest and bitterest of them, and did excell the other Rusticks in learning and craft, and perhaps, in malice too. (2) They came a great way: Christ was now in the land of Gennesarct, Matth. 14. 34. Mark 6. 53. which was a great way from Jerusa­lem, near a hundred miles, as I find by the Map; whereby we see, what pains wicked men will take to oppose Christ, and create trouble to his Disciples and Servants.

Sect. 5. From all which particulars it is obvious to observe, That corrupt Church­men in high places, are the old. great stick­lers for humane inventions, and ceremonious observances. These great Rabbies of the first magnitude, who shone with the greatest out­ward splendor, were the great Engines to withdraw the people from Christ, and the chief Supporters and Pillars of their old Mumpsimus customs. And so all along; None greater Enemies [...]o pure, spiritual, Gospel­worship, than Ceremony-mongers, and su­perstitious Zealots. Luther had no sorer op­posites out of Ale-houses, and Brothel-houses, than he had out of Religious Houses, as they [Page 7] called them. None more dangerously wound Religion, than they, who, before men, would seem the most zealous Patrons and Promo­ters of it. It's often seen, that the more learned, the more lewd: Wickedness is thereby armed with weapons, both for Of­fence and Defence. Unsanctified Learning, or learned wickedness, is [...], as Aristotle speaks. It is like a Sword in a mad-mans hand, which enables him to cast about sirebrands, arrows and death, as it is Prov. 26. 18. Nihil novi nec insolens est, ut illi qui primatum sibi in Ecclesia vendicant, primi etiam sint, qui de opprimendo Christo & ejus Evangelio▪ consilia agitent. Ger. Hence Philosophers are called by the Fathers, Hae­reticorum Patriarchae; the ringleaders and Captains of such as fight against Christ.

2. Sect. 6. The Accused; immediately and directly the Disciples, Why do thy Disci­ples transgress, &c. but secretly and collate­rally, Christ himself; they shoot at him through the others sides; and seem to in­sinuate, as if he were to be blamed for teach­ing 'em no better, and suffering 'em to walk so disorderly, without reproving 'em for it: Thus they dealt also, Matth. 9. 14.—Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

But I shall insist no further upon this, but hasten to that which I chiefly aim at, which is, the two following Points, [Page 8] viz. The Accusation it self, and the De­fence.

3. Sect. 7. The Accusation it self, or the Practice, or Usage concerning which the Contest and Dispute arose, which is,

In General, a Transgression of the Tradition of the Elders, or Disobedience to the Injunctions of Authority.

Particularly, Eating with unwashen hands. The former relates to the Authority enjoyn­ing; The latter is the Practice enjoyned.

As to the former, the General, I shall con­sider (1) Who these Elders were. (2) What was a Tradition of the Elders.

Sect. 8. First, Who these Elders were. The word [Elders] in its primary and origi­nal sense, relates to Age, and denotes, either such as lived a great while; even till they came to be old; or, such as lived a great while ago; those of former times; as Deut. 32. 7. Heb. 11. 2. and so 'tis the same with [...], Matth. 5. 21. and thence it's de­rived to signifie most commonly, both Dig­nity and Authority; and so we find both in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English (to name no more) the words importing Age or El­dership, viz. [...], Senatus, Al­dermen, do denote both Honour and Power. And

[Page 9] (1) This sense is very frequent both in the Old and New Testament. I shall mention but a few places of the chief; as Deut. 22. 15.——the Elders of City in the gate (the place of Judicature). And they are sometimes called, Elders of the people, i. e. such who had authority over the people; as Elders of a City, are they that are in power in that City. Thus Matth. 26. 3. Then assembled together the chief Priests, and Scribes, and Elders of the people. So c. 27. 1. When the morning was come, all the chief Priests, and El­ders of the people took counsel, &c.

Hence they are commonly joyned with [Rulers]; as 2 King. 10. 1. Jehu wrote let­ters——to the Rulers of Jezreel, and to the Elders. Act. 4. 8. Ye Rulers and Elders of Israel; and they are very frequently joyn'd with [chief Priests, and Scribes and Pharisees;] and then the distinction that was between them, I conceive may be stated thus; As they were distinguisht from the Pricsts, they seem to be Lay-men (as we call 'em), and as distinguisht from Scribes, they were such as were not brought up wholly in the study of the Law, or at least did not make that their Profession; but were some of the Nobility and Gentry, admitted to be Members of the Sanhedrim, as is most evident from these places following, Acts 22. 5. The High Priest doth bear me wit­ness, with all the estate of the Elders; from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, [Page 10] and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there, bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punisht: and c. 24. 1. Ananias the High Priest de­scended with the Elders, who informed the Go­vernour against Paul. Matth. 26. 59. Now the chief Priests and Elders, and all the Council, sought false witness against Jesus, &c. Mark 15. 1. The chief Priests held a consultation with the Elders and Scribes, and the Whole Council. So that nothing is more clear, than that they were Members of the Council, and persons in, and of, Authority.

I have been the more full in this point, because Grotius in loc. thinks that these El­ders here mentioned, though they were learned and wise men, and so possibly might be Members of the Sanhedrim upon that ac­count; yet that the mention made of 'em here, does not relate to any such capacity they were in; but only, as celebrated Teachers, who were not only famous in their Generations, but were had in great veneration and esteem in after-times, and their judgements and dogmes were of great authority. And so Beza takes 'em too, on­ly for the ancient Doctors, and not for persons in authority. But even Grotius himself elsewhere (viz. in Acts 4. 5.) gives this account of 'em, Seniores, idem quod Se­natores, & consules vrbium. Elders are the same with the Senate, or Court of Aldermen, or, at least, Common-council-men, and 'Bur­gesses [Page 11] of Cities: And the places foremen­tioned do most evidently and undeniably evince, that they were persons in authority, and members of the Sankedrim (as I said be­fore) or great Council of the Nation: And therefore

Sect. 9. (2) They were the proper Judges of Ecclesiastical affairs, to whose cogni­sance matters of Religion did appertain. Hi doctrina & religionis to [...]ius obtinebant arcem, & inquisitionem proinde, censuramque doctrina­rum sibi arrogabant. Commoti igitur samâ cre­brescente de Jesu, emiserunt è suis quosdam (sicut etiam Marc. 3. 22.) qui observarent quid doceret, quidque faceret, in Galileà, Je­sus, novus ille Doctor, ab iosis nec missus, nec probatus, saith Brugensis.

And particularly, It was the peculiar priviledge of those Doctors who were Members of the great Council to frame such Decrees, Constitutions or Traditions. This I gather from that passage of the Targum on Eccles. 12. 12. where it is said, [...], which the Translation in our Polyglot Bible renders Magistri Sanhedrim, scil, ductores viarum; as if [...] were to be taken according to the proper signification of the word, from [...] ambulavit; whereas it is most usually taken in the Metaphorical sense, for Consuc­tudo, ratio, mos, ritus, judicium; and among [Page 12] the Rabbins and Talmudists it signisies (saith Buxtorf) Constitutio juris, sententia, decisio, traditio decisa; & usu ac consuetudine recepta & approbata, secundum quod incedendum & vi­vendum. Lex Talm. in voc. [...]; and ac­cordingly it is to be rendred here, Doctores synedrii, qui sunt Domini consuetudinum, sive constitutionum juridicarum. The Doctors of the Council, who are the grand Masters of Tra­ditions. And hence

(3) We may easily imagine the reason why the Scribes and Pharisees here, were so much conçern'd at this neglect of the Disciples, viz. because their own Copy­hold was toucht, and their own authority lay at stake, inasmuch as they were the Successors of these Elders; so that the slight that was put upon the one, redounded to the disparagement of the other. Non mirum Scribas violatione traditionum seniorum cito of­fensos fuisse, quod co & ipsorum authoritas elevari videretur, qui jam Seniorum locum tenerent, illorum successores, & institutorum propagatorcs, saith Brugensis. Hence Christ calls 'em your Traditions.

So then, The Elders here meant were such as lived in former times, who were persons of great Dignity and Authority, to whose cognisance matters of Religion did apper­tain, and to whom it belonged to belonged to form and frame these Constitutions or Tradi­tions.

[Page 13] Where, by the way, you may take no­tice (and that you may take the more and better notice of it, know, That it is the Observation of the prodigiously learned Dr. Stillingfleet) That the word [Elder] or Presbyter, according to the common use of it, has a higher Character, and is of more excellent import, than the word [Bishop]; the former noting Dignity and Authority, (as has been show'd); the latter, only mat­ter of Duty, Charge, Trouble and Business. His words are, [...], a name importing Duty more than Honour, and not a Title above Presbyter, but rather used by way of diminu­tion and qualification of the power implied in the name [Presbyter]. Iren. p. 286. But this by the by. Thus you see, Who these El­ders were.

2: The next thing to be spoken unto, is to show, What the Traditions of these El­ders were: And here I shall consider (1) their Nature. (2) Original. (3) Validity, or, what stress they laid upon'em.

Sect. 10. First, What a Tradition is. A Tradition, in general, is something delivered from one to another: and it is twofold, Di-vine, and Humane.

(1) Divine, which is, either matters of Doctrine, delivered either by God himself, or some immediately inspired by him; and so, both the Verb [...], and the [Page 14] Noun [...] are used concerning the points of Christianity. Thus the Apostle Paul received from God, and delivered to the Church the Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, 1 Cor. 11. 23. and of Christ's Death and Resurrection, 1 Cor. 15. 3. yea, the whol [...] Doctrine of the Gospel in general is a Tradition, delivered or conveyed to us, Rom. 6. 17. 2 Thes. 2. 15. Jude 3. Again, Divine Traditions respect matters of Practice also; and these are Constitutions, or Ordinances appointed by God, or some immediately inspired by him, for the use of the Church, as the word seems to be taken, 1 Cor. 11. 2. Now I praise you Bre­thren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the Ordinances (Margin, Traditions) as I have delivered them to you. And more plain­ly 2 Thes. 3. 6.

(2) Humane; called here, Traditions of the Elders; your Traditions, v. 3, 6. your own Traditions, Mark 7. 9. the Traditions of men, Mark 7. 8. Col. 2 8. and of the Fa­thers, Gal. 1. 14. And these likewise are either Doctrinal, concerning some points of Doctrine, as Matth. 5. 21, &c. and there­fore are called expresly the Doctrine of the Pkarisees, and of the Sadducees, Matth. 16. 12. Concerning which, Grotius observes, That that which the Greek Philosophers called [...], Christ here calls [...], a Do­ctrine, Instruction, Article, or point of Faith; [Page 15] or else, they are Practical, being customs and external observances, invented by men, and delivered from hand to hand from Fa­ther to Son: and such Traditions were these here of the Elders; and those Col. 2. 20, 21. And these are the Traditions under Consi­deration.

Now such a Tradition, is an Ordinance, [...], institutum hoc constitutionem vertere possumus. Eras. Institu­tion, Canon, Constitution, Resolution, Decision, or Determination of their Forefathers the Governours of the Church, delivered down from one to another, en­joyning the observation of such and such Rites, Ceremonies or Practices.

The former of these sorts, viz. Divine Traditions, are the Rule and Ground of our Faith, Worship and Obedience; The latter, Humane, do naturally produce Super­stition and Will-worship: and of this sort there were multitudes upon all occasions, so that the whole Talmud is little else than a Collection of 'em. I'le give you a taste, and but a taste of 'em. It was a Tradition, that on a Festival-day it was not lawful to blow the fire with a pair of bellows, be­cause that had some resemblance of a Me­chanick work; but they might blow it through a hollow Cane. Again, On a Fe­stival-day it was not lawful to lay wood on the fire in an artificial manner, so as [Page 16] to resemble a building. But enough of these.

Sect. 11. Secondly, What was the ground they went upon, or the occasion of their first broaching these Traditions? In general, it was, as they express it, [...] To make a hedg to the Law, that men should not break in upon it to transgress it: and this was a specious colour for all their Traditions; for they pretending to make Constitutions to fence the Law from viola­tion, and to raise the observance of it the higher, they multiplied inventions and fan­cies of their own brains, and set 'em up for Laws, and so made the Law indeed no­thing worth. I shall give you an instance but in one of 'em. The written Law for­bad, Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his Mothers milk, Exod. 23. 19. Now to make sure, as they pretended, that this Law should not be violated, they fenced it with this Tra­dition, Thou shalt not seethe any flesh whatso­ever in any milk whatsoever.

Thus we see, how very apt men are to set their posts by God's Pillars, to light up their Candles to his Sun, to put their varnish upon his Gold, and, like Botchers, to patch their inventions upon his Institu­tions. The Jewish Rabbies, under a speci­ous pretence of Piety, brought in whole loads of this kind of trash, which they called [Page 17] Sepimenta legis, but were indeed but impe­dimenta, because God's Commands were thereby frustrated, as our Saviour Christ shows here, in the sequel of this discourse. This is the general reason: But

As for the particular grounds of particu­lar Traditions, I shall have occasion to men­tion some afterwards.

Sect. 12. Thirdly, What was their Va­lidity? Of what account they were among the Jews, and what value they put upon 'em, appears by many passages in their Authors. It is a saying of the Talmudists, [...] Verba Ca­balae aequiparantur verbis Legis. Here they set them cheek by jole (as we say) with the Commands of God: but this is not all; they set 'em even above the Law of God it self, and make that to lacquey behind: for this is another saying in the Talmud (as Grotius quotes it) Plus est in verbis Scri­barum quam in verbis Legis; There's more weight in the words of the Scribes, than in the words of the Law. And Dr. Lightfoot quotes another to the same purpose, The words of the Elders are more lovely than the words of the Law, and more weighty than the words of the Prophets. Hence they say of this Tra­dition in particular, That be that eats his bread with unwashen hands, sins as grievously as if he lay with a Whore. So saith R. Fose in [Page 18] Talm. Sota. c. 1. yea, saith R. Akiba, he de­serves to dye for it; and accordingly, water being once brought to him both for drink­ing and washing, and the greatest part of it being casually spilt, the remainder he used for washing, saying, That it's better to dye, than to transgress the tradition of the Elders. And this is a saying too, among them, Who­soever dwells in the land of Israel, and eats his ordinary food after a cleanly manner, and speaks in the holy language, and saith over his Phylacteries morning and evening, may be confident that he shall obtain happi­ness in the world to come.

But lest any should take these Traditions for matters of Counsel only, or bare opi­nion, which laid no manner of obligation upon them, and because a passage of Grotius, formerly quoted and animadverted upon, may seem to look that way (though what has been said already under this last head, does abundantly prove what an high opi­nion they had of them in point of their ob­ligatoriness) Yet further, as I show'd be­fore, that the word [Elder] denotes persons of a publick Character, and such as were in places of power and authority, and not only persons in a private capacity; so I shall further prove, by several Arguments, that the Traditions of these Elders were not points of opinion only, but matters of injunction and command.

[Page 19] Sect. 13. (1) This Tradition is expresly called [...] a Precept of the wise men, both by Maimonides in Hilchos Brachos, c. 6. sect. 2. [...]. Washing the hands is a precept of the wise men, to which we are absolutely bound to yield obe­dience, according to what is written, Deut. 17. 11. According to the sentence of the Law which they shall teach thee—thou shalt do. And also by the Talmud, Washing of hands is by reason of the command of the wise men. And accord­ingly,

(2) These Traditions are called, Com­mandments of men, here by Christ, Mark 7. 7. and opposed to the Commandments of God, v. 8. and what is called in one verse, a Tra­dition, is called in the other, Command­ments of men; so that they seem to be con­vertible terms, Mark 7. 7, 8. In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the com­mandments of men. For laying aside the Com­mandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, &c.

(3) The word [transgress] (Why do thy Disciples transgress the tradition of the Elders?) implies, that they held them obligatory; and that these Traditions laid an obligation upon them; for, why else do they tax the Disciples for the transgression thereof, if they did not take'em to have the nature of a law? For, Transgression properly belongs to a law, or something that has a binding power in it, 1 John 3. 4.

[Page 20] (4) The drift and design of our Savi­our's Answer and Vindication, is to show that the people were not obliged thereby, and that these Traditions were of no force or validity at all; which shows that they look't upon 'em as obligatory.

(5) These Elders, who were the Authors of these Traditions, were members of the Senate, and Rulers (as was proved afore), and consequently, a Tradition, or Decision of their's, had the nature of a law, and was of a binding power, being the act of the whole body; as we find it was in this par­ticular case: for the whole body of the Council espoused the quarrel of this Rite; for they Excommunicated R. Eliezer, be­cause he slighted this Ceremony of wash­ing of hands; and then when he was dead▪ they commanded a great stone to be laid on his Coffin, in token of their detestation of him; or to note, That his Coffin was to be stoned; saith the Talmud, in Edajoth, cap. 5.

(6) The Hebrew Edition of Matthew by Munster, renders [traditions of the Elders] by [...]. Now [...] is ren­dred by Buxtorf, Pactum, decretum, statutum, constitutio, sententia; from [...] decernere, statuere, definire.

And thus we have dispatch't the conside­ration of the General ground of their com­plaint, viz. A transgression of the Tradition [Page 21] of the Elders, by showing, Who these El­ders were: What a Tradition of the El­ders was, both as to the Nature, Ground, and Validity thereof.

Come we now to the particular cause of their quarrel, viz. Eating with unwasten hands And here many things offer themselves to our consideration: As

Sect. 14 (1) This Washing is called by the Jews [...] Lifting up the hands (viz. to wash) for dinner; because in washing they lifted them up in a formal, ceremonious manner (as we shall see anon), or, as St. Mark expresses it, [...] dili­gently.

(2) The Rabbins say it was to be used only before the eating of ordinary bread. Thus Maimon. in Hilchos Brachos, c. 6. sect. 1. Quicunque comedit panem super quo convenit recitare benedictionem istam Benedictus, &c. qui educit panem è terrâ, opus habet lavare manus ab initio & fine, etiamsi sit panis com­munis. (The Reasons whereof the learned Reader may see in Buxtorf's Discourse De lotione manuum, sect. 11.) And therefore you may observe that express mention is made of bread here several times, Matth. 15. 2. Mark 7. 2, 5. And therefore they allow'd a man to eat fruit, cheese, herbs or fish with unwashen hands.

[Page 22] (3) This washing was from [...], the ends of the singers, wherewith they took their meat, [...] usque ad juncturam, to the joyning; which some understand, of the joyning of the fingers to the hand, but most generally, of the joyning of the hands to the arm, at the wrist (and not of the joyn­ing up at the elbow, as Capellus contends;) for which Buxtorf produces many passages in his Vindic. Exercit. in hist. Institut. Coen. Domin. advers. animad. Lud. Capelli. sect. 55.

Sect. 15. (4) For the Manner, it was per­formed, either by pouring the water upon the hands by another person, or by one's self, if none else were at hand to do it; or else by dipping the hands in the water. If it were done by pouring, the water was to be poured upon the hands two or three times. First, If the hands be dirty, to cleanse 'em from the dirt; (2) To take away the moral uncleanness (as they ac­counted it). (3) To cleanse them from that second water, which took the moral un­cleanness to it self, and therefore must all be washed off.

Several other Rules and Directions are given, both as to the Quality and Quan­tity of the water; as also concerning the Vessel that the water is to be put into, which may be seen in the forementioned Author, sect. 24—28.

[Page 23] (5) They were to lift up their hands (whence it was called Netilas Jadajim, as was said) that the water might not run back from the hands to the fingers, and so defile them again: for they held, that the water that was poured upon the hands did con­tract moral defilement thereby, as was said.

(6) They were to pull off Rings, Plai­sters, or any such thing that was upon the hands, and to rub 'em well, and then dry 'em thoroughly.

These things I have run over briefly, that I might hasten to the following particulars, which are more to my purpose.

Sect. 16. (7) This usage or practice of washing the hands before meat, was not contrary to the Word of God, or any where forbidden by it in particular; It is no where said in the whole Bible, Thou shalt not wash thy hands before meat, no more than it is said any where, Thou shalt not baptize with the sign of the Cross; Thou shalt not wear a Surplice, &c. Nay,

(8) It was so far from that, that they pretended a particular ground from Scrip­ture for it, viz. that command, Levit. 15. 11. Whomsoever he touches that hath the issue, and hath not rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash [Page 24] his cloaths, &c. The account of which you have at large in the Talmud, Massecheth, Col. 1. (as 'tis quoted by Buxtorf in the fore­mentioned Discourse, sect. 4. 5.) in these words, [...], Lotio manuum ad communem & prophanum cibum est propter co­haesioncm Trumae, (concerning which, see his Lex. Talm. Voc. [...]). Imo etiam propter proeceptum sapientum. Quale proeceptum? Avai dixit, Illud proeceptum, quo jubemur obtemperare verbis sápientum. Rabba dixit; Imo propter id quod R. Eliczer ben Erech dixit, qui docuit, ex eo quod scriptum est Levit. 15. 11. Omnis autcm quem tetigerit seminisluus, & manus suas non abluerit aquâ, &c. collegisse ac decrevisse sapientes, lotionem manuum esse ex lege. Gro­tius in loc. gives another account of it, viz. That these Jewish Rabbies thought that if any uncircumcised person, or any one of their own Nation legally unclean, had touch­ed either the meat or drink, or any other thing that did touch the meat or drink, as their hands wherewith they were to take the meat or drink, or had touch't the pots wherein the meat was boil'd, or the cups out of which they were to drink, that then the meat or drink was defiled, and did com­municate its defilement or uncleanness first to the body, and then to the soul of the per­son that did eat or drink thereof: where­upon, as an Antidote or Remedy hereof, [Page 25] these cleanly persons prescribed such a ce­remonious, methodical, artificial kind of washing. But I take the former account out of their own Authors, to be the most authentick, and pertinent.

Whereby we may perceive that this Tra­dition of theirs has the advantage of our Ceremonies, for there is no particular pre­cept alledged for the establishment or coun­tenancing any of them; yea, there's little or nothing of Reason can be said for 'em. (And in this respect indeed they may be called Innocent Ceremonies; as we call those Innocents, who have nothing of Reason in 'em;) but their Defenders, when assaulted with Reason, are fain to shelter themselves under the wings of Authority, and cry King's Truce, as boys do, i. e. They are commanded by Authority, and therefore we must yield obedience, when we are enjoyned nothing that is contrary to the Word of God: But though they pretended warrant from Scrip­ture, yet

(9) They did not enjoyn it as immedi­ately binding the conscience, or commanded by God directly, but only by consequence; and therefore they call'd it [...], (as was said before) a precept of the wise men, and said it was [...] one of the words or commands of the Scribes, but that it was not [...] any of the com­mands of the law.

[Page 26] Nay (Eastly) it might seem to be a point of Civility, and a piece of cleanliness, which no doubt but both Christ and the Disciples might use upon occasion, though only as a matter of civility, wherein Religion was not concern'd either one way or other, whe­ther it were done or not.

And this too is more than can be said on the behalf of our Ceremonies; for there is no such, either Decency, or Conveniency in the use of them.

But yet for all this Christ here opposes and conjemns this Tradition, which brings me to the last Point to be spoken unto, viz.

4. And lastly, (Sect. 17.) The Defence, Plea or Vindication that Christ makes in the behalf of his Disciples in this particu­lar; which is (1) by way of Retortion, or Rccrimination, Why do you also transgress the conmand of God by your tradition, Matth. 15. 3. (2) By way of Reprehension, or taxing them for their hypocrisie, Mark 7. 6. He answered and said unto them, VVell has Esaias prophe­sied of you hypocrites, &c. (3) By way of Instruction to the people, Matth. 15. 10. And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear and understand, &c.

1. By way of Retortion, or Recrimination, VVhy do you also transgress the Command of God [Page 27] by your Tradition? For God commanded, say­ing, &c. They accuse the Disciples for trans­gressing the Tradition of the Elders, and Christ accuses them for transgressing the Command of God, by their observing these Traditions; which was certainly much more blame-worthy than the other. And here I observe,

(1) That in those words, v. 3. he under­mines the very foundation upon which all this tottering building of Traditions stood; For it was a prin [...]iple among them, That the Traditions of the Elders were to be ob­served most religiously, without any excep­tion, contradiction, or dispute; but now Christ here proves, That some of their Tra­ditions did palpably and evid [...]ntly contra­dict and enterfere with the Law of God▪ and therefore they were not all of 'em so strict­ly and inviolably to be observed, as they held. And then,

(2) As to this particular instance he gives, v. 4—6. I observe, He does not so much reply to their particular question, nor argue against this Tradition in parti­cular, which the Pharisees here stood up for, but chuses rather to instance in one which did more evidently and by plain con­sequence overthrow one of the Commands of God: so that hereby He seems to me plainly to intimate, and insinuate, That all [Page 28] fuch Traditions, i. e. Ecclesiastical Canons, Constitutions, Insunctions, and obligatory Deter­minations, concerning unnecessary things, (whereby men endeavour to render that pr [...]ctice necessary, which God has left free) are contrary to the Law of God, and con­s [...]quently invalid and non - obligatory. Understand it, of what is not necessary, neither in its own Nature, nor by any Cir­cumstance; according to what has been de­livered in the foregoing Discourse. Now that this is the drift of Christ in these words, I prove thus:

Either He does here by this one instance argue against, and condemn all Traditions in general, as well as this one, or he does not. If he does not, then his arguing is incon­sequent and unconcluding, as to the point in h [...]nd: For the Pharisees might reply, Well! suppose you can pick out one Tradi­tion, which you say does plainly derogate from a Command of God, yet what's that to the case before us? This that we implead your Disciples for, is none of those, but founded upon a particular law; and therefore that stands firm and ought to be observed, as not liable to this exception; and so, they are guilty for not observing it. But now that Christ should argue thus loosely and incoherently is by no means to be admitted. Shall He who gave to man the faculty of [Page 29] Reason, be defective in any point of Reason himself? As the Psalmist argues concern­ing God's Knowledge and Providence, Psal. 94. 9, 10. He that planted the ear, shall not he hear? He that formed the eye, shall be not see?—He that teaches man knowledge, shall not he know? So may we say in this case. True, the Reason of Christ's discourses sometimes lies very deep, that it's hard for us to fathom it with our short understandings, and to attain to a clear apprehension of it: but however, we cannot without blasphemy admit of any flaw in it, or deny it to be firm, valid and concluding.

But then, if He did here argue against all such Traditions in general, my Obser­vation stands good, and I have gained my Point. And hence it will follow,

(3) That to observe such Traditions, and Institutions, is so far from being a Duty, that it is a sin; because thereby the Law of God is transgressed.

Sect. 18. 2. Christ's Reply is by way of Reprehension, and taxing their hypocrisie, Matth. 15. 7—9. [...]e hypocrites, &c. The peo­ple indeed had a great veneration for them, and lookt upon them as great Devoto's and Religionists: but Christ puts off their vizor, uncovers their nakedness, and lays open their hypocrisie; and that, by applying to them [Page 30] that prophecie of Isaiah, This people draws nigh, &c. i. e. they pretend a great deal of Religion in their outward carriage, and seem to be very diligent in all external du­ties, but all is but from the teeth outward: their Religion is but a meer carkass, with­out any life, or soul, or spirit in it; the heart is wanting. Here he opens the foun­tain of this evil, which was, The placing all Religion in outward ceremonies, and su­perstitious observances.

V. 9. But in vain do they worship me] i. e. They shall not only not get any good by such worship, but shall bring upon them­selves the wrath of God, and consequently a great deal of evil and mischief, by their thus—teaching for Doctrines] i e. instead of Doctrines, the commandments of men.] The word [Doctrine] is usually taken for those points either of Faith or Duty, which are delivered in Preaching; and here it must re­late, particularly, to matters of worship, as is evident, both because that is the business in h [...]nd, which Christ is here speaking of; and also, by comparing these words with those of Isaiah, whence they are taken, viz. Isa. 29. 13. where the words run thus:—and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men. Their fear towards me, i. e. their worship of me; as fear is taken, 2 King. 17. 32, 33. And then by [the commandments [Page 31] of men] is meant, those Traditions of the El­ders before mentioned; what he calls [your traditions] and [your own traditions] before, here he calls [the commandments of men.] i. e. All such humane inventions and institutions in God's worship, which have no good ground, nor warrant from the Word of God, though they may pretend some. Ea quae fundamentum habent in persuasione mere humanâ, & non divinitus tradita, saith Gro­tius.

So that the sense of the whole clause is this,—Teaching for Doctrines the command­ments of men] i. e. By their thus preaching up, and pressing the observation of their Traditions and humane Inventions in the worship of God, instead of those things which are of divine Institution and Appoint­ment, they render their worship vain. 'Tis the property of Scripture alone to be pro­sitable for Doctrine, 2 Tim. 3. 16. Hence Ti­tus is required to snow uncorruptness in do­ctrine; Tit. 2. 7. i. e. to deliver the pure truths of God not dashed with the water, nor al­loy'd with the lead of humane inventions, whereby 'tis corrupted, as wine is with wa­ter, and gold with lead. So that, as the mat­ter of all our Teaching is laid down Posi­tively, in that Commission, Matth. 28. ult. Teaching them to observe whatsoever I have com­manded you: So here, teaching and urging [Page 32] any thing in the worship of God, not only contrary to, but besides, the Word, is con­demned in these words by Christ; and they that take their measures in Worship, from the Commandments of men, their worship is vain, bootless, and unprofitable, yea mis­chievous and abominable: And such per­sons Christ pronounces to be Hypocrites; and such we must take 'em for, except we will contradict his judgement. Your zea­lous assertors of, and great sticklers for, the observation of humane inventions in God's worship, are great hypocrites in Christ's account; and they that urge and impose such things as strictly, or more strictly than the observation of divine Institutions, are guilty of gross hypocrisie, whatever they pretend, as to Decency, Uniformity, Autho­rity, or the like. For, though a practice be really a matter of Decency and Conveni­ency, and thereupon some Rules and Dire­ctions may be given by Authority about it; yet it ought not to be enjoyn'd as strictly, or as much stress laid upon it, as upon the substantials and vitals of Worship: as for example. In point of Time, or Place, or Ge­sture, or Habit, 'tis to be supposed, and I think we may well take it for granted, that generally, n [...]ither Ministers nor People are such bruits, and so void of understanding, as to perform Duties with such undue Cir­cumstances, [Page 33] at such inconvenient Times, in such inconvenient Places, with such rude Postures, in such undecent Habits, as may render the service, or worship notoriously undecent, and wholly unprofitable, and in­consistent with the Glory of God, and the good of Souls: or, if any particulars should be guilty of such foul miscarriages, then let Governours take notice thereof, and cen­sure offenders proportionably to the deme­rit of the crime; and not perdere substan­tiam propter accidentia, imbroil the whole Church by, and silence hundreds or thou­sands of inoffensive Ministers for non-com­pliance with. Impositions about such mat­ters. Certainly the greatest evil that can be imagin'd to follow upon some irregular, un­due, circumstantial miscarriage in worship, is not proportionable to the thousandth part of that mischief which we have always found has follow'd upon these Impositions.

Sect. 19. 3. The last method that Christ uses for the Vindica [...]ion of his Disciples for their Non-conformity to this Imposition, is by way of Instruction, to inform the people, What it is that really and properly does pollute a man, Matth 15. 10—20. Mark 7. 14—23. Where, as before he undermin'd the foundation of all their Traditions in general, so here he overthrows the ground­work [Page 34] of this Tradition in particular, by teaching and proving, that eating with un­washen hands defiles not a man, Matth. 15. 20. and if so, then there's no need to wash be­fore meat. But this being besides my pre­sent design, I shall give it a discharge from any further attendance. And,

Sect. 20. For a close of all, I shall wind up the substance of all that has been said in a narrow compass. Here was (1) A Law, Precept, Injunction, Constitution, or call it what you will, it was something they look't upon as obligatory; and that (2) made by lawful authority, yea, the Supreme authority of the Nation: and this (3) about a lawful matter, viz. that which was not anywhere forbidden by the Law of God, nor contrary to any command; yea (4) it was a matter of civil Decency: and (5) that which they pretended some ground from Scripture for: And yet for all this (6) this Law or Com­mand did not oblige: for then the neglect thereof would have been blame-worthy; which yet it was not, as appears by Christ's Vindication of his Disciples for it: though they did not obey this Command, nor observe this Custom, yet he does not in the least blame [...]em for it. Nay,

(7) The Observation of it upon such an account, was not only not necessary, but [Page 35] unlawful; as appears, in that Christ blames and taxes the Pharisees for this and such like observances; and therefore (Lastly) Noncon­formity herein was so far from being a sin, that it was their Duty, and Conformity or Compliance had been a sin; from all which I infer, That

A lawful practice, enjoyn'd by lawful Au­thority, is not thereby, and purely on that account, made necessary: but there is something else required, viz. That the matter of the law be necessary antecedently to the law, either in its own Nature, or in respect of some Circumstance (as has been shewed in the fore­going discourse about Indifferencies), or else it obliges not.


These Books following are Printed for Benjamin Alsop, at the An­gel and Bible over against the Stocks-Market.

MElius Inquirendum: or, an Inquiry into the Sober Inquiry, &c.

The Non-conformists Plea for Peace: the first Part: by Rich. Baxter.

A Defence of the Non-conformists Plea for Peace: against Mr. J. Cheyneys Answer, called, The Non-conforming Conformist, &c. To which is added, a Letter written by the Author of Melius Inquirendum.

The Royal Charter of Confirmation, Granted by King Charles the II. to the City of London. Taken from the Re­cords, and Translated into English by S. G.

A Seasonable Warning to Protestants. Being an Exact History of the Parisian Massacre, August the 24th. 1672. [Page] With the Popes Bull to Encourage and Justifie the Massacre and Rebellion of Ireland.

A Word to Sinners, and a Word to Saints: by Tho. Gouge, Minister of the Gospel. With any other Books of the same Author.

Jacob's Ladder: or, the Devout Souls Ascension to Heaven: by Jo. Hall, B. D.

Young's English Scholar: in Spelling, Reading and Writing. Enlarg'd: the 4th Edition.

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