Manton: Lent Is Just Another Phony Tradition

That they [Romanists] cry up a private, unproved, unwritten tradition of their own, as of equal authority with this safe and full rule, which is contained in this written Word of God. Their crime and fault may be considered, partly with respect to the object and matter; that these traditions are not indifferent customs, but essential points necessary to faith and christian practice. And so though a Christian be never so through and sound in his obedience to the Word of God, and true to the baptismal covenant, yet if he submits not to these unwritten traditions, he wants [lacks] some point necessary to faith and practice, and so to life eternal: which is contrary to Mark 16:16. “He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that believes not, shall be damned.” And John 17:3.” This is life eternal, to know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Partly as to the subject, as they make their own faction to be the only keepers of these things; and that nothing is to be owned as apostolic tradition, but what is delivered as such by their authority; which is to leave the church to the tyranny and usurpation of a corrupt faction; to declare for apostolic tradition any thing which serves their end and interest, and for which no true historical evidence is produced. Now the unjust and fraudulent practices which they have used, to promote this usurpation over the churches of Christ, render them false men, most unfit to be trusted in this kind.

Partly with respect to the manner, they will have these things to be received, pari reverentia et pietatis affectu, with the same reverence and pious affection with which we receive the Holy Scriptures; and so man’s post is set by God’s, and unproved traditions equaled with doctrines of faith. Their opinion is bad enough, but their practice is worse. For there they show they value these things more than the Scriptures. As superstition always abounds in its own things. Did ever any of their doctors [teachers] say the same things of traditions, which they take the boldness to say of Scripture? Did they ever call them pen and inkhorn, or parchment divinity, a nose of wax, a dumb rule, an obscure and ambiguous doctrine? These Blasphemies they vent boldly against the Scriptures: but did they ever speak these of traditions? And again, their common people are a thousand times better instructed in their traditions, than in the doctrine of salvation. They skill more of Lent, and Ember-weeks, etc. than they truly understand the doctrine of man’s misery and remedy.

And call you this reverence and pious affection to the Scriptures and traditions? Partly because they would never give us a catalogue of unwritten traditions, necessary to be observed by all Christians; It may be lest they should amaze the people with the multitude of them, or else that the people may not know how many of their doctrines are destitute of Scripture proof, and so they plainly be discovered to be imposers on the belief of the Christian world.

—Thomas Manton, XVIII Sermons on the Second Chapter of the 2nd Epistle to the Thessalonians… (London, 1679), 340–42 [Spelling and punctuation modernized].

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  1. Hold up. I forgot today is Ash Wed and Lent has begun. I’m going to buy meat later in order to properly observe my non-observance. Thanks for the reminder.

    • I remember once befriending a man who worked at a Lutheran bookstore,
      he was an Italian catholic of waldensian ancestry, whilst visiting the
      bookstore to buy second hand reformed books we would have theological
      discussions of various degrees, I remember how he told me that fish was
      actually classed as flesh under romish canon law, and forbidden to be eaten.

  2. “…a man who worked at a Lutheran bookstore,
    he was an Italian catholic of waldensian ancestry, whilst visiting the
    bookstore to buy second hand reformed books…”

    That’s an interesting enough bio right there. What’s this guy doing these days?

    • Open Books in Rhodes, a Sydney suburb closed down, he went to work
      in a secular bookshop, we never had any private contact, i didn’t really
      keep any associations with papists.

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