صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

demonstration. Besides, if demonstrative evidence be an essential property of the rule of faith, as Mr. S. affirms, then this rule cannot, according to Mr. Rushworth, be of any use to the greatest part of mankind, because they are not capable of convincing demonftrations. Again,

Again, “ do but consider (says he, ibid. $6.) “ how unequal and unjust a condition it is, that the “ claim of the present church shall not be heard, unless “ she can confute all the peradventures that wit may “ invent, and folve all the arguments which the infi“ nite variety of time, place, and occasions, may have

given way unto; and then you will see how unreasonable

an adversary he is, who will not be content with any “ satisfaction but such as man's nature scarcely af“ fords.” And is it not equally unjust in Mr. S. not to let fcripture's claim be heard, unless we can confute every peradventure and Might it not be otherwise that wit may invent? See, then, how unreasonable an adversary Mr. S. is, who will not be content with any satisfaction but such as, according to Mr. Rushworth, man's nature scarcely affords.

Dr. Holden (I confess) states the matter somewhat cautiously, when he tells us, 1. 1. C. I, that “it shall “ suffice for the present to determine, that the wisdom 66 of the Creator hath afforded us such an assurance, “ especially of truths necessary to salvation, as is suitable to our nature, and best fitted for the safe conduct of our lives in moral and religious affairs.” But if we interpret these general expressions by the passages I before cited out of Mr. Rushworth, (as in reason we may, since the Doctor is beholden to him for the best part of his book), then nothing can make more against Mr. S.'s principle.

$5. Mr. Cressy, in his Exomologelis, c. 19. $ 5. fays, that “ such teachers as approached nearest to the “ fountain of truth, Christ and his Apostles, had means “ of informing themselves in apoftolical tradition in

comparably beyond us.” Mr. S. may do well to fhew what those means were, which are so incomparably beyond his infallibility and demonstration. The fame author (c. 32. $ 4.) does very much applaud Stapleton's determination of the question concerning the church's

infallibility; infallibility; which is as follows, “That the church does “ not expect to be taught by God immediately by new “ revelations, but makes use of several means, &c. as “ being governed, not by Apostles, &c. but by ordina

ry pastors and teachers : That these pastors, in ma

king use of these several means of decision, proceed, “ not, as the Apostles did, with a peculiar infallible di “ rection of the Holy Spirit, but with a prudential col" lection not always necessary : That to the Apostles, “ who were the first masters of evangelical faith, and “ founders of the church, such an infallible certitude of “ means was necessary; not so now to the church, &c." If this be true, that an infallible certitude of means is not now necessary to the church, and that her paftors do now, in deciding matters of faith, proceed only with a prudent collection not always necessary; then it should seem, that a searching wit may maintain his ground of suspence, even against their church also, with a " Might o it not be otherwise ?” Again, Mr. Cressy tells us, ( Append. c. 5.), that “ truth, and our obligation to « believe it, is in an higher degree in fcripture than in “ the decisions of the church, as Bellarmine acknow

ledges : ” which is to say, that we may have greater assurance of the truth of doctrines contained in the fcriptures, than we can have of any doctrine from the determination of the church. But if we have the greatest assurance that can be of truths delivered to us by the church, as Mr. S. affirms, then I would fain learn of him, what that higher degree of assurance is, which Mr. Bellarmine speaks of, and whether it be greater than the greatest ? Not to insist upon that, (which yet I cannot but by the way take notice of), that Mr. Cressy, by his approbation of this determination of Bellarmine's, doth advance the scripture above the church, as to one of the most essential properties of the rule of faith, viz. the certainty of it.

But the most eminent testimony to my purpose in Mr. Cressy, is that famous

pasiage (c. 40. $ 3. &c.) which hath given fo much offence to several of his own church, wherein he acknowledges “the unfortunateness (to bim) “ of the word infallibility;” and tells us, ** could find no such word in any council

neceflity

66 that he

that no

“ necessity appeared to him, that either he, or any o" ther Protestant, should ever have heard that word na“ med, and much less pressed with so much earneltness,

as of late it has generally been in disputations and “ books of controversy: and that Mr. Chillingworth “ combats this word with too great success ; insomuch “ that if this word were once forgotten, or but laid by, " Mr. Chillingworth’s arguments would lose the greatest

part of their strength; and that if this word were “ confined to the schools, where it was bred, there “ would be still no inconvenience : and that, since by “ manifest experience the English Protestants think “ themselves to secure, when they have leave to stand

or fall by that word, and in very deed have so much

to say for themselves when they are pressed unneceffa“. rily with it; since likewise it is a word capable of so

high a sense, that we cannot devise one more full " and proper to attribute to God himself, &c.:” since all this is fo, he thinks he cannot be “blamed, if such “ reasons move him to wish, that the Protestants may

never be invited to combat the authority of the church “6 under that notion." A very ingenuous acknowledge ment, and as cross to Mr.S.'s principle as any thing can be. But the word infallibility was not so unfortunate to Mr. Cressy, as his untoward explication of the forecited passage in his Appendix ; which he afterwards published, chiefly by way of vindication of himself, against the learned author of the preface to my Lord Falkland's Discourse of infallibility. There (Append. § 2. & 3.) he tells us, that “there are several degrees is of infallibility:

And that we may know what degrecs of infallibility he thinks necessary to be attributed to the church, this following passage will inforin us : Methinks (he says) if God have furnished his divine " and supernatural truth with evidence equal to this, that " the sun will shine to-morrow, or that there will be a “ spring and harvelt next year, we are infinitely obliged to bless his providence; and juftly condemned, “ if we refuse to believe the least of such truths, as “ Thewing less affection to save our souls, than the dull

plowmen to fow their corn, who certainly have far « less evidence for their harvest, than Catholicks for their VOL.III.

Dd

“ faith;

66

“ faith ; and yet they insist not peevishly upon every capricious objection, nor exact an infallible security of “ a plentiful reaping next summer, but, notwithstanding “ all difficulties and contingencies, proceed chcarfully in “ their painful husbandry.” So that, according to this discourse, whatever degree of assurance the church hath, or can give to those who rely upon her, it is plain, that no further degree is necessary, than what the husbandman, when he

ws, hath of a plentiful harvest; and that men are juftly condemned, if they refuse to believe the least truth upon such security, which yet, by his own acknowledgment, is liable to contingencies : nay farther, that men are not reasonable, but peevish, in

exacting infallible security, and insisting upon every “capricious objection,” such as is Mr. S.'s " Might it

not be otherwise ?" Now, as to this degree of assurance, or (as he calls it) infallibility, I cannot but grant what he says of it to be most true ; viz. that " in a severe acceptation of the word, it is not rigoroully infallible;” that is, (as he explains it), it is not absolutely impossible, nor does it imply a flat contradiction, that the thing whereof we are so assured may be otherwise : but then I utterly deny, that according to any true acceptation of this word, such a degree of assurance as he speaks of, can be called infallibility; and withal I affirm, that none of those several degrees of infallibility which he mentions, excepting that only which imports an absolute impoflibility, can with any tolerable propriety of speech, or regard to the true meaning and use of the word, have the name of infallibility given to them. For infallibility can signify nothing else, but an utter impossibility that one should be deceived in that matter as to which he is supposed to be infallible; and to fay such a thing is impossible, is to say, that the existence of it implies a flat contradiétion: fo that, whosoever afferts degrees of infallibility, is obliged to fhew, that there are degrees of absolute impollibilities, and of perfect contradictions; and he had need of a very sharp and piercing wit, that is to find out degrecs, ubere there neither are nor can be any. Indeei, in respect of the objects of knowledge, it is eafy to conceive how infallibility may be extended to more

objects

objects or fewer ; but in respect of the degree of affurance, (of which Mr. Cresly speaks), it is altogether unimaginable how any one can be more or less out of all poflibility of being deceived in those things where in he is supposed to be infallible: for no one can be inore'removed from the possibility of being deceived, than he that is out of all possibility of being deceived; and whofoever is less than this, is not infallible; because he only is so, who is out of all pollibility of being deceived in those matters wherein he is supposed to be infallible. So that Mr. Cressy's lower degrees of infallibility are no degrees of that assurance which may properly be called infallible, (for that can have no degrees), but of that alsurance which is less than infallible. And he needed not have raised all this duft about the degrees of infallibility, had it not been, that, by the means of such a clond, he might make the inore convenient escape out of that lirait he was in between the clamours of his own church, and the advantage which his adversaries made of his free and open discourse against infallibility. For any one that carefully reads his book, will find, that he understands nothing by the infallibility of the church, but “ an au

thority of obliging all Christians to submit to her decisions ;” which is no more, but what every supreme civil judge hath in matters, viz. a power to determine those controversies that lie before him as well as he can or will; and when that is done, every one is bound to submit to such determinations : but yet for all this, no man ever dreamed a supreme civil judge to be infallible more than another man. I do not now dispute the extent of the church's authority: but if she bave no other infallibility, but what a full authority of decision does suppose, I am sure she hath none at all.

Before I leave Mr. Crefly, I cannot but take notice. how unfortunate and disingenuous he is in explaining the meaning of these words of his own, viz. “ Against this “ word infallibility Mr. Chillingworth’s book especially

combats, and this with too too great success; whichi in his Appendix, c. 5. $6. he interprets thus: “Suc“ cess, I mean, not against the church, but against his

own soul, and the souls of his fellow English Protestants, &c.;” As if one that had wished well to

Dd 2

“ Cæsar,

« السابقةمتابعة »