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“ Cæsar, should have said, “ that Pompey had fought
against him with too too great success ;” and being afterwards challenged by Cæfar's party, as having said, that Pompey had conquered Cæsar, he should explain himself thus : Success, I mean, not against Cæsar, but “ againit his own life, and the lives of his followers.” Can any thing be finer than for any man to say, that by Pompey's success in fighting against Cæsar, he means, that Cæfar had beaten Pompey? Which is no more than if one should take the liberty to interpret white by black.
$ 6. Mr. White doth most expressly contradict this principle of Mr. S.'s, in these following passages. In his preface to Mr. Rushworth, he says, that “ such a ceras tainty as makes the cause always work the fame ef“ fect, though it take not away the absolute poflibility “ of working otherwise, ought absolutely to be reckon“ ed in the degree of true certainty; and that those au“ thors are mistaken who undervalue it.” So that it feems Mr. S. is mistaken in affirming, that a man cannot be certain of anything so long as there is any possibility that it may be otherwise. In his answer to my Lord Falkland, he says, p. 14. 15. that “in moral " matters, and such as are subject to human action, we « must expect such assurance as human actions bear. “ If for the government of your spiritual life, you have
as much as for the management of your natural and “civil life, what can you expect more? Two or three “ witnesses of men beyond exception will cast a man out " of, not only his lands, but life, and all. He that 2
mong merchants will not adventure where there is a “ hundred to one of gaining, will be accounted a lilly “ factor; and among soldiers, he that will fear danger or where but one of a hundred is slain, shall not escape " the stain of cowardice. What then shall we expect in
religion, but to see a main advantage on the one side,
which we may rest ourselves on; and for the rest, “ remember we are men subject to chance and mutabili
ty; and thank God he hath given us that assurance in a supernatural way, which we are contented withal in
our civil ventures and possessions; which, neverthe“ less, God knoweth we often love better, and would “ hazard less than the unknown good of the life to
« come?” Again, p.30. “If God almighty hath in all “ forts and manners provided his church, that she may
enlighten every man in his way that goeth the way of a man ; then let every man consider which is the fit way
for himself, and what in other matters of that way he accounteth evidence. And if there be no in"terest in his foul to make him loth to believe what in “ another matter of the like nature he doth not stick at,
or heavy to practise what he fees clearly enough, I “ fear not his choice.” Once more, directing a man in his search after rational fatisfaction in matters of religion, he hath this passage, p. 46. “Besides this, he must have “ this care, that he seek what the nature of the subject
can yield; and not as those physicians, who, when
they have promised no less than immortality, can at “ laft only reach to some conservation of health or youth “ in some finall degree: so I could wish the author to “ well assure himself, first that there is possibly an in
fallibility, before he be too earnest to be contented " with nothing less. For what if human nature should
not be capable of so great a good ? Would he there“fore think it fitting to live without any religion, be“ cause he could not get such a one as himself desired,
though with more than a man's wish? Were it not " rational to see, whether, among religions, fome one 6 have not such notable advantages over the rest, as in “ reason it might seem human nature might be content" ed withal? Let him cast his account with the dearest “ things he hath, his own or friends lives, bis eftate, “ his hope of posterity, and see upon what terms of ad
vantage he is ready to venture all these; and then return to religion, and see whether, if he do not ven
ture his soul upon the like, it be truly reason, or some “ other not confessed motive, which withdraws him.
For my own part, as I doubt not of an infallibility, « so I doubt not but, fetting that aside, there be those ex" cellencies. found on the Catholick party which may “ force a man to prefer it, and to venture all he hath “ upon it, before all other religions and fects in the world.
Why then may not one who, after long fearching, “ findeth no infallibility, rest himself on the like, sop“ posing man's nature affords no better ? "
Are not these fair concessions, which the evidence and force of truth have extorted from these authors ? so that it seems that that which Mr. S. calls a civil piece of Atheistry, (Letter to his answerer, p.5.), is advanced in most express words by his best friends, and therefore I hope he will (as he threatens me)“ be smart with them “ in opposition to so damnable and fundamental an er
ror.' And whenever he attempts this, I would intreat him to remember, that he hath these two things to prove : 1. That no evidence but demonstration can give a man sufficient assurance of any thing. 2. That a bare possibility that a thing may be otherwise, is a rational cause of doubting, and a wife ground of fufpence. Which when he hath proved, I shall not grudge him his infallibility
Sect. V. That scripture is sufficient to convince the
most acute adversaries, and that it is sufficiently certain. $1. THE last part of this thi discourse endeavours
to Thew, “ That the scripture is not convictive .66 of the most obstinate and acute adversaries.” As for the obstinate, he knows my mind already. Let us see why the most acute adversary may not be convinced by scripture, “Because, (as he objects, p. 28.), 1. we can
not be certain that this book is God's word, because “ of the many strange absurdities and heresies in the open
letter as it lies; as that God hath hands and feet, &c. and because of the contradictions in it.” To which I have already returned an answer. “2. Because " (as he faith, p.31.) we cannot be certain of the truth “ of the letter in any particular text, that it was not “ foilted in, or some way altered in its fignificativeness ; " and if it be a negative propofition, that the particle
not was not inserted; if affirmative, not left out.” And if we pretend to be certain of this, he demands our demonstration for it, p.31. But how unreasonable this demand is, I hope I have sufficiently shewn. And to shew it yet farther, I ask him, How their church knows that the particle not was not left out of any text in which it is not found in their copies ? I know he hath a ready answer, viz. by oral tradition. But this according to
him, p. 116.) only reaches to “scripture's letter, so far
as it is coincident with the main body of Christian “ doctrine; ” concerning the rest of scripture it is impossible, (according to his own principles), that they should have any security that the particle not was not unduly inserted, or left out, by the transcribers. Nay, as to those texts of scripture which fall in with the main body of Christian doctrine, I demand his demonstration, that the particle not was not unduly inserted or left out, not only in those texts, but also in the oral tradition of the doctrines coincident with the sense of those texts. If he say, it was impossible any age should conspire to leave out or insert the particle not in the oral tradition ; fo say I it was that they should conspire to leave it out of the written text : but then I differ from him thus far, that I do not think this naturally impossible, so as that it can rigorously be demonstrated; but only morally impossible, so that no body hath any reason to doubt of it; which, to a prudent man is as good as a demonstration. Pyrrho himself never advanced any principle of scepticism beyond this, viz. That men ought to question the credit of all books, concerning which they cannot demonstrate as to every sentence in them, that the particle not was not inserted, if it be affirmative; or left out, if it be negative. If so much be required to free a man from reasonable doubting concerning a book, how happy are they that have attained to infallibility? What he faith (p. 32.) concerning the variæ lectiones of scripture, hath already had a fufficient answer.
§ 2. In his fourth discourfe he endeavours to shew, P:33. that “the scripture is not certain in itself; and
consequently, not ascertained to us." isi, “Not “ certain, materially considered, as consisting of such " and such characters ; because books are liable to be “ burnt, torn, blotted, worn out,” p. 34. We grant it is not impossible but that any, or all the books in the world may be burnt : but then we fay likewise, that a book fo universally dispersed, may easily be preserved; though we have no assurance that God will preserve it, in case all men should be so foolish or so careless as to endeavour or suffer the abolition of it. But it feems the scriptures cannot be a rule of faith, if they be liable to
any external accidents : and this he tells us, p. 34. “ Though it may seem a remote and impertinent ex“ ception, yet to one who considers the wife dispofi“ tions of divine providence, it will deserve a deep con“ lideration ; because the salvation of mankind being
the end of God's making nature, the means to it “ should be more settled, strong and unalterable, than
any other piece of nature whatever.” But, notwithstanding this wise reafon, this exception still seems to me both remote and impertinent: for if this which he calls a reason be a truth, it will from thence necessarily follow, not only that the doctrine of Chrilt must be conveyed by such a means as is more unalterable than the course of nature; but also, by a clear parity of reason, that all the means of our salvation do operate towards the accomplishing of their end with greater certainty than the fire burns, or the sun shines ; which they can never do, unless they operate more necessarily than any natural causes. How they can do so upon voluntary agents, I defire Mr. S. to inform me. $3. He proceeds by a long harangue to fhew, p. 34.
not only these material characters in themselves are corruptible, but in complexion with the causes
actually laid in the world to preserve them entire ; “ because either those causes are material, and then « they are also liable to continual alterations ; or spiri
tual, that is, the minds of men, and from these we
may with good reason hope for a greater degree of con“ ftancy than from any other piece of nature : which, by the way, is a very strange paradox, that the actions of voluntary agents have a greater certainty and constancy in them than those of natural agents; of which the fall of angels and men, compared with the continuance of the sun and stars in their first state, is a very good evidence.
§ 4. But he adds a caution, p. 35. that they are
perfectly unalterable from their nature, and unerrable, “ if due circumstances be observed; that is, if c'ue propo“ fals beinade to beget certain knowledge, and due care “ used to attend to such proposals.” But who can warrant, that due proposals will always be made to men, and due care used by them? If these be uncertain, where