صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

parently false. 3. That his demonstration is confuted by clear and undeniable instances to the contrary.

SECT. III. The first answer to his demonstration. $1. If the grounds of it were true, they would con

clude too much, and prove that to be impossible, which common experience evinceth, and himself mult grant to have been. For if these two principles be true, * That the greatest hopes and fears are strongly applied to “ the minds of all Christians,” and, “ That those hopes “ and fears strongly applied, are the cause of actual will

to adhere constantly to Christ's doctrine," then from hence it follows, that none that entertain this doctrine, can ever fall from it; because falling from it is inconlistent with an actual will of adhering constantly to it. For supposing (as he doth) certain and constant causes of actual will to adhere to this doctrine, those who entertain it, must actually will to adhere to it; because “ “ cause put actually causing, produceth its effect; ” which is, constant adherence to it. And if this were true, these two things would be impossible : 1. That any Christian should turn apostate or heretick; 2. That any Christian should live wickedly : both which not only frequent and undoubted experience doth evince, but him-' self must grant de facto to have been.

a >>

2. First, It would be impossible that any Christian fhould turn apostate or heretick. Heresy, according to him, is nothing else but the renouncing of tradition. Now he tells us, p. 60. that “ the first renouncers of “ tradition must have been true believers, or holders of " it, ere they renounced it ;” and I suppose there is the same reason for apostates. But if all Christians or true believers (as he calls them) have these arguments of hope and fear strongly applied, and hope and fear strongly applied be the causes of actual will to adhere to this doärine; it is necessary all Christians should adhere to it, and impossible there should be either apoftates or hereticks. For if these causes be put in “ all the faithful “ actually causing,” (as the grounds of his demonstration suppose), and " indefectibleness be the proper and “ necessary effect of these causes,” as he also faith, p.75.

then

3

then it is impossible, that where these causes are put, there Thould be any defection : for a proper and necessary effeet cannot but be where the causes of such an effect are put, especially if they be put actually causing ; and consequently it is impossible that any single Christian should ever either totally apoltatize, or fall into heresy; that is, renounce tradition.

63. And that this is a genuine consequence from these principles, (though he will not acknowledge it here, because he saw it would ruin bis demonstration), is liberally acknowledged by him in other parts of his discourse. For he tells us, p. 54. 78. 89. that "it exceeds all the

power of nature, (abstracting from the causes of mad“ nefs, and violent disease), to blot the knowledge of “ this doctrine out of the soul of one single believer; and that “since no man can hold contrary to his know" ledge, nor doubt of what he holds, nor change and “ innovate without knowing he doth so, it is a manifest “impossibility a whole age should fall into an absurdity

fo inconsistent with the nature of one single man ; and that “it is perhaps impossible for one single man to

attempt to deceive posterity by renouncing tradition.” Which passages laid together, amount to thus much, that it is impossible that tradition should fail in any one fingle person. And though in the paffage last cited he speaks faintly, and with a perhaps, as if he apprehended fome danger in speaking, too peremptorily; yet any one would easily see the last to be as impossible as any of the relt. And he himself elsewhere, being in the full career of his bombast rhetorick, delivers it roundly without fear or wit, p. 54. “Sooner may the sinews of entire nature by " overstraining crack, and she lose all her activity and “ motion, that is, herself, than one single part of that • innumerable multitude, which integrate that vast testi“ fication which we call tradition, can poslibly be vio

$ 4. But it may be we deal too hardly with him, and press' his demonstration too far, because he tells us he only intends by it to prove, that the generality of Chri(tians will always adhere to tradition. But if he intended to prove no more but this, he should then have brought a demonstration that would have concluded no

more ;

“ lated.”

ty built

more ; but this concludes of all as well as of the generality of Christians. A clear evidence that it is no demonstration, because it concludes that which is evidently false, that there can be no apostates or hereticks. Befides, fuppofing his demonstration to conclude only, that the generality of Christians would always adhere to tradition, this is as plainly confuted by experience, if there be any credit to be given to history. St. Hierom tells us, (Chron. ad annum Christ. 352), that " Liberius, Bi" shop of Rome, (for all his particular title to infallibili

upon tradition, as Mr. S. speaks, corol. 28.), “ turned Arian ;” and that “ Arianism was established “ by the synod of Ariminum ; » which was a council more general than that of Trent, (ibid, ad an. 363); and that “almost all the churches in the whole world, “ under the names of peace and of the Emperor, were “ polluted by communion with the Arians,” (ibid. ad an. 364). Again, that “under the Emperor Constan“ tius (Eusebius and Hippatius being Consuls) infidelity

was subscribed under the names of unity and faith," (ibid. adverf. Lucifer.); and “that the whole world

groned, and wondered to see itself turned Arian," (ibid.) And he uses this as an argument to the Luci-. ferians, to receive into the church those who had been defiled with the heresy of Arius, Because the number of those who had kept themselves orthodox was exceeding small : “ For (says he, ibid.) the fynod of Nice, which “ consisted of above three hundred Bishops, received

eight Arian Bishops, whom they might have cast out " without any great loss to the church. I wonder,

then, how some, and those the followers of the Nicene faith, can think, that three confessors (viz. A

thanafius, Hilarius, Eusebius) ought not to do that, “ in case of necessity, for the good and safety of the “ whole world, which so many and fo excellent persons did voluntarily.” It seems Arianism had prevailed very far, when St. Hierom could not name above three eminent persons in the church who had preserved them felves untainted with it. Again, " Arius in Alexandria

was at first but one spark; but, because it was not

presently extinguished, it broke out into a flame which “ devoured the whole world,” (In epift. ad Galat. 1.3.).

Gregory

Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. 20. do 21.) likewise tells us to the same purpose, that “the Arian heresy seized

upon the greatest part of the church.“ And, to shew that he knew nothing of Mr. Si's demonstration of the indefectibility of the generality of Christians, he asks, (Orat 25.),” Where are those that define the church

by multitude, and despise the little flock ? &c.And this heresy was of a long continuance ; for from its rise, which happened in the 20th year of Constantine, it continued, as Joh. Abbas (Chron. ad annum oétavum Maurii.) hath calculated it, 266 years. And the Pelagian heresy, if we may believe Bradwardine, one of the great champions of the church against it, did in a manner prevail as much as Arianism; as the said author complains, in his preface to his book, Caufa Dei, that “al

most the whole world was run after Pelagius into “ error.” Will Mr. S. now say, that, in the height of these hercfies, “the generality of Christians did firmly " adhere to tradition?” If he say they did, let him answer the express testimonies produced to the contrary: but if they did not, then his demonstration also fails as to the generality of Christians. And if the greater part of Christians may fall off from tradition, what demonstration can make it impossible for the lefser to do so ? Who will say it is in reason impossible, that a thousand persons should relinquish tradition, though nine hundred of them have already done it, and though the remainder be no otherwise secured from doing so, than those were who have actually relinquished it ? Now, is not this a clear evidence, that this which he calls a demonstration à priori is no such thing? because every demonftration à priori must be from causes which are necessary; whereas his demonstration is from voluntary causes. So that unless he can prove, that voluntary causes are necessary, he shall never demonstrate, that it is impossible for the generality of any company of men to err, who have every one of them free will, and are every one of them liable to passion and mistake.

§ 5. From all this it appears, that his whole discourse about the original and progress of heresy, and the multitudes of hereticks in several ages, is as clear a confutation of his own demonstration as can be desired. The

only

only thing that he offers in that discourse to prevent this objection which he foresaw it liable to, is this: “It is not (fays he, p.65.) to be expected, but that some “ contingencies should have place, where a whole fpe“ cies in a manner is to be wrought upon. It sufficeth, " that the causes to preserve faith indeficiently entire,

are as efficacious as those which are laid for the pre“ servation of mankind; the virtue of faith not being to “ continue longer than mankind, its only subject, does. “ And they will easily appear as efficacious as the o“ ther, if we consider the strength of those causes be“ fore explicated, and reflect, that they are effectively

powerful to make multitudes daily debar themselves of thofe pleasures which are the causes of mankind's

propagation : and, if we look into history for expe“ rience of what hath passed in the world since the pro

pagating of Christianity, we shall find more particu“ culars failing in propagating their kind than their 66 faith.” To which I answer,

ift, That it may reasonably be expected there should be no contingencies in any particulars where causes of actual will are supposed to be put in all ;“ because (as he

says truly) a cause put actually causing, cannot but pro“ duce its effect.” Suppose, then, constant causes laid in all mankind of an actual will to speak truth, to the best of their knowledge, were it not reasonable to expect, that there would be no such contingency to the world's end, as that any man should tell a lie ? Nay, it were madness for any man to think any such contingency should be, supposing causes actually causing men always to speak truth.

2dly, It is far from truth, “that the causes to preserve faith indeficiently entire, are as efficacious as those “ which are laid for the propagation of mankind." And whereas he would prove the strength of those causes which are laid to preserve faith, because they are effectively powerful to make multitudes daily debar them“ felves of those pleasures which are the causes of man“ kind's propagation;" I hope no body that hath read the innumerable complaints which occur in their own historians, and others of the best and most credible of their own writers, of more than one age, concerning

the

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »