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Atrange feats they played, and what absurdities they iinsoled upon the fuperititious credulity of princes and people, may readily imagine, not only the poflibility, but the easiness of innovating new doctrines as they pleased, under the specioas pretences of antiquity, and constant and uninterrupted tradition.
$8. And this kind of discourse concerning the pollibility of errors coming into the church, is not, as Mr. White ridiculously compares it, (Apology for tradition, p. 49.), as if an orator should go about to persuade people, that “ George, by the help of a long staff, and * a nimble cast of his body, and such like advantages, “ might leap over Paul's steeple; never confidering all “ the while the disproportion of all these advantages to " the height of the steeple: so (faith he) he that discour“ feth at large how errors use to slide into man's life, “ without comparing the power of the causes of error to “ the strength of resisting, which consists in this princi
ple, Nothing is to be admitted but what descends by " tradition, &c. says no more towards proving an er“ ror's over-running the church, than the orator for
George's leaping over the steeple.” How vain is this, when it appears, from this instance that I have given of the state of the Roman church in the ninth and tenth centuries, and afterwards, that the causes of error were infinitely stronger than the power of resistance? The great causes of error are, ignorance and vice : where ignorance reigns, there is no power; where vice, no will to resist it. And how great the ignorance and vitiousness of all orders of men in thc Roman church was,
is too too apparent from the testimonies I have brought. Where was the strength of refifting error, when for 150 years together the Popes were the vileft of men, Bishops and Priests overwhelmed with ignorance, abandoned to all manner of vice, and most fupinely negligent in instructing the people? In fach a degenerate state of a church, what strength is there in this principle, " Nothing is to “ be adınitted but what defcends by tradition?” When those who ought to teach men what that doctrine is which was derived to them by tradition, are generally careless of their duty, and ignorant themselves what that doctrine is; when they addict themselves wholly to the
fatisfying satisfying of their ambition, and other lufts, and carrying on designs of gain, and getting dominion over the people; what can hinder men so disposed from corrupting the doctrine of Christ, and suiting it to their own lufts and interests? And what shall hinder the people from embracing those corruptions, when, by the negligence of their pastors to inttruct them, and not only so, but also by their being deprived of the scriptures in a known tongue, they are become utterly incapable of knowing what the true doctrine of Christ is ? So that in an age of such profound ignorance and vice, and general neglect of instruction, it is so far from being impossible for errors to over-run a church, that the contrary is morally impossible; and George's long staff, and advantageous cast of his body, are more powerful causes to enable him to leap over Paul's steeple, than this principle, “ That ” nothing is to be admitted but what descends by tradi“ tion,” is to keep errors out of a church in an ignorant and vitious age, when few or none are either able or willing to instruct men in the truth. For suppose this always to have been the principle of Christians, viz. “ That nothing is to be admitted as the doctrine of “ Christ, but what is descended to them by tradition ; how shall this principle secure the church from heresy, any more than this, viz. “ That nothing but truth is to “ be assented to,” doth secure men from error? or more than this, viz. “ That no man is to do any thing but “ what is wise and virtuous," does secure the generality of mankind from folly and vice?
SECT. VIII. The second anfwer to his second demon
ftration. $1. THE principles upon which this demonstration
relies, are not sufficiently proved by him. His first principle is this, “That age which holds her “ faith delivered thus from the Apostles, neither can it“ self have changed any thing in it, nor know or doubt " that any age since the Apostles had changed or inno“ vated any thing therein. This proposition (he tells “us) needs no proof to evidence it, but only an expli“ cation : for since no man can hold contrary to his
“ knowledge, “ knowledge, or doubt of what he holds, nor change
or innovate in the case proposed without knowing he “ did so; it is a manifest impollibility a whole age fhould “ fall into an absurdity so inconsistent with the nature of
one single man.” But (by his favour) that which he says is no proof, but only an explication, is a proof, if it be any thing; and the force of it is this : “ That. 66 which is inconsistent with the nature of one single
man, is manifestly impossible to a whole age ; but it " is inconlistent with the nature of any single man to “ hold contrary to his knowledge, &c. therefore impos“ lible to a whole age: and consequently, that age " which holds her faith delivered thus from the Apo“ (tles, neither can itself have changed any thing, nor, “ &c." So that, in order to the making good of this first principle, Mr. S. hath left nothing unproved, but only this propofition, namely, That it is impossible that any one single man that holds his faith to have been delivered uninterruptedly from the Apostles, should either himself have changed any thing in it, or know or doubt that any age since the Apostles hath changed or innovated any thing therein. And to make out the truth of this proposition, there only remains this to be proved, viz. That it is impossible for any single man to be mistaken : for if that be possible, then, contrary to Mr. S. a man may hold that to have been delivered as a doctrine of faith from the Apostles which was not so delivered. § 2. His second principle is this,
That no age “ could innovate any thing, and withal deliver that
very thing to posterity as received from Christ by con« tinual succession.” He proves it thus : “ Since man “ is a rational creature, he must have some reason or “ motive, good or bad, which he proposeth to himself
as an end to be atchieved by his action : and whatever his remote end is, his immediate end, in telling pofterity a late invented thing was held immediately before, is to make them believe it. Wherefore, fince
a feen impossibility cannot be a motive to one not “ frantick, and since it is evidently impossible they « should make posterity believe a thing so universally “ known to be false, as this must needs be, &c. it is “as impossible this principle should faulter, as that the
“ foregoing age should conspire to act without a motive,
or that the succeeding age should believe what they
know to be otherwise ; that is, should hold both sides ~ of a contradiction in a clear matter of fact.” The force of which is this, That it is impossible that any man not frantick should attempt to innovate in matter of Christian doctrine, because the immediate end of such an attempt must be to have his new doctrine believed; but it is impossible he should attain this end, and impossible he should not see that it is impossible to attain it : now, a feen impossibility is an end that cannot move any one that is not frantick; therefore no man that is not frantick can attempt to innovate in matter of Christian doctrine. Thus he hath demonstrated it impossible that there should be any hereticks, if a heretick be one that attempts to innovate in matter of Christian doctrine : for if there be any such attempters, they must be frantick ; and if they be frantick, they can be no hereticks : for heresy implies a crime, but God will not impute the actions of madmen to them as faults. Again, suppose he that attempts to innovate be mistaken, (and I hope Mr. S. will grant that a heretick is fallible), and think that which he delivers as Christ's doctrine to be really so, though indeed it be not; why should such a person think it impossible to make men believe that to be received from Christ which he really thinks was received, and thinks he can make it appear that it was so ? And if this be granted, then it is not imposlible that man, though he be a rational creature, may attempt to innovate. And if so, then his second principle is not proved. If Mr. S. had any regard to the noble science of controversy, (whereof he pretends to be so great a master), he would not bring such trifling sophisms instead of demonstrative proofs; and nothing less than a demonstrative proof will serve to establish any principle upon which a demonstration is to be built.
SECT. IX. The third anfwer to Mr. S.'s second demon
ftration. $1. Do&rines and practices which must be acknow ledged to have been innovated, have made the
fame pretence to uninterrupted tradition. And of this I shall give several instances ; one among the Jews, the rest among Christians.
it, I Thall instance among the traditionary Jews, whose persuasion in our Saviour's time was, and still is, that their oral doctrine, which they call their Cabala, bath descended to them from Mofes uninterruptedly. Now, here is the existence of such a persuasion as Mr. S. affirms to be “ impossible without tradition's ever-inde“ ficiency to beget it." And this persuasion of theirs is most exactly parallel with the pretensions of the Romish church, according to Mr. S. For here's a multitude of traditionary Jews, manifoldly greater in proportion to the dissenters in that church, than the Romish church is in comparison to those Christians that diffent from her. Jofephus tells us, ( Antiq. Jud. l. 13. C.18.), that the richer fort were of the persuasion of the Sad“ ducees, but the multitude were on the Pharisees side.' So that the Pharisees had this mark of the true church (as Bellarmine calls it) common to them with the church of Rome, that they were the greatest number, and so they, continue to this very day; insomuch that although they do not call themselves the Catholicks, yet I am sure they call all Jews that do dissent from them schismaticks. Now, that the Sadducees were for the written law against oral tradition, is, I confess, no credit to us; but that our Saviour reproved the traditionary doctrines and practices of the Pharisees, because by them they made void the written law, is much more to the discredit of the afserters of oral tradition. Both Romanists and Pharisees they own alike a written doctrine ; but then they both pretend the true sense and explication thereof to have descended to them by oral tradition. For just as the traditionary Christians do now, so Josephus tells us (ibid. 1. 17. c. 3. & de bell. Jud. l. 1. c. 4. & l. 2. c. 12.) the traditionary Jews of old, the Pharisees, did pretend by their oral tradition to interpret the law more accurately and exactly than any other sect. In like manner le tells us, ( Antiq. I. 18. c. 2.), that “all things that be, “longed to prayer and divine worship, were regulated “ and administered according to their interpretations of “ the law.” And they both agree in this, to make void