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but by tradition, which conveys this doctrine to us. And if tradition of itself can infallibly assure us, that there are supernatural assiftances of the Holy Ghoft, then a man muft know, that tradition is infallible, antecedently to his knowledge of any supernatural assistance. And if so, what can any supernatural assistance add to my afsurance of the certainty of tradition, which I do suppose to be infallible before I can know of any fupernatural assistance ? Can any thing be more ludicrous, than to build first all our certainty of the assistance of the Holy Ghoft upon the certainty of tradition ; and then afterwards to make the certainty of tradition to rely upon the assistance of the Holy Ghost ? as if that could contribute to our assurance of the certainty of tradition; which, unless tradition be first supposed certain, is itself wholly uncertain.
§ 2. The conclusion of this ninth discourse is fomewhat ecstatical ; possibly from a sudden disorder of his fancy upon the contemplation of his own performances, to see what a man he has made himself, (with the help of Rushworth's dialogues); or rather, what his party has made him by the office they put upon him: for it feems (by his telling, p. 165.6 166) Mr. Creffy, and the rest, are ordained to cajole the fools, leaving him the way of reason and principles; and that himself is chosen out, to demonstrate to the wise, or those who judge of things per altifsimas caufas. In the discharge of which glorious office, he declares, that he intends no confutation of those authors which Mr. Cressy and others have meddled with : yet if any will be fo “ charitable as to judge he hath
confuted them, " because he hath radically and fundamentally over“thrown all their arguments, &c. he shall rejoice, and “ be thankful.” That the intelligent reader (for hc writes to none but such, p. 159.) may also rejoice with him, I shall recite the whole passage: for it is thick of demonstration, and as likely as any in his book to have the altissimas causas contained in it.
It would require a large volume to unfold particularly how each virtue contributes to shew the iner“ rable indeficiency of tradition, and how the principles “ of almost each science are concerned in demonstrating
“ its certainty. Arithmetick lends her numbering and
multiplying faculty, to scan the vast number of testi“ fiers : Geometry, her proportions, to shew a kind of “ infinite strength of certitude in Chriftian tradition, a“ bove those attestations which breed certainty in hu
man affairs : Logick, her skill, to frame and make us “ see the connexions it has with the principles of our “ understanding : Nature, her laws of motion and acti“ on: Morality, her first principle, That nothing is done “ gratis by a cognofcitive nature, and that the body of s traditionary doctrine is most conformable to practical " reason : Historical prudence clears the impossibility of
an undiscernible revolt from points fo descended, and “ held so sacred : Politicks shew this to be the beít way “ imaginable to convey down such a law as it concerns
every man to be skilful in : Metaphysicks engages the “ essences of things, and the very notion of being, which “ fixes every truth; lo establishing the scientifical know
ledge which spring from each particular nature, by “ their first causes or reasons, exempt from changes or “ motion : Divinity demonstrateth it most worthy God, " and most conducive to bring mankind to bliss : Lalt“ ly, Controversy evidences the total uncertainty of
any thing concerning faith, if this can be uncertain ; “ and makes use of all the rest, to establish the certainty “ of this first principle,” p. 93. A very fit conclusion for such demonstrations as went before. It is well Mr. S. writes to none but intelligent readers; for were it not a thousand pities, that so manly, and solid, and convincing a discourse as this should be cast away upon fools ?
$ 1. AS
SECT. XII. Mr. Si's corollaries considered.
S for his corollaries, supposing them to be rightly
deduced from his former discourses, they must of necessity fall with them ; for they signify nothing, but upon this supposition, that his foregoing discourses
And yet this being granted, it were easy to thew that most of them are grossly faulty. For, first, several of them are plainly coincident. nd, viz. “ None can with right pretend to be a church, but the VOL. III. LI
“ followers of tradition,” is the very fame in sense with the 11th, viz. “ No company of men hang together like “ a body of a Christian commonwealth or church, but " that which adheres to tradition.” So likewise the 12th and 14th are contained in the 15th; the 16th and 17th, in the 19th; the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th, in the 21st; and the 32d and 34th, in the 31st. Se condly, Divers of them are manifestly absurd; as the 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th ; the sum of which is, That there is no arguing against tradition “ froin scripture, or the authority of the church, or fa“ thers and councils, or from history and testimonial
writings, or from contrary tradition, or reason, or any
instances whatsoever ; which is as much as to say, If this proposition be true, " That tradition is cer“ tain,” then it cannot, by any kind of argument, be proved to be false. But is this any peculiar consectary from the truth of this proposition? Doth not the same follow from every proposition, That if it be true, it cannot be proved to be false? Yet no man was ever yet so frivolous, as to draw such a consequence from the supposed truth of any proposition. His 23d also is finguSarly absurd, That's there is no possibility of arguing at “ all against tradition rightly understood, or the living « voice of the Catholick church, with any shew of rea“ fon.” These are large words. It might have contented a reasonable man to have said, that no good argument could be brought against it: but he is jealous of his hypothesis, and can never think it safe till it be shotfree. Nor will that content him ; but it must be also impossible for any one to make a shew of shooting at it.
This were, I confess, a peculiar privilege of Mr. S.'s difcourses above other mens, if they were, as he says, by evidence of demonstration so secured, that not only no substantial argument could be brought against them, but that even the most subtile schoolman of them all should not be able to come near them with so much as a Videtur quod non. But it may be, he means no more by this corollary, than what he said in the 18th, viz. That “ “ folid argument from reason can be brought against “ tradition.” If so, then the sense of his 23d corollary must be this, That there is no possibility of arguing
at all against tradition with any solid shew, or substantial shadow of reason ; which would be a little inconvenient. I will instance but in one more, his 40th; which is this, “ The knowledge of tradition's certainty is the firlt
knowledge or principle in controversial divinity, i.e. “ without which nothing is known or knowable in that “ science :” which is to infer, that because he hath with much pains proved the certainty of tradition, therefore it is felf-evident, i.e. needed no proof. Nay, it is to conclude the present matter in controversy, and that which is the main debate of his book, to be the first principle in controversial divinity, i.e. such a propofition as every one ought to grant, before he can have any right to dispute about it. This is a very prudent course, to make begging the question the first principle in controversy; which would it but be granted, I am very much of his mind, that the method he takes would be the best way to make controversy a science; because he that should have the luck or boldness to beg first, would have it in his power to make what he pleased certain.
§ 2. Were it worth while, I might farther pursue the absurdities of his corollaries : for they are not so terrible as he makes shew of, by his telling Dr. Casaubon, p.330. that Sure-footing, and its corollaries, may put him out " of his wits : which though intended for an affront to the Doctor, yet it may be mollified with a good interpretation ; for if the reading of wild and fantastical fluff be apt to disorder a very learned head, then so far Mr. S.'s saying may have truth in it.
It remains only that I requite his 41st corollary, not with an equal number, but with two or three natural confectaries from the doctrine of his book.
1. No man can certainly understand the meaning of any book whatsoever, any farther than the contents of it are made known to us by a concurrent oral tradition: for the arguments whereby he and Mr. Rushworth endeavour to prove it impossible without tradition to attain to the certain sense of scripture, do equally extend to all other books.
2. The memory of matters of fact done long ago may be better preserved by general rumour, than by publick records : for this is the plain English of that affertion, L
That oral tradition is a better and more secure way of conveyance than writing.
3. That the generality of Papists are no Christians : for if, as he alħrms, tradition be the sole rule of faith, and those who disown this rule be ipfo fatto cut off from the root of faith, i.e. unchristianed; and if, as I have shewn, the gencrality of Papists do disown this rule, then it is plain that they are no Christians.
Testimonies concerning the rule of faith.
SECT. I. Mr. S.'s testimonies examined. $1. Hus far, in the way of reason and principles.
The rest is note-book learning, which, he tells us, p. 337. he is
not much a friend to : and there no kindness lost; for it is as little a friend to him, and his cause, as he can be to it. I shall first examine the authorities he brings for tradition; and then produce express testimonies in behalf of scripture. In both which I shall be very brief; in the one, becaufe his te• stimonies require no long answer ; in the other, because it would be to little purpose to trouble Mr. S. with many fathers; who, for ought appears by his book, is acquainted with none but Father White; as I shall shew hereafter. By the way, I cannot much blame bim for the course he uses to take with other mens testimonies; because it is the only way that a man in his circumstances can take : otherwise nothing can be in itself more unreasonable, than to pretend to answer testimonies by ranking them under so many faulty heads; and having fo done, magifterially to require his adversary to vindicate them, by shewing that they do not fall under fome of those heads, thongh he have not said one word against any of them particularly : nay, though he have not so much as recited any one of them; for then the trick would be spoiled, and his Catholick reader, who perhaps may believe him in the general, might see reafon not to do so, if he should descend to particulars ;