Imágenes de páginas

shall find them grounded only upon their not distinguishing between perfection absolute and relative, and their absurd arguing from finite and created beings to a being infinite and uncreate; as might easily be shewn in each of the foregoing particulars, would the time allotted for this exercise permit. So that it was a most true and proper remark, that if we take from heretics disputing against any article of the Christian faith what is common to them with the heathens disputing against the whole body of Christianity, they will have little or nothing left them which is new, or can be called peculiarly their own. Nevertheless, such plausible stuff, backed with power, and managed by the devil, drew over most of the Christian churches, for a considerable time, to Arianism; and so, by a very preposterous way of worship, made them sacrifice the Son to the honour of the Father. But,

2. As the Arian ages had chiefly set themselves to run down, or rather quite take away our Saviour's divinity; so the following ages, by an duergía Ts dones, a kind of contrary stretch, were no less intent upon paying a boundless and exorbitant devotion to every thing belonging to his humanity; and in a very particular and more than ordinary manner, to those who had eminently done and suffered (especially to the degree of martyrdom) for his person and religion. And this was the course all along taken by the papal heresy, from the very first that it got footing in the church; touching which, let none think it strange, that I make an immediate step from the times of Arianism to those of Popery, as if there ought to be a greater interval put between them. For though it must be confessed, that Arianism received its mortal wound by the first council of Nice, pretty early in the fourth century; yet these following heresies of Macedonianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Monotheletism, &c. (which as different as they were amongst themselves, were yet, in truth, but so many shoots out of the old Arian stock,) continued much longer, and reached considerably beyond the sixth century, about the end whereof, and the beginning of the seventh, Popery began to work and shew itself by degrees; (Gregory the Great, who lived till the year of our Lord 604, being, not without cause, reckoned the last of the good popes of Rome, and the first of the bad ;) so that in truth there was no vacancy, or intermediate chasm of time, between the Arian poison ceasing, and the Popish ferment beginning to infest the church. Well then, the deity of Christ having been thus irrefragably proved, and Arianism, with its appendant heresies, at length drawing off the stage, and another predominant principle coming on, it was now time for the grand deceiver to change his hand, being to work

upon quite different materials, as well as with quite different instruments; and so to turn that vast honour and zeal, which, as we observed, the world bore to Christ's human nature, to the perverting, depraving, and undermining, of Christianity itself. For from hence men came to give that inordinate veneration to the sacrament of Christ's body and blood; and for the defence thereof invented that monster of absurdities transubstantiation. After which, with great industry, they got together and kept all relics, which any way represented his memory, as pieces of the cross, and pictures of his body, till at length they even adored them; and, to justify their so doing, they cast their practice into a doctrine, that the crucifix was to be adored with relative divine worship; more than which, by the way, the heathens themselves never gave to their idols; but worshipped them only so far as they were representations, or rather significations of those effects and benefits, for which they adored the Deity, the great cause and original of them. But this superstition stopped not here, but extended itself likewise to Christ's friends and followers, the saints; those especially, who, as I noted before, had sealed their profession with their blood the memory of whom they celebrated with solemn invocations of them at their sepulchres, making offerings to them there, and bowing and falling prostrate at the very mention of their names, till at length this reverential respect grew into downright adoration. And thus by degrees Paganism came to be christened into a new form and name, by their setting up their divi, or begodded tutelar saints, and prosecuting their apotheosis with divine worship. And lest in this they might seem to intrench upon the honour of Christ, by treating his saints and servants upon equal terms with himself, they made their very zeal for his honour a plea for their making these saints their intercessors with him; alleging, forsooth, their own unfitness and utter unworthiness to approach him by a direct address, without such a mediation: as subjects do then most acceptably petition their earthly prince, when their suits are handed to him by some particular and beloved favourite: a shrewd argument, no doubt, if God and man proceeded by the same methods. But to go on since religion would be but a very lame and imperfect institution, should not points of faith be seconded with suitable rules of practice; hereupon mortification and austerity of life were, in shew at least, equally advanced, and Satan began to play the white devil, by prohibiting, upon pretence of higher sacerdotal purity, the marriage of the clergy (though at the same time reckoned by themselves a sacrament,) forbidding also certain sorts of meat, and enjoining others; as likewise imposing hair shirts, whips, scourges,

with many more such corporal severities; for the recommending of all which to men's use, they taught them, that these practices were satisfactory for sin and meritorious of heaven. And lest this might seem to derogate from Christ's satisfaction, (as it certainly did,) they distinguished sins into mortal and venial. And whereas they held, that these venial sins could not deserve eternal death; and withal that many men die before they have completed their repentance; for them they invented a certain place in the other world, for the temporal penal expiation of such sins; to wit, purgatory. And since the pains of this were not to be eternal, but that a deliverance and redemption of the souls held therein might be procured, and that by the merit of the good works of others, to help out those who had none of their own, they came from hence to assert works of supererogation, as they called them; which good works, and the merit of them, not being always actually employed for the benefit of any, (and as if the world abounded more with good works than bad,) they are said to be reserved in the treasury of the church, to be disposed of (as there should be occasion) to such as were able and willing to ransom their suffering friends with silver and gold, (the very best of metals, and always held by them a valuable price for souls,) and this produced indulgences; the most useful and profitable part of the whole Romish religion.

By all which particulars put together, you may see the curious contexture and concatenation of the several mysteries and intrigues of Popery; and how artificially one is linked to and locked within the other, in this chain of darkness made to hold and keep poor souls "to the judgment of the great day" and (if God be not so merciful as to save them in spite of their religion) to condemn them in it too. And now these tenets being advantaged by the suitableness of them to man's natural disposition, (which in matters of belief is too prone to credulity and superstition, and in matters of practice to an arrogant opinion of merit, every man being too apt to think that a good action obliges God, and satisfies for an ill one ;) these tenets, I say, were upon these terms easily imbibed by the vulgar in those dark times of ignorance; which ignorance also was carefully cherished and kept up, by maintaining the sufficiency of an implicit faith, and securing the Scriptures under the double lock of an unknown language and a bad translation. Besides all which, that they might not in the last place want a sure shelter and strong hold to defend them, in case this terrible book of the Scriptures should come to be unsealed and let loose upon them, they had two other refuges to fly to; to wit, that of unwritten traditions, without which they held the Scriptures imperfect;

and of an infallible judge, without which they affirmed them to be obscure; two qualifications which must unavoidably render the Scriptures an incompetent rule of faith. And thus the nail is driven home, and riveted too; and upon their being hereby made judges in their own cause, they do and must stand incorrigible; forasmuch as all conviction upon these terms is utterly impossible. And thus we have seen what a lofty Babel has been raised by this grand architect of mischief and confusion, the Devil; a Babel, with the top of it reaching to heaven, and the foundation of it laid in hell. And we have seen likewise the materials with which, and the arts by which, this stupendous structure was reared: and since neither old nor new Babel was built in a day, we have given some account also how this master-builder has all along suited his tools and engines to the proper genius and condition of each several age; sometimes working in the light, and sometimes in the dark; sometimes above ground, and sometimes under it; but in all, like a Romish priest, still under a disguise.

And here, I think, it may be farther worth our considering, that since the aspects and influences in heaven (which are some of the chief instruments whereby Providence governs this lower world) must needs work considerably upon the tempers, humours, and constitutions of men, under their several positions and revolutions; it cannot but follow, that the same must work very powerfully about the affairs of religion also, so far as the tempers and dispositions of men are apt to mingle and strike in with them. And accordingly, as I have observed that Satan played his papal game chiefly in the times of ignorance, and sowed his tares while the world was asleep; "cum Augustinus haberetur inexpugnabilis dialecticus, quod legisset categorias Aristotelis. Cum qui Græce sciret, suspectus; qui autem Hebraice, plane magicus putaretur;" when the words hæreticum devita were looked upon as sufficient to warrant the taking away the life of a heretic: so on the other side, when this mist of ignorance began to clear up, and polite learning to recover, and get footing again in the world, by the great abilities and industry of Erasmus, Melancthon, Politian, Budæus, Calvin, and several others, men generally then began to smell out the cheat; and after a long growing suspicion of the imposture they had been held under, came at length to a resolution quite to throw it off. But then again, lest so sudden and mighty a stream of light, breaking in upon the prince of darkness, might wholly overbear and baffle all his projects, he also began wisely to light up his candle too, in the new sect and society of Ignatius Loyola; a sect composed of the best wits and ablest heads, the most learned and industrious that could be got, to list them

selves to serve the pope under him. And by this course he quickly brought his myrmidons to fight the Protestants at their own weapons, and for parts and literature to vie with the reformation. For he saw well enough that it was learning which must do his business, when ignorance was grown out of fashion: and that when such multitudes were resolved to have their eyes open, it was time for him to look about him too. Accordingly Satan, who loves to compass his ends and amuse the world by contrary methods, (like the evil spirit in the gospel, sometimes casting the person possessed by him into the fire, and sometimes into the water,) having, as we have noted, long imposed upon Christendom by Popery, and at length finding a new light sprung in upon a great part of it and mightily chasing away that darkness before it, he thought it his interest to trump up a new scene of things; and so, correspondently to the two main parts of religion, speculative and practical, he fell upon two contrary, but equally destructive extremes, Socinianism and enthusiasm. Thus, like a subtle disputant, casting his argument into such a dilemma, as should be sure to gain him his point, and gall his enemy one way or other. And,

1. For the first extreme, Socinianism. Faustus Socinus seems to have been a person so qualified by Providence with a competent stock of parts and measure of reason, (for the man was no miracle, either in divinity or philosophy,) to shew, how wofully such an one (being left to himself) might blunder, and fall short of the right notions of religion, even in the plainest and most important points of it. He was indeed so bred and principled by his uncle Lelius, that Satan thought him a fit instrument for the advancement of the light of reason above that of revelation, by making (as he notoriously did) the former the sole judge of the latter. Socinus's main design (or pretence at least) was to bring all the mysteries of Christianity to a full accommodation with the general notions of man's reason; and so far the design was no doubt fair and laudable enough, had it kept within the bounds of a sober prosecution. For that which is contrary to reason cannot be true in religion; nor can God contradict that in the book of his revealed word, which he had writ before in the book of nature: so much, I say, is certain, and cannot be denied. Nevertheless, a little reason will prove also, that many things may seem contrary to reason, which yet really are not so; and where this seeming contrariety is, the question will be, whether revelation ought to control reason, or reason prescribe to revelation; which indeed is the very hinge upon which the whole Socinian controversy


But to proceed, and shew that even Socini

anism itself, by a kind of antiperistasis, took its rise from Popery, as the occasion or accidental cause of it, it is to be observed, that those nice, bold, and unjustifiable notions, which many of the schoolmen had advanced concerning the divine essence and persons, (things which the mind of man can form to itself no express idea, nor consequently any clear comprehensive knowledge of,) caused in Socinus such a high loathing of and aversion to that whole scheme of Christian theology which then obtained in the world, that, breaking through all, he utterly denied the divine nature of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; and so exploded the whole doctrine of the Trinity, as no part or article of the Christian religion; frequently alleging also, that the urging the necessity of believing notions so contrary (as he pretended) to the discourses and maxims of natural reason, mightily scandalized and kept off the Jews, Turks, and rational infidels from embracing Christianity. And this consideration he laid no small stress upon.

But in answer to it; by his favour, the contrariety of the notions here excepted against to the maxims of natural reason (as confidently as it has been all along supposed by him) was never yet proved; and as for the offence taken at it by Jews and Turks, he might have remembered, that the doctrines preached by Saint Paul himself found no better acceptance, as being "to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness;" but neither by him who preached it, nor by those who received it, at all the less valued for its being so: and certainly the Christian church would make but an ill bargain, to barter away any one article of her faith, to gain either Turk or Jew: and I shrewdly guess, that the Jews themselves understood bargaining too well, to part with their Moses for a Socinian Christ. But farther, as touching this heresy: the time when it was vented in the world is no less observable than the instruments by whom; Satan suiting the work he had to do to the peculiar qualification of the age which he was to do it in. For as the schoolmeu, who were the greatest and most zealous promoters of the papal interest, sacrificing both reason and religion to the support of it, were in the highest vogue for some ages before; so the age wherein it began to decline and go downwards had entertained a general contempt of, and aversion to, that sort of learning, as may appear out of Sir Thomas More's Defence of Erasmus, and other critics, against Dorpius, a great patron and admirer of school-divinity And as for Socinus himself, the Polonian who wrote his life testifies, "illum scholasticam theologiam nunquam attigisse." Thus therefore was he qualified, it seems, to baffle the learned part of the world; and having made his first adventure in denying Christ's divinity,

and bringing it much lower than ever Arius did, the denial of his satisfaction unavoidably followed; no mere creature being able, in a strict sense, to merit of God, and much less to satisfy for sin. So that we see here how Satan, under the plausible plea of reason, introduced a doctrine into the world, which has shook every article of our faith; and in the full compass of it grasps in the most considerable heresies that ever were; especially those two topping ones of Photinianism and Pelagianism. And whosoever shall, by a true and impartial logic, spin it out into its utmost consequences, shall find, that it naturally tends to, and inevitably ends in, the destruction of all religion: and that where Socinianism has laid the premises, atheism cannot be kept out of the conclusion. But now, that even reason itself is but pretended only, and not really shewn in the doctrines of Socinus, give me leave to demonstrate in one or two instances, instead of many more that might be assigned.

1. That this doctrine asserts Christ to be a mere creature, and yet ascribes to him divine worship, and that both as to adoration and invocation; and this upon absolute and indispensable necessity. So that whereas Socinus says, that the Jews and Turks are so scandalized at our asserting Christ's deity, I am sure, that, by a peculiar and better grounded aversion, they are more scandalized at idolatry. And if Socinus will advance this proposition, that Jesus Christ is not by nature God, let Jews, Turks, and all infidels of common sense alone to make the assumption, that then he is not to be worshipped with divine worship. Christianus Francken shamefully baffled Socinus upon this head. And it is impossible for him, or any of his tribe, to maintain it. But,

2. This doctrine asserts also, that God cannot certainly foreknow future contingents; as Socinus positively concludes in the eleventh chapter of his Prelections; where, in an

[ocr errors]

* See Socinus in his catechism, discoursing of those who allow not of the adoration and invocation of Christ. Quid censes," says he, de iis, qui ista Christo non tribuunt?" To which he answers: "Censeo illos non esse Christianos; quippe qui revera Christum non habeant: et Jesum esse Christum licet fortasse aperte verbis non audeant, re tamen ipsa omnino negent." And elsewhere, "Præstat Trinitarium esse, quam asserere Christum non esse adorandum."

"Cum igitur nulla ratio, nullus sacrarum literarum locus sit, ex quo aperte colligi possit, Deum omnia, quæ fiunt, scivisse, antequam fierent, concludendum est minime asserendam esse a nobis istam Dei præscientiam, "&c. Socinus, Prælectionum capite 11mo. In stating of which point, the heretic indeed grants, that where God has peremptorily purposed or decreed to do a thing, he infallibly knows, that the thing so decreed shall certainly come to pass, and accordingly may as infallibly foretell it. A great matter, no doubt. But, by his favour; what is this to God's foretelling of sinful actions, together with many passages of great moment depending thereupon (all of them declared by the prophets, many ages before the event of them?) For these things, as bad as they are, have their events, as well as the best that happen; and yet cannot be VOL. I.

swering, or rather eluding such scriptures as declare the contrary, he all along with a bold impiety degrades the divine knowledge into mere conjecture, and no more; and so ranges the all-knowing God with the heathen oracles, soothsayers, and astrologers, not allowing him any pre-eminence above them, but only a better faculty at guessing than they had. So that hereby the heretic is either for giving us a deity without infinite perfection, or an infinite perfection without a power of infallible prediction, or an infallibility of prediction without any certain knowledge of the thing foretold which, amongst : other wretched consequences, must needs render God such a governor of the world, as, in those many important affairs of it, depending upon the free motions of man's will, shall not be able to tell certainly what shall come to pass in it, so much as one day before it actually happens. He may indeed, as I shew before, shrewdly guess at events, (and so may a wise man too,) but farther than guessing he cannot go. Ail which are such monstrous assertions, and so scandalously contumelious to the divine nature and attributes, and yet so inevitably resulting from the position first laid down by him, that nothing can equal the profaneness of them, but the absurdities.

As for several others of the Socinian errors; to wit, about the nature of the sacraments, the divine covenants, the ministry, and the church, with sundry other parts of divinity, I purposely omit them; and mention only these two, as being in themselves not grosser errors in divinity, than inconsistencies in philosophy. So that upon this turn at least we may worthily use that remark of Grotius, in his book concerning the satisfaction of Christ; "Mirum esse, toties a Socino ostentari rectam rationem, ostendi nusquam." But to shew compendiously how he stabs, not only

ascribed to God, as the cause or producer of them. Whereupon, since such events, according to Socinus, proceed wholly from the free will of the immediate agents, he denies God to have any certain prescience of them; for that he will not so much as allow them to be in the number of things in their nature knowable, nor consequently to fall within the object of omniscience itself. Which though it extends to all that is knowable, yet reaches not beyond it. In answer to which I grant, that such future contingents as depend wholly upon the free turn of man's will, are not antecedently knowable to a finite understanding; but that they are simply and absolutely in the very nature of them not knowable, this I utterly deny; and on the contrary affirm, that to an infinite understanding they are both knowable, and actually known too. And the reason of this difference is, because an infinite understanding never looks upon a future contingent, but it looks beyond it too; that is is to say, by one single act of knowledge God sees it, both in the instant of nature before its production, and in the instant of nature after it: which is the true account of this matter, as being founded in the comprehensiveness of God's knowledge, taking in past, present, and future, by one single view. "Scientia Dei ad omnia præsentialiter se habet." And how difficult soever, if at all possible, it may be for human reason, to form to itself a clear notion of the immanent acts of God; yet all that is or can be excepted against the account now given by us, will be found but mere cavil, and not worth an answer.

2 F


the Christian, but also all religions, by one affirmed, while he was yet ignorant who or assertion; we must know, that the chief what he was, from whom it proceeded. For corner-stone laid by him in this supposed surely, in order of nature, I must know that rational (and by some so much adored) doc- it is God who says a thing, before I can betrine, is his affirming, that by the light of lieve it true, because God says it. Otherwise, natural reason no man can know that there suppose some angel had affirmed himself to is a God; as you may see in the second chap- be God, as the devil in effect did, when he ter of his aforementioned Prelections. For challenged to himself the dominion and disthe proof of which, amongst other places of posal of all the kingdoms of the world, and scripture, he wrests and abuses that in Heb. required divine worship of our Saviour therexi. 6, where the apostle tells us, "that he who upon; none certainly will pretend that such comes to God must believe that he is." a declaration could oblige our assent. But it, says Socinus; it is here said only, that he when God affirmed or declared himself to be must believe this, not that he must know, or God, in the first age or ages of the world, no scientifically assent to it. But by his favour, doubt this declaration was made in such a as this is not here said, so it is as true that it transcendent and supernatural way, and with is not here denied. And this new teacher of circumstances so wonderfully glorious and the world should, one would think, have extraordinary, that he or they to whom it known, that the words πίστις, ad πιστεύω, was made, and Adam in particular, could not belief and believe, are not always used in a strict but perceive that the person making it was a philosophical sense, for an assent upon testi- being much above the condition of a creature, mony, in contradistinction to an assent upon and consequently God. And such an acgrounds of science; but generally, and at large, knowledgment of, or assent to the being of a for any firm assent, whether upon one ac- God, was really an act of knowledge, as infercount or the other. I say, as this is certain ring the cause from the effect; and that, too, from the use of the word in common speech, such an effect, as could issue from nothing but so there is nothing to prove, that the apostle such a cause. For which reason, the assent in this sixth verse of the aforementioned chap-given in this case could not be founded upon ter uses it otherwise than in this general, bare testimony, nor be formally an act of popular, and more enlarged sense. Neverthe-belief, but an act properly and strictly scienless, admitting, but not granting, that he took the word in this text, in the strict philosophical sense of it, for an assent upon testimony, must this therefore exclude all assent upon scientifical grounds? Whereas it is certain, that the same thing may be the object both of our knowledge and belief; and that we may assent to the same proposition, upon the discourses of reason, drawn from the nature of the things contained in that proposition; and withal, upon the affirmation of one, whom, for his knowledge and veracity, we know worthy to be believed. No true philosopher, I am sure, (which Socinus never was,) either will or can deny this.

But on the contrary, and in opposition to these new notions, I shall proceed farther, and venture to affirm, that to believe that there is a God, only because God says so, is a mere petitio principii, and manifestly circular and ridiculous; as supposing, and taking for granted, the very thing, which as yet is under inquiry, and ought to be proved. For the being of a God is the thing here to be proved; and the testimony of God, whereby it is to be proved, must presuppose, or rather imply the antecedent being of him whose testimony it is. Supposing therefore, that the first revelation made to man of the being of God, (for it is of that only we now speak,) was by an express, audible declaration of himself to be God; yet this bare affirmation could not of itself, and in the way of a testimony, oblige a man to believe or assent to the thing

tifical. From all which I conclude, that it is absurd and irrational to suppose, that we can believe the being of a God upon the bare affirming this of himself, unless we have some precedent or concomitant knowledge, that the person so affirming it is God. And this utterly overthrows the assertion of Socinus, that the being of a God is knowable only by faith, or belief. An assertion much fitter to undermine than establish the belief of a Deity upon the true grounds of it; but it was perhaps for this very purpose that he intended it.

And thus much for the first extreme mentioned; by which Satan has poisoned the principles and theoretick part of religion: though the poison will be found of that spreading malignity, as to influence the practick

too. And so we come to the

Second extreme mentioned; under which, as an angel of light, he more directly strikes at the practice of religion; and that is enthusiasm. A thing not more detestable in its effects, than plausible in its occasion. For men being enraged at the magisterial imposing of traditions upon them, as a rule of faith equal to the written word, and being commanded withal to submit their reason to the cheat of an infallible interpreter, they too naturally struck off to his extreme, to slight and lay aside the judgment of all antiquity, and so to adhere only to the bare letter of the scripture; and then, both to secure and authorize their errors, they made their own reason, or rather humour, (first surnaming it

« AnteriorContinuar »