Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

duty and subordination which we owe to princes : and therefore those men of the church of Rome that do hold them, and preach them, cannot pretend to the excuses of innocent opinions, and hearty persuasion, to the weakness of humanity, and the difficulty of things; for God hath not left those truths which are necessary for conservation of the public societies of men, so intricate and obscure, but that every one that is honest, and desirous to understand his duty, will certainly know, that no Christian truth destroys a man's being sociable, and a member of the body politic, co-operating to the conservation of the whole as well as of itself. However, , if it might happen, that men should sincerely err in such plain matters of fact (for there are fools enough in the world), yet if he hold his peace, no man is to persecute or punish him; for then it is mere opinion, which comes not under political cognizance, that is, that cognizance which only can punish corporally: but if he preaches it, he is actually a traitor, or seditious, or author of perjury, or a destroyer of human society, respectively, to the nature of the doctrine ; and the preaching such doctrines cannot claim the privilege and immunity of a mere opinion, because it is as much matter of fact as any the actions of his disciples and confidents, and therefore in such cases is not to be permitted, but judged according to the nature of the effect it hath or may have upon

the actions of men. 8. Fifthly: But lastly, in matters merely speculative the case is wholly altered, because the body politic, which only may lawfully use the sword, is not a competent judge of such matters, which have not direct influence upon the body politic, or upon the lives and manners of men as they are parts of a community :-not but that princes or judges temporal may have as much ability as others, but by reason of the incompetency of the authority. And Gallio spoke wisely when he discoursed thus to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should hear you: but if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it, for I will be no judge of such matters"." The man spoke excellent reason; for the cognizance of these things did appertain to men of the other robe. But the ecclesiastical power, which only is competent to take no.

Acts, xviji. 14.

tice of such questions, is not of capacity to use the temporal sword or corporal inflictions. The mere doctrines and opinions of men are things spiritual, and therefore not cognoscible by a temporal authority : and the ecclesiastical authority, which is to take cognizance, is itself so spiritual, that it cannot inflict any punishment corporal.

9. And it is not enough to say, that when the magistrate restrains the preaching such opinions, if any man preaches them he may be punished (and then it is not for his opinion but his disobedience that he is punished); for the temporal power ought not to restrain prophesyings, where the public - peace and interest are not certainly concerned. And therefore it is not sufficient to excuse him, whose law in that case, being by an incompetent power, made a scruple where there was no sin.

10. And under this consideration come very many articles of the church of Rome, which are wholly speculative, which do not derive upon practice, which begin in the understanding and rest there, and have no influence upon life and government, but very accidentally, and by a great many removes; and therefore are to be considered only so far as to guide men in their persuasions, but have no effect upon the persons of men, their bodies, or their temporal condition. I instance in two; prayer for the dead, and the doctrine of transubstantiation; these two to be instead of all the rest.

11. For the first, this discourse is to suppose it false, and we are to direct our proceedings accordingly: and therefore I shall not need to urge with how many fair words and gay pretences this doctrine is set off, apt either to cozen or instruct the conscience of the wisest, according as it is true or false respectively. But we find (says the Romanist) in the history of the Maccabees, that the Jews did pray and make offerings for the dead: which also appears by other testimonies, and by their form of prayers still extant which they used in the captivity. It is very considerable, that since our blessed Saviour did reprove all the evil doctrines and traditions of the scribes and pharisees, and did argue concerning the dead and the resurrection against the Sadducees, yet he spake no word against this public practice, but left it as he found it; which he who came to declare to us all the will of his Father, would not have done, if it had not been innocent, pious, and

full of charity. To which, by way of consociation, if we add that St. Paul did pray for Onesiphorus, that “the Lord would shew him a mercy in that day,” that is, according to the style of the New Testament, the day of judgment; the result will be, that although it be probable that Onesiphorus at that time was dead (because in his salutations he salutes his household, without naming him who was the major-domo,' against his custom of salutations in other places), yet besides this, the prayer was for such a blessing to him whose demonstration and reception could not be but after death: which implies clearly, that then there is a need of mercy, and, by consequence, the dead people, even to the day of judgment inclusively, are the subject of a misery, the object of God's mercy, and therefore fit to be commemorated in the duties of our piety and charity, and that we are to recommend their condition to God, not only to give them more glory in the reunion, but to pity them to such purposes in which they need; which because they are not revealed to us in particular, it hinders us not in recommending the persons in particular to God's mercy, but should rather excite our charity and devotion. For it being certain that they have a need of mercy, and it being uncertain how great their need is, it may concern the prudence of charity to be the more earnest, aş not knowing the greatness of their necessity.

12. And if there should be any uncertainty in these arguments, yet its having been the universal practice of the church of God in all places, and in all ages till within these hundred years, is a very great inducement for any member of the church to believe, that, in the first traditions of Christianity and the institutions apostolical, there was nothing delivered against this practice, but very much to insinuate or enjoin it; because the practice of it was at the first, and was universal. And if any man shall doubt of this, he shews nothing but that he is ignorant of the records of the church; it being plain in Tertullian' and St. Cyprian" (who were the eldest writers of the Latin church), that in their times it was ab antiquo' the custom of the church to pray for the souls of the faithful departed in the dreadful mysteries. And it was an institution apostolical (says one of them), and so trans

. 2 Tim. i. 18.
1 De corona milit. c. 3. et de monogam. c. 10.

Ej. 66.

mitted to the following ages of the church; and when once it began upon slight grounds and discontent to be contested against by Aerius, the man was presently condemned for a heretic, as appears in Epiphanius.

13. But I am not to consider the arguments for the doctrine itself, although the probability and fair pretence of them may help to excuse such persons, who upon these or the like grounds do heartily believe it: but I am to consider that, whether it be true or false, there is no manner of malice in it, and at the worst it is but a wrong error upon the right side of charity, and concluded against by its adversaries upon the confidence of such arguments, which possibly are not so probable as the grounds pretended for it.

14. And if the same judgment might be made of any more of their doctrines, I think it were better, men were not furious in the condemning such questions, which either they understood not upon the grounds of their proper arguments, or at least consider not as subjected in the persons, and lessened by circumstances, by the innocency of the event, or other prudential considerations.

15. But the other article is harder to be judged of, and hath made greater stirs in Christendom, and hath been dashed at with more impetuous objections, and such as do more trouble the question of toleration. For if the doctrine of transubstantiation be false (as upon much evidence we believe it is), then it is accused of introducing idolatry, giving divine worship to a creature, adoring of bread and wine ; and then comes in the precept of God to the Jews, that those prophets who persuaded to idolatry, should be slain".

16. But here we must deliberate, for it is concerning the lives of men; and yet a little deliberation may suffice. For idolatry is a forsaking the true God, and giving divine worship to a creature or to an idol, that is, to an imaginary god, who hath no foundation in essence or existence; and is that kind of superstition which by divines is called the superstition of an undue object. Now it is evident that the object of their adoration (that which is represented to them in their minds, their thoughts, and purposes, and by which God principally, if not solely, takes estimate of human actions) in the blessed sacrament, is the only true and eternal God hyposta

* Deut. xiii.

[ocr errors]

tically joined with his holy humanity, which humanity they believe actually present under the veil of the sacramental signs: and if they thought him not present, they are so far from worshipping the bread in this case, that themselves profess it to be idolatry to do so; which is a demonstration that their soul hath nothing in it that is idolatrical. If their confidence and fanciful opinion have engaged them upon so great mistake (as without doubt they have), yet the will hath nothing in it but what is a great enemy to idolatry: ,nihil ardet in inferno nisi propria voluntas.” And although they have done violence to all philosophy and the reason of man, and undone and cancelled the principles of two or three sciences, to bring in this article ; yet they have a divine revelation, whose literal and grammatical sense, if that sense were intended, would warrant them to do violence to all the sciences in the circle. And indeed that transubstantiation is openly and violently against natural reason, is no argument to make them disbelieve it, who believe the mystery of the Trinity in all those niceties of explication which are in the school (and which now-a-days pass for the doctrine of the, church), with as much violence to the principles of natural and supernatural philosophy, as can be imagined to be in the point of transubstantiation.

17. But for the article itself; we all say that Christ is there present some way or other extraordinary: and it will not be amiss to worship him at that time, when he gives himself to us in so mysterious a manner, and with so great advantages, especially since the whole office is a consociation of divers actions of religion and worship. Now in alle opinions of those men who think it an act of religion to com-, municate and to offer, a divine worship is given to Christ, and is transmitted to him by mediation of that action and that sacrament; and it is no more in the church of Rome, but that they differ and mistake infinitely in the manner of his presence: which error is wholly seated in the understanding, and does not communicate with the will. For all agree that the divinity and the humanity of the Son of God are the ultimate and adequate object of divine adoration, and that it is incommunicable to any creature whatsoever; and before they venture to pass an act of adoration, they believe the bread to be annihilated, or turned into his substance who

« AnteriorContinuar »