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of such councils, wherein the proceedings were as prejudicate and unreasonable, as in the council wherein Abailardus was condemned, where the presidents having pronounced 'Damnamus', they at the lower end being awaked at the noise, heard the latter part of it, and concurred as far as Mnamus went, and that was as good as Damnamus; for if they had been awake at the pronouncing the whole word, they would have given sentence accordingly. But by this means St. Bernard numbered the major part of voices against his adversary Abailardus: and as far as these men did do their duty. the duty of priests, and judges, and wise men; so we may presume them to be assisted: but no farther. But I am content this (because but a private assembly) shall pass for no instance: but what shall we say of all the Arian councils celebrated with so great fancy, and such numerous assemblies? we all say that they erred. And it will not be sufficient to say they were not lawful councils: for they were convened by that authority, which all the world knows did at that time convocate councils, and by which (as it is confessed and is notorious) the first eight generals did meet, that is, by the authority of the emperor all were called, and as many and more did come to them, than came to the most famous council of Nice: so that the councils were lawful, and if they did not proceed lawfully, and therefore did err, this is to say, that councils are then not deceived, when they do their duty, when they judge impartially, when they decline interest, when they follow their rule; but this says also, that it is not infallibly certain that they will do so; for these did not, and therefore the others may be deceived as well as these were. But another thing is in the wind; for councils not confirmed by the Pope, have no warrant that they shall not err, and they, not being confirmed, therefore failed. But whether is the Pope's confirmation after the decree or before? It cannot be supposed before; for there is nothing to be confirmed, till the decree be made, and the article composed. But if it be after, then possibly the Pope's decree may be requisite in solemnity of law, and to make the authority popular, public, and human; but the decree is true or false before the Pope's confirmation, and is not at all altered by the supervening decree, which being postnate to the decree, alters not what
y Epist. Abailardi ad Heliss. conjugem.
z Casanus, 2. cap. 25. Concord.
went before: "Nunquam enim crescit ex postfacto præteriti æstimatio," is the voice both of law and reason. So that it cannot make it divine, and necessary to be heartily believed. It may make it lawful, not make it true; that is, it may possibly by such means become a law, but not a truth. I speak now upon supposition the Pope's confirmation were necessary, and required to the making of conciliar and necessary sanctions. But if it were, the case were very hard for suppose a heresy should invade, and possess the chair of Rome, what remedy can the church have in that case, if a general council be of no authority, without the Pope confirm it? Will the Pope confirm a council against himself? will he condemn his own heresy? That the Pope may be a heretic appears in the canon law", which says he may for heresy be deposed, and therefore by a council, which in this case hath plenary authority without the Pope. And therefore in the synod at Rome held under Pope Adrian the Second, the censure of the synod against Honorius, who was convict of heresy, is approved with this appendix, that in this case, the case of heresy, "minores possint de majoribus judicare:" and therefore if a Pope were above a council, yet when the question is concerning heresy, the case is altered; the Pope may be judged by his inferiors, who in this case, which is the main case of all, become his superiors. And it is little better than impudence to pretend, that all councils were confirmed by the Pope, or that there is a necessity in respect of divine obligation, that any should be confirmed by him, more than by another of the patriarchs. For the council of Chalcedon itself, one of those four which St. Gregory did revere next to the four evangelists, is rejected by Pope Leo, who, in his fifty-third epistle to Anatolius, and in his fifty-fourth to Martian, and in his fifty-fifth to Pulcheria, accuses it of ambition and inconsiderate temerity, and therefore no fit assembly for the habitation of the Holy Spirit; and Galasius, in his tome 'de Vinculo Anathematis,' affirms, that the council is in part to be received, in part to be rejected, and compares it to heretical books of a mixed matter, and proves his assertion by the place of St. Paul, "Omnia probate, quod bonum est retinete."-And Bellarmine says the same: "In concilio Chalcedonensi quædam sunt bona, quædam mala, quædam
a Dist. 40. Can. si Papa.
recipienda, quædam rejicienda; ita et in libris hæreticorumb," and if any thing be false, then all is questionable, and judicable, and discernible, and not infallible antecedently. And however that council hath 'ex postfacto,' and by the voluntary consenting of after-ages obtained great reputation; yet they that lived immediately after it, that observed all the circumstances of the thing, and the disabilities of the persons, and the uncertainty of the truth of its decrees, by reason of the unconcludingness of the arguments brought to attest it, were of another mind, "Quod autem ad concilium Chalcedonense attinet, illud id temporis (viz. Anastasii Imp.) neque palam in ecclesiis sanctissimis prædicatum fuit, neque ab omnibus rejectum; nam singuli ecclesiarum præsides pro suo arbitratu in ea re egerunt." And so did all men in the world that were not mastered with prejudices, and undone in their understanding with accidental impertinences; they judged upon those grounds which they had and saw, and suffered not themselves to be bound to the imperious dictates of other men, who are as uncertain in their determinations as others in their questions. And it is an evidence that there is some deception and notable error, either in the thing or in the manner of their proceeding, when the decrees of a council shall have no authority from the compilers, nor no strength from the reasonableness of the decision, but from the accidental approbation of posterity: and if posterity had pleased, Origen had believed well and been an orthodox person. And it was pretty sport to see that Papias was right for two ages together, and wrong ever since; and just so it was in councils, particularly in this of Chalcedon, that had a fate alterable according to the age, and according to the climate, which, to my understanding, is nothing else but an argument that the business of infallibility is a latter device, and commenced to serve such ends as cannot be justified by true and substantial grounds; and that the Pope should confirm it as of necessity, is a fit cover for the same dish.
4. In the sixth general council, Honorius, Pope of Rome, was condemned: did that council stay for the Pope's confirmation before they sent forth the decree? Certainly they did not think it so needful, as that they would have suspended or cassated the decree, in case the Pope had then
De Laicis, 1. 3. c. 20. sect. ad hoc ult.
e Evag. lib. 3. cap. 30.
disavowed it: for, besides the condemnation of Pope Honorius for heresy, the thirteenth and fifty-fifth canons of that council are expressly against the custom of the church of Rome. But this particular is involved in that new question, whether the Pope be above a council. Now since the contestation of this question, there was never any free or lawful council that determined for the Pope, it is not likely any should; and is it likely that any Pope will confirm a council that does not? For the council of Basil is therefore condemned by the last Lateran, which was an assembly in the Pope's own palace, and the council of Constance is of no value in this question, and slighted in a just proportion, as that article is disbelieved. But I will not much trouble the question with a long consideration of this particular; the pretence is senseless and illiterate, against reason and experience, and already determined by St. Austin sufficiently as to this particular, "Ecce putamus illos episcopos, qui Romæ judicaverunt, non bonos judices fuisse..Restabat adhuc plenarium ecclesiæ universæ concilium, ubi etiam cum ipsis judicibus causa possit agitari, ut si male judicasse convicti essent, eorum sententiæ solverenture." For since Popes may be parties, may be simoniacs, schismatics, heretics, it is against reason that in their own causes they should be judges, or that in any causes they should be superior to their judges. And as it is against reason, so is it against all experience too; for the council Sinuessanum (as it is said) was convened to take cognizance of Pope Marcellinus; and divers councils were held at Rome to give judgment in causes of Damasus, Sixtus III. Symmachus, and Leo III. and IV. as is to be seen in Platina, and the tomes of the councils. And it is no answer to this and the like allegations, to say, in matters of fact and human constitution, the Pope may be judged by a council; but, in matters of faith, all the world must stand to the Pope's determination and authoritative decision: for if the Pope can by any colour pretend to any thing, it is to a supreme judicature in matters ecclesiastical, positive, and of fact; and if he fails in this pretence, he will hardly hold up his head for any thing else: for the ancient bishops derived their faith from the foun
d Vid. postea de concil. Sinuessano. sect. 6, n. 9.
tain, and held that in the highest tenure, even from Christ their head; but by reason of the imperial city it became the principal seat, and he surprised the highest judicature, partly by the concession of others, partly by his own accidental advantages; and yet even in these things, although he was 'major singulis,' yet he was 'minor universis.' And this is no more than what was decreed of the eighth general synod; which, if it be sense, is pertinent to this question: for general councils are appointed to take cognizance of questions and differences about the bishop of Rome, "non tamen audacter in eum ferre sententiam." By 'audacter,' as is supposed, is meant' præcipitanter,' 'hastily and unreasonably:' but if to give sentence against him be wholly forbidden, it is nonsense; for to what purpose is an authority of taking cognizance, if they have no power of giving sentence, unless it were to defer it to a superior judge, which in this case cannot be supposed? For either the Pope himself is to judge his own cause after their examination of him, or the general council is to judge him. So that, although the council is by that decree enjoined to proceed modestly and warily, yet they may proceed to sentence, or else the decree is ridiculous and impertinent.
5. But to clear all, I will instance in matters of question and opinion: for not only some councils have made their decrees without or against the Pope, but some councils have had the Pope's confirmation, and yet have not been the more legitimate or obligatory, but are known to be heretical. For the canons of the sixth synod, although some of them were made against the Popes and the custom of the church of Rome, a Pope awhile after did confirm the council; and yet the canons are impious and heretical, and so esteemed by the church of Rome herself. I instance in the second canon, which approves of that synod of Carthage under Cyprian for rebaptization of heretics, and the seventy-second canon, that dissolves marriage between persons of differing persuasion in matters of Christian religion; and yet these canons were approved by Pope Adrian I. who in his epistle to Tharasius, which is in the second action of the seventh synod, calls them "canones divine et legaliter prædicatos." And these canons were used by Pope Nicolas I. in his epistle ad Mi
f Vid. concil. Chalced. act. 15.
Act. ult. can. 21.