« AnteriorContinuar »
the welfare and peace of the public, that must regulate all proceedings this way. I remember what Erasmus said concerning Luther : “ Surely,” said he, “I would rather the man should be corrected, than destroyed: but, if they will needs make an end of him, whether they would rather have bim roast or boiled, I gainsay it not. It is a light loss, that is of one single man; but yet care must be had of the public tranquillity *.” Thus he, as supposing his antagonist erroneous enough; yet not to be dealt with in extremity of rigour, out of the regard of the public safety t. And, indeed, this consideration is it, that must either hold our hands, or move them. Even in spiritual matters, as well as civil, that rule is eternal, Salus populi suprema lex I.
Thus then, to recollect our Discourse; If authority shall timely labour, by fair means, to reclaim the broachers of new and singular opinions : if it shall be careful to cut off the occasions of further spreading the infection, arising therefrom ; whether the society of the infected, or the divulgation of their writings : if, lastly, it shall be prudently impartial in punishing wilful disturbers of the peace ; whether those, that sow strifes where none are, by venting new and offensive paradoxes, by raising unjust slanders upon the innocent; or those, that foment and abet the strife once raised; especially those, that pertinaciously stand upon the maintenance of gross errors : it shall have taken a ready course, for cijFCKING THE FIRST MOTIONS AND SUPPRESSING THE BEGINNINGS OF QUARRELS.
SECT. 2. The Second Public means of Peace : Order for sure grounds to be
laid by Catechizing. In the second place, it shall much conduce to the keeping of public peace, and the prevention of the dangers of the breach thereof by exorbitant doctrines, IF ORDER BE TAKEN BY AUTHORITY, THAT SURE GROUNDS OF RELIGION BE LAID IN THE HEARTS OF GOD's PEOPLE.
It was the observation of that wise and learned King James, of blessed memory, whose judgment and knowledge in matter of Divinity surpassed all the Princes in the Christian world, that history hath recommended to us; that the reason, why so many of ours were perverted to Popish superstition, was, for that the people were not well grounded, by due catechizing in the principles of Christian Rigion: and, truly, this I learned in my attendance, amongst many other lessons, from that incomparable' Prince, that there is no employment in the world, wherein God's Ministers can so profitably bestow themselves, as in this of plain and familiar ca
Certè correctum hominem mallem quàm extinclum 8c. Eras. Alex. Secretario Comitis Nassovici. t Virgå ovem, baculo lupum. Bern. Sentent.
# The people's safety is the highest law.
techizing. What is a building, without a foundation ? If this ground-work therefore be not surely Jaid, all their divine discourses, for such their sermons are, lie but upon the loose sand ; and are easily washed away, by the insinuativ: suggestions of false teachers.
A man, that is well grounded in the doctrine of the First Commandment, knows, that he must reserve all divine honour, trust, devotion to his God alone ; and that he may not cast any part of it away upon the creature. How can such an one choose but cast a scornful smile upon a Romish seducer, that shall tell him, that, by virtue of this precept, he is to be a devout client to the Saints, and especially to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to his Angel. Guardian; as Jo. Gerson hath confidently taught us * ?
He, that is well grounded in the doctrine of the Second Commandment, how can he but abhor the bodily representations of the Blessed Trinity; and spit at Aquinas, for teaching that the image is to be adored with the same worship, that is due to the archetype ? How must he needs bless himself, at the strange collection of a Valentia, because St. Peter cries out of abominable idolatries, that therefore there are some idolatries under the Gospel, not abominable! And, when he finds all human devices, which can be obe truded upon Christians as parts of God's worship, justly damned in that law; how can he chuse but cry out, with holy Cyprian,
Quæ ista obstinatio, &c. “What obstinacy, what presumption is this, to prefer human traditions, before God's own Ordinance + !"
He, that is thoroughly instructed in the doctrine of the Third Commandment, and hath learned to tremble at the Sacred Name of the Almighty; how can he digest those graceless decisions of some Romish Casuists f, that frequent swearing and cursing, if it be out of custom, is but venial; that it is lawful to equivocate in our oaths; that the solemn oaths of fealty may be dispensed with ; that the Dreadful Name of God may be used, in the unwarrantable exorcisation of the creatures; that our invocations upon God do not necessarily require understanding, or devotion ?
How can he, that is thoroughly informed of the will of God in the Fourth Commandment, be induced to prefer a man's day to God's? to slight that Evangelical Sabbath, the legal pattern whereof had wont to be so sacred? The Jewish Doctors esteemed their Sabbath the Queen of Feasts; and all the other festivals, but as her handmaids : who, that is well instructed, can abide that the maid should take the wall of her mistress ? or would endure to hear of a Pope Silvester S, that durst presume to alter the day, decreeing that Thursday should be kept for the Lord's Day through the whole year; because on that day Christ ascended into heaven, and on that day instituted the blessed Sacrament of bis body and blood ?
How can he, that hath well learned the Fifth Commandment di
* Jo. Gerson. de Præcept. Decal. c. 5.
+ Que ista obstinatio est, quove presumptio, humanam traditionem divince dispositioni anteponere ! Cyp. ad Pompeium contr. Epist. Stephani.
I Rodriguez. Cas. Consc.
gest that hard morsel of Rome *, that the Pope hath power to ah. solve subjects from their lawful allegiance to their Sovereign; that he hath power to depose Kings at pleasure; that he can arm a subject with power to murder his King; that children may dispose of themselves into Religions Orders, without or against the will of their parents ?
How can he, that knows what belongs to the Sixth Commandment, but abbor to think of the streams of blood, that have been shed upon pretence of religion ; to recal the slaughters of Merindol and Cabriers, the massacres of France, the powder-plot of England, the late Irish cruelties, and the suborvations of the bloody assassinates of kings and princes ?
How can he, who hath been taught the exact rule of chastity in the Seventh Commandment, but hate to hear of the public toleration of stews; and of fornication, in some cases, less faulty than honest matrimony?
The like may be said of the rest of the Precepts of the Royal Law of the Almighty, which is the most perfect rule of our obedience.
And as for matter of Belief, were the foundation surely laid of the doctrines of faith, contained in the Apostolic, Nicene, Athanasian Creeds; and of the doctrine of the Sacraments, briefly comprized in our publicly allowed Catechism ; I see no reason but to think our people so sufficiently defenced against the danger of error, that no heretical machinations could be able to batter or undermine them.
And, surely, if ever there were or can be time, wherein the necessity of this duty of catechizing were fit to be enforced, it is this, upon which we are fallen : when the souls of Christian people are so hard laid at, not only by Popery, Anabaptism, Antinomianism, Pelagianism ; but by the confounding and hellish heresies of Socinianism, Antitrinitarianisni, Ne-arianism ; prodigious mischiefs ; tending, not only to the disturbance of our peace, but to the utter destruction of Christianity : when we may truly say to every soul, upon the letting loose of Satanı, as Simeon said to his pillars before the earthquake, “ Stand fast; for ye shall be shaken.” Shortly, if this duty be neglected, we may preach our lungs out, if we will; but with little effect. When we have spent all our wind upon the ears of our people, their hearts will be still apt to be carried away with every wind of doctrine; Eph. iy. 14.
SECT. 3. The Third Public way of Peace : Means appointed for strong convic
tion of Error. NOTHING can. so much break the Church's peace, as Error. This is, indeed, that hellish monster, which the herculean power of Authority, both spiritual and civil, must serve both to conflict and subdue. But this infernal brood yields much variety.
* Papa polest deponere Regem, si est effeminarus, i. si mullum sequatur mulieres. Repertorium Panormitani, à Do. de Montalvo V. Papa.
There are errors so gross and foul, that, in a consciousness of their own deformity, they have hid their heads; and withdrawn themselves from that light, which is as hateful to them as they are to it. The foolish Jews *, when they saw Mahomet arising in such power, they were straight ready to cry him up for their Messiah : but, when they saw him eat of a camel (Lev. 11. 4:), they were as blank, as when they saw the hoped issue of their late Jewish virgin turned to a daughter. So blockish was that error of the Anthropomorphites t of old : though I know not whether, in some sort, refurbished by Conradius Vorstius. Such was that of the Patripassiani, whom Alamındarus, the King of the Agarens, though but a new convert to Christianity, made ashamed of themselves I: that witty prince made himself very sad and pensive: being by some of those heretics asked the reason of that his heaviness, he told them that he heard, that Michael, the Archangel, was dead; and, when they cheered him up, assuring him that an angel being a spirit could not die, be chokingly replies, “ How then are you so foolish, to think that the Father and God of Spirits, the Deity itsell, could be capable of death?” Such was that of the Charinzarii, who, in the other extreme, held one whole person of Christ suffering, while the other person looked on; and celebrated the memory of their Sergius's dog, Arzibur, with an yearly fast$. Such was the exploded heresy of that madman, who held all heresies truth.
But there are errors, and those are most dangerous, so cunningly contrived by the subtlety of Satan, so countenanced with shew of reason and antiquity, and so over-laid with colour of Scriptureauthority, that a wise man might easily mistake them for truths.
It must be, therefore, the care of sovereign power, in order to the public peace, to make provision, in the third place, THAT THERE MAY BE MEANS OF A STRONG AND IRREFRAGABLE CONVICTION OF ER
Which shall be done, if there be a designation and encouragement of able men, wholly set apart for polemical studies. For this part of Divinity requires more than a piece of a man : and it is not to be expected, however our age have yielded some happy in this kind, that those, who wholly addict themselves, according to the exigence of that calling, to the study and practice of Popular Divinity, should attain to the perfection of Controversory. The combination of some such select heads might be infinitely serviceable to God's Church.
It is great pity, therefore, that the late Chelsian project was suffered to fall to the ground; whereof had not that judicious King, of Blessed memory, seen that very great use might have been made, be had not condescended to so gracious privileges, as his Majesty was pleased to enrich it withal. That wise and learned
* Eutrop. Hist. I. xviii.
Prince well observed, how great an advantage our adversaries have of us, in this kind; who come upon us with conjoined forces, while we stand upon single resistances *; and, therefore, without a marvellous providence of the Almighty, might have verified the old word, Duin singuli pugnant, universi vincuntur.
Blessed be God, the world hath had ample proofs of the falsehood of that calumny of Erasmus, which he casts upon our profession, in his Epistle to. Bilibaldus: Ubicunque regnat Lutherus ; “Wheresoever Luther reigns,” saith he, “there straight follows the destruction of all learning: for there is nothing that they seek for, but a Living and a Wife t." Could he have lived to these days, very shame would have crammed those words down his throat; and would have forced him to confess, that eminence of learning and zeal of reformed religion can well live and flourish together: he should have seen and heard such learned advocates plead for the Protestant profession, that his ingenuity could not choose but yield them the advantage of the Bar.
But, if these heads and hands have been so powerful, alone; what would they have done, united together? Certainly, none of these upstart prodigious heresies could stand before them; nor breathe so long under their hands, as to work a disturbance to the Church's peace.
But, if we may not be so happy, as to see such a sure course established for the preservation of truth and peace, it will be requisite yet, that order be taken, that none may be allowed to enter into the lists, to maintain the combat with heretical seducers, but those, which are approved for able champions : for, certainly, there cannot be a greater advantage to the prevalence of error, than a weak oppugnation. I remember St. Augustin professes, this was it that heartened him, and made him to triumph in his former Manicheism, that he met with feeble opponents; and such, as his nimble wit was easily able to overturn. When, therefore, any bold challenger shall step forth, and cast down his gauntlet in defiance of truth, it is fit he be encountered with an assailant, that hath brawn in his arms, and marrow in his bones : not with some weak and wearish combatant, whose heart may be as good, as his hand is feeble; that shall thereupon betray the better cause with an impotent managing. It is true, that the power of God manifests itself, many times, in our weakness; and doth great matters, by the smallest means : but it is not for us to put God upon miracles. As in all other occasions, so in this, we must be careful to make use of the best helps, and then look up to heaven for a blessing. May this be done, the victory over error shall be the settlement of peace.
* Concordia simul juncta vinci non potest. Cypr. Cornelio Fratri.
+ Ubicunque regnat Lutherus, ibi literarum est interitus: duo tantùm queruut, Censum er Uxorem. Eras. Bilib.