« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
them in divinity: and therefore we must not worship that which our senses tell us to be a thing below worship: nor believe that infinite which we see measured; nor esteem that greater than the heavens, which, I see and feel, goes into my mouth. If philosophy gives a skin, divinity does not flay it off: and truth cannot be contrary to truth and God would not in nature teach us any thing to misguide us in the regions of grace.
7. The caution for conducting this proposition is only this: that we be as sure of our speculation, as of any other rule which we ordinarily follow; and that we do not take vain philosophy, for true speculations. He that guides his conscience by a principle of Zeno's philosophy, because he hath been bred in the Stoical sect, and resolves to understand his religion to the sense of his master's theorems, does ill. The Christian religion suffered much prejudice at first by the weak disputings of the Greeks; and they would not admit a religion against the academy, or the cynics, or the Athenian schools; and the Christian schools drew some of their articles through the limbecs of Plato's philosophy, and to this day the relish remains upon some of them. And Baronius' complains of Origen, that, "In Paganorum commentis enutritus, eaque propagare in animo habens, divinas se utique Scripturas interpretari simulavit: ut hoc modo nefariam doctrinam suam sacrarum literarum monumentis maligne admiscens, Paganicum et Manichaicum errorem suum atque Arrianam vesaniam induceret." He mingled the Gentile philosophy with Christian religion, and by analogy to that, expounded this, and how many disciples he had, all the world knows. Nay, not only from the doctrine, but from the practices and rites of the Pagan religion, many Christians did derive their rites, and they in time gave authority and birth to some doctrines." Vigilias anniversarias habes apud Suetonium. Lustralem aquam, aspersionem sepulcrorum, lumina in iisdem parare, Sabbato lucernam accendere, cereos in populum distribuere "." The staff, the ring, the mitre, and many other customs, some good, some only tolerable, the Christians took from the Gentiles; and what effect it might have, and what influence it hath had, in some doctrines, is too notorious to dissemble. Thomas Aquinas did a little
Ad Annum 538. sect. 34.
" A.D. 44. n. 88.
change the scene, and blended Aristotle so with school-divinity, that something of the purity was lost, while much of our religion was exacted and conducted by the rules of a mistaken philosophy. But if their speculations had been right, Christianity would at first have entered without reproof, as being the most reasonable religion of the world, and most consonant to the wisest and most sublime speculations; and it would also have continued pure, if it had been still drawn from the fountains of our Saviour, through the limbecs of the evangelists and apostles, without the mixture of the salt waters of that philosophy, which every physician and witty man now-a-days thinks he hath reason and observation enough easily to reprove. But men have resolved to verify their sect rather than the truth; but if of this particular we be careful, we must then also verify every speculation in all things, where it can relate to practice, and is not altered by circumstances.
8. As an appendage, and for the fuller explication of this rule, it is a worthy inquiry which is by some men made, concerning the use of our reason in our religion. For some men, finding reason to be that guide which God hath given us, and concreated with us, know that religion which is superinduced, and comes after it, cannot prejudice that noblest part of this creation. But then, because some articles which are said to be of faith, cannot be made to appear consonant to their reason, they stick to this, and let that go. Here is a just cause of complaint. But therefore others say, that reason is a good guide in things reasonable and human, but our reason is blind in things divine, and therefore is of little or no use in religion. Here we are to believe, not to dispute. There are on both sides fair pretences, which when we have examined, we may find what part of truth each side aims at, and join them both in practice. They that speak against reason, speak thus.
9. (1.) There is to every state and to every part of man given a proportionable light to guide him in that way, where he ought and is appointed to walk. In the darknesses of this world, and in the actions of common life, the sun and moon in their proper seasons are to give us light: in the actions of human intercourse, and the notions tending to it, reason is our eye, and to it are notices proportioned, drawn
from nature and experience, even from all the principles with which our rational faculties usually do converse. But because a man is designed to the knowledge of God, and of things spiritual, there must spring a new light from heaven, and he must have new capacities, and new illuminations; that is, new eyes, and a new light: for here the eye of reason is too weak, and the natural man is not capable of the things of the Spirit, because they are spiritually discerned. Faith is the eye, and the Holy Spirit gives the light, and the word of God is the lantern, and the spiritual not the rational man can perceive the things of God. "Secreta Dei, Deo meo, et filiis domus ejus." "God and God's secret ones only know God's secrets."
10. (2.) And therefore we find in Holy Scripture that to obey God, and to love him, is the way to understand the mysteries of the kingdom. "Obedite et intelligetis:" "If ye will obey, then shall ye understand:" and it was a rare saying of our blessed Saviour, and is of great use and confidence to all who inquire after the truth of God, in the midst of these sad divisions of Christendom,-" If any man will do his will, he shall know whether the doctrine be of God or no *." It is not fineness of discourse, nor the sharpness of arguments, or the witty rencounters of disputing men, that can penetrate into the mysteries of faith: the poor humble man. that prays, and inquires simply, and listens attentively, and sucks in greedily, and obeys diligently, he is the man that shall know the mind of the Spirit; and therefore St. Paul observes that the sermons of the cross were "foolishness to the Greeks;" and consequently, by way of upbraiding, he inquires, "Where is the wise man, where is the scribe, where is the disputer of the world? God hath made the wisdom of the world foolishness;" that is, 'God hath confounded reason, that faith may come in her place.'
11. (3.) For there are some things in our religion so mysterious, that they are above all our reason; and well may we admire but cannot understand them and therefore the Spirit of God is sent into the world to bring our understanding into the obedience of Christ; we must obey and not inquire, and every proud thought must be submitted to him, who is
* John, vii. 17.
y 1 Cor. i. 20.
z 2 Cor. x. 5.
the wisdom of the Father, who hath, in the Holy Scriptures, taught us all his Father's will.
12. (4.) And therefore, as to this, nothing can be added from the stock of nature or principles of natural reason, so if it did need a supply, reason could ill do it. For the object of our faith must be certain and infallible; but no man's reason is so; and therefore to put new wine into broken bottles is no gain, or real advantage; and although right reason is not to be gainsaid, yet what is right reason is so uncertain, that in the midst of all disputes, every man pretends to it, but who hath it no man can tell, and therefore it cannot be a guide or measure of faith.
13. (5.) But above all, if we will pretend to reason in religion, we have but one great reason that we can be obliged to; and that is, to believe that whatsoever God hath said, is true: so that our biggest reason in religion is, to submit our reason, that is, not to use our reason in particular inquiries, but to captivate it in the whole. And if there be any particular inquiries, let them seem what they will to my reason, it matters not; I am to follow God, not man; I may be deceived by myself, but never by God. It is therefore sufficient to me that it is in the Scriptures. I will inquire no further. This therefore is a concluding argument; This is in the Scripture, therefore this is true: and this is against Scripture, therefore it is absurd, and unreasonable.
14. (6.) After all, experience is our competent guide and warning to us for we see when witty men use their reason against God that gave it, they in pursuit of reason go beyond religion; and when by reason they look for God, they miss him; for he is not to be found but by faith, which when they dispute for, they find not; because she is built and persuaded by other mediums, than all schools of philosophy to this day have taught. And it was because of reason, that the religion of Jesus was so long opposed and hindered to possess the world. The philosophers would use their reason, and their reason would not admit this new religion and therefore St. Paul being to remove every stone that hindered, bade them to beware of" vain philosophy;" which does not distinguish one kind of philosophy from another, but marks all philosophy. It is all vain, when the inquiries are into religious mysteries.
15. (7.) For is it not certain that some principles of reason are against some principles of faith and Scripture? and it is but reason, that we should hear reason wherever we find it; and yet we are to have no intercourse with devils, though we were sure they would tell us of hidden treasures, or secrets of philosophy and upon this account it is that all genethliacal predictions and judicial astrology are decried by all religious persons; for though there be great pretensions of reason and art, yet they being against religion and revelation are intolerable. In these and the like cases, reason must put on her muffler, and we must be wholly conducted by revelation.
16. These are the pretences against the use of reason in questions of religion; concerning which the same account may be given, as by the Pyrrhonians and sceptics concerning their arguments against the certainty of sciences. These reasons are like physic, which if it uncertainly purges out the humour, it most certainly purges out itself: and these arguments either cannot prevail against the use of reason in religion, or if they do, they prevail against themselves: for either it is against religion to rely upon reason in religion, or it is not if it be not, then reason may without danger to religion be safely relied upon in all such inquiries. But if it be against religion to rely upon reason, then certainly these reasons intended to prove it so, are not to be relied upon; or else this is no question of religion. For if this be a question of religion, why are so many reasons used in it? If it be no question of religion, then we may, for all these reasons to the contrary, still use our reason in religion without prejudice to it. And if these reasons conclude right, then we may, for these reasons' sake, trust the proposition which says, that in religion reason is to be used; but if these reasons do not conclude right, then there is no danger, but that reason may still be used, these arguments to the contrary notwithstanding.
17. But there is more in it than so: This foregoing discourse, or to the like purpose, is used by two sorts of persons; the one is by those, who in destitution of particular arguments, make their last recourse unto authority of men. For by how much more they press their own peremptory affirmative, by so much the less will they endure your rea