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we were almost wholly unprovided; and, like the children of Israel in the days of Saul and Jonathan, we were forced to go down to the forges of the Philistines to sharpen every man his share and his coulter, his axe and his mattock. We had swords and spears of our own, enough for defence, and more than enough for disputation: but in this more necessary part of the conduct of consciences, we did receive our answers from abroad, till we found that our old needs were sometimes very ill supplied, and new necessities did every day arise.
Some of the Lutherans have indeed done something in this kind which is well;. Balduinus, Bidenbachius, Dedekanus, Konig, and the abbreviator of Gerard: some essays also have been made by others; Alstedius, Amesius, Perkins, and the late eloquent and reverend Bishop of Norwich. But yet our needs remain; and we cannot be well supplied out of the Roman storehouses: for though there the staple is, and very many excellent things exposed to view; yet we have found the merchants to be deceivers, and the wares too often falsified.
For, 1. If we consider what heaps of prodigious propositions and rules of conscience their doctors have given us, we shall soon perceive that there are so many boxes of poison in their repositories under the same paintings and specious titles, that as it will be impossible for every man to distinguish their ministries of health from the methods of death; so it will be unsafe for any man to venture indiscriminately. For who can safely trust that guide that teaches him, that "it is no deadly sin to steal, or privately against his will and without his knowledge to take a thing from him who is ready to give it if he were asked, but will not endure to have it taken without askinga:"-that "it is no theft privately to take a thing that is not great, from our father":"_" that he who sees an innocent punished for what himself hath done, he in the meantime who did it, holding his peace, is not bound to restitution:"that "he who falls into fornication if he goes to confession, may, the same day in which he did fornicate, receive the communion; that communion is manducation, and therefore requires not attention":"_" that he,
Eman. Sa Aphor. 5. Furtum. b Prov. xxviii. 24.
d Diana de Euchar. in compend. n. 30-32.
who, being in deadly sin, receives the holy communion, commits but one sin, viz., that against the dignity of the sacrament; and that the omission of confession is no distinct sin, meaning, amongst them who believe confession to be of divine institution?"—As bad or worse are those affirmatives and doctrines of repentance: “A dying man is not tied to be contrite for his sins; but confession and attrition are sufficient:" and that we may know what is meant by attrition, we are told "it is a sorrow for temporal evil, disgrace, or loss of health, sent by God as a punishment, or feared to be sente:" this alone is enough for salvation, if the dying man do but confess to the priest, though he have lived wickedly all his lifetime. And that we need not think the matter of confession to be too great a burden, we are told, "He that examines his conscience before confession, sins if he be too diligent and careful." But as for the precept of having a contrite and a broken heart, "it binds not but in the article or danger of death: nor then, but when we cannot have the sacrament of the penance."-To these may be added those contradictions of severity for the securing of a holy life; that "if a man purpose at the present to sin no more, though at the same time he believes he shall sin again (that is, he will break his purpose), yet that purpose is good enough: that it is not very certain whether he that hath attrition, does receive grace, though he does not formally resolve to sin no more":" meaning, that it is probable, that it is not necessary to make any such resolution of leaving their sin; they are not certain it is so, nor certain that it is otherwise; that is, they find no commandment for these things: it may be they are counselled and adyised in Scripture, but that is no great matter; for "it is no sin not to correspond with the divine inspirations exhorting us to counsels."-Add to these, that "to detract from our neighbour's fame before a conscientious, silent, and a good man, is no deadly sin: to dispense with our vows in a year of jubilee is valid, though the condition of obtaining that jubilee be not performed."-Thus men amongst them have leave to sin, and they may live in it, as long as their life lasts, without repentance: and that repent
d Idem de Pœnit. n. 3. 7.
f Num. 18.
h Id. Verb. Detractio. num. 5.
e Num. 11. 17, 18.
g Num. 19.
Dispensatio. num. 11.
ance in the sum of affairs is nothing but to call to the priest to absolve them; provided you be sorrowful for the evil you feel or fear God will send on you: but contrition, or sorrow proceeding from the love of God, is not at all necessary; "neither is it necessary that our sorrow be thought to be contrition; neither is it necessary that attrition should go before confession, but will serve if it be some time after; and if you confess none but venial sins, it is sufficient if you be sorrowful for one of them; and the case is the same for mortal sins formerly confessed." But I am ashamed of this heap of sad stories: if I should amass together what themselves have collected in their books, it would look like a libel : but who is pleased with variety of such sores, may enter into the hospitals themselves, and walk and look till he be weary.
2. But not only with the evil matter of their propositions; but we have reason to be offended with the strange manner of their answerings. I shall not need to instance in that kind of argument which is but too frequent among those who prevail more by their authority than their reason, of proving propositions by similitudes and analogies. I remember that Gregory Sayrm says, that all precepts of the moral law are to be reduced to the decalogue; because as all natural things are reduced to ten predicaments, so it is expedient that all kinds of virtue and vice be reduced to the ten commandments. And Bessæus infers seven sacraments from the number of the planets, and the seven ears of full corn in Egypt, and seven waterpots changed into wine (though they were but six), because as the wine filled six waterpots, so the sacrament of the eucharist fills the other six, and itself makes the seventh; and that therefore peradventure the sacraments are called vessels of grace. But this I look upon as a want of better arguments in a weak cause, managed by careless and confident persons; and note it only as a fault, that the guides of consciences should speak many things, when they can prove but few.
3. That which I suppose to be of greatest consideration is, that the casuists of the Roman church take these things for resolution and answer to questions of conscience, which are spoken by an authority that is not sufficient; and they. k Concil. Trid. sess. 14. cap. 4. 1 Dian. Compend. de Poenit. Sacram. n. 8 ni Clavis Regia, lib. 4. c. 2. n. 5.
admit of canons, and the epistles of popes, for authentic warranties, which are suspicious, whether ever they were written by them to whose authority only they do pretend ;and they quote sayings of the old doctors, which are contradicted by others of equal learning and reputation, and all cited in their own canon law; and have not any sufficient means to ascertain themselves what is binding in very many cases argued in their canons, and decretal epistles, and bulls of popes. Nay, they must needs be at a loss in their conduct of consciences, especially in all inquiries and articles of faith, when they choose such foundations, which themselves know to be weak and tottering; and yet lay the greatest load upon such foundations, and tie the conscience with the hardest ligature, where it is certain they can give no security, For it is not agreed in the church of Rome, neither can they tell upon whose authority they may finally rely; they cannot tell who is the visible head of the church: for they are not sure the pope is; because a council may be superior to him, and whether it be or no, it is not resolved: and therefore either they must change their principle, and rely only upon scriptures and right reason and universal testimonies, or give no answer to the conscience in very many cases of the greatest concernment; for by all other measures their questions are indeterminable. But the authority of man they make to be their foundation: and yet if their allegations were allowed to be good argument, it would serve them but to very few purposes, since the doctors, whose affirmative is the decision of the case, are so infinitely divided.
4. This to me, and to very many wise men, looks like a very great objection: but I find that they who are most concerned in it, account it none; for the Roman casuists profess it; and yet do not suppose that the consequent of this should be, that the case is difficult, and the men not to be relied upon, and the conscience to be otherwise informed, and that we ought to walk the more warily, but therefore the conscience is at liberty, and the question in order to practice hath no difficulty; hard in the case, but easy in the action: for by this means they entertain all interests, and comply with all persuasions, and send none away unsatisfied. For uncertain answers make with them no uncertain resolution; for they teach us, that in such cases we may follow either part: and therefore they studiously keep up this acade mical or rather
sceptic theology, "alii aiunt, alii negant; utrumque pro, babile"." And upon this account, although with greatest severity they bind on men's persuasions the doctrines of meats and carnal ordinances, yet they have left them loose enough when it comes to the conscience, so loose that the precept is become ridiculous: for what can it be otherwise, when they teach, that "the fast is not broken by drinking of water or wine, nay, though we eat something that our drink may not hurt us; nor the usual collation at night if it be taken in the morning; nor if the butler or the cook lick his fingers: nor if we eat eggs or milk-meats, so it be not in the holy time of Lent; nor if after dinner awhile you eat something at the entreaty of a friend; nor if you upon a reasonable cause eat before your time: in all these cases you eat and fast at the same time." All these things are derivatives from the contrary opinions of some easy, gentle doctors; and the effect of this stratagem is seen in things of greater consequence. For “ we are free from our vow, or from a commandment, if it be a probable opinion of the doctors that we are free ;" and it is probable, if it be the opinion of one grave doctor: that is, in effect, plainly, if it be probable in the doctrine, it is certain in practice; and it is probable, if any one of their doctors says it.
5. And the mischief of this is further yet discernible, if we consider that they determine their greatest and most mysterious cases oftentimes by no other argument but the saying of some few of their writers. I shall give but one instance of it; but it shall be something remarkable. The question was, 'Whether the Pope can dispense in the law of God?' The inquiry is not concerning a dish of whey, but of a considerable affair; upon which the right or the wrong of many thousand consciences amongst them do depend. It answered “ that one opinion of the Catholics says, that the pope can dispense in all things of the law of God, excepting the articles of faith."-The proof is this, so Panormitan speaks, ‘in cap. Proposuit, de Concess. Præbend. n. 20.' citing Innocentius ' in cap. cum ad Monasterium, de Statu Monachorum,' where he says, that without cause the Pope cannot dispense in things of divine right; intimating that without cause he may. And the same is the opinion of Felinus in cap. Quæ in Ec
n Sa Aphor. verb. Jejun. n. 11.
P Idem verb. Dubium.
• Ibid. n. 8.
4 Suarez, lib. 10. de Leg. cap. 6. n. 3.