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tily by Nathan upon this account; he laid the case in a remote scene:-Titius, or Sempronius, a certain rich man, I know not who, somebody or other, robbed the poor man of his ewe lamb. Therefore said David, He shall die, whoever he be.'-' Yea, but you are the man :'-what then? shall he die still? this is a new arrest; it could not be denied, his own mouth had already given the sentence.
2. And this is a usual but a most effective art to make the conscience right in the particular, by propounding the case separate from its own circumstances; and then to remove it to its own place is no hard matter. It was an ingenious device of Erasistratus the physician, of which Appian tells: When young Antiochus almost died for love of Stratonica his father Seleucus's wife, the physician told the passionate and indulgent father, that his son was sick of a disease, which he had indeed discovered, but found it also to be incurable. Seleucus with sorrow asking what it was, Erasistratus answered, 'He loves my wife.' But then the old king's hopes began to revive, and he turned wooer in the behalf of his son, begging of the physician, who was his counsellor and his friend, for pity's sake, for friendship and humanity, to give his wife in exchange or redemption for the young king's life. Erasistratus replied, Sir, you ask a thing too unreasonable and great; and though you are his father, yourself would not do it, if it were your own case; and therefore why should I? when Seleucus swore by all his country gods that he would do it as willingly as he would live; Erasistratus drew the curtain of the device, and applied it to him, by telling, that the cure of his son depended upon his giving the queen Stratonica to him, which he did; and afterward made it as lawful as he could, by a law postnate to that insolent example, and confirmed it by military suffrages.
3. In all cases we are to consider the rule, not the relation; the law, not the person: for if it be one thing in the proposition, and another in the assumption, it must be false in one place or the other; and then the conscience is but an ill guide, and an ill judge.
4. This rule is not to extend to the exception of particular cases; not to take away privileges, pardons, equity. For
r De Bellis Syriacis.
that which is fast in the proposition, may become loose in the particular by many intervening causes, of which I am to give account in its due place. For the present, this is certain, that whatsoever particular is of the same account with the general, not separate, or let loose by that hand which first bound it, is to be estimated as the general. But this rule is to go further also.
5. For hitherto, I have called the act of particular conscience directing to a single and circumstantiate action, by the name of practical judgment: and the general dictate of the ovvrnpnois, or phylactery, or upper conscience, teaching the kinds of good actions, by the name of speculative judgment.' But the rule also is true, and so to be understood, when practical and speculative are taken in their first and proper sense. If in philosophy we discourse that the true God, being a spirit without shape or figure, cannot be represented by an image; although this be only a speculation, and demonstrable in natural philosophy, and no rule of conscience; yet when conscience is to make a judgment concerning the picturing of God the Father, it must not determine practically against that speculation. "That an idol is nothing," is demonstrable in metaphysics; and therefore that we are to make nothing of it, is a practical truth: and although the first proposition be not directly placed in the upper region of conscience, but is one of the prime metaphysical propositions, not properly theological, according to those words of St. Pauls," Concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know ὅτι πάντες γνῶσιν ἔχομεν 4 that we all have knowledge;' and we know that an idol is nothing in the world;" meaning, that this knowledge needs no revelation to attest it; we by our own reason and principles of demonstration know that; yet, the lower, or particular practical conscience, must never determine against that extrinsical, and therefore as to conscience, accidental measure.
6. For whatsoever is true in one science, is true also in another; and when we have wisely speculated concerning the dimensions of bodies, their circumscriptions, the acts of sense, the certainty of their healthful perceptions, the commensuration of a place and a body; we must not esteem these to be unconcerning propositions, if ever we come to use
s 1 Cor. viii. 1. 4.
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 Baroniust 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
t Ad Annum 538. sect. 34. VOL. XI.
u 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 inquiresy, "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.