Изображения страниц

were not instructed how God would, by a way so contrary to flesh and blood, cause the spirits of just men to be made perfect. And they who were wise by Plato's philosophy, and only well skilled in Aristotle, could do nothing in the schools of Jesus, because they were not instructed in those truths by which such proceedings were to be measured; but still, reason is the great wheel, though according as the motion was intended, new weights must be proportioned accordingly.

58. The third objection presses upon the point of duty, and because the Scripture requires obedience of understanding, and submitting our most imperious faculties, therefore reason is to be excluded:' to this I answer, that we must submit our understanding to God, is very true, but that is only when God speaks. But because we heard him not, and are only told that God did speak, our reason must examine whether it be fit to believe them that tell us so; for some men have spoken falsely, and we have great reason to believe God, when all the reason in the world commands us to suspect the offerings of some men; and although we ought, for the greatest reasons, submit to God, yet we must judge and discern the sayings of God, from the pretences of men; and how that can be done without using our reason in the inquiries of religion, is not yet discovered; but for the obedience of understanding, it consists in these particulars:

The Particulars in which Obedience of Understanding


[ocr errors]

59. (1.) That we submit to God only and not to man; that is, to God wherever it appears reasonable to be believed that he hath spoken,—but never to man, unless he hath authority from reason or religion to command our conformity.

60. (2.) That those things which, by the abuse and pretence of reason, are passed into a fictitious and usurped authority, make no part of our religion; for because we are commanded to submit our understanding to God, therefore we must "call no man master upon earth;" therefore it is certain that we must not believe the reports or opinions of men against a revelation of God. He that communicates with holy bread only, and gives not the chalice to all God's people that require the holy communion, does openly adhere to

a fond custom and authority of abused men, and leaves the express, clearest, undeniable institution of God.

61. (3.) When reason and revelation seem to disagree, let us so order ourselves, that so long as we believe this to be a revelation, no pretence or reason may change our belief from it: if right or sufficient reason can persuade us that this is not a revelation,-well and good; but if reason leaves us in the actual persuasion that it is so, we must force our reason to comply with this, since no reason does force us to quit this wholly; and if we cannot quit our reason or satisfy it, let us carry ourselves with modesty, and confess the revelation, though with profession of our ignorance and unskilfulness to reconcile the two litigants.

62. (4.) That whatsoever is clearly and plainly told us, we obey it, and rest in it, and not measure it by the rules of folly and weak philosophy, or the sayings of men, in which error may be ingredient; but when things are unequal, that is, when we can doubt concerning our reason, and cannot doubt concerning the revelation, we make no question, but prefer this before that.

63. (5.) That in particular inquiries, we so order ourselves as to make this the general measure, that we never do violence to the word of God, or suspect that, but resolve rather to call ourselves liars, than that religion should receive detriment; and rather quit our arguments than hazard an article; that is, that when all things are equal, we rather prefer the pretence of revelation, than the pretences of reason, for the reverence of that and the suspicion of this. Beyond this we can do no more.

64. To the fourth I answer, that it is true, reason is fallible; or rather to speak properly, ratiocination, or the using of reason, is subject to abuse and deception; for reason itself is not fallible; but if reason, that is, reasonings, be fallible, so are the pretences of revelation subject to abuse; and what are we now the nearer? Some reasons are but probable, and some are certain and confessed, and so it is in the sense of scriptures, some are plain and need no interpreter, no discourse, no art, no reasonings, to draw out their sense; but many are intricate and obscure, secret and mysterious; and to use a fallible reasoning to draw out an obscure and uncertain sense of Scripture, is sometimes the best way we

have, and then we must make the best of it we can: but the use of reasoning is not only to find out truth the best we can, but sometimes we are as sure of it, as of light; but then and always our reason (such as it is) must lead us into such proportions of faith as they can: according as our reason or motives are, so ordinarily is the degree of our faith.

65. To the fifth I need give no other answer but this, that it confesses the main question; for if this be the greatest reason in the world, God hath said it, therefore it is true,' it follows, that all our faith relies upon this one reason; but because this reason is of no use to us till the minor proposition be reproved, and that it appear that God hath said it, and that in the inquiry after that, we are to use all our reason;the consequent is, that in the first and last, reason lends legs to faith, and nothing can be wisely believed, but what can, by some rational inducement, be proved. As for the last proposition in the objection, This is against Scripture, therefore it is absurd and unreasonable,' I have already made it appear to be an imprudent and useless affirmative.


66. The sixth objection complains of them that by weak reasonings lose their religion,—but this is nothing against right reasoning: for because mountebanks and old women kill men by vile physic, therefore is it true, that the wise discourses of physicians cannot minister to health? Half-witted people talk against God, and make objections against religion, and themselves have not wit or will enough to answer them, and they intending to make reason to be the positive and affirmative measure of religion, are wholly mistaken, and abuse themselves and others. 2. We are not to exact every thing in religion according to our weak reasonings; but whatsoever is certain in reason, religion cannot contradict that; but what is uncertain or imperfect, religion oftentimes does instruct and amend it. But there are many mysteries of religion contrary to reason, corrupted with evil manners; and many are contrary to reason, corrupted with false propositions; now these men make objections, which upon their own principles they can never answer: but that which seems impossible to vicious persons, is reason to good men; and that which children and fools cannot answer, amongst wise men hath no difficulty; and the ignorant, and the unstable, wrest some scriptures to their own damna

tion:' but concerning the new atheists that pretend to wit, it is not their reason, but their want of reason, that makes them such; for if either they had more learning, or did believe themselves to have less, they could never be atheists.

67. To the last I answer, (1.) that it is reason we should hear reason wherever we find it, if there be no greater evil brought by the teacher than he can bring good; but if a heretic preaches good things, it is not always lawful to hear them, unless when we are out of danger of his abuses also. And thus truth from the devil may be heard, if we were out of his danger; but because he tells truth to evil purposes, and makes wise sayings to become craft, it is not safe to hear him. (2.) But besides this, although it is lawful to believe a truth which the devil tells us, yet it is not lawful to go to school to the devil, or to make inquiries of him; because he that does so, makes him his master, and gives something of God's portion to God's enemy. As for judicial astrology and genethliacal predictions, for my part I therefore reprove them, not because their reason is against religion, for certainly it cannot be; but because I think they have not reason enough in what they say; they go upon weak principles which they cannot prove; they reduce them to practice by impossible mediums; they draw conclusions with artless and unskilful heads; they argue about things with which they have little conversation; they cannot make scientifical progress in their profession, but out of greediness to do something; they usually, at least are justly suspected to, take in auxiliaries from the spirits of darkness; they have always spoken uncertainly, and most part falsely; and have always lived scandalously in their profession: they have by all religions been cried down, trusted by none but fools, and superstitious people; and therefore, although the art may be very lawful, if the stars were upon the earth, or the men were in heaven, if they had skill in what they profess, and reason in all their pretences, and after all that their principles were certain, and that the stars did really signify future events, and that those events were not overruled by every thing in heaven and in earth, by God, and by our own will and wisdom,-yet because here is so little reason, and less certainty, and nothing but confidence and illusion, therefore it is that religion permits them not; and it is not

the reason in this art, that is against religion, but the folly or the knavery of it, and the dangerous and horrid consequents, which they feel, that run a whoring after such idols of imagination.


A Judgment of Nature, or Inclination, is not sufficient to make a sure Conscience.

1. BECAUSE this rule is of good use, not only for making judgment concerning the states of some men, but also in order to many practices, it will not be lost labour to consider that there are three degrees of practical judgment.

2. The first is called an inclination, or the first natural consonancy between the faculty or disposition of man, and some certain actions. All men are naturally pitiful, in some degree, unless their nature be lame and imperfect: as we say, all men naturally can see,-and it is true, if they have good eyes: so all men naturally are pitiful, unless they have no bowels: but some more, some less. And therefore there is in their natures a conveniency, or agreeing between their dispositions and acts of charity. 1. In the lowest sort there is an aptness to it. 2. In the sweeter and better natures there is a virtual charity. 3. But in those that consider and choose, and observe the commandment, or the proportions of right reason, there is in these only a formal, deliberative, compound, or practical judgment.

3. Now concerning the first sort, that is, the natural disposition or first propensity, it is but a remote disposition towards a right conscience and a practical judgment; because it may be rescinded, or diverted by a thousand accidents, and is nothing else but a relic of the shipwreck which Adam and all the world have made, and may pass into nothing as suddenly as it came. He that sees two cocks fight, though he have no interest in either, will assist one of them at least by an ineffective pity and desire: but this passes no further than to natural effects, or the changes or affections of a loadstone; it may produce something in nature, but nothing in



2 H

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »