Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

But because the heart of man is so intricate, trifling, and various, in most cases it must be sufficient for us to know, that if the mixture be innocent, the whole deliberation is secured in the kind of it, and for degrees we must do as well

as we can.

35. But, on the other side, if the secular end mixed with the spiritual and religious, the just and the honest, be unlawful, and yet intended, though in a less degree, though but accidentally and by an after-consent; the conscience is neither sure nor right, but is dishonoured and defiled; for the whole deliberation is made criminal by mingling with forbidden purposes. He that takes up arms under his prince in a just war, and at the same time intends revenge against his private enemy, casually engaged on the adverse party, loses the reward of his obedience, and changes it for the devilish pleasures of revenge.

Concerning the measure and conduct of our intentions, there are some other things to be said, but because they are extrinsical to the chief purpose of this rule, they are properly to be considered under their own head.

RULE VI.

per

An Argument not sufficient nor competent, though it do suade us to a Thing in itself good, is not the Ground of a Right, nor a sufficient Warrant for a sure Conscience.. 1. HE that goes to public prayers because it is the custom, or communicates at Easter to avoid a censure, hath done an act in itself good, but his motive was neither competent nor sufficient to make the action religious, or to manifest and declare the conscience to be sure and right. For conscience is the repository of practical reasons: and as in civil actions, we count him a fool who wears clothes only because they cost him nothing, or walks because he would see his shadow move upon the wall: so it is in moral. When the reason is incompetent, the action is by chance, neither prudent nor chosen, alterable by a trifle, tending to a cheap end, proceeding by a regardless motion: and conscience might as well

VOL. XI.

2 I

be seated in the fancy, or in the foot, as in the understand ing, if its nature and proper design were not to be conducted with reasons proportionable to such actions, which tend to an end perfective of man, and productive of felicity.

2. This rule is so to be understood, that it be not required of all men to have reasons equally good for the same determinations, but sufficient and reasonable in themselves, and apt to lead them in their proper capacities and dispositions, that is, reasons proportionable to that kind of things in which the determination is instanced, viz., a religious reason for an action of religion; a prudent reason for a civil action: but if it be in its proper kind, it is sufficient if it be probable, provided always, that it makes a sure mind, and a full persuasion.

in so

3. He that believes Christian religion, because the men are charitable and chaste, and so taught to be, and commanded by the religion, is brought into a good place by a single taper; but he came in by no false light, and he is there where he ought to be. He did not see the way brightly as St. Paul did, who was conducted in by an angel from heaven, with a bright flame in his hand; but he made shift to see his way in: and because the light that guided him, came from heaven, his conscience was rightly instructed, and if it persuaded him heartily, his conscience is as sure as it is right.

4. Quest. Upon the account and consequence of this rule it is proper to inquire, Whether it be lawful and ingenuous, to go about to persuade a man to the belief of a true proposition, by arguments with which himself is not persuaded, and which he believes are not sufficient? The case is this:.

5. Girolami, a learned priest of Ferrara, finds that many of his parishioners are infected with Judaism, by reason of their conversation with the Jewish merchants. He studies the Jewish books to discover the weakness of their arguments, and to convince them upon their own grounds. But finding this parishioners moved only by popular arguments, and not capable of understanding the secrets of the old prophets, the synchronisms, nor the computation of Daniel's weeks, the infinite heaps of reasons by which Christianity stands firm in defiance of all pretensions to the contrary; sees it necessary to persuade them by things as easy as those

are by which they were abused. But then he considers; if they were by error led into error, it is not fit that by error also they should be led out of it into truth, for God needs not to be served with a lie, and evil must not be done that good may be thence procured. But if I go by a false argument to cozen them into truth, I tell a lie to recover them from a lie, and it is a disparagement to the cause of God, that it must be supported by the devil. But having discoursed thus far, he considers further: every argument which I am able to answer, I know cannot conclude in the question; for if it be to be answered, it is at most but a specious outside of reason; and he that knows this, or believes it so, either must not use that instrument of persuasion, or, if he does, he must resolve to abuse the man's understanding before he can set it right and this he believes to be against the honour of truth, and the rules of charity, and the simplicity and ingenuity of the spirit of a Christian.

To this Question I answer by several Propositions.

6. (1.) It is not lawful to tell a lie for God and for truth; because God will not be served by that which he hates, and there are no defects in truth which need such violent remedies. Therefore Girolami might not, to persuade his Judaizing parishioners, tell them a tale of a vision, or pretend a `tradition which is not, or falsify a record; because these are direct arts of the devil, this is a doing evil for a good end: and every single lie is equally hated by God, and where there is a difference, it is made by complication, or the mixing of something else with a lie and because God hath cre ated and communicated to mankind, not only sufficient but abundant justifications of whatsoever he hath commanded us to believe, therefore he hates infinitely to have his glorious economy of faith and truth to be disordered and discomposed by the productions of hell. For every lie is of the devil.

[ocr errors]

7. (2.) It is lawful to use an argument cui potest subesse falsum,' such which I know is not certain, but yet I actually believe it to be true. That is, though the argument be not demonstrative, but probable only, yet I may safely use it, if I believe myself to be on the right side of the probability for a real truth and a supposed truth are all one as to

the innocence of my purposes. And he that knows how little certainty there is in human discourses, and how "

we know in part, and prophesy in part," and that of every thing whereof we know a little, we are ignorant in much more, must either be content with such proportions as the things will bear, or as himself can get, or else he must never seek to alter or to persuade any man to be of his opinion. For the greatest part of discourses that is in the whole world, is nothing but a heap of probable inducements, plausibilities, and witty entertainments: and the throng of notices is not unlike the accidents of a battle, in which every man tells a new tale, something that he saw, mingled with a great many things which he saw not: his eyes and his fear joining together equally in the instruction and the illusion, these make up the stories. And in the observation of things, there is infinitely more variety than in faces, and in the contingencies of the world. Let ten thousand men read the same books, and they shall all make several uses, draw several notes, and understand them to several effects and purposes. Knowledge is infinite, and out of this infinity every one snatches some things real, and some images of things; and there are so many cognoscitive faculties above and below, and powers ministering to knowledge, and all these have so many ways of being abused, or hindered, and of being imperfect; and the degrees of imperfection, positive, and privative, and negative, are also themselves absolutely so infinite, that to arrive at probabilities in most things is no small progression. But we must be content to make use of that, both for ourselves and others.

8. Upon this account we may quote scriptures to those senses which they can well serve in a question, and in which they are used by learned men, though we suppose the principal intention be of a different thing, so it be not contrary. For all learned men know, that in Scripture many sayings are full of potential significations, besides what are on the face of the words, or in the heart of the design and therefore although we may not allege scriptures in a sense contrary to what we believe it meant; yet to any thing beside its first meaning, we may, if the analogy will bear it; and if by learned men it be so used, that is in effect, because for aught we know it may be so indeed.

:

9. (3.) If a man suppose his arguments sufficient and competent to persuade, though they be neither fitting to persuade, nor at all sufficient, he may yet lawfully use them. For in this case though himself be deceived, yet because it is upon the strength of those arguments he relies, he can be tied to use no better than he hath: and since his conscience is heartily persuaded, though it be in error, yet that which follows that persuasion is innocent (if it be not mingled with design), though, it may be, that which went before was not so.

10. (4.) In the persuasion of a truth, it is lawful to use such arguments whose strength is wholly made prevailing by the weakness of him that is to be persuaded. Such as are arguments ad hominem,' that is, proportionable to the doctrines, customs, usages, belief, and credulity, of the man. The reasons are these:

1. Because ignorant persons are not capable of such arguments as may demonstrate the question; and he that goes about to draw a child to him, may pull him by the long sleeve of his coat, and need not to hire a yoke of oxen.

2. That which will demonstrate a truth to one person, possibly will never move another. Because our reason does not consist in a mathematical point: and the heart of reason, that vital and most sensible part, in which only it can be conquered fairly, is an ambulatory essence, and not fixed; it wanders up and down like a floating island, or like that which we call the life-blood; and it is not often very easy to hit that white, by which only our reason is brought to perfect assent; and this needs no other proof but our daily experience, and common notices of things. That which at one time is not regarded, at another time is a prevailing motive; and I have observed that a discourse at one time hath been lightly regarded, or been only pleasing to the ear, which, a year or two after, hath made great impressions of piety upon the spirit of the hearers. And therefore, that I can answer the argument, it is not enough to make me think it necessary to lay it aside or to despise it; there may be something in him that hears me, that can make the argument to become perfect and effectual; and the want of that, it may be, in me, makes me apt to slight it. And besides that some pretended answers are illusions rather than solutions, it may be, that beyond my answer, a wiser man may make a reply,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »