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infallibility; which is as follows, “ That the church does
not expect to be taught by God immediately by new os revelations, but makes use of several means, &c. as " being governed, not by Apostles, &c. but by ordinary
pastors and teachers : That these pastors, in making “ use of these feveral means of decision, proceed, not as " the Apostles did, with a peculiar infallible direction “ of the Holy Spirit, but with a prudential collection “ not always necessary: That to the Apostles, who
were the first masters of evangelical faith, and founders of the church, such an infallible certitude of
means was necessary; not so now to the church, &c." If this be true, that an infallible certitude of means is not now necessary to the church, and that her pastors do now, in deciding matters of faith, proceed only with a prudent collection not always necessary; then it should feem, that a searching wit may maintain his ground of suspense, even against their church also, with a “ Might as it not be otherwise ?” Again, Mr Cressy tells us, (Append. c. 5.), that “ truth, and our obligation to is believe it, is in an higher degree in fcripture than in 66 the decisions of the church, as Bellarmine acknow
ledges :" which is to say, that we may have greater assurance of the truth of doctrines contained in the scriptures, than we can have of any doctrine from the determination of the church. But if we have the greatest affurance that can be of truths delivered to us by the church, as Mr S. affirms, then I would fain learn of him, what that higher degree of assurance is, which Bellarinine speaks of, and whether it be greater than the greatest? Not to infist upon that, (which yet I cannot but by the way take notice of), that Mr Crefly, by his approbation of this determination of Bellarnine's, doth advance the scripture above the church, as to one of the most essential properties of the rule of faith, viz. the certainty of it.
But the most eminent testimony to my purpose in Mr Cressy, is that famous passage (c. 40.9 3. &c.) which hath given so much offence to several of his own church, wherein he acknowledges “the unfortunateness (to himn) st of the word infallibility;” and tells us,
os that he * could find no such word in any council; that no ne
ceflity appeared to him, that either he, or any o“ther Proteltant, should ever have heard that word na. “ med, and much less pressed with so much earnestness,
of late it has generally been in disputations and “ books of controversy: and that Mr Chillingworth " combats this word with too great success; inforuch “ that if this word were once forgotter, cr but laid by, “ Mr Chillingworth's arguments would lose the greate!!
part of their strength, and that if this word were “ confined to the schools, where it was bred, there “ would be still no inconvenience: and that, since by “ manifest experience the English Protestants think " themselves so secure when they have leare to stand
fall by that word, and in very deed have so much to say for themselves when they are pressed unnecesiarily with it; since likewise it is a word capable of so
high a sense, that we cannot devise one more full " and proper to attribute to God himself,” &c. : since all this is so, he thinks he cannot be “ blamed, if such “ reasons move him to wish, that the Protestants may
never be invited to combat the authority of the church “ under that notion.” A very ingenuous acknowledgement, and as cross to Mr S.'s principle as any thing can be. But the word infallibility was not so unfortunate to Mr Cressy, as his untoward explication of the forecited paffage in bis Appendix; which he afterwards published, chiefly by way of vindication of himself, against the learned author of the preface to my Lord Falkland's Discourse of infallibility. There ( Append. § 2. & 3.) he tells us, that “ there are several degrees “ of infallibility.” And that we may know what degrees of infallibility he thinks necessary to be attributed to the church, this following passage will inform us : “ Methinks (he says) if God have furnished his divine " and supernatural truth with evidence equal to this, " that the fun will shine to-morrow, or that there will « be a spring and harvest next year, we are infinitely o“ bliged to bless his providence; and justly condemned, " if we refuse to believe the least of such truths, as
shewing less affection to save our souls, than the dull
ploughmen to sow their corn, who certainly have far 6 lefs evidence for their harvest, than Catholics for their VOL. III.
and yet they insist not peevishly upon every " capricious objection, nor exact an infallible security of “ a plentiful reaping next summer, but, notwithstanding “ all difficulties and contingencies, proceed chearfully in “ their painful husbandry.” So that, according to this discourse, whatever degree of assurance the church hath, or can give to those who rely upon her, it is plain, that no further degree is necessary, than what the husbandman, when he fows, hath of a plentiful harvest; and that men are justly condemned, if they refuse to believe the least truth upon such security, which yet, by his own acknowledgement, is liable to contingencies : nay farther, that men are not reasonable, but “ peevish, in
exacting infallible security, and insisting upon every " capricious objection,” such as is Mr Si's “ Might it
not be otherwise ?". Now, as to this degree of afsurance, or (as he calls it) infallibility, 1 cannot but grant what he says of it to be most true; viz. that * in a severe acceptation of the word, it is not rigo
rously infallible;" that is, (as he explains it), it is not abfolutely impossible, nor does it imply a flat contradiction, that the thing whereof we are so assured may be otherwise : but then I utterly deny, that according to any true acceptation of this word, such a degree of affurance as he speaks of, can be called infallibility; and withal I affirm, that none of those several degrees of infallibility which he mentions, excepting that only which imports an absolute impossibility, can with any tolerable propriety of speech, or regard to the true meaning and use of the word, have the name of infallibility given to them. For infallibility can signify nothing else but an utter impoflibility that one should be deceived in that matter as to which he is supposed to be infallible ; and to say such a thing is impoflible, is to say, that the existence of it implies a flat contradiction : fo that, whosoever afierts degrees of infallibility, is obliged to thew, that there are degrees of abfolute impoffibilities, and of perfect contradictions; and he had need of a very sharp and piercing wit, that is to find out degrees, where there neither are nor can be any. Indeed, in respect of the objects of knowledge, it is easy to conceive how infallibility may be extended to more objects or fewer ;
but in respect of the degree of assurance, (of which Mr Crefly speaks) it is altogether uniinaginable how any one can be more or less out of all possibility of being deceived in those things wherein he is supposed to be infallible: for no one can be more removed from the poco sibility of being deceived, than he that is out of all posfibility of being deceived ; and whosoever is less than this, is not infallible; because he only is fo, who is out of all possibility of being deceived in those matters wherein he is supposed to be infallible. So that Mr Creffy's lower degrees of infallibility are no degrees of that. afsurance which may properly be called infallible, (for that can have no degrees), but of that assurance which is less than infallible. And he needed not have raised all this dust about the degrees of infallibility, had it not been, that, by the means of fuch a cloud, he miglit inike the more convenient escape out of that strait he was in between the clamour of his own church, and the advantage which his adversaries made of his free and open discourse against infallibility. For any one that careful. ly reads his book, will find, that he understands nothing by the infallibility of the church, but “ an authority of
obliging all Christians to submit to her decisions ;' which is no more, but what every supreme civil judge hath in civil matters, viz. a power to determine thote controversies that lie before him as well as he can or will; and when that is done, every one is bound to submit to fich determinations : but yet for all this, no man ever dreamed a supreme civil judge to be infallible more than another man. I do not now dispute the extent of the church's authority : but if she have no other infallibility, but what a full authority of decision does fuppose, I am sure she hath none at all.
Before I leave Mr Cressy, I cannot but take notice how unfortunate and disingenuous he is in explaining the meaning of these words of his own, viz.“ Against this “ word infallibility Mr Chillingworth’s book especially
combats, and this with too too great success ;” which in his Appendix, c. 5.9 6. he interprets thus : “ Suc“ cess, I mean, not against the church, but against his
own foul, and the souls of his fellow English Pro“ testants,” &c. As if one that had wished well to Dd 22
Cæfar, should have said, “ that Pompey had fought
against himn with too too great success ;” and being afterwards challenged by Cæsar's party, as having said, that l'ompey had conquered Cæfar, he should explain himself thus: “ Success, I mean, not against Cæfar, but
againit his own life, and the lives of his followers.” Can any thing be finer than for any man to say, that by Pompey's success in fighting against Cæfar, he means, that Cæiar had beaten Pompey? Which is no more than if one thould take the liberty to interpret white by black.
§ 6. Mr White doth most expressly contradict this principle of Mr S.'s, in these following passages : In his preface to Mr Rulhworth, he says, that “ such a'cer.
tainty as makes the cause always work the fame efs feet, though it take not away the absolute pollibility “ of working otherwise, ought abfolutely to be reckon“ed in the degree of true certainty; and that those au" thors are miitaken who undervalue it.” So that it feems Mr S. is mistaken in affirming, that a man can. not be certain of any thing fo long as there is any poftibility that it may be otherwise. In his answer to my Lord Falkland, he says, p. 14. 15. that “ in moral
matters, and such as are subject to human action, we “ must expect such assurance as human actions bear. “ If for the government of your spiritual life, you have
as much as for the management of your natural and “ civil life, what can you expect more? Two or three " witnesfes of men beyond exception will cast a man out '" of, not only his lands, but life, and all.
He that a. mong merchants will not adventure where there is a "" hundred to one of gaining, will be accounted a filly “ factor; and among Ioldiers, he that will fear danger “ where but one of a hundred is flain, shall not escape '66 the stain of cowardice. What then fhall we expect in
religion, but to see a main advantage on the one side,
which we inay rest ourselves on; and for the rest, “ remember we are men subject to chance and mutabiós lity; and thank God he hath given us that assurance “ in a supernatural way, which we are contented withal “ in our civil ventures and possessions; which, neverthe« less, God knoweth we often love better, and would “ hazard less than the unknown good of the life to