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4. That it is not the prefent perfuafion of the church of Rome, (whom he calls the traditionary Christians), nor ever was, that their faith hath defeended to them solely by oral tradition. If I can now make good these four things, I hope his demonstration is at an end.
SECT. VII. The first answer to his second demonstration. $1. THat these principles wholly rely upon the truth
of the grounds of his demonstration à priori. For if the doctrine of Christ was either imperfectly taught in any age, or misaken by the learners, or any part of it forgotten, (as it seems the whole Greek church have forgot that fundamental point of the proceffion of tlie Holy Ghost, as the Roman church accounts it), or if tħe arguments of hope and fear be not necessary causes of actual will to adhere to tradition, then there may have been changes and innovations in any age, and yet men may pretend to have followed tradition. But I have thewn, that ignorance, and negligence, and mistake, and pride, and lust, and ambition, and any other vice or interest, may hinder those causes from being effectual to preserve tradition entire and uncorrupted. And when they do so, it is not to be expected, that those persons who innovate and change the doctrine, should acknowledge that their new doctrines are contrary to the doctrine of Christ; but that they should at first advance them as pious ; and after they have prevailed, and gained general entertainment, then impudently affirm, that they were the very doctrines which Christ delivered ; which they may very securely do, when they have it in „their power to burn all that shall deny it.
$ 2, I will give a clear instance of the poffibility of this in the doctrine of transubstantiation, by shewing how this might easily come in, in the ninth or tenth age after Christ. We will suppose then, that about this time, when universal ignorance, and the genuine daughter of it, (call her devotion or superstition), had overfpread the world, and the generality of people were ftrongly inclined to believe strange things; and even the greatest contradictions were recommended to them under the notion of mysteries; being told by their priests
and guides, that the more contradictious any thing is to reason, the greater merit there is in believing it: I say, let us fuppose, that, in this state of things, one or more of the most eminent then in the church, either out of design, or out of fuperftitious ignorance and mistake of the sense of our Saviour's words used in the consecration of the facrament, should advance this new doctrine, that the words of confecration, This is my body, are not to be understood by any kind of trope, (as the like forms in scripture are, as, I am the vine, I ain the door, which are plain tropes), but being used about this great myftery of the facrament, ought in all reason to be supposed to contain in them fome notable mystery ; which they will do, if they be understood of a real change of the fubstance of bread and wine, made by virtue of these words, into the real body and blood of our Saviour. And in all this I suppose nothing, but what is so far from being impoffible, that it is too asual for men, either out of ignorance, or interest, to advance new opinions in religion. And such a do&rine as this was very likely to be advanced by the ambitious clergy of that time, as a probable means to draw in the people to a greater veneration of them ; which advantage Mr Ruthworth seeins to be very fenfible of, when he tells, (Dial. 1. $ 4.), that the power of the priest in this particular, is,“ such a
privilege, as if all the learned clerks that ever li“ ved since the beginning of the world, thould have ftu“ died to raise, advance, and magnify fome one state “ of men to the highest pitch of reverence and eminen
cy, they could never, without special light from hea“ ven, have thought of any thing comparable to this." I am of this mind, that it was a very notable device ; but, I am apt to think, invented “ without any special
light from heaven.” Nor was such a doctrine less likely to take and prevail among the people, in an age prodigiously ignorant, and strongly inclined to superstition, and thereby well prepared to receive the grofest abfurdities under the notion of myfteries; especially if they were such as might seem to conciliate a greater hoRour and reverence to the facrament, Now, supposing such a doctrine as this, so fitted to the humour and temper of the age, to be once asserted, either by chance, or
: out of defign, it would take like wild fire; especially if, .by some one or more who bore sway in the church, it were but recommended with convenient gravity and salemnity. And although Mr Rushworth says (Dial. 3.
7:) " it is impoñible that the authority of one man os fiould sway so much in the world; because (says he)
surely the devil himself would rather help the church, " than permit so little pride among men;" yet I am not so thoroughly satisfied with this cunning reason : for though he delivers it confidently, and with a surely, yet I make some doubt, whether the devil would be so forward to help the church, nay, on the contrary, I am inclined to think, that he would rather chuse to conrive at this humble and obfequious temper in men, in order to the overthrow of religion, than cross a defign so dear to him, by unfeasonable temptations to pride. So that, notwithstanding Mr Ruthworth's reason, it seems very likely that such a dcetrine, in such an age, might easily be propagated by the influence and authority of ene or a few great persons in the church.
For nothing can be more suitable to the easy and paflive temper cf fuperfitious ignorance, than to entertain such a doctrine avith all imaginable greediness, and to maintain it with a proportionable zeal. And if there be any wiser than the rest, who make objections against it, as if this doce trine were new, and full of contradictions, they may ea. fily be borne down by the Atream, and by the eminency and authority, and pretended fanctity, of those who are the heads of this innovation. And when this doctrine is generally swallowed, and all that oppose it are looked ripon and punished as beretics, then it is seasonable to maintain, that this doctrine was the docirine of forefathers; to which end it will be sufficient to those who are willing to have it true, to bend two or three sayings of the ancients to that purpose.
And as for the contra. dictions contained in this doctrine, it was but telling the people then, as they do in effect now, that contradiction ought to be no fcruple in the way of faith ; that the more impoffible any thing is, it is the fitter to be belie. red; that it is not praise-worthy to believe plain poflibi. lities; but this is the gallantry and heroical power of faith, this is the way to oblige God Almighty for ever to
us, to believe fat and downright contradi&tions : fur “ God requires at the people's hands (as Mr Rusi“ worth tells us, Dial. 1 $ 4.) a credulity of things a « above and beyond nature; nay, beyond all the fables, “ be it spoken with respect, that ever man invented.” After this doctrine hath proceeded thus far, and, by the most inhuman severities and cruelties, fupprefled diffenters, or in a good measure rected them out; then, if they please, even this new word tranfubftantiation may pretend also to antiquity, and in time be cor.fidently vouched for a word used by Christians in all ages, and transmitted down to them by those from whom they received the doctrine of the facrament, as a term of art appendent to it. And when a superstitious church, and de figning governors, have once gained this post, and by means of this enormous article of transubftantiation, have sufficiently debauched the minds of men, and made a breach in their understandings wide enough for the entertaining of any error, though ever fo gross and fenfe less; then innovations come in amain, and by floals ; and the more absurd and unreasonable any thing is, it is for that very reason the more proper malter for an ar. ticle of faith. And if any of these innovations be ob. jected agains, as contrary to the former belief and practice, it is but putting forth a lusty act of faith, and be. lieving another contradiction, that though they be contrary, yet they are the same.
63. And there is nothing in all this but what is agreeable both to history and experience. For that the ninth and tenth ages, and those which followed tbem till the reformation, were thus prodigiously ignorant and superftitious, is confirmed by the unanimous consent of all histories; and even by those writers, that have been the greatest pillars of their own religion. And experience tells us, that in what age foever there are a great company of superstitious people, there will never be wanting a few crasty fellows to make use of this easy and pliable humour to their own ends. Now, that this was the state of those ages of the church, will be evident to any
from these testimonies, Platina (in vit. Ronani, Papæ 116. a. 6.900.) writes of Pope Romanus, that he nulled the ails of his predecesor Stephanus: “ for (says he) thefe
“ Popes minded nothing else but how they might ex
tinguish both the name and dignity of their predecef« fors.” And if so, who can doubt, but that these Popes who made it their bu finess to destroy the very memory of their ancestors, would be very little careful to preserve the doctrine of forefathers? But what the care of those times was in this particular, may be conjectured from what Onuphrius fays (in Platin.) by way of confutation of that paffage in Platina, concerning Pope Joan's reading publicly at Rome, at her first coming thither. “ This (lays
he) is utterly false ; for there was nothing that they
were less folicitous about in those times, than to fur: “ nish the city with any public teachers.” And the time which Onuphrius speaks of, was much about the beginning of the tenth century. Phil. Burgomensis says (anno 906) " It happened in that age, throngh the flothfulness « of men, that there was a general decay of virtue both “ in the head and members.” Again (anno 9c8) “ These “ times, through the ambition and cruel tyranny of the “ Popes, were extremely unhappy : for the Popes set
ting aside the fear of God, and his worship, fell into “ such enmities among themselves as cruel tyrants ex. “ ercise towards one another.” Sabellicus says (Ennead. 9.
1. 1. anno 900) " It is wonderful to observe what a
strange forgetfulness of all arts did about this time “ feize upon men; insomuch that neither the Popes, nor “ other princes, seemed to have any sense or apprehen. “ fion of any thing that might be useful to human life. “ There were no wholesome laws, no reparations of “ churches, no pursuit of liberal arts; but a kind of
Atupidity and nkidness, and forgetfulness of manners, “had poftefled the minds of men." And a little after : “ I cannot (fays he) but much wonder from whence “ these tragical examples of Popes should spring; and 6. how their minds should come to be so devoid of all " piety, as neither to regard the person which they fuf“ tained, nor the place they were in.” Sigonius (De regn. Ital. 1. 6.) speaking of these times, about the beginning of the tenth century, calls them “ the foulest * and blackest, both in respect of the wickedness of
princes, and the madness of the people, that are to 6 be found in all antiquity.” Genebrard (Ghron. 1. 4.)