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C H A P. VI.
The Question not fairly stated, and how it ought to
have been, I. 1. St. Cyprian cleared from the Slander cast on him, 2. How far the Fathers may be rely'd on, and the two Archbishops-Whitgift and Laud vir:dicated, 3. The Author's Çonceffion, and impertinent Citation of St. Augustine, 4. Whether St.Cyprian be in this Case mistaken, and Schismaticks in or out of the Church, 5. St. Augustine, Optatus and St. Chry. foftom vindicated, 6, 7, 8. The rest of the Fathers cleared from Aspersions, o.
His ridiculous summing up his Evidence, with his Threatning at
the end of it, 10. (1.) THE Question, as pur Author states it, was,
Whether Schism be as great a Sin as Mnrther or Adultery? This is an Artifice to perplex the Dispute, and confound the Reader; and at this time, and in this case, not a fair state of the Question between us; for whether it be, or be not so great a Sin, what he designs thereby to prove will not thence follow, viz. That Schism is either none or next tò no Sin, and Men may be encouraged to live in it. The Question therefore fairly put, had been this, Wbether Schism be a damnable Šin or not? And if it prove to be such, then the Consequence had been evident, that those who live in Schism are in a state of Damnation. I confess, I cannot throughly approve of the Romanists distinction of Sin into Mortal and Venial, and much less of the use which they make of it; but certainly there is a great difference between those Sins which are said vastare conscientiam, and those quotidiane incurfionis. For I cannot think any Man fo fevere, as to alledge, that those scarce discernable Failings,
which through inadvertency the best of Men oft stumble
upon in this imperfect state, do render their Condition as dangerous as gross and known Crimes. And if Schism shall appear to be in the rank of these great and groß Sins, whether it be as great a Sin as Murther or Adultery, or not, it is sufficient to make the state of that Man, who lives in it, damnable. But this course being not very agreeable with our Author's design, he avoids, it; and I must be content to follow, as he will lead me. To prove, that the Comparison between Schism, and Murther, and Adultery, will not hold, he lays down for his next ground-work this Alsertion:
This false Opinion is grounded only on some PafSages in Cyprian, and other of the Fathers, (p. 69.)
It had been much fairer to have proved this Opinion false, than thus to have taken it for granted. For this is to raise a Prejudice against a thing, while it is upon Tryal, and to do as the Man did by his Dog, who wrongfully gave him an ill Name, which cost him his Life. And I think there is as little reason to say, that the Opinion is false, because grounded on the Fathers, as that his Affertion is true, because it is the Opinion of Mr. Tallents : For certainly their Authority may ballance his. But he offers to prove what he says: But then what is it he proves? If he prove it to be grounded on the Fathers, I readily grant it; but that doth not prove it to be felfe. He must there fore farther prove it to be falle, if he will do any thing to the purpose: And here, I doubt, he will fail us. But that he may now seen at least to do something extraordinary, he tells us, he fouail anfwer it in general, and in particular.
(2.) It being a common Practice with these fort of Men to catch at scraps and ends of the Fathers, thereby to misrepresent both Them and Truth,
before I meddle with his Generals and Particulars, I think it convenient to wipe off a Scandal, which to help his cause he hath cast upon St. Cyprian, and makes St. Jerom the Author of it. Hierom (faith he) censuring atber ancient Writers, in a fort, among them taxes Cyprian as if be bad scarcely toucbo the Scriptures; saying, De Seripturis Divinis nequaquam disseruit. This he plainly speaks with a deSign to represent St. Cyprian as little read and unskilful in the Scriptures, and consequently an incompetent Fudge in this case; and thus in the fame Breath abuseth both St. Cyprian and St. Jerom. The truth is thus, Pauliniss (afterwards Bishop of Nola) had wrote to St.Jerom, among other things, for his Advice; the good old Man was not a little pleased, and returns an Answer full of many kind Complements, and in conclusion patheti. cally exhorts him to the study of the Holy Scrip fures; and then, shewing how some of the Fathers might be more or less useful to him in that matter, he gives this Character of St. Cyprian, Beatus Cyprianus inftar fontis puriffimi, dulcis incedit, & placidus; & cum totus, fit in exercitatione virtutum, occupatus persecutionum angustiis, de Scripturis Divinis nequaquam differuit, (Ep. 13. ad Paulinum.) The plain lense of which is, That though St. Cyprian was a sweet and clear Writer, yet Perfecu. tions raging in his time, he was fo wholly taken op in penning furch Exhortations, Disputations, or Discourses, as were necessary for the preservation of his Flock, to hold up their Hearts, and keep them from falling away, that he had not leisure to write any Disertations or Commentaries on boly Scripture. But this speaks nothing against his abi lity to have done it, but feems rather to bewail bis want of opportunity and leisure. And muft this be strained to make him an Ignoranıs? Those, who with an honest Heart impartially read St. Cyprian,
will find him to be well exercised in the Scriptures, and a fit Person to have wrote upon them, had not the heat of Persecution forced him otherwise to employ his time. But there are a sort of Men, who make no Conscience whom they slander, so they can serve their Cause; and they have found fo inuch wicked advantage in it, that I fear they will never leave it. .. (3.) Having done Justice to that blessed Martyr, I now come to try the strength of his Arguments : And, in general, he tells us, That the Sayings of the Fathers are not a sufficient ground for us to build upon. To rely folely upon them in every thing, is to attribute to them too much: But I hope this doth not hinder, but that they may speak Truth. I shall hereafter prove the Truth of this Doctrine, both from Scripture and the Nature of the Thing; and then, if we take in the concurrent Testimonies of the Fathers to vouch the same, I hope it may be neither Prejudice nor Difcredit to be found in so good Company. But he háth something like Reason to offer against the Fatbers : And first he tells us, That 'tis only the holy Scripture, and what may be truly deduced from it, that we can safely build our Faith and Praštices upon, Be it so : But then if you please to look Again into the Fatbers, you will find that they frequently and plentifully prove the truth of what they wrote in this inatter from Scripture; and therefore by your own Argument you must acknowledge them to be in the right, unless you can prove that they have mistaken Scripture, which you do not. For what you say in the next place, that they may err, is nothing to the purpose: For if every one that may err, myft err, we are in a moit lamentable and wretched Condition. I do not think Mr. Tallents and his Dissenters will pretend to Infallibility more than the Fathers; and then
it will be as good an Argument to say, that be and his Dissenters are in the wrong, because they may err, as to say so of the Fathers : And then, I doubt, his Friends will tell him, that his Argument proves a great deal too much. The truth is, the best of Men on Earth are fallible, and many are often actually mistaken ; but if this must be allowed for a good Inference, That Men who may err muft err, we can then have no certainty either of Right or Fact, and all the World may turn Scepticks. You might therefore huve spared your Authorities of as fallible Men as the Fathers, to prove, that the Fathers may err, and sometimes actually have err’d; for it nothing affects this Cause; unless you prove, that they have err'd in this particular: And this you are so far from doing, that the greatest part of those, your own Vouchers, if need require, will be ready to bear witness for the Fathers in this matter against you. It was not therefore well advised to bring such Evidence into the Court: I am sure Two, whoin you have forc'd to give in Testimony, which looks Tomething flanting your way, were as stout Champions against Schism as any this Church hath
produced. Archbishop W bitgift was a learned, judicious, and prudent Man; yet you are so bold as to make him betray his own Cause, when he was writing against the greatest and hottest Schismatick of his Age: And truly I think it were not much disparagement to you, if you owned T. Cartwright for the Father and Founder of your Order here in England; he was a Man of great Learning, but of a true Presbyterian Spirit, baughty, virulent and bit
and this enhanced by being disgusted. But whereas the Archbishop will not allow him to call him back to the Primitive Church; he means not of those times, when the Purity of Doctrine was preferved by regular Government and Discipline : For