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went before: “ Nunquam enim crescit ex postfacto præteriti æstimatio," is the voice both of law and reason. So that it cannot make it divine, and necessary to be heartily believed. It may
make it lawful, not make it true; that is, it may possibly by such means become a law, but not a truth. I speak now upon supposition the Pope's confirmation were necessary, and required to the making of conciliar and necessary sanctions. But if it were, the case were very
hard : for
suppose a heresy should invade, and possess the chair of Rome, what remedy can the church have in that case, if a general council be of no authority, without the Pope confirm it? Will the Pope confirm a council against himself? will he condemn his own heresy? That the Pope may be a heretic appears in the canon law, which says he may for heresy be deposed, and therefore by a council, which in this case hath plenary authority without the Pope. And therefore in the synod at Rome held under Pope Adrian the Second, the censure of the synod against Honorius, who was convict of heresy, is approved with this appendix, that, in this case, the case of heresy, “ minores possint de majoribus judicare:” and therefore, if a Pope were above a council, yet when the question is concerning heresy, the case is altered ; the Pope may be judged by his inferiors, who in this case, which is the main case of all, become his superiors. And it is little better than impudence to pretend, that all councils were confirmed by the Pope, or that there is a necessity in respect of divine obligation, that any should be confirmed by him, more than by another of the patriarchs. For the council of Chalcedon itself, one of those four which St. Gregory did revere next to the four evangelists, is rejected by Pope Leo, who, in his fifty-third epistle to Anatolius, and in his fifty-fourth to Martian, and in his fifty-fifth to Pulcheria, accuses it of ambition and inconsiderate temerity, and therefore no fit assembly for the habitation of the Holy Spirit; and Galasius, in his tome
de Vinculo Anathematis,' affirms, that the council is in part to be received, in part to be rejected, and compares it to heretical books of a mixed matter, and proves his assertion by the place of St. Paul, “ Omnia probate, quod bonum est retinete." And Bellarmine says the same : 66 In concilio Chalcedonensi quædam sunt bona, quædam mala, quædam recipienda, quædam rejicienda ; ita et in libris hæreticorumb,” and if any thing be false, then all is questionable, and judicable, and discernible, and not infallible antecedently. And however that council hath ex postfacto,' and by the voluntary consenting of after-ages obtained great reputation ; yet they that lived immediately after it, that observed all the circumstances of the thing, and the disabilities of the persons, and the uncertainty of the truth of its decrees, by reason of the unconcludingness of the arguments brought to attest it, were of another mind, 6 Quod autem ad concilium Chalcedonense attinet, illud id temporis (viz. Anastasii Imp.) neque palam in ecclesiis sanctissimis prædicatum fuit, neque ab omnibus rejectum ; nam singuli ecclesiarum præsides pro suo arbitratu in ea re egerunt."
a Dist. 40. Can. si Papa.
And so did all men in the world that were not mastered with prejudices, and undone in their understanding with accidental impertinencies; they judged upon those grounds which they had and saw, and suffered not themselves to be bound to the imperious dictates of other men, who are as uncertain in their determinations as others in their questions. And it is an evidence that there is some deception and notable error, either in the thing or in the manner of their proceeding, when the decrees of a council shall have no authority from the compilers, nor no strength from the reasonableness of the decision, but from the accidental approbation of posterity: and if posterity had pleased, Origen had believed well and been an orthodox person. And it was pretty sport to see that Papias was right for two ages together, and wrong ever since ; and just so it was in councils, particularly in this of Chalcedon, that had a fate alterable according to the age, and according to the climate, which, to my understanding, is nothing else but an argument that the business of infallibility is a latter device, and commenced to serve such ends as cannot be justified by true and substantial grounds; and that the Pope should confirm it as of necessity, is a fit cover for the same dish.
4. In the sixth general council, Honorius, Pope of Rome, was condemned: did that council stay for the Pope's confirmation before they sent forth the decree ? Certainly they did not think it so needful, as that they would have suspended or cassated the decree, in case the Pope had then
b De Laicis, 1. 3, c. 20. sect. ad hoc ult. c Evag. lib. 3. cap. 30.
disavowed it: for, besides the condemnation of Pope Honorius for heresy, the thirteenth and fifty-fifth canons of that council are expressly against the custom of the church of Rome. But this particular is involved in that new question, whether the Pope be above a council. Now since the contestation of this question, there was never any free or lawful council that determined for the Pope, it is not likely ány should ; and is it likely that any Pope will confirm a council that does not ? For the council of Basil is therefore condemned by the last Lateran, which was an assembly in the Pope's own palace, and the council of Constance is of no value in this question, and slighted in a just proportion, as that article is disbelieved d. But I will not much trouble the question with a long consideration of this particular ; the pretence is senseless and illiterate, against reason and experience, and already determined by St. Austin sufficiently as to this particular, “ Ecce putamus illos episcopos, qui Romæ judicaverunt, non bonos judices fuisse. Restabat adhuc plenarium ecclesiæ universæ concilium, ubi etiam cum ipsis judicibus causa possit agitari, ut si male judicasse convicti essent, eorum sententiæ solverenture." For since Popes may be parties, may be simoniacs, schismatics, heretics, it is against reason that in their own causes they should be judges, or that in any causes they should be superior to their judges. And as it is against reason, so is it against all experience too; for the council Sinuessanum (as it is said) was convened to take cognizance of Pope Marcellinus; and divers councils were held at Rome to give judgment in causes of Damasus, Sixtus III., Symmachus, and Leo III. and IV., as is to be seen in Platina, and the tomes of the councils. And it is no answer to this and the like allegations, to say, in matters of fact and human constitution, the Pope may be judged by a council ; but, in matters of faith, all the world must stand to the Pope's determination and authoritative decision : for if the Pope can by any colour pretend to any thing, it is to a supreme judicature in matters ecclesiastical, positive, and of fact; and if he fails in this pretence, he will hardly hold up his head for any thing else : for the ancient bishops derived their faith from the fountain, and held that in the highest tenure, even from Christ their head; but by reason of the imperial' city it became the principal seat, and he surprised the highest judicature, partly by the concession of others, partly by his own accidental advantages; and yet even in these things, although he was major singulis, yet he was minor universis.' And this is no more than what was decreed of the eighth general synods; which, if it be sense, is pertinent to this question : for general councils are appointed to take cognizance of questions and differences about the bishop of Rome, “non tamen audacter in eum ferre sententiam.” By' audacter,' as is supposed, is meant præcipitanter,' hastily and unreasonably:' but if to give sentence against him be wholly forbidden, it is nonsense ; for to what purpose is an authority of taking cognizance, if they have no power of giving sentence, unless it were to defer it to a superior judge, which in this case cannot be supposed ? For either the Pope himself is to judge his own cause after their examination of him, or the general council is to judge him. So that, although the council is by that decree enjoined to proceed modestly and warily, yet they may proceed to sentence, or else the decree is ridiculous and impertinent.
d Vid. postea de concil. Sinuessano. sect. 6. n. 9
e Epist. 162. ad Glorium.
5. But to clear all, I will instance in matters of question and opinion : for not only some councils have made their decrees without or against the Pope, but some councils have had the Pope's confirmation, and yet have not been the more legitimate or obligatory, but are known to be heretical. For the canons of the sixth synod, although some of them were made against the Popes and the custom of the church of Rome, a Pope a while after did confirm the council; and yet the canons are impious and heretical, and so esteemed by the church of Rome herself. I instance in the second canon, which approves of that synod of Carthage under Cyprian for rebaptization of heretics, and the seventy-second canon, that dissolves marriage between persons of differing persuasion in matters of Christian religion; and yet these canons were approved by Pope Adrian I. who in his epistle to Tharasius, which is in the second action of the seventh synod, calls them
canones divine et legaliter prædicatos.” And these canons were used by Pope Nicolas I. in his epistle ad Mif Vid. concil, Chalced. act. 15.
8 Act. ult. cap. 91.
chaelem,' and by Innocent III. ' (c. a multis : extra. de ætat. ordinandorum).' So that now (that we may apply this) there are seven general councils, which by the church of Rome are condemned of error. The council of Antioch", A. D. 345. in which St. Athanasius was condemned: the council of Milan, A. D. 354. of above three hundred bishops: the council of Ariminum, consisting of six hundred bishops: the second council of Ephesus, A. D. 449. in which the Eutychian heresy was confirmed, and the patriarch Flavianus killed by the faction of Dioscorus: the council of Constantinople under Leo Isaurus, A. D. 730 : and another at Constantinople thirty-five years after: and, lastly, the council of Pisa, one hundred and thirty-four years since. Now that these general councils are condemned, is a sufficient argument that councils may err: and it is no answer to say they were not confirmed by the Pope; for the Pope's confirmation I have shewn not to be necessary; or if it were, yet even that also is an argument, that general councils may become invalid, either by their own fault, or by some extrinsical supervening accident, either of which evacuates their authority.
And whether all that is required to the legitimation of a council, was actually observed in any council, is so hard to determine, that no man can be infallibly sure, that such a council is authentic and sufficient probation.
6. Secondly, and that is the second thing I shall observe, There are so many questions concerning the efficient, the form, the matter of general councils, and their manner of proceeding, and their final sanction, that, after a question is determined by a conciliar assembly, there are perhaps twenty more questions to be disputed, before we can with confidence either believe the council upon its mere
authority obtrude it upon others. And upon this ground, how easy
it is to elude the pressure of an argument drawn from the authority of a general council, is very remarkable in the question about the Pope's or the council's superiority: which question, although it be defined for the council against the Pope by five general councils, the councils of Florence, of Constance, of Basil, of Pisa, and one of the Laterans; yet
h Vid. Socr. l. 2. c. 5. et Sozom. 1. 3, c. 5. Gregor. in Regist. lib. 3. caus. 7, ait concilium Numidiæ errâsse. Concilium Aquisgrani erravit. De raptore et rapta dist. 20. can. de libellis. in glossa,