Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

CHAP. VIII. V. OF THE MISCHIEVOUS EFFECTS OF THIS

PROUD PRETENCE TO MORE KNOWLEDGE

THAN MEN HAVE. This vice of pretended certainty and knowledge hath set up several false terms of Christian unity and peace, and by them hath done more to hinder the church's peace and unity than most devices ever did which Satan hath contrived to that end. By this churth-tearing vice, abundance of falsehoods, and abundance of things uncertain, and abundance of things unnecessary, have been made so necessary to the union and communion of the churches and their members, as that thereby the Christian world hath been ground to powder by the names and false pretences of unity and peace. Just as if a wise statesman would advise his Majesty, that none may be his subjects that are not of one age, one stature, one complexion, and one disposition, that so he might have subjects more perfectly concordant than all the princes on earth besides ; and so might be the most glorious defender of unity and peace. But how must this be done? Why command them all to be of your mind: but that prevaileth not, and it is yet undone. Why then they are obstinate, self-willed persons.

Well, but yet it is undone. Then lay fines and penalties upon them. Well, but yet it is undone : all the hypocrites that had no religion, are of the religion which is uppermost; and the rest are uncured. Next require more bricks of them, and let them have no straw, and tell them that their religion is their idleness, stubbornness, and pride, and let your little finger

be heavier than your father's loins. But hearken, young counsellors ! Jeroboam will have the advantage of all this, and still the sore will be unhealed.

By this vice of pretended knowledge and certainty, it is, that the Papacy hath been made the centre of unity of the universal church. Unity we must have, God forbid else; there is no maintaining Christianity without it. But the pope must be • Principium Unitatis : and will all Christians certainly unite in the pope ? Well, and patriarchs must be the pillars of unity : but was it so in the unity of the first churches ? or is it certain that all Christians will unite in patriarchs ; But further, all the mass of Gregory the great, and all the legends in his dialogues, or at least all the doctrines and ceremonies which he received, and the form of government in his time, must be necessary to church-union. Say you so ? But it was not all neecssary in the apostles' times, nor in Cyprian's times, no nor in Gregory's own times ; much of those things being used arbitrarily: and what was made necessary by canons of general councils in the empire, was never thereby made necessary in all the rest of the churches. And are you sure that mere Christians will take all these for certain truths ? Why then, if not, banish them, and hang them until there be none left that are not of one mind. But, sir, I pray you, who shall do it; and who shall that one man be that shall be left to be all the kingdom ? You are not such a fool as to be ignorant, that no two men will agree in all things, nor be perfectly of the same complexion. If there must be one king, and but one subject, I pray you who shall that one subject be? I hope not he that counselleth it; • Neque enim lex justior ulla est, quam necis artifices arte perire sua.' But hark you, sir, shall that one man have a wife or not? If not, the kingdom will die with him ; if yea, I dare prognosticate he and his wife will not be in all things of a mind. If they be, take me for a mistaken man.

But hark, sir, this way hath been tried too long in vain : millions of Albigenses and Waldenses are said by historians to be killed in France, Savoy, Italy, Germany, &c. The French massacre killed about thirty or forty thousand. The Irish massacre in that little island killed about two hundred thousand. But were they not stronger after all these cruelties than before? Alas, sir, all your labour is lost, and your party is taken for a blood-thirsty generation, and human nature which abhorreth the blood-thirsty, ever after breedeth enemies to your way. This is the effect of false principles, and terms of unity and peace, contrived by proud, self-conceited men, that think the world should take their dictates for a supreme law,and obey them as the directive deities of mankind.

If all this be not enough to tell you what proud, pretended certainty is, read over the histories of the ages past, and you shall find it written in ink, in tears, in blood, in mutations, in subversions of the empires and kingdoms of the world, in the most odious and doleful contentions of prelates, lacerations of churches, and desolations of the earth. And yet have we not experience enough to teach us !

CHAP. IX.

THE ADVANTAGES OF A SUSPENDED JUDG

MENT, AND HUMBLE UNDERSTANDING,WHICH PRETENDETH TO NO MORE KNOWLEDGE or

CERTAINTY THAN IT HATH. The advantages of a humble mind, which pretendeth not to be certain till he is certain, you may gather by contraries from the forementioned mischiefs of prefidence.

Moreover I add : 1. Such a humble, suspended mind doth not cheat itself with seeming to have a knowledge, a divine faith, a religion, when it hath none. It doth not live on air and dreams, nor feed on shadows, nor is puffed up with a tympanite of vain conceits, instead of true, substantial wisdom.

2. He is not prepossessed against the truth, but hath room for knowledge, and having the teachableness of a child, he shall receive instruction, and grow in true knowledge, when the proud and inflated wits, being full of nothing, are sent empty away.

3. He entangleth not himself in a seeming necessity of making good all that he hath once received and entertained. He hath not so many bastards of his own brain to maintain, as the prefident, hasty judgers, have: wbich saveth him much study and strife.

4. He is not liable to so much shame of mutability: he that fixeth not till he feel firm ground, nor buildeth till he feel a rock, need not pull down, and repent so oft as rash presumers.

5. Unless the world be bedlam mad in proud obtrudings of their own conceits, methinks such

a wary,

humble man should offend but few, and better keep both his own and the church's peace than others. Can persecutors for shame hang and burn men for mere ignorance, who are wil. ling to learn, and will thankfully from any man receive information ? What if in Queen Mary's days the poor men and women had told my Lords of Winchester and London, We are not persons of so good understandings as to know what a spiritual body is, as Paul describeth it, 1 Cor. xv. And seeing most say that the sun itself is a body, and not a spirit; and late philosophers say, that light is a substance, or body, which yet from the sun in a moment diffuseth itself through all the surface of the earth and air, we know not how far locality, limitations, extension, impenetrability, divisibility, &c. belong to the body of Christ, and consequently how far it may be really present; we can say nothing, only that we know not.' Would my good Lord Bishops have burnt them for 1 know not ?! Perhaps they would have said, “ You must believe the church.' But which is the church, my Lord? Why, it is the pope and a general council.' But, alas, my Lord, I have never seen or heard either pope or council. • Why, but we have, and you must believe us.' Must we believe you, my Lords, to be infallible; or only as we do other men that may deceive and be deceived ? Is any infallible besides the pope and his council ? Truly, my Lords, we are ignorant people, and we know not what the pope and councils have said ; and we are uncertain whether you report them truly, and uncertain whether they are fallible or not; but we are willing to hear any

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »