A TREATISE CONCERNING The Right Use OF THE FATHERS, IN THE Decision of the CONTROVERSIES that are at this Day in RELIGION

Written in FRENCH BY JOHN DAILLE, Minister of the Gospel in the Reformed Church at PARIS.

Hieron. Apol. adv. Ruffin.
Fieri potest, ut vel simpliciter erraverint (Scriptores Ecclesiastici) vel alio sensu scripserint, vel à librariis imperitis eorum pau­latim scripta corrupta sint. Vel certè, antequam in Alexandria quasi Daemonium meridianum Arius nasceretur, innocenter quae­dam, & minùs cautè locuti sunt, & quae non possint perversorum hominum calumniam declinare.

LONDON, Printed for John Martin, and are to be sold by Robert Boulter at the Turks Head in Cornhill. M.DC.LXXV.

To the Noble LADY, ANNE MORNAY, Lady of Tabarriere, and Baroness of St. Hermine, &c.

MADAM,

IT is now almost four Years since that your Son, the late Baron of St. Hermine, ac­quainting me with what manner of Di­scourse He was ordinarily entertained at Court, by those who laboured to advance the Roman Religion, the rather to make him disgust the Reformed, told me, That the Chief­est Argument which they urged against him, was, Antiquity, and the General Consent of all the Fathers of the First Ages of Christianity. And although of himself He understood well enough the Vanity of this Argument of theirs; yet notwithstanding, for his own fuller satisfa­ction, He desired me that I would discover unto Him the very Bottom and Depth of this Business. This therefore I did, as Exactly as possibly I could, and gave Him my Judgment at Large in this Particular: Which Discourse of mine He was pleased to like so well, that conceiving some hopes from thence, that it might happily be of use to others also, I shortly after put Pen to Paper, and digested it into this Treatise You [Page] now see. It having therefore been Composed at first for His Service, I had resolved also with my self to have Dedicated it to His Name; pur­posing, by this small Piece of Service, to testifie to the World the Continuation of the Affection I bare to His Progress in Piety. But that deadly Blow which snatched Him from us in the Flow­er of His Age, about two Years since, at the Fa­mous Siege of Bosledue, having left us nothing of Him now, save onely the Spoils of His Mor­tality, and the Memory of His Vertue, together with our Great Sorrow for having enjoyed Him here so short a time; I am constrained, Madam, to change my former Resolution. For, to Dedi­cate my Book to Him, in the State wherein He now is, in Heaven; following the Example of many, both Ancients, and Modern Writers, who have not stuck to direct their Discourses from hence below, to those whom God hath taken up into Heaven; I cannot perswade my self, that the Practise is either Lawful, or Fit. For, be­sides the Vanity of the Thing, should we hold Discourse with one, who, being at so great, and almost infinite a Distance from us, cannot pos­sibly hear what we say; I should account it al­so, if so be He could hear us, a Point of extreme Inhumanity, I had almost said, Impiety, to di­sturb that Perfect Rest His Blessed Soul now en­joyeth; which hath now no more to do with our Debates or Discourses here below, but sees the Truth now in a most pure Light, and enjoys that Everlasting Bliss wherewith our Saviour [Page] hath out of his Mercy crowned His Faith, and Perseverance in the Fear of His Name. I shall therefore content my self with cherishing, and preserving, whilst I live, the precious Memory of His Worth, the Excellency of His Wit, the Sound­ness of His Judgment, the Sweetness of His Na­ture, the Fairness of His Carriage, and those other Choice Parts, wherewith He was accom­plished; but above all His singular Piety, which clearly shone forth in His Words, and Actions, till the hour of His Death.

And Madam, as for this small Treatise, which was at first conceived and composed for Him, I thought I could not, without being guilty of a piece of Injustice, present it to any other, but Your Self: seeing it hath pleased God, notwith­standing the Common Order of Nature, to make You Heir to Him, to whom it belonged. This Con­sideration only hath emboldned me to present it to Your Hands; knowing that the Nature of this Discourse is not so suitable to that Sorrow which hath of late cast a Cloud over Your House; it ha­ving pleased God, after the death of the Son, to deprive You of the Father; and to the Loss of Your Children, to add that also of Your Noble Husband. But, my desire of avoiding the be­ing Ʋnjust, hath forced Me to be thus Ʋncivilly Troublesome: seeing I accounted it a kind of Theft, should I have any longer withheld from You that which was Your Right, by this Sad Title of Inheritance. Be pleased therefore, Madam, to receive this Book, as a part of the [Page] Goods of your Deceased Son; which I now ho­nestly restore, in the view of the whole World, after some times Concealment of it in my Study. This Name, I know, will oblige You to afford it some place in Your Closet, which is all that I can at present desire. For, as for the reading of it, besides that Your Exquisite Piety (which is built upon Infinitely much Firmer Grounds, than these Disputes,) hath no need at all of it; I know also, that Your present Condition is such, as that it would be very Troublesome unto You. And if You shall chance to desire to spend some hours in the Perusal of it; it must be hereafter, when the Lord, by the Efficacy of His Spirit, shall have comforted Yours, and shall have al­layed the Violence of Your Grief: to whom I pour out my most earnest Prayers, that He would vouchsafe Powerfully to effect the same, and to shed forth His most holy Grace upon You, and Yours; and that He would by His great Mercy preserve, Long, and Happily, that which re­maineth of that Goodly, and Blessed Family, which He hath bestowed upon You. This, Madam, is one of the most Hearty Prayers of

Your most Humble, and Obedient Servant, DAILLE.

The Design of the whole WORK.

THE Fathers cannot be the Judges of the Contro­versies in Religion at this day betwixt the Papist and the Protestant. 1. Because it is, if not an impossible, yet at least a very difficult thing to find out, what their sense hath been touching the same. 2. Because that their Sense and Judgment of these things, (supposing it to be certainly, and clearly understood.) not being Infallible, and without all danger of Errour, cannot carry with it a sufficient Authority for the satisfying the Ʋnderstanding; which neither can, nor indeed ought to believe any thing, in point of Religion, but what it knows to be certainly True.

The first of these Reasons is proved by these Mediums following.

  • I. We have very little of the Writings of the Fathers, especially of the First, Second, and Third Centuries, pag. 1.
  • II. Those Writings which we have of the Fathers of those times, treat of matters very far different from the Contro­versies now in hand. p. 8.
  • III. The Writings, which go under the names of the Fa­thers, are not all truly such, but are, a great part of them, Supposititious and Forged, either long since, or of later times. p. 11.
  • IV. Those of the Writings of the Fathers, which are Le­gitimate, have been in many places corrupted, by Time, Ignorance, and Fraud, both Pious and Malitious, both in the Former, and Later Ages. p. 34.
  • V. The Writings of the Fathers are hard to be under­stood, by reason of the Languages, and Idioms they wrote in; the Manner of their Writing, which is for the most [Page] part incumbred with Figures, and Rhetorical Flourishes, and nice Logical Subtilties, and the like; and also by rea­son of the Termes which they for the most part used-in a far different sense, from what they now bear. p. 69.
  • VI. When we meet with an Opinion clearly delivered, in the Writings of any of the Fathers, we must not from hence conclude, that the said Father held that Opinion: seeing that we often find them speaking those things, which them­selves have not believed; whether it be, when they report the opinion of some other, without naming the persons; (as they frequently do in their Commentaries:) or in disputing against an Adversary; in which kind of Writing they take liberty to say one thing, and believe another: or whether it be that they concealed their own private Opinion purposely, as they have done in their Homilies, meerly in compliance to such a part of their Auditory. p. 100.
  • VII. Supposing that we are well assured, that a Father hath clearly delivered his Opinion in any Point, we ought notwithstanding to enquire into the time wherein he wrote that Opinion of his, whether it were before, or after he ar­rived to Ripeness of Judgment. For we see, that they have sometimes retracted in their old age, what they had written when they were young. p. 117.
  • VIII. But suppose that a Father hath constantly held one Opinion; it will nevertheless concern us to inquire, How he held it, and in what degree of Belief, whether as Neces­sary, or Probable only: and then again, in what degree of Necessity, or of Probability he placed it: Beliefs being not all equally either Necessary, or Probable. p. 123.
  • IX. After all this we are to examine, whether or no he deliver this, as his own particular Opinion only, (for this cannot necessarily bind our faith;) or whether he deliver it, as the Opinion of the Church in his time. p. 136.
  • X. In the next place it will concern us to enquire, whe­ther he deliver it for the Judgment of the Church Ʋniver­sal, or of some particular Church only: those things which have been received by the Major Part, having not always [Page] notwithstanding been received by some particular parts of the Church. p. [...]4 [...].
  • XI. And after all this, whether you take the Church for the Collective Body of Christians, or only for the body of the Clergy, or Pastors; it is notwithstanding impossible to know, what the Belief of the whole Church in any Age hath been; for as much as it frequently so falls out that the Opinions of these Men, who have appeared to the World, have not only not been received, but on the contrary have also been Opposed, and Contradicted by th [...]se Members of the same Church, who have not at all appeared to the World; who notwithstanding, both for their Learning, and Piety, deserved perhaps to have had as much, or more Esteem, and Authority than the other. p. 151.
The Second Book.
  • THE second Reason, namely, that neither the Testi­mony nor the Preaching of the Fathers is altoge­ther Infallible, is proved by these following Consi­derations. p. 1.
  • II. The Fathers themselves witness against themselves, that they are not to be believed Absolutely, and upon their own bare word. p. 11.
  • III. It appeareth plainly, by their Manner of Writing, that they never intended that their Writings should be our Judges. p. 40.
  • IV. They have erred in divers Points, not only Singly, but also many of them together. p. 60.
  • V. They have very much contradicted one the other, and have maintained different Opinions, in Matters of great Importance. p. 112.
  • VI. Lastly, to say the truth, neither Party alloweth them for Judges; but reject them boldly, and without any scruple, both the one and the other; maintaining divers [Page] things which the Fathers were ignorant of, and rejecting others, which were maintained by them: the Protestants, in those things, where the Fathers have gone either against, or besides the Scripture; the Church of Rome, where they oppose against them the Resolutions of their Popes, or of Coun­cils. Seeing therefore that both Parties attribute the Su­pream Authority to some other Judges, the Fathers, though perhaps their Resolutions should be grounded on Divine Au­thority, could never be able notwithstanding to clear their Differences, and to reconcile the two Parties. p. 126.

So that it followeth from hence, that our Controversies are to be decided by some other means, than that of their Wri­tings; and that we are to observe the same Method in Re­ligion, that we do in all other Sciences, making use of those things wherein we all agree, for the clearing of those where­in we differ; comparing exactly the Conclusions of both Parties with their Principles, which are to be acknowledged and granted by both sides; whether it be in Reason, or Di­vine Revelation. And as for the Fathers we ought to read them carefully and heedfully; and especially without any prejudication on either side, searching their Writings for their Opinions, and not for our own: arguing Negatively, concerning those things which we find not in them, rather then Affirmatively; that is to say, holding all those Arti­cles for suspected, which are not found in them, it being a thing altogether Improbable, that those Worthies of the Church were Ignorant of any of the Necessary and Principal Points of Faith: but yet not presently receiving for an In­fallible Truth, whatsoever is found in them, for as much as, being but Men, though Saints, they may sometimes have erred, either out of pure Ignorance, or else perhaps out of Passion, which they have not been always wholly free from; as appeareth clearly by those Books of theirs which are left Ʋs.

The Testimonies of the Lord Faulk­land, Lord Digby, Doctor Tay­lor, Doctor Rivet, concerning this learned Book.

Reader,

THE Translation of this Tract hath been oft attempted, and oftner de [...]ed by many Noble Personages of this and other Nations: among others by Sir Lucius Cary, late Lord Viscount Faulkland, who with his dear Friend Mr. Chillingworth made very much use of it in all their Writings against the Romanists. But the Papers of that learned Noble­man, wherein this Translation was half finisht, were long since involved in the common loss. Those few which have escaped it and the press, make a very honourable mention of this Monsieur, whose acquaintance the said Lord was wont to say was worth a Voyage to Paris. Pag. 202. of his Reply he hath these words, This obser­vation of mine hath been confirmed by consideration of what hath been so temperately, learnedly, and judiciously writ­ten by Monsieur Daille, our Protestan-Perron. And what the same Lord in a Treatise, which will shortly be pub­lisht saith concerning the Popish Perron, viz. Him I can scarce ever laudare in one sense, that is quote, but I must laudare in the other, that is praise, who hath helpt the Church to all the advantages which wit, learning, industry, judgment, and eloquence could add unto her, is as true of this our Protestant. I shall add but one Lords Testimony more, viz. the Lord George Digbies in his late Letters con­cerning Religion in these words, p. 27, 28. The reasons prevalent with me whereon an inquiring and judicious person [Page] should be obliged to rely and acquiesce are so amply and so learnedly set down by Monsieur Daillé in his Employ des Pe [...]s that I think little, which is material or weighty can be said on this subject, that his rare and piercing obser­vation hath not anticipated. Were it needful to wander to Foreigners for Testimonies I could tell you how highly this Author is esteemed by the Learned and Famous Doctor Andr. Rivet, upon whole importunity his Book des Images and other Tracts have been translated: but writing to Englishmen I will only name the judicious Doctor Jer. Taylor Libert. of Proph. Sect. 8. n. 4. in these words, I shall chuse such a topick as makes no invasion upon the great reputation of the Fathers, which I desire should be preserved sacred as it ought. For other things let who please read Mr. Daillé du vrai usage des Peres.

Et siquis eueulo locus inter Oscines, I must ingenuously pro­fess, that it was the reading of this rational Book which first convinced me that my study in the French Language was not ill employed, which hath also enabled me to com­mend this to the World, as faithfully translated by a judi­cious hand. And that if there were no other use of the Fa­thers, there is very much, while, Testem quem quis adducit pro se, tenetur accipere contra se, is a rule in reason, as well as Civil Law: and that the works of Cord. Perron. (for whose monstrous understanding [they are the words of Viscount Faulkland p. 59.] Bellarmine and Bironius might, with most advantage to their party, and no disgrace to them, have been employed in seeking citations) being built upon the principle. That whatever the Fathers witness to be tradition and the doctrine of the Church must be received of all for such and so relied on. And this principle being here through­ly examined. You have here as sufficient a constitation of Perrons Book against K. J. and by consequence of the Mar­quess of Worcesters against K. C. and Dr. Vanes, and other Epitonizers of the Cardinal, as you have of Mr. Cressys in the Preface to the Lord Faulkland, by the learned I. P.

T. S.

THE PREFACE.

ALl the Difference in Religion, which is at this day betwixt the Church of Rome and the Prote­stants, lies in some certain Points which the Church of Rome maintaineth as important, and necessary Articles of the Christian Faith: Whereas the Pro­testants, on the contrary, neither believe, nor will receive them for such. For, as for those things which the Prote­stants believe, for their part; and which they conceive to be the Fundamentals of Religion; they are so evidently, and undeniably such, as that even their Adversaries them­selves do also allow of, and receive them, as well as they: for as much as they are both clearly delivered in the Scri­ptures, and expresly set down by the Ancient Councils and Fathers; and are indeed unanimously received by the great­est part of Christians in all Ages, and Parts of the World. Such, for example, are these Maxims following: Namely, That there is a God, who is Supreme over all, and who crea­ted the Heavens and the Earth. That having created Man after his own Image, this Man, revolting from his Obedience, is faln, together with his whole Posterity, into most extreme and eternal misery, and become infected with Sin, as with a mortal Leprosie, and is therefore obnoxious to the Wrath of God, and liable to his Curse. That the Merciful Creator, pi­tying Mans Estate, graciously sent his Son Jesus Christ into the World: That his Son is God Eternal with him, and that having taken Flesh upon himself in the Womb of the Virgin Mary, and become Man; He hath done and suffered, in this Flesh, all things necessary for our Salvation, having by this means sufficiently expiated for our Sins, by his Blood: and that having finished all this, he is ascended again into Hea­ven, [Page] and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; from whence He shall one day come, to judge all Mankind, rendering to every one according to their Works. That to enable us to communicate of his Salvation, by His Merits, He sendeth us down His Holy Spirit, proceeding both from the Father and the Son, and who is also one and the same God with Them; in such sort, as that these Three Persons are notwithstanding but One GOD, who is Blessed for ever. That this Spirit en­lightens our Ʋnderstanding, and begets Faith in us, where­by we are justified. That after all this, the LORD sent his Apostles, to Preach this Doctrine of Salvation throughout the whole World. That These have planted Churches, and pla­ced in each of them Pastors, and Teachers; whom we are to hear with all reverence, and to receive from them Baptism, the Sacrament of our Regeneration; and the Holy Eucha­rist, or Lords Supper, which is the Sacrament of our Com­munion with Jesus Christ. That we are likewise all of us bound to love GOD, and our Neighbour, very fervently; ob­serving diligently that Holy Doctrine which is laid down unto us in the Books of the New Testament, which have been inspired by His Spirit of Truth; as also those other of the Old; there being nothing, either in the one, or in the other, but what is most true. These Articles, and some other few the like, which there perhaps may be, are the substance of the Protestants whole Belief: and if all other Christians would but content themselves with these, there would never be any Schism in the Church. But now their Adversaries add to these, many other Points, which they press, and command Men to believe, as necessary ones, and such, as without be­lieving of which, there is no possible hope of Salvation. As for example: That the Pope of Rome is the Head, and Su­preme Monarch of the whole Christian Church throughout the World. That He, or at least the Church which he ac­knowledgeth a true one, cannot possibly erre in matter of Faith. That the Sacrament of the Eucharist is to be ado­red, as being really Jesus Christ, and not a piece of Bread. That the Mass is a Sacrifice, that really expiates the Sins [Page] of the Faithful. That Christians may, and ought to have in their Churches the Images of God, and of Saints, to which they are to use Religious Worship, bowing down before them. That it is lawful, and also very useful, to pray to Saints de­parted, and to Angels. That our Souls after death, before they enter into Heaven, are to pass through a certain Fire, and there to endure grievous Torments; thus satisfying for their Sins. That one neither may, nor ought to receive the holy Eucharist, without having first confessed himself in pri­vate to a Priest. That none, but the Priest himself that con­secrated the Eucharist, is bound by right to receive it in both kinds: And a great number of other Opinions, which their Adversaries protest plainly, That they cannot with a safe conscience believe. And these Points are the ground of the whole Difference betwixt them; the one Party pretending, That they have been believed, and received by the Church of Christ in all Ages, as revealed by him: and the other main­taining the contrary. Now seeing that, none of these Tenets having any ground from any Passage in the New Testament (which is the most Ancient and Authentick Rule of Christi­anity) the Maintainers are fain to fly to the Writings of the Doctors of the Church, which lived within the four or five first Centuries after the Apostles, who are commonly cal­led the Fathers; my purpose is in this Treatise to examine, whether or no this be a good and sufficient means, for the de­cision of these Differences. And for this purpose, I must first presuppose two things, which any reasonable Person will ea­sily grant me. The first is, That the Question being here about laying a Foundation for certain Articles of Faith, upon the Testimonies or Opinions of the Fathers, it is very necessary that the Passages which are produced out of them, be clear, and not to be doubted of; that is to say, such as we cannot reasonably scruple at, either touching the Au­thor out of whom they are alledged, or the Sense of the Place, whether it signifie what is pretended to. For a De­position of a Witness, and the Sentence of a Judge, being of no value at all, save onely for the reputation of the Witness, [Page] or Judge; it is most evident, that if either proceed from Persons unknown, or suspected, they are invalid, and prove nothing at all. In like manner, if the Deposition of a Wit­ness, or Sentence of a Judge be obscure, and in doubtful Terms, it is clear, that in this case the Business must rest un­decided, there being another Doubt first to be cleared, namely, What the meaning of either of them was. The se­cond Point that I shall here lay down for a Foundation to the ensuing Discourse, is no less evident than the former; namely, That to allow a sufficiency to the Writings of the Fathers, for the deciding of these Controversies, we must necessarily attribute to their Persons very great Authority, and such as may oblige us to follow their Judgment in Mat­ters of Religion. For, if this Authority be wanting, how clear and express soever their Opinions be, in the Articles now controverted, it will do nothing at all toward their Decision. We have therefore here two things to examine in this Business: The first is, Whether or not we may be able now certainly and clearly to know, what the Opinion of the Fathers hath been touching the Differences now in hand. The second, Whether their Authority be such, as that what­ever faithful Person shall clearly and certainly know what their Opinion hath been in any one Article of Christian Re­ligion, he is thereby bound to receive that Article for True. For, if the Church of Rome be but able to prove both these Points, it is then without all dispute, that their Proceeding is good, and agreeable to the End proposed, there being so many of the Ancient Fathers Writings alledged at this day by them. But if, on the contrary side, either of these Two things, or both of them, be indeed found to be doubtful, I should think that any Man of a very mean Judgment, should be able to conclude of himself, That this way of Proof, which they have hitherto made use of, is very insuffi­cient; and that therefore they of necessity ought to have recourse to some other more proper and solid way in the Proof of the Truth of the said Opinions, which the Prote­stants will not by any means receive.

THE FIRST BOOK.

CHAP. I.

REASON I. Touching the Difficulty of knowing the Sense of the Fathers, in reference to the present Controversies in Religion; drawn from hence: Namely, Because there is very little extant of Their Writings, for the Three First Centuries.

IF we should in this particular take the same course, which some Writers of the Church of Rome make use of against the Holy Scriptures, it would be a very easie matter to bring in question, and render very doubtful, and suspected, all the Writings of the Fathers. For, when any one alledgeth the Old or New Testament, these Gentlemen presently demand, How, or by what means they know, that any such Books were truly written by those Prophets, and Apostles, under whose Names they go. If therefore, in like manner, when these Men urge Justin, Irenaeus, Ambrose, Augustine, and the like, one should take them short, and demand of them, How, and by what means they are assured, that these Fathers were the Authors of those Writings, which at this day go under their Names, it is very much to be doubted but that they would find a harder Task of it, than their Adversaries, in justifying the Inscriptions of the Books of Holy Writ; the Truth whereof is much [Page 2] more easie to be demonstrated, than of any Humane Writings whatsoever. But I pass by this too-artificial way of Proceeding, and onely say, That it is no very easie matter to find out, by the Writings of the Fathers, what hath really beeen their Opinion, in any of those Controversies which are now in debate, betwixt the Protestant and the Church of Rome. The Considera­tions which render the knowledge of this so difficult, are many: I shall therefore in this First Part handle some of them onely, referring the rest to the Later, ex­amining them one after another.

The first Reason, therefore, which I shall lay down for the proving of this Difficulty, is, The little we have ex­tant of the Writings of the Ancient Fathers, especially of the First, Second, and Third Centuries; which are those we are most especially to regard. For, seeing that one of the principal Reasons that moveth the Church of Rome to alledge the Writings of the Fathers, is to shew the Truth of their Tenets, by the Antiquity, which they reckon as a Mark of it; it is most evident, that the most Ancient ought to be the most taken notice of. And in­deed, there is no question to be made, but that the Chri­stian Religion was more pure, and without mixture, in its beginnings and Infancy, than it was afterwards, in its Growth and Progress: it being the ordinary course of Things, to contract Corruptions, more or less, according as they are more or less removed from their first Institu­tion: As we see by experience in States, Laws, Arts, and Languages; the Natural Propriety of all which is con­tinually declining, after they have once passed the Point of their Vigour, and, as it were, the Flower and Prime of their Strength and Perfection. Now I cannot believe, that any faithful Christian will deny, but that Christia­nity was in its Height and Perfection in the time of the Blessed Apostles: And indeed it would be the greatest injury that could be offered them, to say, that any of their Successors have either had a greater desire, or more Abi­lities, [Page 3] to advance Christianity, than they had. It will hence follow then, That those Times which were nearest to the Apostles, were necessarily the purest, and less subject to suspicion of Corruptions, either in Doctrine, or in Manners, and Christian Discipline: it being but reasonable to believe, that if there be any Corruptions crept into the Church, they came in by little and little, and by degrees; as it happens in all other things. If any one shall here object, That even the very next Age im­mediately after the times of the Apostles was not with­out its Errours, if we may believe Hegesippus; who, as he is cited by Eusebius, Euseb. Hist. Eccles lib. 3. cap. 29. [...]. witnesseth, that the Church continued a Virgin till the Emperour Trajan's time; but, that after the death of the Apostles, the Conspiracy of Errour began to discover it self with open fce. I shall not oppose any thing against this testimony; but shall only say, that if the Enemy, immediately upon the setting of these Stars of the Church, their Presence and Light being scarcely shut in, had yet the boldness presently to fall to sowing his evil seed; how much more had he opportunity to do this in those. Ages which were further removed from their Times; when as the Sanctity and Simplicity of these great Teachers of the World having now by little and little vanished out of the memories of Men, Humane Inventions, and new Fancies began to take place. So that we may however conclude, That sup­posing that Christianity, even in the First Ages, hath not been altogether exempt from alteration in Doctrine; yet are they much more free from it, than the succeeding Ages can pretend to be; and are therefore consequently to be preferred before them in all respects: it being here something like what the Poets have fancied of the Four Ages of the World, where the succeeding Age always [Page 4] came short of the former.Cassand. Con­sult. Ferdinan. p 894. Perron. Epist. to Casaub. For, as for the Opinion of those Men, who think the best way to find out the true Sense of the Ancient Church, will be, to search the Writings of those of the Fathers chiefly who lived be­twixt the time of Constantine the Great, till Pope Leo, or till Pope Gregory's time; that is to say, from the end of the Third Century, till the beginning of the Seventh: I take this as a Confession onely of the small number of Books that are left us of those Ages before Constantine; and not that these Men allow, that the Authority of these Three later Ages, ought to be preferred to that of the Three former. If we had but as much Light, and as clear Evidences of the Belief of the one, as we have of the other, I make no question but they would prefer the Former. But if they mean otherwise, and are indeed of a perswasion, that the Church was really more pure af­ter Constantine's time, than before; they must excuse me, if I think that they by this means confess the distrust they have of their own Cause, seeing they endeavour to get off as far as they can from the Light of the Primitive times; retreating back to those Ages wherein it is most evident there was both less Perfection, and Light, than before: running clean contrary to that excellent Rule which S.Cypr. ep. 74. p. 195. Cyprian hath given us; That we should have recourse to the Fountain, whenever the Channel and Stream of Doctrine, and Ecclesiastical Tradition is found to be any whit corrupted. But however, let their mean­ing be what it will, their Words, in my judgment, do not a little advantage the Protestants Cause; it being a very clear confession, That those Opinions about which they contest with them, do not at all appear clearly in any of the Books that were written during the Three First Centuries. For, if they were found clearly in the same, what Policy were it then in them to appeal to the Writers of the Three following Centuries, to which they very well know, that their Adversaries attri­bute less, than to the Former? But besides this tacite [Page 5] Confession of theirs, the thing is evident; namely, That there is left us at this day very little of the Writings of the Fathers of the Three First Centuries of Christianity, for the deciding of our Differences. The blessed Christi­ans of those times contented themselves, for the greatest part of them, with writing the Christian Faith in the hearts of Men, by the beams of their Sanctity, and holy Life, and by their Blood shed in Martyrdom, without much troubling themselves with the writing of Books: Whether it were,Orig▪ Praef Operis contra Cels. p. 1, 2. because, as Learned Origen elegantly gives the Reason, they were of opinion that the Christi­an Religion was to be defended by the Innocency of Life, and honesty of Conversation, rather than by Sophistry, and the Artifice of Words: or whether, because their continual Sufferings gave them not leisure to take Pen in hand, and to write Books; or else, whether it were for some other Reason perhaps, which we know not. But this we are very well assured of, that except the Wri­tings of the Apostles, there was very little written by others in these Primitive times: which was the cause of so much trouble to Eusebius in the beginning of his Hi­story,Euseb. Hist Ec­cles. l. 1. c. 1. [...]. having little or no light to guide him in his Under­taking, and treading, as himself saith, in a new path, un­beaten by any that had gone before him. Besides, the great­est part of those few Books which were written by the Christians of those Times, have not come down to our hands, but were lost, either through the injury of Time, that consumeth all things, or else have been made away by the malice of Men, who have made bold to suppress and smother whatsoever they met with, that was not wholly to their gust. Of this sort were those five Books of Papias Bishop of Hierapolis, the Apology of Qua­dratus Atheniensis, and that other of Aristides, the Wri­tings of Castor Agrippa, against the XXIV Books of the Heretick Basilides, the five Books of Hegesippus, the Works of Melito Bishop of Sardis, Dionysius Bishop of Corinth, Apollinaris Bishop of Hierapolis, the Epistle of [Page 6] Pinytus Cretensis, the Writings of Philippus, Musanus, Modestus, Bardesanes, Pantaenus, Rhodon, Miltiades, Apol­lonius, Serapion, Bacchylus, Polycrates Bishop of Ephesus, Heraclius, Maximus, Hammonius, Tryphon, Hippolytus, Julius, Africanus, Dionysius Alexandrinus, and others of whom we have no more left, save onely their Names, and the Titles of their Books, which are preserved in Eusebius, Hieron l. de Scriptor. &c. Euseb. in hist. passim. Tertul. aliquorum me­minit. S. Hierome, and others. All that we have left us of these Times, which is certainly known to be theirs, and that no Man doubts of, is, some certain Discourses of S. Justin the Philosopher and Martyr, who wrote his second Apology a hundred and fifty years after the Na­tivity of our Saviour Christ; the Five Books of S. Ire­naeus, who wrote not long after him; Three excellent and learned Pieces of Clemens Alexandrinus, who lived toward the end of the second Century; divers Books of Tertullian, who was famous about the same time: the Epistles and other Treatises of S. Cyprian Bishop of Carthage, who suffered Martyrdom about the year of our Saviour CCLXI, the Writings of Arnobius, and of Lactantius his Scholar, and some few others. For, as for Origen, S. Cyprian's Contemporary, who alone, had we but all his Writings entire, would be able perhaps to give us more light and satisfaction in the Business we are now upon, than all the rest; we have but very little of him left us, and the greatest part of that too most mise­rably abused, and corrupted; the most learned, and al­most innumerable Writings of this great and incompara­ble Person, not being able to withstand the violence of Time, nor the envy and malice of Men, who have dealt much worse with him, than so many Ages, and Centu­ries of Years that have passed, from his time down to us. And thus have I given you an account of well-nigh all that we have left us, which is certainly known to have been written by the Fathers of the Three First Centuries. For, as for those other Pieces which are pretended to have been written in the same times, but are indeed either [Page 7] confessed to be supposititious by the Romanists themselves, or are rejected by their Adversaries, and that upon very good and probable grounds; these are not to have any place at all, or account here, in clearing the Controversie we have now in hand.

The Writings of the Fourth and Fifth Centuries have, I confess, out-gone the Former for number, and good fortune too; the greatest part of them having come down safe to our Hands: but they come much short of the other in Weight and Authority; especially in the Judgment of the Protestants, who maintain, and that upon very probable Grounds too, That the Christian Re­ligion hath from the beginning had its declinings by lit­tle and little, losing in every Age some certain degree of its Primitive and Native Purity. And besides, we have good cause perhaps to fear, lest the multitude of Wri­ters of these two Ages trouble us as much, as the pauci­ty of them in the three preceding; and that, as before we suffered under scarcity, we now be overwhelmed with their multitude. For, the multitude of Words, and of Books, serves as much sometimes to the suppressing of the Sense and Opinion of any Publick Body, as Silence it self; our Minds being then extremely confounded, and perplexed, while it labours to apprehend what is the True and Common Opinion of the Whole, amidst so many differently-biassed Particulars, whereof each en­deavours to express the same: it being most certain, that amongst so great and almost infinite variety of Spirits, and Tongues, you shall very hardly meet with two Per­sons, that shall deliver to you one and the same Opinion, (especially in Matters of so high a nature, as the Contro­versies in Religion are) after the same form and way of representation, how unanimous soever their Consent may otherwise be in the same Opinion. And this Vari­ety, although it be but in the Circumstances of the thing, makes notwithstanding the Foundation it self to appear different also.

CHAP. II.

Reason II. That those Writings which we have of the Fathers of the First Centuries, treat of Matters very far different from the pre­sent Controversies in Religion.

BUt suppose that neither the want of Books in the Three First Centuries, nor yet the abundance of them in the Three following, should bring along with it these inconveniences; it will however be very hard to discover out of them, what the Opinion of their Authors hath been, touching those Points of Christian Religion now controverted. For the Matters whereof They treat, are of a very different nature; these Authors, according as the necessity of their times required, employing them­selves either in justifying the Christian Religion, and vin­dicating it from the aspersion of such Crimes where­with it was most falsly and injuriously charged; or else in laying open to the World the Absurdity▪ and Im­piety of Paganism; or in convincing the hard-hearted Jews; or in confuting the prodigious Fooleries of the Hereticks of those times; or in exhortations to the Faith­ful to Patience and Martyrdom; or in expounding some certain Passages and Portions of the Holy Scripture: all which things have very little to do with the Controver­sies of these times, of which they never speak Sylla­ble, unless they accidentally or by chance let a Word drop from them, toward this side, or that side, yet without the least thought of us, or of our Controver­sies; although both the one and the other Party some­times lights upon Passages, wherein they conceive they have discovered their own Opinions clearly delivered, [Page 9] though in vain for the most part, and without ground: just as he did, that hearing a Ring of Bells, thought they perfectly [...]ounded out unto him, what he in his own thoughts had fancied. Justin Martyr, and Tertullian, Theophilus, and Lactantius, Clemens, and Arnobius, shew the Heathen the vainness of their Religion, and of their gods; and that Jupiter and Juno were but Mortals, and that there is but one onely God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Irenaeus bends his whole Forces against the prodigious Opinions of Basilides, the Valentinians, and other G [...]osticks, who were the Inventors of the most Chimaerical Divinity that ever came into the fancy of Man. Tertullian also whips them, as they well deserve it; but he especially takes Marcion, Herm [...]genes, Apelles, Praxcas▪ and others, to task; who maintained, That there were Two Gods, or Two Principles, and confounded the Persons of the Father and the Son. Cyprian is whol­ly upon the Discipline and the Vertues of the Christian Church. Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Photinus, Pela­gius, and afterwards Nestorius and Eutyches, made work for the Fathers of the Fourth and Fifth Centuries. The Blasphemies of these Men against the Person or the Na­tures of our Saviour Christ, or against the Holy Ghost and its Grace, which have now of a long time lay buried, and forgotten, were the Matters debated in those times, and the subject of the greatest part of the Books then written, that have come to our Hands. What relation hath any thing of all this to the Business of Transubstan­tiation, and the Adoration of the Eucharist, or the Mo­narchy of the Pope, or the Necessity of Auricular Con­fession, or the Worshipping of Images, and the like Points, which are the Business of the present Controver­sies, and which none of the Ancients hath handled ex­presly, and of set purpose; and perhaps too never so much as thought of? It is very true indeed, that the si­lence of these Fathers in these Points, which some set so much by, is not wholly mute; and perhaps also it may [Page 10] pass for a very clear Testimony: but certainly not on their side who maintain them affirmatively. But how­ever, this is a most certain truth, That throughout the whole Body of the genuine Writings of these Fathers, you shall not meet with any thing expresly urged, either for or against the greatest part of these Opinions. I shall most willingly confess, That the belief of every Wise man makes up but One entire Body, the Parts whereof have a certain correspondence and relation to each other; in such sort, as that a Man may be able, by those things which he delivers expresly, to give a guess what his Opinion is touching other things, which he declares himself not at all in: it being a thing utterly improbable that he maintains any one Position which shall manifest­ly clash with his other Tenets, or that he rejects any thing that necessarily followeth upon them. But besides that this manner of Disputation presupposeth, that the Belief of the Ancient Fathers hangs all close together, no one Position contradicting another, but having all its Parts united, and depending one upon another; which notwithstanding is not altogether unquestionable, as we shall shew elsewhere: Besides all this, I say, it re­quireth also a sharp piercing Wit, which readily and clearly apprehends the Connexions of each several Point; an excellent Memory, to retain faithfully whatever Po­sitions the Ancients have maintained; and a solid Judg­ment, free from all pre-occupation, to compare them with the Tenets maintained at this day: And what Man soever is endued with all these Qualities, I shall account him the fittest Man to make profitable Use of the Wri­tings of the Fathers, and the likeliest of any to search into the bottom of them. But the mischief of it is, that Men so qualified, are very rare, and hard to be found. I shall add here,Gontery, Veron, and others. That if you will believe some certain Writers of the Church of Rome, this whole Method is vain and useless; as is also that which makes use of Ar­gumentation, and Reason; means which are insufficient, [Page 11] and unable (in the judgment of these Doctors) to bring us to any certainty, especially in Matters of Religion, wherein, their Opinion is, we are to rely upon clear and express Texts onely. So that, according to this ac­count▪ we will not, if we be wife, believe that the Fathers held any of the aforenamed Points, unless we can find them in express terms delivered in their Writings; that is to say, in the very same terms that we read them in the Decrees and Canons of the Council of Trent. Seeing then that according to the Opinion of these Men, those Testimonies onely are to be received, which are express, and likewise, that of these Points now controverted, there is searcely any thing found expresly delivered by the Fathers: we may, in my Opinion, very Logically and reasonably conclude, that it is, if not an impossible, yet at least a very difficult thing (according to these Men) to come to the certain knowledge of the Opinion of the Ancients, touching the greatest part of the Tenets of the Church of Rome, which are at this day rejected by the Protestants.

CHAP. III.

Reason III. That those Writings which go under the Names of the Ancient Fathers, are not all truly such; but a great part of them suppositions, and forged, either long since, or of later Times.

I Come now to more important Considerations; these two former, though they are not in themselves to be despised, or neglected, being yet but trivial ones in re­spect of those which follow. For there is so great a con­fusion in the most part of these Books whereof we speak, [Page 12] that it is a very hard thing truly to find out who were their Authors, and what the Meaning and Sense of them is. The first Difficulty proceeds from the infinite number of Forged Books, which are falsly attributed to the Ancient Fathers: The like having hapned also in all sorts of Learning and Sciences; insomuch that the Cri­ticks at this day are sufficiently troubled in discovering, both in Philosophy, and Humanity, which are forged and supposititious Pieces, and which are true and legitimate. But this Abuse hath not reigned any where more grosly, and taken to it self more liberty, than toward the Ecclesi­astical Writers. All Men complain on this, both on the one side, and on the other, and labour all they can to de­liver us from these Confusions, though oftentimes with little success, by reason of the eagerness of their Passion, by which they are carried away, ordinarily judging of Books according to their own Interest, rather than the Truth, and rejecting all those that any whit contra­dict them; but defending those which speak of their side, how good or bad soever they otherwise chance to be. So that, to say the truth, they judge not of their own Opinions by the Writings of the Fathers, but of the Writings of the Fathers by their own Opinions. If they speak with Us, it is then Cyprian and Chrysostome; if not, it is some Ignorant Modern Fellow, or else some Malicious Person, who would fain cover his own filthi­ness under the rich Garment of these excellent Persons. Now if it were Passion onely that rendered the Business obscure, we should be able easily to quit our hands of it, by stripping it, and laying it open to the World▪ and all moderate Men would find enough to rest satisfied with. But the worst of it is, that this Obscurity oftentimes falls out to be in the things themselves; so that it is a very hard, and sometimes an impossible thing, to clear them; whether it be by reason of the Antiquity of the Errour, or else by reason of the near resemblance of the [...]alse to the True. For these Forgeries are not new, and of yester­yesterday; [Page 13] but the Abuse hath been on foot above four­teen hundred years. It is the complaint of the greatest part of the Fathers, That the Hereticks, to gain their own Dreams the greater Authority,Hegesippus a­pud Euseb. l. 4. c. 22. vented them under the Names of some of the most eminent Writers in the Church, and even of the Apostles themselves. Amphi­lochius Bishop of Iconium, who was so much esteemed by the great S.Concil. 7. Act. 5. Tom. 3 p. 552. Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea, wrote a particular Tract on this Subject, alledged by the Fathers of the Seventh Council, against a certain Passage produ­ced by the Iconoclasts out of I know not what idle Trea­tise, entituled, The Travels of the Apostles. And I would to God that Tract of this Learned Prelate were now ex­tant! if it were, it would perhaps do us good service in discovering the Vanity of very many ridiculous Pieces, which now pass up and down the World under the Names of the Primitive and most Ancient Christians. S.Hier. l de scrip. Eccles Tom. 1. p. 346 B. & 350. C. Hierome rejecteth divers Apocryphal Books, which are published under the Names of the Apostles, and of their first Disciples; as namely, of S. Peter, of Barnabas, and others. The Gospel of S. Thomas, and the Epistle to the Laodiceans, Concil 7. Act 6. are put in the same rank by the Seventh Council. Now if these wretched Knaves have been thus sawcy with the Apostles, as to make use of Their Names, how much more likely is it, that they would not stick to make as bold with the Fathers? And indeed this kind of Imposture hath always been very ordinary. Thus we read,Concil. 5. Col­lat. 6. That the Nestorians sometime published an Epi­stle under the Name of S. Cyril of Alexandria, in the de­fence of Theodorus Bishop of Mopsuestia, who was the Author and first Broacher of their Heresie:Marian. ep ad. Mon. Alex. ad calcem Concil. [...]halc. T. 2. p. 450. E. Leont. lib. ex­tat. Bibl. SS. PP. T 4 part. 2. and like­wise that the Eutychists also vented certain Books of Apollinaris, under the Title of The Orthodox Doctors, one­ly to abuse the simple People. Leontius hath written an express Tract on this Subject; wherein he shews, That these Men abused particularly the Names of S. Gregory of Neocaesarea, of Julius Bishop of Rome, and of Athana­sius, [Page 14] Bishop of Alexandria: and he also saith particularly, That the Book entituled, [...], A parti­cular Exposition of the Faith, which is delivered unto us by Turrianus the Jesuite,Greg. Thaumat. op. Par. ann. 1622. pag. 97. ubi vide Voss. Gerardus Vossius, and the last Edition of Gregorius Neocaesariensis, for a true and legi­timate Piece of the said S. Gregory, is not truly his, but the Bastard Issue of the Heretick Apollinaris. And the like Judgment do the Publishers of the Bibliotheca Pa­trum give of the XII Anathema's, Bibl. SS. PP. T. 1. Gr. Lat. which are common­ly attributed to the same S. Gregory. The Monothelites also, taking the same course, forged an Oration under the Name of Menas Patriarch of Constantinople, Concil. 6. Act. 3. & Act. 14. T. 3. Concil. and di­rected to Vigilius Bishop of Rome: and two other Books under the Name of the same Vigilius, directed to Justinian and Theodora; wherein their Heresie is in ex­press terms delivered: and these three Pieces were after­ward inserted into the Body of the Fifth Council, and kept in the Library of the Patriarch's Palace in Constanti­nople. Concil. 6. Act. 3. & Act. 14. T. 3. Concil. But this Imposture was discovered, and convinced in the VI Council: for otherwise, who would not have been deceived by it, seeing these false Pieces in so Au­thentick a Copy? I bring but these few Examples, to give the Reader but a taste onely of what the Hereticks not onely dared, but were able also to do, in this par­ticular: and all these things were done before the end of the Seventh Century, that is to say, above nine hun­dred years ago. Since which time, in all the Disputes about the Images in Churches,Concil. 7. Act. 6. Refut. Icono­clast. Tom. 5. and in the differences be­twixt the Greek and Latine Churches, and indeed in the most part of all other Ecclesiastical Contestations, you shall find nothing more frequent, than the mutual Re­proaches that the several Parties cast at each other,Concil. Florent. Sess. 20. T. 4. accu­sing each other of forging the Pieces of Authors which they produced each of them in defence of their own Cause. Judge you therefore, whether or not the Here­ticks, using the same Artifice, and the same Diligence▪ now for the space of so many Centuries since, though in [Page 15] different Causes, may not in all probability have furnish­ed us with a sufficient stock of spurious Pieces, sent abroad under the Names of the Ancient Fathers, by their professed Enemies? And do but think whether or no we may not chance to converse with an Heretick sometimes, when we think we have a Father before us; and a pro­fessed Enemy, disguised under the mask of a Friend? So that it will hence follow, That it may justly be feared, that we sometimes receive and deliver for Maxims and Opinions of the Ancient Church, no better than the ve­ry Dreams of the Ancient Hereticks. For we must con­ceive, that they were not so foolish, as to discover their Venom at the first dash, in the height of their Heretical Positions; but rather, that they onely cunningly cast in here and there some sprinklings of it, laying the foun­dation of their Heresie as it were afar off onely; which makes the Knavery the more hard to be discovered, and so consequently the more dangerous. But supposing that this Jugling Trick of the Hereticks may have very much corrupted the Old Books; yet notwithstanding, had we no other spurious Pieces than what had been forged by them, it would be no very hard matter to distinguish the True from the False. But that which renders the Evil almost uncurable, is, that even in the Church it self this kind of Forgery hath been both very Ordinary, and very Ancient. I impute a great part of the cause of this Mischief to those Men, who before the Invention of Printing, were the Transcribers and Co­piers out of Manuscripts: of whose negligence and bold­ness in corrupting of Books, S. Hierome very much com­plained even in his time:Hier. Ep. 28. ad Lucin. Tom. 1. Scribunt (saith he) non quod in­veniunt, sed quod intelligunt; & dum alienos errores emen­dare nituntur, ostendunt suos: That is, They write, not what they find, but what they understand; and whilst they en­deavour to correct other Mens Errors, they shew their own. We may very well presume, that what liberty these Men took in corrupting, they took the same in forging Books [Page 16] too: especially since this last course was beneficial to them, which the other was not. For by altering or corrupting the Books they wrote, they could not make any advantage to themselves: whereas in forging new Books, and venting them under great and eminent Names, they put them off both faster and dearer. So likewise if there came to their hands any Book, that had either no Authors Name; or having any, it was but an obscure, or a tainted one: to the end that these evil Marks might not prejudice the venting of it, they would rase it out without any more ado, and inscribe it present­ly with some one of the most Eminent and Venerable Names that was in the Church; that so the Reputation and Favour that That Name had found in the World, might be a means of the better putting off their false Wares. As for example: The Name of Novatianus, who was the Head of a Schism against the Roman Church, became justly to be odious to Christian ears; as that of Tertullian was the more esteemed, both for the Age, Wit, and Learning of the Person. Now the Transcri­ber considering this with himself, without any other design, or end, than onely of his own private Gain, hath, in my judgment, made an exchange, attributing to Tertullian that Book of the Trinity, which is indeed Novatianus his; as we are given to understand also by S.Hier. Apol. 2. contr. Ruff. Hierome. And I am of opinion, that both the birth and fortune of that other Piece De Poenitentia hath been, if not the very same, yet at least not much unlike that of the other. So likewise that Book which beareth Title, De Operibus Cardinalibus Christi, Auctor operis, De Operibus Card. Christi, inter Cyprian. oper. p. 444. which was compo­sed and sent by the Author of it to one of the Popes, without setting down his Name, as himself there te­stifies, hath been vented abroad under the Name of S. Cyprian, onely because by this means it is the more profitable to the Manuscript-monger; and it hath for­merly always passed, and doth still pass for his; not­withstanding that, in my judgment, it is clear enough, [Page 17] that it cannot be his, as is ingenuously confessed byErasmus in e­dit. Cypr. suâ Sixtus Senens. Biblioth. lib. 4. Bellar. de Eu­char. l 2. cap. 9. De amiss. grat. l. 6. c. 2. P [...]sse­vin. in Apparat. Scult. Medulla Patr. Andr. Ri­vet. l. 2. c. 15. Crit. Sacr. Aubert. de Eu­char. l. 2. c. 8. ve­ry many of the Learned, both of the one, and of the other side. Ruffinus had some Name in the Church; though no­thing near so great a one as Cyprian had: and this is the reason why the afore-named Merchants have inscribed with S. Cyprian's Name that Treatise upon the Apostles Creed, which was written by Ruffinus. Besides the Avarice of these Librarii, their own Ignorance, or at least of those whom they consulted, hath in like manner pro­duced no small number of these spurious Pieces. For when either the likeness of the Name, or of the Stile, or of the Subject treated of, or any other seeming Reason, gave them occasion to believe, that such an Anonymous Book was the Work of such or such an ancient Author, they presently copied it out under the said Author's Name; and thus it came from thenceforth to be received by the World for such, and by them to be delivered for such, over to Posterity. But all the blame is not to be laid upon the Transcribers onely, in this particular: the Au­thors themselves have contributed very much to the pro­moting of this kind of Imposture. For there have been found in all Ages some that have been so sottishly am­bitious, and so desirous, at what rate soever, to have their Conceptions published to the World, as that find­ing they should never be able to please, and get applause abroad of themselves, they have vented them under the Name of some of the Fathers; chusing rather to see them received, and honoured, under this false Habit, than disdained, and slighted, under their own true one. These Men, according as their several Abilities have been, have imitated the Stile and Fancy of the Fathers, either more or less happily; and have boldly presented these Issues of their own Brain to the World, under their Names. The World, the greatest part whereof hath always been the least subtile, hath very readily collected, preser­ved, and cherished these false Births, and hath by de­grees filled all their Libraries with them. Others have [Page 18] been moved to use the same Artifice, not out of Ambiti­on but some other irregular Fancy, as those Men have done, who, having had a particular affection either to such a Person, or to such an Opinion, have faln to write of the same, under the Name of some Author of good Esteem and Reputation with the World, to make it pass the more currantly abroad: Just as that Priest did, who published a Book entituled,Hier. de script. Eccl. Tom. 1. p. 350. Ex Tertul. li. de Baptismo, cap. 17. The Acts of S. Paul, and of Tecla; and being convinced of being the Author of it, in the presence of S. John, he plainly confessed, that the love that he bare to S. Paul was the onely cause that mo­ved him to do it. Such was the boldness also of Ruffi­nus, Hier. l. 2. Apol. contr. Ruffin. Tom. 2. p. 334. & Ep. 69. T. 2. & Apol. contr. Ruff. ad Pam­mach. et Marc. Tom. 2. a Priest of Aquileia, (whom S. Hierome justly repre­hendeth so sharply, and in so many places) who to vin­dicate Origen's Honour, wrote an Apology for him, un­der the Name of Pamphilus, a holy and renowned Mar­tyr; although the truth of it is, he had taken it partly out of the First and Sixth Books that Eusebius had writ­ten upon the same Subject, and partly made use of his own Invention in it. Some such like Fancy it was, that moved him also to put forth the Life of one Sextus, a Pythagorean Philosopher,Hier. in Jerem. com. 4. tom. 4. under the Name of S. Sixtus the Martyr, to the end that the Work might be received the more favourably. What can you say to this? name­ly, That in the very same Age there was a Personage of greater Note than the former, who, disliking that Hie­rome had translated the Old Testament out of the He­brew, framed an Epistle under his Name, wherein he ma­keth him repent himself of having done it; which Epi­stle, even in S. Hierome's Life-time, though without his knowledge, was published by the said Author, both at Rome, and in Africk? Who could believe the truth of this bold attempt,Hier. l. 2. Apol. contra Ruffin. Tom. 2. had not S. Hierome himself related the Story, and made complaint of the Injury done him there­in? I must impute also to a Fancy of the same kind, though certainly more innocent than the other, the spreading abroad of so many Predictions of our Saviour [Page 19] Jesus Christ, and his Kingdom, under the Names of the Sibylls; which was done by some of the first Christians, onely to prepare the Pagans to relish this Doctrine the better;Orig contra Cels. lib. 7. as it is objected against them by Celsus, in Ori­gen. But, that which is of greater consequence yet, is, that even the Fathers themselves have sometimes made use of this Artifice, to promote the Interest either of their own Opinions, or their Passions. We have a no­table Example hereof, which was objected against the Latins by the Greeks, Concil. Flor. Sess. 2. p 457. above two hundred years since, of two Bishops of Rome, Zozimus and Boniface; who to authorize the Title which they pretended to have of being Universal Bishops, and Heads of the whole Chri­stian Church, and particularly of the African, forged, about the beginning of the Fifth Century, certain Ca­nons in the Council of Nice, and alledged them for such divers times,Concil. Afric. 6. cap. 3. in the Councils in Africa; which not­withstanding, after a long and diligent search, could ne­ver yet be found in any of the Authentick Copies of the said Council of Nice, although the African Bishops had taken the pains to send as far as Constantinople, Alexan­dria, and Antioch, to get the best and truest Copies that they could. Neither indeed have the Canons and Acts of the Council of Nice at this day, though it hath since that time passed through so many several hands, any such thing in it [...] no, not in the Editions of those very Men who are the most interested in the Honour of the Popes; as that of Dionysius Exiguus, who published his Latin Collection of them about the year of our Saviour Christ 525. nor in any other either Ancient or Modern. For at for that Authentick Copy of the Council of Nice, which one Frier John, Concil. Flor. Sess 20. at the Council of Florence, pre­tended to have been the onely Copy that had escaped the Corruptions of the Arrians, and had for this cause been always kept under Lock and Key at Rome, with all the safety and care that might be; out of which Copy they had transcribed the said Canons: I confess, this Co­py [Page 20] must needs have been kept up very close, under Locks and Seals, seeing that three of their Popes, namely, Zo­zimus, Boniface, and Celestine, could never be able to produce it, for the justification of their pretended Title, against the African Fathers, though in a case of so great Importance. And it is a wonderful strange thing to me, that this Man, who came a thousand years after, should now at last make use of it in this cause; whereas those very Persons who had it in their custody, never so much as mentioned one Syllable of it: which is an evident Ar­gument, that the Seals of this rare Book were never opened, save onely in the Brains of this Doctor, where onely it was both framed and sealed up, brought forth and vanished, all at the same instant; the greatest part of those Men that have come after him, having laid aside this Chimerical Invention, being ashamed to make use of it any longer. And to say truth, that which these Men answer, by way of excusing the said Popes, is not any whit more probable; namely, That they took the Council of Nice, and that of Sardica, in which those Canons they alledge are really found, for one and the same Council. For whom will these Men ever be able to perswade, That two Ecclesiastical Assemblies, betwixt which there passed near twenty two whole years, called by two several Emperors, and for Matters of a far diffe­rent nature; the one of them for the Explanation of the Christian Faith, and the other for the Re-establishing of two Bishops in their Thrones; and in Places very far di­stant from each other: the one at Nicaea in Bithynia, the other at Sardica, a City of Illyricum: the Canons of which two Councils are very different, both in sub­stance, number, and authority; the one of them having always been received generally by the whole Church; but the other having never been acknowledged by the Eastern Church; should yet notwithstanding be but one and the same Council? How can they themselves endure this, who are so fierce against the Greeks, for having [Page 21] offered to attribute (which they do notwithstanding with more appearance of truth) to the Sixth Council, those CII Canons which were agreed upon ten years af­ter at Constantinople, in an Assembly wherein one party of the Fathers of the Sixth Council met? How came it to pass that they gave any credit to the Ancient Church, seeing that in the Greek Collection of her Ancient Ca­nons, those of the Council of Sardica are quite left out; and in the Latin Collection of Dionysius Exiguus, made at Rome eleven hundred years since, they are placed, not with those of the Council of Nice, nor yet immediately after them, as if they all made up but one Body betwixt them:Codex Can. Ec. Ʋn. Dionys. Exig. p. 99. but are put in a place a great way behind, after the Canons of all the General Councils that had been held till that very time he lived in? And how comes it to pass, that these Ancient Popes, who alledged these Canons, if they believed these Councils to be both one, did not say so? The African Bishops had diverse and sundry times declared, That these Canons, which were by them alledged, were not at all to be found in their Copies. Certainly therefore, if those who had cited them, had thought the Council of Nice, and that of Sardica to have been both but one Council, they would no doubt have made answer, That [...] Canons were to be found in this pretended Second Part of the Council of Nice, among those which had been agreed upon at Sar­dica; especially when they saw that these careful Fa­thers, for the clearing of the Controversie betwixt them, had resolved to send to this purpose as far as Constantino­ple, and Alexandria. And yet for all this, there is not the least Syllable, tending this way, said by them. And certainly if the Canons of the Council of Sardica had been in those days reputed as a part of the Council of Nice, it is a very strange thing, that so many Learned and Religious Prelates as there were at that time in Africk, as namely▪ Aurelius, Alypius, and even S. Au­gustine, that glorious Light, not of the African onely, [Page 22] but of the whole Ancient Church, should have been so ignorant in this particular. But it is a wonder beyond all belief, that three Popes, and their Legates, should leave their Party in an Ignorance so gross, and so preju­dicial to their own Interest; it being in their power to have relieved them in two words. We may safely then conclude, That these Popes, Zozimus, and Boniface, had no other Copies of the Council of Nice, than what we have: and also, that they did not believe that the Canons of the Council of Sardica were a part of the Council of Nice; but that they rather purposely alledged some of the Canons of Sardica, under the name of the Canons of the Council of Nice. And this they did ac­cording to that Maxim which was in force with those of former times, and is not utterly laid aside even in our own; namely, That for the advancing of a Good and Godly Cause, it is lawful sometimes to use a little Deceit, and to have recourse to your Piae Fraudes. They therefore firmly believing as they did, That the Supremacy of their See, over all other Churches, was a Business of great im­portance, and would be very profitable to all Christen­dom; we are not to wonder, if for the establishing this right on themselvs, they made use of a little Legerdemain, alledging Sardica for Nice: reckoning with themselves, that if they brought their Design about, this small Fail­ing of theirs would in process of time be abundantly sa­tisfied for, by the benefit and excellency of the thing it self. Yet notwithstanding this Opposition made by the African Fathers against the Church of Rome, Pope Leo, not many years after,Leo in ep. ad Theodos. Imp. Tom. 2. Concil. writing to the Emperour Theodo­sius, did not forbear to make use of the old Forgery, ci­ting one of the Canons of the Council of Sardica, for a Legitimate Canon of the Council of Nice: which was the cause that the Emperour Valentinian also,Valentin. in ep. ad Theod. Tom. 2. Concil Galla Placid. in ep. ad Theodos. Tom. 2. and his Empress Galla Placidia, writing in the behalf of the said Pope Leo to the Emperour Theodosius, affirmed to him for a certain Truth, That both all Antiquity, and the Ca­nons [Page 23] of the Council of Nice also, had assigned to the Pope of Rome the Power of judging of Points of Faith; and of the Prelates of the Church; Leo having before possessed them, That this Canons of the Council of Sardica was one of the Canons of Nice. And thus, by a strong perseverance in this Pious Fraud, they have at length so fully perswaded a great part of Christendom, that the Council of Nice had established this Supremacy upon the Pope of Rome, that it is now generally urged by all of them, whenever this Point is controverted. I must crave pardon of the Reader, for having so long insisted on this Particular, and perhaps longer somewhat than my De­sign required: yet, in my judgment, it may be of no small importance to the Business in hand. For (will the Protestants here say) seeing that two Popes Bishops, and Princes, which all Christians have approved, have notwithstanding thus foisted in false Wares; what ought we to expect from the rest of the Bishops and Doctors? Since these Men have done this in the beginning of the Fifth Century, an Age of so high repute for its Faith and Doctrine, what have they not dared to do in the suc­ceeding Ages? If they have not forborn so foully to abuse the sacred Name of the Council of Nice, the most Illu­strious and Venerable Monument of Christianity, next to the Holy Scriptures; what other Authors can we imagine they would spare? And if in the face of so Renowned an Assembly, and in the presence of whatever Africk could shew of Eminency, both for Sanctity and Learning; and even under the eye of the great S. Augustine too, they made no conscience at all to make use of so gross a piece of Forgery; what have they not since, in these later Times, while the whole World for so many Ages lay covered with so thick darkness, dared to do? But as for my part, I shall neither accuse nor excuse at present these Mens Proceedings; but shall onely conclude; That seeing that the Writings of the Fathers, before they came to us, have passed through the hands of those who have some­times [Page 24] been found to use these jugling Tricks; it is not so easie a matter as People may imagine, to discover out of those Writings which now pass under the Names of the Fathers, what their Opinions were. The like Inclinati­ons produced the very same Effects in the Fifth Council;Concil. 5 Act. 5. Tom. 2. Concil. where a Letter forged under the Name of Theodoret, touching the Death of S. Cyril, was both read, and by a general silence approved by the whole Assembly; which yet notwithstanding was so evidently false, that those very Men who caused the Body of the General Councils to be Printed at Rome, have convinced it of falshood, and branded it as spurious. Such another precious Piece is that foolish Story of a Miracle wrought by an Image of our Saviour Christ in the City Berytus, which is related in very ample manner,Concil. 7. Act. 4. Tom. 3. Concil. in the VII Council, and goes forsooth, under the Name of S. Athanasius, but is indeed so tasteless a Piece, and so unworthy the Gallantry and clearness of that great Wit, that he must not be thought to have common sense, that can find in his heart to at­tribute it to him. And therefore we see, that notwith­standing the Authority of this Council,Nannius in e­dit. op. Athan. Bellar de imag. l. 2 c. 10. & lib. de script. Ec­cles. in Athan Possevin. in ap­par. in Athan. both Nannius, Bellarmine, and Possevine, have plainly confessed, that it was not written by Athanasius. I shall place in this Rank the so much cried up Deed of the Donation of Con­stantine, which hath for so long a time been accounted as a most Valid and most Authentick Evidence, and hath also been inserted into the Decrees, and so stifly main­tained by the Bishops of Agobio, D. 96. C. Con­stantino nostro. 14. Augusti. Steu­chius de Dona. Constant. Baron. in annal. Melchior Ca­nus locor. Theo­log. l. 11. p. 511. against the Oppositions of Laurentius Valla. Certainly those very Men who at this day maintain the Donation, do notwithstanding dis­claim this Evidence, as a piece of Forgery. Of the same nature are the Epistles attributed to the first Popes, as Clemens, Anacletus, Euaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Te­lesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, and others, down to the times of Siricius; that is to say, to the year of our Saviour Christ CCCLXXXV. which the World read under these Venerable Titles at the least for eight hun­dred [Page 25] years together; and by which have been decided, to the advantage of the Church of Rome, very many Controversies, and especially the most important of all the rest, namely, that of the Pope's Monarchy; which sheweth plain enough the Inclination, (shall I call it [...]) or rather the purposed Design of the Merchant that first vented them abroad. The greatest part of these notwith­standing, are accounted forged even by many of the Learned of their own Party;Hen. Kaltheis. ap. Magdeb. cent. 2. Nic. Cusan. Conc. Cath. l. 2. c. 34. Jo. de Turrecr. de Eccl. lib. 2. c. 101. Jo. Driedo de dogm. & scrip. Eccl. l. 1. c. 2. Cl. Espens. de Contin. l. 1. c 2. G. Cassand. de­fens. lib. de of­ficio pii viri, p. 843. Sim. Vig. ex respons. Syn. Basil. &c. en la lettre contr. Durand. Baron. Annal. T. 2. an. 102. & an. 865. Erasm. praefat. in Hieron. as namely, Henricus K [...]l­theisen, Nicolas Cusanus, Jo. de Turrecremata, both Car­dinals; Erasmus, Jo. Driedo, Claudius Espensaeus, Cassan­der, Simon Vigor, Baronius, and others: as indeed their Forgery appears plain enough, by the barbarousness of their Stile, the Errors that you meet with every foot in computing the Times, and in History; the Pieces that they are patched up of, stollen here and there out of se­veral Authors, whose Books we have at this day to shew: and also by the general silence of all the Writers of the Eight first Centuries, among whom there is not one word mentioned of them. Now I shall not here meddle at all with the Six or Seven last Centuries; where, in regard of diverse Articles of Faith, most eagerly by them pressed and established, there hath been more need than ever of the Assistance of the Ancients; and where, in respect of the dark Ignorance of those Times, and the scarcity of Oppo­sers, they had much better opportunity than before to forge what Books they pleased. This Abuse the World was never free from, till the Times of the Light break­ing forth in the Last Century; at what time Erasmus by name, gives us an account, how he himself had discove­red one of these wretched Knaves, whose ordinary pra­ctice it was to lay his own Eggs in another Man's Nest, putting his own Fooleries on S. Hierome particularly, and on S. Augustine, and S. Ambrose. And who knows what those many Books be, that are daily issued out of the self­same Shops, that of old were wont to furnish the World with these kind of Knacks? Is it not very probable, that [Page 26] both the Will, and the Dexterity, in forging and venting these false Wares, will rather in these days increase, than abate, in the Professors of this Trade? So that, if besides what the Malice of the Hereticks, the Avarice and Ig­norance of Transcribers of Manuscripts, and the ambiti­on and affection of Men hath brought forth of this kind, there have yet so many others bent their endeavours this way, and that in a manner all along, for the space of the last Fourteen hundred years, although they had their se­veral ends; we are not to wonder at all, if now in this last Age we see such a monstrous number of Writings falsly Fathered upon the Ancients: which, if they were all put together, would make little less than a Fourth or a Fifth part of the Works of the Fathers. I am not igno­rant, that the Learned have noted a great number of them, and do ordinarily cast them into the later Tomes of Edi­tions; and that some have written whole Books upon this very Subject; as namely, Ant. Possevine's Apparatus, Bellarmine's Catalogue, Scultetus his Medulla Patrum, Ri­vet's Critick, and the like, both of the one and the other Religion. But who can assure us that they have not for­gotten any thing they should have noted? Besides, that it is a new Labour, and almost equal to the former, to read so many Books of the Moderns as there are. And when all is done, we are not presently to sit down upon their Judgments neither, without a due examination had of them. For each of them having been prepossest with the Prejudices of the Party in which they were brought up before they took this Work in hand, who shall war­rant us, that they have not delivered any thing in this case, in favour of their own particular Interest, as hath been touched before? The justness of this suspicion is so clear, that I presume that no Man that is but any whit versed in these matters, will desire me to prove my Asser­tion. Neither shall I need to give any other reason of it, than the Conflict; and Disagreements in Judgments which we may observe in these Men: the one of them [Page 27] oftentimes letting pass for pure Metal, what the other perhaps will throw by for Dross: Which Differences are found not onely betwixt those that are of quite opposite Religions; but, which is more, even betwixt those that are of the self same Perswasion. Those whom we named not long before, who were all of the Roman Church, cry down (as we have said) the greatest part of the Decre­tals of the first Popes. Franciscus Turrianus, a Jesuite, receives them, and defends them all, in a Tract written by him to that purpose.Baron. Annal. Tom. 1. an. 51. Baronius calls the Recognitions which are attributed to Clemens Romanus, A Gulf of Filth and Ʋncleanness; full of prodigious Lies, and frantick Fooleries. Bellar. de lib. arbit. T. 5. c. 25. NOs fatemur librum esse cor­ruptum, &c. Sed tamen vel esse Clementis Romani, vel alterius aequè docti, ac anti­qui. Bellarmine says, That this Book was written either by Clemens, or else by some other Author as Learn­ed and as Ancient as he. Some of them hold those Frag­ments, published by Nicol. Faber, under the Name of S. Hilary, for good and legitimate Pieces; and some others again reject them. Erasmus, Sixtus Senensis, Mel­chior Canus, and Baronius, are of opinion, That the Book Of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, is falsly attributed to S. Hierome: Christophorus à Castro, a Spanish Jesuite, maintains the contrary. Cardinal Cajetan, Laurentius Valla, Erasmus, and some others, hold the Books of Dionysius the Areopagite for suspected, and spurious: Ba­ronius, and almost all the rest of their Writers, maintain that they are true and legitimate. Turrianus, Bovin, and some others, commend unto us the Constitutions of the Apostles, for a legitimate Piece: But Baronius, Pos­sevine, Petavius, and a great many others, speak doubt­fully of them. And a Man shall find in the Writings of those of the Church of Rome, infinite variety of divided Judgments, in such Cases as these. He that hath a mind to furnish himself with Examples of this Nature, may have recourse to their Books, and particularly to the Writings of the late Cardinal Perron, who differs as much from the rest, in this Point of Criticism, as he doth for the most part in the Method he observes in his Dispu­tations. [Page 28] Now I would willingly be informed, what a, Man should do, amidst these diversities of Judgment; and what Path he should take, where he meeteth with so disagreeing Guides. But yet suppose that these Au­thors have done their utmost endeavour in this Design, without any particular affection, or partiality; how, notwithstanding, shall we be satisfied concerning their sufficiency for the performance of their Undertaking? Is it a light Business, think you, to bring the whole stock of Antiquity to the Cruzet, and there to purifie and refine it, and to separate all the Dross from it, which hath so deeply, and for the space of so many Ages, been not on­ly as it were tied, and fastned on to it, but even through­ly mixed, united, and incorporated with it? This Work requireth the most clear and refined Judgment that can be imagined, an exquisite Wit, a quick piercing Eye, a perfect Ear, a most exact knowledge in all History, both Ancient and Modern, both Ecclesiastical and Secular; a perfect knowledge of the Ancient Tongues, and a long and continued Conversation with all sorts of Writers, both Ancient, of the middle Ages, and Modern; to be able to judge of their Inclinations, and which way their Pulse beat; to understand rightly the manner of their Ex­pression, Invention, and Method in Writing; each Age, each Nation, and each Author, having their own pecu­liar ways in all these. Now such a Man as this, is hardly produced in a whole age. As for those Men who in our Times have taken upon them this part of Criticism, who knows not, who sees not, that but reads them, how ma­ny of these forenamed Qualities are wanting in them? But yet suppose that such a Man were to be found, and that he should take in hand this Discovery; I do verily believe that he would be able very easily to find out the Imposture of a bungling Fool, that had ill counterfeited the Stamp, Colour, and Weight, in the Piece which he would father upon some other Man; or that should, for example, endeavour to represent either S. Hierome, or [Page 29] S. Chrysostome, with a stammering Tongue, and should make them speak barbarous Language, bad Latin, and bad Greek; or else perhaps should make use of such Terms, Things, or Authors, as were not known to the World till a long time after these Men; or should make them treat of Matters far removed from the Age they li­ved in, and maintain Opinions which they never thought of, or reject those which they are notoriously known to have held: And of this sort, for the most part, are those Pieces which our Criticks have decried, and noted unto us as spurious. But if a Man should chance to bring him a Piece of some able Master, that should have fully and exactly learnt both the Languages, History, Manners, Alliances, and Quarrels of the Family he hath boldly thrust himself into, and should be able to make happy use of all these, assure your self, that our Aristarchus would be here as much puzled to discover this Jugler, as they were once in France, to convince the Impostures of Martin Guerre. Now how can we imagine, but that among so many several Persons, that have for their several Purposes employed their utmost Endeavours in these kinds of For­geries, there must needs have been, in so many Centuries of years, very many able Men, who have had the skill so artificially to imitate the Fancy and Stile of the Persons whom they act, as that it is impossible to discover them? Especially, if they made choice of such a Name as was the onely thing remaining in the World of that Author, so that there is no mark left us either of his Stile, Dis­course, or Opinions, to guide us in our Examination. And therefore, in my judgment, he was a very cunning Fel­low, and made a right choice, that undertook to write under the Name of Dionysius the Areopagite: for we ha­ving not left us any true Legitimate Piece of this Author, by which we may examine this Cheat, the Discovery must needs be difficult; and it would have proved so much the more hard, if he had but used a more modest and less swelling manner of Expression: Whereas for [Page 30] those others, who in the Ages following made bold with the Names of S. Hierome, S. Cyprian, S. Augustine, and the like; of whose legitimate Writings we have very many Pieces left us: a Man may know them at the first sight, meerly by the Stile; those Gothick and rude Spi­rits being no more able to counterfeit the Graces and Elegancies of these great Authors, than an Ass is to imi­tate the Warblings of the Nightingale. I confess, there is another Help, which, in my judgment, may stand us in more stead, in this Particular, than all the rest; namely, the Light and Direction of the Ancients themselves, who oftentimes make mention of other Writers of the Church which lived either before, or in their own Times: S. Hie­rome among the Latins, having taken the pains to make a Catalogue of all those whose Names and Writings he knew of, down from the Apostles time to his own; which was afterward continued by Gennadius. To this we may also add that incomparable Work of the Patriarch Photius, which he calls his Bibliotheca, and is now publi­shed in this our Age; where this great Person hath given us his Judgment of most of the Authors of the Greek Church. Now this Help we may make use of two man­ner of ways: The one is, in justifying a Book, if it be found mentioned by these Authors: The other is, in re­jecting it, if they say nothing of it. As for the first of these, it concludes onely according to the Quality of the Au­thors who make mention of a suspected Book. For, some of the Fathers themselves have made use of these kind of Forgeries, as we have formerly said; others have favou­red them, because they served their turn; some have not been able to discover them; and some others have not been willing to do so, whatsoever their Reason hath been. I shall not here repeat the Names of any of those that have done these things themselves: And as for those that have favoured them, there are good store of exam­ples, as Justin Martyr, Theophilus, and others, who al­ledge the Sibylls Verses, as Oracles; which are notwith­standing [Page 31] the greatest part of them forged.Hier. ep. 84. ad Magn. Tom. 2. Clemens Alex­andrinus, the most Learned, and most Polite of all the Fathers, in S. Hierome's judgment, how often doth he make use of those Apocryphal Pieces which go under the Names of the Apostles and Disciples, to whom they were most falsly attributed; citing under the Name of Clem. Alex. Strom. l. 2. Barnabas, and ofId. Strom. l. 1. & l. 2. & alibi passim. Hermes, such Writings as have been forged under their Names? And did not the VII Council in like manner make use of a supposititious Piece, attribu­ted to Athanasius, as we have shewed before; and like­wise of divers others which are of the same stamp? That even the Fathers themselves therefore have not been able always to make a true discovery of these false Wares, no Man can doubt; considering that of those many necessary Qualifications which we reckoned up before, as requisite in this Particular, they may often­times have failed in some. S. Hierome himself, the most knowing Man among all the Latin Fathers, especially in Matters of this nature, sometimes lets them pass without examination; as there, where he speaks of a certain Tract against Mathematicians, Hier. ep. 84. ad Magn. Tom. 2. attributed to Minutius Foelix, If at least (saith he) the Inscription represent unto us the right Author of the Book. And in another place, whatsoever his reason was,Id. in Catal. Tom. 1. he delivers to us for Legiti­mate Pieces, the Epistles that go about under the Name of S. Paul to Seneca, and of Seneca to S. Paul; which, notwithstanding,Baron. Annal. Tom. 1. an 66. Cardinal Baronius holds for suspect [...] and spurious, as doubtless they are. But even those Men who have been able to discover these false Pieces, have not sometimes been willing to do it; either being unwil­ling to offend the Authors of them, or else not daring to cast any disrepute upon those Books, which having ma­ny good things in them, had not in their judgment any false or dangerous Positions in them. And this is the reason why they made choice to let such things pass, ra­ther than out of a little tenderness of conscience to op­pose them; there being, in their apprehension, no danger [Page 32] at all in the one, and much trouble and envy in the other. And therefore I am of opinion, That S. Hierome, for example, would never have taken the pains, nor have undergone the envy, in laying open the Forgeries of Ruffinus, if the misunderstanding that hapned to be betwixt them, had not engaged him to it. Neither do I believe that the African Fathers would ever have trou­bled themselves in convincing the false Allegation of Zozimus, but for their own Interest, which was there­by called in question. For wise and sober Men never use to fall at variance with any Body, till they needs must; neither do they quickly take notice of any Injury or Abuse offered them, unless it be a very great one; and such as hath evident danger in it: which was not at all perceived or taken notice of at first, in these Forgeries; which nevertheless have at length, by little and little, in a manner born down all the good and true Books. These Considerations, in my opinion, make it clearly appear, That the Title of a Book is not sufficiently justified by a Passage or two being cited out of it by some of the Ancients, and under the same Name. As for the other way, which rendreth the Authority of a Book doubtful, by the Ancients not having made any mention of it, I confess it is no more demonstrative than the other: for­asmuch as it is not impossible, that any one, or divers of the Fathers, may not have met with such a certain Wri­ [...]r that was then extant; or else perhaps that they might omit some one of those very Authors which they knew. Yet notwithstanding is this the much surer way of the two; there being less danger, in this case, in re­jecting a True Piece, than in receiving a Forged one; the want of the Truth of the one, being doubtless much less prejudicial, than the receiving the opposite Falshood of the other. For as it is a less sin to omit the Good, than to commit the Evil that is opposite to it, in like man­ner is it a less Errour not to believe a Truth, than to be­lieve the Falshood which is contrary to it. And thus we [Page 33] see what confusion there is in the Books of the Ancients, and what defect in the Means which is requisite for the distinguishing the False from the True: insomuch that, as it often falls out, it is much easier to judge what we ought to reject, than to resolve upon what we may safely receive. Let the Reader therefore now judge, whether or no these Writings having come down along through so many Ages, and passed through so many Hands, which are either known to have been notoriously guilty, or at least strongly suspected of Forgery, the Truth in the mean time having made on its part but very weak resistance against these Impostures; it be not a very hard matter to discover, amidst the infinite number of Books that are now extant, and go under the Names of the Fathers, which are those that truly belong to them; and which again are those that are falsly imposed upon them. And if it be so hard a matter to discover in gross onely which are the Writings of the Fathers; how much more diffi­cult a Business will it be to find out what their Opini­ons are touching the several Controversies now in agi­tation. For we are not to imagine, that it is no great matter from which of the Fathers such an Opinion hath sprung, so that it came from any one of them: for there is altogether as much difference amongst these Ancient Doctors, both in respect of Authority, Learning, and Goodness, as among the Modern. Besides, that an Ages being higher or lower; either raiseth or lesseneth the Re­pute of these Writings, in the esteem both of the one Party, and of the other, as it were, so many grains, as years: And certainly not altogether without good rea­son; it being most evident to any one that hath been but the least versed in the reading of these Books, That Time hath by degrees introduced very great Altera­tions, as well in the Doctrine and Discipline of the Ancients, as in all other things. Our Conclusion there­fore shall be, That whosoever shall desire to know what the Sense and Judgment of the Primitive Church [Page 34] hath been, touching our present Controversies; it will be first in a manner as necessary for him, as it is difficult, exactly to find out both the Name and the Age of each of these several Authors.

CHAP. IV.

Reason IV. That those of the Writings of the Fathers which are Legitimate, have been in many Places corrupted by Time, Ignorance, and Fraud, both Pious and Malicious, both in the former and later Ages.

BUt, put the case now here, that you had by your long and judicious Endeavours severed the True and Ge­nuine Writings of the Fathers, from the Spurious and Forged: there would yet lie upon you a second Task, whose event is like to prove much more doubtful, and fuller of difficulty than the former. For it would con­cern you in the next place, in reading over those Authors which you acknowledge for Legitimate, to distinguish what is the Author's own, and what hath been soisted in by another Hand; and also to restore to your Author, whatsoever either by Time or Fraud hath been taken away; and to take out of him whatsoever hath been added by either of these two. Otherwise you will never be able to assure your self, that you have discovered out of these Books, what the true and proper meaning and sense of your Author hath been; considering the great Alterations that by several ways they may have suffered, in several Times. I shall not here speak of those Errours which have been produced by the Ignorance of the Tran­scribers;Hier. ep. 28. ad Lucin. Tom. 1. Who write (as Hierome hath complained of them) not what they find, but what themselves under­stand: [Page 35] Nor yet of those Faults which necessarily have grown up out of the very Transcribing; it being an im­possible thing, that Books which have been copied out an infinite number of times, during the space of ten or twelve Centuries of years, by Men of so different Cap [...]cities▪ and Hands, should all this while retain exactly, and in every Particular, the self-same Juyce, the same Form and Body that they had when they first came forth from the Author's own hand. Neither shall I here say any thing of the sufferings of these Books, by Moths, and a thou­sand other Injuries of Time, by which they have been corrupted; while all kind of Learning, for so many Ages together, lay buried, as it were, in the Grave; the Worms on one side feeding on the Books of the Learned, and on the other the Dust defacing them; so that it is im­possible now to restore them to their first integrity. And this is the sad Fate that all sorts of Books have lain un­der; whence hath sprung up so great variety of Readings as are found almost in all Authors. I shall not here make any advantage of this; though there are some Doctors in the World, that have shewed us the way to do it, ta­king advantage from this Consideration to lessen the Au­thority that the Holy Scriptures of themselves ought to have in the esteem of all Men, under this colour, That even in these Sacred Writings there are sometimes found varieties of Reading, which yet are of very little or no Importance, as to the Ground-work. If we would tread in these Mens steps, and apply to the Writings of the Fathers, what they speak and conclude of the Scriptures, we could do it upon much better terms than they; there being no reason in the Earth to imagine, but that the Books of the Ancient Writers have suffered very much more than the Scriptures have; which have always been preserved in the Church, with much greater care than any other Books have been whatsoever, and which have been learnt by all Nations, and translated into all Lan­guages; which all Sects have retained, both Orthodox [Page 36] and Hereticks, Catholicks and Schismaticks, Greeks and Latins, Moscovites and Ethiopians; observing diligently the Eye, and the Hand, one of the other: so that there could not possibly happen any remarkable Alteration in them, but that presently the whole World, as it were, would have exclaimed against it, and have made their Complaints to have resounded throughout the Universe. Whereas, on the contrary, the Writings of the Fathers have been kept, transcribed, and read in as careless a manner as could be; and that too but by very few, and in few Places, being but rarely understood by any, save those of the same Language; which is the cause that so many Faults have both the more easily crept into them, and likewise are the more hard to be discovered. Be­sides, that the particular Stile and Obscurity of some of them, renders the Errours the more important. As for example: Take me a Tertullian, and you shall find, that one little Word added, or taken away, or altered never so little, or a Full-point or Comma but out of its place, will so confound the Sense, that you will not be able to find what he would have. Whereas in Books of an ea­sie, smooth, clear Style, as the Scriptures for the most part are, these Faults are much less prejudicial, seeing they cannot in any wise so darken the Sense, but that it will be still easie enough to apprehend it. But I shall pass by all these minute Punctilioes, as more suitable to the En­quiries of the Pyrrhonians and Academicks, whose Busi­ness it is to question all things; than of Christians, who onely seek, in simplicity and sincerity of heart, whereon to build their Faith. I shall onely here take notice of such alterations as have been knowingly and voluntarily made in the Writings of the Fathers, purposely by our holding our peace, to disguise their S [...]nse, or else to make them speak more than they meant. And this Forgery is of two sorts: The one hath been made use of with a good inten­tion; the other out of malice: Again, The one hath been committed in Times long since past, the other in this last [Page 37] Age, in our own days, and the days of our Fathers. Last­ly, the one is in the Additions made to Authors, to make them speak more than they meant; the other in subtra­cting from the Author, to eclipse and darken what he would be understood to say. Neither ought we to won­der, that even those of the honest, innocent, primitive Times also made use of these Deceits, seeing that, for a good end, they made no great scruple to forge whole Books, taking a much stranger and bolder course, in my opinion, than the other. For without all doubt it is a greater Crime to coin false Money, than to clip, or a lit­tle alter the true. This Opinion hath always been in the World, That to settle a certain and assured estimation up­on that which is good and true (that is to say, upon what we account to be such) it is necessary that we remove out of the way, whatsoever may be a hinderance to it; and that there can be no great danger either in putting in, or at least in leaving any thing in, that may yield assistance to it, whatsoever the issue of either of these may in the end prove to be. And hence hath it come to pass, that we have so many ancient Forgeries, and also so many strange stories of Miracles, and of Visions; many taking a delight in feigning (as S.Hier. ep. 4. ad Rustic. Tom. 1. Daemonum con­tra se pugnan­tium p [...]rtenta co [...]fingunt. Hierome says) great Combats which they have had with Devils in Desarts: all which things are meerly fabulous in themselves, and acknowledged too to be so by the most intelligent of them; yet notwithstand­ing are tolerated, and sometimes also recommended to them, forasmuch as they account them useful, for the set­ling or encreasing either of the Faith or Devotion of the People. What will you say, if at this day there are some, even of those Men who make profession of being the greatest haters in the world of these subtilties, who cannot nevertheless put forth any Book, but they must needs be lopping off, or falsifying whatsoever doth not wholly a­gree with the Doctrine they hold for true; fearing, as them­selves say, lest such things coming to the eye of the sim­ple Common People, might infect them, and possess their [Page 38] Heads with new Fancies? So firmly hath this Opinion been of old rooted in the Nature of Man. Now I will not here dispute, whether this proceeding of theirs be lawful, or not: I shall only say by the way, That in my judgment it is a very great shame for the Truth, to be established or defended by such falsifications and shifts; as if it had not sufficient Weapons, both defensive and of­fensive, of its own, but that it must be fain to borrow of its Adversary: and it is besides a very dangerous course too; because that the discovery of any one Cheat, often­times renders their Cause, who practised it, wholly sus­pected; insomuch that, by making use of such slights as these in Christian Religion, either for the gaining to you, or confirming the faith of some of the simpler People, it is to be feared, that you may give distaste to the more un­derstanding sort; and so by this means at length may chance to lose the Affections of the simpler sort too. But whatsoever this course of Cheating be, either in it self, or in its Consequences; it is sufficient for my purpose, that it hath been a long time practised in the Church, in mat­ters of Religion; for proof whereof, I shall here produce some Instances. The Hereticks have always been accu­sed of using this Artifice: but I shall not here set down what Alterations have been made by the Ancientest of them, even in the Scriptures themselves. If you would have a Taste of this Practice of theirs, go but to Tertullian and Epiphanius, and you shall there see, how Marcion had clipped and altered the Gospel of S. Luke, and those Epi­stles of S. Paul, which he allowed to be such. Neither have those other of the Ages following been any whit more conscientious in this Particular, as may appear by those Complaints made by Ruffinus Ruffin. in Ex­pos. Symbol. & lit. de adult. script. Origen., in his Exposition upon the Apostle's Creed; and in another Treatise written by him purposely on this Subject: which is in­deed contradicted byHier. ep. 65. Tom. 2. & Apol. 2. contr. Ruff. S. Hierome, but onely in his Hy­pothesis, as to what concerned Origen; but not abso­lutely in his Thesis: and by the like Complaints of [Page 39] Cyril. ep. ad Ich. Antioch. in Act. Conc. Eph. S. Cyril, and divers others of the Ancients: and among the Moderns, by those very Persons also who have put forth the General Councils at Rome, who inform us, in the Preface to the First Volume,In Praefat. in Tom. 1. Concil. Gen. That Time, and the Fraud of the Hereticks, have been the cause that the Acts of the said Councils have not come to our hands, neither entire, nor pure and sincere, that which hath remained of them: and before, they grievously bewail, that we should be thus deprived of so great and so precious a Treasure. Now this Testimony of theirs, to me, is worth a thousand others; seeing it comes from such who in my opinion are evidently interested to speak quite otherwise. For if the Church of Rome, who is the pre­tended Mistress and Trustee of the Faith, hath suffered any part of the Councils to perish and be lost, which is esteemed by them as the Code of the Church; what then may the rest have suffered also? And what may not the Hereticks and Schismaticks have been able to do? And if all these Evidences have been altered by their Fraud, how shall we be able by them to come to the knowledge of the Sense and Judgment of the Ancients? I confess I am very much ama [...]ed, to see these Men make so much reckoning of the Acts of the Councils, and to make such grievous Complaints against the Hereticks, for having suppressed some of them. For if these things are of such use, why then do they themselves keep from us the Acts of the Council of Trent, which is the most consi­derable Council, both for them, and their Party, that hath been held in the Christian Church these eight hun­dred years? If it be a Crime in the Hereticks, to have kept from us these precious Jewels; why are not they afraid, lest the blame which they lay on others, may chance to return upon themselves? But doubtless there is something in the Business, that renders these Cases different: and I confess I wonder they publish it not; the simpler sort; for want of being otherwise in­formed, thinking perhaps, (though, it may be, without [Page 40] cause) that the reason why the Acts of this last Council are kept so close from them is, because they know that the publishing of them would be either prejudicial, or at least unprofitable, to the Greatness of the Church of Rome: And they also again, on the other side, conceive, that in those other Acts, which they say have been sup­pressed by the Hereticks, there were wonderful Matters to be found, for the greater advancing and supporting of the Church of Rome. Whatsoever the Reason be, I cannot but commend the Ingenuity of these Men, who, notwithstanding their Interest, which seemeth to engage them to the contrary, have yet nevertheless confessed, That the Councils which we have at this day are neither entire, nor uncorrupted. But let us now examine, whe­ther or no even the Orthodox Party themselves have not also contributed something to this Alteration of the Wri­tings of the Primitive Church,Epiphanius in Anchor. [...]. Epiphanius reports, That in the true and most correct Copies of S. Luke it was written, that Jesus Christ wept▪ and that this passage had been alledged by S. Irenaeus: but that the Catholicks had blotted out this Word▪ fearing that the Hereticks might abuse it. Whether this Relation be true, or false, I must relie upon the Credit of the Author: But this I shall say, That it seems to me a clear Argument▪ That these Ancient Catholicks would have made no great scruple of blotting out of the Writings of the Fathers any Word that they found to contradict their own Opinions and Judgment; and that with the same Liberty that they inform us the Hereticks used. For seeing that, as this Father informs us, they made no Conscience of making such an Attempt upon the Gospel of the Son of God himself; with how much greater confidence would they adventure to geld the Books of Men? Certainly Ruffinus, a Man so much applauded byHier. ep. 5. ad Flor. & ep. 41. ad Ruffin. S. Hierome, before their falling out; and so highly esteemed byAug. ep. ad Hier. quae est inter ep. Hier. 93. & iterum ep. 97. S. Augustine, who very much bewails the Breach betwixt those two; and whom Gennald. in Catal. inter op. Hier. Gennodius hath placed, with a very high Elogie of his [Page 41] Worth, in his Catalogue of Ecclesiastical Writers; hath so filthily mangled, and so licentiously confounded the Writings of Origen, Eusebius, and others, which he hath translated into Latin, that you will hardly find a Page, in his Translations, where he hath not either cut off, or added, or at least altered something. S. Hierome also, although his Enemy, yet agrees with him in this Point;Hier. ep 62. ad Theoph. A­lex. & lib. 2. Apol. contra Ruffin. confessing in several Places, That he had indeed translated Origen, but in such sort, as that he had taken liberty to cut away that which was dangerous, and had left only that which was useful, and had interpreted only what was Good, and had left out the Bad; that is to say, that if he found any thing there, that was not so conso­nant to the Common Judgment and Opinions of his Time, and so might possibly give Offence to the simple People, he suppressed it in his Translation; affirming al­so, that S.Hier. ep. 75. Id. praefat. in lib. Euseb. de loc. Hebr. Hilary, and Eusebius Bishop of Verceil, had done the like. And again, in his Preface to Eusebius his Book, De locis Hebraicis, he confesseth, that he had left out that which he conceived was not worth remembring; and that he had altered the greatest part of it. And to make it appear, that this hath been his constant practice, we need but compare his Latin Chronology, with the Greek Frag­ments which remain of Eusebius; where you may plain­ly see what liberty these Ancients allowed themselves in the Writings of others. And what doubt is there to be made, but that those Men that came after them, following the Authority of so great an Example, carefully either took out of their Copies, or else left out of their Transla­tions, the greatest part of whatever they found to be dis­sonant to the Opinions and Customs which were re­ceived in the Church in the Times they lived in? and likewise, that for adding the greater Authority to them, some have had the boldness to add in some places what they conceived to be wanting? From whence else could it proceed, that we should have so many unseasonable breakings off in many places, and so many impersinent [Page 42] Additions in others, as there are to be met with frequent­ly in the Ancient Authors? Whence otherwise should we have those many course Patches, that are ready to grate the Skin off our Fingers, in the midst of their soft Sattin and Velvet? and that inequality of Pulse and Breath, that we may observe in one and the same Author, in a quarter of an Hours reading? It would prove a trou­blesom business, to bring in here all the Examples of this kind that we might; there being scarcely any of the Mo­derns, that have taken any pains in writing upon the Fa­thers, but have noted and complained of this Abuse: and hence it is,Tom. 4. op. Amb. p. 211. lib. 2. de Abra. in marg. annot. that we oftentimes meet with such like Notes as this, in the Margins of the Fathers: Hic vide­tur aliquis assuisse nugas suas, and the like. And that which is observed also by Vives, upon the XXI Book of S. Augustine De Civitate Dei, Lud. Vives in lib. 21. de Civ. Dei, c. 24. In antiquis li­bris. Brug. & Colon. non le guntur isti de­cem aut duode­cim qui sequun­tur versus. namely, That ten or twelve Lines which we find at this day in the XXIV Chapter of that Book, which contain a Positive Asserti­on of Purgatory, were not to be found in the ancient Ma­nuscripts of Bruges, and of Collen; no, nor yet in that of Paris, as is noted by those that Printed S. Augustine, Anno 1531. OneHolstein. op. lim. praef. tom. op. Athan. Ne­que solius A­thanasti ea for­tuna, ut ineptis­simorum inter­polatorum ma­nus subiret, cùm Chrysosto­mi, Procli, ali­orum (que) homi­lias similibus sequiorum sae­culorum inepti­is faedatas, in iisdem regiis codicibus inve­nerim. Holsteinius also, a Dutchman, testifi­eth, That he had met with divers Pieces among the Ma­nuscripts of the King's Library, of Chrysostome, Proclus, and others, that had in like manner been scratched in di­vers Places by the like Hands, by some Interpolators of the later and worst Ages. But I may not here forget to note, That this Alteration hath taken place, even in the most sacred and Publick Pieces also; as namely, in the Liturgies of the Church, and the like: and I shall give you this Observation, to the end it may carry with it the greater gracefulness and weight, in the Expressions of Andreas Masius, a Man of singular and profound Learn­ing; yet of such Candor and Integrity as renders him more admired, than his Knowledge doth; and which, together with his other Excellencies, endears him to all moderate Men of both Professions. This Learned Person [Page 43] taking notice, that the Liturgy of S. Basil was not so long in the Syriac, Andr. Masius Praef. in Litur. Syr. as in the Greek, gives this Reason of it: For (saith he) Men have always been of such a humour and disposition in Matters of Religion, as that you shall scarcely find any that have been able to content themselves with the Ceremonies prescribed unto them by their Fathers, how holy soever they have been in themselves: so that we may ob­serve, that in tract of time, according as the Prelates have thought fittest to move the Affections of the People to Piety and Devotion, many other things have been either added, or altered; and (which is much worse) many superstitious things have been introduced also: in which particular, I conceive the Christians of Syria to have been more moderate, and less extravagant than the Greeks and Latins, as ha­ving not the opportunity of enjoying that quiet and plenti­ful state of Life, which the others had. Thus the Learned Masius. Cassand. in Li­turg. cap. 2. And Cassander, who hath also turned over the Writings of the Ancients with innocent Hands, confes­seth, and proveth out of other Authors, That the ancient Liturgies have by little and little been enlarged, by the se­veral Additions of the Moderns. Thus proportionably as the World it self hath changed, so would it have what­ever there remained of Antiquity, to suffer its Alterations also; imagining, that it was but reasonable that these Books should in some measure accommodate their Lan­guage to the Times, forasmuch as the Authors of them, in all probability, would have done so themselves, be­lieving and speaking with the Times, had they been now living. Now to render them the more acceptable, they have used those Arts upon them, that some old Men are wont to practise; they have new coloured their Beard and Mustachioes, cutting off the rude and scattered hairs; they have polished their Skin, and given it a fresh Com­plexion, and taught them to speak with a new Voice, ha­ving changed also the Colour of their Habit: insomuch, that it is much to be feared, that we oftentimes do but lose our labour, when we search in these disguised Faces, [Page 44] and Mouths, for the Complexion and Language of true Antiquity.Euseb. in Chro. edit [...]num. 2148. & 2158. Vide Scalig. in loc. p. 198 a. & 201 a. Thus have they taught Eusebius to tell us, in his Chronicon, that the Fast of Lent was instituted by Te­lesphorus; and the Observation of the Lords Day, by Pius, both Bishops of Rome: which is a thing Eusebius never so much as dreamt of, as may appear out of some Manu­scripts of him,See also Card. Perron's Reply to K. James, Observ. 2. c. 8. where you shall find him wholly mu [...]e, as to these Points, wherewith the Moderns so much please themselves. But to return, and to take the Times all along as they lie, we may observe that this Licence grew stronger daily, as the Times grew worse; because that the greater the distance of time was from the Au­thor's own Age, the more difficult the discovery of these Forgeries must necessarily be: the Example also of some of the most eminent Persons among the Ancients, who had sometimes made use of these sleights, adding on the other side boldness to every one, and courage to venture upon what they had done before them. For, I pray you, is it not a strange thing, that the Legats of Pope Leo, in the year 451. in the midst of the Council of Chalcedon, where were assembled 600 Bishops, the very Flower and Choice of the whole Clergy, should have the confi­dence to alledge the VI Canon of the Council of Nice, in these very Words,Concil. Chal­ced. Act. 16. Tom. 2. Concil. That the Church of Rome hath al­ways had the Primacy: Words which are no more found in any Greek Copies of the Councils, than are those other pretended Canons of Pope Zozimus: neither do they yet appear in any Greek or Latin Copies, nor so much as in the Edition of Dionysius Exiguus, who lived about fifty years after this Council. When I consider, that the Legats of so holy a Pope would at that time have fastned such a Wen upon the Body of so Venerable a Canon, I am al­most ready to think, that we scarcely have any thing of Antiquity left us, that is entire, and uncorrupt, except it be in Matters of Indifferency, or which could not have been corrupted, without much noise; and to take this Proceeding of theirs, which is come to our knowledge, [Page 45] as an advertisement purposely given us by Divine Provi­dence, to let us see, with how much consideration, and advisedness we ought to receive for the Council of Nice, and of Constantinople, and for Cyprian, and Hiero [...]o's Writings, that which goes at this day for such. About se­venty four years after the Council of Chalcedon, Diony­sius Exiguus, whom we before mentioned, made his Col­lection at Rome, which is [...] printed at Paris, Cum Privilegio Regi [...], out of very ancient Manuscripts. Who­soever shall but look diligently Into this Collection, shall find divers alterations in it, one whereof I shall instance in; only to shew, how ancient this Artifice hath been among Christians. The last Canon of the Council of La [...] ­dicea, which is the 163. of the Greek Code of the Church Universal, forbidding to read in Churches any other Books, than those which are Canonical; gives us withal a long Catalogue of them. Dionysius Exiguus, although he hath indeed inserted in his Collection Num. 162. the beginning of the said Canon, which forbiddeth to read any other Books in the Churches, besides the sacred Vo­lumes of the Old and New Testament; yet hath he whol­ly omitted the Catalogue, or List of the said Books: fear­ing, as I conceive, lest the Tail of this Catalogue might scandalize the Church of Rome; where, many years be­fore, Pope Innocent had,Innocent. 1. ep. 3. ad Exup. Tholos. c. 7. by an express Decree to that purpose, put into the Canon of the Old Testament, the Maccabees, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, &c. of which Books the Fathers of the Council of Laodicea make no mention at all, naming but XXII Books of the Old Testament; and in the Catalogue of the New, utterly omitting the Apocalypse. If any Man can shew me any better reason of this suppression, let him speak: as for my part I conceive this the most probable that can be gi­ven; however, we are not at all bound to divine, what the motive should be, that made Dionysius out off that part of the Canon. For, whatsoever the reason were, it serves the turn well enough, to make it appear, that at [Page 46] that time they made no great conscience to curtal, if need were, the very Text of the Canons themselves. So that if we had not had the good luck to have had this Canon en­tire, and perfect, in divers other Monuments of Antiqui­ty; as namely, in the Collections of the Greeks, and also in the Councils of the French Church; we should at this Day have been wholly ignorant, what the judgment of the Fathers of L [...]odices was, touching the Canon of the holy Scriptur [...]s▪ which is one of the principal Contro­versies of these times. It is true, I confess, that the La­tins have their revenge upon the Greeks, reproaching them in like manner, because that in their Translation of the Code of the Canons of the African Church, they have left the Books of the Maccabees quite out of the Roll of the Books of the Scripture, which is set down in the 24. Canon of their Collection, expresly against the Faith of all the Latin copies of this Collection,Perron Repl. l. 1. c. L. both Printed, and Ma­nuscript; as Cardinal Perron affirmeth: and yet there are some others,Christ. Ju­stel. in Not. ad Can. 24. God. Gr. Eccles. Afric. who assure us, that no Book of Maccabees appears at all in this Canon, in the Collection of Cres­ [...]bnius, a Bishop of Africk, not yet printed. The Greek Cud [...] represents unto us VII. Canons of the I▪ Council of Constantinople; which are in like manner found both in Balsamon, and in Zonaras, and also in the Greek and Latin Edition of the General Councils, printed at Rome. The three last▪ of these do not appear at all, in the Latine Code of [...] though they are very considerable ones, as to the business they relate to, which is, That Or­der in Proceeding, in passing Judgment upon Bishops accused▪ and in receiving such persons, who forsaking their Communion with Hereticks, desire to be admitted into the Church. [...] very hard to say, what should move the [...] this Council thus. But this I am [...] in the VI. Canon, which is one of those [...] hath omitted, and which treateth of judging of Bishops accused, there is not the least mention made, of Appealing to Rome, nor of any Reserved Cases, wherein it is not permitted to any, save only to the Pope [Page 47] himself, to judge a Bishop: the power of hearing and determining all such matters being here wholly, and ab­solutely referred to the Provincial and Dioce [...]an Synods. Now whether the Greeks added this tail to the Coun­cil of Constantinople, (which yet is not very probable,) or whether Dionysius, or the Church of Rome curtalled this Council, it will still that way also appear clearly, that this boldness in g [...]lding, or making Additions to Ecclesiastical Writings, is not at all in use in these dayes. After the Canons of Constantinople, there follow in the Greek Code, VIII. Canons of the General Council of E­ph [...]sus, set down also both by Balsamon, and Zonaras, and printed with the Acts of the said Council of Ephesus, in the First Tome of the Roman Edition. But Dionysius Ex­iguus: hath discarded them all, not giving us any one of them: and you will hardly be able to give a handsome guess, what his reason should be: unless perhaps it were, because that the business of the eighth Canon displeased him: which is, that the Bishops of Cyprus had their Or­dinations within themselves, without admitting the Pa­triarch of Antioch to have any thing to do with it: and that the same course ought to be observed in all other Pro­vinces, and Diocesses: so that no Bishop should have power to intrude into a Province, which had not from the beginning been under His, and His Predecessors jurisdicti­on: Concil. Eph. Can. 8. qui in VII. Gr. est 178. Cod. Can. Eccl. [...]. For fear, that under the pretence of the Administra­tion of Sacred Offices, the pride of a Secular Power should thrust it self into the Church; and so by this means we should lose (said these good Fathers) by little and little, before we were aware, the Liberty that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all mankind, hath purchased for us with his own Blood. I know not, whether this Constitution, and these words, have put the Latines into any fright, or not: or whether any other reason hath moved them, not to receive the Canons of the Council of Ephesus into their Code. But this is certain, that they do not appear any where among them, and it is now at the least seven hun­dred [Page 48] and fifty years and upward,Anastas. Bibli­oth. Praef. in Synod. VIII. Tom. 3. Concil. gen. that A [...]astasius Biblio­thecarius, the Popes Library Keeper, testified, that these Canons were not any where to be found, in the most An­cient Latine Copies; withal accusing the Greeks of ha­ving forged them. But let them try out this dispute a­mong themselves: yet whether these Canons were for­ged by the Greeks; or whether they have been blotted out of this Council, and smothered by the Latins; it is still a clear case, that the Cheat is very near of eight hun­dred years standing. But in the next example that fol­lows, the business is evidently clear, without any more ado. For whereas the Greek Code, Numb. [...]06. sets be­fore us in the XXVIII▪ Canon of the General Council of Chalcedon, a Decree of those Fathers, by which, con­formably to the First Council of Constantinople, they or­dained, that Seeing that the City of Constantinople was the seat of the Senate, Conc. Chalc. Can. 28. Cod. Graec. Eccl. Ʋ ­ni [...]. 206. [...]. and of the Empire, and enjoyed the same Priviledges with the City of Rome; that therefore it should in like manner be advanced to the same Height, and Great­ness in Ecclesiastical Affairs, being the second Church in order, after Rome; and that the Bishop of it should have the Ordaining of Metropolitans, in the Three Diocesses of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace; which Canon is found both in Balsamon and Zonaras; and also hath the Testimony of the greatest part of the Ecclesiastical Historians, both Greek, and Latine, that it is a Legitimate Canon of the Council of Chalcedon; in the Acts of which Council, at this day also Extant, it is set down at large: yet notwith­standing in the Collection of Dionysius Exiguus, this Ca­non appears not at all, no more than as if there had ne­ver been any such thing thought of at Chalcedon. We know very well, that Pope Leo, and some others of his Successors rejected it: but he that promised us, that he would make an orderly Digestion of the Canons of the Councils, and translate them out of the Greek, why, or how, did he, or ought he to omit, this so remarkable a Canon? If all other Evidences had been lost how should [Page 49] we have been able so much as to have ghessed, that any such thing was ever treated of at Chalcedon? Where, or by what means could we have learnt, what the opinion was of the DCXXX. Fathers, which met here together, touching this Point; which is the most important one, of all those that are at this day controverted betwixt us? And it is now eleven hundred years, and upward, since this Omission was first on foot. And who will pass his word to us, that among so many other Writings, whe­ther of Councils, or particular Mens Works, whether Greek or Latine, the like liberty hath not been at any time used? Rather by these Forgeries which have come to our knowledge, who can doubt, but that there have been many other the like, which we are ignorant of? Thou hast gone along innocently perhaps, reading these Books of the Ancients, and believing, thou there findest the pure sense of Antiquity; and yet thou seest here, that from the beginning of the Sixth Century they have made no scruple of cutting off, from the most Sacred Books they had, whatsoever was not agreeable to the gust of the Times. And therefore, though we had no more against them than this, it were, in my judgment, a sufficient reason to move us to go on here very warily, and, as they say, With a stiff Rein, through this whole business. In the next place, there is a very observable Corruption in the Epistle of Adrian I.Concil. VII. Act. 2. Tom. 3. Concil. to the Emperour Constantine, in the time of the Second Council of Nice. For in the La­tine Collection of Anastasius, made about seven hundred and fifty years since, Adrian is there made to speak very highly, and magnificently of the supremacy of his See, and he rebukes the Greeks very shrewdly, for having con­ferred upon Tarasius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Title of Ʋniversal Bishop. And all this while, there is not so much as one word of this to be found, neither in the Greek Edition of the said VII. Council, nor yet in the common Latine ones. The Romanists accuse the Greeks of having suppressed these two Clauses: and the Greeks [Page 50] again accuse the Romanists, of having foisted them in: neither is it easie to determine, on which side the guilt lies. However, it is sufficient for me, that wheresoever the fault lies, it evidently appeareth hence, that this cur­talling and adding to Authors, according to the interest of the present Times, hath now a very long time been in practice amongst Christians. Which appears also very evidently, in the next piece following in the same Coun­cil, namely, the Epistle of Adrian to Tarasius; which is quite another thing in the Greek, from what it is in A­nastasius his Latin Translation; and that in Points too of as high importance, as those other before mentioned. And so in the V. Act likewise,Conc VII. Act. 5. Tom. 3. Conc. where both in the Greek Text, and also in the Old Latin Translation, Tarasius is called Ʋniversal Bishop; this Title appears not at all in Anastasius his Translation. In the same Act the Fathers accuse the Iconoclasts, Ib. p. 557. of having cut out many Leaves out of a certain Book in the Library at Constantinople; and that at a certain City called Photia, they had burned to the number of Thirty Volumes; and that besides all this, they had rased the Annotations out of a certain Book; and all this out of the malice they bore against Images, which these Books spake well and favourably of. But yet I do not see, how we can excuse the Romanists, from be­ing guilty of corrupting Anastasius, in those passages a­bove noted; nor yet of the injury they do Eusebius, in the Exposition which they give of some certain words of His, only to render Him odious;Concil VII. Act. 6. advers [...] Synod. Iconocl. Sect. 5. [...]. Ibid. p. 625 [...]. objecting against Him, that He saith, That the Carnal Form of Jesus Christ was changed into the nature of the Deity: whereas, all that he saith is, That it was changed by the Deity, dwelling in i [...]. Whence it appears, how much credit we are to give to these Men, when they alledge here and there divers strange and unheard of pieces; and on the contrary, scorn­fully reject whatever their Adversaries bring; as, for ex­ample, they did a remarkable Passage, alledged by them out of Epiphanius: which Passage they refused as suppo­sititious; [Page 51] Because (said they) if Epiphanius had been of the same judgment with the Iconoclasts, Ib. p. 616. [...], he would then in his Panarium, have reckoned the Reverencing of Images among the other Heresies. And may not a man by the same reason as well conclude, that Epiphanius was a favourer of the Iconoclasts; for otherwise he would have reckon­ed their opinion among the rest of the Heresies by him reckoned up? I shal not here say any thing of their refusing so boldly, and confidently, those Passages alledged out of The odotui Ancyranus, and others. Since that time you shall find nothing more ordinary, in the Books both of the Greeks and the Latins, than the like reproaches, that they mutually cast upon each other, of having corrupted the Pieces and Evidences wherein their cause was the most concerned: As for example, at the Council of Florence, Mark Bishop of Ephesus disputing concerning the Pro­cession of the Holy Ghost, had nothing to answer to two passages that were alledged against him; the one out of that piece of Epiphanius, Concil Florent. Act. 18. To. 4. Conc. [...]. which is entituled, Ancoratus: the other out of S. Basils Writings, against Eunomius; but that That piece of Epiphanius had been long since cor­rupted: and so likewise of that other passage out of S. Basil, that Some one or other who favoured the opinion of the La­tin [...]s, had accommodated that place to their sence: withall Ib. Act. 20. protesting, that in all Constantinople there was but four Copies only of the said Book that had that passage alledg­ed by the Latins▪ but that there was in the said City above a thousand other copies wherein those words were not to be found at all. Then had the Latins nothing to return up­on them more readily, than that it had been the ordinary practice, not of the West, but of the East; to corrupt Books▪ and for proof hereof, they presently cite a pas­sage out of S. Cyrill, which we have formerly set down: where notwithstanding he speaks not any thing, save on­ly of the Hereticks; that is to say, of the Nestorians, who were said to have falsified the Epistle of Athanasius to Epictetus; but not a word there of all the Eastern men, [Page 52] much less of the whole Greek Church. The Greeks then charged back upon the Latines the story of Pope Zozimus, mentioned in the preceeding Chapter. And thus did they bandy stifly one against the other, each of them, as may be easily perceived, having much more appearance of reason and of truth, in their accusation of their Adver­sary, than in excusing or defending themselves. I shall here give you also another the like answer, made by one Gregorius, a Greek Monk, a strong maintainer of the Ʋnion made at Florence, Apol. Gregor. Mon. Protosyn. contr. Ep. Marc. Eph. Tom. 4. Concil. to a passage cited by Mark Bi­shop of Ephesus, out of a certain Book of John Damascene; affirming, that The Father only is the Cause, to wit, in the Trinity: These words (saith this Monk) are not found in any of the ancient Copies: which is an evident argument, that it had been afterwards foisted in by the Greeks, to bring over this Doctor to their opinion.Petavi [...] Not. in Epiphan. Petavin [...] hath in like manner lately quitted his hands of an objection, taken out of the 68. Canon of the Apostles, against the Fasting on Saturdays, which is observed in the Roman Church: pretending, that the Greeks have falsified this Canon. But whosoever desires to see how full of uncer­tainty the Writings of this later Antiquity are, let him but read the VIII. Council which is pretended by the Western Church, to be a general Council, and but com­pare the Latine and the Greek Copies together, withal taking especial notice of the Preface of Anastasius Biblio­thecarius; who after he hath very sharply reproved the Ambition of the Greeks, and accused the Canons which they produce of the Third General Council, as Forged, and supposititious; to make short work with them, he says in plain terms, that the Greeks have corrupted all the Councils, except the First. What then have we now left us to build upon, seeing that this Corruption hath prevailed even as far as on the Councils, which are the very heart of the Ancient Monuments of the Church? Neither yet hath the Nicene Creed, which hath been ap­proved and made sacred in so many General Councils, [Page 53] been able to escape these Alterations. For, not to speak any thing of these Expressions, which are of little importance; De Coelis, from Heaven; secundum Scripturas, according to the Scriptures; Deum de Deo, God of God; which Cardinal Julian Concil. Flor. Sess. 12. affirmed, at the Council of Florence, were to be found in some Creeds, and in some others were not: it is now the space of some Ages past, since the East­ern ChurchConcil Flor. Sess. 4 & 5. & Conc VII Act. 7. quo loco vi­denda annot. marg. accused the Western of having added Filio (que) and the Son, in the Article touching the Procession of the Holy Ghost; the Western Men as senselesly charging back upon them again, that they have cut it off: Which is an Alteration, though it seem but trivial in appearance, that is of great importance, both to the one side, and to the other, for the decision of that great Controversie, which hath hitherto caused a separation betwixt them; namely, Whether or no the Holy Ghost proceed from the Son, as well as from the Father? Which is an evident Argument, that either the one or the other of them, hath, out of a desire to do service to their own Side, laid false hands upon this Sacred Piece. Now whatever hath been attempted in this kind by the Ancients, may well pass for Innocence, if compar'd but with what these Later Times have dared to do; their Passion being of late years so much heated, that laying all Reason and Honesty aside, they have most miserably and shamelesly corrupted all sorts of Books, and of Authors. Of those Men that go so desperately to work, we cannot certainly speak of their baseness as it deser­veth: and in my judgment, Laurentius Bochellus, in his Preface to the Decreta Ecclesiae Gallicanae, Laur. Bochel Praefat▪ in Decret▪ Eccles Gal. Taceo innumeros Auctores sacros, protanos, ve­teres, recentiores, ab is [...]i [...] tam improbi quàm in [...]oelicis ingenii homin [...]bus miserab [...] decur­tatos, vel ipsis Regibus parcero non assuetis, nedum S. Ludovico, cujus▪ Pragmaticae (ut vocant) Sanctionis articulos nonrull [...]s, maximè ad rei Gallicae statum pertinentes, abs Bibliotheca illa SS. PP. Constitutionibus Regiis; & sta­tutis Episcoporum quorundam Syno­dalibus Reginae urbium Lutetiae nu­per impressis expunxerunt. Vae, ite­rum vae, ut cum Vidente exclamem, Nebulonibus, qui tales Musarum Ca­stitati & integritati venerandae non solum insidias struunt, sed & Musas ipsas impudenter, & nequiter subdo­lo religionis zelo, nullius frontis ho­mines devirginant, sucum (que) istum pietatis nomen ementitum, inter Pias fraudes numerant. had all the reason in the world to detest these Men, as People of a most wretched and malicious spirit, who have most miserably gelded and mangled so infinite a number of Authors, both Sacred and Prophane, Anci­ent and Modern; their ordinary custom be­ing, to spare no Person, no not Kings, nor even S. Lewis himself, out of whose Pragmatica [Page 54] Sanctio (as they call it) they have blotted out some certain Articles (prin­cipally those which concerned the State of France) out of the Bibliotheca Pa­trum, the Constitutiones Regiae, and the Synodical Decrees of certain Bi­shops, lately Printed at Paris. Wo, wo (to speak with the Prophet) to these mischievous Knaves, who do not only lay such treacherous snares for the venera­ble Chastity and Integrity of the Muses, but do also most impudently and wick­edly d [...]flour, under a false and counterfeit pretence of Reli­gion, even the Muses themselves; accounting this jugling to be but a kind of Pious Fraud. But we do not here write against these Men: it is sufficient for us to give a hint on­ly of that which is as clear as the Sun; namely, that these Men have altered, and corrupted, by their Additions in some places, and gelding of others, very many of the Evi­dences of the Ancients Belief. These are they, who in this Period of the XII Epistle of S. Cyprian, written to the People of Carthage; Cypr. Ep. 12. Extr. Audiant quaeso patienter Consilium nostrum; expe­ctent regressionem nostram, ut cùm ad vos per Dei misericordiam vene­rimus, convocati Coepiscopi plures secundum Domini doctrinam, & Confessorum praesentiam, beatorum Martyrum literas & desideria exami­nare possimus. Cypr. Pamel & Gryph. Lugd. An. 1537. l 3. ep. 16. p. 148. Aliae Editiones, ut Manutii, item Morellii, Par. An. 1568. p. 158. legunt Secun­dum vestram quoque sententiam. I desire that they would but patiently hear our Counsel, &c. that our Fellow-Bishops being assembled together with us, we may together examine the Letters, and Desires of the Blessed Martyrs, accord­ing to the Doctrine of our Lord, and in the presence of the Confessors, & secun­dum vestram quoque sententiam, and according as you also shall think con­venient: have maliciously left out these words, & secundum vestram quo­que sententiam: By which we may plainly understand, that these Men would not by any means have us know, that the Faithful People had ever any thing to do with, or had any Vote in the Affairs of the Church. These be they, [Page 55] who in his Fortieth Epistle, have changedCypr. Pamel. Epist. 40. p. 7. Cathedra una super Petrum Domini voce fundata. Gryph. An 1537. p. 52. Morel. An. 1564. p. 124. habebant, super Petram. Petram into Petrum, a Rock into S. Peter, and who following the steps of the anci­ent Corrupters, have foisted in, in his Tract, De Ʋnitate Ecclesiae, here and there, as they thought fit, whole Periods, and Sentences, against the faith of the best and most uncorrupted Manuscripts: as for example, in this place;Cypr. Pamel. p. 254. Super illum unum aedificat Ecclesiam suam & illi pascendas mandat oves suas. Quae verba desiderantur in Edit. Gryph. anno 15 [...]7 & Morel. anno 1564. He built his Church on him alone (S. Peter) and commanded him to feed his sheep: and in this,Cypr. Pamel. ibid. Unam Cathedram Con­stituit: Quae verba defiderabantur in Editio­ne Gryphii, anno 1537. & Morel anno 1564. He esta­blished one sole Chair: and this other,Cypr. Pamel. ibid. Primatus Petro datur, ut una Ecclesia Christi, & Cathedra una monstretur; & pastores sunt omnes; sed unus grex ostenditur, qui ab Apostolis omnibus unanimi consensione pascatur: quae verba omnia, exceptis illis, (ut una Ec­clesia monstretur) non habebantur in Edit. Gryph. neque Morel [...]ti sup. The Primacy was given to Peter, to shew, that there was but one Church, and one Chair of Christ: and this,Cypr. Pamel p. 254. Qui Cathedram Pe­tri, super quam sundata est Ecclesia, ab­sunt à Gryph. & Morel. Edit. Who left the Chair to Peter, on which he had built his Church: Which are Ad­ditions that every one may see what they aim at. These are the Men who cannot conceal thePamel. in arg. ep. 75. Cypr. Atque adeo for­tassis consultius foret, nunquam editam fuisse hanc Epistolam; ita ut putent, con­sultò illam omisisse Manutium. regret they have for not having suppressed an Epistle of Firmilianus, Arch­bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, who was one of the most Eminent Persons in his Time; which Epistle Ma­nutius had indeed omitted in his Roman Edition of S. Cyprian; but was afterward put in by Morellius in his, amongst the Epistles of S. Cyprian, to whom it was writ­ten: and all because it informs us, how the other Bishops in ancient▪ Times had dealt with the Pope. So that we may hence observe, of what temper these Men have al­ways been; and may guess how many the like Pieces have been killed in the Nest.Nic. Faber, in ep. [...]d Front. Ducaum in O­pusc p. 216. Out of the like Shop it is, that poor S. Ambrose is sent abroad, but so ill accoutred, and in so pittiful a plight, that Nicolas Faber hath very much be wailed the corruption of him. For those Gentle­men, [Page 56] who have published him, being over ingenuous (as he saith) in another mans Works, have changed, mangled, and transposed divers things; and particularly they have separated the Books of the Interpellation of Job, and of David, which were put together in all other Editions; and to do this, they have, by no very commendable exam­ple, foisted in, and altered divers things: and they have likewise done as much in the First Apologie of David; and more yet in the Second, where they have rased out of the eighth Chapter five or six Lines, which are found in all the ancient Editions of this Father.Ibid. p. 215. They have also attributed to this Author certain Tracts which are not his; as that, Of the Forbidden Tree, and that other upon the last Chapter of the Proverbs. And we may by the way also take notice, That this is the Edition which they fol­lowed, who printed S. Ambrose his Works at Paris, Anno. 1603. Such hands as these they were that have so villa­nously curtailed the Book Of the Lives of the Popes, writ­ten by Anastasius, or rather by Damasus; leaving out, in the very Entry of it, the Authors Epistle Dedicatory, written to S. Hierome, because it did not so well suit with the present temper of Rome: leaving out in like manner in the Life of S. Peter, the Conclusion of all, which I shall here set down, as it is found in all Manuscripts.Hic B. Clementem Episcopum con­secravit, ei (que) cathedram, vel Ecclesi­am omnem disponendam commisit, dicens: Sicut mihi gubernandi tra­dita est à Domino meo Jesu Christo potestas ligandi solvendi (que) ita & ego tibi committo, ut ordines disposito­res diversarum causarum, per quos actus Ecclesiasticus profligetur; & tu minimè in curis saeculi deditus re­periaris, sed solummodo ad oratio­nem, & praedicationem populi vacare stude. Post hanc dispositionem Mar­tyrio coronatur. Habentur haec ex Euchar. Salm ad Sirmond. cap. 5. Edi­tio Par. anno 1621. p. 664. He con­secrated S. Clement Bishop, and com­mitted to his Charge the Ordering of his Seat, or of the whole Church, saying, As the Power of Binding and Loosing was delivered to me by my Lord Jesus Christ, in like manner do I commit to thy charge the appointing of such Per­sons, as may determine of such Ecclesi­astical Causes as may arise; that Thou thy self mayst not be taken up with worldly cares, but mayst apply thy whole studies only to Prayer, and Preach­ing to the People. After he had thus di­sposed [Page 57] of his Seat, he was [...]rowned with Martyrdom. This is the Testament that S. Peter made, but it hath been sup­pressed and kept from us, because in it he hath charged his Successors with such Duties as are quite contrary both to their Humour and Practice. And in another place, in the same Book,Anastas. in Ste­phano V. p. 219. Dei ordinante providentiâ Papa Orbis consecratus est. Ms. habent, Papa Urbis: ex Salm in Eu­char. ad Sir­mond. p. 464. in stead of Papa Ʋrbis; that is to say, The Pope or Bishop of the City, namely, of Rome, as all Manu­scripts have it; these worshipful Gentlemen will needs have us read, Papa Orbis, that is, The Bishop of the whole World▪ forasmuch as this is now the Stile of the Court, and this hath now long since grown to be the Title of the Bishop of Rome. These are the Men, who inVid Fulbert. Carnot. Edit. à Villersio, anno 1608. Par. p. 168. Fulbertus, Bishop of Chatres, where he cites that remarkable Pas­sage of S. Augustine, This then is a Figure, commanding us to communicate of the Passion of the Lord, have inserted these words, Figura ergo est, dicet Haereticus; It is a Figure then, will an Heretick say: cunningly making us believe this to be the saying of an Heretick, which was indeed the true sense and meaning of S. Augustine himself, and so ci­ted by Fulbertus. These be the very Men also, who in S. Gregory have changed Exercitus Sacerdotum, Gregor. M [...]ep. l. 4. ep. 38. Omnia, &c. quae praedicta sunt▪ fiunt. Rex super­biae prope est; & quod dici nefas est, Sacerdotum ei praepatatur exitus Ms. habent, Sacer [...]o [...]um [...]i praepatatur exercitus Ex Tho. James. in Vindic. Gregor loc. 666. quo modo citatur etiam à Bellarmino hic locus, lib. 3. de Rom P [...]nt c. 13. Sect. Addit. & ex [...]r. c. Sect. pari ratione. into Exitus Sacerdotum; reading in the 38 Epistle of his fourth Book, thus; All things, &c. which have been foretold, are accomplished. The King of Pride (he speaks of An­tichrist) is at hand; and which is horri­ble to be spoken, the Failing, (or end) of Priests is prepared: Whereas the Manuscripts (and it is so cited by Bellarmine too) read, an Army of Priests is prepared for him. These be they who have made Aimo­nius to say,Aimon. de Gest. Franc. l. 5 c. 8. In quā Synodo, (quam Octavam Universa­lem illuc convenientes appellarunt,) de Imaginibus adorandis. secundum quod Orthodoxi Doctores anteà defi­nierant, [...]tatuerunt: legendum, Al [...]tèr quàm Orthodoxi definierant; sic enim legit ipse Baron. Annal. Tom. X. an. 869. That the Fathers of the pretended VIII General Council had ordained the Adoration of Images, ac­cording as had been before determined by the Orthodox Doctors: Whereas he [Page 58] wrote quite contrary, That they had ordained otherwise than had been formerly determined by the Orthodox Doct. as appears plainly, not only by the Manuscripts, but also by the most ancient Editions of this Author; and even by Card. Baronius his alledging of this Passage also, in the Tenth Tome of his Annals, An. Dom. 869. These are they who have quite rased out this following Passage out of Oecumenius; [...]. For they who defended and fa­voured the Law, introduced also the worshipping of Angels; and that, because the Law had been given by them. And this Custom continued long in Phrygia, insomuch that the Council of Lao­dicea made a Decree, forbidding to make any Addresses to Angels, or to pray to them: whence also it is, that we find many Temples among them, erected to Michael the Archangel: Which Passage David H [...]eschelius, in his Notes upon the Books of Origen against Celsus, p. 483. witnes­seth. That himself had seen and read, in the Manuscripts of Oecumenius; and yet there is no such thing to be found in any of the Printed Copies. Who would believe but that the Breviaries and Missals should have escaped their Ra­zour? Yet,Simon. Vigor l. 1. de la Mo­narch Ecclesi­astique, ch. 1. F. Paolo di Vinet. Apol. contr. Bellarm Sic legitur in B [...]ev. Clement. VIII. jussu re­cognitis, p. 937. as it hath been observed by Persons of emi­nent both Learning and Honesty, where it was read, in the Collect on S. Peter's day, heretofore thus, Deus, qui B. Petro Apostolo tuo, collatis clavibus regni coelestis, ani­mas ligandi, & solvendi Pontificium tradidisti: that is, O God, who hast committed to thy Apostle S. Peter, by giving him the Keys of the Heavenly Kingdom, the Episco­pal Power of Binding and Loosing Souls: in the later Edi­tions of these Breviaries and Missals, they have whol­ly left out the word Animas, Souls; to the end that People should not think that the Popes Autority extended only to Spiritual Affairs, and not to Temporal also. And so likewise in the Gospel upon the Tuesday following the Third Sunday in Lent, they have Printed,Sic legitur in Bre [...]iar. Clem. VIII jussu re­co [...]n. p. 369. Dixit Jesus Discipulis suis; that is, Jesus said to his Disciples, where­as [Page 59] it was in the old Books,Sic legebatur in Brev. impres. Paris. 1492. per Jo. de Pra­to. Respiciens Jesus in Discipu­los, dixit Simoni Petro, si peccaverit in te frater tuus: Jesus looking back upon his Disciples, said unto Simon Pe­ter, If thy Brother have offended against thee, &c. cun­ningly omitting those words relating to Simon Peter, for fear it might be thought that our Saviour Christ had made S. Peter, that is to say, the Pope, subject to the Tribunal of the Church, to which he there sends him. And if the Council of Trent would but have hearkned to Thomas Passio, a Canon of Valencia, they should have blotted out of the Pontifical all such Passages as make any mention of the Peoples giving their Suffrage and Con­sent in the Ordination of the Ministers of the Church; and, among the rest, that, where the Bishop at the Ordi­nation of a Priest saith, ThatPontif. Rom. de Ordinat. Presbyt. fol. 38. Neque enim fuit frustrà à Patribus insti­tutum, ut de electione illorum, qui ad regimen altaris adhibendi sunt, consula­tur etiam populus; quia de vita & con­servatione praesentandi, quod nonnun­quam ignoratur à pluribus, scitur à pau­cis; & necesse est, ut faciliùs ei quis obe­dientiam exhibeat ordinato, cui assen­sum praebuerit ordinando. it was not without good reason, that the Fathers had ordained, That the Advice of the People should be taken touching the Election of those Per­sons who were to serve at the Altar; to the end, that having given their Assent to their Ordination, they might the more readily yield Obedi­ence to those who were so Ordained. The meaning of this honest Canon was, that to take away all such Authorities from the Hereticks, the best way would be to blot them all out of the Pontifical, to the end that there might be no trace or footstep of them left remaining for the future. Pet. Soavez. Hist. Concil. Trident. l. 7. But they have not contented themselves with corrupt­ing onely in this manner some certain Books, out of which perhaps we might have been able to discover what the Opinion and Sense of the Ancients have been; but they have also wholly abolished a very great num­ber of others. And for the better understanding here­of, we are to take notice, that the Emperours of the first Ages took all possible care for the stifling and abo­lishing all such Writings as were declared prejudicial to [Page 60] the True Faith; as namely, the Books of the Arrians, and Nestorians, and others▪ which were under a great penalty forbidden to be read, but were to be wholly supprest and abolished, by the Appointment of these ancient Princes. The Church it self also did sometimes call in the Books of such Persons as had been dead long before, by a com­mon consent of the Catholick Party, as soon as they per­ceived any thing in them that was not consonant to the present Opinion of the Church;Conc. V. Col. VIII. as it did at the Fifth Ge­neral Council, in the Business of Theodorus, Theodoreius, and Ibas, all three Bishops, the one of Mopsuestia, the other of Cyprus, and the third of Edissa, anathematizing each of their several Writings, notwithstanding there Persons had been all dead long before: dealing also, even in the quiet times of the Church,Id. Col. V. & Col. VIII. A­nath. XI. with Origen in the same manner, after he had been now dead about three hundred years. The Pope then hath not failed to imitate, now for the space of many Ages, both the one and the other of these rigorous Courses, withal encreasing the harshness of them from time to time: in so much that, in case any of the Opinions of the Ancients hath been by chance found at any time to contradict his, we are not to make any doubt, but that he hath very carefully and diligently suppressed such Pieces, without sparing any, though they were written perhaps two, three, four, or five hundred years before, more than the others. As for example: It is at this day disputed, whether or no the Primitive Church had in their Temples, and worshipped the Ima­ges of Christ, and of Saints. This Controversie hath been sometime very eagerly, and with much hea [...], and for a long time together, debated in the Greek Church. That Party which maintained the Affirmative, bringing the bu­siness before the VII Council,Concil. VII. Act. 8. Car. 9. held at Nicaea, it was there ordained, That it should be unlawful for any Man to have the Books of the other Party; withal charging every Man to bring what Books they had of that Party to the Patriarch of Constantinople, to do with them, as we must [Page 61] conceive, according as had been required by the Legats of Pope Adrian; Idem Act. 5. [...]. that is, t [...]at they should burn all those Books, which had been written against the Venerable Images: including, no doubt, within the same Condemnation, all such Writings of the Ancients also, as seemed not to favour Ima­ges; as namely, the Epistle of Eusebius to Con­stantia; and that of Epiphanius to John of Hierusalem, and others, which are not now extant, but were, in all probability, at that time abolished. For, as for the Epistle of Epiphanius, that which we now have, is only S. Hie­romes Translation of it, which happened to be preserved in the Western parts; where the passion in the behalf of Images was much less violent, than it was in the Eastern: but the Original Greek of it is no where to be found. Adrian II. in his Council ordained in like manner, that the Council held by Photius, against the Church of Rome, should be burnt, together with his other Books, and all the Books of those of his Party, which had been written against the See of Rome: Cap. 1. Habe­tur in Concil. VIII. Act. 7. Ibid. Act. 1. in Ep. Adriani. and he commanded the very same thing also in the VIII. Council, which is accounted by the Latines for a General Council. It is impossible, but that in these Fires very many Pieces must needs have pe­rished, which might have been of good use to us, for the discovering what the opinion of the Ancients was, whe­ther touching Images, which was the business of the VII. Council; or that other Controversie, touching the Power of the Pope; which was the principal Point debated in the Synod held by Photius; some of whose Pieces they, for the self same reason, do at this day keep at Rome under Lock and Key; which doubtless they would long ere this have published, had they but made as much for the Pope, as in all probability they make against him. This rigorous proceeding against Books came at length to that height,Conc. Later. sub Leone X. Sess. 10. as that Leo X. at the Council of Lateran, which brake up An. 1518. decreed, That no Book should be print­ed, but what had first been diligently examined, at Rome, [Page 62] by the Master of the Palace; in other places, by the Bishop, or some other person deputed by him to the same purpose; and by the Inquisitor, under this penalty; That all Book sellers offending herein, should forfeit their Books, which should be presently burnt in publick; and should pay a hundred Du­cats, when it should be demanded, towards the Fabrick of S. Peter; (a kind of punishment, this, which we find no examples of in all the Canons of the Ancient Church,) and should also be suspended from exercising his Function, for the space of a whole year. This is a General Sentence, and which comprehendeth as well the Works of the Fathers, as of any others; as appeareth plainly by this, that the Bishop of Malfi, Ibid. Responderunt om­nes placere, excepto R. P. D. Alexio, Episcopo Malfitano, qui dixit, Pla­cere de novis operibus, non autem de Antiquis. having given in his opinion, saying, that he concurred with them, in rela­tion to New Authors, but not to the Old; all the rest of the Fathers voted simply for all; nei­ther was there any Limitation at all added to this Decree of the Council. This very Decree hath been since strongly confirmed by the Concil. Trid. Sess 5. De­creto de Edit. & usu Sa­cror. lib. Council of Trent, which appointed also cer­tain persons to take a Review of the Books, and Censures, and to make a Report of them to the Company,Idem Sess. 18. Quo fa­ciliùs ipsa possit varias, & peregrinas doctrinas, tanquam Zizania, à Chri­stianae Veritatis tritico separare. To the end that there might be a separation made, betwixt the good Grain of Christian Verity, and the Darnel of strange Do­ctrines: That is in plain terms, that they might blot out of all manner of Books, whatsoever relished not well with the gust of the Church of Rome. But these Fathers, having not the leisure themselves to look to this Pious Work, appointed certainConcil. Tri­dent. Sess. 25. decreto de In­dice lib. Commissaries, who should give an account of this matter to the Pope: whence afterward it came to pass, that Pope Pius IV. first, and afterward Sixtus V. and Clement VIII. published certain Rules, and Indexes, of such Authors and Books, as they thought fit should be either quite abolished, or purged only; and have given such strict order, for the printing of Books, as that in those Countries [Page 63] where this order is observed, there is little danger that ever any thing should be published, that is either contra­ry to the Doctrine of the Church of Rome, or which ma­keth any thing for their Adversaries. All these Instructi­ons, which are too long to be inserted here, may be seen at the end of the Council of Trent, where they are usually set down at large. And in order to these Rules, they have since put forth their Indices Expurgatorii, (as they call them;) namely, that of the Low Countries, and of Spain, and other places; where these Gallants come with their Razor in their hand, and sit in judgment upon all man­ner of Books, rasing out, and altering, as they please, Pe­riods, Chapters, and whole Treatises also often times, and that too in the Works of those Men, who for the most part were born, and bred up, and dyed also in the Com­munion of their own Church. If the Church for eight or nine hundred years since, had so sharp Razors as these men now have; it is then a vain thing for us, to search any higher, what the judgment of the Primitive Christi­ans was, touching any particular Point: for, whatsoever it was, it could not have escaped the hands of such Ma­sters. And if the Ancient Church had not heretofore any such Institution as this; why then do we, who pre­tend to be such Observers of Antiquity, practise these Novelties? I know very well, that these men make pro­fession of reforming only the Writings of the Moderns: but who sees not, that this is but a Cloak which they throw over themselves; lest they should be accused as guilty of the same cruelty that Jupiter is among the Poets; for having behaved himself so insolently against his own Father? Those Pieces which they raze so exactly in the Books of the Moderns, are the cause of the greater mischief to themselves, when they are found in the Wri­tings of the Ancients, as sometimes they are. For what a senseless thing is it, to leave them in, where they hurt most; and to raze them out, where they do little hurt? The Inquisition at Madrid puts outInd. [...] gat. Sandoval. in Athanas. Ind. 1. these words in the [Page 64] Index of Athanasius, Adorari solius Dei est; that is,Athanas. Orat 3. [...]tra Arian. [...]. God alone is to be worshipped: and yet not­withstanding, these words are still expresly found in the Text of Athanasius. The same Father saith,Id. in Frag. & Fest. [...]. That there were some other Books, (besides those which he had before set down,) which, in truth, were not of the Canon; and which the Fathers had ordained, should be read to those, who were newly come into the Christian Communion, and desired to be instructed in the word of Piety: reckoning in this number, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesi [...]sticus, Judith, Esther, Tobit, and some other. Nevertheless these very Cens [...]rs put out, in the † Index of Athanasius his Works, those words which affirm, that the said Books are not at all Canonical. In the Index of St. Augustine they put out these w [...]rds, Christ h [...]th given the sign of his Body: which yet are evidently to be seen in the Text of this Father, in his Book against Adimantus, Id. in August. Chap. 12. They put out in like manner, these words: Augustine accounted the Eucharist necessary to be administred to Infants: which opinion of S. Augustine is very frequently found expressed, either in these very words, or the like, throughout▪ his Works, as we shall see hereafter. They likewise put out these words;Infr. l. 1. c. 8. Ind. Exp. San­dov. in August. August. contr. Maxim. lib. Nonne si tem­plum alicui Sancto Angelo excellentissi­mo de lignis & lapidibus face­remùs, ana thematizemur à veritate Christi, & ab Ecclesia Dei, &c. We ought not to build. Temples to Angels: and yet the very Text of S. Augustine saith, If we should erect a Temple of Wood, or of Stone, to any of the holy Angels, should we not be Anathematized? And this is the practice of the Censors, both in the Low Countries, and in Spain, in many other particulars, which we shall not here set down. Now if thou cuttest off such Sentences as these, out of the Indexes of these Holy Fathers; why dost thou not as well raze them out of the Text also? Or if thou leavest them in the one, why dost thou blot them out in the other? What can the meaning be of so strange a way of proceeding in so Wise Men? But yet, who sees not the reason of it? For, these Sentences, which these Men [Page 65] [...]hus boldly and rudely correct, are as displeasing to them in the Ancients, as in the Moderns; and where they may safely do it, they expunge them, as well out of the one, as out of the other. But this they dare not do openly, for fear of giving too much scandal to the World, which they are unwilling to do: because if they should deal so uncivilly, and make so bold with Antiquity, they would quite take off that respect, which all people bear toward it; which being a matter which very nearly concerns themselves, it is a special point of wisdom in them, care­fully to keep up the Reputation of it. But in lashing the poor Moderns, who have made Indexes to all the Works of the Fathers, they save their Credit, and do their busi­ness too; ruining the opinions which they hate, by cha­stising the one; and yet withal preserving the venerable Esteem of Antiquity, which they cannot subsist without, by sparing the other. And yet I cannot see, why Bertram a Priest, who lived in the time of the Emperour Charles the Bold, which is about some seven hundred and fifty years since, should be reckoned among the Moderns: and yet his Book, De Corpore & Sanguine Domini, is absolute­ly, and without any limitation, forbidden to be read, in the Index of the Council of Trent, in the Letter B [...] among the Authorsof the second Classis, as they call them. But yet the Censors of the Low Countries have dealt with him more gently, shall I say, or rather more cruelly; not ta­king his life away quite, only maiming him in the s [...]veral parts of his Body, and leaving him in the like sad condi­tion with Deiphobus in the Poet:

—Lacerum crudeliter ora,
Ora, manusque ambas, populata (que) tempora, raptis
Auribus, & truncas inbonesto vulnere nares.

For they have cut you off, with one single dash of their Pen, two long Passages, consisting each of them of twenty eight, or thirty Lines a piece, and which are large enough [Page 66] to make up a very considerable part of a small Treatise; such as his is. And that the Reader may the better judge of the business, I shall here set down one of these Passages entire as it is. Bertram. Presbyt. lib. De Corp. & Sangu. Dom. Considerandum quoque, quod in pane illo non solùm corpus Christi, verùm etiam corpus in eum credentis populi figuretur: unde multis frumenti granis conficitur, quia corpus populi credentis multis per verbum Christi fidelibus aug­mentatur, (al. coagmentatur) Qua de re ficut mysterio panis ille Christi corpus acc [...]pitur; sic etiam in mysterio membra popu­li credentis in Christum intiman­tur. Et sicut non corporaliter, sed spititualiter panis ille cre­dentium corpus dicitur: sic quo­que Christi corpus non corpora­liter, sed spiritualiter necesse est intelligatur. Sic & in vino, qui sanguis Christi dicitur, aqua misceri jubetur, nec unum sine altero permittitur offerri, quia nec populus sine Christo, nec Christus sine populo, sicut nec caput sine corpore, vel corpus sine capite valet existere. Igitur si vinum illud, sanctificatum per ministrorum officium, in Christi sarguinem corporaliter conver­titur, aqua quoque, quae pariter admixta est, in sanguinem popu­li credentis necesse est corpora­liter convertatur. Ubi namque una sanctificatio est, una conse­quenter operatio; & ubi par ratio, par quoque consequitur mysterium. At videmus in aqua secundum corpus nihil esse con­versum, consequenter ergo & in vino nihil corporaliter ostensum. Accipitur spiritualiter, quicquid in aqua de populi corpore signi­ficatur; accipiatur ergò necesse est spiritualiter quicquid in vino de Christi sanguine intimatur. I [...]em, quae à se differunt, idem non sunt: Corpus Christi, quod mortuum est, & resurrexit, & immortale factum jam non mo­ritur, & mors illi ultrà non do­minabitur, aeternum est, jam non passibile. Hoc autem, q [...]od in Ecclesia celebratur, tempo­rale est, non aeternum; corru­ptibile est, non incorruptibile, in via est, non in patria, Differunt igitur à se, quapropter non sunt idem. Quòd si non sunt idem, quomodo verum Corpus Christi dicitur, & verus sanguis? Si enim Corpus Christi est, & hoc dicitur verè quia Corpus Christi in veri­tate Corpus Christi est, & si in veritate Corpus Christi, incorru­ptibile est, & impassibile, ac per hoc aeternum. Hoc igitur Corpus Christi quod agitur in Ecclesia necesse est ut incorruptibile sit, & aeternum. Sed negari non po­test corrumpi, quod per partes commutatum dispertitur ad su­mendum, & dentibus commoli­tum in corpus trajicitur. We ought further to consi­der (saith Bertram, speaking of the Holy Eucharist,) that in this Bread is represent­ed not only the Body of Christ, but the Body of the People also, that believe in him. And hence it is that it is made up of many se­veral grains of wheat, because that the whole Body of believing People is united to­gether, and made into one, by the word of Christ. And therefore as it is by a Mystery, that we receive this Bread, for the Body of Christ: in like manner it is by a Mystery also, that the Members of the People believing in Christ, are here figured out unto us. And as this Bread is called the Body of Believers, not corporally, but spiritu [...]lly; so is the Body of Christ also necessarily to be under­stood to be represented here, not corporally, but spiritually. In like manner is it in the Wine, which is called the Blood of Christ; and with which it is ordained, that water be mixed; it being forbidden to offer the one without the other: because that as the Head cannot subsist without the Body, nor the Body without the Head; in like man­ner neither can the People be without Christ, nor Christ without the People: so that in this Sacrament, the Water repre­senteth the Image of the People. If then the Wine, after it is consecrated by the Of­fice of Ministers, be corporally changed into the Blood of Christ, of necessity then must the Water also be changed corporally into the Body of the Believing people: because that [Page 67] where there is but one only, and the same Sanctification, there can be but one and the same Operation: and where the Reason is equal, the Mystery also that fellows it is equal. But now as for the Water, we see that there is no such corporal change wrought in it: it therefore follows, that neither in the Wine is there any corporal Transmutation. Whatsoever then of the Body of the People is signified unto us, by the Water, is taken spiritually: it followeth therefore necessarily, that we must, in like manner take spiritually, whatsoever the Wine representeth unto us, of the Blood of Christ. Again, those things, which differ among themselves, are not the same: Now the Body of Christ which died, and was rai­sed up to life again, now dieth no more, be­ing become immortal; and Death having no more power over it, it is eternal, and free from further suffering. But this, which is Consecrated in the Church, is Temporal, not Eternal; corruptible, not free from corruption; in its journey, and not in its native country. These two things therefore are different one from the other, and conse­quently cannot be one and the same thing. And if they be not one and the same thing, how can any man say, that this is the Real Body and Real Blood of Christ? For if it be the Body of Christ; and if it may be truly said, that this Body of Christ is really and truly the Body of Chri [...]t: the Real Body of Christ being Incorruptible and Impassible, and therefore Eternal; consequently this Body of Christ, which is consecra­te [...] in the Church, must of necessity also be both Incorruptible and Eternal. But it cannot be denied, but that it doth cor­rupt; seeing it is cut into small pieces, and distributed (to the Communicants,) who bruise it very small with their [Page 68] teeth,Index Expurg. Belq. in Ber­tram. Non malè aut incon­sultè omittantur igitur om­nia haec à fine p [...]ginae: Con­sidera [...]dum quoque quod in pane illo, &c. Us (que) ad illud mul [...]ò post, Sed aliud est quod ex [...]eri [...] geritur, &c. in cad. pag. Et seq. pag om­nia illa sequentia, Item quae idem sunt, unâ definitione comprehenduntur, &c. Usque ad illud, Hoc namque quod agitur in viâ, spiritualiter, &c. Seq. pag. and so take it down into their Body. Thus Bertram. His other passage, which is longer yet than this, is of the same Na­ture; but I shall not here set it down, to avoid prolixity. Now these Gentlemen finding, that the language of both these pas­sages did very ill accord with the business of Transubstantiation, they thought it the best way to cut them clear out: for fear, lest co­ming to the Peoples knowledge, they might imagine, that there had been Sacramentari­ans in the Church, ever since the time of Charles the Bald.

Thou then whoever thou art, that thinkest thy self bound to search in the Writings of the Fathers for the Doctrine of thy Salvation, learn from this Artifice of theirs, and those many other Cheats which we, to their great grief, are now searching into, what an extreme de­sire they have to keep from us the Opinion, and sense of the Ancients in all those Particulars, where they never so little contradict their own Doctrine: and remembring withal, how they have had, and still have every day, such opportunities of doing what they please in this kind, thou canst not doubt, but that they have struck deep enough, where there was cause: which blows of theirs, together with the Alterations and Changes, that Time, the Malice of Hereticks, the innocent and pious Fraud of the Primi­tive Church, and the Passion of the later Christians have long since produced, have rendred the Writings, and Ve­nerable Monuments of Antiquity, so imbroiled and per­plexed, that it will be a very hard matter for any man to make any clear and perfect discovery of those things, which so many sevéral Artists have endeavoured to con­ceal from U [...].

CHAP. V.

Reason V. That the Writings of the Fathers are hard to be understood, by reason of the Lan­guages and Idioms they wrote in, the Manner of their Writing, which is for the most part incumbred with Figures, and Rhetorical Flourishes, and nice Logical Subtilties, and the like; and also by reason of the Terms, which they for the most part used in a far different sense from what they now bear.

IF any Man, either by the light of his own proper Wit, or by the assistance and direction of some able and faithful hand, shall at length be able thereby, as by the help of the Clew the Poets speak of, to winde himself happily out of these two Labyrinths, and to find any Pie­ces of the Ancients, that are not onely Legitimate, but also entire, and uncorrupt; certainly that Man hath very good reason to rejoyce at his own good fortune, and to give God hearty thanks for it. For I must needs confess, that it is no very small satisfaction to a Man, to have the opportunity of conversing with those Illustrious Persons of the Ages past, and to learn of them what their Opini­ons were, and to compare our own with theirs;

—Versasque audire, & reddere voces.

But yet this I dare confidently pronounce, That if he would know out of them what their Sense and Opinion hath: truly been, touching the Differences now in agita­tion, he will find, that he is now but at the very begin­ning and entrance of his Business; and that there remain behind many more Difficulties to be overcome in his passage, than he hath yet grappled with. One of the two disagreeing Parties, refusing the Scriptures for the Judge of Controversies, by reason of its Obscurity, lays this [Page 70] for a Ground (and indeed rationally enough) that no ob­scure Books are proper for the decision of Controversies. Now I do not know, why a Man may not, with as much reason, say of the most of the Writings of the Fathers, as S.Hier. ep 139. ad Cypr. Ple­rumque nimi­um disertis accidere so­let ut major sit intelligen­tiae d [...]fficultas in eorum ex­planationibus, quàm in iis quae explana­re conantur. Hierome did of some certain Expositors of some parts of the Scrip [...]ures, That it was more trouble to understand Them well than those very things which they took upon them to expound: that is to say, That it is much harder rightly to understand Them, than the Scriptures themselves. For, that a Man may be able fully to understand them, it is in the first place necessary, that he have perfect and exact skill in those Languages wh [...]rein they wrote; that is to say, in the Greek, and Latin, which are the Tongues that most of them wrote in. For, as for those of the Fathers who have written either in Syriack, or Arabick, or Ethi­opian, or the like Vulgar Tongues of their own; whose Writings perhaps would be as useful to us, in the disco­very of the Opinions of the Ancient Church, as any others; we have not, that I know of, any of these Monuments now publickly to be seen abroad, but only some Translati­ons of them, in Greek, or in Latin: as namely, the Works of S. Ephraem (if at least those Books which go abroad under his Name, be truly his:) and the Comment. de Pa­radiso of Moses Bar-Cephas, translated into Latin by Ma­sius; and perhaps some few other the like. I know very well, that for the most part Men trust to the Translations of the Fathers, whether they be in Latin, or in the Vul­gar Languages; and that the World is now come to that pass, that People will not stick to take upon them to judge of the Greek Fathers, without having (at least, that can be perceived out of their Writings) any competent knowledge of the Greek Tongue:Bellarmine. which cannot in my judgment, be accounted any thing less than a point of the highest boldness and unadvisedness that can be. The thing is clear enough of it self, that to be able to reach the Conceptions and Sense of a Man, especially in Matters of Importance, it is most necessary that we understand the [Page 71] Language he delivers himself in, his Terms, and the man­ner of their coherence; there being in every particular Language a certain peculiar Force, and Power of Signifi­cancy, which can very hardly be so preserved in a Tran­slation, but that it will lose in the passage something of its natural Lustre and Vigour, how knowing, able, and faithful soever the Interpreter be. But this, which is ve­ry useful indeed in all other cases, is most necessary in this particular Business we have now in hand; by reason of the little care and fidelity that we find in the Translations of the greatest part of the Interpreters of the Fathers, whether Ancient, or Modern. We have before seen how Ruffinus, and even S. Hierome himself too, have laid about them, in this particular; and, long after them, Anastasi­us also, in his Translation of the VII Council; who not­withstanding, in his Preface to the VIII, gives us this for a most Infallible Rule; namely, That whatsoever is found in his Translation, is True, and Legitimate; and on the contrary, whatsoever the Greeks have said, either more or less, is suppositious and forged. If all the other Interpreters of the Councils and Fathers, had been Men of the same Temper that Anastasius here would have us believe him to have been of, we might then indeed very well lay by the Greek Text, and content our selves with such dull Latin as he hath furnished us with in his Tran­slation: But the mischief of it is, that all the World doth not believe this Testimony which he hath given of him­self; and that, although he hath such a special gift in va­luing his own Translation above the Original, yet this will hardly ever be allowed to the rest of Translators, especially the Modern; who having been Men that have been for the most part carried away with their aff [...]ction to their own Party, he must needs be a very weak Man, that should trust to them in this case, and relie upon what they say. Whosoever hath yet a mind to be further sa­tisfied how far these Mens Translations are to be trusted, let him but take the pains to compare the Greek Preface [Page 72] to Origen's Books against Celsus, with the Latin Transla­tion of Christophorus Persona; and, if he please, he may do well to run over some part of the Books themselves: and if he hath a mind to sacrifice himself to the Laughter of the Protestants, let him but produce them, upon the ho­nest word of this trusty Trucheman, this Passage out of the Fifth Book, for the Invocation of Angels; We ought to send up our Vows, and all our Prayers, and Thanksgivings to God, Origen, Christoph Pers [...]na, lib. 5. contr. Celsum Vota namque & preces om­nes, & gratiarum insuper actiones ad Deum, sunt per Angelum transmit­tenda. qui per Pontifi­cem, & vivens verbum, & Deum, Angelis prae­fectus est caeteris. Orig. contr. Cels. l 5 p. 239. [...]. by the Angel, who hath been set over the rest, by him [...]ho is the Bishop, the Living Word, and God: In which words he seems to intimate, That Jesus Christ hath ap­pointed some one of the Angels to hear our Prayers; and, that by him we ought to present them to God. Whereas Origen says the clean contrary; namely, That we ought to send up to God, who is above all things, every of our De­mands, Prayers, and Requests, by the great High-Priest, the Living Word, and God, who is above all the Angels. You have a sufficient discove­ry also of the Affections of Translators, who many times make their Authors speak more than they meant, in Jo. Christophorson's Transla­tion of the Ecclesiastical Historians; as likewise in most of the Translators of these later Times, excepting only some very few of the more moderate sort. But we shall not need to insist any longer on this Particular, which hath been sufficiently proved already, by the several Parties of both Sides, discovering the falseness of their Adversaries Translations; as every Man must needs know, that is any whit conversant in these kind of Writings; where you shall meet with nothing more frequent, than these mu­tual Reprehensions of each other. Now in the midst of such distraction, and contrariety of Judgments, how can a Man possibly assure himself, that he hath the true sense and meaning of the Fathers, unless he hear them speak in their own Language, and have it from their own mouth? [Page 73] I shall here lay down then for a most sure Ground, and undeniable Maxime, That to be able rightly to appre­hend the Judgment and Sense of the Fathers, it is neces­sary that we first understand the Language they write in; and that too, not slightly, and superficially; but exactly, and fully: there being in all Languages certain peculiar Terms, and Idioms, familiarly used by the L [...]arned, which no Man shall ever be able to understand throughly and clearly, that hath but a superficial knowledge of the said Languages, and hath not dived even to the depth and very bottom of them. If you would see how necessary the knowledge of an Authors Language is, and how pre­jud [...]cial the want of it; do but turn to that Passage of Theodoret, Theod. Dial. 2. where speaking of the Eucharist, he saith thus; [...]. The Protestants, and all their Adv [...]r [...]ries (before Cardinal Perron) interpret this place thus; The Mystical Symbols, after Consecration, do not leave their proper Nature: for they continue in their first Substance, Figure, and Form. Now what can be said more expresly against Transubstantiation? But yet the above-named Cardinal, having it seems consulted those old Friends of his among the Grammarians, who had heretofore taught him that [...] signified to smoak or evaporate, Perron. Repl p. [...]09. Answ. to the 2 Instit. where he takes this word to signifie, To sume; where­as the true sig­nification is, To pollute, on defile. will needs perswade us, that this Passage is to be interpreted otherwise; namely, That the Signs in the Eucharist con­tinue in the figure and form of their first Substance: which would be tacitely and indirectly to allow Transubstan­tiation. Now it is true, that this Exposition is con­trary not onely to the Design and purpose of the Au­thor, but to the usual way of speaking also among the Greeks. But, in case you had not exact skill in the Lan­guage, how should you be able to judge of this Interpre­tation? especially seeing it put upon you with so much confidence, and unparallel'd boldness, according to the ordinary custom of this Doctor, who never affirms or re­commends [Page 74] any thing to us more confidently, than when it is most doubtful and uncertain. It is out of the same rare and unheard of Grammar, that the said Cardinal hath elsewhere taken upon him to give us that notable Corr [...]ction of his, of the Inscription of an Epistle writ­ten by the Emperour Constantine, to Miltia [...]es Bishop of Rome, Euseb. l. 10. c. 5. Hist. Eccl. [...]. Per­ron in his Repl. saith, we ought to read it thus; [...]. But it seems more probable that we should read, [...], and to Merocles, wh [...] was at that time Bi­shop of Millane, as is ob­served by Optatus, lib. 1. pag. 334. set down in the Tenth Bo [...]k of Euse­bius his Ecclesiastical History, reading it thus: Constantinus Augustus, to Miltiades Bishop of the Romans (wisheth long time) or long oppor­tunity:) whereas all Copies, both Manuscript, and Printed, have it, Constantinus Augustus, to Miltiades Bishop of the Romans, and to Mark: fearing, I suppose, lest some might ac­cuse the Emperour of not understanding him­self aright, in making this Mark here Compa­nion to the Pope, who in all things ought to march without a Copesmate. I should never have done, if I should but go about to set down all those other Passages, in which he hath used the same Arts, in wresting the words of the Ancients to a wrong sense, which otherwise would seem to make for the Protestants: whence it may plainly appear, how ne­cessary the knowledge of the Languages is, for the right understanding of the Sense of the Fathers. So that in my judgment, the Result of all this will clearly be, that as we have before said, it is a difficult thing to come to the right understanding of them. For, who knows not what pains it will cost a Man to attain to a perfect knowledge of these two Tongues? what Parts are necessarily requi­red in this case? A happy Memory, a lively Conceit, good bringing up, continual pains-taking, much and di­ligent Reading, and the like; all which things do very rarely meet in any one Person. But yet the truth of this Assertion of ours is clearly proved also, by the continual Debates and Disputes of those, who though they have referred the Judgment of their Differences to the Deci­sion [Page 75] of the Fathers, [...]o yet no [...]thstanding still implead each other at their B [...], and cannot possibly be brought to any Agreement [...]. Many of the Writers of the Church of R [...]me obj [...]ct [...]gainst the Protestants, as an Ar­gument of the obscu [...]y of the Scriptures, the Contro­versies that are be [...]x [...] themselves and the Lutherans, against the Calvinists touching the Eucharist; and of the Calvinists against the Lutherans, and the Arminians, in the Point of Predestina [...]ion. If this Argument of theirs be of any force at all, who sees not that it clearly proves that which we maintain in this particular? For, the Greeks and the Latius, who both of them make pro­fession of submitting themselves to the Authority of the Fathers, and to plead all their Causes before them, have not as yet been able to come to any Agreement. Do but observe the Passages betwixt these two, at the Council of Florence, Conc. Flor. Sess. 5. de Decreto qu [...]dam Concil. Eph. Act. 6. Sess. 11, & 12. where the strongest and ablest Champions on both Sides were brought into the Lists, how they wrangled out whole Sessions, about the Exposition of a certain short Passage in the Council at Ephesus; and some other the like out of Epiphanius Concil. Flor. Sess. 18, 20, & 21., S. Basil Concil. Flor. Sess. 21., and others: and how, after all their Disputes, how clearly and pow­erfully soever each Party made their vaunts the Business was carried on their Side, they have yet left us the Sense of the Fathers much more dark and obscure than it was before; their Contestations having but rendred the Busi­ness much more perplexed; each Side having indeed ve­ry much appearance of Reason, in what they urge against their Adversaries; but very little solidity in what they have said severally for themselves. Certainly the Latins, who are thought to have had the better Cause of the two,Ibid. loc. Basil. [...] and who, upon a certain Passage of S. Basil, alledg­ed by themselves, triumphed as if they had got the day, baffling and affronting the Greeks in a very disdainful manner, and giving them very harsh Language also, used notwithstanding such an odd kind of Logick to per­swade the receiving of the Exposition which they gave, [Page 76] as that even at this day,Basil. in Orat. in Sacr. Baptis. p. 511. Tom. 1. Edit. Paris a­pud Michael. Sonnium anno 1618. in the last Edition of S. Basil's Works, Printed at Paris, and Revised by Fronto Ducaeus, the Latin Translation follows, in this Particular, not their Exposition, but that of the Greek Schismaticks. And some of the Protestants having also had the same success in some particular Points controverted betwixt them­selves, it lies open to every Mans observation, how much obscurity there is found in the Passages cited by both Sides.Tertul. contr. Marc. l. 4. c. 40. Acceptum pa­nem, & distri­butum disci­pulis, corpus suum illum fe­cit, Hoc est corpus meum, dicendo, id est, Figura Corporis mei. Aug. contr. Adi­mant. c 12 Non enim Dominus dubitavit di­cere, Hoc est corpus meum, cum signum daret corporis sui. If Tertullian was of the Opinion of the Church of Rome, in the Point concerning the Eucharist, what could he have uttered more dark and obscure, than this Passage is of his, in his Fourth Book against Marcion: Christ having taken Bread, and distributed it to his Disci­ples, made it his Body, in saying, This is my Body; that is, to say, The Figure of my Body? If S. Augustine held Tran­substantiation, what can the meaning be of these words of his; The Lord stuck not to say, This is my Body, when he delivered onely the Sign of his Body? If these Passages, and an infinite number of the like, do really and truly mean that which Cardinal Perron pretends they do, then was there never any thing of obscurity either in the Riddles of the Theban Sphinx, or in the Oracles of the Sibyls. If you look on the other side, you shall meet with some other Passages in the Fathers, which seem to speak point­blank against the Protestants: as for example; where they say expresly, That the Bread changeth its nature; and, That, by the Almighty Power of God, it becomes the Flesh of the Word: and the like. And so in all the Controversies betwixt them, they produce such Passages as these, both on the one side, and on the other: some whereof seem to be irreconcileable to the Sense of the Church of Rome, and some other, to the Sense of their Adversaries. If Cardinal Perron, and those other subsime Wits of both Parties, can have the confidence to affirm, that they find no difficulty at all in these Particulars, we must needs think, that either they speak this but out of a Bravado, set­ting a good face upon a bad matter; or else, that both the [Page 77] Wits; and Eye-sight of all the rest of the World are mar­velous dull, and feeble, in finding nothing but Darkness there, where these Men see nothing but Light. But yet for all this, if there be not obscurity in these Writings of the Fathers, and that very much too; how comes it to pass that even these very Men find themselves ever and anon so tormented to find out the meaning of them? How comes it to pass, that they are fain to use so many words, and make tryal of so many tricks, and devices for the clearing of them? Whence proceeds it, that so often, for fear of not being able to satisfie their Readers, they are forced to cry down either the Authors, or the Pieces, out of which their Adversaries produce their Te­stimonies? What strange Sentences, and Passages of Au­thors are those, that require more time, and trouble in the clearing Them, than in deciding the Controversie it self; and which multiply Differences, rather than deter­mine them; oftentimes serving as a Covert, and retreat­ing-place to both Parties? The sense, and meaning of these words is debated; This is my Body. For the explaining of them, there is brought this Passage, out of Tertullian; and that other, out of S. Augustine. Now I would have any Man speak in his conscience, what he thinks; whe­ther or not these words are not as clear, or clearer, than those Passages which they alledge out of these Fathers, as they are explained by the different Parties. I desire, Reader, no other judge than thy self, whosoever thou art; only provided, that thou wilt but vouchsafe to read, and examine that which is now said upon these places, and withal consider the strange Turnings and Windings-about, that they make us take, to bring us to the right sense and meaning of them. In a word, if the most able Men that are, did not find themselves extream­ly puzled, and perplexed, in distinguishing the Legitimate Writings of the Fathers from the Spurious; it is not likely, that the Censors of the Low-Countries, who are all choice, pickt Men, should be forced to shew us so ill [Page 78] an Example of finding a way to help our selves,Ind. Exp. Belg. in Bertr. Pluri­mos in C [...]tho­licis veteribus errores exco­gitato com­mento persae­pè negamus, & commodum iis sensum af­fingimus, dum opponuntur In disputatio­nibus, aut in confilctibus cum adversa­riis. when the Authority of the Ancients is strongly pressed against us by our Adversaries, as they do, in excusing the expressions of the Fathers sometimes, by some handsoml [...] contrived in­vention, and imputting some convenient probable sense upon them. That which hath been said, I am confident is sufficient to convince any reasonable Man of the Truth of this Assertion of ours; namely, that it is a very hard matter to understand the sense and opinions of the Fa­thers by their Books. But, that we may leave no doubt behind us. let us briefly consider some few of the princi­pal Causes of this Difficulty. Certainly the Fathers, ha­ving been Wise Men, all of them both spoke, and wrote, to be understood; insomuch that, having both the will, and the ability to do it, it seemeth very strange, that they should not be able to attain to the end they aimed at. But we must here call to mind, what we have said before; namely, that these Controversies of ours being not in their time yet sprung up; they had no occasion, neither was it any of their design, either to speak, or write any thing of them. For these Sages stirred up as few doubts, in matters of Religion, as they could: Besides that their times furnished them with sufficient matter of Disputes, in Points which were then in agitation; without so much as thinking of Ours, now on foot. And they have very clearly delivered their sense, in all those Controver­si [...]s, which they have handled. Even Tertullian himself, who is the most obscure amongst them all, hath notwith­standing delivered himself so clearly, in the debates be­twixt him and Marcion, and others, that there is no place left for a Man to doubt, what his opinions were, in the points debated of. I am therefore fully perswaded, that if they had lived in these times, or that the present Con­troversies had been agitated in their times, they would have delivered their judgment upon them very plainly, and expresly. But seeing they have not touched upon them, but only by the By; and as they c [...]me accidentally [Page 79] into their way, rather than upon any set purpose; we are not to think it strange, if we find them not to have spo­ken out, and given their sense clearly, as to these Debates of ours. For as any Man may easily observe in the ordina­ry course of things, those things that happen without de­sign, are never clear; and full, but ambiguous, and doubt­ful; and oftentimes also contrary perhaps, either to the sense, or the affection of the person from whom they pro­ceeded. Thus before the springing up of that pernicious doctrine of Arius, who so much troubled the Ancient Church; there wa [...] very little said, of the Eternity of the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ: or if the Fathers said any thing at all of it, it was only in passage, and by the By, and not by design: and hence it is also, that what they have delivered in this particular, is as obscure, and hard to be rightly understood, as those other Passages of theirs, that relate to our present Controversies. Do but explain the meaning a little, if you can, of this passage of Justin Martyr, in his Treatise against Tryphon; wher [...] he saith, that,Just. contr Tryph. p. [...]83. & 356. Edit. Paris. 1615. The God which appeared to Moses, and to the Patriar [...]hs, was the Son, and not the Father: for as much as the Father is not capable of Lo­cal Motion, neither can properly be said to as­cend, or descend: and, thatIbid. p. 357. [...]. &c. No Man ever saw the Father but only heard his Son, and his Angel; who is also God, by the will of the Father. Which words of his cannot be very well explained, without allowing a difference of Nature, in the Father and the Son; which were to establish Arianisme. Do but observe, what Tertullian also [...]ays, in this particular; namely,Tertul. lib. 2. co [...]tr. Marc. c. 27. Quem ex semetip­so proferendo, Filium fecit. That the Father, bringing him forth out of himself, made his Son: and,Id. l. cont. Prax. cap. 9. & passim in eo opere. Pa­ter tota Substantia est, Filius verò derivatio to­rius, & portio. That the Father is the Whole Substance, and the Son, a Portion, and a Deri­vation of that Whole: and many other the like Passages, which you meet with here and there in that excellent Piece of his, written against [Page 80] Praxeas, which will hardly be reconciled to any good construction. In like manner doth Dionysius Alexandri­nus call the Son,Dion. Alex. apud Athanas. ep. de fide Dion. Alex. Vide & Basil ep. 51. T. 2. p. 802. [...]. A­than ep. de Syn. Arim. & Seleu. Vide & Hilar. de Syn. Octo­ginta Episco­pi olim respu erunt [...]. The Work or Workmanship of the Father: which are the very Terms that were so much quarrelled at in Arius. And the LXXX. Fathers, who condemned Paulus Samosatenus, Bishop of Antioch, said expresly, That the Son is not of the same essence with the Father: that is to say, they in express Terms denied the [...], or Consubstantiality of the Son, which was afterwards esta­blished in the Council of Nice. It were no very hard matter to make good this Observation, in reference to all the other Disputes that have arisen in the Church, against Macedonius, Pelagius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and the Mo­nothelites; to wit, that the Fathers have spoken very ob­scurely of these matters, before the Controversies were started; as persons that spoke accidentally only thereof, and not of set purpose. It is now a good while since, that S.Hier. Apol. 2. contr Ruff. Vel certe antequam in A­lexandria, quasi Daemoni­um meridianum Arius nas­ceretur, innocenter quae­dam, & minus caute locu­ti sunt, & quae non possint perversorum hominum calumniam declinare. Hierome said, That before that Arius, that Impudent Devil, appeared in the World, the Fathers had delivered many things Innocently, and without taking so much heed to their words, as they might have done; and indeed some things, that can hardly escape the Cavils of wrangling spirits. And this hath also been observed by some of the most learned among the Moderns; as namely, CardinalPerron. Repl. Obs. 4. c. 5. Perron, and the Jesuit Dion Petau. in Panar, E­piph. [...]d Haer. 69. quae est A­rian. Quod idem pleris (que) veterum Patrum, cùm in hoc negotio, (Trinitatis,) tum in aliis fidei Christia­nae capitibus, usu [...] venit, ut ante errorū at (que) haerese [...]n quibus ea sigilatim oppug­nabantur originem nondū satis illustrata & patefacta rei veritate, quaedam scri­pris suis asperserint, quae cum Orthodoxae fidei re­gula minimè consentiant. Petavius, a Man highly esteemed by those of his own Party; who writing upon Epipha­nius, and endeavouring to clear Lucian the Martyr from the suspicion of being an Arrian, and a Samosatenian; saith, * That in this Que­stion touching the Trinity, as also in divers o­thers, it hath so fallen out, that most of the An­cient Fathers, who wrote before the springing up of those particular Heresies in the Church, have in their. Writings let fall here and there such things, as are not very consonant to the [Page 81] Rule of the Orthodox Faith. Since therefore they have done thus in other Points; what marvel is it if they have likewise done the same in these particular Controversies at this day debated amongst us? and that, having lived so long before that the greatest part of these Controver­sies were started, they have spoken to them so obscurely, doubtfully, and confusedly. For my part I think, it would have been the greater wonder of the two, if they had done otherwise, and shall account it as a very great signe of Forgery, in any Piece which is attributed to Antiqui­ty, when ever I find it treating expresly, and clearly of these Points, and as they are now adays discoursed of. Do but compare the expressions of the most Ancient Fa­thers, touching the Divinity, and Eternity of the Son of God, with their expressions touching the Nature of the Eucharist; and certainly you will find, that the one are not more wide of the Truth at this day professed, touch­ing this last Point; than the other were from the Do­ctrine long since declared in the Council of Nice. The Council of Nice expresly, and positively declared, That the Son is Consubstantial with the Father: the Council of Antioch had before denied this. Whether the Fathers therefore affirm, or deny, that the Eucharist is really the Body of Christ, they will not however therein contra­dict thy opinion, whosoever thou art, whether Roma­nist, or Protestant, any more, than the Fathers of the Council of Antioch seem to have contradicted those of the Council of Nice. We may add hereto, that as the Arians ought not in reason to have alledged, in justifica­tion of their opinion, any such Passages of the Ancient Fa­thers, as had innocently, in passage only, and in discour­sing on other subjects, without any thought of this opi­nion of theirs, fallen from them, so neither to say truth, is there any reason, that either Thou, or I, should produce, as Definitive Sentences upon our present Controversies, which have been started but of late years, any such Passa­ges of the Fathers as were written by them, in treating [Page 82] of other matters, many Ages before the breaking forth of our Differences, whereof they never had the least, thought; and concerning which they have confequently delivered themselves very diversly, and obscurely, and sometimes also seemingly contradicting themselves. And as we find, that some of the Faithful Christians, who li­ved after these Primitive Fathers, have endeavoured to reconcile their sayings to the Truth which they professed; as Athanasius hath done in some Passages of Dionysius Alexandrinus, Athan. ep. de fid. Dionys. A­lex. & ep. de Syn. Arim. & Seleuc. ubi su­pra. and of the Fathers of the Council of Anti­och; in like manner ought we to use our utmost endea­vour to make a handsome interpretation of all such passa­ges in the Writings of these Men, and the like as seem to clash with the true Orthodox Belief, touching the Eu­charist, and the like other Points: and withal not account­ing it any great wonder, if we sometimes chance to meet with Passages, which seem to be utterly inexplicable. For it may so fall out, that they may be really so; seeing it is very possible, that in the Points touching the Person, and the Natures of the Son of God, some such expressions may have fallen from them; as is very well known to those, who are versed in their Writings. Possibly also we may meet with some Passages of theirs, which though they may be explicable in themselves, may notwithstand­ing appear to us to be Indissoluble; by reason perhaps of our wanting some one of those Circumstances, which are necessarily requisite for the enlightning, and clearing the same: as for example, when we are ignorant of the scope and drift of the Author, and of the Connexion and Dependencies of his Discourse, and other the like par­ticulars, which are requisite for the penetrating in­to the sense of all sorts of Writers. For it is with Mens words, as it is with P [...]eces of Picture: they must have their proper Light, to shew, themselves according to the meaning and intention of the Author: and according to the difference of the Lights we see them by, they also have a different appearance. As for example, if any one [Page 83] should now [...], alone, and barely, without reference to the rest of the Discourse, and history of its Author, this short Passage of Dionysius Alexandrinus, where he calls the Son of God, [...], The Workmanship, or Manufacture of the Father; [...]. and adds certain o­ther very shange Terms also touching this par­ticular; (as we daily see, the custome of some is, in the business of our present Controversies, to produce the like shreds, and little short Pas­sages; severed from the main Body of the Dis­course whereof they are a part;) which of us, how able so ever he be, could possibly imagine [...]ny thing e [...]se, but that this is an absolute [...] expression, and such as cannot be interpreted to any other sense? And yet Athanasius, in the places before ci­ted, makes it plainly appear that it is not so; and by the advantage of those through Lights which he had in the Subject there treated of by the Author, he demonstrates unto us, that this expression of Dionystus, how strange soever it appear, hath notwithstanding a good, and allow­able sense in that place. And that we may be able more fully to apprehend the truth of this our Assertion, we shall in the next place take into consideration some other cau­ses of the obscurity of the Fathers: among which I shall rank in the first place, their having sometimes purposely, and upon Design, endeavoured either wholly to conceal their Conceptions from us; or at least to lay them down, not naked, and open, but as it were with a Curtain (and that sometimes a very thick one too) drawn over them; to the end that none but those of the quickest, and most piercing eyes should be able to penetrate into them: some of their Meditations having been such, as they themselves accounted either less useful, or else perhaps such as it was not so safe to commit to weak, vulgar spirits. Whether this practice of theirs were raised upon good grounds, or not, I shall not here stand to examine: it is sufficient for me to shew, that it was usual with them, as may appear, [Page 84] among the rest,Clem. Alex. Strom 1. [...], &c. [...] out of Clement Alexandrinus, about the beginning of his Stromateis, where giving an account of the Design of his Book, he saith that, He had passed over some things in silence; fearing to write that which he made some simple even to speak of; not that he envied his Readers any thing, but fearing rather lest they might happily, out of a misunderstanding of them, fall into errour; and so he might seem to have put a Sword into the hand of a Child. He adds further, That he had handled somethings clearly, and some other obscurely; laying the one open to our view, but wrapping up the other in Riddles. But that which makes most to our present purpose, is, that they are known to have taken this course particularly in some certain of those Points which are now controver­ted amongst us; as namely, in that touching the Sacra­ments of the Church. For as they celebrated their holy Mysteries in secret, and apart by themselves, not admit­ting either the Pagans,Cassand. in Li­turg. c. 26. or the Catechumeni, nor yet (as some assure us) any person whatsoever, save only the Communicants, to the sight of them; in like manner also in their Writings, especially in those that were to be read openly to the people in their publick Assemblies, they ne­ver spake but very obscurely, and darkly, as hath been observed, in Point of the Eucharist, by Cardinal Perron, and by Casaubon, Casaub. in Ba­son. exercit. 16. Petavius, and others, in the Points of Baptism, Confirmation, and other holy Ceremonies of the Christians. Do but observe, how wary Theodoret, Epi­phanius, and other of the Ancient Writers are, in na­ming the matter of the Eucharist, describing it in general terms only, and such as they only could understand, who had been formerly partakers of that holy Sacrament. I shall not here take upon me to examine the end which they proposed to themselves in so doing; which seems to have been, to beget in the minds of the Catechumeni a greater reverence, and esteem of the Sacraments, and withal a [Page 85] more earnest and eager desire to be admitted to partake of them: fearing, lest haply the laying open, and dis­coursing plainly of the Matter and Manner of Celebration of the Sacraments, might something take off from one of these two Affections in them. Seeing therefore that not only in this, but in divers other Particulars also, they have purposely, and upon design, concealed their Sense and Opinions from us; we ought not to account it so strange a matter, if we many times find their Expressions to be obscure, and (which is a consequence of obscurity) if they sometimes also seem to clash, and contradict one another. And indeed it were more to be wondred at, if these Men, who were for the most part able, learned Men, having a purpose of writing obscurely on these Points, should yet have left us their Opinions clearly and plainly delivered in their Writings. But there is more in it yet than so; for sometimes also, even where they had no purpose of being so, they yet are very obscure; and some­times again the little Conversation they have had with those Arts which are requisite for the polishing of Lan­guage, was the cause of their not expressing themselves so clearly: and sometimes perhaps their Genius, and natural Disposition might be the reason hereof; all their Study and Industry they could take, not being able to correct this natural defect in them. I believe we may very safely reckon Epiphanius in the first Rank of these kind of Writers; who was indeed a good and holy Man, but yet had been very little conversant in the Arts, either of Rhe­torick, or Grammar; as appeareth sufficiently out of his Writings, where you shall often find him failing, not only in the clearness of his Expressions, and the course and fit contrivance of his Periods, but also even in the Order and Method, which is the true Light of all Dis­course: which Defects must necessarily be the cause of much obscurity in very many Places; as indeed is much complained of by the Interpreters of this Father. Others perhaps there have been, who have endeavoured to po­lish [Page 86] their Language by Arts, who yet have not been able to compass their desire, whether it were, because they began too late; or else perhaps through the dulness of their Wit, and want of Capacity, as we see, all Natures are not capable of receiving all Forms, what pains and in­dustry soever they take, for the making such Impressions. In this number you may reckon that Victorinus, of whom S. Hierome gives this so favourable Testimony,Hier. ep. 84. ad Magn. Victori­no Martyri in libris suis licet desit eruditio, tamen non de­est eruditionis voluntas. saying, That though indeed he wanted Learning, he wanted not a desire and good will to Learning. Such another also was Ruffinus, whose Language and Expressions the same great Censor of the Ancients so sharply reproveth, noting in him very many Improprieties of Speech, and other ab­surdities: In Apol 1. in Ruff▪ & Apol. 2. & Apol. ad Ruff. and yet, for all this, he would not be taken off from his scribling humour; and which is more, he did not want those who admired him too: it being common­ly observed, That those who wrote most in any Age, were not always the ablest Men; this Itch reigning rather in the ignorant, than in the other. Photius in his Bibliotheca hath noted the like defects in some of his Greek Writers. But yet this Obscurity in the Fathers hath proceeded, not from their Ignorance, but rather from their great Learning. For, those among them who were furnished with all manner of Secular Learning, and had been trained up from their Infancy in the Eloquence and Knowledge of the Greeks, could not but retain this Tincture, and sometimes also had their flyings out, and made shew of this their Treasury; by this means mixing with the Christian Phi­losophy many exotick Words, Customs, and Discourses: which Mixture, though it give indeed much delight to the Learned, yet it must necessarily render the sense of these Authors the more dark and perplexed. What can you name me more mixed, or fuller of variety, than Cle­mens Alexandrinus his Stromata, as he calls them, and his other Works; which are throughout interlaced with Historical Allusions, Opinions, Sentences, and Proverbs, out of all sorts of Writers, both Sacred and Profane; be­ing [Page 87] here heightned with rich, lightsom Colours, there shaded with Darkness; in such sort, as that it is a vain thing for an ignorant Person to hope ever to reach his meaning? What shall I say of Tertullian, who, besides that natural harshness and roughness which you meet with in him throughout, and that Carthaginian Spirit and Genius which is common to him with the rest of the African Writers, hath yet shadowed and overcast his Con­ceptions with so much Learning, and with so many new Terms and Passages out of the Law, and with such variety of Allusions, Subtilties, and nice Points, as that the great­est stock both of Learning and Attention that you can bring with you, will be all little enough to fit you for a perfect understanding of him. I shall not here speak any thing of S. Hilary, and the loftiness of his Fancy, and the height of his Language, and that Cothurnus Gallicanus which S. Hierome hath noted in him, and some other of his Country-men. Neither shall I here take any notice of the Copiousness of the Africans, nor of the subtilty of the Athenians, and of those that had their Education among them; the consideration of all which Particulars would afford matter for a just Tract. I shall only say in general, That whereas the manner of the Christians Writing and expounding the Scriptures, was at first very plain, easie, and brief; it in a very short time came to be changed, and to be clogg'd with Subtilties, and flourishes of Secular Learn­ing; as Methodius in Epiphanius testifieth.Method. apud Epiph. Haer. 64. [...]. The Do­ctors (saith he) no longer regarding an honest, plain, and solid way of teaching, began now to endeavour to please, and to be favourably received by their Audi­tors; just as Sophisters are wont to do, who reckon their Labours rewarded by their Auditors applauding their Learn­ing; selling themselves at this so cheap a rate. For as for the Ancients, their Ex­positions were always very brief; their [Page 88] utmost ambition in those days being, not to please, but to profit their Hearers. Gregory Nazianzen also very sadly, and eloquently, as his manner is, complains of this. Greg. Naz. Enc. Athan. [...]. There was a time (saith he) when our Affairs flourished, and we were in a happy estate, when as this vain and wan­ton kind of Divinity, which is every where now in fashion, together with all its Artifices and Delicacies of Lan­guage, was not at all admitted into the Sheepfolds of the Lord. In those days, to hearken after, or to vent any Novel­ties or Curiosities in Divinity, was rec­koned all one as to play the Jugler, and to shew Tricks of Leigerdemain, with cunning and nimble shiftings of Balls under a Cup, deceiving the Eyes of the Spectators; or else by delighting them with the various and effeminate Moti­ons and Windings of a lascivious Dance. On the contrary, rather a plain, mascu­line, and free way of Discourse was then accounted the most Pious. But now, since that the Pyrthonians, and those of Sextus his Faction, together with the Tongue of Contradiction, have, like some grievous, malignant Disease, broken in upon our Churches; since that Babling is now al­lowed for Learning; and, as it is said in the Acts, of the Athenians, since we spend our time in nothing else but in hearing or telling some new thing; O for some Jeremy, to bewail the Confusion and Darkness we lie under; who might furnish us, as that Prophet was only able to do, with Lamen­tations suitable to our Calamities! And certainly S. Hie­rome Hieron. ep. 50. ad Pammach. & passim. ibid., in his Epistle to Pammachius, hath as good as said, That even for his Writings also, it is necessary that the Reader be acquainted both with all the Sleights of Lo­gick, and all the Flourishes and Heights of Rhetorick. [Page 89] Which censure of his reacheth also to the Writings of Ori­gen, Methodius, Eusebius, Apollinaris, Tertullian, Cyprian, Mi­nutius, Victorinus, Id. ibid. Lactantius, Hilary, and others; whom he affirmeth to have all observed the same method in their Writings. Now although any Rational Man must needs willingly grant me, that the Translations of Terms and [...]i­gures, either in the Word only, or else in the Things them­selves, and such other the like Ornaments of Rhetorick; as also the subtilties of Logick, and, in a word, all the Artifices in what other sorts of Learning soever there are, must ne­cessarily render any Discourse the more obscure and sha­ded: yet for the fuller clearing of this Point, I shall here add some few Proofs and Examples.Hier. sup ep. 139. ad Cypr. S. Hierome declareth him­self on our side sufficiently, where he attributeth the cause of the obscurity that is found in the Writings of some cer­tain Authors, to their being too Learned and Eloquent. Sixt. Senens. Biblioth. lib. 6. Annot. 152. Sixtus Senensis observeth, That the Fathers have uttered many things in the heat of their Passion, which we are not to take in the strict literal sense. And Petavius hath of late also noted,Petav. Not. in Epiph. Multa sunt à Sanctis­simis Patribus, praesertim (que) à Chrysostomo in Homiliis aspersa, quae si ad exactae ve­ritatis regu­lam accom­modare volu­eris, boni sen­sus inania vi­debuntur. That the Fathers have let fall from them, up and down in their Homilies, very many things, which cannot be reconciled to any good sense, if we should examine them by the exact Rule of Truth. We both of us excuse this in them oftentimes thus, by shewing that un­der so many Flowers and Leaves, wherewith they crown their Discourses, they many times couch a quite different Sense, from that which their Words in apperance seem to carry. Who hath not observed the strange Hyperbo­les of S. Chysostome, S. Hilary, S. Ambrose, and the like? But that I may make it plainly and evidently appear unto you, how much these Ornaments do darken the clearness of the Sense of an Author, I shall onely here lay before you one Instance, taken from S. Hierome; Hier. ep. 21. ad Eustoch. who, writing to Eustochium, giveth her an account, how that for his be­ing too much addicted to the Study of Secular Learning, he was brought before the presence of our Lord, and was there really with Stripes chastised for it. And think not [Page 90] (saith he) that this was any of those drowsie Fan­cies, Ibid. Nec verò sopor il­le suerat, aut vana so­mnia, quibus saepè delu­dimur. Testis est Tribu­nal illud, an [...]e quod ja­cui; testis judicium tri­ste quod timui. Ita mihi nunquam contingat in talem incidere quaestio­nem! Liventes fateor habuisse me scapulas, plagas sensisse post so­mnum, & tanto dehinc [...]udio divina legisse, quanto non ante morta­lia legeram. or vain Dreams, which sometimes abuse us. I call to witness hereof that Tribunal, before which I then lay, and that sad Judgment which I was then in dread of. So may I never hereafter fall into the like danger, as this is true! I do as­sure you, that I found my Shoulders to be all over black and blue, with the stripes I then received, and which I afterwards felt when I awaked: So that I have ever since had a greater affection to the reading of Divine Books, than I ever before had to the study of Humane Learning. Now hearing him speak thus, who would not believe this to be a true Story? and who would not be ready to under­stand this Narration in the literal sense? And yet it ap­pears plainly, from what he hath elsewhere confessed, that all this was but a meer Dream, and a Rhetorical piece of Artifice, frequently used by the Masters in this Art; contrived only for the better and more powerful diverting Men from their too great affection to the Books of the Heathens. For, Ruffinus picking a quarrel with him for this, and objecting against him, That con­trary to the Oath which he had before taken, he did not­withstanding still apply himself to the study of Pagan Learning: S. Hierome, after he had alledged many things to quit himself from this Accusation,Ibid Audiat Prophetarum voces, somn [...]is non esse cre­dendum; quia nec adulterii somnium du­cit me ad Tar­tarum, nec co­rona Martyrii in Coelum le­vat. Hier. Apol. adv. Ruffin. Haec dicerem, si quippiam vigilans pro­misissem: Nunc autem, novum impu­dentiae genus, objicit mihi somnium me­um. Thus you see (saith he) what I could have urged for my self, had I promised any such thing waking: But now do but take notice of this new and unheard of kind of impudence; He objects against me my very Dreams: And then presently doth he refer him to the Words of the Prophets, saying, We must not take heed to Dreams; for neither doth an adulterous Dream cast a Man into Hell, nor that of Martyrdom bring him to Heaven: And so he at last plainly says, That this Promise of his was made onely in a Dream;Ibid. Tu à me somnii exigis sponsionem. and that therefore consequently it carried no obligation with it. And who knows but that the Life of Malchus, which [Page 91] he hath so delicately and artificially described unto us, and some other the like Pieces of his, and of some others, may be the like Essays of Wit? We see he doth not stick to confess, That the Life of Paulus Eremita was accounted for such, by some of his back-friends:Hier. in Vit. Hilarion. and it is very probable, that his 47 [...] Epistle, which is so full of Learning and Eloquence, is but an Essay of the same nature; he ha­ving there fancied to himself a fit Subject only whereon to shew his own Eloquence, as the usual manner of Ora­tors is. Thus thou seest, Reader, how great darkness is cast over the Writings of the Ancients by these Figures, and Flourishes of Rhetorick, and other Artifices of Hu­mane Learning, which they so often and so over-licenti­ously use, at least for our parts, who, to our great disad­vantage, find, that so many Ornaments and Embelish­ments, do rather disguise and hide from us the bottom and depth of their Conceptions. Who shall assure us, that they have not made use of the same Arts in their Discour­ses touching the Eucharist, to advance the Dignity of the Divine Mysteries, and to increase the Peoples Devotion? as likewise touching the Power of the Prelates, to procure them the greater respect and obedience from their People? What probability is there that they would spare their Pencils, their Colours, their Shadows, and their Lights, in those Points where this their Art might have been im­ployed to so good purpose? And to this place I shall re­fer those other Customs of theirs, which are so frequent with them, of denying and affirming things as it were absolutely; notwithstanding the purpose and intent of their Discourse be to deny or affirm them only by way of comparison, and reference to some other things. Who could chuse but think that S. Hierome was tainted with the Heresie of Marcion, and of the Eneratites, hearing him so fiercely inveigh against Marriage, as he doth in his Books against Jovinian, and oftentimes in other pla­ces also? insomuch that there have sometimes fallen from him such words as these: Seeing that in the use [Page 92] of the Woman there is always some Cor­ruption; Hier. lib. 1. advers. Jovin. Si corruptio ad omnem coitum pertinet, incorruptio autem propriè castitatis est; praemia pudicitiae nuptiae possidere non possunt. and that Incorruption properly belongeth to Chastity; Marriage (saith he) cannot be accounted of so high esteem as Chastity. And a little after: My opinion is, Ibid. Existimo quòd qui uxo­rem habet, quandiu revertitur ad id ipsum ne tentet eum Sa­tanas, in carne seminet, & non in Spiritu. Qui autem in carne seminat, (non ego, sed Aposto­lus loquitur,) metit corrupti­onem. That he that hath a Wife, till such time as he returneth to that pass, as that Satan tempts him not, (that is to say, so long as he makes use of her, as of a Wife,) he sowes in the Flesh, and not in the Spirit. Now he that soweth in the Flesh, (it is not I that say it, but the Apostle,) the same shall reap Cor­ruption. Now these words, taken literally, condemn Mar­riage, and the use thereof, as defiling a Man, and depri­ving him of Blessed Immortality. Yet notwithstanding, in his Epistle to Pammachius he informeth us,Id. ep. 50. ad Pammachium. That these Passages of his, and all other the like, are not to be under­stood as spoken positively and absolutely, but only by way of comparison; that is, he would be understood to say, That the Purity and Felicity of Virgins is such, as that in comparison of it, that of the Marriage-Bed is not at all to be mentioned. This Key is very necessary for the find­ing entrance into the Sense of the Ancients: and the Fa­thers of the VII Council made very good use of it, in giving the Sense of two or three Passages that were objected against them by the Iconoclasts. Concil. VII. Act. 6. [...]. The first was out of S. Chryso­stome: Through the Scriptures we enjoy the presence of the Saints, having the Images, not of their Bodies, but of their Souls. For, the things there spoken by them, are the Images of their Souls. Ibid. [...]. The second was out of Am­philochius: Our care is, not to draw in Colours on Tables the Natural Faces of the Saints; (for we have no need of any such thing) but rather to imitate their Life & Conversation, by following the Example of their Vertue. The third was out [Page 93] of Austerius: Ibid. [...]. Draw not the Portraiture of Christ on thy garments; but rather bestow upon the Poor the price that these expences would amount to. For as for him, it is sufficient that he once humbled himself, in taking upon him our flesh. Would not any man, that hears these words, believe these three Fathers to have been Iconoclasts? I confess, I cannot see, what almost could have been said more expresly against Images: and yet the second Coun­cil of Nice pretendeth,Concil VII ubi supra. * that these Fathers here speak only by way of Comparison; meaning to say no more, than that the Images of Jesus Christ, and of the Saints, are much less profitable than the reading their Books, or the imitation of their Lives, or than Charity toward the Poor. I know very well, that it is no very easie matter, handsomly to apply this Answer to the words of these Fathers: However we may make this use of it; that see­ing that the Council of Nice hath followed this Rule, it is an evident Argument to us, that the sayings of the Fa­thers both may, and ought sometimes to be taken in a quite different sense from what they seem to bear: so that it will clearly follow from hence, that they are very hard to be understood. Consider then with your self, whether or no among the so many several Passages, as are brought on the one side, and on the other, touching the present Controversies, there may not be very many of them, which are to be understood, as hath formerly been said, by way of Comparison only; that is to say, quite contrary to what they seem to say. Now as the Rheto­rick used by the Fathers hath rendred their Discourses made to the People full of obscurity; in like manner hath their Logick sown a thousand Thorns, and Difficulties, throughout their Polemical Writings. For many times, while they are in the heat of their Disputations, they have their mind so intent upon the present scope they drive at, as that having regard to nothing else, they let fall such expressions, as look very strangely, if they be considered [Page 94] in reference to some other Points of Christian Religion. Sometimes also, whilst they use their utmost endeavour to beat down one Errour, they seem to run into the con­trary Error: in like manner as those who would streighten a crooked Plant, are wont to bow it as much the contrary way; that so having been worked out of its former bent, it may at length rest in a middle posture: which simili­tude Theod Dial. 3. c. 30. [...]. Sic & Bas. de Dion. Alex. ep. 41. Theodoret also maketh use of, upon this very sub­ject. And in this manner also did Atha­nasius explain those words of Dionysius Alexandrinus, which were urged against him by the Arrians, as seeming to make very much for them, as we have touched before. He wrote not this, (A [...]han. Ep. de fid. Dion. Alex. [...], &c. [...] Athanasius answereth,) Positively, and with a purpose of giving an account of his Belief in these Words, but as being led on to utter them, by the occasion, and the persons he discoursed with. In like manner (saith he) as a Gar­diner ordereth the same Trees in a different manner, according to the difference of the soil where they are. Neither may any one blame him, for lopping off some, and graf­fing others, for planting this, and pluck­ing up that by the roots. On the contrary rather, whoever knows the reason of this, will admire the variety, and several ways of his industrious Proceeding. And then after­wards he saith, thatAthan Ibid. [...]. Dionysius maintain­ed those Positions, upon occasion of the Errour of certain Bishops of Pentapolis, who maintained the opinion of Sabeliius; and that he did this, by Dispensation, as he there speaks; that is to say, not positively and simply, but as in reference to such a certain case only. Now no man ought Athan Ibid. [...]. saith he) [Page 95] to wrest to the worst sense, those things which are either said, or done by Dispensation; or to interpret them as himself plea­seth. And in another place he in the same manner ex­plaineth the words of the Fathers of the Council of An­tioch, who had denied the Consubstantiality of the Son; * shewing that their intention was, only to overthrow a Position which Paulus [...] Somos [...]enus had laid down; name­ly, that the Father, and the Son, were both one and the self same Person, and had not any distinct subsistence. By this very Rule also doth S. Basil interpret that saying of Gregonius Ne [...]eaesariensis, Basil. Ep. 64 [...]. namely, That the Father and the Son are Two, according to our Apprehension only; Ibid. [...], &c. but that in Hypostasis they are but One: saying, That he spoke this, not Dogmatically, but only let it fall from him in the heat of Disputation. Whence it appeareth, that in all such Writings of the Fathers, the opinion which they oppugn, is the Rule and Measure of whatsoever they are to be understood therein either to affirm, or deny. This is that which varieth their sense and mean­ing, though oftentimes expressed in the same manner, and with the very same words, with that of the Hereticks. When they dispute against the Valentinians, or the Ma­nichees; a man would then believe them to be Pelagians: and so likewise, when they are contesting with the Pela­gians, you would then imagine, that they defended the opinions of the Manichees. If they dispute against Arius, you would think they favoured Sabellius▪ and again, when they oppose Sabellius, you would believe that they were Arians: as hath been observed by the Bishop ofCorn. Mussus Episc. Bipont. Comment. in ep. ad Rom. c. 5. Biponto, particularly in S. Augustine. The like pra­ctice to this, we may every day observe in our Preachers. When they preach against Covetousness, they seem in a manner to cry up Prodigality: and if they declaim against Prodigality, they then seem to approve Covetousness. Thus is it also with the Protestants: when they would overthrow those empty Figures, which are fathered by [Page 96] their Adversaries upon those they call Sacramentarians, you would judge that they maintained the Reality of the Eucharist, as the manner of speaking is. And when they dispute against Transubstantiation, and the Real Presence, you would then swear, that they defended the opinion of these very Sacramentarians. There is, amongst Athana­sius his Works, a certain very learned, elegant, and acute Tract, wherein is debated, as strongly as may be, that Point, touching the Distinction of the Two Natures in Jesus Christ. T. 2. Oper. A­than. Par. impr. a [...]. 1627. [...]. Do but read what he there says, in the be­ginning of that Discourse, and you will think it could not proceed from any but from Nestorius his mouth. And yet you will perceive plainly by the last Chapter of the said Book, that he was not any whit of his opinion. Now if by any misfortune it should so have hapned, that this last Chapter had been lost, Athanasius must necessarily have been taken for a Nestorian, by reason of the dange­rous Expressions which he hath there made use of, being occasioned thereunto through the heat of this Dispute, which he maintained against the opinions of the Eutychi­ans. And for the very same reason also, Julius Bishop of Rome, seemeth to have favoured the contrary Errour, namely that of Eutyches, in that Epistle of his cited by Gennadius; which was indeed heretofore of good use, against the opinion of those men, who maintained Two Persons in Christ; but whichGennad. in Catal. inter Op. Hier. Nunc au­tem pernicio­sa probatur. Fomentum e­nim est Euty­chianae & Ti­motheanae im­pietatis. now is found to be pernici­ous, (saith he) by fomenting the impieties of Eutyches and Timotheus: Which hath given occasion to some of the moreFacund. Herm. defens. 3. capit. lib. 1 p. 40. quo loco vide Sirmon­dum. Modern Authors, who have written since Genna­dius his time, to think that this Epistle was not truly Pope Julius his, but had been put upon him by the false dealing of the Hereticks. The case was the same with these Ancient Fathers, as it is with a Pilot of a Ship, who is to stear his Vessel betwixt two Rocks, one only where­of he hath discovered, the other lying hid under water: so that taking no other care, save only to avoid the dan­ger which he seeth before his eyes, he very easily falleth [Page 97] into that other, which he never so much as suspected: so that if he split not his Vessel upon it, and so be utterly cast away, he will very hardly however avoid receiving a brush at least by it. Thus these Fathers saw indeed the Rock of Paulus Samosatenus his Doctrine, and that of Nestorius; but did not at all observe that of Arius, or of Eutyches, which lay yet under water, and concealed; and so imploying their utmost endeavours to avoid the danger of the two former, which they then only feared, they have very hardly escaped falling into, or at least touch­ing very near upon the two latter, which they then had no thought of at all. Do but imagine then, how w [...]rily and carefully it concerneth us to walk, amidst these Dis­putes of the Ancients, which are so beset with Thorns; and with how much judgment we are to distinguish be­twixt what things are Principal, and what but Acciden­tal only; betwixt the Cause, and the Means; and be­twixt the Excess, or Defect in their Expressions, and their True sense, and meaning: and then tell me whether you think it reasonable, or not, that two or three words only, which may perhaps accidentally have fallen from them in their Disputations, either against the Valentini­ans, and Marcionites, or against the Nestorians, or Eu­tychists, should be taken as their Definitive Sentences upon such Points as are now controverted amongst us, whe­ther touching Free-will, or the Properties of the Body of Christ, and the nature of the Eucharist. But, before we close up this matter, we are to take notice, that the chang­ing of Customs, both Civil, and Ecclesiastical especially, and the variation of Words in their signification, do not a little contribute to this Difficulty of understanding the Writings of the Fathers. Who knoweth not, and indeed who confesseth not, both on the one side, and on the other, that the outward Face of the World, and even of the Church it self too, is in a manner wholly changed? I speak not here of the Doctrine; but only of the upper Garment, as I may call it, and the outward part of the [Page 98] Church. Where is the Ancient Discipline? What is be­come of the rigid and severe Rules of those Ancient Times? Where are those so mysterious Ceremonies in Baptism, and in the Administration of the Eucharist? Where are those Customs then used in the Ordination of the Clergy? All these things are now quite forgotten and buried; the Church by little and little having apparelled it self in other Colours, and in another different Garb. The Books then of the Ancients being full of Allusions to th [...]se things, which we are in a manner now wholly igno­rant of; it must necessarily follow from hence, that it will be a hard matter for us to guess at their meaning in any such Passages. But yet there ariseth much more con­fusion out of the words they used; which we have still re­tained, though in a different signification. We have in­deed these words, Pope, Patriarch, Mass Oblation, Station, Procession, Mortal Sins, Penance, Confession, Satisfaction, Merit, Indulgence, as the Ancients had, and make use of an infinite number of the like Terms; but understand them all in a sense almost as far different from theirs, as our Age is removed from theirs: Just in like manner as of old, un­der the Roman Emperours, the names of Offices, and of things, for a long time continued the same that had been in use in the time of the old Republick, but with a sense clear different from what they had formerly born. Thus when we light upon any Passage in the Ancients, where the Bishop of Rome is called Papa or Pope; we presently begin to fancy him with all his Pontificalibus about him, and all the Glory at this day belonging to this Name; not bating him so much as his Guard of Switzens, and his Light-Horses: whereas they, that are but indifferently versed in these Books, know, that the name Papa or Pope, was given to every Bishop. So likewise when we meet with the word exomologesis or Confession, we presently fan­cy a man down upon his knees before his Confessor, shri­ving himself before him in private of all the sins he hath committed. The word Mass likewise makes us prick up [Page 99] our ears, as if, even from those Ancient Times, the whole Liturgy, and all the Ceremonies used at the Celebration of the Eucharist, had been the very same that they are at this day: whereas the Learned of both Parties acknow­ledge, that these Names have, since that time, lost very much of their old, and acquired new significations. But this, which hath been said, is enough, if not more than needed, for the clearing this Point, touching the obscurity in the Writings of the Fathers: so that we shall here con­clude, what we proposed at the beginning; namely, that it is not so easie a matter, as people may imagine, to dis­cover by their Writings, what the sense of the Ancient Church hath been, touching the Points at this day contro­verted amongst Us.

CHAP. VI.

Reason VI. That the Fathers oftentimes conceal their own Private Opinions, and speak those things which themselves believed not; whe­ther it be, when they report the Opinion of some others, without naming the persons; as they frequently do in their Commentaries; or in disputing against an Adversary, where they make use of whatsoever they can; or else whe­ther they have done so, in compliance to their Auditory, as may be observed in their Homi­lies.

THE Writings of the Fathers are, for the most part, of three sorts; that is, they are either Commentaries upon the Holy Scriptures; or Homilies delivered before the People; or else they are Polemical Discourses, and Disputations with the Hereticks. Now we have for­merly seen, how much their Ornaments of Rhetorick have darkned, and rendred their sense obscure, in their Writings of the first and second sort; and what their Heats of Disputation, and Logical Wranglings have cau­sed, in those of the later. Let us now see, if having drawn the Expressions of the Fathers out of these thick Clouds, and attained to a clear and perfect understanding of the sense of them; we may be able at length to rest as­sured, that we have discovered what their opinions have been. I confess, I could heartily wish that it were so: but considering what they have themselves informed us, concerning the nature, and manner of their Writings; I am much afraid, that we neither may, nor indeed ought, to reckon our selves in any sure condition, even then, when we are upon these very Terms. For as concerning their Commentaries, which we have often occasion to [Page 101] consult, upon sundry Passages of Scripture, touching the meaning whereof we disagree among our selves; hear what S. Hierome saith, who was the most Learned of all the Latins, and who gives place but very little to any of the Greeks in these Matters. What (saith he) is the business of a Commentary? Hier. ep. ad Pammach. & Marc. Apol. advers. Ruff. Commentarii quid operis habent? Alterius di­cta edisserunt; quae obscurè scri­pt [...] sunt, plano sormone manife­stant, multorum sententias repli­cant, & dicunt, Hunc locum qui­dam sic edisserunt, alii sic inter­pretantur; illi sensum suum & intelligentiam his testimoniis, & hâc nituntur ratione firmare; ut prudens Lector cùm diversas ex­planationes legerit, & multorum vel probanda vel improbanda di­dicerit, judicet quid verius sit, & quasi bonus Trapezita adulterinae monetae pecuniam reprobet. Num diversae interpretationis, & con­trariorum inter se sensuum tene­bitur reus, qui in uno opere quod edisserit, expositiones posuerit plurimorum? It expoundeth the Words of another Man, and declareth in plain Terms the Sense of Things obs [...]urely written; it representeth the several Opinions of others, and saith, Some expound this Passage thus, and others interpret it thus. These endeavour to prove their Sense and Meaning, by such Testimo­nies, and such Reasons; to the end that the Intelligent Reader having several Ex­positions before him, and reading the Judgments of divers Men, some bringing what he may, and others perhaps what he cannot admit of, he may judge which among the rest is the truest; and, like a wise Banker, may refuse all adulterated Coin. Now I would fain ask, whether he ought to be accounted guilty of diversity in his▪ Interpretations, or of Contradiction in the Senses given, who in one and the some Commentary shall deliver the Ex­positions of divers Persons? and so on, as it there followeth in the Place afore-cited. He speaketh likewise to the same sense in divers other Places throughout his Works. Id. Apol. advers. Ruff. Hic est Commentariorum mos, & expla­nantium regula, ut opiniones in expositione varias persequantur, & quid vel sibi, vel aliis videatur edisserant. Et hoc non solùm sanctarum interpretes scriptura­rum, sed saecularium quoque lite­rarum explanatores faciunt, tam Latinae Linguae quàm Graecae. This (saith he) is the usual manner of Commentaries, and the Rule that Com­mentators go by; to set down in their Ex­positions the, several Opinions they have met withal; and to deliver both what their own, and what the Judgment of others is upon the Place. And this is the practice not only of the Interpreters of the Scriptures, but of the Expositors also of all [Page 102] kind of Secular Learning, as well in the Greek as in the La­tin Tongue. Now I must needs say, that this seems to be a very strange way of Commenting. For, what light, or what certainty can a Reader be able to gather out of such a Rhapsodie of different Opinions, tumbled together in a heap, without so much as intimating either which is good or bad, or probable, or necessary, or to the purpose, or not? But seeing it hath pleased S. Hierome to follow this course, whatsoever his reason be, you see plainly, that we are not to take as his, whatsoever he hath delivered in his Com­mentaries. And seeing also he speaks in general terms, as he doth, of the nature and manner of a Commentary, we are not to doubt, but that the rest of the Fathers have been the greatest part of them of the same Judgment, and that consequently they took the same course in those Expositi­ons which we have of theirs. So that it will hence fol­low, that notwithstanding that we should chance to find in these kind of Writings of theirs, an Opinion, or an In­terpretation, clearly delivered; yet may we not from thence presently conclude, that this was the Authors own Opini­on; for, perhaps he only delivered it as the Opinion of some other Man. Now if the Fathers had been but careful to have taken in Water out of wholesom Fountains only, filling up their Commentaries with no other Opinions or Interpretations, save only those of Persons of known Pie­ty, Faith, and Learning, this Mixture would have proved the less dangerous by much. For, notwithstanding that we should often be at a stand, and doubt, whether that which we there find be the true Sense and Opinion of the Father whose Name it goes under; yet however we might still rest assured, that though it should not perhaps be his, yet must it certainly be the Opinion of some other good Author, if not of equal, yet of little less Authority than he. But the mischief of it is, that they took a quite con­trary course, many times stuffing up their Commentaries with very strange senseless Expositions, and sometimes too with dangerous ones, and such as were taken out of [Page 103] very suspected Authors, and which had no very good Name neither in the Church.Hier. Praefat. in Comment in ep. ad. Galat. & Apol 2. adv. Ruff. & ep. 89. ad August. & alibi saepe. S. Hierome tells us often, (and whoever shall but diligently and attentively read him, may easily observe as much) that his Commenta­ries (which make the greatest and most considerable part of his Works) are interwoven throughout with Expositions taken out of Origen, Didymus, Apollinaris, and others, who were at that time ill spoken of, as Men who too presumptuously put upon the World their own private Opinions,Hier. Comment. 5 in Es praef▪de Origine Inge­nium suum fa­cit Ecclesiae Sacramenta. Fashioning the Mysteries of the Church out of their own private Fancies; as S. Hierome himself sometime said of Origen. Now this is wonderful strange to me: for, no Man is morce fierce in crying down these Authors, than he, being indeed one of the principal Heads of that Holy League of Theophilus and Epiphanius, against Origen and his Party. No Man ever reproved any one so sharply, as he hath done Ruffinus, for offering to present to the view of the Latins the poysonous Doctrines of Origen, in those Books of his which he had translated: And in the mean time he himself stuffs up his own Com­mentaries with the same; many times without using any preparation at all about them, or furnishing his Reader with any Counter-poyson, in case he meet with any of them.Vid. Comment. in Nahum. So likewise, in his Commentaries upon the Pro­phets, he ever and anon bringeth in divers Expositions out of the Jews themselves; insomuch that when you think you are reading and searching after the Opinion and Sense of S. Hierome, upon such or such a Passage, you often read that of an Heretick, or of a Jew. If the Fa­thers would have but taken the pains to have given us notice every time, who the Author was whose Opinion they alledged; this manner of Commenting upon the Scriptures would have been much more beneficial unto us, and less troublesom. For, the Name would have been useful to us, in directing us what account we were to make of such Opinions and Expositions. But this they do but very seldom; as you may observe out of the Ex­positions [Page 104] of S. Hilary, S. Ambrose, and others; who rob­bing poor Origen without any mercy,Vid. Hieron. A­pol. adv. Ruff. ad▪ Pammach. & Marcel. & Ep. 141. ad Marcel. do not yet do him the honour so much as to name him scarcely. This is certain, that you shall find in S. Ambrose many times whole Periods, and whole Pages too, taken out of S. Ba­sil: but, unless my memory fail me very much, you shall never find him once named there. These Men deliver you the Opinions and Words of other Men,Id. Comment. in ep. ad Galat. just as if they were their own; and yet will not be bound to warrant them us for good and sound. S. Hierome, in his Com­mentary upon the Epistle to the Galatians, expoundeth that Passage where there is mention made of S. Paul's reproving S. Peter, by way of Dispensation; telling us, that S. Paul did not reprehend him, as if he had indeed account­ed him blame-worthy; but only for the better Edifica­tion, and bringing in of the Gentiles, by this seeming Reprehension of his; who did but act this part with S. Peter, Ut hypocrisis observandae Legis, quae no­cebat iis qui ex gentibus crediderant, correptionis hypocrisi e­mendaretur, & uterque po­pulus salvus fi­ [...]ret; dum & qui circumci­sionem lau­dant, Petrum sequuntur, & qui circumcidi nolunt, Pauli praedicant li­bertarem. to the end (saith he) that the Hypocrisie, or false shew of observing the Law, which offended those among the Gentiles who had believed, might be corrected by the Hy­pocrisie, or false shew of Reprehension, and that by this means both the one and the other might be saved: whilst the one, who stood up for Circumcision, followed S. Peter; and those other, who refused Circumcision, applaud, and are taken with S. Paul's Liberty. S. Augustine, utterly disliking this Exposition of S. Hierome, wrote unto him in his ordinary, grave, and meek way; modestly declaring the Reasons why he could not assent unto it: which Epi­stles of his are yet extant. The other answers him a thou­sand strange things; but particularly he thereHieron. e [...]ad August. quae est 89. protest­eth, That he will not warrant for sound whatever shall be found in that Book of his: And to shew that he doth not do this without good reason, he setteth down a cer­tain Passage out of his Preface to it, which is very well worth our Consideration. For after he hath named the Writings of Origen, Didymus, Apollinaris, Theodorus, Her [...]clas, Eusebius Emisse [...]us, Alexander the Heretick, [Page 105] and others, he adds,Hier. ibid. Itaq ut simpliciter [...]at [...]ar legi haec omnia, & in mente mea plurima coa­cervans acci­ [...]o notario, vel mea, v [...]l a [...]iena dictavi, nec ordinis, nec verborum in­terdum, nec sensuum me­mor. That I may therefore plainly tell the truth, I confess, that I have read all these Authors; and collecting together as much as I could in my memory. I pre­sently called for a Scribe, to whom I dictated either my own Conceptions, or those of other Men, without remembring either the Order, or the Words sometimes, or the Sense. Do but think now with your self, whether or no this be not an excellent rare way of Commenting upon the Scriptures, and very well worthy both to be esteemed and imitated by us! He then turneth his Speech to S. Augustine, saying, If therefore thou lightedst upon any thing in my Exposition, which was worthy of reprehension, it would have stood better with thy Learning, Id. ibid. Si qu [...]d igitur repre­hensione di­gnum putave­ras in expla­natione no [...]stra, eruditio­nis tuae fuerat quaerere, &c. Vide & Apol. contra Ruff. to have consulted the Greek Authors themselves, and to have seen whether what I have written be to be found in them, or not; and, if not, then to have condemned it, as my own private Opinion. And he elsewhere gives the same answer toId. Apol. 2. adv. Ruff. Ruffinus, who up­braideth him for some absurd Passages in his Commen­taries upon the Prophet Daniel. Now, according to this reckoning, if we would know whether or no what we meet with in his Commentaries be his own proper Sense, or not; we must first turn over the Books of all these ancient Greeks▪ that is to say, we must do that which is now impossible to be done; seeing that the Writings of the greatest part of them are utterly lost: and must not attribute any thing to him, as his proper Opinion, how clearly and expresly soever it be delivered, unless we are first able to make it appear, that it is not to be found in any of those Authors out of whose Writings he hath patched up his Commentaries. For, if any one of them be found to have delivered any thing you here meet with, you are to take notice, that it belongeth to that Author, S. Hierome in this case having been onely his Transcriber, or at most but his Translator. So that you may be able, perhaps, by the reading of Books in this manner colle­cted, to judge whether the Fathers have had the skill to make a handsom and artificial Connexion and Digestion [Page 106] of those things which they took out of so many several Authors, or not: but whether or no they believed all that they have set down in their Books, you will be no more able to discover, than you can judge what Belief any Man is of, by the Books he transcribeth; or can guess at the Opinions of an Interpreter, by the Books he transla­teth. Whence we may conclude, that testimonies brought out of such Books as these, are of little or no force at all, either for or against us. And this seemeth to have been the Opinion of Cardinal Bellarmine also, where, to a cer­tain Objection brought out of one of S. Hierome's Books, he makes this Answer; That the Author in that place speaketh according to the Opinion of others; as he often doth in his Commentaries upon the Epistle to the Ephesians, and in other places. The like course hath Cardinal Perron ta­ken, where the Protestants have urged against the Church of Rome, the Authority of S. Hilary, touching the Canon of the Scriptures of the Old Testament; confidently answe­ring, That the Notes cited out of that place of S. Hilary, are not his, but Origen's, in his Commentary upon the First Psalm; part of whose Words he had transcribed, and put into his own Prologue upon the Psalms: and yet S. Hilary neither so much as nameth Origen, nor yet gives us any intimation at all, whether we are to receive what is there spoken touching the Scriptures, as from Ori­gen, or from himself. And the ground of this Answer of his is taken from what S. Hierome hath testified in di­vers places; namely, that S. Hilary hath transcribed the greatest part of his Commentaries out of the said Origen. Now if we but rightly consider the account which S. Hierome hath given, as we shewed before, of all Commen­taries in general, how can we have any assurance whe­ther that which the Fathers deliver in these kind of Writings, be their own proper Opinion, or only some other Man's transcribed? And if we can have no assurance hereof, how can we then account them of any force at all, either for or against us? So that it is most evident, [Page 107] that this Method which the Fathers have observed in their Expositions of the Scriptures, must needs render the things themselves very doubtful, how clearly and ex­presly soever they have delivered themselves. But hath it not concerned them to be more careful in their Homi­lies, or Sermons; and to deliver nothing there, save only what hath been their own proper Opinion, and Belief? May we not, at least in this particular, rest assured, that they have spoken nothing, but from their very soul; and that their Tongues have vented here their own Opinions only▪ and not those of other Men? Certainly, in all rea­son, they should not have uttered any thing in this Sacred Place, from whence they taught their People, save what they conceived to have been most true. And yet, besides what we have formerly noted, as to this particular, namely, that they did not always speak out the whole truth, but concealed something of it, as not so fit for the ears either of the Pagans, or of the weaker sort of Chri­stians; Cardinal Perron, Perron of the Euchar. l. 1. c. 10. Aut. 24. ch. 15. & passim locis infra ci­tandis. that great and curious Inquirer into all the Customs of the Ancients, hath informed us, that in regard of the aforesaid Considerations, they have sometimes gone further yet. For, in expounding the Scriptures to the People, where the Catechumeni were pre­sent, if by chance they fell upon any Passage where the Sacraments were spoken of, that they might not discover these Mysteries, they would then make bold to wrest the Text a little, and instead of giving them the true and real Interpretation of the Place, which they themselves knew to be such, they would only present their Auditory with an Allegorical and Symbolical, and (as this Cardi­nal saith) an Accidental and Collateral one, only to give them some kind of small satisfaction; forasmuch as, if in such cases they should have been utterly filent, it would questionless have much amazed their Auditors, and in some sort also have scandalized, and given them offence. To satisfie therefore their expectation, and yet to keep these Mysteries still concealed from them, they [Page 108] waved the business handsomly, laying before them that which they accounted not the best and truest, but the fittest for their purpose and design. Thus do we some­times please little Children with an Apple, or some little Toy, to take them off the desire they have to something of greater value. Those therefore who take all that the Fathers deliver in the like places for good and solid Ex­positions, and such as they themselves really believed, do very much deceive themselves; and believing they have a solid Body in their Arms, embrace only an empty Sha­dow. Now we should hardly believe those Holy Men to have been guilty of any such jugling dealing as this, had we not the word of this so great a Cardinal for our War­rant; upon whose Authority we have, for this once, ad­ventured to propose it to the Readers consideration, and shall withal produce some few Examples, taken out of the same Author. S. Augustine being to expound the sixth Chapter of the Gospel of S. John, where, as he conceives, our Saviour Christ is very copious in his Discourse con­cerning the Eucharist; he presently falls to overshadow and disguise the Mystery, with such a number of Allego­ries, Riddles, and Ambiguities, as that, if you dare be­lieve the Cardinal, throughout the whole XXVI Tract there is not one Period but hath in it some Elusion, Di­version, or Diminution of the true and solid Definition of this Article. Thus doth he interpret the Bread which came down from Heaven, to be the Gift of the Holy Ghost:Perron. Tract. de S. August. c. 12. & lib 2. de [...]ch. Aut. 22. c. 1. Our Saviour (saith he) purposing to send down the H. Ghost, saith, That It is the Bread which descended from Heaven. You may, if you please, believe, upon the faith of this Father, that this is the true sense and meaning of the Place: But yet the Cardinal makes it appear, out of Calvin, that it cannot be so. He likewise contradicteth after the same manner, that which the same Father saith a little after; to wit, That the purpose of our Saviour was, to let us understand that this Meat and Drink, where­of he speaks in S. John, is the Communion and Fellow­ship, [Page 109] that is betwixt his Body, and his Members, who are the Holy Church, in his faithful Servants, Predestinated, Called, Justified, and Glorified. Had not the Cardinal given us this information, who would ever have imagi­ned, that this Author (who was so Conscientious, as that he made it a great quarrel against S. Hierome, only for having laid Dissimulation to St. Pauls charge,) should here himself say, that our Saviour Christ would have us to understand His Words thus, unless he himself really be­lieved this to be the true sense and meaning of them? The Cardinal applies also this very consideration, to the greatest part of those other Passages, cited out of this Father, by the Protestants; as namely to this: to believe in Christ, is, to eat the Bread of Life: and to this other, He that believeth in him, eateth of it; and he is invisibly fed by it, because that he is also invisibly born again: and this other: Whosoever eateth of this Bread, he shall never die: but this is to be understood of him that eateth of it, accord­ing to the vertue of the Sacrament, and not according to the visible Sacrament; of him that eateth of it Internally, and not Externally; of him that eateth of it with his heart, and not of him that cheweth it with his teeth. In all which pla­ces the Cardinal pretendeth, that S. Augustine suppresseth the true, full, and solid Definition of this Manducation, or eating of the Flesh, and drinking the Blood of Christ; and instead thereof, presenteth this Allegorical, and Ac­cidental Meditation to the Catechumeni, only to cast a mist, as it were, before their Eyes, and to elude their cu­riosity. He makes use of the same course also, in answer­ing those Passages, which are alledged by the Protestants out of Theodoret, Id. de Eu [...]h. l. 2 A [...]t. 24. c. 15. and Gregory Nazi [...]nzen Id. l▪ 2. A [...]t. 18. c. 5.; who, he saith,Id. Ibid. called the Eucharist, the Antitype of the Body and Blood of Christ, in the same manner as Abrah [...]m, being among Infidels, called Sarah, his Sister; concealing some­thing of what was true, but yet affirming nothing that was false. He likewise explaineth after the same manner this Passage, out of Clemens Alexandrinus his Paedago­gus: [Page 110] Perron. de Euch. l. 2. Aut. 5. The [...], and the Blood of Christ, is▪ Faith▪ and the Promise. In a word, he is so much pleased with this Observation, as that he fetcheth it in at every turn:Id. de Euch. pag. 52. 329. 332. 339. 344 356. 417. 420. 434 501. 503. 508. 510. 516. & Trac. de S. August. p. 55. 57. 95. 145. 191. and indeed we may very well say, that this is his main Trea­sury, out of which he produceth the greatest part of those subtile, and so admired Solutions that he giveth to the Passages objected against them out of the Fathers. Those that have a mind to examine these places of his, may happily find something to return upon him, in some of those Applications which he hath there made. It is e­nough for our present purpose, that he grants us, that the Fathers in their Sermons and Discourses made to the peo­ple have oftentimes made use of this piece of Art, it fol­lowing clearly from hence, that we cannot then possibly have any assurance, that they themselves accounted, as solid and full, such Expositions, and Opinions, as they have delivered in these Writings of theirs. For, as the Cardinal endeavoureth by this means to weaken the force of those Passages of S. Augustine, Gregory Nazianzen, Theodoret, and Clemens Alexandrinus; may not the Pro­testants, when you alledge against them any Passages out of the Homilies of St. Chrysostom, or Eucherius, which seem to make strongly against their opinions, be allowed to have the same Liberty, and to answer; that these Fa­thers speaking before the people, made use of this Dispen­sation, speaking that which they thought to be, not the Best, and Truest, but the most proper for the edification of others? and that they had an apprehension, that a bare and down wright expression of the Truth, might pos­sibly have taken off the Heat of the peoples Devotion? there being apparently (say they) more cause to doubt, that the people might di [...]-esteem and [...]ight the Sacrament, than to fear lest they should adore it: as indeed the Fa­thers are much more careful in concealing the matter of the Sacrament, the outward appearance whereof is apt to make it di [...]esteemed▪ than they are in concealing the Form, which is of so Venerable a nature: saying often, [Page 111] and in express terms, that it is the Body of Christ; but or­dinarily forbearing to say▪ that it is or that it was a Piece of Bread.

We come now to the third sort of the Writings of the Ancients, wherein the Fathers dispute against the Adver­saries of their faith; namely, the Pagans, Jews, and Here­ticks. We have formerly touched how much obscurity the earnestness and heat of spirit have caused in the ex­pressions of the Fathers; and this defect proceedeth from the weakness of their Passion only; and not from any design or purpose that they had of speaking thus, rather than otherwise. For, seeing that all manner of passions do disturb, and in some small measure, as it were, confound the Judgment; and seeing it is hard for a Man, how ho­ly soever he be, to go through with a Disputation, with­out some alteration in his Temper, especially if it be of any Importance, as all those touching Religion are: we are not to wonder at it, if in these Cases we sometimes find the language of the Fathers something mixed, and appearing of several colours, such as Passion usually dy­eth both the Countenance and the Words withal of such persons, as it hath seised on. But besides this Confusion, which is caused meerly by the Agitation of the spirits, without the Fathers so much as thinking of it; we are here further to take notice, that the proper design, and the Law of the Method that is observed in disputations, is the cause of our incountring with so many, and so great Difficulties. For their opinion was, that in this kind of Writing it was lawful for them to say, and make use of any thing, that might advance their Cause, although it were otherwise but Light and Trivial, or perhaps also contrary to what themselves believed; and so, on the o­ther side, to conceal and reject whatsoever might preju­dice their Cause, though otherwise True, and allowable. Now that this Observation may not seem strange, and in­credible, as coming out of my mouth; let us hear what they themselves say▪ in this particular. And first let us [Page 112] hear S. Hierome, who was the greatest Critick of them all, and who by often exercising the strength of his ad­mirable Wit, both by himself, and with others, hath ob­served more, touching the Style, Method, Natural Dispo­sition, and Opinions of the Fathers, than any other.Hier. ep. 50. ad Pammach. Simul didicimus, plura ess [...] videlicet gene­ra dicendi, & inter caetera aliud esse [...] scribe [...]e, allud [...]: In priori vagam esse disputa­tionem, & adversario respondentem nunc haec, nunc illa proponere, argu­mentari ut liber, aliud lo [...]ui, aliud agere, p [...]nem (ut dicitur) o [...]e dere, lapidem tenere. [...] sequen [...]. [...]tem aperta fron [...], & [...]t ita dicam, [...]ngenui­tas necessaria est. Aliud est quaerere, aliud defin [...]: in altero pugnandum, in altero [...]d cendum est. Tu me stan­tem in p [...]aelio, & de vita per [...]clitan­ [...]em, studiosus magister doceas? N [...]ll ex obliquo, & unde no [...] putaris, vul­nus infe [...]e. Directo percure gladio. T [...]rpe [...]bi est hostem dolis [...] non viribus. Quasi non & haec ar [...] fumni [...] p [...]ga [...]tium [...]t, [...] minari, [...] percut [...]e. Legite obsecro vo [...] De [...]nor [...]hen [...]m, legite Tull [...]um: ac ne forsitan Rhetores v [...]bis d [...]pliceant, quorum artis est veri [...]imilia mag [...]s quàm vera dicere, legite [...]atonem, Theophrastum, Xenophontem, Aristorelem, & reliquos qui de So r [...] fonte manantes dive [...] [...]is [...] quid in illis apertum, quid simplex est? quae verba non sensuum? qui sensus non victo­rix? C [...]n [...]de ate quibus argumentis, & quam lubricis problematibus dia­boli spiritu contex [...]a subvertant: & quia inte [...]dum cogu [...]tur loqui, non qu [...]d senti [...]nt, sed quos necesse, est, dicunt adversus ea quae dicu [...]t Gen­tises. Taceod L [...]nis scriptor [...] [...], Cypriano, Minucio, Vi [...]o­rino, [...], Hitario▪ ne non tam me d [...]fendisse, quàm alios vide [...]r ac­cusasse. We have learned together, (saith He, wri­ting to Pammachius,) that there are di­vers sorts of Discourse; and among the rest, that it is one thing, to write [...], by way of Dis [...]utation; and ano­ther thing, to write [...], by way of Instruction. In the former of these the Disputes are free, and rambling where, in answering an Adversary, and proposing one while one thing, and another while another, a Man argueth as he pleaseth; speaking one thing, and doing another; shewing bread (as it is in the proverb) and holding a stone in his hand. Whereas in the second kind? an open Forehead, and that I may so speak, Ingenuity is neces­sarily required. It is one thing to make Inquiries, and another to de [...]ine: in the one we must fight, in the other we must te [...]ch. Thou seest me in a combat, and in peril of my life; and dost thou come with thy grave Instructions, like some Reve­rend Schoolmaster? Do not wound me by stealth, and from whence I least ex­pected it. Let thy sword strike directly at me: it is a shame for thee to wound thy Enemy by guile, and i [...]t by strength: as if it were not a piece of the greatest mastery in fighting, to threaten one part, but hit another. I beseech you read De­mosthenes, read Tully: and lest perhaps you should re­fuse Oratours, whose profession it is to propose things ra­ther [Page 113] probat [...]e, th [...]n true; read Plato, Theophrastus, Xe­nophon Aristo [...]le, and others; who springing all from Socrates his Fountain, as so many several Rivolets ran se­veral ways: what can you find in them, that is clear and open? what word in them but hath its Design? and what Design, but of Victory only? Origen, Methodius, Euse­bius, Apollinaris, have written largely against Celsus, and Porphyrie: do but observe what manner of Arguments, and how slippery Problems they made use of, for the sub­verting of those works, which had been wrought by the spi­rit of the Devil: and how that being sometimes forced to speak, they alledged against the Gentiles, not that which they believed, but that which was most necessary to be said. I shall not here speak any thing of the Latin Writers, as Ter­tullian, Cyprian, Minucius, Victorinus, Lactantius, and Hilary, lest I might seem rather to accuse others, than to defend my self. Thus S. Hierome. For, as for that which he presently addeth, touching St. Paul, whom he belie­veth to have practised the very same Arts, this is no pro­per place to examine, either the▪ Truth, or the Use of this Opinion of his; [...]or as much as our purpose is here to treat of the Fathers only. Now you see, that he testifi­eth clearly, that they were wont, in their Disputations, sometimes to say one thing, and believe another; to shew us Bread, and keep a Stone in their hand; to threaten one part, and to hit another; and that they were sometimes constrained to fit their words, not to their own proper Thoughts,Athan. ep. de fide Dion. Alex. but to the present Necessity. And the very same thing is confessed also by Athanasius, speaking of Diony­sius Alexandrinus, as hath been said before: namely, that he wrote, not simply, and plainly, as giving us an account of his own Belief; but that he was moved, and as it were forced to speak as he did, by reason of the Occasion, and of the Person he disputed against. The like account doth S. Basil give of a certain Passage of Gregorius Neocaesari [...] answering for him with this distinction;Basil sup. c. 5. [...]. That he spake not in that place. Dogmatically, but only by way of [Page 114] Oeconomy,Athan. ep. de fid. Dion. Alex. [...]. or Dispensation. By which Term is meant, that a Man keepeth to himself what he believeth, and pro­poseth some other thing, lying wide of his own opini­on, either this way, or that way; being concerned so to do out of some certain particular considerations. And as we sometimes see, that the Water ascendeth; being forced to mount up, to fill some space, which otherwise would remain void: (Now you will not, I hope, con­clude from hence, that this is its natural and ordinary mo­tion:) In like manner was it with the Fathers; who, be­ing sometimes distressed, and hard put to it in Disputati­on; for to avoid, as I may so speak, some certain Vacuum, which they were afraid of, they sometimes left their Na­tural Motion, and their proper sense and opinion, and took up some other contrary one, according to the Necessity of the present occasion. And indeed, although St. Hienome had not given us this notice, the thing it self would evi­dently enough have appeared, out of their Writings. For otherwise, how could any one possibly have believed, that they could have spoken so diversly as they have done in many particulars, blowing hot and cold with one and the same mouth? How could they possibly have delivered so many things contrary either to Reason, or to the Scrip­tures, or to the Fathers? For (as the same St. Hierome saith) who is so very a Block head, and so ignorant i [...] the Art of Writing, as that he will praise and condemn [...]ne and the same thing; pull down what he hath b [...]ilt; and build, what he had pulled down? Now theHier. ep. 50. ad Pam. Quis enim tam he­bes, & sic in scribendo ru­dis est, ut i­dem laudet & damnet? aedi­ficata destru­at, & destru­cta aedificet? Hier. ep. ad Desider. quae est 144. Certè adorasse ubi steter [...]ne pe­des Domini, pars fidei est. Fathers are often observed to have done this very thing. We are there­fore to conclude, that they have been forced to it, out of some special Design; and that they did it, as they use [...]o speak, by Oeconomy, or particular Disp [...]nsation▪ se [...]ing that it is evident, that the greatest part of them were very able Men. St. Hierome by namo recommending the go­ing in Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, went thus far, as [...] say▪ † That it was a part of our Faith, to go and [...] in [...]ose places, where the feet of our Saviour, once st [...]d; and to [...] [Page 115] a sigh [...] of the [...] which at this day continue fresh, both of his Nativity, Cross, and Passion. Now how doth this agree with that large Discourse,Id. ep. 13. ad Paulin. Quor­sum (inquies) haec tam lon­go repetita principio? Vi­delicet ne quidquam fi­dei tuae de­esse p [...]tes, quia Hi [...]oso­lyma [...] [...]on vidi [...], nec nos idcircò meliores exi­stimes quòd hujus loci ha­bi [...]aculo frui­mur. which he hath made in another place, to a quite contrary sense? namely, in his Epistle to Paulinus; where at length concluding, he gives him this Reason of the length of his Discourse; * To the end ( [...] he) that thou maist not think that any thing is wanting to the compleating of thy Faith because thou hast not visited Jerusalem; or, that we are any whit the better for having the opportunity of dwelling in this place. And here he concurs with Gregory N [...]ssen, who [...]ath written a Discourse, expresly against the opinion of those, † Who account it to be one of the parts of Pi [...]y to have visited Je­rusalem. Let any rational Man therefore now judge, whether or no this course must not necessarily embroil, and inwrap in a world of almost inexplicable Difficulties, the Writings of the Fathers. For, how is it possible that we should be able to judge, when they speak as they thought,Greg. Nyss. in Ep. [...], &c. [...], [...]. Hier. ep. 50 ad Pam. Debue­rat prudens & benignus Le­ctor etiam ea quae videntur dura aestimare de caeteris, & non in uno at­que eodem li­bro criminari me diversas sententias protulisse. and when not? Whether they mean really what they say, or whether they make but a flourish only? Whether the Bread which they shew us, be to deceive, or to feed us? Whether the Problems they propose be solid, or slippery ones? Whether their Positions be Dog­matical, or Oeconomical? Certainly, if our Court judg­ments were framed after this manner, we should never hope to have an end in any suit of Law. For as for that which S. Hierome saith, That an intelligent, and favour­able Reader ought to judge of those things which seem hard, out of the rest of the Discourse: and not presently to accuse any Author of blockishness, for having delivered in one and the same Boo [...], two contrary Opinions: I confess that this is very true; but yet it doth not remove the Difficulty. For how intelligent and discerning a Man soever the Rea­der be, it will very often be impossible for him, to make a right judgment in this particular: as for example, when those other things are wanting which S. Hierome would have a Man to make the measure of his judgment: [Page 116] or, when one bringeth us no more of an Author, save on­ly a bare Sentence; the Chapter, and Book where these words are, which have need to be explained, being quite out of his memory. And how many such are alledged every day, in our Disputations? What can we now do, or which way shall we turn our selves, if meeting with a Passage out of any of the Fathers, that needeth to be ex­plained, we can find no other place in him concerning the same Point; or if there be none found, but what is as doubtful as the other; or that is not in some other Book controverted it self? Who shall regulate us, amidst such Contradictions as these? But, which is yet worse, those things which S. Hierome prescribeth us for a Rule, and di­rection to our judgment, are now in these days of ours very unseasonable, as being harsh, as to the one side, and pleasing to the other; according to mens several affecti­ons, and interest; according to which they are wont to interpret, and judge of the Fathers; whereas we should rather search in them, which way we are to direct our judgments. And that favourableness which S. Hierome requireth in us, cannot be here of any use at all; but may possibly besides do very much hurt. For the greater the affection is that we bear to any Father; the greater care and pains will we take in vindicating his words, and in­terpreting them in a sense as far different as we can from what we have long since condemned, as Erroneous and Unsound; though possibly this may have been his real sense, and opinion. As for example, in those Passages be­fore-cited, out of S. Hierome, and Gregory Nyssen, the Protestant accounteth that a very harsh piece of Doctrine, which yet his Adversary is very well pleased with: the one of them sweats, and torments himself much, in the ex­plaining of such a Passage, as appears very easie to the other; the one takes that for Text, which the other ac­counts but as a Gloss. And thus the greater affection men bear to the name, and authority of any one of the Fathers, the more do they labour and use their utmost endeavours, [Page 117] to bring him over to speak to their Opinion; that is to say, in plain truth, to force him out of his own; it being impossible that we should hold both Opinions at once. We shall here therefore conclude, That how clear and ex­press so ever the Words of the Fathers may be, yet never­theless will it very often so fall out, as that we cannot have any assurance that we have their Sense expressed in them; whether it be in their Expositions of the Scrip­tures, or in their Homilies and Sermons before the People, or lastly, in their Disputations with their Adversaries, touching their Faith.

CHAP. VII.

Reason VII. That the Fathèrs have not always held one and the same Belief; but have sometimes changed some of their Opinions, according as their Judgment hath grown ri­per, through Study, or Age.

AMongst all the Ecclesiastical Writers, the Pen men of the Old and New Testament only have received the knowledge of Divine things by an extraordinary In­spiration: the rest have acquired their knowledge by the ordinary means of Instruction, Reading, and Meditation; in such sort, as that this Knowledge came not unto them in an instant, as it did to the others; but increased in them by degrees, ripening and growing up by little and little, in proportion as they grew in years: whence it is, that their Writings are not all of them of the same weight, nor of the same Value. For, who seeth not, that what they, as it were, sportingly wrote in their younger years, is of much less consideration than those other Pieces which they wrote in their riper age? Who, for instance,Hier. Ep. 1. ad Heli [...]dor: vid. Ep. 2. ad Nepot. would equal the Authority of that Epistle of S. Hierome to Heliodorus, written by him when he had [Page 118] but newly left the Rhetorick Schools, being yet a Child, and full of that innocent and inconsiderate Heat which usually attendeth those years, to that of those other gra­ver Pieces, which he afterwards sent abroad into the Church, when he had now arrived to his full strength, and ripeness of Wi [...], and to the perfection of his Studies? S. Augustine hath left us a remarkable Testimony, that the Fathers profited by Age and Study in the Knowledge of the Truth, when as in his old age, taking Pen in hand, he reviewed and corrected all that he had ever written du­ring his whole Life; faithfully and ingenuously noting whatsoever he thought worthy of reprehension, and gi­ving us all those his Animadversions collected together in the Books of his Retractations; which, in my judgment, is the most glorious and most excellent of all those many Monuments which he hath left to Posterity; whether you consider here the Learning, or the Modesty and Sincerity of the Man.Hier. ep. 65. de Erroribus Ori­genis. Ipse Ori­genes in Epi­stola quam scribit ad Fa­bianum, Ro­manae urbis Episcopum, poenitentiam agit cur talia scripserit, &c. S. Hierome reporteth, that Origen also, long before, had in his old age written an Epistle to Fabianus Bishop of Rome, wherein he confesseth, That he repent­ed him of many things which he had taught and written. Neither is there any doubt, but that some such like thing may have hapned to most of the other Fathers; and that they may have sometime disallowed of that which they had formerly believed, as true. Now from this conside­ration there falls in our way a new Difficulty, which we are to grapple with, in this our Inquiry into the true, ge­nuine sense of the Fathers, touching our present Contro­versies. For, seeing that the Condition and Nature of their Writings is such, it is most evident, that when we would make use of any of their Opinions, it will concern us to be very well assured, that they have not only sometime either held or written the same; but that they have more­over persevered in them to the end.Vincent. Liri­nens. lib. adv. prof. Novit. seu Common. Whence Vincentius Lirinensis, in that Passage of his which is so often urged, for the making use of the Ancient Authors in deciding our present Controversies, thinks it not fit that we should [Page 119] be bound to receive whatsoever they have said, for certain and undoubted Truth, unless they have assured and con­firmed it unto us by their Perseverance in the same, as he there speaketh. Cardinal Perron also evidently sheweth us the same way, by his own practice: for, disputing about the Canon of the Holy Scriptures (which he pretendeth to have been always the very same in the Western Church, with that which is delivered unto us by the III Council of Carthage, where the Maccabees are recko [...]ed in among the rest;) and finding himself hardly pressed by some certain Passages alledged by the Protestants out of S. Hie­rome to the contrary, he answereth the Objection, by say­ing, among other things,Perron's Repl. l. 1. c. 50. That this Father, when he wrote the said Passages, was not yet come to the ripeness of his Judgment, and perfection of his Studies; whereas after­wards, when he was now more fully instructed in the truth of the Sense of the Church, he changed his Opinion, and retracted (as this Cardinal saith) both in general, and in particular, whatsoever he had before written in those three Prologues, where he had excluded the Maccabees out of the Canon.Id. ibid. And so likewise, to another Objection brought to the same purpose, out of the Commentaries of S. Gre­gory the Great, he gives the like answer, saying, That S. Gre­gory, when he wrote that Piece, was not yet come to be Pope, but was a plain Deacon only, being at that time em­ployed at Constantinople, as the Popes Nuncio to the Greeks. Now these Answers of his are either insufficient; or else, it will necessarily follow from hence, That we ought not to rest certainly satisfied in the Testimony of any Father, except we first be assured, that not only he never after­wards retracted that Opinion of his; but that, besides, he wrote it in the strength and ripeness of his Judgment. And see now how we are fallen into a new Labyrinth: For, first of all, from whence, and by what means may we be able to come truly and certainly to the knowledge of this Secret; when as we can hardly meet with any light Conjectures, tending to the making of this Disco­very, [Page 120] namely, Whether a Father hath in his old age changed his Opinion, touching that Point for which it is produced against us, or not? If they had all of them been either able, or willing to have imitated the Modesty of S. Augustine, we should then have had little left to trouble us. But you will hardly find any, either of the Ancients, or of those of Later times, that have followed this example; unless it be Cardinal Bellarmine, who hath lately thought good to revive this Piece of Modesty, which had lain dead and buried for the space of so many Ages together, by writing a Book of Retractations: which Book of his is very diversly received by the Learned, as well of the one, as of the other Religion. But yet, if you will stand stiff upon it, with Cardinal Perron, and not allow the saying of a Father to be of any value, unless it were written by him after the Ripeness of his Studies; I shall then despair of our ever making any Progress, so much as one step forward, by this means, in the business in hand. For, (will the one and the other Party say, upon every Testimony that shall be produced against them) how do we know whether this Father had yet arrived to the Ripeness of his Judgment, when he wrote this Book, or not? Who can tell whether or no those days of his Life that he enjoyed after the Wri­ting hereof, might not have bestowed as well clearness on his Understanding, as Whiteness on his Head; and have changed his Judgment, as well as his Hair? We suppose here, that no such thing appeareth in any of his other Writings. How many Authors are there who have changed their Opinions, and yet have not retracted what they had formerly written? But suppose now, that we should have lost that particular Tract wherein the Author had given Testimony of the changing of his Opi­nion; what should we do in this cafe? If Time should have deprived us of S. Augustine's Retractations, and some other of his later Writings, as it hath of an in­finite number of other Pieces, both of his, and other of [Page 121] the Fathers, which would have been of as great impor­tance to us, we must certainly have thought, that he had believed, that the Cause of Predestination is the Pre­science or Foreseeing of the Faith of Men, reading but what he saith in one of the Books which he first wrote, namely,August. Expo­sit. quar. prop. ex Ep. Rim. proposit. 60. Non ergo ele­git Deus ope­ra cujusquam in praescientiâ, quae ipse datu­rus est: sed [...] ­dem elegit, &c. That God hath not elected the Works of any Man, according to his Prescience; seeing that it is▪ He himself that gives the same to a Man: But, that he hath elected his Faith by His Pres [...]ience; that is, He hath elected those who He foresaw would believe his Word; that is to say, He made choice of them to bestow His Holy Spirit upon, that so by doing Good Works they might attain everlasting. Life. Now would the Pelagians and Semipelagians have brought this Passage as an infallible Argument that S. Augustine was of their Opinion; but that his Retra­ctations, and his other Books which were written after­wards, in his later time, clearly make it appear, that this Argument is of no force at all; forasmuch as this Learn­ed Father, having afterwards better considered of this Point, wholly altered his Opinion:Id. Retract. lib. 1. cap 23. Nondum dili­gentiùs quaesi­veram, nec ad­huc invene­ram, qualis sit Electio Gra­tiae, de qua idem dicit A­postolus, Re­liquiae, &c. I had not (saith he) as yet diligently enough inquired into, nor found out, what the Election of Grace was, whereof the Apostle speaketh in these words; There is a Remnant (to be saved) ac­cording to the Election of Grace: which certainly is not Grace, if any Merits preceded it; so that that which is given, should be rendred rather as due to the Merits, than as given freely by Grace. Now who knoweth, but that among those Fathers whom we so confidently alledge every day, some of them may have retracted those things which we at this day read in their Works; and that Time may have devoured their Retractations of those their Opinions, and may have left us only their Errors? Besides, who knows, and can truly inform us, what Date their Writings bear? Whether they were the Fruits of their Spring, or of their Summer, or of their Autumn? Whether they were gathered green, or were suffered to ripen upon the [Page 122] Tree? Doubtless this whole Inquiry is very dark; there being scarcely any mark of their Season to be found upon the greatest part of them. There are indeed some few of them, that have some of these Marks; but yet they are so doubtful and uncertain ones, as that the most able and choicest Wits are sometimes deceived in this their Inqui­ry. And when all is done, who knoweth not, that there are some Trees that bear their Summer-fruit even in the very beginning of the Summer, when as the Spring-time is yet hardly past? And again, the Fruits which are gathe­red at the end of the Later Season, are not always the ri­pest: for Time, in stead of ripening, many times rotteth them. In like manner is it also with Men, and consequent­ly with the Fathers. Sometimes their Summer yieldeth much more, and better Fruit than their Autumn. For, as for the Winter, that is to say, the last part of our Age, it is evident that it usually brings forth nothing at all, or if it do chance to force it self beyond Nature, the Fruits it bringeth forth are yet worse, and more crude and imper­fect, than those even of the Spring. Seeing therefore it is for the most part impossible to give any certain judg­ment of these things, either by the History of these Au­thors, or by their Books themselves; and that again on the other side, without this we ought not to sit down upon any thing we find in their Writings, as reckoning we have made a discovery what their Opinions have been: we may safely conclude in this Point also, as we have done in the former, That it is a very hard matter to know truly and precisely what the Opinions and Sense of the Ancients have been, touching the Differences at this day debated amongst us.

CHAP. VIII.

Reason VIII. That it is Necessary, and withal very hard, to discover how the Fathers have held all their several Opinions; Whe­ther as Necessary, or as Probable onely; and in what degree of Necessity, or Probability.

LOgick teacheth us, That True Propositions are not all equally so; some of them being but Contingent only, as the Schools speak; and others being Necessary: and again, both the one and the other being more or less either Contingent or Necessary, according to that admirable Division which the Philosopher hath made,Arist. Poster. Analyt. [...], [...], [...]. into those Three Degrees of Necessity, explained by him in the First Book of his Demonstrations. And hence it comes to pass, that the Knowledge or Ignorance of these Degrees is the more or less important, in those Sciences whereunto they appertain; there being some of them, as namely, those which they call Principles, that are so Necessary, as that a Man cannot be igno­rant of them, without overthrowing the whole Science wherein they ought to have place: and there being others again, on the contrary side, that a Man may be ignorant of, so far, as to hold their Contradictories for true, and yet nevertheless not run any great hazard. As for example, These here following are Philosophical Principles of the first sort; namely, That there is Moti­on; and, That every Body occupieth some certain Place, and the like. For, I beseech you, what strange Philoso­phy would it be, that should either be ignorant of, or should deny these Principles? But these other following are of the second sort; namely, That there are precise­ly but Five Senses in Living Creatures; and, That the [Page 124] Heavens are not of an Elementary Substance, and the like. For, although these Propositions are by most held to be True, yet notwithstanding are they not so Necessary, but that a Man may pass for a Philosopher, and yet not only be ignorant of these Positions; but may also, if he please, maintain even those things that are contradictory to them. Now if there be any Science where this Consi­deration ought carefully to be applied, it is, in my judg­ment, in this of Divinity. For, there is very much diffe­rence betwixt the Truths whereof it consisteth; some of them being evidently more Necessary than others, as Origen proveth plainly, in his XXVII Homily upon S. Mat­thew. Do but compare these two Propositions together; Christ is God; and, Christ suffered death, being of the age of thirty four or thirty five years: who seeth not, that though both these Propositions are true, yet notwithstand­ing there is a very vast difference betwixt them. For, the former of these is Necessarily True, that is to say, it is True in such sort, as that it is Impossible but that Christ should be God; the Salvation of Mankind, which is the End of our Religion, being otherwise not possibly to be obtained: But as for the second, notwithstanding that it is true, and is collected clearly enough out of the Scriptures, yet is it not at all Necessary. For, Christ might, if he had so pleased, have suffered at the Fortieth or Fiftieth year of his age, without any prejudice at all to our Salvation, which was the End of His Suffering. Now according to this diversity of D [...]grees, the Be­lief or Ignorance of these two Propositions are also of very different importance. The first of them we may not be ignorant of, and much less deny, without renoun­cing Christianity. The second we may be ignorant of, and even deny too, as supposing it false, yet without any great danger. To be able therefore to come to a clear and perfect understanding, what was the Sense of the Fa­thers touching the Points of Religion at this day contro­verted amongst Us, it is necessary that we should know, [Page 125] not only whether they believed, or not believed them; but also, how they believed, or not believed them: that is to say, whether they held them as Propositions Neces­sarily, or Probably, either True, or False; and besides, in what Degree either of Necessity, or Probability they placed them. Now that this Inquiry is very Necessary, Cardinal Perron hath clearly demonstrated in that Learn­ed Epistle of his, written to Casaubon, against K. James. For, the King attributing to himself the name of Catho­lick, under pretence that He believed, and held all those things, that the Fathers of the four or five first Centu­ries did; the Cardinal denies his Sequel; replying, among other things, that to be of the Communion of the Anci­ents, a Man ought not only to believe what they belie­ved, but also to believe it in the same manner, and in the same Degree, that they did: that is to say, to believe as Necessary to Salvation, what they believed as Necessary to Salvation; and to believe as profitable to Salvation, what they held for such; and for lawful, and not repugnant to Salvation, what they held for lawful, and not repugnant to Salvation. And thus he goes on, and gives us a long and exact Division of the different Degrees of Necessity, which may, and ought to be considered, in all Propositi­ons touching Religion. I could heartily wish that this Occasion had carried on this Learned Prelate so far, as to have made an Exact Application of this Doctrine, and to have truly enformed us, of what the greatest part of the World is at this day Ignorant; namely, in what Degree each Point of the Christian Faith is held, either by the Church of Rome, or by the Ancient Fathers; & what things are absolutely Necessary in Religion; and what are those other things, that are necessary under some certain Conditi­ons only: which again are necessary by the necessity of the Means; and which, by the necessity of the Precept; (as he there speaks:) that is to say, which are those things, that we ought to observe, either by reason of their Profit, as being Means which are profitable to Salvation: and which we are to observe, by reason of the Commandment only, [Page 126] being enjoined us by such an Authority, as we owe Obe­dience to: and after all these Points, Which again All▪ and every of the Faithful are bound to believe Expresly; and, which are those, that it is sufficient to believe in gross only, and by an I [...]plicite Faith: and Lastly, which are those things that we ought actually to do▪ and, which are those, that it is sufficient if we approve of them only, though we do them not. So that it appeareth clearly out of these Words of his, that to be able to know, what the Belief of the Fathers hath been, especially in the Points now in debate, we ought first to be assured, in what de­gree they believed the same. And that this distinction was of very great Consideration with the antient Church, it appears sufficiently out of the special regard which it always had unto it; opening to, or shutting the door against men, first of all, according to the things which they believed, or not believed: Secondly, according to the different manners, how they believed, or not believed them. For it Excommunicated those who rejected those things that it held as Necessary; and so likewise, those, who pressed as things Necessary, such as it held for things probable only. But it received, with all the sweetness that might be, all those who either were Ignorant of, or doubted of, or indeed denied those things which it ac­counted though True, yet not Necessarily so. This ap­peareth clearly,Hist. Eccles. Euseb. lib. 5. cap. 24. Cod. Graeci cap. 26. out of an Epistle written by Irenaeus to Victor Bishop of Rome, set down by Eusebius, in his Ec­clesiastical History: where this holy Man testifieth, that although there had been before Victors time, the same dif­ference betwixt the Asian and the Roman Church, touch­ing the celebration of Easter-day▪ yet notwithstanding they lived in peace, and mutual amity together; neither were any of the Asian Bishops ever excommunicated at Rome, for their dissenting from them, either in this, or in any other Point: but that rather on the contrary, Poly­carpus, coming to Rome, in the time of Pope Anicetus, af­ter they had had a Conference touching the differences [Page 127] betwixt them, and each of them continued still firm in his former opinion; yet notwithstanding did they not for­bear to hold fair correspondence with each other, and to communicate together; Anicetus also, out of the respect he bare to Polycarpus, allowing him the use of his own Church, to celebrate the Eucharist in. Tertullian in his Book,Tertul. de Praescript. ad­vers. Haeret. c. 4. Caeterùm manente for­mâ ejus in suo ordine, quan­tumlibet quae­ras, & tractes, & omnem li­bidinem cu­riositatis ef­fundas, &c. Vid. l. de Virg. vel l 1. De Praescriptionibus adversus Haereticos, requires only that the Rule of Faith (as he calls it) should conti­nue in its proper Form, and Order; allowing every Man, in all other particulars, to make what Inquiries and Dis­courses he please, and to exercise his Curiosity to the height of Liberty: which is an evident Argument, that He admitted into His Communion all those who not con­tradicting the Rule of Faith, broached any other opini­ons; if so be they held them but as Probable only; and proposed not any thing which was contrary to the Rule of Faith. The Author of theApol Orig. inter opera O­rigen. Apology of Origen pub­lished by Ruffinus▪ under the name of Pamphilus, was of the same opinion also▪ For, having confessed, that Origen, if not held, yet published some certain very strange opi­nions, touching the State of the Soul before the Birth of Man, and concerning the Nature of the Stars; he wi [...]hal maintains, that these opinions do not presently make a Man an H [...]retick▪ and that even among the Doctors of the Church there was diversity of opinion touching the same. But besides all this, it is evident that this difference of judgment is even at this day to be found in the Church of Rome; where you shall find the Jacobins and the Fran­c [...]s [...]ans maintaining opinions utterly contradictory to each other, touching the Conception of the Virgin Ma­ry; the one of them maintaining that she was conceived without sin; whereas the other utterly deny it. And, that which makes me wonder the more, is, that they suffer such Contradictory opinions as these to be held amongst them, in such particulars, as considered barely in them­selves, seem yet to be of very great Importance. As for Example, a Man may either believe that we oug [...] to [Page 128] yield to the Cross the Adoration of Latria; or, if he please, he may believe the contrary; without losing, either by reason of the one, or the other, the Commu­nion of the Church, and Salvation. And yet notwith­standing if you but consider the thing in it self, it will ap­pear to be a matter of no such Indifferency as people take it for. For, if the Former of these Opinions be indeed True; then must those that are of the other Opinion, needs sin very grievously, in not worshipping a Sub­ject, that is so worthy of Adoration. But if it be False, then are those Men that maintain the same, guilty of a much greater sin, by committing so horrible Idola­try. What Point is there in Religion, that seemeth to be of greater Importance than that, touching the Foundation, and Head of all Ecclesiastical Power, upon the Authority whereof the whole Faith, and State of the Church turneth? And yet, touching this Parti­cular also, which is of so great consequence, do they suf­fer Men to maintain Contradictory Opinions; some attri­buting this Dignity to the Pope; and others, to a General Council. Ferron. Repl. l. 4. in Praefat. Now if the opinion of the First of these be true, then is the Faith of the Later built upon a very Erroneous Ground: but if the opinion of the Later be true, than doth the Faith of the Former depend upon a Cause, which is not Infallible; and consequently is Null. Now these Different opinions are reconciled, by saying, that the Church accounting neither of these Beliefs as necessary to Faith; a Man is not presently an Heretick, for holding the False opinion of the two; nor yet is he to be counted Orthodox, meerly for holding the True one. Seeing therefore that this Particular concerns the Communion of the Church, and our Salvation also, which dependeth thereon; it will behove us to know certainly, in what Degree the Ancients placed those Arti­cles, which are at this day so eagerly pressed upon the Protestants; and whether they held them in the same, or [Page 129] in a Higher, or else in a Lower Degree of Necessity, than they are now maintained by the Church of Rome. For, unless this be made very clear, the Protestants, though they should confess, (which yet they do not,) that the Fathers did indeed really believe the same; might yet al­ledge for themselves, that notwithstanding all this, they are not bound to believe the same; for as much as all opi­nions in Religion are not presently Obligatory, and such as all Men are bound to believe; seeing that there are some that are indeed necessary, but some others that are not so. They will answer likewise, that these opinions are like to those at this day controverted, betwixt the Dominicans, and the Franciscans; or to those other Points, debated betwixt the Sorbonists and the Regulars: wherein every one is permitted to hold what he pleaseth. They will urge for themselves the Determination of the Council of Trent, [...]onc. Trident. Sess. 21. cap. [...]. extr. & Can. 4. which in express terms distinguisheth betwixt the opinions of the Fathers; where having thundred out an Anathema, against all those that should maintain, that the Administring of the Eucharist was necessary for little Infants, they further declare, that this Thunderbolt ex­tended not to those Antient Fathers, who gave the Com­munion to little Infants; for as much as they maintained, and practised this, being moved thereunto upon Probable Reasons only, and not accounting it necessary to Salvation. Seeing therefore that some Errors, which have been con­demned by Councils, may be maintained in such a certain Degree, without incurring thereby the danger of their Thunderbolts: by the same reason a Man may be ignorant of, and even deny some Truths also, without running the hazard of being Anathematized. Who can assure us, (may the Protestants further add) that the Articles which we re­ject, are not of this kind? and such, as that though perhaps they may be true, it is nevertheless lawful for us not to believe. My opinion therefore is, that there is no Man now that seeth not, that it concerns the Doctors of the Roman Church, if they mean to convince their Adversaries out [Page 130] of the Fathers first to make it appear unto them, that the Antients held the said Points, not only as True, but as Necessary also, and in the very same Degree of Necessity that they now hold them. Now this must needs prove a business of most extream Difficulty, and much greater here, than in any of the other particulars before propo­sed. And I shall alledge no other Argument for the proof of this, than that very Decree we cited before, where the Council of Trent hath declared, that the Fathers did not Administer the Communion to Infants, out of any opinion that it was necessary to Salvati­on; Concil. Trident. Sess. 21. c. 4. Ut enim sanctiss [...]i [...]ill [...] Pa­tres sui facti probabi [...]em causam pro illius temporis ratione habuerunt; ita certè eos nullâ salutis ne­cessitate id [...]ec [...]sse, sine con­troversi [...] tenendum est. but did it upon some other probable Rea­sons only. For, we have not only very good reason to doubt, whether the Fathers held this opinion, and followed this practice, as probable only, but it seemeth besides (with all Reverence to that Council be it spoken,) to appear evidently enough out of their Wri­tings, that they did hold it as Necessary. For, do but hear the Fathers themselves▪ and St. Augustine in the first place: who saith, Aug. l. 1 [...]e peccat. Mor▪ & rem [...]ss Ex antiqu [...], ut exi­stimo, & Apostolica Tradi­tione Ecclesiae Christ [...]msi­tum tenent, praeter Baptis­mum & participationem Dominicae men [...]ae, non so­lùm ad Regnum Dei, sed nec ad salutem, & vitam [...]aeternam posse quenquam hominum pervenire. Hoc enim & Scriptura [...]estatur, &c. Ibid. Paulo post. Si erg [...], ut tot & tanta divina testi­monia concinunt, nec salus, nec vita aeterna sine Baptismo, & corpore & sanguine Domini cu [...]quam specta [...]a est; frustrà sine his promit­titur parvulis. That the Churches of Christ hold, by an An­tient, and as I conceive (saith he) an Aposto­lical Tradition, that without Baptism, and the Communicating of the Lords Table, no Man can come either into the Kingdom of God or un­to Salvation, or Eternal Life. And afterwards having, as he conceives▪ proved this out of the Scriptures, he addeth further: Seeing therefore that no Man can hope either for Eternal, Life, or Salvation, without Baptism, and the Body and Blood of Christ, (thus doth he call the Sacra­ment of the Eucharist, according to the language of his Time;) as hath been proved by so many Di­vine Testimonies; in vain is it promised to Infants, with­out the participating of these. And some three Chapters before, treating of those words of our Saviour in S. John, [Page 131] Except you eat my Flesh, and drink my Blood, you can have no Life in you: which words he understandeth, both there an [...] [...] where, of the Communicating of the E [...] ­charist; he makes a long Discourse to prove, that they extend as well to little Infants, as to people of riper Ag [...]. Id. Ibid. c. 20. verò quis­quam etiam hoc dicere aude­bit, qu [...]d ad parvulos haec sen­tentia non perti [...]eat; possint (que) sine participatione corporis hu­jus & sanguinis in se habere vi­tam &c? [...] there any man saith he, that dares af­firm that thi [...] sp [...]ech belongeth not to little [...] o [...] that they may have life in them▪ without participating of this Body▪ and of this Blo [...]d? And this is this constant manner of speaking, in eight or ten other Passages in hisId. T. 2. ep. 106 ep. 107. ep. poster ib. Mar. l. 2. contr. Pel. & Celest. c. 18. l. 1 contr. 2. ep. Pe­lag. ad Bon. cap. 22. & l. 4 c. 4. l▪ 1. contr. Jul. & l. 3. c. 1. &c. 12. lib. de Praedest. Sanct. ad Prosp. c. 13. Hypomn. l. 5. & 6. Tract. 120. in J [...]h. Serm. 32. de verb. Ap. Works, which are too long to be here inserted▪ Pope Innocent I▪ his Contemporany▪ speaketh also after the same manner▪ proving against the Pela­gians, that Baptism is Necessary for In­fants, to render them capable of Eternal Life; for as much as, without Baptism they cannotInnoc. in ep. ad Milevit Synod. quae est inter ep. Aug 15. Illud verò quod eos vestra fraterni­tas asserit praedicare, parvulos aeternae vitae praemiis, etiam sine baptismatis gratia posse donari, perfatuum est. Nisi enim man­ducaverint carnem fi [...]i homi­nis, & biber [...]nt sargu [...]em ejus, non habebunt vitam aeternam in seme [...]ipsis. Vid. Aug. l. 2. contr. 2. ap. Pelag. c. 4. & lib. 1. contr. Jul. c. 2. Communicate of the E [...] ­charist, which is necessary to Salvation. Cyprian lib. [...]. Test ad Qui. c. [...]5. S. Cyprian also, long before them spake to the very same sense: and thisMaldon. in Joan. c. 6. num. 116. M [...]ssam facio Augustini, & Innocent [...] I▪ sententiam, quae sexce [...]tos circiter annos viguit in Ecclesia, Eucharistiam etiam Infantibus necessariam. Maldo­nate affirmeth▪ to have been the opinion of the six first Centuries. These things con­sidered, we must needs think one of these two things following; namely, that either the Council of Trent, by its Declaration, hath made that, which hath been, to be as if it never had been; which is a Power, that the PoetAgath [...] apud Aristot. Eth ad Nicom l. 7▪ c. 2. [...]. Agath [...] in Aristotle would not allow to God himself: or else, that the Fathers of this Council, either out of forgetfulness, or otherwise, mistook them­selves in this account of theirs, touching the opinion of the Ancient Church in this particular: which, in my judgment▪ is the more favourable, and the more proba­ble [Page 132] Conceit of the two: and if so, I shall then desire no more. For, if these great Personages, who were chosen with so much Care, and Circumspection, out of all parts of Christendom, and sent to Trent, to deliberate upon, and determine a Business of the greatest Importance in the World; and were directed by the Legats of so exquisite a Wisdom▪ and digested their Decrees with a judgment so Ripe, and slow-paced, as that there is scarcely any one word in them, but hath its Design; if after all this, I say, these Men should be [...]ound to have erred in this their Inquiry, in affirming, that the Fathers held only as Probable, that which they evidently appear to have held as Necessary: If Pope Pius VI. with his whole Consisto­ry, consisting of so many Eminent, and Wise Men, hath approved and confirmed this Mistake of theirs, not per­ceiving it at all: what can we, or indeed what ought we to expect from any other hands, whose soever they be, as touching the Points now controverted betwixt us; in comparison of which, a Man may very well say, that all the Difficulty, that this Matter now spoken of yieldeth, is nothing at all, wherein notwithstanding this whole Council mistook it self? Where shall we find a M that after this their Failing, can have the courage to ad­venture upon so Difficult, and so Intricate an underta­king? Who can promise himself success there, where so Great a Council hath failed? The very hope of effecting so weighty a Matter can hardly be excused from the guilt of High Pr [...]sumption. For, first of all, the Fathers tell us very seldom, in what Degree either of Necessity, or Probability, they held their Opinions: and even when they do tell us, their Expressions being such, as we have observed of them, we ought not presently to conclude any thing from them, without first examining them through­ly. For, many t [...]mes, when they would recommend unto us such things, as they accounted profitable for us; they would speak of them, as if they had been Necessary: and so again, to take off our Belief of, and to divert our affe­ctions [Page 133] from such things as they conceived either to be simply false, or otherwise unprofitable for us; they re­presented them as the most detestable and pernicious things that could be.Ignat. ep. 4. ad Phil. [...]. Whosoever fasteth upon the Lords day, or upon any Saturday, except that one Saturday, (he meaneth Easter-Eve) he is a murtherer of Christ, said S. Ignatius. Who would not think, hearing these so Tragical Expressions of his, that certainly he was speak­ing of the very Foundation of the whole Christian Reli­gion? And yet the Business he there speaks of, was only the Observation of a certain part of a Positive Law, and which yet (as most are of opinion) was at that time re­ceived but by a part onely of the Church; the belief and observation whereof was so far from being reckoned among those things that were Necessary, that it was scarce­ly placed in the first Degree of Probability; and is now at length utterly abolished too. This manner of Discour­sing is very frequently used by Tertullian, S. Ambrose, and especially by S. Hierome▪ who are all so eager for the Side which they take to, that you would think, in reading them, that all those whom they commend, were very Angels; and all those other, whom they speak against, arrant Devils: that whatsoever they maintain, are the ve­ry Foundations and Ground-work of the Christian Re­ligion; and whatsoever they refute, is meer Atheism, and the highest Impiety▪ that may be.Hieron. ep. 10. ad Furiam. Tom. 1. Certainly S. Hierome, writing to a certain Roman Matron, named Furia, who was a Widow, and disswading her from marrying again, discourseth of this Matter in the very same manner as he would have done in disswading her from the committing of Murther. And here are we to call to mind again the divers Reasons of the obscurity of the Fathers, and parti­cularly that of their Rhetorick, all which have place in this Particular, rather than in any other. So that there seemeth to be but one onely Certain way left us to disco­ver in what degree they placed the Propositions of Christian Doctrine; namely, their Creeds, and Expositi­ons [Page 134] of their Faith, whether they were General or Par­ticular ones; and the Determinations of their Coun­cils and Ecclesiastical Assemblies. For we may very well believe, that they held as necessary all such Points, as they made profession of in such a manner, Anathema­tizing all such as should deny the same. And by this Rule we may indeed assure our selves, that they held, as Necessary, the greatest part of all those Points wherein we at this day agree among our selves. And some of these we have formerly set down in our Preface; for they are most of them either delivered expresly in their Creeds, or else positively determined in their Councils; and the Contradictors of them, there expresly condemn­ed. But yet this Rule will scarcely be of any use at all to us, in the Decilion of our present Controversies: For, some of them appear not at all, neither in that Rule of Faith so often mentioned by Tertullian, nor in the Ni­cen Creed, nor in that of Co [...]stanti [...]ople, nor in the De­terminations of the Council of Ephesus, nor yet in those of Chalcedon. The first of these Councils Anathemati­zed Arius; the second, Macedonius; the third, Nestorius; and the fourth, Eutyches: and yet nevertheless are the several Tenets of these very Men at this day received, and maintained by one Side or other. Nay, which is more, the aforesaid Articles do not at all appear neither in the two following Councils; namely, the second Council of Constantinople, which condemned certain Writings of Theodorus, Theodoretus, and Ibas, as we have touched before; nor yet in the III Council of Con­stantinople, which Anathematized the Monothelites, and was held about the year of our Lord DCLXXXI. And yet have these Six first Councils (if you will believe the Fathers of the VII) established and confirmed all those things which had been taught in the Catholick Church, Synod. 7. Act. 6. Refut. Synod. Iconocl. [...], (Sex Synodi Oecumen [...]cae) [...]. down from the Primitive Times, whether [Page 135] by Writing, or by Ʋnwritten Tradition. So that it will hence follow, that these Points, which appear not here in the said Six first Councils at all, were not delivered from the beginning, neither in Writing, nor otherwise. Only about the Eighth Century, and so for a good while afterward, we find mention of one of those Points now controverted among us, namely, that touching Images; which was diversly and contrarily determined in the Councils of Constantinople, of Nicaea, and of Francfort: the Second of these Councils enjoyning the Ʋse and Ado­ration of Images; whereas the First had utterly forbid it; and the last of these Councils taking off, and correcting, as it were, the Excesses of the other Two. What can you say to this, that neither in the Writings of Parti­cular Men, which yet are usually more copious, and fuller, than the Determinations of Councils are, there is so much as any mention made of the said Points? Epiphanius, Epiphan. in Pa­nar. l. 3 & in Anacephal. in the Conclusion of his Treatise of Heresies, gives us two Discourses; in the one whereof he setteth down the Order, Customs, and Discipline of the Church in his time: wherein I must needs say, that there are very many things which much differ from the Customs that are at this day observed by us, both of the one side, and of the other. In the other is contained an Exposi­tion of the Faith of the Church, set down at large, which he calleth,Id ibid [...]. The Pillar of the Truth, the Hope and Assu­rance of Immortality. And yet of all those Controversies which are at this day debated amongst us, you shall there meet with onely one which is touching the Local Descent of our Saviour Christ into Hell: which yet is an Article of very small importance, as every one knows. In the Acts of the Sixth Council we have a Synodical Epistle of Sophronius, Concil VI. Act. II. Patriarch of Jerusalem, wherein, as the usual Custom was, he explaineth the Faith, in a very large and particular manner: and yet notwithstanding, you shall no there meet with any of those Points which are now controverted amongst us. Those that shall [Page 136] search more narrowly into the Business, will be apt posi­tively to conclude from this their silence, that these Points were not at that time any part of the Belief of the Church: and certainly this their way of Argumentation seems not to want Reason. But as for my own particular, it is sufficient for me, that it confirmeth the Truth of my Assertion, which is, That it is, if not an impossible, yet at least a very hard thing, to discover in what degree ei­ther of Necessity, or Probability, the Ancient Fathers held each of those Points which are now debated amongst us; seeing that they appear not at all, neither in the Ex­positions of their Faith, nor yet in the Determinations of their Councils; which are as it were the Catalogues of those Points which they accounted Necessary.

CHAP. IX.

Reason IX. We ought to know what hath been the Opinion, not of one, or more of the Fa­thers, but of the whole Ancient Church; which is a very hard matter to be found out.

THose who make most account of the Writings of the Fathers, and who urge them the oftnest in their Disputations, do inform us, That the weight of their Say­ings in these Matters proceeds from hence, that they are as so many Testimonies of the General Sense and Judg­ment of the Church; to which alone these men attribute the Supreme Power of Judging in Controversies of Reli­gion. For, if we should consider them severally, each by himself, and as they stand by their own strength onely, they confess, that they may chance to erre. So that it will follow hence, That to the end we may make use of the Testimonies of the Fathers, it is not sufficient for us to [Page 137] know whether such or such Sayings be truly theirs; and, if so, what the meaning of them is: but we ought further also to be very well assured, that they are conformable to the Belief of the Church in their time: in like manner as in a Court of Judicature, the Opinion of any single Person of the Bench is of no weight at all, as to the passing of Judgment, unless it be conformable to the Opinion of all the rest, or at least of the Major Part of the Company. And now see how we are fallen again into new Difficul­ties. For, whence, and by what means may we learn, whether the whole Church, in the time of Justin Mar­tyr, or of S. Augustine, or of S. Hierome, maintained the same Opinions in every particular, that these Men several­ly did, or not? I confess, that the Charity of these Men was very great; and that they very heartily and constant­ly embraced the Body and Substance of the Belief of the Church, in all Particulars that they saw apparently to be such. But, where the Church did not at all deliver it self, and expresly declare what its Sense was; they could not possibly, how great soever their desire of so doing might have been, follow its Authority, as the Rule of their Opi­nions. Wheresoever therefore they treat of Points which were long since decided, believed, and received, expres­ly, and positively, by the whole Christian Church, either of their own Age, or of any of the preceding Ages; it is very probable that they did conform to what was belie­ved by the Church; so that, in these Cases, their Say­ing may very well pass for a Testimony of the Judgment and Sense of the Church; it being very improbable, that they could be either ignorant what was the Pub­lick Doctrine of the Church; or that knowing the same, they would not follow it. As for example, when Athanasius, S. Ambrose, S. Hierome, S. Augustine, and others, discourse touching the Son of God, they speak nothing but what is conformable to the Belief of the Church in General; because that the Belief of the Church had then been clearly and expresly delivered upon this [Page 138] Point: so that whatsoever they say, as to this Particular, may safely be received, as a Testimony of the Churches Belief. And the like may be done in all the other Points, which have either been positively determined in any of the General Councils, or delivered in any of the Creeds, or that any other way appeareth to have been the pub­lick Belief of the Church. If the Fathers had but contain­ed themselves within these Bounds, and had not taken liberty to treat of any thing, save what the Church had clearly delivered its Judgment upon; this Rule might then have been received as a General one; and, what opi­nion soever we found in them, we might safely have con­cluded it to have been the Sense of the Church that was in their time. But the curiosity of Mans Nature, together with the Impudence of the Hereticks, and the Tenderness of Conscience, whether of their own or of others, and divers other Reasons perhaps, having partly made them willingly, and partly forced, and as it were constrained them to go on further, and to proceed to the search of the Truth of several Points, which had not as yet been esta­blished by the universal and publick Consent of all Chri­stians, it could not be avoided, but that necessarily they must in these Inquiries make use of their own proper Light, and must deliver upon the same their own private Opinions; which the Church, which came after them, hath since either embraced, or rejected. I shall not here stand to prove this my Assertion, since it is a thing that is confessed on all hands, and whereof the Romanists make special use upon all occasions, in answering several Objections brought against them out of the Fathers. As, for example,Bellarm. de Rom. Pont. l 4. c. 14. Sect. Re­spondeo in pri­mis, &c. where Cardinal Bellarmine excuseth the Er­ror of Pope John XXII, touching the state of the Departed Souls, before the Resurrection, by saying, that the Church in his time had not as yet determined any thing touching this Particular. And so likewise, where he ap­plies the same Plaister to that (in his Judgment) so un­sound Opinion of Pope Nicolas I, who maintained That [Page 139] Baptism administred in the Name of Jesus Christ onely, without expressing the other Persons of the Holy Trinity, was not withstanding valid and effectual.Id. ibid. c. 12. Sect. Respond. Nicolaum, &c. Non invenitur ulla certa de­finitio Eccle­siae de hac re. Id. ibid Sect. ult. ex his. This is a Point (saith Bellarmine) touching which we find not the Church to have determined any thing. And, how dangerous, and almost Heretical soever the Opinion of those Men seem to him to be, who hold, That the Pope of Rome may fall into Heresie; yet doth he permit Pope Adrian to hold the same, not daring to rank him among the Hereticks, because that the Church had not as yet clearly and defi­nitively delivered it self touching this Point. The same Bellarmine, in another Controversie of great importance, touching the Canonical Books of the Old Testament, finding himself hardly put to it, by his Adversaries urging against him the Authority of S. Hierome, who casts To­bit, the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and the Macca­bees, out of the Canon, contrary to the Judgment of the Church of Rome, which receiveth them in▪ rids his hands of this Objection, after the same manner. I confess (saith he) that S. Hierome held this Opinion, because that no General Council had as yet ordained any thing touching these Books. Seeing therefore it is most clear, both from the Confession of our Adversaries, and also by the con­sideration of the thing it self, that the Fathers have ven­ [...]ed in their Writings very many of their own particular Opinions, digested out of their own private Meditati­ons, and which they had not learnt in the School of the Church; who sees not, that before we give any certain credit unto their Sayings, we ought first to be assured of what Nature they are? Whether they were their own particular Opinions onely, or the publick Sense of their Age? Since it is confessed by all, That those of the former sort are not always obligatory necessarily; but are such as oftentimes may, and sometimes ought to be rejected, without any scruple at all. You will object, perhaps, to a Protestant, That S. Hierome▪ worshipped the Reliques of Departed Saints. How shall I know (will he reply upon [Page 140] you again) whether this was his private Opinion onely, or not? If the Authority of this Father, for want of being grounded upon some Publick Declaration of the Church, could not bind Bellarmine to receive his Opi­nion, touching the Canon of the Old Testament; why should this Opinion of his, which is not any whit better grounded than the other, perswade me to the Worship of Reliques? The same will he reply upon you, and many times with much more appearance of Reason, concerning divers other Testimonies produced out of the Fathers. So that, whether you would confirm your own Faith, or whether you would wrest out of your Adversaries hand this manner of Reply, and make good all such Allegati­ons; it will concern you to make it clear, concerning any Passage whatsoever, that you shall urge out of a Fa­ther, that it is not his own private Opinion, but was the Opinion of the Church it self wherein he lived: which, in my Judgment, is a thing that is as hard, or harder to be demonstrated, than any one of all those things we have yet discoursed of. For, those means by which we might easily attain to this Knowledge, are wanting unto us; and those which we have left us, are very weak, and very little concluding. If the Fathers themselves had but taken so much pains as to have distinguished betwixt these two sorts of Opinions, informing us in every parti­cular Case, which were their own private Opinions only, and which were taught by the whole Church; or, at least, had but proposed some of them as Doubtful, and others again as Assured Truths, in like manner as Origen hath sometimes done; they would indeed have eased us very much: though, to say the truth, they would not have wholly cured us of our Grief: forasmuch as sometimes (as we shall hereafter make it appear) they attribute to the Church those things,Infr. l. 2. c. 1. which it is most evident that it never held. But they very seldom use to make any such Distinction, but commonly [...]ent their own private Opi­nions in the very same manner as they do the publick▪ [Page 141] and sometimes also, by reason of the Passion, which these Authors may chance naturally to have been subject unto, be the thing what it will, we shall have them recom­mending unto us with more eagerness, that which they have conceived, and brought forth themselves, than that which they have received from any other hand: so that we shall meet with very little in them, that may give us any light in this Particular. There would be left us yet another help in this business, by comparing that which they say here and there throughout their Writings, with the Publick Opinions of the Church, which would be a pretty safe and certain Rule to go by, had we any where else besides their Books, any clear and certain evidence, what the Belief of the Church hath been, in each several Age, touching all Points of Religion: and if this were so, we should not then need to trouble our selves with the studying the Writings of the Fathers; seeing that we read them for no other purpose, but only to discover out of them, what the opinion of Christendom hath been, touching those Points which are at this day controverted betwixt us. But now there is no man but knows, but this help is wanting to us. For, setting aside the Creeds, and the Determinations of the six first General Councils, and of some few of the Provincial, you will not meet with any Piece of this nature, throughout the whole stock of Antiquity. Now, (as we have already made it appear in the preceding Chapter,) the Ancient Church hath not any where declared, neither in its Creeds, nor in the aforesaid Councils, what the opinion and sense of it hath been, touching the greatest part of those Points, which are now in dispute amongst us. It followeth therefore, that by this means we shall never be able to distinguish, in the Writings of the Fathers, which were their own private opinions, and which they held in common with the rest of the Church. If we could indeed learn from any creditable Author, that the present Controversies had ever been decided by the Ancient Church; we should [Page 142] then readily believe, that the Fathers would have follow­ed this their Decision: and then, although the Co [...]stituti­ons themselves should not perhaps have come down to our hands, yet notwithstanding should we be in some sort obliged to believe, that the Fathers who had both seen, and assented to the same, would also have delivered over the sense of them unto us in their Writings. But we meet with no such thing in any Author: but it rather appears evidently to the contrary, through the whole course of Ecclesiastical Story, that these Matters were ne­ver so much as started, in the first Ages of Christianity; so far have they been from being then decided. So that it manifestly appeareth from hence, that if the Fathers of those Primitive times have by chance said any thing of them; they fetched not what they said from the Deter­minations of the Church, which had not as yet declared it self touching the same; but vented rather their own private thoughts and opinions. Neither will it be to any purpose to object here, that the Testimonies of many Fa­thers together do represent unto us the sence of the Church; although the voice of one or two single persons only is not sufficient to do the same. For, not to answer, that that which hath hapned to one, may have hapned to many others; and, that if some particular persons chance to have fallen upon some particular Opinions, possibly others may either have accompanied, or else have follow­ed them in the same: I say further, that this Objection is of no force at all in this Particular. For, seeing that the Church had not as yet declared its opinion publickly, touching the Points at this day controverted; it is as im­possible that many together, that lived in the same time, should represent it unto us, as that one single person should. How could they possibly have seen that; which lay as yet concealed? How could they possibly measure their Belief by such a Rule, as was not yet visible to the World? The Chiliasts alledge the Testimonies, not of one, not of two, but of a very great number of the most [Page 143] eminent and the most ancient among the Fathers, who were all of their opinion as we shall see hereafter. The Answer, that is ordinarily made to the Objection, is, That the Church having not as yet declared its sence tou­ching this Point, the Testimonies of these Men bind us not to believe the same: which is an evident Argument, that a great number, in this case, signifies no more than a small, in the representing unto us, what the Belief of the Church hath been; and that it is necessary, that either by some General Council, or else by some other publick way, it must have declared its judgment touching any Question in debate that so we may know whether the Fathers have been of the same judgment, or no. So that accord­ing to this Account, we are to raise up again the whole Ancient Church, and to call it to account, touching every of these particular Points now debated, touching which the Testimonies of the Fathers are alledged; it being im­possible otherwise to give any certain judgment, whether that which they say be their own private, or else the pub­lick Opinion; that is to say, whether it be fit to be belie­ved, or not. So that any man, that is but of the meanest judgment, may easily perceive how that it is not only a difficult, but also almost an impossible thing, to gather out of the Writings of the Fathers so much light, as is necessary we should have, for our satisfaction in matters of so great importance.

CHAP. X.

Reason 10. That it is a very hard matter to know, whether the Opinions of the Fathers, touching the Controversies of these Times, were received by the Church Ʋniversal, or but by some part of it only: which yet is necessa­rily to be known, before we can make use of any Allegations out of them.

BUT suppose that a Father, relieving us in this difficult, or rather impossible business, should tell us in express terms, that what he proposeth, is the sense and opinion of the Church in his time; yet would not this quite de­liver us out of the doubtful condition we are in. For, be­sides that their words are many times, in such cases as these, liable to exception, suppose that it were certainly and undoubtedly so; yet would it concern us then to ex­amine, what that Church was, whereof he speaketh; whe­ther it were the Church Ʋniversal, or only some Particular Church, and whether it were that of the whole World, or that of some City, Province, or Country only. Now that this is a matter of no small importance is evident from hence; because that the opinions of the Church Ʋniversal in Points of Faith are accounted infallible, and necessarily true: whereas those of Particular Churches are not so, but are confessed to be subject to Errour. So that the Question being here touching the Faith, which ought not to be grounded upon any thing, save what is infallibly true; it will concern us to know, what the judgment of the Church Ʋniversal hath been; seeing the opinion of no Particular Church can do us any service in this case. And, that this distinction is also otherwise [Page 145] very necessary, appears evidently by this; because that the opinions and customs, which have been commonly received by the greatest part of Christendom, have not always presently taken place in each Particular Church; and again, those which have been received in some certain Particular Churches, have not been entertained by all the rest. Thus we find in story, that the Churches of Asia minor kept the Feast of Easter upon a different day from all the other parts of Christendom: and although the business it self seems to be of no very great importance, yet did it nevertheless cause a world of stir in the Church; Victor, Bishop of Rome, by reason of this little difference, excommunicating all Asia minor. Now each party here alledged their Reasons,Euseb. Hist. Eccles. l. 5 c. 23, 24. p. 55. Cod. Graec. and Aposto­lical Tradition for what they did; speaking with so great confidence in the justification of their own opini­on, as that hearing them severally, a man would verily believe, that each of their opinions was the very sense of the whole Church; which notwithstanding was but the opinion of one part of it only. The greatest part of Christendom held the Baptism of Hereticks to be good and effectual;Cypr. ep. 71. & ep. 75. quae est Firmil. and received all those, who forsaking their Heresie, desired to be admitted into the Commu­nion of the Church, without re-baptizing them; as ap­pears out of St. Cyprian, who confesseth that this had also been the custom formerly, even in the African Chur­ches themselves. And yet notwithstandingFirmi. ep ad Cypr. quae est 75. inter epist. Cypr. Caeterum nos veritati & consuetudi­nem jungi­mus; & con­suetudini Ro­manorum, consuetudi­nem, sed veritatis, op­ponimus; ab initio hoc te­nentes, quod à Christo, & ab Apostolis traditum est. Firmilianus, Archbishop of Caesaria in Cappadocia, testifies, that the Churches of Cappadocia had time out of mind believed and practised the contrary; and had also in his time so declared and ordained, together with the Churches of Ga­latia and Cilicia, in a full Synod, held at the City Iconium. And about the same time also St. Cyprian and the Bishops of Africk fell upon the same business, and embraced this opinion of Re-baptization of Hereticks. The Acts of the Council held at Carthage are yet extant; where you have 87 Bishops, who with one unanimous consent established [Page 146] the same. The Custom at Rome in Tertullians time, was, to receive into the Communion of the Church all Forni­cators and Adulterers, after some certain Penances, which they enjoyned them. Tertullian, who was a Montanist, exclaimed fearfully against this custom, and wrote a Book expresly against it; which is also extant among his works at this day. Who now, that should read this Piece of his, would not believe that it was the general Opinion of all Catholicks, that such sinners were not to be excluded from Penance, and the Communion of the Church? And yet for all this it is evident, out of a certain Epistle of St. Cyprian, Cypr. epist. de Anton. that even some of the Catholick Bishops of Afri­ca were of the contrary perswasion: and the Jesuit Peta­vius is further of opinion, that this Indulgency was not allowed, nor practised in the Churches of Spain, till a long time after; and, that the Ancient Rigour, which exclu­ded for ever such Offenders from the Communion of the Church, was in practice among them, till the time of Pa­cianus, Bishop of Barcellona, who left not any hopes of Ecclesiastical Absolution, either to Idolaters, Murtherers, or Adulterers; Pacian Paran. ad Poenit. T. 3. Bibl. PP. p. 71. Concil. Laodic. can. 59. in Cod. Eccles. univers. 163. as may be seen in his Exhortation to Re­pentance. In the year of our Lord 364. the Council of Laodicea ordained, that none but the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament should be read in Churches, giving us withal a Catalogue of the said Books, which amount in all, in the Old Testament, to the number of twenty two only; without making any mention at all of those other Books, which Cardinal Perron calls Posthumous, namely Ecclesiasticus, the Book of Wisdom, the Maccab [...]es, Judith, and Tobit. All the Canons of this Council were afterwards inserted into the Code of the Church Univer­sal; where you have this very Canon also, Num. 163. that is as much as to say, they were received, as Rules of the Catholick Church. Who would believe now, but that this Declaration of the Canon of the Scriptures was at that time received by all Christian Churches? And yet notwithstanding you have the Churches of Africk, meet­ing [Page 147] together in the Synod atConcil. Car­thag. III. can. 47. Carthage, about the year of our Lord 397. and ordaining quite contrary to the former Resolution of Laodicea, that among those Books which were allowed to be read in Churches, the Macca­bees, Judith, Tobit, Ecclesiasticus, and the Book of Wisdom, (which two last they also reckon among the Books writ­ten by Solomon,) should be taken into the number. Who knoweth not the difference that there was, in the first Ages of Christianity, betwixt the Eastern and the Western Churches, touching theVid. Pete [...] in Epiph. p. 359. Fasting upon Saturdays; the Church of Rome maintaining it is lawful, and all the rest of the World accounting it unlawful? Whence it was, that we had that soCan. Synod. Quinisex. Can. LV [...]. bold Canon passed in the Council at Constantinople, in Trullo, in these words: Ʋnderstanding, that in the City of Rome, in the time of the Holy Fast of Lent, they fast on Saturdays, contrary to the Custom, and Tra­dition of the Church; it seemeth good to this Holy Council, that in the Roman Church they inviolably also observe that Canon, which saith; that, whosoever shall be found to fast either upon the Lords day, or upon the Satur­day, (excepting only that one Saturday,) if he be a Clergie-man, he shall be deposed; but if be be of the Laity, he shall be excommunica­ted. Who knoweth not, after how many several ways the Fast of Lent was Anciently observed in divers Churches, an account whereof is given you by Irenaeus, in that PiousIren. ap. Euseb. Hist. Ec­cles. l. 5. cap. 26▪ Epistle of his, which he wrote to Victor; part whereof Eusebius setteth down in his Ecclesiastical Histo­ry? Who doth not also know, that the opinions, and expressions of the Greek Church, touching Free-will, and Predestination, are extremely different, from what the Church believed, and taught in S. Augustines time, and so downward? And as concerning the Discipline of the Church, do but hear Anastasius Bibliothecarius, upon the [Page 148] VI Canon of the VII General Council, which enjoyneth all Metropolitans to hold Provincial Synods once a year. Anastas. Biblioth. ad Can 6. Conc. 7. Gener. Nec te move at, si hanc definitionem minimè nos habemus: cum & earum nonnullas, quas inter Canones habemus, in auctoritatem non recipiamus; sicut quasdam ex Conciliis. Aliae nam (que) apud Graecos tantùm, aliae verò a­pud certas tantùm provinci­as in observantiam Ecclesia­rum assumuntur: sicut Lao­dicensis Concilii 16, & 17 Regulae, quae apud Graecos tantùm servantur: & Africani Concilii 6, & 8. capit [...]la, quae nulla provincia servare, nisi Africana, dignoscitur. Neither let it at all trouble thee, (saith he) that we have not this Decree; seeing that there are some others found among the Canons, whose Autho­rity nevertheless we not admit of. For, some of them are in force, and are observed in the Greek Church; and others again in certain other Provinces only. As for example, the XVI and XVII. Canons of the Council of Laodicea are observed only among the Greeks; and the VI▪ and the VIII Canons of the Council of Africk, are received by none, but the Africans only. I could here produce divers other Examples; but these may suffice, to shew, that the Opinions and Customs, which have been received in one Part of the Church, have not always been entertained in all the rest. Whence it evidently follows, that all that is acknow­ledged, as the opinion, or observation of the Church, ought not therefore presently to pass for an Universal Law. The Protestant alledgeth, for the justifying his Canon of the Scriptures, the Council of Laodicea, before mentioned. Thou answerest him perhaps, that this in­deed was the opinion of the Churches; but it was only of some particular Churches. I shall not here enter into an Examination, whether this Answer be well grounded, or not: it is sufficient for me, that I can safely then con­clude from hence, that according to this account, before you can make use of any Opinion, or Testimony out of any of the Fathers, it is necessary, that you first make it appear, not only that it was the Opinion of the Church at that time; but you must further also clearly demonstrate unto us▪ what Churches opinion it was; whether of the Church Universal, or else of some Particular Church on­ly. It is objected against the Protestants, that Epiphanius [Page 149] testifieth,Epiphan Haer. 59. Tom. 1. that the Church admitted not into the higher Orders of the Ministry, any save those that were Vir­gins, or professed Continency. Now to make good this Allegation, it is necessary that it be first proved, that the Church he there speaks of, was the Church Uni­versal. For (will the Protestant reply upon you,) as Lao­dicea hath had, as it seems, a particular Opinion touch­ing the Canon of the Scriptures; possibly also Cyprus may in like manner have had its particular Resolutions touch­ing the Ordination of the Clergy. The like may be said of the greatest part of those other Observations and Opini­ons of the Ancient Church. Now how difficult a business it will be, to clear these Matters, which are so full of per­plexity, and to distinguish of Antiquity, at this so great a distance of time, severing that which was Publick from what was Particular, and that which was Provincial from what was National, and what was National from that which was Ʋniversal, any Man may be able to give some kind of guess; but none can throughly understand, save he that hath made trial of it. Do but fancy to your selves a City that hath lain ruinated a thousand years, no part whereof remains, save onely the Ruines of Houses, lying all along here and there confusedly; all the rest be­ing covered all over with Thorns and Bushes. Imagine then that you have met with one that will undertake to shew you precisely where the Publick Buildings of the City stood, and where the Private; which were the Stones that belonged to the one, and which belonged to the other; and, in a word, who, in these confused Heaps, where the Whole lies all together, will, notwithstand­ing, separate ye the one from the other. The very same Task, in a manner, doth he undertake, who ever shall go about truly and precisely to distinguish the Opinions of the Ancient Church. This Antiquity is now of Eleven or Twelve hundred years standing: and the Ruines of it are now onely left us, in the Books of the Writers of that Time, which also have met with none of the best enter­tainment, [Page 150] in their Passage through the several Ages down to our time, as we have shewed before. How then dare we entertain the least hope, that amidst this so great Confusion, we should be able yet to distinguish the Pie­ces, and to tell which of them honoured the Publick Temple, and which went to the furnishing of Private Chappels onely? especially considering, that the Private ones have each of them ambitiously endeavoured to make their own pass for Publick. For where is the Pro­vince, or the City, or the Doctor, that hath not boast­ingly cried up his own Opinions, and Observations, as Apostolical? and which hath not used his utmost en­deavour to gain them the Repute of being Ʋniversal? S. Hierome allows every particular Province full liberty to do herein as they please.Hieron. ep. 28. ad Lucinum. Unaquaeque Provincia a­bundet in sen­su suo, & prae­cepta majo­rum leges A­postolicas ar­bitretur. Let every Province (saith he) abound in its own Sense; and let them account of the Ordinances of their Ancestors, as of Apostolical Laws. It is true indeed, that he speaks in this place onely of cer­tain Observations of things which are in themselves in­different: But yet, that which he hath permitted them in these Matters, they have practised in all other. I shall not here trouble my self to produce any other Rea­sons to prove the Difficulty of this Inquiry, because I should then be forced to repeat a great part of that which hath been already delivered. For, if it be a very hard matter to attain to any certain knowledge what the Sense of the Writings of the Fathers is, as we have proved before; how much more difficult a thing will it be, to discover whether their Opinions were the Opi­nions of the particular Churches wherein they lived, or else were the Opinions of the Church Universal in their Age: the same things which cause Obscurity in the one, having as much or rather more reason of doing the like in the other. And if you would fully under­stand how painful an Undertaking this is, do but read the Disputations of the Learned of both Parties, touch­ing this Point; where you shall meet with so many [Page 151] Doubts and Contradictions, and such diversity of Opi­nions, that you will easily conclude, That this is one of the greatest Difficulties that is to be met withal through­out the whole Study of Antiquity.

CHAP. XI.

Reason XI. That it is impossible to know exact­ly what the Belief of the Ancient Church, ei­ther Ʋniversal or Particular, hath been, touch­ing any of those Points which are at this day controverted amongst us.

BEfore we pass on to the Second Part of this Treatise, it seemeth not impertinent to give the Reader this Last Advertisement, and to let him know, that though all these Difficulties here before represented were removed, yet notwithstanding would it still be impossible for us to know certainly, out of the Fathers, what the Judgment of the whole Ancient Church, whether you mean the Church Universal, or but any considerable Part thereof, hath been, touching the Dif­ferences which are now on foot in Religion. Now that we may be able to make the truth of this Proposition appear, it is necessary that we should first of all explain the Terms.

We understand commonly by the Church, (espe­cially in these Disputations) either all those Persons in General who profess themselves to be of the said Church, of what Condition or Quality soever they be; or else, in a stricter sense, the Collective Body of all those who are set over, and who are Representatives of the Church; that is to say, the Clergy. So that whether you speak of the Church Universal, or of [Page 152] some Particular Church, as, for example, that of Spain, or of Carthage, this Term may be taken in either of these two senses. For, by the Church Universal, we under­stand either all those Persons in general who live in the Communion of the Christian Church, whether they be of the Laity, or of the Clergy; or else, those Persons onely who are Ecclesiastici, or Church-men, as we now call them. For, in the Primitive Times, all Christians that lived in the Communion of the Catholicks, were cal­led Ecclesiastici. In like manner, by the Church of Car­thage, is meant either generally All the Faithful that live in the particular Communion of the Christian Church of Carthage; or else particularly, and in a stricter sense, the Bishop of Carthage, with his whole Clergy. Now I do not believe that there is any Man but will easily grant me, that if we take the Church in the First sense, it is im­possible to know, by way of Testimony given of the same, what the Sense and Judgment of it hath been in each several Age, touching all the Points of Christian Re­ligion. We may indeed collect, by way of Discourse, what hath been the Belief of the True Members of the Church: For there being some certain Articles, the Be­lief whereof is necessarily requisite for the rendring a Man such an one; whosoever rightly understands which these Articles be, he may certainly conclude, that the True Church, whether Universal, or Particular, hath believed the same. But now, in the first place, this doth not extend to all the Points of Christian Religion, but onely to those which are Necessary: besides which, there are divers others, concerning which we may have not on­ly different, but even contrary Judgments too; and yet not thereby hazard the loss either of the Communion of the Church, or of our Inheritance of everlasting Salvation. So then, this Ratiocination concludeth not, save onely of those who are the True Members of the Church. For as for those who make but an outward Profession onely of the Truth, it being not at all necessary that they should be [Page 153] saved, there is in like manner no more necessity of their embracing those Beliefs which are requisite for that end. They may, under this Mask, hide all manner of Opinions, how Impious soever they be. Lastly, that which makes most for our purpose is, That this Knowledge is acquired by Discourse, whereas we speak here of such a Know­ledge as is collected by the hearing of several Witnesses, who give in their Testimonies touching the thing which we would know. Now the Fathers having written with a purpose of informing us, not what each particular Man believed in their time, but rather what they thought fit that all Men should have believed; we must needs con­clude, That certainly they have not told us all that they knew touching this particular. And consequently there­fore, partly their Charity, and partly also their Prudence, may have caused them to pass by in silence all such Opi­nions, either of whole Companies, or of particular Per­sons, as they conceived to be not so consonant to the Truth. But supposing that they had not any of these con­siderations, and that they had taken upon them to give us a just Account, each Man of the Opinions of his particular Church wherein he lived; it is evident however, that they could never have been able to have attainēd to the end of this their Design. For, how is it possible that they should have been able to have learnt what the Opi­nion of every single Person was, amongst so vast a Multi­tude, which consisted of so many several Persons, who were of so different both Capacities and Dispositions? Who will believe, that S. Cyprian, for example, knew all the several Opinions of each particular Person in his Diocess, so as to be able to give us an account of the same? Who can imagine, but that among such a Multitude of People as lived in the Communion of his Church, there must needs have been very many who differed in Opini­on from him, in divers Points of Religion? Even at this very day, that we may not trouble our selves to look so high, we see by experience, that there is scarcely that [Page 154] Parish to be found, how small soever it be, where there are not particular Persons that maintain, in many Points of Religion, different Opinions from those of their Mi­nister. But if we take a whole Diocess together, and pass by all those who trouble themselves not at all with the difference of Opinions in Religion, whether it be by rea­son of their want of years, or their weakness of Judg­ment, or their malice; and take notice only of the rest, dividing them according to the difference of their Opini­ons, I am verily perswaded, that that part which shall agree in all Points with the Bishop of that Diocess, will many times be found to be the least. Let a Bishop preach or write what he will, touching the Points which are now in Controversie, he will very hardly represent unto you the Judgment of half the People of his Diocess. Now we must conceive, that the temper of the World of old was no other than what it is at this present day: and therefore also, for this very reason, the liberty of embra­cing what Opinions a man pleased, was much greater then, than it is now; forasmuch as the Church of Rome did not exercise its Power then throughout Christendom so Absolutely as it doth now adays: neither did the Pa­stors, or the Princes, use that severity and rigour which is now every where practised in our days; for the re­pressing this diversity of Opinions. We must therefore necessarily believe, that the Opinions of the Faithful were in those days altogether as different, if not much more, than they are now. Whence it will also follow, That even the Doctors themselves, who lived in those Times, could not know all the different Opinions of Men, much less could they represent them unto us in their Writings. But we shall not stand any longet upon a thing that no Man can deny us; but shall rather proceed to the consi­deration of that which every one no doubt will be rea­dy here to reply upon us, touching this Particular; name­ly, That it is not necessary that we should know the Opi­nions, in Points of Religion, of all particular Persons, [Page 155] which are almost infinite in number, and for the most part very [...]ill grounded, and uncertain: but that it is suf­ficient if we know what the Belief hath been of the Pa­stors, and those that have been set over the Church, that is to say, of the Church taken in the latter sense. But yet I confess I do not see that this Rule is so absolutely right, as that we ought to walk by it. For, if we are to take the Church for the Rule and Foundation of our Faith, (as the Authors of this Reply pretend we ought to do) the People, in my Judgment, ought not then to be here ex­cluded, and passed by, as a thing of no consideration. I confess, the Opinions of particular Persons are very diffe­rent one from the other; and the knowledge of some of them is very mean, and sometimes also is none at all. But yet possibly this Reason may chance to exclude even a good part of the Clergy also, from the Authority which they lay claim to in this Particular; being it cannot be de­nied, but that both Ignorance and Malice have oftentimes as great a share here, proportionably, as they have among the very People it self. Who sees not, that, if we must have regard to the Capacity of Men, there are sometimes found, even among the plain ordinary sort of Christians in a Church, those that are more considerable, both for their Learning and Piety, than the Pastors themselves? Ambros. Ser. 17. T. 4. p 725. Plerum (que) Cle­rus erravit: Sa­cerdotum nu­tavit senten­tia: divites cum saeculi istius terreno Rege sense­runt; Populus sidem propri­am reservavit. One of those Fathers, of whom we now discourse, hath informed us, That many times the Clergy have erred, the Bishop hath wavered in his Opinion, the Rich Men have ad­hered in their Judgment to the Earthly Princes of this World; mean-while the People alone preserved the Faith entire. Seeing therefore that it may sometimes hap­pen, and that it hath also many times hapned, that the Clergy have held Erroneous Opinions, while the People onely held the True, it is very evident, in my judg­ment, that the Opinion of the People in these cases ought not wholly to be neglected. And truly, S. Cyprian telleth us in divers places, That the Church in his time had the People in very great esteem; no Business of any [Page 156] importance being then transacted, without communica­ting the same to the People; as may be seen by any one, in the Epistles of this Father: insomuch that,C Cypr. in Conc Parthag. p 397. [...]raesente eti­am plebis ma­ximâ parte. The greatest part of the People also were present at the Council of Carthage, where the Question touching the Baptism of Hereticks was debated; whereof we have already spo­ken somewhat a little before. But because this Point is still controverted, I shall let it alone for this time. Let us therefore grant, (since our Adversaries will needs have it so) that it is sufficient in this case to know what the Belief was of the Church, taken in the later and stricter sense; that is to say, of the Clergy: for even this way it is evident enough,, that it is a very hard, if not an impos­sible thing, truly to discover what it hath been in each several Age. For, there is no less diversity of Opinion among the Clergy, than there is among the People: and many times too there is much more; the being conver­sant in Books, ordinarily reducing things into nicer sub­tilties, and giving occasion of raising divers Opinions upon the same. Who is he that will undertake to give us an Account what the Opinion is of all the Clergy of one City onely; I do not say of a Kingdom, or of all Chri­stendom; touching all the Articles of Religion? Who would be able to perform this, if he should undertake it? Never was there more exact care taken for the Conser­vation of Uniformity in Judgment among Christians, than is now at this day; when there is use made, not on­ly of the Censures and Thunderbolts of the Church, but even of the Fire and the Sword of the Secular Powers al­so. And yet, notwithstanding all this, how many Eccle­siastical Persons are there to be found, even in those very places where these rigorous Courses are observed with the greatest strictness, even at Rome it self, and as it were in the Popes own Bosom, who differ very much in Judg­ment touching Points of Religion, both from their Equals, and from their Superiours? In France, where, by the Blessing of God, the Liberty of Conscience is much [Page 157] greater than in other places, it would be a wonder, if, where Four Clergy Men of the more Learned, and Po­liter sort were met together, Two of them should not, upon some Point or other of the Faith, differ in judg­ment from the Main Body of their Church. And here I am to intreat all those who follow Cassander in great numbers, adoring the Monuments of the Fathers, and who take whatsoever they find in him, for the Gene­ral Sense of the Ancient Christians, but to turn their eyes back a little upon themselves, and to consider, how many opinions they themselves hold, which are not only different, but even quite contrary too to the Church, in the Communion whereof they live, and of which they profess themselves to be Members, and by which indeed they subsist. The Difference is here so great, as that it seems to be, as it were, one State with­in another State, and one Church within another Church. And yet notwithstanding, when any of the Doctors of that Party, to which they adhere, deliver unto us, ei­ther in their Definitions, or in their Sermons, or in their Books, the common Sense, and Judgment of their Church, this Intermixture of Opinions is quite laid aside, and appears not at all. They speak only of the opinions of others, passing by those of Cassander, which are contrary to them, in silence, as if they did not at all concern the Church of Rome neither more nor less: and yet it is very well known unto us, even to us who live at this very day, that they are favoured, and maintained by very ma­ny of the most Eminent Persons of the Roman Clergy it self. And if this senseless Sect, who forsooth think themselves much more refined in their opinions than the rest of the Body whereof they are a part, should chance in time either to fail of it self, or to be supprest by force; their▪ Memory would so utterly come to nought, as that Posterity would not know any thing of their Belief, but only by conjecture. Every one will then believe, that the [Page 158] Church of Rome at this time precisely held to the Do­ctrine and Opinions that he reads in the Decrees of Trent, and in other the like Books: and yet notwith­standing we both know, and see, that among those ve­ry Persons, which have been Anointed, Consecrated, and Preferred also by the said Church, there is a Party that dissenteth from it in judgment, touching divers Important Articles of Faith. Let us therefore reckon, that the Ancient Church had also its Cassanders, and very many even among the Clergy it self, who held ma­ny opinions which were different from that which was the common Belief of the Church, and which it hath at length by little and little sunk, as it were, under wa­ter, and wholly swallowed up, so that now there is not any Tract of them left us. Christianity was either dif­ferent in the Ancient times from what it is now, or else it was the same. If it was Different, it is then a Piece of meer Sophistry, to endeavour to make it seem to be the same; and a very great Abuse, to produce unto us, for this purpose, so many several Testimonies out of Antiquity. If it were the same, it must then without all doubt have produced the same Accidents, and have sown the same seeds of diversity of opinions in the spirits of its Clergy. Those opinions and obser­vations which now give offence to the Cassandrists, would then also have offended some persons or other, that were endued with the like Moderation. For we are not to conceive, but that those First Ages of Chri­stianity brought forth Spirits, that were as much, and more refined and delicate, than ours have done. But that we may insist upon this particular no longer, it is sufficient for me, that I have thus clearly made it ap­pear, that in the Ancient Church, the whole Clergy of a City, or of a Nation, much less of the whole World, had not necessarily one and the same sense and opinion, touching Points of Religion. So that it will [Page 159] follow from hence, that we cannot know certainly, whether those opinions which we meet withal in the Fathers, were received by all and every of the Pastors of the Church at that time, or not. All that you can gather thence is but this at the most; that they them­selves, and some others perhaps of the most eminent amongst them (if you please,) maintained such or such opinions: in like manner, as that which Bellarmine, and others have written, touching the Sacrament of the Eucharist, will inform Posterity, that these Men, and many others of our time, held these opinions in the Church of Rome. But as those who shall conclude from the Books of these Authors, that there is at this day no other opinion maintained, among the Clergy themselves of the Church of Rome, touching this Par­ticular, would very much abuse themselves; so is it much to be feared that we in like manner deceive our selves, when, from what we find in Two or Three of the Fathers, we conclude, that there was at that time no other opinion held in the Christian Church, touching those Points whereof they treat, save that which they have delivered. It is a very hazardous business, to take Eight or Ten Men, how Holy and Learned so­ever they may have been, as Sureties for all the Do­ctors of the Church Universal, that lived in their Age. This is too little Security, for so great a Sum.

Now there are Two things, which may be object­ed against that which we have before delivered. The First is, that if there had been in Antiquity any other opinions touching the Points now in Debate, which had been different from those which we now meet with in the Books, either of all the Fathers, or at least of some few of them; they would then both have mentioned, and also refuted them. But we have already heretofore answered this Objection, by saying, that the Fathers forbare to speak any thing of this Diversity of opini­on, [Page 160] partly out of Prudence, lest otherwise they might have provoked the Authors of the said opinions, which were contrary to their own; and so might increase the Difference, instead of appeasing it: and partly also out of Charity; mildly bearing with that, which they account­ed not any whit dangerous. I only speak here of those Differences in opinion, which they knew of: for there might be a great number of others, which they knew not of. Who can oblige you to believe, that a Monk, for example, that had retired into a Corner, and as it were forsaken the World, professing only to instruct a small number of Men and Women in the Rules of Devotion, must needs have known, what the opinions in Points of Religion of all the Prelates of his Age were? Who will pass his word unto us, in his behalf, that he doth not sometimes reprove that in some Men, which yet the Church allowed in an infinite number of others? Who will warrant us, that all Christendom in his time embra­ced all his opinions, and had no other of their own? Pos­sevine answering an Objection made by some,Possevine in Appar. touching the Works of Dionysius the Areopagite, which S. Hie­rome hath made no mention of at all, saith; that it is no great marvel, that a Man that lay hid in a Corner of the World, should not have seen this Book, which the Arrians endeavoured to suppress. May not a Man with as much reason say, that it is no great wonder, if S. Hierome, or Epiphanius, or any other the like Au­thors, who were taken up all of them with their par­ticular Charges, and Imployments, did not know of some opinions of the Prelates of their Age; or that ei­ther their Modesty, or their Charity, or the little Elo­quence, and Repute they had abroad, might have made them conceal the same?

The other Objection is drawn from hence, because that these Doctors of the Ancient Church, who held some opinions different from those which we read at this [Page 161] day in the Fathers, did not publish them at all. But, I answer first of all, that every Man is not able to do) so. In the next place, those that were able, were not al­ways willing to do so. Divers other Considerations may perhaps also have hindred them from so doing: and if they are Wise, and Pious Men, they are never moved, till they needs must. And hence it is, that of­tentimes those opinions, which have less truth in them, do yet prevail; because that Prudence, which maintains the True Opinion, is Mild, and Patient: whereas Rashness, which defends the False, is of a Froward, Eager, and Ambitious Nature. But now let us but ima­gine, how many of the Evidences of this Diversity of opinion may have been made away, by those several ways before represented by us; as namely having been either devoured by Time, or suppressed by Malitious Men; for fear lest they should let the World see the Traces of the Truth, which they would have concealed? But that I may not be thought to bring here only bare Conjectures, without any proof at all, I shall produce some Examples also, for the confirming, and clearing of this my Assertion.

Epiphanius maintains against Aerius, Epiph. in Pa­nar. Haer. 75. whom he ranks among his Haeresiarchae, or Arch Hereticks that a Bi­shop, according to the Apostle Saint Paul, and the Ori­ginal Institution of the thing it self, is more than a Priest: and this he endeavours to prove in many words, an­swering all the Objections, that are made to the contra­ry. If you but read the Passage, I am confident that when you had done, you would not stick to swear, that what he hath there delivered, was the general opinion of all the Doctors of the Church; it being very unlikely, that so Great, and so Renowned a Prelate would so slatly have denied the opinion which he disputed against, if so be any one of his own familiar friends had also main­tained the same. And yet for all this, Saint Hierome [Page 162] (who was one of the Principal Lights of our Western Church, and who lived at the same time with Epiphanius, who was his intimate Friend, and a great admirer of his Piety,) saith expresly,Hieron. Ep. [...] ad O [...]an. Tom. 2. Quanquam apud veteres iidem Episcopi & Presbyteri sucrint: quia illud nomen dignitatis est, hoc aetatis. Id. ep. 85. ad Ev [...]gr. Tom. 2. Cùm Apostolus per­spicuè doceat, eosdem esse Presbyteros, quos & Episcopos, &c. Id. Com. in Ag. Tom. 5. p. 512. Et Com. in Tit. Tom 6. p. 443. Fus. that Among the An­cients, Bishops, and Priests, were the same; the one being a name of Dignity, and the other of Age. And that it may not be thought, that this fell from him in discourse only, he there falls to proving the same at large, alledging several Passages of Scripture, touching this Particular; and he also repeats the same thing, in two or three several places of his Works. Whereby it evidently appears, that even Po­sitions which have been quite Contradictory to the opinions which have been delivered, and maintained by some of the Fathers, and proposed in what terms soever, have notwithstanding been some­times either maintained, or at least tolerated by some others of [...] less Authority. S. Hierome himself hath [...]al [...] extreamly foul upon Ruffinus, and hath traduced divers of his opinions, as most Pernicious and Deadly: and yet notwithstanding we do not any where find, that ever he was accounted as an Heretick, by the rest of the Fa­thers. But we shall have occasion hereafter to consider more at large of the like Examples; and shall only at present observe, that if those Books of S. Hierome, which we mentioned a little before, should chance to have been lost; every Man would then assuredly have concluded with Epiphanius, that no Doctor of the Ancient Church ever held, that a Bishop and a Priest were one and the same thing, in its Institution.

Who now after all this will assure us, that among so many other opinions, as have been rejected here and there by the Fathers, and that too in as plain terms, as these of Epiphanius, none of them have ever been defen­ded by some of the Learned of those times? Or, is it not possible that they may have held them, though they did [Page 163] not write in defence of the same? Or, may they not per­haps have written also in de [...]ence of them, and their Books have been since lost? How small is the number of those in the Church, who had the Ability, or at least the [...] to write? And how much smaller is the number of tho [...], whose Wri [...]ings have been able to secure themselves, against either the Injury of Time, or the Malice of Men? It is obj [...]cted against the Protestants, as we have touched before, that S. Hierome commendeth, and maintaineth the Adoration of Reliques: But yet he himself testifieth, that there were some Bishops, who defended Vigilantius, who held the contrary opinion; whom he, according to his ordinary Rhetorick callethHiet. in Vi­gil. T. 2. p. 159. Proh! nefas, Episcopos sui sceleris dicitur habere consor­tes. His Consorts in Wicked­ness. Who knows now, what these Bishops were; and whether they deserved any such usage at S. Hieromes hands, or no? For, the Expressions which he useth against them, and against their opinion, are so full of Gall, and of Choler, as that they utterly take away all credit from his Testimony. But we have insisted long enough upon this Particular, and shall therefore forbear to instance any fur­ther in others. For as much therefore as it is Impossible to discover exactly, out of the Fathers, what hath been the sense and judgment of the Ancient Church; whether taken Universally or Particularly; or whether you take the Church for the whole Body of Believers, or for the Prelates and Inseriour Clergy only; I shall here conclude, as formerly, that the Writings of the Ancients are alto­gether Insufficient, for the proving the Truth of any of those Points, which are at this day controverted amongst Us.

THE SECOND BOOK.

CHAP. I.
That the Fathers are not of sufficient Authority for the Deciding of our Controversies in Re­ligion.

Reason I. That the Testimonies given by the Fathers, touching the Belief of the Church, are not always True and Certain.

WE have before shewed how hard a matter it is to discover what the Sense of the Fathers hath been touching the Points at this day controverted in Re­ligion; both by reason of the small number of Books we have left us of the Fathers of the First Centuries; and those too which we have, treating of such things as are of a very different nature from our present Disputes; and which besides we cannot be very well assured of, by reason of the many Forgeries and mon­strous Corruptions which they have for so long a time been subject to; as also by reason of their Obscurity, [Page 2] and Ambiguity in their Expressions; and their repre­senting unto us many times the Opinions rather of others, than of their Authors: besides those many other Imper­fections which are found in them, as namely, their not informing us in what degree of Faith we are to hold each particular Point of Doctrine; and their leaving us in doubt, whether what they teach be the Judgment of the Church, or their own private Opinion onely: and whether, if it be the Judgment of the Church, it be of the Church Universal, or of some Particular Church only. Now, the least of these Objections is sufficient to render their Testimony invalid: And again, on the other side, that it may be of force, it is necessary that it be clearly and evidently free from all these Defects; forasmuch as the Question is here, touching the Christian Faith, which ought to be grounded on nothing, save what is sure and firm. Whosoever therefore would make use of any Pas­sage out of a Father, he is bound first to make it appear, that the Author out of whom he citeth the said Passage, lived, and wrote in the first Ages of Christianity; and besides, that the said Person is certainly known to be the Author of that Book out of which the said Passage is quoted: and moreover, that the Passage cited is sin­cere, and no way corrupted, nor altered: and likewise, that the Sense which he gives of it, is the true genuine Sense of the Place; and also, that it was the Opinion of the Author, when he was now come to Ripon [...]s of Judg­ment, and which he changed not, or retr [...]cted after­wards. He must also make it appear, in what degree he held it, and whether he maintained it as his own private Opinion onely, or as the Opinion of the Church: and, lastly, whether it were the Opinion of the Church Uni­versal, or of some particular Church onely: which In­quiry is a Business of so vast and almost infinite labour, that it makes me very much doubt whether or no we can be ever able to attain to a full and certain assurance what the Real Positive Sense of the Ancients hath been, touch­ing [Page 3] the whole Body of Controversies now debated in this our Age. Hence therefore our principal Question seems to be decided; namely, Whether the alledging of the Fathers be a sufficient and proper Means for the demonstrating the Truth of all those Articles which are at this day maintained by the Church of Rome, and re­jected by the Protestants, or not? For who doth not now see, that this kind of proof hath as much or more difficulty in it, than the Question it self? and that such Testimonies are as Obscure, as the Controverted Opini­ons themselves? Notwithstanding, that we may not be thought too hastily, and upon too light grounds, to re­ject this way of Proceeding, we will pass by all that ob­scurity that is found touching the Opinions of the An­cients; and supposing it to be no hard matter to discover what the Opinion and Sense of the Fathers hath been touching the aforesaid Points, we will now in this Se­cond Book consider, whether or no their Authority be such, as that we ought, or may, without further exami­nation, believe on their score, what we know them cer­tainly to have believed, and to hold it in the same degree that they did.

There are two sorts of Passages to be observed in the Writings of the Fathers: In the one, you have them speaking only as Witnesses, and testifying what the Be­lief of the Church was in their Time: In the other, they propose to you, like Doctors, their own Private Opini­ons. Now, there is a World of difference betwixt these two things: For in a Witness there is required only Faithfulness and Truth; but in a Doctor, Learning and Knowledge. The one perswadeth us, by the opinion we have of his Veracity; the other, by the strength of his Arguments. The Fathers are Witnesses onely, when they barely tell us, That the Church in their Times held such or such Opinions: And they are then Doctors, when getting up, as it were, into the Chair, they propose unto us their own Opinions, making them good either out of the [Page 4] Scripture, or out of Reason. Now, as concerning the Testimonies that they give, touching the Faith held by the Church in their time, I know not whether we ought to receive all they bring, for certain Truths, or not: But this I am sure of, that though they should deserve to be received by us for such, yet nevertheless would they stand us in very little stead, as to the Business now in hand. The Reason which moveth me to doubt of the former of these, is, because I observe, that those very Men who are the greatest Admirers of the Fathers, do yet confess, that although they erre very little, or not at all, in matter of Right, yet nevertheless, they are often out, and have their failings in matter of Fact: because that Right is an Uni­versal thing, which is every way Uniform, and all of one sort; whereas, matter of Fact is a thing which is mixed, and as it were enchased with divers particular Circumstances, which may very easily escape the know­ledge of, or at least be not so rightly understood by, the most clear and piercing Wits. Now, the condition of the Churches Belief, in every particular Age, is matter of Fact, and not of Right; and a Point of History, and not an Article of Faith: So that it followeth hence, that possibly the Fathers may have erred, in giving us an ac­count hereof; and that therefore their Testimonies, in such Cases, ought not to be received by us, as infallibly True: Neither yet may we be thought hereby to accuse the Fathers of Falshood. For, how often do the ho­nestest Persons that are, innocently testifie such things as they thought they had seen, which it afterwards appea­reth that they saw not at all? for Goodness renders not Men infallible. The Fathers therefore, being but Men, might both be deceived themselves in such things, and might consequently also deceive those who have con­fided in them, though innocently, and without any de­sign of doing so. But besides all this, it is very evident, that they have not been wholly free from Passion nei­ther, and there is no Man but knows, that Passion very [Page 5] o [...]ten disguiseth things, and ma [...]h them appear, even to the honestest Men that may be, much otherwise than they are; insomuch that sometimes they are affectionately car­ried away with one Opinion, and do as much abhor ano­ther. Which secret Passion might easily make them be­lieve, that the Church held that Opinion, which they themselves were most taken with, and that it rejected that which they themselves disliked; especially, if there were but the least appearance or shadow of Reason to incline them to this Belief: For Men are very easily per­swaded to believe what they desire. I conceive we may hereto impute that Testimony of S. Hierome, where he affirms,Hier. Ep. 61. de Error. Jo. Hier. Omne deinceps humanum genus quibus animarum censetur exordiis? utrum ex traduce, juxta bruta ani­malia, &c. an rationabiles creaturae desiderio corporum, &c. an cerrè, quod Ecclesiasticum est, quotidie Deus fabricetur animas: cujus velle fecisse ess, & conditor esse non ces­sat? That the Churches of Christ held, That the Souls of Men were immediately Created by God, at the instant of their entrance into the Bo­dy. And yet notwithstanding, that doubt which S. Augustine was in, touching this Particular, and his in­clining manifestly to the contrary Opinion, which was, That the Soul was propagated together with the Body, and descend­ed down from the Father to the Son; this doubt, I say, of his, manifestly proveth, that the Church had not as yet at that time embraced or concluded upon the former of these Opinions: it be­ing a thing utterly improbable,Id. Apol. 2. contr. Ruff. Miraris si contra te fratrum scandala conciten­tur; cum id nescire te jures, quod Christi Ecclesiae se scire fatentut? that so modest a Man as S. Augustine was, would have cast off the general Opi­nion of the Church, and have taken up a particular Fancy of his own. But the Passion wherewith S. Hierome was at that time carried away against Ruffinus, a great part of the Learned Men of his time being also of the said Opinion, easily wrought in him a belief, that it was the Common Judg­ment and Opinion of the whole Christian Church. From the same Root also sprung that Errour of John Bishop of [Page 6] Thessalonica, Joan. Thessal in Concil. VII. Act. 5. [...]. (if at least it be an Errour,) who affirmed, That the Opinion of the Church was, That Angels are not wholly Incorporeal, and Invisible; but that they have Bodies, though of a very Rare and thin Substance, not much unlike those of the Fire, or the Air. For those who published the General Coun­cils at Rome, conceive this to have been his own pri­vate Opinion onely:Ibid in Marg. Loquitur ex propria sen­tentia. And if so, (neither shall we need at present to examine the Truth of this their Conceit;) you then plainly see, that the Affection this Author bare to his own Opinion, carried him so far away, as to make him father upon the whole Church, what was indeed but his own particular Opinion: though otherwise he were a Man who was highly esteemed by the VII Coun­cil, Concil. VII. Act. 5. which not onely citeth him among the Fathers, but honours him also with the Title of a Father. Epiphanius must also be excused in the same manner, where he assures us, That the Church held by Apostolical Tradition the Custom which it had of meeting toge­ther thrice a Week, for the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist: which yetPetav. in Epi­phan pag 354. Petavius maketh evidently ap­pear not to have been of Apostolical Institution. The Mistakes of Venerable Bede, noted and censured else­where byPetav. in Epiphan▪ p. 113, 143, 145. Petavius, are of the fame nature also:Beda lib. de Temp. rat. c 45 Habet enim, nisi [...] fallor, Ecclesiae fides, Dominum, in carne paulo plus minùs quam XXXIII annis, usque ad suae tempora. Passionis vixisse. Mox Sancta siquidem Romana & Apostolica Ecclesia hane se fidem tenere & ipsis testatur indiculis, quae suis in cereis annuatim inscribere solet, ubi tempus Dominicae Passionis in memoriam populis revocans, numerum annorum triginta semper & tribus annis minorem quam ab ejus Incarnatione Dionysius ponit an­no at. Id. ibid. Nam quod Dominus XV Luna, feria VI, crucem ascenderit, &c. nulli licet dubitare Catholico. The Belief of the Church, if I mistake not, (saith he) is, That our Saviour Christ lived in the Flesh Thirty three Years, or there about, till the time of his Passion: And he saith moreover, That the Church of Rome testifieth, that this is Its Belief, by the Marks which they yearly set upon their Tapers, upon Good Friday; whereon they always inscribe a Number of [Page 7] Tears, which is less by Thirty three than the common Aera of the Christians. He likewise saith in the same place, That it is not lawful for any Catholick to doubt whether Jesus Christ suffered on the Cross the XV day of the Moon, or not. Now Petavius hath proved at large, that both these Opinions, which Beda delivers unto us as the Churches Belief, are nothing less than what he would have them.Pe [...]av. in E­piphan. p. 113. 143. The curious Reader may observe many the like Carriages in the Writings of the Fathers: but these here already set down, in my judgment, do sufficiently ju­stifie the doubt which I have made, namely, that we ought not to receive as Certain Truths the Testimony which the Fathers give, touching the Belief of the Church in their Time. Nevertheless, that we may not seem to make a breach upon the Honour and Reputation of the Fathers, I say, that though we should grant, that all their Depo­sitions and Testimonies in this Particular were certainly and undoubtedly True; yet notwithstanding would they be of little use to us, as to our present purpose. For, first of all, there are but very few Passages wherein they testifie plainly, and in direct Terms, what the Belief of the Church in their Time hath been, touching the Points now controverted amongst us. This is the Business of an Historian, rather than of a Doctor of the Church, whose Office is to teach, to prove, and to exhort the People committed to his Charge, and to correct their Vices and Errours; telling them what they ought to do, or believe, rather than troubling them with Discourses of what is done or believed by others. But yet when they do give their Testimony what the Belief and Discipline of the Church in their time was, this Testimony of theirs ought not to extend save onely to what was apparently such, and which besides was apparent to themselves too. Now, as we have formerly proved, they could not possibly know the Sense and Opinions of every particular Christi­an that lived in their time; nor yet of all the Pastors and Ministers who were set over them: but of some cer­tain [Page 8] Particular Christians onely. Forasmuch therefore as it is confessed, even by those very Men who have the Church in greatest esteem, that the Belief of Particular Churches is not infallible, we may very easily perceive, that such Testimonies of the Fathers as these can stand­us in very little or no stead, seeing they represent unto us such Opinions as are not always certainly and undoubt­edly True, and which consequently are so far from con­firming and proving ours, as that, they rather stand in need of being examined aud proved themselves. But, yet, suppose that the Church of Rome did hold, that the Beliefs of Particular Churches were Infallible, (which yet it doth not) yet would not this make any thing at all against the Protestants, forasmuch as they are of the clean contrary Opinion. Now, it is taken for granted on all hands, that Proofs ought to be fetched from such things as are confessed and acknowledged by your Ad­versary, whom you endeavour to convince; otherwise you will never be able to move him, or make him quit his former Opinion. Seeing therefore, that the Testimonies of the Farthers, touching the State of the Faith, and Ec­clesiastical Discipline of their Times, are of this Nature; it remaineth, that we now consider their other Di­scourses, wherein they have delivered themselves, not as Witnesses, deposing what they had seen; but as Doctors, instructing us in what they believed. And certainly, how Holy and Able soever they were, it cannot be de­nied but that they were still Men, and consequently were subject to Error, especially in matters of Faith, which is a Business so much transcending Humane Apprehension. The Spirit of God onely was able to direct their Under­standings, and their Pens in the Truth, and to with­hold them from falling into any Error; in like manner as it directed the Holy Prophets and Apostles, while they wrote the Books of the Old and New Testament. Now, we cannot be any way assured, that the Spirit of God was present always with them, to enlighten their [Page 9] Understandings, and to make them see the Truth of all those things whereof they wrote. They neither pretend to this themselves, nor yet doth any one, that I know of, attribute unto them this Assistance, unless it be perhaps the Author of the Gloss upon the Decrees, Gloss in Decr. D. 9. c. 3. Ho­die jubentur omnia teneri, us (que) ad ulti­mum iota. who is of Opinion, that we ought to stand to all that the Fathers have written, even to the least tittle: who yet is very justly called to a round account for this, byAlphons. à Castr. l. 1. ad­vers. Haer. c. 7. Alphonsus à Castro, andMelch. Canus l. 7. loc. Theol. c. 3. Num. 4. Melchior Canus, Two Spanish Doctors. For as much therefore, as we are not bound to believe any thing, save that which is True; it is most evident, that we neither may, nor ought to believe the Opinions of the Fathers, till such time as they appear to us to have been certainly True. Now, we cannot be certainly assured of this, by Their Single Authority; seeing that they were but Men, who were not always inspired by the Holy Spirit from above: and therefore it is necessary, that we make use of some other Guides in this our Inquiry; namely, ei­ther of the Holy Scriptures, or of Reason, or of Tradi­tion, or of the Doctrine of the Present Church, or of some other such means, as they themselves have made use of: So that it hence follows, that their bare Assertions, are no sufficient Ground for us to build any of our Opini­ons upon: they only serve to encline us before hand to the Belief of the same; the great opinion which we have of them, causing us to conclude, that They would never have embraced such an Opinion, except it had been True. Which manner of Argumentation how ever is, at the best, but Probable; so long as the Persons we have here to do withal, are only Men, and no more: and in this particular Case, where the Question is, touching Points of Faith, it is by no means in the world to be allowed of; since that Faith is to be grounded, not upon Probabilities, but upon necessary Truths. The Fathers are like to other great Masters in this Point, and their Opinions are more, or less Valid, in proportion to the Reason, and Authority, whereon they are grounded: only they have this Advan­tage, [Page 10] that their very Name begets in us a readiness, and inclination, to receive whatsoever comes from them; while we think it very improbable, that so Excellent men as they were, should ever believe any thing that was False. Thus in Humane Sciences, the saying of an Aristotle is of a far different Value, from that of any other Philosopher of less Account; because that all men are before-hand possessed with an Opinion, that this Great Philosopher would not maintain any thing, that was not consonant to Reason. But this is Prejudice only: for if upon better examination, it should be found to be otherwise, his Bare Authority would then no longer prevail with us; what himself had sometime gallantly said, would then here take place; namely, That it is a sacred thing, always to preferre the Truth,Aristot. in E­thic. l. 1. c. 6. [...]. before Friendship. Let the Fathers therefore if you please, be the Aristotles in Christian Phi­losophy: and let us have a Reverent esteem of Them and their Writings, as they deserve; and not be too rash in concluding, that Persons of so eminent, both Learning, and Sanctity, should maintain any Erroneous, or vain Opini­ons, especially in a matter of so great Importance: Yet notwithstanding are we bound withal to remember, that they were but Men, and that their Memory, Understand­ing, or Judgment, might sometimes fail them; and there­fore consequently, that we are to examine their Writings, by those Principles from whence they draw their Conclu­sions; and not to sit down upon their Bare Assertions, till such time as we have discovered them to be True. If I were to speak of any other Persons than of the Fathers, I should not add any thing more, to what hath been already said, it having been already, in my judgment, clearly enough proved, that they are not of themselves of Autho­rity enough, to oblige us necessarily to follow their Opi­nions. But seeing the Question here is, touching these great Names, which are so highly honoured in the Church; to the end that no man may accuse us of endeavouring to rob them of any of the Respect which is due unto them, I [Page 11] hold it necessary to examine this business a little more exactly, and to make it appear, by considering the thing it self, that they are of no more Authority, neither in Themselves, nor in respect of Us, than hath been already by Us attributed unto them.

CHAP. II.

Reason 2. That the Fathers themselves testifie against themselves, that they are not to be believed Absolutely, and upon their Own bare Word, in what they deli­ver in matters of Religion.

THere is none so fit to inform us, what the Authority of the Writings of the Ancients is, as the Anci­ents themselves, who in all Reason must needs know this better than we: Let us therefore now hear, what they testifie in this Particular; and if we do indeed hold them in so high Esteem, as we make profession of, let us allow of their Judgment in this particular, attributing neither more nor less unto the Ancients, than they Themselves re­quire at our hands. St. Augustine, who was the Princi­pal Light of the Latine Church, being entred into a Con­testation with St. Hierome, touching the Interpretation before-mentioned, of the second Chapter of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians; and finding himself hardly pressed, by the Authority of six, or seven Greek Writers, which were urged against him by the other; to rid his hands of them, he was fain to make open pro­fession, in what account he held that sort of Writers: [Page 12] August. Ep. ad Hier quae est 19. T. 2. fol▪ 14. Ed. Paris. 1579. & inter Op. Hier. 97. T. 2. p. 551. Ego enim fateor Caritati tuae, solis eis Scriptu­rarum libris, qui jam Canonici appellantur, di­dici hunc timorem, honorem (que) deferre, ut nul­lum eorum auctorem scribendo aliquid errasse firmissimè credam. Ac si aliquid in eis offen­dero litteris, quod videatur Contrarium Veri­tati, nihil aliud quam mendosum esse codicem, vel interpretem non assequutum esse quod di­ctum est, vel me minime intellexisse, non ambi­gam. Alios autem ita lego, ut quantalibet sancti­tate, doctrina (que) praepolleant, non ideo verum putem, quia ipsi ita senserunt, sed quia mihi, vel per illos Authores Canonicos, vel probabili ra­tione, quod à vero non abhorreat, persuadere potuerunt. Nec te, mi frater, sentire aliquid ali­ter existimo: prorsùs inquam, non te arbitror sic legi libros tuos velle, tanquam Prophetarum vel Apostolorum, de quorum scriptis, quod om­ni errore careant, dubitare nefarium est. I confess (saith he) to thy Charity, that I only owe to those Books of Scripture, which are now called Canonical, that Reverence and Honour, as to believe stedfastly, that none of their Authors ever committed any Error in writing the same. And if by chance. I there meet with any thing, which seemeth to contradict the Truth, I pre­sently think that certainly ei­ther my Copy is Imperfect, and not so Correct as it should be; or else, that the Interpreter did not so well understand the Words of the Original: or lastly, that I my self have not so rightly understood Him. But as for all other Writers, how Eminent soever they are, either for Sanctity, or Learning, I read them so as not presently to conclude, whatsoever I there find, to be True, because They have said it; but ra­ther, because they convince me, either out of the said Cano­nical Books of Scripture, or else by some Probable Reason, that what they say is True. Neither do I think, Brother, that thou thy self art of any other Opinion: that is to say, I do not believe that thou expectest that we should read thy Books, as we do those of the Prophets, or Apostles; of the Truth of whose Writings, as being exempt from all Errour, we may not in any wise doubt. And having afterwards opposed some other the like Authorities, against those alledged by St. Hierome, he addeth, That he had done so, Id. ibid. Quanquam, sicut paulò antè dixi, tantummodo Scripturis Canonicis hanc inge­nuam debeam servitutem, qua eas solas ita se­quat, ut conscriptores earum nihil in eis om­ [...]nò errasse, nihil fallaciter posuisse [...]on du­bitem. notwithstanding, that to say the truth, he accounted the Canonical Scriptures only to be the Books, to which (as he said before) he owed that in­genuous [Page 13] Duty, as to be fully perswaded, that the Authors of them never erred, or deceived the Reader in any thing. This Holy man accounted this Advice to be of so great Impor­tance, as that he thought fit to repeat it again, in another place; and I must intreat my Reader, to give me leave to set down here the whole Pas­sage at length.Id. l. 11. contr. Faust c. 5. Quod genus littera­rum, non cum credendi necessitate, sed cum ju­dicandi libertate legendum est. Cui tamen ne intercluderetur locus, & adimeretur posteris ad difficileis quaestiones tractandas at (que) versan­das, linguae, ac styli saluberrimus labor, distincta est à postreiorum libris excellentia Canonicae Auctoritatis Veteris & Novi Testamenti; quae Apostolorum confirmata temporibus, per suc­cessiones Episcoporum, & propagationes Eccle­siarum, tanquam in sede quadam sublimiter constituta est, cui serviat omnis fidelis, & pius intellectus. Ibi si quid velut absurdum moverit, non licet dicere, Auctor hujus libri non tenuit veritatem: sed, aut Codex mendosus est, aut Interpres erravit, aut tu non intelligis. In Opus­culis autem posteriorum, quae libris innumera­bilibus continentur, sed nullo modo illi sacra­tissimae Canonicarum scripturarum excellentiae coaequantur, etiam in quibuscun (que) eorum inve­nitur eadem veritas, longè tamen est impar au­ctoritas. Ita (que) in eis, si qua forte propterea dis­sonare putantur à vero, quia non, ut dicta sunt, intelliguntur, tamen liberum ibi habet lector, auditorve judicium, quo vel approbet quod placuerit, vel improbet quod offenderit: & ideo cuncta ejusmodi, nisi vel certa ratione, vel ex illa Canonica auctoritate defendantur, ut demons [...]retur sive omnino ita esse, sive fieri potuisse, quod v [...]l disputatur ibi, vel narratum est, si cui displicuerit, aut credere voluerit, non reprehenditur. As for these kind of Books (saith he, speak­ing of those Books which we Write, not with Authority of Commanding, but only out of a Design of exercising our selves, to benefit others;) we are so to read them, as not being bound necessarily to be­lieve them, but as having a li­berty left us, of judging of what we read. Yet notwith­standing, that we may not quite shut out these Books, and deprive posterity of the most profitable labour of exercising their Language, and Stile, in the handling and treating of hard Questions; we make a Distinction betwixt these Books of Later Writers, and the Ex­cellency of the Canonical Au­thority of the Old and New Te­stament; which having been confirmed in the Apostles time, hath since by the Bishops, who succeeded them, and the Churches, which have been pro­pagated throughout the World, been placed as it were upon a high Throne, there to be reverenced and adored, by every Faithful and Godly Ʋnderstanding. And if we [Page 14] chance here to meet with any thing that troubleth us, and seemeth Absurd, we must not say, that the Author of the Book was ignorant of the truth; but rather, that either our Copy is false, or the Interpreter is mistaken in the sense of the place; or else, that we understand not him aright. And as for the Writings of those other Authors, who have come after Them, the number whereof is almost infinite, though coming very far short of this most sacred Excellency of the Canonical Scriptures; a man may sometimes find in them the very same truth, though it shall not be of equal Authority. And therefore if by chance we here meet with such things as seem contrary to the Truth, by reason perhaps of our not understanding them only; we have our Liberty, either in reading, or hearing the same, to approve of what we like, and to reject that which we conceive not to be so right. So that except all such passages be made good, either by some certain reason, or else by the Canonical Authority of the Scriptures; and that it be made appear, that the thing asserted either really it, or else at least, that it might have been; he that shall reject, or not assent to the same, ought not in any wise to be reprehended. Id. T. 2. Epist. 48 ep. 111. T. 3. l. 1. 3 de Tri­nit. c. 2. l. 3. praefat. l. 5 c 1. T 7. l. 2 contr. Crescon. Gram. c. 31. &c. 32. l. 2. de Bapt. contr. Don. c. 3. l. 3. de Peccat. mer. & rem. c. n. c. 1. de Nat. & grat. c. 61. l. 4. contr. de ep. Pelag. c. 8. l. 1. contr. Ju­lian. c. 2. l. de bon. persever. c. 21. And thus far have we S. Au­gustine testifying on our side, (as well here, as in many other places, which would be too long to be inserted here;) that those opinions which we find delivered by the Fathers in their Writings, are grounded, not upon their bare Authority, but upon their Reasons; and, that they bind not our belief otherwise, than so far forth as they are consonant either to the Scripture, or to Reason; and that they ought to be examined by the one, and the other, as proceeding from persons that are not infallible, but possibly may have erred.

So that it appears from hence, that the course which is at this day observed in the World, is not of sufficiency enough for the discovery, and demonstration of the truth. For, we are now in doubt, suppose, what the sense and meaning is of such a piece of Scripture. Here shall you presently have the judgment of a Father brought, upon the [Page 15] said place; quite contrary to the Rule S. Augustine giveth us, who would have us examine the Fathers by the Scrip­tures, and not the Scriptures by the Fathers. Certainly, ac­cording to the judgment of this Father, the Protestant, though a Passage as clear and express, as any of the Canons of the Council of Trent, should be brought against him, out of any of the Fathers, ought not to be blamed, if he should answer, that he cannot by any means assent unto it, unless the truth of it be first proved unto him, either by some certain Reason, or else by the Authority of the Canonical Scriptures; and that then, and not till then, he shall be ready to assent unto it. So that according to this Account, we are to alledge, not the Names, but the Reasons of Books; to take notice, not of the Quality of their Authors, but of the Solidity of their Proofs; to consider what it is they give us; and not the face, or hand of him that gives it us; and, in a word, to re­duce the dispute, from Persons, to Things. And S. Je­rome also seemeth to commend unto us this manner of Pro­ceeding, where in the Preface to his second Commentary upon Hosea, he hath these words: Then (saith he, that is, after the Authors of Books are once de­parted this life) we judge of their worth, Hier. Com. 2. in Oseam, Praefat. Tunc sine nominum dignitate, sola ju­dicantur ingenia; nec considerat, qui lecturus est, cujus, sed quale sit quod lecturus est, sive sit Epi­scopus, sive sit laicus, Imperator & Dominus, miles & servus, aut in purpura, & serico, aut vilissimo panno jaceat, non honorum di­versitate, sed operum merito ju­dicabitur. and parts only; not considering at all the Dignity of their Name: and the Reader hath regard only to what he reads, and not to the Author whose it is. So that whether he were a Bishop, or a Lay-man; a General and a Lord, or a common Souldier, and a Servant; whether he lie in Purple and in Silk; or in the vilest, and coursest rags; he shall be judged, not according to his degree of honour, but ac­cording to the merit and worth of his Works. Now he here speaks either of matter of Right, or of Fact: and his mean­ing is, that either we ought to take this course in our Judg­ments; or else it is a plain Affirmation, that it is the pra­ctice of the World so to do. If his words are to be taken in [Page 16] the first sense, he then clearly takes away all Authority from the bare Names of Writers, and so would have us to consider the Quality only, and weight of their Wri­tings, that is to say, their Reasons, and the force of the Arguments they use. If he be to be understood in the se­cond sense, he seemeth not to speak truth, it being evi­dent, that the ordinary course of the world is, to be more taken with the titles and names of Books, than with the things therein contained. But supposing however, that this was S. Hieroms meaning; we may notwithstand­ing very safely believe, that he approveth of the said course; for as much as having this occasion of speaking of it, he doth not at all reprehend it. If therefore thou hast any mind to stand to his judgment, lay me aside the Names of Augustine, and of Hierome, of Chrysostome, and of Cyril; and forget for this once the Rochet of the first, and the Chair of the second, together with the Patri­archal Robe of the two last: and observe what they say, and not what they were: the ground and reason of their opinions; and not the dignity of their persons. But that which makes me very much wonder, is, that some of those who have been the most conversant in Antiquity, should trouble themselves in stuffing up their Books with declamatory expressions,Card. Perron, of the Eucha­rist. Aut. 20. in praise of the Authors they pro­duce; not forbearing to recount to you so much as the Nobleness of their Extraction, the choiceness of their Education, the gallantry of their Parts, the eminency of their See, and the greatness of their State. This manner of writing may perhaps suit well enough with the pre­cepts of Rhetorick: but sure I am, that it agreeth ill e­nough with S. Hierom's rule, which we gave you a little before. But let us now observe, out of some other more clear, and express passages of his, what the judgment of this great Aristarchus, and Censor of Antiquity hath been, touching this Point.Hier. ep 62. ad Theoph. A­lex. Scio me aliter habere Apostolos; a­liter reliquos tractatores: illos semper vera dicere; istos in qui­busdam, ut homines, er­rare. I know (saith he, writing to Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria) that I place the Apostles in a distinct rank from all other Writers: for as [Page 17] for them, they always speak truth: but as for those other, they erre sometimes, like Men as they were. What could he have said more expresly, in confirmation of our Asserti­on before laid down?Id. ep. 65. ad Pamm. & Ocea­num. Erraverunt in side alii, tam Graeci, quàm Latini, quo­rum non necesse est proferre nomina, ne videamur eum, non sui merito, sed aliorum errore defendere. There are others (saith he) both Greeks, and Latins, who have erred also in Points of Faith; whose Names I need not here set down lest I might seem to defend Origen by the Errors of others, rather than by his own Worth. How then can we confide in them, unless we examine their Opinions by their Reasons?Id. ibid. Sic eum legam, ut caeteros; quia sic erravit, ut caeteri. I shall (faith the same Author) read Origen, as I read others, because I find he hath erred, in like manner as they have done. And in another place, spea­king in general of Ecclesiastical Writers, that is, of those which We now call Fathers, and of the Faults and Errors that are found in their Books;Hier. l. 2. Apol, contr. Ruff. Fi­eri enim potest, ut vel simpli­citer erraverint, vel alio sensu scripserint, vel à Librariis im­peritis eorum paulatim scripta corrupta sint; vel certè ante­quàm in Alexandria quasi dae­monium meridianum Arius nasceretur, innocenter quae­dam, & minùs cautè loquuti sunt, & quae non possint per­versorum hominum calumni­am declinare. It may be (saith he) that either they have erred out of meer ignorance, or else, that they wrote in some other Sense than we understand them; or, that their Writings have by degrees been corrupted, through the ignorance of the Tran­scribers; or else, before the appearing of that impudent Devil Arius in the World, they let some things fall from them innocently, and not so warily as they might have done, and such as can hardly escape the Cavils of wrangling Spirits. Which Passage of his is a very excellent and remarkable one, and containeth in it a brief, yet a clear and full Justification of the greatest part of what we have hitherto delivered in this our Di­scourse. Do but think therefore with how much circum­spection we are to read and to weigh these Authors, and how careful we ought to be in examining, in their Books, whether there be not either some fault committed by the Transcriber, or some obscurity in the Expression, or some negligence in the Conception, or lastly, some error in the Proposition. In another place, having set down the Opi­nions [...] [Page 20] As for their Expositions, he resuseth them openly, when­soever they do not please him. Thus doth he find fault with the Exposition which is given by the greatest part of the Fathers, of the Word Israel; which they will have to signifie, A Man seeing God: Hier. Tradit. Hebr. Quamvis igitur grandis Auctoritatis sint, & eloquentiae, & ipsorum um­bra nos opprimat, qui, Israel, virum, sive mentem videntem Deum, trans [...]lerunt; nos ma­gis Scripturae, & Angeli, & Dei, qui ipsum Israel vocavit, aucto­ritate ducimur, quàm [...]ujusli­bet eloquentiae saecularis. Not­withstanding that those who interpret it thus, are Persons of very great both Authority and Eloquence, and whose very shadow (saith he) in sufficient to bear us down; yet cannot we chuse but follow the Authority of the Scri­ptures, and of the Angel, and of God, who gave this Name of Israel, rather than the Power of any Secular Eloquence, how great soever it be. And in his CXLVI Epistle, written to Pope Damasus, he saith,Id. ep. 146. ad Damas. Licet quidam superstitio [...]è magis, quàm verè, non considerantes textum Psalmi, ex Patris per­sona arbitrentur haec intelligi. That there are some, who not considering the Text, conceive Su­perstitiously, rather than Truly, that these words, in the beginning of the XLIV Psalm, E [...]ctavit cor meum verbum bonum, My heart is inditing a good matter, are spoken in the Person of the Father. And yet the greatest part of those who lived in the time of Arius, and a little after him, understood these words in the same sense.

It was likewise the General Opinion, in a manner, of all Men, That Adam was buried upon Mount Calvary, and in the very same place where our Saviour Christ was crucified: And yet S. Hierome Hier. in loc. Hebr. Euseb. & Com 4. in Mat. rejecteth this Opinion, and which is more, he makes himself merry with it, with­out any scruple at all. So likewise, there were some among the afore-named Ancient Fathers, who out of a Pious Affection which they bare to S. Peter, maintained, Hilar. in Mat. Can. 31. That he denied not God, but Man; and that the sense of the Words of his Denial is, I know not him to be a Man ▪ for I know that he is God. Hier. Com 4. in Mat. in c. 26. Hoc quam frivolum sit, pruden [...] Lector intelligit, fi de [...]endunt Apostolum, ut Deum mendacii reum faciant, &c. The Intelli­gent Reader (saith the same S. Hierome) will easily perceive, how idle and frivolous a thing this is, to accuse our Saviour as guilty [Page 21] of a Lie, by excusing his Apostle. For, if S. Peter did not deny him, our Saviour must necessarily then have lied, when he said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, &c. Id. Com. XI. in Ezech. in Praefat. Ambros. l. 2. de fid. ad Grat. He takes the same liberty also in reprehending S. Ambrose, who understands by Gog, spoken of in the Prophet Ezechiel, the Nation of the Gothes: neither do those other Fa­thers scape his Lash; who pleasing themselves too much with their Allegories,Hier. in Esai. Comm. X. take Bosra in Isaiah, for the Flesh, whereas it signifies a Fortress. I might here produce very many the like Passages, but these few shall now serve as a Taste onely: For who seeth not by this time, that these Holy Men took not the Fathers who went before them, for the Judges, or Arbitrators, touching the Opi­nions of the Church? and that they did not receive their Testimonies and Depositions, as Oracles, but reserved the Right, which S. Augustine alloweth to every Man, of examining them by the Rule of Reason, and of the Scripture. Neither are we to take any notice at all of S. Hierome, when he seems to except out of this num­ber, the Writings of Athanasius, and of S. Hilary; writing to Laeta, and telling her, That her Daughter Paula might walk securely, and with firm footing, by the Epistles of the one, and the Books of the other; and therefore he counselleth herHier. ep. 7. ad Laet. Illorum tractatibus, il­lorum dele­ctetur ingeni­is, in quorum libris pietas fi­dei non vacil­lat Caeteros sic legat, ut magis judicet, quàm sequa­tur. to take delight in these Mens Writings; forasmuch as in their Books the Piety of Faith wavereth not: And as for all other Authors, she may read them; but rather to pass her judgment upon them, than to follow them. For, first of all, although perhaps there should be some Piece of a Father, that should have no Error at all in it, (as questionless there are many such) yet would not this render the Authority of the same Infalli­ble. How many such Books are there, even of the Mo­derns, wherein neither the one Party, nor the other, hath been able to discover any the least Error in matter of Faith? And yet, I suppose, no Man will presently con­clude from hence, that we ought to admit of these Au­thors as Judges of our Faith. A Man may there find [Page 14] [...] [Page 15] [...] [Page 16] [...] [Page 17] [...] [Page 18] of several Authors, touching a certain Question that had been proposed unto him, that so the Reader might make choice of the best; he gives this Reason of his so doing:Id. ep. 15. 2. Nec. juxta Py­thagorae discipulos, praejudica­ta doctoris opinio, sed doctri­nae ratio ponderanda est. Because (saith he) we ought not, according to the Example of Pythago­ras his Scholars, to have an eye to the Preju­dicated Opinion of the Proposer, but rather the Reason of the Thing Proposed: Which words of his do sufficiently confirm the Sense which we have formerly given of that Passage of his, in the Preface to his second Commentary upon Hosea. He presently afterwards adds; Id. ibid. Meum propositum est, antiquos legere, probare singula, retinere quae bona sunt, & à side Ecclesiae Catho­licae non recedere. My purpose is to read the Ancients, to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good, and not to depart from the Faith of the Catholick Church; according to the Rule which he hath commended unto us, in his LXXVI Epistle, where he adviseth usId. ep. 76. ad Tranquil. Ego Origenem propter Eruditionem sic interdum legendum arbi­tror, quomodo Tertullianum, Novatum, Arnobium, Apollina­rium, & nonnullos Ecclesiasti­cos scriptores, Graecos pariter, & Latinos, ut bona [...]orum eli­gamus, vitemú (que) contraria; juxta Apostolum dicentem, Omnia probate; quod bonum est tenete. to read Origen, Tertullian, Novatus, Arno­bius, Apollinaris, and some other of the Ec­clesiastical Writers; but with this caution, that we should make choice of that which is good, but take heed of embracing that which is not so; according to the Apostle, who bids us prove all things, but hold fast onely that which is good. And this is the course he constantly takes, censuring, with the great­est Liberty that may be, the Opinions and Expositions of all those who went before him. He gives you freely his Judgment of every one of them; affirming,Hier. ep. 13. ad Paulin. B. Cy­prianus de scripturis divinis nequaquam disseruit. Inclyto Victorinus martyrio coronatus, quod intelligit, eloqui non po­test. Lactantius utinam tam nostra confirmare potuisset, quàm facile aliena destruxit. Arnobius inaequalis, & nimius est, & absque operis sui partiti­one consusus. S. Hil [...]rius Galli­cano cothurno attollitur, & longis interdum periodis invol­vitur, & à lectione simplicio­rum fratrum procul est. That Cy­prian scarcely touched the Scriptures at all; that Victorinus was not able to express his own Conceptions; that Lactantius is not so happy in his Endeavours of proving our Reli­gion, as he is in overthrowing that of others; that Arnobius is very uneven and confused, and too luxuriant; that S. Hilary is too swel­ling, [Page 19] and incumbred with too long Periods. I shall not here set before you what he saith of Origen, Theodorus, Apollina­ris, and of the Chiliasts; whose professed Enemy he hath declared himself, and whom he reproveth very sharply up­on all Occasions, whensoever they come in his way; and yet himself confesseth them all to have been Men of very great Parts; giving even Origen himself, who is the most dangerous Writer of them all, this Testimony,Hier. Praefat. in lib. de Nom. Hebr. Quem (Origenem) post Aposto­los Ecclesia­rum Magi­strum nemo nisi imperitus negat. That none but the ignorant can deny, but that, next to the Apostles, he was one of the greatest Masters of the Church. But that I may not meddle with any, but such whose Names have never been cried down in the Church; do but mark how he deals with Rhetitius Augustudunensis, an Ecclesiastical Author:Id ep. 133. ad Marcel. Innume­rabilia sunt, quae in illius mihi Commentariis for dere visa sunt. There are (saith he) an infinite number of things in his Commentaries, which in my judgment, shew very mean and poor: and a little after,Id. ibid. Sed tam male vide­tur existimasse de caeteris ut nemo possit de ejus erroribus judicare. He seemeth to have had so ill an Opinion of others, as to have a con­ceit, that no Man was able to judge of his Faults. He taketh the same liberty also, in rejecting their Opinions and Expositions; and sometimes not without passing upon them very tart Girds too. He justifies the Truth of the Hebrew Text of the Old Testa­ment, and findeth an infinite number of Faults in the Translation of the LXX, against almost the general con­sent not onely of the more Ancient Writers, but also of those too who lived in his own time, who all esteemed it as a Divine Piece.Hier. Praefat. in Pentateuch ad Desid. Nescio quis primus Au­ctor Septuaginta Cellulas Ale­xandriae mendacio suo exstru­xerit. He scoffs at the conceit of those Men who believed, that the LXX Interpreters, being put severally into Seven­ty distinct Cells, were inspired from above, in the Translation of the Bible.Id. Comm. 10. in Ezech. Habi­tent (que) in Septuaginta Cellulis Alexandrini Phari, ne vela per­dant de navibus, & funium de­trimenta suspirent. Let them keep, (saith he, speaking of his own Back­biters, by way of scorn) with all my heart, in the Seventy Cells of the Alexandrian Pha­ros, for fear they should lose their Sails of their Ships, and be forced to bewail the loss of their Cordage. [Page 20] [...] [Page 21] [...] [Page 22] perhaps the same Truth, (as S. Augustine saith a little before;) but it will not be of equal Authority with that of the Canonical Books.Baron. Annal. an. 369. Sect. 24. Besides, as Cardinal Baro­nius hath observed, this last Passage of S. Hierome ought to be understood onely in the Point touching the Holy Trinity, concerning which, there were at that time great Disputes betwixt the Catholicks and the Arians: for otherwise, if his words be taken in a General sense, they will be found to be false, as to S. Hilaries parti­cular, who hath had his failings in some certain things, as we shall see hereafter. In a word, although S. Hie­rome were to be understood as speaking in a General sense (as his words indeed seem to bear) yet might the same thing possibly happen to him here, which he hath obser­ved hath oftentimes befallen to others; namely, to be mistaken in his Judgment. For we are not to imagine, that he would have us have a greater Opinion of him, than he himself hath of other Men. And S. Augustine told him, as we have before shewed, that he did not be­lieve that he expected Men should judge any otherwise of him. And I suppose, we may very safely keep to S. Au­gustine's Judgment, and believe with him, that S. Hie­rome had never any intention that we should receive all his Positions as Infallible Truths; but rather, that he would have us to read and examine his Writings with the same freedom that we do those of other Men. And if we have no mind to take S. Augustine's word in this Particular, let us yet take S. Hierome's own, who in his second Commentary upon the Prophet Habakkuk, saith, Hier. Com. 2. in Abac. Si quis autem his sagaciora, & veriora repererit, illi magis explanati­oni praebete consensum. And thus have I delivered unto you my sense in brief: but if any one produce that which is more exact and true, take his Exposition rather than mine. And so like­wise upon the Prophet Zephaniah, he saith,Id. in Sophon. Si quis autem ma­gis verisimilia, & habentia rati­onem, quam à nobis sunt dis­serta, repererit, illius magis Le­ctor auctoritate ducatur. We have now done our utmost en­deavour, in giving an Allegorical Expo­sition of the Text; but if any other can [Page 23] bring that which is more Probable, and agreeable to Rea­son, than that which we have delivered, let the Reader be swaied by his Authority, rather than by ours. And in another place he speaketh to the same purpose, in these words:Hier. Com. in Zach. Haec ut quivimus, ut vires ingenioli no­stri ferre potuerunt, loquuti su­mus, & Hebraeorum, & nostro­rum varias opiniones breviter perstringentes. Si quis melius, imo verius dixerit; & nos liben­ter melioribus acquiescimus. This we have delivered according to the utmost of our poor Ability, and have given you a short touch of the divers Opini­ons, both of our own Men, and of the Jews; yet if any Man can give me a better and truer Account of these Things, I shall be very rea­dy to embrace the same. Is this now, I would fain ask, to bind up our Tongues, and our Belief, so, as that we have no further liberty of re­fusing what he hath once laid down before us, or of searching into the Reasons and Grounds of his Opinions? No, let us rather make use of that Liberty which they all allow us: let us hearken to them, but (as they them­selves advise us) when what they deliver is grounded up­on Reason, and upon the Scriptures. If they had not made use of this Caution, in the reading of those Authors who went before them, the Christian Faith had now been wholly stuffed up with the Dreams of an Origen, or an Apollinaris, or some other the like Authors: But neither the Excellency of the Doctrine, nor yet the Resplendency of their Holy Life, which no Man can deny to have shone forth very eminently in the Primitive Fathers, were able so to dazle the eyes of those that came after them, as that they could not distinguish betwixt that which was Sound and True in their Writings, and that which was Trivial and False. Let not therefore the Excellency of those who came after them, hinder us either from passing by, or even rejecting their Opinions, when we find them built upon weak Foundations. You see they confess them­selves, that this may very possibly be: we should there­fore be left utterly inexcusable, if after this their so cha­ritable Admonition, we should still believe all they [Page 24] say, without examining any thing.Ambros. l. 7. ep 47. Ego enim beneficio annumero, siquis mea legent scripta dicat mihi, quo videatur moveri. Primùm, quia & in iis quae scio, falli possum. Multa autem praetereunt, mul ta quibusdam aliter sonant. I take it for a Favour (saith S. Ambrose) when any one that readeth my Writings, giveth me an account of what Doubts he there meeteth withal: First of all, because I may be deceived in those very things which I know. And besides, many things escape us; and some things sound otherwise to some, than perhaps they do to me. I shall further here desire the Reader to take notice, how careful the Ancients were, in advising those who lived in their own time, to take a strict Examination of their Words: As for example, where Origen adviseth, Orig. Hom. 2. in Ezech. Quaeso audientes, ut diligenter atten­dant, & accipiant gratiam Spi­ritus, de qua dictum est, discre­tio Spirituum; ut probati Tra­pezitae facti, diligenter obser­vent, quandò falsus sim magi­ster, quando vero praedicem, quae sunt pietatis, ac veritatis. That his Auditors should prove whatsoever he delivered, and that they should be atten­tive, and receive the Grace of the Spirit, from whom proceedeth the discerning of Spi­rits; that so, as good Bankers, they might di­ligently observe, when their Pastor deceiveth them, and when he preacheth unto them that which is Pious and True. Cyrill likewise, in his Fourth Catechesis, hath these Words: Cyrill. Hieros. Cateches. 4. [...]. Believe me not (saith he) in whatsoever I shall simply deliver, unless thou find the things which I shall speak, demonstrated out of the Holy Scriptures: For the Conservati­on and Establishment of our Faith is not grounded upon the Eloquence of Language, but rather upon the Proofs that are brought out of the Divine Scriptures. If therefore they would not have those who heard them speak vivâ voce, to believe them in any thing, unless they had de­monstrated the Truth of it out of the Scriptures, how much less would they have us now receive, without this Demonstration, those Opinions which we meet with in their Books, which are not onely mute, but corrupted al­so, and altered so much, and so many several ways, as we have formerly shewed?

[Page 25] Certainly when I see these Holy men on one side, crying out unto us, that they are Men subject to Errours; and that therefore we ought to consider, and examine what they deliver, and not take it all for Oracle: and then, on the other side, set before my eyes these Worthy Maxims of the Ages following: to wit,Serg. Patr. C. N. Mon. in ep. ad Cyr. Concil. VI. [...]; Tum: [...]. That their Doctrine is the Law of the Church Ʋniversal: and, That we are bound to follow it, not only according to the sense, but according to the Bare Words also: and that we are bound to hold all, that they have written, even to the lest tittle: This representation, I say, makes me call to mind the History of Paul and Barnabas, to whom the Lycaonians would needs render Divine Honour, notwithstanding all the resistance these Holy men were able to make; who could not forbear to rend their garments, through the Indignation they were filled with, to see that service paid to themselves, which was due to the Divine Majesty alone, running in amongst them, and crying out aloud; Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are Men of like passions with you. For, seeing that there is none but God, whose word is certainly and necessarily True: and, seeing that, on the other side, the Word, whereon we ground and build our Faith, ought to be such: who seeth not, that it is all one, as to invest Man with the Glory, which is due to God alone, and to place him in a manner in his Seat, if we make His Word the Rule and Foundation of our Faith, and the Judge of our Differences concerning It? I am therefore stedfastly of this Opinion, that if these Holy men could now behold from their blessed Mansions, where they now live in bliss on high with their Lord and Saviour, what things are acted here below, they would be very much offended with this False Honour, which men confer upon them, much against their Wills, and would take it, as a very great injury offer'd them; seeing that they cannot receive this Honour, but to the Prejudice and Diminution of the Glory of their Redeem­er; whom they love a thousand times more, than Them­selves. Or if, from out their Sepulchres, where the Re­liques [Page 26] of their Mortality are now laid up, they could but make us hear their sacred voice; they would (I am very confident) most sharply reprove us for this Abuse, and would cry out in the words of S. Paul; Sirs, why do ye these things? We also were Men, of like Passions with you. But yet what need is there, either of ransacking their Sepulchers, and disturbing their Sacred Ashes; or, of cal­ling down their Spirits from Heaven; seeing that their voice resoundeth loud enough, and is heard so plainly, in these very Books of theirs, which we so imprudently place in that seat, which is only due to the Word of God? We have heard, what the Judgment was of S. Augustine, and of S. Hierome, (the two most eminent Persons in the Western Church,) touching this Particular: let us not then be all afraid, having such examples to follow, to speak freely our Opinions. But now, before we go any further, I conceive it will be necessary, that we answer an Objection, that may be brought against us; which is, that Athanasius, S. Cyrill, and S. Augustine himself also, often times cite the Fathers. Besides, what some have observed, that the Fathers seldom entered into these Lists but when they were provoked by their Adversaries; I add further, that when we maintain, that the Authority of the Fathers is not a sufficient Medium, to prove an Article of Faith by; we do not thereby presently forbid either the reading, or the citing of them. The Fathers often quote the Writings of the Learned Heathens, the Oracles of the Sibylls, and Passages out of the Apocryphal Books. Did they therefore think, that the [...]e Books were of sufficient Authority to ground an Article of Faith up­on? God forbid, we should entertain so ill an Opinion of them: Their Faith was grounded upon the Word of God: But yet to evidence the Truth more fully, they searched into Humane Records; and by this Inquiry, made it appear, that the Light of the Truth, revealed unto Them, had in some degree shot its beams also even into the Schools of Men, how Close, and Shady soever they [Page 27] had been. But, if they should have produced no other, but Humane Authority, they would never have been able to have brought over any one person to the Faith. But after they had received, by Divine Revelation, the Matter of our Faith; it was very wisely done of them, in the next place to prove, not the Truth, but the Clearness of It, by these little Sparks, which shot forth their light in the Spi­rits of Men. And for some the like Reason did S. Au­gustine, Athanasius, Cyrill, and many other of them, make use of Allegations out of the Fathers. For, after that each of these had grounded upon the Authority of Divine Revelation, the Necessity, and Efficacy of Grace, the Consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and the Union of the Two Natures in Christ; they then fell to producing of several Passages out of those Learned Men, who had lived before Them; to let men see, that this Truth was so clear in the Word of God, as that all that went before them had both seen and acknowledged the same: The Consideration whereof was both Plea­sing, and Useful unto them. For what can more de­light a Faithful Heart, than to find, that the chiefest and most Eminent Persons in the Church, had long since held the same Opinions, touching our Saviour Jesus Christ, and His Grace, that We now hold at this day? But yet it does not hence presently follow, that though these Ho­ly men should have met with these Articles of our Faith, in the Writings of their Predecessours only, without finding any Foundation of them in the Canonical Scrip­tures, they would notwithstanding firmly have believed, and embraced the same, contenting themselves with the Bare Authority of their Predecessours. S. Augustine professeth plainly, that in such a Case they might better have rejected them, and not be blamed for so doing nei­ther; than have received them, unless they would incur the imputation of being over Credulous. For, it is a point of too much Credulity, to believe any thing without Reason: and He further affirmeth, that where men speak without either Scripture, or Reason; their bare Authority is not [Page 28] sufficient to oblige us to believe what they propose unto us. So that it hence appeareth, that Humane Testi­monies are alledged, not to prove the Truth of the Faith, but only to shew the Clearness of it, after it is once well grounded. Now the Question at this day be­twixt us, and the Church of Rome, is not concerning the Clearness of the Truth of the Articles they believe, and press upon the World: but it yet lies upon them to prove, even the very Ground, and Foundation of them. Shew me therefore (will a Protestant here say,) either out of some Text of Scripture, or else by some Evident Reason, that there is any such place as Purgatory; and that the Eucharist is not Bread; and, that the Pope is the Mo­narch, and Head of the Church Universal: and then, I shall be very glad to try, if for our greater comfort we may be able to find, in the Authors of the Third, or Fourth Century, these Truths embraced by the Fathers of those times. But, to begin with these, is to invert the Natural Order of things. We ought first to be assured, that the Thing is; before we make inquiry, whether it hath been believed or not. For, to what purpose is it to find, that the Ancients believed it, unless we find withal in their Writings, some Reason of this their Belief? And again on the other side, what harm is it to us, to be igno­rant, whether Antiquity believed it or not; so long as we know, that the Thing is? And whereas there are some, who to establish the Supream Authority of the Fathers, alledge the Counsel which Sisinnius, a Novatian, and Agellius, his Bishop, gave of old to Nectarius, Arch­bishop of Constantinople, and by him to Theodosius the Emperour;Sozomen. l. 7. c. 12. Hist. Eccles. which was, that they should demand of the Ar­rians, whether, or not, they would stand to what the Fa­thers, who died before the breaking forth of their Heresie, had delivered, touching the Point debated betwixt them: this is hardly worth our consideration. For, this was a Trick only, devised by a subtil head, and which is worse by a Schismatick; and consequently to be suspected, as a [Page 29] Captious Proposal, purposely made to entrap the Adverse party; rather than any free, and ingenuous way of Pro­ceeding.

For, if this manner of Proceeding had been right, and good; how came it to pass, that among so many Catholick Bishops as there were, none of them all advised it? How came it to pass, that they were so ignorant of the Weapons, wherewith the Enemies of the Church were to be encountred? How came it about, that it should be proposed only by a young fellow, who was a Schisma­tick too? And, if it were approved of, as right, and good Counsel; why did Gregory Nazianzene, S. Basil, and so many other of the Fathers, who wrote in that Age against the Arrians, deal with them wholly, in a manner, out of the Scriptures? And certainly those Holy men, besides their Christian Candor, which obliged them to this way of Proceeding, took a very wise course in so do­ing. For, if this Controversie had been to be decided by the Authority of Humane Writers, I know not how any man should have been able to make good that, which this Gallant so confidently affirmeth, in the place aforecited; namely, That none of the Ancients ever said, that the Son of God had any beginning of his Generation; considering those many strange Passages that we yet at this day meet with, touching this Particular, in the Books of the First Fathers: which is the reason also why the Arrians al [...]ledged their Testimonies; as we see they do, in the Books of Athanasius, Hilary, and others of the Ancients, who wrote against them. But what need we insist so long upon a Story, which is rejected by CardinalSozomen. loc. citat. [...]. Baronius, as being an idle Tale devised by Zozomene, who was a Novatian, * Baron. An­nal. Ann. 383. in favour of those of his own Sect. The Coun­sel of Vincentius Lirinensis, which he gives us in a certain little Discourse of his, which is very highly prised byGennad. in Catal inter Op. Hieron. Gen­nadius, is accounted by many men much more worthy of our Consideration. For, having first told us, that he [Page 30] speaks not of any Authors,Vincent. Lirin. Common. cap. 39. Sed [...]orum duntaxat Patrum sen­tentiae conferendae sunt, qui in fide & Communione Catholica Sanctè, Sapientèr, Constantèr viventes, docentes, & permanen­tes, vel mori in Christo fideliter, vel occidi pro Christo foeliciter meruerunt. Quibus tamen hac lege credendum est, ut quicquid vel omnes, vel plures, uno eo­dem (que) sensu manifestè, frequen­tèr, perseveranter, velut quo­dam consentiente sibi magistro­rum concilio, accipiendo, te­nendo, tradendo, firmaverint, id pro indubitato, certo, rato (que) ha­beatur: quicquid verò, quamvis ille Sanctus & doctus, quamvis Episcopus, quamvis Confessor, & Martyr, praeter omneis, aut etiam contra omneis senserit, id inter proprias, & occultas, & privatas opiniunculas à communis, pub­licae, & generalis Sententiae au­thoritate secretum sit. T [...]m. 4. Bibl. PP. Save only of such, who, having holily, wisely, and constantly lived, preached, and persevered in the Catholick Faith, and Communion, obtained the favour at length, either to dye faithfully in Christ, or else had the happiness of being crowned with Mar­tyrdom, for Christs sake: he further ad­deth; That we are to receive, as undoub­tedly true, certain, and definitive, what­soever all the aforesaid Authors, or at least the greatest part of them, have clear­ly, frequently, and constantly affirmed, with an Ʋnanimous Consent receiving, retaining, and delivering it over to others, as it were joyntly, and making up all of them but one Common and Ʋnanimous Council of Doctors. But this Passage of his is so far from advancing the Su­preme Authority, which some would attribute to the Fathers, in Matters of Faith; that on the contrary I meet with something in it, that makes me more doubt of their Au­thority, than I did before. For, I find by this mans dis­course, that whatsoever his reason was, whether good or bad, he clearly appears to have had a very great desire of bringing all Differences in Religion, before the Judg­ment seat of the Fathers; and to the same end, he la­bours to prove, with the same eagerness and passion, that their Judgment is in [...]allible in these Cases. But in the mean time I find him so perplexed and troubled in bringing out that which he would have, as that it appears sufficiently, that he saw well enough, that what he desi­red, was not so agreeable to Truth. For he hath so qua­lified his Proposition, and bound it in with so many Limi­tations, as that it is very probable, that if all these Condi­tions, which he here requires, were any where to be found, [Page 31] we might then safely, perhaps, rely upon the Writings of the Fathers. But then on the other side, it is so very diffi­cult a matter, to meet with such a Conjunction of so many several Qu [...]lifications, as that I very much doubt, whether we shall be ever able to enjoy this happiness, or not.

For first of all, for the persons of those men, whose Testimonies we alledge, he requireth that they should be such, as not only Lived, but also Taught: and which is more, persevered too, not only in the Faith, but in the Communion also of the Catholick Church. And then, for fear of being surprised, and taken at this Word, he comes over us with a new supply, and qualifies his words with a Restriction of Three Adverbs; and tells Us, that they must have lived, and taught Holily, Wisely, and Constantly. But yet this is not all: for besides all this, they must have either died in Christ, or for Christ. So that if they Lived, but did not Teach; or if they both Lived, and Taught, but did not Persevere; or if they both Lived, Taught, and also Persevered in the Faith, but not in the Communion; or else in the Communion, but not in the Faith of the Catholick Church; or if they yet Lived, and Taught Holily, but not Wisely; or on the contrary, Wisely, but not Holily; and if, in the last place after all this, having performed all the Particulars before set down, they did not at last die either in Christ, or for Christ; they ought not according to this mans Rule, be admitted as Witnesses in this Case. Certainly he might have stopped here, and not have gone on still with his Mo­difications, as he doth, limiting the number and the words of these witnesses. For what Christian ever made scruple of receiving the Opinion of such a one, as had both Holily, Wisely, and Constantly lived, and taught in the Faith, and Communion of the Catholick Church? For you might hence very well rest assured, that whatsoever he had delivered, was True; and consequently, Fit to be be­lieved: for how could he have taught Wisely, and Con­stantly, [Page 32] if he had taught any False Doctrine? All tha he here therefore promiseth us, is no more but this; That we should be sure not to be deceived, provided, that we believed no other Doctrines, save what were Holy, and True. This Promise of his is like that, which little Chil­dren are wont to make, when they tell you, that you shall never die, if you but eat always. Neither do I be­lieve, that there is any man in the World so perverse, and wilful, as not readily to assent to such a man, as he assu­redly knew to be so qualified, as Vincentius Lirinensis would here have him to be. But seeing that it is necessa­ry, that we should first know the Quality of the Witness, before we hear him; it remaineth, in my judgment, that before we do so much as hear any of the Fathers, we ought to be first assured, that he was so qualified in every parti­cular, according to Vincentius his Rule before layed down. Now I would very fain have any one inform me, how it is possible for us to know this? Who will assure us, that Athanasius, St. Cyrill, or what other Father you please, both Lived, Taught, Persevered, and Died Holily, Wisely, and Constantly in the Faith, and Com­munion of the Catholick Church? This can never be done, without a most Exact Inquiry made, both into their Life, and their Doctrines, which is an Impossible thing, considering the many Ages that have passed, from Their times, down to Ours. But yet supposing, that this were a Possible thing, it would nevertheless be of no use at all, as to this Authors purpose. For, He will have us hear the Fathers, to the end, that we may be by Them in­structed in the Truth. Now, that we may be rightly in­formed, whether or no, they were so Qualified, as is be­fore required; we ought necessarily to know first of all, what the Truth is. For how is it otherwise possible, that we should be able to judg, whether they have taught Ho­lily, and Wisely? And if you were before-hand instruct­ed in the Truth, what need have you then to hear Them, and to desire to be instructed in it, by Them? You may [Page 33] indeed make use of them, for the Illustration and Con­firmation of that which you knew before; but you can­not learn any Truth from them, which you knew not be­fore. And if you understand the Maxime before alledged in another sense, and take this Wisdom, and Holiness, this Faith, and Communion of the Catholick Church, therein mentioned, for a shadow onely, and the Superfi­cies and Outward Appearance of these things, and for a Common and Empty Opinion, grounded meerly upon the Publick Voice of the People, and not upon an Exact Knowledge of the thing it self, it will then prove to be manifestly False; those Persons who have but the Out­ward Appearance only, and not the Reality of these Qualities, being no way fit to be admitted as Witnesses, much less to be receiv'd as the Supreme Judges, in the Point of the Christian Faith. So that this Proposition is ei­ther Impossible, if you understand it as the words seem to sound; or else it is False, if you take it in any larger sense. The like Exceptions may be made against those other Conditions, which he there further requires, touching the Number and the Words of these Witnesses: For he alloweth not the force of a Law to any thing, but what hath been delivered either by All, or else by the Greatest part of them. If he here, by All, mean All the Fathers that ever have been, or but the Greatest Part of them onely, he then puts us upon an Impossibility. For, taking the whole Number of Fathers that ever have been, the Greatest, and perhaps too, the Best Part of them have not written any thing at all: and among those that have written, how many hath Time devoured? and how ma­ny hath the False Dealings of Men either wholly suppres­sed, or else corrupted, and altered? It is therefore evi­dently Impossible to know, what the Opinions have been, either of All, or of the Greatest Part of the Fathers, in this sense. And if he restrains this All, and this Greatest Part, to those who appear at this day, either in their own Books, or in Historians, and the Writings of other [Page 34] men; it will concern us then to inquire, Whether or no, by All, he means All promiscuously, without distinguish­ing them by their several Ages wherein they lived; or else, Whether he would have us distinguish them into se­veral Classes, putting together in the same Rank all those that lived in one and the same Age; and receiving for Truth whatsoever we find to have been held and con­firmed by the greatest part of them. Now both these ways agree in this one thing; namely, that they render the Judgment of the Christian Faith wholly Casual, and make it depend upon divers and sundry Accidents, which have been the Cause of the Writings of the Fathers being either preserved, or lost. For, put the case that Vincentius should have cleared, by this excellent course of his, some Point or other, which had been controverted; he must have thanked the Fire, the Water, the Moths, or the Worms, for having spared those Authors which he made use of, and for having consumed all those other that wrote in favour of the Adverse Party: for otherwise he should have been an Heretick. And if we should decide our Differences in Matters of Faith after this manner, we should do in a manner as he did, who gave Judgment upon the Suits of Law that came before him, by the Chances he threw with Three Dice. Do but imagine now, what an endless labour it would be, for a Man ei­ther to go and heap up together, and run over all the Authors that ever have written, one with another; or else to distinguish them into their several Ages they wrote in, and to examine them by Companies. And do but ima­gine again, what satisfaction a Man should be able to get from hence; and where we should be, in case we should find (as it is possible it may sometimes so fall out, as we shall shew hereafter) that the Sense and Judgment of this Greatest Part should prove to be either contrary to, or perhaps besides the Sense and Meaning either of the Scriptures, or of the Church. And again, how senseless a thing were it to make the Suffrages of Equal Authority, [Page 35] of Persons that are so Unequal themselves, either in respect of their Merit, Learning, Holy Life, and Sound­ness of Faith: and that a Rheticius, whom S. Hierome censured so hardly a little before, should be reckoned Equal with S. Augustine; or a Philastrius be as good a Man as S. Hierome? There is perhaps among the Fathers such a One, whose Judgment is of more weight than a Hundred others; and yet forsooth will this Man have us to make our Doubles, and our Sons, to go for as much as our Crowns and Pistols. And lastly, What reason in the World is there, that although perhaps the Persons themselves were equal in all things, we should yet make their Words also of equal force, which are of­tentimes of very different and unequal Authority; some of them having been uttered, as it were, before the Bar, the Books having been produced, both Parties heard, and the whole Cause througly examined: and the other perhaps having been cast forth by their Authors at all ad­venture, as it were, either in their Chamber, or else in Discourse walking abroad, or else perhaps by the By, while they were treating of some other Matter? But our Friend here, to prevent in some sort this later Inconve­nience, requires, that the Word of this Greatest Part, which he will allow to be fit to be Authorised, must have been uttered by them Clearly, Often, and Constantly; and then, and not till then, doth he allow them for Cer­tain and Undoubted Truth. And now you see he is got into another Hold. For I would very fain be informed, how it is possible for us to know whether these Fathers, which we thus have called out of their Graves, to give us their Judgment touching the Controversies in Reli­gion, affirmed those things which we find in their Writings, Clearly, Often, and Constantly, or not? If in this his pretended Council of Doctors, you will not allow the Right of giving their Suffrage to those of whom it may be doubted, that they either expressed themselves obscurely, or gave in their Testimonies but [Page 36] seldom, or have but weakly maintained their own Opi­nion; I pray you tell me, whom shall we have left at last, to be the Judges in the Decision of our present Contro­versies? As for the Apostles Creed, and the Determinati­ons of the Four First General Councils, (which are as­sented unto, and approved of by all the Protestant Par­ty,) I confess we may, by this way of Trial, allow them as Competent Judges in these Matters. But as for all the rest, it is evident, by what hath been delivered in the First Part of this Treatise, that we can never admit of them, if they are thus to be Qualified, and to have all the afore-mentioned Conditions. We may therefore very well conclude, That the Expedient here proposed by this Author, is either Impossible, or else not so safe to be put in practice; so that I shall rather approve of S. Augustine's Judgment, touching the Authority of the Fathers. I should not have insisted so long upon the Examination of this Proposal of his, had I not seen it to have been in so high Esteem with many Men, and indeed with some of the Learned too.Perron, Cassan­der, &c. For in earnest, after S. Augustine and S. Hierome have delivered their Judgments, it matters not much what this Man shall have believed to the contrary. But yet, before we finish this Point, let us a little examine this Author, both by S. Augustine's, and by his own Rule before laid down. S. Augustine thinks us not bound to believe the Saying of any Author, except he can prove the Truth of it unto us, either by the Canonical Scriptures, or else by some Probable Reason. What Text of Scri­pture, or what Reason hath this Man alledged, to prove the Truth of what he hath proposed? So that, whatsoever his Opinion be, he must not take it amiss, if, according to the Advice and Practice of S. Augustine, we take leave to dissent from him: especially, considering we have so many Reasons to reject That, which he without any Reason given, would have us to receive. And thus you see, that according to the Judgment of S. Augustine, [Page 37] the Saying of this Vincentius Lirinensis, although you should reckon him among the most Eminent of the Fa­thers, doth not at all oblige us to give our Assent unto it. And yet you will find, that his Testimony would be yet of much less force and weight, if you but examine the Man by his own Rule. For, according to him, we are not to hearken to the Fathers, except they both Lived and Taught Holily and Wisely, even unto the hour of their Death. Who is there now that will pass his word for him, that he himself was one of this number? Who shall assure us, that he was not either an Heretick himself, or at least a Favourer of Hereticks? For, is it not evident enough, that he favoured the Semipelagians, who at that time swarmed in France, railing against the very Name and Memory of S. Augustine; and who were condemned by the whole Church? Who may not easily see this, by his manner of Discourse in his Vinc. Lirin. in Comm 2. c. 43. Commonitorium, tending this way; where he seems to intimate unto us under hand, That Prosper and Hilary had unjustly slandered them; and that Pope Celestin. apud Aug. l. 2. contr. Pelag. & Ce­lest. c. 3. Celestine, who also wrote against them, had been mis­informed? And may not he also be strongly suspected to have been the Author of those Objections made against Prosper, which are called,Prosper. Resp. ad Object. Vin­cent. Objectiones Vincentianae, Vincent's Objections? The great Commendations also which are given him byGennad. in Catal. in Ruff. inter Op. Hier. Gennadius, very much con­firm this suspicion; it being clear, that this Author was of the same Sect, as appears plainly by the great account he makes of Ruffinus, a Priest of Aquileia, who was the Grand Patriarch of the Pelagians; saying of him, That he was not the least part of the Doctors of the Church: Tacitely also taxing S. Hierome, his Adversary, and calling him, A Malicious Slanderer; as also by the Judgment which he gives of S. Augustine, who was Flagellum Pelagianorum, The Scourge of the Pelagians, passing this insolent Censure upon him, and saying, Gennad. ubi supra. That in speaking so much, it had hapned to him, what [Page 38] the Holy Ghost hath said by Solomon, to wit, Prov. 10. 19. That in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin. So that I cannot sufficiently wonder at the Boldness of Cardinal Perron, who when he hath any occasion of alledging this Author, ordinarily calleth him Saint Vincent de Le­rins, Saint Vincent of Lerius; thus, by a very ill example, Du Perron, en la Repliq. au Roy de la Grand Brit. passim. Canonizing a Person who was strongly suspected to have been an Heretick. Since therefore he was such a one, why should any one think it strange, that he should so much cry up the Judgment and Opinions of the Fa­thers; seeing that there is no Man but knows, that the Pelagians and Semipelagians had the better of it, by the citing Their Authorities, and laboured by this means to bear down S. Augustine's Name; and all this forsooth, only by reason that the Greatest Part of the Fathers, who lived before Pelagius his time, had delivered themselves with less caution than they might have done, touching those Points which were by him afterwards brought into Question; and many times too in such strange Expres­sions, as will very hardly be reconciled to any Orthodox Sense? Yet notwithstanding, should we allow this Vin­centius to have been a Person who was thus Qualified, and to have had all those Conditions which he requireth in a Man, to render him capable of being hearkned to in this Particular; what weight, I would fain know, ought this Proposal of his to carry with it, which yet is not found any where, in the mouth of any of all those Fathers who went before him; who is also so strongly contradicted, both by S. Augustine, and S. Hierome, as we have seen in those Passages before alledged out of them; and who, besides, is full of Obscllre Passages, and Inexplicable Ambiguities?Vincent. Lirin. Common. 1. c. 39. ubi supra. So that, Ho [...] Le [...]ned and Holy a Man soever, he might be, whe [...]he [...] he were a Bishop, Confessor, or Martyr, (which yet he was not) this Proposal of his (according to his own Maxims) ought to be excluded from the Authority of Publick Determinati­ons, and to be accounted of only as his own Particular Pri­vate [Page 39] Opinion. Let us therefore in this Business rather follow the Judgment of S. Augustine, which is grounded upon evident Reason; a Person whose Authority (when­ever it shall be questioned) will be found to be Incompa­rably Greater than Vincentius Lirinensis his: and let us not henceforth give any Credit to any Sayings or Opi­nions of the Fathers, save onely such, the Truth where­of they shall have made appear Evidently unto us, either by the Canonical Books of Scripture, or else by some Probable Reason.

CHAP. III.

Reason III. That the Fathers have Written after such a manner, as that it is clear, that when they Wrote, they had no intention of being our Judges in Matters of Religion. Some few Examples of their Mistakes and Oversights.

WHosoever will but take the pains diligently to consider the Fathers manner of Writing, he will not desire any other Testimony for the proof of this Truth. For, the very Form of their Writings wit­nesseth clear enough, that in the greatest part of them they had no intention of delivering such Definitive Sen­tences as were to be Obliging, meerly by the Single Authority of the Mouth which uttered them: but their purpose onely was, rather to communicate unto Us their own Meditations upon divers Points of our Reli­gion; leaving us free to our own Liberty of Exami­ning them, and to approve, or reject the same, accord­ing as we saw good. And thus hath S. Hierome expres­ly delivered his Mind, as we shewed before, where he speaks of the Nature and Manner of Commentaries upon the Holy Scriptures. And certainly, if they had had any other Design or Intention, they would never have troubled themselves, as they ordinarily do, in gathering together the several Opinions of other Men. This Di­ligence, I confess, is Laudable in a Teacher; but it would be very Ridiculous in a Judge. Their Stile also should then be quite of another kind, than now it is: and those Obscurities which we have observed in the Former Part of this Treatise, proceeding either from the Rheto­rical Ornaments, or the Logical Subtilties which they [Page 41] made use of, should have no place here. For, what use would there be of any such thing in pronouncing a Sen­tence of Judgment, or indeed, in giving ones bare Testi­mony only to any thing? But that which makes the Truth of this our Assertion, more clearly to appear than all the rest, is, the little care and diligence that they took, in composing the greatest part of these Wri­tings of theirs, which we now would so very fain have to be the Rules of our Faith. If these men, who were endued with such exquisite sanctity, had had any inten­tion of prescribing to Posterity, a true and perfect Te­nor and Rule of Faith; is it probable that they would have gone carelesly to work, in a business of so great importance? Would they not rather have gone upon it with their Eyes opened, their Judgments setled, their Thoughts fixed, and every Faculty of their Soul atten­tively bent upon the business in hand; for fear, lest that in a business of so great weight as this, something might chance to fall from them, not so becoming their own Wisdom, or so suitable to the Peoples advantage? A Judge, that had but never so little Conscience, would not otherwise give sentence concerning the Oxen, the Field, and the Gutters of Titius and Moevius. How much more is the same Gravity and Deliberation re­quisite here, where the Question is touching the Faith, the Souls, and the Eternal Salvation of all Mankind? It were clearly therefore the greatest injury that could be offered to these Holy Persons, to imagine, that they would have taken upon them to have passed Judgment in so weighty a Cause as this, but with the greatest care and attention that could be. Now it is very evident on the other side, that in very many of those Writings of theirs, which have come down to our hands, there see­meth to be very much negligence, or, to speak a little more tenderly of the business, security at least, both in the Invention, Method, and Elocutio [...]. If therefore we tender the Reputation either of their Honesty or Wis­dom, [Page 42] we ought rather to say, that their design in these Books of theirs, was not to pronounce definitively upon this Particular, neither are their Writings judiciary Sen­tences, or final Judgments, but are rather Discourses of a far different Nature, occasioned by divers emergent Oc­currences; and are more or less elaborate, according to the Time, Judgment, Age, and Disposition they were of when they wrote them. Now although this want of diligence and of deliberation, appears of it self evidently enough to any man, that readeth the Fathers, but with the least attention that may be, yet notwithstanding that I may not leave this Assertion of mine only said, and not proved at all, I shall here give you some few Instances for a taste only.

First of all, there are very many Pieces, among the Works of the Fathers, which were written in haste; and some too, which were meer Extemporary Discourses, and such, as in all probability the Authors of them them­selves would have found many things therein, which would have required correction, had they had but lei­sure to have reviewed the same.Hier. Prolog. in Hom. Orig. in Jes. Nau. St. Hierome in a Pro­logue of his to some certain Homilies of Origen, tran­slated by him into Latine, saith that Origen made them and delivered them in the Church, Ex tempore. Touching these therefore, we are pretty well satisfied by St. Hierome; but how many in the mean time may there be of the like nature, among those so many Homilies of St. Chrysostome, St. Augustine, and others; all which we perhaps imagine to have been leisurely and deliberately studied, digested, and composed, which yet some sudden occasion might perhaps have put forth into the World upon an instant, and which were as soon born as conceived, and as soon published as made? St. Hierome often telleth us, that he dictated what he wrote in haste.Hier. Ep. 128. [...]d Fabiol. T. 3. vid. & in Epi­ [...]aph. Marcel. Epist. 16. Extr. Thus at the end of that long Epistle, which he wrote to Fabiola, he con­fesseth, that he had dispatched it in one Evening only, when he was now setting sail for a journey. And (which is a [Page 43] matter of much more importance) he saith in another place,Id. Praef. in Prov. Itaque, &c. tridui opus nomini vestro conse­cravi, inter­pretationem videlicet tri­um Salomonis voluminum. That he had allotted himself but three days, for the translating of the three Books of Solomon; namely, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles; which yet a man will hardly be able to read over, well, and exactly, in a month, by reason of the great difficulties he will there meet withal, as well in the Words and Phrases, as in the sense. And yet for all this (if, what the Church of Rome pretends to, be true) this little Three-days Work of St. Hierome hath proved so fortunate, as to deserve, not only to be approved, and highly esteemed, but even Ca­nonized also by the Council of Trent. Now whether the will of God be, that we should receive this Transla­tion of his, as his pure Word, or not, I shall leave to those, who have a desire and ability to examine: How­ever I dare confidently affirm, that St. Hierome himself never had any the least thought, or hope, that ever this Piece of his, should one day come to this honour, it being a thing not to be imagined, but that he would have taken both more time, and more pains in the thing, if ever he had either desired, or foreseen this. And thus it some­times falls out, that Men have better Fortune, than ever they wished for. The same Author saith, at the end of another Piece of his,Id. Ep. 47. Ex­temporalis est dictatio, & tanta ad lu­men lucernu­lae facilitate profusa, ut Notariorum manus lingua praecurreret, & signa ac furta verbo­rum volubili­tas sermonum obrueret. That it was an Extemporary, and Running business, as he there speaks, and hudled out so fast, as that his Tongue over-run the Hands of his Ama­nuenses, and by its Volubility and swiftness, in a manner confounded them and their Cifres, and Abbreviations. He elsewhere excuseth in like manner another Work of his of no small importance neither, which is, his Commen­tary upon the Gospel of St. Matthew; telling us, that by reason he had been straitned in time, he was constrain­ed to dictate it in very great haste. And so likewise in the Preface to his Second Commentary, upon the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, he confesseth, that he wrote it in so great haste, as that he many times made as much of it, as came to a thousand lines in a day. In a word, [Page 44] that I may not cloy the Reader with producing all the In­stances of the same kind, that I could here bring in, it is his ordinary way of excusing himself either in his Prefa­ces, or else at the closing up of all his Discourses, to say, that either the Messenger was in haste, or some other de­sign called him away; or else some other the like cause, whatsoever it were, was pretended. So that he never did any thing almost but in haste, and at full speed. Sometimes again, either some sickness had taken him off his metal; or else, the study of the Hebrew had let his Tongue grow rusty▪ or his Pen is not now able to reach its wonted pitch. Now I would fain know if so be he would have us receive all his sayings, as Oracles; and did not indeed desire us to excuse rather some things in him, and to forgive him some others; why should he use these speeches unto us? Who ever heard a Judge excuse himself, by reason of the short­ness of the Time? Would not this be rather to accuse, than to excuse himself, by making such an Apology as this for himself; for as much as the giving of over-hasty Judgment, in any Cause, is a very great fault? And in my Opinion, the Fathers could not more clearly have deprived themselves of this Dignity of being our Judges, where­with we will invest them, whether they will or no, than by writing and speaking after this manner. But yet al­though St. Hierome had not given us these Advertise­ments, which yet ought to make us look well also to the rest of the Fathers; it appeareth evidently enough, out of their very Writings themselves, how little both time and diligence they bestowed, in composing the greatest part of them. For, otherwise how could so many small trifling Faults, both in History, Grammar, Philosophy, and the like, have escaped so great and Eminent Persons, who were so well furnished with all sorts of Literature? How happened it, that they so either forgot, or else mistook themselves, as they have sometimes done?

I shall here give the Reader some few examples of this kind, not to take off any thing from the Praises due to these [Page 45] Learned Persons; as if we thought them really to have committed these Errours out of ignorance; but rather to let the World see, that they did not alway [...] make use of their whole stock of Worth and Learning; and that sometimes they either could not, or else would not make use, but of some part only of their Knowledge, and of their Time: which is a most certain Argument, that they had never any intention of being received by us as Judges in Points of Faith. I shall not say much of their Errours in matter of Time, which are both very notable ones, and also very frequent with them: as, for example, where Justin Martyr Just. Apol. 2. [...]. saith, that David lived Fif­teen Hundred years before the Manifestation of the Son of God; it being very apparent, by observing the Course of Times, derived along through Histories, both Sacred and Profane, that from the death of David, to the Birth of our Saviour Christ, there passed no more than a Thou­sand and Twenty five, or Thirty years, or thereabout. So likewise, whenEpiphan. in Aneor. num. 11 [...]. [...], [...]. Vide Petav. in eum lo­cum. Epiphanius writeth, that Moses was but Thirty years old, when he brought forth the Children of Israel out of Egypt: whereas the Scriptures clearly testi­fie, that he was Fourscore years of age: And so, where he affirmeth,Epiphan. lib. de Ponder. & Mens. num. 12 [...]. That the taking of the City of Jerusalem, happened sixty five years after the Passion of our Saviour Christ. And truly the Chronology of all the Anci­ents is generally very strange, and for the most part very far wide of the truth; as hath been observed, and also proved at large, by all the Moderns, as Scaliger, Petavius, and others. But these matters are so very nice and ticklish, that often­times the most diligent Inquirers into them, may chance to mistake: I shall therefore forbear to insist any longer upon this Particular; and shall now lay before you some examples of another nature, and such as shall most evident­ly [Page 46] discover the security and negligence of these Authors. Justin Martyr, speaking of the Translation of the LXX Interpreters, saith,Justin. Mart. Apol. 2. [...], [...]. that Ptolemy, King of Egypt, sent his Ambassadors to Herod King of Judaea. Whereas the truth of the story is, that he sent to Eleazar the High Priest, Two hundred forty and odd years, before Herod came to be King of Judaea. Epiphan. in Panar. lib. 1. & Anaceph. pag. 127, 128, 133. Epi­phanius tells us, in two or three places, that the Peripateticks and Pythagoreans were one and the same Sect of Heathen Philosophers; which yet were as much different one from the other, as the Stoicks and Epicureans were, as every Child knoweth. The same Author confidently affirmeth also, though contrary to the saith of all Ancient History,Id. contr. Haeres. lib. 1. that the several Sects and Opinion in Philosophy sprung from some certain Mysteries brought to Athens, by Orpheus, a Id. Haeres. 5. and others; and, that the Stoicks believed the Immortality, and Transmigration of Souls; both which are as false, the one as the other: and likewiseId. Panar. lib. 1. that Nebuchadonosor sent a Colony, into the Country about Samaria, after the taking of Hierusalem; whereas in truth, it was Salmanassar, who had so done, long before the others time. What can you think of him, when you find him mistaken in such things, as happened not many years before he was born: as namely, when he saysId. Haer. Ar­rian. 69. num. that Arius died before the Council of Nice: and when he relates the story of Meletius, and his Schism, clean otherwise than the Truth of it was? Justin Martyr likewise assures us, for a certain Truth,Justin. Mart. Apol. 2. [...], [...]. that in the Reign of the Emperour Claudius, there was erected at Rome a Statue to Simon Magus, in the River Tiber, betwixt the two Bridges, with this Inscription, TO THE HOLY GOD SIMON: whereas, as our Learned [Page 47] Desider. Herald. in Apol. Tertuk Criticks now inform us, it was only an Inscription to one of the Pagan D [...]mi [...]gods, in these Words, [...]SEMONI DEO SANCO; which this Good Father mi­stook, instead of Semoni, reading Simoni, and for Sanoo, reading Sancto. Euseb. in Chron. & [...]. 8. pag. 250. Eusebius saith, andHier. Epist. 150. Hedibiae. Comment. 4. in Matth. ep. 17. quae est Paul. & Eustoch. St. Hierome divers times repeateth it after him, that Josephus, the Jewish Hi­storian reporteth, that at the time of our Saviours Passion, the Heavenly Powers forsook the Temple of Hierusalem; and that there was a great noise heard, and a voice saying, [...], Let us depart hence; and yet nevertheless the Truth of the story is, that Josephus reported this to have happened at the same time, when the City was besieged, that is to say, above Thirty five years after the Death of our Saviour. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. 2. cap. 15, 16. Hier. lib. de Script. Eccles. The same Authors, and in a manner all others after them, have constantly delivered as a certain Truth, that Philo Judaeus in that Book of his, entituled De Vitâ Con­templativâ, describeth unto us the manner of Life of the Christian [...], or Monks: and yet that Book of Philo, which we have at this day under this Title, proclaimeth loud enough, that he there speaks, not of the Christians, but of the Essenes, who were one of the three Sects among the Jews; as hath been observed by Scalig. de Emend. Temp. l. 6 c. 1. Scaliger, and by divers others after him. We have touched, howAmbr [...]s. l. 2. de fide ad Gra­tian. St. Ambrose, without giving us any Account of his Reasons why he doth so, understands by Gog and Magog, mentioned inEzech. 33. Ezckiel, the Nati­on of the Goths, who in his time over-run all Christen­dom. He tells us in another place, with the very same confidence thatAmbros. Comment. in Luc. Zacharias, the father of John Baptist, was the High Priest of the Jews; which yet Baron. in Apparat. num. 69. Baronius hath clearly proved to be false. Thus you see how little the Later Writers are beholding to those that went before them, as to this Particular. [Page 48] Epiphan. in Ancor. [...]. Epiphanius affirmeth, that Pison, which was one of the Four Rivers that watered the Terrestrial Paradise, mentioned by Moses, was the same that the Indians and Ethiopians call Ganges, and the Greeks Indus: which River passing at length through Ethiopia, discharged it self at last into the Ocean at Cales. What wonderful strange Geography have we got here, (if at least we may call it by this name,) which jumbleth together the East and the West, and confoundeth, and maketh all one, Places, which are very near a whole Hemisphere distant from each other.Basil. Hom. 3. in Isa. [...], &c. St. Basil also, who is otherwise an Excellent Author, hath mistaken likewise, though not so much, the course of the River Danubius; for he hath only made it to spring out of the Pyrenean Mountains.

The speaking of these Rivers puts me in mind, that Theoph An­tioch l. 2. Am­bros. l. de Pa­rad. c. 3. Ep. Panar. haer. 66. Hieron. de locis Hebr. voc. Ge­on alii. all the Fathers do unanimously understand by Gihon, one of the Rivers of Paradise, the River Nilus; which hath so deceived CardinalDu Perron en sa Repl. pag▪ [...]50. Perron also, as that he so deli­vers it to us, as the express Text of the Scriptures, by this means making it guilty of a manifest absurdity, how innocent soever in it self it be, and free from intending any such thing; seeing that it is evident, that neither in the Hebrew, Greek, nor Latine Text, it is ever said, that the River Nile watered the Land of Paradise: it being only a Dream of the Fathers, that one of these Rivers of Paradise, must needs have been the Nile; though this Fancy of theirs (asScalig. de Emend. Temp. Petav. in Epi­ph. p. 371. Scaliger makes it appear, and as it is confessed by † Petavius also) is built upon no ground, or reason at all. Neither hath their Philosophy also been sometimes less wonderful, than their Geography: as for example; whenTertul. lib. de An. c. 19. Tertullian maintains, that Plants are endued both with sense, and understanding too. So likewise whereEpiphan in Ancor. num 90. Epiphanius holds, that it is possible for [Page 49] a Dead Man to return to Life again, without the Reuni­on of the Soul to the Body. As also where Ambrose Hexaem. l. 2. c 3. Fre­quenter solem videmus madi­ [...]um, atque rorantem, in quo evidens dat indicium quod ali­mentum sibi aquarum ad tem­peri [...]m sui sumpserit. S. Ambrose saith, That the Sun, to the end he may allay his extreme Heat, refresheth himself with the Nourishment which he draweth up from the Waters: and that from hence it is, that we sometimes see him appear as it were all over wet, and dropping with Dew. And so again, where you have some of them enter­taining the Doctrine of the Spherical Figure of the Hea­vens, with very great scorn; andJustin. Quaest. & Respons. Qu. 130. ad Auto­lye. maintaining, That it is onely as it were an Arch, which is built upon the Wa­ters, as on its Base.Lactant. In­stit. l. 3. c 34. August. de Civ. Det, l. 16. c. 9. Some others of them you have, who will not endure to hear of the Earths being of a Round, Spherical Figure, or of the Antipodes; and account those Men little less than Infidels, that shall offer to maintain any such Opinions. But these are not bare Mistakes, and Oversights onely; but are rather Errors which proceeded from the want of a due Examination, and a right Ap­prehension of things. As for their Grammatical Errors, they are more frequent and usual with them, than any other: and the reason of their so often mistaking here, is, the little knowledge they had in the Hebrew Tongue; as, for Instance, whenOpt. l. 2. contr. Don. Omnium Apostolorum caput Petrus, unde & Cephas appellatus est. Optatus, and some others of them, will needs deduce the Name Cephas, from the Greek [...], which signifies a Head, whereas Copha is a Syriack word, and signifiesJoan. 1. 42. a Stone, as the Evangelist expresly testifieth. S. Ambrose is in the like manner mistaken, where he derives the wordAmbros. 1. de Pasc. c. 1. Quod quidem sa­crum nomen ab ipsius Do­mini passione descendir. Innoc. III. Ser. 1. in Conc. Later. Pascha, which is of Hebrew Ex­traction, and which signifieth properly a Passing, from a Greek word, signifying to Suffer; in which Etymologie of his he is faithfully followed by Pope Innocent III. in an Oration of his, which he made at the Opening of the Council of Lateran.

We have formerly given a touch at some Errors of theirs of this nature, observed by S. Hierome, to whom the Church is very much obliged, both for the great pains [Page 50] that he took, in endeavouring to attain unto so exqui­site knowledge in the Hebrew Tongue; as also for the great courage that he had, in taking so much liberty to himself, as freely to note all such Impertinences, whenso­ever he met with them; who, or how great Persons so­ever the Authors of them were. All the rest of the Fathers, a very few only excepted, do here but, as it were, grope out their way in the dark: and hence it is, that we have so many wild Etymologi [...]s given by them, of the Proper Names that we meet with in the Scriptures. Who can read, without amazement, that whichIren contr. H [...]r. l. 2. c. 41. Jesus autem nomen secun­dum propri­am Hebraen­rum linguam, literarum est duarum, & dimidiae, &c. Matth. 1. 12. Iren. l. 2. c. 66. Irenaeus hath delivered, touching the Derivation of the Name of JE­SVS, which he will have to be composed of two Letters and a half; adding moreover, that in the Ancient Lan­guage of the Hebrews it signifieth the Heavens, notwith­standing that the Angel expresly testified, at the very beginning of S. Matthew's Gospel, that our Saviour Christ was called JESVS, because He was to save His people from their sins. Of the like nature is that, where he saith, That the Name of God, Adonai, signifieth Won­derful: or, if you write it thus, Addhonei, it then signi­fieth. Him that boundeth and separateth the Earth from the Water. And the like Etymologies doth he give us of the Word Sabaoth, and of Jaoth. Like to these, are those Mysteries which he informs us of,Id. ibid. in the afore-cited Treatise of his, which no Author else, either Ancient or Mode [...]n, ever heard of: telling us withal, That Barneth is the Name of God in Hebrew; and that the First and most Ancient Hebrew Letters, which were called Sacer­dotales, were onely Ten in number, and were written Five manner of ways. Out of the same Storehouse hath [...]lem. Alex. Strom. l. 4. [...], [...]. Id. p. 222. [...], [...]. Clemens Alexandrinus produced us that precious Etymology which he hath gi­ven of the Name of Abraham, saying, It is by Interpretation, The Elect Father of a Sound: and that other of the Name Rebecca, which he will have to signifie, The Glory of God. [Page 51] Hilar. in Ps. 132. Seon in­fructuosae ar­boris inter­pretatio est. S. Hilary saith, That Schon signifieth a fruitless Tree. But S.Hieron. ep. 141. ad Mar­cell. Hierome informs us, That S. Hilary understand­ing nothing at all in Hebrew, and being not so very ex­cellent at the Greek neither, he was fain to make use of a certain Priest named Heliodorus, to interpret to him out of Origen whatsoever he himself understood not, who no [...] discharging his Trust sometimes so faithfully as he should have done, was the cause of this Father's committing some certain Errors of this nature, in his Commentaries.Theoph. Anti­och. l. 2. ad Au­tol. Theophilus Antiochenus saith, That be­fore Melchisedeck's time the City of Jerusalem was cal­led Hierosolyma; but that afterwards it was called Hierusalem, from Him: which is a very strange Fancy of his, and such a one, as it is no very easie matter to guess what Ground he should have for it. What strange Dreams dothAmbros. Ep. l. 10. ep. 82. S. Ambrose entertain his Readers withal, where he expounds the Names of Chorah, and of Oreb; the one whereof, with him, signifieth, The Vnderstanding, and the other, The whole Heart, or, As the Heart? And so likewise inAmbros in Psal. 118. his Exposition of the CXVIII Psalm, where he gives us the meaning of each of the Hebrew Letters wherewith the first Verses begin of every one of the 22 Octonaries whereof the said CXVIII Psalm, ac­cording to the Hebrew reckoning, consisteth. ButId. lib. de In­carn. Da [...]. Socr. c. 9. he is by no means to be pardoned, where he is so much out in the Greek Tongue, which he understood reasonably well, as to derive the word [...], Essence, from [...], Al­ways, and [...], Being: which is so gross a Mistake, as would not have been pardoned a School-Boy at the Grammar-School. And as for S. Hierome, it is true, that he is sometimes at this Sport too; though I should think he does it of purpose, and to make himself merry onely, rather than any way mistaking himself: as for ex­ample, Hier. in So­phon. cap. 3. ver. 8. when he derives the Latin word Nugae from the Hebrew [...] Nogè, which you read in the Prophet Zephaniah, chap. 3. vers. 8. And so likewise whenId. Comm. in Ep. ad Philem. he searcheth in the Hèbrew for the signification of Paul, [Page 52] Philemon, Onesimus, Timothy, and other words which are purely Greek. And even in the very Scriptures them­selves, which they were both better acquainted with, and which they had also in greater Veneration than any other Books whatsoever, they often mistake themselves in ci­ting them. As for example, whenId. Apol. 2. Justine Martyr al­ledgeth a Passage out of the Prophet Zephaniah, which yet is not found any where but onely in the Prophet Ze­chariah; and in another place,Id. ibid. where he names Jeremiah in stead of Daniel. So likewise whenHilar. in Psal. 2. S. Hilary tells us, That S. Paul, in the 13 Chapter of the Acts, alledgeth a certain Passage out of the First Psalm, which yet is found only in the Second [...] whereas S. Paul in that place speaks not one Syllable of the First Psalm, but expresly na­meth the Second. So also whenEpiphan. in Ancor. Epiphanius says, out of the 27 Chap. Ver. 37. of the Acts of the Apostles, That the number of those that were in the Ship with S. Paul, when he suffered Ship wrack, was one while 70. and by and by 80 Souls; whereas the Text saith ex­presly, that they were in all 276. So likewise when in another place he affirmeth, out of the Gospel, Id in Panar. l. 3. Haer. 80. [...], &c. [...], [...]. That our Saviour Christ said to his Mo­ther, Touch me not; whereas it appears plainly out of the Text, that these words were spoken onely to Mary Magdalene. So whereHier. Comm. 1. in Abac. S. Hierome troubles himself very much in reconciling a certain Passage alledged by S. Paul out Habakkuk, to the Original, telling us, that S. Paul had cited it in these words, The Just shall live by My Faith: whereas it is most evident, that he Apostle, both in the First Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, as also in the Epistle to the Galatians, hath it only thus, The Just shall live by Faith; and not, The Just shall live by My Faith. Athanasius in his Synopsis (or whoever else was the Author of that Piece) reckoning up the several Books of Scriptures, evidently takes the Third Book of Esdras, which hath been always accounted Apo­cryphal [Page 53] by the common consent of all Christendom, for the First, which is received by all, both Christians and Jews, into the Canon of the Scriptures. We might reckon to this number (if at least so foolish a Piece deserve to have any place among the Writings of the Fathers) that gross mistake which we meet with in an Epistle of Pope Gregory II. who raileth fiercely against Vzziah, Greg. II. in ep. ad Leon. Ifaur. de col. Imag. for breaking the Brazen Serpent; calling him, for this Act of his, The Brother of the Emperour Leo the Iconoclast, which, as he thought, was all one, as to reckon him amongst the most mischievous and wretched Princes that ever had been: and yet all this while the Scripture tells us, that this was the Act, not of Vzziah, but of the Good King Hezekiah; and that he deserved to be rather commended for the same, than blamed. As for their slips of Memory, he had need to have a very happy one himself, that should go about to reckon them all up. For ex­ample; Ambros. l. 2 de Poenit. c. 2. Quod etiam aquila, cùm fuerit mor­tua, ex suis reliquiis renascatur. S. Ambrose tells us somewhere, That the Eagle dying, is revived again out of her own Ashes. Who sees not, that in this place he would have said, the Phoenix? But however, in another place giving us an Account of the Story of the Phoenix, Id. lib. de fid. Resur. Atqui hoc relatione crebra, & Scriptura­rum authoritate cognovimus, memoratam avem, &c. as it is commonly delivered, he says, That this we have learn­ed from the Authority of the Scriptures. By a like mistake it was, that he affirmed, that these words, Ambros. Ser. 10. Denique ite­rum Moyfi dicit, quia in hoc ipsum te suscitavi, ut ostendam in te virtutem meam. For this very purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, were spoken to Moses; to whom notwith­standing the Lord never said any such word, but rather to Pharaoh. In like manner doth he at­tribute to the Jews those words in the ninth Chapter of S. John, which were indeed spoken by Christ's Disciples, who asked him, saying,Ambros. ep. l. 9. ep. 75. Quam stolidi autem Judaei qui interro­gant, Hic peccavit, an Parentes? Id. l. 2. de Sanct Jacob. c. 11. Master, who did sin, this Man, or his Parents, that he was born blind? I impute that other mistake of his, to the heat of his Rhetorick, where he [Page 54] brings in one of the seven Brethren in the Maccabees, who suffered under King Antiochus, and makes him, in his height of Gallantry, alledge the Example of John, and of James, the Sons of Thunder, two of our Saviour Christs Apostles, who came not into the World, as every one knows, till a long time after this. It was a slip of me­mory also in Tertullian, where he tells us,Tertul. contr. Marc. l. 4. c. 24. That the Lord said unto Moses, They have not rejected Thee, but they have rejected Me; which words were indeed spoken to 1 Sam. 8. Samuel, and not to Moses. S Hierome also was overta­ken in the like manner,Hieron. l. contr. Helvid. In quo primum adversarius superfluo labore desudat, cognoscendi verbum ad coitum magis quam ad scientiam esse referendum, quasi hoc quisquam negaverit. when he tells us, That none of the Fathers ever understood the word Knew, in the Last Verse of the First Chapter of S. Matthew, otherwise than of the Conjugal Act; not remem­bring, that his own dear Friend Epiphani­us takes the word in a quite different sense, and will have the meaning of the place to be, That Joseph, before the Miraculous Birth of our Saviour Christ, knew not what Glory and Excellency was to befal the Blessed Virgin; Epiphan. in Panar. Haer. 78. An­tidicom. [...]. knowing nothing else of her before, save only that she was the Daughter of Joachim and of Annae, and Cousin to Elizabeth, who was of the House of David: whereas he at that time knew clearly, that God had done him that Ho­nour of sending his Angel to him, and of chusing his Espoused Wife Mary to be the only Woman on Earth, on whom he would confer that so great and wonderful Benefit and Advantage, above all others. But we intend not here to give you an Inventory of all the Errors of this nature, which are to be found in the Wri­tings of the Ancients: these Patterns may well enough serve to shew, what the whole Pieces are.

I shall only add here, That, besides this Carelesness and Security, which is so ordinary with them, in wri­ting thus confidently whatsoever came in their mind, or [Page 55] whatever others had delivered over unto them, for Sound and Good, without ever examining it throughly, they had yet another kind of Custom, which seems not to suit so well with the Person of Judges, as we will needs have them to be.

And this is, that in their Writings they are sometimes so jolly and sportful, coming over us with such rare Alle­gorical Observations as have scarcely any more Solidity or Body, than those Castles of Cards that little Children are wont to make.Perron's Repl. p. 743. These Cardinal Perron calls, Des Gay­etez joyeuses, Chearful Frolickings. I know very well, that Allegories are useful, and many times also necessary; if so be they be but sober, clear, and well-grounded. But I speak not here save only of such as rack the Text, and, as it were, drag it along by the Hair, and, which make the Sense of the Scripture evaporate in empty Fumes. And of these are the Writings of the Fathers full. S. Hierome often complains of the strange Liberty that Origen and his Disciples took herein. Certainly he himself often flies out in this kind; and whosoever hath a mind to fee it, may read but his 146 Epistle, where he expounds the Hier. in ep. 146. ad Da­mas. paenè tot. Parable of the Prodigal Son: or let him but turn to the Discourse which he hath made touching theId. Comm. in Soph. Genealogy of the Prophet Zephaniah, and concerning the City of Da­mascus; and also upon the History ofId. ep. ad Nepot. Abishag the Shu­namite; and also upon the Five and twenty Men, and the Two Princes, spoken of inId. Comm. 3. in Ezech. Ezechiel, chap. 11. and upon the Destruction of Tyre, ofId. Comm. in Ezech. Egypt, and ofId. Comm. 9. in eundem. Assyria, fore­told by the same Prophet; as also his subtile Observati­ons uponId. Comm. 10. in eund. Numbers, and upon KingId. Comm. in Agg. Darius, and upon that Command of our SaviourId. Comm. 1. in Matth. Christ, where he bid­eth us turn the Left Cheek to him that hath smitten us on the Right: and many other the like Discourses of his. S. Hilary is so much taken with this manner of writing, as that his Expositions upon the Scripture are half full of these Allegories: and to be sure to make himself the more work, he sometimes framesHilar. in Ps▪ 136. certain Impos­sibilities [Page 56] and Absurdities, which he would make the Scri­pture seem to be guilty of, which yet it is not; only that he may have some pretense to have recourse to his Alle­gories. As for example, in the 136 Psalm, he will needs have the Letter of the Text to be utterly inexplicable, where it says, That the Jews sate down by the Rivers of Babylon, and hanged up their Harps upon the Willows; as if, in this Country, that was watred with Tigris and Euphrates, there had been neither River, nor Willow, nor any Aquatick Tree.

The sameId. ibid. fol. 108. Author also demandeth, as if it had been a most indissoluble Question, if taken in the Literal sense, who the Daughter of Babylon is; and, why she is called Miserable? which is so easie a Question, as that any Child almost might very easily resolve it, without tor­turing the Text with Allegories. So likewise, in his ex­position of the 146 Psalm, he understandeth by the Id. in Psal. 146. fol. 128. Haec ita intel­ligere, non di­cam erroris, sed irreligiosi­tatis est. Clouds wherewith God is said to cover the Heavens, the Writings of the Prophets; and by the Rain which he prepareth for the Earth, the Evangelical Doctrine; by the Mountains which bring forth Grass, the Prophets and Apostles; by the Beasts, he understands Men; and by the young Ravens, the Gentiles: assuring us withal, that it would not be onely Erroneous, but rather very Irreligious, to take these words in the Literal sense. May not this be called rather Sporting with, than Expounding of the Scriptures?

So likewise in another place, speaking of the Fowls of the Air, which our Saviour said, neither reaped nor ga­thered into Barns,Id. Can. 5. in Matth. 6. 26. fol. 7. he understands, by these, the Devils; and by the Lilies of the Field, which spin not, the Angels. I should much abuse the Readers patience, if I should here set down the strange Discourses he hath upon the Story of the two Possessed with Devils, who were healed by our Saviour in the Country of the Gergesens; Id. Can. 8. in Matth. 8. 28. fol. 10. and upon the Leap which the Devils made the neighbouring Herd of Swine take into the Sea; and of the Swine-herds run­ning [Page 57] away into the City, and of the Citizens coming forth, and intreating our Saviour to depart out of their Coasts: or if I should but give you the whole entire Ex­position which he hath made of these words,Id. Can. 10. fol. 13. Vers. 29. Chap. 10. of St. Matthew: Are not two Sparrows sold for a Farthing, &c. where by the two Sparrows, he understand­eth Sinners, whose Souls and Bodies having been made to flye upward and to mount on high, sell themselves to sin for meer Trifles, and things of no value by this means becoming both as one, the Soul by sin thickning, as it were into a Body: and such other like wild Fancies, the reading whereof would astonish a man of any judgment, rather than edifie him. Neither is St. Ambrose any whit more serious,Ambros. in Ps. 36. pag 503. Matth. 17. 20. Si habuer [...]tis fidem sicut granum sina­pis, dicetis huic monti, Tollere & j [...] ­ctare in mare. Huic; Cui? Daemonio in­quit, à quo iste invasus fuerat, &c. where expounding those words of our Sa­viour, Matth. 17. 20. If you have Faith as a grain of Mustard seed, ye shall say to this Mountain, Remove hence to yonder, place, &c. By this Mountain (saith St. Ambrose) is meant the Devil. It would be too tedious a business, to set down here at length all that might be collected, of this nature, out of him: he that hath any mind to see more Examples of this kind, may read but his Homilies upon the 118. Psalm; which Piece of his, will indeed be otherwise very well worth any mans reading, as being a very excellent one, and full of Eloquence and sound Doctrine. But yet perhaps a man would find it a troublesom business to make any handsom defence for him, where he makes bold sometimes to use the Sacred words of the Scriptures in his own sportful Fancies: Idem Tract. de obit. Valent. pag. 11, 12. Qu [...]s dabit te frater fratrem m [...]hi, lactan­tem ubera matris meae? &c. Cant. 8. 1. Promittit fratri augustae memoriae, Gratianus, praesto sibi fru­ctus diversarum esse vir­tutum. as where he applies to Valentinian and Gra­tian, that which is spoken of Christ and the Church, in the Canticles: O that thou wert as my Brother, that sucked the breasts of my Mo­ther! When I should find thee without I would kiss thee, &c. I would lead thee, and bring thee into my Mothers house, &c. I would cause thee to drink of Spiced Wine, and of the juyce of my Pomegranates. His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. [Page 58] In this place (saith he) is mean [...] the Emperour Gratian, of R [...]nowned Memory, who te [...]eth his Brother that he is fur­nished with the fruits of divers Vertues. And to the same purpose doth he make Application of divers other Pas­sages of this Sacred Canticle; and with so great Licence, as to say the truth, no Poet ever lashed out with more li­berty and freedom than he hath done in that Book of his. I shall here purposely pass by, what I might produce, of this nature, out of Gregory Nazianzen, St. Augustine, and almost all the rest of the Fathers: for, this that we have already brought, is enough, and indeed more than we needed for our present purpose. Let the Reader there­fore now judge, whether or no the Fathers, by this their manner of Writing, have not clearly enough witnessed against themselves, that their Intention, when they wrote these their Books, never was either to bound and deter­mine our Faith, or to decide our differences touching the same. I must needs confess, that they were Persons who were endued with very large Gifts of the Spirit; and with a most lively and clear Understanding, for the diving in­to the Truth. But yet those, that have the greatest [...]hare of these Gifts, have it yet to very little purpose, if so be they imploy it not all, and every part of it, to the utmost of their power, when the business they are to treat of is of so great both difficulty and importance; and such, as to the deciding and discussing whereof we can never bring either more attention or diligence, than is needful. Now that the Fathers have not observed this Course in their Writings, appeareth clearly enough by what hath been formerly said: Their Books therefore are not to be re­ceived by us, either as Definitive Sentences, or Final Judg­ments upon our present Controversies. I confess that these small, trivial Errors ought not to take off any thing of the Opinion we have of the Greatness and Gallantry of their Parts. I believe they might very easily have avoided the falling into them, if they would but have taken the pains to have looked a little better about them. And I [Page 59] [...]m of Opinion, that they fell into them meerly by inad­vertency only, which may also sometimes happen even to the greatest Masters that are, in any Sciences whatsover. I shall as willingly also yield to you, (if you desire it,) that they have sometimes done these things purposely; letting fall here and there throughout their Writings such little slips from their Pen, sportingly, and by way of Recreati­on; or else out of a design of exercising our Wits.

But certainly, whatsoever the Reason were, seeing that they had no mind to use any more either care or diligence in the composing of their Books, we may very well, and indeed we ought to conclude from hence, that they had never any Intention that these Books of theirs should be our Judges.

These Innocent Faults, these Mistakes, these Oversights, these Forgetfulnesses, and these Sportings of theirs, do sufficiently declare for their part, that we are to make our Addresses to some others; and, that they have not so sad­ly delivered their Opinions, as if they had sate on the Seat of Judgment; but rather have spoken as in their Cham­ber, venting their own private Opinions only; and not as our Judges.

These Considerations, joyned to what hath been said, in this particular, by some of the chiefest and most emi­nent among themselves, as we have formerly shewed, do make it, in my Judgment, evidently enough appear▪ that their own will and desire is, that we should not embrace their Opinions, as Oracles, or receive them as Definitive Sentences, but that we should rather exa­mine them by the Scriptures, and by Reason; as be­ing the Opinions of Doctors, who were indeed very able and excellent Men; but yet notwithstanding they were still Men, subject to Errour, and who had not al­ways the good Fortune to light upon what was true and sound, and who peradventure, even in this very Case in hand, have not always done what they might; by reason of their employing either less time, or less [Page 60] and diligence, than they should have done, if at least they had had any serious purpose of doing their ut­most endeavour in this Particular.

CHAP. IV.

Reason IV. That the Fathers have erred, in di­vers Points of Religion; not only singly, but also many of them together.

I Conceive, that that which hath been delivered in the two preceding Chapters, is sufficient to make it appear to any moderate man, that the Authority of the Fa­thers is not so Authentick, as People commonly imagine it to be. Thou therefore whosoever thou art, if thou beest but an indifferent and impartial Reader, mayest omit the reading of this, and the following Chapter; both which I am fain to add, though much against my will, to answer all Objections that may yet be made by per­verse and obstinate persons. For the prejudice, where­with they are before-hand possessed, may hinder them perhaps from seeing the clearness of Reason, and from hearing the voice of the Fathers themselves; whose words they perhaps will be ready to impute to their mo­desty, rather than they will consent to yield unto them no more honour than they themselves require. The stubbornness therefore of these men, and not any need that thou hast of my doing so, hath constrained me to lay aside some of that Respect, that I bear towards An­tiquity; and hath obliged me to give them a sight of some Errours of the Fathers, which are of much more im­portance than the former, if by this means at least I may be able to overcome this their obstinacy. For, when [Page 61] they shall but see, that the Fathers have erred in divers very considerable Points; I hope they will at length confess, that they had very good Reason, gravely to ad­vise us not to believe, or take upon Trust any of their Opinions, unless we find that they are grounded either upon the Scriptures, or else upon some other Truth. I confess, I enter upon this Inquiry very unwillingly, as ta­king very little pleasure in discovering the Infirmities and Failings of any Men, especially of such, as are otherwise thought worthy of so great Estimation and Honour: but yet there is nothing in the World, [...]how precious or dear unto us soever it be, that we ought not to account as Dung, if it be compared with Truth, and the Edifica­tion of men. And I am verily perswaded, that even these blessed Saints themselves, were they now alive again, would give us thanks for the pains we have taken, in en­deavouring to make men see, that they were but men; and would account themselves beholding to us, for ha­ving taken the boldness upon us, for the same reason to discover those Imperfections and Failings of theirs, which Divine Providence hath suffered them to leave behind them in their Writings, to the end only that they might serve as so many Arguments to us of their Huma­nity. If there be any notwithstanding, that shall take offence hereat, I must intreat them once again to consi­der, that the perversness only of those men, with whom I have to deal, hath forced me to this Irreverence, (if at least we are to call it so) together with the desire I have to manifest to the World so important a Truth as this is. If I would go about to defend my self by Examples, I could here make use of that of Cardinal Perron; Du Perron, Repliq. lib. 6. cap 6 p. 949. who, to justifie the Church of Romes interdicting the reading of the Bible to any of the Laity, save only such as should be allowed so to do; makes no more ado but falls to laying open to the view of the World (not all the Faults) for there are no such there; but) all the False Appearances of Faults, that are found in the Bible, making a whole [Page 62] Chapter expresly of the same. How much more law­fully then may we adventure here, to expose to pub­lick view some few of the Failings of the Fathers, unto whom we owe infinitely less Respect, than unto God; only to moderate a little, and to allay the heat of that excessive Devotion, that most men bear towards their Writings; that so the one Party may be perswaded to seek out for some other Weapons, than the Authority of these men, for the defence of their Opinions; and that the other Party may not so easily be induced to give ear to the bare Testimony of Antiquity. It was the Saying of a Great Prince long since, that the vilest and most shameful Necessities of his Nature, were the things that most clearly evinced him, that he was a Man, and no God, as his flattering Courtiers would needs have made him believe he was. Seeing therefore it stands us so much upon, to know, that the Fathers were but Men, let us not be afraid to produce here this so clear and so evident Argument of their Humanity. Let us boldly en­ter into their most hidden Secrets, and let us see what ever Marks of their Humanity they have left us in their Wri­tings; that we may no longer adore and reverence their Authority, as if it were wholly Divine. Yet I protest here, before I begin, that I will not make any advantage at all of those many Arguments of their Passion, which we meet withal; partly in their own Writings, and partly in the Histories of their Life. I heartily wish ra­ther, that all of this kind might be buried in an Eternal Oblivion, and that we would account of them, as of Persons that were most accomplished for Purity and In­nocency of Life, as far forth at least, as the frail Con­dition of Humane Nature can bear. I shall only touch upon the Errours of their Belief, and those things where­in they have failed, not in Living, but in Writing. The most Ancient of them all is Justin Martyr, a man so re­nowned in all Ancient Histories for his great Knowledge, both in Religion and Philosophy; and also for the Fer­vency [Page 63] of his Zeal, which is so evidently manifesied, by his suffering a Glorious Martyrdom for our Saviour Jesus Christ. And yet for all this, how many odd Opinions do we meet withal in his Books, which are either very trivial, or else are manifestly false? Do but hear how he speaks of the Last Times, immediately preceding the Day of Judgment, and the end of the World. Justin. contr. Tryph. p. 307. [...] &c. As for me, (saith he) and the rest of us that are true Christians, we know that there shall be a Resurrection of the Flesh, and that the Saints shall spend a thousand years in Jerusalem, which shall be rebuilt, enriched, and enlar­ged, as the Prophets assure us, Ezechiel, Isaiah, and others. And to this purpose he citeth that which is written Isaiah, Chap. 65. and besides, that other Passage in the Revelation, where it is said,Id [...]. That those which had be­lieved in Christ, should live and reign with him a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that af­ter this there should be a General and Final Resurrection and Judgment. In which words you see plainly, that he holds with the Chiliasts, that the Saints shall reign a thou­sand years in Jerusalem, before the Resur­rection be perfectly accomplished. Which is an Opi­nion that is at this day condemned as Erroneous, by the whole Western Church, both on the one side, and on the other. He seems in another place to have held, that the Essence of God was finite, and was not present in all places; where he en­deavours to prove against a Jew, that it was not the Father, Idem contr. Tryph pag [...]83. & 357. [...], &c. who rained fire and brim­stone upon Sodom, because that he could not then have been at that time in Heaven. That which he hath delivered, concerning the Angels, is altogether as senseless, though not so dangerous; namely,Idem in Apol. pr­ [...]ing ad Senat. pag. 44. [...]. That God ha­ving [Page 64] in the beginning committed unto them the Care and Providence over men and all sub­lunary things, they had broken this Order, by suffering themselves to be overcome by the Love of Women, by companying with whom had been also born Children, which are those we now call Demons, or Devils. I know not neither, whether he will be able easily to bring any one over to that other Opinion of his where he says; thatJustin. contr Tryph. p. 333. [...], &c. All the Souls of the Saints, and of the Prophets, had fallen under the power of Evil Spirits, which were such, as were the Spirits of Python: and that this was the reason, why our Saviour Christ, be­ing now ready to give up the Ghost, Ibid. [...]. recom­mended his Spirit to God. I pray you tell me, out of what part of Gods Word he learnt this Doctrine, which he delivers in his se­cond Apologie: where he says,Id. Apol. 2. p. 83. [...], &c. That all those, who lived according to the Rule of Rea­son, were Christians, notwithstanding that they might have been accounted as Atheists; such as among the Greeks, were Socrates, He­raclitus, and the like; and among the Bar­barians, Abraham and Azarias: repeating the same Doctrine, within a few Lines af­terward, and saying, thatIbid. [...]. All those who lived, or do now live according to the Rule of Reason, are Christians, and are in an assu­red, quiet condition. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, who lived very near his time, was also▪ of the same Opinion with Justin, touching the state of the Soul, after it is once departed out of the Body, till the hour of Judgment. For, towards the conclusion of that Excellent Book of his, which he wrote against Heresies; after that he hath told us, that our Saviour Christ had descended into Hell, and had been in the place where [Page 65] the Dead were; which place he opposed to the Light of this World: he further addeth, ThatIren. l. 5. contr Haeres. c. 26. M [...] ­nifestum est, quia & discipulo­rum ejus, propter quos & haec operatus est Dominus, animae abibunt in invisibilem locum, definitum eis à Deo, & ibi us (que) ad Resurrectionem commora­buntur, Su [...]inente [...] Resurrecti­onem, &c. it is evident, that the Souls of the Disciples of our Saviour, for the love of whom he did all these things, shall go also into a certain Invi­sible place, which is pr [...]vided for them by God, there to expect the Resurrection; and shall afterwards resume their Bodies, and be raised up again in all Perfection; that is to say, Corporally, in the same manner as our Saviour was raised up again, and so shall they come into the presence of God. And this Opinion he opposeth against that of the Valentinians, and Gnosticks, which he had be­fore produced in the beginning of that Chapter of his, who held, That the Souls of Men, immediately after they were departed out of the Body, were carried up above the Heavens, and the Creator of the World, and went to that Mother, or that Father, which these Hereticks had fancied to themselves: Which Opinion of theirs, is in like manner rejected by Justin Martyr, Justin. contra Tryph. p. 307. in the Passage a little before alledged, out of his Book against Tryphon: Whence it plainly appears, (that we may not trouble our selves to produce any other Proofs) that Justin and Ire­naeus were both of the same Belief, touching the State of the Soul after Death. But to return to Irenaeus, in his Se­cond Book against Hereticks, Iren. contr. Haer. l. 2. c. 39. he maintains very s [...]iffely▪ That our Saviour Christ was above Forty years of age, when he suffered death for us: bringing in, in defence of this Opinion of his, which so manifestly contradicteth the Evangelical Histories, certain Probabilities onely; as namely, That our Saviour passed through all Ages, as he­ing come into the World to sanctifie and save People of all Ages; urging also those words of the Jews to our Savi­our, Thou art not yet fifty years old, Joh. 8. 57. and hast thou seen Abraham? In the Conclusion of all, saying, That S. John had delivered it by Tradition to the Priests of Asia, That Christ was somewhat Ancient when he began to [Page 66] preach, being then about the age of Forty or Fifty years. This Fancy of his appeased so ridioulous to Cardinal Baronius, Baron. Annal. T. 1. ar. 34 num. 137. as that, notwithstanding the Faith of all the Copies of this Father, and the Contexture, which ap­pears evidently to be his, together with the Vein and Marks of his Fancy and Stile; he hath yet had the con­fidence to say, That this whole Passage had been soisted into the Text of Irenaeus, either by some ignorant, or some malicious Person, and that it could not be Irenaeus his own.

But it seemeth, that he had no great reason for this his suspicion, as the JesuitePetav. in Epi­phan. p. 143. Petavius hath clearly made it appear, in his Notes upon Epiphaniu [...]. However you may hence perceive, that Baronius thinks that very Possi­ble, which we have endeavoured to prove in the Former Part of this Treatise, namely, That there may Possibly have been very many and great Alterations and Corrupti­ons in the Books of the Writers of the First Ages, by ma­ny Passages and Clauses having been either inserted into them, or else maliclously rased out of them.

The sameIren. l. 2. contr. Haer. c. 62. Ani­mas, &c. Cha­racterem cor­poris, in quo etiam ada­ptantur, custo­dire cundem, &c. &c. 63. Animas homi­nis habere fi­guram ut eti­am cogno­scantur. Irenaeus holds, and endeavours to prove, in the same Book, That the Souls of Men, after death, re­tain the Character (that is to say, the Figure) of the Bodies to which they were formerly united, and that they re­present the shape of the said Bodies, so as to make Men take them for the same. I shall here pass by that which heIren. contr. Haer. l. 2. c. 49. saith in the 49 Chapter of the same Book, namely, That our Saviour Christ did not at all know when the Day of Judgment should be, neither according to the one, nor according to the other of his Natures: although these words of his look as if they would very hardly be reconciled to any good fense. Neither shall I yet take notice of what both he and Justin Martyr have in di­vers places so rashly delivered, touching the strength of Humane Nature, in the Business of Salvation; because I conceive, withCassand. in defens libelli de Offic. pii Viri. Cassander, that all those Passages may, and indeed ought to be understood with respect had to [Page 67] the scope and drift of these Authors, whose Business there was to confute those Hereticks of Their time, who main­tained, That there was a Fatal Necessity in the Actions of Men, by this means depriving them of all manner of Ele­ction, or Judgment. Neither hath the great Learning of Clem. Alex. Strom. lib. 1. [...]. Clemens Alexandrinus kept him from fal­ling▪ in [...]o very many the like, Errors: as for instance, where in divers places he says plainly, That the Heathen, who lived be­fore the coming of our Saviour Christ, were justified by Philosophy, Ili [...]. p. [...]7. [...]. which was then Necessary for them whereas it is now only Ʋseful unto them; and that this Phi­losophy was tho [...] choolmister of [...]he Gen­tiles, which brought them to Christ, or ser­ved to guide them till the time of his Co­ming, in like manner as the Law did the Jews; and that the Greeks were justified by i [...] alone [...]; and, that it was given unto them, as their Id. lib. 6. Strom. p. 279. [...]. Covenant, being a step to, and, as it were, a Foundation laid for Chri­stian Philosophy. He was of Opinion also, in order to this,Id. Strom lib. 6. p. 269. [...], &c. fusè. That our Saviour went down into Hell, to preach the Gospel to the Departed Souls; and that he saved many of them, that is, all that believed: And that the [...] (in inferis) [...]. Apostles also, after their Death, descended likewise into the same place, and for the same purpose: Conceiving, that God otherwise should have been Unjust, and an Accepter of Persons, if so be he should have condemned all those who di­ed before the Coming of his Son. For (saith he) if Id. p. 271. [...]; He preached to the Living, to the end they might not be condemned Ʋn­justly; why should [...]e not, for the same Reason, preach also to those who were departed this Life before his Coming? [Page 68] From these and the like Considerations, he concludeth, That it was necessary that the Souls of all the Dead, as well Gentiles, as Jews, should have been made Partakers of the Preaching of our Saviour,Ibid. p. 270. [...]. and should have had the Be [...]fit of the same Dispensation, which he used towards others here upon Earth, in order either to their Salvation, through Repentance; or their just Condemnation, for their Im­penitency.

He plainly maintains also, in several places of his Works, That all the Punishments which God inflicts up­on M [...]n, tend to their Salvation, and are sent them for their Instiuction and Amendment; comprehending also within this number, even those very Pains which the Damned endure in Hell: and from hence it is, that he somewhere also affirmeth, That wicked Men are to be purged by Fire: And hereto doth he refer the Confla­gration spoken of by the Stoicks, alledging also to this purpose certain Passages out of Plato, Id. Strom. l. 5. p. 227. and out of a cer­tain Philosopher of Ephesus, which I conceive to be He­raclitus; by all which it clearly appears, that he had the same Belief touching the Pains of Hell, that his Scholar Origen had, who maintains in an infinite number of places up and down his Works, That the Pains of Hell are Purgative only; and consequently are not Eternal, but are to have an end, when the Souls of the Damned are once throughly Cleansed and Purified by this Fire. Id. Strom. l 5. p. 227. [...], &c. He believes also with Justin Martyr, That the Angels fell in love with the First Women, and that this Love of theirs transported them so far, as to make them indiscreetly to discover unto them many Secrets which they ought to have concealed. But now, quite contrary to Irenaeus, who maintains, That our Saviour Christ lived upon Earth to the Age of Fifty years; Clemens will have him to have Preached [Page 69] in the Flesh but one year onely,Id. Strom. p. 127. [...]. and to have died in the Thirty first year of his Age. But since it is confessed by both Parties, That there are very many absurd Tenets in this Author, I shall not meddle any further with him. As for Tertullian, I confess his very turning Montanist, hath taken off indeed very much of the repute which he before had in the Church, both for the Fervency of his P [...]ety, and also for his Incomparable Learning. But yet, besides that a great part of his Works were written while he was yet a Catholick; we are also to take notice, that this his Montanism put no separation at all betwixt him and other Christians, save only in point of Discipline, which he, according to the Severity of his Nature, would have to be most Harsh and Rigorous. For, as for his Doctrine, it is veryVid. lib. de M [...]n. cap. 2. &c. & l. contr. Psych. cap. 1. evident, that he constantly kept to the very same Rule, and the same Faith, that the Catholicks did: whence proceeded that tart Speech of his,Id. contr. Psych c. 10 Si Paracle­to controversiam saciunt pro­pter hoc, prophetiae novae re­cusantur, non quòd alium De­um praedicant Montanu, & Pri­scilla, & Maxim [...]lla, &c. sed qùd planè doceant saepiùs je­junare, quàm nubere. That People rejected Montanus, Maxi­milla, and Priscilla, not because they had any whit departed from the Rule of Faith, but rather because they would have us to Fast oftner than to Marry. And this is evident enough out of all those Books which were written by him, during the time of his be­ing a Montanist, wherein he never dispu­teth or contendeth about any thing, save onely about Discipline. And this is ingenuously confessed also by the LearnedNicol. Rigal­tius Prolog. in animad. ad Tertul. 9. Tract. an. Lutet. 1628. Nicalaus Rigaltius, in his Preface to those IX Books which he hath lately published. Now notwith­standing the great Repute which this Father had in the Church, and his not departing from it in any thing, in Point of Faith; yet how many Wild Opinions and Fancies do we meet withal, in his Books? I shall here speak onely of some of the principal of them, passing by his so Dangerous Expressions touching the Person of the Son of God, as having touched upon this Particular before. But how strange is his manner of Discourse [Page 70] touching the Nature of God,Tertul. l. 1. ad [...]. Mare. c. 25. & l. 2. c. 16. whom he seems to render subject to the like Passions that we are; as namely, to Anger, Hatred, and Grief? He attributes also to him a Id. adv. Orig. cap. 7. & l. 2. contr. Marc. c. 16. Quis negabit Deum corpus esse, etsi Spiritus est? Corporeal Substance, and does not believe (as he saith himself) that any man will deny, but that God is a Body: So that we need the less to wonder, that he so confi­dently affirms,Id. lib. adv. Hermog c. 35. Cùm ipsa substantia corpus sit cujus­que. That there is no Substance which is not Corporeal: or, that with Ju­stin Martyr, and Clemens Alexandrinus, he makes theId. l. de Idol. cap. 9. Angelos es­se illos desertores Dei, Amato­res soeminarum, &c. Angelical Nature obnoxious to the Carnal Love of Women; which occasioned those words in that Book of his, De Virginibus velandis, where he says, Id. de Virg. veland. cap. 7. De­bet & adumbrari facies tam pe­riculosa, quae usque ad coelum scandala jaculata est. That it is necessary that so dangerous a Face should be veiled, which had scandali­zed even Heaven it self. We need no, after this, think strange of his Doctrine, touch­ing theId. lib. de Anim. passim: nomi­natim c. 22. Definimus Animum dici statu naturam immortalem, Corporalem, effigiatam, &c. & unà redundantem, &c. Nature of Mans Soul, which he will have to be Corporeal, and endued with Form and Figure, and to be propagated and derived from the Substance of the Father, to the Body of the Son, and sowed and engendred with the Body, increasing and extending it self together with it; and many other the like Dreams: in the maintaining whereof, he useth so much Subtilty, strength of Rea­son, and Eloquence, as that you will hardly meet with, throughout the whole Stock of Antiquity, a more Excel­lent and more Elegant Piece, than that Book of his De Anima. He also, with Irenaeus, shuts up the Souls of Men, after they are departed this Life, into a certain Sub­terraneous place, where they are to remain till the Day of Judgment; the Heavens not being to be opened to any of the Faithful, till the end of the World: onely he allows the Martyrs their entrance into Paradise, which he fancies to be some place beneath the Heavens; and here [Page 71] he will have them continue till the Last Day.Id. lib. de An. c. 55, 56, 57, 58. Quò (in inferis) spe [...] se­questratur, tota Paradis [...] [...] sangu [...]s tuus est, cap. 55. Nulli patet coelum, terrâ ad [...]uc salvâ, ne dixerim clausâ. It is thy Blood (saith he) which is the onely Key of Paradise. And this place, whither the Souls of the Dead go, is to continue close shut up till the end of the World, according to him; who besides is of a quite contrary Opinion from that of Justin Mar­tyr, spoken of before, and maintains, That all Appa­ritions of Dead Men are onely meer Illusions, and De­ceits of the Devil; and that this Inclosure of the Souls of Men shall continue till such time as the City of the Id lib. 3. adv. Marc. c. 24 Nam & confitemur in terra nobis regnum repromissum post re­surrectionem [...]n mille annos in civitate divini operis, Hierusa­lem coelo delata, &c. inter quàm aetatem (1000 annorum) con­cluditur Sanctorum resurrectio, pro meritis maturiùs, vel tar­diùs resurgentium. New Jerusalem, which is to be all of Pre­cious Stones, shall descend Miraculously from Heaven upon the Earth, and shall there continue a Thousand years, the Saints so long living in it in very great Glory: and, that during this space, the Resurrection of the Faithful is to be ac­complished by degrees; some of them ri­sing up sooner, and some later, according to the difference of their Merits. And hence are we to interpret that which he says in another place, to wit, That Id. l de An▪ c. 58. Modicum quo­que delictum morâ resurrecti­onis illic luendum. small Sins shall be punished in Men, by the Late­ness of their Resurrection: and, That Id. lib. 3. adv. Marc. c. 29. Post cujus mille annos, &c. tunc & mundi destructione, & judicii conflagratione commis [...]â, de­mutari in atomo in Angelicam Substantiam; Scilicet per illud Incorruptionis superindumen­tum transferemur in coeleste Regnum, &c. when the Thousand years are expired, and the Destruction of the World, and the Con­flagration of the Day of Judgment is past, we shall all be changed in a moment into the Nature of Angels.

I pass by his Invectives against Second Marriages, and also his evil Opinion of all Marriage in General; these Fancies being a part of the Discipline of Montanus his Paraclete.

But as for his Opinions touching the Baptism of Hereticks, he hath many Fellows among the Fathers, who held the same; namely, That their [Page 72] Tertul. l. de Bapt. adv. Quint. c. 15. & de Pudi [...]. l. 19. Apod nos ut ethnico par, imò & super ethnicum Haercricus etiam per Baptisma veritatis utroque ho­mine purgatus admittitur. Baptism signified nothing: and there­fore they never received any Heretick into the Communion of the Catholick Church, but they first rebaptized him, Cleansing him (saith he) both in the one, and in the other Man; that is to say, both in Body and Soul, by the Baptism of the Truth, ac­counting an Heretick to be in the same, or rather in a worse condition than any Pagan. And as for the rest, he is so far from pressing Men to the Baptizing of their Children while they are young, which yet is the present Custom of these Times, that he allows, and indeed perswades the Contrary, not onely in Chil­dren, but even in Persons of Riper years; counsel­ling them to defer it, every Man according to his Id. l. de Baptism. c. 18. Itaque pro cujusque personae conditi­one, ac dispositione, etiam aeta­te cunctatio baptismi utilior est, &c. Condition, Disposition, and Age. And as his Opinion, touching this Particular, is not much different from that of the Anabaptists of our Time; so doth he not much dissent from them neither in some other. For, he will not allow, no more than they do, that a Christian should take upon him, or execute any Office of Judi­cature, orId. lib. de Idol [...] c 17. & 19. &c. & lib 1. de Cor. Mil. c. 11. Jam verò quae sunt potestatis. neque judicet de capite alicujus, vel pudore, (feras enim de pecu­nia,) neque damner, neque prae­damnet, neminem vinciar, ne­minem recludat, aut torqueat, &c. omnem posteà militem Dom [...]nus in Petro exarmando discinxit. That he should condemn, or bind, or imprison, or examine any Man; or that he should make War upon any, or serve in War under any other; saying ex­presly, That our Saviour Christ, by disarm­ing S. Peter, hath from henceforth taken off every Soldiers Belt: Which is as much as to say, That the Discipline of Christ alloweth not of the Profession of Soldiery. So that I cannot but extremely wonder at the Confidence (shall I say, or rather the Inadvertency) of Pamel. in Scap. Tertul. c 2. num 15. & in l ad Scap c. 2. num. 7. some, who will needs perswade us, from a certain Pas­sage of this Author, which themselves have very much mistaken, that this so Innocent and Peaceable Father maintained, That Hereticks are to be punished, and to be [Page 73] suppressed, by inflicting upon them temporal punishments: which rigorous proceeding was as far from his thoughts, as Heaven is from Earth.

I shall add here, before I go any further, thatTertul. lib. adv. Jud. c. 8. Christus annos habens quasi triginta cùm pateretur, &c. he held, that our Saviour Christ suffe­red death in the Thirtieth year of his Age, which is manifestly contrary to the Gospel: And he thought also that theId. de Bapt. adver. Quint. cap. 10. Heavenly Grace, and Prophecy ended in St. John Bap­tist, the Fulness of the Spirit being from henceforth transferred unto our Saviour Christ. St. Cyprian, who was Tertullians very great Admirer, calling him absolutely, The Master, andHieron. lib. de Script. Ec­cles. in Tertul. Vidi ego quondam Paulum, &c. qui se B. Cypriani, &c. Nota­rium, &c. Romae vidisse di­ceret, referri (que) sibi solitum, nunquam Cyprianum absque Tertulliani lectione unum diem praeteriisse, ac sibi cre­brò dicere, Da Magistrum, Tertullianum videlicet sig­nificans. who never let any day pass over his head, without reading something of him, hath confidently also maintained some of the aforesaid Opinions; as namely, among others, that of the Nullity of Ba­ptism by Hereticks,Cypr. Epist. 47. ad Steph. & alibi passim. which he desendeth every where very stiffely; having also the most Eminent Men of his time consenting with him in this Point; as namely,Firmil. Epist. 75. inter Ep. Cypr. Fir­milianus, Metropolitan of Cappadocia, Hieron. lib. de Script. Ec­cles. Dio­nysius, Bishop of Alexandria, together with the Councils of Africk, Cappadocia, Pam­philia, and Bithynia, notwithstanding all the Anger, and the Excommunication also of Stephen, Bishop of Rome, Cypr. epist. 74. init. ubi re­feruntur haec Stephani verba. Si quis ergo à quacunque haeresi venerit ad nos, ni­hil innovetur, nisi quod traditum est, ut manus illi imponatur ad poenitentiam, &c. who for his part held a particular Opinion of his own, allowing of the Baptism of all sorts of Hereticks, without rebaptizing any of them; as it appeareth by the Beginning of the LXXIV Epistle of St. Cyprian; whereas the Church, about some LXV years after, at theCon. Nic. Can. 19. [...]. Council of Nice, declared Null the Baptism of the Samosatenians, by permit­ting, as it seems, that all other Hereticks [Page 74] whatsoever should be received into the Church, without being rebaptized. But the Fathers of the * II. General Council went yet further, rebaptizing all those, no other­wise than they would have done Pagans, who came in from the Communion either of the Eunomians, Montanists, Phrygians, or Sabellians; or indeed any other Hereticks whatsoever, save only the Arrians, Macedonians, Sabba­tians, Novatians, Quartodecimani, and Apollinarians; all which they received without Rebaptization, as you may see in the Greek Copies of the said Council, and the VII. Canon, which Canon you also have in the Greek Code of the Church Universal, Num. CLXX. And thus you see, that Stephen and Cyprian maintained each of them their own particular Opinion in this point; the one of them admitting, and the other utterly rejecting the Ba­ptism of all manner of Hereticks: whereas the two afore­named General Councils, neither admitted, nor reject­ed, save only the Baptism of some certain Hereticks on­ly. But St. Cyprian however seems to have dealt herein much more fairly than his Adversary; seeing thatCypr. Praefat. Conc. Carth. Neminem judicantes, aut à jure Communionis aliquem, si diversum senserit, amo­ventés. He patiently endured, and was not offended with any of those, who were of the contrary Opinion; as it appears clearly by the Synod of Carthage, and as it is also proved byHier. contr. Lucifer. T. 2. p. 197. &c. St. Hierome: whereas Stephen, according to his own hot, cholerick Temper,Firmil. epist. ad Cypr. quae est 75. inter epist. Cypr. pag. 204. declared pub­lickly against Firmilianus his Opinion, and Cypr. epist. 74. pag. 194. & epist. 75. quae est Firmil. Excommunicated all those, that dissented from himself.

The same blessedCyp. ep. 59. p. 137. Ut intra octavum diem eum qui natus est baptizandum, & sacrifi­candum non putares. Martyr of our Savi­our Jesus Christ, was carried away with that Errour also of his time, touching the Ne­cessity of administring the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to all persons when they were Baptized, and even to Infants too, as appears by his LIX Epistle, where, by the suffrages of LXV other Bishops, he admitteth Infants to Baptism, and the [Page 75] Lords Supper, so soon as ever they are born; against the Opinion of one Fidus, who would not admit of them till the Eighth Day after they were born: and also by that story of his, that he tells us of a certain young Girl, who being not as yet of years to speak, by a remarkable Miracle, put back the Liquor which had been consecrated for the Blood of our Saviour, and was presented unto her by a Deacon to drink in the Church; as judging her self unworthy to receive it, by reason that not long before, she had been carried to the celebration of some certain Pagan Sacrifices. Now the Original of this Errour of theirs was, the Belief they had, that the Eucharist was as necessary to Salvation, as Baptism; as may easily be collected out of the words of the said Author, delivered Lib. 3. Test. ad Quirin. Where having first laid down this for a Ground; to wit,Id. l. 3. Test. ad Quir. Ad regnum Dei nisi baptizatus, & tenatus quis fuerit, perve­nire non posse: in Evang. secundum Joan. Nisi quis natus fuerit, &c. item illic: nisi ederitis car­nem Filii hominis, & biberi­tis sanguinem ejus, non ha­bebitis vitam in vobis. That no man can come into the Kingdom of God, unless he be baptized and regenerated; he produceth, for a proof hereof, first that Passage out of St. John, where it is said, that Except a man be born of Water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God, &c. and then this other: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his Blood, ye have no life in you: urging the first of these places to prove the necessity of Baptism; and the other for that of the Eucharist, accounting each of them necessary to Regene­ration. And hence it is, that we find him speaking so often of being born again, by virtue of the one, and of the other Sacrament: in which words he doth not mean Baptism and Confirmation (as some will needs perswade us) but rather Baptism, and the Lords Supper; as is evident also by the following words, namely, that Id. ibid. c. 26. Parum esse baptizari & Eucharistiam accipere, nisi quis factis & opere proficiat, al. perficiat. It is to very little purpose to be baptized, and to partake of the Holy Eucharist, unless a man proceed in good Works, &c. I shall here pass by some words, which he hath [Page 76] sometimes let fall,Id. epist; 63. Quando nec oblatio sanctificare illic pos­sit, ubi Spiritus Sanctus non sit, nec cuiquam Dominus per ejus orationes & preces prosit, qui Dominum ipse violavit. touching the Point of the Baptism of Hereticks, by which he seems to make the Efficacy of the Sacra­ment, to depend upon the Integrity and Sanctity of the person who administreth it.

We should now come in the next place to speak of Origen; but since that there have been some since his time, who have very much cryed down both him and his Doctrine; and others again on the other side, who have as stifly defended him, we shall forbear to say any thing of him, that we may not ingage our selves in so long and tedious a Quarrel: we shall only observe, from this ex­ample of his, that neither the Antiquity, nor yet the Learning or holy Life of any man, necessarily withhold­eth him from falling into very strange and gross Errours. For, Origen was one of the most Ancient among the Fa­thers, having lived about the middle of the Third Cen­tury; and having been so eminent for those two other excellencies, of Innocence and Learning, as that his fiercest Adversaries cannot deny, but that he had them both in a very high degree.

Neither ought theEpiphan. 64. Haer. quae est Orig. Story of his Fall, related by Epi­phanius, to take off any thing from the Reputation of his Vertue: for though perhaps it might have been true, yet hath it frequently hapned to others of the Faithful to fall into great Temptations also; as appears evi­dently enough, by the Example of Saint Peter him­self.

But, that I may not dissemble, I profess my self much inclined to be of CardinalBaron. An­nal. ad An. 253. num. 120, 121, 122. Baronius his Opinion; who thinks this story to be an arrant Fable, maliciously de­vised by those who envied the Fame of this excellent, ad­mirable Wit; and that it was soisted into Epiphanius by some such hand; or else (as I rather believe,) was ta­ken upon trust by himself, and thrust into that Book of his, without any further Examination, as many other things [Page 77] have been; in the relating whereof this Father hath shew­ed himself a little over-credulous; as is also observed by hisPetav. Not. ad Haer. 55. p. 217. last Interpreter.

And yet Origen, notwithstanding all those excellent Gifts of his, hath not spared to broach very many Opini­ons, which by reason of the absurdness of them, have been utterly rejected (and certainly very deservedly too) by the Church in all the Ages succeeding: which is an evident Argument, that how ancient, learned, and holy soever an Author may have been, we ought not however presently to believe him, and to urge him as infallible: since there is no reason in the world to be given, why the same thing which hath befallen Origen, in so many Points, may not in some or other have also befallen any other Author, whosoever he be. But this I am very well assu­red of, that those very men, who have written against Origen, have not been so throughly happy in their under­taking; but by opposing to the utmost some certain Errour of his, have sometimes fallen into as great a one of their own.Method. apud Epiphan. in Panar. haer. 54. quae est Orig. [...]. Id. ibid. [...]. One of them for example, Methodius by name, as he is cited by Epipha­nius, maintains, that after the Resurrection, and Final Judgment, we shall dwell for ever upon the Earth, leading there a holy, blessed, and everlasting life, exercising our selves in all good things, like as the Angels do in Heaven.

He also as well as the rest, maketh the Angels obnoxious to the Love of Women: and he will have Gods Providence to extend it self only to Ʋniversal Causes, affirming, thatId. ibid. [...]. He hath committed the Care of Par­licular things to the Angels: which Opinions of his, if they be throughly examined, will be found to be not much less dangerous, and contrary to the Scriptures, than some of those very Opi­nions, which he reproves in Origen. I shall also, for the [Page 78] same reason, pass by Eusebius, Didymus, Apollinaris, and the like; who though they are very Ancient Authors, yet there is ordinarily little account made of them, by reason of the hard Opinion, that the greatest part of the Church had of them.

As for the two first of these, (although perhaps their Faith may not have been much freer from stains than the rest,) they have yet been more favourably dealt withal by Posterity, than their brethren; whether it were, be­cause that the time they lived in being so far distant from the Ages of our Aristarchi, and Censors of other men, they have so much the less moved their envy and passion: or else because that they were willing to spare them, by reason of the Great Opinion that the Ordinary sort in the Church had of them. Lactantius Firmianus, whose Re­pute was scarcely questioned at all among the Ancients, had notwithstanding his Errours too. For it is a long time since, thatHieron. epist. 65. ad Pani. & Octav. Lanctantius in li­bris suis, ut maximè in Epi­stolis ad Demetrianum, Spi­ritus Sancti omnin [...] negat substantiam, & errore Ju­daico dicit, eum vel ad Pa­trem referri, vel ad Filium, & sanctificationem utrius (que) personae sub ejus nomine demonstrari. St. Hierome observed one very strange one in him, in an Epistle that he wrote to Demetrianus; where he denies, that The Holy Ghost is a Distinct Person in the Godhead, subsisting together with the Father and the Son. His other Errours are not so dangerous, and are indeed common to him, with some other of the Fathers: as, where he says,Lact. Firm. lib. 2. divin. Instit. cap. 15. that the Angels defiled themselves with Women; and that from this their companying with them were born Demons, or Devils. As likewise where he teacheth, Id. lib. 7. cap. 21. extr. Omnes (Animae) in una communique custodia deti­nentur, donec tempus adve­niat, quo maximus judex meritorum faciat examen That the Souls of Men, after this life, are all shut up together in one Common Prison, where they are to continue till the Day of Judgment: and, That our Saviour Christ shall come again upon the Earth, before the Last and Final Resurrection; and that Id. lib. 7. c. 24. Tum qui erunt in corporibus vivi, non morientur, sed per eosdem mille annos infinitam multi­tudinem generabunt, &c. qui autem ab inferis suscitabuntur, ii praeibunt viventibus velut Judices. those who shall then be found alive, shall not dye at [Page 79] all, but shall be preserved alive, and shall beget an infinite Number of Children, during the space of a Thousand years; living all of them peaceably together, in a most happy City, which shall abound with all good things, under the Reign of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of some of the Saints, who shall be raised from the Dead.

But what will you say, if St. Hilary also himself who flourished about the middle of the Fourth Century, hath his Tares also; which are so much the more observable in him, by how much the greater his estimation was among the Ancients. The principal and most dangerous of all is, that strange Opinion which he held, touching the Na­ture of Christ's Body, which he maintained had no sense, or feeling of those stripes and torments which he suffered,Hilar. de Trin l. 10. Passus quidem Dominus Jesus Chri­stus dum caeditur, dum sus­penditur, dum crucifigitur, dum moritur; sed in corpus irruens Passio, nec non fuit Passio, nec tamen naturam Passionis exercuit, dum & poenali ministerio illa desae­vit, & virtus corporis sine sensu poenae vim poenae in se­desaevientis excepit; ha­buit sanè illud Domini cor­pus doloris nostri naturam, si corpus nostrum id naturae habet, ut calcet undas, & super fluctus eat, & non de­primatur ingressu, neque aquae insistentis vestigiis ce­dant: ponatur etiam solida, nec clausae domus obstacu­lis arceatur. Et paulo post: Et homo ille de Deo est, habens ad pati­endum quidem corpus, ut passus est; sed naturam non habens ad dolendum. Na­turae enim propriae, ac suae corpus illud est, quod in coelestem gloriam, transfor­matur in morte. But that he really suffe­red indeed at that time, when he was beaten, and when he was put upon the Cross, and fastned unto it, and died upon it: but, that this Passion falling wholly upon his Body, notwithstanding that it was a real Passion; yet did it not shew upon him the Nature of a Passion; and that while the furious strokes were dealt upon him, the strength and vigour of his Body received the force of the strokes upon it, yet without any sense of the pain. I shall confess (saith he) that the Body of our Saviour had a Nature suscepti­ble of our griefs, if the Nature of our Body be such, as that it is able to tread upon the water, and to walk upon the stoods without sinking, or without the Waters yielding to our Footsteps, when we stand thereon: if it can penetrate solid bodies, or can pass with ease through doors that are shut. And within two or three lines after: Such is the Man sent from God, having a Body capable of Suffering, (for he [Page 80] really suffered; Id. ibid. In quo quamvis aut ictus inciderit, aut vulnus descenderit, aut nodi con­currerint, aut suspensio ele­varit, afferunt quidem haec impetum passionis, non [...]a­men dolorem passionis infe­runt: aut telum aliquod, aut aquam perforans, aut ignem compungens, aut aëra vul­nerans, omnes quidem has passiones naturae suae infert, ut persoret, ut compungat, ut vulneret, sed naturam suam in haec passio illata non retinet, dum in natura non est vel aquam forari, vel pungi ignem, vel aëra vul­nerari, quamvis natura teli sit vulnerare, compungere, & forare.) but not having a Nature capable of pain. When the blows (said he a little before) fell upon him, or a stripe pierced his skin, it brought indeed with it the violence and impetuosity of Passion, but yet it wrought no pain in him: in like manner as when a sword is thrust through and through the water, or through and through the fire; it goes through indeed, and pierceth the water, or the fire, but it woundeth it not; these things having not a Nature that may be wounded or hurt, notwithstanding that the Nature of the sword be to work the said effect. And in conclusion, that you may not think this to be a sudden fancy, that he fell upon by chance, before he was aware; you must know that he repeats the same thing in di­vers several places: as namely, in his Com­ment upon the Psal. 53.Hilar. in Ps. 53. Suscepta voluntariè est (passio) offi­cio quidem ipsa satisfactura poenali, non tamen poenae sensu laesura patientem, &c. The Passion of Christ (saith he) was undergone by him volun­tarily, to make an acknowledgment, that pains were due; not that he that suffered, was at all touched by them. Id. in Ps. 138. Putatur dolere, quia patitur; caret verò doloribus ipse, quia Deus est. And again, in ano­ther place; Christ is thought to have felt pain, because he suffered; but he was really free from all pain, because he is God. Do but think now, whereunto all this tendeth, and what will become of our Salvation, if the Passion of our Saviour Christ, which is the only Foundation whereon it is built, were but a meer imaginary Passion, without any sense of pain at all. And, as one absurdity being granted, there will necessarily others always follow upon it; so hath this strange particular Fancy of his made him to corrupt and spoil the whole story of our Saviours Passion.

For, he supposeth that, in that dismal night, wherein Christ was delivered up for our sins, all his anguish, his [Page 81] Distress, and Drops of Bloody Sweats, proceeded not from the consideration of the Torments, and the Death which He was now going to suffer, (and indeed, accord­ing to his Account, since he will not allow him to have felt any Pain, he was neither bound to be, nor indeed could be in any Agony,) but rather from the fear that he was in,Id. in Matth Can. 31. Scribit exterrendos, sugandos, nega­turos; sed quia spiritus bla­sphemiae nec hic, nec in aeter­num temittitur, metuit ne se Deum abnegent, quem caesum, & consputum, & crucifixum es­sent contemplaturi; quae ratio servata est in Petro: qni cum negaturus esset, ita negavit, Non novi hominem: quia di­ctum aliquod in filium hominis remittitur. lest his Disciples, being scandalized at these Sad sights, might haply have sin­ned against the Holy Ghost, by denying his Godhead: And that from hence it was, that S Peter, in his Denial of his Master, used these words, Non novi homi­nem, I know him not as Man; because that whatsoever is spoken against the Son of Man, may be forgiven.Id. ibid. Transeat Calix à me, id est, quomodo à me bibitur, ita ab iis bibatur, sine spei diffi­dentia, sine sensu doloris, sine metu mortis, &c. And so like­wise in these words of our Saviour, O my Father, if it be Possible, let this Cup pass from me: His Opinion is, that our Saviour did not here desire that He himself might be delivered from his Passion, but rather, that after He had suffered, His Disciples might also suffer in like manner: that this Cup might not rest at Him, but that it might pass on to His Disciples also; that is to say, that it might be drunk by Them in the same manner, as He himself was now going to taste of it; to wit, without any touch of De­spair or Distrust, and without any sense of Pain, or fear of Death. What could have been written more Coldly, or more disagreeing with the Truth and Simplicity of the Gospel? But yet I cannot sufficiently wonder at him, that having thus ratified the Flesh of our Saviour Christ into a Spirit, he should in another place condense Our Spirits into Bodies. Ser. in Matth. Can. 5. Nihil est quod non in substantia sua, & creatione corporeum sit, &c. Nam & animarum species sive obtinenrium corpora, sive cor­poribus exulantium, corpoream tamen naturae suae substantiam sortiuntur. There is nothing (saith he) which is not Corporeal in its Substance and Creati­on, &c. For, the Species of our Souls them­selves, whether they be united to the Body, [Page 82] or are separated from them, are still a Nature whose Substance is Corporeal. He believeth also, thatId. in Ps. 118. tit. Gimel. Est [...]rgo, quantum licet existima­re, perfectae illius emundatio puritatis, etiam post Baptismi aquas reposita, &c. Baptism doth not cleanse us from all our Sins; and therefore he holds, That all Men must at the last Day pass through the Fire.Id. ibid. In quo (die Judicii) nobis est ille indefessus ignis obeundus, in quo subeunda sunt gravia illa Expiandae à peccatis Animae supplicia. Beatae Mariae animam gladius petransibit, ut revelentur multorum cordium cogitationes. Si in judicii seve­ritatem capax illa Dei Virgo ventura est, desiderare quis au­debit à Deo judicari? We are Then (saith he) to endure an, Indefatiga­ble Fire: Then is the time that we are to undergo those grievous Torments, for the Expiation of our Sins, and Purging our Souls. A Sword shall pierce through the Soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the end that the Thoughts of many Hearts may be revealed. Seeing therefore, that That Vir­gin, who was capable of receiving God, shall taste of so-severe a Judgment, where is he that dares desire to be judged of God? I know not whether he might heretofore have perswaded any store of People to embrace this Doctrine of his, or not: but sure I am, that were he alive at this day, he would take but a vain piece of Labour in hand, if he should go about to win the Franciscan Friers over to this Belief.

S. Ambrose, one of the most Firm Pillars of the Church in his Time, is not yet free from the like Failings, no more than the rest.

For, first of all, he agrees with S. Hila­ry in this last Point, and maintains, That All in General shall be proved by Fire at the Last Day; and, that the Just shall pass through it, but that the Ʋnbelievers shall continue in it. Ambr. in Ps. 118. Ser. 5. Si qui­dem post consummationem sae­culi missis Angelis qui segre­gent bonos & malos, hoc futu­rum est Baptisma, quando per caminum ignis iniquitas exure­tur, ut in Regno Dei sulgeant Justi, sicut sol, in Regno Patris sui. Et si aliquis, ut Petrus sit, ut Johannes, baptizatur hoc igne. Veniet ergo Baptista Mi­gnut, (sic enim eum nomino) quo modo Gabriel, &c. After the end of the World (saith he) the Angels being sent forth to sever the Good from the Bad, shall that Baptism be performed; when all Ini­quity shall be consumed in a Furnace of Fire, that so the Just may shine like the Sun in the Kingdom of God their Father. And al­though [Page 83] though a Man be such a one as Peter, or as John, yet never­theless shall he be Baptized with this Fire. For the Great Baptizer shall come, (for so I call Him, as the Angel Ga­briel did, saying, He shall be Great) and shall see a mul­titude of People, standing before the Gate of Paradise, and shall brandish the fiery Sword, and shall say unto those who are on his Right Hand, who are not guilty of any grievous Sins, Enter ye in, &c.

He says the same in another place also, where he ex­empteth none from this Fiery Trial, save onely our Sa­viour Christ alone. Id. in Pseund Ser 20. Omnes oportet per ignem probari qui­cunque ad Paradisum redire desiderant. Non enim otiosè scriptum est, quòd ejectis Adam & Eva, posuit Deus in exitu Pa­radisi gladium igneum versa­tilem. Omnes oportet transi­re per flammas, sive Joannes Evangelista sit, quem ita dile­xit Dominus ut de eo diceret ad Petrum, &c. Sive ille sit Petrus qui Claves accepit Re­gni coelorum, qui supra mare ambulavit, oportet dicat Tran­sivimus per ignem, &c. Sed Joanni citò versabitur igneus gladius, quia non invenitur in eo iniquitas, quem dilexit aequitas, &c. Sed ille (Petrus) examinabitur ut argentum; Ego examinabor ut plumbum, donec plumbum tabescat ar­debo, si nihil argenti in me inventum fuerit, (heu me!) in ultima inferni detrudar. It is Necessary (saith he) that All that desire to return into Para­dise, should be proved by this Fire. For it is not without some Mystery that it is writ­ten, That God having driven Adam and Eve out of Paradise, He is said to place at the Entrance of Paradise a Flaming Sword, which turned every way. All must pass through the Flames, whether it be John the Evangelist, whom our Saviour loved so much, that He said concerning him, to Peter, &c. Or whether it be Pe­ter himself, who had the Keys of Heaven committed unto him, and who walked upon the Sea; He must be able to say, We have passed through the Fire, &c. But as for S. John, this Brandishing of the Flaming Sword will soon be dispatched for him, because there is no Iniquity found in him, who was so beloved of the Truth, &c. But the other (that is, Peter) shall be tried as Silver is; and I shall be tried like Lead, I shall burn till all the Lead is quite melted down: and if there be no Silver at all found in me, (wretched Man that I am!) I shall be cost into the lowest Pit of Hell.

As for the Resurrection of the Dead, his Opinion is, [Page 84] ThatId. l. de Fid. Resurrectionis. Li­cet in momento resuscitentur omnes, omnes tamen merito­tum ordine suscitantur. All shall not be raised at once, but by degrees, one after another, by a Long, yet Certain Order; those who were Belie­vers rising first, according to the degrees of their Merits: Whereto we are to refer that which he hath elsewhere delivered, saying, ThatId. in Ps. 1. Beati qui habent partem in prima resurrectione: isti enim sine judicio veniunt ad gratiam. Qui autem non veniunt ad primam resurrecti­onem, sed ad secundam reser­vantur, isti urentur donec im­pleant tempora inter primam & secundam resurrectionem: aut si non impleverint, diuitiùs in supplicio permanebunt. Those who are raised up in the First Resurrection, shall come to Grace, without Judgment; but as for the rest, who are reserved for the Second Resurrection they shall burn with Fire, till they have fulfilled the full space of time betwixt the First and the Second Resurrection: or, if they do not finish this time, they shall continue very long in their Torments. I shall leave to the Reader to take the pains in examining, whether or no that Passage of his can be reconciled to any good sense, where he says, That be­fore the Publication of the Law of Moses, Adultery was not an unlawful thing.Ambros l. 1. de Abr. Patr. c. 4. Sed consideremus primum, quia Abraham ante Legem Moysis & ante Evangelium fuit, non­dum interdictum adulterium videbatur. Poena criminis & tempore Legis est, nec ante Legem ulla rei damnatio est, sed ex Lege. We are to take notice in the first place (saith he) that Abra­ham living before the giving of the Law by Moses, and before the Gospel, in all Proba­bility, Adultery was not as yet forbidden: the Crime is punished after the time of the Law made, which forbiddeth it; for things are not condemned before the Law, but by the Law: and whether those Discourses of his, which you meet with in his Books, De Instit. Virg. & ad Virg. & de Virg. and in other places, do not much disgrace, and cast Slurs upon the Honour of Marriage.

I shall also leave to the Consideration of the Judicious Reader, whether there be more of Solidity, or of Sub­tilty, in that Exposition which he gives us of the Pro­mise made by God to Noah after the Flood; telling him, That he had set his Bow in the Clouds, to be a Token of a Covenant betwixt him and the whole Earth: upon which words, S. Ambrose utterly and fiercely [Page 85] denies, that by this Bow is meant the Rain-bow; but will have it to be I know not what strange Allegorical Bow. Id. lib. de Noe, & Arca, c. 27. Absit ut hunc arcum Dei dica­mus; hic enim arcus, qui Iris dicitur, per diem videri solet, per noctem non apparet, &c. Est ergo virtus invisibilis Dei, &c. Far be it from us (saith he) that we should call This God's Bow; for This Bow, which is called Iris, (the Rain bow) is seen indeed in the Day time, but never appears at all in the Night. And therefore he understands by this Bow, the Invisible Power of God, by which He keepeth all things in one certain Measure, enlarging and abating it as he sees cause. Neither do I know whether that Opinion of his, which you have in his First Book De Spiritu Sancto, is any whit more justifiable, where he affirms, ThatId. lib. 1. de Spir. Sanct. cap. 3. Ba­ptism is avialable and Legitimate, although a Man should Baptize in the Name either of the Son, or of the Holy Ghost onely, without mentioning the other two Persons of the Trinity.

Epiphanius, as he was a Man of a very good, honest, and plain Nature, and (if I may have leave to speak my own Opinion) a little too Credulous, and withal very eager and fierce in maintaining whatsoever he thought was Right and True; so hath he the more easily been induced both to deliver and to receive things for Solid, which yet were not so; and to stand stifly in the defend­ing of them, after he had once embraced the same. It would take up both too much time and Paper, if I should go about to give you a List of all those things wherein he hath failed: if you please, you may have an Account of a good number of them in the Notes of the Jesuite Petavius, his Interpreter; who makes bold to correct him many times, and sometimes also very unci­villy too.

As, first of all, he accuseth him of Obscurity, and of Falshood also, in the Opinion he held touching the Year, and Day of our Saviour's Nativity; Petav. in Epi­phan. p. 127. 132. saying, that some of his Expressions, touching this Point, are more Obscure and Dark than the Riddles of Sphinx. And truly he [Page 86] hath reason enough to say so, of what he hath delivered touching the Year of our Saviours Nativity; but, as for the Day of that Year, whether it were the Sixth of Ja­nuary, asEpiphan. Haer. 51. quae est Alog. Epiphanius held, with the Church of Egypt, or else, whether it were the Twenty fifth of December, which is the General Opinion at this day; I think it ve­ry great rashness for any Man to affirm either the one or the other, neither of these Opinions having any better Ground the one than the other.

He likewise in plain terms gives him the Lie, Petav. ibid. ad Haer. 70. num. 10. upon that place where he says, That in the beginning of the Church the Apostles had ordained, That the Christians should celebrate the Passeover at the same time, and in the same manner that those of the Circumcision did: and that those who were then made Bishops at Jerusalem being of the Circumcision, it was necessary that all the World should follow them, and should likewise keep the Passeover as they did.

Neither do I see whereupon he could ground that Fan­cy of his, which he proposeth to us as a Certain Truth; namely, Epiphan. in Pan. cap. 1. Haer 39. [...], &c. That the Devil, before the coming of Christ, was in hopes of Grace and Par­don; and that, out of this Perswasion of his, he never all that while shewed himself Refractory toward God: but that having understood by the Manifestation of our Sa­viour, that there was left him no hopes of Salvation, he front thenceforth had grown exceedingly enraged, doing as much mischief as possibly he could against Christ and his Church.

S. Hierome, the Boldest and most Judicious Censurer of the Ancients, hath also left to Posterity something whereon they may exercise the same Critical Faculty that he hath so happily employed upon others. For, how should a Man be able to make good that which he hath affirmed so positively, touching God's Providence, where he says, That it takes care of All Men indeed in [Page 87] General, and also of each Particular Man; but not of other things, whether they be Inanimate, or Irrational.

Hier. Com. 1. in Abac. Caete­rùm absurdum est ad hoc Dei deducere Majestatem, ut sciat per singula momenta quot na­scantur culices, quotve morian­tur, quot cimicum, & pulicum, & muscarum sit in terra multi­tudo, quanti pisces in aqua na­tent, & qui de minoribus majo­rum praedae cedere debeant. Non simus tam fatui adulatores Dei, ut dum potentiam ejus ad ima detrahimus, in nos ipsos injuriosi simus, eandem ratio­nabilium quam irrationabilium providentiam esse dicentes. It is an absurd thing (saith he) so to abase the Majesty of God, as to make him take particular notice how many Gnats are bred, or die every hour; and how many Puneses, Fleas, and Flies there are through the whole Earth; and, how many Fishes swim in the Water; and, which among the smaller Fishes are to be a Prey to the great­er. Let us not be such foolish Flatterers of God, as by making His Power descend even to the Lowest things, to disparage our selves, while we say, that His Providence in like manner extendeth both to Rational and Ir­rational Creatures. I shall not examine here, whether this Opinion be justifiable, or not: but this I am sure of, that you will hardly be able to make it good, out of these Words of our Saviour Christ, Are not two Sparrows sold for a Farthing? and yet one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But yet supposing that this Opinion might be defended, it is however evident, that this Father hath lashed out a little too much, when he derides all those, as Fools, and absurd People, who chuse rather to adore the Knowledge of God, as Infinite, than to bound it, and make it Finite: and for my part, I should rather fear, that there would be much more Rashness in the one, than Foolishness in the other.

This same Man, who here limiteth the Knowledge and Providence of God, in another place extendeth to an Infiniteness the Presence of the Souls of Departed Saints; by no means enduring them to be confi­ned, and shut up in any certain place. And the Reason which he gives us of this his Opinion, is indeed very wonderful: For, Hier. contr. Vigil. Tom. 2. p. 161. Sequuntur Agnum quocunque vadit: si Agnus ubique, &c. & sic qui cum Agno sunt ubique esse credendi sunt. They always follow the Lamb (saith he) [Page 88] whithersoever He goeth; forasmuch therefore as the Lamb is present everywhere, we ought to believe that They also, who are with the Lamb, are present every where.

Where are those Logick-Schools, how loose and re­miss soever they be, that would not give a Scholar the Ferula, if he should but offer to argue thus, confound­ing the Divinity and Humanity of our Saviour toge­ther; and from that which is spoken in respect of the one, concluding that which is proper to the other? So in another place, for to bring all the several pieces of an Allegory together, and to make them meet in their proper Point,Id. Ep 164. ad Pamm. T. 3. p. 210. Nulli pe­riculosum, nulli videatur esse blasphe­mum, quod & in Apostolos invidiae vene­num diximus poruisse sub­repere, cùm etiam de An­gelis hoc di­ctum puta­mus, &c. he makes the Souls of the Blessed Saints, and of the Angels themselves, subject to Sin.

I shall pass by what he hath spoken so reproachfully, both against Marriage in General, and against Second Marriages in Particular; where he useth such unsavoury Expressions, as that though we should in the explain­ing of them, follow those very Rules which he him­self hath laid down to us, in an Epistle of his, written to Pammachius, upon this very subject; it seems not­withstanding an impossible thing to acquit him from holding the same Opinion touching Marriage, that Tertullian did, which was condemned by the Church, as being contrary to the Honour of Marriage, and the Authority of the Scripture. As for example, What Honey, or how much Sugar would be sufficient to sweeten that which he says,Id. ep. 10. ad Fur. T 1. p. 89 & 101. Ut non tam laudanda, si vidua perseveres, quàm exe­cranda, si id Christiana non ser­ves, quod per tanta saecula Gen­tiles foeminae custodierunt. Mox p. 90. Canis revertens ad vo­mitum, & sus lota ad voluta­brum luti. writing to a certain Widow, named Furia, where he tells her, That she was not so worthy to be Commended, if she continued a Widow, as she would be to be cursed, if she mar­ried again; seeing she was not able, being a Christian, to preserve that, which many Wo­men of her Family bad done, being but Pa­gans. Which Expressions of his he repeateth again in the following Epistle, where he disswadeth one Ageruchia [Page 89] from marrying again;Id. 1. Ep. 11. ad Ageruch. T. 1. p. 101. Haec brevi Sermo­ne perstrinxi, ut ostendam adolescentulam meam non praestare monogamiam ge­neri suo, sed reddere; nec tam laudandam esse si tribit, quàm omnibus execrandam si negare tentaverit. and for this purpose makes use of very unbeseeming Compari­sons; applying to such Women as marry again, that Proverb which St. Peter made use of in another sense; The Dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the Sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire. Is not this all one, as if he in plam terms ranked second Marriages among unclean and polluted things? Not unlike to this is that which he saith in another place, in these words.Id lib. 1. adv. Jovin. p. 4 Non damno digamos, imò nec trigamos, & si dici po­test octogamos: Plus aliquid inferam, etiam scortantem recipio poenitentem. I do not at all condemn those, who marry the se­cond, third, or (if any such thing may be) the eighth time: nay, more than so, I receive also even a Penitent Whore: placing those Women that marry the second time, in the same rank with those that keep in the stews. And he is so full of such expressions as these, as that the whole Canary Islands themselves would hardly be suffici­ent to sweeten them.

Certainly if he had not believed, that there was some Uncleanness in Marriage, he would never have been so unwilling,Id. lib. 1. adv. Jovin. p. 51. Quod si objeceris, antequam peccarent, sexum viri & foe­minae suisse divisum, & abs (que) peccato eos potuisse con­jungi, quid futurum suerit incertum est, &c. as he was, to speak out, and confess in plain terms, that Adam should ne­vertheless have had carnal knowledge of Eve his Wife, though they had both of them contiued in their state of Innocence: which thing is evident enough to any one that shall but consider the second Chapter of Genesis, from vers. 18. to the end of the Chapter.

Nevertheless this Father durst not positively affirm any such thing, fearing lest he might so impose some unclean thing upon the state of Innocence, in case he should have allowed them the Use of Marriage. Neither is his Opi­nion more sound, touching the Eating of Flesh, which being unknown to the World before the Flood, was af­terwards permitted unto Mankind; but (as he believes) in the very same manner, as Divorce was heretofore per­mitted [Page 90] to the Jews, only for the hardness of their heart.

Whence it followeth, (as he also says in express Terms) that it also was abolished by our Saviour Christ, in like manner as Divorce and Circumcision were. Hieron. lib. 1. adv. Jovin. Quod autem nobis objicit in secunda Dei benedictio­ne comedendarum carni­um licentiam datam, quae in prima concessa non sue­rat; sciat, quomodo repu­dium juxta eloquium salva­toris ab intitio non dabatur, sed propter duritiem cordis nostri per Moysem humano generi concessum est, sic & esum carnium usque ad di­luvium ignotum suisse; post diluvium verò quasi in ere­mo murmuranti populo co­turnices, ita dentibus nostris nervos, & virulentias carnis ingestas. And where­as it is objected against us by Jovinian, (saith he) that God in the Second Benediction per­mitted the Eating of Flesh, which he did not in the First: he is to take notice, that in like manner as the liberty to put away a mans wife, according to the words of our Saviour, was not granted from the beginning, but was afterwards permitted to mankind, for the hardness of their heart: in like manner was the Eating of Flesh unknown, until the Flood; but after the Flood, the Sinews and Virulency of Flesh were thrust into our Mouths, as the Quails were given to the People of Israel mur­muring in the Wilderness. Certainly Di­vorce is a thing which is evil in it self, and is contrary to the Creation of the Man and of the Woman, and to Marriage also, which was instituted by God in Paradise: as is divinely proved by our Saviour, disputing with the Jews touching this Point.

If therefore the Eating of Flesh be like it, this also is evil and unlawful in it self. Marcion, and the Mani­chees could hardly have said more than this.

In another place he seems to be of Opini­on, Hieron. Com. in Matth. T. 6. p. 15. Hoc quasi parvulis Judaeis fuerat lege conces­sum, ut quo modo victimas immolabant Deo, ne eas Idolis immolarent, sic & ju [...]are permitterentur in Deum; non quòd rectè hoc sacerent, sed quòd melius esset hoc Deo id exhibere, quàm Daemonibus. Evan­gelica autem veritas non recipit juramentum, &c. that our Saviour hath utterly forbidden the use of an Oath to Christians: which piece of Doctrine is evidently contrary both to the Scriptures, and to Reason.

It will be a hard matter also to clear him from the suspicion of that Errour, some Tra­ces whereof are apparently to be seen in St. Cyprian, touching the Efficacy of the Sacra­ments; [Page 91] as we have observed before. For, do but hear what he says. Id. Com. in Soph. Tom. 5. p. 489. Sacerdotes quoque qui Eucharistiae serviunt, & sanguinem Domini populis ejus dividunt, impie agunt in legem Christi, putantes Eucharistiam imprecantis facere verba, non vitam; & necessariam esse tantùm so­lennem Orationem, & non Sacerdotum merita. The Priests al­so, (saith he) who serve at the Eucharist, and distribute the Blood of our Saviour to his Peo­ple, commit a great impiety against the Law of Christ, in thinking that the Eucharist is made by the Words, and not by the Life of the Person that Consecrates it; and that the Solemn Pray­ers only of the Priests are necessary, and not their Merits also.

Touching the state of the Blessed after the Resurrection, he says neither but very faintly, that they shall live without eating.Idem Epist. 61. ad Pam­mach. Tom. 2 pag. 252. Er­gò, inquies, & nos post Re­surrectionem comesuri su­mus? Nescio; non enim scriptum est: & tamen si quaeritur, non puto come­suros. What then will you say, (these be his own words,) shall we then eat after the Resurrection? I know not that, I confess; for we find no such thing written: Yet if I were to speak my Opi­nion, I do not think we shall eat.

And to give our Judgment in general of this Author, I do not know whether or no we may allow for good, and perfectly conformable to the Discipline of our Sa­viour-Christ, the course which he ordinarily observes in his Disputations, wresting the words of his Adversa­ries, quite besides the Authors intention; and framing to himself such a sense, as is not at all to be found in them; and then fiercely encountring this Giant of his own ma­king, mixing withal strange abusive language, and biting Girds, and the like tart expressions borrowed from pro­fane Authors; in which kind of Learning he was indeed very excellent. St. Augustine in the Contestation that he had with him, said, that theAug. Ep. ad Hier. quae est 87. inter Ep. Hier. Tom. 2. pag. 518. Holy Ceremonies of the Jews, though they were abolished by Jesus Christ, might yet notwithstanding in the beginning of Christia­nity be observed by those, who had been brought up in them from their Infancy, even after they had believed in Jesus Christ, provided only, that they did not put their trust in them: because that that Salvation, which was [Page 92] signified by these Holy Ceremonies, was imparted unto us by Jesus Christ: which Doctrine of his is both godly and consonant also to what is urged by St. Paul, in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, and elsewhere, touching Christian Liberty, by which we both may, and ought to use, or abstain from such things, as are in themselves in­different, according as shall be requisite for the Edification of our Neighbour. NowHier. ep 89 ad Aug. Tom. 2. pag. 525. Hoc si placer, imò quia placet, ut quicunque credunt ex Judaeis debito­res sint legis faciendae; tu, ut Episcopus in toto orbe notissimus, debes hanc pro­mulgare sententiam, & in assensum tuum omnes co­episcopos trahere. St. Hierome here will needs make him believe, that his mean­ing is, that all those who believed among the Jews, were subject to the Law, and that the Gentiles were the only People, whom the Faith in Christ had exempted from this Yoak. And then presently doth he hereup­on take occasion to pass as tart, and as biting a Jear upon him, as he could; saying, that since it was so, that all the Believers among the Jews were bound to observe the Law, St. Augustine himself, who was the most Eminent Bishop in the whole World, should do well to publish this his Opinion, and to en­deavour to bring over all his fellow Bishops to be of his mind. But he had then to deal with an able Adver­sary, and one that knew well enough how to make good his words, and to clear them from that Interpreta­tion that the other had put upon them, and to overthrow whatsoever he had impertinently urged against him; as any may see, in thatAug. Epist. Hier. quae est 97. inter Epist. Hier. Tom. 2. pag. 550. Excellent and Divine Answer of his to St. Hierome, touching this Point, and the whole substance of his Letter. The Case was otherwise be­twixt him and Ruffinus: for there he grappled with one much below his Match, and dealt his blows upon an arrant Wooden Statue; one that had scarcely any Reason in what he said, and yet much less dexterity in defending himself.

But the sport of it is, to see that after he hath handsomly belaboured, and pricked this pitiful thing, from head to foot, and sometimes till the blood followed, [Page 93] he at length protesteth,Hier. lib. 1. contr. Ruff. T. 2. pag. 311. Sentisne quid ta­ceam, quod aestu [...]nti pectori verba non commodem? & cum Psalmista loquar, pone Domine custo [...]iam ori m [...]o, &c. at the end of his first Book, that He had spared him for the Love of God, and that he had not afforded words to his troubled breast, and had set a watch before his mouth; according to the Example of the Psalmist.

And in another place he reads him a long Lecture,Id in Apol adv. Ruff. Tom. 2. pag 373. Quis omissa causa in superslua criminum objectione vers [...]tus est? quae non Chartae Ecclesiatticae, sed libelli debent Judicum continere. telling him that they were not to use railing Language in their Disputations, nor to leave the Question in hand; and to la­bour to bring in what Accusations they could against each other, which are more proper at a Bar, than in the Church, and fitter to stuff a Lawyers Bill, than a Church-mans Papers.

'Tis true indeed, that those who have been galled by him, are themselves to blame: for as much asId. Apol. 1. contr. Ruff T. 2. pap. 311. Hoc unum denun­cio, & repe­tens iterum iterumque monebo, cor­nutam besti­am petis. He, out of his own candid disposition, courteously gave them warning himself; telling them before-hand, that Those that meddle with him, had to do with a Horned Beast. And yet some perhaps may still very much wonder, how it should come to pass, that all those Watchings, and strict Discipline which he endured in Bethlehem, and the Desart of Arabia should not have mortified these Horns: to which I have no more to say, but this; that God by a certain secret and wise Judgment, hath suffered these Holy men, notwithstanding all those excellent Gifts of Charity, Patience, and Meekness wherewith they were abundantly endued, sometimes to let fall such slips as these upon several particular occasions; to let us under­stand, that there is nothing absolutely perfect, but God alone; all men, how accomplished soever they can possi­bly be, carrying always about them some Reliques of Hu­mane Infirmity.

But however it be, this Course of St. Hierome's makes me doubt, that he hath dealt no better with others than he hath with St. Augustine, wresting their words much further than he ought to have done. But sometimes he goes further yet, and speaks even of the Pen-men of the [Page 94] Old and New Testament in so disrespectful a manner, as that I am very much unsatisfied with these his doings. As, for example, where he says in plain Terms without any Circumlocution, that theHier. Com. in Epist. ad Tit. Tem 6. Inscriptio autem a [...]ae non ita erat, ut Paulus asseruit, Ignoto Deo, sed ita: Deis Europae, Asiae, & Africae, Deis ignotis & peregrinis. In­scription of the Altar at Athens was not expressed in those very words which are delivered by St. Paul, in the Acts, Chap. 17. TO THE UNKNOWN GOD, but in other Terms, thus: To the Gods of Europe, Asia, and of A­frick; to the Ʋnknown and Fo­reign Gods. So likewise where he tells us, and repeats the same too in many several places, thatHier. Com. 3. in Epist ad Gal 348 Tom. 6. Hebraeus ex Hebraeis profun­dos sensus aliena lingua exprimere non valebat. Et Comm. 2. in Epist. ad Ephes. Tom 6. pag. 384. Isle qui Soloecismos in verbis facit, qui non potest hyperbaton red­dere, sententiamque concludere, auda­cter sibi vindicat sapientiam, &c. Com. in Epist. ad Tit. Tom 6. pag 440. Qui non juxta humilitatem, ut plerique aestimant, sed verè dixerit, Imperitus Sermone, non tamen scientia, Hebraeus ex Hebraeis, &c. prosundos sensus Grae­co sermone non explicat, & quid cogitat, in verba vix promit. Epist. 15. ad Algas. Q 10. Tom. 3. pag. 167. Illud, &c etsi imperitus Sermone, &c. nequaquam Paulum de humilitate dixisse: profundos enim, & reconditos sensus lingua non explicat, & cum ipse sentiat, quid loquatur, in alienas aures puro non potest transferre Sermone. St. Paul knew not how to speak, nor to make a Discourse hang toge­ther: and, that he makes Soloecisms sometimes; and that he knew not how to render an Hyperbaton, nor to conclude a Sentence: and that he was not able to express his own deep Conceptions in the Greek Tongue: and that he had no good utterance, but had much ado to de­liver his mind. And again in ano­ther place he tells us, that It was not out of modesty, but it was the plain, naked truth that he told us, when the Apostle said of himself; that he was Imperitus Sermone, Rude in Speech; because that the truth is, He could not deliver his mind to others, in clear and intelli­gible Language. And he says moreover, which is yet much worse than all the rest, thatId. Com. 1. Epist. ad Gal. Tom 6 pag. 305. Unde manifestum est id fecisse Apostolum quod promisit, nec recon­ditis ad Gal. usum esse sensibus, sed quo idianis, & vilibus, & quae possent, nisi praemisisset, Secundum hominem dico, prudentibus displicere. Et paulo antè pag. 304. Apostolus Galatis quoque, quos paulò ante stultos dixerat, factus est stultus: non enim ad eos his usus est argumentis, quibus ad Romanos, sed simpl cioribus, & quae stulti possent intelligere, & penè de trivio. the Apostle disputing with the Galati­ans [Page 95] counterfeited ignorance, as knowing them to be a dull, heavy People, and that he had let f [...]ll some such Ex­pressions, as might possibly have offended the more intelli­gent sort of people, had he not before hand told them, that he spake after the manner of men. Whosoever shall have had but the least taste of the force and vigour, and of the Candor of the Spirit, and Discourse of this Holy Apostle, can never see him thus used, without being ex­tremely astonished at it: especially if he but consider, that these kinds of speeches, although they had perhaps some Ground, (which yet they have not,) must needs scandalize, and give offence to the weaker sort of Peo­ple, and therefore ought not to have been uttered, with­out very much Qualification, and sweetning of the bu­siness.

St. Augustine, I confess, is much more discreet in this particular, every where testifying (as there is very great Reason he should) the great Respect he bare to the Au­thors of the Books of the Holy Scriptures; and never speaking of any of them, whether it be of their Style, or of their Sense, but with a singular admiration.

But as for his own private Opinions, and those of other men which he embraceth, he is not without his Errours also. Such is that harsh Sentence of his, which he hath pronounced upon all Infants that dye before Baptism; whom he will have not only to be deprived of the Vision of God, which is the punishment that the ordinary Opi­nion of the Church condemns them to; but he will fur­ther have them to beAug. T 10. Serm. 14. de verb. Ap. Tormented in Hell fire: wherein he is also followed by Gregorius Armininensis, Greg. Arim. in [...]. sent. d 33. 9. 3. a Fa­mous Doctor in the Schools, where he is called, by reason of this Rigour of his, Tormentum Infantium. He main­taineth also, that the Eucharist is necessary for little In­fants, as we have formerly noted, to another purpose. To which we must also add that other Opinion, to which he evidently inclines; namely,Aug. T. 2. Ep. 28 tot Mox F. 21 M T 3 de Gen. ad lit. lib. 10 c. 1. T. 7. c. 2. de An. & e­jus Orig. c. 14. that the Soul is derived from the Father to the Son, and is engendred of his [Page 96] Substance, as well as the Body, and is not immediately Created by God, which is the Common Opinion at this day.

There is no man but knows, thatIdem Tom. 1. lib. 1. contr. Acad. cap. 7. See also to­ward the latter end of this Chapter. He every where attributes to the Angels a Cor­poreal Nature: and also that he conceives, against all sense and reason,Idem Tom. 3. lib. imperf. de Gen. ad lit. cap. 7. & lib. 4. de Gen. ad lit. cap. 31, 33, 34. & lib. cap. 5. 11. that the whole World was created all in an instant of time; and refers, the six days space of time, where­in the Creation is said to have been perfect­ed, to the different degrees of the knowledge of the Angels. He believed also, with the most of the Ancient Fathers,Idem Tom. 5. Euch ad Laur. cap. 109. Tempus quod inter hominis mortem & ultimam resurrectionem interposi­tum est animas abditis rece­praculis continet, &c. Vide & Tom. 4. c. de cur. pro mortuis, cap. 2. & lib. 1. de Civitate Dei, cap. 12. Tom. 9. Tract. 49. in Joh. fol. 74. that the Souls of Men departed, are shut up into I know not what secret, dark Receptacles, where they are to remain from the hour of their depar­ture, till the Resurrection.

But we need not trouble our selves any further, in proving that he also might erre in matters of Religion, seeing that himself hath made so clear and so Authentick a Confession hereof, in his Books of his Retractations, where he correcteth many things which he had formerly written, either besides, or against the Truth.

I must here confess also, that in my Opinion, it would have added very much to the great and high Esteem, which we generally have of his Parts and Worth; if he had been more positive, and more resolved, in the Deci­sion of things, which he hath handled, for the most part, after the manner of the Academicks, doubtingly and wa­veringly all the way; insomuch that he leaveth undeci­ded not onlyId. T. 3. Eu­char ad Laur. c. 58. de Gen. ad lit. l. 2. c. 18. whether the Sun and the other Stars be endued with Reason, but also,Id. lib 1. Re­tract. cap 11. whether the World it self be a Living Creature, or not.

He that will but exactly and carefully read the rest of the Fathers, may very easily observe in their Writings divers Errours of the like nature; and a man shall scarcely [Page 97] meet with any one Father, of any Note or Repute, from whom some such thing or other hath not escaped.

As for my own part, who have taken upon me this troublesom Business very unwillingly, I shall content my self with these few Instances already set down, seeing they do, in my Judgment, make this Business very clear; the discovery whereof, I have been necessitated to undertake, though I wish rather they might have been concealed. For, seeing that these so eminent Persons, who were of the greatest Repute amongst all the Ancients, have through Humane Infirmity fallen into such Errors, in Point of Faith; what ought we to expect from others, who come very much behind these, both in respect of their Antiqui­ty, Learning, and Holiness of Life? Since Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactan­tius, Hilary, Ambrose, Hierome, Augustine, and Epiphanius, that is to say, the most Eminent, and most Approved Per­sons that ever were, have yet stumbled in many places, and have quite fallen in some other; what hath Cyril, Leo, Gregorius Romanus, and Damascene done, who have come after them, and in whom hath appeared both much less Gallantry of Spirit, and Sanctity, than in the Former? Besides, if these Men have been mistaken in matters of so great Importance; some of them, for Instance, in the Point touching the Nature of God; some, touching the Humanity of our Saviour Christ; others, touching the Quality of our Soul; and some, touching the State and Condition thereof after Death, and touching the Resurre­ction; why, for Gods sake, must they needs be Infallible, when they speak of the Points now debated amongst us? Why may not the same thing have hapned to them in the one, that hath so manifestly befallen them in the other? It is not very probable (as we have said before) that they so much as ever thought of our Differences: and it is much more improbable, that ever they had any intention of being our Judges in the Decision of them, as we have before proved.

[Page 98] But now put the Case that they were acquainted with the Business, and that they did intend to clear our Doubts, and to give us their Positive Determination touching the same in their Books; who shall assure us, that they have had better success here, than they had in so many other things, wherein we have before heard them, give their Verdict, so utterly against all Justice and Reason? He that hath erred touching the Point of the Resurrection, is it not possible that he should be in an Errour touching the State of the Soul after this Life? He that could be ignorant what the Nature of Christ's Body was, must he Necessarily have a Right Judgment touching the Eucharist? I do not see what solid Reason of this Dif­ference can possibly be given. It cannot proceed, but from one of these two Causes, neither of which have yet any place here. For it happens sometimes, that he who is deceived in one Particular, hath yet better fortune in ano­ther; by reason perhaps of his taking more heed to, and using more Attention in the Consideration of the Later, than he did in the Former, or else, by reason that one of the Points is easier to be understood, than the other. For, in this Case, though his Attention be as great in the one, as in the other; yet notwithstanding he may perhaps be able to understand the easie one, but shall not be able to master the hard one. But now, neither of these Reasons can be alledged here: For, why should the Ancients have used less Care and Attention in the Examination of those Points wherein they have erred? Or, why should they have used more in those Points which are at this day controverted amongst us? Are not those Anci­ent Points of Religion of as great Importance, as these Latter? Is there less danger in being ignorant touching the Nature of God, than touching the Authority of the Pope? or touching the State of the Faithful in the Re­surrection, than touching the Punishment of Souls in Purgatory? the Real Qualities of the Body of Christ, than the Nature of the Eucharist? the Cup of His Passion, [Page 99] than the Cup of His Communion? Is it more Necessary to Salvation, to know Him Sacrificed upon the Altar, than Really Suffering upon the Cross? Who sees not, that these Matters are of equal Importance? or, if there be any Difference betwixt them, that those Points where­in the Fathers have erred, are in some sort more Impor­tant than those which we now dispute about?

We shall therefore conclude, That if they had had both the one and the other before their eyes, they would que­stionless have used as much Diligence at least, and Atten­tion, in the Study of the one, as of the other; and con­sequently, in all probability, would have been either as successful, or else have erred as much in the one, as in the other.

Neither may it be here objected, That those Points wherein they have failed, are of more difficulty than those other wherein these Men will needs have them to have been Certainly in the Right: for whosoever shall but consider them more narrowly, he will find that they are equally both easie and difficult: or, if there be any difference betwixt them in this Particular, those which they have erred in, were the easier of the two to have been known.

For, I would fain have any Man tell me what he thinks in his Conscience, whether it be not as easie to judge by Reason, and by the Scripture, whether or no the Saints shall dwell upon the Earth after the Resurrection; as it is to determine, whether, after they are departed this Life, they shall go into Purgatory, or not? Is it a harder matter to know, whether the Angels are capable of Carnal Love; than it is to judge, whether the Pope, as he is Pope, be Infallible, or not? And if it be answered here, That the Church, having already determined these Latter Points, and having not declared it self at all touch­ing the other, hath taken away all the Difficulty of the one, but hath left the other in their former Doubtful State: this is to presuppose that which is the main Questi­on; [Page 100] or rather, it is manifestly False: the Church in the First Ages having not, that we know of, passed any Pub­lick and Authentick Judgment, touching the Points now in controversie, as we have before already proved.

Forasmuch therefore as these Holy Men (if at least they had any thought at all of these our Quarrels) had an equally Clear Insight in these things; both according to all Reason, and all Probability, they would have also come unto them with an equal both Attention and Affe­ction. And I believe that there is no Man but sees, that if they might erre in the Decision of the one, it is altogether as Possible that they might be mistaken also in their Judg­ment upon the other.

Now those Books of theirs, which are left us, pro­claim aloud, and openly enough, (as we have seen by those few Testimonies which we have but just now pro­duced out of them) that they have erred, and sometimes also very grievously, touching those First Questions: it remaineth therefore that we say, That their Judgment is not any whit more Infallible in our present Contro­versies. I could be content that you had demonstrated to any Protestant, by clear and undeniable Reasons, that S. Hilary, in those Passages which are produced out of him for the same purpose, hath Positively taught the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist: and I could be well contented that he should grant you the same, which yet perhaps he will never do. However, after all, he hath this still to put you in mind of, namely, that this is the self-same S. Hilary, who in the same Book maintains, That the Body of Christ felt no Pain at all upon the Cross. And if he were in an Error in this Particular, why must he Necessarily be in the Right in the other? The Question touching the Body of Christ, is of as great Importance as that of the Eucharist: and it is besides much more Clearly deci­ded in the Scriptures, where there is nothing in the Earth that obligeth in the least degree to fancy any [Page 101] such thing of the Body of Christ, as S. Hilary hath done: but where, on the contrary, there seems to be some kind of Ground for the Opinion which he is pre­tended to have had, touching the Eucharist. Forasmuch therefore (will the Protestant say) as that in a thing which is of equal Importance, and of much less Diffi­culty, he hath manifestly erred, who can assure me, that in this Point here, which is both less Necessary, and more Difficult he may not also be mistaken? The same hath he to reply upon you, touching those other Allegations which you produce out of the rest of the Fathers; every one of whom hath either Really erred, o [...] else Possibly might have erred in Matters of Religion. Neither can you hope, that any Solid Answer should be given to these things; especially if you but consider, that the Practice both of the Fathers, and also of our Adversaiies them­selves, hath clearly confirmed this our Position. For, Aug. Ep. ad Hier: inter Ep. Hier. 47. T. 2. p. 551. & inter Epist. Aug. 19. T. 2. S. Augustine, in that Dispute of his which he main­tained against S. Hierome, seeing him produce the Te­stimonies of Seven Authors, he (taking no notice at all of the words of the first four of them) answers no more but this, That some of them were guilty of Heresie, and the rest of Error: Which Answer is very Insufficient, unless you allow, that the Testimony of a Man who hath erred in any one particular Point of Faith, is Null and Invalid.

The Fathers of the II Council of Nice took the very same Course in answering an Objection brought against them by the Iconoclasts, who alledged a certain Passage for themselves out of Eusebius Bishop of Caesarea, Conc. VII. Act. 6. Tom 3. Conc. Gen. p. 627. answering them no more but this, That the Author they cited was an Arian. We need not examine whether this Answer of theirs be true, or no; and if so, whether it be to the pur­pose, or not: It is sufficient for us, that it appears hence, by their making use of this kind of Answer, that they took it for granted, that he that had failed in one Point, was not to be trusted in any other. Cardinal Perron, and the [Page 102] rest of the Learned of that Party, oftentimes makes use of the same Shift, rejecting the Testimonies that are brought against them out of Socrates, or Sozomen, two Ecclesiastical Historians, because they say they were No­vatians. Those who put forth the General Councils at Rome disauthorize Gelasius Cyzicenus, In Praefat prae­fixa Act. Conc. Niceni Gelas. Cyzic. in Edit. Rom Conc. Gen. Tom. 1. who was the Compiler of the Acts of the Council of Nice, by produ­cing many gross Oversights committed by him in that Piece of his.

Forasmuch therefore, as we are not to build upon the Authority of any Author that may justly be accused of Error; it is most evident, that the Authority of the grea­test part, and indeed in a manner of all the Fathers, may very well be called in Question: seeing that you will hardly find any one of them that is not liable to this Exception.

But it will here be objected perhaps, by some especial­ly, that although it be confessed, that the Opinion of one Single Father possibly may be, and many times is really False; yet however it is a very hard, or indeed an im­possible thing, that what hath been delivered unani­mously by many of them together, should be otherwise than True.

But we have answered something already to this Ob­jection, where we took occasion to examine that Maxime of Vincentius Lirinensis, touching this Particular.

And in short, this is all one, as if having confessed that every particular Person of such a Company is sick of some Disease, we should notwithstanding still deny, that the whole Company, taken all together, can possibly fall into any Common Distemper of Body. It is not indeed alto­gether so probable, that Many should be sick of any Disease, as that One single Person should: yet neither is the thing altogether impossible, especially when the Disease is Contagious, and besides, not so well Known; as for the most part the Errors of Great Persons are, whose very Name bears them out, and makes them easily [Page 103] received by the Ordinary sort, who run after them, and suck them in without the least suspicion at all.

But yet if Reason will not do the turn, let Experi­ence however perswade us to receive this Truth. For it is most evident, that some of those Errors before-specified, have been maintained, not by One, nor by Two, nor by Three of the Fathers onely; but by Many, by the Major part, and sometimes also by All the Fathers of the same Age, at least of all those whose Names and Writings have come to our hands. We have heard how that Justin Martyr maintained the Opinion of the Millenaries, which is both manifestly false in it self, and also very dangerous in its Consequences. Now this Opinion he did not maintain alone, the rest of the Learned of his time were in a manner all of the same Perswasion, as it appeareth by his own words.

For, writing against Tryphon, and the Jews that held with him, he saith, Just. contr. Tryph [...] p. 306. [...], &c. That if they had by chan [...]e met with some who bare the Name of Christians, but did not believe this Arti­cle of Faith, blaspheming the God of Abra­ham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and saying, That there shall be no Resurrection of the Dead, but that the Souls, immediately af­ter Death, are transported up to Heaven; they must not take these Persons for Christi­ans, no more than, in speaking truly and precisely, the Samaritans, or any other Sect of Judaism, ought to be called Jews. The False Christi­ans which he here speaks of, were the Valentinians, and others of the Gnostick [...]. He goes on by and by, and says, Id. ibid p 307 [...], &c. But as for me, and the rest of us, who are Right and Orthodox in our Opinions, and who are perfectly Christians, we know, that there shall be both a Resurrection of the Flesh, and that the Saints shall afterwards also spend a thousand years in Jerusalem, [Page 104] which shall be rebuilt, beautified, and enlarged. By which words of his he seems to testifie, That all the Catholicks in his time maintained this Erroneous Opini­on, and that the Hereticks onely rejected it. I know very well, that he confesseth before, Id. ibid. p. 306. [...]. That there were divers who were Perfect and Religious Christians, who yet did not embrace the said Opinion: But let any Man that can, reconcile these two contrary Sayings; That all Orthodox Christians held this Opinion; and, That there were some of the Orthodox Party, that did not receive the same.

Let any Man that will, search also into Justin's Works, and see whether this Contradiction hath not been foisted in by the Zeal of the following Ages, who haply might take offence at the Business, in seeing such an Opinion fa­thered upon all the True Christians, by so great a Martyr. It is sufficient for us, that however it appears clearly by this Passage, that a very great part of the Doctors, and of the Faithful People of those times, maintained this Errour. We see that Irenaeus, who lived in the same time, and also Tertullian, who followed not long after him, were both of the same Perswasion; no one Man all this while, that we hear of, offering to contradict them. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 3. c. 39. Eusebius, andHieron. l. de Scrip. Eccles in. Papia. S. Hierome, and divers other Authors in­form us, That Papias Bishop of Hierapolis, who flourished about the Year of our Lord CX, was the Author of this Opinion.

It followeth then from hence, That the Consent of all the Fathers that are now extant, who lived in the same Age, and maintained all the same Opinion, is no infalli­ble Argument of the Truth.

And if you go down [...]ower, you will find that the ve­ry same Error was defended by several Doctors of very great Repute in the Church.

S. Hierome, who in divers places of his Commen­taries hath excellently and solidly refuted this foolish Fancy, says,Id. Comm. [...]. in Ezech. T. 4. [...]. 984. That many among the Learned Christians had maintained the same, and to those, whom we have [Page 105] already mentionedId. Com. 18. in Isa. in Prae­fat. Quem (Apollinarium) nostrorum in hac parte dun­taxat plurima sequitur mul­titudo, ut praesaga mente jam cernam, quantorum in me rabies concitanda sit. He addeth Lactantius, Victorinus, Severus, and Apollinaris, who is followed in this Point, (saith he in another place) by great multitudes of Christians about us, insomuch that I already foresee and presage to my self, how many folks anger I shall incur hereby: namely, because he every where spoke against this Opinion.

Whence it plainly appears, that in his time, that is to say, about the beginning of the Fifth Century, it was still in great request in the Church. And indeed how fierce soever he seem to be in his Onset, yet he dares not condemn this Opinion absolutely.Hier. Com. 4. in Hierem. T 4. p. 598. Quae licet non sequamur, tamen damnare non possumus, quia multi Ecclesiasticorum virorum, & Martyres ista dixerunt: & unusquis (que) in suo sensu abun­det, & Domini cuncta judi­cio reserventur. Al­though we embrace not this Opinion, (saith he) yet can we not condemn it; for as much as there have been divers Eminent Personages, and Martyrs in the Church, who have main­tained the same. Let every man abound in his own sense, and let us leave the judgment of all things to God.

Whence you see, (as we may observe by the way) that the Fathers have not always held an Opinion in the same degree that we do. For, St. Hierome conceived this to be a Pardonable Errour, which yet we at this day will not endure to hear of.

If it be here answered, that the Church in the Ages following condemned this Opinion, as erroneous; this is no more, than to say, that the Churches in the Ages following acknowledged, that the joynt Consent of ma­ny Fathers together, touching one and the same Opinion, is no solid Proof of the Truth of the same. If Dionysius Alexandrinus had been of any other judgment, he would never have written against Irenaeus as he did; as Id. Com. 18. in Es. in Prae­fat. St. Hierome also testifieth, in one of his Books of Com­mentaries before cited. And if we are to have regard to Authority only, the Judgment of the succeeding Church cannot then serve us, as a certain Guide in this [Page 106] Question, to inform us on which side the Truth is: For, to alledge it in this Case, were rather to oppose one Au­thority against another, than to decide the Controversie. As Dionysius Alexandrinus, St. Hierome, Gregory Nazian­zene, and others, conceived not themselves bound to sub­mit to the Authority of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Lactantius, Victorinus, Severus, and others; so neither are we any more bound to submit to theirs: For, their Posterity oweth them no more Respect, than they themselves owed to their Ancestors. It seemeth rather, that in Reason they should owe them less, because that look how far distant in time they are from the Apostles, who are as it were the Spring and Original of all Ecclesiastical Authority; so much doth the Credit and Authority of the Doctors of the Church lose and grow less.

If Antiquity (as we would have it) be the Mark of Truth, then certainly that which is the most Ancient, is also the most Venerable, and the most Considerable. And if there were no other Argument but this, against the Authority of many Fathers, unanimously consent­ing in any Opinion; yet would it clearly serve to lessen the same: but there are yet behind many others; some whereof we shall here produce. We have heard before, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and St. Augustine, affirming all of them, that Heaven shall not be opened, till the Day of Judgment; and that during this space of time the Souls of all the Faithful are shut up in some sub­terraneous place, except some small number of those who had the Priviledge of going immediately to Heaven. The Author of those Questions and Answers, that go under the name of Justin Martyr, maintains the same Opinion, as you may see in the Answers to the LX, and LXXIV Questions.

And that I may not unprofitably spend both Time and Paper, in bringing in all the particular Passages, I say in General, that both the Major Part, and also the most Eminent Persons among the Ancient Fathers held this [Page 107] Opinion, either absolutely, or at least in part. For, be­sides Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and St. Augustine, and the Author of those Questions and Answers we before mentioned, which is a very Ancient Piece indeed, though falsly fathered upon Justin Martyr, it is clear, that Origen, Lactantius, Victorinus, St. Ambrose, St. Chrysostome, Theo­doret, Oecumenius, Aretas, Prudentius, Theophylact, St. Ber­nard, and, among the Popes, Clemens Romanus, and John XXII. were all of this Opinion, as is confessed by all; neither was this so admirable and general Consent of theirs contradicted by any Declaration of the Church, for the space of Fourteen Hundred years; neither yet did any one of the Fathers so far as we can discover, take upon him to refute this Errour, as Dionysius Alexandrinus, and St. Hierome did to refute the Millenaries; all the rest of the Fathers being either utterly silent, as to this Particular, and so by this their silence going over in a manner into the Opinion of the Major Part; or else contenting them­selves with declaring sometimes here and there in their Books, that they believed that the Souls of the Saints should enjoy the sight of God, till the Resurrection, ne­ver formally denying the other Opinion.

But that which doth further shew, that this Opinion is both very Ancient, and hath been also very Common among the Christians, is, because that even at this day it is believed, and defended by the whole Greek Church: neither is there any of all those, who make Profession of standing to the Writings of the Fathers, as the Rule of their Faiths, who have rejected it, save only the Latines, Conc. Flor. in defin. Diffini­mus insuper, &c. illorum animas qui post susceptum Baptisma nullam omnino maculam incurrerunt illas etiam quae post contractam peccati maculam vel in suis corporibus, vel eisdem exutae corporibus, pro ut superiùs dictum est, sunt pur­gatae, in coelum mox recipi, & intueri clarè ipsum Deum, trinum & unum, Tom. 4. Conc. pag. 584. who have expresly also esta­blished the contrary, at the Council of Flo­rence, held in the year of our Lord 1439. which is not above Two Hundred and Twelve years ago. Do but fancy now to [Page 108] your selves a Vicentius Lirinensis, standing in the midst of this Council, and laying before them his own Oracle, before mentioned; which is, That we ought to hold for most certainly, and undoubtedly true, whatsoever hath been delivered by the Ancients unanimously and by a Common Consent: and do but think, whether or no he should not have been hissed out by these Reverend Fathers, as one that made the Truth, which is holy and immutable, to depend upon the Authority of Men? For, these men regarded not at all neither the Multitude, nor the Antiquity, nor the Learning, nor the Sanctity of the Authors of this foolish Opinion; but, finding it to be false, without any more ado rejected it, as they thought they had good Reason to do, and withal ordained the contrary.

Now I am verily perswaded, that there are very few Points of Faith, among all those which the Church of Rome would have the Protestants receive, for which there can be alledged either more, or more clear and evident Testimonies out of the Fathers, than for this.

For as much therefore as that after all this it hath not only be called in Question, but hath been even utterly condemned also; who seeth not, that the Consent of many Fathers together, although any such thing were to be had, upon all the Points now in Debate, would yet be no sufficient Argument of the Truth of the same? But I shall pass on to the rest.

We have before heard, how that Tertullian, St. Cyprian, who was both a Bishop and a Martyr, Firmilianus Metro­politan of Cappadocia, Dionysius Patriarch of Alexandria, together with the Synods of Bishops both of Africk, Cap­padocia, Cilicia, Basil. Epist. ad Amph [...]loch. T. 2. p. [...]58, 759. and Bithynia, held all, that the Baptism of Hereticks was invalid and null. St. Basil who was one of the most Eminent Bishops of the whole Eastern Church, held also in a manner the very same Opinion; and that a long time too after the Determination of the Council of Nice; as appeareth by the Epistle which he [Page 109] wrote to Amphilochius; which is also put in among the Publick Decrees of the Church, by the Greek Canonists. And yet this Opinion is now confessed by all to be Er­roneous.

Many in like manner of the Fathers, as namelyTertul. lib. contr. Jud. cap. 8. Ter­tullian, Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. 6. Clemens Alexandrinus, Lactant Firmian lib. 4. cap. 10. Lactan­tius, andAfrican. apud Hieron Com. in Dan. cap. 10. Tom. 4. cap. 1147 Africanus, believed, that our Sa­viour Christ kept the Feast of the Passeover but once only, after his Baptism. And yet notwithstanding this Consent of theirs, the Opinion is known to be very false, asPetav. Not. in Epiph. pag. 203. Pe­tavius also testifieth; and besides is expresly contrary to the Text of the Gospel. I shall not here say any thing of the Opinion ofChrysost [...]m. Hom. in statuas, & passim. St. Chrysostom, St Hieron. Com. 1. in Matth. T [...]m. 6. pag. 15. St. Hierome, Basil. Hom. in Ps. 14. T. 1. pag. 154, & 155. St. Basil, and the Fathers of the Council held at Act. Conc. Const. act. 1. Tom. 2. pag. 129. [...], &c. Constantinople under the Patriarch Flavia­nus; who seem all to have held, that an Oath was utterly unlawful for Christians, under the New Testament. Neither shall I take any notice in this place of that Conceit of Athanasius, St. Basil, and Methodius, as he is cited byTom. 3. Conc. pag. 547. in act. Conc. VII. act. 5. John Bishop of Thessalonica, who all believed that the Angels had Bodies: to whom we may also add, (as we have shewed before,) St. Hilary, Justin Martyr, Tertul­lian, and very many more of the Fathers, who would all of them have the Nature of Angels to be such, as was capable of the Passions of Carnal love; of which number is evenAugust Tom. 1. lib. 1. contr. Acad. cap. 7. Tom. 2. Epist. 111. & Epist. 115. & Tom. 3. Enchir. ad Laur. cap. 59. de Trin. lib. 2. cap. 7. & lib. 3. cap. 1. & lib. 8. cap. 2. & de Gen. ad lit. lib. 3. cap. 10. & lib. 11. cap 22. & de divin. Daem. cap. 3, 4, 5. & Tom. 4. lib. 93. quaest. 9 47 Tom. 5 lib. 11. de Civ. Dei. cap. 25. & lib. 15. cap. 23. & ibi Vives, & lib. 21. cap. 23. & cap. 10. St. Augustine also. Whosoever should now conclude from hence, that this Fancy of theirs (which yet is of no small importance) is a Truth; would he not be as sharply reproved for it by the Romanists, as by those of Geneva? But I must not for­get, that besides St. Cyprian, St. Augustine, [Page 110] and Pope Innocent I. whose Testimonies we have given in Supr. lib. 1. cap. 8. before, all the rest of the Doctors, in a manner, of the first Ages maintained, that the Eucharist was necessary for young Infants; if at least you dare take Maldonat's word, Maldon. in Joh. 6. 53. who affirms, that this Opinion was in great Request in the Church, during the first Six Hundred years after our Saviour Christ.

Cassand. Con­sult. ad Fer. & Max. p. 936 & lib. de Bapt. Inf. p. 747. Cassander also testifieth, that he hath often observed this Practice in the Ancients; as indeed is also witnessed by Carolus Magnus, and by Ludovicus Pius, who lived a long time after the Sixth Century; both of which assure us, that this Custom continued in the West, even in their time, as they are cited by CardinalDu Perr. traict. de St. August. pag. 1001. Perron: and the Traces of this Custom do yet remain to this day, amongst those Christians who are not of the Communion of the Latine Church. ForNicol. de Lyra in Joh. No­tandum quod ex hoc quod dicitur hic, Nisi manduca­veritis, &c. dicunt Graeci, quod hoc Sacramentum est tantae necessitatis, quod pue­ris dehet dari, sicut Baptis­mus. Nicolaus Lyranus, who lived somewhat above three hundred years since, observed, That the Greeks accounted the Holy Eucharist so necessary, as that they administred it to little Children also, as well as Baptism. And even in our Fathers time, the PatriarchHierem. Patr. Const. Doctr. Exh. ad Germ. Jeremias, speaking in the name of the whole Creek Church, said, We do not only Baptize little Children, but we also make them partakers of the Lords Supper. And a little after: we account (saith he) both Sacraments to be necessary to Sal­vation for all persons; namely, Baptism and the Holy Com­munion. TheAlvarez. in his Voyage to Ethiopia. Abyssines also make their Children in like manner Communicate of the Holy Eucharist, as soon as ever they are Baptized.

Which are most evident Arguments, that this false Opi­nion, touching the Necessity of the Eucharist, hath been of old maintained, not by three or four of the Fathers only, but by the Major part, and in a manner by all of them.

For we do not hear of so much as one, among all the Ancient Fathers, who rejected it in express Terms; as the [Page 111] Council of Trent hath done, in these later Times.

To conclude, the JesuitPeter. in Rom c. 8. disp. 22. Epist. 23. Pererius hath informed us, (and indeed the observation is obvious enough to any man, that is never so little conversant in the Writings of those Authors, who lived before St. Augustines time) that all the Greek Fathers, and a considerable part also of the Latines, were of Opinion, that the Cause of Predestination was, the Fore sight which God had, either of Mens Good Works, or else of their Faith: either of which Opinions, he assures us, is manifestly contrary both to the Authority of the Scriptures, and also to the Doctrine of St. Paul. So that I conceive we may, without troubling our selves any further in making this envious Inquiry into the Errours of the Fathers, conclude from what hath been already produced, that seeing the Fathers have Erred in so many Particulars, not on singly, but also many of them together; Neither the private Opinion of each particular Father, nor yet the unanimous Consent of the Major part of them, is a sufficient Argument certainly to prove the Truth of those Points, which are at this day controverted amongst Us.

CHAP. V.

Reason V. That the Fathers have strongly con­tradicted one another, and have maintained Different Opinions, in Matters of very Great Importance.

BEssarion, a Greek born, who was honoured with the Dignity of Cardinal, by Pope Eugenius IV. as a Reward of his earnest desires to, and the great pains he took in endeavouring a Reconciliation betwixt the Ea­stern and the Western Church, in a Book which he wrote upon this Subject to the Council of Florence, Bessar Orat. [...], c. 2. p. 520, & 521. T. 4. Conc. will have the whole Difference, betwixt the Greek and Latine Churches, to be brought before the Judgment Seat of the Fathers.

And for as much as he knew, that unless the Judges did all agree, and were of one Opinion, the Cause (especially in Matters of Religion,) necessarily remains undecided; he strongly labours to prove, that he hath all the Fathers consenting not only with him, but, (which is yet much harder to prove) that they are all of the same Opinion al­so among themselves; insomuch that he commands us, when ever there appeareth any contrariety in their Wri­tings, that we should accuse our own ignorance, rather than blame them for contradicting each other.

We may conclude therefore, from what is here laid down by this Author, who was both as acute, and as Learned a man, as any was at this Council, that to ren­der the Fathers capable of being the Judges of our Con­troversies, it is necessary that they should be all of the same Judgment and Opinion, in Point of Re­ligion. [Page 113] And certainly, this is a most clear Truth: For, if there be any Contradiction amongst them, or Dissenting in Opi­nion, they will leave our Controversies more Perplexed, rather than Decided; and in stead of Uniting, will rather Distract us, and rend us into many Parts.

That we may therefore be able to come to the know­ledge of the Truth in this Particular, it will concern us first of all to examine, whether that which Bessarion ad­deth hereupon, be true also, or not; namely, That the Opinions of the Fathers do never clash one with the other, touching the Points of our Religion.

Now although this were so, yet would it not Necessa­rily follow from hence, that their Judgment must needs be therefore Infallible; forasmuch as even an Error may, either by the Consent of the several Parties, or by Accident, or else by some other the like means, happen to meet with an Unanimous Entertainment by several Per­sons.

But now in case this should prove to be false, then cer­tainly we may make this Infallible Conclusion, That we ought to seek out for other Judges of our Controversies, than the Writings of the Fathers. We shall therefore shew, by way of addition to the rest of our Proofs, that this Assertion of his is more Bold than True; and, that there are very many Real Differences to be found among the Ancient Fathers, in Matters of Religion.

We have already touched before upon some of them, by the bye onely, as lying in our way, speaking of other Matters, and therefore we shall onely lightly run them over again; as namely, first of all, That Disagreement in Opinion of the most Ancient among the Fathers, Justine Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian, on the one side; and Dionysius Alexandrinus, Gregory Nazianzene, and S. Hierome on the other: the First of these promising us very seriously the Delights and Pleasures of a Thousand years, and the Diamonds and the Saphires of a New Earthly Jerusalem, with all its Glory and Prosperity: [Page 114] but the other very coursely, and in downright Terms reproving this their Conceit, as being an idle Fancy, fit to be entertained by Little Children, and Old Women only; and which seems to have been derived rather from the Dreams of the Jews, than from the Doctrine of the Apostles.

The like to this was that Difference betwixt the Bi­shops of Asia, and Pope Victor, about the Observation of Easter-day; and of Cyprian, and Stephen, about the Ba­ptism of Hereticks: in all which Differences, the Heat was so high, as that it went on as far as to Excommunicating each other. If Bessarion now could but make it appear to us, that these were not Real, but Seeming Contradi­ctions onely, I should then make no question at all, but that he would as easily reconcile Fire and Water, or what­ever things else in Nature are the most Contrary the one to the other.

We have heard that Tertullian maintained, That the Soul was Ex Traduce, and was propagated from the Fa­ther to the Son, by the Natural Course of Generation; and that S. Augustine likewise enclined to the same Opi­nion: to whom, if we will believeHieron. Ep. 82. T. 2. An cer­tè ex traduce, ut Tertullianus, Apollinarius & maxima pars Occidentalium autumant. S. Hie­rome, we must add a very considerable number of the Western Church also, who were all of the same Perswasion. But Id. Com. in Eccles. c. 12. T. 5. & Ep. 61. ad Pamm. T 2. p. 242. & alibi passim. S. Hierome rejects them all, and their Opinion, and says, That the Soul is created Immediately by God, at the very instant that it is united to the Body; adding withal, (as we have formerly noted unto you) That this is the Belief of the Church in this Point.

S. Hierome, and those of his Faction held, That all that Reprehension used by S. Paul to S. Peter, which we find mentioned in the Epistle to the Galatians, was onely a Feigned Business, purposely Acted betwixt the two Apostles, by an Agreement made betwixt them­selves. S. Augustine, with those of his Side, maintains [Page 115] the contrary, and says, That the thing was Real, and was meant heartily and seriously, and as it is related by S. Paul; and that there was no Cunning, or Under-hand Dealing in the Business, or any Scene laid betwixt S. Peter and him. And S. Hierome pursued this Dispute with so much heat and earnestness, as that besides those Epistles of his, which are full of Gall and Choler, written against S. Augustine, touching this Particular, he yet in hisVid. Com 4. in Es. T 4. p 378. & Com. 18. in eund p 485. Commentaries al­so, which were Pieces that he wrote in his Quieter Tem­pe [...], many times takes occasion to gird underhand at S. Au­gustine, upon this old Quarrel betwixt them. So that cer­tainly he must needs be quite out of his Wits, whoever shall seriously go about to maintain, that these two Fa­thers were perfectly of One Opinion, and agreed upon this Point.Justin. contr. Tryph. p. 333. [...]. Justine Martyr is of Opini­on, that it was the Real Ghost of Samuel, that appeared to Saul, being raised up by the Enchantments of the Witch at Endor. Pseudo. Just. l. Q. & R. Resp. ad q. 52. [...]. Others say it was but a Fantasm. Epiph. in Panar. Expos. Fid. p. 1104. Some of them hold, That the meeting together of the Faithful at the Eucharist thrice a week, is an Apostolical Tradition.August. in Ep 118. ad Jan. T. 3. vid. Petav. in Epiph p. 354. Others believe the contrary.Vide Petav. p. 359. in Epiph, Eccl. Rom. [...]p. Socr. l. 5. c. 22. August. Ep. 86. & 118. Innoc. I. Ep. 1. c. 4. Some enjoyn us to Fast on Saturdays; Ignat. Ep. 4. ad Philip. Can. Apost. c. 68. Constit. Apost. l. 7. c. 24 Syn. Trull. Can. 55. others forbid the same, under the penalty of being account­ed no less than the Murtherers of Christ. Iren. l. 2. c. 39. Some of them conceive, that our Savi­our Christ suffered Death in the Fortieth or Fiftieth year of his Age:Tertul. Clem. Alex. Lactant. A­fric. ubi supr. Others again would perswade us, that he died in the Thirtieth or Thirty first year of his Age: Both which Opinions are manifestly con­trary to the Text of the Gospel, which tells us clearly, That after his Baptism, that is to say, after the Thirtieth year of his Age, he conversed above Three, and under Five years, upon the Earth. Some of them (as we are informed by theseScholarius, Orat 3. T 4. Concil. Gen. p. 658, 659. Latinized Greeks) [Page 116] allow of these Terms, Cause, and Effect, in the Doctrine of the Trinity; but some others again do not so.

Some of them are of Opinion, That there is a certain Order, or Distinction of Priority, in the Persons of the Trinity: others again there are, who will not endure to hear of this Expression.

Those of the Western Church call the Son only, The Image of the Father; but the Greek Church maketh this Name extend to the Holy Ghost also. S. Basil will not allow of the word [...], in discoursing of the Son: Others again make use of it, without any scruple at all.

I doubt very much, whether Bessarion had ever seen the Apologies and Invectives of S. Hierome, and of Ruffinus; who were yet both of them Fathers, and of good Re­pute too in the Church, both that of their own time, and of the Ages following; although they were not both of them of equal Esteem. Neither do I believe he re­membred that Quarrel that there was betwixt Theophilus and Epiphanius on the one part, and S. Chrysostome on the other.

For certainly, their Carriage toward each other in this their Debate, doth not shew them to have been so very good Friends, and so well agreed upon the Point debated. But now, to overthrow this Bold Assertion of his at once, we need go no further than to the very Point it self, touching which he proposed it. For, whom will he ever be able to perswade, that All the Fathers have written and said the very same things, touching the Procession of the Holy Ghost? It is evident, that sometimes they will have It to Proceed from the Son also; as S. Basil by name hath expressed himself, in that Passage of his, which is alledg­ed by the Latins out of his Book against Eunomius; (which Piece yet the Greeks say is forged:) and as the Fathers of the Western Church have most expresly de­clared themselves in many places.Conc. Flor. Act. 20. T. 4. Conc. p. 454. But yet I cannot possi­bly see; how we can say, That they have All been of this Opinion.

[Page 117] I shall not here meddle with those other Authorities, produced by the Greeks out of the Fathers; which their Adversaries put by as well as they can, oftentimes most miserably wresting and stretching upon the Rack the Words and Meaning of the Fathers. But that Passage of Theodoret, in his Refutation of S. Cyril's Ana­thema's, is so clear and express, as that nothing can be more.

Cyril. Anath 9. [...]. S. Cyril had said, in his IX Ana­thema, That the Holy Ghost proceeded Properly from the Son. Theodor. Refut. Anath 9 Cy­ril. Act. Conc. Eph [...]. Theodoret an­swereth, That it is both Impious and Blasphemous to say, that the Holy Ghost hath its Subsistence from the Son, or by the Son. If he mean (saith he) that the Holy Ghost proceedeth properly from the Son, as heing of the same Nature with It, and as proceeding from the Father, we shall willingly agree with him, and shall receive his Doctrine as Sound and Pious: But if he mean, that the Holy Ghost hath its Subsistence from the Son, or by the Son, we must then reject it, as Impious, and Blasphemous. He could not have thrown by this Proposition of S. Cyril more bluntly, or in courser Terms: And yet for all this so flat giving him the Lie, as it were, and his so insolent rejecting of an Opinion that was then received by the Church, as the Latins pretend, Cyril. Resp. ad Ref. Theod. Anath. 9. ibid. [...]. S. Cyril replies no more but this, That the Holy Ghost, altbough It proceed from the Father, yet nevertheless is not a Stranger to the Son, since He hath all things common with the Father. Why did he not cry out against him as an Heretick, as he many times elsewhere doth, with much less rea­son; if at least you must needs have it granted you, that the Opinion of the Church at that time was, That the H. Ghost proceeded from the Son? Why did he not take it very ill [Page 118] at his hands, that he should in so insolent a manner re­ject as Impious and Blasphemous, a Proposition that was so Holy, and so True? Why did he not call the Whole Church in, to be his Warrant for what he had said, if so be it had Really been the General Belief of the Church at that time? And how comes it to pass, that in stead of all this, he rather returns so tame an Answer, as seems rather to betray his own Cause, and something also to encline to the contrary Opinion of his Adversary? For, it is evident, that neither Theoderet, nor yet any of the Modern Greeks ever held, That the Holy Ghost was a Stranger to, or was Unconcerned in the Son, seeing they all confess, That these three, to wit, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are One and the same God, who is Blessed for ever.

Whosoever shall but diligently consider these things▪ (for we cannot stand any longer upon the Examination of them) he cannot, in my Judgment, but confess that the Church had not as yet declared it self, or determined any thing touching this Point; and, that these Doctors spake herein each Man his own Private Opinion only, and according as the Present Occasion of Disputation led him to speak; where you shall have them contradicting one another, in like manner as is usual in speaking of things not as yet throughly examined, or expresly determined: in­somuch that it would grieve a Man to see how the Greeks and the Latins toil and sweat to no purpose, each of them labouring to bring over the Fathers to speak to their Side, and fearfully wresting their Words, whenso­ever they seem to be but never so little ambiguous; and ever and anon accusing one another of having corrupted the Ancients Writings, whensoever they are found to speak expresly against them: and when all is done, leaving those who either read or hear them without any Prejudice, very much unsatisfied; whereas it had been much more easie, to have honestly confessed at first, that which is but too apparent, that the Fathers, as in this, so [Page 119] in many other Points of Religion, have not all been of one and the same Perswasion.

And whereasBessar. in Orat. Dogmat. sive de Ʋn [...]one Extra. cap. 9. in Act. Conc. Flor. Sess. 28. T. 4. Conc. p. 551. Bessarion, that he may clude this Te­stimony of Theodoret, affirms, That he was cast forth of the Church for having denied that the Holy Ghost proceed­ed from the Son; and that he afterwards publickly con­fessed his Error, at the Council of Cbalcedon, where he was received into the Church again: all this, I say, is on­ly a Piece of Grecian Confidence, which shews more clear­ly than all the rest, how much this Man was carried away with his Passion, and the violence of his Affection to the Latin Church.

For, I beseech you, in what Ancient Author had he ever read, that Theodoret was, I do not say, Condemned, or Excommunicated, but so much as Reproved, or Ac­cused onely, for having maintained any Erroneous Opi­nion touching the Procession of the Holy Ghost? We have the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, where he was Excommunicated: We have the Letters of S. Cyril, wherein he again received into the Communion of the Church John Patriarch of Antioch, and all his Fol­lowers, of which number Theodoret was the Chief. We have the Council of Chalcedon, where Theodoret, after some certain Cryings out of his Adversaries against him, was at length received by the whole Assembly as a Catholick Bishop, and was admitted to sit amongst them. In which of all these Authentick Pieces is there so much as one word spoken, touching this Opinion of his, con­cerning the Point of the Proceeding of the Holy Ghost? S. Cyril himself, that is to say, those of his Party, did not at all condemn what he said, touching this Particular; but he rather contented himself in excusing, or, if you please, in defending onely his own Opinion. The Busi­ness for which Theodoret was questioned in the Councils of Ephesus, and of Chalcedon, had nothing in the World to do with this, touching the Procession of the Holy Ghost: for, the Question was onely there, touching the Two Na­tures [Page 120] of our Saviour Christ, whom Nestorius would needs divide into Two Persons; John Patriarch of Antioch, Theodoret, and divers other Eastern Bishops, favouring in some sort his Person, or being indeed offended rather at the Proceeding of the Council of Ephesus against him; and withal rejecting several things that were contained in the Anathemas of S. Cyril.

Now with what face could this Man tell us, after all this, That Theodoret had been deposed from his Bishop­rick, for having maintained an Erroneous Opinion touching the Procession of the Holy Ghost? But enough of this.

I would in the next place fain know, how this Recon­ciler of Differences could compose that Debate betwixt the DCXXX Fathers of the Council at Chalcedon, and Leo Bishop of Rome; and how he can reconcile the XXVIII Canon of the one, with those many Epistles written by the other, touching this Point, to Anatolius Patriarch of Constantinople, to the Emperour Marcianus, and his Empress, to the Prelates who were there met to­gether in that Council, and to the Patriarch of Antioch: the Fathers of this Council advancing the Throne of the Patriarch of Constantinople, above those of Alexandria, and of Antioch, and making it equal even with that of Rome it self: Pope Leo in the mean time sending out his Thunderbolts against this Decree of theirs, and charging them as guilty of a most insufferable Injury offered him. And when this our Conciliator shall have done his business at Chalcedon, if he please, he may pass over into Africk, and there also Reconcile the Fathers of that Country to the Bishops of Rome; the former of these forbidding their Clergy to make any Appeals to Rome; and the other in the mean time to their utmost endeavouring to prove, That it is their Proper Right, to have such Appeals brought before them. And when he hath finished this Work, our Greek may then in the next place try to re­move all misunderstanding betwixt the Fathers of the [Page 121] Council of Francfort, and those of the II. Council of Nice▪ touching the Point of the use of Images▪ the la­ter of these OrdainingConc VII. Act 7. in d [...]fin. T. 3. Conc. p. 661. [...]. Ib. p. 662. [...]. That we ought to pay unto them Salutations, and Adoration of Honour, and that we ought to honour them with Incense and Lights: and the other, as every man knows, having not only rejected this Greek Council; but having written [...] expresly, against it, by the Command of the Emperour Carolus Magnus.

Certainly he that shall but read the Fathers them­selves, will easily and quickly perceive, that they clash and contradict each other, in most plain and irreconcile­able Terms, and that there is no other way of bringing them honestly together, but by receiving every one of them, with his own private Opinions; imitating here­in the marvellous Wisdom of the Council ofSynod. Qui­nisexta Can. 2. T. 3. Con. Constanti­nople in Trullo; which receiveth and alloweth of all in gross, without distinction, both the Canons of the Apo­stles, and the whole Code of the Church Ʋniversal, toge­ther with those of Sardica, Carthage, and Laodicea; amongst which notwithstanding there are found strong Contradictions.

As for Example, theSynod. Sard. Can. 3. & 7. Council of Sardica will have the Right of receiving the Appeals of all Bishops to belong to the See of Rome; whereasSynod. Chal­ced. cap. 9. & 17. Chalcedon gives this Priviledge to that of Constantinople. The Council ofSynod Laod. Can. 59. Laodicea leaveth out of the Canon of the Scriptures, the Macca­bees, Ecclesiasticus, the Book of Wisdom, Tobit, and Ju­dith: Synod Car­thag. III. cap. 47. that of Carthage puts them in expresly. But now these honest Fathers of Constantinople, to the end they may give content to all the World, take no notice at all of these their Differences; but receive each of them, with their own particular Canons, and Opinions, with­out obliging them to any one Common Rule; doing this, I believe, upon condition, that themselves may not be re­quired, by those whom they thus admit, to receive any more from them, than they shall think convenient. I [Page 122] know no man, that would not at this rate readily admit of, as Canon, all the Writings of the Fathers; provided that he might but have liberty to take, or leave therein what he thought good.

So that we may very well from henceforth rest satisfi­ed, that, notwithstanding Bessarion's resolution to the con­trary, the Fathers have not always been of the same Judg­ment in matters of Religion: and that consequently they ought not to be received by us, as our Judges touching the same.

For, seeing that I find them contradicting each other, in so many several Points of very great importance; how shall I be assured, that they are all unanimously agreed, touching those Points which are now debated amongst us?

Why may they not have had the same diversity of Opinion, touching the Point of the Eucharist, the Authority of the Church, the Power of the Pope, Free-will, or Purgatory, that they had in those other Points which we have before presented to the Readers view; which were of as great importance as these, and no less easie to be determined; as we have proved in the Chapter preceding?

Epiphanius and St. Hierome are as opposite in their Judgments, touching the Ancient Condition of Priests and Bishops, as Theodoret and St. Cyril are, touching the Procession of the Holy Ghost. Neither are some Opinions of Tertullian, and of Damascene; Theodoret, and of Eusebius Emisenus; of Eusebius Caesareensis, and of the VII. Council, touching the Point of the Eu­charist, less opposite to each other; than are those of Cyprian and of Stephen [...], touching the Baptism of Hereticks: and so likewise in many other particu­lars.

Why then should we take so much pains, and trouble our selves so to no purpose, in reconciling these men, and making them speak all the same thing?

[Page 123] Why should we so cruelly, and so uncivilly rack them as we do, to make them all of one Opinion, and to say the same things, whether they will or no; and, sometimes too against our own Conscience; but, certainly, for the most part, without any satisfaction to the Reader?

Why should we not rather honestly confess, that their Opinions were also different, as well as their words?

We make no scruple at all to confess, that they have been of contrary Opinions, touching those other Points of Religion; which are not at all now controverted a­mongst us: How much greater harm, for Gods sake, would it be, if we should confess, that they have not any better agreed among themselves, touching these Points now in debate?

But we shall not need to press this matter any further: it is sufficient for us that we have proved, that they were of different Opinions in Point of Religion: so that it clearly follows from hence, that we ought not to admit of their Writings, as the proper Judges of our Contro­versies.

I have formerly touched, though very lightly only, up­on their Diversity of Opinion, and Contrariety, in their Expositions upon the Scriptures, which yet is a business of no very small consideration.

For if we take them for our Judges, we shall necessa­rily then have occasion every minute of having recourse to them, touching the sense of those Passages of Scri­pture, about which we disagree among our selves. If now there be as great Contrarieties, and Difference in Judg­ment touching these things among them, as there is amongst our selves▪ what have we then left us to trust to? This Passage for Example, in the Gospel accord­ing to St. John, Joh. 10. 30. Ego & Pater unum sumus. I and my Father are one, is of very great importance, in the Disputes against both Sabellius and Arius.

Would you now know the true sense and meaning of these words, lest otherwise by misinterpreting the same, [Page 124] you might chance to fall into the one, or the other of these two Precipices? If you have recourse to the Fathers in this case, you shall haveTertul. contr. Prax. c 22. Unum non pertinet ad sin­gularitatem, sed ad unita­tem, ad similitudinem▪ ad conjunctionem, ad delectio­nem Patris, qui Filium dili­git, & ad obsequium Filii, qui Voluntati Patris obsequi­tur. Autor libri de Trin. cap 22. Orig. contr. Celsum, lib. 8▪ p. [...]93 some of them referring it to the Ʋnion of the Affection, and of the Will▪ andAthanas. Greg. Nazianz. alii pene omnes passim. others again, to the Ʋ ­nity of Essence and of Nature.

So likewise this other passage in the same Evangelist;Joh. 14. 28. My Father is greater than I, is very considerable also, in the Question tou­ching the Divinity of Jesus Christ: And yet there areEpiphan. Ancor. p. 23. some among the Fathers, who understand the words as spoken indefinitely of the Son of God▪ although the rest of them do ordinarily restrain them to his Humani­ty. These words also of St. John, Joh. 1. 14. The Word was made Flesh, are of no small consi­deration, in the Disputes against Nestorius and Eutyches. Now if you bring the busi­ness before the Fathers, you shall haveAmbros. l. de Incar. Sacr. c. C. T. 2. p. 183. Athan. Ep. ad Epict. T. I. p. 587. & T. 2. p. 298. some of them expounding these words, by com­paring them with those passages in St. Paul, where it is said that2 Cor. 5 21. Christ was made sin, and aGal 3. 13. Curse for us: butCyrill. Apol. Athan. I. T. 1. Conc. Gener. p. 515. St. Cyril saith, that we must take heed how we interpret the words so.

It would be an endless Task, if I should here go about to reckon up all the Differences, and Contrarieties of Judgment, that are to be found in the Fathers.

Those that have a mind to see any more of them, may have recourse to some of our late Commentators, whose usual course is, to bring in all together the several Inter­pretations of the Fathers, upon those Books which they Comment upon: as Maldonate hath done, upon the Gos­pels▪ Cardinal Tolet, upon St. John, Bened. Justinianus, upon the Epistles of St. Paul, and others: where they will find, that there is scarcely any one Verse, that the Ancients have understood all of them after one and the [Page 125] [...]ame manner. And which is yet worse than this, besides this Contrariety and Difference of Interpretation, you will often meet with very many cold and empty Expo­sitions▪ and it is very seldom that you shall find there that solid simplicity which we ought to expect from all those, who take upon them the Interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

For as much therefore as we many times meet with Contrariety of Judgment, as well in their Expositions of the Scriptures, as in their Opinions, we may safely con­clude, that they are not of sufficient Authority to be ad­mitted as the Supreme Judges of our Controversies: that Contradiction, which is often found amongst them, evi­dently shewing, that they are not Infallible Judges, such as it is requisite that they should be, for the making good of all those Points, which are at this day maintained by the Church of Rome against the Protestants.

CHAP. VI.

Reason VI. That neither those of the Church of Rome, nor the Protestants do acknowledge the Fathers for their Judges in Points of Re­ligion, but do both of them reject such of their Opinions, and Practices, as are not for their Gust. An Answer to two Objections, that may be made against what hath been here delive­red in this Discourse.

THus far have we laboured to prove that the Writings of the Fathers have not Authority enough in them­selves, for to be received as Definitive Sentences passed up­on our Differences in Religion.

Let us now in the last place see, how much they have in respect of us. For although a Sentence of Judgment should be good, and valid in it self, as being pronounced by one who is a competent and lawful Judge, duly and according to the Forms of Law; yet notwithstanding would not this serve to determine the Controversie, if so be the Authority of this Judge be denied by either of the Parties, (unless, as it is in worldly Affairs, the Law be ar­med with such a Power, as is able to force those that are obstinate to submit to Reason:) for as much as the Que­stion is here touching Religion, which is a Holy and Di­vine thing, to the embracing whereof men ought to be perswaded, and not compelled, since force hath no place here. For although perhaps they could compel men out­wardly to render some such respect to the Writings of the Fathers, yet notwithstanding would not this serve to make any impression of the Belief of the same, in the heart of any one.

[Page 127] The same Divisions would still remain in the minds of men, which you are first of all to pull up by the roots, if ever you intend to reconcile them to each other, and to make them agree in Point of Religion.

For the certain determination therefore of all Diffe­rences of this nature, it is necessary that both Parties be perswaded, that the Judge, who is to pronounce Sentence upon the same, hath as much Authority as it requisite for that purpose. Notwithstanding therefore that the Fa­thers should have clearly and positively pronounced what they had thought, touching the Point in hand, which yet they have not done, as we have proved before: Let us suppose further, that they had been endued with all those qualities, which are requisite for the rendring a man fit to be a Supreme Judge, and from whom there can be no Appeal, which yet is not so, as we have already clearly proved: yet notwithstanding would all this be to no purpose, unless this Authority were acknowledged by both Parties.

The Old Testament is a Book which was written by Di­vine Inspiration, and is endued with so supreme an Autho­rity, as that every part of it ought to be believed. Yet doth not this work any whit at all with a Pagan, because he doth not acknowledge any such excellent worth to be in it.

In like manner is it, between the New Testament and the Jew: neither can it decide the Differences betwixt the Jews and us; not because it is not of sufficient Au­thority in it self; but, because it is not so to the Jew. And indeed he were worthy to be laughed at, whosoever should alledge, in disputing against the Pagans, the Authority of the Old Testament; or that of the New, for the bringing of a Jew over to our Belief.

Suppose therefore, that the Writings of the Fathers were clear, upon our Questions: nay which is more, let it be granted moreover (if you please,) that they were written by Divine Inspiration, and are of themselves of a [Page 128] full and undeniable Authority: I say still, that they can­not decide our Debates, if so be that either of the Parties shall refuse to acknowledge this great and admirable dig­nity to be in them; much less if both Parties shall refuse to allow them to have this Priviledge. Let us now therefore see, in what account the several Parties have the Fathers; and, whether they acknowledge them as the Supreme Judges of their Religion; or at least as Arbitra­tors, whose definitive Sentence ought to stand firm and inviolable. As for our Protestants of France, whom their Adversaries would fain perswade, if they could, to receive the Fathers for Judges in Religion; and to whom consequently they ought not, according to the Laws of a legitimate Disputation, to alledge for the proof of any Point in debate, any other Principles, than what they do allow of; it is evident, that they attribute to the Fathers nothing less, than such an Authority. For, in the Confes­sing of Faith they declare,Confess. de foy des Eglis. Ref. de Fran: Art. 4. in the very beginning of it, That they hold the Scriptures to be the Rule of their Faith▪ and as for all other Ecclesiastical Writings, al­though they account them to be useful, yet nevertheless do they not conceive, that a man may safely build any Arti­cle of Faith upon them.

And indeed seeing that they believe, (as the tell you immediately after,) that the Scripture containeth all things necessary both for the service of God, and the Sal­vation of mens Souls, they have no need of any other Judge, and should in vain have recourse to the Writings of the Ancients; the Authority whereof, how great so­ever it be, is still much less, both in it self, and also in re­spect of us, than that of the Bible.

In the next place they seriously profess, that their in­tent is to reform the Christian Doctrine according to this Rule; and to retain firmly what Articles of Faith soever are therein delivered; and to reject constantly all those, that are not there found laid down, how high and emi­nent soever the Authority be, that shall resci [...]d the one, [Page 129] or establish the other in the Belief of Men. It is not Lawful (say they) for Men, nor yet for the Angels themselves, either to add to, or to diminish from, or to alter it; neither may Antiquity, nor Customs, nor Multitude, nor Judgments, nor Humane Wisdom, nor Definitive Sentences, nor Edicts, nor Decrees, nor Councils, nor Visions, nor Miracles be brought in opposition to it: but on the contrary rather, all other things ought to be examined, regulated, and reformed by it. These be their own Words. If therefore they will not depart from this their Belief, which is as it were the Foundation and Key of their whole Reformation, they cannot receive the Fathers who lived in the Second, Third, and Fourth, and so in the following Centuries, as Judges, nor yet Absolutely and Simply as Witnesses, in the Points of Faith. For they all hold, That that Pure, Sim­ple, and Holy Doctrine, which was taught and preached by the Apostles at the beginning of Christianity, and de­livered over unto us by themselves in the New Testament, hath been by little and little altered and corrupted; Time, which changeth all things, continually mixing among it some Corruption or other; sometimes a Jewish or a Heathenish Opinion▪ and sometimes again some Nice Observation; otherwhiles some Superstitious Ceremony or other; whilst one building upon the Foundation with Stubble, another with Hay, a third with Wood; the Body seems at length, by little and little, to have become quite another thing than it Anciently was; we having, in stead of a Palace of Gold, and of Silver, a House built up of Plaister, Stone, Wood, and Mud, and the like pitiful Stuff. In like manner, (say they) as we see, that Brooks of Wa­ter, the farther distant they are from their Springs, the more Filth they contract, and the more doth their Water lose of its first Purity. And as a Man, the more he grow­eth in years, the more doth that Native Simplicity which appeared in him in his Infancy, decay; his Body and his Mind are changed, and he is so much altered by little and little, through Study, Art, and Cunning, that at length he [Page 130] seemeth to be clean another Man: In like manner (say they) hath it [...]ared with Christianity. And here they presently urge that notable Passage out of S. Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, where he speaks of a Great Falling away, which then in his time began already to work secretly and insensibly, but was not to break forth till a long time after; as you see it is in all Great Things, whether in Nature, or in the Affairs and Occurrences that happen to Mankind, which are all conceived and hatched slowly, and by degrees, and are sometimes a whole Age before they are brought forth.

Now, according to this Hypothesis, which, as I conceive, is equally common to us of France, and all other Pro­testants whatsoever, the Doctrine of the Church must Necessarily▪ have suffered some Alteration in the Second Age of Christianity, by admitting the Mixture of some New Matter into its Belief, and Policy: and so likewise in the Third Age some other Corruption must necessarily have got in; and so in the Fourth, Fifth, and the rest that follow; the Christian Religion continually losing some­thing of Its Original Purity and Simplicity; and on the other side still contracting all along some new Impu­rities, till at length it came to the highest Degree of Cor­ruption: in which condition, they say, they found it; and have now at last, by the Guidance of the Scriptures, restored it to the self-same State wherein it was at the Beginning; and have, as it were, fixed it again upon its true and proper Hinge, from whence, partly by the Igno­rance, and partly by the Fraud of Men, during the space of so many Ages together, it had by little and little been removed.

This therefore being their Opinion, they cannot ad­mit of, as the Rule of all their Doctrine, the Writings of any of the Fathers, who lived from the Apostles time down to ours, without betraying and contradicting themselves. For, according to what they maintain, touching the Progress of Corruption in Religion, there [Page 131] hath been some Alteration in the Christian Doctrine, both in the Second, Third, and all the following Ages.

And then again, according to what they conceive, and believe of their own Reformation, their Doctrine is the very same that was in the time of the Apostles, as being taken immediately out of their Books. If there­fore they should examine it by what the Fathers of the Second Century believed, there must necessarily be some­thing found in the Doctrine of the Fathers, which is not in theirs: and the Difference will be much greater, if the Comparison be made betwixt it, and the Doctrine of the Third, Fourth, and the following Ages; in all which, according to their Hypothesis, the Corruption hath con­tinually encreased. For, if their Doctrines were in every respect conformable to each other, and had in them nei­ther more nor less the one than the other, there must necessarily then follow one of these two things; namely, That either this Corruption, which they presuppose to be in the Belief, and Politie of the Church, is not that Secret which worked in S. Paul's time; or else, That their Reformation is not the Pure and Simple Doctrine of the Apostles: the Members of which Division are contradictory to those two Positions, which, as we have said, they all of them unanimously maintain. So that to avoid this Contradiction, it concerns them constantly to persevere in that which they profess is their Belief, in their Confession of Faith: to wit, That there are no Ecclesiastical Writings whatsoever, that are of so suffici­ent Authority, as that a Man may safely build upon them, and make them the Judges of Faith: and, That the Holy Scripture is the onely Rule by which all these things are to be examined.

And this is that which they All agree upon (as far as I have either read, or known;) as any Man may see in the Books of Calvin, Bucer, Melancthon, Luther, Beza, and the rest; who all relie upon the Authority of the Scriptures onely, and admit not of any part of the Au­thority [Page 132] of the Fathers, as a sufficient Ground whereon to build any Article of their Belief.

It is true, I confess, that some of their First Authors, as namely, Bucer, Peter Martyr, and J. Jewell Bishop of Salisbury, and in a manner all the Later Writers also, al­ledge the Testimonies of the Fathers; but (if you but mark it) it is onely by way of Confutation, and not of Establishing any thing: They do it onely to overthrow the Opinions of the Church of Rome, and not to streng­then their Own. For, though they hold, That the Doctrine of the Fathers is not so Pure as that of the Apostles; yet do they withal believe, that it is much Purer, than that which is at this day taught by the Church of Rome; the Purity of Doctrine having continually de­cayed, and the Impurity of it encreased, in such sort, as that the further they are removed from the Time of the Apostles, the nearer they approach (as they say) to­wards the afore-mentioned Falling away, spoken of by S. Paul.

Although the Protestants therefore allow the Scriptures onely for the True Foundation of their Faith; yet not­withstanding do they account the Writings of the Fathers to be Necessary also, and of good use unto them; first of all, in the Proving this Decay, which they say hath hapned in Christianity; and secondly, for the making it appear, that the Opinions which their Adversaries now maintain, were not in those days brought into any Form, but were as yet onely in their Seeds.

As for example, Transubstantiation was not as yet an Article of Faith; notwithstanding that long ago they did, innocently, and not foreseeing what the Issue might prove to be, believe some certain things, out of which, being afterwards licked over, by passing through divers several Languages, Transubstantiation was at length made up.

So likewise the Supremacy of the Pope had at that time no place in the belief of Men: although those small [Page 133] Threds, and Root-strings, from whence this Vast and Wonderful Power first sprung▪ long since appeared in the World.

And the like may be said of the greatest part of those other Points, which the Protestants will not by any means receive. And that this is their Resolution and Sense, appears evidently by those many Books which they have written upon this Subject, wherein they shew Historically the whole Progress of this Decay in Chri­stianity, as well in its Faith, as in its Polity, and Disci­pline.

And truly this their Design seemeth to be very suffici­ent, and satisfactory. For, seeing that they propose no­thing Positively, and as an Article of Faith, Necessary to Salvation, which may not easily and plainly be proved out of the Scripture; they have no need to make use of any other Principle▪ for the Demonstration of the Truth.

Furthermore, seeing that those Positive Articles of Faith which they believe, are in a manner all of them re­ceived, and confessed by the Church of Rome, as we have said before in the Preface to this Treatise, there is no need of troubling a Mans self to prove the same, those things which both Parties are agreed upon, being never to be proved, but are always presupposed in all Disputa­tions.

Yet notwithstanding, if any one have a mind to be in­formed, what the Belief of the Fathers hath been touch­ing the said Articles; it is an easie matter for them to make it appear, that they also believed all of them, as well as themselves: as, for Example. That there is a God, a Christ, a Salvation, a Sacrament of Baptism, a Sacra­ment of the Eucharist, and the like Truths; the greatest part whereof we have formerly set down, in the Begin­ning of this Discourse.

And as for those other Articles which are proposed to the World, besides all these, by the Church of Rome; it is [Page 134] sufficient for them, that they are able to answer the Ar­guments which are brought to prove them, and to make it by this means appear, that they have not any sure Ground at all, and consequently neither may, nor ought to be received into the Faith of Christians. And this is the Ʋse that the Protestants make of the Fathers; evi­dently making it appear to the World (out of them) that they did not hold the said Articles, as the Church of Rome doth at this day.

So that their alledging of the Fathers to this purpose onely, and indeed their Whole Practice in these Disputes, declare evidently enough, that they conceive not the Belief of the Church of Rome to be so perfectly and ex­actly conformable to that of Antiquity; especially of the Four or Five First Ages: which accords very well with their Hypothesis touching the Corruption of the Christian Doctrine: But yet no Man may conclude from hence, That they do allow of the Authority of the Fathers as a sufficient Foundation to ground any Article of Faith upon; for this is repugnant both to their Doctrine, and to the Protestation which they upon all occasions make expresly to the contrary. So that I cannot but ex­tremely wonder at the Proceeding of some of our Mo­dern Authors, who in their Disputations with the Pro­testants endeavour to prove the Articles of their Faith by Testimonies brought out of the Fathers; whereas the Protestants never go about to make good their own Opi­nions, but onely to overthrow those of their Adversaries, by urging the Fathers Testimonies.

For seeing that they of the Church of Rome main­tain, That the Church neither hath, nor can possibly err in Points of Faith; and, That its Belief in Matters of Faith hath always been the same that it is at this day; it is sufficient for the Protestant to shew, by comparing the Doctrine of the Ancient Fathers with that of the Church of Rome, that there is great Difference betwixt them: nei­ther doth this in any wise bind them to believe through­out [Page 135] whatsoever the Fathers believed; it being evident, according to their Hypothesis, that there may have some Errors crept into their Belief; though certainly not such, nor so gross ones, as have been since entertained by the Church in the Ages succeeding.

We shall conclude therefore, That the Protestants ac­knowledge not, neither in the Fathers, nor in their Wri­tings, any so Absolute Authority, as renders them capable of being received by us, as our Supreme Judges in Mat­ters of Religion, and such from whom no Appeal can be made.

Whence it will follow, That although the Fathers might really perhaps have such an Authority; yet notwithstand­ing could not their Definitive Sentence put an end to any of our Controversies: and therefore it concerns the Church of Rome to have recourse to some other way of Proof, if they intend to prevail upon their Adversaries to receive the aforesaid Articles.

But what will you say now, if we make it appear to you, that the Church of Rome it self doth not allow that the Fathers have any such Authority? I suppose, that if we are able to do this, there is no Man so perverse, as not to confess, That this Proceeding of theirs, in grounding their Articles of Faith upon the Sayings of the Fathers, is not onely very Insufficient, but very Inconvenient also. For, how can it ever be endured, that a Man that would perswade you to the Belief of any thing, should for that purpose make use of the Testimony of some such Persons as neither you nor himself believe to be Infallibly True, and so fit to be trusted? Let us now therefore see whe­ther those of the Church of Rome really have themselves so great an Esteem of the Fathers, as they would be thought to have, by this their Proceeding, or not.

Certainly several of the Learned of that Party have, upon divers occasions, let us see plain enough, that they make no more account of them, than the Protestants do. For, whereas these require, That the Authority of the [Page 136] Fathers be grounded upon that of the Scripture; and therefore receive nothing that they deliver, as Infallibly True, unless it be grounded upon the Scripture, passing by, or rejecting whatsoever they propose, either besides, or contrary to the Sense of the Scripture: the other in like manner will have the Judgment of the Fathers de­pend upon that of the Church in present being in every Age; and approve, pass by, or condemn all such Opini­ons of theirs, as the Church either approveth, passeth by, or condemneth. So that although they differ in this, That the one attributeth the Supremacy to the Scripture, and the other to the Present Church of their Age; yet notwithstanding they both agree in this, That both the one and the other of them equally deprive the Fathers of the same. Insomuch that they both of them spend their time unprofitably enough, whilst they trouble them­selves to plead their Cause before this Inferiour Court, where the wrangling and cunning Tricks of the Law have so much place; where the Judgments are hard to be got, and yet harder to be understood; and, when all is done, are not Supreme; but are such as both Parties be­lieve they may lawfully appeal from: whereas they might, if they pleased, let alone these troublesom and use­less Beatings about, and come at the first before the Su­preme Tribunal, whether it be that of the Scriptures, or of the Church; where the Suits are not so long, and where the Subtilty of Pleading is of much less use; where the Sentences also are more clear and express, and (which is the Chiefest thing of all) such as we cannot ap­peal from. But that we may not be thought to impose this Opinion upon the Church of Rome unjustly, let us hear them speak themselves.

Cardinal Cajetan,Thom. de Vio. Card. Cajet. praef in Pentat. Si quando occurrit no­vus sensus textui consonus, nec à sacra scripturâ, nec ab Ecclesiae doctrina dissonus, quamvis à torrente Doctorum sacro­rum alienus, rogo Lectores omnes ne praecipites dere­stentur, sed aequos se praebe­ant censores. Meminerint jus suum unicuique tribue­re: solis sacrae Scripturae auctoribus reservata aucto­ritas haec est, ut ideò sic cre­damus esse, quia ipsi ita scripserunt. Alios autem (inquit Augustinus) ita lego, ut quantalibet sanctitate do­ctrinaque praepolleant, non ideò credam sic esse, quia ipsi ita scripserunt. Nullus itaque detestetur novum S. Scripturae sensum, ex hoc quod dissonat priscis Docto­ribus; sed scrutetur per­spicacius textum & contex­tum Scripturae, & si quadra­re invenerit, laudet Deum, qui non alligavit expositio­nem S. Scripturarum prisco­rum Doctorum sensibus, sed Scripturae ipsi integrae sub Catholicae Ecclesiae censura. in his Preface upon the Five Books of Moses▪ sp [...]king of his own Annotations upon the same, saith thus: If you chance there to meet with any New Exposition, which is agreeable to the Text▪ and not Contrary either to tbe Scriptures, or to the Doctrine of [Page 137] the Church, although perhaps it differ from that which is given by the whole Current of the Holy Doctors; I shall desire the Rea­ders, that they would not too hastily reject it, but that they would rather censure charitably of it. Let them remember to give every man his due: there are none but the Authors of the Holy Scriptures alone, to whom we at­tribute such Authority, as that we ought to believe whatsoever they have written. But as for others, (saith St. Augustine) of how great Sanctity, and Learning so ever they may have been, I so read them, as that I do not believe what they have written, because they have written it.

Let no man therefore reject a new Expositi­on of any Passage of Scripture, under pretence that it is contrary to what the Ancient Do­ctors gave; but let him rather diligently ex­amine the Text, and the contexture of the Scripture; and if he find that it accordeth well therewith, let him praise God, who hath not tyed the Exposition of the Scriptures, to the sense of the Ancient Doctors, but to the whole Scripture it self, under the censure of the Ca­tholick Church. Melchior Canus, Bishop of the Canary Islands, having before declared himself, according as St. Augustine hath done, saying, that the Holy Scriptures only are exempt from all error, he further adds: Melch. Can. loc Theol. l. 7. c. 3. num. 4. Caeteroqui ne­mo quantumvis eruditus, & sanctus, non interdum hallu­cinatur, non alicubi caecutit, non quandoque labitur. But there is no man, how holy, or learned soever he be, that is not sometimes deceived, that doth not sometimes dote, that doth not sometimes slip. And then alledging some of those examples, which we have before produced, he concludes in these words: Id. ibid. Legendum itaque à nobis Patres veteres cum reverentia quidem, sed ut homines, cum delectu atque judicio. Let us therefore read the Ancient Fathers with all [Page 138] due Reverence, yet notwithstanding for as much as they were but Men, with Choice and Judgment.

And a little after he saith, That the Fathers sometimes fail, and bring forth Monsters, besides the ordinary course of Nature.Ibid. num. 7. Reliqui verò scriptores sancti inferiores & humani sunt, deficiunt­que interdum, ac mon­strum quandoque p [...]riunt, praeter convenientem Or­dinem, institutumque Na­turae And in the same place he saith, that To follow the Ancients in all things and to tread every where in their steps, as little Cbildren use to do in play, is nothing else but to disparage our own Parts, and to confess our selves to have neither Judgment, nor Skill enough, for the searching into the Trut [...]. No, let us follow them as Guides, but not as Ma­sters. Ambros Catharin. lib. 4. An­not. in Cajet. p. 273. Verissi­mum ergo est, quod sancto­rum dicta, vel scripta in se non sunt firmae auctoritatis, ut in singulis teneamur illis praebere assensum. It is very true (saith Ambrosius Catha­rinus in like manner) that the Sayings and Writings of the Fathers have not of them­selves any so absolute Authority, as that we are bound to assent to them in all things. The Jesuits also themselves inform us sufficiently in many places, that they do not reckon themselves so tyed to follow the Judgment of the Fathers in all things, as peo­ple may imagine.

Petavius in his Annotations upon Epi­phanius confesseth freely, Petav. in Epiph. pag. 205. Nos eâ, quâ par est, mode­ratione in divinorum homi­num, sed hominum, errores, ac lapsus non tam inquiri­mus, quam oblatos ultrò, ac vel invitis occurrentes, ne cui fraudi sunt, patefacimus: tueri tamen, ac defendere nihilo magis quàm eorum vitia, si quae fuerint, imitari debemus. That the Fathers were men; that they had their failings; and, that we ought not maliciously to search after their Errors, that we may lay them open to the world; but that we may take the liberty to note them, when ever they come in our way, to the end that none be deceived by them: and, that we ought no more to maintain, or de­fend their Errors, than we ought to imitate their Vices, if at least they had any: and again, Id. in Epiph. p. 244▪ Quan­quam multa sunt à sanctissi­mis Patribus, praesertim à Chrysostomo in Homiliis a­spersa, quae si ad exactae ve­ritatis regulam accommodare volueris, boni sensus inania videbuntur. That many things have slipped from them, which, if they were examined accor­ding to the exact Rule of Truth, could not [Page 139] be reconciled to any good sense: and, that Himself hath observed, Id. ibid. pag. 285. That they are out sufficiently, whensoever they speak of such Points of Faith, as were not at all cal­led in question in Their time. And to say the truth, He often rejects both Their Opinions, and Their Expositions also; and sometimes very Uncivilly too, as we have tou­ched Supr. c. 4. before, speaking of his Notes upon Epiphanius. And in one place, the Authority of some of the Fathers, which contradicted His Opinion, touching the Expositi­on of a certain passage in St. Luke, being objected against Him, He never taking the least notice at all of their Testi­monies, answers; Petav. in Epiph. pag. 110. Nec est quod certorum Pa­trum opponatur auctoritas, qui non aliud affirmare pos­sunt, quam quod ex Luca didicerunt, neque est ulla ratio cur ex illorum verbis Lucam interpretemur poti­us, quam ex Luca quae abillis asseverari videntur. That we ought to Inter­pret, and expound the Fathers by St. Luke, ra­ther than St. Luke by Them; because that They cannot herein say any thing, but what they have received from St. Luke: Which, in my Judgment, was very Judiciously spoken of him; and besides, Exactly agrees with what St. Augustine said before, and which may ve­ry well be applied to the greatest part of our Differences; in all which the Fathers could not know any thing, save what they learnt out of the Scriptures: so that Their Testimonies, in these Cases, ought according to the Opinion of this Learned Jesuit, to be expounded, and interpreted by the Scriptures, and not the Scriptures by Them. And this is the language of all the rest of them.

Ma [...]donate, who was a most bitter enemy of the Pro­testants, as ever there was any, having delivered the Judgment of some of the Fathers, who were of Opi­nion that the sons of Zebedee answered not so rightly, when being asked by our Saviour, whether or no they were able to drink of his Cup, and to be Baptized with the Baptism that he was Baptized with, they said unto him, that they were able; adds,Maldonat. in Matth. 20 22. Malo ego cre­dere, nec te­merè, nec in­scienter, sed amanter & verè respon­disse, &c. That for his part, he believes that they answered well. And in another place, expounding the 2 Verse of the 19 Chapter of St. Matthew, [Page 140] having first brought in the Interpretations of divers, and indeed in a manner of all the Fathers, he says at last, Id. in Mat. 19. 11 Quam interpreta [...]io­nem adduci non possum ut sequar, &c. That he could not be perswaded to understand the place; as they did.

And here you are to note by the way, that the meaning of that place is still controverted at this day.

How then can this man conceive, that the Protestants should think themselves bound necessarily to follow the Judgment of this Major part of the Fathers, which themselves make so light of? In another place, where he hath occasion to speak of those words of our Saviour; which are at this day in debate amongst us, The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. He is yet much more down-right, and says,Id. in Matth. 16. 18 Quo­rum verborum sensus non videtur mihi esse, quem omnes praeter Hilarium, quos legisse memini, auctores pu­tant. The sense of these words is not rightly given by any Author, that I can remember; except St. Hilary. So like­wise upon the 11 Chapter of St. Matthew, vers. 11. where it is said, The least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John Baptist: Id. in Matth. 11. 11. Ha­bet ex multis opinionibus quameligat lector; sed si meam quoque sententiam avet audire, liberè fatebor, in nulla prorsus carum meum qualecunque judicium acqui­escere. The Opinions of the Fathers upon this passage (saith he) are very different: and to speak my mind freely, none of them all plea­seth me.

In like manner upon the sixth Chapter of St. John;Id. in Joh. 6. vers 44. Am­monius, Cyrillus, Theophy­lactus, & Euthymius, respon­dent, non omnes tral [...]i, quia non omnes digni sunt: quod nimis affine est Pelagiano­rum errori. Ammonius (saith he) St. Cyril, Theophylact, and Euthymius answer, that all are not drawn, because all are not worthy. But this comes too near to Pelagianism. Salmeron, a famous Jesuit says thus: Salmer. in ep. ad Rom 5. disput 51. p. 468. Tertiò, argumentum petunt à Do­ctorum Antiquitate, cui semper major honor est ha­bitus; quam novitatibus. Respondetur, quamlibet aetatem Antiquitati semper detulisse, &c. sed illud efferi­mus quò juniores, eò perspicaciores esse Doctores. Our Adversa­ries bring Arguments from the Antiquity of the Fathers; which I confess hath always been of more esteem than Novelties.

I answer, That every Age hath yielded un­to Antiquity, &c. But yet we must take li­berty to say, that the later the Doctors are, [Page 141] the more quick sighted they are. And again, Ibid. col. 1. Denique contra hanc quam objectant multi­tudinem, respondemus ex verbo Dei; Exod 23. In ju­dicio plurimorum non acqui­esces sententiae, ut à vero devies. Against all this great multitude, which they bring against us, we answer, (saith he) out of the Word of God. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause, to decline after many, to wrest judg­ment. Michael Medina, disputing at the Council of Trent, touching the superiority of a Bishop above a Priest; the Authority of St. Hierome, and of St. Augustine being pro­duced against him, who both held, that the difference be­twixt them was not of Divine, but only of Positive, and Ecclesiastical Right, Pietr. S [...]a­vez Po [...]. hist. del Concil. Tri­dent. lib. 7. pag. 570. answers before the whole Congre­gation, That it is no marvel, that they, and some others also of the Fathers fell into this Heresie; this point being not as then clearly determined of.

And that no man may doubt of the honesty of the Historian, who relateth this, do but hear Bellarmine [...] who testifieth; Bellarm, de Cler. l. 1. c. 15. Michael Medina in lib. 1. de sacr. hom. orig & contin. d. 5. affirmat S. H [...]eronymum idem omnino cum Aerian [...]s sensisse: neque solum Hie­ronymum in ea haeresi fuisse, sed etiam Ambrosium, Au­gustinum▪ S [...]dulium, Prima­sium, Theodoretum, Occu­menium, & Theophylactum. That Medina assureth us, that St. Hierome was in this point of Aerius his opinion; and, that not only be, but also St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, Sedulius, Prima­sius, Chrysostome; Theodoret, Oecumenius, and Theophylact maintained all of them the same Heresie.

We need not bring in here any more Ex­amples: do but read their Commentaries, their Disputations, and their other Discour­ses, and you will find them almost in every page, either rejecting, or correcting the Fathers. But I must not pass by the Testimony of Cornelius Mussus, Bi­shop of Bitonto, who indeed is more ingenuous, and more clear than all the rest.

Gorn. Muss Episcop. Bi­tont. in ep ad Rom. c. 14. pag. 606. A [...]quo; Roma, quae­renda sunt divina Consilia, nisi ab illis, quibus myste­riorum Dei dispensatio credita est? Quem ergò pro Deo habemus, in hi [...] quae Dei sunt, quicquid i­pse dixerit tanquam Deum audire debemus. Ego (ut ingenuè fate [...]r) plus uni summo Pontifici crederem in his, quae fidei mysteria tangunt, quam mille Au­gustinis, Hieronymis, Gre­goriis; ne dicam Richardis, Scotis, Gulielmis Credo enim, & scio, quòd sum­mus Pontifex, in his quae fidei sunt, errare non po­test; quoniam auctoritas determinandi quae ad fidem spectant, in Pontifice resi­det. O Rome (saith he) to whom shall we go for Divine Counsels, unless to those persons to whose trust the Dispensation of the Divine Mysteries hath been committed. We are therefore to hear him, who is to us instead of [Page 142] God, in things that concern God, as God him­self. Certainly, for my own part (that I may speak my mind freely) in things that belong to the Mysteries of Faith, I had rather be­lieve one single Pope, than a thousand Au­gustines, Hieromes, or Gregories, that I may not speak of Richards, Scotusses, and Williams. For, I believe, and know, that the Pope can­not Erre, in matters of Faith, because that the Authority, and Right of determining all such things, as are at all Points of Faith, resides in the Pope. This Passage may seem to some, to be both a very bold, and a very indiscreet one: but yet whosoever shall but examine the thing seriously, and as it is in it self, and not as it is in its outward appearances only, which are contrived for the most part only to amuse the simpler sort of people. I am confident he will find, that this Author hath both most ingenuously, and most truly given the world an account, what Esteem the Church of Rome hath of the Fathers. For, seeing that these men maintain that the Pope is Infallible, and they confess with­all that the Fathers may have erred: who seeth not, that they set the Pope very much above the Fathers? Neither may it be here replied, that they do not all of them hold, that the Pope is Infallible. For, besides that those among them, who do contradict this Opinion, are both the least, and the least considerable part also of the Church of Rome; these very men attribute to the present Church in being, in every Age, this Right of Infallibility, which they will not allow the Pope: insomuch that a Council, now called together, is, according to their account, of much greater Authority than the ancient Fathers. So that there is no more difference at all, betwixt these men and the fore-mentioned Italian Bishop, save only that whereas they will have the Authority of the ancient Fathers to submit to the whole Body of Modern Bishops [Page 143] assembled in a General Council; He will have their Au­thority to be less, than that of a single Pope alone. All that can be found fault with in that speech of his, is per­haps that his Hyperbolical way of Expression, of a thou­sand Augustines, Hieromes, and Gregories; all which joyn­ed together, he, in too disdainful a manner, casts down be­neath the feet of one single Pope. But this height of Ex­pression may be somewhat excused in him, considering that such Excesses as these, are very ordinary with all high and free-spirited Persons.

But the Practice of the Church of Rome it self will be able to inform us more truly and clearly, what esteem they have of Antiquity. For, if we ought to stand to the Fathers, and not to depart from any thing that they have Authorized; nor to Ordain any thing that they were ignorant of, how comes it to pass, that we at this day see so many several Observations and Customs, which were observed by the Ancients, now quite laid aside? And whence is it, that we find in Antiquity no mention at all of many things, which are now in great request amongst us? There are as it were three principal Parts in Reli­gion; namely, Points of Belief, of Ceremony, and of Dis­cipline. We shall run them over lightly all three, and so far as is necessary only for our present purpose; that so we may let the world see, that in every one of these three parts they have both abolished, and established very many things, expresly against the Authority of the Ancients.

As for the first of these, we have formerly given the Reader some Tasts only, in the preceding Chapters. For we have seen, that the Opinion of the greatest part of the Ancient Church, touching the State of the Soul, till the time of the Resurrection, which besides is at this day also maintained by the Greek Church, was condemned, not much above two hundred years since, by the Church of Rome, at the Council of Florence; and a quite contrary Belief there established, as an Article of the Christian Faith.

[Page 144] We have seen besides, that the Opinion of the Fathers of the Primitive Church, and even down as far as to the end of the sixth Century after our Saviour Christ, and afterwards, was, that the Eucharist was as necessary to Salvation, as Baptism; and that consequently it was there­fore to be administred to little Children. And yet for all this, the Council ofConcil. Tri­dent. Sess. 21. Can. Si quis dixerit, par­vulis, ante­quam ad an­nos discretio­nis perveni­ant, necessa­riam esse Eu­charistae com­munionem, anathema sit. Trent hath condemned this Opinion, as an Error in Faith; withal Anathematizing, by a Canon made expresly for that purpose, all those who ever should maintain the same. Let him be Accursed (say they) who­ever shall say, that the Eucharist is necessary for little Chil­dren, before they are come to years of discretion. Only, that the Fathers might not take offence hereat, as having so fearful an Affront put upon them; these men have endeavoured to perswade both them and others, that they never did believe that, which themselves have most clearly, and in express Terms protested that they did be­lieve, as we have before made it appear: which is, to double the injury upon them, rather than to make them any reparations for it; seeing that they deal with them now, not as Hereticks only, but as Fools also; whom a man may at pleasure perswade that they do not believe that which they really do believe.

We have abundantly heard out of St. Hierome's mouth, how that the Opinion of the Chilasts was of old main­tained, by several of the Ancient Fathers; which yet is now condemned as an Error in Faith. And indeed the number of these kind of differences in Opinions is almost infinite.

It was accounted no Error in those days to believe, that the Soul was derived from the Father down to the Son, according to the ordinary course of Generation: but this Opinion would now be accounted an Heresie.

Epiphan ep. ad Joh. Hiero­sol. T. 2. p. 218. c. 2. Cum ergò haec vidissem in Ecclesia Christi contra auctoritatem Scripturarum, hominis pen­dentem imagi­nem, &c. The Ancients held, That it would be an opposing of the Authority of the Scriptures; if we should bang up the Picture of any Man in the Church: andConc. Elibe­ri. Can. 36. Placuit picturas in Ecclesia esse non debere, ne quod colitur aut adoratur, in parietibus de­pingatur. that we ought not to have any Pictures in our Churches, that That [Page 145] which we worship and adore, be not painted upon a Wall. But now the Council of Trent hath Ordained the quite contrary; and says, Concil▪ Trid. Sess. 25. Decreto de Invocat. &c. Sanctorum. Ima­gines porrò Christi, Deiparae Virginis, & aliorum Sanctorum, in templis praesertim habendas & retinendas, eisque debitum honorem & venerationem im­pertiendam. That we ought to have, and to keep, especially in our Churches, the Images of Christ, of the Virgin the Mother of God, and of the other Saints; and that we are to yield unto them all due Honour and Veneration.

Ambros August. Chrysost. &c. de quibus vide Melch, Canum de loc. Theolog. l. 7. num. 3. All the Ancient Fathers, as far as we can learn out of their Writings, believed, That the Blessed Virgin Mary was con­ceived in Original Sin. If now the Fa­thers of the Council of Trent accounted them to be the Judges of Faith, what moved them then to imagine, that we ought not to believe, that they maintained any such Opinion? For, having delivered their Definitive Sen­tence in a Decree there passed to this purpose, and de­clared, That this Sin, which hath spread it self over the whole Mass of Mankind, by Propagation, and not by Imitation, hath seised on every Person in particular; Conc. Trident. Sess. 5. Decreto de Pecc. Origin. Declarat tamen haec ipsa Sancta Synodus, non esse suae intentionis compre­hendere in hoc Decreto, ubi de Peccato Originali agitur, B. & immacula [...]am. Virginem Ma­riam, Dei genitricem. They at length conclude, That their In­tention is not to comprehend within this num­ber the Blessed and Ʋnspotted Virgin Mary, the Mother of God: Which Words of theirs it is impossible so to expound, as that they shall not in plain Terms give the Lie to All the Fathers.

For, if they mean by these Words, that the Virgin Mary was conceived without Sin, they flatly establish an Opinion which is contradictory to that of the Fathers; which is the grossest manner of giving them the Lie that can be.

If they mean here no more than this, (which Sense yet their Words will hardly be ever made to bear,) that it is not known as a certain Truth, that the Virgin Mary was conceived in Sin; they however honestly say [Page 146] in plain Terms, That these Good Men affirmed, as True, that which is yet Doubtful; and maintained as Certain, that which was but Problematical onely, and Questionable.

The Council of Laodicea, which is inserted into the Code of the Church Universal,Conc. Laod. Can. [...]9, 60. Cod. Graec. Can. Eccles. Ʋnivers. Can. 163. putteth not into the Canon of the Old Testament any more than Twenty two Books one­ly; excluding by this means out of this number the Book of Tobit, of Judith, the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and the two Books of the Maccabees. Melit. Sard. apud Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. 4 c. 27. Me­lito Bishop of Sardis, Origen. apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 6. c. 26. & in Philocal. c. 3. Origen, Cyril. Hieros. Catech. 4. Cyril of Hierusalem, Greg. Nazianz. Carm. 33. T. 2. p. 98. Gregory Nazianzene, Hilar. Praefat. in Psal. fol 2. S.Hilary, Epiphan. l. de Ponder & Mens. T. 2. p. 162. and Epiphanius, do all of them the same.Athan. ep. Festal. T. 2. p. 38, 39. & Synops. Script. p. 58. Athanasius, Ruffin. Expos. Symb. inter opera Cypr. p. 552. Ruffi­nus, andHac Prol. Galeato, & Prol. in lib. Salom. ad Paul & Eustoch. & Prol. in libr. Sal. ad Chron. & Heliod. & Praefat. in Esdr. S. Hierome expresly reject these very Books, and cast them out of the Canon. And yet notwithstanding, the aforesaid Council ofConc. Trident. Sess. 4. Decr. de Can. Script. Siquis autem libros [...]psos integros, cum omnibus suis partibus, prout in Ecclesia Catholica legi consueverunt, & in veteri vulgata Latina Editi­one habentur, pro sacris & Ca­no [...]icis non susceperit, &c. Ana­thema esto. Trent Ana­thematizeth all those who will not re­ceive, as Holy and Canonical, all these Books, with every part of the same, as they are wont to be read in the Church, and as they are found in the Old Latin Edi­tion, commonly called the Vulgar Tran­slation. Where, besides the Affront which they have offered to so many of the Ancient and most Eminent among the Fathers, and indeed to the Whole Primitive Church it self, which received this Conon of Laodicea in amongst its Ʋniversal Rules; they have also established a Position here, which was not till then so much as ever heard of in Christen­dom, namely, That the Old Vulgar Translation of the Bible is to be allowed of as Canonical and Authentick in the Church of God.

[Page 147] The CL Fathers of theConcil. Constant. I. Can. 3. [...]. Second Ge­neral Council, and the DCXXX. of the Conc Chalced Can. 28 [...]. Fourth, were all of them of Opinion, That the Ancients had advanced the See of Rome above that of other Bishops, by reason of the Preeminence and Temporal Greatness of the City of Rome, over other Cities: and for the same reason they also thought good to advance, in like manner, the Throne of the Patriarch of Constanti­nople to the same Height with the former, by reason of the City where he resided be­ing now arrived to the self-same Height of Dignity with Rome it self. I assure you, that for all this, he should now be Anathema Maranatha, whosoever should go about to derive the Supremacy of the Pope from any other Original, than from TƲ ES PETRƲS; &, PASCE OVES MEAS.

The Council of Trent Anathematizeth all those, who­soever shall deny, thatConc. Trid. Sess. 23 cap. 4. & Con. 7. Si quis dixerit, Episcopos non esse Presbyte­ris superiores, &c. anathema sit. Bishops are a Higher Order than Priests: and yetHieron. pas­sim: vide su­pra, lib. 1. c. ult. S. Hierome, and divers others of the Fathers have openly done the same.

We have already told you here before, That the Church of Rome long since Excommunicated the Greeks, because they hold, That the Holy Ghost proceedeth not from the Son, but from the Father onely.

And yet for all this, Theodoret, who expresly also de­med in Terms, that the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Son, as we have shewed in the preceding Chapter, was received by the Ancient Church, and in particular by Pope Leo too, as a True Catholick Bishop, without requiring him to declare himself any otherwise, or to give them any Satisfaction touching this Point.

And indeed, we might reckon up very many the like Differences betwixt the Roman and the Ancient Church: but these Examples we have here produced will suffice, to let the World see, how the Church of Rome [Page 148] holdeth, That the Authority of the Opinions of the Anci­ents ought to be accounted Supreme.

We shall proceed in the next place to say something of the Ceremonies in the Christian Religion.

The first of all is Baptism, which takes us out of Na­tures Stock, and engraffs us into Jesus Christ. Now it was a Custom heretofore in the Ancient Church, to plunge those they Baptized over head and ears in the Water, as bothTertul. lib de Cor. Mil. c. 3. Tertullian, Cypr. ep. 76. p. 211. ubi vide Pamel. S. Cyprian, Epiphan Pan. Haer. 30. p. 128. Epipha­nius, and others testifie. And indeed they plunged them thus three several times, as the sameTertul. lib. de Cor. Mil. c. 3. & lib. adv. Prax. c. 26. Tertullian, andHieron Dial. advers. Lucifer. T. 2. p. 187. In lavacro ter ca­put mergitare. S. Hierome both inform us. And this is still the Pra­ctice both of the Greek, and of the Russian Church, even at this very day. And yet not­withstanding, this Custom, which is both so Ancient, and so Universal, is now abo­lished by the Church of Rome. And this is the reason that theCassand. l. de Bapt. Inf. p. 693. Muscovites say, That the Latins are not Rightly and Duly Baptized, because they are not wont to use this Ancient Ceremony in their Baptism, which, they say, is expresly enjoyned them in the Canons of Joannes Metropolitanus, whom they hold to have been a Prophet.

And indeedGreg. Mon. Protosync. in Apol. contr. ep. Marc. p. 721. Tom 4 Conc. Gen. [...], &c. Gregory, the Greek Monk, who was notwithstanding a great Stickler for the Ʋnion in the Council of Florence, doth yet confess, in his Answer to the Epi­stle of Mark Bishop of Ephesus, that it is Necessary in Baptism, that the Persons to be Baptized should be thrice dipped over Head and Ears in the Water. At their com­ing out of the Water; in the Ancient Church they gave them to eat Milk and Honey, as the sameTertul. & Hieron. ubi supr. De­inde egressos lactis & mellis praegustare concordiam. Authors witness; and immediately after this, they made them all Partakers also of the Blessed Communion, both great and small: whence theAlvarez, in his Voyage to Ethi­opia. A tutti quelli che batte­zano, cosi maschi, come femine, donno il sacramento in pocaquantitá, &c. Custom [Page 149] still remains in Aethiopia, of Administring the Eucha­rist to Little Children, and making them take down a small quantity of it, as soon as ever they are Bi­ptised.

What have these our so great Adorers of Antiquity now done with these Ceremonies? Where is the Milk, or the Honey, or the Eucharist, which the Ancient Fathers were wont to administer to all, immediately after Ba­ptism? Certainly these things, notwithstanding the Pra­ctice of the Ancients, have been now long since buried, and forgotten at Rome.

In Ancient Times they often deferred the Baptising both of Infants, and of other People, as appears by the History of the EmperoursEuseb. de vita Constant. l. 4. Constantine the Great, of Socrat. Hist. Eccl. l. 3. [...]. 37. Constantius, ofId. [...]. c. 6. Theodosius, of Valentinian, and of Gratian, inAmbros. Orat. de obit. Valen­tin. T. 3. p 9. S Ambrose; and also by the Orations and Homilies ofGreg Nazi­anz. Orat. 40. Gregory Nazianzen, and ofBasil. Homil. [...]. S. Basil upon this Subject.

And some of the Fathers too have been of Opinion, that it is fit it should be deferred; as namely, Tertullian, as we have formerly noted of him.

How comes it to pass now, that there is not so much as any the least Trace or Footing of this Custom to be found at this day in the Church of Rome?

Nay, whence is it besides, that they will not so much as endure the very mention of it, and would abhor the Man that should but go about to put it in practice?

I shall here forbear to speak of the Times of Admini­string Baptism; which was performed ordinarily in the Ancient Church but onely upon the Eves of Easter-day, and of Whitsunday: Neither shall I say any thing of the Ceremony of the Paschal Taper, and the Albes, or White Vestments,Cassand. in Hymno, p. 227, 328. that the new baptised Persons were used to wear all Easter-Week; because that it may be thought perhaps, that these are too light Circumstances: al­though, to say the plain truth, if we are to regard the Au­thority of Men, and not the Reason of the Things them­selves, [Page 150] I do not at all see, why all the whole Rites should not still be retained, as well as those Exorcisms, and Re­nouncings of the Devil and the World, with all its Pomp and Vanities, which in Imitation of Antiquity, are at this day, though very improperly, acted by them over little Infants, though but of a day old.

As for the Eucharist, Cassand. in Liturg. c. 26. Cassander sheweth clearly, That it was Celebrated in the Ancient Church with Bread and Wine, offered by the People; and, that the Bread was first broken into several Pieces, and then Consecrated after­wards, and distributed among the Faithful.

Notwithstanding, the contrary Use hath now prevail­ed; neither do they Consecrate any Bread which is offer­ed by the People, which was the Ancient Custom, but onely little Wafer Cakes, made round in the Form of a Deneere, Apud Cassand. in Liturg. c. 26. p. 60. which yet is very sharply reproved in the Old Exposition of the Ordo Romanus, &c.

The sameCassand. in Liturg. p. 63, 64. c. 28. Cassa [...]der also gives us an Account at large, how that in Ancient Times the Canonical Prayer, and the Consecration of the Eucharist was read out with a loud Voice, and in such sort, as that the People might all of them be able to hear it, that so they might say Amen to it: whereas theConc. Trid. Sess. 22. c. 5. & can 9. Priest now pronounceth it with a very low Voice, so that none of the Congregation can tell what he says; and hence it is, that this part of the Li­turgy is called Secret.

We haveLib. 1. c. 5. formerly shewed, how that the Ancient Fathers concealed heretofore, as carefully as they could, the Matter and the Rites used in the Celebration of this Holy Sacrament; which they never performed in pre­sence either of the Catechumeni, or of Unbelievers. But now there is not any such care taken at all herein, but they Celebrate the Eucharist Openly and Publickly, even be­fore Jews, Pagans, or Mahometans, without any more regard had to these Ancient Rules, than as if there had never been any such thing.

And as if the Design of these Men were to run cross to [Page 151] Antiquity in all things, whereas they concealed the Sacra­ment as much as they could, these shew it now openly, and carry it publickly abroad every day through the Streets, and sometimes also go in Solemn Procession with it: which Custom of theirs is of very late standing among Christians, and which heretofore would have looked not onely very strangely, but would have been accounted ra­ther Profane and Unlawful. And thus have the Customs and Observations of the Ancient Fathers been quite laid aside, and other new ones, which they never heard of, instituted in their place.

The fameCassand. in Liturg. 55. c. 26. Cassander also proveth, That in Ancient Times they never celebrated the Eucharist, save onely in the presence of those that were to Communicate; and, that all the rest withdrew. It is most clear, that S. Chry­sostom very bitterly reproves those who would assist at the Celebration of the Eucharist; though not Communicate.

And indeed we at this day see in the Ethiopick Liturg. Ae­thiop. Liturgy, that the Gospel being read, the Deacon cries aloud, All you that will not receive the Sacrament, depart: Withdraw you, Catechumeni, And again, after the Creed is sung, he saith to the People,Ibid. Let them that will not Communi­cate, depart.

But now a days, for the most part, none of those who assist at the Celebra­tion, Communicate of it: they content themselves with Adoring the Sacrament onely, without partaking of it at all: whence you have this manner of speak­ing; To hear Mass; and, To see Mass. Chrysist. Homil. 3. in ep. ad Ephes. T. 3. p. 778. edit. Savilii. [...], &c. [...]. S. Chrysostome saith, Whosoever shall stay here, and not participate of the Myste­ries, behaves himself like an impudent, shameless Person. I beseech you (saith he) if any one that were invited to a Feast, should come and sit down, after he hath washed his Hands, and fitted him­self [Page 152] to come to the Table, and at length should forbear to touch any of those Dishes which are served in upon it, would not this be a very great Affront to him who invited him? Had he not better to have forborn coming at all? It is the very same Case here. Thou hast come, and hast Sung the Hymn; and, seeing thou hast not retired with those that were not worthy, hast thereby also professed thy self to be of the number of those who are Worthy. How comes it to pass, that seeing thou hast staid be­hind, thou dost not Communicate of this Table? and so on, as followeth in S. Chry [...]ostome. If any Man should now preach this Doctrine to the Romanists, would they not laugh at him, as a Ridiculous Fellow? forasmuch as their Custom in this Particular is far different (as every one sees) from what it was heretofore in the Ancient Church.

It is as clear as the day, that all along in the Ancient Church, it was Lawful for any of the Faithful to take home with them the Holy Eucharist, which they might keep in any Private place, to take it afterwards by them­selves alone, whenever they pleased.

Whence it is, that Tertullian adviseth those who durst not Communicate upon the days appointed for that pur­pose, for fear of breaking their Fast, to keep the Body of Christ by them. Tertul. lib. de Orat. c. 4. Acce­pto corpore Domini, & reser­vato, utrumque salvum est, & participatio Sacrificii, & exe­cutio officii. Receiving the Body of Christ (saith he) and keeping it by thee, both are preserved entire, both the Parti­cipation of the Sucrifice, and the Dis­charge of thy Duey. And this appears also by a Story related by S. Cyprian, of a certain Woman, Cyprian. l. de Laps p 244. Cum quaedam arcam suam, in qua Domini sanctum suit, manibus indignis tentasset aperire, igne inde surgente deterrita est, ne auderet attingere. Who going about to open, with unworthy hands, a Coffer of hers, where the Eucharist was laid up, she pre­sently saw Fire breaking forth thence, which so amazed her, as that she durst not touch it. And S. Ambrose also, a long while after S. Cyprian, testifieth sufficiently, That this Custom in his time [Page 153] continued in the Church; where he tells the story of his Brother Satyrus, who being upon the Sea, and in danger of shipwrack, Ambros. de obit. Satyr. p. 19. T. 3. Non mortem metu­ens, sed ne vacuus myste­rii exiret è vita, quos initiatos esse cognoverat, ab his divinum illud fide­lium Sacramentum po­poscit, non ut curiosos oculos insereret arcanis, sed ut fidei suae conse­queretur auxilium. Ete­nim ligari fecit in orario, & orarium, involvit col­lo, atque ita se dejecit in mare. And fearing withal lest he should go out of the world without the Holy Mysteries, (for he was yet but of the num­ber of the Catechumeni,) he made his ad­dresses to those whom he knew to have been initiated, and desired of them to give him the Divine Sacrament of the Faitbful: not that he might therewith satisfie the Curiosity of his Eyes, but that it might strengthen his Faith. And so having put it into a hand­kerchief, and then tying the handkerchief about his neck, he threw himself into the Sea, and was saved. If Rome doth indeed bear so great respect to the Fathers, as they would make us believe, why hath it not then retained this Custom? Why then should that which was then so ordinarily practised, be now in our days so much disliked, as that they will not by any means Conc. Trid. Sess. 25 de re­gul. & Mon. cap. 10. permit the Fryers to keep the Eucharist in their Covent, nor yet in their Quire, nor in any other place, save only the Publick Church. St. Ambrose informs us moreover, that in those times they made no scruple at all of carrying the Eucharist upon the Sea: which Custom of the Ancients is so much disliked by the Church of Rome in our days, as that they hold it an unlawful thing, either to Consecrate, or to carry the Sacrament ready consecrated, upon any water whatever, whether it be that of the Sea, or of Ri­vers.

This very Custom of the Ancients keeping the Sa­crament by them, proves unto us very clearly, that the Faithful in those days received the Sacrament with their Hands: which is also plainly enough intimated unto us by Tertullian; where inveighing against those among the Christians, who were Gravers, or Painters by their [Page 154] Profession; he reproveth them,Tertul. lib. de [...]ol. cap. 7. E [...]s manus admov [...]re corpo­ri Domini, quae Daemoniis corpora conferunt. for touch­ing the Body of our Saviour with those very hands, which bestowed bodies on Devils: that is to say, with those hands, wherewith they made Idols. Cyprian. epi [...]t. 56. & lib. de bo [...] Patientiae p. 3▪ 6. St. Cyprian is clear in this point in divers several places:Gr [...]g. Naz. Ca [...]m. 6. 3. [...], &c. Gregory Nazi [...]nzene also testifieth the same in his LXIII Poem. And in the Canons of the Council of Constantinople in Trullo, holden in the year of our Lord DC. LXXX. there is one,Synod. Quinis. Can. 101. [...], &c. which appointeth, That he, who is to Communicate, place his hands in the form of a Cross, and so receive the Communication of Grace: which had been the Practice, down from the time of St. Cyril of Jerusalem. And yet notwithstanding there is no man but knows, that this Custom hath no place now in the Church of Rome; where the Communicants receive the Eucharist, not with their hand, but with their mouth, into which it is put by the Priest.

I would also very gladly be informed, by what Canon of the Ancient Church those single Masses, which are now celebrated, and said every day, where none Communicates but the Priest alone who Consecrates the Host, were instituted, or permitted: and withal, how that Respect, which they pretend they bear to Antiquity, can stand with that Canon of the Council of Trent, which saith:Conc. T [...]id. Sess. 22. c. 6 & Can. 8. Si quis dixerit Mis­sas, in quibus solus Sacerdos sacramentaliter communica [...], illicitas esse, ideoque abro­gandas, anathema sit Whosoever shall say, that those Mas­ses, wherein the Priest alone Communicateth Sacramentally, are unlawful, and fit to be abolished, let him be Accursed: seeing that these kind of Masses were utterly unknown to the Ancient Church, asCassan. C [...]nsult. [...]ad Ferdin. &c. p 995. & in Liturg p. 83. cap 33. Cassander proveth at large, in his Consultatio de Arti­culis Religionis, written to the Emperour Ferdinand.

But that which most of all gives offence to those that are devoted to A [...]tiq [...]ity, is, the Custom which the [Page 155] Church of Rome hath introduced, and established, by the express Decrees and Canons of two of their General Councils, the one holden atConc. Con­stant. Sess. 13. Constance, and the other at Conc Trid. Sess: 21. c. & 2. Can. 2. Trent, of not allowing the Communion of the Cup to any, save only to the Priest who Consecrates the same; ex­cluding by this means, first of all, all the Laity, and se­condly all the Priests also, and other of the Clergie, who had not the Consecrating of it: whereas the whole An­cient Church, for the space of fourteen hundred years, admitted both the one and the other to the Communion of the Holy and Blessed Cup, as well as to the participati­on of the Consecrated Bread; as those of these two Coun­cils themselves confess, in theIbid. c. 2. Licet ab initio Christianae Religionis non in­frequens utriusque specici usus fuisset, &c. Preface to this New Constitution. And this is still the practice also at this day, among all Christi­ans throughout the World, both Russians, Jerem. P. CN. Resp. 1. ad Wi [...]emb. Greeks, Armenians, Alvarez. in his V [...]yage, ch. 11. Quanti si commu­nicano col corpo, si com­municano [...]uche col san­gue. Ethiopians, Confess Eccles. Angl. art. 12. Prote­stants, and all others in general, except the Latines only, who are of the Communion of the Church of Rome. But besides that the Ancients permitted this Communion under both Kinds, (as they use to speak,) it seemeth (which is yet much more,) that, un­less it were in some extraordinary Cases, they did not at all permit the Communica­ting under one Kind only. For otherwise, why should PopeLeo [...] P. R. Serm. 4 de Qua­drag pag 108. Cumque ad tegendam infidelitatem su­am nostris audeant interesse mysteriis, ita in Sacramen­torum communione s [...] tem­p [...]ra [...]t, ut [...]terdum [...]utiùs lateant, ore ind [...]gno Christi corpus accipiunt, Sangui­nem autem▪ redemptionis nostrae omninò haurire de­cli [...]nt. Quod ideò vestram volumus scire sanctitatem, ut vobis huiusmodi homines & his manifest entur indiciis, &c. Leo give this very thing, as a mark to distinguish the Manichees from the Catholicks? When they sometimes are present at our Mysteries (saith he) that so they may hide their infidelity, they so order the matter in their participating of these Mysteries, as that they receive the body of Christ into their unworthy mouth, but will no [...] take into it one drop of the Blood of our Re­demption: and he further adds; That he gives his Auditory this advertise [...], that th [...]y [Page 156] may know these men by this Mark. Should this Pope now arise from his grave, and come into the World again he would certainly believe, that all those, who adhere to his See, were turned Manichees, except the Consecrating Priests only. How b [...]sides will you be able, without this Hy­pothesis, to explain that D [...]cree of Pope Gelas. Joh. & Maj Episc. Decre [...]. de Consecrat. dist 2. cap. 12 Comperimus autem, quod qu [...]dam sumpta tan­tummodò corporis sacri por­tione, à calice sacri cruoris abstineant, &c. quia, divisio unius ej [...]sdemque Mysterii sine grandi sacrilegio non potest provenire. Gelasius, which saith: We are informed, that there are some, who having taken a small portion of the Sacred Body only, forbear to partake of the Cup of the Consecrated Blood; doing this, as we hear, out of I know not what superstitious conceit wherewith they are pos­sessed: We therefore will, that they either partake of the whole Sacrament, or else that they be wholly put back from communicating of either: for asmuch as there cannot, without very great Sacriledge, any division be made in one and the same Mystery. And in the last place, what can you otherwise say to that story which is related by the Accusers of Act. Concil. Ch [...]llced. act. 16. pag. 356. Tom. 2. Concil. Gen. [...]. Ibas, Bishop of Edessa; how that having one time made but a very scanty provision of Wine for the service of the Altar, which, after it had been begun to be distributed about to the Communicants, began quickly to fail; He perceiving this, beckned to those, who delivered about the Holy Body, that they should come back again; because there was no more left of the blood of our Saviour? For, what need was there of making them to give over their business, because there was no more Wine, if so be it was at that time lawful, to distribute the Bread alone, without the other Kind, of Wine? If the Councils of Trent, and of Constance had accounted the Authority of the Fathers to have been Su­preme, how came it to pass that they abolished that, which had for so long time, and so constantly been ob­served by them▪ And, how again doth this other Canon of the Council of Trent suit with that Respect, which [Page 157] they pretend to bear toward Antiquity; where it is said, that,Conc. Trid. Sess 21. Can. 2. Si quis dixerit sanctam Ec­clesiam Catholicam non ju­stis causis & rationibus addu­ctam fuisse, ut laicos, atque etiam Clericos non confici­entes sub panis tantummodò specie communicaret, aut in eo errasse, anathema sit. Whosoever shall say, that the Holy Catholick Church hath not been induced by just Causes, and Reasons, to com­municate to the Laity, and even to the Priests too, who do not Cons [...]rate, under the Kind of Bread only; or that it hath [...]rred in this Point, let him be Accursed? For, it seemeth to be no very easie matter, to be able to ac­quit the Modern Church, without condemning the Ancient, seeing their Practices have been manifestly contradictory to each other; the Modern Church forbidding that, which the Ancient permitted; and the Ancient Church seeming to have expresly forbid that; which the Modern comman­deth. How can you say, that the one had just Reasons for what it did; unless you withal grant, that the other in doing the contrary, had either no Reason at all, or else but very unjust ones? seeing it is most clear, that nei­ther the World, nor the Times are any whit changed, within this two hundred years, from what they were before. For, it is impossible for any man to alledge any Reason, for the Practice of the Moderns, which should not in like manner have obliged the Ancients: nor again to produce any Reason for the contrary Practice of the Ancients, which doth not in like manner oblige the Moderns. So that of necessity, either the one or the other of them must needs have been guilty either of Errour, or at least of Negligence, and of Ignorance. We may very well therefore conclude, that the Church of Rome, seeing it believes it self to be Infallible, manifestly in this particular condemned the Ancient Church, as guilty of Ignorance, or of Negligence at the least; which, in my Judgment, seems not so well to become those persons, who do nothing else but continually preach unto us the Honour of Antiquity. But here now will all the true Honourers of Antiquity have as good sport as can be. For, as for those Reasons, by which the Fathers [Page 158] of the Council of Trent were induced to make the afore­mentioned Decree; how (will they say) may we be able to come to the knowledge, whether they were just or not; seeing that they themselves produce none at all? Whereas the Reasons, which moved the Ancients to do as they did, and which you have set down at large in a certain Dis­course printed at Paris, Inter Opera Cassand. pag. 1019. at the end of Cassanders Works, are very solid, and clear, and, in my judgment, very full both of Wisdom and of Charity. But we shall not need to enter any further into this Contestation: it is sufficient for my purpose, that the Church of Rome, in doing thus, hath manifestly abolished a very ancient Custom in the Church.

Besides these Ceremonies, which were practised by the Fathers in Baptism, and in the Eucharist, they have said by many other also, which have been heretofore in use in the Church. I shall not here speak of the Fasting upon Saturdays, which is observed by the Church of Rome, contrary to the ancient practice of the whole Christian Church besides, who all accounted it unlawful: because this difference in Practice is as ancient as August. T. 2. Ep. [...]6. ad Ca­sulan. p. 74. & 75. St. Augustine's time, and therefore ought not to be imputed to the Modern Church of Rome. I shall for the same reason also pass by that whichFirmil. in ep. ad Cypr. quae est inter Epist. Cypr. 75. Eos qui Romae sunt non ea in omnibus observare, quae sint ab origine tradita, ut frustra Apostolorum Auctoritatem praetendere, scire quis etiam inde potest, &c. Firmilian [...]s saith; namely, how that in his time, that is to say, about two hundred and fifty years after the Na­tivity of our Saviour Christ, Those of Rome, did not in all things observe, whatsoever had been delivered from the beginning; and, that they did in vain alledge the Authority of the Apostles. But this I shall desire the Reader to take notice of, that anciently it was a general Custom throughout all Christendom, not to Kneel, neither upon the Lords days, nor upon any day b [...]twixt Easter day and Whitsunday; which Custom hath been generally abolished by the whole Church of Rome: and yet notwithstanding, whether you con­sider, [Page 159] the Antiquity, or whether you look upon the Au­thority of those who both practised this themselves, and also recommended it to our observation, you will hardly find any more venerable Custom than this. For, thePseud. Just. Q. & R. Quaest. 115. [...], &c. Au­thor of the Questions and Answers, attribu­ted to Justin Martyr, makes mention of this Custom, and withal gives the Reason and Ground of it; and besides, proveth by a cer­tain passage, which he produceth out of Ire­naeus, that it had its beginning in the Aposto­lical Times. Epiph. lib. de Coron. milit. cap. 3. Tertullian also speaks of it; and bothEpiph. in Panar. in conclus. ope [...]is. Epiphanius, andHieron. Dial. contr. Lucifer. p. 187. T. 2. St. Hierome reckon it among the Institutions of the Church: and, which is yet more than all this, the Sacred General Council of Nice au­thorized the same, by an express Canon, made to that purpose.Conc. Nic. Can. 20. [...]. For as much as there are some, (say these CCC. XVIII. Venerable Fathers) who Kneel upon the Lords Day; and upon the days of Pentecost, to the end that in all Parishes, or (as we now speak) Dioceses, there may be the same Order observed in all things, this Holy Synod ordaineth, that (on these days) they all pray Standing.

And this ancient Constitution was revi­ved again, and explained, in theSynod. Quinisex. Can. 90. Council of Constantinople in Trullo, toward the end of the seventh Century; where it was expresly forbidden to Kneel, during the space of those twenty four hours that pass betwixt Saturday Evening, and Sunday Evening. Every body knows also, how that they have abrogated the Fast, that was wont to be observed upon the Fourth day of the week, that is to say, on Wednesday; which yet was the Practice of the Ancients, as appears by what we find inIgnat. Epist. 5. Ignatius, inPetr. Alex­and. in MS. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria [Page 160] and a Martyr, inEpiph. Panar. haer. 75. Acrii, pag. 910. [...]; Epiphanius, Clem. Alex. Strom. l. 7. p. 317. Clemens Alexandrinus, and others.

By the same Liberty have those Vigils been abolished, which were ordinarily kept by the Ancient Church, and both approved, and defended also byHieron. l. cont. Vigil p. 163. De Vigiliis & pernoctationi­bus Martyrum saepe celebran­dis, &c. St. Hierome, against Vigilantius, who found fault with them; though his Opinion hath now at length found more favour in the World, than St. Hierome's. The sameId Com 4. in Matth. p. 121. Unde reo [...] & Traditionem Apostolicam permansiss [...], ut in die Vigiliarum Paschae an­te noctis dimidium populos dimittere non liceat, expe­ctantes adventum Christi. Father in another place delivers unto us, for an Apostolical Tradition, that Custom, which they had in his time, of not suffering the people to de­part out of the Church, upon Easter Eve, till midnight was past. What is now be­come of this Custom; which was not only an ancient one, but was derived also from the Apostles themselves, if you dare believe St. Hierome?

We are informed from several Hands, that that Com­mand of Abstaining from Blood, and from Things strang­led, was for a long time observed in the Church. And it appears evident enough, that i [...] was most Religiously kept in the Primitive times, both by the Testimony of Tertul. Apo­log. p. 38. Tertullian, and ofEuseb. hist. Eccles. l. 5 c. 2. Eusebius. And theSynod. Qui­nise. Can. 7. Council of Constantinople in Trullo excommunicates all those of the Laity, and deposeth all those of the Clergie, that shall offend therein. AndPamel. in A­polog. Tertull. num. 38. Pamelius, in his Notes upon Ter­tullians Apologeticks, informs us, that it is not long since the observation of this Custom was first laid a side among Christians; it being not much above four hundred [...], since there was some certain Penalties appointed for those that should violate the same. And yet notwithstanding, for all its Antiquity, and Ʋniversality, it is at length quite vanished; the Church of Rome having in very gen­tle wise, and by little and little laid it asleep; [...]no man, that I know of, having taken the least notice either of the [Page 161] Time, when, or the Manner, how this was done: Only this we all see plainly enough, that it is now quite out of Use.

The like may be said of that Custom of Praying for the Saints Departed, which was clearly the Practice of the Ancients.Epiph. Pan. Haer. 75. Acrii pag. 911. [...], &c. We pray (saith Epiphanius) for the Just, the Fa­thers, the Patriarchs, the Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, &c. that we may di­stinguish the Lord Jesus Christ from the order of Men, by that Honour which we pay unto Him. We have also some of their Prayers to this purpose yet remaining; as namely, in the Liturgy ofLiturg. Jacob. pag. 29. Edit. Par. An. 1560. apud Guliel Morel. [...], &c. St. James. And in the Liturg. Syriac Basil. Syriack Liturgie of St. Basil, after they had mentioned the Patriarchs, the Prophets, John Baptist, St. Stephen, the Virgin Mary, and all the rest of the Saint, they at last added; We daily send up our Prayers and Supplications unto thee for them. And a little after; Lord, remember also (saith the Priest) all those, who are departed this life, and the Orthodox Bishops, who have made a clear and open Profession of the true Faith, from the Apo­stles, Peter and James, to this day; of Igna­tius, Dionysius, &c. And then he saith, with a loud voice: Remember also, Lord, those who have persevered even to Blood, for the Word of a Good Fear. So likewise in the Liturgy ofLiturg. Chrysost. [...], &c. vide & Liturg. St Marc. T. 2. Gr. Lat. Bibl. PP. pag. 34. [...], (not.) &c. Mox: [...], &c. St. Chrysostom; We offer unto thee this Reasonable Service, for all those who hav [...] departed in thy Faith, &c. And yet notwithstanding the Church of Rome hath utterly abolished this Custom; and without all question, believes, that you could not do the Saints a greater injury, than if you should now make any such Supplications for them. [Page 162] Those that are curious may obserue many other the like differences betwixt the Anti­ents and the Church of Rome, in their Customs and Ceremonies.

Neither is there any whit less in their Discipline. One of the chiefest of these Differences, and which is indeed the Ori­ginal of a great part of the rest, is, in the Elections and Ordinations of Ecclesiastical Ministers, which is the true Basis and Ground­work of the Discipline and Ministry of the Church. It is clear, that in the Primitive times they depended partly on the People; and not wholly on the Clergy; but every Company of the Faithful, either chose their own Pastors, or else had leave to consider, and to approve of those, that were propo­sed unto them for that purpose.Pont. Diac. in vita Cypr. Judicio Dei, & plebis [...]avo­re, ad officium Sacerdot [...], & Episcopatus gradum ad­huc neophytus, ut putaba­tur, novellus, electus est. Pontius, a Deacon of the Church of Carthage, saith, that St. Cyprian, being yet a Neophyte, was elected to the Charge of Pastor, and the Degree of Bishop, by the Judgment of God, and the Favour of the People. St. Cyprian also telleth us the same in several places.Cyprian, epist. 52. pag. 97. Factus est aurem Cornelius Episcopus, de Dei & Chri­sti ejus judicio, de Clerico­rum penè omnium testimo­nio, de plebis, quae tunc affluit suffragio, & de Sa­cerdotum antiquorum, & honorum virorum Colle­gio. In his LII. Epistle, speaking of Cornelius, he saith, That he was made Bishop of Rome, by the Judgment of God, and of his Christ, by the Testimony of the greatest part of the Clergi [...], by the Suffrage of the People, who were there present, and by the Colledge of Pastors, or Ancient Bishops, all Good and Bious men. And in another place he saith; thatIdem. Epist. 68. pag. 166. Quando ipsa (plebs) maxi­mè habeat potestatem vel eligendi dignos Sacerdotes, vel indignos recusandi. Quod & ipsum videmus de divina auctoritate descen­dere, ut Sacerdos plebe praesente sub omnium oculis deligatur, & dignus atque idoneus publico judicio ac testimonio comprobetur. Ibid. pag. 166. Propter quod diligenter de traditio­ne divina, & Apostolica ob­servatione observandum est, & tenendum, quod apud nos quoque, & ferè per pro­vincias universas tenetur, ut ad ordinationes ritè▪ ce­lebrandas, ad eam plebem, cui Praepositus ordinatur▪ Episcopi ejusdem provin­ciae proximi quique conve­niant, & Episcopus deligatur plebe praesente, quae singu­lorum vitam plenissime no­vit, & uniuscujusque actum­de ejus conversatione per­spexerit. It is the [...]eo­ple, in whom the power chiefly is, of chusing Worthy Prelates, or refusing the Ʋnworthy. Which very thing (saith he) we see is deri­ved from Divine Authority, that a Bishop is to be thosen in the presence of all the People; [Page 163] and is declared either Worthy or Ʋnworthy, by the Judg­ment and Testimony of all. Therefore (saith he a little after) ought men diligently to retain, and observe, according to Divine Tradition, and Apostolical Custom, that which is also observed by us, and in a manner by all other Provinces: namely, that for the due and orderly Proceeding in all Or­dinations, the Neighbouring Bishops of the same Province are to meet together at that place, where a Bishop is to be chosen; and the Election of the said Bishop is to be perfor­med, in the presence of the People of that place, who fully know every mans life, and by their long conversation toge­ther, understand what their behaviour hath been. And hence it was that Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia, find­ing fault with many things in the Ordination of Atha­nasius, reckoned this also among the rest, c that it had been performed without the Consent of the People. To which answer was made again, by the d Council of Alexandria, that the whole People of Alexandria had all with one voice de [...]ired him for their Bishop, giving him the largest Testimonies that could be, both for his Piety and his Fitness for the undertaking that Charge. In like manner Julius, Bishop of Rome, among other faults which he found in the Ordination of Gregory, who had been made Bishop of Alexandria, adds, Julius ap. Athan. Apol. 2. pag. 748, 749. [...], &c. That he had not been desired by the People.

And it appeareth clear enough both out ofHieron. lib. 1. advers. Jovin. pag. 57. Tom. 2. & Com. 10. in Ezech. pag. 968. Tom. 4. & Com. in Agg. pag. 512. Tom. 5. & Com. 1. in Epist. ad Gal. pag. 271. Tom. 6. St. Hierome, and by the Acts of the Councils ofConc. Const. 1. in Epist. ad Damas. pag. 94, & 95. Tom. 1. Conc. Gene [...]. Constantinople, and ofConc. Chalced. act. 11. p. 375. Tom. 2. Conc. Gen. & act. 16. pag. 430, &c. Chal­cedon, and also by thePontific. Rom in Ordinat. Presbyter. fol. 38. vide supr. l. 1. c. 4. Pontificale Romanum, and several other pieces, that this Custom continued a long time in the Church. But it is now above seven Hundred and Eighty years, since the Church of Rome ordained, in the VIII. Council, (which notwithstand­ing hath been always unanimously and con­stantly rejected by the Eastern Church to [Page 164] this very day,) that the Promotions and Consecrations of Bishops should be perfor­med by the Election and Order of the Col­ledge of Bishops only; forbidding, upon pain of Excommunication, all Lay persons what­soever, evenConc. VIII. Can. 22. Tom. 3. Conc. pag. 282. Neminem Laicorum principum, vel potentum semet inserere electioni vel promotioni Pa­triarchae, vel Metropolitae, aut cujuslibet Episcopi, &c. praesertim cum nullam in ta­libus potestatem, quenquam potestativorum, vel caetero­rum Laicorum habere con­venist, sed potiùs silere, ac attendere sibi, usque quò regulariter à Collegio Eccle­siae suscipiat finem electio futuri Pontificis. Princes themselves, to meddle in the Election or Promotion of any Patriarch, Metropolitan, or any other Bishop whatsoever; declaring withal, that it is not fit, that Lay persons should have any thing at all to do in these matters: it becoming them rather to be quiet, and patiently to attend, till such time as the Election of the Bishop that is to be chosen be Regularly finished, by the Colledge of Clergy­men. And thus have they by this one Ca­non-shot beaten down the Authority of the Fathers, and of the Primitive Church; who always allowed to the faithful People some share in the Elections of their Pastors: neither hath this Custom been able ever since to lift up its head again; the People being (as every man knows) now, more than ever, defrauded of this their Right, and having not the least share in the Elections, not of Popes, Primates, or Archbishops only, but not so much as of the meanest Bi­shop that is.

And as the People Anciently had their voice in the Election of their Pastors; so probably also they had the like in all other Affairs of Importance, that hapned in the Church. There happening in St. Cyprians time a very great Persecution, many, who had been forced to yield by the cruelty of the Pagans, being afterwards touched with a sense of their fault, desired to return to the Church again: but yet to avoid the shame, and the length, and rigour of those Penances, which were usually imposed upon all such Offenders, the greatest part of them begged of their Confessors to be favourably dealt withal, and corrupted their Priests, that so [Page 165] they might be received again into the Communion of the Church, without undergoing Canonical Penance. St. Cyprian, who was a strict Observer of Discipline, wrote many things against this Abuse; by which it evidently appeareth, that the People had their Right also in the hearing and judging of these Causes. For in his X. Epistle he saith,Cyprian. Epist. 10. pag. 30. Acturi & apud nos, & apud Confessores ipsos, & apud plebem universam causam suam. that those Priests that had received any such Offenders rashly, and con­trary to the Discipline of the Church, Should give an account of what they had done, to himself, to the Confessors, and to the whole People. And in another place, writing to the People of Carthage, Id. Epist. 12. pag. 33. Cum pace nobis omnibus à Domi­no prius data, ad Ecclesiam regredi coeperimus, tunc examinabuntur singula, prae­sentibus & judicantibus vo­bis. When the Lord (saith he) shall have restored peace unto us all, and that we shall be all returned to the Church again, we shall then examine all these things, praesentibus vobis, & judicantibus, You also being present, and judging of them. And it is in this same Epistle, and touching this very Point, where he addeth that Passage, which we have before produced, in the Chapter touching the Corruption of the Writings of the Ancients. I desire them (saith he) that they would patiently hear our Council, &c. to the end that, when many of us Bishops shall have met together, we may examine the Letters and desires of the Blessed Martyrs, according to the Discipline of the Lord, and in the presence of the Con­fessors, and also according as you shall think fit. And hence it is, that in one of his former Epistles he protested to his Clergy,Cypr. ep. 6. p. 19. Quando à primordio Episcopatus mei statuerim nihil sine con­silio vestro, & sine consensu plebis meae, privata senten­tia gerere. That from his first coming to his Bishoprick he had ever resolved to do nothing of his own head, without their Advice, and the Approbation of his People. He that would yet be more fully satisfied in this particular, may read theId. epist. 14. & 28. & 40. & 59. quaescripta est nomine LXVI. Episcoporum: & epist, 68. & in praefat. Concil Car­thag. XIV. Epistle of the same Father, and the XXVIII. touching the business of Philumenus and Fortunatus, two Subdeacons; as also the XL. touching [Page 166] the business of Felicissimus; and the LXVII. which he wrote to the Clergie and People of Spain joyntly, com­mending them for having deposed their Bishops, who were guilty of hainous crimes. But now that no man may think that this was the Practice of the Church of Carthage only, I shall here take occasion to inform the Reader, that theEpist. quae est inter Cypr. ep. 31. Quanquam nobis in tam ingenti negotio placeat, quod & tu ipse tractasti priùs, Ecclesiae pacem susti­nendam, deinde sic collati­one Consiliorum cum Epis­copis, Presbyteris, Diaconis Confessoribus, pariter ac stantibus Laicis facta, lapso­rum tractare ratio [...]em. Clergie of Rome also ap­proved of this Resolution of his, of bringing to tryal, so soon as they should be at rest, this whole business, touching those who had fallen, during the Persecution, in a full Assembly of the Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and Confessors, together with those of the Laity, who had con­tinued constant, and had not yielded to Idola­try. And that which, in my judgment, is very well worth our Observation, is, thatCypr. ep. 55. ad Cornel. pag. 121. Quanquam sciam fra­ter charissime, pro mutuâ dilectione quam debemus & exhibemus invicem nobis, florentissimo illic Clero te­cum praesidenti, & sanctissi­mae atque amplissimae plebi legere te semper literas no­stras; tamen nunc & admo­neo & peto, ut quod alias sponte at (que) honotificè facis, etiam petente me facias, ut hac epistola mea lecta, &c. St. Cyprian himself writing to Cornelius, Bishop of Rome, saith, that He doth not doubt but that, according to that Mutual Love which they ought, and paid to each other, he did al­ways read those Letters which he received from him, to the most Flourishing Clergie of Rome that were his Assistants, and to the most Holy and most numerous People. Whence it ap­pears, that at Rome also the People had their Vote, in the managing of Ecclesiastical Af­fairs.

I shall not need here to add any more, to shew how much the Authority and Example of the An­cients in this Particular are now slighted and despised: it being evident enough to every man, that the People are not only excluded from the Councils and Consistories of the Bishops, but that besides, that man would now be taken for [...]an Heretick, that should now but propose, or go about to restore any such thing. But I beseech you now, do but a little fancy to your selves an Archbishop, who writing to the Pope, should say unto him thus: [Page 167] Most dear Brother, I exhort you, and desire of you, that what you are wont honourably to do of your own accord, you would now do it at my request: namely, that this Epistle may be read to the Flourishing Clergie, that are your Assistants there; and also to the most holy and most nu­merous People. Should not the writer, think you, of such a Letter as this be laught at, as a sensless, foolish Fel­low; if at least he escaped so, and met with no worse usage? And yet notwithstanding, this is the very Request that St. Cyprian made to Pope Cornelius.

But as the Bishops, and the rest of the Clergie, have deprived the People of all those Priviledges, which had been conferred upon them by Antiquity, as well in the Election of Prelates, as in other Ecclesiastical Affairs: in like manner is it most evident, that the Pope hath in­grossed into his own hands not only this Booty, which they had rob'd the People of; but also in a manner all the rest of their Authority and Power; as well that which they heretofore enjoyed, according to the Ancient Canons and Constitutions of the Church; as that which they have since, by many several admirable means, by little and little acquired, in the space of some whole Centuries of years. All this is now quite vanished, I know not how, and swallowed up by Rome, in a very little time. The CCC. XVIII. Fathers of the Council of Nice ordained,Conc. Nic. Can. 4. [...], &c. That every Bishop should be created by all the Bishops of that Province, if it were possible; or at least by three of them, if so be the whole number could not so conveniently be brought together: yet with this Proviso, that the absent Bishops were conse [...]ting also to the said Ordination: and that the Power and Authority in all such Actions should belong to the Metropolitan of each several Province. Which Ordinance of theirs is both very agree­able to the Practice of the preceding Ages; as appears by that LXVIII. Epistle of St. Cyprian, which we cited a little before: and was also observed for a long time [Page 168] afterward, by the Ages following: as you may per­ceive by the Epistle of the Fathers of the I.* Conc. Const. I. in Ep. ad Da­mas. p. 94. T. 1. Conc. Gener. Council of Constantinople to Pope Damasus; and also by the Discourse of those that sate Presidents at the Council of Chalcedon, touching the Rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople in his own Diocess.

And yet notwithstanding all this, the whole World knows and sees, what the Practice of the Church of Rome at this day is, and how that there is not at all left to the Metropolitans, and to their Councils, any true Power or Authority, in the Ordinations of the Bishops within their own Diocesses; but the whole Power, in this Case, dependeth upon the Church of Rome, and upon those whom it hath intrusted herein, either with their own liking, or otherwise. And indeed all Bishops are to make their Acknowledgments of Tenure to the Pope; neither may they exercise their Functions, without his Commissi­on; which they shall not obtain neither, without first paying down their Money, and compounding for their First-fruits, calling themselves also in their Titles thus; We N. Bishop of N. by the grace of God, and of the Apo­stolical See; of which strange Custom and Title, you shall not meet with the least Trace or Footstep, through­out all the Records of Antiquity, not so much as any one of all that vast number of Bishops, whose subscriptions we have yet remaining, partly in the Councils, and part­ly in their own Books, and Histories, having ever thus styled himself. And as for Provincial and Diocesan Sy­nods, where Anciently all sorts of Ecclesiastical Causes were heard, and determined; as appeareth both by the Canons of the Councils, and also by those Examples that we have left us; as in the History of Arius, and of Eutyches, who were both Anathematized; the one in the Synod of Alexandria, and the other in that of Con­stantinople; they dare not now meddle with any thing, Conc. Trid. Sess. 24. De­cret. de ref. c. 5. Minores cri­minales Causae Episcoporum in Concilio tantum Pro­vinciali cogno­scantur & ter­minentur, &c▪ except some small, petty Matters, being of no use in the Greater Causes, save only to inquire into them, and give [Page 169] in their Informations at Rome. Neither may any, the meanest Bishop that is, be iudged, in any Case of Importance, and which may be sufficient to Depose him, by any but the Pope of Rome: his Metropolitan, and his Primate, and the Synod of his Province, and that of his Diocess, (in the sense that the Ancients took this word,) having not all of them any Power at all in these Matters, unless it be by an Extraordinary Delegation; and having then only power to draw up the Business, and make it ready for Hearing, and so to send it to Rome: None but theIbid Causae criminales gra­viores contra Episcopos. &c. quae depositi­one, aut priva­tione dignae sunt, ab ipso tantum sum­mo Romano Pontifice co­gnoscantur, & terminentur, &c. Pope alone having power to give sentence in such Cases, as it is expresly ordained by the Council of Trent. I shall here pass by their taking away from the Bishops, contrary to the Canons, and Practice of Antiquity, all Jurisdiction, and power over a good part of the Mona­steries, and other companies of Religious persons, both Seculars and Regulars, within their Diocesses; Their assuming wholly to themselves the Power of Absolving, and of Dispensing in several Cases, which they call Reser­ved Cases: whereas in Ancient times this Authority be­longed equally to all Bishops; as also their giving of Indulgences, and their proclaiming of Jubilees: a thing which was never heard of in any of the first Ages of Christianity. And as for the Discipline which was An­ciently observed in the Church towards Penitentiaries, whether in the punishing them for their offences, or else in the receiving them again into the Communion of the Church, it is now wholly lost and vanished. We have now nothing left us save only a bare Idea and shadow of it▪ which we meet with in the Writings of the Anci­ents; as namely, in the Canonical Epistles of Gr [...]gorius Neo [...]aesare [...]ns [...]s, of St. Basil [...] ▪ and others and in the Councils, both General and Provincial. Where are now all those several Degrees of Penance, which were observed in the Ancient Church; where some Offenders were to bewail their sins without the Church▪ some might stand and hear the word among the C [...]tech [...]me [...]i; [Page 170] others were to cast themselves down at the feet of the Faithful: Some of them might partake of the Prayers only of the Church; and others were at length received again into the Communion of their Sacraments also? Where are those Eight, those Ten, those Twenty years of Penance, which they sometimes imposed upon Offenders? All this whole Course of Penance, some kind of account whereof we meet with in the Writings of the Ancients, is now wholly swallowed up by Auricular Confession, wherein no part of the Penance appears at all to the World.

And as these kinds of Punishments, which were most wholesom for the Penitentiaries have been quite abo­lished by them; so have they on the other side introdu­ced other kinds of Penalties, which are indeed very bene­ficial and advantageous to the temporal Estate of the Church of Rome, but are most pernicious for the Souls of Offenders; such as are their Interdictions, when, for the offence (and that oftentimes too, rather a pretended, than a true one,) of one, or two single persons, or per­haps of a Corporation, They will Excommunicate a whole State, wherein there are perhaps many millions of peo­ple; depriving them of the benefit of partaking of the Holy Sacraments; which are the means, by which the Grace and the Life of Jesus Christ is communicated unto poor Mortals: an Example of which kind of proceeding I remember to have been practised by them, since my time, against the State of Venice. In what Code of the Ancient Church can you find, where any such strange kind of punishment was ever instituted, as that for the offence of a few, many millions of Souls should be damned? How can you call that Power Apostolical, that punisheth in this manner; seeing that the Apostolical Power was given for Edification, and not for De­struction?

I would also very fain learn of any man, that could tell me, upon what Canons of the Ancient Church that [Page 171] Bloody Discipline of the Inquisition is grounded; where after they have got out of a poor soul, by crafty, subtile dealing, and many times also by such barbarous, inhu­mane usage, as would make a man tremble to read, a Confession of his being guilty of Heresie; instead of In­struction, they give him the sentence of death; and so he is forthwith delivered over to the Secular Magistrates: to whom notwithstanding, in a plain Mockery both of God and Men,Nicol. Eyme. vic. Director. Inquis. pag. 2. c. 27. p 127. & ibi Pegna. item p. 3. p 512. they give an express Charge, that they do not put him to death.Pegna in Di­rect Inquis. p. 3. q. 36. Yet in case they fail of so doing, and if within six or seven days after at the most, they do not burn him alive; and all thisDirect. Inquis. p. 3. Q. 36. & ibid. Pegna. p 563. Comm. 85. pag 564. without ever hearing his Cause, or what his Offence is; They them­selves shall be prosecuted by Ecclesiastical Censures, and shall be Excommunicated, Deposed, and deprived of all Dignities, both Ecclesiastical and Temporal. And, that which yet surpasseth all belief, is, that although the person questioned should confess his fault, and should express his hearty sorrow for the same, and should by way of satisfa­ction submit himself to the sharpest penance that could be; yet notwithstanding should not the poor wretch escape death;Direct. Inquis. p. 3. modo 9. termin. process. p 510. & ibi Pegna. if so be he be of the number of those, whom they call, The Relapsed. O most inhumane cruelty! and worthy of the Scythians, and of the Mar­gaias only! but very ill becoming the Disciples of him, who commanded his Apostle to par­don his brother, not seven times only, but se­venty times seven: & as ill beseeming those, who so highly boast of being the successors & Inheritors of those mild and tender-hearted Ancients, who taught,Athan. in ep. ad solit. vit. ag. Tom. 1. p. 55. [...], &c. That it is the part of Piety not to constrain, but to perswade, accor­ding to our Saviours Example; who constrai­ned no man, but left every man to his own li­berty, to follow him or not. And, that the Ibid. p. 830. [...], &c. De­vil, [Page 172] as he hath no Truth in him▪ comes with Axes and with Hammers to break open the doors of those that must receive him. But our Saviour is so meek as that his manner of teaching is, If any one will follow me: and▪ He that will be my Disciple; Neither doth he constrainany one, that he cometh unto, but rather standeth at the door of every one, and knocketh, saying; Open to me, my Sister my Spouse; and so entreth, when any open unto him: but if they delay, and will not open unto him, he then departeth. Because the Truth is not to be pressed with swords, and Arrows, nor with Souldiers, and Armed men, but by Perswasion, and Counsel: who also so sharply reprehended the Arrians, for going about to establish, and maintain their Religion by Force; saying,Athan. Ap [...]l. 1. de fuga sua, pag. 716. Tom. 1. [...]. Of whom have they learnt to persecute their Brethren? Cer­tainly they cannot say, that they have learnt it of the Saints: no, they have rather had the Devil for their Tutor herein. And again; Jesus Christ hath commanded us to fly, and the Saints have indeed fled sometimes: But Persecution is the Invention of the Devil. And in another place they protest, that Id. contr. Arian. Or. 1. T. 1. p. 288. [...]. By that very course which the Arrians took in banishing (which yet is much less, than bur­ning,) all those, who would not subscribe to their Decrees, they clearly shewed themselves to be contrary to all Christians, and to be the friends of the Devil, and his Fiends. In like manner hath another of the Ancient Fathers exclaimed, against the Proceeding of these Arrians, who made use not only of the Ter­rour of Persecution, but of the Enticements also of worldly [...]iches, that so they might the more easily draw men over to their Be­lief. Hilar. l. Contr. Aux. p. 86. At [...]unc proh dolor [...] divi­nam fidem suffragia terrena recommendant, inops (que) vir­tutis suae Christus, dum am­bitio nomini suo conciliatur, arguitur. Terret exiliis, & carceribus Ecclesi [...] credi (que) sibi cogit, quae exiliis & car­ceribus es [...] credita▪ Pende [...] ad dignationem Communi­cantium quae persequentium est consecrata terrore. Fu­gat Sacerdotes, quae fugatis est Sacerdotibus propagata. Di [...]igi se gloriatur à mundo, quae Christi esse non potuit, nisi eam mundus odisset. But now alas! (saith this Father,) [Page 173] these are the suffrages, that recommend the Faith in God: Christ is now become weak and void of Power, and Ambi­tion gains Credit to his Name. The Church terrisieth by Banishment, and Imprisonment, &c. She, that was con­secr [...]ted▪ by the Terrour of her Persecutors, depende [...] now upon the Dignity of th [...]se, who are of her Communion. She, who hath been propagated by banished Priests, now her self banisheth Priests. She boasteth now, that she is beloved of the World; who could not be Christs, unless the world bated her: Agree­able to whatHieron. epist 62 ad Theoph. Tom. 2. pag. 274. Fu [...]den­do sanguinem, & pauendo magis quam faciendo contu­melias, Christi fund [...]ta est Ecclesia, Persecutionibus cre­vit, Martyriis coronata est. another of them saith; name­ly, That the Church of Christ was founded, by shedding of Blood, and by suffering Re­proaches rather, than by Reproaching others: and, that it hath grown up by persecutions, and hath been crowned by Martyrdoms. Ano­ther also of the chiefest among the Ancient Fathers reproached an Arrian, for having made use of the Sword and Axe, in Ecclesia­stical matters.Ambros. epist. 32. Tom. 3. pag. 126. Qui (A [...]xentius) quos non potuerit sermone decipere, eos gladio putat esse feriendos; cru [...]ntas le­ges ore dictans, manu scri­bens; & putans, quod Lex fidem possic hominibus im­perare. Those whom he could not de­ceive by his Discourse, (saith he) he thought good to make use of his sword upon, uttering with his mouth, and writing with his hand Bloody Laws; and thinking that a Law can command mens Faith. And that you may not imagine, that he himself thought that lawful, which he found fault with in the Arrians, Id. lib. 2. 27. T [...]m. p. 106. Postea cum videret me ab­stinere ab Episcopis qui com­municabant ei, vel qui ali­quos dev [...]os, licèt à fide, ad necem petebant, &c. he says in another place that in a certain journey which he made into Gallia, he refused to communicate with those Bi­shops, who would have some certain Here­ticks to be put to death. The Emperour Marcianus in like manner, who called toge­ther the Council of Chalcedon, and was a Prince that was highly commended for his Piety, solemnly protesteth thatMarcian. epist. ad Archi­mandr. & Mon. Aeg. in Act. Conc. Chalcedon. T. 2. Conc. gen. pag. 453. [...]. He had for­ced [Page 174] no man to subscribe, or to assent to the Council of Chalcedon, against his will. For, (saith he) we will not draw any man into the way of life by violence or by threats. And in­deed Hujus epist. ad Constantium, apud Athan. in epist. ad solit. vit ag. Tom 1. pag. 839. [...], &c. Hosius, Bishop of Corduba, long be­fore testified, that the most Catholick Empe­rour Constans never compelled any man to be Orthodox. And this is the course, which is approved of by all the Ancients.Hilar. lib. 1. ad Const. fol. 84. Deus cognitionem sui docuit potiùs quàm exegit; & operationum coelestium admiratione praeceptis suis concilians auctoritatem, co­actam confitendi se asperna­tus est voluntatem, &c. Deus Universitatis est; obsequio non eget necessario: Non requirit coactam confessio­nem. God (saith St. Hillary) hath rather taught us the knowledge of himself, than exacted it of us; and authorizing his Commandments by the wonderfulness of his heavenly works, he hath refused to force us to confess his Name, &c. He is the God of the whole world; He hath no need of a compelled obedience; He requireth not any forced confession. Which are the Rea­sons this Author brought, with some other the like, to disswade the Emperour Constan­tius from using violence, and forcing the Consciences of Men.

St. Ambrose saith;Ambros. Com in Luc. lib. 7. pag. 99. Eos misit ad semi­nandam fidem, qui non co­gerent, sed docerent, nec vim potestatis exercerent, sed doctrinam humilitatis attollerent. Christ sent his Apo­stles to plant the Faith; not that they should compel, but that they should instruct men; not that they should exercise the force of Power, but that they should promote the Doctrine of Humility. And hence is that which St. Cy­prian hath, comparing the manner of pro­ceeding in the Old Testament with that of the New: Cyprian epist. 62. pag. 143. Tunc quidem gladio occide­bantur, quando adhuc & cir­cumcisio carnalis manebat. Nunc autem, &c. spirituali gladio superbi & contumaces necantur, dum de Ecclesia ejiciuntur. Then (saith he) the proud and the dis [...]bedient were out off by the fl [...]shly Sword, N [...]w they suffer by the spiritual, being thrown out of the Church. Certainly then they still live, at this very day, under the Old Testament in Spain and Italy, and all those other places, where the Inquisition is in force: and, I b [...]lieve, he would find a very hard Task of it, that should take in hand to reconcile this Passage of St. Cyprian to thatGirolamo, Ca­rena nella vita di Pio Vp 126. Opinion of Pope Pius V. who said, [Page 175] that Bishops might have their Officers, and Executioners of Justice, for the Causes that appertained to their Jurisdicti­on; and might put their Sentences in Execution against Offenders; and, that the reason of their having recourse upon all occasions to the Secular Powers, was, not because the Church could not make use of its own proper Officers of Justice in such Cases, but rather because it had no such; or if it had, they were so weak, and so few in number, as that for the suppressing and punishing of D [...]linquents, it would however stand in need of the assistance of the Temporal Power.

I shall shut up this Point with Tertullian, the most an­cient Author of the Latine Church, whom Pamelius (as we have touched before) will needs have us believe to have been a Persecutor of Hereticks; who yet was a man, that would not allow a Christian so much as to draw a sword, neither in war against a Publick Enemy, nor yet in discharging the Office of a Magistrate upon Offenders; whom all Civil Laws whatsoever punish with death.

Let us now therefore see what he says, touching Reli­gion. Tertul. Apolog. c 24. p. 58. Videte enim ne & hoc ad ir­religiositatis elogium con­currat, adimere libertatem religionis, & interdicere op­tionem divinitatis, ut non li­ceat mihi colere quem ve­lim, sed cogar colere quem nolim. Nemo se ab invito coli vellet, ne homo qui­dem. Consider (saith he to the Pagans) whether this be not to add to the Crime of Ir­religion, to take away the Liberty of Religion, and to interdict a man the choice of his God, by not suffering him to worship, whom he would; but to compel him to worship, whom he would not. There is none, no not among men, that takes pleasure in being served by any against their will. And some few Chapters afterward:Id. Apolog. cap. 28. pag 61. Quoniam autem facilè ini­quum videtur, liberos homi­nes invitos urgeri ad sacrifi­candum. Nam & aliàs divi­nae rei faciendae libens ani­mus inducitur. This is a thing (saith he) that seemeth very unjust, that Free-men should be constrained to do sacrifice against their will. For, in the performing of service to God, a willing heart is required. And in another Book, but speaking of the same thing, he saith:Id. lib ad Scapul. c. 2. Ta­tamen humani juris, & natu­ralis potestatis est, unicui (que) quod putaverit colere: nec alii abest, aut prodest alte­rius religio. Sed nec religio­nis est cogere religionem, quae sponte suscipi debeat, non vi; cum & hostiae ab a­nimo libenti expostulentur. It is a Point of Humane [Page 176] Right, and a Natural Power that every man hath to worship that which he thinks fit. The Religion of another man neither hurteth, nor profiteth any one. Neither is it indeed the part of Religion; to compel Religion; which ought to be entertained willingly, and not by force; forasmuch as Sacrifices themselves are required only from willing minds. Upon which passage of his Pamelius gives us a marvellous, rare gloss, saying; That we ought not indeed directly to com­pel men to our Religion, but yet we may punish them, if they will not change their opinion. Certainly he thinks it is no Compelling of a man, to force him to do a thing under pain of Death. Let any man that can, reconcile the Practice of the Inquisition, and the Popes Thunderbolts against King Henry VIII. and his Daughter Queen Eliza­beth, and against some of the Kings of France also, to this constant opinion of all Antiquity.

Now after they have thus boldly slighted the Beliefes, the Ceremonies, and the Discipline of the Ancients, by changing, and abolishing whatsoever they have thought good; with what face can they still cry up the Fathers, and alledge their Testimonies, and besides place them upon the Seat of Judicature, and make them the Judges of our Differences? Or although they still do thus, who would no [...] be ready here to bring against them those words of Tertullian, which he made use of i [...] another the like Case?Id. Apol. c. 6. p. 31. Nunc religiosissimi legum, & pator­norum institutorum prote­ctores & Sultores respondeant velim de sua fide & honore, & obsequio erga majorum consulta, si à nullo discive­runt? si in nullo exorbita­verunt? si non necessaria & aptissima quaeque Disciplinae obli [...]eraverunt [...] Quonam illae leges abierunt, &c. I would be very glad (saith he) that these great [...] and most religious De­fenders and [...] of the I [...]w [...] and Customs of their Fathers would [...] a little touching their own saith [...] and obedience towards the constitutions of their Ancestors whether they have not departed from and forsaken some of them? [...] they have not razed out those things [...] which were most necessary, and most useful in their Sci­ence? [Page 177] What is become of those Ancient Laws? Ib. p. 33. Ub; religio? ubi veneratio ma­joribus debita à vobis? Habi­tu, victu, in­structu, sensu ipso denique sermone pro­avis renuncia­stis: laudatis semper anti­quitatem, & nove de die vivitis. &c. Where is the Religion? Where is the Reverence which is due from you to your Ancestors? You have renounced your Fore-Fathers, both in your Habit, Apparel, Manner of Life, Opinion, and in your very Speech also. You are always crying up Antiquity, yet every day your selves take up a New manner of Life. Whether therefore they of the Church of Rome have upon Just Grounds dealt thus with the Ancients, or not; it serves my turn however to conclude, That by this their Proceeding they have given us a sufficient Testimony, that they do not acount their Authority Supreme in Matters of Religion. And if so, what Reason have they to urge it for such, against the Protestants? Seeing they have weakned the Authority of so many of those Judgments, touching Points of Re­ligion, which have been given by the Fathers, how can they expect that their Authority should pass for Authen­tick in any one? Let us suppose for instance, that they held, that there was such a Place as Purgatory. But by your Favour, (will the Protestant say) if you have found their Belief to be so erroneous touching the State of the Souls of Departed Saints, till the Day of the Resurrecti­on; why would you impose upon me a Necessity of sub­scribing to what they held touching Purgatory? The Laws of Disputation ought to be equal; and therefore if you, by examining this Opinion of the Fathers by Rea­son, and by the Scriptures, have found it to be Errone­ous; why will you not give us leave to try that other, touching Purgatory, by the same Touch-stone? Certain­ly, should we but speak the Truth, it is the plainest mock­ing of the World that can be, to cry out, as these Men do continually, The Fathers, The Fathers, and to write so many whole Volumes upon this Subject, as they have done; after they have so dealt with them, as you have seen. And if it be here objected, That the Protestants themselves do also reject many of those Articles which we have before set down; we answer, That this is nothing [Page 178] at all to the purpose; forasmuch as they take the Scri­ptures, and not the Fathers, for the Rule of their Faith; neither do they press any Man to receive any thing from the hands of the Ancients, unless it be grounded upon the Word of God. And if, lastly, you say, That the Autho­rity of the Fathers hath no place, nor is at all considera­ble, in the Points before set down, because that the Churcb hath otherwise determined touching the same; this is clearly to grant us that which we would have, namely, That the Authority of the Fathers is not Supreme. And as for the Church, that is to say, how far the Authority of it extends in these things, this is a New Question to be disputed of, which I shall not meddle withal at this time. Only thus much I shall say, That what Authority soever you allow it, whether Little, or Much, you will still find, that it will very hardly be able to do any thing, touching the Decision of our present Controversies; for­asmuch as you can never be able to make any use or be­nefit of this Position, till such time as you are assured, both What, and Where the Church is, seeing that the Prote­stants stiffly deny, That it is That which appears at this day at Rome; and the greatest Difficulty of all consisting in the Demonstrating this unto them. For, if they did but once believe, that the Church of Rome was the True Church, they would immediately joyn themselves with it; so that there would not henceforth be need of any further Dispute.

We shall here conclude therefore, That the Alledging the Testimonies of the Fathers, upon the Differences that are at this day in Religion, is no proper Course for the Decision of them, seeing it is no easie matter to discover what their Judgment hath been touching the same, by reason of the many Difficulties that we meet with in the Writings of the Ancients: neither is it of so sufficient Authority in it self, as that we may safely build our Belief upon it; since the Fathers themselves have been also sub­ject to Errour: neither, lastly, is it of any force, either [Page 179] a [...]nst the one, or the other Party; seeing that they both regulate, and examine the Opinions, Ceremonies, and Dis­cipline of the Ancients; the One by the Rule of the Scri­ptures, and the Other by that of the Church.

But here I find, that upon this Conclusion, Two Questions may arise. For, seeing that the alledging the Fathers is not sufficient for the deciding of those Points that are now in debate amongst us; it may be demanded, in the first place, What other Course we ought to take, for the attaining to the Truth in these Controversies? And then secondly, How, and in what Cases the Writings of the Fathers may be use­ful unto us? Now although both these Questions are without the compass of our present Design, yet not­withstanding, in regard they so nearly border upon it, we shall in the last place say a word or two in answer of them.

As for the First, it would be a hard matter, in my Judgment, to find out a better way for Satisfaction herein, than that which one Scholarius, a Greek, who is very highly accounted of by those who printed the General Councils at Rome, hath proposed. This Learned Man, in a certain Oration of his, which he made at the Council of Florence, for the facilitating of the Ʋni­on which was then treated of betwixt the Latins and the Greeks, and was af­terwards concluded on, lays down for a Ground, first,Scholar. Orat. 3. T. 4 Conc. Gen. p. 650. [...]. That we ought not to reject all those things which are not clear­ly, and in express Terms delivered in the Scriptures; which is a Pretext and Shift that many of the Hereticks make use of: but that we ought to receive with equal Honour, whatsoever directly followeth from that which is said in the Scriptures; [Page 180] and to reject utterly whatsoever shall be found to be co [...] ­trary to those things which are undoubtedly True. He says further, That In those things wherein the Scri­pture hath not clearly expressed it self, we must have recourse to the Scripture it self, as our Guide, to give us light therein, by some other Passage where It hath spoken more plainly. And after all this, he requireth, That we should use our utmost Endeavour fully to recon­cile those seeming Contradictions which we sometimes there meet withal, in several Passages; to that purpose taking notice of the Diversity of Times, Customs, Sen­ses, and the like. And going on, he saith,Ibid. p. 652, & 653. That the Fathers of the Council at Nice after this manner con­cluded, by the Scriptures, upon the True Belief touch­ing the Son of God. and then applying all this to his present purpose, he adds,Ibid. p. 654. [...], &c. That the Scripture saith clearly and expresly, that the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Fa­ther; and that this is agreed upon by both Sides, both by the Greeks, and the La­tins: But that It hath not so expresly declared it self, whether the Holy Ghost proceed also from the Son, or not: and that this is the thing now in Question, the Latins affirming it, and the Greeks on the other side denying it. [...]; We ought therefore (saith he) to prove this, from some other things which are there more clearly delivered: Which he afterwards performeth, and indeed, in my Judgment, very Learn­edly, and Happily; proving this Doubtful Point out of other Passages that are more Clear. And this was the Judgment of this Great Person; which will not give any offence to those of the Church of Rome, be­cause it came from one that was of their Side. Nei­ther do I see what could have been spoken more ra­tionally. And indeed, this is the Course that is ob­served in all Sciences whatsoever: If thy Adversary [Page 181] doubt of the truth of what thou proposest, thou art to prove it by such Maxims as are acknowledged and allowed of by him, making good that which is Doubtful, by that which is Certain; and clearing that which is Obscure, by that which is Evident. And this is the Rule that I conceive we ought to walk by, in the Disputes that are betwixt us at this day. The Word of God is our Common Book; let us therefore search into It, for that upon which we may ground our own Belief, and by which we may overthrow the Opinion of our Adversary. As for example, it is there said clearly and expresly, That that which our Saviour Christ took at his Last Supper, was Bread: and herein we All agree. But it is not at all there expressed, whether this Bread were afterward changed, or annihilated, or not. And this is now the Question in Dispute amongst us. We ought therefore (accord­ing to the Counsel of Scholarius) to prove this by some other things which are there delivered clearly. And if thou dost this, thou hast got the Victory: If not, I do not at all see why or how thou canst oblige any one to believe it.

In like manner, the Scripture telleth us, in as express Terms as may be, That our Saviour Christ commanded His Apostles to Take and Eat, and to Drink, that which He gave them in Celebrating the Eucharist. But It doth not at all say, that he commanded them to Offer the same in Sacrifice, either Then, or Afterwards. And this is now the Question: which it concerns those of the Church of Rome, if they will have us believe it, to prove by some other things, which are clearly and expresly de­livered in the Word of God.

The Scripture in like manner saith expresly, That Je­sus Christ is the Mediator betwixt God and Man: and, That He is the Head of the Church; and, That He pur­geth us by His Blood from our Sins. Now in all this both Sides are fully agreed. But it is not at all there ex­pressed, [Page 182] That the Departed Saints are Mediators; and, That the Pope is the Head of the Church; and, That our Souls are in part cleansed from their Sins by the Fire of Purga­tory. And herein lies the Controversie betwixt us. The Learned Scholarius his Opinion herein would now be, that certainly those who propose these Points as Articles of Faith, deduce, and collect them from some things which are clearly delivered in the Scriptures: for otherwise they are not to be pressed, as Truths. And although that in matters of Religion, or indeed in any other things of Importance, a Man may very well be excused for not be­lieving a thing, when there appears not any such Reason as may oblige him to believe it; yet notwithstanding, if those who reject the Articles now debated betwixt us, have a mind to go further yet, and to prove positively the Falseness of them; you see this Author hath laid them down the way by which they are to proceed. He ac­counteth those very absurd, that require at your hands that you should shew them all things expresly delivered in the Scripture: and this ought principally to be under­stood of Negative Propositions, of which no Science giveth you any certain account: forasmuch as to go about to number them all up, would be both an infinite, and also an unprofitable, useless piece of Work. It is sufficient to deliver the Positive Truth. For, as whatsoever rightly followeth thereupon, is True; in like manner, whatso­ever clasheth with, or contradicteth the same, is False. wouldst thou therefore demonstrate those Propositions that are pressed upon thee, to be False? Do but compare them with those things that are clearly and expresly delivered in the Scripture. And if thou findest them contrary to any thing there set down, receive them not by any means. As for example, If a Protestant, not con­tenting himself with having answered all those Reasons which are brought to prove that there is such a Place as Purgatory, shall yet desire to go further, and to make it appear, that the Opinion is False; he is in this case to have [Page 183] recourse to the Scriptures, and to examine it by those things which are there clearly and expresly delivered, touching the State of the Soul after it is departed this Life, and touching the Cause and Means of the Expiati­on of our Sins, and the like. And if the Opinion of Pur­gatory be found to contradict any thing there delivered, then (according to Scholarius) it ought not to be received by any means. But the brevity which we proposed to our selves in this Discourse, permitteth us not to prose­cute this Point any further.

As for the Second Question, it is no very hard matter to resolve it. For, although we do not indeed allow any Supreme and Infallible Authority to the Writings of the Fathers, yet do we not therefore presently account them Ʋseless. If there were nothing of Ʋse in Religion, sa­ving what was also Infallible, we should have but little good of any Humane Writings. Those who have writ­ten in our own Age, or a little before, are of no Authori­ty at all, either against the one or the other Party. Yet notwithstanding do we both read them, and also reap much benefit from them. How much more advantage then may we make, by studying the Writings of the Fa­thers, whose Piety and Learning was, for the most part, much greater than that of the Moderns? S. Augustine believed them not in any thing, otherwise than as he found what they delivered to be grounded upon Rea­son; and yet notwithstanding, he had them in a very great esteem. The like may be said of S. Hierome, who had read almost all of them over, notwithstanding that he takes liberty sometimes to reprove them some­thing sharply, where he finds them not speaking to his mind. Though you should deprive them not onely of this Supremacy, which yet they never sought after; but should rob them also of their Proper Nomes: yet not­withstanding would they still be of very great Ʋse unto us. For, Books do not therefore profit us, because they were of such or such a Man's Writing, but rather because [Page 184] they instruct us in those things that are Good and Ho­nest, and keep us out of Errour, and make us abhor those things that are Vicious. Blot out, if you please, the Name of S. Augustine out of the Title of those excellent Books of his De Civitate Dei, or those other which he wrote De Doctrinâ Christianâ. His Writings will in­struct you never a whit the less, neither will you find any whit the less benefit by them. The like may be said of all the rest.

First of all, therefore, you shall find in the Fathers very many earnest and zealous Exhortations to Holiness of Life, and to the Observation of the Discipline of Jesus Christ. Secondly, you shall there meet with very strong and solid Proofs of those Fundamental Principles of our Religion, touching which we are all agreed: and also many excellent things laid open, tending to the right un­derstanding of these Mysteries, and also of the Scri­ptures wherein they are contained. In this very particu­lar their Authority may be of good use unto you, and may serve as a Probable Argument of the Truth. For, is it not a wonderful thing to see, that so many Great Wits, born in so many several Ages, during the space of Fifteen hundred years, and in so many several Countries, being also of so different Tempers, and who in other things were of so contrary Opinions, should notwith­standing be found all of them to agree so constantly and unanimously in the Fundamentals of Christianity? that amidst so great diversity in Worship, they all adore one and the same Christ? preach one and the same Sanctifica­tion? hope all of them for one and the same Immortality? acknowledge all of them the same Gospels? find therein all of them Great and High Mysteries? The exquisite Wisdom, and the inestimable Beauty it self of the Dis­cipline of Jesus Christ, I confess, is the most forcible and certain Argument of the Truth of it: yet certainly this Consideration also is, in my Opinion, no small proof of the same. For, I beseech you, what Probability is there, [Page 185] that so many Holy Men, who were endued (as it appear­eth by their Writings) with such Admirable Parts, with so much strength and clearness of Understanding, should all of them be so grosly overseen, as to set so High a Price, and Esteem upon this Discipline, as to suffer, even to Death for it; unless it had in it some certain Heavenly Virtue, for to make an Impression in the Souls of Men? What likelyhood is there, that Seven, or Eight Dogs, and as many Atheistical Hogs, that Bark, and Grunt so Sottishly, and Confusedly against This Sacred, and Ve­nerable Religion, should have better luck in lighting up­on the Truth, than so many Excellent Men, who have all so Unanimously born Testimony to the Truth? As for Atheists, their Vicious Life ought to render their Testi­mony suspected to every one; notwithstanding they may be otherwise (as indeed they conceive themselves to be) Able Men. For, I beseech you, what wonder is it, if a Whoremaster, or a Bawd, or an Ambitious person cry down that Discipline, that condemneth these Vices to Everlasting Fire? that he that drowneth himself every day, and at length vomiteth up his Soul in Wine, should hate that Religion, which forbiddeth Drunkenness, upon pain of Damnation? The great Reason that these men have, to wish that it were False, must needs make any man cease to wonder at their pronouncing it to be False.

To take any notice of what such wretched Things as these say, is all one, as if you should judge, by taking the Opinion of Common Strumpets, of the Equity, or In­justice of the Laws that enjoin people to live Honest. But the case is clean otherwise with these Holy Men, who have so Constantly, and so Unanimously taught the Truth of the Christian Religion. For seeing they were Men, born, and brought up in the very same Infirmities with other men; we cannot doubt but that they also Naturally had strong Inclinations to those vices, which our Saviour Christ forbiddeth; and very little Affection to those Virtues, which He commandeth. For as much therefore, as not­withstanding [Page 186] all this, They have yet all of them Constant­ly [...] intained, that His Doctrine is True; Their Testimo­ny certainly in this case neither can, nor ought in any wise to be suspected. So that although They had not any of those Great, and Incomparable Advantages of Parts, and Learning above the Enemies of Christianity; Their [...]are word however is much rather to be taken, than the Others [...] seeing that these men are manifestly carried away by the force of their own vile Affections, of which the other cannot possibly be suspected Guilty. And as for those Differences in Opinion, which are sometimes found amongst Them, touching some certain Points of Reli­gion, some whereof we have formerly set down; these thing are so far from taking off any thing from the weight of Their Testimonies, as that on the Contrary they add rather very much unto the same. For this must acquit their Consenting of all suspicion, that some per­haps might have, that it proceeded from some Combina­tion, or some Correspondence, and Mutual Intelligence. When thou findst them so disagreeing among themselves, touching so many several Points; it is an evident Argu­ment, that they have not learnt their knowledge from one another, nor yet have all agreed upon the same thing by common Deliberation; but have all of them collected it out of a serious Examination, and Consideration of the things themselves. And if we received no other Benefit by the Writings, of the Fathers than this, yet were this however very much.

But now, that the Benefit, and Contentment, which we shall receive from this Consideration, may not be interrupted, and disturbed▪ by our meeting with so many several Private Opinions of theirs; we are to take notice, that Christianity consisteth not in