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it shall serve my turn also for something, and that is, that the matter of the Pope's infallibility is so ridiculous and improbable, that they do not believe it themselves. Some of them clearly practised the contrary: and although Pope Leo X. hath determined the Pope to be above a council, yet the Sarbonne to this day scorn it at the very heart. And I might urge upon them that scorn that * Almain truly enough by way of argument alleges. It is a wonder that they who affirm the Pope cannot err in judgment, do not also affirm that he cannot sin: they are like enough to say so, says he, if the vicious lives of the Popes did not make a daily confutation of such flattery. Now, for my own particular, I am as confident, and think it as certain, that Popes are actually deceived in matters of Christian doctrine, as that they do prevaricate the laws of Christian piety. And therefore y Alphonsus à Castro calls them impudentes Papæ assentatores, that ascribe to him infallibility in judgment or interpretation of Scripture.
17. But if themselves did believe it heartily, what excuse is there in the world for the strange uncharitableness or supine negligence of the Popes, that they do not set themselves in their chair, and write infallible commentaries, and determine all controversies without error, and blast all heresies with the word of their mouth, declare what is and what is not • de fide,' that his disciples and confidents may agree upon it, reconcile the Franciscans and Dominicans, and expound all mysteries ? For it cannot be imagined but he that was endued with so supreme power, in order to so great ends, was also fitted with proportionable, that is extraordinary, personal abilities, succeeding and derived upon the persons of all the Popes. And then the doctors of his church need not trouble themselves with study, nor writing explications of Scripture, but might wholly attend to practical devotion, and leave all their scholastical wranglings, the distinguishing opinions of their orders, and they might have a fine church, something like fairy-land, or Lucian's kingdom in the moon. But if they say they cannot do this when they list, but when they are moved to it by the spirit, then we are never the nearer: for so may the bishop of Angoulême write infalli
* De Autorit. Eccles. cap. 10. in fine.
y Lib. 1. cap. 4. advers. hæres. edit. Paris. 1534. In seqq. non expurgantur ista verba, at idem sensus manet,
ble commentaries, when the Holy Ghost moves him to it; for I suppose his motions are not ineffectual, but he will sufficiently assist us in performing of what he actually moves
But among so many hundred decrees which the Popes of Rome have made, or confirmed and attested, (which is all one,) I would fain know, in how many of them did the Holy Ghost assist them? If they know it, let them declare it, that it may be certain which of their decretals are
de fide;' for as yet none of his own church knows. do not know, then neither can we know it from them, and then we are as uncertain as ever. And, besides, the Holy Ghost may possibly move him, and he, by his ignorance of it, may neglect so profitable a motion; and then his promise of infallible assistance will be to very little purpose, because it is with very much fallibility applicable to practice. And therefore it is absolutely useless to any man or any church: because, suppose it settled in thesi,' that the Pope is infallible; yet whether he will do his duty, and perform those conditions of being assisted which are required of him, or whether he be a secret simoniac (for, if he be, he is ipso facto no Pope), or whether he be a bishop, or priest, or a Christian, being all uncertain, every one of these depending upon the intention and power of the baptizer or ordainer, which also are fallible, because they depend upon the honesty and power of other men; we cannot be infallibly certain of any Pope that he is infallible: and therefore, when our questions are determined, we are never the nearer, but may hug ourselves in an imaginary truth, the certainty of finding truth out depending upon so many fallible and contingent circumstances. And therefore the thing, if it were true, being so to no purpose, it is to be presumed that God never gave a power so impertinently, and from whence no benefit can accrue to the Christian church, for whose use and benefit, if at all, it must needs have been appointed.
18. But I am too long in this impertinency. If I were bound to call any man master upon earth, and to believe him upon his own affirmative and authority, I would of all men least follow him that pretends he is infallible, and cannot prove it. For he that cannot prove it, makes me as uncertain as ever; and that he pretends to infallibility, makes him careless of using such means, which will morally secure
those wise persons, who, knowing their own aptness to be deceived, use what endeavours they can to secure themselves from error, and so become the better and more probable guides.
19. Well, thus far ome: although we are secured in fundamental points from involuntary error by the plain, express, and dogmatical places of Scripture; yet in other things we are not, but may be invincibly mistaken, because of the obscurity and difficulty in the controverted parts of Scripture, by reason of the uncertainty of the means of its interpretation, since tradition is of an uncertain reputation, and sometimes evidently false; councils are contradictory to each other, and therefore certainly many of them are equally deceived, and therefore all may; and then the Popes of Rome are very likely to mislead us, but cannot ascertain us of truth in matter of question; and in this world we believe in part, and prophesy in part, and this imperfection shall never be done away, till we be translated to a more glorious state: either then we must throw our chances, and get truth by accident or predestination; or else we must lie safe in a mutual toleration, and private liberty of persuasion, unless some other anchor can be thought upon, where we may fasten our floating vessels, and ride safely.
Of the Disability of Fathers, or Writers Ecclesiastical, to
determine our Questions with Certainty and Truth. 1. THERE are
some that think they can determine all questions in the world by two or three sayings of the fathers, or by the consent of so many as they will please to call a con current testimony: but this consideration will soon be at an end. For if the fathers, when they are witnesses of tradition, do not always speak truth, as it happened in the case of Papias, and his numerous followers for almost three ages together; then is their testimony more improbable, when they dispute or write commentaries.
2. The fathers of the first ages spake unitedly concerning divers questions of secret theology, and yet were afterward contradicted by one personage of great reputation, whose credit had so much influence upon the world, as to make the
contrary opinion become popular: why then may not we have the same liberty, when so plain an uncertainty is in their persuasions, and so great contrariety in their doctrines ? But this is evident in the case of absolute predestination, which till St. Austin's time no man preached, but all taught the contrary; and yet the reputation of this one excellent man altered the scene. But if he might dissent from so general a doctrine, why may not we do so too (it being pretended that he is so excellent a precedent to be followed), if we have the same reason? He had no more authority nor dispensation to dissent than any bishop hath now. And therefore, St. Austin hath dealt ingenuously; and as he took this liberty to himself, so he denies it not to others, but indeed forces them to preserve their own liberty. And therefore, when St. Jerome had a great mind to follow the fathers in a point that he fancied, and the best security he had was, “ Patiaris me cum talibus errare," St. Austin would not endure it, but answered his reason, and neglected the authority. And therefore it had been most unreasonable that we should do that now, though in his behalf, which he towards greater personages (for so they were then) at that time judged to be unreasonable. It is a plain recession from antiquity which was determined by the council of Florence', “ piorum animas purgatas,” &c. “mox in coelum recipi, et intueri clare ipsum Deum trinum et unum, sicuti est;" as who please to try, may see it dogmatically resolved to the contrary by Justin Martyre, by Irenæusb, by Origen, by St. Chrysostom“, Theodoreto, Arethas Cæsariensis', Euthymius, who may answer for the Greek church.
And it is plain, that it was the opinion of the Greek church, by that great difficulty the Romans had, of bringing the Greeks to subscribe to the Florentine council, where the Latins acted their masterpiece of wit and stratagem, the greatest that hath been till the famous and superpolitic design of Trent. And for the Latin church, Tertullian", St. Ambrose, St. Austin, St. Hilary!, Prudentiusm, Lactantius", Victorinus Martyr', and St. Bernard P, are known to be 2 Sess. ult.
a Q. 60. ad Christian.
b Lib. 5.
h Lib. 4. adv. Marc. k Ep. 111. ad Fortunatian. 1 In Psal. cxxxviii. m De exeq. defunctor. n L. 7, c. 21.
• In c. 6. Apoc. P Serm, 3. de omn. sanctis. Vid. etiam S. Aug. in Enchir. c. 108, et 1. 12. de Civ. Dei,c.9.etin Ps. xxxvi.et in 1. 1. Retract.c. 14. Vid. insuper testimonia quæ collegit Spalat. 1. 5. c. 8. n. 98. de Repub. Eccl. ex Sixt. Senens. 1. 6. annot. 345.
8 In 16. c. Luc.
iL. de Cain.c.2.
of opinion, that the souls of the saints are in abditis receptaculis et exterioribus atriis,” where they expect the resurrection of their bodies, and the glorification of their souls ; and though they all believe them to be happy, yet they enjoy not the beatific vision before the resurrection. Now there being so full a consent of fathers (for many more may be added), and the decree of Pope John XXII. besides, who was so confident for his decree, that he commanded the university of Paris to swear that they would preach it and no other, and that none should be promoted to degrees in theology that did not swear the like, as Occham, Gerson, Marsilius", and Adrianus, report: since it is esteemed lawful to dissent from all these, I hope no man will be so unjust to press other men to consent to an authority, which he himself judges to be incompetent. These two great instances are enough; but if more were necessary, I could instance in the opinion of the Chiliasts, maintained by the second and third centuries, and disavowed ever since: in the doctrine of communicating infants, taught and practised as necessary by the fourth and fifth centuries, and detested by the Latin church in all the following ages: in the variety of opinions concerning the very form of baptism, some keeping close to the institution and the words of its first sanction, others affirming it to be sufficient if it be administered in nomine Christi;' particularly St. Ambrose, Pope Nicholas the First, Venerable Bede", and St. Bernard, besides some writers of after ages, as Hugo de Sancto Victore, and the doctors generally his contemporaries. And it would not be inconsiderable to observe, that if any synod, general, national, or provincial, be receded from by the church of the later age (as there have been very many), then so many fathers, as were then assembled and united in opinion, are esteemed no authority to determine our persuasions. Now suppose two hundred fathers assembled in such a council, if they had all writ books, and two hundred authorities had been alleged in confirmation of an opinion,-it would have made a mighty noise, and loaded any man with an insupportable prejudice that should dissent: and yet every opinion, maintained against the authority of any one council though but provincial, is, in its proportion, such a
9 In oper. 90, dierum.
r Serm. de Pasch.