Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

not reject in other matters; it is the same kind of testimony on which criminals are capitally condemned; it is a species of testimony, the rejection of which would throw into uncertainty, doubt and confusion, the truth of events, the denial of which would now expose any man to derision and contempt, and render him a fit subject for the lunatic asylum. The truth is, that in the view of all the testimony, both external and internal, that exists in favour of the authenticity of the scriptures, it requires far more credulity to believe that they are not from God, than to believe the contrary.

I have all the evidence that the nature of the case admits of, without a miracle; and all that is necessary to convince any reasonable mind, that the scriptures are from God; and being assured of His infallibility, they readily obtain my assent to the truths which they contain. But, though I may have as good evidence of the authenticity and genuineness of the decrees and decisions of the church, as I have of the scriptures, yet not being assured of the infallibility of the church, those decrees and decisions do not as readily obtain my assent. If then the infallibility of the Romish church would secure the desired end, every believer must be infallibly assured that such infallibility actually exists; which can never be done by plausible reasons and motives of credibility;" but must be done, if at all, by miracles or demonstration, as we have before observed.

Infallibility is not necessary to the true nature of faith, otherwise it would make every true believer infallible in matters of faith. Besides, if this be true, says Archbishop Tillotson, what need is there of infallibility in the pope or council? I doubt not, says he, but that the advocates of this doctrine would bė loth to preach it at Rome; for I have often heard that there is an old testy gentle

The same

man lives there, who would take it very ill that any one besides himself should pretend to be infallible. *

Infallibility is not necessary in order to ascertain the sense of scripture, as we have already remarked, for it is plainly impossible, says Tillotson, that any thing should be delivered in such clear and certain words, as are absolutely incapable of any other sense; and yet notwithstanding this, the meaning of them may be so plain as that any unprejudiced and reasonable man may certainly understand them. How many definitions and axioms, &c. are there in Euclid, in the sense of which men are universally agreed, and think themselves undoubtedly certain of it? and yet the words in which they are expressed, may possibly bear another sense. may be said concerning the doctrines -and precepts of the Holy Scriptures; and one great reason why men. do not so generally agree in the sense of these as of the other, is because the interests, and lusts, and passions, of men are more concerned in the one than in the other. Neither does oral tradition, on which papists so much rely, help us in this matter, for whatever uncertainty there may be in the sense of any texts of scripture, 'oral tradition, so far from affording us any help in this case, is a thousand times more uncertain and less to be trusted to: especially if we take that to be the traditionary sense of texts of scripture, which we meet in the decretals of their popes, and the acts of some of their councils; than which there never was any thing in the whole world more absurd and ridiculous; and whence may we expect to have the infallible traditional sense of scripture, if not from the heads and representatives of their church.t

The claim to infallibility, therefore, by the Romish church, seeing there is no proof of its existence, but

* Preface to Tillotson's works, p. 9. | Ibid. p. 6.

[ocr errors]

rather proof to the contrary, gives her no right to with hold the scriptures from the people.

But why are Papists so zealous in this matter of infallibility? There is a plain reason for it, says Tillotson: they find that confidence, how weakly soever it be grounded, has some effect upon the common and ignorant people; who are apt to think there is something more than ordinary in a swaggering man, that talks of nothing but principles and demonstrations. And so we see it in some other professions. There is a sort of people very well known, who find that the most effectual way to cheat the people, is always to pretend to INFAL

a

*

LIBLE CURES.

[ocr errors]

The original question now retums, we think, with peculiar force: What good end does the infallibility of

he church, admitting that it exists, possibly answer? Surely none whatever. It only secures from superstitious minds that respect and submission to her authority, which her piety never could command, and which, from minds enlightened by scripture truth, even her imagined infallibility and all her external devotion, never could secure.

Preface to Tillotson's works, p. 10."

CHAPTER IX.

TRANSUBSTANTIATION.

"And then shall that wicked be revealed,-even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders.

Paul. "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth:-But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.Paul.

“TRANSUBSTANTIATION! a hard word,says arch

1 bishop Tillotson, "but I would to God that were the worst of it; the thing is much more difficult. I have taken some pains to consider other religions that have been in the world, and I must freely declare, that I never yet in any of them met with any article or proposition, imposed upon the belief of men, half so unreasonable and hard to be believed as this is: and yet this in the Romish church is esteemed one of the most prins cipal articles of the Christian faith; though there is no more certain foundation for it in scripture, than for our Saviour's being substantially changed into all those things which are said of him, as that he is a rock, a vine, a door, and a hundred other things.

But this is not all. This doctrine hath not only no certain foundation in scripture, but I have a far heavier charge against it, namely, that it undermines the very foundation of Christianity itself. And surely nothing ought to be admitted to be a part of the Christian doctrine which destroys the reason of our belief of the whole. And that' this doctrine does so, will appear evidently, if we consider what was the main argument which the apostles used to convince the world of the

than a little

truth of Christianity; and that was this, that our blessed Saviour, the author of this doctrine, wrought such and such miracles, and particularly that he rose again from the dead. And this they proved because they were eyewitnesses of his miracles, and had seen him and conversed with him after he was risen from the dead. But what if their senses did deceive them in this matter? then it cannot be denied but that the main proof of Christianity falls to the ground.

Well! we will now suppose (as the church of Rome does) transubstantiation to have been one principle part of the Christian doctrine which the apostles preached. But if this doctrine be true, then all men's senses åre deceived in a plain sensible matter, wherein it is as hard for them to be deceived as in any thing in the world: For two things can hardly be imagined more different,

bit of wafer and the whole body of a man. So that the apostles persuading men to believe this doctrine persuaded them not to trust their senses, and yet the argument which they used to persuade them to this was built upon direct contrary principle, that men's senses are to be trusted. For if they be not, then notwithstanding all the evidence the apostles offered for the resurrection of our Saviour, he might not be risen, and so the faith of Christians was vain.

So that they represent the apostles as absurd as is possible, viz. going about to persuade men out of their senses by virtue of an argument, the whole strength whereof depends upon the certainty of sense.

And now the matter is brought to a fair issue; If the testimony of sense be to be relied upon, then transubstantiation is false; if it be not, then no man is sure that Christianity is true. For the utmost assurance that the apostles had of the truth of Christianity was the testimony of their own senses concerning our Saviour's mi

a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »