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suppose that. And now there might have been eternal disputings about the meaning of the miracle, and nothing left to determine, when two fancies are the litigants, and the contestations about probabilities ' hinc inde.' And I doubt not this was one cause of so great variety of opinions in the primitive church, when they proved their several opinions, which were mysterious questions of Christian theology,—by testimonies out of the obscurer prophets, out of the Psalms and Canticles; as who please to observe their arguments of discourse, and actions of council, shall perceive they very much used to do. Now although men's understandings be not equal, and that it is fit the best understandings should prevail; yet that will not satisfy the weaker understandings, because all men will not think that another understanding is better than his own, at least not in such a particular, in which with fancy he hath pleased himself. But commonly they that are least able, are most bold, and the more ignorant is the more confident: therefore it is but reason, if he would have another bear with him, he also should bear with another; and if he will not be prescribed to, neither let him prescribe to others. And there is the more reason in this, because such modesty is commonly to be desired of the more imperfect: for wise men know the ground of their persuasion, and have their confidence proportionable to their evidence ; others have not, but overact their trifles. And therefore I said, it is but a reasonable demand, that they that have the least reason, should not be most imperious : and for others, it being reasonable enough, for all their great advantages upon other men, they will be soon persuaded to it. For although wise men might be bolder in respect of the persons of others less discerning; yet they know there are but few things so certain as to create much boldness and confidence of assertion. If they do not, they are not the men I take them for.
2. Secondly : when an action or opinion is commenced with zeal and piety against a known vice or a vicious person, commonly all the mistakes of its proceeding are made sacred by the holiness of the principle,—and so abuses the persuasions of good people, that they make it as a characteristic note to distinguish good persons from bad : and then whatever error is consecrated by this means, is therefore
made the more lasting, because it is accounted holy; and the persons are not easily accounted heretics, because they erred upon a pious principle. There is a memorable instance in one of the greatest questions of Christendom, viz. concerning images. For when Philippicus had espied the images of the six first synods upon the front of a church, he caused them to be pulled down: now he did it in hatred of the sixth synod; for he, being a Monothelite, stood condemned by that synod. The catholics that were zealous for the sixth synod, caused the images and representments to be put up again: and then sprung the question concerning the lawfulness of images in churches. Philippicus and his party strived, by suppressing images, to do disparagement to the sixth synod: the catholics, to preserve the honour' of the sixth synod, would uphold images. And then the question came to be changed, and they who were easy enough to be persuaded to pull down images, were overawed by a prejudice against the Monothelites; and the Monothelites strived to maintain the advantage they had got, by a just and pious pretence against images. The Monothelites would have secured their error by the advantage and consociation of a truth; and the other would rather defend a dubious and disputable error, than lose and let go a certain truth. And thus the case stood, and the successors of both parts were led invincibly. For when the heresy of the Monothelites disbanded (which it did in a while after), yet the opinion of the Iconoclasts, and the question of images, grew stronger. Yet since the Iconoclasts at the first were heretics, not for breaking images, but for denying the two wills of Christ, his divine and his human; that they were called Iconoclasts was to distinguish their opinion in the question concerning the images; but that then Iconoclasts so easily had the reputation of heretics, was because of the other opinion, which was conjunct in their persons : which opinion men afterward did not easily distinguish in them, but took them for heretics in gross, and whatsoever they held, to be heretical. And thus upon this prejudice grew great advantages to the veneration of images; and the persons at first were much to be excused, because they were misguided by that which might have abused the
| Vid. Paulum Diaconum.
And if Epiphanius, who was as zealous against images in churches as Philippicus or Leo Isaurus, had but begun a public contestation, and engaged emperors to have made decrees against them, Christendom would have had other apprehensions of it than they had, when the Monothelites began it. For few men will endure a truth from the mouth of the devil; and if the person be suspected, so are his ways too. And it is a great subtilty of the devil, so to temper truth and falsehood in the same person, that truth may
lose much of its reputation by its mixture with error, and the error may become more plausible by reason of its conjunction with truth. And this we see by too much experience; for we see many truths are blasted in their reputation, because persons, whom we think we hate upon just grounds of religion, have taught them. And it was plain enough in the case of Maldonat", that said of an explication of a place of Scripture that it was most agreeable to antiquity; but because Calvin had so expounded it, he therefore chose a new one. This was malice. But when a prejudice works tacitly, undiscernibly, and irresistibly of the person wrought upon, the man is to be pitied, not condemned, though possibly his opinion deserves it highly. And therefore it hath been usual to discredit doctrines by the personal defaillances of them that preach them, or with the disreputation of that sect that maintains them in conjunction with other perverse doctrines. Faustus the Manichee, in St. Austin", glories much that in their religion God was worshipped purely and without images, St. Austin liked it well, for so it was in his too : but from hence Sanders concludes, that to pull down images in churches was the heresy of the Manicheesy. The Jews endure no images; therefore Bellarmine makes it to be a piece of Judaism to oppose them”. He might as well have concluded against saying our prayers and church-music, that it is Judaical, because the Jews used it. And he would be loath to be served so himself: for he that had a mind to use such arguments, might, with much better probability, conclude against their sacrament of extreme unction, because when the miraculous healing was ceased, then they were not catholics, but heretics, that did transfer it to the use of dying per
u In cap. 6. Johan.
X Lib. 20. c. 3. cont. Faustum Man.
sons, says Irenæus ; for so did the Valentinians. And indeed this argument is something better than I thought for at first, because it was, in Irenæus's time, reckoned amongst the heresies. But there are a sort of men that are even with them, and hate some good things which the church of Rome teaches, because she who teaches so many errors, hath been the publisher, and is the practiser, of those things. I confess the thing is always unreasonable, but sometimes it is invincible and innocent; and then may serve to abate the fury of all such decretory sentences, as condemn all the world but their own disciples.
3. Thirdly: there are some opinions that have gone hand in hand with a blessing and a prosperous profession; and the good success of their defenders hath amused many good people, because they thought they heard God's voice where they saw God's hand, and therefore have rushed upon such opinions with great piety and as great mistaking. For where they once have entertained a fear of God, and apprehension of his so sensible declaration, such a fear produces scruple, and a scrupulous conscience is always to be pitied, because, though it is seldom wise, it is always pious. And this very thing hath prevailed so far upon the understandings even of wise men, that Bellarmine makes it a note of the true church. Which opinion when it prevails is a ready way to make, that instead of martyrs, all men should prove heretics or apostates in persecution : for since men in misery are very suspicious, out of strong desires to find out the cause, that by removing it they may be relieved, they apprehend that to be it that is first presented to their fears; and then if ever truth be afflicted, she shall also be destroyed. I will say nothing in defiance of his fancy, although all the experience in the world says it is false, and that of all men Christians should least believe it to be true, to whom a perpetual cross is their certain expectation (and the argument is like the moon, for which no garment can be fit, it alters according to the success of human affairs, and in one age will serve a papist, and in another a protestant): yet when such an opinion does prevail upon timorous persons, the malignity of their error (if any be consequent to this fancy, and taken up upon the reputation of a prosperous heresy) is not to be considered simply and
a Lib. 1. c. 8. adv, hær.
nakedly, but abatement is to be made in a just proportion to that fear, and to that apprehension.
4. Fourthly : education is so great and invincible a prejudice, that he who masters the inconvenience of it, is more to be commended than he can justly be blamed that complies with it. For men do not always call them principles which are the prime fountains of reason, from whence such consequents naturally flow as are to guide the actions and discourses of men; but they are principles which they are first taught, which they sucked in the next to their milk, and by a proportion to those first principles they usually take their estimate of propositions. For whatsoever is taught to them at first they believe infinitely, for they know nothing to the contrary, they have had no other masters whose theorems might abate the strength of their first persuasions; and it is a great advantage in those cases to get possession; and before their first principles can be dislodged, they are made habitual and complexional, it is in their nature then to believe them; and this is helped forward very much by the advantage of love and veneration, which we have to the first parents of our persuasions. And we see it in the orders of regulars in the church of Rome. That opinion which was the opinion of their patron or founder, or of some eminent personage of the institute, is enough to engage all the order to be of that opinion: and it is strange that all the Dominicans should be of one opinion in the matter of predetermination and immaculate conception, and all the Franciscans of the quite contrary, as if their understandings were formed in a different mould, and furnished with various principles by their very rule. Now this prejudice works by many principles; but how strongly they do possess the understanding, is visible in that great instance of the affection and perfect persuasion the weaker sort of people have to that, which they call the religion of their forefathers. You may as well charm a fever asleep with the noise of bells, as make any pretence of reason against that religion, which old men have entailed upon their heirs male so many generations till they can prescribe. And the apostles found this to be most true in the extremest difficulty they met with to contest against the rites of Moses,
• Optima rati ea quæ magno assensu recepta sunt, quorumque exempla multa sunt; nec ad rationem, sed ad similitudinem, vivimus. Sen.