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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, bær,
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 prejudic? 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 b. And the apostles found this to be most true in the extremest diffi'culty 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. Sep.
and the long superstition of the Gentiles, which they therefore thought fit to be retained, because they had done so formerly; “ Pergentes non quò eundum est, sed quò itur:” and all the blessings of this life which God gave them, they had in conjunction with their religion, and therefore they believed it was for their religion; and this persuasion was bound fast in them with ribs of iron : the apostles were forced to unloose the whole conjuncture of parts and principles in their understandings, before they could make them malleable and receptive of any impresses. But the observations and experience of all wise men can justify this truth. All that I shall say to the present purpose is this, that consideration is to be had to the weakness of persons, when they are prevailed upon by so innocent a prejudice: and when there cannot be arguments strong enough to overmaster an habitual persuasion bred with a man, nourished up with him, that always ate at his table, and lay in his bosom, he is not easily to be called heretic; for if he keeps the foundation of faith, other articles are not so clearly demonstrated on either side, but that a man may innocently be abused to the contrary. And therefore in this case to handle him charitably, is but to do him justice. And when an opinion 'in minoribus articulis' is entertained upon the title and stock of education, it may be the better permitted to him, since, upon no better stock nor stronger arguments, most men entertain their whole religion, even Christianity itself.
5. Fifthly: there are some persons of a different persuasion, who therefore are the rather to be tolerated; because the indirect practices and impostures of their adversaries have confirmed them, that those opinions which they disavow, are not from God, as being upheld by means not of God's appointment. For it is no unreasonable discourse to say, that God will not be served with a lie; for he does not need one, and he hath means enough to support all those truths wbich he hath commanded, and hath supplied every honest cause with enough for its maintenance, and to contest against its adversaries. And (but that they which use indirect arts, will not be willing to lose any of their unjust advantages, nor yet be charitable to those persons, whom either to gain or to undo they leave nothing unattempted)
c Vid. Min. Fel. Dolav,
the church of Rome hath much reason not to be so decretory in her sentences against persons of a differing persuasion: for if their cause were entirely the cause of God, they have given wise people reason to suspect it, because some of them have gone to the devil to defend it. And if it be remembered what tragedies were stirred up against Luther, for saying the devil had taught him an argument against the mass; it will be of as great advantage against them, that they go to the devil for many arguments to support not only the mass, but the other distinguishing articles of their church. I instance in the notorious forging of miracles, and framing of false and ridiculous legends. For the former I need no other instances than what happened in the great contestation about the immaculate conception, when there were miracles brought on both sides to prove the contradictory parts : and though it be more than probable that both sides played the jugglers, yet the Dominicans had the ill-luck to be discovered, and the actors burnt at Berne. But this discovery happened by Providence; for the Dominican opinion hath more degrees of probability than the Franciscan, is clearly more consonant both to Scripture and all antiquity; and this part of it is acknowledged by the greatest patrons themselves, as Salmeron, Posa, and Wadding: yet because they played the knaves in a just question, and used false arts to maintain a true proposition, God Almighty, to shew that he will not be served by a lie, was pleased rather to discover the imposture in the right opinion than in the false, since nothing is more dishonourable to God than to offer a sin in sacrifice to him, and nothing more incongruous in the nature of the thing, than that truth and falsehood should support each other, or that true doctrine should live at the charges of a lie. And he that considers the arguments for each opinion, will easily conclude, that if God would not have truth confirmed by a lie, much less would he himself attest a lie with a true miracle. And by this ground it will easily follow, that the Franciscan party, although they had better luck than the Dominicans, yet had not more honesty, because their cause was worse, and therefore their arguments no whit the better. And, although the argument drawn from miracles is good to attest a holy doctrine, which by its own worth will support itself after way is a little made by
miracles; yet of itself and by its own reputation it will not support any fabric : for instead of proving a doctrine to be true, it makes that the miracles themselves are suspected to be illusions, if they be pretended in behalf of a doctrine, which we think we have reason to account false. And therefore the Jews did not believe Christ's doctrine for his miracles, but disbelieved the truth of his miracles, because they did not like his doctrine. And if the holiness of his doctrine, and the Spirit of God by inspirations and infusions, and by that which St. Peter calls "a surer word of prophecy,” had not attested the divinity both of his person and his office, we should have wanted many degrees of confidence, which now we have upon the truth of Christian religion. But now since we are foretold by this “surer word of prophecy,” that is, the prediction of Jesus Christ, that antichrist should come in all wonders and signs and lying miracles, and that the church saw much of that already verified in Simon Magus, Apollonius Tyaneus, and Manetho, and divers d heretics, it is now come to that pass, that the argument, in its best advantage, proves nothing so much as that the doctrine which it pretends to prove, is to be suspected; because it was foretold, that false doctrine should be obtruded under such pretences But then when not only true miracles are an insufficient argument to prove a truth since the establishment of Christianity, but that the miracles themselves are false and spurious, it makes that doctrine, in whose defence they come, justly to be suspected ; because they are a demonstration, that the interested persons use all means, leave nothing unattempted, to prove their propositions; but since they so fail as to bring nothing from God, but something from the devil, for its justification, it is a great sign that the doctrine is false, because we know the devil, unless it be against his will, does nothing to prove a true proposition that makes against him. And now then those persons who will endure no man of another opinion, might do well to remember how by their exorcisms, their devils' tricks at Lowdon, and the other side pretending to cure mad folks and persons bewitched, and the many discoveries of their juggling, they have given so much reason to their adversaries to suspect
& Vid. Baron. A. D.68. n. 22. Philostrat. 1. 4. p. 485. Compend. Ced. p. 202. Stapleton prompt. Moral. pars æstiva, p. 627.