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Ghost. But that which I here note, as of greatest concernment, and which in all reason ought to be an utter overthrow to this topic, is a universal abuse of it among those that use it most; and when two places seem to have the same expression, or if a word have a double signification,–because in this place it may have such a sense, therefore it must; because in one of the places the sense is to their purpose, they conclude that therefore it must be so in the other too.
An instance I give in the great question between the Socinians and the Catholics. If any place be urged in which our blessed Saviour is called God, they shew you two or three where the word God is taken in a depressed sense, for a ' quasi-Deus,' as when God said- to Moses, · Constitui te Deum Pharaonis;' and hence they argue, because I can shew the word is used for a' Deus factus,' therefore no argument is sufficient to prove Christ to be · Deus verus' from the appellative of · Deus.' And might not another argue to the exact contrary, and as well urge that Moses is · Deus verus,' because in some places the word • Deus' is used. pro Deo æterno :' both ways the argument concludes impiously and unreasonably. It is a fallacy'a posse ad esse affirmativè;' because breaking of bread is sometimes used for a eucharistical manducation in Scripture; therefore I shall not, from any testimony of Scripture affirming the first Christians to have broken bread together, conclude that they lived hospitably and in common society. Because it may possibly be eluded, therefore it does not signify any thing. And this is the great way of answering all the arguments that can be brought against any thing, that any man hath a mind to defend ; and any man that reads any controversies of any side, shall find as many instances of this vanity almost as he finds arguments from Scripture; this fault was of old noted by St. Austin, for then they had got the trick, and he is angry at it; “ neque enim putare debemus esse præscriptum, ut quod in aliquo loco res aliqua per similitudinem significaverit, hoc etiam semper significare credamus b."
3. Thirdly: oftentimes scriptures are pretended to be expounded by a proportion and analogy of reason. And this is as the other; if it be well, it is well. But unless there were some intellectus universalis' furnished with infallible pro
b De Doctrin. Christian. lib. 3.
positions, by referring to which every man might argue infallibly, this logic may deceive as well as any of the rest. For it is with reason as with men's tastes; although there are some general principles, which are reasonable to all men, yet every man is not able to draw out all its consequences, nor to understand them when they are drawn forth, nor to believe when he does understand them. There is a precept of St. Paul directed to the Thessalonians before they were gathered into a body of a church, “ To withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly.” But if this precept were now observed, I would fain know whether we should not fall into that inconvenience, which St. Paul sought to avoid in giving the same commandment to the church of Corinth ;“ I wrote to you that ye should not company with fornicators;" and “yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, for then ye must go out of the world d.” And therefore, he restrains it to a quitting the society of Christians living ill lives. But now, that all the world hath been Christians, if we should siu in keeping company with vicious Christians, must we not also go out of this world ? Is not the precept made null, because the reason is altered, and things are come about, and that the oi pollo are the brethren,' dded poi óvouaSóuevoi, ‘called brethren,' as St. Paul's phrase is ? And yet either this never was considered, or not yet believed ; for it is generally taken to be obligatory, though, I think, seldom practised. But when we come to expound scriptures to a certain sense by arguments drawn from prudential motives, then we are in a vast plain without any sufficient guide, and we shall have so many senses, as there are human prudences. But that which goes farther than this, is a parity of reason from a plain place of Scripture to an obscure, from that which is plainly set down in a text to another that is more remote from it. And thus is that place in St. Matthew forced, " If thy brother refuse to be amended,' dic ecclesiæ.'" Hence some of the Roman doctors argue, if Christ commands to tell the church' in case of adultery or private injury, then much more in case of heresy. Well, suppose this to be a good interpretation : why must I stay here? why may I not also add, by a parity of reason, if the church must be told of heresy, much more of treason : and why may c 2 Thess. iii, 6.
d 1 Cor. v. 9.
not I reduce all sins to the cognizance of a church-tribunal, as some men do directly, and Snecanus does heartily and plainly? If a man's principles be good, and his deductions certain, he need not care whither they carry him : but when an authority is intrusted to a person, and the extent of his power expressed in his commission, it will not be safety to meddle beyond his commission upon confidence of a parity of reason.—To instance once more : when Christ in ‘pasce oves, et tu es Petrus,' gave power to the Pope to govern the church (for to that sense the church of Rome expounds those authorities), by a certain consequence of reason, say they, he gave all things necessary for exercise of this jurisdiction; and therefore in pasce oves' he gave him an indirect power over temporals, for that is necessary that he may do his duty: well, having gone thus far, we will go farther upon the parity of reason; therefore he hath given the Pope the gifts of tongues, and he hath given him power to give it ; for how else shall Xavier convert the Indians? he hath given him power also to command the seas and the winds, that they should obey him, for this also is very necessary in some cases. And so' pasce oves' is ' accipe donum linguarum,' and 'impera ventis, et dispone regum diademata, et laicorum prædia,' and 'influentias cæli' too, and whatsoever the parity of reason will judge equally necessary in order toʻpasce oves.'—When a man does speak reason, it is but reason he should be heard ; but though he may have the good fortune, or the great abilities, to do it, yet he hath not a certainty, no regular infallible assistance, no inspiration of arguments and deductions; and if he had, yet because it must be reason that must judge of reason, unless other men's understandings were of the same air, the same constitution and ability, they cannot be prescribed unto by another man's reason ; especially because such reasonings as usually are in explication of particular places of Scripture, depend upon minute circumstances and particularities, in which it is so easy to be deceived, and so hard to speak reason regularly and always, that it is the greater wonder we be not deceived.
4. Fourthly : others pretend to expound Scripture by the analogy of faith, and that is the most sure and infallible
way, as it is thought: but upon stricter survey it is but a chimera, a thing in 'nubibus,' which varies like the right hand and left hand of a pillar, and at the best is but like the coast of a
country to a traveller out of his way; it may bring him to his journey's end though twenty miles about; it may keep him from running into the sea, and from mistaking a river for dry land; but whether this little path or the other be the right way, it tells not. So is the analogy of faith, that is, if I understand it right, the rule of faith, that is, the Creed. Now were it not a fine device to go to expound all the Scripture by the Creed, there being in it so many thousand places, which have no more relation to any article in the Creed, than they have to · Tityre, tu patulæ?' Indeed, if a man resolves to keep the analogy of faith, that is, to expound Scripture, so as not to do any violence to any fundamental article, he shall be sure, however he errs, yet not to destroy faith; he shall not perish in his exposition. And that was the precept given by St. Paul, that all prophesyings should be estimated kar' avadoylav mlotewÇ"; and to this very purpose, St. Austin, in his exposition of Genesis, by way of preface sets down the articles of faith, with this design and protestation of it, that if he says nothing against those articles, though he miss the particular sense of the place, there is no danger or sin in his exposition ; but how that analogy of faith should have any other influence in expounding such places, in which those articles of faith are neither expressed nor involved, I understand not. But then if you extend the analogy of faith farther than that, which is proper to the rule or symbol of faith, then every man expounds Scripture 'according to the analogy of faith ;' but what? his own faith : which faith, if it be questioned, I am no more bound to expound according to the analogy of another man's faith, than he to expound according to the analogy of mine. And this is it that is complained of on all sides, that overvalue their own opinions. Scripture seems so clearly to speak what they believe, that they wonder all the world does not see it as clear as they do: but they satisfy themselves with saying, that it is because they come with prejudice; whereas, if they had the true belief, that is, theirs, they would easily see what they see. And this is very true: for if they did believe as others believe, they would expound scriptures to their sense; but if this be expounding according to the analogy of faith, it signifies no more than this, ‘Be you of my mind, and then my arguments will seem concluding, and my authorities and allegations pressing and
* Rom. vi. 12.
pertinent:' and this will serve on all sides, and therefore will do but little service to the determination of questions, or prescribing to other men's consciences on any side.
5. Lastly: consulting the originals is thought a great matter to interpretation of scriptures. But this is to small purpose : for indeed it will expound the Hebrew and the Greek, and rectify translations. But I know no man that says that the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek are easy and certain to be understood, and that they are hard in Latin and English: the difficulty is in the thing, however it be expressed,—the least, is in the language. If the original languages were our mother-tongue, Scripture is not much the easier to us; and a natural Greek or a Jew, can with no more reason, or authority, obtrude his interpretations upon other men's consciences, than a man of another nation. Add to this, that the inspection of the original is no more certain way of interpretation of Scripture now, than it was to the fathers and primitive ages of the church ; and yet he that observes what infinite variety of translations were in the first ages of the church (as St. Jerome observes), and never a one like another; will think that we shall differ as much in our interpretations as they did, and that the medium is as uncertain to us as it was to them; and so it is : witness the great number of late translations, and the infinite number of commentaries, which are too pregnant an argument, that we neither agree in the understanding of the words nor of the sense.
6. The truth is, all these ways of interpreting of Scripture, which of themselves are good helps, are made, either by design or by our infirmities, ways of intricating and involving scriptures in greater difficulty; because men do not learn their doctrines from Scripture, but come to the understanding of Scripture with preconceptions and ideas of doctrines of their own; and then no wonder that scriptures look like pictures, wherein every man in the room believes they look on him only, and that wheresoever he stands, or how often soever he changes his station. So that now what was intended for a remedy, becomes the promoter of our disease, and our meat becomes the matter of sickness : and the mischief is, the wit of man cannot find a remedy for it; for there is no rule, no limit, no certain principle, by which all men may be guided to a certain and so infallible an interpretation,