Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

higher, as more wise men (such as the old doctors were) do affirm it. But that which I complain of is, that we look upon wise men that lived long ago, with so much veneration and mistake, that we reverence them, not for having been wise men, but that they lived long since. But when the question is concerning authority, there must be something to build it on; a divine commandment, human sanction, excellency of spirit, and greatness of understanding, on which things all human authority is regularly built. But now if we had lived in their times (for so we must look upon them now, as they did,who without prejudice beheld them), I suppose we should then have beheld them, as we in England look on those prelates, who are of great reputation for learning and sanctity: here only is the difference; when persons are living, their authority is depressed by their personal defaillances, and the contrary interests of their contemporaries, which disband when they are dead, and leave their credit entire upon the reputation of those excellent books and monuments of learning and piety which are left behind. But beyond this, why the bishop of Hippo shall have greater authority than the bishop of the Canaries, 'cæteris paribus,' I understand not. For did they, that lived (to instance) in St. Austin's time, believe all that he wrote ? If they did, they were much to blame; or else himself was to blame for retracting much of it a little before his death. And if while he lived, his affirmative was no more authority than derives from the credit of one very wise man, against whom also very wise men were opposed, I know not why his authority should prevail farther now; for there is nothing added to the strength of his reason since that time, but only that he hath been in great esteem with posterity. And if that be all, why the opinion of the following ages shall be of more force than the opinion of the first ages, against whom St. Austin, in many things, clearly did oppose himself, I see no reason. Or whether the first ages were against him or no, yet that he is approved by the following ages, is no better argument; for it makes his authority not be innate, but derived from the opinion of others, and so to be 'precaria,' and to depend upon others, who if they should change their opinions (and such examples there have been many), then there were nothing left to urge our consent to him, which when it was at the best

was only this, because he had the good fortune to be believed by them that came after, he must be so still: and because it was no argument for the old doctors before him, this will not be very good in his behalf. The same I

say of any company of them, I say not so of all of them, it is to no purpose to say it; for there is no question this day in contestation, in the explication of which, all the old writers did consent. In the assignation of the canon of Scripture, they never did consent for six hundred years together; and then, by that time, the bishops had agreed indifferently well, and but indifferently, upon that,—they fell out in twenty more: and except it be in the Apostles' Creed, and articles of such nature, there is nothing which may with any colour be called a consent, much less tradition universal.

4. But I will rather choose to shew the uncertainty of this topic by such an argument which was not in the fathers' power to help, such as makes no invasion upon their great reputation, which I desire should be preserved as sacred as it ought. For other things, let who please read M. Daille du Vray Usage des Peres:' but I shall only consider that the writings of the fathers have been so corrupted by the intermixture of heretics, so many false books put forth in their names, so many of their writings lost which would more clearly have explicated their sense, and at last an open profession made and a trade of making the fathers speak, not what themselves thought, but what other men pleased, that it is a great instance of God's providence and care of his church, that we have so much good preserved in the writings which we receive from the fathers, and that all truth is not as clear gone as is the certainty of their great authority and reputation.

5. The publishing books with the inscription of great names, began in St. Paul's time; for some had troubled the church of Thessalonica with a false epistle in St. Paul's name, against the inconvenience of which he arms them in 2. Thess. ii. 1. And this increased daily in the church. The Arians wrote an epistle to Constantine under the name of Athanasius", and the Eutychians wrote against Cyril of Alexandria under the name of Theodoret; and of the age in which the seventh synod was kept, Erasmus reports, “ Libris

• Apol. Athanas. ad Constant. Vid. Baron. A. D. 553.

falso celebrium virorum titulo commendatis scatere omnia." It was then a public business, and a trick not more base than public: but it was more ancient than so; and it is memorable in the books attributed to St. Basil, containing thirty chapters 'de Spiritu Sancto,' whereof fifteen were plainly by another hand under the covert of St. Basil, as appears in the difference of the style, in the impertinent digressions, against the custom of that excellent man,-by some passages contradictory to others of St. Basil,—by citing Meletius as dead before him, who yet lived three years after him,-and by the very frame and manner of the discourse: and yet it was so handsomely carried, and so well served the purposes of men, that it was indifferently quoted under the title of St. Basil by many, but without naming the number of chapters, and by St. John Damascenus in these words; " Basilius in opere triginta capitum de Spiritu Sancto ad Amphilochiumo;" and to the same purpose, and in the number of twenty-seven and twenty-nine chapters, he is cited by Photius, by Euthymius, by Burchard, by Zonaras, Balsamon, and Nicephorus. But for this, see more in Erasmus's preface upon this book of St. Basil. There is an epistle goes still under the name of St. Jerome ad Demetriadem virginem,' and is of great use in the question of predestination with its appendices; and yet a very learned man eight hundred years ago did believe it to be written by a Pelagian, and undertakes to confute divers parts of it, as being high and confident Pelagianism, and written by Julianus, Episc. Eclanensis: but Gregorius Ariminensis * from St. Austin affirms it to have been written by Pelagius himself. I might instance in too many: there is not any one of the fathers who is esteemed author of any considerable number of books, that hath escaped untouched. But the abuse in this kind hath been so evident, that now if any interested person of any side be pressed with an authority very pregnant against him, he thinks to escape by accusing the edition, or the author, or the hands it passed through, or at last he therefore suspects it because it makes against him: both sides being resolved that they are in the right, the authorities that they admit,

b Vid. Baron. in Annal.

c Lib. 1. de imag. orat. 1. a Nomocan. tit. 1. cap. 3. e V. Beda de gratia Christi adv. Julianum,

Greg. Arim. in 2. sent. dist. 26. q. 1---3.

they will believe not to be against them; and they which are too plainly against them, shall be no authorities. And indeed the whole world hath been so much abused, that every man thinks he hath reason to suspect whatsoever is against him, that is, what he pleaseth: which proceeding only produces this truth, that there neither is nor can be any certainty, nor very much probability, in such allegations.

6. But there is a worse mischief than this,-besides those very many which are not yet discovered, which, like the pestilence, destroys in the dark, and grows into inconvenience more insensibly and more irremediably, and that is, corruption of particular places, by inserting words and altering them to contrary senses: a thing which the fathers of the sixth general synod complained of, concerning the constitutions of St. Clement, "quibus jam olim ab iis, qui à fide aliena sentiunt, adulterina quædam, etiam à pietate aliena, introducta sunt, quæ divinorum nobis decretorum elegantem et venustam speciem obscurârunts.” And so also have his recognitions, so have his epistles been used, if at least they were his at all ; particularly the fifth decretal epistle that goes under the name of St. Clement, in which community of wives is taught upon the authority of St. Luke, saying, the first Christians had all things common ;-if all things, then wives also, says the epistle: a forgery like to have been done by some Nicolaitan, or other impure person. There is an epistle of Cyril extant to Successus bishop of Diocæsarea, in which he relates that he was asked by Budas bishop of Emessa, whether he did approve of the epistle of Athanasius to Epictetus bishop of Corinth; and that his answer was, “Si hæc apud vos scripta non sint adultera: nam plura ex his ab hostibus ecclesiæ deprehenduntur esse depravata "." And this was done even while the authors themselves were alive: for so Dionysius of Corinth complained, that his writings were corrupted by heretics; and Pope Leo, that his epistle to Flavianus was perverted by the Greeks. And in the synod of Constantinople before quoted (the sixth synod), Macarius and his disciples were convicted, “quod sanctorum testimonia aut truncârint aut deprâvarinti.” Thus the third chapter of St. Cyprian's book 'de Unitate Ecclesiæ,' in the edition of Pamelius, suffered great alteration; these words—primatus Petro datur'-wholly inserted, and these super cathedram Petri fundata est ecclesia :' and whereas it was before, super unum ædificat ecclesiam Christus,' that not being enough, they have made it super illum unum.' Now these additions are against the faith of all old copies before Minutius and Pamelius, and against Gratian, even after himself had been chastised by the Roman correctors, the commissaries of Gregory XIII. as is to be seen where these words are alleged ; " Decret. c. 24. q. 1. can. Loquitur Dominus ad Petrum.” So that we may say of Cyprian's works, as Pamelius himself said concerning his writings and the writings of others of the fathers, “Unde colligimus (saith he) Cypriani scripta, ut et aliorum veterum, à librariis variè fuisse interpolata." But Gratian himself could do as fine a feat when he listed, or else somebody did it for him, and it was in this very question, their beloved article of the Pope's supremacy; for “ de Pænit, dist. 1. c. Potest fieri,” he quotes these words out of St. Ambrose, “Non habent Petri hæreditatem, qui non habent Petri sedem;" 'fidem,' not sedem,' it is in St. Ambrose; but this error was made authentic by being inserted into the code of the catholic church. And considering how little notice the clergy had of antiquity but what was transmitted to them by Gratian, it will be no great wonder that all this part of the world swallowed such a bole, and the opinion that was wrapped in it. But I need not instance in Gratian any farther, but refer any one that desires to be satisfied concerning this collection of his, to Augustinus archbishop of Tarracon, ‘in emendatione Gratiani,' where he shall find fopperies and corruptions good store noted by that learned man. But that the 'indices expurgatorii, commanded by authority, and practised with public licence, profess to alter and correct the sayings of the fathers, and to reconcile them to the catholic sense, by putting in and leaving out,-is so great an imposture, so unchristian a proceeding, that it hath made the faith of all books and all authors justly to be suspected!. For considering their infinite diligence and great opportunity, as

& Can. 2.

h Easeb. 1. 4. c. 3. i Act. 8. vid. etiain. synod. 7. act. 4.

* Annot. Cyprian. super Concil. Carthag. 1. 1.

| Vid. Ind. Expurg. Belg. in Bertram. et Flandr. Hispan. Portugal. Neopolitan. Romanum; Juniam in præfat. ad Ind. Expurg. Belg. Hasenmullerum, pag. 275., Withringlon. Apolog. num. 449.

« PoprzedniaDalej »