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in his chair, he would determine contrary to himself in his study: and therefore to represent it as possible, they are fain to fly to a miracle, for which they have no colour, neither instructions nor insinuation, nor warrant, nor promise ; besides that it were impious and unreasonable to depose him for heresy, who may so easily, even by setting himself in his chair and reviewing his theorems, be cured : it is also against a very great experience. For besides the former allegations, it is most notorious that Pope Alexander III. in a council at Rome, of three hundred archbishops and bishops, A.D. 1179, condemned Peter Lombard of heresy in a matter of great concernment, no less than something about the incarnation; from which sentence he was, after thirty-six years abiding it, absolved by Pope Innocent III. without repentance or dereliction of the opinion. Now if the sentence was not a cathedral dictate, as solemn and great as could be expected, or as is said to be necessary to oblige all Christendom, let the great hyperaspists of the Roman church be judges, who tell us, that a particular council with the Pope's confirmation is made ecumenical by adoption, and is infallible, and obliges all Christendom: so Bellarmine. And therefore he says, that it is “ temerarium, erroneum, et proximum hæresi," to deny it.
But whether it be or not, it is all one as to my purpose. For; it is certain, that in a particular council confirmed by that Pope, if ever, then and there the Pope sat himself in his chair; and it is as certain, that he sat beside the cushion, and determined ridiculously and falsely in this
But this is a device for which there is no scripture, no tradition, no one dogmatical resolute saying of any father, Greek or Latin, for above one thousand years after Christ : and themselves, when they list, can acknowledge as much. And therefore Bellarmine's saying, I perceive, is believed of them to be true. That there are many things in the Decretal Epistles which make not articles to be de fideu.' And therefore, “Non est necessario credendum determinatis per summum Pontificem,” says Almain. And this serves their turns in every thing they do not like; and therefore, I am resolved
1 Lib. 2. de Concil. cap. 5.--De Pontif. Rom. c. 14. sect. respondeo. In 3. sent. d. 24. q. in cont. 6. dub. 6. in fine.
• Proverbialiter olim dictum erat de Decretalibus, Malè cum rebus humanis actum esse, ex quo Decretis alæ accesserunt; scil, cùm Decretales post Decretum Gratiani sub nomine Gregorii noni edebantur.
it shall serve my turn also for something, and that is, that the matter of the Pope's infallibility is so ridiculous and improbable, that they do not believe it themselves. Some of them clearly practised the contrary : and although Pope Leo X. hath determined the Pope to be above a council, yet the Sorbonne to this day scorn it at the very heart. And I might urge upon them that scorn that *Almain truly enough by way of argument alleges. It is a wonder that they who affirm the Pope cannot err in judgment, do not also affirm that he cannot sin: they are like enough to say so, says he, if the vicious lives of the Popes did not make a daily confutation of such flattery. Now, for my own particular, I am as confident, and think it as certain, that Popes are actually deceived in matters of Christian doctrine, as that they do prevaricate the laws of Christian piety. And therefore 'Alphonsus à Castro calls them impudentes Papæ assentatores,' that ascribe to him infallibility in judgment or interpretation of Scripture.
17. But if themselves did believe it heartily, what excuse is there in the world for the strange uncharitableness or supine negligence of the Popes, that they do not set themselves in their chair, and write infallible commentaries, and determine all controversies without error, and blast all heresies with the word of their mouth, declare what is and what is not de fide,' that his disciples and confidents may agree upon it, reconcile the Franciscans and Dominicans, and expound all mysteries ? For it cannot be imagined but he that was endued with so supreme power, in order to so great ends, was also fitted with proportionable, that is, extraordinary, personal abilities, succeeding and derived upon the persons of all the Popes. And then the doctors of his church need not trouble themselves with study, nor writing explications of Scripture, but might wholly attend to practical devotion, and leave all their scholastical wranglings, the distinguishing opinions of their orders, and they might have a fine church, something like fairy-land, or Lucian's kingdom in the moon. But if they say they cannot do this when they list, but when they are moved to it by the Spirit, then we are never the nearer: for so may the bishop of Angoulême write infalli
* De Autorit. Eccles. cap. 10. in fine.
y Lib. 1. cap. 4. advers. hæres. edit. Paris. 1534. In seqq. non expurganlur ista verba, at idem sensus manet.
ble commentaries, when the Holy Ghost moves him to it; for I suppose his motions are not ineffectual, but he will sufficiently assist us in performing of what he actually moves us to. But among so many hundred decrees which the Popes of Rome have made, or confirmed and attested, (which is all one), I would fain know, in how many of them did the Holy Ghost assist them? If they know it, let them declare it, that it may be certain which of their decretals are de fide ;' for as yet none of his own church knows. If they do not know, then neither can we know it from them, and then we are as uncertain as ever. And, besides, the Holy Ghost may possibly move him, and he, by his ignorance of it, may neglect so profitable a motion; and then his promise of infallible assistance will be to very little purpose, because it is with very much fallibility applicable to practice. And therefore it is absolutely useless to any man or any church : because, suppose it settled 'in thesi,' that the Pope is infallible; yet whether he will do his duty, and perform those conditions of being assisted which are required of him, or whether he be a secret simoniac (for, if he be, he is 'ipso facto' no Pope), or whether he be a bishop, or priest, or a Christian, being all uncertain, every one of these depending upon the intention and power of the baptizer or ordainer, which also are fallible, because they depend upon the honesty and power of other men; we cannot be infallibly certain of any Pope that he is infallible: and therefore, when our questions are determined, we are never the nearer, but may hug ourselves in an imaginary truth, the certainty of finding truth out depending upon so many fallible and contingent circumstances. And therefore the thing, if it were true, being so to no purpose, it is to be presumed that God never gave a power so impertinently, and from whence no benefit can accrue to the Christian church, for whose use and benefit, if at all, it must needs have been appointed.
18. But I am too long in this impertinency. If I were bound to call any man master upon earth, and to believe him upon his own affirmative and authority, I would of all men least follow him that pretends he is infallible, and cannot prove it. For he that cannot prove it, makes me as uncertain as ever; and that he pretends to infallibility, makes him careless of using such means, which will morally secure
those wise persons, who, knowing their own aptness to be deceived, use what endeavours they can to secure themselves from error, and so become the better and more probable guides.
19. Well, thus far we are come: although we are secured in fundamental points from involuntary error by the plain, express, and dogmatical places of Scripture; yet in other things we are not, but may be invincibly mistaken, because of the obscurity and difficulty in the controverted parts of Scripture, by reason of the uncertainty of the means of its interpretation, since tradition is of an uncertain reputation, and sometimes evidently false; councils are contradictory to each other, and therefore certainly many of them are equally deceived, and therefore all may; and then the Popes of Rome are very likely to mislead us, but cannot ascertain us of truth in matter of question; and in this world we believe in part, and prophesy in part, and this imperfection shall never be done away, till we be translated to a more glorious state: either then we must throw our chances, and get truth by accident or predestination; or else we must lie safe in a mutual toleration, and private liberty of persuasion, unless some other anchor can be thought upon, where we may fasten our floating vessels, and ride safely.
Of the Disability of Fathers, or Writers Ecclesiastical, to deter
mine our Questions with Certainty and Truth. 1. There are some that think they can determine all questions in the world by two or three sayings of the fathers, or by the consent of so many as they will please to call a concurrent testimony: but this consideration will soon be at an end. For if the fathers, when they are witnesses of tradition, do not always speak truth, as it happened in the case of Papias and his numerous followers for almost three ages together; then is their testimony more improbable, when they dispute or write commentaries.
2. The fathers of the first ages spake unitedly concerning divers questions of secret theology, and yet were afterward contradicted by one personage of great reputation, whose credit had so much influence upon the world, as to make the
contrary opinion become popular : why then may not we have the same liberty, when so plain an uncertainty is in their persuasions, and so great contrariety in their doctrines? But this is evident in the case of absolute predestination, which till St. Austin's time no man preached, but all taught the contrary; and yet the reputation of this one excellent man altered the scene. But if he might dissent from so general a doctrine, why may not we do so too (it being pretended that he is so excellent a precedent to be followed), if we have the same reason? He had no more authority nor dispensation to dissent than any bishop hath now. And therefore, St. Austin hath dealt ingenuously; and as he took this liberty to himself, so he denies it not to others, but indeed forces them to preserve their own liberty. And therefore, when St. Jerome had a great mind to follow the fathers in a point that he fancied, and the best security he had was, “Patiaris me cum talibus errare,” St. Austin would not endure it, but answered his reason, and neglected the authority. And therefore it had been most unreasonable that we should do that now, though in his behalf, which he towards greater personages (for so they were then) at that time judged to be unreasonable. It is a plain recession from antiquity which was determined by the council of Florence”, “piorum animas purgatas,” &c.“mox in cælum recipi, et intueri clare ipsum Deum trinum et unum, sicuti est;" as who please to try, may see it dogmatically resolved to the contrary by Justin Martyra, by Irenæus, by Origen, by St. Chrysostomo, Theodoreto, Arethas Cæsariensis', Euthymiuss, who may answer for the Greek church. And it is plain, that it was the opinion of the Greek church, by that great difficulty the Romans had, of bringing the Greeks to subscribe to the Florentine council, where the Latins acted their masterpiece of wit and stratagem, the greatest that hath been till the famous and superpolitic design of Trent. And for the Latin church, Tertullian", St. Ambrose , St. Austin, St. Hilary!, Prudentius", Lactantius", Victorinus Martyr', and St. Bernard P, are known to be 2 Sess, olt. a Q. 60. ad Christian.
b Lib. 5. c Hom. 7. in Levit. d Hom, 39. in 1 Cor.
e In c. 11. ad Heb. I In c. 6. Apoc. i L. de Cain. c. 2. k Ep. 111. ad Fortunatian. m De exeq. defunctor. * L. 7. c. 21.
• In c. 6. Apoc. P Serin. 3. de omn. sanctis. Vid. etiam S. Aug. in Enchir. c. 108. et. I. 12. de Civ. Dei, c. 9. et in Ps. xxxvi. et in 1. 1. Retract. c. 14. Vid. insuper testimonia quæ collegit Spalat, 1.5. c. 8. n. 98, de Repub. Eccl. et Sixt. Senens. I. 6. annot. 345.
3 In 16. c. Luc.
h Lib. 4. adv. Maro. I In Psal. cxxxvjii.