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That Courts should fence and dispute about jurisdiction is natural to humanity; the rather because of a foolish doctrine, that it is the part of a good and active judge to extend the jurisdiction of his Court; which stimulates the disease and applies a spur where a bit is needed. But that through this spirit of contention courts should freely rescind each other's judgments (judgments having nothing to do with the question of jurisdiction) is an intolerable evil, that should by all means be put down by kings or senates or governments. For it is a most pernicious example, that courts, whose business it is to keep the subjects at peace, should be at war with one another.
Let not the way to a repeal of judgments by appeals, writs of error, new trials, and the like, be much too easy and open. Some hold that a suit should be withdrawn to a higher court, as quite a new cause, the previous judgment being completely laid aside and suspended. Others are of opinion that the judgment itself should remain in full force, whilst only its execution should be deferred. I do not like either of these ways; unless the courts wherein judgment has been delivered be of a low and inferior character; but I would rather let both the judgment stand, and the execution proceed, the defendant only giving security for costs and damages if the judgment be reversed.
This Title then touching Certainty of Laws shall stand as a model of the rest of the Digest which I have in mind.
But here I have concluded Civil Knowledge (as far as I have thought right to handle it), and together with it Human Philosophy, and, with Human Philosophy, Philosophy in General. At length therefore having arrived at some pause, and looking back into those things which I have passed through, this treatise of mine seems to me not unlike those sounds and preludes which musicians make while they are tuning their instruments, and which produce indeed a harsh and unpleasing sound to the ear, but tend to make the music sweeter afterwards. And thus have I intended to employ myself in tuning the harp of the muses and reducing it to perfect harmony, that hereafter the strings may be touched by a better hand or a better quill. And surely, when I set before me the condition
of these times, in which learning seems to have now made her third visitation to men ; and when at the same time I attentively behold with what helps and assistances she is provided; as the vivacity and sublimity of the many wits of this age; the noble monuments of ancient writers, which shine like so many lights before us; the art of printing, which brings books within reach of men of all fortunes; the opened bosom of the ocean, and the world travelled over in every part, whereby multitudes of experiments unknown to the ancients have been disclosed, and an immense mass added to Natural History; the leisure time which the greatest wits in the kingdoms and states of Europe everywhere have at their disposal, not being so much employed in civil business as were the Greeks in respect of their popular governments, and the Romans in respect of the greatness of their monarchy; the peace which Britain, Spain, Italy, France too at last, and many other countries now enjoy; the consumption and exhaustion of all that can be thought or said on religious questions, which have so long diverted many men's minds from the study of other arts; the excellence and perfection of your Majesty's learning, which calls whole flocks of wits around you, as birds round a phoenix; and lastly, the inseparable property of time, ever more and more to disclose Truth; I cannot, I say, when I reflect on these things but be raised to this hope, that this third period will far surpass the Greek and Roman in learning; if only men will wisely and honestly know their own strength and their own weakness; and take from one another the light of invention and not the fire of contradiction; and esteem the inquisition of truth as a noble enterprise, and not a pleasure or an ornament; and employ wealth and magnificence on things of worth and excellence, not on things vulgar and of popular estimation. As for my labours, if any man shall please himself or others in the reprehension of them, they shall make at all events that ancient and patient request, "Strike, but hear."1 Let men reprehend them as much as they please, if only they observe and weigh what is said. For the appeal is lawful, though perhaps it may not be necessary, from the first cogitations of men to their second, and from the present age to posterity. Now let us come to that learning which the two former periods have not been so blessed as to know, namely, Sacred and Inspired Divinity, the most noble Sabbath and port of all men's labours and peregrinations.
Plut. in Themist. c. 11.
The Divisions of Inspired Divinity are omitted-Introduction only is made to three Deficients; namely, the Doctrine concerning the Legitimate Use of the Human Reason in Divine Subjects; the Doctrine concerning the Degrees of Unity in the Kingdom of God; and the Emanations of the Scriptures.
SEEING now, most excellent king, that my little bark, such as it is, has sailed round the whole circumference of the old and new world of sciences (with what success and fortune it is for posterity to decide), what remains but that having at length finished my course I should pay my vows? But there still remains Sacred or Inspired Divinity; whereof however if I proceed to treat I shall step out of the bark of human reason, and enter into the ship of the church; which is only able by the Divine compass to rightly direct its course. Neither will the stars of philosophy, which have hitherto so nobly shone upon us, any longer supply their light. So that on this subject also it will be as well to keep silence. I will accordingly omit the proper divisions thereof, contributing however a few remarks upon it, according to my slender ability, by way of paying my And I am the more inclined to do this, because in the body of Theology I find no region or district entirely desert and uncultivated; such has been the diligence of man in sowing wheat or tares.
I will propose therefore three Appendices of Theology, which treat, not of the matter concerning which theology gives or shall give information, but only of the manner in which the information is imparted. I will not however, as in other like cases, either introduce examples or give precepts. That I will leave to theologians; for these, as I have said, are only in the place of vows.
The prerogative of God comprehends the whole man, extending to the reason as well as to the will; that man may deny himself entirely, and draw near unto God. Wherefore as we are bound to obey the divine law though we find a reluctation in our will, so are we to believe His word though we find a reluctation in our reason. For if we believe only that which is
agreeable to our sense, we give consent to the matter and not to the author, which is no more than we would do to a suspected witness. But that faith which was accounted to Abraham for righteousness was of such a nature that Sarah laughed at it, who therein was an image of natural reason. The more discordant therefore and incredible the Divine mystery is, the more honour is shown to God in believing it, and the nobler is the victory of faith. Nay, even sinners, the more they are oppressed in their conscience, trusting nevertheless to be saved through the mercy of God, the more do they honour Him; for all despair is a kind of reproach towards God. Howbeit, if we will truly consider it, it is more worthy to believe, than to know as we now know. For in knowledge man's mind suffers from sense which is the reflection of things material, but in faith the spirit suffers from spirit which is a worthier agent. Otherwise it is in the state of man glorified, for then faith shall cease, and we shall know even as we are known.
Wherefore we conclude that Sacred Theology ought to be derived from the word and oracles of God, and not from the light of nature, or the dictates of reason. For it is written, "The heavens declare the glory of God," but it is nowhere written, "The heavens declare the will of God; " but of that it is said, "To the law and to the testimony; if men do not according to this word, &c."2 And this holds not only in those great mysteries which concern the Deity, the Creation, and the Redemption; but it pertains likewise to a more perfect interpretation of the moral law, "Love your enemies; ""do good to them that hate you," and so on; "that ye may be the children of your father who is in heaven, that sendeth rain upon the just and the unjust."3 To which words this applause well be applied, "that they do not sound human" 4; since it is a voice beyond the light of nature. Again, we see the heathen poets, especially when they discourse of the passions, often expostulate with laws and moral doctrines (which yet are far more easy and indulgent than the divine laws), as if they were contradictory and malignant to the liberty of nature; "What nature grants the envious laws deny." So said Dendamis the Indian to
Alexander's messengers, "That he had heard somewhat of the name of Pythagoras and some other wise men of Greece, and that he held them for excellent men; but that they had a fault, which was that they had too great reverence and veneration for a kind of phantom, which they called law and manners."1 Wherefore it must be confessed that a great part of the moral law is higher than the light of nature can aspire to. Nevertheless what is said, that man has by the light and law of nature some. notions of virtue and vice, justice and injustice, good and evil, is most true. For we must observe that the light of nature is used in two several senses; the one, as far as it springs from sense, induction, reason, argument, according to the laws of heaven and earth; the other, as far as it flashes upon the spirit of man by an inward instinct, according to the law of conscience; which is a spark and relic of his primitive and original purity. And in this latter sense chiefly does the soul partake of some light to behold and discern the perfection of the moral law; a light however not altogether clear, but such as suffices rather to reprove the vice in some measure, than to give full information of the duty. So then religion, whether considered with regard to morals or mysteries, depends on revelation from God.
The use notwithstanding of reason in spiritual things is manifold and very general. For it is not for nothing that the Apostle called religion, "Our reasonable service of God."2 If we review the types and ceremonies of the old law we see that they were full of reason and signification, differing widely from the ceremonies of idolatry and magic, which were like surds and non-significants, mostly without meaning, and not even suggestive of anything. But especially the Christian faith, as in all things, so in this is pre-eminent; holding the golden mean touching the use of reason and discussion (the child of reason) between the law of the heathen and the law of Mahomet, which embrace the two extremes. For the religion of the heathen had no constant belief or confession; and the religion of Mahomet on the other side interdicts argument altogether; so that the one has the very face of vague and manifold error, the other of crafty and cautious imposture; whereas the holy Christian faith both admits and
Cf. Plut. in Alex. c. 65.; and Strabo, 1. xv.
* Romans, xii, 1.