« AnteriorContinuar »
For after the articles and principles of religion are placed, and exempted from examination of reason, it is then permitted unto us to make derivations and inferences from and according to the analogy of them, for our better direction. In nature this holdeth not ; for both the principles are examinable by induction, though not by a medium or syllogism ; and besides, those principles or first positions have no discordance with that reason which draweth down and deduceth the inferior positions. But yet it holdeth not in religion alone, but in many knowledges both of greater and smaller nature, namely wherein there are not only posita but placita ; for in such there can be no use of absolute reason. We see it familiarly in games of wit, as chess, or the like; the draughts and first laws of the game are positive, but how? merely ad placitum, and not examinable by reason; but then how to direct our play thereupon with best advantage to win the game, is artificial and rational. So in human laws there be many grounds and maxims which are placita juris, positive upon authority and not upon reason, and therefore not to be disputed: but what is most just, not absolutely, but relatively and according to those maxims, that affordeth a long field of disputation. Such therefore is that secondary reason which hath place in divinity, which is grounded upon the placets of God.
Here therefore I note this deficience, that there hath not been to
my understanding sufficiently enquired and handled the true limits timo rationis and use of reason in spiritual things, as a kind of divine dialectic: which for that it is not done, it seemeth to me a thing usual, by pretext of true conceiving that which is revealed, to search and mine into that which is not revealed ; and by pretext of enucleating inferences and contradictories, to examine that which is positive; the one sort falling into the error of Nicodemus, demanding to have things made more sensible than it pleaseth God to reveal them ; Quomodo possit homo nasci cum sit senex ? [how can a man be born when he is old ?] the other sort into the error of the disciples, which were scandalized at a show of contradiction ; Quid est hoc quod dicit nobis ?
De usu legi
l Modicum, et non videbitis me, et iterum, modicum, et videbitis me, &c. [what is this that he saith unto us? a little while and ye shall not see me, and again a little while and ye shall see me, &c.]
Upon this I have insisted the more in regard of the great and blessed use thereof; for this point well laboured and defined of would in my judgment be an opiate to stay and bridle not only the vanity of curious speculations, wherewith the schools labour, but the fury of controversies, wherewith the church laboureth. For it cannot but open men's eyes, to see that many controversies do merely pertain to that which is either not revealed or positive; and that many others do grow upon
weak and obscure inferences or derivations: which latter sort, if I men would revive the blessed style of that great doctor of the Gentiles, would be carried thus, Ego, non Dominus, [I, not the Lord,] and again, Secundum consilium meum, [according to my counsel ;] in opinions and counsels, and not in positions and oppositions. But men are now over-ready to usurp the style Non ego, sed Dominus, [not I, but the Lord ;] and not so only, but to bind it with the thunder and denuncia
i The original and also edd. 1629 and 1633 have of.
tion of curses and anathemas, to the terror of those which have not sufficiently learned out of Salomon that the causeless curse shall not come.1
Divinity hath two principal parts; the matter informed or revealed, and the nature of the information or revelation : and with the later we will begin, because it hath most coherence with that which we have now last handled. The nature of the information consisteth of three branches; the limits of the information, the sufficiency of the information, and the acquiring or obtaining the information. Unto the limits of the information belong these considerations; how far forth particular persons continue to be inspired; how far forth the church is inspired ; and how far forth reason may be used : the last point whereof I have noted as deficient. Unto the sufficiency of the information belong two considerations; what points of religion are fundamental, and what perfective, being matter of further building and perfection upon one and the same foundation ; and again, how the gradations of light according to the dispensation of times are material to the sufficiency of belief.
Here again I may rather give it in advice than note it as deficient, that the points fundamental, De gradibus and the points of further perfection only, Civitate Dei. ought to be with piety and wisdom distinguished : a subject tending to much like end as that I noted before; for as that other were likely to abate the number of controversies, so this is like to abate the heat of many of them. We see Moses when he saw the Israelite and the Ægyptian fight, he did not say, Why strive you? but drew his sword and slew the Ægyptian: but when he saw the two Israelites fight, he said, You are brethren, why strive you? If the point of doctrine be an Ægyptian, it must be slain by the sword of the Spirit, and not reconciled; but if it be an Israelite, though in the wrong, then, Why strive you? We see of the fundamental points, our Saviour penneth the league thus, He that is not with us, is against us; but of points not fundamental, thus, He that is not against us, is with us. So we see the coat of our Saviour was entire without seam, and so is the doctrine of the Scriptures in itself; but the garment of the Church was of divers colours, and yet not divided. We see the chaff may and ought to be severed from the corn in the ear, but the tares may not be pulled up from the corn in the field : so as it is a thing of great use well to define what and of what latitude those points are, which do make men merely aliens and disincorporate from the Church of God.1
1 In the translation this last sentence is omitted, and the substance both of this and of the preceding paragraph is set forth in a better order and more concisely, though to the same general effect.
2 In the translation he expressly confines himself to the latter only, and the rest of the paragraph is omitted.
For the obtaining of the information, it resteth upon the true and sound interpretation of the Scriptures, which are the fountains of the water of life. The interpretations of the Scriptures 2 are of two sorts; methodical, and solute or at large. For this divine water, which excelleth so much that of Jacob's well, is drawn forth much in the same kind as natural water useth to be out of wells and fountains; either it is first forced up into a cistern, and from thence fetched and derived for use; or else it is drawn and received in buckets and vessels immediately where it springeth. The former sort whereof, though it seem to be the more ready, yet in my judgment is more subject to corrupt. This is that method which hath exhibited unto us the scholastical divinity; whereby divinity hath been reduced into an art, as into a cistern, and the streams of doctrine or positions fetched and derived from thence.
1 Of this paragraph again the substance is given in the translation, though in a somewhat different order; and a sentence is added to the following effect: If any one thinks (he says) that this has been done already, let him consider again and again how far it has been done with sincerity and moderation. In the mean time he who speaks of peace is like enough to receive the answer which Jehu gave to the messenger- Is it peace, Jehu? What hast thou to do with peace ? Get thee behind me. For it is not peace between the contending opinions that most men have at heart, but the establishment of their own opinions (cum non pax, sed partes, plerisque cordi sint).
2 A sentence is introduced here in the translation, to say that he speaks
In this men have sought three things, a summary brevity, a compacted strength, and a complete perfection; whereof the two first they fail to find, and the last they ought not to seek. For as to brevity, we see in all summary methods, while men purpose to abridge they give cause to dilate. For the sum or abridgment by contraction becometh obscure, the obscurity requireth exposition, and the exposition is deduced into large commentaries, or into common places and titles, which grow to be more vast than the original writings whence the sum was at first extracted. So we see the volumes of the schoolmen are greater much than the first writings of the fathers, whence the Master of the Sentences 2 made his sum or collection. So in like manner
2 only of the method of interpretation, not of the authority: the ground of the authority being the consent of the Church.
1 This censure, as well as the remarks upon the methodical system which are contained in the three following paragraphs, are omitted in the translation; probably as involving matter which would not have been allowed at Rome.
2 Peter the Lombard, Bishop of Paris, wrote a Sum of Theology in four