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SECT. VI.

Mr. S.’s demonstration a posteriori.

§. 1. I come now to his demonstration a posteriori, which, although it fall of itself if the demonstration a priori fail; yet, because it hath some peculiar absurdities of its own, I shall consider it by itself as well as with relation to the other.

§. 2. Before he comes to lay it down with the grounds of it, according to his usual fashion, he premiseth something as yielded by protestants, which, in his sense, no protestant ever granted. Just so he deals with us before concerning the Scriptures, saying, that by them the protestants “must mean unsensed letters and characters.” But let us see what it is:”184184P. 76. “That this demonstration a posteriori seems a needless endeavour against the protestants, who yield that those points in which we agree, as the trinity, incarnation, &c. came down by this way of tradition: and this (he saith) no protestant ever denied.” And then he asks, “Whether the same virtue of tradition would not have been as powerful to bring down other points in which we do not agree, had any such been?” Now if he speak any thing to his own purpose, he must suppose protestants to yield that all 360those points wherein we are agreed, were conveyed down to us solely by oral tradition without writing: but this all protestants deny. So that that only which would avail his cause against us, is to shew, that those points wherein we differ, have not only come down to us by oral teaching, but that they are likewise contained in Scripture, without which, we say, we can have no sufficient certainty and assurance at this distance, that they were the doctrine of Christ, and that they were not either totally innovated, or else corrupted in the conveyance from what they were at first. And if he can shew this concerning any point in difference, I promise to yield it to him.

§. 3. I come now to his demonstration, which I shall set down in his own words, with the principles upon which it relies:”185185P. 77, 78. “The effect then we will pitch upon, and avow to be the proper one of such a cause, is the present persuasion of traditionary Christians (or catholics) that their faith descended from Christ and his apostles uninterruptedly, which we find most firmly rooted in their heart; and the existence of this persuasion we affirm to be impossible, without the existence of tradition’s ever indeficiency to beget it. To prove this, I lay this first principle: That age which holds her faith thus delivered from the apostles, neither can itself have changed any thing in it, nor know or doubt that any age since the apostles had changed or innovated therein. The second principle shall be this: No age could innovate any thing, and withal deliver that very thing to posterity as received from Christ by continual succession.” The sum of which is this; That because a present multitude of Christians (viz. the Roman church) are persuaded, 361that Christ’s doctrine hath descended to them solely by an uninterrupted oral tradition, therefore this persuasion is an effect which cannot be attributed to any other cause but the indeficiency of oral tradition. For if neither the present age, nor any age before, could make any change or innovation, then the persuasion of the present age is a plain demonstration that this doctrine was always the same, and consequently, that tradition cannot fail.

§. 4. In answer to this I shall endeavour to make good these four things:”

First, That these principles wholly rely upon the truth of the grounds of his demonstration a priori.

Secondly, That these principles are not sufficiently proved by him.

Thirdly, That doctrines and practices, which must be acknowledged to have been innovated, have made the same pretence to uninterrupted tradition.

Fourthly, That it is not the present persuasion of the church of Rome, (whom he calls the traditionary Christians) nor ever was, that their faith hath descended to them solely by oral tradition. If I can now make good these four things, I hope his demonstration is at an end.


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