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SECT. VIII.

The second answer to his second demonstration.

§. 1. SECONDLY, The principles upon which this demonstration relies, are not sufficiently proved by him.

His first principle is this: “That age which holds her faith delivered thus 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 any thing therein. This proposition (he tells us) needs no proof to evidence it, but only an explication: for since no man can hold contrary to his knowledge, or doubt of what he holds, nor change or innovate in the case proposed, without knowing he did so; it is a manifest impossibility a whole age should fall into an absurdity so inconsistent with the nature of one single man.” But, by his favour, that which he says is no proof, but only an explication, is a proof, if it be any thing: and the force of it is this: that which is in consistent with the nature of one single man, is manifestly impossible to a whole age; but it is in consistent with the nature of any single man to hold contrary to his knowledge, &c. therefore impossible to a whole age; and consequently, that age which holds her faith delivered thus from the apostles, neither can itself have changed any thing, nor, Sac. So that, in order to the making good of this first principle, Mr. S. hath left nothing unproved but only this proposition, namely, that it is impossible that any one single man that holds his faith to have been delivered uninterruptedly from the apostles, should ever himself have changed 383any thing in it, or know or doubt that any age since the apostles hath changed or innovated any thing therein: and to make out the truth of this proposition, there only remains this to be proved, viz. That it is impossible for any single man to be mistaken: for if that be possible, then, contrary to Mr. S. a man may hold that to have been delivered as a doctrine of faith from the apostles, which was not so delivered.

§. 2. His second principle is this: “That no age could innovate any thing, and withal deliver that very thing to posterity, as received from Christ by continual succession.” He proves it thus; “Since man is a rational creature, he must have some reason or motive, good or bad, which he proposeth to himself, as an end to be achieved by his action: and whatever his remote end is, his immediate end, in telling posterity a late-invented thing was held immediately before, is to make them believe it. Wherefore, since a seen impossibility cannot be a motive to one not frantic; and since it is evidently impossible they should make posterity believe a thing so universally known to be false, as this must needs be, &c. it is as impossible this principle should falter, as that the foregoing age should conspire to act without a motive, or that the succeeding age should believe what they know to be other wise, that is, should hold both sides of a contra diction in a clear matter of fact.” The force of which is this: That it is impossible that any man not frantic should attempt to innovate in matter of Christian doctrine, because the immediate end of such an attempt must be to have this new doctrine believed; but it is impossible he should attain this end, and impossible he should not see that it 384is impossible to attain it: now a seen impossibility is an end that cannot move any one that is not frantic; therefore, no man that is not frantic can attempt to innovate in matter of Christian doctrine. Thus he hath demonstrated it impossible that there should be any heretics, if a heretic be one that attempts to innovate in matter of Christian doctrine: for if there be any such attempters they must be frantic, and if they be frantic they can be no heretics; for heresy implies a crime, but God will not impute the actions of madmen to them as faults. Again, suppose he that attempts to innovate be mistaken (and I hope Mr. S. will grant that a heretic is fallible) and think that which he delivers as Christ’s doctrine to be really so, though indeed it be not; why should such a person think it impossible to make men believe that to be received from Christ which he really thinks was received, and thinks he can make it appear that it was so?” And if this be granted, then it is not impossible that “man, though he be a rational creature,” may attempt to innovate. And if so, then his second principle is not proved. If Mr. S. had any regard to the “noble science of controversy” (whereof he pretends to be so great a master) he would not bring such trifling sophisms instead of demonstrative proofs: and nothing less than a demonstrative proof will serve to establish any principle upon which a demonstration is to be built.

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