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SECT. XI.

Concerning some other advantages of tradition, &c.

§ 1. I SHOULD take into consideration his Ninth Discourse, in which he pretends to “open the incomparable strength of the church’s human authority, and the advantages which accrue to it by the supernatural assistance of the Holy Ghost: but that there is nothing material in it, which hath not been answered already. Only I desire him to explain, how the supernatural assistances of the Holy Ghost can (according to his principles) add to our assurance of the certainty of tradition. Because we can have no greater certainty of the supernatural assistance of the Holy Ghost, than we have that there is a Holy Ghost; and of this we can have no certainty (according to Mr. S.) but by tradition, which conveys this doctrine to us. And if tradition of itself can infallibly assure us that there are supernatural assistances of the Holy Ghost, then a man must know that tradition is infallible antecedently to his knowledge of any supernatural assistance. And if so, what can any supernatural assistance add to my assurance of the certainty of tradition, which I do suppose to be infallible before I can know of any supernatural assistance?” Can any thing be more ludicrous, than to build first all our certainty of 419the assistance of the Holy Ghost upon the certainty of tradition, and then afterwards to make the certainty of tradition to rely upon the assistance of the Holy Ghost?” As if that could contribute to our assurance of the certainty of tradition, which, unless tradition be first supposed certain, is itself wholly uncertain.

§. 2. The conclusion of this Ninth Discourse is somewhat ecstatical; possibly from a sudden disorder of his fancy upon the contemplation of his own performances, to see what a man he has made himself (with the help of Rushworth’s Dialogues), or rather what his party has made him by the office they put upon him; for it seems (by his telling)289289P. 165, 166. Mr. Cressy and the rest are ordained to cajole the fools, “leaving him the way of reason and principles;” and that himself is chosen out to demonstrate to the wise, or “those who judge of things per altissimas causas.” In the discharge of which glorious office, he declares, that he “intends no confutation of those authors” which Mr. Cressy and others have meddled with: “Yet, if any will be so charitable as to judge he hath solidly confuted them, because he hath radically and fundamentally overthrown all their arguments,” &c. he shall rejoice and be thankful. That the290290P. 159. intelligent reader (for he writes to none but such) may also rejoice with him, I shall recite the whole passage, for it is thick of demonstration, and as likely as any in his book to have the altissimas causas contained in it.

§. 3.291291P. 93. “It would require a large volume to unfold particularly how each virtue contributes to shew the unerrable indeficiency 420of tradition, and how the principles of almost each science are concerned in demonstrating its certainty: Arithmetic lends her numbering and multiplying faculty, to scan the vast number of testifiers; Geometry her proportions, to shew a kind of infinite strength of certitude in Christian tradition, above those attestations which breed certainty in human affairs; Logic her skill, to frame and make us see the connexions it has with the principles of our understanding; Nature her laws of motion and action; Morality her first principles, that nothing is done gratis by a cognoscitive nature, and that the body of traditionary doctrine is most conformable to practical reason; Historical Prudence clears the impossibility of an undiscernable revolt from points so descended and held so sacred; Politics shew this to be the best way imaginable to convey down such a law as it concerns every man to be skilful in; Metaphysics engages the essences of things, and the very notion of being, which fixes every truth, so establishing the scientifical knowledges which spring from each particular nature by their first causes or reasons exempt from change or motion; Divinity demonstrateth it most worthy God, and most conducive to bring mankind to bliss; lastly, Controversy evidences the total uncertainty of any thing concerning faith, if this can be uncertain, and makes use of all the rest to establish the certainty of this first principle.” A very fit conclusion for such demonstrations as went before! It is well Mr. S. writes to none but intelligent readers; for were it not a thousand pities, that so manly, and solid, and convincing a discourse as this should be cast away upon fools?”

421
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