« PředchozíPokračovat »
Divinity) is grounded only upon the word and oracle of God, and not upon the light of nature: for it is written, “ Cæli enarrant gloriam Dei ;') but it is not written, “ Cæli enarrant voluntatem Dei :"2 but of that it is said, “ Ad legem et testimonium: si non fecerint secundum verbum istud, '3 &c. This holdeth not only in those points of faith which concern the great mysteries of the Deity, of the creation, of the redemption, but likewise those which concern the law moral truly interpreted : Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you; be like to your heavenly Father, that suffereth his rain to fall upon the just and unjust. To this it ought to be applauded, “ Nec vox hominem sonat :'4 It is a voice beyond the light of nature. So we see the heathen poets, when they fall upon a libertine passion, do still expostulate with laws and moralities, as if they were opposite and malignant to nature;
“Et quod natura
remittit, invida jura negant."'5 So said Dendamis the Indian unto Alexander's messengers, “ That he had heard somewhat of Pythagoras, and some other of the wise men of Græcia, and that he held them for excellent men: but that they had a fault, which was, that they had in too great reverence and veneration a thing they called law and manners." So it must be confessed that a great part of the law moral is of that perfection whereunto the light of nature cannot aspire: how then is it that man is said to have, by the light and law of nature, some notions and conceits of virtue and vice, justice and wrong, good and evil? Thus, because the light of nature is used in two several senses; the one, that which springeth from reason, sense, induction, argument, according to the laws of heaven and earth; the other, that which is imprinted upon the spirit of man by an inward instinct, according to the law of conscience, which is a sparkle of the purity of his first estate: in which latter sense only he is participant of some light and discerning touching the perfection of the moral law : but how? sufficient to
1 The heavens declare the glory of God. 2 The heavens declare the will of God.
3 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
4 Nor does the voice sound like that of a mere mortal.
5 What nature grants us, envious laws deny.
check the vice, but not to inform the duty. So then the doctrine of religion, as well moral as mystical, is not to be attained but by inspiration and revelation from God.
The use, notwithstanding, of reason in spiritual things, and the latitude thereof, is very great and general : for it is not for nothing that the apostle calleth religion our reasonable service of God; insomuch as the very ceremonies and figures of the old law were full of reason and signification, much more than the ceremonies of idolatry and magic, that are full of non-significants and surd characters. But most especially the Christian Faith, as in all things, so in this, deserveth to be highly magnified; holding and preserving the golden mediocrity in this point between the law of the heathen and the law of Mahomet, which have embraced the two extremes. For the religion of the heathen had no constant belief or confession, but left all to the liberty of argument; and the religion of Mahomet, on the other side, interdicteth argument altogether : the one having the very face of error, and the other of imposture: whereas the faith doth both admit and reject disputation with difference.
The use of human reason in religion is of two sorts: the former, in the conception and apprehension of the mysteries of God to us revealed; the other in the inferring and deriving of doctrine and direction thereupon. The former extendeth to the mysteries themselves; but how? by way of illustration, and not by way of argument: the latter consisteth indeed of probation and argument. In the former, we see, God vouchsafeth to descend to our capacity, in the expressing of his mysteries in sort as may be sensible unto us; and doth graft his revelations and holy doctrine upon the notions of our reason, and applieth his inspirations to open our understanding, as the form of the key to the ward of the lock: for the latter, there is allowed us a use of reason and argument, secondary and respective, although not original and absolute. 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 prin
ciples 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 uport authority, and not upon reason, and thereføre 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 deficiency, that there hath not been, to my understanding, sufficiently inquired and handled the true limits 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 ?" } the other sort into the error of the disciples, which were scandalized at a show of contradiction, “Quid est hoc quod dicit nobis ? Modicum, et non videbitis me; et iterum, modicum, et videbitis me,
Upon this I have insisted the more, in regard of the great and blessed use thereof; for this point well laboured and defined of
1 How can a man be born again when he is old ?
2 What is this which he saith? A little while and ye shall not see me, and again a little while and ye shall see me.
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 men would revive the blessed style of that great doctor of the Gentiles, would be carried thus, “Ego, non Dominus;" 1 and again, “Secundum consilium meum, in opinions and counsels, and not in positions and oppositions. But men are now over-ready to usurp the style, “Non ego, sed Dominus;" 3 and not so only, but to bind it with the thunder and denunciation of curses and anathemas, to the terror of those which have not sufficiently learned out of Solomon that “the causeless curse shall not come.”
Divinity hath two principal parts; the matter informed or revealed, and the nature of the information or revelation: and with the latter we will begin, because it hath most
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; 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, and the points of farther perfection only, ought 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, 5. 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 com in the ear, but the tares may not be pulled up from the corn in the field. So as it
of latitude, do make men merely aliens and disincorporate from the church of God.
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 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.
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 commonp 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 made his sum or collection. So, in like manner, the volumes of the modern doctors of the civil law exceed those of the ancient jurisconsults, of which Tribonian compiled the digest. So as this course of sums and commentaries is that which doth infallibly make the body of sciences more immense in quantity and more base in substance.
1 I am not your Lord. 2 In my opinion. 3 Not I, but the Lord.
And for strength, it is true that knowledges reduced into exact methods have a show of strength, in that each part seemeth to support and sustain the other ; but this is more satisfactory than substantial : like unto buildings which stand by architecture and compaction, which are more subject to ruin than those which are built more strong in their several parts, though less compacted. But it is plain that, the more you recede from your grounds, the weaker do you conclude: and as in nature, the more you remove yourself from particulars, the greater peril of error you do incur; so much more in divinity, the more you recede from the Scriptures by inferences and consequences, the more weak and dilute are your positions.
And as for perfection or completeness in divinity, it is not to be sought; which makes this course of artificial divinity the more suspect. For he that will reduce a knowledge into an art will make it round and uniform : but in divinity many things must be left abrupt, and concluded with this: “O altitudo sapientiæ et scientiæ Dei! quam incomprehensibilia sunt judicia ejus, et non investigabiles viæ ejus?"? So again the
apostle saith, “Ex parte scimus :"? and to have the form of a total, where there is but matter for a part, cannot be without supplies by supposition and presumption. And therefore I conclude that the true use of these sums and methods hath place in institutions or introductions preparatory unto knowledge : but in them, or by deducement from them, to handle the main body and substance of a knowledge, is in all sciences prejudicial, and in divinity dangerous.
As to the interpretation of the Scriptures solute and at large, there have been divers kinds introduced and devised; some of them rather curious and unsafe than sober and warranted. Notwithstanding, thus much must be confessed, that the Scriptures, being given by inspiration, and not by human reason, do differ from all other books in the author: which, by consequence, doth draw on some difference to be used by the expositor. For the inditer of them did know four things which no man attains to know; which are, the mysteries of the kingdom of glory, the perfection of the laws of nature, the secrets of the heart of man; and the future succession of all ages. For as to the first, it is said, “He that presseth into the light shall be oppressed of the glory.” And again, “ No man shall see my face and live."
To the second, “When he prepared the heavens I was present, when by law and compass he enclosed the deep.” To the third, “ Neither was it needful that any should bear witness to him of man, for he knew well what was in man." And to the last, “ From the beginning are known to the Lord all his works."
From the former of these two have been drawn certain senses and expositions of Scriptures, which had need be contained within the bounds of sobriety; the one anagogical, and the other philosophical. But as to the former, man is not to prevent his time : “ Videmus nunc per speculum in ænigmate, tunc autem facie ad faciem :"3 wherein, nevertheless, there seemeth to be a liberty granted, as far forth as the polishing of this God ! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.
2 We know in part.
3 For now we see as through a glass darkly, but then face to face.
10 the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of
glass, or some moderate explication to this ænigma. But to press too far into it cannot but cause a dissolution and overthrow of the spirit of man. For in the body there are three degrees of that we receive into it, aliment, medicine, and poison ; whereof aliment is that which the nature of man can perfectly alter and overcome : medicine is that which is partly converted by nature, and partly converteth nature; and poison is that which worketh wholly upon nature, without that, that uature can in any part work upon it: so in the mind, whatsoever knowledge reason cannot at all work upon and convert is a mere intoxication, and endangereth a dissolution of the mind and understanding.
But for the latter, it hath been extremely set on foot of late time by the school of Paracelsus, and some others, that have pretended to find the truth of all natural philosophy in the Scriptures; scandalizing and traducing all other philosophy as heathenish and profane. But there is no such enmity between God's word and his works; neither do they give honour to the Scriptures, as they suppose, but much imbase them.
For to seek heaven and earth in the word of God (whereof it is said, “ Heaven and earth shall pass, but
my word shall not pass”) is to seek temporary things amongst eternal : and as to seek divinity in philosophy is to seek the living amongst the dead, so to seek philosophy in divinity is to seek the dead amongst the living: neither are the pots or lavers, whose place was in the outward part of the temple, to be sought in the holiest place of all, where the ark of the testimony was seated. And again, the scope or purpose of the Spirit of God is not to express matters of nature in the Scriptures, otherwise than in passage, and for application to man's capacity, and to matters moral or divine. And it is a true rule, “ Auctoris aliud agentis parva, auctoritas;" for it were a strange conclusion, if a man should use a similitude for ornament or illustration sake, borrowed from nature or history according to vulgar conceit, as of a basilisk, an unicorn, a centaur, a Briareus, an Hydra, or the like, that therefore he must
needs be thought to affirm the matter thereof positively to be true. To conclude, therefore, these two interpretations, the one by reduction or ænigmatical, the other philosophical or physical, which have been received and pursued in imitation of the rabbins and cabalists, are to be confined with a “noli altum sapere, sed time."2
But the two latter points, known to God and unknown to man, touching the secrets of the heart and the successions of time, do make a just and sound difference between the manner of the exposition of the Scriptures and all other books. For it is an excellent observation which hath been made upon
the answers of our Saviour Christ to many of the questions which were propounded to him, how that they are impertinent to the state of the question demanded; the reason whereof is, because, not being like man, which knows man's thoughts by his words, but, knowing man's thoughts immediately, he never answered their words, but their thoughts : much in the like manner it is with the Scriptures, which, being written to the thoughts of men, and to the succession of all ages, with a foresight of all heresies, contradictions, differing estates of the church, yea and particularly of the elect, are not to be interpreted only according to the latitude of the proper sense of the place, and respectively towards that present occasion whereupon the words were uttered, or in precise congruity or contexture with the words before or after, or in contemplation of the principal scope of the place; but have in themselves, not only totally or collectively, but distributively in clauses and words, infinite springs and streams of doctrine to water the church in every part. And therefore, as the literal sense is, as it were, the main stream or river; so the moral sense chiefly, and sometimes the allegorical or typical, are they whereof the church hath most use; not that I wish men to be bold in allegories, or indulgent or light in allusions : but that I do much condemn that interpretation of the Scripture which is only after the manner as men use to interpret a profane book.
In this part, touching the exposition of the
1 The authority of an author travelling out of his subject is small.
2 Do not too boldly investigate the depths of knowledge, but be cautious.