« ForrigeFortsett »
troublesome to our superiors by an impertinent wrangling for reformation. We find that some kings of Judah were greatly praised, and yet they did not destroy all the temples of the false gods, which Solomon had built: and if such public persons might let some things alone that were amiss, and yet be innocent, trouble not yourself that all the world is not amended according to your pattern; see that you be perfect at home, that all be rightly reformed there; as for reformation of the church, God will never call you to an account. Some things cannot be reformed, and very many need not, for all thy peevish dreams; and after all, it is twenty to one but thou art mistaken, and thy superior is in the right; and if thou wert not proud, thou wouldst think so too. Certain it is, he that sows in the furrows of authority, his doctrine cannot so easily be reproved as he that ploughs and sows alone. When Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, fell into the hands of the Egyptian monks, who were ignorant. and confident, they handled him with great rudeness, because he had spoken of the immateriality of the Divine nature; the good man to escape their fury, was forced to give them crafty and soft words, saying; “ Vidi faciem vestram ut faciem Dei:” which because they understood in the sense of the anthropomorphites, and thought he did so too, they let him depart in peace. When private persons are rude against the doctrines of authority, they are seldom in the right; but, therefore, are the more fierce, as wanting the natural supports of truth, which are reason and authority, gentleness and plain conviction; and, therefore, they fall to declamation and railing, zeal and cruelty, trifling and arrogant confidences. They seldom go asunder: it is the same word in Greek that signifies, disobedience,' and 'cruelty :' annis is both; · He that will endure no bridle,' • that man hath no mercy.' Αυθάδεια, απήνεια ομιλίας εν λόγοις. Confidence is that which will endure no bridle, no curb, no superior. It is worse in the Hebrew; “ The sons of Belial,” signify people that will endure no yoke, no government, no imposition ;' and we have found them so, they are sons of Belial indeed. This is that aúládeca, that kind of boldness and refractory confidence, that St. Paul forbids to be in a minister of religion"; un aibcdn,
• not confident;' that is, let him be humble and modest, distrusting his own judgment, believing wiser men than himself; never bold against authority, never relying on his own wit. Autáins totiv autoáðns, said Aristotle; that man is bold and presumptuous, who pleases himself,' and sings his own songs, all voluntary, nothing by his book.
Ουδ άστον ήνεσ', όστις αυθάδης γεγος,
Πικρός πολίταις εστίν αμαθίας ύπο, said tlie tragedy 2. Every confident man is ignorant, and by his ignorance, troublesome to his country, but will never do it honour.
4. Whatever Scriptures you pretend for your doctrine, take heed that it be not chargeable with foul consequences; that it lay no burden upon God, that it do not tempt to vanity, that it be not manifestly serving a temporal end, and nothing else; that it be not vehemently to be suspected to be a design of state, like the sermon at Paul's Cross, by Dr. Shaw, in Richard the Third's time; that it do not give countenance and confidence to a wicked life; for then your doctrine is reprovable for the appendage, and the intrinsic truth or falsehood will not so much be inquired after, as the visible and external objection : if men can reprove it in the outside, they will inquire no further. But, above all things, nothing so much will reproach your doctrine, as if you preach it in a railing dialect; we have had too much of that within these last thirty years. Optatus observes it was the trick of the Donatists, " Nullus vestrum est, qui non convicia nostra suis tractatibus misceat:" “ There is none of you but with his own writings mingles our reproaches ";" you begin to read chapters, and you expound them to our injuries; you comment upon the Gospel, and revile your brethren that are absent; you imprint hatred and enmity in your people's hearts, and you teach them war when you pretend to make them saints. They do so, their doctrine is not áratáywotos; that is the least which can be said. If you will not have your doctrine reprehensible, do nothing with offence; and above all offences avoid the doing or saying those things, that give offence to the king and to the laws, to the voice of Christendom, and the public customs of the church of God.
Eurip. Med. Porson. 225,
n Lib. iv. ady, Parmen.
Frame your life and preachings to the canons of the church, to the doctrines of antiquity, to the sense of the ancient and holy fathers. For it is otherwise in theology, than it is in other learnings. The experiments of philosophy are rude at first, and the observations weak, and the principles unproved; and he that made the first lock, was not so good a workman as we have now a days: but in Christian religion, they that were first were best, because God, and not man, was the teacher; and ever since that, we have been unlearning the wise notices of pure religion, and mingling them with human notices, and human interest. “ Quod primum, hoc verum :” and although concerning antiquity, I may say as he in the tragedyo;
Συσσωφρονείν σοι βούλομ, αλλ' ού συννοσείν.
I would have you be wise with them, and under them, and follow their faith, but not their errors; yet this can never be of use to us, till antiquity be convicted of an error, by an authority great as her own, or a reason greater, and declared by an authorized Master of Sentences. But, however, be very tender in reproving a doctrine for which good men and holy have suffered martyrdom, and of which they have made public confession; for nothing reproves a doctrine so much as to venture it abroad with so much scandal and objection: and what reason can any schismatic have against the common prayer-book, able to weigh against that argument of blood, which for the testimony of it was shed by the Queen Mary martyrs ? I instance the advice in this particular, but it is true in all things else of the like nature. It was no ill advice, whoever gave it to the favourite of a prince; “ Never make yourself a professed enemy to the church; for their interest is so complicated with the public, and their calling is so dear to God, that one way or other, one time or other, God and man will be their defender.”The same I say concerning authority and antiquity; never do any thing, never say or profess any thing against it: for besides that if you follow their measures, you will be secured in your faith, and in your main duty; even in smaller things, they will be sure to carry the cause against you, and
• Iph. Aul. 407. vol. iv. Priestley's ed.
no man is able to bear the reproach of singularity. It was in honour spoken of St. Malachias, my predecessor in the see of Down, in his life written by St. Bernard ; “ Apostolicas sanctiones et decreta Ss. pp. in cunctis ecclesiis statuebat.” I hope to do something of this for your help and service, if God gives me life, and health, and opportunity : but for the present, I have done. These rules if you observe, your doctrine will be axaláywotos, it will need no pardon ;' and ávéyxanlos, ' never to be reproved in judgment. I conclude all with the wise saying of Bensirach : “ Extol not thyself in the counsel of thine own heart, that thy soul be not torn in pieces as a bull straying alone P.”
p Ecclus. vi. 2.