Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ch. viii. 3, 4.

holdeth unlawfully received,

Pleas in Disparagement of Human Reason. 365 desireth 79, he make rather choice of a contrary life in regard BOOK III. of St. Paul's judgment 80 ; that which he doth is manifestly grounded upon the word of God, yet not commanded in his word of God, word, because without breach of any commandment he might things it do otherwise.

[3.] Secondly, whereas no man in justice and reason can be reproved for those actions which are framed according unto that known will of God, whereby they are to be judged; and the will of God which we are to judge our actions by, no sound divine in the world ever denied to be in part made manifest even by light of nature, and not by Scripture alone : if the Church being directed by the former of these two (which God hath given who gave the other, that man might in different sort be guided by them both), if the Church I say do approve and establish that which thereby it judgeth meet, and findeth not repugnant to any word or syllable of holy Scripture; who shall warrant our presumptuous boldness controlling herein the Church of Christ?

[4.] But so it is, the name of the light of nature is made hateful with men; the “ star of reason and learning,” and all other such like helps, beginneth no otherwise to be thought of than if it were an unlucky comet; or as if God had so accursed it, that it should never shine or give light in things concerning our duty any way towards him, but be esteemed as that star in the Revelation 81 called Wormwood, which being fallen from heaven, maketh rivers and waters in which it falleth so bitter, that men tasting them die thereof. A number there are, who think they cannot admire as they ought the power and authority of the word of God, if in things divine they should attribute any force to man's reason. For which cause they never use reason so willingly as to disgrace reason. Their usual and common discourses are unto this effect. First, “ the natural man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of “ God; for they are foolishness unto him : neither can he “ know them, because they are spiritually discerned 82.” Secondly, it is not for nothing that St. Paul giveth charge to “ beware of philosophy 83,” that is to say, such knowledge as men by natural reason attain unto. Thirdly, consider them 79 Arist. Pol. i. 2. i Cor. vii. 8, 26. 81 Apoc. viii. 10.

83 Col. ii. 8.

80

82

1

Cor. ii. 14.

Ch. viii. 5.

366 General Answers to Disparagement of Reason. BOOK 11. that have from time to time opposed themselves against the

Gospel of Christ, and most troubled the Church with heresy. Have they not always been great admirers of human reason? Hath their deep and profound skill in secular learning made them the more obedient to the truth, and not armed them rather against it? Fourthly, they that fear God will remember how heavy his sentences are in this case : "I will destroy “the wisdom of the wise, and will cast away the understand“ing of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the “ scribe? where is the disputer of this world ? hath not God “ made the wisdom of this world foolishness? Seeing the “ world by wisdom knew not God in the wisdom of God, it “ pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save be“ lievers 84.” Fifthly, the word of God in itself is absolute, exact, and perfect. The word of God is a two-edged sword 85 ; as for the weapons of natural reason, they are as the armour of Saul 86, rather cumbersome about the soldier of Christ than needful. They are not of force to do that which the Apostles of Christ did by the power of the Holy Ghost :

My preaching,” therefore saith Paul, “ hath not been in the

enticing speech of man's wisdom, but in plain evidence of “ the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not be in the “ wisdom of men, but in the power of God 87." Sixthly, if I believe the Gospel, there needeth no reasoning about it to persuade me; if I do not believe, it must be the Spirit of God and not the reason of man that shall convert my heart unto him. By these and the like disputes an opinion hath spread itself very far in the world, as if the way to be ripe in faith were to be raw in wit and judgment; as if Reason were an enemy unto Religion, childish Simplicity the mother of ghostly and divine Wisdom.

[5.] The cause why such declamations prevail so greatly, is, for that men suffer themselves in two respects to be deluded : one is, that the wisdom of man being debased either in comparison with that of God, or in regard of some special thing exceeding the reach and compass thereof, it seemeth to them (not marking so much) as if simply it were condemned: another, that learning, knowledge, or wisdom, falsely so termed, usurping a name whereof they are not worthy, and being 84 1 Cor. i. 19. 85 (Heb. iv. 12.] 86 [1 Sam. xvii. 39.] 87 1 Cor. i. 4.

1 Cor. ii. 14. No Disparugement to Human Reason. 367

Ch. viii. 6,7

under that name controlled ; their reproof is by so much the BOOK III. more easily misapplied, and through equivocation wrested against those things whereunto so precious names do properly and of right belong. This, duly observed, doth to the former allegations itself make sufficient answer. How beit, for all men's plainer and fuller satisfaction :

[6.] First, Concerning the inability of reason to search out and to judge of things divine, if they be such as those properties of God and those duties of men towards him, which

may be conceived by attentive consideration of heaven and earth; we know that of mere natural men the Apostle testifieth 88, how they knew both God, and the Law of God. Other things of God there be which are neither so found, nor though they be shewed can ever be approved without the special operation of God's good grace and Spirit. Of such things sometime spake the Apostle St. Paul, declaring how Christ had called him to be a witness of his death and resurrection from the dead, according to that which the Prophets and Moses had foreshewed. Festus, a mere natural man, an infidel, a Roman, one whose ears were unacquainted with such matter, heard him, but could not reach unto that whereof he spake; the suffering and the rising of Christ from the dead he rejecteth as idle superstitious fancies not worth the hearing 89. The Apostle that knew them by the Spirit, and spake of them with power of the Holy Ghost, seemed in his eyes but learnedly mad 90.

Which example maketh manifest what elsewhere the same Apostle teacheth, namely, that nature hath need of grace 9, whereunto I hope we are not opposite, by holding that grace hath use of nature.

[7.] Secondly, Philosophy we are warned to take heed of: not that philosophy, which is true and sound knowledge attained by natural discourse of reason; but that philosophy, which to bolster heresy or error casteth a fraudulent show of reason upon things which are indeed unreasonable, and by that mean as by a stratagem spoileth the simple which are not able to withstand such cunning. “ Take heed lest any

spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit 92.” He that exhorteth to beware of an enemy's policy doth not give

88 Rom. i. 21. 32.

1 Cor. ii. 14.

89 Acts xxv. 19.

90 Acts xxvi. 24. 92 Col. ü. 8.

91

Ch, viii. 8.

368 In what sense Philosophy is unscriptural. BOOK 111. counsel to be impolitic, but rather to use all provident fore

sight and circumspection, lest our simplicity be overreached by cunning sleights. The way not to be inveigled by them that are so guileful through skill, is thoroughly to be instructed in that which maketh skilful against guile, and to be armed with that true and sincere philosophy, which doth teach, against that deceitful and vain, which spoileth.

[8.) Thirdly, But many great philosophers have been very unsound in belief. And many sound in belief, have been also great philosophers. Could secular knowledge bring the one sort unto the love of Christian faith? Nor Christian faith the other sort out of love with secular knowledge. The harm that heretics did, they did it unto such as were unable to discern between sound and deceitful reasoning; and the remedy against it was ever the skill which the ancient Fathers had to descry and discover such deceit. Insomuch that Cresconius the heretic complained greatly of St. Augustine, as being too full of logical subtilties 93. Heresy prevaileth only by a counterfeit show of reason; whereby notwithstanding it becometh invincible, unless it be convicted of fraud by manifest remonstrance clearly true and unable to be withstood. When therefore the Apostle requireth ability to convict heretics 94, can we think he judgeth it a thing unlawful, and not rather needful, to use the principal instrument of their conviction, the light of reason? It may not be denied but that in the Fathers' writings there are sundry sharp invectives against heretics, even for their very philosophical reasonings. The cause whereof Tertullian confesseth not to have been any dislike conceived against the kind of such reasonings, but the end 95. “ We may,” saith he, in matters of God

even

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Tertullian on heathen Philosophy.

369

Ch. viii. 8.

“ be made wiser by reasons drawn from the public persua- BOOK II. “ sions, which are grafted in men's minds: so they be used to “ further the truth, not to bolster error; so they make with, “ not against, that which God hath determined. For there

are some things even known by nature, as the immortality “ of the soul unto many, our God unto all. I will therefore

myself also use the sentence of some such as Plato, pro

nouncing every soul immortal. I myself too will use the “ secret acknowledgment of the commonalty, bearing record “ of the God of gods. But when I hear men allege, · That “ which is dead is dead; and, · While thou art alive be alive;' “ and, ‘After death an end of all, even of death itself:' then will “ I call to mind both that the heart of the people with God is “ accounted dust 96, and that the very wisdom of the world is “ pronounced folly 97. If then an heretic fly also unto such “ vicious popular and secular conceits, my answer unto him “shall be, . Thou heretic, avoid the heathen ; although in this ye be that

ye both belie God, yet thou that doest this “ under the name of Christ, differest from the heathen, in that “ thou seemest to thyself a Christian. Leave him therefore “ his conceits, seeing that neither will he learn thine. Why “ dost thou having sight trust to a blind guide ; thou which “ hast put on Christ take raiment of him that is naked? If " the Apostle have armed thee, why dost thou borrow a “ stranger's shield? Let him rather learn of thee to “ acknowledge, than thou of him to renounce the resurrection “ of the flesh.'” In a word, the Catholic Fathers did good

one,

Utar ergo

“ divinam, non contra divinam dis“positionem Quædam enim et

natura nota sunt, ut immortalitas “ animæ penes plures, ut Deus “ noster penes omnes. “ et sententia Platonis alicujus pro“ nunciantis, ‘Omnis anima immor“ talis.' Utar et conscientia populi, “ contestantis Deum Deorum ... At “ cum aiunt, ‘Mortuum quod mor

tuum,' et, Vive dum vivis,' et, • Post mortem omnia finiuntur, “ etiam ipsa :' tunc meminero, et “ cor vulgi cinerem a Deo deputa“ tum, et ipsam sapientiam sæculi “ stultitiam pronunciatam.

Tunc “ si et hæreticus ad vulgi vitia, vel

HOOKER, VOL. I.

“ sæculi ingenia confugerit, Dis

cede,' dicam, ab ethnico, hære“ tice ; etsi unum estis omnes qui Deum fingitis; dum hoc tamen “ in Christi nomine facis, dum “ Christianus tibi videris, alius ab “ ethnico es. Redde illi suos sensus,

quia nec ille de tuis instruitur. « Quid cæco duci inniteris, si vides? “ Quid vestiris a mundo, si Chris“ tum induisti? Quid alieno uteris

clypeo, si ab Apostolo armatus es ?
“ Ille potius a te discat carnis resur-
“rectionem confiteri, quam tu ab
“ illo diffiteri.””]

96 (Isai. xliv. 20.]
97 (1 Cor. ii. 19.

Bb

« PreviousContinue »