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human ; blow up their hearts, and swell all their veins into a sort of phrenzy, (which they called zeal, because it felt hot) and have the very same operation exactly upon them, and push them upon the very same exploits, as if they bad taken an excessive quantity of wine or opium. At the same time, I have known the same word, pronounced movingly and tenderly, with the eyes and hands lifted up to heaven, turn falshoods into truths ;, a sinner into a saint ; and a disturber of the common peace into a tutelar Deity.
These are privileges which I think it worth your while to be acquainted with. But there is one more advantage I will not omit, because we seem to depend very much upon it, and have already received much good from it ; and you, as I am informed by travellers, have cothing like it. And that is, “That we never fail to remember our Church in all our cups ; to drink her health ; and to allow her prosperity a liberal share in all our merriments.” Thus we sanctily our wine with our zeal for the church ; and the wine returns the civility, by keeping alive and increasing the warmth of our zeal.
This, many persons esteem to be a truer characteristic of a good churchman, than even the doctrine of passive obedience itself: because it is known that many other churches -have espoused that doctrine ; but no other church in the world ever pretended to this practice but ours. No "onder if Your Holiness hears sometimes of disadvantages or disappointments in the affairs of your Church, when this custom hath been so much neglected or discouraged amongst your people. And if the word Church, alone, hath been found to perform wonders, what may we not expect from it, when it is made a toast, and hath all the strength and warmth of generous wine added to it?
It is very entertaining to observe how the Authority of the Church, the Articles of the Church, the Liturgy of the Church, the Homilies of the Church, shall all be urged by many ofour loudest Churchmen, and pleaded against others; whilst their force shall be disallowed, and totally neglected, in points disagreeable to themselves.
The Authority of the Church is the voice of God himself: But it is nothing to them, if they happen to have Bishops whom they dislike or suspect. The Articles of the Church are irresistible arguments a
gainst others; but they beg leave to except two or three unnecessary ones, which border too much upon Calvin, or press too hard upon your
Church. The Public Service is, beyond all example, irreprehensible; but then, care must be taken to interpret the plainest passages in it by the most obscure ; and particularly, that the expressions of scripure and ancient creeds, be faithfully understood in the sense of modern schoolmen.
And as for the Homilies, they are good or bad; of undeniable authority or of none ; just as they themselves please. Those against rebellion, are particularly good against all tumults, and disorders, and treasons, but their own ; and are to be urged home against the men whom they dislike. But those against your idolatry and antichristianism, and against many of your doctrines, I assure Your Holiness, are of no account amongst the same men, but as the warm, over-hasty efforts of ignorant zeal, in the first reformres : not fit to be urged against any true Churchman, (any more than those of the Calvinistical strain,) since the time of Archbishop Laud.
And all this passes smoothly, with such as are under their direction ; though it be so plain, one would think, to the most ordinary capacity, that all sach matters are fixed with equal infallibility ; that authority is the same when it is against them, as when it is for them; and that either all points of human decision are settled, so as to admit of no dispute ; or that none are. There is no medium. And unless this be allowed, without any empty distinctions, where there is no difference, I believe, in time, no man of sense will be able to see any difference between your Popery, and that of many amongst us, but that ours is Protestant Popery, and yours is Popish Popery.
Learning hath been deservedly looked upon in polite countries; as the
great support and orgament of human life and true rcligion.
But the state in which it is now amongst us, is hardly to be described. It seems as if not only learning, but even curiosity itself, and all pretence to it, were vanishing from among us. Our education is, of late, framed to heat our young men into faction, rather than to animate them into learning; and boys, as soon as they are taught any thing, are seen to be entered into violence, and prepared for all the impressions of a party.
Our Universities have been deservedly styled fountains of Literature. But I wish I could say there were not those in them who industriously poison those fountains, or who employ all their capacity and credit to make it become a more laudable character, to be a furious zealot, than a good governor or a hard student; and more reputable learning, to be thoroughly versed in the half sheets and pamphlets of party scandal, than in all the good sense of the best authors of antiquity. And I wish I had not occasion to add,that from hence it comes to pass in them, that sound learning, and good manners, and industry in promoting these, are often seen to expose a man to a series of discouragements, opposition, and ill-treatment : whilst party zeal shall recommend persons of whose tempers, or capacities, or morals, I shall say nothing, to all the regard and honor that can be shewed them,
Your Holiness need not indeed, much fear any prodigious advances farther, on our part, towards learning or truth : which, unless we have it already in our possession, may lie eternally at the bottom of the well
, for all that we are likely to do, to draw it up ; no buckets being allowed to be let down for it, but what are stamped ; and no ropes to be used to let them down, but what are of just such a measure and strength. For by this means, how can it be, but that the capacities and application of the greatest souls must be exceedingly cramp. ed and stinted, when the whole method of procedure is so exquisitely fitted not to enlarge the views and enquiries of men, but to determine the mind to one certain set of thoughts, already fixed to be truth; and the tongue to one certain set of sounds, for their eternal defence and security ?
The Public Exercises are not indeed exactly what they were, when the bare word of Aristotle, or Aquinas, passed for truth, as currently as a Bank-note passes for money.But the method they are in is still the same in quality, though not in quantity. For though we have discarded many particulars, yet we retain, in the whole, much the same forms and modes which you left with us at parting, for the better securing of what we have not discarded.
We dispute still in a constant round, as you, our predecessors, used to do, De omni Ente, scibili, and non scibili. We have still the same Quoad hoc, and Non quoad hoc; the same Quatenus, and Non quatenus, which we inherited : and many other auxiliary words, of great importance to refresh
the disputants, and to keep a dispute going ; but of none at all, towards the discovering or recommending any one siogle truth to the world.
This method may be called the art of wrangling, as long as the moderator of the dispute is at leisure : and may well enough be supposed to be a game at learned racket. The question is the ball of contention : and he wins who shews himseif able to keep up the ball longest. : A syllogism strikes it to the respondeet: and a negation, or a lucky distinction, retures it back to the opponent. And so it flies over the heads of those who have time to sit under it, till the judge of the game strikes it down with authority, into rest and silence.
This is the state of things with us, and that chiefly in ca. ses in which all generations, and all men, are equally concerned. What is truth is determined for us, and settled before we are born, by forefathers and superiors, in the ages of illuminated understandings, and unprejudiced judgments. And our learned education doth not so much as pretend to be designed for farther discoveries of truth, in the most important matters : but is all framed to teach us the art of de fending that which is already found out and decreed to be truth, before our time ; and the great duty of being humbled into contentment with what is already provided for us ; and into an abhorrence of all yain thoughts of improving the intellectual estate left us by our careful ancestors. The voice of authority is this : hitherto shalt thou come, and no further.
After this manner is every thing in our schools of literature and theology, established within unmoveable limits, We have established questions, out of the number of which it is not allowed to wander. And this creates a round of established syllogisms, to carry on the attack, and established distinctions for the defence. From hence it comes to pass that even the youngest disputants are often heard, in their first public exercises, to debate about God's prescience, and future contingencies, in one fixed method of difficulties and solutions ; and with full as much learning, and as clear light, as is to be found amongst the labors of the weightiest of the scholastic writers themselves.
But the good effect is much more visible, and much more remarkable, in the Theological Schools, where the method is equally, in one uniform, unvaried course : and where, by
that means, it is not quite so uncommon a thing as some persons wish it were, to hear St. Athanasius's, or St. Austin's word, go farther than an Aposile's; and an idle distinction, or incomprehensible definition, of one of your schoolmen, decide a difficulty much more to satisfaction, than a plain, intelligible expression or affirmation of our Saviour's.
It it were in any degree better, either in the established universities of North Britain, or in our dissenting academies in the South, I would freely own it. But take my word for. it, it is, of the two, rather worse. In the North, there being a temporal kingdom of Christ, as well as a spiritual one, settled by law ; ordination and preferments are by consequence rigidly and inseparably tied to one certain scheme of opinions : and this naturally determines the public education ; and makes the rising generation conscientiously avoid the least tendency to any design of being wiser than their forefathers.
And in the South, amongst our non-conformists, it is much the same. Tke same logics, and the same bodies of theology, (as they are called), descend from generation to generation. The same systems and syllogisms, defipitions and distinctions, pass on current for Divinity: and Calvin and the Gospel go hand in hand; as if there were not a hair's breadth to choose between them.
There may be exceptions ; but this is generally the case : and the more unlikely, soon to be otherwise with them, upon two accounts ; first, because their toleration is founded upon their mighty boasts of adhering more strictly to the Doctrinal Articles of the Church, in the sense of the first reformers, than the Churchmen themselves ; the defence of which therefore, is pretty much left to them, to pride then selves in : And, secondly, because their very catechisms are systems of all the deep points, and common-places, and hard words in divinity ; by which means, their people being all systematical divines, keep them strictly to the received scheme, and raise very great clamours, and very little contributions, upon the least deviation from what they have hitherto valued themselves upon understanding better than their neighbours, and have been taught, from children, to embrace as the very essence and life of the gospel.
To this method of literature it is, that we owe (what is of the greatest service to your cause,) such a multitude of wri