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The Fourth Public way of Peace: Imposition of silence in some cases, upon Pulpits and Presses.
BUT the most available and surest of all the public ways of peace, is, IN SOME CASES AN IMPOSITION OF SILENCE UPON BOTH THE PARTIES CONTENDING.
For the making good whereof, it must be laid down for an unfailing ground.
1. That all truths are not fit to be at all times urged. There can be no time, wherein it can be warrantable to deny a truth; but there may fall times, wherein some truth need not be pressed. Our Blessed Saviour, who was the true light that enlighteneth every one that cometh into the world, could have irradiated his disciples at once, with the perfect knowledge of all things: but, as it was his will only to measure them out their meet stint of spiritual understanding; so he thought fit to impart it to them by degrees; plainly professing, I have many things yet to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now; John xvi. 12: and there is the same reason, of not revealing truths, and not enforcing them. The great Apostle of the Gentiles hath taught us the necessary distinction of doctrines ; that some are meat, and some are milk: and himself was careful to observe it. And I, brethren, saith he, could not speak to you, as unto spiritual, but as to carnal men, even as unto babes in Christ: I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able; 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2. His practice is our instruction. What should a sucking child do with a knife and a trencher? Doubtless then, all truths are not for all times, for all persons.
2. It must be yielded, That the occasion of the infinite questions and controversies in religion, is the scarce finite subdivisions of points of Divinity, into those numberless atoms of disquisition, whereinto curious heads have minced it. Truth, when it is in a lump, is carried away with ease; but, when it is cut in a thousand pieces, it is not easily set together: some parcels may, perhaps, be missing; others, disordered.
It was the observation of learned Erasmus long ago, now seconded with too much experience, that this multiplication of Schoolpoints is it, that hath rendered Divinity so perplexed, and the Church so unquiet.
Now then, the remedy must tread in the same steps with the disease. As, therefore, it might make much to the universal peace of God's Church, that positive Divinity should be generally reduced to that primitive simplicity, wherein it was presented to the Christians of the first and purest times; so, it might greatly conduce to the peace of particular Churches, that, where litigious questions arise with fair probabilities on both parts, and sides are taken, and
the rent not to be sewed up by any satisfactory decision, then, and there, the mouth of altercation should be stopped with a straitlyenjoined silence: let that truth sleep quietly, on whether side soever it lies. Or, if the difference of opinion be so general that it cannot be kept in, that an Adiaphorous act, as of old, be decreed for a mutual indemnity; that neither part might censure or condemn other for their diversity of judgment. Both these practices for peace we might learn of our wise adversaries, that guide the helm of the Roman Church.
Much stir there was in their Schools, now in this present age, about the efficacy of preventing grace, depending or not depend ing on man's free-will. Their doctors took parts: the quarrel grew hot the business was devolved to the determination of Pope Clement VIII: for five years together, the case was every day disputed: the issue was, that oracle of the Chair decreed, That it should be free for both parts to hold to their own tenet, without censuring either side of error or temerity. So, for the time, the quarrel ceased *. But when, soon after, the Doctors of either School, striving too eagerly for the maintenance of their own opinion, brake forth into distemper, it was out of due regard to peace straitly commanded, that no Doctor on either part should publish any writing whatsoever, in which the agreement of efficacious grace and free-will should be so much as argued †. "So," saith my author, "that decertation was shut up," congruentissimo silentio, "in a most meet silence ‡." Although, what agitations there have been since of this question, and what endeavours of their acute Francisus de Arriba § to salve up the matter by new distinctions, it is not now seasonable for us to relate.
But far more coil there hath been, both in Schools and Church, within some late centuries of years, concerning the sinless conception of the Blessed Virgin: about which, what vehement dimications there have been between the Franciscans and Dominicans, the world too well knows. Aquinas and his followers, more ingenuous authors, are for the one part: the Council of Basil and the greater number of Schoolmen, for the other; defending, in an impious flattery of that Holy and Blessed Mother of our Lord, that, by the singular grace of the Almighty, she was so kept, that she was never actually under original sin, but was always free from all fault both original and actual. The Dominicans, finding them
*Placuit sanctiss. permittere omnibus unius vel alterius scholæ assertum tenere et defendere; jussumque est, ne deinceps aut istam aut illam sententiam erroris vel temeritatis censurà notaret, &c. Sicque tunc contentiosæ istæ disputationes cessaverunt.
+ Preceptum est intuitu pacis &c. ne alicujus doctoris opus prælo mandaret, &c. Sicque decertatio illa determinata est congruentissimo silentio.
§ Franc. de Arriba Reginæ Christianis. à Confessionibus ad B. P. D. Gregorium XV. Pontif. Max.
Gloriosam Virg. Dei genitricem Mariam, præveniente et operante divini numinis gratia singulari, nunquam actualiter subjacuisse originali peccato; sed immunem semper fuisse ab omni originali et actuali culpâ, &c. Concil. Basil sess. 36.
selves galled with this unjust determination, fly upon that Council; and plainly say, it hatched a cockatrice. The matter came so high as to blood: for some of the Dominicans fried at a stake, for the bold opposition to this misconceived privilege of the Holy and Immaculate Virgin †. Pope Sixtus the IVth, perceiving what danger and mischief might follow upon this division, decrees, though not without secret favour to the Franciscans of whose Order he was, that the question should be left free to either part; as that, which was not decided by the Church and See Apostolic : and the Council of Trent professes to second the observation of that constitution of Sixtus, under the penalties therein contained §: so as now Greg. de Valentia concludes, that neither opinion is found to be matter of faith; and that whoever takes either side ought not to be taken for a heretic, or held to offend mortally in the temerity of his opinion.
Besides, some experience our own times have yielded us at home, of the singular benefit of this course. It is not long, since our Church began to be sick of the Belgic disease: I mean the distemper arising from the difference about the Five controverted Articles of the Netherlands. The pulpits and presses laboured of it, in much extremity: it pleased wise and judicious sovereignty, upon knowledge of the woeful effects which had followed those unhappy controversies abroad, to give charge, that those questions should not be further stirred in, whether in sermons or writings; and the Articles of the Church of England should be the just limits of all our public discourse in this kind. And what a calm followed upon this prudent Declaration, our fresh memory can abundantly testify. Were the like order taken in other questions of less importance at the present time, men's hearts would be at more ease, and the Church less disquieted.
To draw up all, therefore, to a head: if, by the power of Authority, THE BEGINNINGS OF QUARRELS MAY BE SUPPRESSED; if sure
GROUNDS OF INSTRUCTION MAY BE LAID IN THE HEARTS OF GOD'S PEOPLE; if POWERFUL CONVICTIONS MAY BE Used to the REFRACTORY, and none but able opponents suffered to be employed in the vindication of truth; if, IN MEET CASES, SILENCE MAY BE IMPOSED UPON PULPITS AND PRESSES; we shall have reason to hope for a happy success of these PUBLIC means of peace.
*Peperisse basiliscum. Anton. citante Jo. Major.
↑ Chamier de Peccato Orig. Tom. iii. 1. 5. ex Nicol. Baselio.
A MOTIVE TO PEACE, FROM THE MISERIES OF DISCORD.
Now, that all both private and public agents may be stirred up to do their utmost endeavours, to the making and preservation of peace, it shall be requisite for us, to bend our eyes seriously upon the MISERIES OF SPIRITUAL DISCORD: which, indeed, are so great and many, as no mortal pen is able to express.
Some image whereof we see, and lament to see, in the Civil. Woe is me, what a sad spectacle it is, to see towns and cities flaming; to see the channels running with blood, the fields strewed with carcases of men and horses mingled in blood; to see the hellish fury of a military storm, those clambering up to assail, these tumbling down in assailing; to see the deadly granadoes fly with fire in their mouths; and to see and hear the horror of their alighting; to hear the infernal thunder of mines blowing up, the roaring of cannons, the rattling of drums, the hoarse noise of trumpets; to hear the shrieks of women and children, the groans of the dying, the killing noise of the murderers; shortly, to see and hear the astonishing confusion of every soul engaged either way, in that violent destruction!
Truly, as the story* says of Gensericus and his Vandals in Africk, that they made more waste by fire of the houses of prayer, than of towns and cities; so may I say, in general, of all the instruments of spiritual violence, that they do more scaith to the Church of God, than the bodily agents in an outward and visible war can do, to the Commonwealth.
This mischief is less sensible; but more pernicious. What is the body to the soul? What is this material fire (a mere accension of air) to that of hell? What is the temporal death to an eternal?
It is a woeful case, which Optatus speaks of in that schism of the Donatists: Inter licet vestrum &c. "You say it is lawful: we say it is unlawful: betwixt both, Christian souls are staggered, and tossed, and cannot find where to settle t."
And rather worse is that, which Chrysostom bemoans to Innocentius: Ecclesiæ usque ad genua humilitate, populi dispersi, Clerus divexatus, Episcopi exules, constitutiones Patrum violate: "The Churches," saith he, " are brought down upon their knees, the people scattered, the Clergy vexed, the Bishops banished, the constitutions of the Fathers violated ‡."
But, far beyond this yet, was that of the Circumcellions, reported by Possidonius §, in pursuance of their Donatism, who exercised horrible cruelties upon the orthodox part; killing some, tor
* Vict. Persec. Afric. I. i.
+ Optat. Milevit. lib. v. Inter licet vestrum et non licet nos!rum, nutant et remigant animæ Christianæ, &c.
§ Possidon. in Vitâ August.
turing others; blowing lime and vinegar into the eyes of God's Ministers, and tearing off the breasts of women with pincers.
Yet all these are but flea-bitings, in comparison of the rage of Roman persecution. Who can, without horror, think of the bloody butcheries of the Inquisition; the daily bonfires made of the bodies of God's Saints; the secret massacres; the open wars, that have been and are raised upon these spiritual quarrels ? so true is that observation of Gerson*, That there is none so implacable a division, as that, which goes under pretence of religion.
Surely, it is no marvel, that, as our mythologists tell us of old, Discord took it ill that she was not called to the banquet of the celestial powers, but shut out of the doors of heaven; certainly she is fit company for none, but the Furies of Hell: indeed, it is she, that makes them such; yea, she only it is, that turns earth into hell, and, as it were, reduces the world to the first chaos.
Well were it for us, if our own sense did not represent too much of this truth to us. What need we any monitor, to tell us how miserable we are? rather, it is fit we should be put in mind of that grave and godly advice, which holy Chrysostom gives to Innocentius: Non satis est plangere, &c. "It is not enough for us to bewail the breaches of the Church; but we had need to make use of our best care and most serious consideration, by what means and by what seasonable counsel this grievous tempest of the Church may be allayed +." Oh, how happy were it, if we would all bend our best thoughts, and improve our utmost endeavours, to this end!
And, as there is no Christian, that may be exempt from this duty; since every one hath some freight in this common bottom: so doth it most of all lie upon God's Ministers, who by their calling should be the counsellors and ambassadors of peace; Prov. xii. 20. Isaiah xxxiii. 7. 2 Cor. v. 20. according to that of Mercellinus, Quid tam, &c. "What can be so agreeable to the rules of religion, as that the ministers of God, whose office it is to bring the tidings of peace to others, should keep the peace among themselves +?” It is true, there is a war, wherein they are and must be engaged; bellum contra vitia; "a war against wickedness:" not only as the heralds of the Almighty, to denounce judgments; but, as St. Paul styles them, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, 2 Tim. ii. 3. to beat down sin both in themselves and in others. The weapons of this warfare are spiritual; and such is the warfare itself. How far it is fit for them, to have their hand in a bodily and external warfare, according to the example of worthy Zuinglius, whom Oecolampadius defends and excuses §; and of the most learned Chamier;
* Jo. Gerson de Schismate, &c.
↑ Chrys. Innocent. Non satis est plangere; sed opus est etiam ut cura geratur, et spectetur quâ ratione, quove concilio, gravissima Ecclesiæ tempestas sedetur.
Quid tam religiosis conveniens institutis, quàm ut inter se sacerdotes pacem quam necesse est aliis anuntiare, conservent ? Marcel. p. Ep. 2.
In Helvetiis non est novum, ut cum signis præcipuis egrediantur etiam primi sacerdotes, etiam armati, &c. Oecolamp. Martino Frechto.