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and fuperftitions to God's word-for a like reafon, the Reformers taught things which it was not lawful for the fubjects of this kingdom to obferve, because the fyftem of the laws of church and state were oppofite to the Bible and, as far as they are fo ftill, fo far will a writer against them be deemed no better than a troubler of the land, and a teacher of cuftoms which it is not LAWFUL for us to obferve. He likewife ftands fair for being called one of those, who would turn the world upfide down. See Acts xvi. 20, 21. xvii. 6.
Had not Luther quarrelled with Pope Leo X. and brought himself into difficult and dangerous circumstances, it is not impoffible but that the light of that great reformer had remained hidden under the bushel of monkery. However, it pleafed GOD to order it otherwife, and, in his gracious providence, to over-rule Luther's fituation, for the inveftigation and promulgation of the faith once delivered to the faints. Jude 3. Jude 3. This extraordinary man was led to fearch, think, and judge for himself; and (drawing his artillery from the inexhaustible arsenal of the holy fcriptures) first to attack, and then to over
*Matth. v. 15,
t I would obferve, that John Wickliffe, an Englishman, educated at Oxford in the reign of Edward III. has the honour of being the first perfon in Europe who publickly called in question, and boldly refuted, those doctrines, which had palled for certain during so many ages. Guth. Gram. vol. i. 247. For this he was forely perfecuted during his life, and after his death, his bones, which had been buried forty-one years, were dug up
throw, errors, which had been received as the most facred truths for ages, and which had been maintained, by every fupport, which the credulity and fuperftition of mankind, aided by laws and powers ecclefiaftical and civil, could give them.
From whence I would infer, that no opinions or doctrines whatsoever, receive any conclufive proof of their truth, from the suffrages of men, however wife, learned, or however supported by human maxims, customs, or laws. To take it for granted, that truth must be where there are these fupports, is at once to give up our privilege of enquiring and judging for ourselves; and, if so, we might as well have been born without reason and judgment as with them. Upon such a principle as this, a Mohammedan has as good * a reafon for the truth of the Koran, as we have for the truth of the Bible; for the former hath as much the customs and laws of Turkey for
and burned. This by a folemn decree of the council of Conftance. See Fox's Martyrs, vol. i. 529. He was the firft tranflator of the New Teftament from the Latin Vulgate into English. He died about 1387. Jortin Rem. vol. v. p. 479-80.
*So had the antient Heathen for the truth of their fyftems. Many of the philofophers actually refolve all moral obligations into merely human laws and conftitutions; making them the only measure of right and wrong, good and evil: fo that if the people had a mind to be inftructed what they should do or forbear, they fent them to the laws of their feveral countries, and allowed them to do whatsoever was not forbidden by those laws. Leland, vol. ii. 81, 82. Plato is for people's worshipping the gods appointed by the laws of the ftate, and
for its fupport, as the latter has thofe of England. "Idolatry at Pekin (fays a late " writer) Mohammedifm at Conftantinople, Popery at Rome, and orthodoxy at Westminster, " will be all equally right. The earth will turn "round in England, and stand still in Italy; "and our holy religion will be true in Eu"rope, but an arrant falfehood throughout "all the continent of Afia." Humanum eft errare, is too true refpecting every man and all men, as fallible creatures. Churches and councils, as well as other communities*, arè therefore
"in the manner there prescribed." Ib. p. 119. note p, So before him Pythagoras,
̓Αθανατος μεν πρώτα Θεος ΝΟΜΩ ΩΣ ΔΙΑΚΕΙΤΑΙ
First the immortal gads, as is by law ordain'd,
When Erafmus was about to publish his edition of the New Teftament, he was forely abused, for prefuming to amend the text, by correcting fome blunders in the commonly-received readings-and, in his account of the arguments of his oppofers, fays, among others, Quidam hic nobis tradunt Lefbiam regulam, ut id habeatur pro recto, quod vulgo receptum eft." Some here lay down for me the Lesbian
rule, that, "that fhould be efteemed right, which is "commonly received." At this rate, how unprofitably does a man pass his time in endeavouring to inftruct himfelf, with the hope of inftructing others?
"By paying little deference to general councils, "few inconveniences arife, compared with thofe which "inevitably follow a blind and tame fubmiffion, in "points of faith, to human decifions, and to public "wifdom, as fome of our controverfial doctors have "loved to call it, which may be public folly.
"Public wisdom is a mere Proteus; and, not to con"fider it in Pagan or Mahometan countries, amongst the Jews it once was the wisdom of Ahab and Jezebel,
therefore liable to be mistaken, as is modeftly confeffed by the Church of England in her 21ft article, "Of General Councils.' "When they be gathered together (forafmuch as they be an affembly of men "whereof all be not governed by the Spirit and word of God) they may err, and "fometimes have erred in things pertaining "to God. Wherefore things ordained by "them as neceffary to falvation have neither
ftrength nor authority, unless it may be "declared that they are taken out of the Holy Scriptures."
The writer of the following pages would humbly hope, that, having fo venerable an authority for calling in queftion the truth of certain matters, which are moft affuredly believed amongst us, he shall not be deemed impertinently contentious, if, touching fome points, he differs from the generality of his countrymen, who, contenting themfelves with notions and opinions received by tradition from their fathers, have never thought of looking after the foundations on which they are grounded, and have therefore mistaken the fallible authority of men like themselves, for the divine and infallible authority of truth itself.
That our brothels are filled with harlots, our streets with prostitutes, and our land with
and afterwards of Annas and Caiaphas. It fets out "with a great fhew of religion, it begins with the Gofpel according to St. Matthew, and it often ends in "the Gofpel according to Mr. Hobbes." Jortin Rem, vol. ii. p. 193-4:
impurity, is too dreadfully true. Magdalens, Afylums, and all the kind and benevolent interpofitions of public charities, however we may fuppofe them, with refpect to fome few individuals, to answer their benevolent de figns, are inadequate to the cure of fo crying an evil. A tree is not to be destroyed, by plucking off a few leaves, or by cutting away here and there a branch; nor can fo general an evil, as we have spoken of, be reformed by fo partial, fo precarious a remedy, as, from the nature of things, it is in the power of the best difpofed, as matters are now constituted amongst us, to adminifter.
The ax must be laid to the root-this is the divine wisdom. The truth is, that the evil above mentioned, as all others, arifes from the neglect and contempt of the divine law, and the fubftitution of human laws in its ftead. The wisdom and goodness of GOD, which He has fhewn in the provision graciously made for the protection and defence of the weaker fex, from the villainy, treachery, and cruelty of the ftronger, are difregarded. God's laws are laid afide, for that fyftem of baseness and barbarity, which per
*This practice exactly harmonizes with the principles of Lord Bolingbrake, who concludes a very horrid fentiment on the commerce of men and women, with these words :-" Increase and multiply is the law of naThe manner in which this fhall be executed, "with the greateft advantage to fociety, is the law of "man." Here this matter is left wholly to political confiderations and human laws, without any divine law to restrain or regulate it.