THE PROFIT OF BELIEVING, Very usefull Both for all those that are not yet resolved what Religion they ought to embrace: And for them that desire to know whither their Religion be true or no.

Written by S. Augustine.

LONDON, Printed by ROGER DANIEL In Lovels Court, near Pauls Church-yard. 1651.

The Preface, To the well-disposed READER.

Learned Reader,

I Know thou art not igno­rant, that of all the affairs and businesses in this world, there is none of that consequence and importance unto thee, as the saving of thy soul: and that our Blessed Saviour who knew best of all the inestimable value thereof, and vouch [...]ed to redeem it at so dear a rate as with his own p [...]e­tious bloud, plainly declared the im­portance thereof, when he said in the Gospel, Mat. 16. 16. What is a man profited, if he shall gain the world [...]nd loose his own soul? Or what shall he give in exchange ther [...]of? [Page] Wherefore let me advise thee to seek out and embrace the true Faith and Religion, for that with­out such a Faith (according to the Apostle, Heb. 11. 6.) it is impossible toplease God, and without pleasing of him, it is impossible to be saved. If thou thinkest that thou ha [...]t found out the truth already, and that thou dost embrace it, then give me leave to tell thee, that the world at this present abounds with an hundred he­re [...]ies at least the embracers whereof shall not (according to S. Pauls do­ctrine, Gal. 5. 20.) inherit the king­dome of God, and yet (as the same Apostle doth affirm, Ephes. 4. 5.) there is but one Lord, one Faith, one Baptisme: so that it is an hundred to one, but that thy Faith and thy Religion are false, and thy salvati­on is in danger thereby. Is there not then great reason that thou should­est well consider, whither the Faith [Page] and Religion which thou embracest be true or no, when upon this reso­lution depends thy fr [...]tion of un­speakable blisse, or intolerable suf­fering of endlesse pa [...]ns for all eterni­ty? How to find out the true Faith & Religion it is a matter of very great difficulty, not onely by reason that there are many faiths and religions in the world, and of all these there is but one true, and all the rest be false, but also for that the controver­sies debated now adayes are so ma­ny, and so intricate, that few have leasure to study them, and fewer a­bility to conceive and understand them: yet the zeal of learned Wri­ters hath not been wanting to satisfie men herein. But what age since the Apostles dayes hath brought forth any man so able to perform so great a task, as was that incomparable Doctor S. Augustine lib. 3. de Eccles. fol. 170. who (as Doctour [Page] Field asserteth) was the greatest and chiefest of the antient Fathers, and the most famous of all the Di­vines which the Church hath had since the Apostles time: and as Doctour Covell affirmeth in his an­swer to Master Burges pag. 3.) hath farre excelled all others that have been or are like to be hereafter (those onely excepted that were inspired by the Holy Ghost) both in Divine and Humane knowledge. What man since the Apostles dayes, could ever so well discem true doctrine from false, truth from errour, and true faith from heresie, as could that great S. Augustine who did not onely like another David, fight a­gainst the Goliah of one heresie, but like another Joshua fought the bat­tels of the Lord against all the force and power of heresie in his dayes, for fourty years together? Where­fore if this great Doctour should [Page] have left any advises or instructions behinde him unto any of his dear friends that were then hereticks, whereby he taught them how to find out the true faith and religion, amongst so many heresies [...] ought not such instructions to be greatly desi­red, and if any such could be found to be highly esteemed, and diligent­ly perused? Surely thou wilt say, that coming from so great a Do­ctour, and being so proper and ne­cessary fot these times, without doubt they ought. Why then Learn­ed Reader, give me leave to pre [...]ent unto thee a learned Treatise of his, which he sent unto his dear and learned friend Honoratus, to draw him from the Manichean her [...]sie to the true Religion; I durst not pre­sume to tender it unto thee in this poor English habit, were I not con­fident that thou seekest more after the true Religion and the saving of [Page] thy soul, then after vain eloquence, & the entising words of humane wis­dome; 1 Cor. 2. 4. but I will assure thee, under this poore attire thou wilt find a rich and a learned dis­course of great S. Augustine, not onely very profitable for those that are not yet resolved in point of Re­ligion, but also for them that dere to be satisfied whither the faith and Religion which they embrace, be true or no. If the stile be displea­sing and ungratefull unto thee, know that very many of the African Fa­thers have harsh stiles, besides con­sider how hard a matter it is to teach a native African to speak true Eng­lish.

In this work, first he shews how the old Testament is to be expou [...]d­ed, and defends the Authority or it against the Manichees that rejected it. Secondly he overthrowes that Manichean principle. That nothing [Page] is to be believed in point of Faith which is not first by reason made manife [...]t and evident unto the Belie­ver. In the third place he adviseth [...]ervent and frequent prayer, peace and tranquility of mind, and a se­questration of affections from ter­rene things, as aids necessary [...]or the finding out the truth: then declaring that Christ hath raised a very great and a famous Church consisting of all Nations, which is to continue ve­ry visible and conspicuous even to the worlds end, he exhorts Honora­tus to addresse himself unto the Pa­stours and Teachers thereof, and to learn of them the true faith and Re­ligion.

This way of proceeding to find out the truth, is far more short and easie then by the examination of all the points of controverted doctrine by their conformity to the holy Scri­p [...]ures, for it consists in two points [Page] onely, first, in seeking out which of all the Churches is the Church of Christ, and secondly, whither this Church can erre or no.

For the finding out of the Church S. Augustine proposed four marks unto Honoratus, Unity, Universality, Sanctity, and Apostolicall Successi­on, the which are set down very plainly in Scripture.

The Unity of the Church is two­fold, in body, and in faith; in regard of the first, our Saviour faith, his Church is one fold and hath one shep­heard Joh. 10. 16. and the Apostle calls it one body, 1 Cor. 12. 13. In respect of the second, S. Paul ear­nestly exhorted the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 1. 10. to speak the same thing, and that there be no division amongst them: but that they be perfectly joyn­ed together in the same mind and in the same judg [...]ment: and he be­seeched the Ephesians to endeavour [Page] to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, Ephes. 4 [...] 3, 4 [...] 5. af­firming that there is one body and one spirit, one hope of their calling, one Lord one Faith, one Baptisme; and the Scripture testifieth that in the A­postles dayes the multitude of Be­lievers were of one heart and of one soul. Acts 4. 32.

The Universality of the Church is also twofold, in time and in place; this later was foretold by the Pro­phet Moses relating Gods promise made to Abraham of an ample po­sterity, and that all the nations of the earth should be blessed in his seed: Gen. 22. 18. Gal. 3. 8. by the Royall Psalmist [...]declaring that God the Father would give unto his Son the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for his possession, Psal. 2. 8. and that he should have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends [Page] of the earth: Psal. 72. 8. and by the Prophet Isaiah, affirming that all nations shall flow to the mountain of the Lords house, Isa. 2. v. 2. For the accomplishment of these Pro­phecies our Blessed Saviour decla­red, Luke 24. v. 44. that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, [...]nd in the Prophets, and in the Psalm [...]s, con­cerning him: and v. 47. that repen­tance and remission of sinnes, should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem; and for the performance hereof, he gave a commission unto his Apostles to teach all nations, Matth. 28. 19. and to preach the Gospel to every creature, Mar. 19. v. 15.

That the Church of Christ should be universall for time, and continue perpetually unto the worlds end, it was plainly foretold by the Prophet Isaiah, who speaking of our B. Saviour, [Page] saith, that of the encrease of his government and peace there shall be no end. Vpon the throne of Da­vid [...] and upon his kingdome shall he sit to order it, and to establish it wit [...] judgement, and with justice from henceforth even for ever; and that no doubt may be made of the per­formance hereof, the Prophet add [...]s, the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this. And by the Prophet Daniel affirming that in the dayes of those Kings shall the [...]o [...] of heav [...]n set up a k ngdome which shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all those king­domes, and it shall stand for ever, Dan. 2. 44. All which was con­firmed by the Angel Gabriel, saying, The Lord shall give unto Christ the throne of his Father David and he shall reign over the house of Jacob, and of his kingdome there shall be no end, Luke 1. ver. 32, 33. For the [Page] perpetuall settlement and establish­ing of this Church, Christ said unto S. Peter: Vpon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, Matth. 16. 18. Touching the san­ctity of the Church of Christ, God by the Prophet Ezekiel saith, I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore: and the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctifi [...] Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore, E­zek. 37. v. 26, 28. and by the Pro­phet Malachi, Mal. 1. 11. From the rising of the sunne, even to the go­ing down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles: and in every place incense shall be offered [...]nto my name, and a peace-offering. Unto this sanctity our Blessed Savi­our exhorts us, saying, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorifie your [Page] Father which is in heaven, Matth. 5. 16. and Mark 7. v. 13, 14. Enter ye in at the strait gate, for strait is the gate, and narrow the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. And teaching how to distinguish the good from the bad, he saith, v. 20. By their fruits ye shall know them. As for Apostolicall succession, S. Paul saith, Ephes. 4. v. 11, 12, 13. that Christ gave some Apostles, and some Pro­phets: and some Evangelists, and some Pastours and teachers, for the perfecti [...]g of the Saints, for th [...] work of the ministery, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we [...]ll come into the unity of faith, and of the unity of the Son ne of God, unto a per­fect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulnesse of Christ, that is, (as Doctour Fulk against the Rhem. Test. in Ephes. 4. sect. 4. fol. 335. and Mr. Calvin in his Instit. [Page] cap. 8. de fide, sect. 37, 38. pag. 233. 234. do expound) for ever.

As for the second point, whether the Church of Christ can erre or no, S, Augustine saith, that neither the violence of heathens, nor the sub­tilty of hereticks can overthrow it, which agrees with our Savionrs pro­mise, Matth. 16. 18 [...] that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and, to preserve her from all errour and heresie, Christ promised to be al­wayes with her even to the worlds end, Matth. 28. 20. and God made this covenant with her: Isa. 59. 21. My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, [...]or out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seeds seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever; by which words (saith Mr. Calvin in Comment. hujus loci) God promiseth that the Church shall never [Page] be deprived of this inestimable benefit, to be governed by the Holy Ghost, and to be suported by hea­venly doctrine: and to this effect he sent down the Holy Ghost to teach the Church all truth and to remain with her for ever, Joh. 16. 13. Joh. 14. 16. Thus thou seest how S. Augustines instructions for find­ing out the truth are grounded in Scripture, but more expressely in S. Pauls doctrine, who tells us, Rom. 10. 17. that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing is by [...]he word of God; if we ask him how men may come to hea [...]e the word of God [...] he answers, v. 14, 15. How shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach unlesse they be sent? So that faith is bred in men by hear­ing and believing the word of God, made known unto them by preach­ers lawfully sent: which preachers (as he saith to the Ephesians) Ephes. [Page] 4. v. 11, 12, 13. are alwayes to be found in the Church of Christ, and are placed there, ver. 14. that from henceforth we be no more chil­dren tossed to fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleighs of men, and cunning crafti­nesse whereby they lie in wait to de­ceive; which is an office that cannot be performed by men that are frail and subject to errour, unles the Lord by his divine assistance, doth preserve them from erring. Doctour Field having considered the facility and solidity of this method, doth advise all those to practise it, that desire to be satisfied in matters of Religion in these terms, Epist. dedic. of the Church. Seeing the controversies in our time are grown in number so ma­ny and in nature so intricate, that few have time and leisure, fewer strength of understanding to examine them: what remaineth for men desirous of [Page] satisfaction in things of such conse­quence, but diligently to search out, which amongst all the societies of men in this world, is that blessed company of holy ones, that houshold of faith, that Spouse of Christ, and Church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of truth: that so they may embrace her commuuion, follow her directions, and rest in her judgement? Now that thou maist be the better able to follow this wholesome counsell, let me advise thee with care and diligence to per­use this e [...]suing treatise, and that thou maist [...]eceive much benefit thereby for thy souls health, thou hast already the prayers of S. Au­gustine, and thou s [...]alt have the hearty wishes and desires of

Thy charitable Welwisher. A. P.


  • Chap. I. HOW S. Augustine came to be de [...]ei­ved by the Manichees. Page. 1.
  • II. That the Manichees do condemn the old Testament. 11
  • III. Of the four wayes of expounding the old Testament. 15
  • IV. 3. ways whereby men fall into errour. 31
  • V [...] Of the truth of the holy Scripture. 37
  • VI. That the holy Scripture is first to be loved before it can be learned 4 [...]
  • VII [...] Th [...]t we ought not to judge rashly of the holy Scriptures: and how, and with what care and diligence the trve religion is to be sought for. 49
  • VIII. Of the way to the instruction of pi­ety: and of the wonderfull pains S. Au­gustine took to find it out. 63
  • IX. Of Credulity. 68
  • X. Why Credulity is the w [...]y to Religion 75
  • XI. Of under standing, belief [...] and opinion 83
  • XII. That it is the safest w [...]y to believe wise men. 93
  • XIII. That Religion takes her beginning from believing. 98
  • XIV. That Christ chiefly exacted belief 104
  • XV. Of the most commodious way to Reli­gion. 114
  • XVI. That miracles do procure belief. 117
  • XVII. The con [...]sent of nations be [...]eving in Christ. 124
  • XVIII. The conclusion by way of ex [...]orta­t [...]n. 129

The Profit of Believing.

How Saint Augustine came to be deceived by the Manichees.

O Honoratus,

IF any Heretick, and a man believing Here­ticks did seem unto me to be one and the same thing; I should think fit to be si­lent at this present, and to abstain both from speaking and writing in this cause: But now where­as they do verymuch differ (For he is an Heretick (according to my opinion) who for some temporall [Page 2] benefit, and chiefly for glo­ry and his own preferment, either broacheth or followe [...]h false and new Opinions: but a man belie­ving Hereticks, is one that is de­l [...]ded with a certain imagination of Piety and Truth) I held it to be my duty to deliver thee my opinion, touching the finding out and embracing the Truth, with the love whereof we have both (as thou knowest) been greatly enfla­med even from our youths. Truth is a thing farre differing from that which vain men do conceive, who having too deeply lettled their af­fections upo [...] these bod [...]ly and cor­porall things, do hold and ima­gine it to be nothing else, but what they do perceive and discer [...] by those five most known Mes­sengers of the Body: and they tosse to and f [...]o and rerevolve in their minds the impressions and [Page 3] images which they have received from these things, even when they endeavour to disbeliev [...] their sen­ses: and by a deadly and a most deceitfull rule taken from thence, they think that they do frame a right and perfect judgement of the ine [...]fable Secrets and Myste­ries of Faith. There is nothing more easie (my most dear friend) then for a man not onely to say, but also to think that he hath found out the Truth: but how extream hard it is to find it out indeed, thou wilt (as I hope) acknow­ledge and confesse upon the perusall of these my writings; which that they may prove beneficiall unto thee, or at least not hurtfull, and un­to all those into whose hands they may chance to light, I have beseech­ed the divine Majesty, and I do be­seech him, and I hope it will come to passe, if mine own conscience can [Page 4] but bear me witnesse that I came to write them not with a desire of vain renown or frivolous ostentation, but with a pious and a serviceable mind. My intent therefore i [...] to prove unto thee, if I can, that it is sacrilegiously and rashly done of the Manichees, to speak bitter words and inveigh against those, who following the au­thority of the Catholick faith [...] are fortified and strengthened befo [...]e­hand by believing, and are prepared to receive the light of the Divine grace, before they can behold that Verity and Truth which is seen and beheld with a pure and clean mind. For thou knowest, O Honoratus, that we put our selves into the com­pany of such men for no other cause, but for that they said, that, the ter­rour of authority being set aside, they would with plain and admira­ble reasons bring their hearers and followers unto God, and free them [Page 5] from all errour. For what else was it that enforced me to follow them, and to hearken to them attentively, almost for the space of nine years, having despised and contemned the religion which by my parents was ingraffed in me, being a little child, but for that they affirmed that we are terrified with superstition, and commanded to believe, before any reason is given us of belief: and that they importune and urge none to be­lieve, untill the truth be first discus­sed and made manifest unto them; who would not be allured with these promises? especially the mind of a young man desirous of truth, a bab­ler, and one that was puffed up with pride upon [...]isputations had with some skilfull and learned School­men: and such an one they found me then to be, namely, who despi­sed (my former religion) like old wives tales, and desired to embrac [...] [Page 6] and with greedinesse to receive the manifest and sincere Truth which they promised to teach and deliver. But again, what reason withdrew me and called me back that I did not wholly adhere u [...]to th [...]m, but kept my self in the degree of Hear­ [...]s, as they use to call them, and did [...]ot forgo the hopes and affairs which I had in this world; but for that I also noted and observed, that they were more eloquent and copious i [...] consuting others, then firm and cer­tain in proving [...] and maintaining their own grounds? But what shall I say of my self, who was now be­come a Catholick Christian: who being almost exhausted and greedy after a very long thirst, was now with an ardent affection returned a­gain to the breasts of the Church, which I shaked and wrung, much weeping and lamenting, to the end I might not onely draw from thence [Page 7] sufficient comfort for my misery and a [...]fliction, but might also recover my former hope of life and salvation? What then shall I say of my self? And as for thee, thou didest so vehe­mently hate and detest them, that I could hardly draw thee by entreaties and exhortations to hearken unto them and try them: and when thou hea [...]dest them, with what other thing I pray thee we [...]t thou taken and de­lighted (for I beseech thee, call it to remembrance) but with a certain great presumption and promise of reasons? But because for a long time they made many large and ve­hement discourses touching the er­rours of un [...]k [...]full men (wh [...]ch every one that is but meanly learned can easily do) it was late before I came to the knowledge thereof. And if they delivered any thing unto us out of their own men, we thought there was a necessity to receive and embrace [Page 8] it, when as other things up on which we might rely, occurred not: wherein they dealt with us as deceit­full Fowlers are wont to do, who prick down limetwigs by a waters side, to the end they may deceive the thirsty Birds: for they stop up, and by some means or other they cover the other waters that are there­abouts: or they drive the birds from thence with frights and fears, that not by their own free choise and election, but meerly for necessi­ty and want of water they may fall into their snares. But why do I not return this answer to my self, that such neat and pretty similitudes as these, and such like reprehensions may be both most civilly and most snappishly objected by any enemy or adversary whatsoever, against all those that deliver any thing by teaching or instruction? But yet for this cause I thought it necessary to [Page 9] insert some such thing into these my writings, that I may warn and ad­monish them thereby to leave off all such manner of proceedings: to the end that (as a certain man said) the toyes of common places being set a­side, one thing may contend and strive with another, one cause with another, one reason with another: wherefore let them forbear to say, what they hold in a manner necessa­ry to be spoken, when any one for­sakes them that hath long been their hearer, The light is passed through him. For thou my greatest care (for I am not too solicitous for them) seest how vain a thing this is, and how easie a matter it is for any one to blame and reprehend it; this there­fore I leave to thy wisdome to be discussed. For I am not afraid le [...]t thou shouldest think that I was de­prived of light, when I was entang­led with a worldly life, and had a [Page 10] remote and obscure hope of a beau­tifull wife, of the pomp of riches, of the vanity of honours, and of other hurtfull and pernicious pleasures: for I ceased not to desire and hope for all these things (as thou knowest right well) when I was their follow­er and heard them attentively: not do I attribute this to their doctrine [...] for I confesse they diligently warned and admonished me to beware of these things: but to say that I am now desti [...]ute of light, when as I have al [...]enated and withdrawn my self from all these shadows and [...]em­blances of things, and have resolved to content my self with such food onely, as may seem necessary to the health of my body: and that I was enlightned and shining before, when I was addicted unto those things and was intangled with them, is the part of a man (to speak in the mild­est manner) who lesse con [...]iderately [Page 11] ponders the things of which he much desires to talk and discourse. But if you please let us come to the matter.

That the Manichees do condemn the old Testament.

THou art not ignorant how the Manichees reprehending the Catholick Faith, and especially rent­ing and tearing in pieces the old Te­stament, do move and disturb the unskilfull people: who truly know not how those things are to be under­stood, and how being taken they may profitably descend and be con­veyed into the veins and marrow of tender souls. And because there oc­curre certain things in those books which may give some offence to those that are ignorant and carelesse of themselves (as the greatest part of the common people is) they may be [Page 12] plausibly reprehended and blamed, but cannot be plausibly defended by many, by reason of the mysteries which are contained therein; and those few that can do it, affect not publick and open conflicts whereby to divulge their fame and renown, and for this cause they are not known at all but unto those onely, who with much care and diligence do seek and enquire after them: wherefore touch­ing this rashnesse of the Manichees, in reprehending the Old Testament and the Catholick Faith, hear I be­seech thee, the things which move and trouble me; the which I desire and hope that thou wilt receive with such an hearty mind and good will as by me they are delivered and spo­ken; for God, unto whom the se­crets of my conscience lie open and are manifest, knows, that I deal not malitiously in this speech, but as I conceive, it ought to be understood [Page 13] in proof of the truth, unto which long since I have addicted my self, and that with an incredible care and solicitude, lest I should erre and go astray with you, which I may easi­ly do; when as to hold the same course with you [...] and yet to embrace and keep the right way, it is a mat­ter (not to speak too harshly) of ex­tream difficultie. But I presume that even in this hope which I have of your attaining together with me un­to the way of wisdome, he, unto whom I have consecrated my self, will not leave nor forsake me: when dayes and nights I endeavour to be­hold: and for that I perceive my self to be weak and infirm, by reason that the eye of my soul is for my sinnes, and the custome thereof wounded with the stripes of invete­rate opinions, I beg it oftentimes with weeping and tears, and as it happeneth unto mens eyes, which after [Page 14] the sufferance of a long blind­nesse and d [...]rknesse are hardly open: they have a great desire to see light, and yet by their twinckling and turning away, they refuse to behold it, especially if any one should en­deavour to expose them to the light of the Sun: so it falls out with me at the pre [...]ent, for I acknowledge that there is a certain unspeakable and singular good of the soul, which may be seen and contemplated with the mind, but I confesse with tears in mine eyes and sighs from my heart that I am not yet fit nor able to be­hold it: wherefore the Divine good­nesse will not forsake me, if I fain nothing, if I speak according to my duty, if I love the truth, if I affect friendship, and if I take a great care that thou mayest not be deceived.

Of the four wayes of expounding the Old Testament.

THose that earnestly desire to know the Old Testament, are to understand that it is taught and expounded after four manner of wayes: according to the History, according to the Etiologie, accord­ing to the Analogy, and according to the Allegory. Think me not foo­lish for using Greek names: First, for that I have so received, and I dare not deliver this otherwise unto thee then as I have received: Next thou also observest, that we have no usuall names for these things: and if I had framed any by-interpretation, I should be lesse apt to be under­stood: and if I should use any cir­cumlocution, I should be lesse quick and lesse ready in discoursing: this [Page 16] onely I intreat and beseech thee to believe, that howsoever I may erre, I do it not out of any arrogancy or pride. The Scripture is treated ac­cording to the history when it is de­clared therein what is written, or what is done: and what is not done but written onely as it were done. According to the Etiology, when it is shewed thereby for what cause any thing is either done or said. Ac­cording to the Analogy, when it is demonstrated that the two Testa­ments, the Old and the New, are not contrary the one unto the other. According to the Allegory, when it is read therein that certain things that are written, ought not to be un­derstood according to the letter, but according to the figure. All these manner of wayes of alledging Scri­pture, have been used by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Apostles. He cited Scripture according to the [Page 17] History, when, unto those that ob­jected that his Disciples had pluck­ed the ears of Corn upon the Sab­bath day, he answered, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him: how he entred into the house of God and did eat the loaves of Propo­sition (or Shew-bread) which it was not lawfull for him to eat, neither for them that were with him, but for Priests onely? Mat. 12. 1, 3, 4. 1 Sam. 21. 6. Exod. 29. 32. He alledged Scripture according to the Etiology, when having forbidden the dismissing of wives for any cause but onely fornication, unto the Pha­risees, who told him that Moses had given men leave to dismisse them, having first given them a bill of di­vorce, he said: This Moses did for the hardnesse of your hearts. Deut. 24. 1. Mat. 19. 8. for here a cause was rendred, why that was well per­mitted [Page 18] by Moses for a time, to the end that this which Christ comman­ded might seem to shew and de­monstrate other times but to declare how the divine Providence hath with a certain wonderfull disposition ordered and composed the courses and order of these times, it is a long work. Now touching the Analogy, whereby appears the accord and consent of both the Testaments, what shall I say, but that all those have u­sed it, unto whose authority the Ma­nichees do give place, when as they may consider with themselves how many things they are wont to say are thrust into the divine Scripture by I know not what co [...]rupters of the truth? which I alwayes thought to be an extream weak speech even when I heard and followed them: neither was this my opinion onely, but thine also (for I well remember it) and it was the opinion of us all [Page 19] who endeavoured to be somewhat more carefull and wary in judging, th [...]n was the common people and multitude of believers. And where­as they have expounded and decla­red unto me many things that did much move and trouble m [...] (name­ly those wherein they boasted and bragged oftentimes, and th [...]t more abundantly because more securely, as not having any adversary to resist and oppose them. I think they have spoken nothing more impudently or (to speak more mildly) with lesse cir­cumspection and more weaknesse, then that the divine Scriptures are falsified and corrupted: when as it ought but lately to have been done, and yet they cannot convince it to be [...]o, by any copies that are now ex­tant: for if they did say, that they did not think that they ought to re­ceive those Scriptures at all, because they are written by such Authours [Page 20] as they did not conceive to have written the truth, their pretence of rejecting them would in some sort be more hidden, and their errour more humane and pardonable: for upon this ground they have rejected the book which is called the Acts of the Apostles: at which their proceed­ings, when I well weigh it and con­sider it with my self, I cannot suffi­ciently wonder and admire; for they wanted not onely humane wisdome herein, but even a reasonable and an indifferent judgement: for that book hath so many things, which are like unto those which they do receive [...] that it seems to me to be a great folly not to receive this also, and if any thing displeas [...]th them therein, presently to say it is false and put in: now if they judge such a speech to be impudent (as indeed it is) why should they conceive those things to deserve any credit and est [...]em in S. Paul's Epistles, [Page 21] and the four books of the Go­spell, wherein I know not whether or no, proportionably speaking, there be many more things then there could be in that book, which they would have men believe, to have been thrust in by falsifiers and cor­rupters? But this indeed is my opi­nion, which I request thee to weigh and consider with me, with a very clear and peaceable judgement: for thou art not ignorant how the Mani­chees endeavouring to bring in the the person of their authour Mani­cheus into the number of the Apo­stles, do say that by him we have re­ceived the Holy Ghost, whom our Lord promised to send to his Disci­ples: if therefore they should receive those Acts of the Apostles where­in the comming of the Holy Ghost is evidently declared and set down [...] Act. 2. 2. they could find no ground to say why that was inserted and put [Page 22] in: for they pretend I know not what corrupters of the divine books to have been before Manicheus his time: and that they were corrupted by those that desired to confound the law of the Jews with the Gospel of Christ; but this they cannot say of the Holy Ghost, unlesse perad ven­ture they will affirm that the corru­pters could foretell things that were to come, and thereupon did put into their books that which might be produced against one Manicheus who sometimes was to come, and who should say and averre that he had sent the Holy Ghost; but of the Holy Ghost we intend to speak more plainly herea [...]ter; but now let us return to our former matter; for I think that I have sufficiently de­monstrated and shewn, that the hi­storicall sense is to be found in the Old Testament, and the Etiolo­gicall and Analogicall in the New: [Page 23] it remains that I shew also the Alle­goricall therein. Our Redeemer himself alledgeth in the Gospel an Allegory out of the Old Testament, saying: This generation seeketh af­ter a sign, and none shall be given unto it, but the sign of the Prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three d [...]yes and three nights in the Whales belly: so shall the Sonne of man be three dayes and three n [...]ghts in the heart of the earth. Mat. 12. 39 40. Jonas 1. 17. And what shall I say of the Apostle Paul, who also in his 1 Ep. to the Co [...]inthians c. 10. to the 12. v. signifies, that the [...]story it self of Exodus was an Allegory of the Christian people that was to come? Moreover Brethren, I would not (saith he) that ye should be ignorant how that all our Fathers were under the cloud, Exod. 13. 21. Num. 14. 14. Deut. 1. 33. Psal. 78. 14. and all passed through the sea: Exod. [Page 24] 14. 22. Josh. 4, 23. Psal. 78. 13. and were all Baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea: and did all eat the same spirituall meat, and did all drink the same spirituall drink: (for they drank of the spiri­tuall Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ) but with ma­ny of them God was not well plea­sed: Num. 24. 28. and 26. 65. for they were overthrown in the wilder­nesse. Now these things were our fi­gures (or examples) to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Psalm. 106. 14. Neither let us worship I­dols, as some of them did, as it is written, Exod. 32. 6. The people sate down to eat and drink and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornica­tion, as some of them did, and there fell in one day three and twenty thou­sand men, Num. 25. 9. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them [Page 25] tempted him, and were destroyed by serpents. Numb. 21. 6. Neither let us murmure, as some of them mur­mured, and they perished by the de­stroyer. Numb. 14. 37. And all these things happened to them in a fi­gure (or for an example) but they were written for our admonition up­on whom the ends of the world are come. The same Apostle useth also a certain Allegory, which is much to our purpose, because the Manichees are wont to alledge it in their dispu­tations, and boast of it, when wri­ting to the Galathians he saith, Gal. 4. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26. For it is writ­ten that Abraham had two sonnes, the one by a bond-maid, Gen. 16. 15. the other by a free-woman [...] Gen. 21. 2. but he that was by the bond-maid was born according to the flesh; but he that was by the free-woman was born according to promise: which things are said by an Allegory: for [Page 26] these are the two Testaments, the one from the mount Sina which gen­dreth to bondage, which is Agar (for Sina is a mountain in Arabia adjoyning to Hierusalem that now is) and is in bondage with her children: But Hierusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. Here therefore those too too wicked men whilest they endeavour to fru­strate the Law, do enforce us to al­low and approve of those Scriptures: for they diligently observe that it is said, that they are in bondage that are under the Law, and they often alledge that last above the rest, Ga­lath. 5. 4. Christ is become of no ef­fect unto you that are justified by the Law, ye are falne from Grace. We grant all these things to be true, nei­ther do we say, that that Law is ne­cessary, but onely for those unto whom bondage is yet profi [...]able and expedient; and therefore tha [...] it was [Page 27] fitly and commodiously ordained th [...]t such men as could not be re­claimd and withdrawn from sinning by reason, ought to be constrained by [...] [...]mely by the threats and terrours of those [...] even fools themselves can perceive and apprehend: from which when the grace of Christ doth free us, it doth not condemn that Law, but it invites us for the time to come to o­bey his charity, and not to serve and be subject to the terrour of the Law. For that is a Grace, that is to s [...]y, a Benefit, which they that yet desire to be under the bonds of the Law, do not understand that the Divine Majesty hath imparted unto them; whom Paul the Apostle doth de­servedly reprove, as though they were In [...]idels, because they did not believe that they are now freed by our Lord Jesus Christ, from that servitude and bondage whereunto [Page 28] they were subject for a certain time by Gods most just order and dispo­sing. Hereupon it is that the same Apostle saith. Gal. 3. 24. The law was our Peda [...] [...] [...]ere [...]ore gave unto men a Pedagogue whom they should fear, who gave them afterwards a master whom they should love: and yet neverthelesse in those precepts and Commandments of the Law, (which it is not lawfull for Christians now to use, such as are either the Sabbath or Circumcision or the Sa­crifices, and whatsoever is of that sort) so great mysteries are contain­ed and comprehended, that every godly man may understand that there is nothing more pernicious and hurtfull, then that whatsoever is comprised therein should be under­stood according to the letter, that is, to the native sense of the words: and nothing [...]ore wholesome and profitable, [Page 29] then to have it expounded ac­cording to the spirit or spirituall sense and unde [...]standing: hence it is that the letter killeth, but the spirit quic­keneth or giveth life. 2 Cor. 3. 6. hence it is, that in the reading of the Old Testament, the self same veil re­maineth untaken away, because in Christ it is made vo [...]d: vers. 14. for not the Old Testament, but the veile thereof is made void in Christ, to the end that may be understood and made manifest by him, which with­out him is hidden and obscure: and therefore the same Apostle imme­diately after saith: But when thou shalt turn to Christ the ve [...]l shall be taken away, vers. 16. but he doth not say that the Law or the Old Testament shall be taken away: they are not therefore taken away by our Lo [...]ds grace, as though un­profitable things lay hidden and were covered there, but rather th [...] [Page 30] veil or cover is taken away, where­with wholesome and profitable things were covered and kept close. This is the benefit which they reap and receive, who with a studious and a devout mind and not with a trou­bled and wicked spirit, do se [...]k after the sense of those Scriptures: and both the order of things, and the causes of what is s [...]id and done [...] and so great an accord of the Old Testa­ment with the New, even to the last tittle, and so great mysteries and se­crets of figures are [...]ly and plain­ly [...] and shewn: that all the things that are found out by in­terpreting them, may enforce men to confesse and grant that they are mi­serable and wretched [...] that will con­demn these things, before they have attain [...]d to the knowledge of them.

Touchi [...]g t [...]ose words of the A­postl [...]: The le [...]er killeth, but the spirit quickneth, as they are here expounded [Page 31] by S. Augustine, he pas­seth this judgement, that he did more conveniently in his op [...]io [...] ex­pound them in his book De Spiritu & Litera, though this sense is not to be rejected. Lib. 1. Retract. [...]. 14.

Of three wa [...]es whereby men fall into errour.

THat for the present the depth and profoundneste of know­ledge and science being set aside, I may so treat with thee, as I think I ought to treat with my familiar friend, that is, as well as I can, but not so well as I have admired to see very learned me [...] been able to do: there be three kinds of errour into which men may fall when they reade any thing; I will speak of every one of them. The first kind is, when [Page 32] that is thought to be true which in­deed is false, and was thought to be [...]o by the Authour that wrote it. The second kind not being of so large an extent, yet no lesse damage­able and hurtfull then the former, is, when that which is false, is thought to be true [...] and was thought to be so by the Authour that wrote it. The third kind, is, when some truth is learned out of another mans wri­ting, which the Authour himself that wro [...]e it, understood not: in which kind there is no small profit, yea if thou dost consider it attentively thou shalt find that the Reader gains unto himself the whole profit of the rea­ding. An example of the first kind is this: If any one should say and believe that Rhadamanthus hear­eth and judgeth in hell the causes of the dead because he read it in Vir­gils verses; for this man erres two manner of wayes: first, for that he [Page 33] believeth that which he ought not to believe; and secondly, for that the Authour which he read, is not thought to have believed it. An ex­ample of the second kind may be this [...] because Lucretius writes [...] that the soul is made of atomes, and that after dea [...]h it is dissolved into the same atomes and perisheth, if any one should think that this is true, and that he ought to believe it: for this man is not lesse unhappy for perswading himself certainly in so great a [...]atter that to be true, which indeed is false, for that Lucretius, by who [...]e books he was deceived, was of that opinion; for what doth it avail him to be certain of the Au­thours opinion, when as he hath made choise of such an authour, not by whom, but with whom he might erre and be deceived? An example of the third kind is this: if any one having read some place in Epicurus [Page 34] his works wherein he praiseth con­tinency should affirm, That he pla­ced the chie [...]e [...]t good and felicity in Virtue; and that therefore he ought not to be blamed nor reprehended; now though Epicurus believes that the chiefest happinesse of man con­sists in corporall pleasures, yet what prejudice doth this man receive and sustain by his errour, when as he holds not so filthy and hurtfull an opinion, nor for any other cause is he pleased with Epicurus, but for that he conceives him not to have held so bad an opinion as ought not indeed to have been h [...]ld and maintained? this errour, is not onely humane and pardonable, but also oftentimes most worthy of a man: for what if a man should make me this relati­on touching one of my loving friend [...] that my friend when he was come to mans estate, told him in the hearing of many, that his infancy [Page 35] and childhood had been so plea [...]ing and delightfull unto him, that even he swore he would lead such a l [...]fe afterwards: and that I had received such certain proofs of the truth of this matter, that I could not without shame and impu­dency deny it: should I seen wor­thy of blame and reproof, if I should think that when he said this, he meant and intended to signifie thereby, that he took much delight in an innocent life, and a mind ali­enated from those appetites and de­sires wherewith mankind is wont to be involved, and thereupon my love and affection towards him should be much increased, although perhaps the young man having been foolish in his tender age, had great­ly affected a certain l [...]berty in play­ing and eating and sluggish rest? for suppose he had died after I had received this relation touching him, [Page 36] and no body could be found that could tell me what his judgement and opinion was herein: would a­ny one be so mischievous and wic­ked, as to fall out and be angry with me for praising his resolution and intention according to the intel­ligence which had been delivered and imparted unto me? Yea what if a just valuer and esteemer of things should perhaps make no difficulty to praise and commend my good will and opinion, for that I was taken and delighted with in­nocency, and being a man would rather frame a good conceit of an­other man in a doubtfull matter, even when he spake otherwise then he ought to have done?

Of the truth of the Holy Scripture.

NOw thou hast heard the three kinds of errour into which men may fall that reade any thing: hear also so many conditions and differ­ences of the same Scriptures, for it is necessary that so many do occurre; for either some one hath written a profitable work, and another doth not rightly and profitably under­stand it: or the writer and the reader have both bestowed their labours unprofitably; or the reader doth well and rightly understand, but the Authours work is uselesse and un­profitable. Of these three kinds the first I d [...]allow not, the last I esteem not: for [...]hether can I blame an Au­thour whose work is not well and rightly understood, if he be no way guilty of that fault, nor can I be [Page 38] troubled to see an Authour read that hath not known the truth, when I see that his readers do receive no hurt nor prejudice thereby: where­fo [...]e, there is one kind that is most approved, and is most purged and cleansed from errour, which is, when not onely good works are set forth, but are also well and rightly under­stood by their readers; yet notwith­standing that also is divided into two kinds, and it is not wholly free from errour: for it happeneth often­times that the writer hath a good meaning [...] and the reader hath so too, but another then he, and oftentimes a better conceit, oftentimes a lower, and yet one that is commodious and profitable: but when as we attain to the true sense and meaning of the Authour which we reade; and the work much conduceth to the leading of a good life, the truth appears a­bundantly therein, and there is no [Page 39] gap nor passage that lies open to falshood and deceit. This kind is very seldome to be found, when the discourse is about things that are ex­tremely hard and obscure; neither in my opinion can it be clearly and ma­nifestly known [...], but onely be belie­ved: for by what proofs or argu­ments can I so perfectly gather what the will of a man is, that is absent or dead [...] that I can swear and take my oath what it is: when as if he were asked even being present there might be many things which he might most officiously conceal and hide, al­though he wer [...] not a wicked man? but to know the quality of the Au­thour I think it no [...]hing avails to the knowledge of the matter: yet ne­verthelesse he highly deserves to be reputed and esteemed to be a good man, who by his books and writings affords great assistance unto man­kind and to posterity. Now I would [Page 40] have the Manichees to tell me in which kind they place the errour (which they conceive) of the Ca­tholick Church. If in the first it is a grievous fault indeed, but we need not seek farre to know how to defend it; for it is sufficient to deny that we understand it, as they conceive, when they inveigh against it. If in the se­cond, it is no lesse [...]grievous, but the same words will serve to confute it. If in the third, it is no fault at all. Go to then, and hereafter consider the Scriptures themselves: for what do they object against the books which are called the Old Testament? do they say that they are good, but that we do not well and rightly un­derstand them? but they themselves receive them not. Do they say that they are neither good, nor rightly understood by us? but this is suffi­ciently [...]onvinced by the former de­fense; or will they say, that we rightly [Page 41] understand them, but that the books be naught? what is this, but to acquit and absolve their living ad­versaries, with whom they are in de­bate, and to accuse those that are for­merly dead, with whom they have no contention nor strife? Verily I do believe that all the works which those men left to posterity, were pro­fitably written, and that they were great and very holy men, and that that Law was made and published by Gods will and command: and although my skill and knowledge be but very little in books of that kind, yet this I can easily prove to be true unto one that bears an equall and an impartiall, and not an obsti­nate and a refractory mind; and I will do it, when thou wilt afford me an attentive and a courteous hearing, and mine own occasions will per­mit. But now is it not sufficient for me, howsoever that businesse goes, [Page 42] not to have been beguiled nor de­ceived.

That the holy Scripture is first to be loved before it can be learned.

OHonoratus, I call mine own conscience and God, who in­habits pure souls, to witnesse, that I judge and esteem nothing to be more [...] nothing more chaste, nothing more rel [...]gious then all those Scri­ptures be, which under the name of the Old Testament, are held and em­braced by the Catholick Church. I know thou admirest to hear me talk thus, for I cannot disguise nor dis­semble the matter, we have been ex­horted and perswaded to believe far otherwise: but truly, a rasher act cannot be committed (rashnesse be­ing a fault unto which we were addicted [Page 43] being yet but children) then to forsake the judgement of the Ex­posit [...]urs of any kind of books who professe that they can receive them, and can teach and deliver them to their disciples: and to require their judgement and opinion of them, who being constrained, I know not for what cause have denounced a most sharp and bitter warre ag [...]inst their authours and compilers? and that I may speak of those scie [...]ces whe [...]ein perhaps a Reader may [...] without any heinous crime or of­f [...]ce, who ev [...]r thought that the exposition of the profound and ob­scure books of Aristotle ought to be received from his enemy? or who being desirous to learn the Ge­ometry of Archimedes, would take Epicurus to be his master, against which he disputed very sti [...]fely and eag [...]ly, and yet (as [...] conceive) he understood nothing thereof? Are [Page 44] those Sc [...]iptures of the law most plain and easie, against which they proceed with violence in vain and to no pur­pose, as though they were exposed and lay open to the capacity of the common people? I think these men are like to that woman which they themselves do laugh at and deride, who being angry to hear the prai­ses of the sunne, and to have it recom­mended unto her by a certain Mani­chean woman to be worshipped, as she was religiously simple, starts up upon a sudden, and stamping often upon the place, which the sunne with his beams had enlightned thorough a window, began to cry out, Be­hold I contemn and tread under foot the sunne and thy God. That this was done altogether foolishly, and like unto a woman, no man can deny: but do not those men seem to resemble her, who casting forth vi­olent speeches and curses against the [Page 45] things they understand not, neither why they were written, nor what manner of things they be (which seem as t [...]g [...] [...] [...]ere low and contemptible, but to them that un­derstand them they are subtile and divine) think to receive some bene­fit thereby, because unskilfull men do countenance and applaud them? believe me whatsoever is contained in those Scriptures is high and di­vine: there is truth altogether in them, and most fit instruction both for the amending and reforming mens minds: and it is certainly so well digested and ordered, that eve­ry one may receive from thence that which is sufficient for himself, if he comes prepared to take it with such piety and devotion, as true Religi­on doth require. Should I go about to prove this unto thee I must al­ledge many reasons, and entertain thee with a longer discourse: for [Page 46] first I must perswade thee not to hate the Authours themselves, and then to love them: and this I must effect by a [...] [...] [...]eans [...] rather then by expounding their opinions and their writings: and therefore if we did hate Virgil, yea if we did not love him upon the commendati­on of our Predecessours before we understood him, we should never be satisfied in those innumerable que­stions touching him wherewith Grammarians are wont to be much perplexed and troubled: nor should we give [...]are to any man that could resolve those questions to his honour and praise, but we should give coun­tenance and shew favour unto him who by those questions would en­deavour to shew that he erred and doted; but now when as many men do labour to expound them, and that after divers manners, and every one according to his skill and ability, [Page 47] they receive the chiefest com­mendation and applause, by whose expositions he is found to be a bet­ter Poet, and he is conceived and believed even by those that under­stand him not, not onely to have committed no fault nor errour, but to have said nothing which doth not de [...]erve much glory and praise: and therefore if a Master fails but in a small question, and knows not what to answer, we are rather angry and offended with him, then we will conceive that by any fault commit­t [...]d by Maro he is silent and dumb: but if a Master should in his own defence, [...] that so great an Au­thour hath committed a fault, he would loose so much credit and re­putation thereby, that his scholars would hardly continue with him e­ven though he should hyre them with wages and rewards. How great a matter were it for us to give [Page 48] so much credit to those Writers by w [...]ose mouthes the Holy Ghost hath spoken as Antiquity confirmed by a long continuance doth testifie and declare? but we forsooth being very wise young men, and wonder­full searchers of reasons, not having so much as perused those books nor sought o [...]t Masters to expound them unto us, nor somewhat accu­sed our own slownesse herein, nor held them to have any judgement or understanding who affirmed that those works had for a long time been read, kept and expounded thorough the whole world, though that no credit was to be given unto them, being moved by their words, who were their enemies and offend­ed with them, by whom we were enforced with a false promise of rea­son to believe and embrace unheard of millions of fables and [...]ales.

That we ought not to judge rash­ly of the holy Scriptures: and how and with what care and diligence the true Religion is to be sought for.

BUt now if I can, I will ac­complish that which I have begun, and I will treat with thee after such a sort, that in the mean time I will not expound the Ca­tholick Faith, but I will shew un­to them that have a care of their souls some hope of divine fruit, and of finding out the Truth, to the end they may search out the great mysteries and secrets of Faith. He that seeks after the true Re­ligion, doth without doubt ei­ther believe already that the Soul is immortall, unto whom [Page 50] that Religion may be commodious and profitable, or he desires to find her to be so in the same Religion; and therefore all Religion is for the souls sake: for the nature of the bo­dy howsoever it doth put him to no care and solicitude, especially after [...]eath, whose soul hath taken a course by which it may become blessed. Wherefore true Religion if there be any, was either onely one chiefly in­stituted for the souls sake: and this soul erres and is foolish, as we see un­till she gets and possesses wisdome, and that perhaps is the true Religion, if I seek out and enquire the cause of her erring, I find it to be a thing which is extremely hidden and ob­scure. But do I send thee to fables? or do I enforce thee to believe any thing rashly? I say our soul being entangled and drowned in errour and folly, seeks after the way of veri­ty and truth, if there be any such to [Page 51] be found, if thou findest not thy self thus inclined and disposed, pardon me, and make me I pray thee, parta­ker of thy wi [...]dome: but if thou doest, let u [...], I beseech thee both to­gether seek out the truth. Imagi [...]e with thy self that no no [...]c [...] had as yet been given unto us, nor no insi­nuation made unto us of any Reli­gion whatsoever. Behold we under­take a new work, and a new busi­nesse. Professours of Religion are I believe to be sought for, if there be no such thing. Suppose then that we have found men of divers opinions, and in that diversity seeking to draw every one unto them; but that in the mean time, some amongst these do surpasse the rest in renown of [...]ame, and in the possession of almost all people. Whether they embrace the truth or no it is a great question; but are they not first to be examined and tried, that so long as we erre (for as [Page 52] men we are subject to errour) we may seem to erre with mankind it self? but thou wilt say, Truth is to be found but amongst a few certain men: if thou knowest amongst whom it is, why then thou knowest already what it is. Did not I say a little be­fore that we would seek after the truth, as though we were yet igno­rant thereof? but if by the force of truth thou doest conjecture that there be but few that embrace it, and yet thou knowest not who they be, what if those few do lead and rule the multitude by their authority, and can dive into the secrets and myste­ries of faith, and can make them in a manner plain and manifest? do we not see how few attain to the height of eloquence, and yet the schools of Rhetoricians do make a great noise throughout the whole world, wit [...] companies of young men? Do all those that desire to become good [Page 53] oratours, being terrified with the multitude of unskilfull men, think that they ought to addict themselves rather to the studie of the orations of Co [...]cilius and Erucius, then to those of Tullius Cicero? all men affect the things that are strengthened and con­firmed by the authority of their an­cestours. The simple sort of people endeavours to learn those things which a few learned men have deli­vered unto them to be learned: but very few there be that attain unto great eloquence, fewer there be that practise it, but fewest of all that grow eminent and are famous. What if true Religion be some such thing? what if a multitude of ignorant people frequents the Churches, it is no proof nor arg [...]ment, that there­fore none are made perfect by those mysteries? and yet if so f [...]w should studie eloquence, as there are few that become [...]loquent, our parents [Page 54] would never think it fit to have us recommended unto such masters. When as therefore the multitude, which abounds with a number of un­sk [...]lfull people invites us to these stu­dies [...] and makes us earnestly to affect that which few do obtain, why will we not admit that we have the like cause i [...] Religion, the which perad­venture we contemne and despise to the great perill and hazard of our souls? for if the most true and most sincere worship of God, though it be but amongst a few, yet it is a­mongst those with whom the multi­tude, though wholly addicted to their appetit [...]s and desires, and farre from the purity of knowledge and understanding [...] doth con [...]ent and a­gree, which without all doubt may come to passe: I ask, what answer are we able to give if any one should r [...]prove our [...]ashnes & folly for that having a great care to find out the [Page 55] true Religion, we do not diligently search it out amongst the masters and teachers thereof? if I should say the multitude hath discouraged me. Why then hath it not disheartened men from the study of the liberall sciences which hardly yields any profit to this present life? why not from seeking after money and getting wealth? why not from obtaining dignities and ho­nours? moreover, why not from reco­vering and preserving health? finally, why not from the desire of a blessed & an happy life? in all which affairs though many men be imployed, yet few there be that ate eminent and excell. You will say that the books of the Old Testament seemed to con­tain absurd things. Who are they that affirm it? namely enemies, for what cause or reason they did it, is not now the question; but yet they were enemies, you will say when you read them you understood so much [Page 56] by your own reading. Is it so in­deed? if thou hadst no skill in Poe­trie at all thou durst not take in han [...] Terentianus Maurus without a master; Asper, Cornutus [...] Donatus, and a multitude of other Authours are thought requisite for the under­standing of any Poet, whose verses deserve no greater esteem then the approbation and applause of a stage: and thou without a guide doest un­dertake to reade those books, and without a master darest passe thy judgement upon them, which, how­soever they be, are notwithstanding by the confession of almost all man­kind, published to be holy and re­plenished with divine matters: nor if tho [...] findest some things therein which seem unto th [...]e absurd, dost thou rather accuse the dulnesse of thy wit [...] and thy mind corrupted with the infection of this world (as the minds of all fools are) then those [Page 57] books which peradventure by such kind of men cannot be well concei­ved and understood. Thou shouldst do well to seek out a man both pious and learned, or one that is esteemed and reputed so to be, by the appro­bation and consent of many; by whose instructions thou mightest be­come better, and more expert and skilfull by his learning. Such an one (saist thou) was not easie to be found: it would be some labour and trouble to seek him. There was none such in the land wherein thou didst dwell. If so, what cause could more profitably enforce thee to travell? if he lay hid in the continent or firm land, or were not there at all; thou shouldst sail beyond sea: if he were not there to be found by the shore, thou shoulde [...]t make a voyage even unto those lands, wherein the things which are contained in those books are said and reported to have been [Page 58] done. O Honorat us have we done any such thing? and yet when we were but most wretched and silly boyes we did at our own pleasure, and in our own judgement, condemn a Religion, and that perhaps a most holy one (for I speak, as yet, as though some doubt were to be made thereof) whose fame and renown hath already possessed the whole world. What if the things which [...]eem in those Scriptures offensive to some that are ignorant and unskil­full, be for this cause so written and set down, that when such things are read as [...]gree not with the sense of all sorts of men, but much lesse with theirs that are holy and wise, we may with more care and diligence seek out a secret and hidden meaning thereof? doest thou not see how men labour to interpret the pastorall Ca­tamite, upon whom the rough shep­herd poured out his affections: and [Page 59] how they as [...]irm that the boy Alex­is (upon whom Plato is also said to have made some love-ver [...]es) signi­fies I know not what great and my­sterious matter, but that it surpasseth the judgement and understanding of unskilfull men: when as indeed that Poet abounding in his inventions may without any detestable crime or offence be conceived to have pub­lished lascivious songs? but were we indeed hindred and withdrawn from seeking out the true Religion, either by the publishing of some law a­gainst it, or by the power of them that oppose it, or by the contempt­ible shew and appearance of men de­dicated to the service of God, or by any base or di [...]honest report; or by the newnesse of the institution, or by some hidden profession thereof? No, no, none of these things did with­draw and hinder us: all laws both divine and humane do permit men to [Page 60] seek out the Catholick faith, and certainly it is lawfull according to humane law to hold & embrace it, if so long as we erre, we be uncertain of the divine law. We have no enemie that puts any fright or terrour into our weaknes: although truth and the salvation of our souls, if it be sought after, where it is lawful to seek it with most safety; and it cannot be found, ought to be enquired for with any danger and hazard whatsoever; the degrees of all powers & dignities do most devoutly impart their service unto this sacred and divine worship: and the very name of Religion is most honourable, and hath a very great esteem and renown. What hindereth us then at last to seek out carefully, and to examine with a pi­ous and diligent search, whether here be that truth which though few do know and retain after the sincerest manner, yet the favour and good w [...]ll o [...] a [...]l nati [...]s doth con [...]i [...]e [Page 61] therein? All this being so, imagine (as I said) that we now make our first enquiry what Religion we ought to embrace, both for the clean­sing and reforming of our souls. Without doubt we must take our be­ginning from the Catholick Church, for there are now more Christians then if the Jews were joyned with the worshippers of idols. And where­ [...] of the same Christians there be divers heresies, and all would have themselves thought to be Catholicks, and do call others besides themselves hereticks; the Church is one, as all do grant, greater in multitude, if thou considerest the whole world, and (as those that know do affirm) more sincere in truth then all the re [...]t; but as for truth it is another question. But that which is sufficient for those that seek it, is, that the Catholick Church is one upon which other here­sies do impose divers names, when as [Page 62] every one of them is called by its pro­per name, which it dares not deny; where by we may understand by the judgement of [...] Arbitratours not hindred by any favour [...] unto whom the name Catholick which all seek after, ought to be attributed. But lest that any one should think that this thing ought to be debated with much babling or superfluous dis­course [...] there is one Church indeed wherein even the humane Laws are after a sort Christian. Yet I will have no preocupation of judgement to be drawn from hence, but I judge it to be a most fit beginning for the seeking out of the truth. For there is no fear least the true worship of God relying upon no proper force of its own, should seem to stand in need to be upheld and supported by them whom [...]t ought to sustain and support: but certainly it were a per­fect happinesse, if the Tru [...]h could [Page 63] there be found, where with most se­curity it may be sought and retain­ed: but if it cannot, it ought to be sought for in another place, what danger and perill soever be in­curred.

Of the way to the instruction of pi­ety, and of the wonderfull pains Sa [...]nt Augustine took to find it out.

HAving thus resolved and de­termined these things, which in my opinion are so right and just, that I ought to prevail in that cause with thee, whosoever were against it: I will recount unto thee as well as I can, what course I took to find out the true Religion, when as I sought it with such a mind and re­solution as I have now declared, that it ought to be [...]ought for. When I [Page 64] was departed from thee beyond the Sea, now staggering and doubting what I ought to embrace and what to reject (which doubting daily en­creased in me from the time that I gave ear unto that man, whose coming unto us, was as thou know­est) promised as from heaven, for the resolving of all the difficulties where with we were troubled, and I knew him to be a man like other men, but onely that he was cloquent, I held a great debate and deliberati­on with my self being now in Italy; not whether I should continue in that sect into which I was sorry and grieved that I had faln, but by what means I might find out the truth, for the love whereof thou canst bear me witnesse, how I sighed and groaned. I was often of an opinion that it could not be found out, and the great waves of my thoughts and cogitations moved me to assent [Page 65] to the Academicks. Oftentimes a­gain when I considered as well as I could, that the mind of man is en­dued with such vivacity and natu­rall strength, with such wisdome and sharpnesse of wit, and with such quicknesse of judgement and understanding, I did not think that Tru [...]h could lye hidden and be concealed, but onely that the manner of Seeking it was hid­den and unknown, and that that manner was to be received from some Divine Authority, it re­mained that I should enquire what that Authority was, when as in so great Dissensions and diversi­ty of Opinions every one did pro­mise that he would Teach and de­liver it. Whereupon there oc­curred unto me an intricate Wood or Labyrinth into which it was very tedious and irksome to en­ter; and my mind remaining restl [...]sse [Page 66] am [...]ngst these things, was tos­s [...]d to a [...]d fro with a great desire of finding out the truth: yet never­thelesse by little and little I brake off from their company more and more whom I had already purpo­sed to forsake, and there was no­thing now remaining in so great pe­rils and dangers, but that with tears and pittifull words, I should beseech the Divine Providence to assist and help me; and this I did deliver gent­ly and carefully, and now I was al­most shaken by some disputations had with the Bishop of Millan S. Ambrose, l. 5. conf. c. 14 [...] so that not without some hope I desi­red to enquire many things touching the Old Testament, which (as thou knowest) being discommended and dispraised unto us we abhorred and detested. And I had resolved to re­main so long a Catechumen in the Church unto which I was delivered [Page 67] by my parents, untill I could find out that which I desired, or could perswade my self that it ought not to be sought for. Wherefore if there had been any one then, that could have taught me, he might have found me a most apt schollar and very docible. After this man­ner and with the like care and an­xiety of thy soul thou seest that thou hast been long troubled and afflicted, and if thou seemest to thy self to have been already sufficiently tosse [...], and wouldest make an end of these labours and pains: Follow the way of the Catholick Discipline, which hath proceeded from Christ himself by his Apostles even unto us, and from hence shall descend and be con­veyed to posterity.

Of Credulity.

THou sayest my advice is foolish and ridiculous, seeing that all men do make it their profession to embrace and deliver Catholick do­ctrine. That all Hereticks do pro­fesse this I cannot deny, but after such a manner, that unto those which they entice and allure unto them, they promise to give a reason for the most hidden and mostobscure things: and chiefly for this cause they blame and reprehend the Catholick Church, becau [...]e those that approch and come unto her are commanded to believe: but they glory and boast that they impose not upon their followers the yoke of Faith and Bel [...]eving [...] but o­pen unto them the fountain it self of teaching and instruction. What (sayst thou) could be uttered or spoken [Page 69] more redounding to their praise and commendation? It is not so. This they promise having no power nor ability to perform it, but that by the name and pretence of reason they may winne and allure much compa­ny unto them; for the soul of man naturally rejoyceth at the promise of reason, and not having regard to her own forces and weaknesse, by a desire she hath to eat the meats of those that are in health (which are not prudently given to the infirm) she hastily falls upon the poyson of the deceivers. But as for true Reli­gion it can by no means be well and rightly received without some weighty command and force of au­thority, unlesse those things be first believed, which every one may af­terwards attain unto, and learn if he carries himself well, and be thought worthy of it. Perhaps thou requirest some reason hereof, whereby thou [Page 70] mayst be induced and perswaded to believe that thou oughtest not sooner to be taught by reason, then by Faith and Belief. Which I can easily give unto thee, if thou wilt ac­cept and receive it from me with an equall and impartiall mind. But that it may commodiously be done, I would have thee as it were answer to such questions as I shall propose unto thee. And first of all I would have thee to tell me: why dost thou conceive that we ought not to Be­lieve? Because (sayst thou) credu­lity it self, from whence men are called credulous, seems unto me to be a certain vice, else it would not be a custome to object this name by way of reproch. For if a suspiti­ous man be culpable and faulty, be­cause he suspects things not certain­ly known: much more doth a cre­dulous man deserve to be blamed, who differs herein from a suspitious [Page 71] man, that he that is suspitious ma­keth some doub [...] in unknown things, but he that is credulous makes none at all. In the mean time I admit of this opinion and this distinction; but thou knowest also that we do not say a man is curious but by way of taunt and reproch, but when we call a man studious, we speak it in his praise a [...]d commendation: where­fore if you please, mark what dif­ference you concei [...]e to be between these two. Thou answerest, that although both be moved with a great desire of knowing, yet in this they dif [...]er, that the curious man en­quires after the things that belong not unto him, but the studious on the contrary after his own affairs. But we grant that a wife and children and their welfare do belong unto a man, and therefore if any one being gone a farre off out of his native soile should make a diligent enquiry [Page 72] of those that come from his parts, how his wife and children do, he hath certainly a great desire to know it, and yet we call not this a studious man, although he be desirous to know, and even those things which do chiefly belong and appertain un­to him. Wherefore now thou under­standest that that definition of a studious man is herein defective and imperfect: that every studious man desires to know the things that be­long unto him, but that every man that hath such a desire ought not to be called a studious man; but he who exceedingly seeks after the things which belong to excellent breeding, and to the adorning of the mind, we rightly call (in La­tine) a Student, that is, a desirous man, especially if we adde what he desires to hear. For we call one also studious of his friends, that loves his friends onely: yet neve [...]thelesse we [Page 73] think him not worthy of the com­mon name of studious men without any addition. But one that desires to know how his friends do, I wonld not call him studious or desirous of hearing, unlesse having a good fame and credit he should often desire to hear the same thing, but if he should but once desi [...]e to hear it, I would call him a Student or desiring man. Now reflect upon a curious man, and tell me whether if any one should willingly hear a short tale not conducing at all unto his profit, that is, of things not belonging unto him, and this not with great eager­nesse and often, but very seldome and very modestly, either in some banquet, or in some meeting or as­sembly, wouldest thou think him to be a curious man? I conceive not, but truly he that hath a care of that thing which he would willingly hear might seem indeed to be so. Wherefore [Page 74] the definition also of a curious man ought to be corrected by the same Rule as is that of a studi­ous man. And therefore consider also, whither the things former­ly spoken ought to be amended. For why is he not unworthy of the name of a suspitious man, who sometimes suspecteth something, and he of a credulous man that sometimes believeth something? Wherefore as there is a very great difference between one that is desi­rous of any thing, and one that is altogether studious, and again be­tween one that hath a care of a thing, and one that is curious: so is there between a believing man and a credulous man.

Why cre [...]lity is the way to Religion.

BUt thou wilt say, Now see whi­ther we ought to believe in Re­ligion. For neither if we grant it to be one thing to believe, another to be credulous, doth it follow, that it is no fault to believe in matters of Re­ligion: for what if it be a fault both to believe and to be credulous, as it is both to be drunk and to be a drunkard? whosoever thinks this to be certainly true, can in my opinion have no friend at all. For if it be a thing unreasonable to believe any thing, either he commits a foul fault that gives credit to his friend; or if he believes him not, I see not how he can call himself a friend, or the other. Here peradventure thou wilt say, I grant that something ought some­times to be believed: now declare [Page 76] how in Religion it is not [...] thing un­reasonable to believe any thing be­fore we know it, or understand it. I will if I can. Wherefore I ask thee, which doest thou conceive to be the greater [...]ault, to instruct an unwor­thy person in Religion, or to believe that which is said by the instructours and teachers thereof? if thou under­standest not whom I call an unwor­thy person: such an one I mean as comes to receive and embrace Reli­gion with a feigned and dissembling heart. Thou grantest, as I conceive, that it is a thing more worthy of blame to expound to such an one the holy mysteries of faith, then to give credit to religious men, affirming something of Religion it self. Nei­ther would it become thee to give another answer. Wherefore now ima­gine with thy self, that the man were present who is to in [...]truct thee in point of Religion: how wilt thou [Page 77] make him believe that thou comest with a true and an unfeigned mind, and that thou usest no deceit nor dis­simulation in this businesse? thou wilt say that upon thy good conscience thou feignest nothing, assuring it with all the words thou canst use, but y [...]t with words. For being a man thou caust not so open the corners and se­crets of thy mind to another man, that he may know thee inwardly. And if he shall say: Behold I do believe thee: but is it not more fit that thou also shouldst give credit unto me, seeing that if I hold and embrace any truth, thou art to receive the benefit thereof, and I to impart it? What answer shall we give, but that he ought to be believed? but saist thou, Had it not been be [...]ter to alledge reason unto me, that I might followit without any rashnesse whi­thersoever it should lead me? Per­haps it had been: but seeing that it [Page 78] is so great a matter for thee to know God by reason, doest thou think that all men are capable of understand­ing the reasons whereby the mind of man is led to the knowledge of di­vine things [...] or the greater part of them [...] or but a few? I think, thou sayst but a few. Doest thou believe that thou art in that number? Thou saist, It is not my part to answer to that question. Thou thinkest then that it is his part also to believe thee in this matter: which he doth in­deed. Onely let me put thee in mind, that he hath already twice given credit unto thee, speak [...]g uncertain things: and that thou wouldest not so much as once believe him, whe [...] he religiously warned and admo­nished thee. But suppose this to be so, and that thou comest with a [...]in­cere mind to embrace Religion, and that being one of those few men, thou canst understand the reasons by [Page 79] which the divine power i [...] certainly known [...] doest thou think that Religi­on is to be denied to other men, that have not so great wi [...]s and judge­ments as thou hast? or doest thou conceive that by little and little they ought to be led by certain degrees to those chiefest secrets? thou plainly seest what course of proceeding is the more religious. For thou canst not think that any man ought by any means to be forsaken or rejected in the desire and affection of so great a matter. But art not thou of opinion, that unlesse a man [...]irst beli [...]ves, that he shall attain unto that which he in­tended, and bears an humble and a suppliant mind, and being obedient to certain great and necessary pre­cepts [...] be very w [...]ll purged and made clean by a certain course of life, he cannot otherwise obtain those things that are purely true? indeed thou thinkest so. If then they, who by [Page 80] certain reason can most easily con­ceive the divine mysteries, (one of which sort I believe thee to be) should proceed in this way, wherein those walk that first do believe, would they receive any hu [...]t there­by? I think not. But yet thou saist, what necessity is there of delay? be­cause, although by their proceedings they shall not prejudice themselves at all, yet they will endamage others by their example. For there is hard­ly any one, that hath so high a con­ceit of himself as he can have; and he that thinks too humbly of him­self, ought to be raised up, and he that thinks too high, ought to be repres­sed, that neither the one may be overcome by despair, nor the other cast down headlong by boldnesse and presumption. Which is easily brought to passe, if even those that are able to flie, should a little be en­forced to go, lest any should be dangerously [Page 81] invited thereunto, and there­by also a sufficient care may be had of others. This is the Providence of true Religion: this God himself hath appointed and command [...]d: this hath been delivered by our Prede­cessours of happy m [...]mory, this hath been observed even untill our dayes; to go about to overthrow this order [...] is nothing else but to seek out a sacrilegious way to true Reli­gion. Which whosoever do, cannot attain unto that which they intend; though that be granted them which they desire. For howsoever they sur­passe and excell in wit, unlesse the di­vine Majesty doth aid and assist them, they creep upon the ground. Which assistance he then affords when they that tend and walk to­wards him, have a care to proceed according to the course of humane society. Then which degree and step towards heaven nothing can be found [Page 82] more firm and stable. Verily, such is the force and efficacy of this rea­son, that I cannot re [...]i [...]t it, for how can I say, that nothing ought to be believ­ed unlesse it be known? besides all friendship is taken away unlesse some­thing may be believed which cannot be demonstrated and proved by cer­tain reason: and oftentimes without offence credit may be given to such stewards as are servants to Lords. But in matters of Religion what can be done that is more unreasonable and unjust, then that Gods Prelates should believe us, when we promise that we come to embrace Religion with an unfeigned mind; and we re­fuse to give credit unto them, when they teach and instruct us? Finally, what way can be more wholesome and profitable, then by believing those things which God hath ap­pointed as preparatives for the culti­ [...]ating and adoring the mind to be [Page 83] first disposed, and made fit to un­derstand and receive the truth? or if thou beest already sufficiently dispo­sed thereunto, rather to go a little a­bout, where thou maist walk with the greatest safety, then bo [...]h to be the Authour of danger to thy self, and an example of temerity, and rashnesse unto others.

Of Ʋnderstanding, Belief and Opinion.

VVE have shewed already how without offence we may follow those that command us to believe: it remains that we consi­der for what cause they are not to be followed that promise to conduct and lead us by reason. Some are of opinion that they can [...]earken and give eare to these promisers of rea­son, not onely without any blame or [Page 84] dispraise, but also with some com­mendation and praise; but it is not so, for there be two sorts of persons that deserve praise in point of Reli­gion: the one which hath already found out the true Religion, which we ought to judge most happy and blessed: the other which with the greatest care, and after the rightest manner, doth seek after it: the first sort is now in possession of it, the se­cond is in the way, by which not­withstanding most certainly they will arrive at it. There be three o­ther kinds of men which are indeed to be misliked and detested. The first is, of those that are opinative, that is, who think they know that which they know not. The second is, of those who truly do perceive their own ignorance, but do not so seek that they may find. The third is of those that [...]either think they know, nor have any will or desire to [Page 85] seek. There are also three things in the minds of men, near as it were the one unto the other, most worthy to be distinguished, to understand, to believe, and to think. Of which, if they be considered by themselves, the first is alwaies without offence, the second sometimes faultie, the third never without a fault; and this we ought to reserve to the same beati­tude and felicity. For in this life how much soever a man knows his know­ledge doth not as yet make him most blessed, for that there be in­comparably more things whereof he is ignorant. For to understand great and worthy, and divine things it is a most blessed thing. But it is not hurt full to understand superfluous things, but perhaps it was prejudicial to learn them, when as they took up the time of necessary things. Also it is not a miserable thing to understand hurt­full things, but to do or suffer them. [Page 86] For if any one understands how his enemie may be slain without endan­gering himself he becomes not guil­ty by understanding it, if he desires it not: yea if he be free from such a desire, who is more innocent and guiltlesse then he? In believing a man is then to blame, when either he believes some unworthy thing of God, or gives too facile and easie credit unto the things reported of man. But in other things, if a man believes any thing, he commits no fault by believing, though he under­stands that he knows not the thing which he believes. For I believe that in times past, most wicked conspira­tours were put to death by the power and authority of Cicero: but this I do not onely not know, but also I know assuredly that I can by no means attain unto the knowledge thereof, To be opinative or to be led by opinion, is for two causes an unseemly [Page 87] thing: First, because he can­not learn a thing [...] if it be to be learn­ed, that hath perswaded himself that he knows it already. And secondly, for that rashnesse is of itself a sign or token of an ill disposed minde. For although any one thinks that he knows that which I said touching Cicero (as there is nothing that can hinder him from learning it) yet be­cause he can have no certain know­ledge of it, and for that he under­stands not, That there is a great dif­ference, whither any thing be com­prehended by certain reason of mind, which we say is to understand, or whither it be committed to common fame or writing, to be profitably believed by posterity, he erres in­deed; and there is no errour but hath its foulnesse and deformity. Where­fore that we understand we attribute it to reason: that we believe, to au­thority; and that we are opinative, [Page 88] to errour and mistaking: but eve­ry one that understands doth also believe: and so doth every one that is opinative: but not every one that beli [...]ves, understands: and no man understands that is opinative. If therefore these three kinds be refer­red to those five sorts of men where­of we made mention a little before, to wit, to the two approved kinds which we put in the first place, and to the other three vicious kinds; we find that the first kind (which is those that are happy) doth believe truth it self: and that the second kind (which is those that are desi­rous and lovers of truth) doth be­lieve authority: in both which kinds the believers deserve praise. But in the first of the vicious kinds (that is of those that think they know that which they know not) there is in­deed a faulty credulity. The other two disallo [...]ed kinds (that is, both [Page 89] those that seek after truth with a de­spair of finding it out, and they that seek not after it) do believe nothing; and this is onely in things belonging to some doctrine or discipline, for how a man can believe nothing in the other actions of his life I under­stand not. Albeit even amongst those that affirm that in their actions they follow probable opinions, some there be that will seem rather not a­ble to know any thing, then to be­lieve nothing. For who doth not be­lieve that which he doth approve? Or how is that which they follow profitable, if it be not approved? Wherefore there may be two kinds of those that oppose the truth: the one that opposeth knowledge onely, and not faith: the other that con­demneth both the one and the other. But whither any can be found that use such proceedings in humane af­ [...]airs, I am wholly ignorant. These [Page 90] things are spoken that we may un­derstand, that believing the things which we do not as yet fully know nor understand, we are vindicated and defended from the rashnesse and temerity of opinative men. As for them that say that we ought to be­lieve nothing, but that which we k [...]ow, they have [...]nely regard to the name of opinion, which I con­fesse is but base and ignominious: but if any one will consider atten­tively, that there is a very great dif­ference between these two things, whither a man thinks that he knows a thing, or whither being moved by some authority, he believes that which he understands that he knows not, he shall certainly shun and a­void the crime both of errour, inhu­manity and pride.


S. A [...]g [...]stine in his first book [Page 92] of Retractations and fourteenth Chapter, would have those words. (The one which hath already found out the true Religion which we ought to judge most happy a [...]d most blessed) so to be understood, that they are most blessed not in this life, b [...]t in that which we hope for, and unto which we go by the way of Faith, for (saith he) they are to be conceived to have found out that which is to be sought for, who are there already [...] whither we by seeking and believing [...] that is by embracing the way of Faith do desire to arrive.

And again he affirms that those words: To understand great and worthy and divine things, it is a most blessed thing [...] ought to be re­ferred to eternall beatitude.

And upon these words: (There is a great difference whither any thing be comprehended by certain reason of mind, which we [...]ay, is [Page 92] to understand: or whither it be committed to common fame, or writing to be pro [...]itably believed by posterity;) and upon these: (That we understand we attribute it to rea­son: that we believe to authority) he maketh this explication: This is not so to be understood that in com­mon discourse we should be afraid to say we know that which we be­li [...]ve by credible witnesses, for when [...]e speak properly, we are onely said to kuow that which we com­prehend by firm reason of mind. But when we speak with words more fit to be commonly used, as the Scripture also speaketh, we make no doubt to say, that we know both that which we perceive by our corporall senses, and which we believe upon the report of cre­dible witnesses, but yet so that we understand what difference there is between the one and the other.

That it is the safest way to Be­lieve Wise men.

IF that which is not known ought not to be believed, I ask then how can children obey parents and embrace them with mutuall love and affection, whom they may be­lieve not to be their parents; for that who is their father, it cannot be known by reason, but it is believed upon the word and authority of the Mother: and as for the Mother, she often is not believed, but Mid­wives, Nurses and Servants: For if her child may be stoln from her and another put in the place, cannot she deceive being deceived? and yet not­withstanding we believe, and that without any doubt and staggering at all, that which we confesse we cannot know: and unlesse this were [Page 94] so, who sees not but that Piety the most holy tye and bond of man­kind would be violated and defiled by a most proud wickednesse and offence? For who, though he be a mad man, can think him worthy of blame, who doth perform his obli­ged duties unto those whom he be­hev [...]s to be his parents, although in­deed they were not? On the co [...] ­trary who will not think fit to have him cast out of the society of men, who will not love those which per­haps are his true parents, for fear les [...] he should love those that are false ones? Many arguments may be brought to shew that nothing at all remains safe and secure in humane society if once we are resolved to believ [...] nothing whi [...]h we cannot know nor understand. But now hear tha [...] whereby I am confident I shall at the present more easily draw and perswade thee, that seein [...] the question [Page 95] is concerning Religion, that is about the worship of God, and the knowledge of Divine things) those are les [...]e to be followed, and heark­ned unto, who most readily promi­sing reason, do forbid and prohibite us to believe. No man doubts, but that all men are either fools or wise men; I call not those wisemen here, that are prudent, ingenious, and witty but those that are endued with as firm and certain a knowledge both of Divine and Huma [...]e things as man is capable to receive and do lead their lives and frame their man­ners conformable thereunto: but as for others, how learned or unlearn­ed soever they be [...] or whither they deserve to be praised or d [...]spraised for the manner of their lives [...] I re­pute and account them in the num­ber of fools: which being so, what man, though but of a slender under­standing doth not plainly see, that [Page 96] it is more wholesome and profita­ble for fools to obey the precepts and commands of wise men, then to frame and order their lives accor­ding to their own judgements and fancies? For every thing that is done, if it be not rightly done, it is a fault: nor can any thing be by any means rightly done, which doth not flow and proceed from right reason; now right reason is virtue it self; But amongst what sorts of men is virtue to be found, but in the mind of a wise man? wherefore the wiseman onely offends not; but every fool offends, unlesse it be in those actions wherein he doth obey a wise man; for such actions do pro­ceed from right reason [...] nor is the fool to be accounred Master (as I may say) of his own actions [...] he be­ing as it were but the instrument or servant of the wise man. Where­fore if it be better for all men not to [Page 97] offend then to offend [...] verily [...]l fools would live better if they could be servants to wise men. And if this without doubt be [...]t and expedient in things of lesse moment, as in buy­ing or tilling a field, in marrying a wi [...]e, in the education and breeding of children, and finally in the man­agi [...]g of private affairs: much more is it expedient in matters of Rel [...]gi­on. For Hu [...]ane things are both more easie to be known then Di­vine: and in all things that are more holy and more exce [...]lent, we sinne so much the more g [...]ievously and dangerously [...] by how much we ow [...] unto them a greater honour, re­verence and re [...]pect. Wherefore thou [...]st that from hence forth there remains nothing more for us to do, so long as we are fools [...] but, if we desire to lead a good and a religi­ous life, to seek out wi [...]e and pru­dent men, that by obeying of them [Page 98] we may not so much feel the domi­nion of [...]olly, whilst it is in us, and at the length we may become wise men our selves.

An Observation.

S. Augustine in his first book of Retractions, and fourteenth cha­pter advertiseth that his division of men into wise men and fools, is to be understood of men after they come to the use of reason, whereby they are distinguished from beasts, as we say all men desire to be bles­sed, wherein little children cannot be included for they cannot yet de­ [...]ire it.

That Religion takes her beginning from Believing.

HEre again ariseth a questio [...] of great difficulty: for how [Page 99] shall we that are fools be able to find out a wise man, [...]eeing that di­vers do indifferently challenge that name unto themselves, although al­most none dare presume to do it o­penly, when as they do so disagree amongst themselves about those things, in the knowledge whereof wisdome doth consist, that it is ne­cessary to think that either none of them are wise men, or that there is but one certain wiseman. But when a fool enquires who that is, truly I s [...]e not by what means he can be plainly discerned and perce [...]ved: for a man cannot know any thing by any signs whatsoever, unlesse he knows the thing it self, whereof these be the signs; but a fool knows not wisdome. For wisdome is not like gold and silver and such like things, wh [...]ch thou mayest both know when thou seest, and yet not enjoy and possesse them: he that [Page 100] wants wisdome cannot see nor be­hold it with the eye of his mind: for all the things which we perceive with our corporall senses, are out­wardly proposed and presented unto us; and therefore we may behold strange and externall things with our eyes albeit we have not any of the things, nor any thing of that kind: but that which is perceived by the understanding [...] is inwardly in the mind, and it i [...] nothing el [...]e to have it, but to see and behold it. But a fool wants wisdome, and therefore knowes it not, for he cannot see it with his eyes; for he cannot see it and not have it: and he cannot have it and still continue and remain a fool: wherefore he knows it not, and whilst he knows it not, he cannot know it in another place: and there­fore no man so long as he remains a fool, can by most certain knowledge find out a wise man, by obeying of [Page 101] whose precepts and commands he may be freed from so great an ev [...]l as folly is. Now it is God onely that can give satisfaction to this mighty difficulty, and afford remedy for this g [...]eat evil; and because our que­stion is [...]bout Religion, unlesse we both believe that there is a God, and that he gives assistance to hu­mane minds, we ought not indeed to inquire and seek for true Religion. For what do we desire to find out at length by so great an endeavour? What wish we to attain unto? Whither do we long to arrive? Is it unto that thing which we believe not to have a being nor to belong and appertain unto us? Nothing is more perverse then such a mind. When thou durst no [...] beg a favour of me [...] or with impudence durst crave one dost thou come to demand how Religion may be found out, when thou thinkest not that there is a God. [Page 102] and that we care not whither there be any or no? What if it be so great a matter [...] that unlesse it be diligently sought for, and with all might and power it cannot be found out? What if the extream difficulty of finding out the meaning and understanding of that which shall be found out doth vex and trouble the mind of the seeker? For what is more plea­sant and familiar to our eyes, then this light is? and yet a [...]ter long ob­scurity and darknesse they cannot endure it. What is more fit and commodious for a body that is con­sumed and exhausted with sicknesse, then meat and drink? Yet we see that those that are upon recovery are restrained and kept back that they may not pres [...]me to feed so plentifully as well men do, lest by a full diet they should return to their former di [...]ease. I speak of those that are recovering their health: but [Page 103] what do we not enforce the sick men themselves to eat something? which is so great a trouble unto them, that certainly they would not obey us [...] did they not believe that they shall escape that sicknesse thereby. When therefore wilt thou settle thy self to a most painfull and labo [...]ious search? When wilt thou adventure to take so great care and labour upon thee, as this businesse doth deserve, when as thou dost not believe that there is any such thing as that which thou seekest? Wherefore it was rightly instituted and ordained by the ma­jesty of Catholick discipline, that before all things they should be in­duced and perswaded to believe, that come to receive and embrace Re­ligion.

That Christ himself chiefly exa­cted belief.

SEeing my discourse is concerning th [...]se that desire to be called Christians [...] I pray tell me what rea­son can that heretick alledge unto me? What can he say to draw me from Believing, as from a rash and incons [...]de [...]ate thing? If he com­mands me to believe nothing [...] then do I not believe that there [...]s any true Religion in the world: and becau [...]e [...] do not believe that there is [...]ny s [...]ch thing, I do not [...]eek after it. But he (as conceive) will sh [...]w it to the [...]eeker; For so it is written: He that seeks shall find. [...]here [...]ore I would not c [...]m [...] to him that [...]or­bids me to b [...]lieve, unlesse I believed something. [...]s there any greater madnesse, then that I should displease [Page 105] them onely with a belief which is supported by no know­ledge [...] a [...]d yet that belief alone ha [...]h b [...]o [...]ght me to the [...]elf same man? What shall I say [...] but that all He­reticks do exhort us to believe Christ? Can they be mo [...]e oppo [...]ite and con­trary to themselves? Wherein they are to be pressed two manner of way [...]s. First they are to be asked, where is the reason which they pro­mised, where the re [...]hension and blaming of rashnesse where the pre­sumption of science and knowledge? for if it be an ab [...]u [...]d thing to be [...]eve anyone without reason w [...]y [...] expect [...] why dost thou go [...] to have me believe any one without [...]ea­son that I may [...]o [...]e easi [...]y [...] by thy reaso [...]? [...]ill thy rea [...]n bu [...]d any thi [...]g that is firm & stable upon t [...]e foundation of temer [...]y & [...]ashnesse? I speak according to [...]hem whom we discontent & di [...]please by believing. [Page 106] For to believe before reason, when thou art not yet fit to conceive and understand it, and by faith it self to prepare the mind to receive the seeds of verity and truth, I judge it to be not onely a most wholsome and profitable thing, but also so necessary, that tho [...]e that have sick and feeble minds cannot recover their healths without it: which be­cause they conceive to be a ridicu­lous thing and full of rashnesse, it is impudently done of them to per­swade and exhort us to believe Christ. Moreover, I confesse that I have already believed Christ, and have p [...]rswaded my self, that that is true which he hath said [...] although this my belief be supported by no reason. This is the first lesson O heretick which thou wilt teach me; but becau [...]e I have not seen Christ himself, how he vouchsafed to ap­pear amongst men, who is publickly [Page 107] reported to have been seen even by the eyes of common people give me leave a little to consider with my self upon whose words I have belie­ved, that there was a Christ, that being already guarded and fortified by such a faith, I may give ear and hearken unto thee; I perceive that I believed and gave credit unto none, but to a setled and confirmed opini­on, and to a most renowned fame and report of people and nations: these people also I see in all places to be in possession of the secrets and mysteries of the Catholick Church. Why shall not I then chiefly en­quire of them diligently what Christ hath commanded [...] by whose autho­rity being moved, I have already believed that Christ hath comman­ded some profitable thing? Wilt thou better expound unto me what [...] Christ hath [...]aid? whom I would not think to have been, or now to be, [Page 108] if thou didst recommend it unto me to be believed. This therefore (as I said) have I believed upon a famous report of men, confirmed with consent and antiquity: but you who a [...]e both so few, and so turbu­lent, and so new, it is certain you can produce and bring forth nothing which may de [...]erve c [...]edit and be­lief. And therefore what a madnesse is this in thee (to say) Be [...]ieve them (the known multitude of Christen­dome) that we ought to be [...]ieve Christ, but learn of us (Maniche­ans) what Christ hath said: Why so I beseech thee? Verily [...] if that known multitude should fail [...] and could teach me nothing: I shou [...]d much more easily per [...]wade my self, tha [...] [...] ought not to believe Ch [...]ist at all then that [...] ought to believe a­ny thing concerning him of any o­thers bnt o [...] tho [...]e by whose means I first believed him. O migh [...]y confidence, [Page 109] or rather folly! I will (sayst thou) teach thee what Christ hath commanded, in whom thou art already perswaded to believe. What if I did not believe in him at all, couldest thou teach me any thing concerning him? But (sayst thou) it behooves thee to believe. What, upon your warrant and recommen­dation? No (sayst thou) for we do by reason lead those which do al­re [...]dy believe in Christ. Why then shall I believe in him? Because it is a grounded report [...] was it groun­ded upon you, or upon others? Upon others sayst thou. Shall I believe them first, and be afterwards taught an [...] instructed by thee? Peradven­ture [...] ought to do so, were I not a­bove all things admonished by them not to come at all unto t [...]ee: for they say that you h [...]ld pernicious doctrines. Thou wilt answer [...] they lie. How [...]hen may I believe them [Page 110] concerning Christ whom they have not seen: if I may not believe them concerning thee whom they will not see? Here sayest thou, Believe the Scriptures. But all Scripture, if being new and unheard of, it be alledged or commended but by a few [...] and hath no reason to confirm it, receives no credit nor authority at all, but those that alledge it: wherefore if you that are so few and unknown commend those Scriptures unto me, I refuse to believe them: besides al­so you proceed against your pro­mise, rather by commanding belief, then giving any reason thereof. Here again (for the authority of Scri­ptures) thou wilt call me back to the known multitude of Christendome, and to common report. Restrain at length thy obstinacy, and I know not what unruly appetite of world­ly fame: and rather admonish me to seek out the chief rulers of this [Page 111] known multitude, and to enquire for them diligently and painfully, that rather I may learn something of them touching these Scriptures: who if they were not I should not know whither any thing ought to be learnt at all or no. As for thee, re­turn into thy corner and lurking­hole, and delude us no more under a shew and pretence of truth, which thou endeavourest to take away from them, unto whom thou grante [...] au­thority and credit: and if they also deny, that we ought not to believe Christ [...] unlesse an undoubted reason can be rendred thereof, they are not Christians. For certain Pagans do alledge that against us, foolishly in­deed, but yet not contrary nor repu­gnant to themselves. But who can endure that those men should pro­fesse that they belong to Christ, who strongly asfirm that nothing ought to be believed, unlesse most [Page 112] evident reason can be given even un­to fools, concerning God and divine matters? But we see that Christ himself (as that history teacheth which they also believe) desired no­thing more principally, nor more earnestly then that he might be cre­dited and believed: when as they with whom he was to treat about those affairs were not yet fit to learn and conceive the divine mysteries. For to what other purpose did he work so great and so many mira­cles, he himself also affirming that they were done for no other end but that men might give credit and beliefe unto him? He led the simple sort of people by belief: you lead them by reason: he cryed out that he might be believed you cry out against it: he commended those that did believe, you blame and re­prehend them. But unlesse he had turned water into wine, to omit his [Page 113] other miracles, could men have been brought to follow him, if he had done no such things [...] but onely taught and instructed them? Or is that word of his not to be regarded: 1 Joh. 14. 1. Believe God and be­lieve me: Or is he to be blamed for rashnesse in belief, who would not have Christ come into his house, because he b [...]lieved that by h [...]s com­mand onely his sick sonne conld be cu [...]ed? Mat. 8. 8. He therefore br nging a medicine which was to cu [...] [...]he most corrupt manners, did by m [...]racles w [...]nne authority [...] by au­thor [...]y deserved belief, by belief dr [...]w [...]ge [...]her a mult [...]ud [...] by a mul­t [...]ude ob [...]ained an [...]qu [...]ty b [...] antiqui­ty st [...]ngthened and confirmed Reli­g [...]on: wh [...]ch no [...] onely [...]h [...] most foolish novelty of h [...]re [...]icks endeavouring by dec [...]s but ne [...]her the antient er­rour of the Gentlies being vio [...]ntly ben [...] against it could in any part a­bolish or destroy.

Of the most cemmodious way to Religion.

VVHerefore albeit I am [...]ot able to teach thee, yet do I not cease to warn and admo­nish thee, that (because many men will seem to be wi [...]e, and it is not ea­sie to discern whither they be fools or no) thou beseechest the divine Majesty with very much earnest­nesse and fervent desires with sighs and sobs, or al [...]o (if it be possible) with weeping and tears [...] to free and deliver thee from the evil of errour, if thou desirest to lead a blessed and an happy life. Which may more ea­sily be brought to passe, if thou wilt willingly obey his commands which he hath been pleased to have confirmed and strengthened by so great an authority of the Catholick [Page 115] Church. For seeing that a wise man is by his mind so united unto God that nothing is interposed and set be­tween them, which may divide and separate them, (for God is truth, and no man is to be accounted a wise man that doth not attain to the knowledge of truth) we cannot deny but that the wisdome of man is interposed as a certain medium be­tween his folly and the most sincere truth of the Divine Majesty. For a wi [...]e man according to the ability which he hath received, doth imi­tate God: and a fool hath nothing nearer unto him which he may pro­fitably imitate and follow [...] then a wise man: when because (as I said) it is not easie to understand by rea­son, it was necessary that certain mi­racles should be proposed and set before mens eyes (which fools do use much more commodiously then their unde [...]standings) to the end that [Page 116] the life and manners of men moved with authority, m [...]g [...]t first be pur­ged and made clean [...] and so they m [...]ght be enabled to understand rea­son. And therefore when as man was to be imitated, and yet no con­fidence to be placed in him: how could the Divine Majesty shew greater signs of his favour and libe­rality th [...]n that the sincere eternall, and uncha [...]ge [...]ble wisdome of God, unto whom it behoves us to cleave and adhere should vouchsafe to take hum [...]ne nature upon him? who did no [...] onely do those things, which m [...]ght serve to invite us to follow G [...]d: but did al [...]o endure and suf­fer those things, whereby we were discourag [...]d from following of him. For whereas no man can ob [...]ain the most ce [...]tain and chiefest good, un­lesse he doth fully and pe [...]fectly love it, (which by no means will be brought to passe so long as men fear [Page 117] the miseries of the body, and the things that [...]re subject to fortune and chance) he by his wonderfull birth and admirable wo [...]ks hath purcha­sed for us love and charity: and hath excluded terrour and fear by his death and resurrection. And final­ly he hath shewed himself to be such an one in all other things (too long to be here expressed and set down) that we may know and perceive hereby how farre the divine clemen­cy can reach and be extended [...] and how farre mans infirmity can be ele­vated and extolled.

That M [...]racles do procure Belief.

THis, believe it, is a most whole­some authority: this at the first is a withdrawing of our minds from an earthly habitation: this is a con­version from the love of this world [Page 118] to the true God. It is onely authority which move [...]h fools to make haste unto wisdome. So long as we can­not understand sincere things, it is indeed a miserable thing to be de­ceived by authority: but truly it is more miserable, not to be moved thereby. For if the Divine Provi­dence doth not rule and govern hu­mane affairs, we ought not to busie and trouble our selves about Religi­on: but if even the frame and spe­cies of all things, which we must believe proceeds and flows from some fountain of the truest beauty, doth as it were publickly and pri­vately exhort all the more noble and braver spirits both to seek God, in I know not what inward conscience and to serve him: we ought not to despair [...] but that the same God hath constituted and ordained some au­thority [...] upon which if we lean and rely as upon a sure step, we may be [Page 119] elevated and lifted up unto him. This authority, (reason being set a­side, which to understand to be true and sincere, it is a very hard matter for fools to do, as I have often said) doth move and excite us two manner of wayes: partly by miracles, and partly by the great number and mul­titude of followers. It is certain that a wise man needs none of these things, but now we are discoursing how we may become wise men, that is, how we may cleave and adhere unto the truth: which is a thing that doubtlesse cannot be done with a foul and impure mind: the unclean­nesse whereof, is (to expound it briefly) the love of all things what­soever besides it self and God: from which fi [...]th by how much any one is more purged and cleansed, by so much the more easily doth he be­hold the truth. And therefore to de­sire to see the truth that thou mayst [Page 120] cleanse the mind, when therefore it ought to be cleansed, that thou may­est see the truth, is certainly a per­verse and a preposterous thing. Wherefore to a man that is not able to behold the truth that he may be made fit to see it, and may suffer himself to be purged and cleansed, authority is at hand, which without doubt receives her str [...]ngth and vi­gour partly by miracles, and partly by the number and multitude of fol­lowers, as I said a little before. A miracle I call any hard or unwonted thing whatsoever, which appears a­bove the expectation and power of the wonderer. In which kind no­thing is more fit for the common people, and for men that are abso­lutely [...]ottish and foolish, then that wh [...]ch is applyed and proposed to the senses. But these again are di­vided into two sorts: for some there be that onely move men to wonder [Page 121] and admiration: and others which besides do winne and purchase great favour and good will. For if any one should see a man fly, he would onely wonder at it, because it is a thing which besides the beholding of it, yields to the spectatour no com­modity nor profit. But if any one being afflicted with a grievous and desperate sicknesse, shall so soon as the disease is commanded to depart, recover his health, he shall overcome the wonder of the cure by the chari­ty of the curer. Such things were done as many as were sufficient, when God appeared to men in the shape of a true man: The sick were cured, Mat. 9. 6, 13, 15, 16. Mat. 9. 7, 22. Mar. 3. 5, 10. Joh. 4. 53. the leaprous were cleansed; Mat. 8. 3. Mar. 4, 2. Luke 5. 3. & 7. 22. go­ing was restored to the lame, Mat. 11. 5. sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf, Luke 18. 42. Joh, 9. 7 [...] [Page 122] The men of that time saw water turned into wine, Joh. 2. 9. five thousand people filled with five loaves of bread, Mat. 14. 20, 21. men walking upon the sea [...] Mat. 14. 25. Joh. 6. 19. & 21. 7. and the dead rising from death to life, Luke 7. 15. & 8. 55. So some miracles were done for the cure of the body by a more manifest benefit, and some for the cure of the soul by a more hidden sign, but they were all for the help of mankind by the testimony of the Divine Majesty: thus did the Divine Majesty then draw unto it the straying souls of mortall men. Why (sayst thou) are not these things done now? Because they would not move unlesse they were wonderfull, and if they were common and usuall they were no [...] wonderfull. For bring unto me a man when he first sees the courses of day and night, and the m [...]st constant order of celestiall [Page 123] things, the 4. cha [...]ges of the yeare, the falling and returning of the leeves unto the trees, the infinite vertue of seeds, the beauty of light, the va­rieties of colours, sounds, smels and tasts, and if wee can but speak with him, we shall find him wholly astonished, and quite overcome with the sight of these miracles: and yet we despise and we make and account of al these things, not because they are easily known (for what is more ob­scure then the causes of them?) but for that we are accustomed frequent­ly to see them [...] those things are there­fore most fitly done, that a multi­tude of beleevers being gathered to­gether and propagated by them [...] pro­fitable authority might be co [...]verted into customes themselves.

An observation.

S. Augustine in his first book of his Retractations and 14. Chapter [Page 124] alledgeth these words: (why sayst thou) are not these things done now? because they would not move, un­lesse they were wonderfull, and if they were common and usuall, they were not wonderfull) and expounds them thus: This I said because not so great nor all miracles are done now, but not that none are also now done.

The Co [...]sent of Nations beleeving in Christ.

ALl customes have such vertue power to winn the love and affection of men, that we sooner can condemne and detest even the things that are naught and wicked in them then forsake or change them: and this for the most part comes to passe, when as our unlawfull appetites and deseres have gotten a dominion and [Page 125] predominancy over us: doest not thou think that great care hath been taken about the affaires of man­kinde, and that they are put into a good state and condition, that not on­ly divins most learned men doe argue and contend, that nothing that is earthly, nothing that is fierie finally, nothing that is perceptible by the corporall senses ought to be wor­shipped [...]nd adored for God, but that he is to be prayed unto, entreated and supplicated only by the under­standing or intellectuall power: but also that the unskilfull multitude of both sexes doth in so many and so divers nations both beleeve it and publish it? that there is continency and forbearance of meates, even to the most slender diet of bread and wa­ter, and fastings, not for one day on­ly, but also continued for divers dayes together [...] that there is cha­stity even to the contempt of marriage [Page 126] and issue: that there is pa­tience even to the contemning of crosses and flames: that there is li­berality even to the distribution of patrimonies to the poore: and finally, so great a disesteeme and contempt of all things that are in this world, that even death it self is wished and desired. Few there are that do these things, fewer that doe them well and prudently: yet the people doe approve them, hearken unto them, and like them: yea they love and affect them; and not without some progresse of their mindes tow­ards God, and certain sparks of piety and vertue, they blame and re­prehend their owne weakenesse and imbecillity that they cannot doe these things. This the divine Pro­vidence hath brought to passe by the predictions of the Prophets, by the humanity and doctrin of Christ, by the voyages of the Apostles, by [Page 127] the contumelies, crosses, bloud and death of Martyrs, by the laudable and excellent lives of Saints, and by miracles done at convenient times in all these things worthy of so great matters and vertues. When as there­fore we see so great help and affi­ [...]tance from God, and so great fruit and entrease thereby, shall we make any doubt or question at all of retyr­ing into the besome of that Church, which even to the confession and acknowledgement of mankinde from the Sea Apostolike by succession of Bishops [...] hath obtained the sove [...]eign­ty and principall authority, heretiks in vain barking round about it, and being condemned partly by the judge­ment of the people themselves, part­ly by the gravity of Councels, partly also by the majesty and splendour of miracles? Unto which not to graunt the chiefe place and preheminence, is either indeede an extreme impiety, [Page 128] or a very rash and a dangerous arro­gancy, for if there be no certain way for the minds of men to wisdome and salvation, but when faith pre­pareth and disposeth them to reason; what is it else to be ungraetfull unto the divine Majesty for his aide and assistance, but to have a will to re­sist an authority which was gained and purchased with such labour and paines? And if [...]very art and trade, though but base and easy, requires a teacher or master that it may be learned and understood: what greater expression can there be of rash ar­rogancy and pride, then both to have no minde to learne the books of the divine mysteries from their interpreters and yet to have a minde to condemne the unknown.

The Conclusion by way of ex­hortation,

VVHerefore if either reason or our discourse hath any wayes moved thee: and if thou hast a true care of thy self (as I beleeve thou hast) I would have thee to hearken and give eare unto me, and with a pious faith, a cheerefull hope, and [...]incere charity to addresse thy self to good Masters of Catholick Christianity: and to pray unto God without ceasing and intermission: by whose only goodnesse we were made and created, by whose justice we are punished and chastized, and by whose clemency we are freed and redeemd, by which means thou shalt neither want the instructions and disputations of most learned men, and those that are truly Christian, [Page 130] nor books, nor cleare and quiet thoughts, whereby thou mayst easily find that which thou seekest. And as for those verball and wret­ched men (for how can I speak [...] more mildly of them) forsake them altogether: who found out nothing but mischiefe and evill, whilst they seek to much for the ground thereof. In which question they stirre up of­tentimes their hearers to enquire and search, but they teach them those things when they are stirred up, that it were better for them alwayes to sleep, then to watch and take great pains after that manner, for they drive them out of a lethargy or drowsy evill and make them fran­tike: between which discases, whereas both are most commonly mortall: yet neverthelesse there is this diffe­rence, that those that are sicke of a l [...]thargy doe die without troubling or molesting others: but the frautike [Page 131] man is dreadfull and terrible un­to many, and unto those especially that seek to assist him. For neither is God the author of evill, nor hath it ever repented him to have made any thing, nor is he troubled with a storme of any commotion or stirring of the minde, nor is a particle or piece of earth his kingdome: he neither approves nor commands any heinous crimes or offences, he never lies. For these and such like things did move and trouble us, when they did strongly oppose them and in­veigh against them, and fained this to be the doctrine of the old Testa­ment which is a most absolute fal­shood and untruth. Wherefore I graunt that they doe rightly blame and reprehend those things. What then have I learned? what thinkest thou, but that when they reprove those things, the Catholike doctrine is not reprehended? so that the truth [Page 132] which I learned amongst them, I hold and reteyne: and that which I conceived to be false and untrue, I refuse and reject but the Catholick Church hath also taught me many other things, whereunto those men being pale and without bloud in their bodies, both grosse and heavy in their understandings cannot aspire, namely that God hath no body, that no part of him can be perceived by corporall eyes, that nothing of his substance and his nature is any wayes violable or changeable, or compounded or framed, which things if thou grauntest me to be true (as w [...]e ought not to frame any other conceit of the divine Majesty) all their subtle devises and shifts are subverted and overthrown. But how it can be, that God hath nei­ther caused nor done any evill, and that [...]here neither is, nor ever hath been any nature and substance, which [Page 133] he hath not either produced or made, and yet that he frees and delivers us from evill, is a thing approved upon so necessarie reasons and grounds, that no doubt at all can be made thereof: especially by thee and such as thou art, if so be that to their good wits they joyne piety, and a certaine peace and tranquillity of a minde, without which nothing at all of so great matters can be con­ceived and understood, and here is no report of great and large promises made to no purpose, and of I know not what Persian fable, a tale more fit to be told to Children then to ingeni [...]us and witty men, and as for truth it is a farre other thing then the Manichees do foolishly imagine and conceive, but because I have made a farre longer discourse then I thought to have done, let me here end this booke: wherein I would have thee to remember that I have [Page 134] not yet begun to refute the Mani­chees, and impugne those toyes: nor to have expounded any great mat­ter of the Catholick doctrine, but that my only intent was to have rooted out of thee if I could, the false opinion of true Christians which hath been malitiously or unskilfully in [...]inuated unto us, and to stirre thee up to the learning of certaine great and divine things. Wherefore I will put a period to this worke: and if it makes thy mind more quiet and contented I shall peradventure be more ready to serve thee in other things.


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