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at least tedious; and therefore I shall impose upon my reader no more than two, which shall immediately follow, and by which he may judge of the rest.
Mr. Travers excepted against Mr. Hooker, for that in one of his sermons he declared, 66 That the assurance of what we believed by the word of God is not to us so certain as that which we perceive by sense. And Mr. Hooker confesseth he said so, and endeavours to justify it by the reasons fol-lowing:
« First; I taught, that the things which God promises in his Word are not surer than what we touch, handle, or see: but are we so sure and certain of them? If we be, why doth God so often prove his promises to us as he doth, by arguments drawn from our sensible experience? For we must be surer of the proof than of the things proved : otherwise it is no proof. For example; how is it that many men, looking on the moon at the same time, every one knoweth it to be the moon as certainly as the other doth? But many believing one and the same promise, have not all one and the same fulness of persuasion. For how falleth it out, that men being assured of any thing by sense, can be no surer of it than they are; when as the strongest in faith that liveth upon the earth hath always need to labour, strive, and pray, that his assurance concerning heavenly and spiritual things may grow,
increase, and be augmented ?” The sermon,
him the cause of this his justification, makes the case more plain by declaring, 6. That there is, besides this certainty of evidence, a certainty of adherence.” In which having most excellently demonstrated what the certainty of adherence is, he makes this comfortable use of it: “ Comfortable (he says) as to weak believers, who suppose themselves to be faithless, not to believe,
when notwithstanding they have their adherence; the Holy Spirit hath his private operations, and worketh secretly in them, and effectually too, though they want the inward testimony of it.”
Tell this, saith he, to a man that hath a mind too much dejected by a sad sense of his sin; to one that, by a too severe judging of himself, concludes that he wants faith, because he wants the comfortable assurance of it; and his answer will be, “Do not persuade me against my knowledge, against what I find and feel in myself: I do not, I know I do not believe.” (Mr. Hooker's own words follow.) 66 Well then, to favour such men a little in their weakness, let that be granted which they do imagine ; be it, that they adhere not to God's promises, but are faithless, and without belief: but are they not grieved for their unbelief? They confess they are ; do they not wish it might, and also strive that it may be otherwise? We know they do. Whence cometh this, but from a secret love and liking, that they have of those things believed? For no man can love those things which in his own opinion are not; and if they think those things to be, which they show they love, when they desire to believe them; then must it be, that by desiring to believe, they prove themselves true believers : for without faith, no man thinketh that things believed are: which argument all the subtilties
of infernal powers will never be able to dissolve.” This is an abridgment of part of the reasons Mr. Hooker gives for his justification of this his opinion, for which he was excepted against by Mr. Travers.
Mr. Hooker was also accused by Mr. Travers, for that he in one of his sermons had declared, 6. That he doubted not but that God was merciful to many of our forefathers living in Popish superstition, forasmuch as they sinned ignorantly;" and Mr. Hooker in his answer professeth it to be his
judgment, and declares his reason for this charitable opinion to be as followeth.
But first, he states the question about justification and works, and how the foundation of faith without works is overthrown; and then he proceeds to discover that way which natural men and some others have mistaken to be the way, by which they hope to attain true and everlasting happiness; and having discovered the mistaken, he proceeds to direct to that true way, by which, and no other, everlasting life and blessedness is attainable. And these two ways he demonstrates thus: (they be his own words that follow :) “ That, the way of nature; this, the way of grace; the end of that way, salvation merited, presupposing the righteousness of men's works; their righteousness, a natural ability to do them; that ability, the goodness of God, which created them in such perfection. But the end of this way, salvation bestowed upon men as a gift: presupposing not their righteousness, but the forgiveness of their unrighteousness, justification: their justification, not their natural ability to do good, but their hearty sorrow for not doing, and unfeigned belief in him, for whose sake not doers are accepted, which is their vocation; their vocation, the election of God, taking them out of the number of lost chil. dren; their election, a Mediator in whom to be elected; this mediation, inexplicable mercy; this mercy, supposing their misery for whom he vouchsafed to die, and make himself a Mediator."
And he also declareth, " There is no meritorious cause for our justification, but Christ; no effectual, but his mercy;" and says also, “We deny the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; we abuse, disannul, and annihilate the benefit of his passion, if by a proud imagination we believe we can merit everlasting life, or can be worthy of it.” This belief, he declareth, is to destroy the very essence of our justification;
and he makes all opinions that border upon this to be very dangerous. “Yet, nevertheless," and for this he was accused, “considering how many virtuous and just men, how many
saints and martyrs have had their dangerous opinions, amongst which this was one, that they hoped to make God some part of amends, by voluntary punishments which they laid upon themselves: because, by this, or the like erroneous opinions, which do by consequence overthrow the merits of Christ, shall man be so bold as to write on their graves, Such men are damned ; there is for them no salvation ? St. Austin says, Errare possum, Hæreticus esse nolo. And except we put a difference betwixt them that err ignorantly, and them that obstinately persist in it, how is it possible that any man should hope to be saved ? Give me a Pope or a Cardinal, whom great afflictions have made to know himself, whose heart God hath touched with true sorrow for all his sins, and filled with a love of Christ and his Gospel; whose eyes are willingly open to see the truth, and his mouth ready to renounce all error, this one opinion of merit excepted, which he thinketh God will require at his hands; and because he wanteth, trembleth, and is discouraged, and yet can say, Lord, cleanse me from all my secret sins! shall I think, because of this, or a like error, such men touch not so much as the hem of Christ's garment? If they do, wherefore should I doubt, but that virtue may proceed from Christ to save them ? No, I will not be afraid to say to such a one, You err in your opinion; but be of good comfort; you have to do with a merciful God, who will make the best of that little which you hold well; and not with a captious sophister who gathereth the worst out of every thing in which you are mistaken.”
But it will be said, says Mr. Hooker, “The admittance of merit in any degree overthroweth the
foundation, excludeth from the hope of mercy, from all possibility of salvation.” (And now Mr. Hooker's own words follow.)
“What, though they hold the truth sincerely in all other parts of Christian faith; although they have in some measure all the virtues and
of the Spirit; although they have all other tokens of God's children in them; although they be far from having any proud opinion, that they shall be saved by the worthiness of their deeds; although the only thing, that troubleth and molesteth them, be a little too much dejection, somewhat too great a fear arising from an erroneous conceit, that God will require a worthiness in them, which they are grieved to find wanting in themselves; although they be not obstinate in this opinion; although they be willing, and would be glad to forsake it, if any one reason were brought sufficient to disprove it; although the only cause why they do not forsake it ere they die, be their ignorance of that means by which it might be disproved; although the cause why the ignorance in this point is not removed, be the want of knowledge in such as should be able, and are not, to remove it? Let me die (says Mr. Hooker) if it be ever proved, that simply an error doth exclude a Pope or Cardinal in such a case utterly from hope of life. Surely, I must confess, that if it be an error to think that God
may be merciful to save men, even when they err, my greatest comfort is my error: were it not for the love I bear to this error, I would never wish to speak or to live."
I was willing to take notice of these two points, as supposing them to be very material; and that, as they are thus contracted, they may prove useful to my reader; as also for that the answers be arguments of Mr. Hooker's great and clear reason, and equal charity. Other exceptions were also made against him by Mr. Travers, as “ That he prayed