« السابقةمتابعة »
the fathers followed this chase, (if we may use that metaphor) and were never at a default: no one of the fathers, whom I have observed to touch upon this point, did ever deny this difference of degrees of glory. And therefore, as in the Primitive church, when that one man Jovinian, came to deny it, St. Hierome was vehement upon him, so when in the Reformation, one man (for I never found more than that one, one Schoufeldius) denies it too, I wonder the less, that another " (of the Reformation also) grows somewhat sharp towards him.
We deny not then this difference of degrees of glory in heaven; but that frame, and that scale of these degrees, which they have set up in the Roman church, we do deny. We must continue, and return often to that complaint against them, That they shake and endanger things near foundations, by their enormous super-edifications, by their incommodious upper-buildings: that many things, which might be well enough accepted, and would be agreed by all, become justly suspicious, and really dangerous to the church, by their manifold consequences which they super-induce upon them: that many things, which in the sincerity of their beginning, and institution, were pious, and conduced to the exaltation of devotion, by their additions are become impious, and destroy devotion so far, as to divert it upon a wrong object. In this point which we have in hand, it is so; in these degrees of glory in heaven, that church, which treads all sovereign crowns in this world, under her feet, pretends to impart, and distribute crowns in heaven also of her own making: We find coronam auream, a crown of gold upon the head of that Son of man, who is also the Son of God, Christ Jesus, in the Revelation. And we find coronas aureas, particular crowns of gold, upon the heads of all the saints that stand about the throne, in the same book". And these crowns upon the saints are the emanations, and effluences of that crown which is upon Christ; the glory of the saints is the communication of his glory. But then, because in their translation, in the Vulgate edition of the Roman church, they find in Exodus that word aureolam, Facies coronam aureolam, Thou shalt make a lesser crown of gold; out
21 Rev. iv. 4.
20 Rev. xiv. 14.
Exod. xxv. 25.
of this diminutive, and mistaken word, they have established a doctrine, that besides those corona aurea, those crowns of gold, which are communicated to all the saints from the crown of Christ, some saints have made to themselves, and produced out of their own extraordinary merits certain aureolas, certain lesser crowns of their own, whereas indeed the word in the original in that place of Exodus is zer zehab, which is a crown of gold, without any intimation of any such lesser crowns growing out of themselves. This then is their new alchymy; that whereas old alchymists pretend to make gold of coarser metals, these will make it of nothing; out of a suppositious word, which is not in the text, they have hammered and beat out these aureolas, these lesser crowns. And these aureolas they ascribe only to three sorts of persons, to virgins, to martyrs, to doctors.
Are then all the other saints without crowns? they must make shift with that beam which they have from the crown of Christ; for, for these additional crowns proceeding from themselves, they have none. And yet, say they, there are saints which have some additions growing out of themselves, though not aureolas, little crowns, and those they call fructus, peculiar fruits growing out of themselves; and for these fruits they distrain upon that place of Matthew, where Christ saith", That some brought forth fruit a hundred fold, some sixty, and some thirty; and the greater measure they ascribe to virgins, the sixty to widows, and the thirty to married persons, but only such married persons, as have lived continently in marriage. So then, to make this riddle of theirs as plain as the matter will admit, they place salvation itself, blessedness itself, (if a man will be content with that) in that union with God, which is common to all the saints: but then they conceive certain Dotes, as they call them, certain dispositions in this life, by which some have made themselves fitter to be united to God, in a nearer distance than an ordinary saint; and these dotes, these endowments, and dispositions here, produce those aureolas, and those fructus, those lesser crowns, and those measures of fruits, which are a particular joy, not that they are united to God, (for so every saint is) but that they had those dotes, those dispositions to take that particular way of being united to
23 Matt. xiii. 6.
God, the way of virginity, the way of martyrdom, and the way of preaching; for by this, they become Sancti Majores, as they call them, saints in favour, saints in office, and fitter to receive our petitions, and mediate between God and us, than those whom they call Mediocres, and Inferiores, saints of a middle form, or of an inferior rank. Yet these are so far provided for, by them too, that we must pray also to these inferior saints, either because I may have had a more particular interest in this life in that saint, than in a greater, and so the readiness, and the assiduity of that saint may recompense his want of power, or else, ad tollendum fastidium, lest a great saint should grow weary of me, if I trouble him every day, and for every trifle in heaven; and some other such reasons, it pleases them to assign, why though some saints have more power with God than others, yet we are bound to pray to all.
And thus they play with divinity, as though after they had troubled all states with political divinity, with their bulls, and breeves of rebus sic stantibus, that as long as things stood thus, this should be Catholic doctrine, and otherwise, when otherwise, and in this political divinity, Machiavel is their pope; and after they had perplexed understandings with philosophical divinity in the school, and in that divinity, Aristotle is their pope; they thought themselves in courtesy, or conscience bound, to recreate the world with poetical divinity, with such a heaven, and such a hell as would stand in their verses, and in this divinity, Virgil is their pope. And so, as Melancthon said, when he furthered the edition of the Alcoran, that he would have it printed, Ut videamus quale poema sit, That the world might see what a piece of poetry the Alcoran was; so I have stopped upon this point, that you might see what a piece of poetry they have made of this problematical point of divinity, the disparity, and degrees of glory in the saints in Heaven.
Be this then thus settled; in the matter, the difference of degrees of glory, we will not differ; in the manner, we would not differ so, as to induce a schism, if they would handle such points problematically, and no farther. But when upon matter of fact they will induce matter of faith, when they will extend problematical divinity to dogmatical, when they will argue and conclude thus,
It may be thus, therefore it must be thus, a man may be saved, though he believes this, therefore he cannot be saved except he believe this, when (in this point in hand) out of our acknowledg ment of these degrees of glory in the saints they will establish the doctrine of merits, and of invocation of saints, then we must necessarily call them to the rule of all doctrines, the Scriptures. When they tell us historically, and upon historical obligation, and for a historical certitude, that Peter was at Rome, and that he was bishop of Rome, we are not so froward as to deny them that but when upon his historical and personal being at Rome, they will build that mother article, of an universal supremacy over all the church, then we must necessarily call them to the rule, to the Scriptures, and to require them to prove both his being there, and his being bishop there, by the Scriptures, and either of these would trouble them; as it would trouble them, in our present case, to assign evident places of Scripture, for these degrees of glory in the saints of Heaven. For though we be far from denying the consentaneum est, that it is reasonable it should be, and likely it is so, and far from denying the piè creditur, that it may advance devotion, and exalt industry to believe that it is so, though we acknowledge a possibility, a probability, a very similitude, a very truth, and thus far a necessary truth, that our endeavours may flag and slacken, except we do embrace that help, that there are degrees of glory in Heaven, yet if we shall press for places of Scriptures, so evident, as must constitute an article of faith, there are perchance none to be found, to which very learned, and very reverend expositors have not given convenient interpretations, without inducing any such necessity.
At least, however other places of Scripture may seem to contribute more, this proposition of our text, In my Father's house are many mansions (though it have been applied to the proof of that) hath no inclination, no inclinableness that way. For in this text, our Saviour applies himself to his disciples, in that wherein they needed comfort, that Christ would go away, that they might not go too, that Peter had got a non-obstante, he might, and they might not, and Christ gives them that comfort, that all might, In my Father's house are many mansions. When the apostle presents a great part of our Christian religion together,
so as that he calls it a mystery, and a great mystery, yet he calls it a mystery without controversy; Without controversy great is the mystery of God manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, preached to the Gentiles, believed in the world, received into glory“. When he presents matter of consolation, he would have it without controversy; to establish a disconsolate soul, there is always divinity enough, that was never drawn into controversy. I would pray? I find the spirit of God to dispose my heart, and my tongue, and mine eyes, and hands, and knees to pray? do I doubt to whom I should pray? To God, or to the saints? That prayer to God alone was sufficient, was never drawn into controversy. I would have something to rely and settle and establish my assurance upon; do I doubt whether upon Christ, or mine own, or other's merits? That to rely upon Christ alone was sufficient, was never drawn into controversy. At this time, Christ disposed himself to comfort his disciples in that wherein they needed comfort; now their discomfort, and their fear lay not in this, whether there were different degrees of glory in heaven, but their fear was, that Christ being gone, and having taken Peter, and none but him, there should be no room for them, and thereupon Christ says, Let not that trouble you, for, in my Father's house are many mansions. And so we have done with the former branch of this last part, that it is piously done to believe these degrees of glory in heaven; that they have inconsiderately extended this problem in the Roman church; that no Scriptures are so evident as to induce a necessity in it; that this Scripture conduces not at all to it; and therefore we pass to our last consideration, the right use of the right sense of these words.
First then, Christ proposes in these words consolation; a work, than which none is more divine, nor more proper to God, nor to those instruments, whom he sends to work upon the souls and consciences of others. Who but myself can conceive the sweetness of that salutation, when the spirit of God says to me in a morning, Go forth to-day and preach, and preach consolation, preach peace, preach mercy, and spare my people, spare that people whom I have redeemed with my precious blood, and be not angry with them for ever; do not wound them, do not
24 1 Tim. iii. 16.