Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

comprehended in the former, a fallacy ensues ; and the argument or inference founded upon any combination of the general propositions, or indeed terms which imply propositions, is vitious and false. But this is not perceived without more labour or discrimination than many can, or will, employ. Hence the advantage to an artful disputant in the use of general expressions, and in proportion as the conclusion which he intends is opposed to truth or probability. And hence the reason why the advocates of Roman delusion discover so much partiality for general terms and general reasoning. What is their employment of the general terms, Tradition, Sacrament, Penance, Church, and numberless others, but instances of this kind of sophistry*? How much of the execution effected by their dialectics in the use of the last term, church, is to be ascribed to the vague and overwhelming notion of—the constitution, the obligation, the advantage, or the danger and ruin, included in, or connected with, it; and which vary essentially from the particulars contained in the

* A curious confirmation of this artifice is preserved by Fuller in his catalogue of about one hundred words which Gardiner was anxious, in the New Translation of the Bible, should remain untranslated. Church Hist. under the year 1540, where he writes, ' Transcribed with my own hand out of the Records of Canterbury. Generalization was the substance and artifice of the Method adopted by the Gallican bishops for the intended confutation and conversion of the pretended Reformed about the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

scriptural use of the term *! A distinct distribution of the term into the particulars which compose it, and a deliberate contemplation of the latter, would at once dissipate the delusion, and shew, either that the disputants, where the subject is disputed, are thinking and talking about different things, or that the sophister is building without rule or line. By favour, however, of the indolence or incapacity of the world in general, his sophistry very frequently succeeds, and is received as incontrovertible truth. A directly contrary method is sometimes adopted, and with the same delusive effect : it is, when some striking feature of a subject is seized, enlarged, shaped, and coloured, in such a way as to secure a certain conclusion ; although that conclusion may be, and often is, at direct variance with the main merits of the question. Partial similitude is peculiarly serviceable to the friends of the Roman, as well as

*'When you come to dispute of the Church with them, see that you agree first under your hands of the Definition of that Church of which you dispute. And when you call them to define it, you will find them in a wood, you will little think how many several things it is that they call (the Church,]' &c. •So that if you do but force them to define and explain what they mean by the Church, you will either cause them to open their nakedness, or find them all to pieces about the very subject of the Dispute.' Baxter's Key for Catholicks, to open the Jugling of the Jesuits, &c. pp. 73, 4. We shall hear more from this author soon. In the mean time, and constantly, let us bear in mind the importance of Definition-Definition. It is the experimentum crucis for sophistry.

the enemies of our church, who do not always remind themselves so precisely as they might, that in many cases degree makes all the difference, and that a drunkard or glutton may essentially and morally differ from a sober man, although their meat and drink, for quality, may be exactly the same. I might add, in conjunction with these, the power, through the interminable extent of the fields of controversy, of protracting a debate to any intended length; and, with this advantage, similar to that of a suit in chancery, of concealing a defeat for any period which may be desirable *

* Milton, in his Tract, Of True Religion, &c. against the Growth of Popery, near the beginning, expresses his reason for limiting the range of his argument, in these analogous terms. "I will not now enter into the labyrinth of Councils and Fathers,—an entangled wood which the papists love to fight in, not with the hope of victory, but to obscure the shame of an open overthrow.' In conformity with this is the regular and approved method, under favour of the same advantage—the extent and density of the wood—of diverting the discussion from the main point to incidental ones which may produce confusion. Mr. Faber, in his last work, Sume Account of Mr. Husenbeth's Attempt to assist the Bishop of Strasbourg ; with Notices of his Remarkable Adventures in the Perilous Field of Criticism, has exposed this artifice with his usual felicity. So far as my observation extends, it is the invariable plan of Latin Controvertists to draw away the attention of their readers from the main question to anything which may serve the purpose of embarrassment and perplexity,' p. 4. Mr. Faber, however, has, in his own irresistible way, demonstrated the confusion which awaits the pontificals, even in this wood itself, when the contest is pursued to an issue. Never was foe and assailant so completely routed and demolished as the Bishop, successively of Aire and Strasbourg, by the Rector of Long Newton; and the two Squires, who have flown to his succour, have fared no better than their Knight.

Nor must we allow ourselves to pass over another potent engine of deception—suppression. It is hardly conceivable, how much of the effect of absolute falsehood is often produced by simply not telling the whole truth. I must request permission to add one more ; and it shall be done upon the testimony of the writer who has subjoined to a reimpression of the Epistle prefixed by William Watson, secular priest, to the Important Considerations, published in the name of some of his brethren, a Postscript containing the following statement. ' Among other arts made use of ' by the Jesuits, one is, the drawing such a wild and extravagant character of a Jesuit, as no man' 'ever yet fixed upon them; and then under that colour taking upon him,' the vindicator,

boldly to assert their innocence,' &c.* This is exactly the art and fallacy of Gother in his Papist Misrepresented and Representedto overstate, to deny, and then to understate and exclaim Misrepresentation! Calumny! And is this art and fallacy now fallen into desuetude ?

6

By artifices such as these, but more especially by the one first described, as a leading one, have

* See Epistle General, as Preface to Important Considerations, first published in 1601, and republished elsewhere, and in Gibson's Preservative, &c. vol. iii., Tit. xiii. The reference is to Vindication of Saint Ignatius, by WILLIAM DARRELL.

the votaries of Rome at all times contrived to cast a mantle of plausibility over their character, their acts, and their claims; and in more instances than might have been expected they have preyailed. So complete, indeed, has been their success, that the advocates, who may likewise be called, in a modified sense, converts to the Roman cause, have adopted the very style of reasoning which distinguishes their clients, and appear to be hardly more than the organs through which are conveyed the voices of the latter.

They urge equality of rights, without allowing themselves or others to understand, in what a right consists, and that equal rights must be suspended on equal conditions ; that the condition of allegiance cannot be performed when the paramount allegiance of the conscience is forestalled and possessed by a foreign power; for nothing, or next to nothing, then remains, in the absence of prudential considerations; notwithstanding the evanescent distinction of spiritual and temporal*.

* "If priests and their partisans be only listened to, they will tell you,that there cannot exist a divided allegiance and obedience towards two powers, spiritual and temporal—that it should be entire towards the Sovereign in temporal matters, and entire towards the Pope in spiritual ones. Can there be a clearer principle, they will say? But proceed to the practical application of these principles, and it will then be seen what disputes will arise! As to the term temporal, its meaning varies among these different parties. · One of them represents everything as spiritual: ecclesiastical property is spiritual ; ecelesiastical persons are spiritual also: hence immu

« ElőzőTovább »