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Three Restoration Divines: Barrow, South and Tillotson. Volume I

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Irène Simon

Part one

Chapter two. Anglican Rationalism in the Seventeenth Century

Texte intégral

  • 1 Op. cit., III, 267.
  • 2 See, for instance, the 30 January sermon by South, printed below.
  • 3 See, for instance, Tillotson’s sermons on Regeneration, printed below.
  • 4 See, for instance, Tillotson’s The Religion of Protestants Vindicated, in The Works of the Most Re (...)

1After the Restoration most Anglican divines preached by Explication, Confirmation, and Application. Their sermons began with a brief introduction in which the meaning of the text was made clear from its context; sometimes a few words might need further explication, by reference to the original or to the Greek translation or by the analogy of faith, i.e. by comparison with catechetical doctrines. This first part might vary according to the circumstances, to the audience addressed or to the text chosen for explication, but in no case would this lead to over-subtle exegesis or crumbling of the text, for the emphasis was always on the general drift of the passage, its plain sense, and its direct bearing on some central points of doctrine and use (or on the occasion). Next, they resolved the text into a few propositions stated clearly and numbered at the outset of the development. Such a method, which Taine called “un squelette avec toutes ses attaches grossierement visibles”1, resulted from their wish to show that the doctrine was clearly implied in the text, not a ‘cunning observation’ for which the Scripture words were merely a pretext (which, they said, the Puritans were fond of doing). In thus laying their plan bare before their hearers they made sure that the people would grasp the general drift of the argument and follow the development stage by stage; however irritating this may be to the modern reader, it was a necessary reaction against the inevitable obfuscation of the central truths of Christianity which, they believed, resulted from much Puritan preaching. It should be noted also that in some sermons, addressed to a more refined audience, the skeleton was not made so visible, though the structure was no less clear2. The method is most tedious when the same text was developed in successive sermons, and the argument set out in previous parts was rehearsed before the preacher proceeded to the next point, particularly if each sermon was fairly short3. Such was the price to be paid if the congregation was to be edified by clear exposition of doctrine. The same method was usually applied in setting forth the quod sit and cur sit in the confirmation, which would be based on human as well as on divine testimony. Some preachers might depend more on the one than on the other; some might use testimony for illustration more than for demonstration, but amplification came to be used more sparingly and the stress was laid more on demonstration. This would mostly take into account ‘the reason of the thing’, the testimony of Scripture, and the agreement with natural reason. By using such proofs the preachers emphasized the consistency of reason and faith, for it was a central point in their teaching that religion is reasonable, particularly that the Protestant religion can stand the test of reason4 and that free inquiry is the basis of true faith. They might not all have agreed with Milton that a man may be a heretic in the truth though his belief be true, if he holds it only upon authority; but they did assert that implicit faith is not true faith and they encouraged rational examination of the basic principles of religion.

  • 5 See quotation 1, p. 69.
  • 6 See his sermons on Isa, V. 20, The Fatal Imposture, and Force of Words, printed below.
  • 7 See Robert Hoopes: Right Reason in the English Renaissance, Cambridge (Mass.), 1962.

2‘Reason’ might mean different things to different men. For some, like Edward Fowler5, it might be little more than discursive reason, which draws inferences from first principles. For others, like South, it is the principle whereby we discover both truth and goodness, at once an intellectual and a moral faculty, a guide to truth and conduct, since it shows us the real nature of things and thereby determines the choices of the will. South, like the Christian humanists, believed that truth and goodness are inherent in the things themselves, and he strongly opposed the relativist conception of morality which Hobbes had propounded6; for him reason conforms to the nature of things, and distinguishes between right and wrong as well as between true and false. He does not, like the Cambridge Platonists, insist that reason needs to be exercised by virtue before it can attain to truth; but he does stress that depravity obscures reason and makes it unable to grasp truth and goodness. With him, then, ‘reason’ comes nearest to the Renaissance concept of right reason7.

  • 8 On the Cambridge Platonists, see F.J. Powicke: The Cambridge Platonists, London, 1926, and Ernst C (...)
  • 9 See the funeral Oration, quoted above.

3The shades of the Cambridge Platonists8 sometimes seem to hover in the background of Tillotson’s thought—as Burnet reminds us, “there was a Set of as extraordinary Persons, in the University where he was formed, as perhaps any Age has produced”9 and—he sometimes refers to the Candle of the Lord in terms that suggest their teachings; but one need only put beside his sermons those of the Platonist John Smith to realize how far the concept has been emasculated. Though Tillotson emphasized that a Protestant does not receive his faith upon authority but assents to the reasonableness of the truths of Christianity, he would not have approved Milton’s plea that we use that light which was given us in order todiscover onward things more remote from our knowledge”. Tillotson’s reason, in fact, has neither the vigour of Milton’s intellectual ray, nor the effulgence of the Platonists’divine sunbeam. It is hardly more, indeed, than the rational faculty that discovers the agreement between truths and tests the evidence. If it cannot altogether be equated with mere discursive reason, it is because for him, as for most Anglicans, reason is also the faculty in which are lodged the prime truths implanted in man by God, the ‘connate’ notions on which they ground their argument for religion.

  • 10 See his Sermons on the Creed, especially on God the Father, Maker of Heaven and Earth, in The Work (...)
  • 11 Barrow taught mathematics at Cambridge but later relinquished his chair to his more brilliant pupi (...)
  • 12 Printed below. The distinction was to be emphasized at the time of the Trinitarian controversy.
  • 13 Both Tillotson and Stillingfleet were at Cambridge when Cudworth and Whichcote taught and preached (...)

4For Barrow, the mathematician, the axioms are no less rational than the corollaries inferred from them; he too defends Christianity as a rational system resting on prime truths and deduced by the evidence of reason. His arguments are not unlike those of Descartes, but to these he adds the proofs from the visible world, whose order and beauty argue the existence of God and His perfections10; his defence of Christianity most clearly anticipates Newton’s physico-theology11. Similar arguments were used not only by scientists like Robert Boyle but by many Anglicans who were not members of the Royal Society. This contributed to the development of the liberal theology that was to prevail in the next age, but at this stage all divines would emphasize that Christianity is both reasonable and ‘mysterious’ i.e. both agreeable to reason and in some of its revealed truths, beyond reason. One of the clearest statements of this position appears in South’s sermon on the Trinity12, in which he argues with his usual cogency that assent to the mysteries of religion is an act of reason, based on certain and sufficient grounds. Tillotson and Stillingfleet, too, repeatedly assert that the truths of religion are never against reason, though some are beyond the reach of human reason. For all his incipient physico-theology Barrow would have agreed, as had also the Cambridge Platonists, whose rational theology certainly influenced later divines13.

  • 14 See L.I. Bredvold: The Intellectual Milieu of John Dryden, Ann Arbor, 1934, ch. II. Bredvold discu (...)
  • 15 See Tillotson’s The Wisdom of Being Religious (1664), op. cit., I, ser. 1, and South’s The Practic (...)

5Agreement with inborn truths, or natural reason, and the test of reason in inquiring into revealed truths are the twin aspects of rationalism which Anglican divines after the Restoration repeatedly emphasized. Though there was ample precedent for this in the tradition of the Church since Hooker, the particular circumstances in which preachers came to assert the truth of their religion would inevitably lead them to stress these points: first, the rise of infidelity and scepticism; second, the necessity to oppose both the rampant forces of enthusiasm and the no less insidious arguments of the Roman Catholics. That some of these enemies sometimes joined forces appears not only from Charles’s Declaration of Indulgence and earlier projects of the same kind, and from the outcries these provoked, but also from the Church of Rome’s exploitation of radical scepticism in her apologetics, and from the slur cast on rational theology by both Puritans and Romanists. By stressing the corruption of man’s reason and will since the Fall the Augustinian doctrine of grace emphasized the inability of ‘carnal reason’ to reach truth. On the other hand, the nescience in which the prevalent Pyrrhonism issued could be used either to support libertinism or as an argument for acquiescence in truths received upon authority; the fideists emphasized the divorce between reason and faith in order to recommend docta ignorantia, since, they said, it was only too clear that by exercising reason men far from reaching truth were led to an impasse in which contradictory propositions could be supported by equal arguments from reason. Though Donne was familiar with the modes of thought of the sceptics, it was only after the Restoration that the full impact of Pyrrhonism was felt in England14. Indeed, from the sixties we find divines like Tillotson and South propounding to the infidels something like Pascal’s pari15. It will be remembered that Pascal himself exploited the scepticism of Montaigne and of the libertines to recommend the wise passivity of the soul void of all human knowledge, and to ground faith in the radically unknowable, Deus absconditus. His attacks on Descartes for demonstrating the truths of religion on rational principles suggest the later attacks on the rational theology of the Church of England, though he does not seem to have had any direct influence on these. The wise nescience had found an earlier exponent in Sir Thomas Browne, who both exercised and distrusted his own reason; but it came to play a prominent part in Roman Catholic apologetics, which emphasized the difference between discourse of reason and assent.

  • 16 Lucius Cary: Of the Infallibility of the Church of Rome, London, 1651.
  • 17 See Tillotson’s Preface to The Rule of Faith.
  • 18 There were many Catholics at Court; Queen Henrietta Maria greatly favoured them and encouraged pri (...)

6Anglican rationalism had been defined in Hooker’s answer to the Puritans, and the tradition was continued by Restoration theologians. But since Hooker’s time the Church had been exposed to another danger, the appeal of the Roman Church with her doctrine of infallibility. It was to combat this that in the late thirties the defence of reason received a new impetus in the works of Lucius Cary, Lord Falkland16, and particularly of Chillingworth, whom Tillotson acknowledged as his master17. Falkland and his friends were concerned about the controversies which threatened to disrupt the unity of the Church and were soon to throw the country into anarchy, and they advocated moderation and concord on the ground that the truths necessary for salvation, on which both Puritans and Anglicans largely agreed, are expressed plainly in Scripture and, as Milton was to say, can be found by any man who searches the Word of God diligently. Through his mother, who had been converted to Roman Catholicism18, Falkland was, however, led to consider the position of the Roman Church and her claim to infallibility; with the result that he rejected the claim and took his stand on reason. Even if we grant the Church to be infallible, he argued, the truth of the proposition must be grounded on rational arguments; to accept one’s religion because it is the religion of the country is no safeguard against error. For him, then, reason is the ultimate guide to truth; it leads us to see that the Scriptures are the Word of God, but not that Christ has instituted an infallible guide to direct us in reading it, except the Grace of God as the light by which we see the truth.

  • 19 Cp. with Dryden’s search for an unerring guide in Religio Laici, and his ultimate conversion to Ro (...)
  • 20 See Tulloch, op. cit., I, ch. V, p. 314. The style, however, is often cumbrous.

7Falkland’s friend, Chillingworth—who was the godchild of Laud—was bent, like Donne, on inquiring which is the true Church and for a time he fell under the spell of Rome. Yet after spending a short time at the English College of Douay he came back dissatisfied, no less sobered indeed than his friend Hales had been by the Synod of Dordt. What had attracted him to Rome was the promise of an infallible guide to satisfy his inquiring mind19, but to this spirit unappeased and peregrine Rome did not provide the right answer. He was soon to enter the lists with his Religion of Protestants (1637), which has been compared for the breadth of its thought to Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity20. For Chillingworth the infallible guide and rule of faith is not the Pope or some other authority divinely appointed, but the Bible. The Bible contains all truths necessary for salvation, in plain enough terms for every man to grasp; those that are too knotty, even for learned men, are not fundamentals of faith. All that is needed to read Scripture aright is a free open mind: by following right reason man can grasp the essential truths of religion. The Romanists argued that but for an infallible guide each man would follow his own wit and draw his own conclusions; Chillingworth answered:

  • 21 The Religion of Protestants, A Safe Way to Salvation, in The Works of William Chillingworth, 10th (...)

You say again confidently, that if this Infallibility be once impeached, every Man is given over to his own Wit and Discourse: which, if you mean Discourse not guiding it self by Scripture, but only by Principles of Nature, or perhaps by Prejudices and popular Errors, and drawing Consequences not by Rule, but Chance, is by no means true. If you mean by Discourse, right Reason grounded on divine Revelation and common Notions written by God in the Hearts of all Men, and deducing, according to the neverfailing Rules of Logick, consequent Deductions from them; if this be it which you mean by Discourse, it is very meet and reasonable and necessary, that men, as in all their Actions, so especially in that of the greatest importance, the Choice of their Way to Happiness should be left unto it; and he that follows this in all his Opinions and Actions, and does not only seem to do so, follows always God21.

  • 22 In his sermon on the Resurrection, in vol. V, pp. 185-201. He speaks, however, of the certainties (...)

8The Romanist apologist had distinguished between discourse (of reason) and assent, and Chillingworth’s vindication of discourse already implies the shift from right reason to discursive reason; still, for him as for Restoration Anglicans, the first principles from which reason argues are divine revelation and “the common notions written by God in the hearts of all men South will later distinguish between assent of faith and of knowledge, along the same lines as Locke does in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, and he will insist that assent of faith is rational because it is based on certain and sufficient grounds22. Tillotson and Stillingfleet will demonstrate that faith is no less an act of reason than acceptance of geometrical truths though it is grounded on moral evidence, not on mathematical demonstration. There was, then, substantial agreement as to what constitutes faith, i.e. not nescience, nor assent to authority, but assent on rational grounds.

9In his answer to the second chapter of his adversary’s book, Chillingworth distinguishes between reason and private spirit, thus further answering the charge that for lack of an infallible guide men are free to follow their own wits:

  • 23 Op. cit,. p. 111. This is remark nr. 110 Ad § 20, where Knott had said: “by this Principle, all is (...)

If by a private Spirit, you mean a particular Persuasion, that a Doctrine is true, which some men pretend, but cannot prove to come from the Spirit of God: I say, to refer Controversies to Scripture, is not to refer them to this kind of private Spirit. For there is a manifest Difference between saying, The Spirit of God tells me, that this is the Meaning of such a Text (which no Man can possibly know to be true, it being a secret Thing) and between saying, These and these Reasons 1 have to shew, that this or that Doctrine, or that this or that is the Meaning of such a Scripture? Reason being a publick and certain Thing, and exposed to all Mens Trial and Examination. But now, if by private Spirit you understand every Man’s particular Reason, then your first and second Inconvenience will presently be reduced to one, and shortly to none at all23.

  • 24 Printed below.

10Reason, then, is a public and certain thing, and cannot in any way be confused with the ‘motions of the Spirit’; it is open to trial and examination, and, it is implied, it is common to all men. This is no other than the sensus communis to which the theologians of the next age will appeal constantly, and which they will bring in evidence of the truths of Christianity. Chillingworth thus takes his stand as firmly against private inspiration as against authority. The Restoration Anglicans too were unanimously to reject both, whether they were High-Churchmen like South or Latitudinarians like Tillotson, whose sermon on the Trial of Spirits24 is an outspoken condemnation of the pretence to guidance by the Spirit.

11Chillingworth’s argument, it must be noted, is not directed against the fideists—after all, his opponent had argued at considerable length—but only against the Romanists’inconsistency in now invoking reason, now denying it the power to discern what is true. Chillingworth pleads for rational inquiry into the fundamentals of religion, as Tillotson will do in his vindication of the Church of England from the attacks of later Romanists. Hence, Chillingworth’s assertion that:

  • 25 Op. cit., p. 112.

For my part, I am certain, that God hath given us our Reason, to discern between Truth and Falshood, and he that makes not this use of it, but believes things he knows not why; I say, it is by Chance that he believes the Truth, and not by Choice; and that I cannot but fear, that God will not accept of this Sacrifice of Fools25.

  • 26 It may be noted also that he does not defend episcopacy as divinely instituted, but like Hooker ar (...)

12Though Chillingworth is by no means ready to conclude, the Scriptural phrase neatly turns the argument against the Romanist26.

13Chillingworth’s friend, John Hales, was another member of the group at Great Tew who preached moderation and wisdom. At the time of the Romanist controversy he helped Chillingworth resist what he called theRomish corner-creepers”, and he too emphasized the necessity to test one’s acquiescence to Christian truths at the bar of reason. His clearest plea for rational inquiry is his sermon Of Inquiry and Private Judgment in Religion, on Gal. VI. 7 Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. From this text he argues the great duty laid on each man not to be deceived in matters of belief; it is all one whether a man deceives himself or allows himself to be deceived, for God has enjoined on all men the duty to be vigilant in seeking truth. “An infallibility therefore there must be”, for it is unreasonable to suppose that God has enjoined such a duty without appointing a judge to clear doubts and settle scruples. Men have “marvellously wearied themselves in seeking to find out” where this infallibility is, and

  • 27 John Hales, op. cit., III, 149.

every man finds it, or thinks he finds it, accordingly as that faction or part of the church upon which he is fallen, doth direct him27.

14Infallibility, however, cannot be found in others; it is, or ought to be, in each of us,

  • 28 Ibid.

For, Beloved, infallibility is not a favour impropriated to any one man, it is a duty alike expected at the hands of all, all must have it28.

15To obey the Apostle each man must seek to know what it is that is commanded him, and wherefore it is commanded, “that is, upon what authority, upon what reason”. For if Christ came to cure the world, he intended to cure us like men, not like beasts:

  • 29 p. 150.

Deceit and error are the diseases of the mind; he that strives to cure it upon bare command, brings you indeed a potion, or rather a drench, which, for ought you know, may as well set on and increase, as remove the error; but when he opens his authorities, when he makes you conceive his grounds and reasons, then, and not before, he cures your error. They that come and tell you what you are to believe, what you are to do, and tell you not why, they are not physicians but leaches: and if you so take things at their hands, you do not like men, but like beasts29.

16Men should not simply acquiesce in what their teachers tell them, for these too, says Hales, may be deceived, and it will be no excuse in the eyes of God if each man has not sought diligently for himself, and has not inquired what it is that makes his pastor right. Quoting Gerson, as Restoration Anglicans occasionally do, he enters a plea for reason on the ground that the light God has lodged in us must not be hidden under a bushel:

  • 30 p. 153.

It is a question made by John Gerson, some time chancellor of Paris, ‘Wherefore hath God given me the light of reason and conscience, if I must suffer myself to be led and governed by the reason and conscience of another man?’ Will any of you befriend me so far as to assoil this question? for I must confess I cannot. It was the speech of a good husbandman, ‘It is but a folly to possess a piece of ground, except you till it’. And how then can it stand to reason, that a man should be possessor of so goodly a piece of the Lord’s pasture, as is this light of understanding and reason, which he hath endued us with in the way of our creation, if he suffer it to lie untilled, or sow not in it the Lord’s seed30?

  • 31 See his Tract on Schism and Schismatics, which Laud found too tolerant of the Puritans’claims.

17He then distinguishes between due esteem of one’s reason and pride, and shows that men’s pretence of modesty in this respect is no more than an excuse for their sloth. As to the causes of the current disesteem of reason, they may be found in “the dregs of the Church of Rome not yet sufficiently washed from the hearts of many men”, and the Romanists, it is well-known, “suffer nothing to be inquired into which is once concluded by them”; on the other hand, this distrust of reason also results from the disputatiousness which “our own ministry” has fostered, thus causing trouble and disquiet and making us long to banish all contentions. Hales, the champion of moderation and of concord31 in no way confuses concord and “that peace which ariseth out of ignorance”, for this is sloth and not charity. To neglect our own reason, then, is to slight the greatest gift of God:

  • 32 Op. cit., p. 157.

Hath God given you eyes to see, and legs to support you, that so yourself might lie still, or sleep, and require the use of other men’s eyes and legs? That faculty of reason which is in every one of you, even in the meanest that hears me this day, next to the help of God, is your eyes to direct you, and your legs to support you in your course of integrity and sanctity; you may no more refuse or neglect the use of it; and rest yourselves upon the use of other men s reason, than neglect your own, and call for the use of other men’s eyes and legs32.

18True, Hales was not preaching to unlettered hinds, nor were any of the Restoration divines we are considering here. Swift noted in his Letter to a Young Clergyman that Tillotson himself may have preached differently to different audiences. Indeed, it is clear that preachers should have enough common sense not to expound

  • 33 Hales says they might plead in excuse that they have their trades and callings, that they are unle (...)

doctrine above their hearers’ reach. Affectation of subtlety and of learning was the vice most commonly denounced by the reformers of pulpit oratory, and no doubt there were many bad pastors then as in all ages. The point is that Hales is telling his audience33 that each Christian must seek to know what he believes, and wherefore. The men who came to listen to Tillotson at St. Lawrence Jewry were no doubt a mixed group of tradespeople and members of the professions; though we need not adopt Taine’s superior tone in referring to those people’s thirst for edification, we must agree with him that they came to hear a sermon in order to be taught the what and the wherefore of their religion, not to be entertained by the eloquence of the preacher. The very principle of private judgement clearly determined the mode of preaching, and Hales’s own sermon—though more ingenious at the beginning, and using illustrations more remote from the text than later divines were to favour—is a good example of the clear exposition that came to be the rule after the Restoration.

19Another defence of Scripture as the rule of faith came from Stillingfleet in 1662, Origines Sacrae, or A Rational Account of the Grounds of Christian Faith. As he explained in the Preface to the Reader, this work was directed against atheists, who raised three kinds of objection against Scripture:

  • 34 Edward Stillingfleet: Origines Sacrae, or A Rational Account of the Grounds of Christian Faith, As (...)

The most popular pretences of the Atheists of our Age, have been the irreconcilableness of the account of Times in Scripture, with that of the learned and ancient Heathen Nations; the inconsistency of the belief of the Scripture with the principles of reason: and the account which may be given of the Origin of things from the principles of Philosophy without the Scriptures34.

20In the Epistle Dedicatory he referred to both philosophical and moral libertinism as the origin of the disesteem for the Bible he had set himself against:

  • 35 Ibid., sig. a-a v.

Some accounting the life and practice of it [i.e. true religion], as it speaks subduing our wills to the will of God (which is the substance of all Religion) a thing too low and mean for their rank and condition in the world, while others pretend a quarrel against the principles of it as unsatisfactory to Humane reason35.

21For him, not only is religion consonant with reason, but

  • 36 Ibid., sig. a v.

the disesteem of the Scriptures upon any pretence whatsoever, is the decay of Religion, and through many windings and turnings leads men at last into the very depth of Atheism36.

  • 37 See, for instance, Tillotson’s Discourse on Transubstantiation, printed below.

22Though Stillingfleet’s main target is ostensibly libertinism, and the burden of his treatise to demonstrate the veracity of Scripture, the above remark indicates the link that was to be established by many Anglicans between atheism and ‘the disesteem of Scriptures’, which was the main argument of the Romanists for grounding the rule of faith in oral tradition and in the infallibility of their Church. The kinship between Tridentine theology and atheism was to be harped upon by Stillingfleet in his later works and by Tillotson in his sermons; both stressed the harm done to religion by the Romanists’slight on the evidence of the senses and on the authority of Scripture37. Tillotson’s zeal against the Romanists may have been all the stronger for his having received “his first education and impressions among those who were then called Puritans”, but Burnet’s further remark cannot be dismissed as the expression of his, or Tillotson’s, partisan feelings:

  • 38 Sermon Preached at the Funeral..., op. cit., p. 15.

He saw, with deep Regret, the fatal Corruption of his Age, while the Hypocrisies and Extravagancies of former times, and the Liberties and Loosness of the present, disposed many to Atheism and Impiety... When he saw that Popery was at the root of this, and that the Design seemed to be laid, to make us first Atheists, that we might be the more easily made Papists, and that many did not stick to own, that we could have no Certainty for the Christian Faith, unless we believed the Infallibility of the Church. This gave him a deep and just Indignation38.

23The High-Churchman South, though less often moved to denounce Romanism, impugned it for much the same reasons, since he too grounded assent in the certain evidence of the witnesses of Christ.

24In Origines Sacrae, Stillingfleet argued first that enquiries after truth gratify ‘the most noble faculty of our souls’, reason, since

  • 39 Op. cit., pp. 1-2.

all our most laudable endeavours after knowledge now, are only the gathering up some scattered fragments of what was once an entire Fabrick, and the recovery of some precious Jewels which were lost out of sight, and sunk in the ship-wrack of humane nature39.

25The words at once recall Milton’s plea in the Areopagitica for the recovery of truth, like the disjected members of Osiris scattered to the four winds by the Egyptian Typhoon. Like the Great Rebel, Stillingfleet believed that reason has been obscured by the Fall, but like him he also insisted that

  • 40 Ibid., pp. 2, 6.

God created the soul of man not only capable of finding the truth of things, but furnished him with a sufficient κριτήριον or touchstone to discover truth from falsehood, by a light set up in his understanding, which if he had attended to, he might have secured himself from all impostures and deceits.

There is an intermediate state between the former acquaintance [i.e. with truth], and the renewal of it, wherein all those remaining characters of mutual knowledge are sunk so deep, and lie so hid, that there needs a new fire to be kindled to bring forth those latent figures, and make them again appear legible40.

26Stillingfleet had earlier recalled “the saying of Plato, that all knowledge is remembrance”, and the influence of his Cambridge masters is perceptible in this passage. Yet for him the main difference between prelapsarian state and our present ‘intermediate state’ is that man’s knowledge then

  • 41 Ibid., p. 3. Cp. with South’s sermon: So God created man in his own image, op. cit., I, ser. 2.

had been more intellectual then discursive: not so much imploying his faculties in the operose deductions of reason... but had immediately imployed them about the sublimest objects, not about quiddities and formalities, but about him who was the fountain of his being, and the center of his happiness41.

  • 42 p. 7.
  • 43 p. 15.

27Postlapsarian reason is apt to err, through want of impartial diligence in the search of truth, or because of the near resemblance of truth and error, which “seldom walks abroad the world in her own raiments42 Stilling fleet then proceeds to show that there is no “certain credibility in any of these”43 ancient histories which seem to contradict the Scriptures, whether Phoenician and Aegyptian (ch. II), Chaldean (ch. III), or Graecian (ch. IV) history or chronology (ch. V and VI). Yet, he argues, since it is of the greatest concernment for man to know that he has his original from God, and that

  • 44 p. 107 (Book II, ch. I).

all things are managed by Divine providence, it stands to reason that an account of things so concerning and remarkable, should not be always left to the uncertainty of oral tradition44.

28The matter to be believed cannot be conveyed to man through uncertain oral tradition, neither can it be trusted to be discovered in every age by a spirit of prophecy. Hence, considering the undoubted nature of Divine Goodness, such an account had to be given to man

  • 45 pp. 108-9.

by a publick recording of the matters of Divine revelation by such a person who is enabled to give the world all reasonable satisfaction, that what he did was not of any private design of his own head, but that he was deputed to it by no less then Divine authority45.

  • 46 p. 111. The examples given by Stillingfleet are those Tillotson later uses in his sermons, e.g. “W (...)

29Only thus can men be assured that the matter to be believed is not liable to imposture. Now, such matters of fact cannot be brought into mathematical demonstrations; but matters of fact require no more than moral certainty to produce assent to them46. All the conditions of moral certainty are met by the writings of Moses (Book II, ch. I to VII), and the teachings of Christ can stand the same test (ch. VIII to X). While moral certainty is sufficient to establish the truth of the Old Testament, Stilling fleet is concerned to ground assent to Christ’s docrine on rational principles from which the testimony of Christ will appear to be infallible. Hence, the several ‘hypotheses’ he lays down at the outset, first:

  • 47 p. 228 (Book II, ch. 8).

Where the truth of a doctrine depends not on the evidence of the things themselves, but on the authority of him that reveals it, there the only way to prove the doctrine to be true, is to prove the Testimony of him that reveals it to be infallible47.

30In developing this point Stillingfleet distinguishes between the evidence of the thing itself, i.e.

  • 48 p. 228.

so clear and distinct a perception of it, that every one who hath the use of his rational faculties, cannot but upon the first apprehension of the terms yield a certain assent to it48

31and the kind of evidence necessary to establish the existence of things. The ‘common notices of human nature’, though evident propositions in themselves, do not argue the existence of the thing proposed; all that discourse of reason can prove is the “non repugnancy of the thing to our natural faculties”. While the certainty and evidence of mathematical demonstrations depend upon such propositions, the existence of things must be grounded on other arguments, i.e. on the testimony of the senses. True, the senses may deceive us, and the ideas (i.e. images) of things conveyed to the understanding may be fallacious; true, the understanding may also draw faulty inferences from the ideas conveyed to it. Still, Stillingfleet argues,

  • 49 p. 229.

Supposing then I should question the truth of every thing which is conveyed in an uncertain way to my mind, I may soon out-go even Pyrrho himself in real Scepticism49.

  • 50 “That law eternal which God himself hath made to himself, and thereby worketh all things whereof h (...)

32Since Stillingfleet is in no way prepared to out-go Pyrrho, he must ground the certainty of knowledge ultimately in the goodness of God, that is, in the agreement of reason with the nature of things. Thus, half-way in his argument, there reappears the concept of right reason as Hooker—and Hooker’s masters Aristotle and Aquinas—understood it, a concept based on the principle of cosmic order reflecting the rationality of God and reflected in the rational nature of man50.

33Stillingfleet had posited the goodness of God to show that man must have been given a reliable account of his divine origin; he also grounded in it our assent to the infallible witness, Christ. He first lays down as the foundation of all physical certainty, i.e. certainty as to the existence of things,

  • 51 Op. cit., p. 230 (Book II, ch. 8).

that there is a God, who being infinitely good, will not suffer the minds of men to be deceived in those things, which they have a clear and distinct perception of (without which supposition we cannot be assured of the certainty of any operations of the mind, because we cannot know but we were so made, that we might be then deceived, when we thought ourselves most sure)51.

  • 52 Ibid., p. 239.
  • 53 This is again Hooker’s notion of man as a free agent acting, like God, by rational choice not by c (...)
  • 54 For instance, in The Doctrine of the Trinity and Transubstantiation Compared, London, 1687.
  • 55 See his Discourse Against Transubstantiation, printed below.
  • 56 From the first the argument about transubstantiation seems to have been vitiated by a misunderstan (...)

34Now, since the existence of things cannot be proved from the evidence of the things themselves, the fullest demonstration of them is by infallible testimony. And there are certain ways “whereby to know that a Testimony delivered is infallible”52. The question therefore resolves itself into: first, why we believe a divine testimony, and the answer is based on the notion of a perfect and infinitely good God, i.e. a common notion; second, upon what grounds do we believe this to be a divine testimony? Natural reason, Stillingfleet says, must assure us that it is of God, and the evidence whereby it may be known to be such must be convincing proofs of it, though they need not, and indeed do not, enforce assent for there could be no obligation to believe if belief was irresistible53: convincing proofs are not to be confused with demonstrative arguments. Stillingfleet develops these convincing proofs, or moral evidence, in the next two chapters: i.e. they are the miracles of Christ, which argue His divine power. Moral evidence, then, is necessary to establish the truth of Christianity. As Stillingfleet himself will say later54, and as Tillotson also will argue55, this evidence is evidence from the senses reported by reliable witnesses; to deny the validity of sense perception is therefore to impugn the foundations of religion: that is why the Anglican divines rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation as defined by Tridentine theology56. If the senses cheat us, then there is no basis for certainty at all either in science or in religion. True, the reports of the senses must be checked, or appearances may be confused with reality: just as the natural philosophers were using telescopes and microscopes to correct direct sense perceptions, so the Anglican theologians insisted that true miracles should be distinguished from false ones, and reliable from unreliable witnesses. All this led them to expound more or less explicitly an epistemology that warranted the objectivity of knowledge by grounding it in the reliability of sense perceptions as well as of the ‘connate notions’. Both the innate notions and the senses as reliable organs of information play their part in establishing the rational evidence of religion; and both are ultimately grounded in the goodness of a God who cannot suffer his creatures to be necessarily deceived by the very means given them to discover truth. Ultimately, then, the objectivity of knowledge is based on the concept of right reason. It is no wonder, then, that in The Dunciad Pope described ‘the gloomy clerk’ as one

  • 57 Book IV, 11.461-2. Pope, however, also condemns the ‘high Priori Road’. See Alexander Pope: The Du (...)

Whose pious Hope aspires to see the day
When Moral Evidence shall quite decay57.

  • 58 For instance in the Sermon on the Trinity, 1667, printed below.
  • 59 See his Latin Oration at the opening of the Sheldonian theatre, which shocked Evelyn and offended (...)
  • 60 Op. cit., III, ser. 6. The sermon was preached in 1694, i.e. at the time of the Trinitarian controv (...)
  • 61 See his sermon on John VII, 7, op. cit., I, ser. 6.
  • 62 “As for the will, though its liberty be such, that a suitable, or proper good being proposed to it (...)

35Barrow was to demonstrate the existence of God both from the first principles implanted in man and from the order of the universe; Tillotson also was to use both kinds of arguments. If the physico-theology of the next age may be traced to them, it is clear, however, that they were a long way from the deists’mechanistic view of the universe. True, the common notions too were to be exploited later in the century as evidence of the sufficiency of natural religion without a direct revelation from God; but when Barrow, Tillotson, and other Anglican divines appeal to these it is to show that God gave all men a first revelation of His law, which was to be confirmed by the direct revelation of His Word in the law of Moses, and perfected by Christ’s doctrine, which bare reason alone could not have discovered: they appeal to the consensus omnium as evidence of these common notions, not, like the Deists, in order to bypass revelation. South does not seem to have preached specifically on the evidence for Christianity, but in several of his sermons he gives in compressed form the argument for it based on the rational principles inborn in man58. The fact that he does not argue from the laws of the universe may be an expression of his conservatism and of his critical attitude towards natural philosophy59. To him the beauty of God’s creation and the admirable contrivance of the universe amply manifest the goodness and bounty of the Creator and prompt man to awe and wonder, much as it had prompted Hooker to “humbly and meekly adore It is characteristic of this dialectician and artist that when demonstrating Christianity mysterious and the wisdom of God in making it so60 he should justify the wisdom of a mysterious religion by the fact that it breeds in man awe and wonder and engages him on the diligent search after truth, and on the ground that it promises perfect intuitive knowledge to be attained hereafter. Like Hooker he asserts the fundamental rationality of man qua intellectual being, and stresses that the will only chooses what the understanding presents to it as good; hence his insistence on the danger of misinforming the understanding. South also emphasizes that reason may be deflected from its true end by the ‘pravity of the will’, that is, by the affections preventing it from study of, and application to, its own good61; but he denies that the will as such can do other than choose what it deems good62. All wrong choices originate in corruption of the understanding,

  • 63 Ibid.

which represents to the will things really evil, under the notion and character of good63

  • 64 Sermon on Lying Lips are an Abomination to the Lord, op. cit., I, ser. 12, p. 471.

36and it is the preacher’s task to free the understanding from false notions: there is no sinful action, he says, “but there is a lie wrapt up in the bowels of it”64. Just as the Devil is the Father of lies, so

  • 65 Ibid., p. 472.

Christ saves the world by undeceiving it; and sanctifies the will, by first enlightening the understanding65.

  • 66 “They err therefore who think that of the will of God to do this or that there is no reason beside (...)

37Right thinking is therefore the basis of right action, and South could have said with Milton that reason is but choosing. Just as Hooker had opposed the Calvinistic notion of God as arbitrary will66 so South reaffirms that right reason is the faculty to see truth and to choose right; man’s resemblance to God consists in

  • 67 Sermon on Gen. I, 27, op. cit., I, ser. 2, p. 50.

that universal rectitude of all the faculties of the soul, by which they stand apt and disposed to their respective offices and operations67.

38The common notions, then, manifest the goodness of God in creating man rational, they enable man to assent to His Word and lead him to Christ. As South shows in Christianity Mysterious our assent to the mysteries of religion is a rational act, based on the infallibility of Christ. And the testimony of Christ is accepted on the no less rational ground of moral certainty.

  • 68 John Locke: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Alexander Campbell Fraser, New York, (189 (...)
  • 69 See his Vindication of the Trinity, London, 1696.
  • 70 An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Book IV, ch. IV, § 1.
  • 71 Book IV, ch. XIX, § 3.
  • 72 Book IV, ch. XV, § 1.
  • 73 Ibid., §§ 3, 4.
  • 74 Ibid., § 4. The theologians hardly ever consider “contrary testimonies”.

39Hume was to ‘outgo Pyrrho’ in a way that Stillingfleet could not have foreseen, and many critics have asserted that “the nescience of the Treatise [of Human Nature] and the Inquiry [concerning Human Understanding] is a legitimate reductio ad absurdum of the account of human knowledge in [Locke’s] Essay68. In the famous controversy that opposed Stillingfleet and Locke, the Bishop obviously misunderstood Locke’s theory of knowledge—much as Hume was to do—and took him to task for robbing mysteries of certainty69. Now, Locke had distinguished between knowledge and judgement, i.e. between “the perception of the agreement or disagreement of our own ideas70” and “the faculty which God has given man to supply the want of clear and certain knowledge, in cases where that cannot certainly be had...; whereby the mind takes its ideas to agree or disagree... without perceiving a demonstrative evidence in the proofs”71. But he had gone on to prove that probability, i.e. “the appearance of such an agreement or disagreement, by the intervention of proofs, whose connection is not constant and immutable, or at least is not perceived to be so, but is, or appears for the most part to be so”, is enough “to induce the mind to judge the proposition to be true or false, rather than the contrary”72. Though probability is not knowledge, but “likeliness to be true”, it is sufficient “to supply the defect of our knowledge and to guide us where that fails”73 The grounds of probability Locke lists are exactly the same as those the theologians had used to demonstrate the veracity of the Gospel, i.e. conformity with our own knowledge, observation, and experience; and the testimony of reliable witnesses, according to their number, integrity, skill, design, consistency, and tested against contrary testimonies74.

  • 75 For instance, in The Doctrine of the Trinity and Transubstantiation Compared, London, 1687.
  • 76 See, for instance, Barrow’s Sermons on the Creed, especially sermon 2, op. cit., II, and Tillotson (...)
  • 77 Printed below.
  • 78 See An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Epistle to the Reader. South and Locke both came from (...)
  • 79 See his letters to Locke (25 March, 1697; 22 November, 1697; 18 June, 1699) now in the Bodleian Li (...)
  • 80 For the background of this controversy, see W.M.T. Dodds (Mrs. Nowottny): ‘Robert South and Willia (...)
  • 81 South constantly refers to connate or innate ideas whereas Locke demonstrates that there are no su (...)

40In Origines Sacrae Stillingfleet had concentrated on the testimony of miracles recorded by reliable witnesses; elsewhere75 he also used the other grounds of assent, as did Tillotson and Barrow76. The divine whose argument comes closest to Locke’s, however, is South; his theory of assent, stated briefly but cogently in several of his sermons, particularly in his sermon on the Trinity (preached between 1663 and 1670)77 makes one wonder, indeed, if he was one of the five or six men meeting at Christ Church whose discussions led Locke to write the Essay78. At any rate, one is not surprised to find South later siding with Locke in the controversy with Stillingfleet79. Locke had also been attacked by William Sherlock, Dean of St. Paul’s, who had denounced his rejection of innate ideas as conducive to atheism, and South had bitterly opposed Sherlock in the Trinitarian controversy80. But there is more to the kinship between Locke and South than opposition to a common adversary81.

  • 82 See Fraser, op. cit., p. lvii.

41It is usually thought that the problem that started Locke on his epistemological inquiry82 was the nature of assent, which he expounded in Book IV. The object of this part of the Essay is to set down “strict boundaries between faith and reason”, or to distinguish between knowledge and assent. There Locke shows that assent is founded on the highest reason, i.e. on the testimony of God; but it is for reason to judge whether a particular book be a revelation of God. Faith can never convince us of anything that contradicts our knowledge, since

  • 83 Essay, Bk. IV, ch. XVIII, § 5.

we cannot tell how to conceive that to come from God, the bountiful Author of our being, which, if received for true, must overturn all the principles and foundations of knowledge he has given us; render all our faculties useless; wholly destroy the most excellent part of his workmanship, our understandings; and put a man in a condition wherein he will have less light, less conduct than the beast that perisheth83.

  • 84 Essay, Bk. IV, ch. IV, § 3.
  • 85 “We can never assent to a proposition that affirms the same body to be in two distant places at on (...)

42Implicitly, then, Locke too grounds the certainty of knowledge in the rationality and goodness of God; this may account for the ease with which he takes for granted the conformity of ideas to reality, thereby ignoring or at least bypassing the problem posed, for instance by Stillingfleet, of the existence of things for which there is evidence “in the thing itself”. Further, it appears from Book IV of the Essay that one of the chief concerns of Locke was to establish the rationality of faith in contradistinction to enthusiasm, just as he had shown that knowledge resulting from the perception of agreement or disagreement of things is no castle in the air, when there is “a conformity between our ideas and the reality of things”84. Moreover, the one example he gives of the kind of truth we cannot receive as revealed by God because it contradicts our clear and distinct knowledge85, would have been recognized by all his readers since the staple objection of Anglican theology to transubstantiation was, like Locke’s, that it contradicts the evidence of our senses and as such “must overturn all the principles and foundations of knowledge (God) has given us and render all our faculties useless”. Locke’s epistemological inquiry, then, clearly echoes the issues discussed by Anglican theologians. Without detracting from the originality or interest of the Essay, we may well remember that long before it was written Chillingworth, Stilling fleet and others had elaborated a doctrine of rational assent that has much in common with Locke’s and to which he was certainly indebted. Anglican divines would have subscribed to his conclusion to chapter XVII (and it is important to remember that Locke next proceeds to repudiate enthusiasm):

  • 86 Essay, Bk. IV, ch. XVIII, § 11.

If the provinces of faith and reason are not kept distinct by these boundaries, there will, in matters of religion, be no room for reason at all; and those extravagant opinions and ceremonies that are to be found in the several religions of the world will not deserve to be blamed86.

  • 87 The Puritans distinguished between assent, or ‘historical faith’, and saving faith, i.e. actual ex (...)
  • 88 On enthusiasm in general, see R.A. Knox: Enthusiasm, Oxford, 1950.

43Anglican rationalism after the Restoration was, in fact, defined under the necessity of steering a course between ‘extravagant opinions’ and ‘extravagant ceremonies’, between enthusiasm and Romanism. This may account for the Anglicans’ failure to see that faith involves more than assent of the will and reason issuing in practice. The Puritans, who emphasized the overpowering force of Grace in conversion, were aware of the difference between assent and a living faith87. By encouraging the practice of self-examination in order to discover if one has received the call of the Spirit, they were led to sound greater depths in the human heart. Many of their spiritual autobiographies reveal the aridity of all belief that is not a real experience felt in the blood and felt along the heart. The sense of dereliction which many of them experienced at times may have driven them to despair, but it also shows that adherence to Christ meant more to them than assent of the mind to His truths and practice consonant with these truths. Their ‘indwelling in Christ’ may have sounded no better than madmen’s talk to the rationalist Anglicans, but it expressed, however confusedly, something of the nature of mystical experience. Of this only the Cambridge Platonists had a deeper sense, but it was not the aspect of their teaching that was to influence Anglican theology after the Restoration. Barrow said that there was too much Platonizing in his time; in fact, neither he nor his fellow-Anglicans were prepared to encourage mysticism of any kind, for this was hardly distinguishable from enthusiasm88. It would take an ‘eccentric’ Churchman like William Law in the next century to respond fully to the teachings of Jacob Boehme. Meanwhile, Anglican theology was committed to reason and would not agree that “le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas”.

  • 89 Bossuet himself recognized that “les Anglais sont trop instruits dans l’Antiquité pour ignorer... (...)
  • 90 The edition printed in Paris in 1678 was destroyed by order, a faulty edition was published in Ams (...)
  • 91 Op. cit.

44Stilling fleet’s Origines Sacrae was intended to combat infidelity and to assert the ‘Excellency of Scriptures’ on the ground that these are both suitable to our natural notions of a deity and attested by reliable witnesses, and therefore constitute the true rule of life. His refutation of other accounts of ancient history, however, testifies to the growth of historical criticism in the seventeenth century, which eventually might have some bearing on Biblical criticism. Not all of historical research was prompted by ‘infidelity’, and one recalls Wilkins’s praise of the Jesuits for their collections of ancient authors. Judging from Stillingfleet’s work and from the sermons of other Anglican divines, who sometimes explained their text by referring to the historical circumstances alluded to in the context, it seems that they took ancient writers into account when these confirmed Scripture, but ignored them when they were at odds with the Biblical record. In other quarters, however, historical research was being used for other purposes, i.e. as evidencing the unreliability of the Scripture text. Anglicans, it seems, remained blissfully unaware of the implications of the new findings, committed as they were to the text of the Bible, plain and intelligible to all who search it diligently; that such diligence might involve considerable learning, as South repeatedly stressed, cast no reflection on the text, since they were out to discover what the text meant, not whether it was trustworthy in all its details89. The Church of England’s resistance to historical and philological scholarship may, in fact, account for the tremendous impact of the Higher Criticism in the nineteenth century, when it seemed to many that the very foundations of their belief had been destroyed by the new approach to the text of the Bible, to its transmission, etc. It will be remembered that Dryden was prompted to examine his own beliefs by the publication of the translation of Father Simon’s Histoire Critique du Vieux Testament (1680)90; while in Religio Laici he could be satisfied with the guidance of the Church of England in points too dark for his dim reason to comprehend, he was soon moved to seek an unerring guide in Rome. As L.I. Bredvold has argued91, this was quite consistent with the philosophical scepticism which appears even in the Anglican poem.

45Such scholarly work as Father Simon’s brought to light errors and gaps in the Scripture text as transmitted through the ages, but the unreliableness of the Bible as the rule of faith had been emphasized many years before the Histoire Critique appeared by the most doughty champion of Romanism in England, ‘John Sergeant’. His Sure-Footing in Christianity (1665) is a closely argued—though some might say sophistical—set of discourses showing that the Scripture text is not trustworthy, which argues the need for oral tradition as the rule of faith. Lest any should misconstrue him, that is, probably, suspect him of denying Scripture any value whatsoever, he declares that

  • 92 J. S(ergeant): Sure-Footing in Christianity, or Rational Discourses on the Rule of Faith. With sho (...)

I argue ad hominem; that is, I manifest what must follow out of the principles of those who hold Scripture’s letter the Rule of Faith, not out of my own or Catholic ones92.

  • 93 Ibid., p. 28.

46Driving the Protestants’ reliance on the letter of Scripture ad absurdum—for the Anglicans, like Tyndale insisted on the literal interpretation of the Bible—Sergeant shows that the divine authority of Scripture is not self-evident; even granting it were, he says, which of the books are canonical? even granting this known, is a true copy preserved, is everything translated correctly, can the printers be trusted not to have altered a single letter? If it is answered that some of these questions can be solved by skill in history, then it follows that only those skilled in history can have a rule of faith. If it is argued that the fundamentals are clear in Scripture, then who is to decide which are the fundamentals? From this he goes on to argue that Scripture is neither able to ‘settle’ unlearned persons, nor of its nature to satisfy rational doubters, nor “convictive of the most obstinate and acute adversaries”93 Finally, he argues that Scripture has neither certainty in itself nor ‘ascertainableness’ to us, thus directly opposing the claim of the Anglicans that assent to Scripture is a rational act. Having thus cleared the ground, Sergeant proceeds to show that tradition, i.e. oral tradition, has all the properties he has denied to Scripture, and concludes with a set of forty-one corollaries showing that oral tradition alone has a real claim to be the rule of faith and is infallible.

  • 94 A Rational Account of the Grounds of the Protestant Religion; Being a Vindication of the Lord Arch (...)
  • 95 See, for instance, Stillingfleet’s letter to Tillotson in reply to Sergeant’s attack, which was pr (...)

47The answer to Stillingfleet in the third appendix runs along similar lines, and is intended to counter the argument of his Rational Account of the Grounds of the Protestant Religion (1664)94, in which once again Stillingfleet had vindicated Scripture against oral tradition. Though Sergeant’s reductio ad absurdum shows the weakness of the Anglicans’position with regard to the authority of Scripture, its chief interest lies in his denigration of the Bible in order to establish the authority of oral tradition and the infalli bility of Rome. From then on the controversy was to rage between Sergeant as the main champion of Rome, and Stillingfleet and Tillotson as the main defenders of the Church of England95. Tillotson, whose Rule of Faith in answer to Sergeant came out in 1666, was to continue the fight to the end of his life, rehearsing the arguments against Rome in many sermons, and indeed preaching for Princess Anne a whole series of them on the necessity of holding fast by the Protestant religion at the time when the Church was in sorest need and could only pin her hopes of escaping total destruction on the daughters of James by Anne Hyde.

  • 96 South is no less partisan in his treatment of the Puritans; the difference will be discussed below
  • 97 His Discourse Against Transubstantiation, first published in 1684, was translated into French and (...)

48The issue, then, was between implicit faith, i.e. faith received upon the authority of an infallible Church, and rational inquiry into the grounds of religion. The most thorough-going refutation of the claims of Rome to infallibility was Barrow’s A Treatise of the Pope’s Supremacy (1680), which Tillotson published after his friend’s death. If Sergeant had argued closely, so closely indeed that his compact discourses leave no time for the reader to consider the matter from a different viewpoint, Barrow’s bulky treatise considers the problem from all possible angles, and he brings all the weight of his learning to bear on the argument. Tirelessly, he examines point after point of his adversaries’claims, and by the end one may well think that the matter is closed. Yet it is characteristic of Barrow’s exhaustive treatment that even in the form in which we have it his treatise is unfinished: some arguments, or sentences, are clearly jotted down, awaiting development, and there is no conclusion though the reader has drawn his own conclusions long before the author gives over. Tillotson’s Rule of Faith (1666) manifests even more clearly the firm stand taken by the Church of England on free inquiry, and his sermons on the same subject, though often marred by his partisan spirit96, may be regarded as the clearest exposition of the principles of libre examen. It is not surprising that Tillotson’s works should have been appreciated by such men as Voltaire who were out to “ecraser l’infame”97, and his popularity on the Continent in the eighteenth century is easily accounted for by the encouragement he gave to the spirit of free inquiry.

  • 98 Isaac Barrow: A Treatise of the Pope’s Supremacy. To which is added A Discourse Concerning the Uni (...)
  • 99 That is, an argument used to support the Pope’s supremacy. Barrow examines seven of them, and prob (...)

49As Tillotson tells us in his advertisement to the reader, Barrow’s Treatise of the Pope’s Supremacy98 is intended to prove from Scripture, reason, and antiquity that the Pope’s claim is indefensible, and we may well agree with him that though others had handled the subject before, Barrow has exhausted it. Indeed, in 290 folio pages he examines the various reasons the Romanists advance to support this claim, and he marshals an impressive number of arguments, from Scripture and from ecclesiastical history, to show first that the Pope’s supremacy cannot be proved by the arguments the Romanists use, second that it can be disproved by arguments from the same sources; moreover, in many cases he shows that the claim can also be impugned “from the nature and reason of things abstractedly considered”, The treatise has all the logic and clarity of a mathematical demonstration, and each ‘supposition’99 is refuted systematically by positive and negative proof, the cumulative evidence being sufficient to silence any adversary. Yet, Barrow’s tone is cool, he is content to list facts and to expound texts of Church history. True, he occasionally breaks into sarcasm or becomes pert, but these incidental flashes hardly alter the general tone of the treatise. Apart from the careful method of the learned controversialist, some points are of special interest to us because they help to define the nature of Anglican rationalism.

50Having shown that the Professio Fidei Tridentinae was the first to make the Pope’s supremacy an article of faith, Barrow contends that it is against Christian liberty, which is enjoined by Scripture:

  • 100 Ibid., p. 126.

5. This pretence doth thwart the Scripture, by robbing all Christian People of the Liberties, and Rights, with which by that Divine Charter they are endowed; and which they are obliged to preserve inviolate.
Saint Paul enjoyneth the Galatians to stand fast in the liberty, wherewith Christ hath made us free; and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage; there is therefore a liberty, which we must maintain, and a power to which we must not submit; and against whom can we have more ground to doe this, than against him, who pretendeth to dogmatize, to define Points of Faith, to impose Doctrines (new and strange enough) on our Consciences, under a peremptory obligation of yielding assent to them? to prescribe Laws, as Divine and necessary to be observed, without warrant, as those Dogmatists did, against whom Saint Paul biddeth us to maintain our Liberty: (so that if he should declare vertue to be vice, and white to be black, we must believe him, some of his Adherents have said, consistently enough with his pretences)100.

  • 101 Quoted ibid., p. 137.
  • 102 On the doctrine of Christian Liberty, see, for instance, A.E. Barker: Milton and the Puritan Dilem (...)

51Lest this last remark should suggest that Barrow’s partisan feelings have got out of control, it should be noted that he can quote chapter and verse for this, in fact, the authority for this which Anglicans never fail to quote, Bellarmine’s statement: “Si autem Papa erraret praecipiendo vitia, vel prohibendo virtutes, teneretur Ecclesia credere vitia esse bona, et virtutes malas, nisi vellet contra conscientiam peccare”101. Barrow thus takes his stand on Christian liberty, a concept which in the preceding period had been diversely interpreted and had occasioned endless strife102. For him as for his fellow-Anglicans after the Restoration, this means primarily that Christ has enjoined to us to examine our faith. To accept such an authority as the Pope claims to have is highly offensive to a rational creature, whose service to God should be a free and rational choice, not the effect of compulsion, for therein lies the difference between the Covenant of Law and the Covenant of Grace. To deny this is therefore to return to the bondage of the Jews and to distort Christianity from its true end, to transform it

  • 103 Op. cit., p. 138.

from a divine Philosophy designed to improve the reason, to moderate the passions, to correct the manners of men, to prepare men for conversation with God and Angels (by modelling it) to a systeme of politick devices (of notions, of precepts, of rites)103.

  • 104 Ibid., p. 162.

52Such an authority will make men renounce their reason and senses, and force them to accept such ‘monstrous’ doctrines as transubstantiation; it will also enforce discipline as divinely ordained, whereas it is clear that ecclesiastical ordinances “were established by law and custom, upon prudential accounts”104.

53Barrow’s stress on free choice and on the dignity of reason, as well as his denial that Church discipline was divinely established, recalls Hooker and explains why Barrow and others were so firm in their rejection of any claim to dominion over men’s minds:

  • 105 p. 148. It is only fair to add that in his seventh Supposition, i.e. ‘That the Papal Supremacy is (...)

Truth cannot be supported merely by humane Authority; especially that authority is to be suspected, which pretendeth dominion over our minds105.

  • 106 Bossuet does not seem to have known Barrow’s treatise; in his account of the Reformation in Englan (...)
  • 107 Op. cit., pp. 297-305.

54Barrow’s conception of Christian liberty should not be confused with the liberty of tender consciences which the Puritans had claimed and the Dissenters continued to claim after the Restoration: for him it is the liberty to examine the articles of faith, not the liberty to separate for matters of discipline. The Romanists asserted that acceptance of the Pope’s supremacy was the only way to insure the unity of the Church, which, they maintained, the Church of Rome had preserved in doctrine and in discipline through the ages. They argued from the many differences among Protestants that far from having restored Christanity to its pristine purity the Reformation had only led to its splitting up into many sects which could not agree on the fundamentals of religion although they all insisted that these were revealed clearly in Scripture. The most famous work in which the disagreements among Protestants are used for this purpose is probably Bossuet’s Histoire des variations du protestantisme (1688)106. Barrow’s Treatise may be said to illustrate the ‘variations de l’ Eglise de Rome and in his Discourse Concerning the Unity of the Church he demonstrates, as Tillotson says in his preface, that there is no need to recognize a visible head over the whole Church for its unity to be preserved. According to Barrow the unity of the visible Church consists in the “consent in faith and opinion concerning all principal matters of doctrine”, though there are “points of less moment, more obscurely delivered” about which Christians may dissent, dispute or err without breach of unity. It also consists in the “bands of mutual charity” uniting all Christians, in their “spiritual cognation and alliance”, in their “incorporation into the mystical body of Christ”, in their peaceable concord, in their pastors’agreement in doctrine, and finally in the “specifical unity of discipline”, though here again Churches may differ “in lesser matters of ceremony of discipline”107. Barrow stresses that matters of discipline are instituted by human prudence, hence may vary according to time and place; but he adds:

  • 108 p. 306.

VIII. It is expedient that all Churches should conform to each other in great matters of prudential Discipline, although not instituted or prescribed by God: for this is a means of preserving Peace, and is a Beauty or Harmony. For difference of Practice doth alienate Affections, especially in common People108.

  • 109 p. 307.

55The question is, however, whether the Church must be “under one singular Government or Jurisdiction”, He grants that such a union is possible, but he firmly denies that it is “necessary or that it was ever instituted by Christ”109. This view he supports with the same kind of arguments as he uses to refute the claims of the Pope in the Treatise. Moreover, he shows that his doctrine of the Church cannot be used to ground the claims of the Separatists, and he asserts that the Recusants in England are schismatics like any other Separatists.

  • 110 Anglicans held, and still hold, that the Roman Church is a branch of Christs universal church (see (...)

56The Discourse, like the Treatise, was left unfinished, but the last two paragraphs clearly define the position of Restoration Anglicans towards the Church of Rome: Churches which by their voluntary consent adhere in confederation to the Roman Church should not be rejected from communion of charity and peace, says Barrow, “for in that they do but use their Liberty”; unless they maintain impious errors or prescribe ‘naughty practices’. For all his antipopish zeal, Tillotson says no less: he never stops denouncing the ‘impious doctrines’ and the ‘naughty practices’ of the Romanists but he refuses to exclude them from the bonds of Christian charity. The temper of these two stalwart champions of the Church of England against Rome was very different indeed from that of the Jesuit Knott, whose Charity Mistaken showed that Protestants being beyond the pale of salvation had no claim on charity, thereby provoking Chillingworth to write his Religion of Protestants110.

57Tillotson’s Rule of Faith (1666) does not adduce as many arguments from ecclesiastical history or from Scripture as does Barrow’s Treatise; it depends less for its effect on the force of the cumulative proof than on demonstration of the adversary’s faulty logic and of the damaging implications of his statements. ‘While Barrow considered the problem with the detachment of the scholar, Tillotson wrote his book in answer to a specific attack against the Protestant rule of faith, John Sergeant’s Sure-Footing, and his sarcasms sometimes degenerate into abuse. Nevertheless, he reasons lucidly, and though his developments are sometimes lengthy, the plan of his book and the drift of the argument are clear and unencumbered by the exposition of texts from Scripture or from the Councils which often make Barrow’s demonstration heavy-going. Having shown at the outset that Sergeant’s definitions of a rule and of faith are mere tautologies, Tillotson proceeds to explain the meaning of ‘a rule of faith’:

  • 111 The Rule of Faith, or an Answer to the Treatise of Mr. J.S. Entitled Sure-Footing, etc. (1666), 11 (...)

A Rule (when we speak of a Rule of Faith) is a Metaphorical Word, which in its first and proper Sense, being applied to material and sensible Things, is the Measure according to which we judge of the Straightness and Crookedness of things; and from hence it is transferr’d by Analogy to Things Moral or Intellectual. A Moral Rule is the Measure according to which we judge whether a Thing be Good or Evil; and this kind of Rule is that which is commonly called a Law, and the Agreement or Disagreement of our Actions to this Rule, is suitably to the Metaphor, called Rectitude or Obliquity. An Intellectual Rule is the Measure according to which we judge whether a thing be True or False; and that is either General or more Particular. Common Notions, and the acknowledged Principles of Reason, are that General Rule, according to which we judge whether a thing be True or False. The particular Principles of every Science are the more particular Rules, according to which we judge whether things in that Science be True or False. So that the General Notion of a Rule is, That it is a Measure, by the Agreement or Disagreement to which, we judge of all Things of that kind to which it belongs111.

58It is essential to define the kind of things to which faith belongs, for this entails the kind of evidence necessary to ground it, since this kind of assent differs from assent to mathematical demonstrations, and Tillotson distinguishes between demonstrative and moral evidence, as Stilling fleet had done and as Locke was to do. He is not, at this stage, concerned to show what justifies us in accepting Scripture as the testimony of God, since this was not denied by Sergeant. The word faith, he says, may be used generally “for a Persuasion or Assent of the Mind to any Thing wrought in us by any kind of Argument”,

  • 112 Ibid.

Yet, as it is a Term of Art used by Divines, it signifies that particular kind of Assent which is wrought in us by Testimony or Authority. So that Divine Faith, which we are now speaking of, is an Assent to a Thing upon the Testimony or Authority of God; or, which is all one, an Assent to a Truth upon Divine Revelation112.

59It follows then that the matter to be settled is

  • 113 Ibid.

the Measure according to which we judge what Matters we are to assent to, as revealed to us by God, and what not. And more particularly, The Rule of Christian Faith is the Measure, according to which we are to judge what we ought to assent to, as the Doctrine revealed by Christ to the World, and what not113.

60For him this cannot be oral or practical tradition as opposed to written tradition, but only Scripture, which is the means whereby the Christian doctrine has been brought down to us. Not that he denies value to all oral tradition, which may be a sufficient way of conveying a doctrine in some circumstances, as in the case of direct witnesses of Christ; but the circumstances of Apostolical times no longer obtain, hence recourse can only be had to Scripture. He also recognizes that

  • 114 Ibid., p. 573.

Tradition Oral and Written, do give us sufficient Assurance that the books of Scripture which we now have, are the very Books which were written by the Apostles and Evangelists; Nay, farther, that Oral Tradition alone is a competent Evidence in this Case; but withal we deny, That Oral Tradition is therefore to be accounted the Rule of Faith114.

61What Tillotson means by such dependence on oral tradition appears from what he says in Part III about the assurance we have that Scripture is a divine revelation. There, and only by the way, he answers the first question to be settled by all Christians, that Scripture is a divine testimony. Of this we can only be assured, he says, by the report of trustworthy witnesses of Christ who were persuaded by His miracles that His power was of God. Acceptance of this tradition ultimately depends on the certain evidence of the senses, for if the Apostles’senses could be deceived, their report of Christ’s miracles, resurrection and ascension cannot be trusted. Hence, all doctrine that impugns the validity of sense perception when duly tested saps the very foundations of belief in Christ. This is the ground of Tillotson’s and his fellow-Anglicans’repudiation of the doctrine of transubstantiation, since

  • 115 Ibid., p. 635.

the proper and necessary consequence of this Doctrine is to take away all certainty, and especially the certainty of Sense115.

  • 116 See his sermon on Christianity Mysterious and the Wisdom of God in making it so, in Twelve Sermons (...)
  • 117 See his sermon on the Trinity, printed below.

62Tillotson does not here distinguish between such ‘monstrous doctrine’ and the mysteries of religion which he and all Anglicans accepted; but in his sermons he explained the difference between a doctrine that runs counter to reason and the evidence of the senses and is not warranted by Scripture, and a point of belief beyond reason but plainly taught by Christ. South was as much concerned to distinguish between the two; he maintained that there was as clear reason for belief in the credenda of religion, though sometimes mysterious, as for practice of the agenda116; but he also insisted that “nothing can be an article of faith, that is not true”, and that nothing can be true that is irrational. He could not believe, he said, that God gave men reason for them to ignore it and become brutes, nor eyes for them to pluck them out; hence, it is as much against the purpose of a perfect, i.e. rational and good, Creator for men to follow ‘inbeamings’, ‘lights’, and inspirations which contradict reason, as for them to deny the report of their senses, which were created capable of judging of their proper objects. The Trinity is not an object of sense, nor does it contradict reason; it is above the reach of human reason, not against it, since it is reasonable to believe that the divine nature has a way of subsisting different from that: of created beings117. South is no less firm than Tillotson in denouncing those that traduce reason as the irreconcilable enemy of religion, though his target is both the enthusiasts and the Romanists.

  • 118 In his Preface to the first collection of his sermons (1671), which was reprinted in all editions (...)

63Tillotson’s main objection to reliance on oral tradition is that it undermines the foundations of faith in Christ: in order to establish the infallibility of their Church the Romanists “run to the extremities of scepticism”, though they contradict themselves in asserting both that reason is too dim-sighted to choose its own way, and clear-sighted enough to choose an infallible guide to doctrine. Tillotson, in fact, feared the growth of philosophical scepticism quite as much as he feared the fallacious appeal of Rome. Given the danger of renouncing reason by accepting faith upon authority or by following the inner light, it is easy to understand why in their crusade against infidelity the Anglicans should not have ‘traduced’ reason, but rather emphasized that reason and faith are agreeable, indeed that faith is the perfection of reason. It is not surprising, either, that both the Puritans ‘and the Romanists’ main objection against Anglican theology was that it assigned such a part to reason in faith. In doing this Anglican divines were continuing a tradition to which Hooker had given magnificent expression, and which had been re-defined by Falkland, Chillingworth and Stillingfleet118.

  • 119 Printed below.

64In their sermons, Barrow, South, and Tillotson like all Anglican divines opposed the spread of infidelity and met the arguments levelled at Christianity by the modern sceptics. Religious teachers in all ages have no doubt found it necessary to counter the attacks of doubters and scoffers, but after the Restoration there were many reasons why divines should be specially concerned with the growth of scepticism. The term infidelity as used by them refers to both philosophical and practical atheists, i.e. to the modish scoffers and libertines who jibed at religion because it imposes a curb on men’s appetites, as well as to those who following bare reason rejected the evidence of the Christian religion; it also refers to Socinianism and to the materialism of the new Epicurus, or Hobbism, and in the nineties to the natural religion of the Deists. The most thorough-going answer to these various kinds of infidels is probably Tillotson’s first published sermon, The Wisdom of Being Religious119; the care with which he revised his text from edition to edition—now altering a word for greater precision, now transposing a passage to give it greater force, or adding new developments—testifies to the importance of the issues. What he sets out to prove is, in fact, the unreasonableness of infidelity as a rule of life and as a philosophy. He first states that, though a perfect knowledge of nature requires a wisdom and understanding equal to the Creator’s, yet a sufficient knowledge of God and of our duty to him is attainable by man if he uses his reason rightly. He then proceeds to demonstrate that speculative atheism—whether ‘Aristotelian’ or Epicurean—is unreasonable

  • 120 Op. cit., p. 6.

1. because it gives no tolerable account of the existence of the world; 2. Nor does it give any reasonable account of the universal consent of mankind in this apprehension, That there is a God. 3. It requires more evidence for things than they are capable of. 4. The Atheist pretends to know that which no man can know. 5. Atheism contradicts it self120.

  • 121 His second kind, induction by experiments, was not used by either Stillingfleet or Barrow. But Til (...)
  • 122 The sermon was first published in 1664, and the earlier version of this passage is even closer to (...)
  • 123 Op. cit., sermon 2.
  • 124 South considers the same hypotheses in op. cit., II, ser. 1.

65On the first count he argues that the several hypotheses of the atheists—whether the belief that the matter and frame of the world are eternal, or Epicurean or modern materialism—have against them both the universal consent of mankind and the probabilities of reason, and in fact raise more difficulties than they solve. Tillotson then considers the causes to which atheists ascribe the universal belief in God: fear, tradition, and policy of State, i.e. the explanation given by Hobbes in the Leviathan. In developing his third objection he makes the usual121 distinction between the strict demonstrations which mathematical things are capable of, the proof by ‘induction of experiments’ in natural philosophy, and the moral arguments which establish things of a moral nature. On the fourth count Tillotson merely shows that to be certain of ‘a pure negative’ is more than man can know; nor does he enlarge on the inner contradictions of atheism. Instead, he goes on to show that speculative atheism works directly against the present interest of men as well as against their future happiness; at which point he says that even supposing the arguments for and against a God were equal, men should out of mere prudence choose to live by the safer hypothesis122. Tillotson next addresses himself to practical atheism, which, he says, argues folly while speculative atheism may be no more than ignorance; he does not develop the point here, but it is the theme of his sermon on The Folly of Scoffing at Religion123 on 2 Pet. III. 3. There he considers the three hypotheses: suppose there were no God, suppose the matter doubtful, suppose it certain that there is a God124. Tillotson’s answer to the scoffers, if it be granted that there is no God, is characteristic of his tolerant and peaceable temper: since they have no obligation of conscience to dispute against the principles of religion, the atheists should forbear to offend the generality of mankind; it is a breach of the laws of civil conversation to deride or attack other people’s belief unless it is to vindicate truth. Clearly, Tillotson—and indeed most of his contemporaries—cannot envisage any truth other than that of religion, nor allow for obligation of conscience except in the context of religion, and this is an important qualification of their rationalism.

  • 125 Sermons on the Creed, 1 (printed below), 2, 3, The titles, however, are not Barrow’s but his edito (...)

66Barrow too preached on ‘The Evil and Unreasonableness of Infidelity’ and on ‘The Virtue and Reasonableness of Faith’125. He considers infidelity as affected blindness and ignorance of the noblest and most useful truths, resulting from the wrong use of reason, since God has proposed a doctrine intelligible to man’s reason, with clear attestations of its divine origin and plain arguments to recommend it. Rather than show that the atheists’views are unreasonable, he examines the causes of such distorted use of reason, i.e. negligence, sloth, dullness of apprehension, perverseness of will, etc., and in conclusion he shows that the evil spirit from which infidelity proceeds best appears from the principles usually espoused with it. The principles he then lists can all be related to Hobbes’s philosophy as interpreted by his contemporaries, and indeed Hobbes looms large in all attacks against infidelity. Again applying the pragmatic test, rather than arguing against atheism, Barrow shows how evil infidelity is from its effects upon men’s lives. If it be objected that Christians need not be warned against such impious doctrines, Barrow answers that many infidels wear the mask of Christians. Thus he too, though only in fine, directs his attack against ‘practical atheists’, i.e. men of dissolute life. Here, more clearly than in Tillotson, appears the link between doctrine and practice which all Anglicans stressed, that by their fruits ye shall know them. The point will be emphasized in sermon after sermon by all divines, not only in their crusade against’infidels’but against the Antinomians, or at least against the encouragement given to Antinomianism by some Puritan tenets. Hence, in spite of the King’s Directions for Preachers enjoining to preachers to avoid controversial matters, the many expositions of the doctrine of Grace, and the stress on the necessity of practice as well as of faith. Hence, also, the Puritans’ charge that the Anglicans were mere ‘practical preachers’.

  • 126 Sermons on the Creed, in op. cit., II, 35.

67In his two sermons on the reasonableness of faith Barrow discusses the nature of faith: if the doctrine is propounded with evident and cogent reason, he asks, what virtue is there in believing? if no such arguments can be advanced, what fault is there in withholding assent? Now, for Barrow faith means the knowledge of the most worthy and important truths, not attainable otherwise, but it is knowledge ‘in way of great evidence and assurance’. It can be brought to trial at the bar of reason, for our religion, he says, only admits man if he understands and is persuaded of its truth. If the moral evidence establishing the divine origin of our rule of faith does not satisfy a man ‘too wise’, then reason itself well followed will lead him thither. God not only allows but enjoins us to use our best reason; to require faith without reason is an impossibility, and to accept a doctrine on bare authority is not faith at all. Faith takes us beyond the sphere of natural light; whereas pagan philosophers could only seek truth, but had no assurance of it, Christians have such knowledge on the infallible testimony of God, conveyed to them by powerful evidence: for want of this, says Barrow, human wisdom is but blind and lame. It is a foul aspersion on religion to say that it challenges assent without proof. Faith is indeed a gift of God, it cannot grow on bad soil, but many men wilfully obstruct the light of faith for lack of diligence or of sincerity of judgment, or because their appetites influence their judgements. Hence all faith “may be deemed voluntary, no less than intellectual”126; it requires both the bare assent of the understanding and the free consent of the will. God has not made the truths of religion conspicuous to sense, nor demonstrable by reason like theorems in geometry, which could compel man to believe. God requires a free choice upon rational grounds. Even greater motives would not work upon those whom these sufficient reasons do not convince, for they would devise shifts, forge exceptions and oppose an obstinate will against the truth;

  • 127 That is, the arguments for religion should outweigh those against it.
  • 128 Ibid., p. 38.

Wherefore it was for the common good, and to divine wisedom it appeared sufficient, that upon the balance truth should much outweigh falshood127, if the scales were held in an even hand, and no prejudices were thrown in against it; that it should be conspicuous enough to eyes, which do not avert themselves from it, or wink on purpose, or be clouded with lust and passion; it was enough that infidelity is justly chargeable on mens wilfull pravity; and that πρόφασιν οὐϰ ἔχουσιν, they have not (as our Saviour saith) any reasonable excuse for it128.

  • 129 Ibid., p. 50.

68Faith is not, however, a mere “notion swimming in the head”, as he says in the next sermon129, it is a tree that bears fruit, and must issue in practice.

  • 130 Printed below.

69So firmly were Barrow and his fellow-Anglicans convinced that reason if rightly directed could arrive at the truths of Christianity that they were unable to envisage that unbelief might result from other causes than the wrong use of reason through the weakness or depravity of the will. They would not have said with Pascal: “Tu ne me chercherais pas si tu ne m’avais deja trouve”, but rather: “seek, and ye shall find”, South argued from the same premiss in his sermon on John VII. 7130: the Christian religion was recommended to the reason of men with the same authority and evidence as the law of Moses; if the Jews, like the later infidels, rejected it, it was not for want of evidence but because their understanding was obscured by their appetites. Assent to the truths of religion requires a careful examination of these truths, and this entails labour. Though it is not in the power of the will to cause or hinder the assent of the understanding to a thing proposed to it, yet it is in its power antecedently to apply the understanding faculty to it. After briefly defining assent, and concluding that “incurable blindness is caused by a resolution not to see”, South moves on to discuss the other point Barrow raises: that faith is a gift of God. Barrow says: “Faith is a fruit of God’s Spirit; but such as will not grow in a bad soil”; South expresses this much more strongly: faith, he says, is “a ray of such light, as never darts itself upon a dunghill”, This violence is the counterpart of his contempt for all pretences at inspiration as well as of the intellectual vigour he requires in the search after truth: truth, he says, is “a great stronghold, barred and fortified by God and nature” to which the understanding must lay siege. Thus, while insisting that the truths of religion are evident to reason, he is far from suggesting that they are no more than what mere common sense can see plainly and easily. South, indeed, required discipline in all works of the mind, and could have nothing but contempt for loose thinking or loose speaking, for the confused and confusing use of words which issues in intellectual and moral chaos. This intellectual energy is coupled in him with a deeper sense than either Barrow or Tillotson seem to have of the purification of the will necessary before the understanding can see clearly. He often recalls the Cambridge Platonists, particularly in this sermon when he explains that growth in knowledge of religion is required, but that it is a knowledge “men are not so much to study, as to live themselves into”; purge the heart, he says, and knowledge will break in upon the soul like the sun. Clearly, the life of truth is a long and hard training. If South stressed, as much as did Barrow and Tillotson, that faith must issue in works, he could never have been called a mere practical preacher. For one thing, the agenda he recommended were based on what he considered as the main matter of practice enjoined by Christ, self-denial; and the credenda could only be grasped by a mind striving for truth.

  • 131 See the sermon printed below; there are 3 further sermons on the same text, in op. cit., VI, sermo (...)
  • 132 South’s denunciation of the abuse of words, and of the exploitation of them for political purposes (...)

70As one might expect the fight against infidelity also involved denunciation of the vices of the age, particularly of the profligacy of those whom Tillotson called the practical atheists. Though this again is the theme of many sermons in all ages, it had a particular cogency after the Restoration. It is well known that Burnet lost his chaplaincy to Charles II for remonstrating against the vices of the Court. Restoration sermons abound in pictures of the manners of the age; Anglican divines cannot be accused of an unfavourable bias since they were committed to preach respect to people in authority, and the vices they censured were most notorious in the polite world and at Court. If anything they were very temperate and often managed to express themselves in covert terms. Only one aspect of this need concern us here, South’s denunciation of the imposture of words131, because it is linked with his censure of the moral relativism associated with Hobbes. Here again, the concept of right reason, as both knowledge of truth and choice of good, is central, and South animadverts on those who abuse men’s minds with false notions by using language loosely, on purpose or following the fashion of the times. This calling of evil good and good evil leads to moral anarchy by blurring all differences between good and evil: when a debauchee is called a good-natured man the true nature of things is obscured, and when this becomes the general way of converse ‘plausible words’, i.e. words of praise, are used to refer to the most shameful objects. Thus South links the inversion of values so characteristic of Restoration society with the inversion of language, which as the instrument of a rational being should serve to convey the true images of things to the minds of others. It is not surprising, he says, that unbecoming liberties should be more and more common, and be generally approved, if they are usually called “the genteel freedom of the town”: if such terms are now the common coin for vile behaviour, no wonder that vice should stalk the world in full glory. One need only turn to such Restoration comedies as The Country Wife to realize that South is not exaggerating the power of words to keep a genteel mask over plain debauchery. It is, however, characteristic of South that he should not confine his censure of the imposture of words to the effect on the manners of the time, but should denounce even more violently the corruption of the mind that follows on such loose use of language. For words are, or should be, instruments of right reason, for communication, not for obfuscation or deception. At this stage in South’s argument it is clear from the examples he gives that his target is no longer the ‘practical atheists’, but the enthusiasts who lead the blind mob astray: the sheep indeed look up to their pastors, and are fed with empty words which corrupt them from true service to God and from obedience to their prince132.

  • 133 See the Sermon printed below, on John VII. 7.
  • 134 On John I. 14, in op. cit., I, ser. 44.

71Chillingworth and Hales had been accused of Socinianism for their defence of reason. The charge was to be preferred against many Anglican divines after the Restoration, particularly against Tillotson. True, the word was used as loosely as the word ‘atheism’ had been in Marlowe’s time, and sometimes was little more than a vague term of abuse. Still, by assigning to reason such an important part in faith Anglicanism seemed to many to be barely distinguishable from Socinianism, or later from Deism. In his sermon against unbelief South had referred to Socinus’view that man’s assent to Christianity follows from the natural disposition of his mind, in order to show that the Christian doctrine is agreeable to reason133. It was only natural that this point should receive particular stress in sermons directed against infidelity, and for this reason, no less than from the natural bent of his mind, Tillotson returned to it again and again. He was also fair enough to give the devil his due, and in one of his sermons134 he compared favourably the moderation of Socinus with the heat and contentiousness of religious disputants at home. But such fairness was too rare at the time, and Tillotson was at once attacked for daring to praise such an impious man.

  • 135 Op. cit., II, ser. 11, p. 415.
  • 136 Op. cit., II, ser. 7.
  • 137 Op. cit., II, ser. 11.
  • 138 See his sermon on the Trinity, printed below.
  • 139 See his sermon on 1 John III. 21, printed below.
  • 140 Ibid.
  • 141 Essay, Bk. IV, ch. XVIII, § 5.
  • 142 Ibid., ch. III, § 23.

72However much Anglican divines agreed with Socinus in stating that natural or bare reason is the basis of all faith and directs man to accept Scripture as the Word of God, they also stressed that, as South put it135, by following reason man will meet another light, or that faith is the perfection of reason, because God has revealed truths which bare reason could not have found out. If Anglican divines use the testimony of heathen philosophers, it is to show both that Christ’s teachings agree with what natural reason could teach man and also that something has been superadded which the best philosophers could not have discovered. Natural religion even without revelation, South argues136, is sufficient to make a sinner inexcusable; but though bare reason is sufficient to tell us what not to do, it cannot always tell us what to do137. The same is true of the speculative part of doctrine: it agrees with bare reason, but transcends it since no creature could have discovered by his mere natural light such truths as Christ’s Incarnation and Atonement. Nor can bare reason fathom such mysteries once they are revealed; all it can do is to see that given the immeasurable distance between finite creatures and an infinite Creator it must posit a different mode of existence for God, and not limit Him to what is possible for created beings: to apply to God arguments from created nature is. South says, to argue a genere ad genus138. Reason is a ray of divinity, the Candle of the Lord, and “it ought to be no disparagement to a star, that it is not a sun”139; but it is often defective and must be guided by the mind of God uttered in His revealed Word, for “nothing that contradicts the Revealed Word of God is the voice of Right Reason”140. This may seem to reverse Locke’s statement that “no proposition can be received for divine revelation,... if it be contrary to our clear and intuitive knowledge”141, unless we remember that according to Locke too we can have no clear and intuitive knowledge of the ‘intellectual world’, and that the narrow inlets by which we receive simple ideas “are disproportionate to the vast whole extent of all beings”142. Similarly, the Anglican divines now stress the sufficiency of reason, now its limitations according as they demonstrate the foundations of assent to Christian truths, or the nature of these truths. These are the two sides of their main argument, which in no way contradict each other.

  • 143 South charged William Sherlock, author of A Vindication of the Holy and Ever-Blessed Trinity (1690 (...)

73South’s most violent denunciation of Socinianism appears in his sermon on the mysteriousness of Christianity, preached in 1694, that is, at the time of the Trinitarian controversy, when the principles and methods of Socinus were used to support the’liberal rationalism’of the Unitarians, and were soon to be used by ‘a certain Mahommetan Christian’, as South calls John Toland, in Christianity Not Mysterious (1696). This work, though it did not initiate Deism, gave it a new impetus by exploiting some of the principles inherent in rational theology and notably in Locke’s The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), and by drawing facile conclusions from them which altogether banished mystery from religion. South animadverted on the harm done to Christianity by these new Socinians (and also by the ‘Tritheists’ who opposed them143) in the dedication to the Archbishop of Dublin prefixed to the third volume of his sermons (1698), in which Christianity Mysterious and the Wisdom of God in making it so first appeared, and he may well have chosen to publish this sermon in order to answer the Deists. In the sermon itself he equates Socinianism with these ‘later blasphemies’:

  • 144 Op. cit., III, ser. 6, p. 216.

The Socinians indeed, who would obtrude upon the World, (and of late more daringly than ever) a new Christianity of their own inventing, will admit of nothing mysterious in this Religion, nothing, which the natural Reason of Man cannot have a clear and comprehensive Perception of: And this not only in Defiance of the express Words of Scripture so frequently and fully affirming the contrary, but also of the constant, universal Sense of all Antiquity unanimously confessing an Incomprehensibility in many of the Articles of the Christian Faith144.

74South, who had never stopped denouncing the danger to religion of the Puritans’mistaken notions, finds such innovations more scandalous than any propounded before even in “those times of confusion both in Church and State betwixt Forty One and Sixty”. But he charges with equal blasphemy those who pretend to resolve the difficulties of the mysteries of religion, for the consequence of this is that these mysteries come to be ridiculed. This had been the burden of his repeated attacks against Sherlock, the self-appointed champion of the Trinity; for, as South says in this sermon,

  • 145 Ibid., p. 252.

he who thinks and says he can understand all Mysteries, and resolve all Controversies, undeniably shews, that he really understands none145.

  • 146 Op. cit., III, ser. 8.
  • 147 Op. cit., IV, ser. 6.

75In other sermons, for instance on the Incarnation146 South emphasizes the paradox to human reason of Christ’s coming to man; in another, on the General Resurrection147, he asserts the incomprehensibility of the doctrine, yet says that reason assents to it because it is revealed plainly by God; in yet another, on the creation of Adam, he counters the objection that

  • 148 Op. cit., I, ser. 2, p. 45.

the producing Something out of Nothing is impossible and incomprehensible: Incomprehensible indeed I grant, but not therefore impossible... (since) it is not always rational to measure the truth of an Assertion by the Standard of our Apprehension148.

  • 149 Op. cit., II, ser. 7. The sermon was preached in 1690; vol. II of the Sermons was published in 1694

76It is also significant that when South published his sermon on Rom. I. 20 So that they are without excuse, in which he shows that the Gentiles had no excuse for rejecting Christ’s teachings since their bare reason should have been satisfied of the truths of the Gospel, he gave it the title: Natural Religion, without Revelation, shewn only sufficient to render a sinner inexcusable, a title which does not adequatly sum up the main theme of the sermon149. For South, then, there are limits to what reason can do, and rational inquiry must not be pursued beyond a certain point. To apply reason to objects not proper to it is to sin against right reason.

  • 150 This sermon, A Defence of the Blessed Trinity, was not included in the Works of Barrow published b (...)

77The Anglican position in regard to the use of reason and to its limitations is best exemplified by South, because of the cogency of his statements and the acuteness of his thinking, but also because he was confronted in the nineties with the rise of Deism. Yet Barrow too had set bounds to rational inquiry, on much the same grounds as South. Indeed, in a sermon on the Trinity he develops the same argument against reducing all truths to what human reason can comprehend150. Like South, Barrow emphasizes the incomprehensible nature of this mystery:

  • 151 Isaac Barrow: Theological Works, ed. Alexander Napier, Cambridge, 1859, IV, 494.

That there is one Divine Nature or Essence, common unto three Persons incomprehensibly united, and ineffably distinguished... These are notions which may well puzzle our reason in conceiving how they agree, but should not stagger our faith in assenting that they are true151.

78Like South too, he condemns both those who flatly deny the Trinity because they cannot understand it, and those who attempt to demonstrate these mysteries:

  • 152 Ibid., p. 495.

There be those, who, because they cannot untie, dare to cut asunder these sacred knots; who, because they cannot fully conceive, dare flatly to deny them; who, instead of confessing their own infirmity, do charge the plain doctrines and assertions of Holy Scripture with impossibility. Others seem to think they can demonstrate these mysteries by arguments grounded upon principles of natural light; and express them by similitudes derived from common experience. To repress the presumption of the former, and to restrain the curiosity of the latter, the following considerations... may perhaps somewhat conduce152.

79He proceeds to submit the following considerations: our reason is no capable judge of such propositions; the manner of using our reason incapacitates us to judge of these matters, because we have no principles pertinent to discourse on this subject; even about things most familiar our reason is weak and short; we daily see and observe things, which, did not manifest experience convince us of their being, we should be apt to disbelieve; the propositions delivered by God are more unquestionably true than the experiments of sense or the principles of any science. Since all divine attributes baffle our reason, he says, we should meditate upon the incomprehensibility of God in all things belonging to him, not meddle with his essence, since even seraphim are unable to sustain the ‘fulgor’ of His immediate presence. The proper employment of our mind about these mysteries is not to speculate about them, but to embrace them with pious credulity. As always with Barrow the list of considerations is impressive; compared with South he may well seem to have viewed the nature and use of reason in all their aspects, and to have closed the question by exhausting all the topics. He too states that

  • 153 Ibid., p. 498.

no light in any manner imparted by God can obscure the doctrine declared by him, no doctrine can thwart principles instilled by him153

80since the various means of knowing truth God has given us cannot clash with each other. Though he elsewhere insists that it is our duty to exercise our reason in religion, he emphasizes the infirmity of man in front of the universe as well as in front of God, and his words look forward to the Essay on Man:

  • 154 Ibid., p. 501.

Shall we then, who cannot pierce into the nature of a pebble, that cannot apprehend how a mush-room doth grow, that are baffled in our philosophy about a gnat, or a worm, debate and decide (beyond what is taught us from above) concerning the precise manner of divine essence, subsistence, or generation154?

81Barrow, the friend of Newton, knew indeed that sense no less than faith presents us with objects which appear improbable or even inconceivable; he knew, too, that the observations of sense often prove fallacious. But, like South, he believed in the fundamental unity of all truth, and of knowledge, as deriving ultimately from God, the fountain of all truth, who conveys His light to us either directly or refracted through divers mediums. Reason and faith, then, are not opposed, but only several ways of arriving at different aspects of truth.

  • 155 In Trinity College, Cambridge (T.C. MS. 0.10. a. 32). On the last page is the opening of another s (...)
  • 156 See, for instance, the sermon Against Foolish Talking and Jesting, printed below.
  • 157 See Works, I, ser. 11.
  • 158 Against Foolish Talking and Jesting.
  • 159 Op. cit., I, ser. 11.

82From the manuscript of another sermon155 on Col. III. 2, it appears that Barrow had planned two sermons on the same text. They are indeed complementary, for he there argues that man can attain to an adequate knowledge of God, and that God has enjoined on us to apply our understanding to contemplate His admirable perfections, set forth in the works of nature and even more clearly in Scripture. There he defends the proposition that God is the most proper and ‘connatural’ object of our understanding, that he is intelligible since he is infinitely simple, consistent, and immutable whereas things in nature are in perpetual flux. Whereas we perceive very little of other objects we can perceive the essential attributes of God: His magnificence, infinite goodness, wisdom and power. God is light and by His light all things are illuminated. Barrow checks himself in this speculation which may seem “too Platonical”, but he argues that though estranged from God since the Fall man still has in him a tendency to know and seek Him, and that it is the most proper operation of our understanding, which was designed to know and converse about God. The knowledge of God to which we are directed is adequate knowledge such as Barrow has defined, i.e. something that Locke would not have called knowledge at all since Barrow stresses that we can have no clear and distinct ideas about God, that God’s being and attributes are incomprehensible to human reason, that indeed divine incomprehensibility is one of these attributes. It is striking indeed that Barrow, who achieved international fame in his time for his work in mathematics, should base his argument on the intelligibility of God, and conclude that incomprehensibility is one of God’s attributes. South, the stern logician, would never have been guilty of such a faulty reasoning. However that may be, it is clear that Barrow intended to demonstrate that man’s reason is naturally bent towards God, since it is an image of the mind of God. That he was thereby led to platonize is only natural, since he was expounding the concept of right reason. But he was not prepared to follow Plato all the way; indeed, he says, Plato’s conceptions are perhaps too much admired at present. What he wished to teach was reverence for a Creator whose wisdom, goodness, and power are manifested in the universe. Here, then, we see the two trends of thought merging, if not quite happily, in the one sermon, and both indirectly upholding the rationality of faith. Elsewhere too Barrow had said that religion does not quench natural light, but confirms and improves it156; that we must exercise our reason upon the acts of Providence if we would understand God’s design157; that in interpreting Scripture we should beware of making a text clash with reason and experience158; that we should wisely consider God’s doing because no good action can follow unless we understand His purpose rightly159. For him, then, as for South, faith is agreeable to reason but transcends it, and the mysteries we receive upon rational grounds should not be pried into.

  • 160 The Excellency of the Christian Religion, in op. cit., I, ser. 5.
  • 161 The Precepts of Christianity not Grievous, in op. cit., I, ser. 6.
  • 162 The Six Sermons published in 1694 deal with: the Divinity of Christ (I, 43 and 44), the Incarnatio (...)
  • 163 On this, see G.R. Cragg: The Church and the Age of Reason (1648-1789), Harmondsworth, 1960, ch. 5.

83The main burden of Tillotson’s sermons is the reasonableness of religion; again and again he shows that Christianity enforces the great duties of natural religion, that natural and revealed religion agree, and that only malicious opposition resulting from the depraved will can prevent us from accepting the evidence of Christ; he even defines the sin against the Holy Ghost as this wilful resistance to the evidence of the truths of religion. He grounds the excellency of the Christian religion in the fact that it reveals the nature of God more clearly than did the law of Moses, whose moral precepts he elsewhere equates with natural law; that it gives a more certain and perfect law for the government of our lives, propounds more powerful arguments for us to obey that law, and furnishes better motives to patience and contentedness160. In another sermon he shows that the precepts of Christianity are not grievous since the laws of God are reasonable, that is, “suitable to our nature and advantageous to our interest”, that we are not destitute of the power and ability to perform the duties laid on us, and that we have the greatest encouragements for doing so, i.e. the promise of rewards161. As one reads his sermon on The Precepts of Christianity not Grievous one may well wonder what difference there is, except for the promise of rewards, between Christianity and mere natural religion. And the question forces itself upon us in sermon after sermon, as Tillotson insists that the main duties enjoined by Christ are consonant with natural law, or emphasizes the wisdom of Christianity. In fact, he equates faith with wisdom, as a rule of life that directs us to our own good, and he also shows that religion is not only suitable to our nature, but profitable to us. The stress he lays on the advantage of religion indeed makes many of his sermons most unpalatable to modern readers. When he argues the reasonableness of Christianity we may feel that such a temper and moderation were highly commendable in an age when so much heat was brought to religious disputes; he could argue with the infidels that they could have no reasonable objection to Christianity, as well as suit the temper of his more pragmatic hearers by showing them what moral good was to be derived from Christianity. That: such moral good was often presented as a practical advantage may be ascribed to the kind of people he was out to persuade; but one feels that this also resulted from the turn of Tillotson’s own mind. Indeed, one often wonders if he had any inkling of the utter incomprehensibility of the Godhead, of the unfathomable wisdom of God’s purposes, or even of the complexities of the human heart. His view of the world is decidedly untragic and unmysterious, and though he exercised his reason on the admirable contrivance of the universe he could easily ignore the more baffling problems with which it confronts man. He was not, it seems, able to realize the sheer inconceivableness of the Incarnation, nor to feel the profound awe which the sacrifice of the divine victim had inspired in earlier ages162. In this Tillotson was not unlike his contemporaries, but his equable temper no less than the need he felt to reform men’s lives by teaching right practice made him overstress the ‘reasonable’ side of Christianity. As one reads him one is constantly reminded that the age of enlightenment is not far off, and he may well have contributed to popularize a cool, dispassionate, but also unardent form of religion, which would soon be hardly distinguishable from Deism163.

  • 164 Reprinted in the first folio volume containing Fifty Four Sermons and the Rule of Faith.
  • 165 See Burnet’s funeral sermon: “His endeavouring to make out every thing in Religion from clear and (...)
  • 166 Op. cit., I, ser. 43.
  • 167 But he praises Socinus for conducting his argument coolly.

84Yet, some aspects of his teachings make the charge of Deism untenable, such as the part he assigns to Grace or his belief in the Providence of God at work in the universe and in the lives of men. Characteristically, these ideas are not developed in the sermons he first collected for publication, as though he had chosen to present to the public what seemed to him most urgently needed: the defence of Christianity on rational grounds, the objections to implicit faith in an infallible Church, and the enforcement of duties. In the 1694 volume, however, he collected six sermons, some of which had been preached in 1679-80. This, he tells his readers in the advertisement164, he was prompted to do in answer to the calumnies of his detractors165. Thus at the time when the mysteries of religion were impugned he published a series of sermons in which he had asserted the mysteriousness of Christianity. There he clearly takes his stand against Socinus and his subtlety of wit in interpreting Scripture, and he refutes the doctrines of the Arians and of the Socinians, who pretended that Christ was a mere creature166. The next sermon is wholly devoted to disproving the Socinians’thesis by establishing from the text that the Word had existence before the Incarnation167; he there shows that the liberty of interpretation does not entail proposing any interpretation as possible, and he even says that it would be fairer altogether to reject the divine authority of Scripture than to put such disingenuous construction upon it. Since, however, the Socinians claim to have reason on their side when they deny the divinity of Christ and the Trinity, Tillotson is prepared to bring his doctrine to the bar of reason as well as of Scripture. The Socinians say such a doctrine is not only above but contrary to reason; to which Tillotson answers that reason is not able to comprehend such mysteries fully, and that trying to explain them will only entangle the matter: he is content to show that though the doctrine plainly taught by Christ is beyond the reach of our finite understanding it involves no contradiction, and that the Socinians’opinion has greater difficulties and is really absurd.

85Tillotson thus comes out as firmly as do Barrow and South for the acceptance of incomprehensible truths provided they are clearly revealed by God. It is, however, characteristic of him that he should remark:

  • 168 Ibid., p. 459.

And thus much may suffice to have said upon this Argument, which I am sensible is mere Controversy: a Thing which I seldom meddle with, and do not delight to dwell upon168.

86It is equally characteristic that in his reflections at the end he should stress the harm done to the Protestant religion by such doubtful interpretations, which serve to give force to the exception of the Church of Rome against Scripture as the certain rule of faith. He ends this sermon with a no less significant reminder of Erasmus’condemnation of subtle arguments, and with a restatement of his belief that the truths necessary to be believed are delivered plainly in Scripture:

  • 169 Ibid., p. 459.

God surely hath not dealt so hardly with Mankind as to make any thing necessary to be believ’d or practis’d by us which he hath not made sufficiently plain to the capacity of the unlearned as well as the learned. God forbid that it should be impossible for any man to be saved and to get to Heaven without a great deal of Learning to direct and carry him thither, when the far greatest part of Mankind have no learning at all169

  • 170 Op. cit., I, 463, ser. 45.

87The difference with South is, however, striking: whereas South argues that the mysteries of religion exercise our reason—though it is foolish to try and explain them—Tillotson takes his stand on the plainness of the truths necessary for salvation. He is not only genuinely averse to useless controversies, he is also, one feels, not inclined to search very deeply. Tillotson’s conclusion suggests that, remembering the earlier Puritans’objection to Anglo-Catholic preachers because they did not preach to the capacity of all hearers, he was determined to get the message across to the average Christian; but it also looks forward to the wastes of the eighteenth century, when all points beyond the reach of mere common sense being ignored, Anglican theology will settle in a complacent acceptance of mere practical truths. However much Tillotson may have combated the obscurantism encouraged by the Church of Rome, he was likely to encourage another kind of obscurantism in spite of his stress on free inquiry. His conclusion indirectly answers the objection Sergeant had raised in Sure-Footing, that if Scripture is to be the rule of faith only learned men will be able to interpret it. Tillotson himself commanded sufficient learning to carry out the necessary exegesis, but he did not, like South, emphasize the need of learning for the pastors; nor did he, like South, envisage that the unlearned might need guidance in searching the text of Scripture. His more ‘democratic’ attitude thus brought him near to emasculating some aspects of the Christian doctrine, and he is the ancestor of the liberal theology of the next age through his repeated insistence that it is not safe for our shallow understandings to wade further than Scripture goes before us170.

88Tillotson had no patience with the theologians who use hard words; in one of his sermons he said:

  • 171 Ibid., p. 463.

And this may suffice to have been spoken in general concerning that great Mystery of the Hypostatical, as they that love hard words love to call it, or Personal Union of the Divine and human Natures in the Person of our Blessed Saviour171.

  • 172 The sermons published in 1694 were preached ‘several years ago’ at St. Lawrence Jewry, and enlarge (...)
  • 173 “Thus the ablest of the deists, Matthew Tindal (1657-1733), in his Christianity as Old as Creation(...)

89The echo from the attacks against the schoolmen is unmistakable (he had invoked Erasmus in the preceding sermon): not only are knotty points not to be discussed, but obscure ones had better be ignored, since they are too hard to grasp for the common man172. Nor did Tillotson consider that hard words might be necessary to distinguish and define ideas. His was the current view about the use of common speech; when transferred to the realm of thinking one can imagine the oversimplifications this might entail. It is worth noting, however, that starting from the same assumption, that the Bible is the rule of faith, and emphasizing the same point, that men should not try to explain mysteries, South and Tillotson could yet encourage two entirely different attitudes: the one urging disciplined thinking and further inquiry as well as reverential awe, the other content to remain on this middle isthmus, untroubled and unawed by the great mysteries of Christianity. Tillotson could never have written the Animadversions Upon Dr. Sherlock’s Book, not only because he was a more charitable man than South, but because he never commanded enough dialectical skill to distinguish between existence and essence, and such like ‘scholastic subtleties’, to answer Sherlock’ s defence of the Trinity. With Tillotson, in fact, reason has been levelled down to the common denominator which is found in all men; similarly, the consent of mankind, which he so often invokes in support of religion, is the experienced fact rather than the universal nature of the connate notions implanted by God. For all his belief in the mysteriousness of Christianity, the main themes of his sermons might not unfairly be reduced to the five fundamental points of all religions as expounded in Herbert of Cherbury’s De Veritate (1623). It is no wonder, then, that he was accused of Socinianism by his detractors, or that his sermons contributed to the growth of Deism173.

90In order to refute the atheists Anglicans demonstrated the rational grounds on which their faith was based, and in their controversy with Rome they emphasized the necessity of rational inquiry. Their rationalism was further defined in their arguments against the Puritans. Not only did they assert that faith is a form of rational assent, not a private illumination, but in defining the part played by Grace in this assent they insisted that Grace cannot work on barren ground, in other words, they insisted on the cooperation between Grace and reason, not on the fundamental difference—or opposition—between the two. Though they were prepared to admit that the Grace of God works by ways unsearchable to man, and may sometimes effect a conversion suddenly, as it had in the case of St. Paul, they taught that only by due preparation could man make himself fit to receive such a gift. They also taught that the gift was no less free for requiring such preparation. Similarly, in their doctrine of works, they emphasized that faith without works is a mere notion “swimming in the head”, as Barrow said, whereas Christ has enjoined a living faith, and they opposed Antinomianism—and all doctrines tending thereto—as well as the doctrine of the power of works to effect salvation which, they said, the Tridentine profession of faith upheld. To recommend Christian practice was all the more necessary given the general laxity or even profligacy after the Restoration, and given also the repudiation of’mere morality’by the enthusiasts. Hence, though the Directions for Preachers forbode divines to discuss the knotty points of election and reprobation, it was imperative to correct errors that would nullify Christ’s teaching. Such were the problems of justifying faith and of Grace; in expounding these Anglicans took their stand on the fundamental concept of a perfect, that is, of a rational and good God, against the Puritans’ notion of God’s arbitrary decrees, as firmly as Hooker had done at the end of the sixteenth century. In fact, like Hales in the preceding age, they bade John Calvin good night.

  • 174 See Tulloch, op. cit., II, 59-74.
  • 175 Whichcote’s Select Discourses, in 3 vols., were published in 1698 by the Third Earl of Shaftesbury (...)

91The Anglicans’ reliance on the light of nature was highly offensive to the Puritans, who believed in the radical difference between natural law and the Gospel, and the Anglicans’ conception of faith as rational assent ran counter to the Puritans’ doctrine about the segregation of the realms of nature and of grace. This had already brought Whichcote into conflict with his Presbyterian master Tuckney in 1651, because he allowed too much to reason174. Whichcote, though appointed vice-chancellor of Cambridge University by the Puritan authorities, repeatedly asserted that reason is the Candle of the Lord and therefore must not be put under a bushel. He stated this most emphatically in his twenty-third discourse175:

  • 176 Quoted in P.E. More and Fr.L. Cross: Anglicanism, The Thought and Practice of the Church of Englan (...)

They are not to be blamed, or looked upon as neglecters of God’s grace, and undervaluers of it, or to abate it in the least, who vigorously and with all imaginable zeal call upon men to use, employ and improve the principles of God’s creation, that charge it upon men as a point of religion and conscience, to use, employ, and improve the principles of God’s creation. I find that some men take offence to hear reason spoken out of pulpit, or to hear those great words of natural light, of principles of reason, and conscience. They are doubtless in a mighty mistake; for these two things are very consistent, as I shall show by and by; and there is no inconsistence between the grace of God and the calling upon men carefully to use, improve, and imploy the principles of God’s creation, and the telling men they shall meet with no discouragement from God, for as much as He will not leave them, till they first leave Him. And indeed this is a very profitable work to call upon men, to answer the principles of their creation, to fulfil natural light, to answer natural conscience, to be throughout rational in what they do; for these things have a Divine foundation. The spirit in man is the Candle of the Lord, lighted by God, and lighting men to God. It is from God by way of efficiency, and to God finally176.

92Culverwell, another Cambridge Platonist, asserted the same view in his Discourse of the Light of Nature (1652). Having stated that it is desirable to give unto reason the things that are reason’s, and unto faith the things that are faith’s, he proceeds:

  • 177 Nathanael Culverwell: An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature, 1652. Quoted in E.T (...)

There is a twin-light springing from both, and they both spring from the same Fountain of light, and they both sweetly conspire in the same end, the glory of that being, from which they shine... So that to blaspheme Reason, ‘tis to reproach Heaven it self, and to dishonour the God of Reason, to question the beauty of his Image, and by a strange ingratitude to slight this great and Royal gift of our Creatour177.

93These quotations amply show what the Cambridge Platonists had to contend against in Puritan circles when they spoke “those great words of natural light”.

  • 178 Op. cit., II, ser. 28.
  • 179 Op. cit., V, sermons 7 and 8.
  • 180 Sermon 7.
  • 181 Sermon 8.

94After the Restoration the Church’s arguments against the infidels and against the Romanists were an implicit repudiation of the Puritan doctrine. Besides, the Anglicans openly disowned the private illuminations the enthusiasts claimed; all of them warned their congregations to heed the words of the Apostle and try the spirits to see whether they were of God, and for them the only way to try spirits was to measure their revelations against the express Word of God and against the law of God written in men’s hearts. Zeal without knowledge, Tillotson argued in a sermon on the 5th of November178, is not acceptable to God, though it is significant enough that he turned the argument against the Roman Catholics. South,’the scourge of the fanatics never tired of ridiculing the enthusiasts’ pretences to inspiration, to preaching by the Spirit, or to the Spirit ‘indwelling’ in some men. His most emphatic repudiation of these doctrines appears in two sermons on Rom. VIII. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God179, in which he discusses how the Spirit of God works in man. He refutes the notion of the personal indwelling of the Spirit in believers by arguments from reason and from Scripture, showing that this mistaken belief is based on expressions in Scripture which are clearly metaphorical. The Spirit leads men, he says, not by giving them transports and visions, but by prescribing laws to them, by enlightening their understanding and bending their will and affections; that is, outwardly by the written Word and inwardly by the illumination of men’s judgement and rectifying of their will. As to the assertion of some that the Spirit speaks inwardly to them, this is a “vile and pestilent thing”, since these men acknowledge no rule or governor of their actions but themselves. He therefore proceeds to demonstrate the folly and mischief of such pretence; this, he says, is usually alleged to justify actions that cannot be otherwise warranted, by men who merely follow the dictates of their own minds and fancies. As South says, such pretences to guidance by the inner light are generally founded on the ruins of reason. The other pretence, that a man may certainly know he has the Spirit in him though he cannot prove it, can also be disproved: Scripture bids us examine whether the Spirit of Christ be in us, and try the spirit; hence, it cannot be self-evident. Besides, the Spirit of God shows itself now only by its operations and effects; to claim a direct revelation of it is to pretend to have achieved the beatific vision. Hence, whatever promptings a man may feel in himself, he can never be sure that the inward voice is the voice of God, nor can he assure others of it180. Nor can any argument be drawn from the example of ‘eminent saints’ in the Old Testament, for God has since then given men a perfect revelation of His will for them to live by. Those alone who do the works of God are the sons of God, for by their fruits shall ye know them. Those who pretend to private inspirations are a scandal and reproach to religion, and not to be tolerated by the State since they destroy the basis of all compact and law by rejecting reason, which is the principle of all Law181.

  • 182 It had been Hooker’s plea that to disobey ecclesiastical laws, though not instituted by God, was t (...)

95The drift of the second sermon is that those pretenders to the Spirit should be made to conform to the laws of the land, or be outlawed182; it is, in fact, a plea against toleration of the Dissenters. Whatever the turn he gives to his argument, South makes clear the difference between the private judgement that can be tested, and the individual judgement or inner light that cannot be distinguished from fancy. The Spirit of God does not speak inwardly to some men, it enlightens the understanding of all men and leads them to truth provided they do not resist it. South’s view is rooted in the belief of the rationality of man as reflecting the rationality of his Maker; the private judgement claimed by the enthusiasts is as arbitrary as the arbitrary will the Calvinists ascribe to God. Such doctrine impugns the notion of a perfect, that is, perfectly rational and good, God in making Him elect to speak to some men rather than grant all men equal opportunities of salvation. It is, at bottom, related to the doctrine of eternal election and reprobation, which the Anglicans opposed most firmly. South’s contention that private revelations cannot be proved to be true reminds us of Chillingworth’s distinction between following one’s wit and conceit, and following reason, which is a public thing common to all men. Universality, public trial at the bar of reason, conformity with the written Word, these are tests which the enthusiast cannot stand; they are the tests which Anglican rationalism deemed necessary to emphasize in order to resist the fantasies of the illuminati.

  • 183 Op. cit., III, ser. 4.
  • 184 Ibid., ser. 1.
  • 185 Op. cit., IV, ser. 12.

96This rationalism is further defined in their doctrine of grace and of justifying faith, in which they also opposed the Puritans and the encouragement given by their doctrines to Antinomianism. In a 1661 sermon183 South explained that what is required to achieve salvation is not naked but operative faith, and he never departed from the doctrine that faith must issue in works. The emphasis on works was apt, however, to be mistaken for undue reliance on man’s ability to work his salvation. With the growth of Deism this became particularly dangerous, and in 1697 South preached a sermon on the doctrine of merit and the impossibility of man’s meriting God, in which he stressed that salvation is a free gift of God since man can never merit salvation184. He there impugns the doctrine of the Pelagians: it is not true, as they—and the Deists—assert, that man only receives from God the power to will and to do, and that he can achieve salvation by the right use of that power and the free determination of his will. Against this South stresses the impotency of man, an inconsiderable thing, who is required to live well in order to be saved but will not be saved on the merit of his good life. In yet another sermon185 South showed that not only does man owe his salvation to the sacrifice of Christ, but needs the grace of God to conquer sin: man stands justified by Christ, not by his own works. Nor can he repent and purify himself without the help of grace. Grace infuses a habit of purity into the soul, at which stage the soul is merely a passive recipient of it; but it must exercise that habit to free itself of the power of sin, and in this man is a co-worker with God. Only by applying the virtue of the blood of Christ to the soul by renewed acts of faith can man conquer sin and fit his soul for salvation. Yet, as the sermon on merit had shown, salvation is not a due, but a free gift: all that man can do is fulfil the conditions required by God before He bestows this gift.

  • 186 Additional Volumes of Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, London, 1744, VII, 89, ser. 5.

97In two sermons on Tit. I. 1, South grounded the doctrine of faith and works on the unity of truth and goodness, and on reason as “the great rule of man’s nature” and as itself regulated by truth186; from this he interprets the truth after godliness to mean: a truth operative to the best of effects. Hence, this truth involves a right notion of God and a right notion of the duties of man; the two are inseparable, but the two must be defined accurately,

  • 187 Ibid., p. 93.

both in their just latitude and within their due limits, that one may not entrench upon or evacuate the other187,

  • 188 In developing this point (pp. 94-95) South seems closer to the Calvinists than he usually is; but (...)

98that is, so as neither to infringe the prerogative of God nor to leave the creature no scope for duty. This means repudiating both the notion of irresistible grace and pre-determination of the will and action, and the notion of the will’s ability to make God’s work of salvation effectual188 From this South proceeds to show that what undermines the motives of good life is as such destructive of religion, for

  • 189 Ibid., p. 98.

faith without works expires, and becomes a dead thing, a carcase, and consequently noysome to God189.

  • 190 Ibid., pp. 102-6.
  • 191 Ibid., pp. 108-20.

99A good life is the condition, though not the cause, of imputation of Christ’s righteousness, and an error in any of the doctrines concerning the good life is like poison in a fountain. Such is the notion that nothing of performance is required, that faith alone justifies; such also is the doctrine according to which a man may be acceptable to God for the righteousness and merits of other saints; such again is the doctrine exempting believers from the obligation of the moral law190, or that which places it in the power of a man to dispense with the laws of Christ (i.e. the Pope), or the doctrines of venial sin and supererogation191. South thus defines his position in contradistinction both to the Puritan doctrine of justification by faith and to Antinomianism, and to the Tridentine doctrine of merit. As appears from his argument, this view, which all Anglicans shared, is grounded on the concept of right reason.

  • 192 Additional... Sermons, VIII, ser. 2.

100In another sermon192, on 2 Cor. I. 24 For by faith ye stand, i.e. on the very text invoked by the defenders of justification by faith, South explains again that by faith the Apostle means a living active principle, not a bare assent, nor temporary conviction however powerful. In words reminiscent of Donne’s sonnet Batter my heart... he shows that by faith alone can man resist the enemy that assaults him from within, his natural corruption; from Christ alone issues the power to subdue our natural depravity, but we must put on the armour of Christ and live according to His doctrine before we can have a title to God’s promises.

  • 193 Ibid., ser. 13, p. 370.
  • 194 Ibid., p. 384.

101South’s conception of grace may have undergone some change, for in a sermon preached shortly before the Restoration, his emphasis on the free gift of grace brings him dangerously near to the Calvinistic doctrine of election, though there too he says that God’s denial of a perceiving heart infers, but does not cause, the unsuccessfulness of all the means of grace193. He also stresses the contrariety of ‘carnal wisdom’ to spiritual truths “in as much as there is more hope of the conversion of a sensualist, than of a resolved atheist”194. Indeed, he there denies that bare reason can assent to the truths of religion and condemns those who hold

  • 195 Ibid., p. 393.

that the mind of God clearly revealed, and urged with due persuasions, is a suitable object to a rational understanding, which has power enough to close with every object agreeable to it195,

  • 196 The influence of the Cambridge Platonists is also noticeable in this sermon.

102those, in fact, who hold the very doctrine he was to assert later; it is no wonder that he did not choose to publish this early sermon. Whatever light this may throw on South’s early years as a preacher196, this sermon is interesting on two counts: first it shows clearly that emphasis on free grace alone goes together with a slight on reason; second, it suggests that South’s later stand on right reason could hardly have led to the more superficial rationalism of the liberal theology of the next age. His emphasis on imputed righteousness in the 1697 sermon reveals his opposition to the mere natural duties, which for the Deists made the sum of religion, and to which the Latitudinarians had given undue prominence in their sermons.

  • 197 Op. cit., II, sermons 52-56, printed below.
  • 198 Laud ‘abominated’ the doctrine of reprobation because “it makes God, the God of all mercies, to be (...)

103Though Tillotson may be held responsible for these developments, he did not ignore the part played by grace in faith or regeneration; nor did he deny imputed righteousness. In his sermons on The Nature of Regeneration, and its Necessity, in order to Justification and Salvation197 he explained that the faith meant by the Apostle was not a bare assent, but effectual belief, that is, faith made perfect by charity: only a new creature availeth. This new creation is wrought “by a divine power, of the same kind with that, which created the world; and raised up Christ Jesus from the dead”. Such creation, however, does not mean that it is the effect of an irresistible act, nor that the creature is merely passive, nor that it is effected in an instant. Though conversion may be effected by such violent means as to be irresistible, as in the case of St. Paul, yet such force is neither necessary nor to be expected, since Scripture says that men often resist the grace of God. One need only remember the spiritual autobiographies of such men as Bunyan to grasp what Tillotson is here combating. According to Tillotson, such conception of the passivity of the creature in the work of conversion makes void the exhortations to repent which abound in Scripture. This is not to say that we can repent of ourselves, which is no better than Pelagianism, but to hold both that without the power of God no man can repent and that God will not assist us in this work if we do nothing ourselves. Tillotson’s doctrine is thus substantially the same as South’s: God and man are co-workers, and God, though giving His grace freely, requires that the soul should be fit to receive it. Ultimately, Tillotson shows, the Puritan doctrine casts a slur on God, who offers pardon if men repent, yet is supposed to withhold from some men the power to repent. Tillotson then refutes the objections of the Puritans to such concurrence of men in their conversion, by showing that this does not extenuate the power of God nor restrict His freedom. In fact, he says, the Puritans do just this since they confine the Grace of God to themselves. Moreover, by making God do all in the conversion of sinners, they implicitly charge God with men’s impotency to repent and make Him the cause of unregeneracy. To this, he opposes the doctrine of a sufficiency of grace offered to all men. Men are free to comply with grace or to resist it; though the grace offered to all is sufficient, it is effectual to some, but rejected by others. This, Tillotson argues, both agrees with Scripture and clears God of injustice198. Even though he grants that conversion may sometimes be sudden, he will not allow that regeneration and sanctification can ever be. For more is involved here than a sudden entrance into a new state; both admit of degrees, and the process is one of purification, with the help of grace assisting man on the way. Thus, renovation of our hearts is the real condition of our justification and salvation. The other doctrine, which claims to ascribe all good to God and none to man, in fact ascribes to God evil. Though Tillotson-does not say this, his doctrine is consistent with a perfectly rational and good God, while the other posits God as arbitrary will. This had already been Hooker’s contention.

  • 199 Op. cit., III, ser. 148, printed below.
  • 200 Ibid., ser. 149, printed below.
  • 201 The second is undated.

104At the beginning of the last sermon on regeneration, Tillotson apologizes for treating these doctrines “in a more contentious way than is usual” with him, though not out of love of controversy. Indeed few of his sermons deal with this problem, no doubt because he did not love controversy, and this could hardly be treated without considering the other party’s objections; nor does he often refer to it as South so often does, if only by the way. Tillotson was careful to keep clear of all controversial matter; the consequence was that, whatever his real belief, he gave encouragement to the view that moral virtues made up the sum of religion. His detractors were not altogether wrong in calling him a mere moral preacher. Such a sermon as The Fruits of the Spirit, the same with Moral Virtues199, preached in 1690, may have sounded not unlike Arthur Bury’s The Naked Gospel, published in the same year. True, Tillotson says at one point that the moral duties are not all religion, but the necessary corrective only comes in the sermon printed next to this one (whether because they were preached in succession, or because the editor, Tillotson’s chaplain, thought they should be read together, does not appear from the text). The title of this speaks for itself: The Necessity of Supernatural Grace, in order to a Christian Life200. There Tillotson shows that without supernatural grace man is incapable of the proper acts of the Christian life, that he needs preventing grace to stir him to what is good, assisting grace to strengthen him, and persevering grace to keep him constant. He shows that this help is necessary because of the impotency of human nature, of the power of evil habits, of the fickleness of human resolution, and of the malice of the devil. Yet he adds that this supposes the concurrence of our endeavours. One might suppose that, as in the case of South, the two sermons represent two different stages in Tillotson’s development201, were it not that it is Tillotson’s habit to simplify problems and treat different aspects of them separately rather than in conjunction; the paradoxes of his religion never exercised his mind as they had exercised the mind of another Anglican divine who, like him, had preached regularly at Lincoln’s Inn, John Donne.

105For Barrow, too, faith implies both a good use of reason and compliance with the Grace of God: to require faith without reason is an impossibility, and no man is without the means to produce faith, but some reject these means by opposing a wilful obstruction to the light of faith. As he says in A Brief Exposition on the Creed, which his sermons on the Creed amplify,

  • 202 Isaac Barrow: A Brief Exposition on the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and Ten Commandments. To which is (...)

Faith itself is not an arbitrary act, nor an effect of blind necessity; (we cannot believe what we please; nor can be compelled to believe any thing),’tis a result of judgment and choice, grounded upon reason of some kind, after deliberation and debate concerning the matter202;

  • 203 Op. cit., II, ser. 2.
  • 204 Ibid., ser. 4, printed below.

106it is a voluntary act, involving the free consent of the will203. In the two sermons on Rom. V. 1, he explains in what sense we are justified by faith: no other faith than persuasion of evangelical truths was required by the Apostles, he says, and this faith is said to be the effect of Grace. But such faith connotes the acts of the will consequent upon those persuasions: conversion and repentance, as they are a returning to Christ, imply obedience to Christ. Barrow states clearly that such faith only relates to propositions revealed by God, or at least deduced from His Word; it does not relate to propositions concerning matters of fact, such as that God loves me or has pardoned my sins. Thus he takes his stand against all pretenders to personal justification, which “many in these latter ages have deemed and taught”204. And he firmly rejects the doctrine of eternal election: such belief in God’s eternal goodwill to some, he says, inverts the order of things as declared in Scripture, where faith is said to be required for man to obtain God’s goodwill; moreover, it implies the doctrine that no man once in God’s favour can ever quite lose it, and this leads straight to Antinomianism. Barrow also repudiates a “more new notion of faith”, not so plainly false but more obscure and intricate, he says, which makes faith to consist in a recumbency or adherency to Christ himself, not to any proposition taught by him. This, he shows, is at once unintelligible and meaningless, and dangerous because it begets presumptions and perplexities. These false notions of faith, Barrow contends, are clearly unacceptable if one believes in a just and good God, who cannot of all eternity have favoured some of his creatures and doomed others to eternal damnation. The doctrine of recumbency, as distinct from consent or assent, equally nullifies the doctrine of Christ since it implies a passive adherence, whereas Christ has enjoined effectual obedience to his will.

  • 205 It is one of Bossuet’s main examples of points of doctrine on which Protestants disagree with each (...)

107Barrow knew that he had to be specially careful in defining justification since it had been the cause of so much dissension and strife from the time of the Reformation205; yet, he says, this only results from men’s proneness to wrangle, since the doctrine can be plainly inferred from Scripture, which defines the conditions for a man to be received into the favour of God through baptism or for the sinner through repentance. In what is perhaps one of the finest examples of explication de texte, Barrow proceeds to elucidate the meaning of the term in various passages of Scripture, particularly in St. Paul’s epistles since the term justifying faith may be said to be peculiar to him. Justification can in no way mean making a man intrinsically righteous by infusing habits of grace, since this is not consistent with the drift of St. Paul’s reasoning. From the Apostle’s use of the term, he says, it appears that justification is dispensed when a man embraces Christianity and avows it in Baptism. This justifying act continues to have effect so long as we live according to Christ’s rule. Further, every dispensation of pardon upon repentance is properly speaking a justification, or reinstatement of the covenant made at baptism. Hence, all good Christians may be said to have been justified in baptism, and to continue justified if they persist in faith and obedience. Barrow opposes the notion of special justifications as firmly as that of eternal election: justification is open to all, and the virtues and effects of grace do not continue unless the Christian perform God’s will. It was all the more necessary to define such doctrine since justified sinners were apt to claim that as such they were above the law. To what lengths Antinomianism could go may be gathered from the autobiographies of justified sinners as well as from attacks against them; they are probably best known to the modern reader through James Hogg’s Confession of a Justified Sinner, which so much fascinated Gide.

108For Barrow, as for South and Tillotson, faith results from the right use of reason, which presupposes man’s acceptance of the means of Grace God vouchsafes to everyone. Men are thus coworkers with God in effecting their salvation, since faith itself is the joint work of God and of man, and since faith in Christ implies obedience to Him. Reason and grace can no more be separated than can faith and works. Though God alone can bend the will of man and enlighten carnal reason, man must yet strive to understand God’s will and to act accordingly. But he must be first persuaded of the truths of his religion; it is therefore the preacher’s task to clear men’s understandings so that, with the help of grace, they may bend their wills to assent to them and to do God s work. It is no use, and it is dangerous, to appeal to men’s affections unless they are first shown the proper objects to which to apply them. It follows from this that in their sermons the Anglican divines will be more concerned to show their congregations the whys and wherefores of Christ’s doctrine, and to propound to them the motives to right action. All moving of the passions, which does not rest on demonstrations of truths, is to be condemned. Pathetic preaching was left to the Puritans, whose irrational doctrines accorded with these irrational means of instruction. How dry much Anglican preaching came to be can be seen from Swift s sermons, which, as Johnson said, never try to persuade. Nor did Tillotson, though he wished to enforce practice, ever depart from his cool manner of arguing. That the method of edifying by enlightening the understanding need not have been so arid appears from Barrow’s and even better from South’s sermons: as we read the one we simply marvel at the sheer amplitude of his mind, at the range of matter he can bring to bear on his subject and at the wealth of words he has at his command, while the vigour and cogency of the other’s thought and style yield the kind of delight that only a well-trained artist can give.

  • 206 See the title of his Preface.

109Hooker had been moved to write his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity in answer to those who sought “The Reformation of the Laws and Orders ecclesiastical in the Church of England”206 This had led him to define the hierarchy of laws, which all ultimately aspire to the perfect law of God. He had not claimed that the laws instituted by men are perfect, since all things natural are imperfect, or immutable, since circumstances might require that they be altered; but he had asserted that the light of reason, given by God to man to distinguish between true and false and between good and evil, could direct men to discover natural law, which is but one expression of God’s law, and to devise laws for societies of men. Hooker thought that laws sanctioned by tradition are likely to be the expression of the voice of nature, though he did not suggest that they should therefore be followed uncritically. Since reason derives from God, it should be used not only to interpret the revealed law of God but also to discover its working in the universe, and to supplement revelation in those domains which God has not regulated by His express Word. Such, to Hooker, are the laws regulating societies, and such in particular are the laws governing the society of Christians, the Church. He denied that any specific form of Church-government was enjoined in Scripture, and he argued that, as a thing indifferent, it was to be regulated by reason in accordance with tradition and custom, or ‘the perpetual voice of men’. He did not claim that episcopacy was divinely instituted, or indeed that it was necessarily the best discipline. Yet he could find nothing in it that was not consistent with either the express word of God or the natural law. Hence, he argued, Puritans should accept this form of Church-government even though it might not seem to them the purest discipline, because these ecclesiastical laws had received the consent of the Church as a whole. These laws are no less binding than those on which the life of any society is based, for unless all members of a community submit to the laws agreed upon by general consent, the whole fabric of society will be undermined.

110The Puritans, of course, thought otherwise; they found the orders and ceremonies of the Church too reminiscent of Rome, and not only ungrounded in Scripture, but contrary to it. Even those amongst them who granted matters of discipline to be things indifferent argued that since they were indifferent they could not be made binding. To Hooker’s contention that it was expedient to govern the Church by means of laws binding to all, they retorted that Christ had freed men from the bondage of the law, and they pleaded the right of tender consciences not to submit.

  • 207 For instance in 1667, 1674 and 1680, and again in 1689 when William’s scheme for comprehension was (...)
  • 208 And even of persecution. See G.R. Cragg: Puritanism in the Period of the Great Persecution, Cambri (...)

111During the forties some of the defenders of episcopacy departed from the position held by Hooker and claimed, in answer to their Scripture adversaries, that bishops were divinely instituted. After 1660, however, no such claim was made for episcopacy; Anglicans of all kinds, as well as the Presbyterians who then conformed, recognized that ecclesiastical laws were grounded on prudence, not on the express word of God. The discipline of the Church was found to agree with reason, to ensure order and decency in divine worship, and to be necessary to preserve unity. To enforce conformity with ecclesiastical laws inevitably meant excluding large numbers of Christians from the Church, and all attempts at accommodation were frustrated by the resistance of the Laudian clergy and by the endless arguments of the Presbyterians at the Savoy Conference, as well as later by the uncompromising stand taken by the High-Churchmen whose influence led to the rejection of various comprehension schemes207 In such a climate of intolerance208, for Anglicans to stress the right and duty of every Christian to inquire into the truths of his religion must have sounded to many outsiders as sheer hypocrisy. Yet, as appears clearly from Barrow’s Unity of the Church, Christian liberty meant for them that faith is a free and voluntary act, not that individual Christians have a right to separate from the main body of the Church. Ecclesiastical laws, as they are laws regulating particular societies, are grounded in reason; it is therefore the duty of all members of the community to comply with them.

  • 209 Op. cit., III, ser. 11, printed below.

112Defences of the Church ordinances thus reveal another aspect of Anglican rationalism after the Restoration in so far as they are, like Hooker’s, based on the concept of law as an expression of reason. How far this kind of rationalism is from the narrow secular rationalism of a later age appears best from South’s praise of the Church’s services and prayers in opposition to the mangled services of the Puritans and to the wild outbursts of extempore prayers. Not only did this High-Churchman require premeditation and discipline in the worship of God, he insisted on the due ordering of God’s temple. He also knew that as God speaks to the capacity of men and often expresses profound truths in simple parables, so the senses may be enlisted in the service of God since they are the servants and under-officers of the soul209 He knew that

  • 210 Op. cit., I, ser. 7, p. 283.

the mind of man, even in spirituals, acts with a corporeal dependence, and so is helped or hindered in its operations, according to the different quality of external objects that incur into the senses210.

113Far from objecting to church music as Baxter did, or from wishing to strip the churches of all ornaments, like the Parliamentarians who wrecked several chapels in Cambridge, South praised the beauty of Church ornaments, the order, dignity, and harmony of the services, and wished to make all the faculties of man serve to praise the Creator. For, he said,

  • 211 Ibid., p. 284.

the grace of God is pleased to move us by ways suitable to our nature, and to sanctify these sensible inferior helps to greater and higher purposes211.

  • 212 Op. cit., I, ser. 7.
  • 213 Op. cit., III, ser. 11, printed below.
  • 214 “In the petition ‘In all time of our tribulation, in all time of our wealth, in the hour of death (...)

114His love of the magnificent liturgy of the Church of England, which the Puritans would have robbed of all power to move the minds because it appeals to the senses and imagination, finds its best expression in the sermon he preached at the consecration of a chapel212. He could not envisage an ‘abstracted’ kind of worship within the bare walls of a meeting-house: this was to him’indecent’, that is, unworthy of the bountiful Creator to whom honour is due; it was also a highly mistaken way of bringing men to God since the senses are channels through which God may speak to them. Above all, one feels, South loved beauty. He could not, he said, persuade himself that “God ever designed his Church for a rude, naked, unbeautiful lump”213. To him the beauty of the world is the expression of God’s bounty and of the infinite variety of His gifts. Such a variety of gifts should adorn God’s Church, His pastors serving Him according to their diverse abilities and His temples proclaiming His infinite mercies. South’s love for the ceremonies of the Church of England, his admiration for the collects and prayers, his care for the due ordering of the temple, reveal the artist in him. His refusal to see the collects and prayers altered to suit the taste of the precisians expresses more than his conservatism or intolerance; it is the resistance of the artistic temperament to the mangling of a form of service whose beauty is itself a tribute to God. South had an ear for good prose, and he could see what harm might be done by altering ‘mere words’ in Cranmer’s fine prayers214; he could not tolerate anything careless in the expression any more than in the manner of praying. In the liturgy, he said, the Church of England has an “excellent Body of Prayers”,

  • 215 Op. cit., II, ser. 5, printed below.

the whole Sett of them being like a String of Pearls, exceeding rich in Conjunction; and therefore of no small Price and value even single, and by themselves215.

115How could he have tolerated the vague and rude effusions of men transported by the Spirit? The spouse of God must adorn herself to honour her bridegroom, whose greatness the beauty of the heavens declares. The worship of God, South could have said with Hooker, must be regulated by the same kind of law that governs the universe,

  • 216 Laws, Bk. I, ii, 3.

correspondently unto that end for which it worketh, even ‘all things χρηστῶς, in most decent and comely sort’216.

  • 217 See chapter I.
  • 218 See his Concio ad Synodum, London, 1689. The sermon was preached to Convocation.

116As his sermons on extempore prayers show217, South found in a set form of prayers the best means to intensify the feelings of the faithful, which is the main object of devotion. Christ himself taught His disciples how to pray; like the Lord’s prayer the collects and prayers of the Church concentrate on the essentials and thereby direct the feelings of the faithful towards their proper object: only by application of the heart and mind and by due discipline of the words and feelings can one properly pray by the Spirit. William Beveridge, another staunch High-Churchman, who opposed comprehension with the Dissenters as firmly as South did218 defended the use of set prayers on the same grounds:

  • 219 William Beveridge: A Sermon on the Excellency and Usefulness of the Common Prayer (1681). Quoted i (...)

having the form continually in my mind, being thoroughly acquainted with it, fully approving of every thing in it, and always knowing beforehand what will come next, I have nothing else to do, whilst the words are sounding in mine ears, but to move my heart and affections suitably to them, to raise up my desires of those good things which are prayed for, to fix my mind wholly upon God, whilst I am praising of Him, and so to employ, quicken, and lift up my whole soul in performing my devotions to Him219.

117Far from being empty forms, set prayers help to quicken devotion and raise the soul to God. Such was the classical temper of these Churchmen, who resisted effusions of words and feelings as strongly as they did effusions of the Spirit, and who sometimes censured belief in the inner light and in the promptings of the Spirit as mere romantic notions.

118Such, in its main outlines, was the nature of Anglican rationalism after the Restoration. To many to-day it may well seem to be a mixed kind of rationalism; but as people in England then found mixed government the best, many also found the via media of the Church of England the best. As Paul Elmer More said,

  • 220 P.E. More and Fr.L. Cross, op. cit., I. The spirit of Anglicanism, p. xxii.

It may have looked at the outset like a shift to avoid difficulties, a modus vivendi, at the best a ‘middle way’ as commended by Donne because ‘more convenient and advantageous than that of any other Kingdom’. But behind it all the while lay a profounder impulse, pointing in a positive direction, and aiming to introduce into religion, and to base upon the ‘light of reason’, that love of balance, restraint, moderation, measure, which from sources beyond our reckoning appears to be innate to the English temper220.

119It is idle to speculate how innate this temper was, but Anglican theology after the Restoration no doubt reflects the same blend between abstract principles and the data of experience, each at once supporting and qualifying the other, which characterizes the literary criticism of the period, or for that matter of any period in England. It defines a mean not only between the extremes of Romanism and of radical Protestantism, but between the abstract reason and experience.

Notes

1 Op. cit., III, 267.

2 See, for instance, the 30 January sermon by South, printed below.

3 See, for instance, Tillotson’s sermons on Regeneration, printed below.

4 See, for instance, Tillotson’s The Religion of Protestants Vindicated, in The Works of the Most Reverend Dr. John Tillotson, 8th ed., London, 1720, I, 564, ser. 27.

5 See quotation 1, p. 69.

6 See his sermons on Isa, V. 20, The Fatal Imposture, and Force of Words, printed below.

7 See Robert Hoopes: Right Reason in the English Renaissance, Cambridge (Mass.), 1962.

8 On the Cambridge Platonists, see F.J. Powicke: The Cambridge Platonists, London, 1926, and Ernst Cassirer: The Platonist Renaissance in England, Edinburgh, 1953.

9 See the funeral Oration, quoted above.

10 See his Sermons on the Creed, especially on God the Father, Maker of Heaven and Earth, in The Works of the Learned Dr. Barrow, D.D., London, 1683-1687, II, ser. 12.

11 Barrow taught mathematics at Cambridge but later relinquished his chair to his more brilliant pupil Newton. He is said to have encouraged Newton’s researches.

12 Printed below. The distinction was to be emphasized at the time of the Trinitarian controversy.

13 Both Tillotson and Stillingfleet were at Cambridge when Cudworth and Whichcote taught and preached there; though Barrow was also a student of Trinity College at that time no trace of the Platonists’doctrine appears in his sermons unless we count as such the agreement of faith and reason, which could have been derived from many other sources.

14 See L.I. Bredvold: The Intellectual Milieu of John Dryden, Ann Arbor, 1934, ch. II. Bredvold discusses the relation between scepticism and fideism, and in ch. IV the prevalence of fideistic arguments in R.C. apologetics in England after the Restoration.

15 See Tillotson’s The Wisdom of Being Religious (1664), op. cit., I, ser. 1, and South’s The Practice of Religion Enforced by Reason (1667), op. cit., II, ser. 1.

16 Lucius Cary: Of the Infallibility of the Church of Rome, London, 1651.

17 See Tillotson’s Preface to The Rule of Faith.

18 There were many Catholics at Court; Queen Henrietta Maria greatly favoured them and encouraged priests to convert Protestants. See Bossuet s tribute to her zeal in his funeral oration.

19 Cp. with Dryden’s search for an unerring guide in Religio Laici, and his ultimate conversion to Rome.

20 See Tulloch, op. cit., I, ch. V, p. 314. The style, however, is often cumbrous.

21 The Religion of Protestants, A Safe Way to Salvation, in The Works of William Chillingworth, 10th ed., London, 1742, ‘The Preface to the Author of Charity Maintained: with An Answer to his Pamphlet, entituled, A Direction to N.N.’, p. 15. This was Edward Knott, author of several works affirming that “Protestancy unrepented destroys Salvation”; the first of these, Charity Mistaken (1630), was answered by Christopher Potter in Want of Charitie justly charged on all such Romanists... (1633); in reply to which Knott wrote Mercy and Truth, or Charity Maintained... (1634). In A Direction to be observed by N.N.... (1636) Knott accused Chillingworth of being a Socinian. Chillingworth’s Religion of Protestants, like most works of controversy of the time, follows the adversary’s work point by point; most editions print: The Preface to the author of Ch. M.; then Knott’s Preface, followed by Ch’s Answer to the Preface; Knott’s first chapter, then Ch’s refutation; etc. The Life of the Author, by Tomas Birch, prefixed to the 10th, 1742, edition relates the circumstances of the controversy, thereby throwing light on the activities of Roman priests and Jesuits who had been allowed to return to England at the end of the reign of James I and under Charles I “upon the account of his marriage with Henrietta” and were busy “in making converts”, This should be taken into account if we are to assess rightly the importance attached to the controversy. Charles II’s leanings to Rome and the presence of priests in the entourage of his queen created a similar situation after the Restoration, and Henrietta Maria continued to protect and advance Roman Catholics. See David Ogg: England in the Reign of Charles II, Oxford, (1934) 1962, I, 202-4. For the Jesuits’influence on James II, see the same author’s England in the Reigns of James II and William III. Oxford, (1955) 1963, pp. 165-6.

22 In his sermon on the Resurrection, in vol. V, pp. 185-201. He speaks, however, of the certainties of assent, while Locke distinguishes between certainty and certitude.

23 Op. cit,. p. 111. This is remark nr. 110 Ad § 20, where Knott had said: “by this Principle, all is finally in very deed and truth reduced to the internal private Spirit, because there is really no middle way betwixt a publick external, and a private internal voice”, ibid., p. 73.

24 Printed below.

25 Op. cit., p. 112.

26 It may be noted also that he does not defend episcopacy as divinely instituted, but like Hooker argues the need for law and decency in the Church.

27 John Hales, op. cit., III, 149.

28 Ibid.

29 p. 150.

30 p. 153.

31 See his Tract on Schism and Schismatics, which Laud found too tolerant of the Puritans’claims.

32 Op. cit., p. 157.

33 Hales says they might plead in excuse that they have their trades and callings, that they are unlearned, unread, of weak and shallow understandings (p. 151).

34 Edward Stillingfleet: Origines Sacrae, or A Rational Account of the Grounds of Christian Faith, As to the Truth and Divine Authority of the Scriptures, And the matters therein contained. The Third Edition Corrected and Amended. London, 1666, sig. B 2 v. (first published 1662).

35 Ibid., sig. a-a v.

36 Ibid., sig. a v.

37 See, for instance, Tillotson’s Discourse on Transubstantiation, printed below.

38 Sermon Preached at the Funeral..., op. cit., p. 15.

39 Op. cit., pp. 1-2.

40 Ibid., pp. 2, 6.

41 Ibid., p. 3. Cp. with South’s sermon: So God created man in his own image, op. cit., I, ser. 2.

42 p. 7.

43 p. 15.

44 p. 107 (Book II, ch. I).

45 pp. 108-9.

46 p. 111. The examples given by Stillingfleet are those Tillotson later uses in his sermons, e.g. “Who would undertake to prove that Archimedes was kild at Syracuse by any of the demonstrations he was then about?”

47 p. 228 (Book II, ch. 8).

48 p. 228.

49 p. 229.

50 “That law eternal which God himself hath made to himself, and thereby worketh all things whereof he is the cause and author; that law in the admirable frame whereof shineth with most perfect beauty the countenance of that wisdom which has testified concerning herself, ‘The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, even before his works of old I was set up;’ (Prov. viii.22) that law, which hath been the pattern to make, and is the card to guide the world by; that law which hath been of God and with God everlastingly; that law, the author and observer whereof is one only God to be blessed for ever; how should either men or angels be able perfectly to behold? The book of this law we are neither able nor worthy to open and look into. That little thereof which we darkly apprehend we admire, the rest with religious ignorance we humbly and meekly adore”, Richard Hooker: Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, I, i, 5; “Man in perfection of nature being made according to the likeness of his Maker resembleth him also in the manner of working; so that whatsoever we work as men, the same we do wittingly work and freely; neither are we according to the manner of natural agents any way so tied, but that it is in our power to leave the things we do undone. The good which either is gotten by doing, or which consisteth in the very doing itself, causeth not action, unless apprehending it as good we so like and desire it: that we do unto any such end, the same we choose and prefer before the leaving it undone. Choice there is not, unless the thing which we take be so in our power that we might have refused and left it... To choose is to will one thing before another. And to will is to bend our souls to the having or doing of that which they see to be good. Goodness is seen with the eye of understanding. And the light of that eye, is reason”, ibid., I, vii, 2.

51 Op. cit., p. 230 (Book II, ch. 8).

52 Ibid., p. 239.

53 This is again Hooker’s notion of man as a free agent acting, like God, by rational choice not by compulsion as in the realm of nature. Barrow, South and Tillotson will stress the same point when discussing the force of the arguments propounded for belief in Christ. Assent of faith is therefore to be distinguished from assent to mathematical demonstrations, which have compelling force. Stillingfleet, like other Anglican divines, further argues that Christ was rejected by the Jews not for want of sufficient evidence, but because of their obstinacy.

54 For instance, in The Doctrine of the Trinity and Transubstantiation Compared, London, 1687.

55 See his Discourse Against Transubstantiation, printed below.

56 From the first the argument about transubstantiation seems to have been vitiated by a misunderstanding about the meaning of the term. Stillingfleet and other Anglican divines took it to mean that the natural flesh and blood of Christ are really present in the Eucharist. The Council of Trent, however, had been careful to distinguish between substance and accidents (which alone can be perceived by the senses). See Sessio XIII, Caput i: “Principio docet sancta Synodus [...] in almo sanctae Eucharistiae Sacramento, post panis, et vini consecrationem, Dominum nostrum, Jesum Christum, verum Deum, atque hominem, vere, realiter, ac substantialiter sub specie illarum rerum sensibilium contineri. Nec enim haec inter se pugnant, ut ipse Salvator noster semper ad dexteram Patris in coelis assideat, juxta modum existendi naturalem; et ut multis nihilominus aliis in locis sacramentaliter praesens sua substantia nobis adsit, ea existendi ratione...”, Sacrosanti et Oecumenici Concilii Tridentini... Canones et Decreta, Antverpiae, 1604, p. 72. For present-day Anglican belief, see for instance: J.L.C. Dart: The Old Religion. An Examination into the Facts of the English Reformation, London, 1956, Ch. 12.

57 Book IV, 11.461-2. Pope, however, also condemns the ‘high Priori Road’. See Alexander Pope: The Dunciad, ed. J.R. Sutherland, London, 1962, and the notes to 11.462-72.

58 For instance in the Sermon on the Trinity, 1667, printed below.

59 See his Latin Oration at the opening of the Sheldonian theatre, which shocked Evelyn and offended Wallis. See Evelyn’s Diary, ed. cit., III, 531-2 (9 July, 1669); for John Wallis’s letter to Robert Boyle, 17 July, 1669, see Robert Boyle: Works, ed. Thomas Birch, London, 1744, V, 514.

60 Op. cit., III, ser. 6. The sermon was preached in 1694, i.e. at the time of the Trinitarian controversy, which fostered the growth of deism.

61 See his sermon on John VII, 7, op. cit., I, ser. 6.

62 “As for the will, though its liberty be such, that a suitable, or proper good being proposed to it, it has a power to refuse, or not to choose it; yet it has no power to choose evil, considered absolutely as evil; this being directly against the nature, and natural method of its working”. Sermon on The Fatal Imposture and Force of Words, op. cit., II, ser. 9, p. 317 (printed below).

63 Ibid.

64 Sermon on Lying Lips are an Abomination to the Lord, op. cit., I, ser. 12, p. 471.

65 Ibid., p. 472.

66 “They err therefore who think that of the will of God to do this or that there is no reason besides his will”, Laws, I, i, 5.

67 Sermon on Gen. I, 27, op. cit., I, ser. 2, p. 50.

68 John Locke: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Alexander Campbell Fraser, New York, (1894), 1959, Prolegomena, p. cxxxv. Fraser, however, denies the legitimacy of this reductio ad absurdum.

69 See his Vindication of the Trinity, London, 1696.

70 An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Book IV, ch. IV, § 1.

71 Book IV, ch. XIX, § 3.

72 Book IV, ch. XV, § 1.

73 Ibid., §§ 3, 4.

74 Ibid., § 4. The theologians hardly ever consider “contrary testimonies”.

75 For instance, in The Doctrine of the Trinity and Transubstantiation Compared, London, 1687.

76 See, for instance, Barrow’s Sermons on the Creed, especially sermon 2, op. cit., II, and Tillotson’s Rule of Faith.

77 Printed below.

78 See An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Epistle to the Reader. South and Locke both came from Westminster School, the former was elected to Christ Church in 1651, the latter in 1652. Locke was a fellow of Christ Church—where South was a canon from 1670—until he was ‘expelled’ by order of the King in 1684.

79 See his letters to Locke (25 March, 1697; 22 November, 1697; 18 June, 1699) now in the Bodleian Library (MS. Locke c. 18).

80 For the background of this controversy, see W.M.T. Dodds (Mrs. Nowottny): ‘Robert South and William Sherlock: Some Unpublished Letters’, MLR, XXXIX (1944), 215-24. In his Dedication to the Archbishop of Dublin of the third volume of his sermons (1698) South alludes to the support Stillingfleet gave to Sherlock in the Preface to Vindication of the Trinity (1696), in which Stillingfleet first attacked Locke. In a MS letter dated 18 July, 1704, now in the Bodleian Library (Ms. Locke c. 18) he expatiates on the insolence of Sherlock in daring to attack Locke’s philosophy and person in A Discourse Concerning the Happiness of Good Men and the Punishment of the Wicked in the Next World. Locke had no high opinion of Sherlock as a controversialist and regarded him as a time-server. See his letter to Molyneux, 22 February, 1697, quoted by Fraser, op. cit., p. xliii: “A man of no small name, as you know Dr. Sherlock is, has been pleased to declare against my doctrine of no innate ideas, from the pulpit in the Temple; and as I have been told charged it with little less than atheism... it is possible he may be firm here, because it is also said, he never quits his aversion to any tenet he has once declared against, till change of times, bringing change of interest, and fashionable opinions, open his eyes and his heart, and then he kindly embraces what before deserved his aversion and censure”. This probably refers to Sherlock’s face-about in the question of the oath to William, which, Mrs. Nowottny has shown, accounted for South’s bitterness in the quarrel. Locke’s informant about Sherlock (‘it is said...’) may have been South himself; but see also Edmund Calamy: An Abridgement of Mr. Baxter’s History of his Life and Times, London, 1713, I, 485.

81 South constantly refers to connate or innate ideas whereas Locke demonstrates that there are no such things. But the ambiguity of Locke’s term, though he equates it with ϰοιναὶ ἔννοιαι, was early pointed out by John Norris of Bemerton in Cursory Reflections on the Essay (1700). South would not have contended (any more than Plato or others) that such ideas, if innate, should be most evident to children and idiots! (Cf. Essay, Bk. I, ch. II, §§ 5, 27.)

82 See Fraser, op. cit., p. lvii.

83 Essay, Bk. IV, ch. XVIII, § 5.

84 Essay, Bk. IV, ch. IV, § 3.

85 “We can never assent to a proposition that affirms the same body to be in two distant places at once”, Bk. IV, ch. XVIII, § 5. Cp. with Tillotson’s Discourse against Transubstantiation, printed below.

86 Essay, Bk. IV, ch. XVIII, § 11.

87 The Puritans distinguished between assent, or ‘historical faith’, and saving faith, i.e. actual experience of ‘a work of grace’. As E.S. Morgan says, “Saving faith must be preceded by historical faith, but historical faith was not necessarily followed by saving faith.” Visible Saints. The History of a Puritan Idea, Ithaca, 1965, p. 43.

88 On enthusiasm in general, see R.A. Knox: Enthusiasm, Oxford, 1950.

89 Bossuet himself recognized that “les Anglais sont trop instruits dans l’Antiquité pour ignorer... les pratiques de l’ancienne Eglise”. Histoire des variations du protestantisme, Book XIV, § 122.

90 The edition printed in Paris in 1678 was destroyed by order, a faulty edition was published in Amsterdam in 1680, and a new, corrected, edition in 1685. An English translation appeared in 1682; Dryden’s poem was “written for” the translator.

91 Op. cit.

92 J. S(ergeant): Sure-Footing in Christianity, or Rational Discourses on the Rule of Faith. With short Animadversions on Dr. Pierce’s Sermon: also on some passages in Mr. Whitby and Mr. Stillingfleet, which concern that Rule, London, 1665, pp. 39-40. Dr. Pierce’s sermon The Primitive Rule of Reformation, “in vindication of our Church against the novelties at Rome” was preached before the King at Whitehall on 1 Feb., 1661/2. Obviously such staunch Laudians as Pierce found it necessary to warn their congregations against the danger of Rome, particularly at Court, since the Defender of the Faith was known to have leanings towards Catholicism.

93 Ibid., p. 28.

94 A Rational Account of the Grounds of the Protestant Religion; Being a Vindication of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury’s [i.e. Laud’s] ‘Relation of a Conference between him and John Fisher the Jesuit from the Pretended Answer of T.C., London, 1664.

95 See, for instance, Stillingfleet’s letter to Tillotson in reply to Sergeant’s attack, which was printed in Tillotson’s Rule of Faith (1666). Sergeant answered Tillotson in A Letter of Thanks (1666), and in Faith Vindicated from Possibility of Falsehood (1667; though the title-page says ‘Printed at Lovain’ it was actually published at London). In the latter Sergeant attacked a passage in Tillotson’s sermon On the Wisdom of Being Religious (1664), to which Tillotson replied in the preface to his first volume of Collected Sermons (1671). In 1672, i.e. after the Declaration of Indulgence as appears clearly from the Advertisement, Sergeant published Reason against Raillery, or A Full Answer to Dr. Tillotson’s Preface against J.S.

96 South is no less partisan in his treatment of the Puritans; the difference will be discussed below.

97 His Discourse Against Transubstantiation, first published in 1684, was translated into French and published at London in 1685. His 5 November Sermon, preached before the House of Commons in 1678, i.e. at the time of the Popish Plot, was also published in French at London in 1679.

98 Isaac Barrow: A Treatise of the Pope’s Supremacy. To which is added A Discourse Concerning the Unity of the Church (edited by John Tillotson), 2nd ed., London, 1683.

99 That is, an argument used to support the Pope’s supremacy. Barrow examines seven of them, and probably intended more since he is far from concluding when he breaks off. Supposition I, for instance, i.e. ‘That Saint Peter had a primacy over the Apostles’, covers pp. 30 to 76, and discusses the four kinds of primacy that may belong to persons (of worth, of reputation, of order, of power) and shows that the first and second kind belonged to Saint Peter, that the third may have, and the fourth never did. The last point he supports with no less than 20 reasons, the last (testimonies) being subdivided into 6 several heads.

100 Ibid., p. 126.

101 Quoted ibid., p. 137.

102 On the doctrine of Christian Liberty, see, for instance, A.E. Barker: Milton and the Puritan Dilemma, Toronto-London, 1942; W. Haller: Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution, New York, 1955; Godfrey Davies: The Early Stuarts, 1603-1660, Oxford, 1945; Christopher Hill: Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England, London, 1964.

103 Op. cit., p. 138.

104 Ibid., p. 162.

105 p. 148. It is only fair to add that in his seventh Supposition, i.e. ‘That the Papal Supremacy is indefectible, and unalterable’, Barrow accords to civil government more power than he does to the Pope, on the ground that “No power can have a higher source, or firmer ground, than that of the Civil Government hath, for all such power is from heaven, and in relation to that it is said, There is no power but from God, the powers that are, are ordained by God” (p. 271). The texts he quotes were used after the Restoration to expound the doctrine of passive obedience; here Barrow only argues from them that “It hath ever been deemed reasonable, and accordingly been practised, that the Church in its exteriour form and political administrations should be suted to the state of the world, and Constitution of worldly Governments; that there might be no clashing or disturbance from each to other” (p. 272). He shows that civil governments are mutable, not ‘indefectible and unalterable’, hence though they may sometimes encourage errors, such errors may be redressed later.

106 Bossuet does not seem to have known Barrow’s treatise; in his account of the Reformation in England, he refers only to Burnet’s History of the Reformation in England (the first two volumes had appeared in 1679 and 1681), which he sharply criticizes.

107 Op. cit., pp. 297-305.

108 p. 306.

109 p. 307.

110 Anglicans held, and still hold, that the Roman Church is a branch of Christs universal church (see Hooker: Laws, III, i, 10). While Nonconformist ministers have to be ordained episcopally before they can hold any ecclesiastical office in the Church of England, Roman Catholic priests who join the Church of England are not re-ordained. Pope Leo XIII’s Bull Apostolicae Curae, on the other hand, declared Anglican orders null and void. On this, see Stephen Neill: Anglicanism, Harmondsworth, 1958; J.L.C. Dart: op. cit. ; Norman Sykes: Old Priest and New Presbyter, The Anglican Attitude to episcopacy, presbyterianism and papacy since the Reformation, Cambridge, 1956.

111 The Rule of Faith, or an Answer to the Treatise of Mr. J.S. Entitled Sure-Footing, etc. (1666), 11th edition, in The Works, ed. cit., I, 564.

112 Ibid.

113 Ibid.

114 Ibid., p. 573.

115 Ibid., p. 635.

116 See his sermon on Christianity Mysterious and the Wisdom of God in making it so, in Twelve Sermons, op. cit., III, ser. 6.

117 See his sermon on the Trinity, printed below.

118 In his Preface to the first collection of his sermons (1671), which was reprinted in all editions of the Fifty Four Sermons and The Rule of Faith, Tillotson answers further charges of Sergeant against a passage from his first published sermon, The Wisdom of Being Religious, and says that Sergeant has “honoured (him) with excellent Company, my Lord Faulkland, Mr. Chillingworth, and Dr. Stillingfleet Ibid., sig. B v. Hooker’s work had been prompted by his opposition to Puritans, Falkland’s and Chillingworth’s by the need to resist the claims of Rome, Stillingfleet’s by the attacks of the libertines. These were also the forces against which Restoration theologians came to define their own position.

119 Printed below.

120 Op. cit., p. 6.

121 His second kind, induction by experiments, was not used by either Stillingfleet or Barrow. But Tillotson was a close friend of Wilkins who, if not the ‘onely begetter’ of the Royal Society, was one of the promoters of the new science.

122 The sermon was first published in 1664, and the earlier version of this passage is even closer to Pascal’s wager, e.g. “the hazard and danger is so infinitely unequal, that in point of prudence every man were obliged to incline to the affirmative; and... to make that the principle to live by” (op. cit., p. 23); the 1664 ed. has “... to make that the hypothesis to live by”. Though the revision clearly shows T.’s fear of misunderstanding, the earlier hypothesis reveals the parallel with Pascal’s count of probabilities in gambling.

123 Op. cit., sermon 2.

124 South considers the same hypotheses in op. cit., II, ser. 1.

125 Sermons on the Creed, 1 (printed below), 2, 3, The titles, however, are not Barrow’s but his editor’s, i.e. Tillotson’s.

126 Sermons on the Creed, in op. cit., II, 35.

127 That is, the arguments for religion should outweigh those against it.

128 Ibid., p. 38.

129 Ibid., p. 50.

130 Printed below.

131 See the sermon printed below; there are 3 further sermons on the same text, in op. cit., VI, sermons 1 to 3.

132 South’s denunciation of the abuse of words, and of the exploitation of them for political purposes, may be compared with Orwell’s in Politics and the English Language and in the Appendix to 1984 on ‘The Principles of Newspeak’. South’s treatment of the fanatics’jargon suggests that, mutatis mutandis, he would have agreed with Orwell that “from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase—some jackboot, Achilles’heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse—into the dustbin where it belongs Though he was the scourge of the Puritans, South might be called a Puritan in regard to language, which he wished to preserve undefiled from such corruption.

133 See the Sermon printed below, on John VII. 7.

134 On John I. 14, in op. cit., I, ser. 44.

135 Op. cit., II, ser. 11, p. 415.

136 Op. cit., II, ser. 7.

137 Op. cit., II, ser. 11.

138 See his sermon on the Trinity, printed below.

139 See his sermon on 1 John III. 21, printed below.

140 Ibid.

141 Essay, Bk. IV, ch. XVIII, § 5.

142 Ibid., ch. III, § 23.

143 South charged William Sherlock, author of A Vindication of the Holy and Ever-Blessed Trinity (1690), with Tritheism in his Animadversions Upon Dr. Sherlock’s Book Entituled A Vindication of the Holy... Trinity, London, 1693, and in Tritheism Charged upon Dr. Sherlock’s New Notion of the Trinity, London, 1695.

144 Op. cit., III, ser. 6, p. 216.

145 Ibid., p. 252.

146 Op. cit., III, ser. 8.

147 Op. cit., IV, ser. 6.

148 Op. cit., I, ser. 2, p. 45.

149 Op. cit., II, ser. 7. The sermon was preached in 1690; vol. II of the Sermons was published in 1694.

150 This sermon, A Defence of the Blessed Trinity, was not included in the Works of Barrow published by Tillotson. It first appeared in 1697. The printer, Brabazon Aylmer, tells the readers that the MS. was overlooked by Dr. Tillotson. It is likely that the ‘discovery’ was prompted by the growth of Deism.

151 Isaac Barrow: Theological Works, ed. Alexander Napier, Cambridge, 1859, IV, 494.

152 Ibid., p. 495.

153 Ibid., p. 498.

154 Ibid., p. 501.

155 In Trinity College, Cambridge (T.C. MS. 0.10. a. 32). On the last page is the opening of another sermon on the same text, which begins like the preceding. Since it is written on the verso of the last page, however, it is more likely to have been a continuation rather than a rewriting of the other, and probably represents the beginning of the sermon on the Trinity. The sermon was first published by Alexander Napier, in op. cit., IV: An Adequate Knowledge of Cod attainable by Man.

156 See, for instance, the sermon Against Foolish Talking and Jesting, printed below.

157 See Works, I, ser. 11.

158 Against Foolish Talking and Jesting.

159 Op. cit., I, ser. 11.

160 The Excellency of the Christian Religion, in op. cit., I, ser. 5.

161 The Precepts of Christianity not Grievous, in op. cit., I, ser. 6.

162 The Six Sermons published in 1694 deal with: the Divinity of Christ (I, 43 and 44), the Incarnation of Christ (I, 45 and 46), the Sacrifice and Satisfaction of Christ (I, 47), and the Unity of the Divine Nature and the Trinity (I, 48).

163 On this, see G.R. Cragg: The Church and the Age of Reason (1648-1789), Harmondsworth, 1960, ch. 5.

164 Reprinted in the first folio volume containing Fifty Four Sermons and the Rule of Faith.

165 See Burnet’s funeral sermon: “His endeavouring to make out every thing in Religion from clear and plain Principles, and with a Fulness of demonstrative Proof, was laid hold on to make him pass for one that could believe nothing that lay beyond the Compass of human Reason”, op. cit., p. 17. For the charge of Socinianism against Tillotson, and the many pamphlets related to it, see Birch’s Lite and L.G. Locke: Tillotson, A Study in Seventeenth Century Literature, Copenhagen, 1954. Tillotson, whose sympathies were as wide as those of his father-in-law Wilkins, was the friend of Thomas Firmin, a wellknown Socinian and patron of the Unitarians.

166 Op. cit., I, ser. 43.

167 But he praises Socinus for conducting his argument coolly.

168 Ibid., p. 459.

169 Ibid., p. 459.

170 Op. cit., I, 463, ser. 45.

171 Ibid., p. 463.

172 The sermons published in 1694 were preached ‘several years ago’ at St. Lawrence Jewry, and enlarged for publication. The audience he addressed there was far from unlearned, as Burnet tells us in his funeral sermon: “The numerous Assembly that this Lecture brought together, even from the remotest Parts of this wide City; the great Concourse of Clergy-men who came hither to form their Minds, the happy Union that thereby the Clergy of this great Body grew into, and the blessed Effects this had, are things which it is to be hoped an Age will not wear out of Men’s Minds”, op. cit., pp. 19-20. Many of Tillotson’s sermons were preached at Lincoln’s Inn, where earlier in the century Donne had given the Masters and students quite different fare. On the development of liberal theology in the early eighteenth century, see R.N. Stromberg: Religious Liberalism in Eighteenth-Century England, London, 1954.

173 “Thus the ablest of the deists, Matthew Tindal (1657-1733), in his Christianity as Old as Creation (1730), could quote extensively from such a man as Tillotson in favour of the use and authority of reason, though with a view to establishing conclusions that Tillotson would have eschewed. It was all too easy to overlook the profound difference between the Platonic ‘reason’, with its large admixture of imagination and adoration, and the cool, secular, logical reason of the ‘Age of Reason’, which could lead in the end only to the scepticism of Voltaire and Hume.” Stephen Neill, op. cit., p. 182.

174 See Tulloch, op. cit., II, 59-74.

175 Whichcote’s Select Discourses, in 3 vols., were published in 1698 by the Third Earl of Shaftesbury (who in his preface praised the Cambridge Platonist for his belief in the goodness of man).

176 Quoted in P.E. More and Fr.L. Cross: Anglicanism, The Thought and Practice of the Church of England, Illustrated from the religious literature of the seventeenth century, London, 1935, p. 213. Whichcote’s discourses were printed from notes; hence, probably, the repetitions. Though Whichcote was removed from the Provostship of King’s College, Cambridge, in 1660, he conformed to the Church and became vicar of St. Lawrence Jewry when Wilkins was elevated to the see of Chester. Tillotson preached his funeral sermon. See vol. I, ser. 24.

177 Nathanael Culverwell: An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature, 1652. Quoted in E.T. Campagnac: The Cambridge Platonists, Oxford, 1901, pp. 213-14.

178 Op. cit., II, ser. 28.

179 Op. cit., V, sermons 7 and 8.

180 Sermon 7.

181 Sermon 8.

182 It had been Hooker’s plea that to disobey ecclesiastical laws, though not instituted by God, was to undermine the basis of society, since men are members of the body politic, whose very existence depends on laws.

183 Op. cit., III, ser. 4.

184 Ibid., ser. 1.

185 Op. cit., IV, ser. 12.

186 Additional Volumes of Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, London, 1744, VII, 89, ser. 5.

187 Ibid., p. 93.

188 In developing this point (pp. 94-95) South seems closer to the Calvinists than he usually is; but the sermon is not dated, nor was it revised for publication. Volumes VII-XI were published after his death and in many places the text is obviously corrupt. See below, Note on the text.

189 Ibid., p. 98.

190 Ibid., pp. 102-6.

191 Ibid., pp. 108-20.

192 Additional... Sermons, VIII, ser. 2.

193 Ibid., ser. 13, p. 370.

194 Ibid., p. 384.

195 Ibid., p. 393.

196 The influence of the Cambridge Platonists is also noticeable in this sermon.

197 Op. cit., II, sermons 52-56, printed below.

198 Laud ‘abominated’ the doctrine of reprobation because “it makes God, the God of all mercies, to be the most fierce and unreasonable tyrant in the world”. Quoted in P.E. More, op. cit, p. lii.

199 Op. cit., III, ser. 148, printed below.

200 Ibid., ser. 149, printed below.

201 The second is undated.

202 Isaac Barrow: A Brief Exposition on the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and Ten Commandments. To which is added the Doctrine of the Sacraments. This on the Creed never published before. London, 1697, p. 10. Tillotson had published the Explication of the Lord’s Prayer, the Decalogue, and the Doctrine of the Sacraments “in a small manual by itself”; after the Archbishop’s death the bookseller Brabazon Aylmer, who had published Barrow’s sermons (as well as Tillotson’s), brought out in 1697 both the sermon on the Trinity and the Exposition, which, he says in his Advertisement to the reader, was overlooked by His Grace. B. Aylmer, who specialized in theological works, clearly intended these works to be used as arguments against Deism.

203 Op. cit., II, ser. 2.

204 Ibid., ser. 4, printed below.

205 It is one of Bossuet’s main examples of points of doctrine on which Protestants disagree with each other.

206 See the title of his Preface.

207 For instance in 1667, 1674 and 1680, and again in 1689 when William’s scheme for comprehension was rejected by the Lower House of Convocation (largely composed of High-Churchmen) while the bishops (many of whom were Latitudinarians appointed by William after the defection of the Non-jurors) were ready to sponsor it.

208 And even of persecution. See G.R. Cragg: Puritanism in the Period of the Great Persecution, Cambridge, 1957.

209 Op. cit., III, ser. 11, printed below.

210 Op. cit., I, ser. 7, p. 283.

211 Ibid., p. 284.

212 Op. cit., I, ser. 7.

213 Op. cit., III, ser. 11, printed below.

214 “In the petition ‘In all time of our tribulation, in all time of our wealth, in the hour of death and in the day of judgement’, the American Prayer Book, on the ground that the word ‘wealth’ in the sense of ‘well-being’ is somewhat archaic, reads ‘in all time of our prosperity’. The rhythm has been irretrievably destroyed”, Stephen Neill, op. cit., p. 60. There were about six hundred changes in the Revised Prayer Book of 1662.

215 Op. cit., II, ser. 5, printed below.

216 Laws, Bk. I, ii, 3.

217 See chapter I.

218 See his Concio ad Synodum, London, 1689. The sermon was preached to Convocation.

219 William Beveridge: A Sermon on the Excellency and Usefulness of the Common Prayer (1681). Quoted in P.E. More and Fr.L. Cross, op. cit., pp. 626-7.

220 P.E. More and Fr.L. Cross, op. cit., I. The spirit of Anglicanism, p. xxii.

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