A brief Account of one Suggestion OF THE ROMANIST.
§. 1. IT is the Stateman's Maxime concerning a false Suggestion, that if it be believed but four and twenty hours, the value of it is in∣estimable; which though it must be allowed to re∣ceive a grand abatement, when it is applyed to infe∣riour and less considerable transactions, yet the inte∣rests of Religion, in the maintenance of truth, are not so despiseable, as that he that hath appeared or embarked in them, can safely neglect the advantages which evil arts may yield, or furnish an adversary against him.
§. 2. Such in reason, and in Experience, beyond all others is the charge of falsifying, which if it be but suggested, and believed of any, and much more if a pregnant and visible proof of it be tendred, there needs no other blast, or smut, or vermine to lay wast the whole field, and deprive him of all harvest of his seed and labours.
§. 3. How this is my concernment at this time, the Reader will not suddenly divine, till I have entertain'd him with a short relation of that, which I had ra∣ther my self proclaim on the house top, then leave o∣thers to whisper it in corners.
§. 4. I was lately advertised by a judicious and Re∣verend friend, that it was particularly urged against Page ii me, by a Romanist, that I had mistaken, or perverted M. Whites words, which I referr to in one Dispatcher Di∣spatcht, Chap. III. Sect. 4. p. 279. where I suppose him to answer (in his Apology for Trad. p. 56.) that the beatifical vision of the Saints before the day of Judgement was not yet held a matter of Faith, but onely a Theological conclusion; when (said he) the Apologist in that very place had ex∣presly said, that this point is a matter of faith, grounded on Tradition, and not a Theological conclusion.
§. 5. That I should be guilty if but of such an osci∣tancy or mistake, much more of such a vile perversi∣on as this, I may be allowed to have been as unwill∣ing my self to believe, as I am obliged to take care that others should not causelessly apprehend it of me. Therefore without delay I turned first to mine own words (which as I then could not doubt, so now I acknowledge to be faithfully related) then to Ma∣ster VVhites words, in the page of his Apology, whence I had cited them, and those I found exactly, and to a letter concordant to my transcript of them in Disp. Disp.
§. 6. For thus I still read (if I will not at noon-day suspect mine own eyes) in that Apologist, p. 56. l. 12. [For, nothing is more clear, then that the validity of Baptism by hereticks was a Tradition, and decided by it: so the Bea∣tifical vision of the Saints before the day of Judgement, the Spirituality of Angels, are not yet held matters of Faith, but only Theological conclusions; as likewise the souls being con∣created to the perfecting of the body.] What can be more manifest, then that in this period the Beatificall Vision of Saints before the day of judgement is by that Apologist set down, as one of the two things (to which after a third is subjoyn'd) of which it is affirmed in the plu∣ral, Page iii that they are not yet held matters of Faith, but onely Theological conclusions? which was all to a syllable, that I cited from him in that place, with this onely change, that speaking onely of one of these, the Beatifical vision &c. I set it (as it was necessary) in the singular [is not yet held a matter of Faith, but onely a Theological conclusion.]
§. 7. That I might be sure not to have mistaken my Author, I carefully consulted the Errata; but there was none noted, relating to that page: and indeed the whole composure of the period was such, that there must be a concurrence of very many changes in the compass of very few lines (more I believe then the most negligent Compositor and Corrector have at a∣ny time conspired to be guilty of) to wrest this testi∣mony from me, or change it into what this Romanist had affirmed it to be.
§. 8. Having dispatch't this account to my friend, from whom I received the former advertisement, I had no cause of doubt, but that this affair had recei∣ved its full period, the Romanist being obliged to yield to such full uncontrollable evidence, and every mans eyes, to whom the contrary suggestion could be of∣fered, being as well qualified as mine, to secure him from being misled by it. And on these grounds of safety I had no least thought of troubling the Reader with any account, or complaint, which I now see is become some part of my interest, and my duty.
§. 9. For I was soon assured by my friend, that the words which I had punctually transcribed from my copy of the Apology, were not to be found in that, which he had before him, but quite transformed in∣to the contrary sence, even that for which the Roma∣nist had vouch'd them; for thus he found them [For, Page iv nothing is more clear, then that the validity of Baptism by hereticks was a Tradition, and decided by it: so the Beati∣fical vision of the Saints before the day of judgement. The Spirituality of Angels is not yet held a matter of Faith, but onely a Theological conclusion.]
§. 10. By this representation I was soon forced to confess, that the whole scene was changed, the first part of the words remaining the same, but the second (of the Beatifical vision of the Saints) which were my onely concernment, wholly transformed, that which before was joyned with the spirituality of An∣gels, as not yet held matters of faith, but onely Theological conclusions, being now annext to the validity of Baptism by hereticks, and so affirmed to be a Tradition (and that is with him a matter of Faith) and decided by it. And then I had reason to acknowledge the candour of that Romanist, who proceeding on these appearances, had laid no heavier a censure on me, then that of either mistaking, or perverting M. Whites words.
§. 11. In this new posture of affairs, first it was presently discernible, that the very many changes, which I had foreseen, had been really made, to bring this about. And as all this was obvious, and credible to be done by a new Edition of the book, so it remained uncertain to me whether mine, or that other so con∣trary to it, were the true and authentick Edition: this therefore was my next care to examine.
§. 12. And herein again I met with an intricacy; for if the title-pages, and a concurrence of all obvious indications, might be believed, there was all this while but one edition, both copies carrying in their front, A Paris, chez Jean Billain Rue S. Jacques à l'en∣sign S. Augustin 1654. the same volume, print, num∣ber Page v of pages, beginning and end of every page, &c. This soon suggested that which was the onely clue to extricate me then (and the reader now) out of this la∣byrinth. For sending to the Stationers for another co∣py of the Apology, as from one I received a copy per∣fectly agreeing with mine, so by the help of another I was furnisht with one exactly accordant to what my Monitor from the Romanist had represented to me, yet not discernibly differing from my own in any o∣ther, save in this one passage; and looking more nar∣rowly, first the paper and ink wherein that leaf was printed (discernibly differing from all the rest of the book) was apt to inject some suspicion: but I soon saw that I had no need of this, or other obscurer intimation, it being grosly visible, that in this place a leaf had been cut out, & a new one pasted in. And what Gordian knot might not have been untied by the like instrument?
§. 13. VVhen this change was thought fit to be made, I did, and still want augury to divine; onely this is apparent, that it was a work which second thoughts suggested, after the Book was published, else my copy which came regularly to me from the VVor∣cester-stationer, (in the year, if my memory fail me not, 1655.) and another now sent me from another Stati∣oner (which assures me there be many more) must have had their parts in the change.
§. 14. Having given the Reader a brief and single view of this matter, I abstain from any farther obser∣vation, or reflexion on it, then what a
§. 15. This indeed is an unexpected proof of what S. VV. had told me, concerning the VVits (enormous) power to transform Testimonies; which yet shal not dis∣courage me from dealing in that ware, (being firmly resolved never to make use of my duller faculties, to work such Metamorphoses) nor yet from diverting sometimes into such pleasant fields, adorned with so great varieties, as that Apologist frequently affords the world, hoping, that I shall not again meet with such misadventures as these, or any greater interruptions in reading him, then what a competent attention, and a table of Errata shall enable me to overcome.
§. 16. This account I conceived would more par∣donably, because more moderately, divert the Reader at this time, then if I should stay till it were solemn∣ly and articulately call'd for, and moreover deliver S. VV. from some temptation, himself to think, or to perswade others, that he had sprang some reall game to invite his chases, some guilt to support his contume∣lies, and perhaps prevail with some of their most cre∣dulous followers, to think it equitable to subject the suggestions they meet with to some other waies of ex∣amination and triall, then the bare authority or con∣fidence of the suggesters.