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DR. PIERCE'S LETTER.
Good Mr. Walton,
Ar my return to this place, I made a yet stricter search after the letters long ago sent me from our most excellent Dr. Sanderson, before the happy restoration of the King and Church of England to their several rights: in one of which letters more especially, he was pleased to give me a narrative both of the rise and the progress, and reasons also, as well of his younger, as of his last and riper judgment, touching the famous points controverted between the Calvinians and the Arminians, as they are commonly (though unjustly and unskilfully) miscalled on either side.
The whole letter I allude to does consist of several sheets whereof a good part had been made public long ago, by the most learned, most judicious, most pious Dr. Hammond, (to whom I sent it both for his private, and for the public satisfaction, if he thought fit,) in his excellent book, entitled, "A Pacific Discourse of God's Grace and Decrees, in full accordance with Dr. Sanderson:" to which discourse I refer you for an account of Dr. Sanderson and the history of his thoughts in his own hand-writing, wherein I sent it to Westwood, as I received it from Boothby Pannel. And although the whole book, (printed in the year 1660, and reprinted since with his other tracts in folio) is very worthy of your perusal; yet, for the work you are about, you shall not have need to read more at present than from the 8th to the 23rd page, and as far as the end of section 33. There you will find in what year the excellent man, whose life you write, became a Master of Arts: how his first reading of learned Hooker had been occasioned by certain puritanical pamphlets; and how good a preparative he found it for his reading of Calvin's Institutions, the honour of whose name (at that time especially) gave such credit to his errors: how he erred with Mr. Calvin, whilst he took things upon trust in the sublapsarian way how, being chosen to be a Clerk of the Convocation for the Diocese of Lincoln, 1625, he reduced the Quinquarticular Controversy into five schemes or tables; and thereupon discerned a necessity of quitting the sublapsarian way, of which he had before a better liking, as well as the supralapsarian, which he could never fancy. There you will meet with his two weighty reasons against them both, and find his happy change of judgment to have been ever since the year 1625, even thirty-four years before the world either knew, or, at least, took notice of it; and more particularly his reasons for rejecting Dr. Twiss, (or the way he walks in,) although his acute and very learned and ancient friend.
I now proceed to let you know from Dr. Sanderson's own hand,* which was never printed, (and which you can hardly know from any, unless from his son, or from myself,) that, when that Parliament was broken up, and the convocation therewith dissolved, a gentleman of his acquaintance by occasion of some discourse about these points, told him of a book not long before published at Paris, (A. D. 1623,) by a Spanish Bishop,† who had undertaken to clear the differences in the great controversy De Concordia Gratia et Liberi Arbitrii. And because his friend perceived he was greedily desirous to see the book, he sent him one of them, containing the four first books of twelve which he intended then to publish. "When I had read," says Dr. Sanderson, in the following words of the same letter, "his Epistle Dedicatory to the Pope, (Gregory XV.) he spake so highly of his own invention, that I then began rather to suspect him for a mountebank, than to hope I should find satisfaction from his performances. I found much confidence and great pomp of words, but little matter as to the main knot of the business, other than had been said an hundred times before, to wit, of the coexistence of all things past, present, and future in mente divina realiter ab æterno, which is the subject of his whole third book: only he interpreteth the word realiter so as to import not only præsentialitatem objectivam, (as others held before him,) but propriam et actualem existentiam; yet confesseth it is hard to make this intelligible. In his fourth book he endeavours to declare a twofold manner of God's working ad extra; the one sub ordine prædestinationis, of which eternity is the proper measure: the other sub ordine gratiæ, whereof time is the measure; and that God worketh fortiter in the one (though not irresistibiliter as well suaviter in the other, wherein the free will, hath his proper working also. From the result of his whole performance I was confirmed in this opinion; that we must acknowledge the work of both grace and free will in the conversion of a sinner; and so likewise in all other events, the consistency of the infallibility of God's foreknowledge at least (though not with any absolute, but conditional predestination) with the liberty of man's will, and the contingency of inferior causes and effects. These, I say, we must acknowledge for the ör: but for the rò πs, I thought it bootless for me to think of comprehending it. And so came the two Acta Synodalia Dordrechtana to stand in my study, only to fill up a room to this day.
"And yet see the restless curiosity of man. Not many years after, to wit, A. D. 1632, out cometh Dr. Twiss's, Vindicia Gratiæ, a large volume, purposely writ against Arminius: and then, notwithstanding my former resolu
* Sir, I pray note, that all that follows between inverted commas are Dr. Sanderson's own words, excellently worthy, but no where else extant; and commend him as much as any thing you can say of him. T. P.
This learned nonconformist was born at Reading about 1575, and educated at Winchester School, and New College, Oxford. He had been Chaplain to the Princess Elizabeth. He died at Newbury, July 20, 1646. Wood says, "his plain preaching was esteemed good; his solid disputations were accounted better; but his pious life was reckoned best of all."
tion, I must need be meddling again. The respect I bore to his person and great learning, and the acquaintance I had had with him in Oxford, drew me to the reading of that whole book. But from the reading of it (for I read it through to a syllable) I went away with many and great dissatisfactions. Sundry things in that book I took notice of, which brought me into a greater dislike of his opinion than I had before: but especially these three: First that he bottometh very much of his discourse upon a very erroneous principle, which yet he seemeth to be so deeply in love with, that he hath repeated it. I verily believe, some hundreds of times in that work: to wit this; That whatsoever is first in the intention is last in execution, and e converso. Which is an error of that magnitude, that I cannot but wonder how a person of such acuteness and subtilty of wit could possibly be deceived with it. All logicians know there is no such universal maxim as he buildeth upon. The true maxim is but this: Finis qui primus est in intentione, est ultimus in executione. In the order of final causes, and the means used for that end, the rule holdeth perpetually but in other things it holdeth not at all, or but by chance; or not as a rule, and necessarily. Secondly, that, foreseeing such consequences would naturally and necessarily follow from his opinion, as would offend the ear of a sober Christian at the very first sound, he would yet rather choose not only to admit the said harsh consequences, but professedly endeavour also to maintain them, and plead hard for them in large digressions, than to recede in the least from that opinion which he had undertaken to defend. Thirdly, that seeing (out of the sharpness of his wit) a necessity of forsaking the ordinary sublapsarian way, and the supralapsarian too, as it had diversely been declared by all that had gone before him, (for the shunning of those rocks, which either of those ways must unavoidably cast him upon,) he was forced to seek out an untrodden path, and to frame out of his own brain a new way, (like a spider's web wrought out of her own bowels,) hoping by that device to salve all absurdities, that could be objected; to wit, by making the glory of God (as it is indeed the chiefest, so) the only end of all other his decrees and then making all those other decrees to be but one entire co-ordinate medium conducing to that one end, and so the whole subordinate to it, but not any one part thereof subordinate to any other of the same. Dr. Twiss should have done well to have been more sparing in imputing the studium partium to others, wherewith his own eyes, though of eminent perspicacity, were so strangely blindfolded, that he could not discern how this his new device, and his old dearly beloved principle, (like the Cadmean Sparti,) do mutually destroy the one the other.
“This relation of my past thoughts having spun out to a far greater length than I intended, I shall give a shorter account of what they now are concerning these points."
For which account I refer you to the following parts of Dr. Hammond's book aforesaid, where you may find them already printed: and for another account at large of Bishop Sanderson's last judgment concerning God's concurrence or nonconcurrence with the actions of men, and the positive entity of sins of commission, I refer you to his letters already printed by his consent,
in my large appendix to my Impartial Enquiry into the Nature of Sin, § 68. p. 193, as far as p. 200.
Sir, I have rather made it my choice to transcribe all above out of the letters of Dr. Sanderson, which lie before me, than venture the loss of my originals by post or carrier, which, though not often, yet sometimes fail. Make use of as much or as little as you please, of what I send you from himself (because from his own letters to me) in the penning of his life, as your own prudence shall direct you; using my name for your warranty in the account given of him, as much or as little as you please too. You have a performance of my promise, and an obedience to your desires from
THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN'S LETTER.
66 MY WORTHY FRIEND MR. WALTON,
"I am heartily glad, that you have undertaken to write the Life of that excellent person, and, both for learning and Piety, eminent Prelate, Dr. Sanderson, late Bishop of Lincoln; because I know your ability to know, and integrity to write truth: And sure I am, that the life and actions of that pious and learned Prelate will afford you matter enough for his commendation, and the imitation of posterity. In order to the carrying on your intended good work, you desire my assistance, that I would communicate to you such particular passages of his life, as were certainly known to me. I confess I had the happiness to be particularly known to him for about the space of twenty years; and, in Oxon, to enjoy his conversation, and his learned and pious instructions while he was Regius Professor of Divinity there. Afterwards, when (in the time of our late unhappy confusions) he left Oxon, and was retired into the country, I had the benefit of his letters; wherein, with great candour and kindness, he answered those doubts I proposed, and gave me that satisfaction, which I neither had nor expected from some others of greater confidence, but less judgment and humility. Having, in a letter, named two or three books writ (ex professo) against the being of any original sin: and that Adam, by his fall, transmitted some calamity only, but no crime to his posterity; the good old man was exceedingly troubled, and bewailed the misery of those licentious times, and seemed to wonder (save that the times were such) that any should write, or be permitted to publish any error so contradictory to truth, and the doctrine of the Church of England, established (as he truly said) by clear evidence of Scripture, and the just and supreme power of this nation, both sacred and civil. I name not the books, nor their authors, which are not
unknown to learned men (and I wish they had never been known) because both the doctrine, and the unadvised abettors of it are, and shall be, to me apocryphal.
Another little story I must not pass in silence, being an argument of Dr. Sanderson's piety, great ability, and judgment, as a casuist. Discoursing with an honourable person* (whose piety I value more than his nobility and learning, though both be great) about a case of conscience concerning oaths and vows, their nature and obligation; in which, for some particular reasons, he then desired more fully to be informed; I commended to him Dr. Sanderson's book' De Juramento;' which having read, with great satisfaction, he asked me,' If I thought the Doctor could be induced to write Cases of Conscience, if he might have an honorary pension allowed him to furnish him with books for that purpose?' I told him I believed he would: And, in a letter to the Doctor, told him what great satisfaction that honourable person, and many more, had reaped by reading his book ‘De Juramento;' and asked him, 'whether he would be pleased, for the benefit of the Church, to write some tract of Cases of Conscience?' He replied,That he was glad that any had received any benefit by his books:' and added further, That if any future tract of his could bring such benefit to any, as we seemed to say his former had done, he would willingly, though without any Pension, set about that work.' Having received this answer, that honourable person, before mentioned, did, by my hands, return 50l. to the good Doctor, whose condition then (as most good men's at that time were) was but low; and he presently revised, finished, and published that excellent book, 'De Conscientia: A book little in bulk, but not so if we consider the benefit an intelligent reader may receive by it. For there are so many general propositions concerning conscience, the nature and obligation of it, explained and proved with such firm consequence and evidence of reason, that he who reads, remembers, and can with prudence pertinently apply them hic et nunc to particular cases, may, by their light and help, rationally resolve a thousand particular doubts and scruples of conscience. Here you may see the charity of that honourable person in promoting, and the piety and industry of the good Doctor, in performing that excellent work.
And here I shall add the judgment of that learned and pious Prelate concerning a passage very pertinent to our present purpose. When he was in Oxon, and read his public lectures in the schools as Regius Professor of Divinity, and by the truth of his positions, and evidences of his proofs, gave great content and satisfaction to all his hearers, especially in his clear resolutions of all difficult cases which occurred in the explication of the subject-matter of his lectures; a person of quality (yet alive) privately asked him, 'What course a young Divine should take in his studies to enable him to be a good casuist?' His answer was, 'That a convenient understanding of the learned languages, at least of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, and a sufficient knowledge of arts and sciences presupposed; there were two things in human literature, a compre
* Robert Boyle, Esq.