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And to explain what your forefathers meant,
By real prosence in the sacrament,
After long fencing push'd against a wall,
Your salvo comes, that he's not there at all :
There chang'd your faith, and what may change
Who can believe what varies every day,
Nor ever was, nor will be at a stay ?”
“ Tortures may force the tongue untruths to tell,
And I ne'er own'd myself infallible,
(Replied the Panther:) grant such presence were,
Yet in your sense I never own'd it there.
A real virtue we by faith receive,
And that we in the sacrament believe."
“'Then, (said the Hind) as you the matter state,
Not only Jesuits can equivocate ;
For real, as you now the word expound,
From solid substance dwindles to a sound.
Methinks an Æsop's fable you repeat;
You know who took the shadow for the meat:
Your church's substance thus you change at will,
And yet retain your former figure still.
I freely grant you spoke to save your life,
For then you lay beneath the butcher's knife.
Long time you fought, redoubled battery bore,
But, after all, against yourself you swore;
Your former self; for every
Is chop'd and chang'd, like winds before a storm.
Thus fear and interest will prevail with some,
For all have not the gift of martyrdom.”
The Panther grinn'd at this, and thus replied: “ That men may err was never yet denied : But, if that common principle be true, The canon, Dame, is leveli'd full at you,
But, shunning long disputes, I fain would see
That wondrous wight Infallibility :
Is he from Heaven, this mighty champion, come,
Or lodg'd below in subterranean Rome?
First, seat him somewhere, and derive his race,
Or else conclude that nothing has no place.”
“Suppose, though I disown it, (said the Hind)
The certain mansion were not yet assign'd;
The doubtful residence no proof can bring
Against the plain existence of the thing.
Because philosophers may disagree,
If sight by' emission or reception be,
Shall it be thence inferr'd- I do not see?
But you require an answer positive,
Which yet, when I demand, you dare not give,
For fallacies in universals live.
I then affirm that this unfailing guide
In pope and general councils must reside;
Both lawful, both combin'd; what one decrees
By numerous votes, the other ratifies :
On this undoubted sense the church relies.
'Tis true some doctors in a scantier space,
I mean, in each apart, contract the place:
Some, who to greater length extend the line,
The churches' after-acceptation join.
This last circumference appears too wide;
The church diffus'd is by the council tied ;
As members, by their representatives
Oblig'd to laws, which prince and senate gives.
Thus some contract, and some enlarge the space;
In pope and council who denies the place,
Assisted from above with God's unfailing grace? S
Those canons all the needful points contain,
Their sense so obvious, and their words so plain,
That no disputes about the doubtful text
Have hitherto the labouring world perplex'd;
If any should in after-times appear, (clear ;
New councils must be call’d to make the meaning
Because in them the power supreme resides,
And all the promises are to the guides.
This may be taught with sound and safe defence ;
But mark how sandy is your own pretence,
Who, setting councils, pope, and church aside,
Are every man his own presuming guide.
The sacred books, you say, are full and plain,
And every needful point of truth contain:
All who can read, interpreters may be:
Thus, though your several churches disagree,
Yet every saint has to himself alone
The secret of this philosophic stone.
These principles your jarring sects unite,
When differing doctors and disciples fight.
Though Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, holy chiefs,
Have made a battle-royal of beliefs ;
Or, like wild horses, several ways have whirld
The tortur'd text about the Christian world,
Each Jehu lashing on with furious force,
That Turk or Jew could not have us'd it worse ;
No matter what dissention leaders make,
Where every private man may save a stake;
Ruld by the Scripture and his own advice,
Each has a blind by-path to Paradise ;
Where driving in a circle slow or fast,
Opposing sects are sure to meet at last.
A wondrous charity you have in store
For all reform’d to pass the narrow door ;
So much, that Mahomet had scarcely more.
For he, kind prophet, was for damning none,
But Christ and Moses were to save their own:
Himself was to secure his chosen race,
Though reason good for Turks to take the place,
And he allow'd to be the better man,
In virtue of his holier Alcoran.”
" True, (said the Panther) I shall ne'er deny
My brethren may be sav'd as well as I:
Though Huguenots condemn our ordination,
Succession, ministerial vocation,
And Luther, more mistaking what he read,
Misjoins the sacred body with the bread :
Yet, Lady, still remember I maintain
The Word in needful points is only plain.”
“Needless, or needful, I not now contend, For still you have a loop-hole for a friend, (Rejoin'd the matron) but the rule you lay Has led whole flocks, and leads them still, astray In weighty points, and full damnation's way: For did not Arius first, Socinus now, The Son's eternal Godhead disavow? And did not these by gospel-texts alone Condemn our doctrine, and maintain their own? Have not all beretics the same pretence To plead the Scriptures in their own defence ? How did the Nicene council then decide That strong debate? was it by Scripture tried?. No, sure ; to that the rebel would not yield; Squadrons of texts he marshall'd in the field : That was but civil war, an equal set, Where piles with piles, and eagles eagles met. With texts point blank and plain he fac'd the foe, And did not Satan tempt our Saviour so?
The good old bishops took a simpler way;
Each ask'd but what he heard his father say,
Or how he was instructed in his youth,
And by tradition's force upheld the truth.”
The Panther smil'd at this : “And when (said she)
Where those first counsels disallow'd by me?
Or where did I at sure tradition strike,
Provided still it were apostolic ?”
“Friend, (said the Hind) you quit your former
ground, Where all your faith you did on Scripture found : Now 'tis tradition join'd with holy writ; But thus your memory betrays your wit.”
“No, (said the Panther) for in that I view When your tradition's forg'd, and when 'tis true; I set 'em by the rule, and as they square, Or deviate from undoubted doctrine there, This oral fiction, that old faith declare.”
HIND. “The council steer'd, it seems, a different
They tried the Scripture by tradition's force;
But you tradition by the scripture try;
Pursued by sects, from this to that you fly,
Nor dare on one foundation to rely.
The Word is then depos’d, and in this view
You rule the Scripture, not the Scripture you."
Thus said the Dame, and, smiling, thus pursued :
“I see tradition then is disallow'd
When not evinc'd by Scripture to be true,
And Scripture, as interpreted by you :
But here you tread upon unfaithful ground,
Unless you could infallibly expound;
Which you reject as odious Popery,
And throw that doctrine back with scorn on me,