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Dumb you were born indeed; but thinking long,
The Test, it seems, at last has loosed your tongue. 30
And to explain what your forefathers meant
By real presence in the Sacrament,
After long fencing pushed against a wall,
Your salvo comes, that he's not there at all :
There changed your faith, and what may change may fall.
Who can believe what varies every day,
36 Nor ever was nor will be at a stay?
‘Tortures may force the tongue untruths to tell,
And I ne'er owned my self infallible,'
Replied the Panther: 'grant such presence were,
Yet in your sense I never owned 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 your self you swore;
Your former self, for every hour your form
Is chopped and changed, like winds before a storm.
Thus fear and interest will prevail with some;
For all have not the gift of martyrdom.'
The Panther grinned at this, and thus replied :
"That men may err was never yet denied.
But, if that common principle be true,
The cannon, dame, is levelled full at you.
But, shunning long disputes, I fain would see
That wondrous wight, Infallibility.
Is he from Heaven, this mighty champion, come?
Or lodged 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 assigned :
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 inferred 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 combined; 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 Church's after acceptation join.
This last circumference appears too wide;
The Church diffused is by the Council tied;
As members by their representatives
Obliged 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 ?
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 perplexed.
If any should in after times appear,
New Councils must be called, to make the meaning clear ;
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 whirled
The tortured text about the Christian world,
Each Jehu lashing on with furious force,
That Turk or Jew could not have used it worse.
No matter what dissension leaders make,
Where every private man may save a stake :
Ruled 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 reformed 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 allowed to be the better man
In virtue of his holier Alcoran.'
“True,' said the Panther, I shall ne'er deny
My brethren may be saved as well as I:
Though Huguenots contemn 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 loophole for a friend,'
Rejoined 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 heretics the same pretence,
To plead the Scriptures in their own defence ?
155 How did the Nicene Council then decide That strong debate ? was it by Scriptures tried ? No, sure to those the rebel would not yield; Squadrons of texts he marshalled in the field : That was but civil war, an equal set,
160 Where piles with piles, and eagles eagles met. With texts point-blank and plain he faced the foe: And did not Satan tempt our Saviour so? The good old bishops took a simpler way; Each asked but what he heard his father say,
165 Or how he was instructed in his youth, And by tradition's force upheld the truth.'
The Panther smiled at this, and when,' said she, “Were those first Councils disallowed by me ? Or where did I at sure tradition strike,
170 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 joined with Holy Writ; But thus your memory betrays your wit.'
175 "No,' said the Panther, ‘for in that I view When your tradition's forged, and when 'tis true. I set them by the rule, and as they square Or deviate from undoubted doctrine there, This oral fiction, that old faith declare.'
(Hind.) 'The Council steered, it seems, a different course;
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.
185 The Word is then deposed, 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 disallowed, When not evinced 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. 195
Suppose we on things traditive divide,
And both appeal to Scripture to decide;
By various texts we both uphold our claim,
Nay, often ground our titles on the same :
After long labour lost and time's expense,
Both grant the words and quarrel for the sense.
Thus all disputes for ever must depend,
For no dumb rule can controversies end.
Thus, when you said tradition must be tried
By Sacred Writ, whose sense your selves decide, 205
You said no more but that your selves must be
The judges of the Scripture sense, not we.
Against our Church-tradition you declare,
And yet your clerks would sit in Moses' chair ;
At least 'tis proved against your argument,
The rule is far from plain, where all dissent.'
'If not by Scriptures, how can we be sure,'
Replied the Panther, 'what tradition's pure ?
For you may palm upon us new for old ;
All, as they say, that glitters is not gold.'
“How but by following her,' replied the dame, "To whom derived from sire to son they came; Where every age does on another move,