A Position He Later Rejected

August 4th, 2007

From John Dryden’s Religio Laici

[Of Rome’s claims to final authority in the interpretation of Scripture]

The partial Papists wou’d infer from hence

Their Church, in last resort, shou’d Judge the Sense,

But first they wou’d assume, with wondrous Art,

Themselves to be the whole, who are but part

Of that vast Frame, the Church; yet grant they were

The handers down, can they from thence infer

A right t’ interpret? or wou’d they alone

Who brought the Present, claim it for their own?

In explanation of the title, it should be noted that John Dryden declared that he had converted to Catholicism shortly after the accession of King James. I suppose that Dr. Johnson’s reasons as to the possibility of the sincerity of such a timely conversion should suffice to quiet the impatient. Dryden may, of course have replied to this argument after his conversion, but if so I have not yet come across it.

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