An ansvvere to VVilliam Alablaster [sic] his motiues. By Roger Fenton preacher of Grayes Inne
Fenton, Roger, 1565-1616., Alabaster, William, 1567-1640.
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By ROGER FENTON Preacher of Grayes Inne.


AT LONDON Imprinted by FELIX KYNGSTON, for W. Aspley, dwelling in Paules Church∣yard, at the signe of the Tygers head. 1599.

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THE CONTENTS OF THE seuen Motiues.

  • 1. Of the stay of the minde in doctrine of faith.
  • 2. Of the last resolution of religion.
  • 3. Of the rule of interpretation of Scripture, and of necessitie of workes.
  • 4. Of the multitude of communicants in the catholike faith.
  • 5. Of alteration, and reformation of religion.
  • 6. Of the power promised to the Church for discerning of truth, and of the meanes of deciding controuersies.
  • 7. Of markes to discerne heretikes by: and of innouation.
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RIGHT Worshipfull, I craue your patronage and pardon both at once. I haue stolne from my daily duetie vnto you, vnto whom I owe both my selfe and all duetie, cer∣taine waste houres which I haue imployed a∣bout this discourse. If my paines haue been fruitfullie bestowed, yet they must craue par∣don, because they were bestowed without your leaue; if idlie, then I must craue pardon twise, once for them, and next for my selfe. Howsoe∣uer, I am sure my best desert must pleade par∣don, which I most humbly beg at your hands; submitting my selfe, and thaese stolne medita∣tions to your milde censures. Which if I finde fauourable, I shall be encouraged with more Page  [unnumbered] alacritie to applie my studies in my ordinarie duties, and with better content as well to a∣mend what you shall finde amisse in this, as also to prepare my selfe to some greater taske. And so with my dailie prayers to almightie God for the happie and flourishing estate of your Honourable societie, I humbly take my leaue. At my chamber in Grayes Inne this 24. of Nouember. 1599.

Your daily bounden Orator,


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The Author to William Alablaster, prisoner in the Tower, wisheth health of soule and bodie.

ALbeit Aarons body mysticall, whereabout we contend, might iustly occasion a much hotter conflict, then that dead bodie of Moses, for which Sathan stroue with Michael, thereof to make an idoll: yet haue I rather chosen (beloued Alablaster) to offend by ouer much mildnes, in this generall suruey, and discouerie of your grounds, then any wise in bitternes of spirit, vnderpretext of zeale, to gaule and disgrace an aduersary. Onely to the ende this slender taske, imposed vpon me, might finde the better intertainement euen at your hands: I haue weighed your inducements with all indifferencie, vrged the force of them so fully as I am able to conceiue, and examined them by the touch and triall of your owne grounds.

VVherefore (since by this time I hope the seeth∣ing Page  [unnumbered] of your feruencie is well nigh ouer, you become more staied then before, and able to containe your selfe within some limits of moderation) my heartie wish and desire is, that you would vpon this new oc∣casion take a sober reuiew of your owne worke, more aduisedly consider the premises whereupon you build, and (as God shall moue you) accordingly shape your resolution. VVhich thing although I haue small hope my labour should be so happie as to effect in you: yet least these your popular fallacies should insinuate themselues into the mindes of the more vnstable, I am the rather induced to publish this briefe answere for the vse of such tender iudgements, as shall in that kinde neede the same. So committing to al∣mightie God the happie successe hereof, and submit∣ting my selfe herein to the censure of the learned,

I bid you farewell

from my Chamber in Grayes Inne, Nouember 24. 1599.

R. F.

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AS the moist and vnstable bodies, because they are vnbounded in themselues, neuer cease from motion, vntil they be staied in some other bodie which hath stay in it selfe: so the vnderstanding vnquiet by nature, passeth through all formes of opinions, vntill he resolue his assent vpon some principle that standeth onely vpon his owne ground.


THat principle which stayeth the vnderstanding in hu∣mane knowledge, containeth a truth firme in it selfe, ma∣nifest to the light of nature shining in vs, knowne to euerie man of meane vnderstanding, carying euery proofe, and vp∣holding each conclusion, which reason is able from thence by discourse to inferre. So that the vnderstanding pas∣sing through so many formes of opinions, by discoursing at randome, is therefore vnsetled, because he cannot reduce those fareftcht conclusions to the first principle, and exa∣mine all opinions by that truth which standeth vpon it owne ground.


THerefore when the question of truth in controuersie of faith is turned too and fro, in the throng of so many particular quarrels, it is best to goe aside, and single out the two grand Originals and foundations, from the which all other factions arise: that by taking the iust estimate of the strength of eyther, our iudgemēt may leaue to the stronger part. Al particular controuersies in thēselues stand vpon their yea and nay, but vnto vs require proofe: which proofe is linked by reason, which reason is chiefely groūded vpō scripture, which scrip∣ture is authorised not in the letter, but in the sense, because it is doubtful in the varietie of apprehensions, some leading, others drawing, manyPage  2writhing their text to their seuerall factions: The question is at last remoued frō the text to the interpreter, frō the scripture vnto the men. So that a mind studious of truth is now come to his last care, to deter∣mine of the worth, merit, & authority of these that are the exposit our &.


YOu passe from formes of opinions to controuersies of faith, from an vnquiet vnderstanding by nature, to an vn∣stable faith in religion: which inference is not greatly amisse, if rightly taken. For as these two kinds be diuerse in nature, so be they alike in proportiō. For the principles of religiō dif∣fer from the principles of reason: so doth this of faith, from that of nature. Hence an vnstable vnderstanding is not fix∣ed vpon one and the same ground in both kindes. They be alike in proportion thus: as nature hath her principles writ∣ten in the hearts of all men: so religion hath hers reuealed from heauen, to al faithfull men. Secondly, as the glimmering light of nature still shining in vs enlightneth her principles, and maketh mens minds fully assent vnto them: So the spirit of God enformeth all Christian minds with a supernaturall light of faith, and full assurance of the first, principles of reli∣gion. Thirdly, as the principles of nature are presented to our vnderstanding out of the booke of nature, the volume of creatures and visible things of God, together with many my∣steries in part vnfolded by the wise Philosophers in their com∣ments vpon nature: so the first common principles of faith are euidently expressed in the booke of God, besides many high mysteries in part reuealed vnto vs by the learned and holy men of God from time to time. Fourthly, as the naturall vn∣derstanding the further it is remoued from the first principles by discourse, and tract of consequence, the more vnstable it is, & subiect to errour, being not able so steadily to looke backe frō euery conclusion to the first ground: so the minds of Chri∣stian men holding the same commō grounds, by them vnfol∣ding difficulties, and from them raising conclusiōs, according to the variety of iudgements and apprehensions, doe shape so many formes of opinions, and controuersies of religion. Thus farre I hope we haue gone hand, in hand without Page  1 crosse, or variance in any poynt at all. It remaines them (since the vnderstanding euen of a christian man is weake and vn∣stable in his discourse and apprehension) that we seeke the meanes to establish and confirme the same, so far forth as may stay the conscience of one studious of truth in matters of re∣ligion. Your aduise is that notwithstanding all truth in con∣trouersie of faith be grounded chiefely vpon scripture: yet the sence of scripture being diuersly taken by diuers, & there∣fore to vs vncertaine, the question at last must be remoued from the text to the interpretour, from the scripture to the men. God forbid the question should euer be remoued from the ground of truth: which truth is contained in the first principles: which principles be euidently expressed in scripture, not diuersly ta∣ken, but agreed vpon of all Churches: As that Christ is come in the flesh: Christ is the sonne of the liuing God: his second comming to iudgement: the resurrection, and such like, the analogie of which truths, is an infallible rule for expounding more obscure places, and a sure ground to build vpon. These principles being not doubtfull in varietie of apprehensions (like other places of greater difficultie) there is no shew of reason why a christians mans mind should in any controuersie be remo∣ued from them; no more then naturall reason will in any case forsake her common grounds, notwithstanding any sect of Philosophers whatsoeuer, but still labour to trie and examine all opinions by her first rules. Thus much I will presume vpon as graunted; if any exceptiō be taken, I appeale to your own words. It is best to goe aside and single out the two grand originals and foundations, from the which all the other factions arise, that by taking a iust estimat of the strength of either, our iudgement may leane to the stronger part. I demaund then when your selfe went aside to single out the two grand originals, by what rules did you take a iust estimate of the strength of either? If religion be to you a matter of conscience, you must needes confesse, that your rules of reason, or religion, or both did sway your mind, and make your iudgement leane (as you thinke) to the stronger part. So that (euen by your own euidence) that last remoue of the question from the text to the interpreter, from the scrip∣ture to the men, if it cary any shew of truth, it must be interpre∣ted Page  2 verie tenderly. First, you meane not frō that plaine scrip∣ture, wherein the first principles bee euidently authorized, but onely from those obscure textes, whose sence is doubtfull to vs in such varietie of apprehensions. Secondly, the remoue is not made from the scripture altogether to the men: but so, as still we keepe our sure footing vpon the first grounds: in the strength and euidence wherof diuine truth both in it selfe and to vs is euermore established.

Now further to proceede, because the Apostle commaunds * vs not alwaies to sticke in our first principles: we must needes confesse that the vnderstanding of priuat men vnsteedie in discourse, and feeble in iudging such high and waightie mat∣ters, is of it selfe, aswell in expounding scripture, as setting downe conclusions, subiect to manifould errors and heresies. And therefore besides those premised groundes from which we take our rise, we must be confirmed by such meanes as Christ hath besides prouided for the members of his Church militant here vpon earth. Which meanes are braunched into the assistance of Gods spirit within vs: and the testimonie of the Church and holie men of God without vs. These speciall helpes God hath prouided for his Church, ouer and aboue humane helpes common to Christians with the sonnes of nature. The former of these, I meane the assistance of Gods spirit, for enlightning our vnderstanding, and inabling our iudgments is purchased 1. by feruencie of prayer, 2. religious * exercise, 3. holines of life, and 4. studious indeuour. Yet not∣withstanding because both reason, and religion ioyned with humilitie will easily perswade, that Gods spirit is more fully resident in holy assemblies then priuat mens braines; that * spirit is to be suspected of singularitie, which will not with all reuerence imbrace the testimonie of the Church. So then a Christian man studious of truth doth rest his conscience vp∣on these three witnesses: First, the euidence of our first prin∣ciples expressely propounded in scripture, and written in the tables of our heartes by the holy Ghost: Secondly, the assi∣stance of Gods grace, and holy spirit promised to euery faith∣full soule, for confirming his iudgment so far forth, as may leade to happines, and performe the dueties of that place Page  3 whereunto he is called: Thirdly, the testimonie of the Church and holy men of God. And these three agree in one. But in your last remoue of the question, From the text to the interpre∣ter, from the scripture vnto the men, passing ouer the two for∣mer, you haue resolued your selfe wholy vpon the worth, me∣rit, and authoritie of those which are the expositors. So that (accor∣ding to your aduise) hauing singled out the graund originals and foundations of our two religions, and taking (as neere as I can) a iust estimate of the strength of either, I find the odds three to one of our side. For, although these three witnesses bee so linked togither, as rightly taken they be neuer seue∣red: yet, least singling them out one from another we should mistake any, wee lay fast hold of all three, conferring, ex∣amining, and confirming to our selues one by another. You contrariwise, leane your selfe, and rest your conscience onely vpon the third, the testimonie of the Church, as vpon an in∣fallible ground of all the rest. Which if it proue a broken staffe by your mistaking of it, (either in taking the testimonie of some portion of the visible Church for the whole catho∣like: or secondly an vnsound part, for the sound: or thirdly, misconceauing the churches of former times) it will not only deceiue you, but the shiuers thereof wound your erronious and naked conscience, which easily may befall such a one, as is of no longer time, or deeper studie, then you and I are well knowne to be.


THe catholike part for the strength of their interpretation alledge the iudgment of the Church, the definitions of councels, the con∣sent of fathers, the harmonie of Churches, the practise of all ages, and the rule of Apostolicall tradition, left by succession as the light through the heauens. The Protestantes bring forth the seuerall foun∣ders of their sects, Luther, Caluin, Melancthon, and others of that straine, whose exposition they cleaue vnto. Lay this in the ballance and waigh together the spouse of Christ, with Luther, Caluin, Melanc∣thon; aecumenicall counsels with priuate opinions; the reuerend and learned fathers with Arius, Aetius, Vigilantius, men alwaies in their time burned for heretikes; the harmony of Churches with thePage  4iarring of conuenticles, of them that are in as great brawle with them∣selues as with the catholikes. The vniforme practise of 1500. yeares, with the often change of others. The tradition of the Apostles with the dregs of heretikes. Now let any man (though ouerbalanced by af∣fection) consider with himselfe whether of these should be beleeued in expounding the scriptures, and consequently in the truth of the con∣trouersies which relyeth vpon the sence.


THis is right the wise man of Athens, who thought all the shippes his owne which came to hauen. Church, councels, Fathers, Apostolicall traditions, all yours. And we poore soules turned ouer to a few single spirits, Luther, Caluin, Melancthon, &c. If I might be so bold with you as Sir Thomas More was in like case with a protestant, it were time to put you in minde of one Caius, who encountring with a scholler would needs haue his first demaunde graunted; to wit, whatsoeuer had two eares was a foolish beast: For els he could not so gallantly haue come vpon him, as otherwaies he had ment. Your demand is alike reasonable. For you assume no more as graunted but the iudgment of the Church: the definition of councells: the consent of Fathers: the harmonie of Churches: the practise of all ages: the rule of Apostolicall tradition. Which if we giue you, and leaue our selues a few particular mens expositions, indeede I con∣fesse you may conclude at your pleasure. But it is wel knowen we doe no further relie vpon those learned mens assertions, then they be authorized by the forenamed witnesses. Which testimonies so confidently alledged for your parte I hope you are not ignorant how that all along in our apologies, defences, and answeres, they be brought against you by our defenders: especially those witnesses of more ancient times, vnto whom we are content to appeale as most indifferent iudges, and more sincere then any of later times, being nee∣rer to Christ, and further from these factions. To put you out of doubt I will set downe our owne words. Quam ea die Iuellus*vocem verissimam ac constantissimam emisit, quando ad sexcentorum annorum antiquitatem prouocanit, vobis{que} obtulit, vt si vel vnicam ex aliquo patre aut consilio claram & dilucidam sententiam afferre∣tis,Page  5non recusaret quin vobis palmam concederet: ea est nostrûm om∣nium professio, idem omnes pollicemur, fidem non fallemus.


THe mysteries of religion do so far exceede the narrow straites of our vnderstanding, that because they cannot be comprehended by reason, God hath therefore appointed faith to entertaine them, which faith is built vpon diuine and vnfallible authoritie, the minde yeelding obedience in stead of discourse, & receiuing indifferently the truth of doctrine, vpon the credit and affiance of the teacher. There∣fore that religion which doth not stay the assent of the scholler, and hath not irrefragable authoritie in all matters of faith, hath neither merit of beliefe in it selfe, nor others. But such is the discipline of the protestants, that they affoord their schollers no other but humane and mutable authoritie, whereby to beleeue the number and dignitie of the scriptures, with the sense and interpretation of them, in which con∣sisteth the summe of all religion.


THe mysteries of religion doe far exceede the narrow straites of our vnderstanding: for without controuersie great are those mysteries, to wit, God is manifested in the flesh, iustified in the spirit, seene of Angels, beleeued on in the world, and receiued vp into glorie. Amongst which the schollers assent to those miste∣ries is accounted one (beleeued on in the world) which you haue well expressed, appointing faith, not reason to entertaine them: The mind yeelding obedience in steed of discourse, & receiuing indifferently the truth of doctrine vpon the credit and affiance of the teacher. This teacher you haue determined to be the inflexi∣ble testimonie of the catholike Church, of whome we recei∣ued the forenamed principles of religion, yea the scriptures themselues. And surely that minde which would not yeeld o∣bedience to the testimonie of this generall voice, were (in all sound iudgments) most vnreasonable. For doth not reason her selfe tell vs, That which most men and wisest agree vpon is most true? doth she not adde further, Those men be wisest next God*Page  6that are most deare vnto him? Then that religion which is pro∣fessed and taught, by the most holy and catholike Church which is venerable for antiquitie: certaine for succession: comely for order: admirable for vnitie: approued by experience: allowed by proui∣dence: confirmed by miracles: rooted in so many kingdomes: neuer doubted of but by heretikes, is, in the very eye of reason, to be im∣braced. How thinke you? Is not this reasons discourse? And a sound discourse? You must not deny it, for it is your owne. * If reason then build vpon Church authoritie, how place you faith in reasons roome? If this be reasons discourse, what is that yeelding obedience in stead of discourse? Where is that great mysterie of godlines (beleeued on in the world) which captiuates the vnderstanding to the obedience of faith? Let me helpe you out with a schoole distinction, that wee may cleere the way before vs. The schollers assent to the Church testimonie is called faith, I confesse, but such a faith as the schoole ter∣meth Acquisita fides: faith gotten by discourse, & testimonie of * the holy men of God: a faith caried along by reason, groun∣ding vpon sufficient witnes, and conuincing the vnderstan∣ding by euidence of demonstration: a faith incident not to wicked men only, but the diuels themselues. But the schoole diuines haue taught a more diuine faith, which they call Infu∣sa fides, immediatly inspired by the holy Ghost from heauen: informing the minde, & inclining the will to entertaine the principles of christianitie with all perfect obedience in stead of discourse. For the begetting of which faith in the hearts of men, that former testimonie of the Church, and discourse of argument doth wonderfully dispose and prepare the minde; but yt which giues the stroke and addeth life vnto it, is the ce∣lestiall motion of Gods spirit, which Saint Iohn calls the witnes*within vs, opposing it to the Church testimonie without vs. This is that true faith which Aquin affirmes neuer to bee found in diuels: which Scotus aueres neuer to be void of chri∣stian charitie: which Bellarmin proues, and Trent defines ne∣uer to be obtained without diuine reuelation and inspiration of Gods spirit, vpon which it is built, as vpon diuine and vn∣fallible authoritie, the minde yeelding obedience in steede of dis∣course, and receiuing indifferently the truth of doctrine vpon the cre∣ditPage  7and affiance of this teacher. Hereupon doth our religion stay the assent of the scholler, and hath irrefragable authoritie in the principles of faith, wherein consisteth the summe of all religion. These first principles of religion assented vnto by this infu∣sed faith (as the principles of reason by the light of nature) haue taken a deeper impression in the mindes of the faith∣full, than the voice of the Church, or an Angell from hea∣uen could haue made. For if we (saith Paul) the Apostles of Christ, nay if an Angell from heauen, confirmed in the state of happines, should preach any other Gospell, that is, lay any o∣ther principles of religion then be all readie layd, let him bee accursed. Then somewhat there is of more certaintie to vs, then Peter or Paul, or any Angell. Sinos, aut Angelus. Thus * farre therefore you must of necessitie yeeld vnto vs (except you withstand the streame of your owne Doctors) that al∣beit the voice of the Church be a witnesse of this truth with∣out exception, yet aboue and beside this, the minde of a be∣leeuing Christian is stroken with a lightning from Heauen: inspyred with diuine reuelation: enformed with that infu∣sed faith which farre surpasseth that former faith, gotten by discourse and testimonie of the Church without vs. This is the last resolution of our religion into a principle that standes vpon his own ground, to wit, into an vndoubted assent of the minde informed by true faith, fixed by the holy Ghost, vpon the Axioms of Christian religion. All that I would say to this point is by your Doctor Stapleton well concluded in one pe∣riod. Fideles enim omnes per vocem ecclesiae inducuntur ad fidem;*inducti autem, & lumine inspirationis diuinae illustrati non iam am∣plius propter Loquelam ecclesiae, sed propter Lumen illud diuinum credunt.

But for more remote conclusions drawen from principles by discourse and tract of consequence, (because therein to rely vpon speciall reuelation were dangerous) we most wil∣lingly imbrace the voice of the Church (in manner as we haue said to your first motiue) alwaies acknowledging Gods spirit to be more fully resident in holy assemblies, then pri∣uate braines: promising to leade the Church into all truth: to be resident where two or three are gathered together in Page  8 his name: which spirit for his part will neuer be wanting, if the Church for her part be not defectiue. But whether these promises made be absolute, or with condition, that is, sup∣pose the Church will not be led, whether the spirit will per∣force driue her into all truth? Suppose her chieftaines assem∣ble themselues with preiudicate and sinister affections, not with that sinceritie which is required, whether the spirit will therin assist them? Or whether these suppositions be possible, that God in regard of our sins will suffer such corruptions to creepe into Synodes, as may lead thē into errour, in some ages more, in some lesse, though euermore preseruing life in the principles of religion, is the point in question. Vpon which issue, we denie such a power of not erring to the Church mili∣tant, as should enforce the mind to giue assent to counsell decrees in the same kind and degree of faith, as to the arti∣cles of beleefe: which remaines more fully to be shewed out of your owne groundes.


FOr they affirme that the authority of the Church, and ministerie of whom their followers receiue the sacred scriptures, and their ex∣positours be humane, and such as may goe aside into errour, and some∣times doe. So that of necessitie, whosoeuer standeth in the integritie of their opinion, either haue no faith at all, or else onely humane and errant. For they that haue a possible impotencie of erring in one point of faith, what assurance can they make of distinction that they doe not erre in all?


WE affirme the authoritie of the Church and ministe∣rie to be humane in the same sense as Saint Iohn cals it the testimonie of men: If we receiue the testimonie of men,*the testimonie of God is greater. Which testimonie of men, was by all consent the testimonie of the Apostles themselues, who ioyntly were witnesses of the resurrection of the Lord of life. Then if the testimonie of the Apostles be humane, I hope (in the like sense) we may call the authoritie of the Church hu∣mane.

I come at the last to that grand motiue, whereupon all the Page  9 rest depends, the omnipotence of not erring. Wherein that I may quickly touch the point, I spare to proue what is granted: for we go along certaine steps together without iar∣ring. * First it is confessed, that any counsell particular or gene∣ral may erre, if it be not confirmed by the Pope. Secondly, that Pope and counsell may erre in any by matter, beside the de∣finitiue sentence, principally intended. Thirdly, that they may errein application of scriptures, in illustrations, in sequel of ar∣gument drawne from scripture to inferre that definitiue sen∣tence. Fourthly, the definitiue sentence it selfe may be erroni∣ous, if it be defined onely as a probabilitie, not as a point of faith. Fiftly, though it be concluded as a matter of faith, yet there may be errour in the proprietie of speech, by superflu∣itie or want of termes: by displacing of wordes, or such like. Only the verie bare maine sense of the conclusion it selfe is cocke sure from errour. Into this narrow straite they confesse themselues to haue been alreadie pursued: the consideration of which point me thinkes should cause an indifferent mind to pause a little, and thinke it strange at the least, that the eui∣dent truth of the Church testimonie, whereupon all catho∣like faith must depend: that the first principle standing vpon his owne ground, into which all religion is to be resolued, as into a pure element, should be put to so many shiftes, and hunted into such a narrow roome.

But further to vrge you with your owne, I demaund from whence a counsels definitiue sentence doth receiue her in∣fallibilitie? Either it must be immediately from the spirit of God: or else by means of consequence, from the text of scripture, or article whereupon it groundeth. The first is by your selues denied, for it is the first and speciall dif∣ference Bellarmine putteth twixt counsels, Canons, and cano∣nicall scripture: that the word of God is authorized by imme∣diate * reuelation from the spirit: but counsels deriue their conclusions by discourse from the word. Your champion an∣swered me to this point: that indeed God would haue his Church to vse those meanes of discourse and testimonie: yet at the vpshot the spirit doth fortifie the conclusion, and lets the rest go. So I hope Paul did apply his bookes and parch∣ments, Page  10 vsed the meanes of studie and discourse: though that which he resolued vpon to put in writing was by the imme∣diate motion of the spirit. Therefore still this makes no diffe∣rence at all. Then belike (if Bellarmine stand) it is the dis∣course, & sequele of argument, which the conclusion must rely vpon for her certaintie: but that also proues a broken staffe, euen in your owne iudgements. Bellarmine saieth it is erro∣nious, * and Stapleton resolues vpon it, that from erronious ar∣guments counsels doe inferre vndoubted positions: from weake and false premisses infallible conclusions. Omnipotent power that makes the conclusion stronger then the premisses, whereupon it is grounded. But I will spare this sore, because Doctor Stapleton saith it is a a sinne to touch it. Thus it is (quoth hee) but we must not b enquire the maner how it is, that were curiositie. Happily it is a mysterie: and it were safe for your Church it were not looked into. The consequence of your argument (if any impotencie of erring in one, then in all) is too too weake, there is a meane betwixt all, and none at all: you run altogether vpon extremities; all errours be not at once dis∣closed; nor all truthes alike necessarie to be knowne. What say you to your Doctor Stapleton, who limits the Church with a condition of determining such points onely, as be necessary to be beleeued, or belong to the verie substance of faith; c else she may erre both in discourse and definitiue sentence, a con∣dition which would be looked vnto, if not quite put out of his workes, for it shaketh many a decree. Nay what say you to Bellarmine, who acknowledgeth there be some true catho∣likes, which hold that the Pope in a general counsel may erre, when he giueth not all diligence. Which generall condition if it be truly obserued, in assembling the synod without partialitie: in selecting points of moment and necessitie: in consulting with all simplicitie, with such like (included vnder all diligence) doubtlesse Gods spirit for his part will neuer be wanting. See now, if you would be reasonable we might happily shake hands in this point: but you presently runne backe to an ab∣solute omnipotencie of not erring in any one point, and so shall we neuer meet. I aduise you though, doe not take it for an article of your creed, but remember Bellarmine his rule. dThatPage  11is not to be held as a point of faith, against which some catholikes do hold, being reputed catholikes of the Church, and not condemned for heretiks: But some catholikes hold the Church may erre, equan∣do non adhibet omnem diligentiam, therefore resolue not all your faith vpon this point: but alas we haue your resolution.


COntrarie the Catholikes auouching the inflexible truth of the Church as the voice of Christ, and direction of the spirit, doe stay the mindes of the faithfull from doubt and wauering. But the other making an head from the bodie of the Church are rightly pu∣nished, both with beleefe in errours, and vnbeleefe in truth.


SEe now your conclusion, which buildeth not vpon that point alone, we haue alreadie sifted, but assumeth with all a farre more slipperie ground; that that Church you haue lately plunged your selfe into, is the onely Church we haue talked of all this while: the onely true vniuersall visible Church vpon the earth. Which two vncertainties wel exami∣ned and laid together, will (I feare me) make but a sandie foundation to build vpon, and an vnstable principle to stand vpon it owne ground, and vphold all religion. Yet this is your only sanctuary, wherin you secure your soules of all sound be∣liefe: which standeth vpon these two main pillers, first that the Catholike Church cannot erre (which is not so dangerous, if rightly conceiued, as hath been said) Secondly, that this Romish Church (whereof you professe your selfe a member) is that Catholicke Church. Which second branch must be yet further resolued into other vncertainties (presupposed by you as vndoubted truthes, whereupon the frame of your re∣ligion doth rest it selfe) to wit, first, that this present Romish Church doth not degenerate from the ancient Catholike: but soundly and sincerely professeth that same faith which was established in the primitiue by the Apostles: continued in the ancient Romane Church in the time of the Fathers for the space of 600 yeares. Secondly, this being proued and made manifest, you must adde further, that this Church of Page  12 Rome is not so Catholike, as was the Church of Corinth, Ga∣latia, &c. that is, not as a member communicating in the faith of the whole Catholike, but that it selfe is the whole entire Catholike Church: thereby excluding all other Chur∣ches in Christendome as hereticall, which doe not acknow∣ledge themselues subiect to the Bishop of that Sea. Which thing you must defend not against protestants onely, who proue you rather to be an Italian faction, then the Catholike Church (which Iohn Hart doth ingenuously acknowledge to be more probable then he was aware of:) but euen against your owne Doctors and Cardinals must you arme your selues in this point, who complaine there is nothing decreed in coun∣sels, but what the Italian Nation liketh of, as Ludouicus Cardi∣nall of Arle complained at the Councell of Basil: and Clau∣dius Espencaeus a Doctor of your owne in Paris witnesseth for * Trent, Haec est illa Helena qua tridenti nuper obtinuit, &c. spea∣king of the Italian Nation. Now if any of these pointes faile you (which me thinkes be verie tickle) then is not the voice of your Church euermore the inflexible truth of Christ, and direction of his spirit, which you presume to be the first ground of Christian Religion, that doth stay the minds of the faith∣full from doubt, and wauering in all the rest.


THe infinite waies of errours draw themselues in their origi∣nall into two heads, opinion and affection: which (as two can∣kers) breed the one in the vnderstanding, the other in the will: for our iudgement is easiest deceiued, by those things we esteeme tru∣est, and our inclination by what we loue best. There is nothing of more manifest presumption then the truth of the Scriptures, nor fuller of desire then securitie of happinesse: therefore these two being left vn∣limited, the one of Canonitall exposition, the other with necessitie of meanes, are a direct method of indirect consequence. Such is the pra∣ctise of the later religion: they teach that nothing is to be credited, but what is warranted in holy bookes, and giue not infallible rules of interpretation, but such as at last must be ouerruled by priuat opinion,Page  13for conference of places, propriety of phrase, acceptations of wordes, can make no other conclusion, then euery ones conceit will aforde. So that of an infallible proposition, and arbitrary assumption, must needes in∣sue a dangerous conclusion, though not euer in the matter which is concluded, yet alwaies in the manner of concluding.


TO let slip your philosophicall introduction (sparing in this short discourse to catch at by matters) you haue pitched your motiue vpon the two maine partes of a christi∣an soule: The vnderstanding of diuine truth: and the desire of true happines: assuming to your selues, and denying whol∣ly to vs, both sound iudgment for the triall of the one, and necessarie meanes for the enioying of the other. Our iudg∣ment is impeached for resting it selfe wholly vpon the writ∣ten word, being depriued also of the infallible interpretati∣on of the same. For the first point, we doe indeede maintaine the written word, as the most perfect worke of God, to be all sufficient for that ende and purpose, to which it is referred, and for which it was written: denying all other doctrine to be in power and certaintie equiualent with the same. For if we should account those reportes, which we haue receiued by tradition from our forefathers, to be of equall credit with the canon of Scripture: I cannot easily conceaue how we should haue due and thankfull regard of that inestimable benefit of committing diuine truth to writing, which almightie God did himselfe first ordaine, and by diuine prouidence conti∣nually hath preserued in his Church, euer since the first age of the world, that the daies of man were shortned, and his memorie waxed fraile. For miserable (no doubt by this time) had the state of the Church been, if the meanes of our salua∣tion, published by Christ and his Apostles, had been deliue∣red to vs onely by way of tradition from so many reporters. We may in some sorte gesse at the daungers, by those rem∣nants of diuine storie, which the heathen receiuing by tra∣dition haue deliuered to vs in their writings: but so broken and intermingled with cloudie phansies, and fabulous inuen∣tions, as they doe no more resemble the truth, then the rain∣bowe Page  14 doth the sunne. Which though it be the image of the sunne, yet are the beames thereof so broken by reflection and refraction in some watrie cloud, that it doth alike resem∣ble the sunne, as those ancient poeticall fables doe expresse the true scripture storie, from whence they borrowed their first light. Therefore inualuable is the benefit of the written word aboue relations. The ende of the writing whereof was the perfecting of the two premised parts of a Christian mans soule: to wit, the vnderstanding with diuine truth, and the desire with life, both ioyntly set downe by Saint Iohn. 10. 31. These things are written, that ye might beleeue that Iesus is Christ, the Sonne of God. And secondly that in beleeuing ye might haue life through his name.

For the effecting whereof albeit the scripture be alsuffici∣ent in it selfe, yet least by our ignorance we should peruert the more obscure places to our owne destruction, we doe with all diligence embrace those meanes which God hath prouided for the interpretation thereof: not onely the rules of reason, and humane arts sanctified by Gods grace, in his faithfull seruants, but adding thereto also the record of an∣tiquitie: consent of fathers: testimony of learned men: con∣ferring places, waighing circumstances, examining transla∣tions, with such like: not singling any one meanes from the rest (as you fondly imagine) but ioyning them together, doe alwaies acknowledge most meanes to make the strongest confirmation.

Amongst these manifold meanes it liketh you to cull out the conference of places, as seeming most of all to be ouer∣ruled by priuat opinion. Which rule of interpretation we are so farre from being ashamed of, as in earnest I meruaile you will take any exception vnto it, since Saint Austin (a witnes by your confession without all exception) hath bestowed such cost vpon it, preferring it before all other rules whatsoeuer. In his booke de Doct. Christia. laying this ground vndoubt∣edly, * that all things concerning beliefe and life are plainly written in the word, his first rule is, that those things be chiefly noted, which are set downe plainly, both precepts of life, and rules offaith. Secondly, that obscure and darke sen∣tences Page  15 be enlightned and opened by the plaine and mani∣fest. Thirdly, that doubtfull textes bee determined by the cleere and certaine. Al this in one chapter. After, if we cannot finde the true meaning, yet let such a sence be giuen, as a∣greeth * with the right faith, approued by some other place of scripture. If that cannot be discussed by sure testimonie of * Scripture, it might be proued by reason, but the safer way farre, is to walke by Scripture. In that whole worke made for this purpose we finde no mention of your last Remoue from the text to the interpreter, from the Scripture to the men. But still * hath he recourse to the scripture, making it the onely Center whereupon we must stay our selues in all discourse and in∣terpretation. His generall conclusion is, that all places of scripture be expounded by the scriptures, which are canoni∣call, as being the rule of godlinesse, and faith. Yea from the testimonie of the greatest number of ancient fathers (alled∣ged by Saint Hierome) he still makes his appeale vnto Scrip∣ture. * Hitherto haue I said nothing but Saint Austin, whom you acknowledge to assure you not of his owne onely, but of the common and constant faith, and confession of ancient fathers, and Apostolike Church. Yet this was Saint Austin his * rule of interpretation, his golden rule, whereupon he so much relied, practised at this day in our Church: and make you this a motiue to separate your selfe from our Church? To put you out of doubt that this rule shal not at last resolue into priuate opinion: after all diligence hath been giuen in this kinde, we confirme the same by consent of our faithfull and learned brethren, and (if neede be) by the assembly of the Bishoppes and clergie of our Church: vnto which our greatest clerkes doe most willingly submit their expositi∣ons. Their wordes be, The sence will I proue by scripture according*to the rule of faith: the proofe of the sence I submit to the priuat and publike iudgment of the Church. Notwithstanding in these qua∣relsome dayes (since each part by likelihood will draw scrip∣tures to their seuerall assertions) it is a rule most indifferent (euen in your owne iudgments) that for pointes of contro∣uersie, neither your Church nor ours be iudge: but that of * olde, neerer to Christ, and further from these factions, which Page  16 you know to be our owne chalenge and defence, aswell as yours. So that if you would lay al these together (being al held and professed by our Church) you should finde our expositi∣ons to be neither vncertaine, nor priuate. Vpon this miscon∣ceit you conclude vs to be in a miserable case, for that of an infallible proposition, and arbitrarie assumption, must needes follow a dangerous conclusion. It is true indeede: but this holdeth one∣ly against protestantes, and priuate spirits. But wot you not, that a counsell, and the Pope of arbitrarie premisses can in∣ferre infallible conclusions? Cuius Doctrina in medijs discursiua,*in conclusione prophetica, sine preiudicio fidei errare in argumentis potest salua conclusione. See now, yet are you so peremptorie (must needesensue, allwaies follow) that whilest you lash out these rules of reason, you entangle your self in high treason against his holinesse. But what meane I still to rubbe this gall? Sic ten∣dimus in vetitum. Had not your Doctor forbid it, I had not so harped vpon it.


IN like manner they promise security of saluation, without respect of repentance and workes, which are ineuitable consequences, if all be true that they teach. So that he which hath faith, needeth no more to care for good workes, then they that haue drunken a sound purga∣tion, for going to the stoole.


IF you respect repentance & good works, I wonder you re∣gard christian charitie no more, but so apparantly to slaun∣der * vs, against the generall voice of our writers, who pro∣test themselues herein greatly iniuried, and vrge as great ne∣cessitie of good workes, as you doe, or can desire, secluding them onely from the act of iustification, not from the meanes of securitie: euery where teaching, that the keeping of a good conscience in true faith doth worke in vs that certain∣tie of hope for saluatiō, which is the rest & only peace of con∣science in this life. Notwithstanding whē we haue done what we can in Gods seruice, since we are vnprofitable, and our workes vnperfect, it is not any way safe to trust in our selues, * or rely vpon them, but onely in Gods mercies, and Christes Page  11 merits: in which poynt Bellarmine himselfe doth most ingenu∣ously ioyne with vs. Tutissimum tamen est propter incertitudinem propriae iustitiae, & periculum inanis gloriae, totam fiduciam nō in ope∣irbus nostris, sed sola dei misericordia & benignitate reponere. This is all I can find in our writers that giues any shadow of occasi∣on to this vncharitable slaunder: which in the iudgment of a cleere minde will easily vanish as a miste before the sunne. Your simile I confesse is too strong, and may easily ouercome me, and modestie biddes me spare to encounter it.


THese are the two fallacies whereupon Luther built his rebel∣lion, and wherein all the heresies of our time conspire, though o∣therwise at difference with themselues: for there can bee no fitter baites to beguile simple men, then opinion; and sensuall men, then ease: because euery one lieth open to decay in his owne vices.


THus are you taken in the snare which you layd for o∣thers. For the power of God in our ministery being to encounter with those two vglie monsters of nature, igno∣rance and sensualitie, it is the ende of our whole profession, both to make the simple wise to saluation, in such pointes as be meete for their conceites, and expedient for their seuerall callings: as also to conuert the sensuall vnto newnes and holines of life. Thus we professe and thus we teach, neither feeding the one kinde with opinions, nor promising ease vn∣to the other. Therefore if you either perceiuing some loose∣nes of life in the laitie, doe ascribe that to our doctrine: or obseruing the due execution of this ministerie to be wanting in some of the clergie, shall therfore condemne the whole, do ye not plainly see the two grād fallacies, wherein you beguile your selfe, and whereupon you haue built this Apostasie?


AMongst many loadstones, that which hath the preeminence of vertue in proportionable distance, winneth the Iron from allPage  18the rest: So Christ being lifted vp in the abasing of his passion, promi∣sed by his attractiue vertue to draw vnto his seruice all men from all religions. For what rebellion of nature cannot he pacifie vnto the vni∣tie of Faith, when he pleaseth to come within compasse, that hath vni∣ted humane nature into Gods hypostaticall vnion? Therefore to ga∣ther vp the effect as a threed to leade to the cause, the greatest multi∣tude in consent of communion, among the diuerse parcels and rentes of those that beare the liuery of Christ his name, is a sufficient demon∣stration of the true and naturall loadstone, which must of necessitie drawe more vnto it then the rest, because it effecteth by his owne ver∣tue, when all the rest worke onely by the touch thereof.


THat I may the better finde you in this discourse, I will expresse your meaning more distinctly, which you carie in a cloud of generalities the easier to deceaue. For when I enquire what kinde of beleeuers they be, whose number you endeuour so far to enlarge, and extend beyond others: me thinkes the resemblance of the loadstone, and that attractiue vertue of Christ his passion out of the 12. of Iohn, doe im∣port not so much an outward calling to the profession of the catholike faith (which makes a visible Church) as an inward and effectuall drawing to the power thereof, proper onely to the liuely members, who make a mystical and inuisible bo∣die, not discernable in the eye of man; yet so it falleth out that this number of elect, and sanctified persons is not by you intended. For many are called into the visible Church, but few chosen into the number of the Saintes: many clensed in the fount from originall leprosie, scarce the tithe shewing * due thankfulnesse in the residue of their liues. Wherevpon (that I may take you right) I vnderstand you meane a visi∣ble companie of catholikes, that is professors of the Aposto∣like faith. And then must you shake hands with Christ his at∣tractiue vertue (resembled by your loadstone) which is ta∣ken in the former kinde, to signifie not so much the outward calling of men into the visible Church, as an inward and forcible drawing of them into the fellowship of the sonnes of God. And so hath Christ, and doth still by his death and pas∣sion Page  19 draw vnto him men of all conditions from all the quar∣ters of the world. Further if you take that visible companie of professours at the largest, for all those that beare the liuerie of Christ his name, vnder which liuerie (saith Barnard) many doe seruice vnto Antichrist, then doe you make both the Church of Rome and ours to be members of one visible Church: al pro∣fessing one Lord, that is, Christ giuing the name to all christi∣ans. Secondly one baptisme, without rebaptization of either hand. Thirdly, one faith, as it is summarily premised in the * counsell of Trent, and professed dayly in our Church. Thus far be we knit togither by a triple bande of vnitie, which is not easily broken. And so farre is your note of multitude common to both, and therefore not to the purpose of this motiue. It remaines then in the third place, that the middle way be taken twixt these two: vnderstanding the companie of sounde beleeuers, and orthodoxall professors of Christs truth: for in these three seuerall sences is the Church taken by diuers. The first, that is the companie of Saints is too nar∣row for your purpose: the second containing all professors is too large, and for the third, that is, the companie onely of sound and orthodoxall professors, if you proue that that is, and euermore hath been preeminent for multitude euen in persecution, and inundations of heresies, I shall much mer∣uaile.


THis populous inheritance of such as professe the communion of his doctrine, was giuen him as a royaltie in the 2. Psalme. And after his resurrection he sent his Apostles to take possession of the dow∣rie of his Church, from Hierusalem vnto the ends of the world, and the prophets who from their high tower of speculation might ouer∣looke more then the compasse of 2000. yeares, and therefore tooke the draught of Christ his kingdome, could perceiue no signe more glorious and visible, then a multitude reaching from the East to the West, and spreading ouer the earth. And yet for the straights of the throng put∣ting vp supplication to the Church, to send some colones out to enlarge their habitation. Angustus est mihi locus, fac spatiū mihi vt ha∣bitem. And because by diuine dispensation there were some sedition & factions to spring in his kingdom, that it might not breede admira∣tionPage  10in the newe subiects by the noueltie or distraction of doubt, if the new parte by number bee mistaken; therefore Christ and his A∣postles haue both foretold there should bee heretiques, and branded them alwaies by the note of paucitie to be distinguished from the gene∣rall multitude. For they shall come vnder the stile of small and thinne numbers, and priuiledged places. There is Christ among the Calui∣nistes in Geneua. There is Christ among the Lutherans in Germany. In the desert for a thousand yeeres since Phocas. In some secret of con∣cealed doctrine since the Apostles time. But beleeue them not, for not all, or the most part shall be apostate, but some; not many, but such as in compare of the whole multitude shall be as errant planets in respect of the fixed starres. Therefore this argument from the multitude of com∣municants in the same faith, promised by God, foreseene by the Pro∣phets, confirmed by the Apostles, was esteemed of so sufficient proofe by the primitiue commanders of Christ his Church, that they vsed it al∣waies against the heretickes: and oftentimes when they were to en∣counter, they would brandish this sword as deadly and vnauoidable, to amaze, and yet not strike with it. Poteram omnes propositionum tuarum riuulos vno ecclesiae sole siccare. For the experiment whereof, if we turne ouer the succession of historyes age by age, we shall finde that when any heresie was at the highest floud, it was not compa∣rable to the ebbe of catholikes, no not in the torrent and inundation of the Arrians by Athanasius testimony. Therefore we may pre∣sume the euent of that prophesie, which hath so equally proceeded hi∣therto, and vse it for a weapon against the heretikes of our time which hath been so often died in the bloud of their ancestors, and follow our fathers herein, which so happily followed others. Deo gratias.


ALl these groundes (except Athanasius his testimonie) I finde translated out of D. Stapleton: only Cacus-like that * you might not be traced, you haue somewhat inuerted the order: and good cause why: for the same author whence you borrow hath himselfe dissolued all the force of this motiue, by adding a cautiō in the fifth chapter, how those forealleadged places are to be vnderstoode. That Popular inheritance pro∣mised to the sonne in the 2. Psalme, discouered by Daniel to * replenish the earth: suruaide by Esay from the East to the Page  21 West: possessed by the Apostles from Hierusalem to the ends of the world, is not so to be taken (saith Stapleton) as if the Church should at once in any one age enioy those large do∣minions, no not in the most flourishing age, but only in suc∣cession of times: yet your argument is so pitched vpon those proofes, as if the number of sound beleeuers at one and the same time, euen at the lowest ebbe of Catholiks did farre ex∣ceed all others. An inference without the compasse of those scriptures (euen in the iudgement of your owne Doctor) al∣beit himselfe after doe wrest them vnto the same purpose. We doe indeed with all due thankfulnesse acknowledge ac∣cording to those prophesies, the Catholike faith of Christ to be preached and beleeued in seuerall ages, in all the nati∣ons of the world truly and sincerely: not at once (like the deluge) couering the face of the earth, but as the water floudes in course, winning ground in one place and loo∣sing it in another, dried vp at Hierusalem and Sama∣ria, before it haue watred the endes of the earth: though in some ages full banck, in some at a lower ebbe, specially when it is pestered with heresies and schismes, prophecied to come in the latter daies: Insomuch that at the last dissolution, the Sonne of God maketh doubt if he shall find faith vpon earth. And if a true Catholike faith shal so faile, as scarce to be found, * then maruaile not if your glorious note of the multitude of communicants in the same faith faile you. A glorious note I confesse it is in the glorie of the Church, when the sunne is in his full strength: and well might the fathers in due time and place, brandish this sword against vpstart heretikes, with Pote∣ram*omnes &c. but not so well strike with it, or stand vpon it, as an infallible demonstration: since they well wist that in the eclips of the Church, when heresies get a head, & schismes distract it: when the diuel waxeth wood, and the world grow∣eth old, this note of multitude with all must needs faile. Your experiment for the torrent & inundation of the Arrians is too too weake: you striue against a streame of auneients, Where be*they (saith Gregory Nazianzene in his Oration against Arrians) who define the Church by a multitude, and contemne a small flocke? Doth not Hierome witnesse the whole world to haue turned Ar∣rian?Page  22 what say you to Saint Hillary, who perswaded men not to regard the outward face of the Church, eyther Bishops or Priestes*through the world? It was a rare thing (saith hee) to find a Ca∣tholike amongst priest or people. Did not the Emperour in Theodoret scorne the Catholikes for their paucitie, foure or fiue to a world of Arrians? Nay your owne Doctor in this yeelds to Luther, that there were but a fewe Bishops to the Arrians, and those few exiles.

Ecce in deserto, ecce in penetralibus, had been as glorious a play * for Arrians against Catholikes, as now against Protestants, & to the meaning of the text both alike. Vincentius Lirin. a man of great note amongst you, for this one example of the Arri∣ans doth abandon that note of vniuersalitie. And thinke you to cary it with your bare auouching Athanasius his testimonie, neither citing his wordes, nor quoting the place, against so strong a tide? This is too too sleight.


THis new stampe of religion which Luther and his minsters boast of to be reformed according to the ancient coyne, cannot auoide the desert of counterfeit. Because so generall a reformation, and re∣stitution of the primitiue Church, neither can be, neither was to be expected. For although the worship of adulterous religion haue suffe∣red many changes, either by the admiration of some man of extraor∣dinarie account, or the intimation of Oracles, or the ambition of su∣perstitious, or inuasion of neighbours, or chaunge of gouernment, the state alwaies fashioning religion, the fittest consequence of policie: yet in the true religion instituted by God himselfe, the diuine ordinance hath made onely two memorable varieties: not by condemning the former, but by preferring the latter; not in difference of substance, but perfection: not by retraction as in chaunge of their counsell, but adding of timely accesse. The first was from the law of nature, to the subiection of the law written. The second from the seueritie of the law, vnto the obedience of the Gospell (Christ being the summe of all, but with difference.) For in the state of nature he was discerned a farre of as a bodie. In the law he was distinguished neerer as a man: In thePage  23Gospell he is seene face to face: Both these chaunges were restituti∣ons of the former, but with some perfection. For Moses restored the decalogue, sacrifice, worship of one God, circumcision, tenths, sabbaths, and such like, which were in the state of nature, but arbitrarie for har∣monie. In the Gospell, Christ the interpretation of the law which was corrupted, and the three great parts of religion, iustificaon by faith, which was exemplified in Abraham, the sacrifice of himselfe, which was figured in Isaack, and in the Pasca, the mysterie of baptisme which was instituted in the deluge and redde sea, and the Eucharist which was acted by Melchisedech.

For like as when Thamar the daughter in law of Iuda brought forth her twinnes, Zaram and Phares, Zaram first put forth his hand, and the midwife tied a red threed about it, and he pulled it in againe, and his brother Phares was borne afore him: So the Sacra∣ments of the Gospell which are bound about with the redde threed of Christ his passion, did first shew their hand in Abraham, and Melchi∣sedech, but the Sacraments of the Iewes were borne before them. So that these two be not chaunges but restitutions, and these are two earthquakes registred in the scripture, prophecied of before, expected by the Church, brought in with prodigious signes, confirmed by the vi∣sible presence of God in miracles: and one more we expect, which shall chaunge all things temporall into eternall at the ende of the world. Besides these, neither the scripture mentioneth any more, neither the iudgement of the Chuch and fathers did expect other. For what pro∣phesie either in the old testament or in the new made way for this refor∣mation, after 1000. or 1500. yeares? What prodigious signes gaue the world warning of Luthers comming? which of the creatures out of course gaue attendance at his birth? with what extraordinarie power was he garded? with what miracles was his doctrine graced? That a religion venerable for age, certaine for succession, comely for order, admirable for vnitie, approued by experience, allowed by proui∣dence, confirmed by miracles, rooted in so many kingdomes, that neuer was doubted of but by heretikes, neuer saw change but by her enemies, should vpon one mans, and such a mans credit, and authoritie without greater cause, nay without any cause fly the world, & leaue her kingdom and royalty at the dispose of one Apostata and Monke, and an inces∣tuous Monke.

Page  24


THose two memorable varieties, one restoring nature by the moral law, adding withal a vaile of shadowes and re∣ligious ceremonies: the second remouing that vaile, & chan∣ging the moonelight of the law into the sunshine of the Gos∣pell, haue the preeminence before all other changes whatsoe∣uer: neither is there any past, or herafter to be expected, cōpa∣rable to these two. Notwithstanding besides these, there haue been many restitutions of the Church from errours and here∣sies in al ages: you discern none at all. Yet of all others I won∣der you spied not that of the morning starre Iohn Baptist, so conspicuous aboue the rest, so consonant to your owne notes: Registred in Scripture, prophesied of before, expected by the Church, brought in with prodigious signes, who made a memorable varie∣tie, * not onely by way of restitution in the doctrine of repen∣tance, but also by addition in his watrie baptisme. The rising of which starre was the moone-set of Moses and the Prophets, making a period of the law. For so saith the text: The law & the Prophets lasted till Iohn Baptist, who shined till the son of God * appeared, and then ceased: Oportet illum crescere, meautē minui.

Moreouer besides these three lights, if I should take vpon me to reckon the lesser lights of the Church, which haue re∣stored it from darkenesse and corruption in all ages, I might as well number the starres in the firmament. Were not Abra∣ham and Lot lights to expell the mistes of that idolatrous age? Did not false gods after so farre preuaile, that they entred in∣to * the familie of blessed Iaacob, and possessed all that were about him, till he rose as a starre in his brightnes to cleere his whole family, and make restitution of his former religion in Bethel? How many relapses in the time of the law? not onely the congregation of Israel adored a calfe, but euen the Priest himselfe was vrged to consent (as you confesse Pope Liberius was to Arrianisme:) Did not all Israel after the death of Ioshua, and that good generation, runne after Baalim? In the time of *Saul the Arke of God was neuer sought for, till that glorious * starre of Israel king Dauid restored it againe.

How many Idols were after erected by the kings of Ierusa∣lem and Iuda? All the abhominations of the nations and the Page  25 whole host of Heauen worshipped in Israel: carued Images seated in the temple of God: yea the booke of the law lost by the priestes. Yet notwithstanding as their backslidings were many, so was there manifold restitution made by the lightes of Israel, the Church still reformed againe by the Prophets and holy men of God. And can you spie neuer a reformation besids those two grand ones of Moses, and the sonne of God? This was the condition of the natural branches the Iewes: and no lesse is to be expected of the Church of the Gentiles in this state militant, but that it be sometimes darkned & eclipsed, as wel in abuse of practise, as error of doctrine, in some ages more, in some lesse; & again, by diuine prouidence (raising vp some of notable learning and extraordinary spirit) enlightned and restored to her first integritie: so farre forth as truth can preuaile with corruption of the time: such were the Catho∣like Bishops that restored her from the deluge of Arrianisme.

Neither is it to be expected that any of the creatures should be out of course to giue the world warning of such reformers. For it is well knowne these reformations be of a farre other kind, then those former made by Moses, Iohn Baptist, & the son of God. For those were euer with some addition of perfecti∣on not reuealed before. Therefore no reason the world should take notice of them without diuine confirmation by signes & wonders. For had Moses, Iohn Baptist, or the Messias himselfe borne witnesse of themselues, without the testimonie of miraculous workes, or former prophesies; there being nei∣their Canon of Scripture to proue them, nor diuine reuelati∣on to discerne them by, no reason in the world, nor reli∣gionin the Church could possibly haue entertained them. But sithence the last perfection is now reuealed by the Gospell, and that absolute Canon of Scripture giuen to the Church, to which nothing must be added in paine of eternall plague: of * which that ancient writer (so approued by you) doth auere, Solus sufficit ad omnia satis super{que}: all reformations of the Church whatsoeuer haue been since, or hereafter shalbe, must * come vnder the name of meere restitutions without addition, not instituting any new doctrine, but restoring the ancient, not creating a new Church (as you fondly imagine) but redu∣cing the old vnto the primitiue. Therefore in this kind there Page  26 is no need of miracles, or prodigious signes, seeing our refor∣mers bring no new reuelations of their owne, but only make appeales to the iudgement of the primitiue Church: & desire credit, of others, no further then they giue euidence of argu∣ment, drawne from such grounds as be receiued of all hands. Then seeing their proceedings be ordinarie, what extraordi∣narie wonders are to be expected?

Neither was it their desire & motion in this reformatiō, that the present visible Church, should fly the world, and leaue her king∣dome & royaltie, but onely this yt it should be purged: because reason telleth vs, & experience hath proued it, that the visible Church is not al spirit, but some flesh, though she be informed by the holy Ghost in her holy and generall assemblies, yet she consisteth likewise of earthly, fraile, & sinful men; & therfore she must of necessity gather some dust, & in time grow cor∣rupt, if she do not clense & refine her selfe. Wherupon motion was made to the commanders of the Church for the reforma∣tion of certaine abuses, which being crept in had gotten a head, and were growne to that pitch, that they became bur∣densome to the consciences of religious men. This complaint being not harkened vnto, they perswaded themselues that the backwardnes of their brethren could not be to them a suf∣ficient excuse, not to reforme themselues. For this cause they protested a separation from their fellowship and communion in those points, vntill such time as it should please God to moue their minds, so to refine themselues from those corrup∣tions, as there might insue conformitie: a thing wished and praied for, with sighes not to be expressed.

So that the strength of this your Motiue (which makes Mar∣tin Luther, & his fellowes seeme so odious vnto you) is resolued into these two questions. First, whether in his time there were abuses in the Church, that required a reformation? Secondly, reformation being denied, & vnhoped for, whether they were abuses of that nature & degree, as did bind the conscience of true catholikes, not to cōmunicate with others in them? Which two points if they be true, they cleer our reformers frō all slan∣der, & suspitiō either of heresy or schisme: & vntil you haue pro∣ued them false, this & the like generall motiues to this purpose be mere shadows without substance, of no value, or force at all.

Page  27


AS the cause is the paterne of the effects, vpon which ground Saint Paul from the vnitie of Gods Church buildeth the vnitie of faith: so may we go backwards from the defference of effects to denie the affinitie of the cause, and from the impossibilitie of vnion in faith, take away the possibilitie of dependance vpon God. Such is the religi∣on of the protestants, which hath no certaine principle of vnitie, and therefore lacketh the cognisance whereby true religion is knowne. For where there is not an infallible authoritie, which doth iudge and de∣cide controuersies by remouing all actions of doubt and reply, and vn∣to which absolute obedience is tied: there must needs be varietie of iudgements and opinions, which cannot be tied in one knot. For all v∣nitie in particulars, proceedeth from the vnitie of some cause where∣in all agree. But there is no such infallible authoritie, the iudge of controuersies, besides the voice of the Church, which the protestants either put altogether to silence, or else obey so farre as they please. For the scriptures, whom they haue erected to be iudges (as rebels that put downe all iudges, and pretend to be ruled onely by the law) can∣not alone supply this place, to take away all occasionof controuersies. And if there were no other argument, their owne irreconcilable quar∣rels in so manifold differences among themselues might suffice to stop their mouthes herein. For as diuers parcels of silke of deeper or ligh∣ter ground, dipped by the Dyar in the same liquour, drink in a seuerall tincture of colour according to their former varietie: so they that diue in the letter of the holy scripture according as their iudgements are before stained with preiudice of one or other opinion, come forth againe not in vnity of minds, but in the same differences as they went in, more, or lesse. Or as in the miracle of tongues giuen to the Apostles, when many auditors of diuers languages came to heare them, al∣though the same men could speake no more but one idiome at once, yet the seuerall auditours comprehended them as if they had spoken in the proprietie of their speech: so when many of diuers languages in religion, come to heare some one of the Apostles speaking in the scrip∣ture, although the author vse onely the voice of the truth, yet euery sundrie faction doth conceiue him as speaking in the seuerall confu∣sion Page  28 of their opinions. Neither can they comfort themselues with any hope to see these diuerse opinions wound vp in one confession. For as the vnitie in conclusion in logick, cannot be without the vnitie of the me∣dium; so they cannot meete in that middle way which should bring them into peace able cōposition, vnlesse they returne to the Church. For all grant there is no way to accomplish it without a councell: but who shall call it, when there is none whom they all obey? How many facti∣ons shall assemble? out of what sect shall the president be chosen? what number of suffrages shall there be on euery side? what rule shall bee allowed for the interpretation of the scriptures? And if all this were by a dreame imagined; yet the authoritie of the Canons, and conclu∣sions shall not be so authenticall, but that any priuate head may refuse it, if in his owne singularity he thinke it disagreeing from the scrip∣ture: so desperate is the possibilitie of vnion among them, that hope, which imagineth impossible things, cannot possibly imagine it.


AS euery defect and imperfection tendeth vnto dissolu∣tion, so the good estate of euery bodie, aswell politicke and mistical, as natural, doth consist in the vnity of the whole, & harmonie of the parts amongst themselues. Therfore seeing the band of vnitie, knitting many members into one whole, maketh an entire body: that societie is of all others conceiued to be most absolute, which hath attained to the greatest perfe∣ction of vnitie. Which kind of reason moued the Philosopher to giue the preeminence to a Monarchy before other simple formes. So the Apostle (in the place whence you take your rise) from the vnitie of Gods Church doth build the vnity of faith: as also the vnity of spirit in the bond of peace, vrging a preser∣uation and increase of the same, as a thing most perfecting the whole body. This is a marke Saint Paul willeth vs to aime at, and indeuour to attain the perfection of it. But you (as if your Church had alreadie attained it, and were perfect in this vni∣tie of faith) haue fansied to your selfe such an vniformitie in religion, and such an infallible meanes to enioy the same, as doth expell all differences in iudgements and opinions, remoue all occasions of doubt and reply, and vnto which perfect obedience is tied. By this cognisance haue you discerned and noted the onely Page  29 true catholike Church, and thereby cut of al protestants from that body. So did Tully describe an oratour, who neuer yet was knowen either at Rome or Athens: so did Plato imagine a commonwelth, collected of the select perfections of all soci∣eties: and so hath your chymicall phansie conceited a Church in her state here militant, which by triall will proue a meere Eutopia, not to be found vpon the earth. For you might easi∣ly conceiue euen in reason, that albeit vnitie be essentiall to a bodie, and consequently the vnitie of faith to the Church of Christ: yet as there be many degrees of perfections in the church, so be there likewise of vnitie in faith. Concerning the very bodie of religion, and more materiall pointes of faith, there is in our Church an vniforme accord, and agreement: though in other branches some differences: as amongst your selues, how manie iarres betwixt Aquin and Scotus, and ye rest of that scoole, scarce three of thē saying one thing? How ma∣ny errours cōdemned in your Cardinal Caietan, by Melchior, Canus, and Bellarmin? The Iacobins and the Cordelians could neuer agree about the Virgin Mary her conception. In a word, it cannot bee denyed, but so many orders of fryers, almost so many sectes in opinions, and deadly quarrels euen at this day. Wherefore, before this your peremptorie conclu∣sion of deposing Churches, it had bin a point verie requisite, first to haue defined what degree of vnitie were necessarie, and what kinde of differences brings the Church of Christ to vtter dissolution, so that it remaine noe longer to bee a Church. But you taking a course most easie to deceiue your selfe and others, discourse aloofe in generalities, and take the perfection of vnitie at the highest pitch, to make a more glo∣rious shewe.

So then the weight of this your argument resteth it selfe vpon these two poyntes. First that the prouidence of God hath prouided for his Church militant a perpetuall and infal∣lible meanes of vnitie in faith, and such a vnity as takes away varietie of iudgments and opinions, remoues all occasions of doubt and reply: and vnto which absolute obedience is tyed. Secondly, that this meanes is to be found in the Church of Rome, and not els where. Let vs briefly examine the first ground: which if it Page  30 proue sandie, the whole frame of this your building falles by it owne weight. Saint Paul his argument in the fourth to the Ephesians, from whence you haue raised this whole discourse (in your owne sence) makes directly against you. For as from vnitie of Gods Church hee buildeth the vnitie of faith: so doth he likewise the vnitie of spirit in the bond of peace. Then if from the defect of vnitie in faith you will goe backward to deny the Church, you must deny it likewise (by vertue of the same text) vpon any quarrels or contentions, ciuill or eccle∣asticall, which doe impeach the vnitie of loue in the bond of peace. But I wot you will be better aduised, and graunt there may be a visible Church, though the vnitie of peace be not in perfectiō. And may there not be one also amongst vs in some differences of iudgments? yea much more; since varietie of opinions rise commonly from ignorance and weaknes of iudgment: whereas those other quarrelles proceed rather from malice and enuie, and therefore are lesse veniall, and more likely to take away the possibilitie of dependance vpon God. Let vs then leaue to straine at gnattes, and ingenuously ac∣knowledge thus much at the first: that all differences doe not take away the nature of the true Church. Next that all vnitie doth not proue a Church. For there may be aswellcon∣spiracie in errour, as vnitie in faith. Yea the kingdome of Sa∣than is at vnitie with it selfe: Or els (saith our Sauiour) it * could not possibly endure. If this policie be the strength of his kingdome, no meruaile if the same be found amongst his instruments, as the prophet Nahum speakes of the enimies of Gods people the Assyrians, comparing them to a firre bush or * heape of thornes twined or folden one within another.

Your next shift will be that differences of iudgments a∣mong catholikes before definitiue sentence giuen, bee nei∣ther damnable, nor concerne matters of faith: but after the Church hath giuē her voice (vnto which perfect obedience is tyed) then such a truth so determined is presently to be im∣braced without reply or further enquirie. Which conceite seemes to make voide the ende of that diuine dispensation, by which you affirme some sediitons and factions to spring in the kingdome of God.*

Page  31 Which in his wisedome be not onely permitted, but dispo∣sed and ordered to the exercise, and more full triall of the faithfull. To which purpose wee are often vrged in the text to search the scriptures, trie the spirits, proue all things: but here is a shorter cut for a catholike. Onely these two poynts. First in any doubtfull question vndetermined, either let him suspend his iudgment: or if he lift to take a side, it is not daun∣gerous, vntill the Church haue defined: and then secondly, after definitiue sentence let him imbrace it, as a matter of faith without further examination. Me thinkes this triall is too too easie, that a catholike should put himselfe into such complete armour (as ye Apostle biddeth) as to, haue his loines * girt, with veritie, his feete shod with the preparation of the Gospell, to take vnto him the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit, to make such search and examination for the truth of * God: and when it comes to the point, so he keepe himselfe within compasse of the visible Church (which is verie spaci∣ous) he may safely fight, on which side he list, without daun∣ger; and, when sentence is past, yeelde consent with securitie. Which position (I must needes confesse) hath the aduantage of mans nature farre aboue the other. For that which we de∣sire and wish for we are easily induced to beleeue: where∣fore euery man naturally affecting to enioy securitie, with all facilitie and ease that may bee doth willingly perswade himselfe of this and the like plausible conceites, euen by the sway of his owne inclination. Which thing makes it no whit lesse suspected of errour, but rather much more, because e∣uery naturall motion and desire arising out of the inferior part of the soule, must by the kingdome of Christ be either quite subdued and rooted out, or at the least, so crossed and qualified, as it seldome remaines the same.

So then to draw this whole poynt to a more narrow issue, our demaund is, whether vpon the promise of God made to his Church for her preseruation in the faith of Christ, there may not be built ouer much securitie? that is, as the schoole hath conceaued of theological vertues, though on Gods part, respecting his promise, there can be no excesse of hope, or confidence, yet in regard of the peruersenes of our nature Page  32 (which may make the generall promise of God lesse effectu∣all to vs) there may grow presumption: because those pro∣mises be not absolute, but conditional; so whether the pro∣mise of Gods assistance to his Church be of the like nature, with some condition to be obserued of the Churches part; or whether it be altogither absolute, is one point in question. That it is in part absolute, is a thing graunted of all handes, to wit, that neither the wickednesse of man, nor the gates of hell shall euer so farre preuaile against it, as quite to extin∣guish * it, but it shal continue a Church till the last dissolution. For else wherefore shuld heauen and earth stand? to be a cage of vncleane birds, or a theater of iddle vanities? This can∣not agree possibly with diuine prouidence. But for those pro∣mises which concerne the better being of the Church, as the enlarging of her dominions, the increase of the number of true and zealous catholikes, her more conspicuous and flori∣shing estate, her preseruation from the inundations of here∣sies, from the Apostasies of her members, and schisines of the whole bodie, her deliuerance from the mistes of errors, and finally her sound and more sincere profession of the truth: concerning these promises of assistance (I say) though God be faithfull who hath promised, yet the Church by reason of her manifold sinnes may make them lesse effectual vnto her. But taking all these promises to be most absolute without condi∣tion, we may grow presumptuous, promising to the Church ouermuch securitie.

Such was the errour of the Iewes in the time of Iohn Bap∣tist,* who building vpon the promise of God made to their forefathers, not regarding any condition on their part to be performed, thought themselues secure, while they could but say they had Abraham to their father, and shew their lineall descent out of his loynes. But the answere doth directly ouer∣throw that conceit. God is able of stones to raise vp children * vnto Abraham, insinuating that which Saint Paul more fully doth expresse (Gala. 3. 7.) They which are of faith are the chil∣dren of Abraham, though by propagation no more procee∣ding out of his loynes, then the verie stones in the streete. Be it so, that the promise of the assistance and residence 〈◊〉 Gods Page  33 spirit in the Church was made to Peter and his successors, as the promise of Gods fauour to Abraham and his seed. The seed of Abraham according to promise we haue found not to be those children which proceeded out of his loynes by naturall descent, but such as resembled father Abraham in faith & god∣lines. I demaund then first (of any indifferent man) who be principally meant by Peters successours according to the pro∣mise? I meane that promise made vnto Peter and his follow∣ers to the end of the world. Whether those Bishops of Rome, who can onely say they haue Peter for their predecessour, and shew a lineall and locall descent from Peter in that Sea: or rather those of speciall note in the Church of Christ (at Rome or elswhere) who aswel in ability to gouern, as soundnes of do∣ctrine and sinceritie of life, doe resemble that blessed Apostle? Somthing to enlightē my selfe by example: Saint Basil Bishop of Caesaerea, but neuer of Rome, was notwithstanding by Saint Chrysostome iuuested with that glorious title of Peters suc∣cessour, in his second booke de sacerdotibus. I demaund whe∣ther such a father of the Church renowned for doctrine and * life, though neuer seated at Rome, be not rather to be ac∣counted the Apostle his successor according to promise, then * either Pope Iohn infamous for life, or Pope Honorius the Monothelite, for that heresie condemned by three generall * councels? Secondly (to giue you a little more ground) sup∣pose the Bishops of Rome be more priuiledged by their lo∣cal succession, and haue greater interest in the promise made to Peter and his successours, then Doctours of other seas (which I cannot yet find) but suppose it though, as the seed of Abraham euen according to the flesh, in that regard were neerer to the promise then straungers, as the Apostle witnesseth, For vnto you the promise belongeth: my next demaund is, whether that promise made to Peter, and in him to his successours of Rome, be absolutely tyed to them, or with some condition by them to be performed? Of that old promise made to Abraham we find two conditions required in his seed, one of faith set downe by Saint Paul,*They which are of faith are the children of Abraham: and the other of workes mentioned by our Sauiour, If ye were Abra∣hamsPage  34children, you would doe the works of Abraham. The breach * of these conditions caused those natural braunches the Iewes to be cut off. Whereupon the Apostle maketh an admoniti∣on to the Church of the Romanes & the rest of the Gentiles, by their example, not to presume, since God spared not the naturall braunches, least he spare not them, Noli altum sapere, sed time. Which is not so to be conceiued, as if there could be a generall Apostasie of the Catholike Church from faith: but so, as if amongst the Romanes or other Gentiles, the current of the visible Church and fountaine of diuine graces might be dried vp, and begin to spring afresh amongst the Iewes, or other nations. Then if this be possible, nay if it be (as the Apostle speaketh) to be feared of vs: that the Romanes or a∣ny of the Gentiles may fal from faith, and be cut off from the promise, as your selues doe sentence the Churches of the East at this day to be fallen, then much more may there be a possibility of errour in your Church in some braunch of faith. For such a fal cannot be in a moment, but must needs presup∣pose some preparations going before.

So then to wind vp this whole discourse, you taking the promise made in Peter to the Sea of Rome absolutely, not re∣specting any condition at al, may thereupon build ouermuch securitie, and so consequently fancie to your selues a confir∣med estate of the Romane Church (like the state of Angels,) & imagine therein a meanes of deciding controuersies more certaine and infallible, then God in his diuine wisedome thought meet for her state militant here vpon earth. Yet albe∣it we cannot hope for a meanes of vnitie in that degree of cer∣taintie, which fansie may easily imagine, or mans nature desire: Notwithstanding there be excellent means for the cer∣taine finding out of necessarie truth, prouided by God in his Church: not one but many, and amongst many, no one so cer∣taine to vs, which man by his ignorance or wilfulnes may not peruert to his owne destruction. Wherefore though first and principally we appeale to scripture, as to the certaine rule and ground of all the rest: yet for the true sense and inter∣pretation of scripture, we confirme our selues by the consent of the learned in the Church; by the analogie of faith, and Page  35 common grounds of beliefe deliuered by the Church, and collected by the ancient fathers out of the most plaine & vn∣doubted scriptures, by the generall consent of antiquitie, by * prouinciall and generall counsels, which at this day we wish and heartily pray, might be called without partialitie; but our complaint is the same with Saint Basil and Gregorie Nazian∣zene in their time, that a generall counsell cannot be called with indifferencie, in the throng of so many quarrels, especi∣ally since the head of the strongest faction must needs be pos∣sessed with a preiudice in his owne cause. These meanes of finding and maintaining the truth of God, though taken se∣uerally they may seeme the weaker, yet all or most of them ioyned together are sufficient to rest the consciences of true Catholikes. To the perfection where of we labour to attaine, forgetting that which is behind, and endeuouring to that which is before.


THe diuine prouidence, which as a center indifferently extendeth it selfe to the vniuersalitie of things, hath allowed euerie creature common strength to preserue his being, such is in liuelesse bodies their place, or motion, or qualities; in vegetable their instinct of distin∣guishing their proper aliment; in beastes, the iudgement of sense, and priuiledge of nature; and in man an apprehension, censure, and proiect from the intelligence of sensible occurrents, both in naturall and ci∣uill bodies.

The same wisedome and bountie, which hath been so enlarged to his seruants, cannot be straightned to his children: and therefore it is a∣boue all doubt, that he hath set some plaine and certaine direction in his Church, both of discerning of heresies when they arise, and of auoiding the infection of them: neither hath the holy Ghost failed herein, for because all the dangers of the Church were chiefly to come from heretikes, hee hath drawne in the scripture, as in a table, the picture of heretikes, their apparrell, fa∣shion, speech, and cariage whereby they might be noted vpon the first apparance, But among all other Items, none is oftener giuen for aPage  36marke to discerne them, then their difference of doctrine, from the former tradition and custome. There shall be false teachers which shall bring in heresies. 2. Peter. 2. 1. If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine Iohn. 2. 10. And the contradiction of Co∣rah. 1. Tim. 8. If any man teach other wise then that which you haue heard from the beginning. Let it abide in you, fight for the faith once deliuered: keepe the traditions you are taught. And if any man would fashion in his wishes a plaine and sensible rule, whereby the thickest conceits, that are not able to goe betweene truth and errour in the loosest controuersies, might determine any question; there can∣not bee a better fancied then this difference of teaching, and inno∣uation of doctrine, which he that vnderstandeth not the sense may perceiue by the words, the soundes, and contradiction of former opinion, as men that are skilfull in musicall proportions, and being acquainted through vse of song, can easily iudge if any chaunge be made therein. By this were all heresies apprehended at the first, and also arraigned. So that Stephanus Bishop of Rome ouerthrew the decree of the councell of Carthage, for rebaptising, wherein Saint Cyprian was president, with his owne rule, Ecclesia Dei non habet talem consuetudinem. So Luther and Zwin∣glius and the rest of that crewe, were at the first appearing branded by this note for heretikes.


THis is the same fallacie with the former applyed another way: for as in the last motiue, you haue assured the Church of an infallible meanes to define all truth: so in this you secure her members likewise of a power with facilitie to discerne heretikes, by argument drawen from the gene∣rall prouidence of God extending it selfe to all creatures, but most of all to his children. In which ground there is some truth, but entwined with some errours. For as in other crea∣tures the diuine prouidence is verie bountifull, for the pre∣seruation of their seuerall beings against iniurie and daun∣gers: yet for all the power of nature in senceles things, or the iudgment of sense in the vnreasonable, or the benefit of reason in men, they be notwithstanding oftentimes subiect aswell to the pray and violence, as to the crafte and deceit Page  37 of others: so is it in the professours of christian faith: vnto whom God hath reuealed a meanes to preserue their spiri∣tuall being in this state militant, more certaine, and far more sufficient for them, then he hath giuen to any other: yet not with such ease & facilitie to be enioyed, as in this motiue you indeuour to perswade. For albeit the Scripture hath not been wanting in describing heretikes so plainly, as by way of pro∣phecie could possibly be expressed: yet are they not there∣by presently knowne vpon the first appearance, nor can the thickest conceites so easily iudge of them.

If you take your markes (as you say) from their apparell, * fashion, or outward carriage: then a sheeps skin drawen ouer a woolfe will easily deceaue you: their outward appa∣rance will in euery respect seeme holy and innocent as the sheepe of Christ. Therefore is there neede of a serpents wise∣dome to discerne them; and not that onely, but also of dili∣gence and watchfulnesse to espie them. For as they come in sheeps skins so come they priuily, as Saint Peter noteth in * the place by you first mencioned, There shalbe false teachers who (priuilie) shall bring in damnable heresies. Which word, though it carie the emphasis of the sentence, yet is it by you wisely o∣mitted: happily because you thought it a note of an here∣tike, not so well beseeming Martin Luther, who came not so priuily I wis, but open inough, and in his owne liknes, con∣trarie to the common fashion of heretikes, who first put on a sheepes skin, and then creepe into the flock, the easier to de∣ceiue. Wherefore when that prophecie is fufilled, which you haue so fitted vnto these times, concerning the doctrine of many false Christs: where the bodie is thither will the Eagles resort, not owles, or bussards, but such as haue a quicke eye of * faith to discerne the Lord, and the swift wing of deuotiō to fly vnto him. Nay ye delusions of heresies shal thē grow so strong, as nothing shall be able to withstand them, but only the eter∣nall election of God. For if it were possible the verie elect should be deceiued. A small number (God knowes) in compare of that * glorious multitude, you so boast of in your fifth motiue: yet it seemes these fewe must stand, when many great troupes are caried with the doctrine of false Christs. Ecce hic, & eccePage  38illic. But these difficulties seeme nothing vnto you, who can imagine a direction so plaine against heretikes, as the thick∣est and most grosse conceit may thereby with facilitie dis∣cerne them. The most notorious marke you haue chosen, is their difference of doctrine from the former tradition, and custome.

All ancient customes, & traditions receiued from our fore∣fathers, being venerable for age, haue receiued such force from time, as they become equiualent with lawes, and binde posterities to yeelde perfit obedience. So that euery alterati∣on, as of ciuil constitutions, so especially of religion, is not on∣ly dangerous, but therein also preiudiciall to it selfe, that it gainsayeth antiquitie. For of whatsoeuer it may be iustly af∣firmed, Dictum fuit antiquis, that is to stand inuiolable against * all innouation whatsoeuer: neither is it by any meanes to be ouerruled, but onely by a rule more ancient, Non fuit sic ab*initio. By which our Sauiour controuled the ancient traditi∣ons of the Iewes: examining them by the first institution of the lawe. For the first in euery kinde is the rule and square of all the rest. Therefore euery custome in the Church of God is with all dutie, and reuerence to be embraced, except onely in case, where it doth crosse the doctrine of Christ and the A∣postles, whereupon the Church it selfe is built. And therein, adificium coedat solo, so much onely doe the places by you al∣ledged inferre, that we should not varie from the doctrine of the Apostles, which we willingly subscribe vnto.

But in these dayes I would not wish euery thicke conceit to put himselfe vpon the triall of former times for true anti∣quitie, least he be deceiued therein, as Israel was by the Gibe∣onites with olde ragges and clouted shooes, Ioshua. 9. But * the safest triall will be, Quid fuit ab initio? as we learne out of Vincentius in his worthie worke (as D. Bristow cals it) for put case (saith he) that heresie be once so rooted in the Church, that it begins to plead antiquity, that it spread so far, and haue got such strength as the fauorers thereof haue power and oportunitie to alter and corrupt the ancient writers: then is it onely safe to make triall by the written word. How iustly these things haue been obiected to the Church of Rome, I Page  39 will not dispute: onely let this suffice, that an author so anci∣ent, * so renowned by your selues, doth not onely thinke it pos∣sible to befall in the visible Church, but also hath set downe this aduise against the same. I come to the strength of this motiue, which is the conclusion of this whole discourse.


Neither are they able to proue that either catholike or heretique did challenge the Church of Rome for any of the controuerted questions, when first they began to arise. For Arius, Actius, Vi∣gilantius, Berengarius, and the rest spake against those poynts of doctrine, which we haue proofe by the aduersaries consent to haue been practised many ages before in the Church. But if they cannot shew nei∣ther in all, nor in one question betweene vs, that the repugnance and reiecting of it by any is ancient, as the allowance thereof, it is mani∣fest that the latter, not the former, were heretiques which brought in alteration.


WE are able in some questions to satisfie your demand, and for the rest to giue sufficient reason, why it can∣not be: which two poynts will easily and fully dissolue the force of this obiection. For matters in question, whereof the Church of Rome is now challenged, be of two sorts. Some be like blemishes in the face, so conspicuous, as they may ea∣sily be discerned at the first: others fester more inwardly. To the former kinde doe belong especially those poynts, which concerne the gouernment of the Church. Loth I am to enter particulars in this generall discourse, but onely because you vrge me to shew in any one question betweene vs, that the repug∣nance and reiecting of it, is ancient, as the allowance thereof. I no∣minate the title and right of vniuersall Byshop, with the priuiledges thereunto belonging: which, as they were clai∣med by the Popes, so were they at the same times euermore disclaimed by others. For the Primacie of honour & dignitie, which at the first was generally giuen to the Church of Rome, aswell in regard of her large dominions, of the wisedome and vertues of the commaunders of that Sea: as also of the weake∣nesse Page  40 and leuitie of the Easterne Churches, togither with o∣ther occurrents and consequences of the Empyre: This I say was by the more ambitious Popes and their Parasites vsed for a styrrop to mount them higher, from a primacie to a supre∣macie, from honor & dignitie to a soueraigne power and au∣thoritie. Which was no sooner vpon occasiō practised by any, but presently was it checked and controlled, not by particu∣lar men, but whole Synodes. Pope Iulius presuming vpon this title did attempt to restore Athanasius, & Paulinus, vpon their appeale to Rome, who by the Bishopes of Asia and their Me∣tropolitan had bin depriued. Whereupon they of Alexandria assembled a synod at Antioch: dispatched letters to the Pope both vehement and bitter: and therein declared it to be most vnequal for him to impose lawes vpon them for the depri∣uing of any, since they did not intermedle with his busines, when he had expelled Nouatus out of the Church of Rome. Thus much is fully expressed by Socrates in the 11. of his ec∣cle siasticall storie. If you require instance of the Bishops of Afrike likewise, witnes Saint Syprian writing to Pope Corne∣lius, vnto whom hee affirmes their ioynt decree against Rome appealers to be both equal & right. For (saith he) since euery pastor hath a portion of the flocke committed to him, which hee is to gouerne and rule as one that must giue account thereof vnto the Lord: it behoueth them vnder our custody to pleade their cause at home, where accusers and witnesses may be had, vnlesse happily some few desperat lewd fellowes * thinke the authoritie of the African Bishops to be lesse, by whom they are iudged. Thus did Cyprian write occasioned by one Faelicissimus, who, depriued in Africa, ranne to Rome. But this repugnance you cannot deny to be ancient. A little after at the counsell of Sardice this question of iurisdiction grew so hot twixt the fathers of the East and West Churches, that the Easterne Bishops, before any thing determined, rety∣red themselues home to their places, the remnant of the La∣tine Church established a law concerning appeales to Rome, thereby to extoll the famous memorie of the Apostle Peter. But at the verie next counsel all this was quite dasht againe, at the counsell of Carthage assembled of aboue 200 fathers Page  41 amongst whom Saint Augustine was one; where it was pe∣remtorilie decreed, not in one or two, but foure intire chap∣ters: * that none should make any appeale beyond the Sea, in paine of excommunicatiō. Notwithstanding vnto this coun∣sell did the Pope send three Legates, with straight command * to maintaine his right, which hee pretended to be grounded vpon a decree of the Nicen Counsell: that decree was proued forged: the Nicen Counsell sought into: the auncient copies thereof sent for from Constantinople, Alexandria and Rome: the next yeare conferred, examined, nothing found. Where∣upon the Bishops of that Counsell writ to the Pope, that in the Nicen Counsell nothing was decreed tending that way, but rather the contrarie, to wit, that he should keepe himselfe within his bounds, as other Metropolitans did: and therefore aduised him to content himselfe with his owne charge. To this subscribed 230. fathers. If you come to latter times, when his ful and most complet supremacie was defined at the Lateran Counsell, vnder Leo the tenth: presently vpon it the Vniuersitie of Paris appealed to another Counsell, and condemned that former. So may ye finde other Vniuersities to haue done in the like cause, as Louan, Colen, Uienna, and the * rest. So in these and the like poynts concerning the externall face of the Church, more conspicuous, & consequently more subiect to gain sayings, the repugnance and reiecting of them might easily bee shewen to be ancient, as the allowance of them is. But there be other questions concerning faith and opinion, which be of a far different kinde from the former. Much like vnto those tares in the parable, scattered by the e∣nemie in the seede time of the Church, the better to plead antiquite, yet are they not at the first espyed though, till they haue sprung vp, and laid claime to the ground, as well as the most pure wheate. Whereof there be many causes concur∣ring: one is because they be little seedes at the first, and there∣fore lesse regarded of men, De minimis non curat lex aut ratio. And not onely from little euils, but euen from indifferent be∣ginnings, as the deuotions and naturall affections of men, doth the enemie take occasion to bring in grosse superstition. Whereof the wise man giueth instance in that grat sin of ido∣latrie Page  42 among the heathen. For when a father mourned grie∣uously for his sonne that was taken away suddenly, he made an image for him that was once dead, endeuouring after a sort to preserue him aliue in the eye and memorie of man. Which affection in the father (had it proceeded no further) * were not greatly to be misliked: but after, he worshipped it as a God, ordained ceremonies, and commaunded his ser∣uants to sacrifice vnto it. Thus (sayth the text) by pro∣cesse of time this wicked custome preuailed, and was kept as a lawe. Secondly, as the beginnings be small, and there∣fore lesse conspicuous: so doe they breed inwardly, and take deepe roote, first in the minds of men, before they bee published in the Church, as the seed is first couered with earth before it spring vp. To this purpose doth our Sauiour compare the false doctrine of the Pharisies vnto leuen, which a woman takes and hides in a barrell of meale. So by this meanes, a little leuen in time, will sower the lumpe. Thirdly, as the beginnings of errors, so likewise their growthes and proceedings are vnsensible, because they doe not sprout vp like Ionas Gourd, in a moment, but like ordinarie plants, by little and little: Non crescere cernis frutices, sed crenisse: The same reason which is of the growth of error, is likewise to bee applied to the decay of pure re∣ligion: which being not put downe at once, but moulder∣ing away in time, is not so easily perceiued. For had the Figge-tree which the Disciples saw suddenly withered, and flourishing ouer night, dryed vp in longer space, it had not been so subiect to their obseruation. Besides these impedi∣ments, we must presume, that the enemie being wise, will take all fit oportunitie yt may be: then since all ages haue not been alike furnished with able and vigilant pastors, that also addeth some aduātage to this purpose. For it is obserued, that when men slept, the enemie sowed tares, so the darke nights of ignorance and times of securitie, bee fittest to entertaine heresies without resistance. But in other ages againe, when it pleased almightie God to raise most glorious lights in his Church, such as were most of the ancient Fathers, they were presently set a worke with some graund heretike or other, Page  43 which so possessed them, as they could not so wel intend those lesser enormities, which by that meanes gathered strength more and more. For they were to gather all their forces, and encounter with such heresies, as did aime at the soule of reli∣gion, and maine pillars of christian faith: some taking away the diuinitie of Christ; some mangling his humanitie; some confounding his natures; some renting his person: thus the Dragon setting vpon the Lorde of life, and ready to teare in peeces the very person of our blessed Sauiour: it was then no time to stand brushing his garment: hauing such huge beames to remoue, it was vnseasonable to pecke moates, though they also hinder the eye sight, and become dange∣rous in time, to the very apple of Gods eye, as the Church is called. So then, to conclude, as in diuers questions contro∣uersed, the repugnances may be shewed to haue been aunci∣ent: so there is good reason you should pardon vs for some others.

Thus haue I briefelie examined these few motiues; not a∣ny waies extenuating (so farre as I can conceiue) but rather vrging them with the aduantage: which if I haue in any rea∣sonable sort satisfied, my next endeuour is humble prayer to almightie God, so to moue your heart, as this your resolution be no more peremptorie and strong, then the Motiues whereupon it buildeth, are in reason, able to enforce.