THE CHARACTER OF POPERY.
POPERY is a Catholick Shamm; for it cheats those that tamper with it, of their Under∣standings, and their Senses, their Consciences, and their Souls: An Ecclesiastical Juggle; the cunning Knave's Mask, and the filly Bigot's Creed: Jacob's Ladder revers'd, or the Debauchee's En•gine; which he doubts not, but, if well oyl'd, will at last carry him to Heaven: For 'tis a Project, that offers at saving Men, and their Sins together; nay, in many Cases, to make their Sins meritorious of Salvation: A Blendure of Ambition and Covetousness, dress'd up in a long Mantle of Hypochrisie, call'd, Saint Peter's Cloak: A false Bait, managed by a crafty sort of Fisher-men, that pretend to angle Souls for Heaven; but design only to catch Gudgeons, and grasp Earth, and its Advantages: Jingling the Keys of PARADISE, on purpose to amuse the Croud, and to get Opportunities to pick their Pockets. 'Tis a strange Farrago of Errors and Impostures: A Gallimawfrey, composed of contradictory Ingredients: The highest Supersti∣tions, and yet the rankest Prophaneness: Subtilties of the finest spinning, and most gross Absurdities. It makes its God and then eats him. It teaches all its Votaries, to Pray, without either understanding the Words, or yet devout Attention of Mind: To Fast with a Luxurious Dinner of Fish, Wine, and Sweet-Meats, that Heliogabalus, and other choicest Heathen Gluttons would lick their Lips at. It cries up MARRIAGE for a Sacrament; and yet, at the same time, barrs its Sacred Clergy from it, because it will defile them. It boasts its self to be the sole Keeper and Interpreter of the Scriptures; and yet avows, that they are corrupted, and unintelligible: And so, at once, proclaims her own per∣fidious Negligence, in not preserving the Sacred Oracles; and her monstrous Uncharitableness, in not gi∣ving Us an Authentick Explication. It pretends an Infallible Knack of deciding all Controversies; yet cruelly suffers her Brats to spend their Times in endless Quarrels; witness the Brawls between her Fran∣ciscans and her Dominicans, her Jesuites and her Jansenists, her most Christian, and most Catholick Doctors.
We may therefore call it a Rope of Sand, held together meerly by Interest and Force: A Babel-Building, erected by diligent Fraud, and aspiring Pride, upon the Plains of drowsie Ignorance, and easy Credulity; and cemented not only with the Tears, but the Blood of thousands of Innocents. A de∣vouring MONSTER, begot in the dark by an incestuous Mixture of Impudence the Son, with Ignorance the Mother; Suckled by PHOCAS, with the Milk of REBELLION, and Blood-Roy∣al; and Rocked to Sleep by Pope BONIFACE, in the Cradle of a universal Bishoprick; where doting MONKS sung Lullabies to it, with a multitude of lying Legends, and feigned Miracles. The French Usurper, King PEPIN, and his Son, gave it a new Coat; and Pope HILDERBRAND taught it to go High-Lone, and trample on the NECKS of EMPERORS and KINGS. 'Twas always very fond of Babies to play with; and cryed and scratcht most filthily, till it had got Pictures and Images set up in Churches; which from Lay-men's Books, quickly became their GODS. The School-men provided it Rattles of Distinction, and abundance of Elder POT-GUNS, to divert it self, and amuse the World with. The Conventicle of TRENT found it sick of the Rickets; but ap∣plying altogether the Italian Physick, set it again upon its Legs, though with a Head swell'd bigger than before: Yet ever since, it hath been languishing in a Consumption; to palliate which, Fifty Thou∣sand Fathers of the Society, are always busy with Cordials and Paint, to keep up its Spirits and Com∣plexion. The DIET it delights in, is Aurum Potabile, and the Blood of MARTYRS: The In∣quisition is its Right-Leg, and Sophistry its Left; and with these Two Supporters, it bestrides the World.
To express its Essence, and full Latitude in one word, you must call it ANTI-CHRISTANISM, (whether you take [Anti] to signifie against, for, or instead of, as the Greek Tongue hath it; or whe∣ther you take [CHRIST] to denote peculiarlty our Blessed Saviour; or more generally, his Vice∣gerents: or more largely, his Saints or Catholick Church; who all enjoy the Unction of the Holy One.] For as this Mock-Religion most impudently pretends its POPE, the greatest Rebel and Enemy to GOD and CHRIST, under Heaven) to be Vice-God, or Christ's Vicar or Lieutenant upon Earth: and that he has a Plentitude of Power in Christ's stead, to Rule the Universal Church: Under which forged Com∣mission, and kind Sembleance, nothing can tend more against the Person, Honour, Merits, Offices, and whole Gospel of CHRIST, nothing be more degrogatory to the just Rights, and Veneration due to Sove∣reign Earthly Princes; nor yet any thing be more pernicious to, or destructive of Sincere Christians, than his Tripple-Crown'd TRAYTOR's Doctrines and Practises.
For Popery, by its Doctrine of Transubstantiation, will have the Body of Christ to be without the Pro∣prieties of a true Body; and consequently, taking away the Humane Nature, it denies the Person of our Mediator.
It Invades his Royal Office, by assuming his Incommunicable Titles, by undertaking to Rescind, and make void his LAWS; Absolving Man from his Duty to God, by Dispensations, and from the Penalty Page [unnumbered]which Sin hath made his due, by Indulgence; so Bellarmine tell us, That the Pope hath a Power to make Sin to be no Sin. And the Council of Latereran, That the Pope has all Power over all Powers, as well of Heaven as of Earth.*
It Blasphemes the PRIESTLY Office of Christ, whereby at one Oblation of himself, he satisfied for all Sin, Heb. 10.11. 1 Jo. 1.7. For as if the same was Insufficient, Popery appoints an innumerable Company of Shaveling Priests, whose daily business is pretended to offer up Christ afresh, or a propitia∣tory Sacrifice for the Quick and the Dead, in their Wicked and Idolatrous Mass. It also undertakes to Purge away Sins, by other Medicines, besides his precious Blood. And sets up a Multitude of other MEDIATORS and INTERCESSORS. It opposes Christs Prophetick Office, by adding a multitude of Traditions and Inventions, as necessary to Salvation, to be received with the same Reverence as the Word of God.
It exalts it self above all that is called God in the World: For its POPE Crowns and Uncrowns Em∣perours with his Feet, and Treads upon them as one would do upon a Viper; Takes upon him to Depose KINGS and PRINCES, to give away their KINGDOMS to discharge Subjects of their Allegiance and Oaths; and to justifie their Rebellion against, or Assassinations of their Soveraigns.
To speak Truth, POPERY is the Debauchment of all RELIGION; For by Substituting it self under the Christian Name, it hath Subverted the innate Sense and Worship of the Deity, and maintains Tenets, and imposes Practises, which the wiser sort of Heathens always blush'd at; And at the same time, it hath suppressed, and depraved, and counterfeited Divine Revelations; so that, the Principles both of Natural and Revealed Religion being thus Corrupted. It makes its Proselytes but so much the more the Children of Wrath, than they were by Nature; for she hood-winks their Understandings, degenerates and scars their Consciences, and lays waste all Morality.
Her design is not the promoting of Christ's Interest, (for that is apparently prostituted) but the Securing and Agrandizing of a Faction, which under the Profession of Christianity, might be false to all its Realities. Her Rule is the Corrupt Inclination of depraved Nature, to which they have throughly Conformed their Practical Divinity; which easeth Men of Duty, for which they have an Aversion, and clears the way to those Sins to which they are disposed, as though there were no need to avoid them. Thus their Principles are more pernicious, because more taking; because Men will quickly like that Religion, because he Loves his Sin; and will, 'tis to be feared, follow both, though he Perish for it Eternally.
She hath by Various Methods, destroy'd (as much as in her lyes) the Credibility of the Christian Religion: As:
First. By making Men to neglect and slight those Sacred Oracles, which contains firm Demonstrations of its Verity; and to rely upon the vain Sandy pretence of her Infallibility, for the certainty of Faith.
Secondly,* By obtruding upon the World her Fabulous Legends, and Lying Miracles, in which she is so Notorious Falsary, which to every Rational Man appear to have been only Delusions, and Rank Im∣postures.
Thirdly, By rendring the Gospel it self unworthy of Acceptation; as she hath model'd, and deprav'd it, through her absurd, superadded Principles, Idolatrous Worship, Gross Superstitious Rites, and innumerable Ceremonies, no less various in themselves, than Burthensome to the Observers.
Fourthly, By reducing our whole Duty (upon the Matter) to certain, unreasonable, Servile Submissions, to her Haughty, Avaritious Clergy: And by resolving the Terms of Eternal Happiness, finally, into the Benediction, or good Pleasure of her vile Fulsome Priests.
So that take her Systeme together, and I see not how either Jew, Pagan, Turk, or other Infidel, can Honestly entertain the Christian Religion, as she Teacheth it; or if they should so Embrace it, how far they would be Gainers by the Bargain.
In the Homilies of the Church of England for Whitsunday, you have this Character given of her; That the Church of Rome is an Idolatrous Church, not only an Harlot, as the Scripture calls her, but also a Foul, Filthy, Old, Withered Harlot, and the Mother of Whoredeme, Guilty of the same Idolatry, and worse than was among the Gentiles.
POPERY in its self, is the vilest Tyranny, that ever Heaven in Judgment suffered, or Earth in Patience groan'd under: That of Dionysius and Nero were but Flea-bitings to it; They only Challenged a Despoti∣cal Power over Peoples Persons, This assumes an uncontroulable Dominion over their very Consciences and Souls: And is framed intirely for the Befooling, Enslaving, Despoiling, and Corrupting of the Laiety, and the Enriching and Agrandizing her Priesthood; who with the Supple Hams of a Flattering Hypocrisie, first seem to Adore and Deifie; but as soon as they have gained their point, do really Spurn at, and Trample upon all Secular Dignity and Authority; for She assumes an Arbitrary Power to pluck up, and Destroy all Governments, when it is for her purpose.
But still, a fine Conveniency or Umbrage of Religion she is, to those who will live by the Rules of none; And an admirable Colour for Ambitious Princes to enlarge their Empire, to the prejudice of their Neigh∣bours, and pretence of advancing the Catholick Faith; and to destroy their own People for God's sake, when ever they shall have Oppressed them so far as to fear them: And as ready an Engine to excite Sub∣jects to Rebellion against their Lawful Soveraigns, as oft as they will not Dance to the Measures of the Vatican.
To Conclude: As every Religion consists of Doctrine, Worship, and Discipline; so the Doctrine of Popery is Ignorance and Error: Its Worship, Idolatry and Superstition: Its Discipline, Rage and Cruelty. Whence fitly doth the Holy Spirit, in Sacred Writ, describe her by those three Titles, The False Prophet, The Whore, and The Beast: False Prophet, for her Teaching, and enforcing Errors; Whore, for her Ido∣latry, Gaudy Dress, and Meritricious Paintings: And Beast, for her Ravenous and Savage Cruelty.
To Conclude further: She is the Disgrace, and grand Impediment of the Gospel, the overthrow of Morals, the perperual Disquieter of Civil States, the Destroyer of Christians, the Scandal of Infidels, and the Pest of the World. Which therefore, all Mankind are obliged, both in Honour, Conscience, and In∣terest, by all Lawful ways to oppose; and Wish, and heartily Pray, for its Extirpation from the Face of the Earth; which for the Comfort of all that suffer by, and under it, and to the Terror of all its Abettors, (notwithstanding their Subtilties, or Violence, to support what Providence has doomed for Destruction) shall assuredly, in God's due time, be accomplished, and the KINGS of the Earth shall Burn her with Fire. Amen.