THE Last Legacy OF HENRY CARE, Gent. Lately Deceased.
Containing A Brief SUM of CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, By Way of QUESTION and ANSWER.
Particularly relating to Several of the most IMPORTANT POINTS controverted be∣tween US, and the ROMANISTS.
Decided by express Testimonies of the Holy, Scripture, and evident Reason.
Published for the use of such as are unable to Purchase, or comprehend Larger and more Elaborate Tracts.
1 Pet. 3.15.
LONDON: Printed for Tho. Cockerill at the Three Legs in the Poultrey, 1688.
TO THE READER.
IT was the Judgment of the great St. Augu∣stine, That in places endangered with Heresy, all Men should write that had any Faculty therein, tho it were but the same things in other Words; That all sorts of People, amongst many Books, might light upon some suitable to their Capacities, and the Enemy in all places find one or other to op∣pose him. Whilst therefore our more Learned Di∣vines, with a most Praise-worthy diligence, by their Larger and more Acurate Discourses, de∣fend the Truths of God, that is, the Protestant Religion; These plain Papers may possibly prove not altogether unuseful to the meaner sort of People, who are in most danger of being be∣tray'd into Error, and have neither Ability to purchase, nor Time to read, nor Capacities to ap∣prehend more Sublime and Scholastical Di∣sputes.
My Aim is no other than to Represent Chri∣stianity in its Native, Innocent Dress, and to strengthen weak Souls, by reminding them of some evident Scripture-Proofs of that Religion they profess, that so they may not be shaken from Page [unnumbered] their most Holy Faith, by the Sophistry of a• insinuating Pretensions. In order to render 〈◊〉 thus effectual, I have chiefly made use of the S•∣cred Text, tho not altogether omitting the Te∣stimonies of the Ancients; especially in the Q••¦stions touching the Scriptures and Traditi• where the same seemed most Requisite, and sh•• only beg of Thee (Christian Reader!) That layi• aside all Prejudices, and the false Bia• of wor•¦ly Interest, thou wouldst peruse these few Li• seriously, as treating of matters of the highest M••¦ment, and importing no less than thy Eter•• Welfare; and that thou wouldst be willing to su•¦mit thy Soul and Conscience to the clear an• obvious Sense of Holy Scripture. And then, th• the Brevity I design, allowed not room, partic•¦larly to Answer all the little Objections that may be made; yet I am apt to hope thou wilt (by Gods Grace) find sufficient Cause to hold fast th•Reformed Religion, and not to be altogether u•¦furnisht of a competent Defence against any m•¦terial Attacques.Page [unnumbered]
- THE Old and New Testament is the only Rule to di∣rect us, how we may know and serve God accep∣tably. Page 1
- The Difference between the Tradition by which we have re∣ceived the Holy Scriptures from the times of the Apostles, and the Oral Traditions obtruded by the Roman Church, which are contrary to the Scripture. Page 3
- An Exposition of that Text, 2 Thess. 2.15. Hold fast the Traditions you have been taught either by word or our Epistle. Page 6
- The Opinion of the Ancient Fathers about Tradition. Page 7
- Reasons for the use of the Books commonly called Apo∣crypha. Page 8
- The Authority of the Scripture prov'd not to depend on the Authority of the Church. Page 10
- People of all Ranks and Qualities ought to hear and read the Holy Scriptures; and therefore the Translating it into the Vulgar Tongue absolutely necessary. Page 12, 13
- The Unjustness and Uncharitableness of the Roman Church in denying the benefit of the Scriptures to the Common People. Page 14
- The Plainness and Clearness of the Holy Scriptures proved, and the Roman Objections answered. Page 15
- One only God to be worshipped in Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Page 17 Page [unnumbered]
- The Transgression of Adam, and the Corruptions of M• Nature thereby. Page•
- No Sins so small as deserve not the Wrath of God; yet th• are great differences in the degrees of Sin. Page•
- God's Mercy and Justice in sending his Son Jesus Christ 〈◊〉 our Redeemer. Page 2•
- By what means we are made Partakers of Christ and 〈◊〉 Benefits. Page•
- What is meant by the Catholic Church in the Creed. Page•
- The Church of Rome proved a Particular Church, and 〈◊〉 the only Catholic Church. Page•
- St. Peter not Prince of the Apostles, they had all 〈◊〉 Power. Page•
- The uncertainty of St. Peter's being ever Bishop of R••• Page•
- Jesus Christ proved to be the only Head of the Church, 〈◊〉 Pope not Christ's Vicar on Earth. Page•
- The Church not free from Errors, therefore not infallib•• nor can the Romans agree where their pretended Inf••¦bility is lodged. Page•
- What is meant by Faith and Justification. Page•
- The Romish Doctrine of Justification considered. Page•
- Whether in this Life we can perfectly fulfil the Law of G•• and whether any Person (our Saviour excepted) did 〈◊〉 fully keep all the Commandments? Page•
- The Doctrine of the Roman Church, touching Merits, •••¦sidered. Page•
- It is our Duty with all diligence to practice and press 〈◊〉 Holiness, and Righteousness, and the study of Good W••Page•
- The meaning of Works of Supererogation, where it is pro•• there cannot be any such Works. Page•
- How we are to understand those words of the First •••¦mandment, Thou shalt have no other Gods be•• me? Page• Page [unnumbered]
- Prayer is an Act of Religious Worship, and therefore not to be given to Angels, or Saints departed. Page 48
- ••vocation of Saints branded with Idolatry by the Council of Laodicea, and contrary to the Opinion of the Fathers. Page 52
- ••ges in Divine Worship and Religious use, contrary to the Second Commandment. Page 53
- 〈◊〉Romanists leave out the Second Commandment in seve∣ral of their Catechisms, and divide the Tenth into two, to make up the Number. Page 54
- 〈◊〉 Design of this foul Practice in the Church of Rome. Page 55
- ••d's Glorious and Incomprehensible Nature cannot be repre∣sented by an Image, but in a way of infinite disparagement to him. Page 57
- •he Romanists do not only worship Images, but are com∣manded so to do by some of their Councils. Page 58
- ••at Prayer is; the using Prayers in an Unknown Tongue is a Prophanation of that Religious Duty. Page 60
- •rayers for the Dead proved unlawful. Page 61
- •he Doctrine of Purgatory built on the Sand, and invented for secular ends. Page 62
- ••dulgences are the Moral to the Fable of Purgatory. Page 64
- •he Doctrine of Merits consider'd; the Wise Virgins had Oil little enough for themselves. Page 65
- ••re are but two Sacraments, Baptism, and the Lords Sup∣per, of the New Testament. Page 66
- 〈◊〉 five other Sacraments of the Roman Church, viz. Con∣firmation, Penance, Matrimony, Orders, and Extream Unction, not justified by Scripture. Page 67
- •he Efficacy of Sacraments depend not on the Intention of the Minister, but upon the Sacrament. Page 68
- ••e Sacraments confer Grace, not by the Sacramental Action, but by the Power and Operation of the Spirit. Page 69
- •ransubstantiation repugnant to Scripture as well as Sense, and weakens the Credibility of the Christian Religion. Page 70 Page [unnumbered]
- The beginning of that Doctrine founded on the Error of Worship.
- The Explanation of those words, This is my Body.
- The Absurdities of the Doctrine of Transubstantiation.
- The Roman Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass contra•• the Scripture.
- The forbidding the Cup to the Common People directly opp••• to Christ's Institution.
- The Usurpation and Corruptions of the Church of Rome••¦ficiently proved.
A Brief Sum of Christian Doctrine, By Way of QUESTION and ANSWER.
WHO is it that Created you, and pla∣ced you in this world?
Q. To what End?
A. To know, love and serve him, and by such means as he hath appointed, to attain to everlasting life.
Q. What Rule have you to direct you, how you may know, love, and acceptably serve God?
A. The Word of God, or Divinely-inspired Scriptures (containing the Old and New Testament) is the only Rule to direct us, how we may know, and serve him accep∣tably, Isa. 8.20. To the Law, and to the Testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Joh. 5.39. Search the Scriptures, they are they that testifie of me. 2 Tim. 3.15. From a child thou hast known the Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through Faith which is in Christ Jesus: All Scrip∣ture is given by Inspiration, and is profitable for DOCTRINE, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for INSTRUC∣TION in Righteousness; That the man of God may be PER∣FECT, throughly furnisht unto all good works.Page 2
Q. Is this Rule of it self, sufficient, and perfect?
A. Yes: Psal. 19.7. The Law of God is perfect, co••¦ting the soul. The Apostle, (you heard but now) aff•• that the Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salva•• And again, Rom. 15.4. Whatsoever things were written 〈◊〉 time, were written for our learning, that we through pat•• and comfort, of the Scriptures, might have hope. They 〈◊〉 dictated by the Holy Ghost for that very purpose, 〈◊〉 20.31. These things are written, that you may believe 〈◊〉 Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, 〈◊〉 might have life through his name. And to say the Script•• inspired by God, are Defective, or not sufficient for 〈◊〉 End for which he designed them, is not short of B•¦phemy; therefore the Scripture is called, a Testament,〈◊〉 chief property of which is to declare the whole will of 〈◊〉 Testator; and Canonical, because they are the Canon,〈◊〉 is the Rule, the Square of Religion, Faith, and Pi•••Gal. 6.16.
Q. How came you by these Scriptures, which you 〈◊〉 are your Rule?
A. The Divine Truths were first Delivered 〈◊〉 Preached by word of mouth; but Almighty God, in 〈◊〉 infinite Wisdom and Goodness, seeing it most advan••¦geous for his own Glory, and the good of men, for p••¦venting manifold Inconveniencies, and that they migh• have a standing Law whereunto to resort, did think 〈◊〉 to have the same afterwards committed to writing,〈◊〉 persons Divinely Inspired; the Old Testament, at di•• times, as he saw best, for the Edification of his Church• and the New Testament, all within few years after 〈◊〉 Promulgation of the Gospel by our Saviour.
Which Sacred Writings he has continually pres•r•• by his Signal Providence, and the Ministry of his Chur•• and they are brought down to us by an Ʋniversal ••¦terrupted Tradition, that is, received and delivered o• and witnessed unto, as such, by the concurring Testim••Page 3 of all Christian Churches, in all Ages, from the Apostles times to this day.
Q. If you receive the Scriptures themselves by Traditi∣•n, why may you not receive other Traditions likewise, with equal veneration, as part of your Rule?
A. The word Tradition is used in a double sense; some∣times as it signifies the Delivery of a thing, and sometimes 〈◊〉 it denotes the thing delivered. That Universal Tradition whereby we receive the Scriptures, is no part of Doctrine •elivered, but only the Instrument, or means of conveying that Doctrine, and therefore tho necessary to bring the Rule to us, is yet no part of our Rule; as the water of a remote, but excellent Fountain, which quencheth my •hirst, could not come to me, if there were not a channel to convey it, yet it is the water alone that refresheth me, not the Channel: Therefore if by Traditions (taking the word in the latter signification) be understood any mat∣ters of Faith or Practise imposed as necessary to Salvation, not comprehended in the Holy Scriptures, nor capable of full proof from them, but said to be otherwise derived from the Apostles by Tradition, (that is, either by word of mouth, or in the Writings of fallible men) we think our selves not bound to receive the same. Because,
1. That Ʋniversal Tradition which handed down to •us the Scriptures as the undoubted Word of God, has •ikewise always attested the same to be our only Rule, for the knowledg of God's will, and our Duty: By them the Primitive Christians try'd all Doctrines, by them they proved their Faith, by them they squar'd their Lives, by them they confuted Heresie; thus Irenaeus (who flourisht about the year of our Lord 180) in his Third Book, chap. 46. saith, That to lean on the Scriptures of God (which are the certain and undoubted Truth) is to build upon a sure ••d strong Rock; but to quit That, and depend on any other D•ctrines whatsoever they be, is to build a ruinous house on the 〈◊〉, or shattering Gravel, whereof the overthrow is easie. TertullianPage 4 (that lived a little after) agrees herein, calling the ••¦tures, The Rule of Faith, (Tert. cont. Hermog.) St. ••¦sostom (Hom. 3. in 2 Cor.) tells us, That they are a most quisite Rule, and an exact Square, and Ballance, to try all t•• St. Augustine [De Bon. Viduit. cap. 1.] testifies, Th• Holy Scripture hath fixed the Rule of our Doctrine, that 〈◊〉 not presume to be more wise than we ought. And St. J•• [in Matth. Lib. 1. Cap. 1.] owns, That the Holy S••¦tures are the Limits of the Church, out of [or beyond] 〈◊〉we may not go: Abundance of like Testimonies migh• brought from the most eminent Doctors in the se• Ages since, too tedious here to recite.
2ly, Because the Scriptures themselves (which h• the Word of the God of Truth, cannot deceive us) testifie of their own perfection and sufficiency, as appear• the Texts quoted in Answer to the former Quest•• and are so far from intimating, That there is any 〈◊〉suppletory Rule necessary for us to be acquainted with informing us where we should find, or how we sh•know it, that they declare the contrary, requiring 〈◊〉to think above what is written, 1 Cor. 4.6. What thing• ever I command you, observe to do it, Thou shalt not add th•• nor diminish from it, Deut. 12.32. If any man shall add 〈◊〉 these things (saith St. John, who clos'd the Sacred Ca••God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this〈◊〉 Rev. 22.18. Why do you transgress the Commandm•• God by your Traditions? Matth. 15.3. In vain do they ship me, teaching for Doctrine the Commandments of men, 〈◊〉 We have a more sure word of Prophecy, whereunto you ••y to take heed, as to a light shining in a dark place, 2 Pet. 1.•Walk not in the statutes of your forefathers, neither observ• judgments, nor defile your selves with their Idols, I a•• Lord your God, walk in my Statutes, and keep my Judg•• and do them, Ezek. 20.18. If ye be dead with Christ, 〈◊〉 the Rudiments of the world, why are you subject to Ordi•• (touch not, taste not, &c.) after the Commandments and D••Page 5•f men, which things indeed have a shew of wisdom, in will∣•• ship, and humility, and neglecting the Body? 2 Coloss. •• 20.
3ly, Because as Oral Tradition is in its own nature most •able to be falsified, and mistaken; so the advancing of •h written Traditions against, or besides the Scriptures, has •lways actually been of dangerous consequence. To prevent which, seems a main cause why the Divine Wisdom con∣signed his Truths to writing. Was it not Tradition by which the Scribes and Pharisees diminished the Integrity of 〈◊〉 Law, and corrupted the meaning thereof? Matth. 5.18. Was it not a pretended Apostolical word which first •roubled the Church of Antioch, which the Apostles as∣•embled at Jerusalem, confuted by their Epistle? Acts 15. and so they had a written Word to strengthen them against that counterfeit Tradition. How much the Churches were troubled with several Errors pretended to be re∣ceived by Tradition from this or that Apostle, or some of their Hearers, is evident in Ecclesiastical History, some of which Traditions were presently rejected, others for some time almost generally embraced, but afterwards sound to be Impostures.
4thly, Because those things obtruded by the Church of Rome as Apostolical Traditions (at least most of them) are not only besides, but contrary to Scripture; so that if they were true, the Scripture must be not only deficient, but false, and the Apostles contrary to themselves. Nor were they known, allowed, or practised by the Primitive Chur∣ches, many of them not heard of for many Ages after, none of them ever embraced by the Ʋniversal Church; so that they are far from being what they pretend to, Ca∣tholick. And therefore, tho the Fathers at Trent require he on point of Anathema, to receive their Traditions with •••al reverence as we do the Holy Scripture, we dare not do 〈◊〉 till we find them confirmed with the same, or equal •thority: And the rather, because most of them tend Page 6 not to the glory of God, or good of Souls; but •¦ly to the honour, or profit of those Persons that adv•• them; and are too apt to draw away mens hearts fr•solid Faith, and Piety, to fix them on external superf•• Performances, and to put their trust in Creatures, in••• of the Adorable Creator.
Q. Doth not the Apostle, 2 Thess. 2.15. say, Hold 〈◊〉 the Traditions which you have been taught, either by word, 〈◊〉 our Epistle?
A. Yes; But if the Gentlemen of the Roman Com••¦nion would impartially read the foregoing Verses, I thi•• they would have small reason to vouch this Text for ••¦stifying their unscriptural Traditions: St. Paul has b•• there giving a Prophetical Description of that gr••Apostacy, the Man of Sin, and Mystery of Iniquity, which 〈◊〉 after-times should over-run the Church; (And he do•• it in such graphical Characters, and lively Colours, th• as one said wittily, There never appeared any so fit to b•apprehended and charged, on such an Hue and Cry, as the Popes of Rome.) To prevent Christians from being se••∣ced by this Deceivableness of unrighteousness, the Apostle ad∣monishes them, To hold fast the Traditions, that is, the Fundamentals of Christianity, which he had taught then either by word of mouth, or Epistle; For it appears by th• word, Therefore, in the beginning of this Verse, that th• same is an Inference from the Discourse foregoing, whe• he had been treating of the grand Doctrines of the Gospe•Election, Faith in Jesus, Sanctification by the Spirit, and the Belief of the Truth, v. 13, and 14. all which are plain•• taught us in Scripture. And tho there might be some things which he had not expresly written to them of a• particular, as having now no occasion to repeat all 〈◊〉writing, which he had formerly preached unto them; yet it follows not but the same were written by him, 〈◊〉others of the inspired Pen-men, before or after. T•• strength of the Objection is no more than this, All thin•Page 7 necessary to Salvation are not contained in the First or Se∣cond Epistle to the Thessalonians, therefore not in the whole Book of God. Because St. Paul delivered to them some Doctrines by word of mouth, therefore neither he elsewhere, nor any other Apostle, recorded them, but they remain to this day unwritten: which is a ridiculous inconclusive Argument. Besides, how can they tell what these Tradi∣tions were, if no-where written? or how will they make it appear, that these Traditions, not written, yet taught by St. Paul to the Thessalonians, are the same; or any of those Traditions which they would now obtrude upon the Church?
Q. But do not Ancient Fathers frequently mention and urge Tradition?
A. Yes; But by that word, they understand, First, Of∣tentimes the Doctrine of Christianity expresly delivered in Scripture, as St. Cyprian, when he says, If either it be com∣manded in the Gospel, or contained in the Epistles, or Acts of the Apostes, let this holy Tradition certainly be observed. [Cypr. ad Pomp.]
Secondly, Sometimes by unwritten Traditions, they mean no more than such things which are not in express words found in the Scripture, but yet are contained therein, and deducible thence by right and just consequence: Thus for Example; They call the baptizing of Christians Chil∣dren a Tradition; but yet still they omit not to prove the same by Scripture. And therefore when Irenaeus speaks of Traditions, he saith they were, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, all agreeable to the Scriptures.
Thirdly, By Traditions sometimes they intend only cer∣tain indifferent Rites, Ceremonies or Observances; And thus St. Jerome says, Every Province ahounds in its own sense, and thinks the Precepts of their Ancestors Apostolical Laws. [Hier. ad Lucium.]
Fourthly, Some of them sometimes by mistake, men∣tion under the name of Apostolical Traditions, matters which Page 8 were not so; As that Infants should receive the Sacramen• the Lord's Supper; That Christ should reign on Earth a th•¦sand years; the first of which is now wholly rejected 〈◊〉 Christians; the other maintained but by very few, 〈◊〉 that too, not on the account of Tradition, but ground• (as they fancy) on some Texts of Scripture.
Fifthly, Sometimes the Fathers having to do with H•¦ties that excepted against the Scriptures, or cavill'd 〈◊〉 them as defective without Tradition; do by way of A•¦gument ad hominem, appeal unto, and press them w•• the universal Tradition of the Church, not thereby to ad¦vance any Doctrines which were not sufficiently provabl• by Scriptures, but only to stop the mouths of Gain-sayers by the same medium which themselves so much pretended to.
To one of these five Heads all Testimonies which th•Romanists can produce out of the Fathers are reducible and so make nothing for their Traditions of Faith, besides or contrary to Scripture: For so far were the Fathers from maintaining such, that by Scripture they opposed and over∣threw them, as St. Hierom teaches us.— As for those things (saith he) which without the Authority and Testimonies of Scrip∣ture, they (viz. any Heretics) feign and hold of their o•• accord, as by Apostolical Tradition; the Sword of God (that 〈◊〉 his Word) cuts them in pieces; Hier. in Haggaeum, Cap. 1.
And I have the longer insisted hereon, because th•• Fort of Traditions seems to be one of the main Posts of Po•¦pery.
Q. What say you concerning the Books commonly call'd Apocrypha?
A. The Church (publickly as well as privately) rea• some parts of them, for Example of Life, and Instruction of Manners; but it doth not acknowledg them to be D•¦vinely inspired, so as thereon to establish any Article o• Faith.Page 9
Q. For what Reasons?
A. Because, First, They were not received as Divine ••ipture by the Jewish Church (to whom were committed the ••acles of God, Rom. 3.2.) Now if they had rejected any •rt of the Canon of the Old Testament, Christ, who so •ten taxes them for misinterpreting Scriptures, and pre∣••ing their own Traditions, would no doubt, for this, ••ch more have reproved them.
Secondly, Because all the Canonical Books of the Old •estament were written by Prophets, and in the Tongue •sed by Prophets, viz. Hebrew, or Chaldee, and do bear •itness to Christ, and were accordingly made use of by •im, and his Apostles. But such are not these Apocryphal ••ks; for all agree, That Malachy was the last of the •rophets, and that then began the sealing of Prophecy, as •he Jews call it. Now that some of these Books were •ritten after his time, plainly appears by Ecclesiasticus•nd the Macchabees. And for the other, that bear the •ames of Prophets, there is no certainty that they were wrote by those to whom they are attributed; nor are any of them written in Hebrew, or Chaldee, (then the Jews vul∣gar Tongue) but in Greek; nor does our Lord, or his Apostles (tho in the New Testament they cite above 120 distinct Texts out of the Old) once cite any of them, or make use of their Testimony as Prophetical: For if (as so•e suppose) there be in one or two places an allusion to some of their Expressions, yet will that no more prove them Canonical, unless they had been referred to as such, than it does the Works of Aratus, Menander, and Epime∣nides (three Heathen Poets) that from each of them a Sen∣tence is occasionally mention'd in Holy Writ; (The first, Acts 17.28. the second, 1 Cor. 15.33. and the third, Tit. 1.12.)
Thirdly, These Books contain some things false, super∣stitions, and contradictory both to the Canonical Scriptures, and themselves; as will appear, by comparing what is said, Page 10 in Judith 9.2. with Gen. 34.30. and 49.6. or th•Baruch 1.1. with Jeremy 43.6. or 1 Macc. 6.8. with with the 2 Macc. 1.13. Or both these last places, 〈◊〉 the 9th Chapter of the same 2d Book of Macc. v. 28. the Apochryphal Esther, Ch. 11.12. with the Cano•Esther 2.16. And Chap. 12.5. of the Apocryphal, 〈◊〉Chap. 6.3. of the true Esther; so Tobit 5.12. the A• maketh a Lye; and the 2 Mace. 14.42. commen•Self-murther; and Chap. 12.45. Sacrifice for the D• even those that dyed in Idolatry.
Fourthly, Because (for all the aforesaid Reasons, 〈◊〉 many others) these Books were not received into the C• by the Primitive Church, as the Ancient Fathers pla•• testify; and therefore they have been always call'd doubtful Authority; nor were the same ever imposed any General Council, (for that call'd the 3d of Carth• about the year 400. was only Provincial, nor are all 〈◊〉 Canons, particularly the 26th, received by the Roma• themselves) until the last Age in that pretended one•Trent, 1546 years after our Lords Incarnation, at whi•• time there were not in all of those that had Votes, ab• fifty Persons, or thereabouts present, and the far grea• part of them Italians, and all the Popes Creatures; a v•• thin Representative of the Universal Church through• the whole World.
Q. But doth the Authority of Scripture depend on th• Testimony of the Church?
A. No; for that were to make the words of the ••¦ster to receive their Authority from the Servant. A F•¦thers Letters to derive the Credit with his Son, mee• from the Post that brings them; and the Rule to ha• dependance on the thing Ruled; nor should we by t••Medium, be able to prove the Scriptures to be G•• Word against an Atheist, or Heathen, with whom 〈◊〉 Authority of the Church signifies little; nor indeed sho•• we ever know that there were any Church at all, or 〈◊〉Page 11 least, what Authority it has, but by the Scriptures; which 〈◊〉 not therefore of Divine Authority, because the Church•eclares them so to be, but the Church hath declared them ••ch, because it knew them to be of such Authority.
Q. Is then the Testimony of the Church of no ••ice?
A. The Voice or Attestation of the Ʋniversal Church•s a Ministerial Testimony, which ought reverently to be •egarded, as that which is profitable to prepare the heart, •nd by raising an Historical Faith, makes room for that which is Divine; whence the Church is called the Pillar•nd Ground of Truth, 1 Tim. 3.15. But still the Kings Proclamation receives not its Authority from the Pillar on which it is affixed, nor the Candle its light from the Candlestick that supports or holds it forth.
The Churches Testimony is inviting, and may, and ought to be prevalent with those who as yet know not the Scriptures, and have not received the sincere Milk of the Word, 1 Pet. 2.2. In which Sense, that famous saying of St. Augustin, is to be understood, I had not known the Scriptures, had not the Church told me which were the Scriptures. But in those who have tasted the sweetness of this Coelestial Manna, the Testimony of the Scriptures themselves, and of the Holy Ghost, is most firm and ef∣fectual; for as he that tasteth Honey himself, hath a more sure knowledg of its sweetness, than he that believeth an∣other, speaking and witnessing of it; so he knoweth more assuredly the Scriptures to be God's Word, who has felt its Divine power on his own soul, than he who only gives credit to the Church attesting the same, as the Sa∣maritans at first believed the woman when she spake of Christ, but after they had heard Christ himself, tell her, Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we have heard him our selves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world, Joh. 4.42.Page 12
Q. What Arguments are there, besides the Test•••¦ny of the Church, to prove the Scriptures to come f•• God?
A. Five things (amongst many others) do especi•• evince the same, 1st, The Antiquity of it, far exceed the most Ancient Human Writings, and containing 〈◊〉Discoveries as Man without Divine Inspiration could ••¦ver have attained to. 2ly, Its miraculous Preserv•• in all Ages, against the Rage of Satan and mali•• Endeavours of Tyrants to destroy it. 3ly, Its wonder•• and supernatural Effects, in convincing, converting, a•• comforting the Soul; The word of God is quick and powe•¦ful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, a discoverer of 〈◊〉 thoughts and intents of the heart, Heb. 4.12. 4ly, T•• Marks of Divinity and Lineaments of heavenly Wisd•• that plainly appear in it, viz. Its Majesty, Purity, Pe••∣ction, holy and admirable Scope, profound and gloriou•Revelations, incomparable Promises, dreadful Threatnings, &c. 5ly, The Seals of Divine Authority annexed to it, viz. The Spirit of Prophesy, foretelling future Events, (when the word of the Prophet shall come to pass, then shall be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him, Jer. 28.9.) And the Power of working famous and illustrious ••¦racles, to confirm the Doctrine therein delivered; W• know thou art a Teacher come from God, for no man could 〈◊〉 the MIRACLES which thou dost, except God be with h•• Joh. 3.2.
Q. Ought the Scriptures to be read and heard by Peo∣ple of all Ranks and Conditions?
A. Yes: The Lord frequently commands and com∣mends the Reading of them by, and to the People, as Isa. 34.16. Seek ye the book of the Lord, and read. Matth. 22.19. Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures. Col. 3.1•Let the word of God dwell richly in you: To this very e• they were written; and therefore in the new Te••∣ment, we see some Books directed to a Noble Person,Page 13 Luke 1. Acts 1. To a Lady, 2 John v. 1. To young Men, 1 John 2.13. To old Men, v. 14. To all Saints, or Christians, Rom. 1.7. 1 Cor. 1.2. as likewise the General Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude: We and them studied by the Ethiopian Eunuch, Acts 8.32. Diligently searcht into by the Beraeans, who are there∣fore intituled Noble, Acts 17.11. Perused by godly Wo∣men, as Lois and Eunice, training up Timothy from his Childhood therein, 2 Tim. 1. and 5. compar'd with Ch. 3.15. A special and solemn Charge is given for their being publickly read, — I charge you by the Lord, that this Epistle he read unto all the holy Brethren, 1 Thess. 5.27. When this Epistle is read amongst you, cause that it be read also in the Church of the Laodicaeans, Col. 4.16.
Q. Ought not then the Scriptures to be Translated in∣to the Vulgar Tongues, to the end they may be heard, read, and understood of all?
A. Yes undoubtedly; for since 'tis the Duty of com∣mon Christians thus diligently to peruse, and hear the Word of God, the same must certainly be in such a Tongue as they understand, otherwise it would be a Mockery, ra∣ther than to Edification, as is required, 1 Cor. 14.26. Thus when God gave a Law to the Jews, it was in their own Language; and all the Prophets wrote in a Tongue that the common People understood. And between two and three hundred Years before Christ's coming in the Flesh, the Old Testament (as an Harbinger to prepare the Gentiles for the Reception of the blessed Tidings of the Gospel) was by God's Providence turned into Greek, and afterwards the New Testament written in the same Language, as being the common Tongue, or at least ge∣nerally understood through a great Part of the then known World; and yet, that none might be destitute of these Waters of Life, soon after the Apostles times, the Holy Scriptures, especially the Books of the New Testament, were Translated into several other Languages, by Holy Page 14 and Learned Men, who were desirous to promote 〈◊〉 Gospel in their respective Countrys; of which (amo•• the rest) the Vulgar Latin Version, so much magnified 〈◊〉 the Church of Rome, is an instance; for Latin being the• the Mother-Tongue of the Romans, and understood by t•• common People of divers Countreys which they ha•• conquered; the Bible for their Sakes was translated ou• of the Hebrew and Greek, into that Language; and is a not a strange turn, and highly Unjust and Uncharitable, That what was first done for the Benefit of common People, to let them into the Knowledg of the Scriptures, should now be made use of, to debar them of it? That the Latin Version composed for them that understood o•• other Language, should be imposed on those that under∣stand not a word thereof, and no other Translation com∣monly allowed them?
Q. But are not these Holy Books, tho Translated into such Languages as the People understand, yet so Obscure, as may Discourage Humble unlearned Christians from perusing or hearing them read?
A. No, but on the contrary, so plain, as thereby they may reap wonderful benefit and advantage to their Souls, Thy word is a light unto my feet, and a lanthorn to my paths, Psal. 119.105. And again, The entrance of thy word gives Light, it giveth understanding to the Simple. Hence St. Augu∣stin saith, [Ser. 55.] It is not sufficient that ye hear the Di∣vine Scriptures in the Church, but also in your Houses, either read them your selves, or else desire some others to read them, and give diligent ear thereunto. St. Jerome on Coloss. 3.16. Well, see here, (says he) that Lay-people should have not only a com∣petent, but abundant knowledg of the Scriptures, so that one may be able to instruct another. And elsewhere he writes several Epistles to Devout Women, as to Paula, Eustrochi∣um, Salvina, Demetria, Furia, Celantia, and others, commend∣ing them for their reading and studying the Scriptures. Par∣ticularly he advises one Laeta, how She should bring up Page 15 her Daughter in learning the Holy Scriptures, to read 〈◊〉 the Psalter, then Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and Job,••d so to go on to the Gospels; after those the Prophets, ••ses and other Historical Books; whereby the Ancient Fathers Judgment appears in this matter; and in fact, abundance of Christians had Bibles by them, which the Heathen Persecutors would force them to deliver up, looking upon them then to have as good as renoun∣ced their Religion; and accordingly such as did part with them, were branded by their Brethren, with the igno∣••lous Name of Traditors, Bible-deliverers. And indeed, the true Reason why the Church of Rome would keep the Scriptures from the people, is not their Obscurity (whatever they pretend) but because they are too plain, that is, do evidently condemn several Doctrines and Pra∣ctises now currant in that Church; for who can seri∣ously read the second Commandment, and yet worship Ima∣ges? Who can impartially peruse the Fourteenth Chapter of St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians, and yet think Prayers in an unknown Tongue justifiable or available? Who will not doubt of Transubstantiation, that finds the Holy Elements in the Lords-Supper several times called Bread by the Apostle, after Consecration, as well as before? &c.
Q. But they object, That the common Liberty for all to read the Scriptures, doth breed, or is the occasion of Heresies?
A. The Scripture it self teaches the contrary, That Ignorance thereof is the cause of Error, Mat. 22.29. Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures. 2ly, It gives us another account whence Errors and Heresies do arise, as from en∣ticing words, vain Philosophy, and Fallacies, and Rudiments of this world, Col. 2.4, & 8. From Counterfeit Apostolical Traditions, Act. 15.24. From pretended Revelations of the Spirit, a feigned word, and forged writings, 2 Thes. 2.2. From Satans strange delusions in the man of sin, and his fol∣lowers, and their Lying Signs and Wonders, seducing peo∣ple, Page 16 2 Thes. 2.9. Revel. 13.14. 3ly, Christ by th••¦tures confuted the Heresie of the Sadduces; and 〈◊〉same the Apostles convinc'd the Jews, and the Pri• Fathers the several Heresies of their times; when•••¦tullian calls Heretics Lucifugae Scripturarum, such 〈◊〉 the Light of the Scriptures: And Chrysostom (in 〈◊〉Lazar.) saith, The ignorance of the Scriptures hath b••••¦resies: And in Hom. 58. on John, the same Father 〈◊〉 us, That the Scriptures do lead us unto God, do driue 〈◊〉 Heretics, and do not suffer us to •o out of the way: S• plain, the Scriptures are so far from being the occas•• Heresies, that it is the only weapon wherewith to 〈◊〉 and subdue them.
Q. They do not say, That the Scripture of its self, 〈◊〉 as it may be abused, or misunderstood, is the occasio•〈◊〉Heresies; and therefore the allowing the promis•• reading thereof, is dangerous; for does not St. Peter〈◊〉 notice, that there are many things hard to be understood, 〈◊〉 the ignorant and unstable wrest to their own destruction?
A. Does it follow, because there are some diff•• passages in St. Paul's Epistles, (for of them St. 〈◊〉 speaks) therefore the whole Bible must be lockt up 〈◊〉 common use? Or does he not rather write Epistles h••¦self to be read by all? Why should the Scriptures be •¦fined, since the fault is in men, and not in them? wh• the Devil himself abused Scripture, did not our Savio•Scripture silence him? Or why do they in this respect 〈◊〉 the Scriptures should breed Heresies more in the 〈◊〉people than in the Learned, and the Priests? Since 'tis e•¦dent that the first Broachers of the most decry'd Her••• were very Learned, as Arius a Presbyter, Macedonius a ••¦shop, Pelagius a Monk, and Eutiches an Abbot of old, and ••¦cinus and others of late; insomuch that St. Jerome saith •¦man can (or does usually) frame an Heresie, but he th• of great parts; whilst persons of Learning and know 〈◊〉 by presuming to be wise above what is written, have 〈◊〉Page 17〈◊〉ambition, and for Secular Ends embroil the Church, men 〈◊〉 meaner Capacities, but of more piety and humility have, 〈◊〉 the benefit of the Holy Scriptures, been preserved in the 〈◊〉•••th. Besides, by reasoning thus from the abuse, ei∣ther through ignorance, or wilfulness in any thing, we ••uld disallow every thing: we must not eat, because some 〈◊〉Gluttons; nor taste Wine, because too many are daily 〈◊〉drunk with it; nor use the Art of Rhetorie, because some 〈◊〉 set their Tongues to sale; nor Logic, because not a few pervert it from the Right End, to Jangling Sophistry; Last∣ly, if in pure kindness, to prevent the danger of Souls, the Church of Rome will not trust them with these Holy Books, why does she provide others for them, viz. Fabulous Le∣gends, Images and Pictures, (which they call Lay-mens Books) in which there is much more danger, as from whence they are likelier far to learn Superstition and Idolatry, than any thing that will promote true Faith, and solid Piety?
Q. You have fully satisfied me, as to the Divine Auth•∣•ity of the Scriptures; That they are our Rule, and fully sufficient; as also that they ought to be translated and read •y all Christians for their Guidance and Comfort; There∣fore, I pray, proceed, and tell me briefly what the Scrip∣tures teach us concerning God?
A. That he is a Spirit, having his being of himself, infinite, Eternal, Incomprehensible, and unchangeable in his Being, Wisdom, Power, Holiness, Justice, Good∣ness and Truth, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and Soveraign Lord of all things.
Q. How many Gods are there?
A. There is but one only living true God — Deut. 6.4. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. 1 Cor. 8.6. ••at to us there is but one God, the Father of whom are all ••ngs?
Q. Is God one only Person also?
A. No, There are in the Godhead Three Persons, the Page 18Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these Three〈◊〉 one God, the same in substance, equal in Power 〈◊〉 Glory. John 5.7. There are THREE that bear record 〈◊〉 Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and t•• Three are one. 2 Cor. 13.33. The Grace of our Lord Jes•• Christ, and the Love of God, and the Communion of the H••• Ghost be with you all. Matth. 28.19. Baptize them in 〈◊〉 name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: not in the na••• but in the name, to denote the Ʋnity of the Trinity.
Q. How did God in the beginning create Man?
A. Good and upright, after his own Image; that is endued with Knowledg, Righteousness and Holiness, Gen. 1.27. Eph. 4.24.
Q. Did Man continue in that good Estate?
A. No; our First Parents being left to the freedom o• their own Will, did through, and by the Enticements of Satan, fall from that happy Condition, by transgressing God's Law, in eating of the forbidden Fruit.
Q. Did all Mankind sin in Adam?
A. Yes; For we being all in his Loins, and the Co∣venant made with him, not as a private Person, or only for himself, but for his Posterity too, as their common Pa∣rent; all Mankind descending from him by ordinary Ge∣neration, fell with him into an Estate of Sin and Misery Rom. 5.19. By one Man's Disobedience many were made Si•∣ners, &c. Psal. 51.5. I was shapen in iniquity, and i• s•• did my Mother conceive me.
Q. What were the Consequents of this Transgression?
A. All Mankind forfeited Original Righteousness, and became corrupt in their whole nature (which is commonly call'd Original Sin) and prone to Actual Transgressions in thought, word and deed, and consequently, lost Commu∣nion with God, and are under his Wrath and Curse; an• so became justly liable to all Miseries in this life; and no• only to death of the Body, but also spiritual Death, an• the pains of Hell for ever. Gen. 6.5. The whole ima••¦••n Page 19 of mans heart is evil, only evil, and that continually. ••es. 2.3. We were by nature children of wrath, as well as ••rs. Rom. 6.23. The wages of sin is death.
Q. Is the corruption of nature it self, and all the mo∣•ons of it, truly and properly sin, even in those who are •egenerated? Or hath Lust and Concupiscence of it self, the nature of sin, though a man doth not consent to act and fulfil it?
A. The motions of the mind to evil are of Three sorts, 1. Such as are rejected as soon as they arise: 2ly, Such as remain a while, and affect the soul with some delight: 3ly, Such as both affect the mind with desire, and a man doth resolve to put them into practice. There is no Con∣troversie about the third sort, but the dispute is touching the first and second only, which indeed are forbidden in the Tenth Commandment. For motions of the third sort are for∣bidden in other Commandments, as appears by our Savi∣our's Exposition in Mat. 5.22, 28. And motions of the first and second sort are sinful, because they proceed from evil, and tend to it. Hence the Apostle Paul does more than once call Concupiscence, or lust, sin; I had not known sin, but by the Law; I had not known lust, except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet, Rom. 7.7. With the mind I serve the Law of God, with the flesh the Law of sin, v. 25. The flesh lusteth against the spirit, Gal. 5.17. And the belo∣ved Apostle tells us, Lust is not of the Father, 1 Joh. 2.16.
Q. Are there any sins of their own nature Venial, that is, so small, that they do not deserve the wrath and curse of God, and everlasting death?
A. No; for though there be great differences in the degrees of sin, yet all in their own nature are mortal; for whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and offend in one point, •is guilty of all, Jam. 2.10. Cursed is every one that doth 〈◊〉 continue in all things written in the Law, Gal. 3.10. The •is of sin is death, and the gift of God eternal life, Rom. 6.• In which last Text, by Death, must be meant Eternal Page 20 Death, as appears by its being opposed to Life Everlast•• The Ground of this mistake about Sins Venial, seem•〈◊〉 be, that they take the measures of the nature of sin, from the act which is finite, and not from the Object thereby offended, which is infinite. For all sin becomes infinite 〈◊〉 demerit, because committed against an Infinite God, wh•• purity will not bear with the least sin: The offence o•Lot's Wife in looking back, or the man's in gathering st•• on the Sabbath, may seem small, but both proved mortal, That, for the purging away of which the Blood of Christ is necessary, must in its own nature be mortal, or deserve Eternal Death; But for the purging away of all and every sin the Blood of Christ is necessary. For it is the Blo•d •f Jesus that cleanseth us from all (or every) sin and unrighteous∣ness, 1 Joh. 1.7, 9. Nor is it of any moment to say, Th•• Venial sin is that, which although it does weaken ••e love of God, and our neighbour in the soul, yet does not abso∣lutely destroy it: For there is not any sin but is repugn••t to Charity (or the love of God and our Neighbour); For every sin is a transgression of the Law, but the end and sum of the Law is Charity, Mat. 22.37, 39. Can any so seem less than the Concupiscence of the heart, suddenly ari∣sing by an object to the sight; and yet for a man to s•• woman and lust after her, our Saviour pronounces to be adultery, Mat. 5.28. And Whoremongers and Adulterers 〈◊〉 excluded the Kingdom of Heaven, 1 Cor. 6.9.
Q. Did God leave all mankind to perish in this state of Sin and Misery?
A. No, but of his infinite Love, free Grace and Mercy, hath provided means, both to satisfie his own Justice, and yet reconcile Man to himself by a Redeemer: God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life, John 3.16.
Q. Who is our Redeemer?
A. Our only Redeemer and Mediator, is the 〈◊〉 JESUS Christ, who being the Eternal Son of God,〈◊〉Page 21 second Person in the Holy Trinity, did in the fulness of ••e, become Man, and so was, and continueth to be 〈◊〉and Man, in two distinct Natures inseparably united •f one Person for ever.
1 Tim. 2.5. For there is one God; and one Mediator be∣••een God and man, the man Christ Jesus.
1 John 1.4. And the word was made flesh, and dwelt a∣••gst us (and we beheld his Glory, the Glory as of the only ••g•tten of the Father) full of grace and truth.
Rom. 9.5. Whose are the Fathers, and of whom as con∣•••ing the flesh Christ came, who is over all God blessed for ever.
Col. 2.9. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the God∣••ad bodily.
Heb. 7.24. But this man because he continueth ever, hath 〈◊〉•nchangeable priesthood.
Q. How did Christ, being the Eternal Son of God, be∣come Man?
A. By assuming to bimself a true Body, and a reasonable Soul, being conceived by the Power of the Holy Ghost, In the Womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, and born of her without Sin,—Behold! thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call his name Jesus, Luke 1.31. and v. 35. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest over-shadow thee. Heb. 7.25. Such an high priest become us, as is holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners.
Q. Why was this necessary?
A. Because otherwise the mighty work of Reconcilia∣•••n could not be effected, unless he that was to be the Mediator between God and Man, were conjoined to, and of the same nature with either party, and consequently both God and Man.
Q. Why must he be God?
A. That he might be able to bear the weight of Divine wrath, and pay a sufficient Ransome for sin, and be the Head of the Church, and repair his Image in us, conquer∣ing the Enemies of our Salvation, and defend us against ••m.Page 22
Q. And why man?
A. Because the strictness of God's Justice required th• the same nature that sinned, should suffer; He there••• took our nature, first, That he might suffer Death for 〈◊〉 2ly, To Sanctifie our Nature: 3ly, That we might have access with greater boldness to the Throne of Grace, H•• 2.14. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same, that through de•• he might destroy him that had the power of death, which is t•• Devil. Heb. 4.15. We have not an High Priest which ca•• be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in 〈◊〉 points tempted as we are, yet without sin; let us therefore 〈◊〉 boldly to the Throne of Grace.
Q. What Offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A. Of a Prophet, in revealing to us by his Word and Spirit, the will of God, for our Salvation: Of a Priest, in once offering up himself a Sacrifice, to satisfie Divine Justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making conti∣nual Intercession for us to God; and of a King, in van∣quishing Death, Sin and Hell, by his Crucifixion, Resur∣rection, and Ascension, as also in subduing us to himself by his Grace, thereby ruling and defending us, and re∣straining and conquering all his and our Enemies.
Q. By what means are we made partakers of Christ and all his Benefits?
A. By a lively FAITH in him (begotten by the Word of God read, or Preached) attended with a sincere O∣BEDIENCE to the Gospel, both which are encreased by Prayer, and the due Receiving of the SACRAMENTS Instituted by our Blessed Saviour.
Q. Where have you a brief Summary of the Christian Faith?
A. In that Creed commonly called the Apostles,— I believe in God the Father Almighty, &c.
Q. What do you mean when in the Creed you say, I believe the Catholick Church?Page 23
A. The word Catholic is originally Greek, and signi∣f•• as much in English as Whole, or Ʋniversal; and so ••••lic Church, 1. Properly signifies the whole Church of God Triumphant and Militant, even as many as ever shall be saved, the Universal company of the Elect, who are all but one body, knit together in one Faith, under one H••d, viz. the Lord Jesus Christ, Gal. 3.28. For ye are all one in Christ. Ephes. 4.4. There is one body, and one spi∣rit, even as ye are called in one hope. And this is the sense of the word in the Creed, which we use there to signifie, That we believe, that notwithstanding all the endeavours of Satan, this holy Elect-company shall always remain, and be compleated; and not only that there is such a Church in general, but that we our selves appertain to it; this Catholick Church is frequently stiled in Scripture, The Body and Spouse of Christ; as also, The Ʋniversal Assembly of the first-born written in Heaven, Heb. 12.23. Jerusalem which is above, the Mother of us all, Gal. 4.26. Of whom therefore that famous saying of St. Cyprian is most pro∣perly to be understood, — How can he have God for his Father, that hath not the Church for his Mother? At least, that he meant it not of the Church of Rome is evident, because himself at the same time stood out in opposition to Her, and wrote against her Bishop (how justly, is no∣thing to the present purpose) in the Point of Rebaptizing such as had been Baptized by Hereticks, and returned to the Orthodox Church: Of the Catholick Church in this sense St. Augustine in his Tract de Catechizandis rudibus, cap. 1. speaks thus, All they that be holy and sanctified, which are, have been, and shall be, are Citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem. And Gregory a Pope (if that will make the proof more Authentick) Mor. in Job, Lib. 28. cap. 9.
2ly, The Epithet Catholic when joined to Church in a less proper sense, is used to express only the whole VisiblePage 24 or Militant Church; and seems first to have grown in•• General use, (though I remember it not in Scripture) 〈◊〉 the Primitive times, to denote the Extension of the Churc• of God, as no longer confin'd to the Jews, but the pa••¦tion-wall (as the Apostle speaks, Ephes. 2.14.) being bro•• down, Universally spread abroad in every Nation (Jew o• Gentile) where the Gospel was preached and entertain∣ed: And thus it comprehends all the several Churches o• the face of the Earth, as of Jerusalem, Antioch, Britain, Rome, &c. and all Christians in those Churches, whether Sincere, or Hypocrites, that make an outward profession of Faith in Christ; as all the Boughs of a Tree, however spread and scattered, one from another, and some dead and withering, whilst others flourish, are united in one common stem, tho not equally deriving Sap from the Root.
3ly, In this latter restrained signification, as it deno∣ted all the particular Churches in the world, so when the Donatists about the fourth Century, began to hold Erro∣neous opinions, and withal to confine the Church of God to those of their own Sect, in a corner of Africk; St. Augustine, and others, frequently urged against them, That the Church was Catholic, (that is, Ʋniversal, not coope up to their narrow Limits) and maintain'd a sounder Do∣ctrine; whence it came to pass, that though the more Ancient Fathers never used this term Catholic, to distin∣guish the pure Church from the Heretical, but called the former Orthodox, that is holding the right Doctrine; yet in process of time by reason that the Orthodox Churches held and maintain'd the Church of Christ to be Catholic, or Universal, these two words Catholic and Orthodox, were taken in one and the same signification; nor was it incon∣gruous; for if Churches did faithfully keep the Gospel in∣tire, which had been Preached by the Apostles every where, both such Churches and Doctrines might justly be intitled Catholic. And in this sense a particular Church, Page 25 as pure and Orthodox, may be called A Catholic Church,•••ot The Catholic Church; and is more or less Catholic,•••ortionably as it is more or less pure.
Q Does the Title of the Catholic Church in any of these 〈◊〉 senses belong to the present Church of Rome?
A. No; not in the first, for then all the faithful under a• Old Testament, and vast numbers of Churches and Christians since, and at this day, (far exceeding for mul∣••de her members) that never were, nor are of her Com∣••on, (that is, never own'd themselves subject to the Pope ••ome, as the alone visible Head of the Church, which 〈◊〉 them is the Characteristic-mark of being of their Church, (Vide Extrav. C. Ʋnam Sanctam, & Bellarmin. de Eccles. Mil. Lib. 3. Cap. 2. & 5.) must be excluded the Kingdom of Heaven. Nor will they (I think) pretend, That all and every of their Members are undoubtedly saved;•o they offer abundance more, and easier ways for that purpose than Almighty God hath revealed in his Word.
Not in the second; Because the Church of Rome ever ••s and is a particular Church; and (when at best) but one member of the Church Catholic, which is so called, not that it is always every where; but for that no Country is excluded, nor any place priviledged; so that there may be a thousand Churches besides that of Rome, and no place being priviledged, even Rome it self, may be cut off from the Church. For particular Churches may not only be corrupted, but totally fail and Apostatize; for tho they may be called Catholic, as long as they hold the Primitive Faith intire, yet that imports not, That a Catholic (that is in this sense a• Orthodox) Church, must always be where once it has been. For in what a condition now are the once famous seven Churches of Asia? where are the Churches of ••••ge, of Hippo, &c. And therefore Vincentius Lyrinensis••stly makes a difference between a Catholic in place, and 〈◊〉•ime:
Neither can the present Church of Rome in the 〈◊〉 sence be properly stiled Catholic; for thereby is me••pure Church, that holds intire the Ancient Primitive D•¦ctrine delivered by Christ and his Apostles, without 〈◊〉 Corruptions that may endanger, or overthrow the san• But we can prove, and 'tis apparent, That she is deep guilty by altering and diminishing Christ's Ordinan•• adding to the Scriptures and Sacraments; Introducing, a• imposing as necessary to Salvation, divers Doctrines 〈◊〉 practices that have no ground in Scripture, and wee unknown to the Primitive Church. Nay, as for tr•• Christian and Apostolical Antiquity (the only Root and essential Character of Catholic Doctrine) they cannot name any one Article proper to their own Roman Fa•• that in this sense is Ancient: And as to those Articles which they have in common with us, 'tis sad to consider how they abuse them, and almost subvert the whole design of the Gospel by the intermixture of their peculiar Roman ones.
Q. We shall have occasion further to consider this af∣terwards in particulars; But in the mean time are not you wanting in your Enumeration; For the Advocates of Rome alledge, That tho they do not reckon her to be the Catholic Church collectively, or extensively; yet she 〈◊〉 so virtually and eminently; because she has Power over, and the Government of all other Christian Churches?
A. Tho this notion of calling a particular Church, Catholic, from a supposed power of Empire over all other Churches, be very odd, and altogether unknown to Antiquity; yet the greater difficulty is in the thing it self How it can be made appear, That the Roman Church has any such lawful power: For 1st. There is not the le•• ground or colour for it in Holy Scripture; And how could the Apostle say, That he had revealed the whole co••••Page 27〈◊〉 God, if so important a point, so absolutely necessary (as they pretend) for preventing Schisms, crushing Er∣••s, and preserving Ʋnity and Truth, were concealed and left in the dark? But so far silent are the Scriptures herein, That the whole New Testament, where there is mention of so many other Churches by name, contains not any such words as The Church of Rome: For tho we are satisfied there was a Church there, (and very famous too, for its vigour of Faith and Piety) yet this omission of calling it so in Divine Writ, may seem designed, as a 〈◊〉 to its future Usurpations. But 2ly, As the Church or Bishops of Rome for several hundreds of years never claim'd, or exerted this power, (for as for their swarms of pretended Decretal Epistles, they have long since by all wise men been exploded as spurious) so it was unknown to, unheard of amongst the Primitive Churches and Fa∣thers; As for instance, St. Cyprian and St. Augustine, who are all for keeping close to the Catholick Church, yet zea∣lous at the same time against submitting themselves, or their Churches, to the pleasure of that of Rome. How insolent were most of the Fathers towards the Bishops of Rome of their times, if they believed them their Mo∣narchs, to treat them commonly in so familiar a stile as that of their Brethren and Fellow Servants, and no more? When did St. Chrysostom, or St. Basil swear Canonical Obe∣dience to his Holiness? How much Money did they send to Rome, when they obtained from thence their Episcopal Pall? Nay, Did not Pope Gregory himself, 600 years af∣ter Christ, express his abhorrence of the Title of Ʋni∣versal Bishop, as a mark of Antichrist? 3ly, We have the Testimony of another that was afterwards Pope him∣self—That before the Nicene-Council, other Christian Churches little regarded the Roman Church; [Aen. Syl. Epist. I. 1. Epis. 288.] And all the World may know both how shamefully two Canons forged on that Nicene Council, by the Bishops of Rome, to colour their designed Page 28Ʋsurpation in the matters of Appeal, were detected 〈◊〉 Council of Carthage, about the year 418. And how •¦ous, a Traytor, Rebel, and Murtherer of his Sove•• first bestow'd on them the Title of Ʋniversal Bishops•¦bout the year 604.
Q. But they say, this Catholick Power is derived to 〈◊〉 by lawful Succession from St. Peter, who had it given 〈◊〉 by Christ; and that he being Bishop of Rome, beque•• it to their Popes, his Successors in that Chair. Th•¦fore I demand, first, Whether St. Peter were Prince of Apostles, That is, had a Soveraign Power over them, 〈◊〉 consequently over all the Churches by them any w•• planted?
A. Not at all: For the Apostles had all equal Po•• and Authority — Jesus said (speaking to the Apos•• themselves) the Princes of the Gentiles exercise Dom•• but it shall not be so amongst you, Matt. 8.25. The rest 〈◊〉 the Apostles sent as well Peter, as John, on a Messa••Acts 8.14. How improper had that been, if he h•• been their Soveraign? I was not (saith St. Paul, 2 〈◊〉 11.5.) a whit inferior to the very chiefest of the Apostles,〈◊〉 And again, When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood 〈◊〉 to the face, because he was to be blamed: Nay St. Peter him¦self, in his Epistles, as he qualifies himself only with the title of an Apostle, 1 Pet. 1. and chap. 5.1. of an Eld•• and Witness of the Sufferings of Christ; so in the thi•• verse of that Chapter, he disclaims in himself, as well as forbids in others, the Lording over God's Heritage; — 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.
Q. What say you to that Text, Matth. 16.18. Thou 〈◊〉 Peter, and upon this Rock will I build my Church; I give 〈◊〉 to thee the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: And that repeate• endearing Expression, Feed my Lambs, feed my Sheep; Joh• 21.15, 16, 17. Was not the Government of the Ʋniversa Church hereby particularly committed to Peter?
A. In no wise any more to him, than to the other Page 29 Apostles. For as to the first Text, The Rock was not the ••son of Peter, but that good Confession he had made in the ••se foregoing; Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God: And the same Power is committed to all the rest of the Apostles, John 20.23. and Matth. 18.18. Then Jesus said 〈◊〉 Them, Whose sins ye remit, &c. And as to the second seat, The Ancient Fathers, and all sound Interpreters understand it to be rather a restitution of Peter to his Office •f an Apostle, which he might seem to have forfeited by his Fall, than a Communication of any new Sovereign Power; for he having thrice denied his Master, the Question, Whether he loved him? was thrice proposed; and that Com∣mandment of feeding Christ's Lambs and Sheep, as oft repeated, both to authorize and quicken him in that du∣ty which was equally common to the rest of the Apostles; 〈◊〉 we read, Ye (that's the Church of God) are built upon the Foundation of the Apostles, Eph. 2.20. The City had twelve Foundations, and in them the names of the twelve Apostles, Rev. 21.14.
Q. Was St. Peter Bishop of Rome?
A. St. Peter was an Apostle, and Apostles were not pro∣perly Bishops in a strict sense, because not deputed to any certain Place, but had the whole World for their Diocess; for so runs their Commission, Go you into all the World, preach the Gospel to every Creature; Mark 16.15. Peter in a peculiar manner chiefly bestow'd his Labours amongst the Jews, and this too by a special Agreement between him and Paul, Gal. 2.9. and therefore was call'd the Apostle of the Circumcision: And so far are the Scriptures from in∣timating that he was Bishop of Rome, or ever there, that the contrary may thence very probably be concluded. And for the Ancient Writers that speak of Peter's being at Rome, and suffering there, they agree not together in the Circumstances of the Story, some are Counterfeit, some Fabulous, none that lived in that, or the next Age, but 〈◊〉 uncertain.Page 30
Q. Who is the Head of the Universal Church?
A. The Scriptures say expresly that Christ is the 〈◊〉 of the Church, Col. 1.18. God hath given Christ to be 〈◊〉 ever all things, to his Church, which is his Body, Eph. 1. As the Husband is the Head of the Wife, so Christ is the 〈◊〉 of the Church, Eph. 5.23. and many other places. T•• also appears from the properties of the Head, as to 〈◊〉highest, to prescribe Laws, Jam. 4.12. To conve•• power of Life and Motion into all the Members, Ephe•• 15, 16. and lastly, to be the Saviour of the Body,— Ep• 5.23. all which solely appertain to Christ.
Q. But is not the Pope Christ's Vicar, or Supream •¦ble Head of the Universal Church on Earth?
A. Not at all; Christ never appointed any Vicar, b• the Holy Ghost, nor had any need so to do; for ever Vicar is to supply the absence of him, whose Vicar he is but Christ is always present with his Church, by h• Word, Spirit and Power; Peter himself had no such S•∣pream Headship conferred upon him above the rest of th• Apostles, as was proved before; nor was he ever Bishop of Rome, properly so called; nor can they prove he died a Rome; or if he did, that his pretended Supream Headship was successive; or that the Pope is his Successor in Life and Doctrine, or has any special Authority derived from him.
Therefore upon the whole matter we may conclude,* That the present Church of Rome is not the True, nor a truly Catholick Church. Not the Catholick Church; for this she cannot pretend to, but upon the ac∣count of an Ʋniversal Headship or Jurisdiction over all Christian Churches; which being groundless, where-ever by her wiles and outward force it does prevail, 'tis a•Encroachment; and where it does not, a Fable. Nor is she truly Catholick; either by her own proper Doctrines, La•• and Worship, which are all New, Local and Ʋn-apostolical or by those Common Principles of Christianity that she 〈◊〉Page 31•ins with us, and all other Christians, since she detains •hem in unrighteousness; not intire, but mangled, opposed, •verwhelmed, oppressed, and groaning under many hea∣vy, massy Burthens of Superstitions and Abuses. 'Tis true, If we take this mixt and confused Body (more Hete∣rogeneously compounded, than Daniel's Image, I mean the Roman Church) at the best side, as it holds yet the Fundamental Grounds of Christianity which we profess, thus far we grant it is a true Church. But if we take it at the worst, as to its proper Roman Doctrines, wherein it differs from us, no more than from all true Catholick and Apostolical Antiquity; then, if at all it may be said to be truly a Church, yet a most corrupted and infected one; And if we come to join these two incompatible parts together, in order to an absolute estimate and denominati∣on of the whole, I scarce know what Title it may deserve. The Samaritans, who both feared the Lord, and worshipped their Graven Images, 2 Kings 17.41. were without doubt Idolaters; and God threatens to cut off them that swear by the Lord and Malcham, Zeph. 1.5. What sincere Israelite would venture his Soul on the Religion of Dan and Bethel, tho they retained, and still professed to reverence Moses's Law? Nor is it to any purpose, That they call themselves, or are often called Catholics by others; for men may give themselves what Titles they are best pleased with, and yet have no right to them; And if Protestants now and then call them so, it is either out of ignorance (for many are not acquainted with the true signification of the word) or a civil Complement, in compliance with their own Custom, as sometimes we call Turks, Musulmans, (which signifies true Believers) because we hear them generally, tho most falsly, call themselves so.
Q. Is the Church Infallible, or free from Error?
A. No; For altho the Catholick Church doth not err in the Fundamentals of Faith, so as to cease to be, in which sense Christ hath promised (if that Promise relate to the Page 32 Church in general, and not only to the Apostles, as 〈◊〉 think) To be with her to the end of the World; And tha•Gates of Hell shall not prevail against her; yet she is not 〈◊〉 exempt from Error, seeing there is no Member of 〈◊〉 perfect in this Life.
But as for any particular Church (as that of Eph•• Thyatira, Rome, or the like) she may both err, and bec••• an Harlot, that is, utterly cease to be a true Churc•〈◊〉 Christ.
The Romanists that boast of Infallibility, know not wh•• 'tis lodged; some, as the Jesuits, say, in the Person of t••Pope, whom they call the Church virtual; The French C••∣gy, and others of their Doctors, in a General Council (wh•• they term the Representative Church) others in a Gen•• Council and the Pope, agreeing with, and confirming t•e same. But the Texts and Reasons alledged for the t••first Opinions mutually overthrow each other; (For 〈◊〉 the Assertors of the Infallibility of Councils deny Infallibi∣lity to the Pope, further than he adheres to such Councill; so the Abettors of Papal Infallibility allow to Councils〈◊〉 Infallibility, but what they have in dependance upon, and influence from the Pope;) and how the clubbing of two such Fallibles should make one Infallibility, is hard to con∣ceive; besides, such Combination affords no relief, b• during the Council's sitting; for as soon as 'tis broken up, their Writings must indure the same fate with wh•• they would have those of the Apostles subject to, viz. of being unable to judg or decide Controversies; for on that sco•• all Romanists most vehemently plead for a necessity of a living, visible, Infallible Judge, that can hear both Parties and determine all emergent Differences. Lastly, there∣fore, Some attribute Infallibility to the Church diffus•• viz. That Councils are then only infallible, and the• Decrees unquestionable, when they are received by, and have the tacit Consent and Approbation of the wh••• Church; that is, they are not infallible till every body thinks them so.Page 33
The Patrons of all these four Opinions in the Church •f Ro•e militate fiercely against each other, and yet are 〈◊〉 owned to be good Catholics, and Members of that Church which professes she alone has got an infallible way of determining all Doubts and Controversies: It seems they are certain they have got Infallibility somewhere in their Church; but as they know not where to find it, so •••ther is she so good-natured as to inform them, and •ut an end to their Debates at home, tho yet they make a •ighty noise with the Word abroad, to inveigle others to their Party.
Q. You mention'd Faith before in general; be pleased •••refore to tell me what you understand thereby?
A. Faith is a firm Assent to the truth of the whole Word of God, and therein especially such a fiducial Re∣••ption of, and Reliance on the Promises of Reconciliation, ••ely given through, and for the sake of Christ our Me∣diator, as causeth the Soul to embrace the same, and build its Eternal Happiness thereon; Or [in the words of our Church, in the Homily of Faith] 'A true trust and confidence of the Mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and a stedfast Hope of all good things to be received at God's hand; an earnest Trust and Con∣fidence in God, that he doth regard us for his only Son's sake; distinguished in kind from Historical Faith, or the Faith of meer Assent, which is in the Devils, and the Damned; — God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should 〈◊〉 perish, but have everlasting life, John 3.16. Believe on 〈◊〉 Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, Acts 16.31. By 〈◊〉 all that believe are justified from all things from which you •••ld not be justified by the Law of Moses, Acts 13.39. The D••ils believe, and tremble, Jam. 2.19.
Q. What then is Justification?
A. Justification is that sentence of God, whereby of 〈◊〉 own Grace, for the Righteousness of his Son, by him Page 34 imputed unto us, and through Faith, app•¦hended by us,* he doth free us from Sin 〈◊〉 Death, and accept us as righteous unto 〈◊〉 Or, [in the words of the Twelfth Article 〈◊〉 the Church of England]
From these and other the like Scriptures, we gather, That we are justified, that is to say, have our Sins forgi∣ven, and are able to appear with assurance before the Tri∣bunal of God's Infinite Justice, solely for, and through the Merits and Satisfaction of Christ applied by Faith; 〈◊〉 which sense we say Faith only justifies: For tho true Faith is never alone, but always worketh by love; Gal. 5.6. y••Page 35〈◊〉 distinguish Justification from Sanctification (or the re∣•••al of our Nature by the production of Habits of ••ghteousness) looking upon the latter as a necessary Ef∣fect, but not as the Cause of our Justification; (according to St. Augustine's Rule — Bona opera non praecedunt• J•∣•••andum, sed sequuntur Justificatum, Good Works go not ••fore, but follow Justification;) for the same being only begun in this Life, and imperfect, how can it justify us in the sight of God? Therefore tho both Justification and Sancti∣fication go together, yet they are differently to be consi∣dered, as Heat and Light in fire are always conjoin'd; and 〈◊〉 we cannot say, that the Light burns the Wood, but only the Heat: Thus the Righteousness whereby we are justified, is inherent in Christ for us, this of Sanctification 〈◊〉 us, from him; the one follows from the Merit, the other ••om the Efficacy, of the Life and Death of Christ; in the one Faith is only as an hand receiving, in the other as a Co-working Vertue; the one is in all Believers at all times, the other wrought differently, and by degrees: and tho the End of both be Eternal Life, yet the one is inter Causas Regnandi, a Cause of Reigning, the other only as via ad Regnum, the way to the Kingdom.
Q. Doth the word Justify in Scripture signify to infuse, 〈◊〉 put Righteousness into a man?
A. We find not one Text (at least where the Doctrine of Justification is professedly treated of) that can allow of such a sense, as making Righteousness by actual or habitual Righteousness inherent in us, but it generally imports, to absolve, or pronounce a man righteous by ••quitting or discharging from some Guilt, or Accusation; As Prov. 17.15. He that justifies the Wicked, and he that •••demneth the Just, are an abomination to the Lord; It is a Judicial Sentence opposed to Condemnation, Rom. 8.34. Now as to condemn is not the putting any evil into the Nature of the Party condemned, but the pronouncing of him Guilty, and binding him to Punishment; so justify∣ing Page 36 is the Judges Declaration that the Law is sat• and the Person quitted from Guilt and Punishment.
Q. What is the Doctrine of the Church of Rome, tou•¦ing Justification?
A. Its certain Doctrine in this matter is not very ea• found or apprehended. For first, Their old Schoolmen to• us of Merit of Congruity, whereby a man disposed himself for the reception of Grace; of Gratia gratum facient, a quality or habit of Charity, whereby a man is rendred a•∣ceptable to God; and of Merit of Condignity, whereby the Regenerate by their Works deserve Eternal Life.
Secondly, Their Council of Trent refraining from those School-terms, handle the matter cautiously, and mo•e in Scripture-expressions, but 'tis justly suspected still mean• the same. For first, Tho they acknowledg [Sess. 6. Ca. 2.] That
Then in the 7th Chap. they proceed to acquaint us,
Then they proceed to CANONS, amongst which are these, Can. 9.
Lastly, Can. 33.
I have thus at large set forth the Doctrine of the Church of Rome touching Justification, declared by the Council of Trent in their own words: 1. That I might not seem to wrong them: 2ly, That our unlearned people might understand what is by that Church Established. For though this pretended Council were several Months in Forging, Hammering, and Filing this Decree, and have worded it very subtilly, so as to make it most taking and plausible; yet the discreet Christian will see through all those Artifices, and be better arm'd against those of their late Writers, that would yet further palliate their Do∣ctrine herein, even beyond what the very words of this Council will allow.
To make a Formal Answer to all these Particulars, and winnow the chaff from the Wheat, would be too tedious, and unnecessary, as well because it has already been done by several Protestant Divines; as for that, 'tis evi∣dent they ascribe Justification, if not wholly, yet at least in part to Inherent Righteousness, or our own works per∣form'd by Grace bestow'd (thereby to leave room for Page 40Merits, Purgatory, Indulgences, &c.) which needs only 〈◊〉 compared with the Scripture before cited. To whi•• might be added divers Testimonies of the Ancient Fa¦thers; as St. Ambrose, who on the third of the Rom• saith, Non justificari hominem apud Deum nisi per fidem: M• is not justified with God but by Faith. And again, They 〈◊〉 freely justified by his Grace, they were justified freely for wor•¦ing nothing, neither making any recompence; they were justified only through Faith by the Gift of God. And St. Basil, wor•¦thily named the Great, [in his Homily 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or, of Humility.] 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, &c. Perfect and so•• rejoicing in God, is this, when a man doth not boast of his 〈◊〉 Righteousness, but knoweth that he wanteth himself true Righ¦teousness, and that he is justified,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉] by only Faith 〈◊〉 Christ, and therefore Paul doth glory in the contempt of his 〈◊〉 Righ•eousness. So St. Chrysostom in his third Homily on Titus, If thou believest, why dost thou bring in other things to Faith, a• if Faith only were not sufficient to justifie. Nor can this Do¦ctrine, That we are (partly at least) Justified by Inher••• Righteousness, be excused, because those that maintain it, confess they are beholden to God for such their Righteous∣ness; for even the Pharisee, Luk. 18. who trusted in his own Righteousness, yet ascribed it to the Grace of God; 〈◊〉 thank thee (says he) that I am not like other men: He boasted not before men, but gave thanks to God, acknowledg∣ing his Righteousness to be God's gift, and yet Christ delivers this Parable against him, and such as he was who trust in their own works, that they are Righteous by Justice inherent, altho they acknowledg they have it by the Grace and gift of God.
Q. I am satisfied in this Point; yet for further illu∣stration, be pleased to tell me, whether in this life we c•• perfectly fulfil the Law of God, that is, whether any person (our Blessed Saviour only excepted) did ever fully keep all the Commandments?Page 41
A. Not I, but the Scriptures shall answer you. There 〈…〉 just man upon Earth, that doth good and sinneth not, Eccles. 7.20. If we say we have no sin, we deceive our selves, 1 Joh. 1.8. In many things we offend all, Jam. 3.2. Tho •••th is, we are so far from keeping the Law, that even in the best of our works we are deficient, as the Church and St. Paul confesses, Isa. 64.6. Rom. 7.6. & 21. But this Inability is not from the nature of the Law originally, but from the voluntary corruption of man, and so we are to understand the Ancient Fathers, when they say, That God doth not command things impossible; for elsewhere they 〈◊〉, That the highest perfection of a Christian is to see his 〈◊〉 imperfection. For the Grace of God never raiseth man in this life to a perfect exact unsinning obedience, but in obedience sincere, all the perfection here attainable, being when the Will habitually entertains nothing that is contrary to the will of God.
Q. What is the Doctrine of the Church of Rome touching Merits?
A. Some of their late Writers say, That Merits accor∣ding to their sense of the word, signifies no more than a•••ns done by the assistance of Gods Grace, to which it both pleased his Goodness to promise a reward; not that this Merit or Rewardableness arises from the value even of our best act•••; and that when they have done all those things that are commanded, they are unprofitable servants. Now if this be truly all their Doctrine in this Point, we are hear∣tily ready to agree with them therein; but we think there's somewhat more implied or understood by those Canons of the Council of Trent, Sess. 6. Can. 26.
And Can. 32.
Thus their allowed Authors teach, that good works do 〈◊〉 only merit in respect of God's Gracious Covenant, but in ••¦gard of the works themselves; and that Eternal Life is in only due from Gods Liberality, but from his just Judgment; 〈◊〉 Bellarmin, L. 5. C. 16, & 17. And they give this reason 〈◊〉 it, That because God would honour his children, he would h• them to get Heaven by their Merits, which is more honour•• than to receive it by Gods free gift. Vasquez is yet mo•• plain, and sticks not to affirm,
Q. What are we to think of this Doctrine?
A. That it is false and sacrilegious, robbing God 〈◊〉 his Glory, and our Lord Christ of the sole Honour of o• Redemption. For on the direct contrary, the Scrip••• witnesses, That eternal life is the gift of God, Rom. 6.21 Now a gift is free, and cannot be merited, for the• were a purchase: To him that works (saith the Apo••• the reward is reckoned not of grace, but of Debt, Rom. ••Page 43 Christ alone is the storehouse of our Merits; every true •eliever is worthy, not by his own Works, but in Christ, •nd by his Merits and Righteousness, Eph. 2.8. By grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of our selves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast: Tit. 3.5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he hath saved us. For 1st, our best Works are imperfect; nay, St. Paul saith of himself, Tho I know nothing by my self, yet am I not thereby justified, 1 Cor. 4.4. 2dly, There's a vast Disproportion be∣tween them and the Glory to come. 3dly, They are Debts which we owe to God. 4thly, As good, they proceed from the Spirit of God, and what merit can there be in paying an old Debt, especially when he to whom it's paid, lends us at present the Money? 5thly, We do not profit God by them; If thou be righteous, what giuest thou is God, or what receiveth he at thy hands? Job 35.7. Why then should we qualify them thus arrogantly, with the Title of Merits? To say, That Christ by his Death merited that our Works should merit Everlasting Life, is to make our selves Partners with Christ, and so in effect, our own Saviours and Redeemers.
Q. Is not the word Reward often mentioned in Scrip∣ture, as, He shall reward every man according to his works, Matth. 16.27. Gr••t is your reward in heaven, Matth. 5.••. He had respect to the recompence of reward, Heb. 11.26, &c.?
A. There is a Reward of Mercy and Grace, and of Desert or Merit; the one may be of bounty far above any due to the Party, but so is not the other: This is St. Ambrose's Distin∣ction [Ep. l. 1.] There is one kind of Reward for Liberality, and ••ther of the Wages of Virtues and Recompence of Labours: Thus God rewards two ways, either in meer Justice, and ••s he rewards the Wicked, justly deserving Damnation; 〈◊〉 i•Justice and Mercy, and so he rewards Believers; in Justice; both in respect of Christs meriting Reward for Page 44 such, and that God having promised a Reward, 〈◊〉 his Justice perform it; but this is still also in Mercy,〈◊〉 in respect of our selves, deserving no such Reward, 〈◊〉 the moving Cause, which was meerly his own good 〈◊〉 sure. Again, the Reward here is not promised 〈◊〉Work, but to the Person; and 'tis not said for his W•• as noting any Cause of his Reward, but according 〈◊〉 Works; for there are many other Rewards, Tempo• and Spiritual, which God may in some respect propa•• Mens Virtues and Zeal, tho yet, Eternal Life, which beyond all such Proportion, be freely bestowed for 〈◊〉alone Merit of Christ, which being Infinite, is only of 〈◊〉adequate Value thereunto. And 'tis plain, Moses had re∣spect to the Recompence of Reward upon Gods Pr••• made, and not upon the merit of his own doing, for makes not his own Act the procurer of the Recomp•• but the certainty of the Recompence the Excitement to 〈◊〉 Work.
Q. Tho we are not to expect Justification by the L•• or our own Righteousness, are we not yet with all D•¦gence to practice and press after Holiness, Righteous••• and the study of good Works?
A. Yes, by all means, for without Holiness no man 〈◊〉 see God; and therefore, when the Apostle argueth v••¦mently against Justification by the Works of the I 〈◊〉 yet he doth press the Duty of the Law,— Do we then 〈◊〉 void the law through faith; God forbid, yea, we establish 〈◊〉 law, Rom. 3.21. The Law continueth as a Rule,〈◊〉 not as a Covenant, tho not appointed to Justify, ye• commanded as the Way we should walk in, because G•• Order is to communicate the Benefits of Christs R•¦teousness to none but such as shall by Faith receive 〈◊〉 and walk obediently in his Commands; he hath freely 〈◊〉 graciously promised Rewards far beyond our best Wo• but the same are not to be bestowed on those who 〈◊〉 stand Idle, or Imploy themselves in Evil, but on the 〈◊〉Page 45〈◊〉in this Vineyard. 'Tis a grand and most unjust Ca∣••mny of the Romanists, That the Protestant Doctrine •sects or condemns Good Works; for there is no Church in the World that more earnestly presses People to an my Life and Conversation, than the Church of England, and that too upon true solid Scripture-grounds. And whatever the Church of Rome may boast in this matter; ••e main reason why we reject several of her Doctrines, is Purgatory, Indulgences, &c. is, because they apparently had to looseness of Life, and not to that serious Mor∣••fication and real Godliness, which the Christian Religi∣on in its Purity requires.
Q. What is meant by Works of Supererogation?
A. Doing of some good Works more than by the Law •re required at our hands, and thereby putting as it were •n Obligation on Almighty God; for those that hold that Doctrine, distinguish Gods Commands from Evangelical Counsels. The former they make necessary, but the doing of the latter (amongst which they place their Vows of ••gle Life, Poverty, regular Obedience, &c.) highly meritori∣•s; for that, a man is not bound to do such things; and therefore they think that such as do them, shall have greater Glory in Heaven, and insinuate as if they (or at least the Church for them) could Transfer such their Merits, and thereby help others.
Q. Are there any such Supererogating Works?
A. None at all; How shall a man be just with God, if he 〈◊〉 contend with him? Job 9.2. When you have done all, 〈◊〉, We are unprofitable servants, Luke 17.10. This Opi∣on debases the Law of God, rendering it imperfect,〈◊〉 preferring the performance of Counsels, to the fulfilling ••ereof: If no man be able (as appears by the Texts •hich we have formerly cited) exactly to fulfil the ••w, much less is he able to fulfil that which is heavier •an the Law; besides, to beg daily for Pardon of our Page [unnumbered] Sins, and yet to boast of such Works, are things in•∣sistent.
Q. But what say you to those Texts, Matth. 19.•There be Eunuchs which have made themselves Eunuchs for 〈◊〉 kingdom of God. He that is able to receive it, let him receive• Is not here a Counsel to a single Life, beyond a Command So in v. 21. If thou wilt be perfect, sell all that thou 〈◊〉 and give to the poor: Is not here a Counsel to a volun•• Poverty?
A. Divine Counsels are Commands, and cannot be d•¦spised without Sin and Punishment, — Psal. 107.11. Prov. 1.25. Luke 7.30. and accordingly the Texts 〈◊〉 you quoted, are to be understood, they are Commands tho particular, and given only to certain Persons, ac∣cording to the Exigency of their Condition and Gifts 〈◊〉 In the first Text, single Life is not only counselled 〈◊〉commanded on two Conditions, if the Kingdom of He•¦ven doth so require it, and if one be assured of the G•• of Continency; now every man is bound to avoid a hindrances in his passage to Heaven, according to th• of Christ, If thy Eye offend thee, pluck it out, &c. So be that hath the gift of Continency, and knows that M•¦riage would hinder him, must make himself an Eun•• not literally (as Origen is said to have mistaken it) be live (as an Eunuch) unmarried: And this is not by w•• of Counsel, but as a Duty to further his own Salvation so likewise in a large Discourse, in 1 Cor. 7. single Life enjoined to them that have the gift of Continency, 〈◊〉Simply, but because it was expedient in those times 〈◊〉 Difficulty and Persecution.
Neither is the second Text a Counsel, but a Comma•• given to the young Man, who had answered more a•¦gantly than truly, and gave false Testimony of himself, th• he kept all the Commandments from his youth up, wh•• he was apparently Covetous, Mark 10.22. To suppre•Page [unnumbered] this excess of Pride, and to try and discover his Folly, Christ thus speaks to him; and not to set out a new Doctrine, or way to Perfection, not contained in the Law.
Q. What is the Sum of the Law?
A. To Love the Lord our God with all our heart, and our Neighbour as our selves, Matth. 22.37. which is more particularly branched out into four Precepts in the first Table, and six in the second Table of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments.
Q. How are we to understand those words of the First Commanment; Thou shalt have no other Gods before me?
A. That we ought not to pay Religious Worship to any Being whatsoever, but to the Lord Jehovah; wherein is condemned, not only the renouncing or neglecting to worship the true God, and worshipping something else, altogether in His stead; but also the admitting of any thing else to have a share with him in our Wor∣ship: For whoever religiously worships any thing that is not the true God, is said to have other Gods before, that is, in the presence of, or (as some Versions read it) be∣sides the Lord: Because, tho there be really no other God but He, yet whatsoever other Beings we worship, we there∣by make the same our God; Religious Worship being sole∣ly appropriated to the Almighty; Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him; Deut. 6.13. which words by our Saviour's own Interpretation, Matth. 4.10. signify no less than Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt them serve; Which general Prohibition excludes not only the Devilish Idols of the Gentiles, but all other Creatures, how excellent soever, from all Religious Worship; of which indeed there can be but one kind, since there is but ••e only lawful Object thereof, which is God blessed for ••er.
Q. May we not then worship or pray to Angels, or ••nts departed?Page 48
A. No; Prayer is an Act of Religious Worshi•〈◊〉 therefore due only to Almighty God, who alone 〈◊〉 our Prayers, and none but he is able to supply out 〈◊〉Call upon me in the day of trouble, Psal. 50.15. If 〈◊〉 lack wisdom, let him ask it of God, who giveth to all ••¦rally, &c. And therefore to him only the Scrip••each us to direct our Prayers— When ye pray, s•s• Father which art in Heaven, &c. Luke 11.2. There 〈◊〉 the least Command, nor one approved Example of p••y• to any other, whether Angel or Saint, in the whole 〈◊〉 of God.
Secondly, As for worshipping of Angels, we are •¦presly caution'd against it; Col. 2.18. Let no man 〈◊〉 you in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of Angels:〈◊〉 accordingly good Angels have always refused to accept if or admit of any Adoration, or Worship, Revel. 19.•• and Chap. 22.8. Touching that Text, Gen. 48.10. 〈◊〉Angel which redeemed me from all Evil, bless the L•ds.〈◊〉 but read the Verse before-going, you will find, that 〈◊〉 not any Created Angel Jacob there intends (for such an 〈◊〉 could not be called the God before whom Abraham w•• nor redeem Jacob out of all Evil) but the Lord Christ,〈◊〉 is called the Angel of the Covenant, Mal. 3.1. So in he f••¦lowing words, Let my Name be named upon them [the ••¦manists will have it invocated on them, and thence wo••• ridiculously suggest, that the good Patriarch bespo•• hi• self to be prayed unto after his decease] the Sense is 〈◊〉 more, than that Jacob adopted those Children of Jes•• born in Egypt, as His; that they should have their N•• from him, and be reckon'd for two Tribes among his Posterity, as if they had been his immediate Ch••¦dren.
Thirdly, Praying to Saints departed, is not only 〈◊〉 and to no purpose, since those that use it cannot sh•• how 'tis possible, or so much as probable, that the Sai•• should know their Prayers: And the Scriptures secur•Page 49 t••ch the contrary; (the Dead know nothing more) Eccles. •.5. that is, none of the Transactions of this lower World: So Job 14.21. speaking of the Dead, saith, (Whether his Children shall be Noble or Ignoble, he shall not un∣derstand:) But the same is very dangerous, because Omnis∣cence and Omnipresence, which be God's peculiar Attributes, are by this practice consequentially ascribed to to those Creatures, at least by the natural tendency of the Action, tho perhaps the Worshipper does not apprehend it so; For how else (for Example) shall the Blessed Virgin MARY hear a thousand Suppliants, in a thousand different Places, calling upon her for several things at one and the same Instant?
Fourthly, We must pray to none but to whom we may do it in faith, without doubting; and upon good grounds believing that we shall obtain, Matth. 21.22. Jam. 1.5. But what Faith can we have in a Practice uncommanded, nay prohibited by God? What Faith when we are not, nay cannot be sure that the Saints do hear our Prayers? much less that they will, or can, grant them? We do not believe in Angels or Saints, Therefore how shall we call 〈◊〉 them on whom we have not believed? Rom. 10.14.
Fifthly, The same is injurious to the Honour of Christ, who is our sole Mediator, not only of Redemption, but of Intercession too, Rom. 8.34. Heb. 7.25. He is our great and only Advocate in the Court of Heaven; who hath not only both invited and commanded us to apply our selves to none but him, but graciously promised to an∣swer us: John 14.6. No man comes to the Father but by •e: And v. 3. Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it.
To evade the force of these Arguments, the Romanists wonderfully puzzle themselves; sometimes they alledg, They give not the Honour due to God, to these glorious Creatures; and to that purpose they invent distinctions where there is no difference, as between Latria, and Du∣lia;Page 50 and tell us of Religious Worship, Supream and Su•¦ordinate, Absolute and Relative, Terminative and Trans• But we have proved before, That there is but one 〈◊〉 Object of Religious Worship, and so the same can be but one kind; (tho Civil Honours may be various, because t••Objects are so, as one sort of Respect is paid to a Fath•• another to our Prince, another to a subordinate Ma••¦strate, &c.) and so all this smoak vanishes.
Sometimes they pretend they honour the Saints 〈◊〉 Heaven, as they do good men on Earth, and only pray• them for the assistance of their Prayers, and that God by so•• means makes known such their Prayers to the Saints. To th• I answer, 1st, That this Pretence is contrary to their Practice; For in their ordinary Prayers, Praises and Thanksgivings, they most commonly join the Virgin Mary with God, Jesu-Maria! coming in one word out of their Mouths; and Glory be to God, and to the Bless•d Virgin, with them, makes but one compleat Doxology. 2dly, Besides the vast difference between desiring the Prayers of a good Man on Earth, and praying to Saints in Heaven, (for the former of which we have Precepts and various Examples, but none of the latter) I say, this Suggestion is contrary to their Council of Trent, which, Sess. 25. declares, That 'tis good and profitable (it seems themselves thought it not necessary) suppliciter Invocare, as
To help themselves out here, they say 'tis more humble to go to God by the good Offices of the Saints, than rudely to press in upon the Divine Majesty: As when we have to do with a Prince, we get some Favourite to facilitate our Admission, and present our Petition: But this Comparison is dishonourable to the Almighty; His ways are not as the ways of Men, nor his thoughts as their thoughts. The best and greatest of Princes, tho Analogically called Gods, are yet really but Men; To whom we cannot speak, when, and where we would: But to God, who is every-where, and always present, we may: Man, perhaps, sometimes through Pride will not, or through Carelesness regards not, or through Ignorance knows not, or through Business can∣not redress the Grievances of such as sue unto him; or his Attendants may keep off Petitioners, and not allow them Access; but there are no such Impediments in God, therefore no such need of making an Interest in Saints to address or pray to him; Thou art a God hearing Prayers, therefore to thee shall all Flesh come.
Lastly, They alledg, That their praying to Saints is not injurious to God or Christ, because they pray not to them, as to God, but address their Prayers only as to his Mother, his Friends, and his Favourites, whom they sup∣pose to intercede only in his name and mediation, — Well! But if Prayer be an Act of Religious Worship, and so due only to God, you ought not to offer it to any Crea∣ture, tho never so much a Friend: For suppose a married Woman accused of lying evey night with her Neighbour, not able to deny the Fact, should go about to justify it, by maintaing that the Act is not Adultery, because she ne∣ver lies with him as her Husband, but always as her dear Husband's special Friend, and near Relation; would such a Plea Page 52 be accepted in any sober Judicatory? 'Tis the sole an• proper Office of the Lord Jesus to offer up the Prayers 〈◊〉 his People; To be our Advocate with the Father, 1 John 2.1• And to appear in the presence of God for us, Heb. 9.24. Therefore to apply our selves to any other Mediators in Heaven to present our Prayers to God, in what manner, or upon what pretence soever it be, is highly derogatory to the Honour and Office of the Blessed Jesus.
I shall only add, That the Invocation of Angels was by the Council of Laodicea (about the Year 360.) ex∣presly condemned, and branded with the Title of Idola∣try: That many of the Fathers were of opinion, that the Souls of Saints are not at present admitted to the Beatifick Vision, but reserved in certain Apartments in the enjoy∣ment of Peace, and Rest, till the General Resurrection; on which Notion, they were so far from praying to them, that they did pray for them, and beg of God their further Bliss and Consummation: And whereas certain Women, near the Year 403. were wont to offer up Cakes in honour of the Blessed Virgin (whence they were called Colliridians) Epiphanius mentioning them under the Character of He∣retics, thus reproves them, Let Mary be in honour, but let the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost be worshipped; and no less than six times repeats these words, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Let no man worship or adore Mary.
Q. I confess 'tis very strange, That whereas neither Pa∣triarchs, nor Prophets, nor Apostles, or any Apostolical Holy men, in all their dangers or distresses, ever prayed to, or worshipped any Creature whatsoever, either Holy Angel, or Holy Soul, yet the Church of Rome at least in vulgar practice) comparatively prays to, and worships nothing so much, or frequently, as is manifest by their very Beads (the new Engines and measures of their per∣functory Devotion) where there are ten Ave Maria's, for each Pater Noster! — But let us proceed: Doth not the second Commandment forbid all Religious Adoration, Page 53 and Worship, outward or inward, to be given to any Images of God, or of the Saints, or of any Creature?
A. Yes assuredly! its words are plain, Thou shalt not make to thy self any graven Image, or any likeness of any thing in Heaven above, or that is in the Earth beneath, or that is in the water under the Earth: thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them, &c. This Commandment forbids all Images in Divine Worship and Religious use; for as the first Commandment forbids False gods, so this (in its primary sense) the worshipping the true God by false means, as Images, &c. and prohibits all manner of Religious wor∣ship and honour of them, whether absolutely, or Rela∣tively, mediately or ultimately; for it saith, Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them; intimating, that the pro∣hibited worship of Images consisteth in two things, first Adoration, as by uncovering the Head, bowing of the Body, bending of the Knee, Kissing, and such like Ge∣stures; 2ly, In any kind of Religious service, as when they are trimmed up with Gold, Silver, and Jewels, when Incense is burnt to them, and they set on high places; when Vows are made to them, when honoured with Pil∣grimages, Oblations, Wax-candles, Tapers, and other such like Ceremonies.
Q. Do the Romanists in any of their Catechisms leave out the Second Commandment?
A. Yes, in divers; I will shew you one Entituled, A Catechism or Summary of Christian Doctrine set out by the com∣mand of Cardinal de Retz, Bishop of Paris; and in Bellarmin; the first Translated into English by G. J. and Printed (Clandestinely) for T. D. 1673, where Page 23d the second Lesson is in these words:
Q. How shall we make it appear that we love God?
A. By obeying his Commandments?
Q. How many are these Commandments, and what are they?
- I. You shall adore one God, and love him pe•∣fectly.
- II. You shall not take his Name in vain.
- III. You shall keep holy the Sabbath-day, serving God devoutly.
- IV. You shall honour your Father and Mother, that you may live long.
- V. You shall not kill, nor have a will to do it.
- VI. You shall not give way to any luxurious Ac•, nor consent to it in thought.
- VII. You shall not steal, nor retain any thing th•• belongs to another.
- VIII. You shall not bear false witness, or give any way to lying.
- IX. You shall not covet your Neighbours Wife, nor any thing against Chastity.
- X. You shall not covet your Neighbours Goods of any kind.
Here you see the Second Commandment omitted wholly, and because the people would not be satisfied without Ten, the Tenth is divided into Two; though that which they here make the Ninth, is the same with the Sixth; so that to colour this Sacrilegious suppression of one of Gods Commandments, they are forced not only to alter the words of every Commandment, written by the Finger of God, but also to represent Infinite Wisdom as guilty of Tautology.
So in the Hours of our Lady, Printed at Paris Anno 1611, the Commandments of the first Table are set down in these words, and no other.
I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have no• worship any other God but me.
Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Remember to keep Holy the Sabbath-day and Feasts, &c.
The like Artifice may be seen in a Book published in French by Francis Coster, Entituled Chrestiennes Institutions, Lib. 3. Cap. 3.
Q. It is not difficult to guess the design of this foul practice; but was not this Commandment Ceremonial and proper only to the Israelites? or at least, are not Idols, or the Images of False gods only forbidden here?
A. First, this Commandment is part of the Moral Law; and cannot be Ceremonial or binding to the Jews only, because the Reason of it is immutable; and the same is so far from being Repealed, that it is ratified in the Gospel, Rom. 1.23, & 25. 2ly, Every Image, Picture, or Statue, made for Religious Worship, is an Idol, whether of false gods, or pretended to represent the true God.
Q. How doth this appear?
A. Even by the Exposition of this Command by Moses himself: For thus he saith, Deut. 4.12. The Lord spake unto you, ye heard the voice, but saw no similitude, only heard the voice, Take ye therefore good heed (for ye saw no manner of similitude) lest you corrupt your selves, and make you a Graven Image, the similitude of any Figure, &c. Whence 'tis evident, the Second Commandment forbids the worshipping the true God by Images; for his Argument is, That God did therefore forbear to shew himself in any visible shape at the delivery of the Law, to the end that it might be better known, that the worshipping of Images, not only as they have reference to the Creatures, or false gods, but also as (in the intention of the makers) they might have relation to himself, did come within the compass of Ido∣latry.Page 56 The Scripture in sundry places attests, that tho• who erect Images to God, and in and by them wo•• God, are guilty of Horrible Idolatry: Thus the Israel•• by making a Golden Calf, committed Idolatry; they coul• not be so silly as to think that the Calf which they made was the God that brought them up out of Egypt; but b•¦cause the Egyptians worshipped their false gods by an Hie¦roglyphic Representation in the shape of an Ox, they would worship Jehovah in like manner, as appears by they very words of the Text, Exod. 32.5. Aaron after he h• made a Golden Calf, he built an altar before it, and 〈◊〉 Proclamation, and said, To morrow is a Feast to the Lord (J•¦HOVAH.) So Micah made an Image in Honour of J•¦hovah, Judg. 17.3, 13. I had wholly dedicated the Silver 〈◊〉 to the Lord (Jehovah.) Now I know that the Lord (Jeho∣vah) will do me good, because I have a Levite to my Pri•st• Nay, Jeroboam's Calves were made to represent, not false gods, but Jehovah; for so we read, 1 King. 12.18. Behold thy Gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the Land •f Egypt. But so far is the Almighty and Jealous God from accepting such worship, that he declares in his Word, that those who worship him by Images, are indeed Wor∣shippers of the Devil; They provoked him to Jealousie with strange gods, they sacrificed unto Devils, Deut. 32.17. They made a Calf in those days, and sacrificed to the Idol, Act. 7.41. Where the Golden Calves are called Idols, and the Israelites are said to sacrifice to Devils, which is not to be understood of the judgment and intention of the men wor∣shipping them, as if they did design to worship Devils and false gods by them; but of the truth of the thing, and of the judgment of God, testifying, That such worship being contrary to his command, did displease him, and had the Devil for its Author, and so (whatever they in∣tended) was indeed the worshipping of Devils and false gods.Page 57
Q. We know (saith St. Paul, 1 Cor. 8.4.) That an 〈◊〉 nothing in the world, whence it should seem, that 〈◊〉 are of things really existent, but Idols of things 〈◊〉 existent, viz. such as never had any being in the Wo••d, and consequently that the Pictures of God, Christ, the Virgin Mary, Saints, &c. tho religiously made, 〈◊〉 or adored, cannot be Idols?
A. 1st, St. Paul speaks not in reference to the Object••ch is represented, but in respect to the Virtue and Ef∣••y of Idols, which indeed is nothing. 2dly, We know ••t the Heathens had Idols not only of some things 〈◊〉, but also of things truly existent. 3dly, The Images 〈◊〉 God, and the Blessed Trinity, Christ, &c. are Lies;〈◊〉 Gods glorious and incomprehensible Nature, cannot 〈◊〉 represented to Men by any Image, but in a way of in∣••te Disparagement to him; nor Christ, for he is both G•• and Man; and if they mean it only of his Body, from whence should they have the true Effigies? There being to Images nor Pictures thereof, until many hundred years after his Death and Ascention; and those Pictures th•y now have, are not alike in Shape, Lineaments or Co∣••; and as for the Saints (not mentioning some abroad, •••t never were, as St. Christopher, &c.) it is unbecoming those glorified Spirits to represent them in dull and sensless •••ges.
Q. The Honour of God seems to require the Worship of his Image, for that redounds to God; as he that ho∣•ours his Prince, will honour his Picture; and we shew our Reverence to the King, by being uncovered in the Pre∣s••• Chamber, tho the King be absent.
A. I have shew'd, That we ought not to make any •••ge of God; and as to the Comparison, I say, If a ••ng forbid any Picture of himself to be made or set up, and any over-officious Subject should notwithstanding set up the Kings Picture, pretending to do it in respect to the King; the King would undoubtedly esteem himself not Page 58 honoured, but highly dishonoured thereby, since hi• C•¦mands are broken, and his Authority violated and •¦spised. Again, if a King require such Reverence •u•• given to his Presence Chamber, it's fit it should be ob••¦ed, (seeing it is only a Civil, not religious Wor•• But since God has severely forbidden any Religious W•¦ship to be given to any Images or Pictures, there is go•• reason that his Prohibition should be obeyed too. Not does any more dishonour redound to God, from 〈◊〉slighting or destroying those Images which he forbids,〈◊〉 pretended to represent him, than would to the King, 〈◊〉 cutting to pieces a piece of Adulterate Money, where•• (the better to deceive) false Traytors had stampt 〈◊〉Royal Effigies.
Q. But perhaps you have all this while combated only a Shadow; tho some Christians use Images as Remembr••¦cers, to put them in mind of God, Christ, or holy Saints yet how do you know that there are any that make the•Objects of Worship, or think to Worship God, Christ, o• the Saints in or by them?
A. Not only the Practices of thousands daily before o•• Eyes, in several parts of Europe, may assure us thereof, But the second Council of Nice, and that of Trent,〈◊〉 command the worshipping of Images: For thus says the last, Sess. 25. The Images of Christ, and of the Virgin Ma•• of God, and other Saints, are to be had and retained, especi•∣ly in Churches, and to them due Honour and Veneration is 〈◊〉 be given; [but what that is, they would not declare only add,] Not that there is believed any Divinity or V•• to be in them, [the Images themselves] for which they 〈◊〉 to be worshipt, or any thing desired of them, or any 〈◊〉 reposed in them, as the Gentiles of old did, who placed th• Hope in Idols; but because the Honour which is exhibited them, redounds to their Prototypes [or Originals] which t•• Represent; so by the Images which we Kiss, and before 〈◊〉 we do•• our Ca•s and Kneel, we adore Christ, and reve••••Page 59 th•se Saints whose Similitude they bear.— By which Words 〈◊〉 evident, the Council retains not Images as Remem∣•••cers, meerly to put us in mind, (as some would per∣s••de us) but for Worship, which they Justify, because the same refers to their Originals. But still, what is all this to the Second Commandment, which absolutely forbids all Worship of Images, without any such Limita∣tions? The Heathens themselves never were so fond as to think their very Images were Gods; but referred the Worship they paid to them, to their Prototypes, as well as the Papists. Moreover, why does the Church of Rome solemnly Consecrate Images? Why do they fancy greater Efficacy in one Image, (as suppose that of the Virgin at ••retto, or St. James at Compostella) than another of the same Saint at Home? Besides, Azorius in his Moral In∣stitutions, affirms it is the constant Opinion of Divines (that is of the Church of Rome)
Q. However, Images are Lay-mens Books.
A. Our Laity (God be prais'd) have the Holy Bible, and other better Books to instruct them; for want of which, not a few poor Souls abroad, have made those ••nsless Blocks, not only their Books, but their Gods; and what kind of Books these Idols are, and what Doctrine they teach, we may read Jeremiah 10.14, 15. Every Page 60 man is brutish in his knowledg, every founder is conf••• the graven Image; for his molten Image is falshood; and is no breath in them, they are vanity, and the works of 〈◊〉 in the time of their visitation they shall perish. Hab. 2.1•What profiteth the graven Image, that the maker thereof 〈◊〉 graven it: the molten Image, a teacher of lies, that the 〈◊〉 thereof trusteth therein, to make dumb Idols? Wo unto him 〈◊〉 saith to the Wood, Awake; and to the dumb Stone, 〈◊〉 it shall Teach.
Q. What is Prayer?
Q. Should any Person use Prayers that they do 〈◊〉 understand? Or the publick Prayers and Services of God 〈◊〉 the Church, be performed in a Tongue Ʋnknown, or 〈◊〉 understood by the People?
A. No; such Practices are but a Prophanation of 〈◊〉 religious Duty; and indeed, no more than vain Ba•• The very Essence of Prayer consisting in the hearty o•¦currence of the Ʋnderstanding and Will; whence G•• complains, This People draweth nigh to me with their l••• but their hearts are far from me; and requires that we 〈◊〉 with the spirit, and with the understanding also, 1 Cor. •.15, throughout; which whole Chapter St. Paul pr••¦sedly argues against Praying and Speaking in an Ʋni••• Language in the Church, even in those on whom the O•• of Tongues was miraculously conferred.
Q. Is it Lawful, or our Duty, to pray for the D•••
A. No. For 1st, whatsoever is done without faith 〈◊〉 sin, Rom. 14.23. But for praying for the Dead,〈◊〉 have no Command from God, nor Promise to be he•• nor Example in Holy Scripture; and consequently, 〈◊〉 do it in Faith. 2dly, Such Prayers are vain and unp••∣fitable Page 61Now the child is dead, why should I fast and pray?•••h David, 2 Sam. 12.21. As the tree falleth, so it lieth;••d as Death leaves Man, so will Judgment find him; •hey that dye in the Lord, are blessed, Rev. 14.13. and need•ot our Prayers; and those that dye in their sins, can have 〈◊〉benefit by them, for out of Hell there is no Redemp∣tion.
Q. But I suppose, this practice of praying for the Dead, depends on the Notion of a third Place, called Purgatory. What, I pray, is thereby meant?
A. I will answer you in the Words of their before ci∣ted Catechism—
Q. What is to be thought of this Doctrine?
A. That it is altogether built upon the Sand, a•• vented for secular Ends.
For 1st, 'tis grounded on several false Doctrines, 〈◊〉 that some Sins are venial; that Good Works merit of 〈◊〉 and those of the Living, avail for the Dead, &c. all w•• are refuted before.
2dly, It is highly Derogatory to the Honour of Ch•• to say, That men are purged by suffering Pains in •••¦gatory, whereby they satisfy for lesser Sins, and for 〈◊〉 temporal Punishment of the greater Sins; for the Blo•• Christ is the only Purgatory of all our Sins, Heb. 1.3. W•• when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the ri•• hand of the Majesty on high; and Ch. 9.14. How much 〈◊〉 shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit off•• himself without spot to God, purge your consciences from de•• works to serve the living God? Whence he is called, a raus•• for all, 1 Tim. 2.6. Christ is a compleat Saviour, his Blood cleanseth us from all sin, 1 Joh. 1.7. He is able (and su•• he is no less willing) to save to the utmost those that come 〈◊〉 him, Heb. 7.25.
Thirdly, The Scriptures teach us no such Middle Pl••• of Souls after Death, as Purgatory; but the quite co•¦trary, 2 Cor 4.18. The things which are seen, are Temporal; but the things which are not seen, are Eternal: Whence it fol¦lows, That there is no Place or State after this Life which is not Everlasting, therefore no Purgatory. Again, the A∣postle saith, That the whole Church, all the Family whereof Christ is Head, is either in Heaven, or upon the Earth• Eph. 1.10. That in the fulness of time he might gather togeth•• in one, all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and whi•• are on Earth. And Chap. 3.15. speaking of Christ, 〈◊〉 saith— Of whom the whole Family in Heaven and Earth 〈◊〉 named: John 5.24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He th•• heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath ev••∣lasting Life, and sh•ll not come into condemnation, but is passed Page 63 fro••eath unto life: If he come not into condemnation, he •annot be cast into a Place of punishment.
Fourthly, 'Tis said, Rev. 14.13. Blessed are the Dead that ••e in the Lord, for they rest from their Labours, &c. Where 〈◊〉 is, there is no Torment, Ergo, no Purgatory; at least •f any did ever need satisfactory-purgation after death, sure that Thief, who was converted upon the Cross, ought 〈◊〉 have suffered the Pains of Purgatory many years; yet 〈◊〉 Lord saith to him— This day shalt thou be with me in •radise, Luke 23.43.
Fifthly, Were it necessary that Believers must satisfy God after death for temporal Punishments, arrear, and •r lesser (venial) Sins, then such of them as shall be alive••on Earth at Christ's second Coming, must first go into Purgatory, before they can meet the Lord in the Air, 1 Thess. •.17.
Sixthly, Since they own the Apocryphal Books for Cano∣••cal, what will they say to that of Wisdom 3.1. The Souls of the Righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no Tor∣•••t touch them;— Is not this one Text alone enough to •••ch the Fire of Purgatory for ever?
Q. Whosoever shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not •e forgiven him, neither in this World, nor in that which is to come, Matth. 12.31. Therefore it seems there is some remission of Sins in the World to come, which cannot be ••her in Heaven, or Hell, therefore must be in Purga∣••ry?
A. 'Tis Childish from two Negatives to infer an Affirma∣s••n; as if one should argue, Peter neither in this World, 〈◊〉 in the World to come, shall be made an Angel; Ergo,••me shall be made Angels in the World to come: The words •••nify no more than this, That that Sin shall never be re∣••ed: And so is interpreted, Mark 3.29. He that blas∣•emeth against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness;••d Luke 12.10. It shall not be forgiven.Page 64
Q. He shall be saved, yet so as by fire, 1 Cor. 3.15. 〈◊〉 this spoken of Purgatory?
A. Not in the least; For 'tis plain, this is the 〈◊〉 Fire intended, v. 13. which cannot be that of Purg•• 1st, Because 'tis the Fire of the Day of Judgment, 〈◊〉 Purgatory, by those that maintain it, is confess'd to 〈◊〉 2dly, This Fire burns the Works of Men only, their 〈◊〉 and Stubble, not their Persons, as Purgatory is suppo• to do. 3dly, This Fire tries both Good and Bad, all 〈◊〉 through it, the Gold and Silver no less than the H•y 〈◊〉 Stubble; The Text is only a figurative way of speak•• frequent in Scripture, and common use; As the delive•Jews are said to be as Fire-brands pluckt out of the burni•• Amos 4.11. So here, He shall be saved, so as by fire,〈◊〉 is, not without difficulty; and the Fire shall consume 〈◊〉 much of his Works as was Hay and Stubble, so that 〈◊〉 shall lose that part of his Reward.
Q. You mentioned but a while ago Indulgences; te• me, I pray, what are they?
A. A late worthy Author, no less truly than witt•• calls them The Moral to the Fable of Purgatory: For yo• must know, that the Church of Rome teaches, 1st, Tha• there have been, and are, divers Saints, who not on•• merit for themselves, but a great deal to spare; all who• superabounding Merits are reposited into one Treasu• 2dly, That these Merits are applicable to others; so 〈◊〉 God will pardon Peter, for Example, as to the deserve• punishment of his Sin, for the Merits of Stephen. 3dly, Go• hath put this Treasure into the Church's, that is, 〈◊〉Pope's hands; and from him the disposal thereof is de•¦gated in such proportions, as he orders, unto the han• of all Priests, who thereby have a power to apply th•• Merits as they see fit; as by saying such, and so m••Masses or Prayers, &c. which shall avail to mitigate 〈◊〉 Pains, or wholly to release such or such a Soul from th• Torments of Purgatory.Page 65
Q. What say you to this Doctrine?
A. That there is nothing sound therein. For 1st, I have proved, that no meer Man can merit of God; The Wise Virgins had Oil little enough for themselves, and none to spare, Matth. 25.9. 2dly, That as none of us have any Merits to spare; so if they had, yet no Man's Merits (except Christ's) can be applied to another; Every man shall bear his own burthen, Gal. 6.6. Every one shall receive according to what he has done in his Body. 3dly, I have de∣monstrated, that there is no such Purgatory, and so the Foundation of these Indulgences is gone. Indeed if there were any such Treasury of Merits, and the Pope had the disposal thereof, he must be very uncharitable not to dis∣pence it at a better rate. 'Tis an Evangelical Rule, Freely ye have received, freely give: Why then does his Holiness take Money for his Indulgences? why does he thus Huckster them out by Retail? and not rather generously enlarge it once all the poor Souls out of their Purgatory Tor∣ments?
Q. What do you mean by a Sacrament?
A. The word Sacrament is variously used by Authors both Prophane and Ecclesiastical; sometimes for an Oath in general, sometimes for that particular Oath Souldiers entred into at their Listing; sometimes for any sacred My∣stery, or Religious Secret, not to be commonly divulged; Or for that, whereby any thing Divine was represented, shadowed out, or signified: But in a strict and special sense, the word is by Christian Writers, and the use of the Church, appropriated to those Signs of Grace, whereby God seals to us the Benefit of his Promises, and binds us to a mutual Testification of the Covenant entred into with him: So that by Sacrament here, I mean, An holy Ordinance, consisting of an outward visible Sign of an inward Spiritual Grace given to us, ordained by Christ himself, as a ••ens whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof; Or a Divine Institution in the Gospel, wherein by sen∣sible Page 66 Signs, Christ, and the Benefits of the New Covena••〈◊〉 represented, sealed, and applied to Believers.
Q. How many Sacraments are there of the New •¦stament?
A. Two; Baptism, and the Lord's Supper; and 〈◊〉 more.
Q. Are not Confirmation, Penance, Matrimony, Or•• and Extream Ʋnction, Sacraments?
A. No; Not in the proper sense before explain•• for as such, there are five Conditions required to a •¦crament of the Gospel. 1st, That it be instituted 〈◊〉Christ himself immediately. 2dly, That it have some ••¦sible Sign. 3dly, That it have the Promise of God •¦cerning Saving Grace and Eternal Life added to the 〈◊〉 4thly, That it represent, seal, and apply Christ, and 〈◊〉 Benefits of the New Covenant to Believers. 5thly, Th•• it be given to the whole Church, to continue to the end 〈◊〉 the World; all which agree only to Baptism, and 〈◊〉Lord's Supper; nor were any other esteemed as proper S•¦craments of the Gospel by the Primitive Churches, 〈◊〉 Fathers. Peter Lombard, the Schoolman, who flou•• about the Year 1143. being the first man that ever 〈◊〉 the number Seven; nor was the same establisht by a•• Council, till that of Florence, which ended but in 〈◊〉 Year 1439. Therefore tho with Antiquity we do not o• the other Five as proper Sacraments, yet as to the th•• themselves, The Protestant Church of England retains 〈◊〉 makes use of them (all but one) to such good ends a•• purposes as they serve for; — For, as touching C•••¦mation, see the Office appointed for it in the Liturgy, which duly observed, does tend much more to the pr•¦moting of Knowledg and Godliness, than as 'tis pr••• in the Church of Rome; where, if I am not misinform•• it is (at least sometimes) administred to Infants, not 〈◊〉 after Baptism: But tho we use it as a laudable Anci••Rite, we do not reckon it to be a Sacrament, because 〈◊〉Page 67〈◊〉 no such express Institution by our Saviour in the Gospel, as of Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, no• such ••omises made upon the use of it.
Nor do we attribute the Title of Sacrament to H•ly Orders, since they belong only to one sort of Men, who are thereby devoted, not simply to Christianity, (for that •as done at Baptism) but to the Work of the Ministry: And with what Gravity and Solemnity she confers Orders, ••pears in her Publick Forms appointed for that purpose. •ouching Marriage, tho we grant that it carries a signi∣••cation of the Mystical Ʋnion between Christ and his •hurch, as we are taught by St. Paul; And that it is an •onourable state instituted by God in Paradise; yet do we 〈◊〉 call it a Sacrament, for then a Sacrament of the Gospel •ould be common to Heathens as well as Christians; but •ith the Apostle, we judg it to be Honourable in all men, and particularly in Priests as well as other Christians, Saint Peter himself being a married man, and other of the Apo∣stles, as St. Paul intimates; Have not we power to lead about 〈◊〉••ter, a wife, as well as other Apostles and Cephas? 1 Cor. 9.5. 〈◊〉Bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, 1 Tim. 3.2. Their wives must be grave and sober, 1 Tim. 3.11. Forbidding •o marry is branded as a Doctrine of Devils, 1 Tim. 4.3. •nd we cannot but admire the Church of Rome should at •o same time advance it to a Sacrament, and yet so severely •bid all her Clergy the use of it, and reckon them a ••re holy sort of persons that make vows against it.
As for Penance, tho we do not with the Church of 〈◊〉 exact from men a particular Confession to the Priests, 〈◊〉 all their private faults, as absolutely necessary to Sal∣••••on, nor send them on long Pilgrimages, to this, or the •er Image, nor to give themselves so many Lashes, or ••ble over so many Pater-Nosters, or Ave-Maria's (which •••ie nothing to amend the soul) yet we press them to 〈◊〉 great duty of sincere Repentance and Reformation, with∣•〈◊〉 which they cannot be pardoned 〈◊〉 and that they Page 68 should confess their sins to God, with shame and sorro• and speedily and throughly forsake the same. And in so•• cases of notorious, open, scandalous offences, a Publ••• Penance is injoined, and a general Confession and Absol•∣tion prescribed in our Liturgy.
Touching Extream Ʋnction, as 'tis practised in the Church of Rome, it has no warrant from Scripture, for the Anointing mentioned Mark 16.13. or Jam. 5.14. was intended for the health of the body, and the usage seems to have ceased with the Gift of Miracles; but the Ex∣tream Ʋnction of the Romanists is pretended for the benefit of the soul, and therefore not commonly used, till they perceive no hopes of recovery. For which Ceremony a• there is no command of God, so neither any promise of spiritual benefit thereby, but the same is attended wit• much superstition, and we fear betrays many poor souls 〈◊〉 destruction.
Q. Doth the Efficacy of the Sacraments depend upon the Intention of the Minister?
A. No, the Ordinances of God depend not upon the Holiness or intention of the person that doth administ•• them, but upon the work of the Spirit; and the wo•• of Institution, containing a precept for the use of them and a promise of benefit by them, 1 Cor. 3.7. Neither 〈◊〉 he that planteth any thing, nor he that watereth, but God t••• giveth the encrease. Phil. 1.18. Notwithstanding every w•• whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached, I ther• rejoice. The Romanists by this Doctrine suspend their Fai•• and Salvation upon great uncertainties. For as they hol• That they cannot be saved without Baptism: So th•• also hold, That Baptism is no Baptism if the Priest 〈◊〉 not intend to make it a Sacrament. And how can th• be sure of the Priests intention? Nay thus, they can••• be sure that they have any Sacraments or Priests amo•• them; for they must be certain that he is a Priest〈◊〉 Consecrates, and that he hath an Intention to make a ••¦crament; Page [unnumbered] but how can they be assured of his Priesthood? they must first be assured of the Priesthood of him that Baptized him, and of the intention of the Bishop that Or∣dained him, and of the intention of the Archbishop that Ordained that Bishop; all which is impossible; so that according to their own Principles, the people can have no certainty that they are Christians.
Q. Do the Sacraments confer Grace by the meer work done, or Sacramental action?
A. We grant the Sacraments are not meer signs, but efficacious to work Grace, if they be rightly used, not by the meer work done, but by the power and operation of the Spirit, 1 Cor. 12.13. Mat. 3.11. As Elisha's bough made Iron swim, Moses's Rod divided the Red Sea, not by inherent force of it self, but by the power of God; nor is the efficacy of Sacraments tyed to that moment of time wherein they are administred, Joh. 3.8. but they become effectual means of Salvation to such only as by Faith receive them, 1 Pet. 3.21. Baptism doth save, not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good con∣science. 1 Cor. 11.28. Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of this bread, and drink of this cup. 'Tis false and absurd to think that the Sacramental Signs, as Water in Baptism, &c. when received, have in themselves inherent vertue to work and produce Grace, as Physick to cure, or fire to burn: For first, it's injurious to God, for he only who made the heart, can sanctifie it; the cleansing of the soul by Grace infused, being as great a work as Creation. 2ly, The Word preached doth not profit without Faith, therefore not the Sacraments. 3ly, Did the Sacrament confer Grace upon Judas, or did Simon Magus receive Grace by Baptism? St. Peter testifies to the contrary, Act. 8.13. compar'd with v. 23.
Q. What say you to the Doctrine of Transubstantiation in the Sacrament of the Lords-Supper? Is the whole Sub∣stance of the Bread and Wine by the words of Consecra∣tion, Page 70 converted into the Substance of the Body and 〈◊〉 of Christ which was born of the Virgin Mary,〈◊〉 suffered upon the Cross?
A. The same is repugnant to Scripture as well as 〈◊〉 contrary to the nature of a Sacrament, weakens the c••¦dibility of the Christian Religion; was never thought 〈◊〉 much less believed by the Primitive Church for several hundred years; hath given occasion to many scandals and most gross Idolatry, and doth contain manifold Con¦tradictions and Absurdities.
Q. How then came so strange a notion to be enter∣tain'd at first by any Christians?
A. Abyssus Abyssum invocat, one Error drew on another you must know that in the beginning of the Eight Centu•• a fierce Dispute arose about Images; the Church of R••• and a Council held there, were for Images; but the Greek Church and a Council at Constantinople condemned them. The Popes were so hot and violent in this worthy quarrel, That Gregory the Second Excommunicated the Emperor Philip, and Gregory the Third the Emperor L•• the Third, because they opposed Images. And at last in the Second Council of Nice about the year 788. got Image-worship establisht. Now one of the great Argu∣ments of the before-mentioned Synod of Constantinople, (held in or about the year 737.) against Images, was this, That our Lord Christ having left us no other Image of himself but the Sacrament, in which the Substance of Bread is the Image of his Body, we ought therefore to make no other Image of our Lord. To avoid the force of this Argument, the Fathers of the following Nicene Council, who were for Images, did declare, That the Sacrament after Consecration, is not the Image or Antitype of Christ's Body and Blood, but is proper∣ly his Body and Blood. This was in or about the year 788. which Doctrine being first broached on this occasion, one Paschasius Abbot of Corbey about the year 818. did much propagate and advance it in the Latin Church; tho not Page 71 without vigorous opposition; first by Rabanus Maurus••shop of Mentz, one of the most Learned men of that Age; and afterwards by Berengarius, Bertram and others: But the Doctrine making much for the Honour of Priest∣hood, was greedily embraced by most of the Clergy, and poor Berengarius forc'd to Recant, first in a Council held at Rome, by Pope Nicholas the Second, and afterwards again under Pope Gregory the Seventh, in or about the year 1079. And to declare, That the Bread and Wine are Substantially changed into the true and proper Body of Christ; and after Consecration, are the true Body which was born of the Virgin, and which did hang on the Cross. But tho they had invented the thing, I do not find they had yet got a name for it till the Council of Lateran, under Pope Innocent the Third, in the year 1215. became its God-Father, and called it Transubstantiation; so that from the first starting, to the compleating of the opinion, and establishing it for an Article of Faith, was above 400 years, and that too the most wretched time for Blindness and Ignorance that ever the Church laboured under; and no wonder if whilst Christians were generally asleep, the evil one took advan∣tage to sow his Tares; for in this dark period it was that not only this, but most other Popish Errors, (as Image-worship, Purgatory, Indulgences, Auricular Confession, &c.) received, if not their Rise, yet their main growth and re∣putation in the world.
Q. But the Romanists affirm this Doctrine of theirs is founded on the plain positive words of our Lord and Saviour, This is my Body.
A. First, If they will abide by the strict Literal words, they make nothing for their Transubstantiation; for he that says, This is my Body, does not say, This is Transubstantia∣ted into my Body; for if in any usual Intelligible sense it may be his body without this notion of Transubstantiation, then cannot Transubstantiation be from thence inferred. Now the sense will be very usual and intelligible if the words be Page 72 taken Figuratively, as much as to say, This bread s•••• or represents, or exhibits my Body; for such Figur• Expressions are frequent in Scripture, as Christ is ca• a Rock, 1 Cor. 10.4. a Door, Joh. 10.9. a true Vine,〈◊〉 15.1. Believers are said to be all one Bread, 1 Cor. 10 and Chap. 12.27. Ye are the Body of Christ. Will any 〈◊〉 argue from these Texts, that our Saviour was substanti• a Rock, or a Vine, or that the Corinthians were Trans••¦stantiated into the Body of Christ? If not, why will 〈◊〉 strain this one Text to a sense alike absurd? especi•• since this Figurative way of speaking is the rather to 〈◊〉 expected in the Institution of a Sacrament, the very nat•• of which is to represent and exhibit some invisible Gr• and benefit, by an outward sign and figure. Nor can it 〈◊〉 denied but Christ in the Institution of this very Sacram••• useth Figurative Expressions, which cannot be taken stri••¦ly and literally, as, This Cup is the New Testament in〈◊〉Blood, &c. It is impossible that the Disciples should ••¦derstand these words of our Saviour literally, because th•• not only saw, that what he gave them, was Bread a••Wine; but saw likewise as plainly that it was not h••Body which was given, but his Body which gave th•• which was given; not his Body broken, and his Blo••shed, because they saw him alive at that very time, and beheld his Body whole and unpierced, therefore they mu•• needs understand them as we do, Sacramentally.
Secondly, St. Paul divers times calls it Bread, even after the Consecration, 1 Cor. 11. As oft as ye eat this Bread, 〈◊〉 drink this Cup, ye do shew forth the Lords Death till he co•• Whosoever shall eat this Bread, and drink this Cup of the Lo•• unworthily, &c.
Thirdly, Christ's Body remains in Heaven, and there∣fore is not here on Earth.— Christ sits at the right hand if God, Col. 3.1. Whom the heavens must contain till the resti••¦tion of all things, Acts 3.21.Page 73
Fourthly, The Primitive Church knew nothing of this, •he Fathers mention it not, nay, rather explode any such conceit; nothing can be more express, than that saying of St. Augustine in his Book De Doctrinâ Christianâ, where delivering several Rules for the right understanding of Scripture, he gives this for one,—
Fifthly, It includes monstrous Absurdities, as that Christ held his whole Body in his hands, yea, did eat himself, whilst he sat whole and intire with his Disciples at the Table; that his Body must be in a thousand places at once, and his whole Body be much less than the least Limb of his Body, &c.
Sixthly, It subverts the whole Credibility of the Chri∣stian Religion; for that is mainly built on the Miracles wrought by our Saviour and his Apostles, which depended on the Senses of those that saw them; but if our Senses may not be credited touching their proper Objects, but I must believe what my Eyes, Tast, Feeling, informs me to be a Wafer or Wine, to be really substantially Flesh and Blood, where is the certainty of any Miracle? for a Miracle is only a supernatural effect, evident to the Sense.
Seventhly, It introduces Idolatry, for the Romanists adore and give Divine worship to the Sacrament, and require the same of all who have Communion with them; now if this Opinion of Transubstantiation be not true, (as we have shew'd it to be false) 'tis plain, and themselves can∣not deny, but they are guilty of gross Idolatry; nor will Page 74 it excuse them, to say, They worship not the Bread, Christ, supposing the Bread to be Christ; for those 〈◊〉 then that worshipped the Sun or Jupiter, did supp•••• them to be Gods; and if such a Plea were good, m•• Idolaters would be excused; but the Apostle teach• otherwise, When you knew not God, ye did service to 〈◊〉 which by nature are no gods, Gal. 4.8.
Q. What do the Romanists mean by the Sacrifice of the Mass?
A. Their common Doctrine is, That at the Sacra•••• of the Lords Supper (which they call the Mass) there 〈◊〉 a true sacrifice offered by the Priest, which is Propitia•• both for the Quick and the Dead (viz. such as are 〈◊〉 Purgatory); that is, tends to procure the Expiation 〈◊〉 their Sins, or at least the Punishment due to them, and this they call an unbloody Sacrifice, to distinguish it fr•• that which our blessed Saviour offered on the Cross, when he shed his Blood for us; but how it can be 〈◊〉bloody, whilst the natural Substance of the Blood is there, according to their Principles, is not easy to understand▪ Nor yet, how it can fitly be called a Commemoration of his Death, which they say is a Sacrifice of Christ, who is the•corpo•ally Present.
Q. Is this Tenet agreeable to Scripture?
A. No, but directly contrary, and highly injurious 〈◊〉 that All-sufficient Sacrifice of Christ; who was once of∣fered to hear the sins of many, Heb. 9.28. Christ after he had offered one Sacrifice for Sin, sat down at the right hand of God, Heb. 10.12. By one offering Christ hath •••¦fected for ever them that are sanctified, Heb. 10.14. Chri•• hath once suffered for sins, that he might bring us to God, 1 Pet. 3.18. Where Remission of Sin is, th•• is no more offering for sin, Heb. 10.18. Either the•Remission was not obtained by Christ's once offering, 〈◊〉 there must be no more offering; that is, Either Christ's offering upon the Cross was insufficient, or thi•Page 75 of the Romanists in the Mass (to say no more of it) unne∣ssary.
Q. Is it lawful to exclude Christian People from re∣ceiving the Sacrament of the Lords Supper in both Kinds? Or to give but half the Sacrament, viz. the Bread, but not the Cup of the Lord?
A. No, it is unlawful; for Christ instituted it in both ••ds, with a Command to keep up the Celebration thereof, till his second Coming, Matth. 26.27. He took he Cup, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it, and for •hen this Legacy and Command with a strong Rea∣son, For this is my blood of the new Testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins; so Mark 14.23. He took 〈◊〉 Cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and •hey all drunk of it. And 'tis remarkable, that he doth not say, Eat you all, (tho they were to do so) but Drink 〈◊〉 all, as foreseeing the sacrilegious Attempts of taking 〈◊〉 away from the People.
Q. The Apostles only were present, and they were Priests?
A. First, 'Tis evident that eating and drinking be∣•ong to the same Persons; and if one he restrain'd so •ust the other; and since 'tis confessed that Eating be∣•ongs to the People, by Virtue of this Precept, (eat of it)〈◊〉 the same Reason, doth Drinking belong to them, by Virtue of that Precept, (drink all of it).
Secondly, Tho the Apostles were Ministers, yet in this〈◊〉 they were in the Peoples stead, and Christ was the •inister, or Dispencer of this Sacrament; and as they were •inisters, he commanded them, Do this in remembrance of〈◊〉; that is, take and distribute Bread and Wine to the ••ople, as He had to them. And if they had commanded 〈◊〉 give the Bread to the People, they are commanded to 〈◊〉 the Wine also.
Thirdly, St. Paul clearly expounds this, and applies it 〈◊〉•ll Believers; for having recited our Lords words, thus Page 76 he writes to all the Corinthians, Let a man examine 〈◊〉 and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that〈◊〉 1 Cor. 11. where in four Verses, he inseparably 〈◊〉Eating and Drinking together. Remarkable are the wo•• and prodigious the confidence of the Council of •••¦stance (held 1417.) who first forbad the Cup to the ••¦ty.— Altho (say they) Christ did Minister this Sacra•• under two Forms of Bread and Wine, and altho in the Pr•••¦tive Church, this Sacrament was received by the Faithful 〈◊〉 both Kinds; yet we [for most trivial Reasons by th• mentioned] Decree that it shall be received under one K••• only.
Q. I am weary of such a Church, as will take u••• her plainly to contradict Christ in so great an Ordin••• and therefore shall release you of your present trouble, 〈◊〉 you please only to give me a brief Answer to those t•• common Questions, By what right did the Church of Eng∣land separate from the Church of Rome? And where 〈◊〉your Church before Luther?
A. To the first I Answer, First, That the Gospel w• preached in our Britain very early (well nigh as soon, 〈◊〉 some say before it was at Rome) by Apostolical Men, 〈◊〉 and Churches planted here, over whom the Church 〈◊〉Rome had no Jurisdiction.
Secondly, That altho Rome did afterwards insinuate 〈◊〉 self, and usurp Authority over our English Church, 〈◊〉 she had never any Right so to do.
Thirdly, That the Church of Rome in process of 〈◊〉 becoming very corrupt in Doctrine and Practises, end•¦voured to impose such Corruptions and Innovat••• upon all those of her Communion, which yet w•• from time to time opposed, and complained of, by •¦vers of her own Pious and Learned Members, 〈◊〉 great numbers by her Cruelty put to death for such o••¦sition.Page 77
Fourthly, The Case being thus, and the Church of Rome, after all Admonitions and Intreaties, not only refu∣sing to reform her self, but on the contrary, cutting off all hopes, by proclaiming her self Infallible, and to be not a part of, but the whole Catholick Church, the Mistress of all other Churches, &c. Hereupon the Church of England, with Sovereign Authority, and in an orderly manner, did cast off Rome's usurped Authority, and reform it self, reducing all Doctrines and Practices to the Holy Scrip∣ture, and Pattern of the pure Primitive Times: In do∣ing which, she did but her Duty, and was far from be∣ing guilty of any Schism, for that is a Causeless Separation, whereas here were important and sufficient Reasons; nor did she depart from the Catholick Church (being her self a considerable part of it) but only from the depraved Opinions and Practices of the Church of Rome; who is notoriously guilty of Schism, that is, of a groundless sin∣ful Separation from other Faithful Christians, whilst she makes such unlawful Terms of Communion, that no Man well informed, can with a good Conscience comply with; And whilst she sets up her self above all other Churches, and will hold Communion with none but those that will enslave themselves to her: By which means she broke off from the Eastern Church, which would not submit to this her Usurpation; and by the same means made it necessa∣ry for the Western Churches to withdraw from her, that they might not be defiled with her Errors and Corrup∣tions, and to reform themselves so far as they had been defiled.
To the Second Question, you may answer your self out of what hath been said; The Protestants pretend not to bring in a new Religion, or erect a new Church, but to restore the true Ancient Religion of Christ, and vindi∣cate it from the Rubbish which ill Men had cast upon it, and to reform it to the Primitive Constitution; so that (as one says well) to ask, Where our Religion was before Page 78 Luther? is as impertinent, as to ask a Husbandma•〈◊〉 his Corn was before it was weeded. Our Religion w••¦fore Luther, in Christ and the Apostles, and in a• Saints and Holy Churches; It was afterwards (the conspicuous) yet really existent in all those that held the true Ancient, Catholic Doctrine; and so far in 〈◊〉Roman Church it self, but more eminently in all t•• good Christians, who both retained the Foundation, 〈◊〉 also opposed Rome's Innovations, and prayed and 〈◊〉 for a Reformation; of whom (altho the same be not •¦solutely necessary, yet) our Learned Writers have gi•• in Catalogues, and vouched Testimonies in every Ag• will only give you one Instance; The Waldenses, called contempt by their Adversaries, the poor men of Lyons 〈◊〉 Leonists (of whom Histories inform us, that Fur•• St. Dominick, in the 13th Century, with his Zealo•• butchered several hundred thousands) held the same D•¦ctrine in the main Points with us, as we may justify 〈◊〉 their Confessions yet extant. Now Rainerius himself, their cruel Inquisitor, who made Bonfires of them, and who flourisht about the Year of our Lord 1254. gives th• Account of these People; The Leonists (saith he) are the most pernicious of all Sects that are, or ever have bee•; and th• for these three Causes.
First, Because they have been of the longest standing, for s••• say, they have continued ever since Pope Sylvester, others s• from the time of the Apostles.
Secondly, Because it is more general than any Sect, for the•• is no Land in which they are not.
Thirdly, That whereas all other Sects, by the horridness of their Blasphemies against God, strike horror into those that b•• them: This Sect of the Leonists hath the face of Piety, in th• they lead a righteous life; and believe all things well of God, 〈◊〉 they blaspheme the Church of Rome. [Rainerius contra Val∣denses, Cap. 1.]Page 79
Q. Certainly a notable Testimony, especially proceed∣ing from a professed Enemy! — I thank you heartily, for the Satisfaction you have given me.
A. If you desire further Information, consult the Works of our Learned Protestant Writers, Ancient and Modern; particularly the Treatises of several able Divines yet living, who have lately with great Clearness, and ex∣act Judgment discoursed of the Principal Points in Con∣troversy.
To whose worthy Pains,—I beseech God to give a Blessing, and to inspire all that call upon his holy Name, with a Love and Zeal for his Truth, a due Reve∣rence for his Sacred Word and Ordinances, a Spirit of Charity and Obedience, that so persisting in true Faith and Piety, they may advance his Glory, adorn the Religion they profess, and finally obtain the Salvation of their Im∣mortal Souls. Amen.