A Protestant Antidote Against POPERY: With A Brief DISCOURSE of the great Atheisticalness and vain AMOURS now in Fashion.
Written in a LETTER to a Young Lady.
By a Person of Honour.
DƲBLIN, Printed; And are to be sold by Joseph Wilde, Bookseller in Castle-street. 1673.
I Know the Law of Custom has made it not onely an usu∣al favour, but an expected Duty, to comple∣ment at least, if not flatter, such women as men write to, especially the Great Ladies, who think none write well, that do not praise them much, and those write best, who extol them most: Page 4High praises being like good Poetry, Musick in words, the sound of which may be agreeable, but truly to deserve them, requires such a Gygantick size of merit, as is very unproportionable to the slender-wasted Virtues of most Ladies, who are over-eager to receive praises, and over-careless in meriting any, and the grand reason is, because they know they usual∣ly have them without it, and that custom must give it, though reason can∣not, so obliging is the common courtesie of England to Ladies, that it allows them to pretend to all praises as their due, though few deserve Page 5any as their right. In a word, our English Ladies must have their Characters writ, just as the Dutch Madams will have their Pictures drawn, that is very handsom, though they themselves be never so ugly.
But, Madam, for your part, I know your perfecti∣ons so abundantly, and my own heart so truly, as I must beg the Law of Custom par∣don here, it being beyond my power to flatter, or com∣plement, since I can nei∣ther overpraise your high me∣rit, or out-speak the real love, and true esteem, I have both for you and them, so that knowing all manner of prai∣ses to be justly due to your me∣rits, Page 6I find I cannot here make you a present of any, with∣out doing you an injurie, by intituling you to those praises by gift, which all know are your own by right.
For truly, Madam, the whole progress of your Acti∣ons have still been so highly vertuous, and religiously strict, and ever believed, and pro∣claimed such, that though your Beautie might make bad men wish you ill, yet your Vertues hinder the worst from daring to think you so; for if they did, their own hearts must at the same time con∣demn their own thoughts, and declare your innocencie; like Pilate, who with the same Page 7breath he condemned our Sa∣viour, said, He found no fault in him.
But, Madam, though your vertuous life is so transparent∣ly excellent, yet for all that, you ought to look on your unsoil'd reputation as no small blessing of preservation in these scandalous times, where so few Handsom Ladies escape censure, and so many deserve it; for now the extravagan∣cies of Romance-Amours are not onely daily read, but al∣most hourly practised; and women act, more than Ro∣mances can write, whilst the sober rules of Vertue, and pi∣ous duties of Religion, are seldom thought on, and most Page 8rarely practised, our Youth being generally grown, such fond friends of Mr. Hobbs his Books, as they are become meer strangers to our Savi∣our's Gospel, they living as if they were all bodies, and had no souls, or had them but to lose, turning Religion into Raillerie, and Gospet into Romance; for thus in short they mangle Scripture, that part which is chiefly Histori∣cal, that is their meer Gospel-part; and that which is the Gospel-part, is their meer Hi∣storical-part; and because they cannot bring the Gospel to prove their Atheistical rea∣sons, pretend to prove by rea∣son, that there is no Gospel; Page 9and if some of them now and then look over a Chapter, they onely pass through it, as a Spie doth an Enemies Coun∣trie, with a mischievous de∣sign; and if they can but find in Scripture a seeming contra∣diction, that they presently bring on the Stage, as they do Fools in Plays, to raillie with, and make sport at; so great a Jeast our Young Sparks now make of their salvation, as to be pleas'd in the meer displea∣sing God, without considering 'tis not onely Atheistical mad∣ness, but Devilish follie, to make that their Jest which they may be damn'd for in Earnest.
Thus our Youth throw a∣way Page 10way their souls, and for their time they care not how they spend it, (alwaies provided it be not religiously) and therefore they wast it most in the companie of vain women, and are so eager and zealous in their pursuit, and so con∣stant in their service, as if they fancied God was mistaken, and intended creating man for the woman, rather than the woman for the man; but though all know God made the woman for the man: Yet what Critick can tell us whether our new-mode has made the Gallant for the Mi∣stress, or the Mistress for the Gallant; but of this we are all sure, they are so plentiful∣ly Page 11made for one another, that the Eastern Country Laws al∣low not with more freedom pluralitie of Wives, than our new-English Customs admit pluralitie of Mistresses; Nay, I may yet venture to say more, That the Libertie of our men exceeds theirs; for they are permitted no more Wives, than they can well keep, but ours are allowed as many Mi∣stresses as they can any way get.
For indeed the Names of Tom and Bess are hardly more familiar here, than those of Gallant and Mistress, and are so far from being esteemed Names of discredit, that many of our Mode Ladies look on Page 12their Gallants as Beauty-marks, rather than stains of Reputation, and for all they cannot but know, that the infection of Gallants is as bad an enemy to credit, as the small Pox to Beautie, a com∣mon ruiner of it; And though womens Gallants are in plain English no better than the publick Executioners of their reputations, and indeed no women will allow them, but such as are willingly con∣demn'd to suffer (and wo∣men that slight reputation are seldom fond of Chastitie) Yet these abusers of love, & murde∣rers of fame, by their fair words and base Arts have so insinua∣ted themselves into their fa∣vour, Page 13as the women now for∣sooth, call their Gallants their Friends, and if common re∣port port may be credited, they are indeed their bosom-ones; (and such women as value lit∣tle what others say, seldome care much what they them∣selves do) Custome having brought many of our women to that pass, as they now glo∣ry in the number of their Gallants, esteeming them rather so many Vouchers of their Beautie, than so many robbers of their Honour, the so usual practice of this scan∣dal, having taken away wo∣mens sense, that like black∣ness amongst the Aethiopians, its commoness has removed Page 14its deformitie: And there is now such a forward Love-spring in the Nurseries of our Young Ladies, as the very lit∣tle ones learn to spell Amour with their Fescue, and will pretend to entertain their Young Gallants, in the dark walks of Love, and in the La∣byrinth of its Intrigues, be∣fore they well know what the thing Love is, or the name of Gallant means, and would have Servants come to them, before they come to the Teens, (the ripeness of their minds outrunning that of their bo∣dies) and fancy men so mad as to believe, 'tis expectation makes a Blessing dear; but that dull Presbyterian way Page 15of Love, is now quite out of Fashion, & the loves of our Young Gallants are grown as fickle and meer skin deep, as their Mistresses Fancies and Beauties; and Love-wounds that are but skin deep, can never hurt the heart; and therefore though every day we hear of Hundreds of Gal∣lants that are dying for love in their Mistresses companie▪ yet we cannot read of one these many Ages that dyed for Love in the Weekly Bills of Mortalitie, the obliging carriage of the Ladies of the times having made our Young men so healthfully wise, so forwardly bold, or at least so impatiently hastie, as they ex∣pect Page 16now a dayes to take Young women, as great Ar∣mies do weak Towns, onely by Summons, or Assaults, as not esteeming them worthy the time and trouble of a Love-siege, though their Mi∣stresses were as yielding as Rome it self, which Writers say, was never besieged with∣out being taken: that is in short, they hold Handsome women worth enjoying, but not wooing. And that makes our Young men so eager and inconstant in their Amours, as really 'tis a very hard mea∣suring-cast to tell, whether our Young Gallants use now more art, or speed, in the get∣ting or forgetting of their Mistresses.Page 17
But the best of it is, that the inconstancie of both Sexes are now so equally match'd, that I cannot write more of their Gallants inconstancies, than their Mistresses make good of their own; for they deal with their Gallants, as their Fashions, that which comes latest is still like'd best, and us'd most In a word, the constancie and inconstan∣cie of our Young men and women, are just like water, and ice, where one still makes the other, and their loves (ice-like) never last long, and as soon as 'tis dissolv'd, turns im∣mediately to the same it was before, without any alterati∣on or prejudice: Nor can wa∣ter Page 18be more apt and readie by the coming of Frost to turn to ice, than our Young men and womens hearts are apt & enclin'd to return to love, at the approach of fresh-fan∣cied Beauty. And truly the inconstancie of our Young men cannot be so great, nor their inclinations so ill, but the tongues of many of our Young women are grown as bad; for now if a Young maid be but cry'd up for handsom, and resolves to continue ver∣tuous, and therefore will not turn vain, and deserve cen∣sure, as much as the rest, they will be sure to speak her as bad as the worst, and if they cannot with Justice wound Page 19her vertue, they will attempt by ill Arts to murder her re∣putation, (envie being the pa∣rent of wicked invention) it being now a Mode principle amongst most of our handsom women, that no woman that enjoyes a large proportion of Beautie, but must as an una∣voidable appurtenance, carry with it a load of scandalous censures (a false Character of some, though too true a one of most) which occasions their not caring how unjustly they increase anothers bur∣then, in hope to lessen their own load, and by overstretch∣ing the miscarriages of others greater than they should be, hope to shrink theirs less than Page 20really they are, vainly fancy∣ing that by spattering with dirt and reproach other wo∣mens reputations, were a kind of wiping clean their own, which suits not at all with the mild and moderate rules of Vertue, which onely allows women to correct each others faults, by their good Examples, but not to increase them by their bad censures: For, scandalous censures like Mushroms grow without any root, so tender, and mutable a thing, is a hand∣som womans good Name: there's no taking its true Ele∣vation by any certain out∣ward Rules and measures, Since it depends more on her Page 21Neighbours good or bad re∣port, than on her own vertu∣ous, or ill actions; & more on what they say, than what she does; & really such reports are usually so sophisticated with self concerns, and so strongly byass'd by aversion or inclina∣tion, as you may daily hear in common Discourse, both men and women turn vertue into vice, and vice into vertue; and so characterize Good wo∣men to be bad, and bad wo∣men to be good, speaking not as women deserve, but as they fancy; and therefore it often happens, that many women save their reputations even by a speedy losing their chastity, whilst other women lose their Page 22reputation in their very de∣fence of it, that is in short, more women lose their repu∣tation in admitting to be much courted (though that be all) than by being in injoy'd, and the reason is plain, because the courtship is publick to all, but the injoyment is onely private to themselves, and 'tis more rational Two concern∣ed persons should keep their own councel, than many un∣concern'd should keep it for them; so that it cannot neces∣sarily follow, that the report∣ed reputation or disreputati∣on of handsom women must needs be the true issue of their merits, but often the by-blow of chance, and there∣fore Page 23common report can be no right rule to measure womens reputations by, for many re∣ports have much of the Devils nature in them, who is a liar from the beginning. And in∣deed if we but truly consider, we shall find women general∣ly censure one another, not as they are really faultie, but as they appear, and are esteemed handsome; and therefore ug∣ly women have the priviledge of Popes, who cannot err, but may do what they will, and take what libertie they please, and handsom women will be as far from censuring their actions, as young men from praising their persons, so that really in effect, we Page 24find most womens censures are not proportionable to the ill, others act, but rather suit∣able to the beautie they pos∣sess, which by their leave is a way of judging, that's both irrational and uncharitable; since I am sure none can deny, but that there are some un∣handsom women, unchast; and some chast women hand∣some, for vertue and beautie are not so declar'd enemies, but they sometimes meet; though I cannot deny, but that vertue which in former Ages was esteemed one of the greatest adornments of the soul, is now so Eclipsed by the outward beautie of the bodie, as vertue and piety Page 25the true inward beautie) can∣not shine out: a good soul be∣ing nothing now in compari∣son of a good face, beautie being now the Great Em∣press that commands the whole World, and makes very Kings to un-King them∣selves and become subjects to her. And yet this so ador'd beautie, (which all women are so ambitious of, and all men so court) has at best no intrinsick value in it, but just like riches, they enjoy most, that are con∣tented with least; since 'tis not much, but enough, that's the true measure of satisfacti∣on. But Madam, 'tis now more than time to beg your pardon, for I find I am stray'd Page 26both beyond the time, and beside the road of my design'd Discourse, which is not to present you a Character, or List of the fine Ladies, and mode-vices of the times, they will require a much wittier Pen than I pretend to be Ma∣tter of, and a larger Volume than I design to trouble you with: but this Character which indeed merits volumes of praises, I am sure I can give you without needing wit, or abusing of time; and if I could here cast up the summe total of all the vices that your Sex are either guil∣tie of, or scandaliz'd with, (which I'le assure you are more than a few) their num∣ber Page 27might be tedious to read, but need not be disagreeable for you to hear, since by na∣ming all those faults, they are infected with, I should but tell all those you are free from.
But, Madam, my design is now to remove my Batte∣rie, and change my Scene of Writing, as you have your place of Living, and to level my Discourse, not at the vi∣ces and pleasures of London, nor the pastimes of the Court, but at your Country Neigh∣bours; the Woods and Moun∣tains of Macroome, which renders it a place much fitter to exercise your patience, than satisfie your delight, Page 28were you of the humour of most Ladies; but all know you are not onely an Excel∣lent woman, but an Extra∣ordinary Wife, I mean in Goodness, (for 'tis rare now to meet a Wife that's not ex∣traordinary) for you take as much satisfaction in the cares of well managing and im∣proving your Estate, as most other Ladies delight, in the lavishing theirs, so that I can truly say, you have not onely brought your Lord a large summe of money for your Portion, but a con∣tinued increase of Rent by your Industrie.
And I am sure, Madam, if you were now ask't as the Page 29Philosopher was, Where was his home; you would answer now, as he did then, My home is still where my chief business is. so that now your chief concerns and Family, (which is still the good Wives Treasure) being at Macroome, I must conclude your heart is there also.
A place where in lieu of London, crowds of good Company, & swarms of diver∣tisements; you must prepare to meet with, and do penance to your self, among the Flocks of Priests and Fryers, against whose Popish insinuations, and infectious perswasions, I here present you a small, but necessary Collection of Ar∣guments Page 30to carry about you, as a preservative in your own Religion, and an Antidote against theirs; and though I cannot pretend this pocket Pistol is a sufficient Battering piece, to beat down their in∣fallible Church, yet I doubt not but it will at least be a sufficient Life-guard to de∣fend you and your Chamber against their assaults.
They are most of them ar∣gumentative reasonings I pickt out of Mr. Chilling-worth, as one that reasons best, and satisfies me most, of any I ever read; and know∣ing you want a Collection of choice flowers, I heartily wish that these I have gather∣ed Page 31out of his Garden, and here sorted and made up to present you in a Nosegay, may serve you against the un∣pleasing savour of Popish Do∣ctrine, and I wish they may not altogether degenerate from the common nature of flowers, which the Natura∣list tells us, grow larger and better by being transplanted: so that I hope you will not find them the worse, nor like them the less, for being transplanted, but receive these Arguments just as you do your Rents, without ca∣ring whether your Tenants have the Money out of their own bags, or borrow it; so you have it to supply Page 32your occasions.
Truly, Madam, I have taken some pains, and spent much time in reading the Dis∣courses of the Papists against our Religion, and though I have consider'd their Argu∣ments without the least Byas, or antedated prejudice; yet I can give no better a Cha∣racter of them, than I do of ill Dealers, the more I have to do with them, the worse I like them: they savour much of self-interest, teach∣ing Church Government, be∣fore Gospel Obedience, wit∣ness their holding Marriage a greater crime in a Priest than Fornication, the one is but forbid by their Churches Page 33Law, which they all know is disputable, the later by the Law of Christ, which they cannot but know, ought to be past all dispute.
And truly, Madam, if you please to admit your rea∣son to make but a short pro∣gress into the Popish Religi∣on, you shall find much to create your wonder, but lit∣tle to satisfie your reason or belief; for the Gospel of Christ; is the Gospel of Truth, and therefore ought still to be pictur'd naked as Truth, without any Art of Roman Dresses, which are onely ob∣scure shadings of the true light of Scripture, by making dark Paraphrases on the plai∣nest Page 34Gospel Commands, which in all reason ought to be plain enough for the meanest capa∣city; for God forbid it should be otherwise, for the mean∣est Christian must be saved or damned, for keeping or not keeping them; and sure God's Justice will never send per∣sons to Hell, for not doing what they could not under∣stand was his Will, they should do; that were such a cruelty, as if a man should torment his servant for not doing his Errant, when he knew he did not understand his Mes∣sage; yet the Papist must not take these plain Gospel Commands as such, but as they are distill'd in the myste∣rious Page 35politick Lymbeck of the Popish interest: indeed My∣stery and Obedience is so in∣terwoven in that Religion, that Papists must take what their Priest tells them, as men do wives, for better, for worse, and must marry their Faith to their Churches infal∣libility, which allows that onely to be Gospel which their Church sayes shall be, not what the Apostles write is so; for the Papists must obey the Pope, though no where commanded in the Go∣spel; but must not read the Gospel, though they are commanded there to do it.
Nay, when once the Pa∣pist can but touch the small Page 36Needle of any ones reason with the Great Loadstone of the Harmonious Doctrine of a necessary Obedience to their infallible Church, then they make such follow it, to every point of the Compass, be it good, bad, or indiffe∣rent; and so they sail all their life, in a Trade-wind of igno∣rance and superstition, and must belive their Priests words before their own sen∣ses in the plainest objects of them; as in the Miracle of Transubstantiation, where you must have eyes and see not, hands and feel not, but must believe in a moment real Bread and Wine to be turned into perfect Flesh and Blood, Page 37though you cannot see the least change whatsoever, yet they are bound to belive their Priest, before their eyes, smell, or taste, nor dare their Priest say, that the consecra∣ted Bread (which they esteem the real Body of Christ) will be less mouldie, or more un∣certain of corruption after Consecration than before; and the jeast of it is, that at the same time the Papists believe that Miracle, they also be∣lieve this Scripture, That God will not suffer his Holy One to see corruption. And though for these and many other reasons, I cannot be∣lieve this Transubstantiation-Miracle, yet I cannot but ad∣mire Page 38this Miracle that belongs to Transubstantiation, which is, how the Pope can bring so many, that have sense and reason, to believe it.
But I shall pass by their ad∣oring this Sacrament, their praying to Saints, and a mul∣titude of their superstitious observances never used in the primitive Church; and shall onely desire you, Madam, to observe in general, that the Papists follow the Gospel, just as they read Hebrew, that's backward; for God plainly commands, that all should search the Scripture. And our Blessed Saviour or∣dered the Sacrament to be administred in both kinds, Page 391 Cor. 11. Chap. 28. v. And St. Paul forbids publick pray∣ers in an unknown Language, but that which is most for Edification, 1 Cor. 14 c. 15, 16. v. But these plain posi∣tive commands do not hinder the Church of Rome from de∣claring, that unlearned men shall not read and search the Scriptures; but if we believe St. Paul before the Pope, we may read in the 17. of the Acts, 11. v. how he commen∣ded the Noble Bereans for searching the Scriputes, and therefore if searching the Scriptures had not been not onely lawful, but a commen∣dable act, certainly St. Paul would never have commend∣ed Page 40them for so doing. So that the Popish Clergy forbids the reading the Scriptures, under a pretence that their Laity might not truly under∣stand them. Next, the Church of Rome allows onely their Clergy (except free Princes, for they are excepters of per∣sons, though God is not) to receive the Communion but in one kind, though our Sa∣viour commands, that all drink of the Cup; and the Papists cannot deny, but that the Communion was taken in both kinds in all Christian Churches for above a Thou∣sand years after Christ.
And Lastly, for the poor vulgar sort, they shall onely Page 41hear their publick prayers in an unknown Tongue, viz. Latine, which a Tenth part of them do not understand; and therefore how that can be most for Edification, let the Papists tell if they can, I am sure we cannot, nor do we believe they can; with∣out the help of another Tran∣substantiation-Miracle, and make an unknown Language to most, to be chang'd at the same time into a common known Language to all.
And now, Madam, I shall humbly desire you to consi∣der in general, that though the Papists do out-noise us: (as shallow rivers do still the the deepest) with the high Page 42and mighty Rodomontades of their Churches infallibilitie; yet such high Rants, with∣out true proof, are but like School-boyes paper-Kites, which soar high and loftie, but have nothing else worth taking notice of. They will have the confidence to tell you, that their Popish Church is the Roman Catholick, and onely true Christian Church in the whole world: But the Protestants Answer to this their boasting, is, that all the Christian Churches in the whole world (besides, the Popish Churches) though more in number than they) declare quite contrary. They will ask you, where your Page 43Protestant Church was before Luther, which was wittily answered by one; (where the Papist Church never was) in the Bible.
The Papists do divert themselves very much at our stiling our King, Head of the Church, as we do, for their doing so, for we esteem our King, Head onely in his own Dominions, without the Popes title of infallible; and sure 'tis more rational that those of a Kingdom should allow their King to be Head of the Church in his own Kingdoms, than that a few Cardinals should make the Head of the Church over all Kingdoms, And for all their Jeasting, I Page 44am sure we can shew (in so∣ber earnest) Scripture-presi∣dents for Kings being Heads of Churches in their own Do∣minions, which is more than the papists can shew for their Pope, or his Churches infal∣libilitie: for sure they can∣not object against it as new Doctrine (though Doctrine that's new is their greatest Trade) that the Kings of Ju∣dah, and the first Christian Emperors were Heads of the Jewish Churches and in their own Dominions: And Solo∣mon tells us, That a Divine Sentence is in the lips of the King, and his mouth trans∣gresseth not in Judgement (which I am sure Popes have Page 45not, witness Liberius) and Solomon gives the reason, be∣cause the Heart of the King is in the Hand of the Lord. If the Papists will pretend so much Scripture for their Pope, I shall onely answer, 'Tis more than ever Prote∣stants read, or the Apostles writ.
The Papists will tell you with a great deal of confi∣dence, that though we say the Bible is the Religion of Protestants, yet there is no Protestant Religion, or Church, mentioned in the whole Creed, which are the Articles of the Christian Faith: and they will tell you, that their Church is the Ca∣tholick Page 46Church, and to be∣lieve the Catholick Church was an Article of the Chri∣stian Faith from the very in∣fancie of the Church in the beginning of the Apostles time, Now let the Papists tell us, if they bring this as an Argument against the Protestant Religion in the Bible, or not; if not, what cause have they to name it, or what need have we to answer it; but if it be one, we make this reply, That the Roman Church is no more named in the Apostles Creed, than the Protestant Church is; f•r the Apostles Creed was made be∣fore the Roman Church was a Church, and this I am sure Page 47they cannot deny; so that since the Catholick Church was then in being, and the Roman Church not in being, it must necessarily follow, that the Roman Church can∣not be the Catholick Church mentioned in the Apostles Creed, and consequently is not the Mother-Church, as the Papists would have her to be: thus the Papists have so overcharg'd this Argument to shoot at us, as it recoils and flyes in their own faces.
And of kin to this, is their grand Battering piece of all, which so thunders in the ears of all Papists, and makes the Popes power so absolute, and the poor credulous Papist so Page 48obedient, and that is the power given by our Saviour to St. Peter, in the 16th of St. Matthew, beginning the 18th verse. Thou art Peter, and on this Rock I will build my Church, and give thee the Keyes of the Kingdom of Hea∣ven; and whomsoever thou shalt bind on Earth, shall be bound in Heaven; and whom∣soever thou shalt loose on Earth, shall be loosed in Hea∣ven; and these words the Pa∣pists understand literally, that St. Peter's person is the Rock that Christ builds his Church on, which cannot possibly be, by the verses just follow∣ing; for there when our Sa∣viour tells his Disciples of his Page 49going to Jerusalem, where he must suffer many things, and be killed, and raised again the Third day; Peter took him, and began to rebuke him; be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee: But our Saviour turned, and said un∣to Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence to me, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. By which words 'tis most clear and evi∣dent, that our Saviour did not mean Peters person could be the Rock of the Christian Church; for if Peter's person had been that Rock meant, sure our Saviour would never have removed it behind him; Page 50and it would be not onely ir∣rational, but impious, to be∣lieve that Christ would build his Church on Satan, for so he calls St. Peter's person; and 'twere as unreasonable to be∣lieve that the Rock of Christs Church could be an offence to him as St. Peter's person was, and as improbable again as all this, that Christs Church, the Foundation of all Chri∣stianity, should savour, not of the things that be of God, but those that are of men, as Peter's person did.
Therefore if you will but please to read the words of our Saviour carefully, you shall find they are most plain, for verse 13th. When Jesus Page 51came into the Coast of Caesa∣rea, He ask'd his Disciples, Whom do men say that I am, and they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the Prophets, but whom say ye that I am; and Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art Christ the Son of the Living God: And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and vpon this Rock, (not this person) I will build my Church, that is (upon this Rock of Faith) that I am Christ the Son of the Living God, I build my Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not pre∣vail against it. Now this must necessarily relate to his faith, Page 52not his person; for the gates of Hell, that's the power of evil, did prevail against Pe∣ter's person, or he had not deny'd and forsworn his. Lord and Master again and again; and been afterwards proved blame-worthy by St. Paul to his face, and indeed as blame-worthy as any of his Disci∣ples; so that 'tis most plain, that Christs words (of ma∣king him the Rock of the Christian Church) related not to his person, but his faith of Christs being the Son of the Living God.
And for the other part; whereas the Papists believe a particular favour and power, given by our Saviour to S Pe∣ter;Page 53of the Keys of Heaven; that was given as much to the Eleven Disciples, as to him, as you may read in the 18th of St. Matthew, & in the 20th of St. John's Gospel, and the 23, 24. verses; As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you, and when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose soe∣ver sins ye remit, they are re∣mitted unto them, and whose∣soever sins ye retain, they are retained. So that you see this power is general, to the Disciples, and not in parti∣cular to St. Peter, more than to any of the rest, as the Pa∣pists mis-believe.Page 54
The Papists have many such Questions, which I am sure, Madam, you have nei∣ther the patience to read, nor I the time to write, but those that are most material of them you will find, I have here pre∣sented you, truly answer'd, by pure Scripture, clear rea∣sons, plain arguments, and all in few words, fit for the weakest memory, or smallest pocket, to carry about them: for true reason doth not con∣sist in large Volumes, long Gowns, or gray Beards; for many live to One and Twen∣ty, without attaining to years of discretion; the degrees of Age being not still the mea∣sures of wisedom, for the Page 55world will never be without old Fools, and young Philo∣sophers.
And truly, Madam, for my part, I cannot so much as think of the Papists Reli∣gion without wonder, that so many rational men of them should rather fasten their faith of salvation on the pretended infallibility of their Church (which is deny'd by most Christians) than on the Ho∣ly Scriptures, which is grant∣ed by all, to be the Will and Word of God; and the very Foundation of their Chur∣ches Foundation, as contain∣ing in it all things necessary to our salvation. And we Protestants have at least this Page 56satisfaction and advantage, that not onely the Papists, but all sorts of Christians that are in the circumference of the whole world, meet and joyn with us in this centre of Faith, that the Scriptures contain all things necessary to our salvation; which be∣ing a general granted Truth, I confess, I admire, how any Papist can make the least scruple, which is the safest Heavenly Guide, the Pope or the Gospel: If there be any rational man so extrava∣gant as to put them in the same ballance, and to com∣mit a rape upon his reason, I shall onely desire him to con∣sider this plain Question; If Page 57•he were to go a Journey in an unknown way, would he not think it more rational and safe to follow a certain true Guide, that all the Christians in the world de∣clare, is certainly able and ready to shew him the right way, than to follow a pre∣tended Guide, which the greatest part of the Christians in the world assures him will lead him out of it; And this being the real difference be∣tween the Papist and Prote∣stant in Gross, concerning the Heavenly Guide, the Bi∣ble, and the Pope, I think I need now say no more, be∣cause so many have already said so much, and I am sure Page 58enough, to satisfie any, except such, who will believe a crooked Rule is better, to draw a straight line by, than a right one.
And now Madam I shall onely beg, so much of your patience as to let me tell you, that the plot and Heads of this following discourse, I have Extracted out of the worthy Chilingworth. Before I begin the discourse it self; I know in writing a play, to have Rank'd the plot in the Front of it, and to make the whole design of the Prologue to be the Key, to uncipher the plot of the play, (though anciently in use) had been now, not onely out of fashi∣on, Page 59but beside reason; For the design of plays, aiming chiefly to please the senses, they ought to be compound∣ed and mixt with hopes and fears, certainties, and uncer∣tainties, Expectations, and de∣•ays of the event of the plot; which being all so interwo∣ven together, creates the a∣greeableness of the play; for when once the whole plot is discovered, the pleasure of the play is ended; like Hare-Hunting, the sport lies not in presently taking the Hare, but in following him, in all his Rings and Doubles, and those that love plays, and such Huntings, resemble jealous men, who eagerly pursue Page 60what they apprehend to over∣take, or as old age, which we all pray to attain, but fear to approach.
But now I come to soar my discourse to a much higher pitch, & a more Elevated Sub∣ject, and to treat of the most noble part of man, the Soul, and of true Religion the one∣ly way to Heavenly felicity, for without Holiness, no man shall see the Lord; We must therefore now Madam, change the Scene of sense for a spiri∣tual one, and climb where earthly nature, can never fol∣low us, to the pure and high Region of Heaven, which will inform us that the earlier discovering our plot of at∣taining Page 61Heaven, will but bet∣ter the play, and the more speed, the better success: for the joyes of Heaven are ever∣lasting, and admits of no in∣crease or diminution: not •ike the divertisements of Stage-playes, or Hunting, or any earthly delights, which cannot last, but for a season, and decay in our very injoy∣ing them, and must soon leave us, or we them; but Heaven∣ly thoughts the more and longer we practice them, the better we shall like them; Heavenly joyes so far exceed∣ing all we can here leave, as they are all we can ever aspire to have; this we all know, but few of us practice, and Page 62we all love God, but few love to keep his Commandments.
I shall therefore now Ma∣dam tell you, as the Prologue to my insuing discourse, that the grand Plot, and whole design of it, moves chiefly on these two hinges, first in con∣firming you, that the foun∣dation of the Protestant Re∣ligion is built on God's holy Word, the Scriptures; which we Protestants, esteem to be a perfect Rule of Faith, and guide to our actions, and the true Touch-stone to try all matters by, that relate to the good of our Souls, as certain∣ly containing in it, all things necessary to our salvation. The second thing I chiefly de∣sign Page 63to prove, is, that neither the Pope, or the Popish Church are infallible; and these two shall make up the principal stories, in the little Model of this small building. The pretended infallibility of the Church of Rome, is the grand perswasive Argument, and lure to invite men to it, and the strongest command∣ing Garrison in all the Popes power; and all other Argu∣ments, and Perswasions, are but like the small open Vil∣lages about this Garrison, which must be servants to them, that are masters of it; and if a Papist can be but once convinc'd, that neither the Pope, nor the Popish Page 64Church are infallible, they will soon be brought to rea∣son, and our remaining diffe∣rences, will not be very con∣siderable: I shall therefore one∣ly lightly discourse on them, and shall no further trouble you Madam, then briefly, to answer them in my own de∣fence, I meet them, or as they follow me, and shall onely do as the Wolf do's when pursu∣ed, snap, and bite in his own defence, against all opposers, without altering his pace, or changing his Road: I shall nei∣ther meddle with the Papists, but as I meet them in the way, or towards making of my way, to my two designed points, which are (as I said Page 65before,) to prove the Scrip∣ture to be a perfect Rule of Faith, and guide to our acti∣ons: and to answer, as I go, the Papists main Arguments and objections against it.
Next, that 'tis against all Scripture, and reason, that ei∣ther the Pope, or the Popish Church should be infallible; which is the main design of this discourse, and if I can by God's assistance make but the Papists believe reason, (when against their own Church,) I doubt not but by this little Pigmie discourse (as very dwarfish as 'tis,) not onely to hinder many tottering Prote∣stants from turning Papists, but to bring some stubborn Page 66Papists to turn Protestants, or at least not to have such an infallible good opinion of their Church, and so damna∣ble a bad one of ours.
And now Madam, 'tis requi∣site that this my discourse should be ended, as soon as your Patience; & therefore all that I shall add either to the excusing my self, or justifying Mr. Chilingworth, is, that thus far of this discourse be∣ing my own writing, I con∣fess, deserves onely my Apolo∣gy, and scarce your perusal; but the following discourse being extracted out of Mr. Chillingworth, deserves your reading, but needs not any Apology.Page 67
And because I find the word Protestant is so badly, and over-largely interpreted; I shall first acquaint you, that we are not to understand by the word Protestant, the Doctrine of Luther, or Calvin, or Geneva or onely the Ar∣ticles of the Church of Eng∣land, but that wherein they all agree with perfect Harmo∣ny; that the Bible is a per∣fect Rule of our Faith, and guide to our Actions; and this (after having made the most diligent, and impartial search of the true way to Eternal happiness.) I fully believe, and that we can ne∣ver find any convincing satis∣faction, Page 68but on this Rock of Gods word, the Bible, which I conceive to be the onely true Religion of Protestants.
If the Pope were indeed (what he unjustly sayes he is, & the Papists unreasonably believe him to be,) an infalli∣ble guide, then there needed no Bible, but if the Bible be, then there needs no Pope; for if I were to go a journey, and had a guide that could not err, what need I be taught the way, and having such a guide, what need I apply my self to another: So that in a word let us inform our selves the best we can, and consider as much as we please, the more consideration we Page 69take, the more confirmation we shall find, that there is no other foundation for a consi∣dering Christian to build an assured dependency on, than the Scriptures, for I am fully assur'd that God do's not; (and therefore man ought not to) require of any man more than this, to believe the Scripture to be the word of God, to use our best indea∣vours to find the true sense of it, and to live, to our ut∣most according to it.
This I am sure in reason we ought to believe a wiser choice; Then if I should guide my self by the Roman Churches authority, and in∣fallibility; when really they Page 70have nothing of certainty, but their uncertainty; wit∣ness Pope against Pope, Coun∣cils against Councils, some of their Fathers against others, and rather then fail some a∣gainst themselves, new Tra∣ditions inrolled, and old ones Cashiered, in a word one Church against another, and (if that be not enough) the Church of one age, against the Church of another; Whereas the Scripture being true and unalterable, and con∣taining all things necessary to our Salvation; I am secure, that by believing nothing else, I shall believe no falshood in matter of Faith, & if I mistake the true sense of Scripture, Page 71and so fall into error; yet I am secured from any dange∣rous error, because whilst I am truly indeavouring to find the true ground of Scripture, I cannot but hold my error without obstinacy, and be ready to forsake it, when a more probable and true sense shall appear unto me: and then being assur'd, that all ne∣cessary truths are plainly set down in Scripture; I am cer∣tain by believing the Scri∣pture, to believe all necessary truth, and he that do's so, if his life be answerable to his Faith, how is it possible he should fail of Salvation.
And though the Roman Church pretend to be a per∣fect Page 72guide of Faith, and teacher of all Divine Truths; yet sure that Title might much better, and more justly be given to the Scriptures, as their Teacher and Master.
The Roman Church brags how ancient their Church is, but doubtless they cannot de∣ny, but the Scripture is more ancient, if they will but allow the Mother to be older than the Child.
The Papists say their Church is a means of keep∣ing Christians at unity, so are also the Scriptures, to those that believe them in unity of belief, in matters necessary.
The Papists say their Church is Catholick, cetain∣ly Page 73the Scripture is more Ca∣tholick; for all true Christi∣ans in the universal world do now, and ever did believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God, so much at least, as to contain all things necessa∣ry to salvation; whereas the Papists say, They onely are the true Church, and all other Christians (though more than they) give them the lye for saying so.
By following the Scriptures, I follow that whereby the Pa∣pists prove their Churches In∣fallibility; for were it not for Scripture, what pretence could the Papists have for it, or what true Notion could they receive of it; so that by Page 74so doing, the Papists must plainly confess, That they themselves are surer of the Truth of Scripture, than of their Churches Authority; for we must be surer of the proof, than of the thing pro∣ved, or else 'tis no proof: so that following Scripture, I follow that which must be true, if the Papists Church be true; for their Church al∣lows it's truth; whereas if I follow the Roman Church, I must follow that, which though the Scripture be true, may be false, nay more, must be false, if the Scripture be true; because the Scripture is against it. Following the Pa∣pists Church, I must be a Page 75servant to my Saviour, and a subject to my King, onely at the pleasure of the Pope, and renounce my Allegiance, when the Popes will is to de∣clare him an Heretick; nay, I must believe vertue vice, and vice vertue, if he plea∣ses; for he both makes and unmakes Scripture as he thinks convenient; witness the Apocrypha, which hath not past for Canonical, but of late years, in the Papists Church, who interpret Scri∣pture according to their Do∣ctrine, but will not judge their Doctrine according to Scripture, for none like to weigh light Money in true scales. In short, the Pope Page 76adds, and lessens, and inter∣prets Divine Laws as he plea∣ses, and they must stand for Laws, and be obeyed as such; so that in effect he rules his people by his own Laws, and his own Laws by his own Lawyers, his Clergy, who dare not speak nor uphold them, other than just such as the Pope would have them; and indeed Cardinal Richelieu gave the reason why more hold the Pope above the Councils, than the Councils above the Pope, because the Pope gave Archbishopricks and Bishopricks, but the Councils had none to give: and though the Papists say, his Holiness cannot err, yet Page 77let not the Papists forget what God sayes in the Scri∣pture, if (not onely the Pope) but if an Angel from Heaven shall preach any thing against the Gospel of Christ, let him be accursed.
In following the Scripture we have God's express com∣mand, and no colour of any prohibition, but to believe; the Popish Church infallible, we have no Scripture-com∣mand at all, much less an ex∣press one.
Following the Popish Church, we must believe many things, not onely a∣bove reason, but against rea∣son, witness Transubstantia∣tion, whereas following the Page 78Scripture, we shall believe many miseries, but no impos∣sibilities; many things above our reason, but nothing a∣gainst it; Nay, we need not believe any thing, which reason will not convince us we ought to believe; for reason will convince any so∣ber Christian? that the Scri∣pture is the Word of God, and there's no reason can be greater than this, that God says it, therefore it must be true.
In a word, we Protestants believe, that all things neces∣sary to our salvation, are evi∣dently contain'd in Scripture, and what is not there evident∣ly contained, cannot be ne∣cessary Page 79to be believed, and our reason is just and clear, because nothing can challenge our 〈◊〉 as to salvation, but what hath descended to us from our Blessed Saviour Christ Jesus, by original and universal Tradition; now no∣thing but Scripture hath thus descended to us, therefore nothing but Scripture can challenge our Belief.
Now the grand difference between the Papists and us, concerning the Scripture, is this; We hold the Scripture to be the onely perfect Rule whereby to judge of Contro∣versies. The Papists say, That they acknowledge the Scriptures to be a perfect Page 80Rule, onely they deny that it excluded unwritten Tradi∣tion, which in effect is this; they say, 'Tis as perfect a Rule, as a Writing can be, onely they deny it to be as perfect a Rule as a Writing may be; either they must re∣voke their acknowledgment, or retract their contradiction of it, for both cannot possi∣bly stand together: for if they will but stand to what they have granted, that Scri∣pture is as perfect a Rule of Faith, as a Writing can be, they must then grant it so compleat, as it needs no ad∣dition; and so evident, that it needs no interpretation, for both these properties are re∣quisite Page 81to a perfect Rule: and that a writing is capable of both these properties, and perfections, is most plain, for he that denies it, must say that something may be spok∣en which cannot be written, for if such a compleat evi∣dent rule of Faith, may be delivered by word of mouth, as the Papists pretend may, and is, and whatsoever is de∣livered by word of mouth, may also be written; then such a compleat and evident rule of Faith, may also be written, for the Argument is most plain, whatsoever may be spoken may be written; a perfect rule of Faith has been spoken, therefore a perfect Page 82rule of Faith may be written; If the Papists cannot see this plain conclusion, they had best desire more light to be added to the Sun:
The Papist pretend their Church to be, the infallible Teacher of all Divine Truths, and an infallible interpreter of all obscurities in the Faith, but the Papists will, I hope, give us leave to admire, how they can pretend to Teach them in all places, without writing them down, that is certainly, beyond the reach of their power to do, as well as our belief that 'tis to be done.
And for the Papists saying there must be a living autho∣rity, Page 83beside the Scripture, or else controversies cannot be ended; Protestants answer; necessary controversies, are and may be decided, and if they be not, 'tis not the defect of the rule in Scripture, but the default of men; so that if necessary controversies be ended, 'tis no matter if the unnecessary be not; for doubt∣less if God had required it, he would also have provided some means to effect it; but sure it does not stand with a∣ny reason it should be the Pope, because he cannot be a Judge, being a partie; indeed in civil controversies, a Judge without being a partie may end them, but in controver∣sies Page 84of Religion, a Judge of necessity must be a concerned partie, and I am sure the Pope to us is the chief, and most concerned partie, being really concerned as much as his Popedom is worth.
Now we Protestants make the Papists this plain answer, that the means of agreeing differences, must necessarily be, either by the appointment of God, or men; men sure it cannot be, for then ratio∣nal wise Protestants, may doe, as well as Papists, for let the Papists shew us if they can where God hath appointed that the Pope alone, or any confirm'd by the Pope, or that Society of Christians, Page 85which adhere to him, shall be the infallible Judge of con∣troversies; we desire the Pa∣pists, if they can to let us see any of those assertions, plain∣ly set down in Scripture, as in all reason a thing of this nature ought to be, or at least delivered with a full consent of Fathers, nay let them so much as shew us where 'tis in plain tearms, taught by any one Father, in Four hundred years after our blessed Saviour Christ; and if the Papists cannot do this, as we believe they cannot; where I pray is their either Scripture or Rea∣son, that the Pope or his Councils should obtrude themselves as Judges over us Protestants.Page 86
Next we would desire to know from the Papists, whe∣ther they do certainly know or not, the sence of those Scriptures, by which they are led to the knowledge of their Church, for if they do not, how come they to know their Church is infallible; but if they do, then sure they ought to give us leave to have the same means and ability to know other plain places in Scripture, which they have to know theirs; for if all Scriptures be obscure, how come they to know the sense of those places; but if some place of it be plain, why pray may not Protestants under∣stand them as well as Papists.Page 87
The Papists say, That the Scriptures are in themselves true and infallible, yet with∣out the direction of the Church, we have no certain means to know, which Tran∣slations be faithful and Cano∣nical, or what is the true meaning of Scriptures; and this is the common Argument and general Relief of all Pa∣pists: To which the Prote∣stants answer, That yet all these things must first be known, before we can know the directions of their Church to be infallible; for the Pa∣pists cannot pretend any other proof of it, but onely some Texts of Canonical Scripture, truly interpreted; therefore Page 88either they must be mistaken in thinking there is no other means to know these things, but their Churches infallible direction, or else we must be excluded from all means of knowing her directions to be infallible; for the proof must be surer than the thing to be proved, or 'tis no proof; And upon better considerati∣on, I am confident the Pa∣pists dare not deny, but that 'tis most certain, Faith hath been given by other means than the Church; for sure they will not say, that Adam received Faith by the Church, nor Abraham, nor Job, who received Faith by Revelation; and also the Holy Apostles, Page 89who received Faith by the miracles, and preaching of our Blessed Saviour: so that you see, and they cannot de∣ny, but their general Do∣ctrine is contradictory; and to make it yet plainer, I de∣sire to know of the Papists, if they should meet with a man, that believed neither Scripture, Church, nor God, but declares he is both ready, and willing to believe them all, if the Papist can shew him sufficient grounds to build his Faith upon, will the Pa∣pist tell such a man, there are no certain grounds how he may be converted to their Church; or there are; if the Papists say there are none, Page 90they make Religion an uncer∣tain thing: but if they say there are, then they must necessarily either argue wo∣man-like, that their Church is infallible, because it is in∣fallible, or else shew there are other certain grounds be∣sides, saying, the Church is infallible, to prove its infal∣libility.
The Papists demand of the Protestants, if they believe the Apostles wrote all the Scriptures, for if they did not, how come we to call and believe them Apostolical, and not the Writings of those that writ them: To which we answer; Though all the Scriptures were not written Page 91by the Apostles themselves, yet they were all confirm'd by them; and though a Clerk writes a Statute, and the King, Lords and Commons confirm it in Parliament; I believe they would esteem it very improper to call it the Statute of such a Clerk, though writ by him, but an Act of Parliament, because it was confirm'd by all their consents, and so becomes their Act, not the Clerks.
The Papist desires us to tell them in what Language the Scriptures remained uncor∣rupted, and we desire them, to satisfie us whether it be necessary to know it, or not necessary, if it be not, I hope Page 92we may do well without it, but if it be necessary we de∣sire first, that they will please to tell us what became of their Church for One thou∣sand five hundred years toge∣ther, all which time they must confess, they had no cer∣tainty of Scripture; till the time that Pope Clement the Eighth, set forth their ap∣proved Edition of the vulgar Translation, and none sure can have the confidence to deny, but that there was great va∣riety of Copies currant in di∣vers parts of their Church, and read so, which Copies might be false in some things, but more than one sort of them could not possibly be Page 93true in all things. And Pope Sixtus Quintus his Bible dif∣fer'd from Pope Clement his Bible, in a multitude of places, which makes us desire to be satisfied of the Papists, whe∣ther before Pope Sixtus Quintus his time, their Church had any defined Ca∣non of Scriptures or not, for if they had not, then 'tis most evident that their Church was a most excellent keeper of Scripture, for fif∣teen hundred years together, that had not all that time de∣fin'd, what was Scripture, and what was not, but if the Pa∣pist say they had, then we demand, was that set forth by Pope Sixtus Quintus, or was Page 94it set forth by Pope Clement, or if by a third different from them both, why do they not name him; if it were that set forth by Pope Sixtus, then 'tis now condemn'd by Pope Clement, if that of Clement, 'twas condemned by that of Sixtus, so that error must ne∣cessarily be betwixt them, let them chuse which side they please.
And for the book of Mac∣cabees, I hope they will allow it defin'd Canonical, before St. Gregorie's time, though he would not allow it Cano∣nical, but onely for the Edi∣fication of the Church.
We further desire to be sa∣tisfied of the Papists, if the Page 95book of Ecclesiasticus, and Wisedom, and the Epistle to St. James, were by the holy Apostles approved Canonical, or not, if they were appro∣ved by the Apostles Canoni∣cal, sure the Papists cannot deny, but they had a sufficient definition and authority, not to question them, and there∣fore err'd in doing so. And if they were not approved Canonical by the Apostles, with what impudence dare the Roman Church now ap∣prove them as Canonical, and yet pretend that all their Doctrine is Apostolical, and if they say these books were not questioned, they should do well to tell which books Page 96they mean, which were not alwayes known to be Cano∣nical, but have afterward been received by the Roman Church to be such, so that this argument reaches these, as wel as these.
And further we are to con∣sider, that there is not the same reasons, for the Churches absolute infallibility, as for the Apostles, and Scriptures, for if the Church falls into an error, it may be reformed by comparing it with the Rules of the Apostles Do∣ctrine in Scripture, but if the Apostles have err'd in delive∣ring the Doctrine of Christia∣nity in Scripture, then the Roman Church cannot be in∣fallible, Page 97for Apostles, Pro∣phets, and Canonical Writers, are the foundation of the Church, as St. Paul sayes 'tis built upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets.
And now to conclude this part of my discourse in ve∣ry few words, let the Papists answer, if they can but these five words. All Scripture is Divinely inspired. Let them shew us so much for the Ro∣man Church, and shew us if they can, where 'tis written in Scripture, that all the de∣crees of the Popish Church are Divinely inspired, and all our Controversies will be at an end, but I believe they can Page 98ever do that, without ano∣ther Transubstantiation mira∣cle of words.
The Papists desire us to shew them an exact Cata∣logue of our fundamentals, to which we answer. That God may be sufficiently known to one, and not sufficiently de∣clared to an ether, and con∣sequently that may be funda∣mental, and necessary to one, which is not to another; which variety of circumstances ten∣ders it impossible to set down an exact Catalogue of funda∣mentals, for God requires more of them to whom he gives more, and less of those to whom he gives less, more of a Commander of a King∣dom, Page 99than a poor simple Turn spit. 'Tis a plain re∣velation of God to us Prote∣stants, that the Sacrament the Eucharist should be admi∣nistred in both kinds, 1 Cor. 11 c. 28 v. And that the pub∣lick Hymns and Prayers of the Church, should be in such a Language as is most for Edi∣fication, 1 Cor. 14, and 15, 16. yet the Church of Rome, not seeing this, by reason of the vail, would be very an∣gry, if we told them 'twould prejudice their supposed in∣fallibility.
We read in St. Matthew, that the Gospel was to be preacht to all Nations, and this was a truth revealed be∣fore Page 100our Saviours Ascention, yet if the Church had been asked, before the conversion of Cornelius, they would have certainly told you, it had not been necessary to teach all Nations; for 'tis most apparent out of the 11th of the Acts, they all believed so, until St. Peter was better informed by a vision from Heaven, and the conversion of Cornelius, and then they turn'd quite of a differing be∣lief, and esteemed it necessa∣ry to teach all Nations, and yet were still a Church: The Papists are pleased to say, the Protestants differ in Funda∣mentals, which indeed ap∣pears to us very irrational; Page 101for if they say, We Prote∣stants differ in Fundamentals, how then can they say, We are members of the same Church, one with another, more than they are with ours, or ours with theirs; and why do they object our difference more with one another, than with themselves; and if we do not differ in Fundamen∣tals, why do they upbraid us, with Fundamental diffe∣rences amongst our selves. We believe the Catholick Church cannot perish, yet we believe she may and did err, as I prov'd just before: but thus much we Protestants declare in general, that we esteem it sufficient for any Page 102mans salvation to believe Gods Word, the Scripture, and that it contains all things necessary to our salvation, and that we do our utmost endeavours to find, believe, and follow the true sense of it; and being we are sure, that all that is any way necessary is there, believing all that is there, we are sure we believe all that is necessary.
And therefore 'tis but rea∣sonable to say, that any pri∣vate person, who truly be∣lieves the Scriptures, and heartily endeavours to know the Will of God, and to do it, is as secure, nay securer from the danger of erring in Fundamentals, than the Ro∣manPage 103Church: for 'tis impos∣sible any man so qualified, should fall into an errour, that can prove damnable to him; for God requires no more of any man to his salva∣tion, but onely his true and best endeavours to be saved: And for the Papists Sacrament of Confession, which they hold is so absolute and neces∣sary, and so much upbraid us for the want of it, we answer, We know no such absolute necessity of it; but yet we hold, we must not onely confess our sins, but forsake them, or we shall not find mercy: And we Prote∣sants farther believe, that they that confess their sins, Page 104shall find mercy, though they onely confess them to God, and not to man: And more, that they who confess them both to God and man, and do not in time forsake them, shall not find mercy.
And so for the Papists Sa∣crament of Repentance for Remission of sins, though we Protestants know no such; yet we allow, and observe the same Duty, but publick before the Church, which was the constant practice of the primitive Church; and Rhemanus himself, though so great a Champion for the Pa∣pists, writes, That the con∣fession then used, was be∣fore the Church; and that Page 105Auricular confession was not hen in the World.
The Papists will tell you that our Bishops have not the true power of Ordination, but that has been so clearly answered, and so truly pro∣ved at large by so many al∣ready, as I shall not need here so much as to name it: onely let me in a word, remember the Papists, that they cannot well deny, but that the Do∣natists themselves whom the Papists esteemed as bad as us, as being Hereticks, and Schis∣maticks; yet St. Austin, and Optatus Bishop of Rome, did both acknowledge that they had the same Baptism, Creed, and Sacrament, and that these Page 106Donatist, Fathers, though Schismaticks, and Hereticks, gave true Ordination, or else some of these were not then esteemed Sacraments; there∣fore let them take which they please, there must be er∣ror of one side.
The Papists pretend they have an unanswerable objecti∣on against Protestants, which is, That we have discords in matters of Faith, without, any means of agreement: to which we answer, that the Scripture does not let us want solid means of agreement in matters necessary to salvation, and for our agreement in all controversies of Religion, ei∣ther they must say we have Page 107means to agree about them, or we have not; if they say we have; why did they be∣fore deny it, if they say we have no means, why are they so unjust to find fault with us for not agreeing; when they themselves, say we have no means to agree.
But for a Plaister to this soar, they are so extraordina∣ry civil, as to tell us, we may come to their Church: and they agree in matters of faith, but the plain truth of it is, that they define all matters of faith, to be those wherein they agree; so that to say the Roman Church does agree in matters of Faith, is but to say, they agree in those things, Page 108they do agree in, and sure they cannot deny, but we Protestants do the same.
But we must desire the Pa∣pists to give us leave to tell them, that they most grosly mistake, if they say, they a∣gree in matters of Faith, as for proof; some of them hold it against Faith, to take the Oath of Allegiance, others 'tis against Faith to refuse that Oath.
Some hold it of Faith, that the Pope (is head of the Church by Divine Law: o∣thers the contrary, some hold it of Faith that the blessed Virgin was free from actual sin, others the contrary; some that the Popes power over Page 109Princes in Temporalities is de fide, others the contrary: some that 'tis universal Tradi∣tion that the Virgin Mary was conceived in actual sin, others the contrary; And how the Jesuites and Franci∣scans, and other Orders differ to this day; I am sure needs no memorandum; and the best Jeast of all is, the Papists have not so much as yet agreed in their very pretended means of agreement, and yet have the confidence to pretend an Unity more than the Protestants; sor some of them say, the Pope with a Council may determine all Controversies, others deny it: Some hold, That a ge∣neral Page 110Council, without a Pope, may do so, others de∣ny this: Others say, Both in conjunction are infallible Determiners, others deny this: And some among the Papists hold, The acceptati∣on on of the Decrees of Coun∣cils by the Universal Church, is the onely way to decide Controversies, which others deny by denying their Church to be infallible; and yet every part, pretends to be part of the Church.
In a word, can the Pa∣pists deny, but that there has been Popes, against Popes, Councils against Councils; Nay, Councils confirmed by Popes, against Popes con∣firmed Page 111by Councils. And Last∣ly, The Church of some Ages, against the Church of other Ages; and since every part of the Body is so out of order, methinks they should not brag of so perfect a health as they do.
The Papists say (and do but say it) that their Do∣ctrine is held Catholick; and therefore they esteem it an in∣solent madness of us Prote∣stants, to dispute against the practice of the whole Church; First, That their Doctrine is Catholick, we answer; That the greatest number of Chri∣stians in the world deny it; so that they cannot truly say, we dispute against the pra∣ctice Page 112of the whole Church; And farther we say, suppo∣sing we should in complement to them grant, that their Church is Catholick and Uni∣versal; yet we say, That is no sufficient proof, it came originally from the Apostles, witness the Doctrine of the Milenaries, and the necessity of the Eucharist for Infants, which was generally taught by the Universal Church, and believed as Apostolical Tradi∣tion, but yet contradicted by the Universal Church af∣terwards: This, I am sure, the Papists dare not deny; so that we unavoidably cast the Papists upon this Rock, that they must either conclude Page 113the Apostles were Fountains of contradictorie Doctrines; or that the Universal Doctrine of the present Church is no sufficient proof, that it came originally from the Apostles, because from Church Universal of one time, and the Church Universal of another time did differ.
Next for their saying, 'tis insolent madness to dispute against the practice of the whole Church, First we are sure, we can bring more Christian witnesses, that de∣ny they are the whole Church, than they can bring to prove it: but supposing we were as mad as they say we are, and would have us to be, to Page 114dispute against the whole practice of the Church; yet I hope we may desire to know of the Papists if they can de∣ny, but that 'twas the pra∣ctice, of the whole Church in St. Au'stine's time, and estee∣med then an Apostolical Tra∣dition even by St. Au'stine himself, that the Eucharist should be administred to In∣fants; And then let them tell us, Whether it be insolent madness to dispute against the practice of the whole Church, or is it not; if it be not, why do they accuse us for it; but if it be insolent madness, how mad and insolent is the Papist Church, not onely to dispute against this practice of the Page 115Universal Church, of admini∣string the Eucharist to Infants, but utterly abolishing the pra∣ctice of it.
So that the very worst the Papists can say of us, allow∣ing what they say to be true, is that we but do, what they themselves own already to have done.
And though the Papists are pleased to say that the Holy Scriptures, and ancient Fathers, assign separation from the visible Church, as a mark of Heresie, yet they cannot shew one plain Text of Scri∣pture to confirm it.
And for the Papists brag∣ing of the Antiquity and uni∣versality of their Churches Page 116Doctrine, (though we allow it very ancient, (bating the primative times) we answer first as to its Antiquity, we desire to see what Antiquity they can shew for their giving the Communion but in one kind, when they know that the Administring it in both kinds, was the practice of the Church for a Thousand years after Christ; what Antiqui∣tie for the lawfulness and ex∣pediency of the Latine ser∣vice, for the present use of indulgences; For the Popes power in Temporalities over Princes; for the Picturing the Trinity; For the lawful∣ness of worshipping Pictures and Images; Fox their Beads; Page 117For their whole worship of the blessed Virgin; For their Oblations, in the notion of Sacrifices to her, and other Saints; For their saying Pater Nosters and Creeds to the Ho∣nour of them, and Ave Maries to the Virgin Mary; For the infallibility of the Bishop, or Church of Rome; For their Doctrine of the blessed Vir∣gins immunity from actual sin; For the necessity of Au∣ricular Confession; For the necessity of the Priests inten∣tion to obtain benefit by any of their Sacraments. And lastly for their licentious Do∣ctrine in holding, that though a man lives and dies without the practise of any Christian Page 118vertue, and with the Habits of many damnable sins un∣mortified; yet if at the last moment of his life, he has any sorrow for his sins, and joyn confession to it, he shall certainly be saved; This is a Doctrine may keep many souls out of Heaven, but I doubt will scarce carry any one there. So that the Pa∣pists Doctrine being ancient, is nothing, as long as 'tis evi∣dent that they hold many dangerous errors, as for in∣stance, the Milenaries, and the Communicating Infants was more ancient, than their Doctrine, and 'tis plain that antiquity, unless it be absolute and primative, is not a cer∣tain Page 119sign of true Doctrine: And the very Apostles them∣selves, assure us that in their dayes, the mystery of Ini∣quity was working.
The Papists demand how comes it to pass that their Doctrine is so universal, (for∣getting that weeds spread faster than good herbs:) And we ask them how the errors of the Milenaries, and the Communicating Infants be∣came so universal, let them tell us this, and we will tell them that, for what is done in some, may be done in o∣thers.
The Papists ask us where our Church was before Lu∣ther, and tell us, because Page 120t'was no Church before him, therefore it can be no true Church at all. To which we answer, that this cause is no cause; For though Luther had no being before Luther, yet none can deny, but that he was, when he was, though he could not be before he was; So there may be a true Church after Luther, though there was none for some ages before him: as since Columbus his time there have been Christians in America, though there were none for many Ages before: for it does not follow, that nothing but a Church can possibly get a Church, nor that the present being of a true Church de∣pends Page 121necessarily upon the perpetuity of a Church in all Ages; for though I cannot deny the Churches perpetui∣ty, yet that's not here necessa∣ry to our difference; but that a false Church (by Gods providence over ruling it) may preserve a means of confuting their own Heresies, and so reduce men to truth, and raise a true Church, (I mean the integrity of the word of God with men.) Thus the Jewes preserve means to make men Christi∣ans, and Papists preserve means to make men Prote∣stants, and the Protestants false Church, (as the Romans call it,) preserves men Pa∣pists: Page 122nor does it appear that the perpetuity of the Church, is the truth of the Papists Church, for they speak, as if they were the onely Christi∣ans in the World before Lu∣ther, when the whole World knowes, that this is but talk, and that there were other Christians besides the Papists that might have perpetuated the Church, though there had not been then one Papist in being: for sure there was a Catholick Church before the Roman one. Next the Papist say, to hold that the visible Church is not perpetual, is a Heresie, so that Luthers Re∣formation being but particu∣lar, and not universal, nor but Page 123of late date, it can have no∣thing to do with the visible and perpetual Church; which the Protestants answer thus: To say the visible Church is not perpetual, is properly a Heresie, but the Papists cannot deny, but that the Apostles who preach'd the Gospel in the beginn∣ing, did believe the Church universal, though their preaching at the beginning was not so: So Luther also might well believe the uni∣versal Church, though his Reformation was but particu∣lar, the Church in the Apostles time being universal de jure of right, but not de facto in fact.Page 124
Nor did Luther and his followers (as the Papist are pleased to mis-cal many Pro∣testants) forsake the whole Church, but the corruptions of it, in renouncing some of their corrupt practices, and this the Protestants say they did without Schism, because they had cause to do it, and no man can have cause to be a Schismatick, because he is onely one who leaves the Church without a cause; for 'tis not onely seperation, but a causeless seperation from the Church, that is Schismatical: and I think t'will not be a∣miss, before I go any farther, to distinguish the difference between Heresie, and Schism. Page 125Heresie is anobstinate defence of any error against any necessary Article of the Christian Faith. Schism is a causeless separati∣on of one part of the Church from another. Now we Pro∣testants say still, that we ne∣ver forsook the whole Church, or the external Com∣munion of it, but onely that part of it which is corrupted, and is to be fear'd will still continue so; viz. The Papist Church; and forsook not, but onely reformed an other part, which part they them∣selves were: and sure the Papists will not say, the Pro∣testants forsook themselves, nor their own Communion: and therefore the Papists ar∣gument Page 126must be a very weak in urging, that the Prote∣stants joyned themselves to no other part of the Church, therefore they must separate from the whole Church; which the Protestants say is a false conclusion, in as much as they themselves were part of it, and still continue so; and therefore the Protestants could no more separate from the whole, then from them∣selves.
So that by the Rule of Reason, if Protestants be Schismaticks, because they differ from one part of the visible Church, by the same reason the Protestants may say that the Roman Church Page 127is in a manner made up of Schismaticks, for the Jesuits are Schismaticks from the Dominicans, and the Domini∣cans from the Jesuits, and the Jesuits from the Canonists: the Fransciscans from the Dominicans, and the Domini∣cans from the Fransciscans; for all these (as the World knowes) differ in point of Doctrine, and betwixt them there is an irreconcileable contradiction; and therefore one part must be in error. And if the Papists will but stand to justifie what they de∣clare as truth, that every error against a revealed truth is a Heresie, they holding for cer∣tain as a revealed truth, the Page 128immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, then consequent∣ly the Dominicans that hold and declare it an error in Doctrine, must necessarily hold a Heresie; Now it may be a fault to be in error, be∣cause it many times proceeds from a fault; but sure Pro∣testants forsaking error, it can∣not be a sin, unless to be in error, be a vertue: so hardly do Papists deal with us Pro∣testants, as they will either damn us in making us follow their false opinions, or else brand us as Schismaticks for leaving them.
And yet the rational sort of Papists can hardly deny, but the Protestant ReligionPage 129must be a safer Religion than theirs, in worshipping Pictures, in Invocating Saints, and An∣gels; in denying the Lay-men the Communion in both kinds, as was commanded by our blessed Saviour; in celebrating their Church Service in an un∣known Tongue, which was con∣demned by St. Paul. in ado∣ring the Sacrament; and in all these a rational Papist can∣not deny, but he is on the more dangerous side, as to the committing of sin, and the Protestant in the more secure way as to the avoiding it. For in all these things, if Prote∣stants say true, the Papists do that which is impious; but on the other side, if the PapistsPage 130were in the right, yet the Protestants might be secure enough too; for their fault would be onely this, that they should onely, not do some things which the Papists them∣selves confess is not altoge∣ther necessary to be done.
And truly the Protestants are so charitably civil, as on∣ly to say of Papists, as St. Austine did of the Donatists, That Catholicks approved the Doctrine of the Donatists, but abhorred their Heresie of Re∣baptization. So Protestants approve the Fundamental and necessary Truths which the Papists retain, by which ma∣ny good souls among them may be saved, but abhor the Page 131many superstitions they use in their Religion. And sup∣posing these errours of the Popish Church were in them∣selves not damnable, to them that believe as they profess; yet for us Protestants to pro∣fess what we do not believe, and esteem those as Divine Truths, which we believe not to be either Divine or true; would be doubtless damnable as to us: for 'tis certain, Two men may do the same thing, and it may be sinful to one, and not to the other: as suppose a mar∣ried woman gives her self out to be a widow, and one know∣ing her Husband to be alive, marries her, doubtless his in∣joyment Page 132of her was adulte∣rous; but a second man comes, and after seeing her pretend∣ed Husband buried, marries her, and dies without the least information, of her First Husbands being then alive, his ignorance sure protected him from sin, and the second Husbands knowledge of the sin he acted, condemned him of Adultery; and though his fault might be palliated with some excuses, yet it can never be defended by any just Apology: And so though we read in Scripture, that it was St. Paul's Judge∣ment, that meat offered to Idols might lawfully be eat∣en; yet he says, it any should Page 133eat it with a doubtful consci∣ence, he should sin, and be condemned for so doing.
And supposing we Prote∣stants ought not to have for∣sook the Papists Church, for sin, and errours, if she had not enjoyn'd and imposed them on us; yet since she does maintain them with such obstinacy, and imposes them with such Tyranny, we ought certainly to say with St. Peter, and St. John, 'Tis better to forsake men than God; and leave the Popish Church communion, rather than com∣mit or profess known errours as Divine Truths; for as the Prophet Ezekiel tells us, that to say The Lord hath said so, Page 134when the Lord hath not said so, is a high presumption, and great sin, be the matter never so small; and there∣fore when St. Paul spoke con∣cerning Virgins abstaining from marriage, he said, He had no commandment of the Lord, but I declare my own judgement of it. Now if St. Paul had given this as God's command, surely we might have justly contradicted him, and made a distinction be∣tween divine Revelation, and humane Judgement.
So that for a Protestant to abide in the Communion of the Roman Church, is so far from securing him from er∣rour, as that if I, or any Page 135Protestant should continue in it, I am confident I could not be saved by it, and the reason is, because the Papists will not admit of my commu∣nion, without professing the entire Popish Doctrine to be true; and profess this I can∣not, but I must perpetually exulcerate my conscience: and though the errours of the Roman Church were not in themselves damnable, yet for me to resist known Truths, and to continue in the profes∣sion of known Errours and Falshoods, is certainly a ca∣pital sin, and of great affini∣ty with the sin which shall ne∣ver be forgiven.
In short, if the errours of Page 136the Roman Church did not warrant our departure, yet the tyrannous imposition of them would be our sufficient justification; for they force us either to forsake the Papists Communion, or profess as Go∣spel truths, what our consci∣ence assures us is very little a kin to them: so that the Protestants were ob∣lig'd to forsake those errours of the Popish Church, and not the Church, but the errours, and we Protestants did, and do still continue members of the Church, having onely left what appear'd most plain to us, to be superstitious and im∣pious. And we separate no more from the Popish Church,Page 137than she has separated from the Ancient Church; and in∣deed; to speak properly, our difference is more against the Court, than Church of Rome, which has introduced so ma∣ny new ceremonies and pra∣ctices in the Popish Church, as was never heard, nor pra∣ctised in the primitive Times; as for one instance of a Thou∣sand, I might give you; Their denying the cup to the Laity, which was never pra∣ctised in the Church a Thou∣sand years after our Savi∣our.
But because the Papists brag so much of, and depend so entirely on, the infallibi∣lity of their Church, I shall Page 138pass by their Out-works, and search a little into this their Grand Fort, the infallibility of their Church; for except they prove that, they prove nothing; but in proving that they prove all; and if the Pa∣pists could satisfie me either by Scripture, or Reason, that their Church is infallible, I should not onely be of their Church to morrow, but re∣pent I was not sooner; but really by all that I ever heard or read, for their making it good; I find cause onely to admire their confidence, but not at all to esteem their rea∣sons.
The chief Method they take, and degrees they use, Page 139to prove the infallibility of their Church, are by whole∣sale these. First, that St. Peter was Head and chief amongst the Apostles, and that there was given to him and his successors by our Saviour, Universal Authority over his Militant Church; That the Pope or Bishop of Rome is St. peter's Successor, and has his Authority of Universal Bishop, and consequently the Roman Church being built upon this Rock, is infallible, all which I doubt not, but to prove, to be inconsistent with, and con∣tradictory both to Scripture and Reason.
As to the first point of St. Peter's being Head of the Apo∣stles,Page 140which the Papists all stile him, and say he was called from thence Cephas, which is derived from the Greek▪ word Head, it is a most gross mistake; for Ce∣phas is a Syriack word that si∣gnifies Stone; but this is one∣ly by the by: Now we Prote∣stants say, though we allow St. Peter might have primacy of Order; yet we cannot grant he had supremacy of power over the other Apo∣stles; for sure it cannot stand with the least reason, that St. Peter should have authority over all the Apostles, and yet never act the least authority ever any one of them.
Nor is it reasonable to Page 141believe, that St. Peter having authority over all the Apo∣stles for about 25 years toge∣ther, should never shew the least power over any of them all that time, nor so much as receive the least subjection from them; sure any one must think this as strange, and un reasonable, as if a King of England for 25 years together should not do one Act of Re∣gality among his subjects, nor receive any one acknowledg∣ment from them.
Nor sure is it less strange and unreasonable, that the Papists should so many Ages after, know this so certainly, as they pretend they do, and yet that the Apostles them∣selves, Page 142after that these words were spoke in their hearing by vertue whereof St. Peter is pretended to be made their head, should still be so igno∣rant of it, as to question our Saviour, which of them should be the greatest, by which sure we may rationally conclude, they did not then know; for if they did, their question had been needless, and superflu∣ous, in desiring to be taught, what they already knew.
And what yet appears more strange then all, is that our Saviour should not have helped them out of their er∣ror by telling them St. Peter was the man, but rather con∣firmed them in the contrary Page 143by saying the Kings of the Gentiles exercise Authority o∣ver them, but it should not be so among them.
And again it is as strange and unreasonable, that St. Paul should so farr forget both St. Peter, and himself, as in mentioning so often St. Peter, he should still do it without ascribing him any title of honour: Nor does it stand▪with reason, that St. Paul speaking of the several degrees of men in the Church, should omit giving St. Peter the highest, if it had been his due; but place him in the same rank and Equipage with the rest of the Apostles, for St. Paul sayes God hath ap∣pointedPage 144(not first St. Peter then the rest of the Apostles) but first Apostles, secondly Pro∣phets, now certainly if Apo∣stles were all first, that is all equal, how could one be in greater power than the o∣ther.
But besides all this, though we should grant against all these probabilities, and many more, that Optatus Bishop of Rome, meant that St. Peter was head of the Apostles, yet sure the Papists are still very farr from proving, the Bishop of Rome was to be so at all, much less by divine right, successor to St. Peter in his headship and Authority. For what incongruity is there, if Page 145we say, that Optatus might succeed St. Peter as his heir and successor, in that part of his Government of that par∣ticular Church of Rome; (as sure he did even whilst St. Peter was living) and yet that neither he, nor any man was to succeed him in his Apostleship, nor in the Government of the Church universal: as though a Bishop should leave his Son heir to all he dyed possessed of, I hope you will not conclude, therefore he must necessarily succeed him in the Bishoprick he dyed seized of. The Apostles were men all called, and divinely in∣spired by the Holy Ghost, which was the immediate Page 146gift of God, and therefore could not be left as a Legacy by man; for though it be in any mans power to leave his Estate, yet 'tis in no mans power to leave to his Son, his acquir'd parts at his death. 'Tis further worth your ob∣serving, and special notice, that St. Peter himself and the rest of the Apostles, by lay∣ing the foundation of the Church, were to be themselves the foundation of it, and are accordingly so called in Scri∣pture. And therefore as in a building 'tis incongruous that foundations, should succeed foundations, so it may be in the Church, that Apostles should succeed Apostles, the Page 147Church being built upon Apostles and Prophets.
Nor indeed does the grand argument of the Papists, for their Pope, extend any further in Reallity then to the parti∣cular Sea of Rome; for thus goes their main argument. St. Peter was first Bishop of Rome, and the Apostles, did not then attribute to themselves, each one his par∣ticular Chair (understand in that City of Rome, for in o∣ther place, others had Chairs besides St. Peter) and there∣fore sayes the Papist, he is a Schismatick who against that one single Chair erects ano∣ther: (understand still in the same place) and this is the Page 148ground & the Authority the Papists say, the Pope has to be Successor to St. Peter, and to exercise Authority over the Universal Church.
But sure the Protestants urge more rationally in argu∣ing thus, That St. Peter wrote Two Catholick Epistles, in which he mentions his own departure, and writes to pre∣serve the Christians in the faith: but yet in neither of these Two Epistles does he commend the Christians to the guidance and authority of his pretend∣ed Successor the Bishop of Rome; which sure if St. Peter had intended, he would ne∣ver have forgot to have na∣med it.Page 149
And since the Papists so re∣verence and adore the Popes power, let us Protestants also admire his way and means of attaining this power; for though the Papists say, that assoon as he is made Pope, he has his authority immediately from Christ; yet at the very same time the Papists all know, that he cannot be made Pope, but by Authori∣ty and Election of the Cardi∣nals; so that I am sure by the very same reason, any man that is chosen a Magistrate in any Town under the Pope's Territories, may claim his Authority as immediately re∣ceived from Christ, as well as the Pope. And further, that the Page 150proving his being made Pope, does not render him infallible, I could give a hundred instan∣ces out of the History of Popes, but that will not suit well with my designed brevi∣ty; but let's ask the Papist, if Liberius Bishop of Rome, after Two years Banishment, did not by the sollicitation of Fortunatianus Bishop of Acqui∣leia, subscribe to Heresie, and consequently could not be infallible. And though the Papists rely so much on the Authority of the Fathers, to support and justifie the in∣fallibility of their Church, yet upon true Examination we shall find, they make no more for their Universal Bishop, Page 151than St .Peter's Two Catholick Epistles do.
And for their arguing out of St. Cyprian's 55 Epistles, that sure makes rather a∣gainst, than for them; for there St. Cyprian writes to Cornelius Bishop of Rome, but writes not so much to him, as of himself, who was Bishop of Carthage; against whom a Faction of Schismaticks had set up another Bishop: Now though the Papists say reaso∣nably, that 'tis a mark of the Universal Bishop, that other Bishops should make their Ad∣dresses unto the Bishop of Rome, yet sure 'twere better Reasoning to conclude thus, If the Bishop of Rome had Page 152been acknowledged Universal Bishop, and his Authority and Supremacy had been believ'd and own'd, sure St. Cyprian had not been satisfied with onely barely writing him his sad story, (for he did no more,) but doubtless would have made his complaint to him, and desired and expe∣cted redress from him, as Uni∣versal Bishop over the whole Catholick Church, but his not doing so, argued he esteem∣ed him Bishop onely of one Church.
And further, St. Cyprian all know, did resolutely op∣pose a Decree of the Roman Bishop, and all that adhered to him in that one point of Page 153Rebaptizing, which the Po∣pish Church at that time deli∣vered as a necessary Traditi∣on, and Excommunicated the Bishop of Cappadocia, Ga∣latia, and all that were a∣gainst that Tradition, and would not so much as allow them lodging or entertain∣ment in Rome.
Now since the Papists af∣firm, that not to re-baptize those, whom Hereticks had baptized, to be a damnable Heresie. 'Tis well worth asking the Papist, when this begun to be so; for if they say, from the beginning it was so, then they must main∣tain a contradiction; for then was St. Cyprian a Professor of Page 154damnable Heresie, and yet the Papists esteem him a Saint and Martyr.
And on the other side, if 'twere not so from the begin∣ning, then did the Pope wrongfully excommunicate those other Churches of Cap∣padocia and Galatia, without sufficient ground of Excom∣munication, and separation, which by their own Tenents, is schismatical; so let them chuse which side they please, the Pope was in an errour.
And though Victor Bishop of Rome obtruded the Roman Tradition touching the time of Easter, upon the Asi∣an Bishops, under the pain of Excommunication, and Page 155Damnation; yet we read that Irenaeus, and all the other Western Bishops, though they did agree with the Bishop of Rome in his ob∣servation of Easter, yet they did sharply reprehend his ex∣communicating the Asian Bi∣shops, for their disagreeing with him; which most plainly argues, that the Western Bi∣shops thought that not a suffi∣cient ground of Excommuni∣cation, which the Bishop of Rome did; and therefore it must necessarily follow, they did not esteem the Roman Bi∣shop infallible, nor the sepa∣ration from the Church of Rome an Heresie. And this I am sure is true and undenia∣ble reason.Page 156
The Popish Story tells us, That Optatus Bishop of Rome upbraided the Donatists as Schismaticks, because they held no Communion with the Church of Rome, by adding afterwards that they were Schismaticks, for they held no Communion with the se∣ven Churches of Asiae, which occasions this Question of the Papist, Whether a separation from these seven Apostolick Churches, was a mark of He∣resie, or not; if they say it was not, how comes it that the Pope's Authority is a stronger Argument for the Popish Church, than the Asi∣an Authority for the Asian Churches; And if the Papists Page 157say, a separation from those seven Asian Churches was a mark of Heresie, then they must confess their Church was for many years Heretical as separating many years from the Asian Churches.
And Polycrates Bishop of Ephesus and Metropolitan of Asia despised the Popes uni∣versal Supremacy and Autho∣rity, and kept contrary to the Pope Easter-day, the Four∣teenth of March.
And indeed though the Papists do so much quote the authority of the Fathers, yet I find they as little befriend their Churches infallibility, as the Asian Bishops them∣selúes have done, for though Page 158the Papist say St. Hierome conceived it necessary to con∣form in matters of Faith, to the Church of Rome; yet before the Papist brag of that, let them answer us this, how came it then to pass, that St. Hierome chose to believe the Epistle to the Hebrews Cano∣nical upon the authority of the Eastern Church, and to reject it from the Canon of the Roman Churches Autho∣rity. And how comes it al∣so that he dissented from the Roman Church touching the Canon of the old Testament, let the Papist take heed of losing their Fort, by endea∣vouring to maintain their out-works.Page 159
And now to conclude this point, and excuse the Papists mistake concerning their uni∣versal Bishop, we read in Scri∣pture of the Prophet Elias, who thought there was none left beside himself in the whole Kingdom of Israel, who had not revolted from God; and yet God himself is pleased to assure us he was deceived; And if a Prophet, and one of the greatest err'd in his judgment, touching his own time and Country, why may not the Papists (subject to the same passions) err in their opinion, and judgment about the Popes being univer∣sal Bishop, when plain reason tells them, as well as us, that Page 160there were other Bishops as much universal as the. Pope.
I now come to examine this infallible Pope, whether he, cannot make his infallible I Church more infallible than he has made himself, and free the Popish Church from error, though he could not the Pope from Heresie.
Now towards the dispro∣ving the pretended infallibi∣lity of the Roman Church, I lay this as the foundation of my discourse, that the whole Roman Church can be no bet∣ter then a Congregation of men, whereof every particu∣lar, not one excepted, and consequently the generality, is nothing but a collection of Page 161men, and if every one be pol∣luted, (as who dare say he is free from sin) how can the whole but be defiled with error; as reasonably may a man brag he is in perfect health and strength, and yet at the same time confess he hath not one sound part a∣bout him. And truly it ve∣ry much creates my wonder, but does not in the least sa∣tisfie my reason, what the Papists can pretend by the infallibility of their church, for if they will allow their Pope to be no better than St. Peter was; their Church to be composed of no better men than the Holy Apostles were; I shall desire no more, Page 162and I am sure they can never prove so much, for they that pretend to it, declare as great an ignorance, as St. Peter did a sin, in denying his Lord and Master: and there are many other known circum∣stances, which made St. Paul prove him blame-worthy to his face.
And for the Apostles being in error, we have not onely the examples of the Apostles themselves, who in the time of our Saviours Passion, be∣ing scandalized, lost their faith in him, and I believe the Papists will not say they could lost their faith in our blessed Saviour Christ without error; and therefore our Saviour af∣ter Page 163his Resurrection upbraid∣ed them with their increduli∣ty, and called Thomas incre∣dulous for denying the Re∣surrection in the Twentieth of St. John.
And further 'tis mod: ap∣parent that the very Apostles themselves, even after the sending the Holy Ghost, did through inadvertency, or pre∣judice, continue sometime in an error, contrary to a revea∣led truth; And if the Papists will not own to know this truth, they may be fully sa∣tisfied of it in the story of the Acts of the Apostles, where they may plainly read that notwithstanding our Saviours express warrant and injuncti∣on Page 164to the Apostles to go and preach to all Nations. Yet not∣withstanding, till St. Peter was better informed by a vi∣sion from Heaven, and by the conversion of Cornelius, (both St. Peter and the rest of the Church, held it unlawful for them to go and Preach the Gospel to any but the Jewes. Now since we can prove that St. Peter did err, and that the Church composed partly of the Holy Apostles, themselves, who were blessed with, and inspired by the Holy Ghost, could mistake, and that there is no man free from sin, and yet that the Body of men that make, up the popish Church should be infallible, is I con∣fess Page 165beside my Faith, to be∣lieve, or reason to compre∣hend.
For sure if the Roman Church had been esteem'd by the Apostles infallible, what needed the Apostles any other Creed, than this short Creed, I believe the Roman Church infallible, and that would have been more effectual to keep the believers of it, from Heresie, and in the true Faith, then this Apostolical Creed we now have.
And sure the Papists cannot but believe with us, that those holy men that wrote the New Testament, were not onely good men, but al∣so men that were desirous to Page 166direct us in the plainest and surest way to Heaven. And the Papists cannot also but be∣lieve with us, that they were likewise men very sufficiently instructed by the Spirit of God, in all the necessa∣ry points of the Christian Faith: Therefore certainly 'tis most: rational to believe, they could not be ignorant of this unum necessarium, that all Faith is no Faith, except we believe the Church of Rome, was design'd by God to be the Guide of Faith, as the Church of Roome believes, and would have us believe so too.
We also further believe, and that with great reason Page 167too, that the Writers of the New Testament were wise men, especially being they were assisted by the Spirit of wisedom; and such that must know, that an uncertain Guide was as bad as none at all; and yet after all this, is it possible for a Philosophical or contemplative man; nay, for any man that has reason or common sense, after all these suppositions, to believe that none among these holy Writers of the New Testa∣ment should remember, (ad rei memoriam,) To set down plainly this most necessary Doctrine, not so much as once, that we were to be∣lieve the Roman Church in∣fallible.Page 168
Again, that none of the Evangelists should so much as once name this Popish necessa∣ry point of Faith, if they had esteem'd it necessary for us to believe it, when St. Paul says, He kept not back any thing that was profitable for us and sure the Papists cannot deny, but what is necessary to salvation, must be very profitable: And St; Luke also plainly tells Christians, his in∣tent was to write all things ne∣cessary. And sure it stands also with reason, that when St. Paul wrote to the Remans, he would have congratulated this their extraordinary privi∣ledge, if he had believ'd it belong'd to them.Page 169
And though the Romans bring it as a great Argument for them that St. Paul tells them, Their Faith is spoken all the world over. Yet pray let them moderate those thoughts with this consideration, that St. Paul said the very same thing to the Thessalonians; and let them further consider this, that if the Roman Faith had been the Rule of Faith for all the world for ever, as the Papists hold, sure St. Paul would have forborne to put the Romans in fear of an im∣possibility (for though rail∣lery is much in Fashion now, sure 'twas not then) that they also, nay the whole Church of the Gentiles, if Page 170they did not lock to their standing, might fall into in∣fidelity, as the Jews had done, 1 Eph. 11.
And methinks it also stands with great reason, that the Apostles writing so often of Hereticks, and Antichrist, should have given the Chri∣stian world this (as Papists pretend) onely sure Preser∣vative from them, to be gui∣ded by the infallible Church of Rome, and not to sepa∣rate from it, upon the pain of damnation.
Methinks also St. Peter, St. James, and St. Jude, in their Catholick Epistles, would not have forgot giving Chri∣stians this Catholick directi∣on Page 171of following the Roman Church; and St. John in stead of saying, He that be∣lieves that Jesus is the Christ, and born of God, might have said, He that adheres to the Doctrine of the Roman Church, and lives according to it, is a good Christian; and by this mark you shall know him. In a word, can there be any thing more irra∣tional, than to believe, that none of these holy men, who were so desirous of mens sal∣vation, should so much as once remember to write, that we were to obey the Roman Church, but leave it to be collected from uncertain prin∣ciples, and by more un∣certain Page 172consequences.
So that upon the whole, I cannot without much wonder, look on the Pope's confidence, and the Papists credulity, in esteeming the Pope or his Councils to be an infallible Guide; sure either they ne∣ver read what they ought to believe, or else they will not believe what they read, though it be never so known a Truth, and worthy of be∣lief: for if they did, they could never believe the infal∣libility of the Popish Church for indeed if they would read the Popish story; or, as I may well call it, the Civil Wars of the Popes, you shall find, as I said before, Pope Page 173against Pope, Councils a∣gainst Councils; some Fathers against others, nay, some against themselves; new Tra∣ditions brought in, and old ones turn'd out; one Church against another; nay, the Church of one Age against the Church of another. In a word, the Papists say, their Church is infallible, and all other Christians besides them∣selves, though more in num∣ber than they, absolutely de∣ny it; and yet we must for all that believe the Popish Church infallible.
And to speak the plain Truth, and in a word to un∣ravel the real cause of the Grandeur of the Church of Page 174Rome, above all other Chur∣ches, is onely this; Rome was the Imperial Town of the Empire, and its Greatness was given by men, and not God; and when afterwards Constantinople was the Impe∣rial City, they Decreed, that the Church of Constantinople should have equal Priviledges and Dignities with that of Rome.
And now to end this Dis∣course, I desire you will please to consider this Con∣clusion , which is, that af∣ter all that the Papists have said, be it never so much and mighty to shew the infal∣libility of their Church, I am verily perswaded they Page 175cannot shew more, if so much, out of the Scriptures, for their Church, as the simal∣lest society of Christians met together in prayer, can for themselves, that when two or three are met together in my name, I will be amongst then sayes the Lord. And now I have just done this small dis∣course, and the Sun is just up∣on finishing this dayes visit. I can very readily follow that holy advice of not letting it go down in my anger: (which I thank God I have to none living) and therefore am in so much Charity with the Papists, as to wish that nei∣ther they, nor Protestants, might wast their pretious Page 176time in meer speculative con∣troversies about words: and ceremonies, which of them∣selves will never carry us to Heaven; but that we may spend our time like wise Chri∣stians in the wayes, and fear of God, which is the onely beginning of wisedom; and not consume it in studying and maintaining of Disputes, and factions, but if we must still differ, let Protestants, and Papists differ in opinions, but as Aristotle, and Cicero did, who, though they were of differing Judgments touching the natures of Souls, yet both of them agreed in the main, that all men had Souls, and souls of the same nature.Page 177
And as Phisitians though they dispute whether the Brain or the Heart be the principle part of man, yet that all men have Brains, and Heart they sufficiently agree in; So though Protestants esteem one part of the Church doctrine, and Papists set a higher value on another part, yet the Soul of the Church may be in both of them, and though the Papists account that a necessary truth, which the Protestants account nei∣ther, necessary, nor perhaps true; yet in truth, truly neces∣sary they both agree, viz. The Apostles Creed, and that Faith, Hope, and Charity, are necessary to Salvation; And Page 178lastly though Papists hold, they may be justified by their works, and Protestants hold none can be justified barely by them, (in regard of the imperfections of their works) yet on the other side, we so much agree with the Papists, as to esteem none can be ju∣stified without them, for without Repentance, and Charity, none can be good, they being both like Health to our bodies, the want of which is sufficient to disturb all other pleasures. There∣fore when we read St. Pauls Treatise of justification by Faith, without the works of the Law. Let us at the same time read what he writes to Page 179the Corinthians concerning the absolute necessity of that Excellent vertue of Charity, and they will reconcile one another; and I wish, that we were all so reconciled in the uni∣ty of the Spirit, and in the bond of peace. And that you Ma∣dam may be the sooner recon∣cil'd to me, for this tedious∣ness; I shall now make a con∣clusion, which after such an overgrown letter, must needs be the best complement that can be made by,
Madam yours &c.
London the 24. of Feb. 1673