CHAP. X. A check to Mr. I. S. his insolent Thesis prefixed for title to the eighth Chapter of his Book: That the Protestant Church is not the Church of Christ, nor any part of it. That they cannot without Blasphemy alledg Scripture for their Tenets. And his own Argument retorted to prove, that the Roman Church is not the Church of Christ.
UNder so pregnant and big promising a title as this; That the Protestant Church is not the Church of Christ, nor any part of it, that they cannot without Blasphemy alledg Scripture for their Tenets, &c. and that in a Book presented to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland the Earl of Essex; under so magnificent a title, I say, exposed to the view of so great and judicious a person, who would not expect a very exquisite discourse to go through so stout an undertaking? And, behold Reader, what Mr. I. S. presents to his Excellen∣cy for that purpose.
For a Foundation of his discourse, he will have us premise, that Protestants do allow Papists not to err in points Fundamental to Salvation, that our differences with them are about points not Fundamental. He do's not seem to regard or know which be these points call'd Fundamental, or not Fundamental; which is a bad beginning Page 60to be clear and exact in the present Engagement. But he is to suppose with Dr. Stillingfleet, Dr. Potter, and other learned Writers of both Churches, * following therein the common opi∣nion of Fathers, and Scholemen, that the points Fundamental, or of necessary belief to Salvation, and to the constitution of a true Christian Church, are those contained in the Apostles Creed; which is a system or summary of Articles, which those sacred Founders of Christianity thought fit and sufficient to be proposed to all men, where the Gospel was preached, and necessary to be ex∣plicitly believed. So as the Council of Trent calls it Fundamentum firmum & unicum, Sess. 3. not the firm alone, but the only Foundation. Points not Fundamental, or inferior truths, are all other divine Verities contained in the Word of God, whether written in Canonical Scripture, or delivered to us by Apostolical Universal Tradi∣tion, implicitly contained in the Creed, where we profess to believe in God, and in the Catholic Church; and explicitly to be believed when we should be ascertained that they are contained in those Oracles of God; called inferior truths, not that they are of less certainty, and objective Infallibility in themselves, then the other called Fundamental; but because the explicit know∣ledg of them is not so necessary or obvious to all men, and consequently are more capable of inculpable ignorance of them, and errors about Page 61them in many men. And because the Roman Church do's agree with us in the explicit confes∣sion of this Creed, it is said not to err in Funda∣mental points, tho found guilty of pernicious errors touching other points not Fundamental. And with this Supposition, I am confident my Antagonist will not quarrel, if you take him here, before he sees my reflexions upon his un∣wary Argument.
Upon the foresaid Foundation, Mr. I. S. builds this Thesis, That the Protestant Church, as it is condistinct from the Popish Church, is not the Church of Christ, because, saies he, it do's not teach the do∣ctrine of Christ, and no Church can be called of Christ further then it teacheth his doctrine.
That Protestancy, or the doctrine of Prote∣stants as opposite to the Popish, is not the do∣ctrine of Christ, he undertakes to prove with this Syllogism, No fallible doctrine is the doctrine of Christ: but Protestancy is altogether fallible do∣ctrine; Therefore Protestancy, as it is properly the doctrine of the Protestant Church, is not the doctrine of Christ. This Syllogism he chalks out to us in a different Character, for remarkable, as indeed it is, and for unanswerable, for it is in Ferio, saies he, pag. 142. The Major Proposition we allow wil∣lingly; the Minor, to wit, that Protestancy is alto∣gether fallible doctrine, he saies, is manifest by virtue of this other no less remarkable Syllogism, Protestancy, or the doctrine wherein Protestants do differ from Papists, is altogether of points not Fun∣damental: but the doctrine of points not Fundamen∣tal, or inferior truths, is fallible doctrine: therefore Protestancy is but fallible doctrine, and therefore no doctrine of Christ.
Page 62 He concludes with these words, I confess in∣genuously, I think this Argument cannot be solidly answer'd. If his confession herein be ingenuous indeed, let him take in return this other ingenu∣ous confession from me, that I think seriously he is a very weak man. If he be sensible himself of the fallacy and falsehood of his Argument, he is unworthy in beguiling his Reader, and unwise in exposing it to a polemical strict debate: and thinking we should want a solid Answer to so silly a Sophism, not to give it yet a more severe check, haply he has that poor excuse in his favor, that he knows not what he saies.
To see whether my Answer be solid, let us exa∣mine how solid his Argument is. The stress of it lies in his latter Syllogism, whose major Propo∣sition is, That Protestancy, or the doctrine wherein Protestants do differ from Papists, is altogether of Points not Fundamental. This we allow him to take for granted. Let us proceed to the Minor, But the doctrine of Points not Fundamental, or in∣ferior Truths, saies he, is fallible doctrine. Stop here Sir, and if Justice were don to you, a per∣petual stop should be put to your tongue, for blasphemons, from speaking any more. It is a formal Blasphemy, and a horrid one to say, that the doctrine of Points not Fundamental, or in∣ferior Truths in general is fallible doctrine. It is to say, that the Word of God is fallible. Re∣member what is premis'd a little before, and supposed by your self in many places of your present discourse, that the Points called not Fun∣damental, are all those other divine Verities con∣tained in the Word of God, whether written in Page 63Canonical Scripture, or deliver'd to us by Apo∣stolical Tradition, besides the Points contained in the Creed; of equal objective certainty and truth with the other Points. They are of a size, as you speak, all being the Word of God, tho not in the same degree of necessity to be expli∣citly believed by all men. Therefore to say that the doctrine of Points not Fundamental is fal∣lible, is to say, that the Word of God is fallible, which, without Controversy, is a formal Blasphe∣my. Poor Logician, is this your Argument in Ferio, for which you thought a solid Answer could not be found? For a Syllogism in Feri• to be conclu∣ding, the Premises must be allowed; and will you have us allow your Premises, when one of them is found to be a formal Blasphemy?
But it seems this horrible Blasphemy did not fall from him unawares; it was with delibera∣tion. He goes to prove it, and see how. The Church can err, and is fallible in Points not Fun∣damental, therefore these Points are fallible. This is another goodly piece of Logic, which proves that Points Fundamental are likewise fal∣lible. Men can err, and have erred in Points Fundamental, therefore these also are fallible in your Dialect. This is not to distinguish Subje∣ctive fallibility, from the Objective; to pass the imperfections of the faculty upon the object. Mr. I. S. looks upon the Sun with squint, or dim eies, therefore the Sun is dim or squint. The Pope can err, and is fallible in declaring the Word of God, therefore the Word of God is fallible. Your brethren of Clermont Colledg, who defended in their Theses, mentioned chap. 6. Page 64that the Pope hath the same Infallibility which Christ had, may think that consequence legal, The Pope is fallible about the Word of God, therefore the Word of God is fallible, because the Pope hath the very same Infallibility which Christ the very Word of God hath. But we that a low no such Equality of truth to men, cannot take fallibility in the Word of God, for a conse∣quence of mans fallibility about it.
From the foresaid Position, you proceed to the second grand Thesis prefixed to your Cha∣pter, That Protestants cannot without Blasphemy alledg Scripture for their Tenets. This is sure a rare shew of your wit, a product of your own inven∣tion never heard of before. I confess to have ne∣ver heard the like: and thus you go to prove it. Protestancy, or the points wherein Protestants do differ from Papists, is but a parcel of fallible doctrine, but no fallible doctrine can without Blasphemy be sought for in Scripture; therefore Protestants cannot without Blasphemy alledg Scripture for their Tenets. Make of the Major what you please for the present: what desperate Proposition is that of the Minor, That no fallible doctrine may without Blasphemy be sought for in Scri∣pture? By this all the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, all Divines that alledg Scripture for their several opinions, which they do not pre∣tend to be infallible, nor more then probable opinions, are guilty of Blasphemy in your esteem.
But that this so much solemnized Argument may not be altogether useless, I will retort it upon your self with more force and less cavil; proving by it, that your Church is not the Church of Page 65Christ. And thus I argue for it in your own terms. No Church is any further the Church of Christ, then as it teacheth the doctrine of Christ; but the Roman Church, as condistinct from the Reformed Protestant Church, or in as much as it differs from it, doth not teach the doctrine of Christ; therefore the Roman Church as condi∣stinct from the Reformed Protestant Church, is not the Church of Christ. The Minor Proposi∣tion, That the Roman Church, as condistinct from the Protestant Church, doth not teach the do∣ctrine of Christ, I prove thus: The doctrine which the Roman Church, as condistinct from the Pro∣testant, and opposite to it doth teach, is, Popes Infallibility, and Supremacy over all the Christian Church, Transubstantiation, Worship of Images, Invocation of Saints, Purgatory, Indulgences, half Communion, Liturgy in an unknown tongue, prohibiting the people to read holy Scripture, &c. all which I have declared in my former dis∣course, not to be the doctrine of Christ, but all contrary to it, and in this present Treatise will more fully declare the same: Therefore the Ro∣man Church as condistinct from the Protestant, and opposite to it, doth not teach the doctrine of Christ, and consequently is not the Church of Christ.