CHAP. XI. A Refutation of several other Attemts of Mr. I. S. in that eighth Chapter.
YOU are prolix in pretending that Prote∣stants have not unity of Faith with Papists. God forbid they should agree in all with them: spare bragging that they claim kindred with you. It is a great piece of courtesy and charity in Protestants to admit kindred with you, or allow you to be a part, tho infected and corrupted, of the Catholic Church: a courtesy, I say, in some thing like that of Bellarmin, in admitting even the most scandalously wicked of men, E∣picures in manners, and Atheists in belief to the Communion of his Church, provided they do but exteriourly own the Romish Religion, and Obedience to the Pope, tho but for temporal ends. His kindness to his Lord the Pope, and zeal for his grandeur, makes him extend thus his courtesy. Our love to our Lord Christ makes us admit kindred with you, and to take you for Members of the Church Universal, in as much as you confess with us, tho but verbally, the chief Articles of his doctrine contained in the Creed.
You proceed to exhort Protestants to an exa∣men of their Belief, whether they be in the right. I wish your party did comply so well herein with their duty, or were permitted to do it, as Pro∣testants do, and are allowed. Here they inquire, Page 67dispute, and read carefully Books for and against their Tenets. They are permitted to do it, and encouraged in it by their Instructors. You will not allow your people to read, dispute, or doubt at all of your Tenets.
You say Protestants are obliged in conscience to doubt of their Religion: while you tell your own people, they are obliged in conscience not to doubt of theirs. How came your Church by this Prerogative? because 'tis unerring, and uner∣rable, as the Title of your Book saies, but the Book do's not prove, as we are shewing. Why are Protestants oblig'd to doubt of their Reli∣gion? because it is new, say you. This was the Argument of Pagans, to stop the preaching of the Gospel; more improperly, and with less ground used by you. Our Religion is the An∣cient, and yours the New, as we prove. Where was our Religion, say you, before Luther? A question which for one too old should be cast away. We answer, where yours never was; in the Word of God, and in the true Records of Primitive Christianity.
You conclude your heterogeneous Chapter, and your first part of your Book, with mention∣ing the Treatise or Paper I penned some years a∣go, in favor of the Salvation of Protestants a∣gainst your vulgar Teachers, damning all to hell for Heretics, without reserve or distinction. You say the doctrine I delivered was true; but it was indiscretion to declare it in Ireland, whither I was sent to convert Protestants. The case was with Papists, who concerned for the Salvation of their Relations and Friends of the Protestant Page 68Communion, enquired, whether such believing sincerely they were in the right, never convinced of the contrary, and living religiously in the fear of God, and in the observation of his Command∣ments, might be saved. I answered they might, and were not Heretics, but Members of the Catholic Church, a dignity received in their Ba∣ptism, and not to be lost otherwise, then by for∣mal Heresy or Infidelity, whereof they were not guilty by the foresaid Supposition. You say all is true, but 'tis not discretion to declare truth it self, when there is no obligation of declaring it. Well, but was there not an obligation upon me, when question'd to answer according to truth? No, say you, for if the Inquirers were Papists, they needed not to be instructed in that truth; 'tis no Fun∣damental Truth. If Protestants; they were not ob∣lig'd to know it for the same reason, and that the an∣swer was an encouragement to them to remain as they were. A pretty subtilty. We have decla∣red before, how touching Points not Fundamen∣tal, there may be pernicious errors. Such is that opposite to the Truth we now speak of: an error subversive of Christian charity, and public peace; a seed of those Animosities, Rebellion, and Com∣bustions which made this Land unhappy. And ought not a sincere Instructor, and faithful Mini∣ster of the Word of God, to oppose this er∣ror? No, say you, because it was to encourage Protestants to remain as they were, and not to come under the Popes Obedience. There is the ground of your dislike of me.
Thus indeed stood the case: and this was one of my chief reasons to be dissatisfied of your Page 69way, That the rule of my doctrine among you must not be truth, but the interest of the Bishop of Rome, and the increase of his Dominion, whe∣ther by right or wrong. This point of policy or discretion, as you call it, I refused openly to learn from you, chusing rather to be of the Children of Light, tho with less prudence in your opinion, then of the Children of this World, by that eleva∣ted point of prudence you would teach me, of prostituting truth and honesty to the Popes plea∣sure and interest.