THE DECLARATION Of several Eminent Roman Catholicks In this KINGDOM of ENGLAND, Who did Embrace the Protestant Religion, With their Reasons for their Change deliver'd in their own Words, at their Embracing the Protestant Religion.
To which is Added A Catalogue of sundry great Persons of the Roman-Catholick Religion, that are now turned to the true Protestant-Religion of the Church of England.
LONDON, Printed for R. B. 1688.
The Declaration of several Eminent Roman Catho∣licks in this Kingdom of England, who did Em∣brace the Protestant Religion; with their Reasons for their Change, deliver'd in their own Words, &c.
THey that will derive the Goodness or Truth of a Religion from the Proselytes which it makes, ought to consider the Equality of the Persons, and the End of their Conver∣sion. For what signifies the Turning of half a score Persons to the Romish Religion, though their Number should be trebled; where for one that submits his misguided Reason, ten are de∣luded by their Passions, or follow the Current of the Times, Allur'd by private Hopes, and the Arguments of Self-Interest.
Of this Number was Peter Espinal, Archbishop of Lyons, who having embraced the Doctrine of the Protestants in his younger years, afterwards chang'd his Opinion, and became an invete∣rate Prosecutor of the Reformed;* but it was not his Zeal that made him so furious, but his eager Ambition of a Cardinals Cap, to which he sacrific'd his otherwise great Learning and Parts. Nor was this all; for having wasted his own Demeans to run in Debt, he knew no other way to supply his luxurious Extrava∣gance, than by siding with the Guisian or Henotic Faction: At the same time not only a Turncoat from his Religion, but a Re∣bel to his Prince.
The next to him, we find Francis Balduinus, who having em∣brac'd the Protestant Religion in Germany,* at length return'd to the Romish perswasion, upon the fair hopes he had of being preferr'd in Poland, by Henry the Third, afterwards King of France, had he not been prevented by Death.
These were Men of great Parts and Learning, and that we see how their Hopes and their Fears betray'd them.
But we are now to give a Particular Account of several Persons of no less Grandeur and Learn•ng, that being before Devout Sons of Popery, abandon'd the Ceremonies of Rome, and making choice of the Protestant profession, at the same time that they might not be tax'd of Inconstancy or Worldly Drifts; published the true Reasons of their Coversion.Page 4
We shall begin with Annus Burgus, a Senator of Paris, at first only suspected to favour the Protestants, was by Henry the Second of France, sent to the Bastile; at which time being declar'd a Heretick by his Judges, he appeal'd to the Archbishop of Sens, which Appeal being judged frivolous, he was sent back to the Bi∣shop of Paris, by whom being then degraded from his Sacerdo∣tal Character, he then made open profession of the Protestant Religion; testifying his joy for the kindness they had done him; for that the Character of the Beast being now, as he said, defac'd, he should have nothing more to do with Antichrist; and that there might be no question of his Conversion, he removed his first Confession as ambiguous, and gave into Court another more clearly agreeing with the Doctrine of Geneva and Switzerland, wherein after he had sharply enveighed against the Pope and the Ceremonies of Rome, he declar'd himself prepar'd either to live or dye, for which at last he was adjudged to be Burnt; which Sentence, as he heard with an undaunted Courage, so at the Stake he gave the People to understand, that he did not come there to suffer as a Malefactor, but for adhering to the truth of the Gospel: his Death was deplor'd by many that thought ill of his Conver∣sion: However, says the Historian, it partly so confirm'd the minds of some that had forsaken the Religion, and likewise so exasperated others, as it may be truly said, that out of his Ashes sprung that prodigious harvest of Revolts and Conspiracies,*which afterwards for so long time harras'd a most flourishing Kingdom. And the Author of the Council of Trent makes this Remark upon him,*That the Death and Constancy of a Person so Conspicuous, waken'd a Curiosity in ma∣ny, to understand what that Religion should be for which so great a Man had suffer'd so Couragiously: and complains that it much en∣creas'd the number of Protestant Proselytes.
Garsias Arias, a Spaniard, and Monk of the Monastery of St. Isidore, in Sevil, a Person of an acute Wit and rare Learning, of a rigid Roman Catholick, became a Preacher of the Reformed Religion, even under the nose of the Inquisition; in so much, that Philip the 2d. returning into Spain, was much amaz'd, to hear that the Reformed Religion was crept into his Most Catholick Do∣minions. Page 5At first Garsias was too hard for the Inquisitors, still baffling their Objections by the smartness of his Arguments. But being at length Conv en'd before them upon surer Evidence, he plainly shew'd that it was not out of Self-Interest, but out of a real Convincement that he was in an Error before, that he had abandoned the Popish Religion, else he would never have so bold∣ly Confronted the Cruel Tribunal, as to tell them, They were fitter for the vile Drudgery of Ostlers,*than to assume themselves to be the Censurers of a Faith which they so little understood; declar∣ing at the same time, his hearty Repentance for having formerly so •ppos'd the Maintainers of that Faith before them, and for which he should always be sorry as long as he had; whereupon ha• was forthwith Condemn'd, and soon after led in Triumph to F•re and •aggot, and Burnt alive.
Wolfangus ••scabus, was also in his younger years, a Monk, till better Information made him forsake the Ceremonies of the Romish Church, and adhe•r to the Protestant Religion, of which he afterwards became a most painful and Famous Preacher to his dying day.
Melchior Roman, a Spaniard, and once Procurator of the Or∣der of the Jacobins at Rome for the Prov•nce of Tholouse, having at last deserted the Church of Rome, made a publick Declaration of his Conversion in the Reformed Church of Bergeral, in the year 1600. wherein he gives an ample account of the Reasons which induc'd him to change his Religion, to this effect:
His first Exception is, That the Consecrated Sacrament should be subject to the eating of Mice and Rats; he alledges that he saw at Lymoges, in the Convent of the Jacobins, an infinite number of Consecrated Sacrifices eaten with Rats and Worms,* and all wrapt about with Cobwebbs: He relates how Gregory the Seventh, ha∣ving consulted the Sacrament touching the Revealing of certain matters against the Emperour, and receiving no answer, threw it into the Fire. He adds, that Victor the Third, a Bishop of Ebora, and the Emperor Henry the 7th. were poysoned in taking the Sacrament. Strange Absurdities, and prodigious Acts, to which Transubstantiation would subject the Body of Christ, if the Doctrine were true.Page 6
His next Exception is against the Privation of the Cup, con∣trary to the commands of Christ, Drink ye all, and the Practice of the Church, 1 Cor. 11.
His third Exception is against Purgatory, as if the unspeakable Dignity of the Sacrifice of Christ, were not able to blot out our Offences, to reconcile our Souls to God, and to justifie before the Throne of Justice: Besides, he assures himself, that it is a great diminishing of Gods Mercy, Grace, and unspeakable Favour, and a too-much eclipsing of the matchless Glory of the Ocean of his compassions.
His next Exception is against the Canonizing of Saints, by which means the silly ignorant People are induc'd to commit Idolatry and Spiritual Fornication; impiously and incredulou•ly against God, who is able to save and restore to life, those that are dead: that from hence proceeded so many Pilgrimages into strange Coun∣tries, under pretence whereof many Adulter•es, Fornications, Sodomies, Incests, and other execrable acts were committed, and the Bodies of those Ador'd and •uper••it•ou ly Wor•hipped upon Earth, whose •ouls were tormented in Hell He adds, that Gold and Silver can work m•ch with the People for ra• ng of the most vile and wicke• Pe•son •pon Earth, to the reputation of Holiness and De••ca••n; which never can come from the spirit of Sanctifica•ion, but from •he Authority of a mortal and sinful Man: Yet that those were the •a•nts wherein the Papists put their hopes, and at whose hands they look for Succour both in life and death: Wherefore, says the Convert, I utterly renounce them, and put my whole trust and confidence in my Creator only: And lastly, he renders to the Divine Majesty, eternal thanks above all other benefits of his large liberality bestowed upon him, for his Conversion in particular; protesting to imploy the Grace and Gifts it had pleas'd his Omnipotency to endue him with∣all, to the glorious praise of his eternal Majesty, and the Edifi∣cation of his Church, where his Word was most purely Preach'd, and his holy Sacraments most sincerely administred according to the Institution of Christ.
John Norman, Sub-Prior of Marestay, and a Predicant Friar, made publick profession of the Protestant Religion the same year, Page 7and gave his Reasons in the Reformed Churches of Yours and Trais∣neau, to this effect:
In the first place, he bewails for having so long follow'd the way that conducted to Perdition, and for having forsaken the true Path which was to be trac'd for the attaining of heaven; and then blesses himself, for that in the end, the Spirit of God had brought him to the light of a holy Knowledge of the way of Salvation: Lo now, says he, you see me unmask'd from the fraudulent embraces of the Strumpet Babel, which is the Nursery of all Impiety; Now am I loose from the dangerous labyrinth of Errors; Errors so abominable, that there is no man of never so little Faith, but de∣tests and renounces them; particularly he instances the boldnes• of the Popish Priests in using the terms, Qui creavit me, dedit mihi creare se; he that created me, gave me power to create him; and, qui creavit me sine me, creatur mediante me; he that created me without me, is created by my means: Which he asserts to be a manifest over-throwing the Doctrine concerning the truth of the Humane Nature of Christ, who has but one Body and not two Bodies, as the words infer; for that by their reckoning, Christ must have one Body fram'd in the Womb of the Pure Vir∣gin, and another which the Creator creates by the Priest.
In the next place, he objects against their daily Sacrificing for the Quick and the Dead; by which means the Papists seem di∣rectly to infer, that the Sacrifice once made by Christ upon the Cross, was insufficient.
In the next place, he objects against Praying to Saints, as de∣priving Christ of his excelling Titles of Intercessor and Med•ator.
In the next place, he taxes the Papists with Idolatry, in attri∣buting to a thing without life, that which only belongs to Christ; instancing for example, that Prayer of theirs to the Cross, Hail Holy Cross, our only Hope in this time of passion; Encrease Justice to the Godly, and give Mercy to the Guilty.
He further taxes their want of Understanding, in believing that by the•r Works they Meritoriously gain Heaven, as being a palpa∣ble lessening the merits of Christ, for that, if the Graces of God might be purchas'd by Man's Merits, Christ had then dy'd in vain: Be∣sides, that it is contrary to the Scripture, which tells us, That Page 8when we have done all we can, we are unprofitable Servants. In the conclusion, he tells the World, that he has omitted many Super∣stitions and Heresies that caus'd him to fly from the preten•ed Catholick Religion, and to settle himself with all hum•lity in the Reformed Church. Adding withall, that let his •nem•es say what they pleas'd, or do what they could, neither Promises nor Threats; neither Injuries nor Persecutions should (with Gods grace with∣draw him from his Pious Resolution, to embrace the true and lively Faith of the Reformed Churches. And lastly, beseeching the Congregation of the Faithful, meaning the Protestants, to receive him into their number.
The Names of several Roman Catholicks that are turn'd to the Protestant Religion.
In the 12th •ge from 1100,* to 1200. liv'd St. Bernard, a Monk, who held Justification by Faith alone, and disclaim'd Justificati∣on by works. I am not worthy, says he, neither can I by my own me∣rets obtain the Kingdom of Heaven, but rest upon that Interest which I have in the Merits of Christ's passion. He also taught that the Eucharist was a Commemoration only, in his Sermon upon the Lords Supper; he also held the Sufficiency of the Scriptures without Traditions, affirming that the Word of God was all in all, &c.
Rupertus Tuitiensis, taught, That whatsoever concerns the Word of God, whatsoever was to be known or spoken touching the Incarnation, the Divinity, and Humanity of Christ, is contain'd in the Two Testaments; besides, or without which two, there was nothing that ought to be deliver'd or believ'd: And Hugo de Sancto Victore maintain'd Communicating in both kinds.
Gracianus the Monk Recites many Ancient Canons and Constitutions for Communicating in both kinds,* and declared his Testimony against Transubstantiation, in these words; As the Heavenly Bread which is Christ's Body, where indeed it is but the Sacrament of his Body, so the sacrificing of the Flesh of Christ, is said to be his Passion, not in the truth of the thing, but in•d signifying Myster Of the same Opinion, in the same Age, was Peter Ble∣sensis, Archdeacon of Bath, and Johannes Semeca.
Dominic Calderinus, mention•d by Ladovicus Vives, condemn'd the whole Mass; so that being urg'd by his Friend to go to Mass, when he could not in Civility deny it; Come (said he) let us go to the Common Error.