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(though by the * whole church) yet might remain a member of Christ's body (not visible, for that is impossible, that a person cut off from visible communion, though unjustly, should be a visible member of the church, † but) by invisible communion, by reason of the invalidity of the sentence; which, being unjust, is valid enough to visible excision, but not further.
* How by the whole church, when himself was part of it, and communicated still with divers other parts of it ?
# What ! not to them who know and believe him to be unjustly excommunicated ?
II.-A Discourse against the Infallibility of the Ro
man Church, with an Answer to all those texts of Scripture that are alleged to prove it.
The condition of communion with the church of Rome, without the performance whereof no man can be received into it, is this : That he believes firmly, and without doubting, whatsoever that church requires him to believe.
It is impossible that any man should certainly believe any thing, unless that thing be either evident of itself, (as that, twice two are four, that every whole is greater than a part of itself) or unless he have some certain reason (at least some supposed certain reason) and infallible guide for his belief thereof.
The doctrines, which the church of Rome requireth to be believed, are not evident of themselves; for then every one would grant them at first hearing, without any further proof. He therefore that will believe them, must have some certain and infallible ground, whereon to build his belief of them.
There is no other ground for a man's belief of them, especially in many points, but only an assurance of the infallibility of the church of Rome.
Now this point of that church's infallibility is not evident of itself; for then no man could choose but in his heart believe it, without further proof. Secondly, It were in vain to bring any proof of it, as vain as to light a candle to shew men the sun. Thirdly, It were impossible to bring any proof of it, seeing nothing can be more evident, than that which of itself is evident; and nothing can be brought in proof of any thing, which is not more evident than that matter to be proved. But now experience teacheth, that millions there are, who have heard talk of the infallibility of the Roman church, and yet do not believe, that the defenders of it do not think it either vain or impossible to go about to prove it; and from hence it follows plainly, that this point is not evident of itself. - Neither is there any other certain ground for any man's belief of it; or if there be, I desire it may be produced, as who am ready and most willing to submit my judgment to it, fully persuaded that none can be produced, that will endure a severe and impartial examination.
If it be said, The Roman church is to be behieved infallible because the Scripture says it is so;
1. I demand, how shall I be assured of the texts that he alleged, that they are indeed Scripture, that is, the word of God ? And the answer to this must be, Either because the church tells me so, or some other : if any other be given, then all is not finally resolved into, and built upon that church's. authority; and this answer then, I hope a protestant may have leave to make use of, when he is put to that perilous question, How know you the Scripture to be the Scripture? If the answer be, Because the church tells me so; my reply is ready; That to believe that church is infallible, because the Scriptures say so; and that the Scripture is the word of God, because the same church says so; iş nothing else but to believe the church is infallible, because the church says so, which is infallible.
-2. I could never yet, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of the Apocalypse, find it written so much as once in express terms, or equivalently, that the church, in subordination to the see of Rome, shall be always infallible.
3. If it be said, That this is drawn by good con-' sequence from Scripture truly interpreted; I demand, What certain ground have I to' warrant me, that this consequence is good, and this interpretation true? And if answer be made, That reason will tell me so: I reply,. 1. That this is to build all upon my own reason and private interpretation. 2. I have great reason to fear, that reason assures no man, that the infallibility of the church of Rome may be deduced from Scripture by good and firm consequence.
4. If it be said, That a consent of fathers do so interpret the Scripture; I answer, 1. That this is most false, and cannot, without impudence, be pretended; as I am ready to justify to any indifferent hearer. 2. I demand, Who shall be judge, whether the fathers mean as is pretended? If it: be said, Reason will tell me so; I say, b. This is false. 2. This is again to do that, which is objected to protestants for such a horrid crime, that! is, to build all finally upon reason.
If it be said, They are so interpreted by the ca-. tholic church ; I demand, Whether by the catho-. lic church be meant, That only that is in subordination to the bishop of Rome; or any other with that, or besides that? If any other, it is false and impudent to pretend that they so understand the fathers or Scripture: if that only, then this is to say, that that church is infallible, because it may be deduced from Scripture that it is so; and to
prove that it may be deduced from Scripture, because the fathers say so; and to prove the fathers do say and mean so, because the church of Rome says they do so. And then what a stir and trou ble was here to no purpose! Why was it not rather said plainly at the beginning, The church of Rome is certainly infallible, because she herself says so; and she must say true, because she is infallible? And that is as much as to say, Unless you grant me the question, I neither can nor will dispute with you.
If it is said, Indeed the fathers do not draw this doctrine from Scripture; but yet they affirm it with a full consent, as a matter of tradition; I reply, 1. That this pretence also is false, and that upon trial it will not appear to have any colour of probability to any, who remembers, that it is the present Roman church, and not the catholic church, whose infallibility is here disputed. 2. I demand, Who shall be judge, whether the fathers do indeed affirm this or not? If reason, then again we are fallen upon that dangerous rock, that all must be resolved into private reason : if the church, I ask again, What church is meant ? If the church of the Grecians, or Abyssines, or protestants, or any other but the Roman, it is evident they deny it: if the church of Rome, then we are again very near the head of the circle; for I ask, How shall I be assured this church will not err and deceive me in interpreting the fathers? And the answer must be either none, or this, That the church is infallible.
Obj. If it be said, That the infallibility of the Roman church would yield the church so many commodities, and that the want of an infallible