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IV.-An Argument drawn from the admitting Infants
to the Eucharist, as without which they could not
be saved, against the church's Infallibility. The condition, without the performance whereof no man can be admitted to the communion of the church of Rome, is this : that he believe firmly, and without doubting, whatsoever the church requires him to believe. More distinctly and particularly thus :
He must believe all that to be Divine revelation, which that church teaches to be such; as the doctrine of the Trinity; the hypostatical union of two natures in the person of Christ; the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son; the doctrine of transubstantiation, and such like.
Whatsoever that church teaches to be necessary, he must believe to be necessary: as baptism for infants; faith in Christ, for those that are capable of faith; penance for those that have committed mortal sin after baptism, &c.
Whatsoever that church declares expedient and profitable, he must believe to be expedient and profitable: as monastical life; prayer to saints; prayer for the dead; going on pilgrimages; the use of pardons; veneration of holy images and relics; Latin service, where the people understand it not; communicating the laity in one kind, and such like.
Whatsoever that church holdeth lawful, he must believe lawful: as to marry; to make distinction of meats, as if some were clean and others unclean; to fly in time of persecution; for them that serve at the altar, to live by the altar; to testify a truth by oath, when a lawful magistrate shall require it; to possess riches, &c.
Now it is impossible, that any man should certainly believe any thing, unless either it be evident of itself, or he have some certain reason (at least some supposed certain reason) and infallible ground for his belief. Now the doctrines, which the church of Rome teacheth, it is evident and undeniable that they are not evident of themselves, neither evidently true, nor evidently credible. He therefore that will believe them, must of necessity 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. No man can be assured, that that church is infallible, and cannot err, whereof he may be assured that she hath erred, unless she had some new promise of Divine assistance, which might for the future secure her from danger of erring; but the church of Rome pretends to none such.
Nothing is more certain, than that that church hath erred, which hath believed and taught irreconcilable contradictions, one whereof must of necessity be an error.
That the receiving the sacrament of the eucharist is necessary for infants, and that the receiving thereof is not necessary for them; that it is the will of God, that the church should administer the sacrament to them, and that it is not the will of God, that the church should do so, are manifest and irreconcilable contradictions; supposing only (that which is most evident) that the eu
charist is the same thing, of the same virtue and efficacy now, as it was in the primitive church; that infants are the same things they were, have as much need, are capable of as much benefit by the eucharist now, as then; as subject to irreverent carriages then, as now; and, lastly, that the present church is as much bound to provide for the spiritual good of infants, as the ancient church was: I say, these things supposed, the propositions before set down are plain and irreconcilable contradictions; whereof the present Roman church doth hold the negative, and the ancient church of Rome did hold the affirmative: and therefore it is evident, that either the present church doth err, in holding something not necessary, which is so; or that the ancient church did err, in holding something necessary, which was not so.
For the negative proposition, viz. That the eucharist is not necessary for infants; that it is the doctrine of the present church of Rome, it is most manifest, first, from the disuse, and abolition, and prohibition, of the contrary ancient practice. For if the church did conceive it necessary for them, either simply for their salvation, or else for their increase or confirmation in grace, and advancement to a higher degree of glory, (unless she could supply some other way their damage in this thing, which evidently she cannot) what an uncharitable sacrilege is it, to debar and defraud them of the necessary means of their so great spiritual benefit! Especially seeing the administration of it might be so ordered, that irreverent casualties might easily be prevented; which yet, should they fall out, against the church's and pastor's intention, certainly
could not offend God, and in reason should not offend man! Or if the church do believe, that upon such a vain fear of irreverence (which we see moved not the ancient church at all) she may lawfully forbid such a general, perpetual, and necessary charity, certainly herein she commits a far greater error than the former. Secondly, from the council of Trent's anathema, denounced on all that hold the contrary, in these words: “Ifany man say, that the receiving of the eucharist is necessary for little children, before they come to years of discretion, let him be anathema.” Concil. Trid. Sess. 21. De communione parvulorum, Cant. 4.
Now for the affirmative part of the contradiction, to make it evident that that was the doctrine of the ancient church, I will prove it, first, from the general practice of the ancient church, for several ages. Secondly, by the direct and formal testimonies of the fathers of those times. Thirdly, by the confession of the most learned antiquaries of the Roman church. My first argument I form thus : If to communicate infants was the general practice of the ancient church for many ages, then certainly the church then believed, that the eucharist was necessary for them, and very available for their spiritual benefit ; but it is certain, that the communicating of infants was the general practice of the church for many ages; therefore the church of those times thought it necessary for them. To deny the consequence of the proposition is to charge the church with extreme folly, wilful superstition, and perpetual profanation of the blessed sacrament. As for the assumption, it is fully confirmed by Clemens Rom. Constit. Apost. 1. 3. c. 20. Dionysius Areopagita De Eccles. Hie
rar, cap. ult. S. Cyprian, and a council of African bishops with him, Ep. 59. ad Fidum; and in his treatise De lapsis, p. 137. edit. Pamel. Paulinus, bishop of Nola, in Italy, an. 353. in Ep. 12. ad Senem: out of Ordo Romanus, cited by Alcuinus, S. Bede's scholar, and master to Charlemain, in his book De Divinis Officis, cap. De. Sab. Sancto Pasc. Gennadius Massiliensis De Eccles. Dogmatibus. c. 52. Concil. Toletanum, 2 Can. 11. It continued in the western church unto the days of Lewis the debonnaire, witness Cardinal Perron Des Passages de St. Augustine, p. 100. Some footsteps of it remained there in the time of Hugo de S. Victore, as you may see lib. i. De Sacram. et Cerem. cap. 20. It was the practice of the church of the Armenians in Waldensis' time, as he relates out of Guido, the Carmelite, tom. ii. De Sacr. c. 91. De erroribus Armenorum. It is still in force in the church of the Abyssines, witness Franc. Alvarez, Hist. Æthiop. c. 22. et Thomas a Jesu de procuranda salute omnium gentium. It has continued without any interruption in the Greek church unto this present age, as may be evidently gathered out of Lyranus in ch. vi. John; Arcudius, 1. i. c. 14. et 1. iii.c. 40. De Concord. Eccles. Orient.et Occident. in Sacram. Administratione ; Card. Perron Des Passages de S. Augustine, p. 100. Where he also assures us of the primitive church in general, that she gave infants the eucharist as soon as they were baptized; and that the custom of giving this sacrament to little infants the church then observed; and before, p. 21, that in those ages it
; was always given to infants together with baptism. The same is likewise acknowledged by Contzen in John vi. ver. 54. and by Thomas a