VIII.-An Account of what moved the Author to turn

Papist, with his own Confutation of the Arguments

that persuaded him thereto. I RECONCILED myself to the church of Rome, because I thought myself to have sufficient reason to believe, that there was, and must be, always in the world some church that could not err; and, consequently, seeing all other churches disclaimed this privilege of not being subject to error, the church of Rome must be that church which cannot err.

I was put into doubt of this way which I had chosen, by Dr. Stapleton and others, who limit the church's freedom from error to things necessary only, and such as without which the church can be a church no longer; but granted it subject to error in things that were not necessary: hereupon considering, that most of the differences between protestants and Roman catholics were not touching things necessary, but only profitable or lawful; I concluded, that I had not sufficient ground to believe the Roman church either could not or did not err in any thing, and therefore no ground to be a Roman catholic.

Against this again I was persuaded, that it was not sufficient to believe the church to be an infallible believer of all doctrines necessary, but it must also be granted an infallible teacher of what is necessary; that is, that we must believe not only that the church teacheth all things necessary, but that all is necessary to be believed, which the church

teacheth to be so; in effect, that the church is our guide in the way to heaven. .

Now to believe that the church was an infallible guide, and to be believed in all things which she requires us to believe, I was induced, first, because there was nothing that could reasonably contest with the church about this office, but the Scripture, and that the Scripture was this guide, I was willing to believe ; but I saw not how it could be made good, without depending upon the church's authority.

1. That Scripture is the word of God.

2. That the Scripture is a perfect rule of our duty.

3. That the Scripture is so plain in those things which concern our duty, that whosoever desires and endeavours to find the will of God there, he shall either find it, or at least not dangerously mistake it.

Secondly, I was drawn to this belief, because I conceived that it was evident, out of the Epistle to the Ephesians, that there must be unto the world's end a succession of pastors, by adhering to whom men might be kept from wavering in matters of faith, and from being carried up and down with every wind of false doctrine.

That no succession of pastors could guard their adherents from danger, and error, if themselves were subject unto error, either in teaching that to be necessary, which is not so, or denying that to be necessary, which is so : and therefore,

That there was, and must be, some succession of pastors, which was an infallible guide in the way of heaven, and which could not possibly teach any thing to be necessary, which was not so; nor any


thing not necessary, which was so. Upon this ground I concluded, that seeing there must be such a succession of pastors as was an infallible guide, there was no other (but that of the church of Rome) even by the confession of all other societies of pastors in the world ; that therefore that succession of pastors is that infallible guide of faith, which all men must follow.

Upon these grounds I thought it necessary for my salvation to believe the Roman church, in all that she thought to be, and proposed as necessary.

Against these arguments it hath been demonstrated unto me; and first against the first, That the reason why we are to believe the Scripture to be the word of God, neither is nor can be the authority of the present church of Rome, which cannot make good her authority any other way, but by pretence of Scripture; and, therefore, stands not unto Scripture (no not in respect of us) in the relation of a foundation to a building, but of a building to a foundation; doth not support Scripture, but is supported by it. But the general consent of Christians of all nations and ages, a far greater company than that of the church of Rome, and delivering universally the Scripture for the word of God, is the ordinary external reason why we believe it; whereunto the testimonies of the Jews, enemies of Christ, add no small moment for the authority of some part of it.

That, whatsoever stood upon the same ground of universal tradition with Scripture, might justly challenge belief as well as Scripture; but that no doctrine, not written in Scripture, could justly pretend to as full tradition as the Scripture, and

therefore we had no reason to believe it with that degree of faith, wherewith we believe the Scripture.

That it is unreasonable to think, that he that reads the Scripture, and uses all means appointed for this purpose, with an earnest desire, and with no other end, but to find the will of God, and to obey it, if he mistake the meaning of some doubtful places, and fall unwillingly into some errors, unto which no vice or passion betrays him, and is willing to hear reason from any man that will undertake to shew him his error; I say, that it is un

I reasonable to think, that a God of goodness will impute such an error to such a man.

Against the second it was demonstrated unto me, that the place I built on so confidently, was no argument at all for the infallibility of the succession of pastors in the Roman church, but a very strong argument against it.

First, No argument for it, because it is not certain, nor can ever be proved, that St. Paul speaks there of any succession. (Ephes. iv. 11-13.) For let that be granted, which is desired, that in ver. 13. by (until we all meet) is meant, until all the children of God meet in the unity of faith, that is, unto the world's end ; yet it is not said there, that “he gave apostles and prophets,” &c. which should continue, &c. “ until we all meet,” by connecting ver. 13. to ver. 11. But he gave (then upon his ascension, and miraculously endowed) apostles and prophets, &c. for the work of the ministry, for the consummating of the saints, for the edification of the body of Christ, until we all meet, that is, if you will, unto the world's end. Neither is there any incongruity, but that the apostles and prophets, &c. which lived then, may in good sense be said now at this time, and ever hereafter, to do those things which they are said to do. For who can deny but St. Paul, the apostle and doctor of the gentiles, and St. John, the evangelist and prophet, do at this very time (by their writings, though not by their persons) do the work of the ministry, consummate the saints, and edify the body of Christ.

Secondly, It cannot be shewn or proved from hence, that there is, or was, to be any

such succession; because St. Paul here tells us, only, that he gave such in the time past, not that he promised such in the time to come.

Thirdly, It is evident, that God promised no such succession, because it is not certain that he hath made good any such promise; for who is so impudent as to pretend, that there are now, and have been in all ages since Christ, some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; especially such as he here speaks of, that is, endowed with such gifts as Christ gave upon his ascension; of which he speaks in ver. 8. saying, “He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” And that those gifts were-men endowed with extraordinary power and supernatural gifts—it is apparent, because these words, “and he gave some apostles, some prophets,” &c. are added by way of explication and illustration of what was said before and he gave gifts unto men. And if any man except hereunto, that though the apostles, and prophets, and evangelists were extraordinary, and for the plantation of the gospel, yet pastors were ordinary, and for continuance; I answer, It is true,

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