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shall be very importunate with you; and, therefore, if you desire to avoid trouble, I pray come out of my debt as soon as may be.
If it be said, that my argument is not contradictory to your conclusion, because it shews only, that the Roman church, with her adherents, was not in St. Cyprian's or St. Augustine's time the catholic church, but was at the time before Luther; I say, to conclude the one, is to conclude the other. For certainly, if it were then at Luther's time so, it was always so; if it was not always, it was not then: for if it be of the essence, or necessary to the church (as is pretended) to be a society of Christians joined in communion with the church and bishop of Rome; then did it always agree to the church, and therefore in St. Cyprian's and St. Augustine's time, as well as at Luther's rising: if it were not always, particularly not in St. Cyprian's time, of the essence, or necessary to the church to be so; then it was impossible the church should acquire this essence, or this property afterwards, and therefore impossible it should have it at the time of Luther's rising. Necessarium est, quod non aliquando inest, aliquando non inest; alicui inest, alicui non inest; sed quod semper et omni.-Arist. Post. Analyt.
Again, every sophister knows, that of particulars nothing can be concluded; and therefore he that will shew, that the church of Rome, and the adherents of it, was the catholic church at Luther's rising, he must argue thus: It was always so, therefore then it was so. Now this antecedent is overthrown by any instance to the contrary; so the first antecedent being proved false, the first consequent cannot but be false: for what reason
can be imagined, that the church of Rome, and the adherents of it, was not the whole catholic church at St. Cyprian's time, and was at Luther's rising? If you grant, (as I think you cannot deny) that a church divided from the communion of the Roman, may be still in truth, and in God's account, a part of the catholic, (which is the thing we speak of) then I hope Mr. Lewgar's argument from unity of communion is fallen to the ground; and it will be no good plea to say,
Some one church, not consisting of divers communions, was the catholic church at Luther's rising.
No one church can be named to be the catholic church, but the Roman.
Therefore the Roman church was the catholic at Luther's rising.
For Mr. Lewgar hath not, nor can prove the major of this syllogism certainly true; but to the contrary, I have proved, that it cannot be certainly true, by shewing divers instances, wherein divers divided communions have made up the catholic church; and therefore not the dividing of the communions, but the cause and ground of it, is to be regarded, whether it be just and sufficient, or unjust and insufficient.
Neither is the bishop or church of Rome, with the adherents of it, an infallible judge thereof; for it is evident, both he and it have erred herein divers times: which I have evinced already by divers examples, which I will not repeat; but add to them one confessed by Mr. Lewgar himself, in his discourse upon the article of the catholic church, page 84.-St. Athanasius being excommunicated,
(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 Roman 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 believed 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; is nothing else but to believe the church is infallible, because the church says so, which is infallible.