« VorigeDoorgaan »
Legends, and ridiculous and monstrous Miracles, and their Consciences loaden with almost an inoumerable Number of unprofitable Ceremonies, and unwarrantable Traditions: Now was there much Confidence put in hals , low'd Beads, Agnus Dei's, and fuch Baubles, the Honour due to the Greator, being given to the Creature; nay, even the foolish Works of Mens Hands. Now, the People were taught, that all Abstinence from certain Meats and Drinks were meritorious ; that the Opus Opis ratum, the Work done, was sufficient in the Sacraments and their Devotions. Now, the Crown of Martyrdom, wherewith the first Bishops of Rome were honoured, becanie changed into a triple Crown of Gold, eorich'd with Jewels: And the pastoral Staff began to quarrel with the princely Scepter. And all thes: Things were carry'd by the Name of the Church; the People, for the most part, defiring but to believe as the Church believed, and chis Church was the Roinan, and this Roman Church was, and now is, the Pope.
All Europe desired a Reformation of these things. But a great Cardinal told the Pope, (a) “ That unlels he “ cou'd live upon St. Peter's Patrimony, he must not “ think of it; for dividing his Holiness's Revenues inte “ four Parts, three of them, that is to say, the Profits “ of the Roman Church; the Revenues from the ec. “ clefiaftical Preferments, and the Income from Purga
tory, Indulgences, ew. wou'd all be taken from him
by this Project.” After which the Pepe wou'd never consent to it.
When the Protestants in the fir Convocation in Queen Mary's Days, were too hard for their Adversaries, Weston, the Prolocutor, dilmits'd the Assembly, saying, (b) 5. You have the Word, but we have the Sword. * Inquisitions, Fire and Fagot are requisite Instruments “ for such a Cause." But the Roman Church never be
(a) Confil. Trium. Episc. ad Paul 3. apud Wolf. Memor. Lect. Tom. 2. P. 549.
(b) Keilin. Hif. Cap. 5. P.
gan to put Dissenters to death, 'till their Doctrines were so evidently corrupt, that Fear was necessary to awe Men into 'an unwilling Submission to them : For while the Church was pure, all such Courses were declar'd unlaw.. ful, and Hereticks only used those cruel Methods, or if any other did, the Catholick Bishops excommunicated them.
It is therefore most apparent why the Roman Church is necessitated to impose upon Mankind that damnable Doctrine of (a) “ Implicit Faith,” that is, believing as the Church believes, tho' they know not what it is, and that of “ Blind Obedience," in doing whatsoever their Superiors enjoin, without examining, renouncing their own Judgment, and even their Senses, and delivering up themselves entirely to be guided by their spiritual Master; so strictly impos'd upon them, and generally taught by the Jesuits, and affirm'd by a lare Pope, (b) to be agreeable to the Doctrine of the Church; and also to establish her Religion by those iwo vile Methods, of keeping her easy Proselites in Ignorance, and persecuting all Dillenters, with the utmost Force and Fury.
(a) Exercit. Spiritual. Ignat, Loy. Reg. I. P. 138. et Reg. 13. P. 141. (b) Bulla. Paul. 3. prafix. V. Liber.
CH A P.
CHA P. XIII.
This last Chapter is briefly to shew the juft Cause of our Separation from the present Church of Rome, wherein we shall offer fome Arguments, for our persevering in the Protestant Principles,
F Rhe M what has been fhewn, it is most manifeft, that
the present Church of Rome, was to free our felves from those Pollu. tions with which she is most abominably defiled.; and keep our felves from those Idols which she has revived and multiplied, and that we might not be Partakers with her in those Sins of cruel Persecution and Tyranny, established by her Authority; and that Ignorance of true Christian Principles, which she encourages in those who are of her Communion. All which begun to be set up in those Ages, wherein scarce any Body knew, what the Doctrine of Christ was; when a general Ignorance of Letters, and almost an universal Stupidity and Madness had seized upon the Mirds of Men; when there was a horrid Depravation of Manners, a general Failure of Virtue and Piery, both in the Head and Members of the Church; when the Generality of Bishops and Priefts were ignorant in the Scriptures; and in the Lewdnefs of their Lives did surpass the vilest of the People. Here Experie. ence tells
us, that in what Age soever, there are a great Number of superstitious People, there will never be wanting a few cratcy Fellows to make use of this easy and pli-. able Humour to their own Ends,
Now, as to those general Reasons that confirm us in the Protestant Principles, and make us ftedfastly resolved against all Sollicitations to Popery, we lay this down for our Foundation ; that, since that which is the truest Religion, is the most certain Way to bring our Souls to eternal Happiness, we will never be enticed by any tallacious Pretences or Practices, to leave chat Religion which we are affured is the true, and certain Way to everlasting Life.
It those of the present Church of Rome cou'd be persuaded to reflect a little upon the Circumstances, the Begianings, and the Progress of the reformed Religion, and the mighty Oppositions it has all along met with from Emperors and Kings, and from the Popes also, it might be sufficient to convince them, that God himself vouchsafes to fight it's Quarrel, and that the Force of Truth is such as neither the Power of Man, nor the Gates of Hell is able to root out.
The People of God are otherwise instructed now, than they were in those melancholy and ignorant Ages, when all the Pope's Sayings were held for Gospel, and all Religion depended only upon his Authority. Now-a-days the Holy Scripture is abroad, and the Writings of the Apostles are in Print, whereby all Truth and Catholick Doctrine may be proved, and all Heresies may be disproved and confured.
Thus Christ put off the Devil when he was tempted of him. By the Holy Scriptures ought all Presumption, which doth advance it selt against God, to be overthrown and conquered. Thus did the holy Fathers always fight against Hereticks. We may therefore say to the Papifts, as St. Austin laid to Perilian, the Donatian Heretick, (a) “ Which of Us are Schismaticks, We or You? Ask " not me, neither will I ask you: Let Christ be asked, " that he may thew us his own Church." And again, (b) " Whether it be of Christ or of his Church, or of any “ Thing else whatsoever, pertaining either to our Life,
(a) Aug. contra Literas Perilian. Lib. 2. cap. 85. (b) Ibidem,
« or to our Faith, I will not say, if I my felf, but if an « Angel from Heaven, shall teach us otherwise than we " have received in the Books of the Law, and in the Gofs pels, hold him accursed."
In those Days the Catholick Fathers made no doubt but that the Christian Religion might be proved out of the Holy Scriprures, nor were they ever so hardy to take any one for an Heretick whose Error they cou'd not evidently and apparently disprove by those divine Testimonies: Wherefore, it we that are of the reform'd Religion are Hereticks, and the Papists (as they wou'd faia be called) are Catholicks, why do not they do as they fee the ancient Fathers, which were Catholick Men, have always done? Why do they not convince and master us by the divine Scriptures? Why do they not call us again to be tried by them? Why do they not shew us how we have gone away from Chrift, from the Prophets, from the Apoftles, and from the holy Fathers? Why do they not do it? Why are they afraid of it? It is God's Cause, why are they doubtful to commit it to the Trialof God's Word ? It can be for no other Reason, but because they fear the Judgment of the Holy Scriptures, which is the Judgment of God himself, and prefer before them their own Dreams and Inventions; and to maintain their Traditions, have defeated and corrupted now these many hundred Years the Ordinances of Christ and his Apostles.
The Religion we profess is no new Device, as has been already fufficiently proved, but the very fame that our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles have left upon Record, in that Book which our Adverfaries confeis to be the Word of God; wherein we are sure, he that is to save us, hath laid down all Things neceffary to Salvation, as also the Scriptures themselves, and the holy Father's constantly teach
Our Church proposes to her Members those three antient Creeds, which whosoever believed of old were not reputed Hereticks. We receive the first four general Councils, and all other Councils and Fathers, while the Church remained uncorrupted, and made the Holy Scriptures the Role of their Decrees, which they professed ai. ways to do with respect to the Doctrines they required to