PROTESTANCY To be Embrac'd: OR, A New and Infallible Method To Reduce ROMANISTS FROM POPERY TO Protestancy.

A Treatise of great Use to all His Majesties Subjects, and necessary to prevent Error and Popery.

By David Abercromby D. Lately Converted, after he had Profess'd near Nineteen Years Jesuitism and Popery.

LONDON, Printed for the Author, by Thomas Hodgkin. 1682.

TO THE Right Reverend Father in God, HENRY, LORD BISHOP of London, Dean of His Majesties Chappel, and one of His most Ho­nourable Privy Coun­cil.

My Lord,

I Was once fully resol­ved to side first openly with the Protestant Church, [Page] and then to inform the Pub­lick of the true motives of my Conversion from Po­pery to Protestancy; but upon second thoughts, ad obstruendum os loquen­tium iniqua, to stop the mouths of such as could mis­construe my intentions, I judg'd it necessary to pre­vent the reflections of some, and surprisal of others.

I acknowledge my self in this Conjuncture Ac­countable by duty to two sorts of persons: 1. To the Jesuites my former Bre­thren. [Page] 2. To the Roman Catholicks of my familiar acquaintance: I was looked upon by those as being able to serve them at home, as I had not been useless to them abroad, and by these as a zealous Defender of Po­pery. If I can but allay the first heats of both, and hin­der a sudden rise of anger and passion, I may hope by this peaceable method to conquer irresistibly their understandings, yea, if pre-occupation stand not be­twixt them and the truth, [Page] strike at their hearts, and change their wills.

My Thoughts, my Lord, were not long at a stand, under whose Patro­nage this short Treatise should face the Publick, it being chiefly intended for the Conservation of the Prote­stant Religion, and Conver­sion of His Majesties Sub­jects from Superstition and Popery, I was of opinion you could claim a peculiar right to it, not only on the account of your Character and Dig­nity, but particularly because [Page] of that Apostolick zeal you are inflam'd withall for your Flocks spiritual Con­cerns and Proficiency; where­by you are powerfully moved to accept of, and defend whatever may prove instru­mental to the increase of true Virtue and Christian Piety.

I confess ingenuous­ly, your Deep Knowledge makes me somewhat appre­hensive of your Censure, but your eminent Virtue puts me in hopes again you will easily pardon whatever you [Page] shall find defective in this method; or not answerable to your own Accuracy. Yet I have call'd it, and hope it shall prove such, infallible for two Reasons. 1. Be­cause taken wholly, it a­mounts to a clear and for­cible Demonstration, though perhaps each Argument it contains will not prove a full Conviction to every obstinate Romanist. 2. Because it relies on Self-evident Prin­ciples, and overthrows the most material Obstacles to the Conversion of Roma­nists, [Page] I mean their preoccu­pated Opinions, and ground­less Fancies, That Prote­stants are all Reprobates, Schismaticks, Hereticks, and such as retreat from Popery to Protestancy, Apo­states; but however this method prove otherwise in­fallible, which the event must determine; one thing I may confidently ascertain, it will shew infallibly to Po­sterity, with what respect I am,

MY LORD,
Your most Humble And Obedient Servant, David Abercromby.

The most material Contents of this Book.

  • I. THE EPISTLE DEDI­CATORY.
  • II. The Authors former Life, and the occasion of his Conversion. Page 1
  • III. That Protestants may be sa­ved. Page 19
    • Grounded,
      • 1. On their Allegiance to all their respective Superiours. Page 21
      • 2. On Gods general providence and care to illuminate all men for at­taining the end he created them for. Page 25
      • 3. On their high sentiments of Gods mercies, and Christs merits. Page 27
      • 4. On their living and lively faith. Page 28
      • 5. On their belief of all Funda­mentals, and Acts of true divine Love. Page 30
      • 6. On the Nature and Doctrine [Page] of a probable Opinion received by Romanists. Page 33
      • 7. On this undeniable Truth, That they are neither Schismaticks, nor Hereticks, but true Members of the Ʋniversal Church. Page 44
  • IV. That Protestants may be saved more easily and with greater secu­rity than Romanists, grounded on their not admittance of these ob­stacles that are infallibly to be met with in the Profession of Ro­manism. Page 62
    • Such be,
      • 1. Their rash and implicite Faith. Page 64
      • 2. Their endless Scruples, caus'd by their doctrine relating to Baptism. Page 65
      • 3. Their less apprehension of Hell by their relying on Purgatory, and of mortal sin, by that dangerous Opinion of theirs, That all sins deserve not eternal punishment. Page 70
      • 4. Their neglect and not reading of [Page] Divine Scriptures. Page 71
      • 5. Their Prayers in an unknown Tongue. Page 75
      • 6. Their Doctrine of Transubstan­tiation. Page 76
      • 7. Their Invocation of the Virgin Mary, and other Saints. Page 95
      • 8. Their Image-worship, Wafer-worship, Relick-worship, &c. Page 97
      • 9. Their renouncing Sense and Rea­son, in favor of their Romish de­cisions. Page 106
      • 10. Their multiplied Fasts and Absti­nency, under pain of mortal sin. Page 107
      • 11. Their forbidding Ecclesiasticks to marry. Page 110
      • 12. Their insnaring Vows of Cha­stity, Poverty, Obedience, and of more than God has commanded them to do. Page 112
  • IV. Conclusions flowing from the Principles establish'd in the first two Articles. Page 129
  • V. Charitable Advice to all His Majesties Subjects of ihe Romish Persuasion. Page 145

Protestancy To be embrac'd: OR An Infallible Method to reduce Romanists From Popery to Protestancy.

1. THis little Treatise will be a Subject of great amaze­ment to all such as have known my former Life and Conversation, whereof cour­teous and curious Reader, take this accurate, short, and true account.

[Page 2]2. I was bred up in my greener years at Doway, and in a short time became so good a Proficient in the my­steries of Popery, that I en­ter'd the Order of Jesuits in France at my first instance: I lived amongst them full eighteen years and more, and I may say, without vanity, in some esteem and repute of a Scholar being judg'd after a solemn examen, capable to teach Divinity and Philoso­phy in the most renown'd Universities of Europe, which is the Jesuits way of G [...]adua­ting their own men in Divi­nity. I taught in France Grammar, in Lorrain Ma­thematicks and Philosophy; and being graduate in Phy­sick, [Page 3] I practis'd it not unhap­pily, and intend to practise it hereafter, with certain hopes, God willing of the same good success.

3. All this while I studied more to the endowment of the intellective faculty by hu­mane Sciences, than to per­fect my will by solid Vertues and Piety: To which I thought the School-divinity, as taught by Romanists, was not a small hinderance: The speculative part thereof, be­ing apter to beget doubts of the truth of Christianism, than to clear those that men may, and do sometimes frame to themselves.

4. Take for instance, they call in question and dispute, [Page 4] if the Incarnation of God was possible or not; if God can lye or speak a falshood; if it be within the reach of his Omnipotency to condemn an Innocent soul to the pains of everlasting flames; if his actual existency can be clearly pro­ved, or pointed out by the light of a true demonstrati­on, and the like: Such dis­putes I ever thought, Otioso­rum hominum negotia, the af­fairs of those that have no af­fair to busie themselves with­al; I judg'd them fitter to de­stroy than edifie, to nourish and spread Errors, than to in­crease Piety and dispell Igno­rance.

5. I studied several years the Jesuit School-divinity, [Page 5] and I may say in all truth, I reap'd no other benefit there­by, save only that in my own conceit, and perhaps in the opinion of some others, I be­came an able Disputant, a­bout what? About Chyme­ra's, beings of reason, as they speak, Impossibilities, and such like whimsical notions.

6. Yet in the midst of these hot disputes we had often for meer Punctilo's of honour, and a vain repute of some sharpness, I felt often the Spi­rit of God working interi­ourly my Conversion, by the secret voice of his Holy In­spiration, which caus'd me often to break out in these or the like words: Quid haec ad aeternitatem? What avails all [Page 6] this for my last end and eter­nal felicity.

7. As to the practical part of the Romish School-divini­ty, relating to Cases of Con­science, the World knows how far from a true and sin­cere Conscience are those men commonly called Casuists: I read several of them most ex­actly, but was still displeas'd at their far fetch'd subtilties, in­vented for the avoiding of sin, but in reality are the true sources of all loosness and ini­quity: Whatever crime your Conscience accuseth you of, consult but a Romish Casuist, and he will instantly indea­vour your repose by some by­ass or another tending to his own interest; and the set­ling [Page 7] of your inward peace on some frivolous distinction, or groundless precision.

8. Such sort of men are great Patrons of self-love, and always prone to pronounce in favour of our corrupted nature against the light of their own Conscience and Reason, and under pretence of shunning severity, they fall into th' other extream, more dangerous, by yielding through an interess'd com­placency to the perverse Incli­nations of such as require their advice.

9. I had great intimacy with several Romanists per­swaded of the lawfulness of such immoral Practices; their common by-word was, Les [Page 8] gens d'esprit ne pechent point, that is witty men hardly ever sin: Their reason was, be­cause sin, for instance Adul­tery, may be look'd on as a double fac'd medal; the one side whereof represents to us a natural act, th' other side an injust act; their meaning is, if you consent to an Adulte­ry as 'tis a natural act pre­cisely, you shun by this preci­sion the guilt of sin, since an act as natural is not sinful, but if you consent to it as 'tis an injust act, you commit then a sin, which witty and sharp men, especially Casuists, I fan­cy will never do, knowing how to distinguish in the same individual act, rationem actus, & rationem peccati, the [Page 9] formality of an act, from that of a sinful act.

10. So the dultish sort on­ly, either incapable of, or not reflecting on such precisi­ons, shall commit Adulteries, or any other sins for want of this prescinding faculty: Than which no greater illu­sion could I ever conceive, as to commit a sin were not more than enough to desire an ill thing, or what is neces­sarily tyed to an ill and un­lawful object known to be such.

11. These and the like dangerous opinions which we shall discuss in another place, put often my thoughts to a stand, in order to exa­mine what truth could be in [Page 10] these ordinary reproaches made by Protestants against Romanists, accus'd common­ly by them of disconformity with the Primitive Church of Novelties, Errors, and Su­perstitions.

12. Being thus perplex'd in mind and as Hercules in Bivio, uncertain what way to make choice of, I came to Scotland, where because of some repute I had got abroad of a Scholar, I was put in­stantly to work by the Jesuits; against M. Menzeis, Doctor and Professor of Divinity in Aberdeen. I wrote then in a short time a Treatise of some bulk against his way of de­fending the Protestant Religi­on, but neither to my own sa­tisfaction, [Page 11] though several o­thers seeing things but under one light, seem'd to be per­swaded by my arguments, nor to the satisfaction of most Ro­manists, who thought and said my Doctrine in some material points was not un­like, or the same with that of Protestants.

13. After a stay of about two years in Scotland, after an accurate parallel of Pro­testancy and Popery, and a scrupulous scrutiny of the most material grounds they both stand on, I came to London as to a safe Sanctuary, where I might serve God in all freedom and security.

[Page 12]14. The extream kindness of the Londoners to all di­stress'd Persons, and their late unparallelable Charity to the Persecuted Brethren of the French Nation, could not but inspire me with high sen­timents of their Piety and Religion.

15. I must confess here in­genuously, that the English Nation, exceeded not only formerly their Neighbours in Warlike Exploits, and would yet, if times and occasion put them to it, but were ever, and are still far beyond them all in beneficency and works of Charity, the genuine Characters of Divine Faith and true Christianism influ­enc'd no doubt by the exam­ple [Page 13] of our most wise and most Gracious Soveraign, who as he defends and con­serves by all imaginable means the Protestant Religi­on, so favours all such with his Royal Protection and Friendship, that conform to it, by renouncing their Er­rors and Popery.

16. I foresee this change of mine, how well grounded so­ever, will stir up against me. 1. My former Brethren, the Jesuits. 2. My nearest Re­lations, who are for the most part, and ever were Zealous Romanists: I doubt not ne­vertheless but they shall put a favourable construction on what I have done; provided 1. They condemn me not, [Page 14] incognitâ causâ, unheard, and 2. Suspend their censure till after an impartial, and intire perusal of this present Trea­tise, all preoccupation Mo­ther of error laid aside.

17. They cannot say that any other motive but that of saving my Soul in the securest way, caus'd me to withdraw from them, and side with Protestants: They know I was in a Condition amongst them to want for nothing, being supplyed with necessa­ries sufficiently; but now I must rely on Gods Provi­dence and my own Industry. Yet this I am not troubled at, since Christ has said, Search first after the Kingdom of Heaven, and then all other [Page 15] things ye stand in need of, shall be added unto you: Since he can neither deceive nor be deceiv'd, may we ei­ther think or say without Blasphemy, he will disappoint such as have setled all their hopes in his infallible promi­ses; but to shun Prolixity, I come to the main point I aim at, which is to give to the publick an infallible method, not written of for ought I know by any other, to re­duce Romanists to Confor­mity with the Reform'd Churches: By the same means I shall lay open to the World on what grounds I have forsaken Popery and embrac'd Protestancy.

[Page 16]18. This method to be such as 'tis design'd, shall be 1. Plain, that every one may understand it. 2. Peaceable, that the will may be gain'd, and by it the understanding sweetly conquer'd. 3. Short, that it may be proportionable to the leisure of the most bu­sied, and none through Pro­lixity loth to read it: All this I hope I shall perform to the satisfaction of Protestants and Conviction of Romanists, if I make out with the clear­ness of a Noon Sun-shine:

1. That Protestants may be saved.

2. That they may be sa­ved more easily, and with greater security than those of the Romish perswasion.

[Page 17]19. The first of these Prin­ciples proved, will cause Ro­manists to look upon Prote­stants with a brotherly Love and Charity; the second once establish'd, will force them sweetly but irresistably to side with them, as to mat­ters of Religion and Divine Worship; since they are per­swaded in a business of such a weighty moment, as is that of our Everlasting Happiness: Tutius semper est eligendum, the safest must still be prefer­red before what is less se­cure.

20. This Treatise shall contain three short Articles; in the two first, I shall prove evidently to all Impartial Readers, the forementioned [Page 18] truths; in the last we shall raise such inferences as flow naturally from these two foregoing Principles.

ARTICLE I. PRINCIPLE I. That Protestants may be saved.

SECT. I.

1. NOthing makes Ro­manists more a­verse from Pro­testants, than this groundless perswasion of theirs, that Protestants cannot be saved, this is the sole cause of their obstinacy in Popery; the [Page 20] true source of their immor­tal hatred against us, and the very root of these extream Rigors they have practis'd a­gainst Protestants, where-ever they happen'd to be absolute Masters: This pitiful mistake wherein I liv'd several years, was as a veil before my eyes, hindering me to see the truth, which now by the Grace of God I see clearly.

2. Because this Principle is of great moment for the Conversion of Romanists, I shall prove it to perswasion in two different ways.

1. Positively, by positive and evincing Reasons.

2. Negatively, by shew­ing there can be no let or hinderance of Salvation, [Page 21] to such as profess Prote­stancy.

3. I can imagine but two things necessary to Salvation, or the attaining of Eternal Felicity.

The First is to live confor­mably to the Law of God, because he is what he is, our Soveraign Lord and Ma­ster.

The Second is, to live conformably to the lawful Commands of such men as have their Authority deriv'd from him, as the first Law-giver; such are Kings, Magi­strates, Princes, and all Su­periors whatsoever, in their respective degrees of Superi­ority, and Authority.

[Page 22]4. As to the first point, what people in the World professeth a more sincere alle­giance to God, or a more scrupulous observance of his Holy Law, than the Refor­med Churches do? So as of old it was said, Not us in judaeâ Deus, that God was known particularly to the Jews, we may say in all truth of them; there is no where such a gene­ral knowledge, whether pra­ctical, or speculative of his Holy Law, as amongst Pro­testants; they read it in their Churches, they interpret it in their Pulpits, they peruse it in their Families, they make it the Subject of their private Meditations, of their more serious Conversations: [Page 23] The Star they guide them­selves by through the stormy Sea of this World is no other but Gods Infallible written Word, whereunto they con­form; or which is all one for my intent, they ought by their Principles, to conform their Thoughts, Words, and all their Actions: Is it than consistent with reason, to exclude from a capacity of Eternal Felicity, such as not relying upon uncertain Tra­ditions, regulate all their steps by the rule of God's In­fallible Word? Let us lay aside our own particular fan­cys, and renounce our too partial and preoccupated Judgments, and we shall in­stantly pronounce in their fa­vour [Page 24] not a little discontent, and amaz'd at our former uncharity and gross mi­stakes.

5. Their Doctrine relating to our allegiance due to all Superiors, is so wholesome and peaceable, that I can imagine none more subservi­ent to the interest of Princes; they are infinitely averse, and with all reason from that ir­rational opinion of most Ro­manist Divines; who teach the Pope of Rome has power to Depose Princes, when it pleaseth him to fancy they are Hereticks: Whether they give a direct authority to the Pope over Kings, which is no less than to enslave all Crown'd Heads to the Bi­shop [Page 25] of Rome, or an indirect one, only to depose Princes in certain Junctures, 'tis clear they take from Caesar what is Caesar's, that independency on all earthly power, God has allowed him here on Earth. Princes are accoun­table to the King of Kings for all their actions, and we to them, if we forget so far our duty, as to refuse them due allegiance. This Doctrine be­ing confess'd and profess'd by all true Protestants, can we either think or say they are Reprobates, or not in the way to Heav'n?

6. To banish such an un­christian fancy far from your thoughts, remember what is said in Scripture, God illu­minates [Page 24] [...] [Page 25] [...] [Page 26] all men, illuminat omnem hominem, for what end? For no other but that by this light they may disco­ver the way to their last end; if all men be thus illumina­ted, are Protestants except­ed? Are they not men, and most of them great examples of vertue and piety?

7. I wonder'd often to hear Romanists grant such as shall never hear of Christ and his Gospel, were nevertheless in a capacity to save their Souls, provided they lived conformably to the dictates of right reason: I was amaz'd I say, to hear them confess this, and so inconsequentially deny the same to Protestants; but what can we expect from pre­occupated [Page 27] judgments, but in just Censures, uncharitable Reflex­ions, and illegal Conclusions?

8. I desire them here to consider that no people in the World hath higher sen­timents of God, and lower of themselves, than those of the Reform'd Churches: Which are confessedly the best Dispositions can be ima­gin'd, to render us capable of that end we were created for. They neither rely on the Me­diation and Merits of Saints, nor on their own good works, they ground all their hopes of Salvation on the precious blood of Christ, shed for us upon the Altar of the Cross, they exalt highly by all their principles, Gods [Page 28] infinite goodness and mercy ever acknowledging when they have done all they can, they are but useless Servants, and that all their sufficiency floweth from that overflow­ing Fountain of all power, goodness, and mercy.

9. And if without faith 'tis impossible to please God, we have all reason to say they are most acceptable to his eyes, since they show by their works their Faith is a saving and living Faith. Who ever hath convers'd with them more intimately, and will speak impartially what he thinks of their Life and Con­versation, shall easily assent to this, and confess ingenu­ously they are the best repre­sentatives [Page 29] of the Primitive Christians, so real you shall find them in their intentions, so sincere in their words, and upright in all their proce­dures.

10. How than can Roma­nists without the guilt of an extream uncharity, impose so pitifully upon the ignorant sort, causing them to believe on their bare word and au­thority, without the least ra­tional inducement imagina­ble, that no Protestants are Elects, that to be a Repro­bate and a Protestant, is one and the same thing? Are they God's Counsellors? Adviseth he with them who is to be sa­ved, and who not? If a rash judgment be a sin, as un­doubtedly [Page 30] 'tis, they are not innocent, when rashly and upon groundless grounds, they condemn so unmerci­fully their Neighbours, who are as good, if not better than themselves.

11. Believe they not all the Fundamental points, whatever is contain'd in the Creeds and Scripture? And if acts of Divine Love have been ever thought necessary, and sufficient means to the at­taining of our last end; where shall we find a grea­ter aptitude, and better dis­positions to such acts, than a­mongst Protestants?

12. As Ignoti nulla cupido, There is no Love without Knowledge: The more know­ledge [Page 31] we have of, and the greater perfections we disco­ver in the object we tye our hearts to, our love is ordina­rily so much the more ar­dent. The Reformed Church­es have this advantage above all others: They read the Scriptures, and command them to be read by all their Subjects; whereby they at­tain to a high knowledge of Gods infinite Power, Cle­mency, Wisdom, Mercy, and his other attributes: Their understanding thus enlight­ned, their will takes easily fire, and burns with a flame of true Divine Love: The Origine whereof, is no other but that not ordinary know­ledge of God they attain to [Page 32] by reading often and medita­ting frequently his infallible Word: Which I know cer­tainly to be wanting amongst Romanists, because of their slight performance, or rather intire neglect of such a Chri­stian duty.

13. Out of these forego­ing reflexions the Charitable and Impartial Reader may easily gather, they go streight on their Journey, and not one step out of the way, who forsaking Popery imbrace Pro­testancy; and if any Romanist doubt yet of this self-evident truth, I shall be at the pains to convince him once more, by an argument beyond the reach either of a rational an­swer or flat denyal, it runs hus, ad hominem.

[Page 33]14. The learnedest sort o Romanists teach it lawful and secure in Conscience to square our actions by the rule of a probable opinion, yea the Jesuits hold it safe, to stand to that opinion which is less sure, and participates less of probability than the opposite, though in reality surer and more probable; their reason is, because a man so doing, acts prudently, and consequently sins not.

15. But the main and ma­terial point, is to know what is understood by a probable opinion: The Romanists ge­nerally, and I think none can deny it, mean by a probable opinion, that which learned and pious men hold and fol­low: [Page 34] For if they be pious, godliness and piety will be their sole aim in all their pra­ctices; if learned, they will believe nothing without suf­ficient grounds and good reason; this definition of a probable opinion laid as a confess'd Principle and im­moveable ground-stone, I build thereon this ensuing, clear, and short Discourse.

16. Who-ever follows a probable opinion, sins not, does neither rashly, nor im­prudently, but who holds that Protestants may be saved, follows a probable opinion, ergo, he sins not, he neither does rashly nor imprudently in so doing. The second proposition I prove, argu­mento [Page 35] ad hominem, invinci­bly thus, that opinion is pro­bable which is believed, and defended by learned and pi­ous men, that Protestants may be saved, 'tis believ'd and defended by learned and pious men, ergo 'tis a proba­ble opinion, and by a neces­sary inference may be fol­lowed and believ'd without the least appearance either of sin, rashness, or impru­dence.

17. The middle proposi­tion is not unlike to a self-evident principle, and on this account can be denyed by none as have their Wits a­bout them, or so much of common sence and under­standing as to see through [Page 36] the terms 'tis enounc'd in: Dare they say Protestants are neither pious, nor lear­ned? Auditum admissi risum tene­atis amici.’ I am perswaded they will be asham'd of such a childish and groundless answer: For if they be neither pious nor learned, they must then both be wicked and ignorant, I know no middle, this must be their inference, which is so pitiful that the meer recital of such an extravagancy is a full and intire refutation thereof, enarrasse, refutasse est.

[Page 37]18. But sure I am, they will grant willingly their own Divines to be both pious and learned men, yet they teach, and I was taught by them, that all Protestants are not Reprobates: To understand this 'tis observable they di­stinguish two sorts of Prote­stants, the one they call material, and th' other we may call for distinction's sake, formal. The Material Pro­testants are bred up in an in­vincible ignorance of what the Romanists think necessary to Salvation, as the belief of Transubstantiation, of Pur­gatory, and the like: In an Ignorance, I say, invincible, because living in the midst of Protestants, they are suppo­sed [Page 38] to want all opportunity of instruction, and so must rely on their Pastors authori­ty: To these they extend their charity, and grant they may be saved; they are not so merciful to th' others, who live they say in a vincible ig­norance of Catholick truths, which they may easily dispel and overcome, but will not through wilfulness and obsti­nacy.

19. But to such also I shall cause them to be favourable, and by a parity of reason, paritate rationis, force them to impart, will they, nill, they a part of their Charity: Be­cause generals produce not such a clear knowledge as particulars do, I shall take [Page 39] this particular, the Transub­stantiation, for instance: The belief of this mystery, sayes the Romanist, is neces­sary to Salvation, yet confes­seth a Material Protestant may be saved without it, be­cause he liveth in an invinci­ble ignorance, occasion'd by his want of opportunity to be instructed: But the For­mal Protestant upon another account liveth likewise in an invincible ignorance of this necessity, because the Rea­sons he is convinc'd by are stronger in his opinion than yours, and so you shall never influence him by your argu­ments to believe, acknow­ledge, or understand the contrary; what then the [Page 40] want of instruction or under­standing worketh in the Ma­terial Protestants, this wit ef­fectuates in those whom for method's sake we have called formal: If those, I mean the former, be guiltless, because hearing nothing of Transub­stantiation, they cannot as­sent to the existency thereof, these are not to be blamed, for though they hear of such a mystery, yet their under­standing is conquer'd by lights destructive to it, which discovering to them clearly the truth of this Negative, there is no Transubstantiation, remove far from their in­tellective faculty, the know­ledge of this Positive, there is a Transubstantiation.

[Page 41]20. I say then they are not to be blam'd, because 'tis not in the power of the will to force upon our understand­ing the belief of a known falshood, or of what appears to us evidently false; to con­clude as I have begun, pari­tate rationis, by a parity of reason, since the Romanists, because of the foresaid invin­cible ignorance, grant to some Protestants a capacity of being saved, unless they be­lye themselves, they will not refuse the same to those in whom we meet with a like invincible ignorance, yea more and harder to be over­come, as may appear by what I have said.

[Page 42]21. I foresee the Roma­nist may reply, that those Protestants he hath no chari­ty for, are such as resist the known truth, for instance, they are perswaded the argu­ments in favour of Transub­stantiation are better groun­ded than these, they oppose against it: So they shall not be saved through their own misbelief, wilfulness, and ob­stinacy in error: To which I make this short and satisfa­ctory answer, that such men are not true Protestants of whom only we speak, but rather abominable Hypocrites professing outwardly a Do­ctrine they judge in their hearts false and erroneous. This Objection than vanish­eth, [Page 43] as being de subjecto non supponente, grounded on a false supposition.

SECT. II.

1. I Have proved positive­ly, and I think to per­swasion, if preoccupation be laid aside, the undeniable truth of my first Principle, that Protestants may be sa­ved: For the Readers intire satisfaction, I shall make out the same in a Negative way, by showing to all not will­fully blind, there can be no let or hinderance to their Salvation; what-ever Ro­manists can instance as incon­sistent [Page 44] with their attaining to eternal happiness, may be re­duc'd either to Schism or He­resie, and that either jointly or severally: After an im­partial scrutiny of their best grounds of such foul aspersi­ons, I found them all to be groundless, unwarrantable, and insufficient.

2. Schism is a separation from the true Church of God, Protestants are not separated from the true Church of God, ergo, they are not guilty of Schism, they are not Schis­maticks: All generally con­fess the Christians of the three first Centuries, to have been the constituent Members of Christ's true Church; from these the Protestants are not [Page 45] separated either in belief, manners, or Ecclesiastical Dis­cipline, this I could prove to the conviction of the most obstinate, had it not been perform'd abundantly, and more than once by others: The same cannot be said of the Romanists, since they have admitted of many no­velties never heard of in these Primitive times, such are in invocation of Saints, adora­tion of the consecrated Wa­fer, Image-worship, Popes Supremacy, &c. So if they stand to the same Fundamen­tals with the Church in her purest age, 'tis certain they have added thereunto, and are guilty of divers Super­structures which the Prote­stants [Page 46] were never, and can­not be accus'd of: But 'tis not so much my design in this place to charge Romanists, as to justifie Protestants, and those who embrace Prote­stancy.

3. They will perhaps say we are Schismaticks, because separated from the Church of Rome: But

1. The Church of Rome is a particular one, and a member only of the Univer­sal Church.

2. As it now stands, 'tis not our rule, but that undoubted of Christian Church in the Primitive times without spot or ble­mish.

[Page 47]3. This aspersion of Schism smites rather themselves; For those only we call Schis­maticks who are guilty of division and breach of unity, by doing that which is the true cause thereof: That the meanest capacities may un­derstand this, let them take notice of what follows: If my body were united or closely joining to yours, would ye not be judg'd the true cause of our separation, if ye put any thing between you and me hindring this union? so you are the true Separatist, not I, because you have thrust me from you by that middle Obstacle you have plac'd betwixt us both, which unless first removed, I [Page 48] cannot unite my body to yours again.

4. This is downright our present case if well under­stood: The Protestants and Romanists were once two united bodies in the pure age of the Church, in these hap­py times when Superstition had not as yet gain'd a foot of ground amongst Christi­ans, they were one People, anima una corunum, one Soul, and one Heart: But at length the Romanists set up betwixt us and them, murum aheneum, an invincible obstacle, a heap of errors destructive both to union and unity, so if we be separated now, who were formerly united, 'tis evi­dently by their fault we could [Page 49] not persevere in union with them because of this middle wall that did separate us, let them throw it down as they are oblig'd in conscience to do, and we shall draw up to­gether and joyn them close again: Since then they gave a just occasion, yea, and are the true causes of this separa­tion, they are the Separa­tists and true Schismaticks, not we.

5. As for Heresie let Ro­manists say what they please, it can't with the least appear­ance of truth be laid to our charge: He is not guilty of that crime, who defends ob­stinately any opinion what­somever, else all School-men [Page 50] and Divines standing stifly to their own fancys in Do­ctrinal points, would be reck­on'd Hereticks: Such be those only who deny flatly and with obstinacy Divine Truths or Articles of Faith, which cannot be impos'd up­on Protestants without inju­stice, ignorance, and calum­ny.

6. They deny indeed Ge­neral Councils to be infallible in their decisions, but their infallibility is no Article of Faith, else Austin was a He­retick; asserting, ‘General Councils gathered out of all the Christian World, are often corrected, the former by the latter;’ Tom. 6. l. 2. con. Donat. cor­rection [Page 51] of a Council un­doubtedly supposeth a pre­cedent error and a Council to be errable, as every one understands that knows any thing: On the same account he speaks after this manner to Maximian, an Arian Bi­shop.

‘Neither ought I to instance the Council of Nice, nor thou the Council of Arimene, to take advan­tage thereby, for neither I am bound by the authority of this nor thou of that; set matter with matter, cause with cause, reason with rea­son, try the matter by the authority of Divine Scrip­tures.’ Anst. con. Maxim. l. 3. c. 4.

[Page 52]7. An Article of Faith must either be clearly contain'd in Scripture, or according to the Romanists, declared ex­presly by some of their Ge­neral Councils: But that Ge­neral Councils are infallible in their Decisions, is neither contain'd clearly in Scrip­tures, let them tell us in what Part, Book, Chapter, Verse, nor is it determin'd in any of the eighteen General Coun­cils, they acknowledge as the rules of their Faith; none can be instanc'd, where this hath been decided: Upon what grounds then hold they this as a Divine Truth, which is nothing else but a fanciful opinion hindering them to follow Austin's advice, to set [Page 53] matter with matter, cause with cause, reason with rea­son, to try the matter by the authority of Divine Scrip­tures.

8. The general Councils are so far from pretending to be infallible Judges of con­troversial Debates,De ordin. Cele. con. that in a set form of Prayer appoint­ed to be said after every Council, they pray that God would spare their ignorance, and pardon their errors: and if they curse and anathematize such as reject their decisions, this argues not they arrogate to themselves any infallibility in deciding, for the same is the practice of Provincial and Particular Councils, who [Page 54] neither pretend to be, nor are look'd upon by the Ro­manists as infallible Judges.

9. This undeniable truth is of greater moment than perhaps it appears to be of at first: For if the General Councils be not infallible when they decide in matters of Faith, none of their deci­sions can be holden by Ro­manists as divine and reveal'd truths, unless they be evi­dently conformable to God's written Word: Wherefore receive they not the definiti­ons of a private man as re­veal'd Oracles? the reason is, because they know he is falli­ble and lyable to error: Now the same being the condition and fate of General Councils, [Page 55] they must of necessity confess, they impose no obligation upon us to believe their deci­sions as Articles of Divine Faith: Who then rejects as Protestants do Transubstan­tiation, Invocation of Saints, Image-worship, Power of Popes to depose Princes, Prayer for the dead, and all other points we yield not to the Romanists, deny's only what is asserted by errable Councils, and consequently no Articles of Divine Faith, we are therefore notorious­ly calumniated, when on this account we are called by Papists obstinate in error and Hereticks.

10. But how sayes the Ro­manist? shall we resolve our [Page 56] doubts in matters of Faith, if we acknowledge not the de­finitions of General Councils as divine and infallible Ora­cles? You was told before by S. Austin how to behave in this case: I repeat his words, set matter with matter, sayes he, cause with cause, reason with reason, try the matter by the authority of Divine Scriptures, never yet corrup­ted in material points, nor e­ver shall by Gods especial and necessary Providence over his Church; if then you read his Infallible Word with true humility and a sincere desire of your own spiritual profit, he will open your un­derstanding, resolve your scruples, give repose to your [Page 57] conscience, and as great in­sight in his Word as he knows to be convenient for your spiritual interest.

11. This method is better and securer than that of the Romanists; what-ever is de­cided by a lawful general Council, is to them an Arti­cle of Faith, a reveal'd truth, a divine Oracle, but such Councils they hold none to be, unless the Members there­of have been really baptiz'd, which they can never be cer­tain of, because this depends on the uncertain intentions of those who Baptiz'd them: For they generally teach be­sides the pronunciation of the words, I Baptize thee in the Name of the Father, &c. The [Page 58] Ministers intention to confer the Sacrament, is absolutely necessary, so if it be wanting, as easily it may, the Child is not Baptiz'd. On the same account they are not certain if their Popes be Priests, be­cause perhaps the Bishop who ordain'd them, had no such intention when he pronoun­ced the set form of ordinati­on: Of this I shall say a word again in another place.

12. But if the general Councils be not infallible, what mean the Scriptures, by asserting, The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church, the Church is the pillar and ground of truth? To this I answer, There is nothing here as is evident re­lating [Page 59] to that ptetended in­fallible decisive faculty of General Councils: The first Proposition signifieth only the true Church shall have an existency and being to the end of the World, maugre the opposition of Tyrants, Persecutors, and all her Ene­mies, though it may fall out she be not always visible in any Assembly or Congre­gation: As it happen'd to the Primitive Church at Je­rusalem, when all her Mem­bers were scattered abroad throughout the Regions of Judaea and Samaria;Acts 8.1. as it happen'd when Christ was smitten, and all the rest were hid, as it happen'd in Elias his time, [Page 60] who thought he was left a­lone, not knowing where th' other seaven thousand true Worshippers of God were; as it happen'd during the Persecution of the Ro­man Emperors, and lately before the General Reforma­tion of the Christian World, yet the Gates of Hell pre­vail'd not against the Church because she was ever existent, though not visible as now to the World: Her Meetings and Assemblys being of neces­sity in that juncture of affairs very secret and unknown to her Enemies. She is said to be the pillar and ground of truth, by reason of Gods es­pecial Providence over her Children, never suffering [Page 61] them all to fail and err, but still stirring up some or seve­ral in opposition to Supersti­tion, Idolatry and Errors.

ARTICLE II. PRINCIPLE II. That Protestants may be saved more easily, and with greater security, than Romanists.

I Hope the foregoing Dis­course will be an occasi­on of moderation to the most severe Romanists, who reflecting impartially on their former mistakes, rash Judg­ments, and preoccupated o­pinions, will convert their former zeal, or rather fury [Page 63] against Protestants, into Bro­therly Love and Charity. I say more, if they will be at the pains to consider a mo­ment or two, and seriously, the Contents of this second Article; they shall, I doubt not, let go the uncertain, take what is surest, and em­brace Protestancy, as the ea­siest and safest way to our Eternal Happiness, since by the grace of God it wants these lets and impediments to be met with in the Professi­on of Popery: To run over some of them, with order and method, we shall take notice.

1. Of their Faith and Doctrine.

[Page 64]2. Of their Divine Wor­ship and Ecclesiastical Disci­pline.

SECT. I. Their Faith and Doctrine.

1. THeir Faith is so blind, that I have heard many of them say, if a Ge­neral Council had defin'd white to be black, they would believe it, whereby you see they are disposed to admit of any error, if it be authoriz'd by a General Council, though the infalli­bility thereof be no point of their Faith, as I have proved [Page 65] evidently in the foregoing Article.

2. They believe Baptism absolutely necessary to Salva­tion, and none a true and re­al one, if the Minister when he pronounceth the words intends not to Baptize, which no doubt happens frequently, since his intention may be easily diverted to his other designs and affairs: Let all the World judge if people thus principled can enjoy a true repose of mind or peace of Conscience, the only fore­tast we have in this life, of that to come: For how can they know assuredly, whether the Minister or Priest really intended to Baptize them or not, and so they may doubt [Page 66] if they be Christians? for such they grant none is to be accounted without true Bap­tism; and of this they can have no certainty, because they are still uncertain of the Ministers intention, judg'd by them so necessary to the validity of this Sacrament, that if he intended only the meer pronounciation of the words, I Baptize thee in the name of the Father, &c. The Baptism could be no more a true one than a bare, frivolous, and insignificant Ceremony; what trouble then and turmoil of Spirit they must needs perpetually wrestle with, while Prote­stants as to this point enjoy a perfect Tranquility, holding [Page 67] Baptism independent on the Ministers good or ill will, ma­lice or intention, provided he pronounce seriously the words, and set form of Bap­tism, which we cannot be but sure of.

3. I was once eye-witness to the cruel torture of Con­science, a Romanist suffered upon a doubt of his Baptism, occasion'd by this Romish Doctrine: We were in the same Ship together upon Sea, press'd by a furious Storm to think on what was our only concern in that conjuncture: In the mean time this Gentle­man showing by his melan­choly looks the inward di­stemper of his Soul; cryes aloud, as if he had been be­side [Page 68] himself, he fear'd to be damn'd: I question'd him on what grounds he spoke so rashly; because, said he, I know not whether I be Bap­tiz'd or not; I doubt if the Priest had any such intention when he pronounc'd the words commonly used in Baptism; I told him whate­ver I thought fittest to con­vince his understanding and quiet his Conscience, but could not prevail, because he knew the Council of Trent teacheth the Ministers inten­tion to be absolutely necessa­ry to the existency of Bap­tism.

4. On the same grounds they may doubt if their Priests can absolve, and be truly [Page 69] Priests, because in their per­swasion they are no Priests without the intention of the Bishop that ordain'd them, which perhaps he had not when he utter'd the set form of Ordination. This minds me of a Bishop lately de­ceas'd in France, who con­fess'd at his last hour he had ordain'd many, but ever without intention to ordain any: I was intimately ac­quainted with one ordain'd by the same Prelate, and I am fully perswaded if he were advertis'd of this last confession of his, he would scruple to continue a moment in the function of Priest­hood.

[Page 70]5. Who can relish, if he hath any sentiment of true Piety, what they teach of their Purgatory and purging fires. This Doctrine flatters sinners in their imperfections, causeth them to live more loosely than otherwise they would do, to make little scru­ple of these sins they call ve­nial, and never eternally pu­nish'd: On this account they are not so apprehensive of these Everlasting▪ Torments we should ever remember of, when we are sollicited to sin, if no higher motive can with­draw us from it: Hell I say enters not so deeply into their thoughts because they rely on this third place: And the worst of them all after an ab­solution [Page 71] got from a Priest, hopes to go to Heaven, if not streight, at least a little about by Purgatory: The Protestants who believe no middle place after death, out of Heaven or Hell, walk more cautiously, fear more God's dreadful but just Judg­ments, certain if they dye in the Lord, they shall rest from their labours, if in sin they shall be liable to his wrath for ever.

6. The Scripture is the true Spiritual book we should still have in our hands. ‘Nocturnâ versare manu ver­sare diurnâ.’ Here we are to gather that [Page 72] Spiritual Manna to nourish not our Bodies but our Souls, while we travel through the Wilderness of this wild World. These sacred Wri­tings are capable to make us wise unto Salvation; search the Scriptures saith S. John, for in them ye think ye have Eternal Life: Yet the Roma­nists deprive the people of this Spiritual Food, forbid­ing them severely to read the Holy Scriptures, as if they were more hurtful than pro­fitable; hence 'tis they live in a deep ignorance of all true Christian Duty, in indif­ferency, and lukewarmness, without relish of heavenly things, without true devoti­on, which is never more stir­red [Page 73] up, than when we hear God speaking in the secret of our hearts by the Divine O­racles of his Holy Word.

7. They cause the People to contemn or at least to have less veneration for Di­vine Scriptures, by teaching they contain not all things necessary to Salvation, they are obscure, they are imper­fect. They seem sometimes to question their Divine Origi­nal, when they ask how we are sure they are inspir'd by the Holy Ghost; as if that were not known to say no more by the Air, Majesty, and Simplicity of expression, proper to God only, as we know the Kings Letters and Commands to his Subjects by [Page 72] [...] [Page 73] [...] [Page 74] his Seal and proper expressi­ons, none but the King ut­tering himself after that man­ner: So the Holy Scriptures being as God's Patents and Letters to us, we need not enquire from whom they are, let us only disclose them, and we shall instantly know their Divine Original, quasi dei sigillo, as by God's own Seal and Characters proper to him only, without having recourse to the pretended in­fallible decisions of General Councils, as Romanists do, who must run back to the Scriptures again to prove these decisions infallible, and so, in circuitu ambulant, they turn round in a circle without advancing one step. But 'tis [Page 75] not so much my design to dis­pute and quarrel with the Romanists, as to go on peace­ably and in the Spirit of Chri­stian Charity, pointing out as with the finger, the great Obstacles to perfection they meet with, by following blindly the Maxims of Pope­ry: I add only here their Prayers in an unknown Tongue unfruitful as S. Paul saith, to the understanding, is not a small let to Piety and Devotion; what Spiritual Consolation can the ignorant sort reap at Mass, or as they call it, Divine Service, by hearing the Priest praying they know not what? unless they hold against common sence and reason, that igno­rance [Page 76] is the Mother of Piety and Devotion.

8. Their Doctrine of Transubstantiation, is on se­veral accounts dangerous and ensnaring.

First, It destroys all evi­dence grounded on the ex­perimental knowledge of our senses, and makes void the proof Christ made use of to his Apostles,Luk. 24.32. in aim to convince them he was not a Spirit; Handle me, sayes he, and see, for a spirit hath not Flesh and Bones as ye see me have, which can be no conviction to Ro­manists, who both tast, han­dle, and see bread in the Eu­charist; if they will trust their own senses as our Saviour in [Page 77] a not unlike case desir'd his Disciples to trust to theirs, yet deny flatly what they see, tast, and handle, to be Bread, against their own and the ex­perience of all men not blind of both eyes: Our Saviour's Proof, I say, that he was not a Spirit, shall never influence a Papist to Conviction, for though the Apostles could both see and handle our Sa­viour's Body, nevertheless 'tis no necessary inference by their Doctrine of Transub­stantiation, that Christ's Bo­dy was there; may they not say the Apostles could touch, handle, and see the appear­ance only thereof, as they handle, and see the accidents of Bread, and not really [Page 78] Bread in the Eucharist in their opinion of this Sacrament, which taketh quite away the force of Christ's argument grounded on the meer Te­stimony of our senses and fa­vours, the Marcionists deny­ing he had ever a true and re­al body?

I shall say yet something more surprizing, but no less true than what I have said be­fore. This Doctrine of Tran­substantiation. 1. Establisheth that old and odd fancy of some doting Philosophers, who doubted of all things how evident soever. 2. 'Tis evidently destructive to the whole body of Christian Re­ligion: In order to prove apodictically these two Pro­positions, [Page 79] I must suppose a Third one, as a self-evident Principle, and whence they both flow as from their only source, That our Senses in the Eucharist, are deceiv'd in and about their proper object; which I think can be denyed by no Romanists, since they confess, though they see all the appearances of true Bread, that nevertheless there is no such substance in the Eucharist, but the Body and Blood of Christ, under the veils of Bread and Wine: I see nothing, I tast nothing, I touch nothing in a Conse­crated Wafer, but what my senses are sensible of in an unconsecrated one, but saith the Romanist, I must not [Page 80] stand in this case to the judg­ment of my senses, what I see, touch, and tast, after the Consecration, is no more in reality Bread, what-ever the constant and experimen­tal knowledge of our Senses teach us to the contrary; they will grant then I hope they are deceiv'd, and mistake their own proper object; but perhaps because they foresee the dangerous conse­quence of such a Concession, some will be apt to run to a School-distinction, in aim to defend with a show of rea­son this self-evident falshood, that our Senses in the case here handled are not decei­ved as to their proper Ob­ject: They may distinguish, I [Page 81] fancy, two sort of Objects, a Mediate one, and another Immediate, the Immediate one is, the colour, shape, quantity, and other accidents or appearances of Bread, the Mediate one is the substance it self; our Senses, say they, mistake not the former, be­cause the accidents are the same both before and after the Consecration, but sure I am, they mistake the latter, it being now by their Princi­ples invisibly changed into the Body of Christ: This di­stinction then cannot serve their turn. Let them torture their discursive faculty never so much, they shall never be able to prove that our Senses are not truly deceiv'd, re­presenting [Page 82] to us as Bread, what really, if we believe the Romanists, is not Bread. I come now to the Conclusions springing naturally from this granted Principle: If I mind to play the Pyrrhonian, and doubt of every thing I have from the Romish Transubstan­tiation, a ground whereon to build this extravagancy; whither-soever I direct my sight, I can ascertain you of nothing that my eye sees: I enter into a Garden, and there I behold here Lillies, and there Roses, I smell them, I touch them, and yet I may question the truth of this, and doubt if I see any such thing, what if the red of the Roses and the white of [Page 83] the Lillies be now by an Eu­charistick-like Miracle the covertures of some other sub­stances that are neither Roses nor Lillies; so perhaps 'tis not a Rose that I smell, a Lilly that I see, Fire that I feel, an Apple that I tast, a Trumpet that I hear, but some other substances in their shape, and cloath'd with their Garments: As 'tis not Bread that I see in the Eucharist, but another substance, to wit Christ's Body and Blood un­der the accidental parts of Bread and Wine; what do we know but the whole visi­ble Mass of this World, and all the Objects of our Senses are nothing else but meer ac­cidents and Superficial Re­presentations [Page 84] of things that perhaps were and now have no foundation in being, or never were, but have ever been supplied by God's infi­nite power? Thus the Pyr­rhonian Triumphs upon the same ground whereon the Romanist settles that strange Doctrine of Transubstantia­tion, while the whole Body of Christian Religion is as it were a flote and carried too and fro by the wind of this uncertain Doctrine. For if our Senses may mistake their own proper object, as confes­sedly the Romanist sayes they do in the Eucharist, our Faith is nothing else but fancy and uncertainty: Comes it not by hearing? Fides exau­ditu? [Page 85] if than one sence may be deceiv'd, why may not likewise the other? What I see in the Eucharist is not Bread; though it appears to be such, perhaps what I hear is not the true Word of God, though it shine with all the Characters thereof: In fine, since our Senses are capable of an errour relating to their proper object, an eye-wit­ness now can be no witness at all, or at least no Convicti­on: To what purpose then did our Saviour show him­self after his Resurrection so often, and to so many in the day of his glorious Ascension? In promptu causa est, the An­swer is at hand, to no purpose, if our Senses could mistake [Page 86] their proper object, and what so many eye-witnesses saw and judg'd to be Christ, could have been his meer shape and figure, as the Marci­onist pretends, with a clear advantage over and from the Romanists whose Doctrine he may easily make use of in defence of his error and He­resie. To conclude, if what appears to the eyes of all men to be Bread, is no such thing, what has been sounded in the ears of all the World, from Father to Son as a truth may prove a falshood? Our ears being no less apt to be im­pos'd upon than our eyes. Which looks like a mortal blow to all tradition of equal authority with Divine Scrip­tures, [Page 87] and I discover not yet how the Romanist can shun it: For since he grants we may all, and have been from the Cradle of the Church, mistaken in what we see, may not we likewise be deceiv'd in what we have heard from our Fathers, and they in what they have heard from their Fore-runners, &c. And the rather that an ear-witness is not so much to be credited as he that has seen: You judge by this discourse, what ex­treams these are forc'd into, who deny on so slight grounds the greatest and most sensible evidence, which is that of our senses: But Christ's Word, sayes the Ro­manist, is my security; he as­sures [Page 88] us the Bread is chang'd into his body, I enquire no more: Who speaks so for­gets, or knows not what is said elsewhere, litera occidit, the letter killeth, and the literal Sense is an occasion to several of gross errors and pi­tiful mistakes: Christ is cal­led a Door, a Rock, a Wine Tree, a Lyon, &c. We would be look'd upon as be­sides our selves if we assent­ed to all this, as interpreted in the literal sence, and ac­cording to the bare sound of the words: For as the lite­ral sence of such and the like expressions, involves not only obvious implicancys and ma­nifest absurdities, but more­over was constantly contra­dicted [Page 89] by the experimental knowledge of such as were so happy as to see Christ, e­ven so in our case, these words, this is my Body, if under­stood conformably to the mute Letter, both represent to our mind a World of ille­gal, absur'd, and irrational inferences, and are besides contradicted through all A­ges by the constant experi­ence of all seeing and feel­ing men: Let no Man ne­vertheless imagine we ground our mysteries on the Testi­mony of our Senses; we only say nothing can be suppos'd as a mystery that is point blank against the evidence of sence and infallible experi­ence, which cannot be retort­ed [Page 90] against the mystery of the Trinity, for though we nei­ther see it nor feel it, yet our Senses shew nothing to us e­vidently destructive to it, and on this account this my­stery is not against but above the reach both of Sense and Reason.

Secondly, This Doctrine inclineth the meaner capaci­ties to idolatry, and the sharper wits to Hypocrisie and Dissimulation: The com­mon People, because incapa­ble to distinguish the appear­ance of Bread they see, from the Body of Christ they see not, and being taught to a­dore him hidden thus under the veils of Bread and Wine, are apt to, and no doubt [Page 91] do frequently adore the acci­dents they see, which they call sometimes blasphemous­ly, God, yea say commonly, when the Wafer is lifted up by the Priest in the midst of the Mass, on leve Dieu, God is lifted, their understanding finding no passage through the Consecrated Wafer to Christ's Body.

9. As for the sharper sort of Romanists when they re­flect;

1. On what is said in Scrip­ture,Act. 3.22. that the Hea­vens must receive Christ until the times of restitution of all things.

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[...]

[Page 92]2. That a Body can no more be without its due ex­tension, for example, of five or six foot, than water with­out humidity, fire without heat, a stone without hard­ness.

3. That the Bread cannot be miraculously chang'd into Christ's Body, because all mi­racles are of necessity visible, as is clear by all those we ever heard or read of: But here the substance into which the Bread is converted, is not vi­sible: This visibility never­theless is necessary in a change really miraculous, as it ap­pears by that of water into wine, of Moses Rod into a Serpent, &c.

[Page 93]4. That 'tis inconsistent with reason to say Christ's Body is at the same time in Heaven and Earth, yea, and in as many places as there be all the World over Conse­crated Wafers: Who-ever understands these absurdities, will never, I am confident, believe a true Transubstanti­ation, though he profess o­therwise outwardly through Hypocrisie and Dissimulati­on: The Trinity, I confess, and Hypostatical Union, or the Incarnation, are far be­yond the reach of our reason, yet because they are not the Objects of our Senses, we be­lieve them with less reluctan­cy, and more easily upon au­thority; but that which hath [Page 94] ever been, and still is evi­dently repugnant to the ex­perimental knowledge of all our Senses, as the Transub­stantiation confessedly is, can scarce ever be looked upon as a truth, by such as make use of their discerning facul­ty. The Romanists instance commonly these Words of Christ, This is my Body, as the ground of this Doctrine, which they say, must not be taken in a figurative sence, because they are Christ's last Will and Testament; and no man, neither ignorant nor malicious expresseth his last Will by Figures and Meta­phors: But here lies their mistake, that these words, This is my Body, are a true [Page 95] and real Testament, or Christ's Legacy to his Apostles: For he says not, I leave you my Body, which is the usual man­ner of uttering our selves in Testaments, but, This is my Body. 'Tis no Testament, than as they imagine, or at least not a proper one.

10. Their Doctrine relat­ing to the mediation of the Virgin Mary and other Saints, withdraws them from ren­dering to Christ our only Redeemer due Honour and Glory: For though there is no other Name under Hea­ven whereby we must be sa­ved but that of Christ, yet many of them pretend to E­ternal Happiness by the me­rits of the Saints and the Vir­gin [Page 96] Mary, whom they joyn still with Jesus in their Visits to the Sick, either crying a­loud to them, or exhorting the sick to pronounce Jesus Maria, as if they judg'd Christ's merits insufficient, or that some other Name, than that of Christ our Advocate, with the Father, could be a propitiation for our Sins; hence 'tis they extol so much their meritorious works, that we have reason to say, they ground thereon their best hopes of the other Life; at least 'tis certain, the simple undiscerning sort relys more on what they do than on what Christ did for them, I mean more upon their good works than on his infinite me­rits and mercys.

SECT. II. Their Divine Worship and Ec­clesiastical Discipline.

1. THeir manner of Di­vine Worship is not unlike that of the ancient Heathens, and on this account is far from the purity of the Primitive Church: They a­dore God in Pictures and Images, as he was adored by the Heathens in the Sun, Moon, and other less noble Creatures, or rather to speak in their own terms, they worship those Images as re­presentations of that invisi­ble [Page 98] and Soveraign Being, we call God: Though this was severely punished in the Isra­elites worshipping the Gol­den Calf as a representation of God, for I cannot ima­gine they ador'd it as a true God, unless you suppose they were as void of reason as it was; if then this Worship of theirs be looked upon by all as Idolatry, what may we judge of that Romish I­mage Worship the very same, or at least in nothing material differing from it?

2. Images are commonly called the Books of Igno­rants, but in my judgment they deserve rather to be de­nominated the Books of Ig­norance, because they occa­sion [Page 99] often mistakes and er­rors: As for instance, an Old Man representing God the Father, a Dove the Holy Ghost, are apt to make the ignorant sort believe they have indeed some such shape. I shall not contest here about this point, because it hath been discuss'd so often by o­thers: One thing only I shall say, which I think is undeni­able, that Protestants serve God more in spirit and truth than Romanists do: Because they make their Addresses to him immediately, without having recourse to Images, or imploring the help of Saints as Mediators: I know they answer this by distingui­shing a relative and Soveraign [Page 100] Worship. The former they allow to Images, the latter to God only: But

First, This relative Wor­ship was condemn'd and pu­nish'd in the Israelites, as I have insinuated above.

And Secondly, They adore confessedly the Cross, cultu latriae, with that Soveraign cult belonging to God on­ly: What then can they in­stance in defence of their in­nocency? I must as yet tell them in this place;

3. They fall short of the end they aim at, in covering the inside of their Churches with rare Pictures, and Ima­ges of exquisite Artifice; their aim is, as I charitably suppose, to stir up the people [Page 101] thereby to greater devotion. But we find by experience a quite contrary effect; they are diverted from Prayer, by that great variety of alluring objects they have before their eyes, you may see them in their Churches more gazing, for the most part, than pray­ing: At least, certain it is, the common sort is with­drawn by such outward shows, from uniting their hearts to God by fervent Prayer: The use of Images then, is not so great a help to Devotion, as the Romanists do falsly imagine.

4. Nevertheless their I­mage-worship, though to be rejected, is not so intollera­ble as their adoration of the [Page 102] Consecrated Wafer; because besides what I have said be­fore, it may happen, and I am of opinion very frequent­ly, that their Priests either want the necessary intention, or intirely forget, or design­edly will not Consecrate the Wafer: In this case meer un­consecrated Bread is ador'd, and expos'd on their Altars to the publick Cult: Will they say this is no inconveni­ency, though the People may be guiltless because of their invincible ignorance, and strong imagination of Christ's Body really there existent. The thought of this accident, which no doubt happens fre­quently, with-draweth seve­ral Romanists from yielding [Page 103] to the Wafer, that Soveraign Cult, due to God only.

5. There is another in­conveniency, not unlike the precedent, in a sort of Wor­ship ordinary amongst Ro­manists: They honour the Relicks of Saints, as their Bones, Garments, and Par­cels of their Bodies, they ex­pose them to the publick Cult on their Altars, they carry them with a ceremonious pomp in their solemn Proces­sions: But what if these Re­licks be of Men that are not in Heaven? For I suppose 'tis no Article of their Faith, that whom the Pope Cano­nizeth, as they speak, is not a Reprobate; since his infal­libility was never yet declar­ed [Page 104] by any of their eighteen General Councils, he is not infallible, when he declares this man to be in Heaven, or that Woman to be a Saint: Perhaps then you invocate a damn'd Soul, you kneel be­fore the Bones of a Repro­bate, you ask help from those whom God has rejected; than which I can imagine no­thing more absur'd: If this were well reflected on by the Romanists, they would not be so forward in worship­ping the remainder of the dead.

6. 'Tis now full time, lest I exceed the bonds I have set to my self, to speak one word of their Ecclesiastical Disci­pline: When I consider be­sides, [Page 105] the Written Law of God, how many and how heavy Obligations the Romish Church imposeth upon her Subjects, I am fully convin­ced that Popery is justly cal­led, and without exaggerati­on, a meer slavery; the Crown'd heads are lyable to it, no less, yea rather more than others: Most of Ro­manist Divines teach with­out any warrant, either from Scripture or reason; the Popes of Rome have power to de­pose Princes, untye their Subjects from their sworn al­legiance, to give their Do­minions, primo occupanti, to such as can conquer them if they refuse to purge their Kingdoms of opinions judg [...]d [Page 106] by Romanists Heretical. This you may see at large in the Council of Lateran, held un­der Innocent the third, third Chapter.

7. The Romish Church enslaves so far the under­standing of her Followers, as to forbid them the use of that rational faculty God has be­stowed upon us, chiefly to find out by its light the true Church, and having found it to govern our selves there­in by the same, to search the Scriptures, to try the Spirits if they be of God or not, lest we be carried away by the wind of all sort of Doctrine. But this is not permitted to the Romanists, they must pull out their eyes and say, [Page 107] white is black, if a General Council, though never as yet proved by them infallible, affirm it: This occasion'd an ancient Philosopher to call the Christian Religion, the Religion of Fools, not be­cause they believe things a­bove the reach of Humane Reason; for that is no folly, but on this account, that some of them, to wit the Romanists, believe as 'twas instanc'd in the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, that which is contradicted by the experi­mental knowledge of all our Senses.

8. 'Twas a Liberty and Priviledge of the Primitive Church,1 Cor. 10.24, 25, 27. as S. Paul witnesseth to the [Page 108] Corinthians, that whatsoever is sold in the Shambles, what­ever is set before us we may eat, asking no question for Conscience-sake, that every Creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with Thanksgiving; the Roman Church has taken away this Priviledge, and commands abstinence from Meats, ordains Fasts obser­ved most punctually by some of them, falsely perswaded the best part of Christian perfection consists in such in­discreet Rigors, not know­ing that true vertue consists mainly in an intire Victory, we should endeavour to get over our own Passions, our most dangerous, because Do­mestick [Page 109] Enemys: So many commanded Fasts as we see in the Romish Church, under the pain of Mortal Sin, are no doubt, an occasion of sin and disobedience to many, who think themselves obli­ged in Conscience to observe them as injunctions of their Church: Cardinal Bellarmine that Renown'd Romanist, was of this opinion: 'Tis re­ported, he was wont to say, that if 'ere he happen'd to be Pope, he would abolish the Obligation of the Lent Fast. No doubt because he judg'd it a too heavy Yoke, and on this account more hurtful than profitable.

[Page 110]9. Marriage in the purest age of the Church, was not forbidden to Ecclesiasticks; saith not S. Paul, 1 Timot. 3. that a Bishop may be the Husband of one Wife.Hebr. 13.4. That Marriage is ho­nourable in all, and the Bed undefil'd: And writing to Timo­thy, 1 Timot. 4.3.6. that forbid­ding to Marry, and com­manding to abstain from Meats, is the Doctrine of the Devils: Was not the Fore­runner of Christ, the Son of the High-Priest Zacharias, an evident mark, that our Savi­our approv'd of, and honou­red such sort of Marriages? yet the Romish Church ad­ding [Page 111] still great and heavy weights to the yoke of Christ, forbids expressly Ec­clesiasticks to Marry, though S. Paul saith,1 Corinth. 7.2. let every man, that is, whether Clergy or Lay­man, unless he hath the Gift of Continency, have his own Wife; which Gift is always suppos'd when a Man or a Woman vows Chastity: So if you find by experience, you have it not, you are obliged not to vow, or if you have vowed rashly, flat­tering your self, you had this Gift, you are no more en­gag'd by your former vow, because none is obliged to perform beyond what lies in his power, and 'tis in no man's [Page 112] power to live continently, without a Gift of Continen­cy, which God bestoweth on whom he pleases, and refu­seth it to others as he thinks fit; who may, and perhaps are obliged in this case, to se­cure themselves from Sin and Temptation, by a lawful Marriage: For in this con­juncture, Melius est nubere quam uri, 'tis better to Mar­ry than burn.

10. 'Tis observable, the most of those that enter these Orders, they call commonly Religious, make their vows so young and so inconside­rately, that they hardly ever reflect on what they under­take, several of them protest they are forced thereunto by [Page 113] their Parents, or upon the account of some other hu­mane respects and interest, and if afterwards they renew twice a year, as 'tis customary amongst the Jesuits, their first vows, 'tis but with their Lips and not from their Heart: They may sin, I con­fess, by this dissimulation, though I am perswaded, their Crime is none of the greatest, because of the juncture and necessity of their affairs; but however this Sin communi­cates no validity to their vow, which subsists not in reality, without an intire li­berty, freedom, and inward consent, because of the hea­vy and insupportable Yoke it lays on their Necks; which [Page 114] in this case they may shake off at the first opportunity, and follow that sort of Life they shall find most conve­nient for their Spiritual con­cerns and good of their Souls.

11. I wonder'd often up­on what grounds the Roma­nists call these three vows of Chastity, Poverty, and O­bedience to their Superiors, Evangelical Counsels, be­cause I had never read in the Gospel, that Christ exhorted ever any to tye themselves to his service by solemn vows. He counselled, I confess, a young man to sell all he had, and give it to the Poor, but not to make a vow to do so: Neither could I ever be per­swaded, [Page 115] nor any rational man ever will, that 'tis a higher degree of perfection to vow, for instance, Cha­stity, than to live in Continen­cy, without such a tye and obligation.

12. This is nevertheless the Doctrine of the most learned Romanists. And if I remember well of their chief Divine Thomas Aquinas, but as they commonly say in Sor­bon, Amicus Aristoteles, ami­cus Divus Thomas, sed magis amica veritas, no man's au­thority is to be admitted of against the truth, which un­doubtedly sides not with them in this conjuncture; be­cause their assertion is intirely grounded on this weak and [Page 116] illusory reason, that he who vows Continency, sacrificeth to God the thing men make most account of, that preci­ous liberty, they think pre­ferable to all the Riches of the World, which he that lives chast without such a tye does not.

13. This I say is a meer falshood and a flat illusion, for though I vow, I keep in­tirely my former liberty. True 'tis I can't break this promise and vow made to God if it be a real one, with­out committing a sin, but this puts me in a worse condition than I was in before: For now if I fall, I commit two Sins, one against my Vow, and another against the ver­tue [Page 117] of Continency, whereas before I vowed I could be guilty but of one. I think then the state of highest per­fection is that which remo­veth us farthest from sin and the occasions thereof, which certainly vows do not, but ensnaring men rather because of their great weakness and frailty, expose them to both by that perverse, though in­bred inclination of theirs, to whatever is forbidden them; for nothing more true than nitimur in vetitum semper, &c.

14. This engageth me here to the defence of an Asser­tion, which will be looked upon as a Paradox by the Romanists, yet if reflected [Page 118] on without preoccupation, is a clear, simple, and undeny­able truth: They dry up all the veins of their Eloquence in extolling a Religious Life, as they call it: they say it is most perfect, happy, blessed, and what not: read Jerome Platus on this Subject, and you shall find him as whim­sical in his notions of this ima­ginary happiness, as Plato was in his abstract Idea's.

15. I can prove to per­swasion there is no way of serving God more dangerous, and wherein you shall meet with greater obstacles to your spiritual progress and eternal happiness, than in these pretended Religious Or­ders, as they now stand of [Page 119] the Romish Church; my rea­son is clear, and runs thus, because their yoak is incom­parably greater and heavier than that of other Christians, since besides the Commands of God and their Church, they tye themselves to a num­berless number of petty ob­servances and rules, which though they confess bind not their conscience, yet they teach none of them can scarce ever be transgress'd without sin, either ratione scandali, by reason of the scandal, or ratio­ne contemptus, because of the contempt of Authority, or on some other account; they say as yet something more strange, that non progredi, regredi est, 'tis not enough for them to [Page 120] observe the Commands of God and the Church, they call that non progredi, no pro­gress, unless they do more than he has commanded, by standing with as great pre­ciseness to their Customs and Rules, as if they were an es­sential part of Gods written Law.

15. In what fears then, if they have a timorous consci­ence; in what troubles and turmoils, and what vexation of spirit they live in: for if so few keep Gods Commands, as 'tis said the Just falls seven times a day, what judgment may we frame of them who pretend to do more than he has ordain'd, by observing a number innumerable of petty [Page 121] Rules, Statutes, and frivolous Customs. On this account I have heard several amongst them say what I believe to be most true, that their yoke was not like to the yoke of Christ, sweet and light, Ju­gum suave & onus leve, but rather exceedingly bitter, and most heavy, Jugum ama­rum & onus grave.

16. In fine, I may affirm, without deviating from the Truth, That these Romish Vows are rather Snares to intrap Souls, than true means to their attaining to a higher degree of Glory in Heaven. The Devil overcomes some by manifest Temptations, and a flat Proposition of Sin, but because some others, desirous [Page 122] to live after a more perfect manner, admit not so easily of his Suggestions, he catch­eth them by their own incli­nations, by vowed engage­ments, to the pursuance of a Perfection, which, through Humane Frailty, they shall never reach to; so weary to swim always against the wa­ter, they are forc'd, at length, to yield to the stream, and go downwards, which was the Enemies sole aim and main design.

17. Out of this foregoing Discourse, we may conclude, Protestants to be most hap­py, as meeting with none of these forementioned Obsta­cles, to their eternal happi­ness, so long as they follow the [Page 123] Maxims of true Protestancy. For,

First, Their Faith is not so blind, though submissive e­nough to Church Authority, as to hold for Divine Truths, the fanciful Opinions of fal­lible Men, or Decisions of er­rable Councils: The Word of God onely is their Rule, to this they are taught to conform their Faith and their Actions.

Secondly, They are not tortur'd and turmoil'd with Doubts, if they be Baptiz'd or not, because they know the Existency of Baptism to be independant on the Mini­sters uncertain intentions.

Thirdly, They have no In­citement to Sin, by relying [Page 124] on a middle place between Heaven and Hell; they hold no Purgatory, and so are powerfully deterr'd from of­fending God, through fear of his terrible Justice exercis'd in Hell, upon such as die without Repentance.

Fourthly, They reject the dangerous distinction of Ve­nial, and Mortal Sin, as open­ing a door to Looseness; for though some Sins be more heinous than others, yet in this we must confess a perfect equality, that they are all of­fences of an infinite Majesty, and consequently deserve his eternal Wrath, as being of an unlimited malice.

Fifthly, They allow every one to read the Scripture as [Page 125] the Fountain of all wholesom Doctrine, and capable to make us wise unto Salvation, as being a Light to our Un­derstanding, lest we err; and a Fire to our Will, lest we wax Cold in Charity and Love towards God and our Neighbors.

Sixthly, Their Doctrine concerning the Lord's Sup­per is spirit and life, it gives no occasion either of Idola­try or Hypocrisie, by teach­ing that strange Novelty of Transubstantiation: They ca­ptivate indeed their under­standing in obsequium Fidei, in obedience to Divine Faith, but pull not out their Eyes to believe there is no Bread in the Eucharist, where they [Page 126] see all the inseparable Proper­ties thereof, as Colour, Shape, Quantity, &c.

Seventhly, They rely solely on the Merits of Christ; nei­ther on the mediation of Saints, nor on their own good works, fully persuaded of this Christian Truth, when they have done all they can, they are but useless Servants, and that all their sufficiency is from Above.

Eighthly, Their Divine Worship is pure, and with­out mixture of Superstition or Idolatry; neither intirely without Ceremonies, nor o­verburden'd with 'em super­stitiously.

Ninthly, They adore God in Spirit and Truth, not un­der [Page 127] corporal Shapes, and false Representations; they adore him as Spirit and Truth, as he is in reality, knowing perfect­ly all their spiritual needs, and bodily necessities, without the help of Saints as Speakers and Informers.

Tenthly, Their Ecclesiasti­cal Discipline is most confor­mable in all its parts to that of the Primitive Church, as also their Faith, their Manners, and way of living, as may be ga­thered out of this and the foregoing Article; and eve­ry one knows that is not al­together a Stranger to Anti­quity.

Eleventhly, They serve God in all freedom of spirit, without endangering their [Page 128] Souls by vows of Continen­cy, true Snares rather to In­nocency, than fit means for attaining to Perfection and eternal Felicity.

ARTICLE III.

SECT. 1. Conclusions flowing from the first Principle of this Me­thod.

I. MY first Principle was, That those who pro­fess Protestancy, may be saved. I proved it to Conviction, without invectives or bitter­ness, in the spirit of Christian [Page 130] Charity, Meekness and Leni­ty, persuaded of this clear Truth, that Conviction of the intellective Faculty worketh never a true Conversion, un­less the Will be conquer'd by a civil and charitable way of debating.

II. 'Tis Proverbial amongst the Romanists, That out of the Church there is no hopes of salvation. In what sense this is true, 'tis not my design here to inquire; but I af­firm they are pitifully mista­ken, understanding by the Church, that handful of Chri­stians united together in communion with the See of Rome, which is as unreaso­nable, [Page 131] as if one would say, a Particular is an Universal, a Part is the Whole, or at least of as great and vast a bulk. They will grant then, I suppose, Protestants to be Members of the Universal Church, but dead ones, desti­tute of life, spirit and vigour. The contradictory of this Proposition stands demon­strated in the first Article; for since they may be saved by the merits and influence of their invisible Head Christ, they are both whole­som, living, and vigorous Members of his Church.

III. They cannot be accu­sed of Schism, nor without a [Page 132] groundless Calumny called Schismaticks, since they are still contain'd in the Catho­lick or Universal Church, their Reform being in the Church, not from it; hold they not all Points necessary to salvation, and whatever was of Divine Faith in the primitive Times. They se­parated, I confess, from the particular Church of Rome, but Romanists were the true causes of this Separation, by introducing Errors and No­velties, so they are properly the Separatists, not Prote­stants: Let them be ashamed then to sound perpetually as they do in the Peoples ears, such a notorious Calumny, [Page 133] which with greater truth may be Retorted against themselves.

IV. I hope hereafter they shall prove more moderate, and call them Brethren, whom they have thought hi­therto Hereticks; for I am persuaded they are convinc'd this foul aspersion of Heresie is groundless, as being a meer illusion, and the product of a preoccupated judgment. The Protestants, say they, are He­reticks, because they reject obstinately the Decisions of General Councils; but will they never reflect that these Decisions can neither be looked upon by us, nor by [Page 134] them as revealed Truths, un­less their Infallibility be ei­ther grounded on clear Scri­pture, or in their sentiment on the Authority of some General Council. In what Scripture is it said, General Councils are infallible Judges of Controversial Debates? In what Council was it deci­ded, that General Councils were unerrable? Here they are amaz'd, and their thoughts at a stand; they are forced to yield, and confess ingenu­ously, that this pretended In­fallibility hath no other foun­dation in being, but that of their own Opinion and Fan­cy: For though 'twere grounded on the Decision [Page 135] of some General Council, this must be first proved In­fallible by an Evidence di­stinct from its own Testi­mony.

V. But because my onely design in this place is to raise Inferences, and not to frame new Arguments, I entreat the Romanist Reader, after a se­rious perusal of my first Ar­ticle, to reflect a moment upon his own Uncharity a­gainst so many Thousands of His Majesties Subjects, and other Nations, so commen­dable for their unstain'd Life and Conversation; so accep­table to God, because of their Virtue and Innocency. Let [Page 136] them, I say, upon second thoughts, repent of their for­mer Uncharity, in condemn­ing their Neighbors so incon­siderately, as Schismaticks, Hereticks, Reprobates. Let them detest from the bottom of their hearts this Unchri­stian Rigor and Severity; if perhaps upon such groundless pretences they were persua­ded 'twas lawful to persecute them by Treason, Fire and Sword, the deep ignorance they liv'd in could be as a Veil to the Enomity of their Crime: But after the perusal of this Treatise they can no more pretend igno­rance, they are told of their Errour, and sufficient­ly [Page 137] inform'd of their former mistakes.

VI. Neither can they with the least appearance of Truth call Apostates such as embrace Protestancy, since they retain still the Faith of that Church which flourished the first three Centuries after our Sa­viour's Birth, and is confessed by all Parties to have been the true Church of Christ. They admit not indeed the additional Articles of Purga­tory, Transubstantiation, Image­worship, Invocation of Saints, &c. for the grounds above laid. But on this account they are in no true sense Apo­states, because Apostasie is a de­fection [Page 138] from the true Faith, and these Points are either gross Errors, or, as a learned Divine of the English Church calls them, inferiour Truths, not destructive to Divine Faith, whether believ'd or de­nied; though they be, as I have insinuated elsewhere, not a little prejudicial to true Virtue, and Christian Piety.

VII. Rashness or Impru­dence can with as little justice be objected to such as retreat from Popery. It has been de­monstrated by the consent of Romanists, and self-evi­dent Principles they follow, by professing Protestancy a [Page 139] probable and well-grounded opinion, That worshipping God after the Protestant manner, they may attain to the end they were created for, which is eternal happi­ness.

SECT. 2. Conclusions flowing naturally from the second Principle of this method.

THE second Principle was, That Protestants may be saved more easily, and with greater security, than those of the Romish Persuasion. I shall not repeat here what I said before, to explain, ra­ther than to prove this self-evident Truth, hence only I infer what is evident enough of it self without any formal inference.

[Page 141]I. That Romish Priests are obliged not to endeavor, as they do, the Conversion, or rather Perversion of Prote­stants, because 'tis a sin to withdraw any man from the safest way to Heaven.

II. The Romanists once convinc'd, as I hope they are, of this second Principle, must of necessity renounce Popery, and profess Protestancy, there being an obligation incum­bent to all men in matters of such a high Concern, to chuse that which is securest.

III. Protestants must stand stoutly to their own Religi­on, [Page 142] and way of Divine Wor­ship, and cannot, if they re­gard a good Conscience, after this instruction turn Roma­nists, because in so doing they would endanger their own Souls, by reason of the fore­mentioned obstacles to salva­tion in the profession of Po­pery.

IV. All true Protestants, and more particularly Those who by their Dignity, Of­fice, and Imployment, are to watch over the Flock, must needs, if they will perform their duty, endeavour with all Charitable and Christian means the Confirmation of Protestants in Protestancy, [Page 143] and the Conversion of their Popish Subjects from Popery, else they forfeit their Cha­racter and Ministry, as ne­glecting the spiritual con­cerns of Souls redeem'd by the precious blood of Christ, and committed to their trust and vigilancy: If I have been my self instrumental to the perversion of several, while misled by a blind Zeal, I saw things but under one light, I shall, at Conveniency, repair this Damage done to the Church, by writing in my spare-hours such instru­ctions as may be subservient to their returning home­wards, or useful to the con­version of others, and parti­cularly [Page 144] my nearest and dea­rest Relations.

V. I shall put here a stop to my Pen, and an end to this Treatise, with a short and charitable Advice to all His Majesties Subjects of the Romish Persuasion.

Charitable Advice to all His Majesties Subjects of the Ro­mish Persuasion.

YOu have believ'd till now, as an Article of your Faith, That Protestants were all Reprobates, Here­ticks, Schismaticks, and [Page 146] many of them Apo­states. Your Faith being ever an implicite one, and pinn'd on other mens sleeves. You are more to be pitied for this gross mistake, than blam'd. You are not unlike, pardon me the freedom of this Parallel, to those that are blind from their birth. You may induce such men to believe any Falshood you please, as for in­stance, that White is Black, or Black is White, [Page 147] because they want the use of their visive Fa­culty, and solely relie on your Authority. You re­nounce not only to your reason, in favour of the pretended Council-Ora­cles. You hold not only your understanding ca­ptive when Rome speaks, but you extinguish the clearest light thereof, in submission to her De­cisions, as if you were quite blind, and under­stood nothing, or as if Nature had not bestow­ed [Page 148] upon you an intel­lective Faculty, in order to discern good from e­vil, falshood from truth, to try the spirits whence they are, whether of God or not. The Romanists, your Masters, imitate those ancient Heathens, who, to gain the Peoples esteem and greater ve­neration for their Laws, said confidently, They had received them im­mediatly from the gods: So they, to hold you in awe, and tyrannize over [Page 149] your understandings, as by a principle of Con­science, call boldly what­ever is decided in Gene­ral Councils, Divine O­racles, Reveal'd Truths, Faith-Articles, which is the greatest Artifice the Prince of Darkness could invent, to spread all the World over Error, Igno­rance, and Superstition. To avoid then your be­ing seduc'd hereafter, make use of your Rea­son, since 'tis chiefly al­low'd you for your at­taining [Page 150] to the know­ledge of saving Truths, peruse often, and me­ditate frequently this Treatise, wherein you shall discover clearly,

I. That Protestants, you have been so averse from hitherto, through preoccupation and igno­rance, may be saved, as being true Members of the Universal Church, and neither Hereticks nor Schismaticks.

[Page 151]II. That they attain to Eternal Happiness more easily, and with greater safety than Ro­manists, standing to the Principles of Popery.

III. That the boast­ed of Infallibility of General Councils is no Article of Faith amongst Roman-Catholicks, but a meer politick design to domineer by this persua­sion over all Nations, for the increase of tem­poral Concerns; and [Page 152] that as Rome of old sub­dued the World by force of Arms, she may still enslave it by Religious Scruples, and strong Fan­cies of the Divine Ori­ginal of her Oracles, which was meant by the Poet that sung thus: ‘Roma caput mundi, quic quid non possidet armis Reli­gione tenet.’

You have pretended formerly your Consci­ence suffered you not to [Page 153] conform to that Divine Worship now establi­shed by Law in these three Kingdoms, you thought it not lawful to forsake Popery, and pro­fess Protestancy, as being in your opinion nothing else but Heresie, Schism, Apostasie. This can be no more an Obstacle to your Conversion, you are now informed to Conviction of the con­trary, and of your in­cumbent Obligation to retreat from Romanism; [Page 154] of two Evils, the least is to be chosen; and of two ways to Heaven, that which is securest, in matters of this Concern all deliberation laid a­side, your Conscience will press you to the su­rest. So long as you en­deavour your being in­sensible to her Checks, you pretend in vain to any true happiness in this life, she will sound perpetually in your ears the extreme danger you are in through your [Page 155] own fault, and as an in­separable, terrifying, and threatning Ghost, disturb your Repose by day and by night, in all times, and in all places.

Omnibus umbra locis aderit.
FINIS.

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