Mr. CLAƲDE's ANSWER TO Monsieur de MEAƲX's BOOK, INTITULED, A Conference with Mr. CLAUDE.


WHEREIN He Answers a Discourse of M. de Condom, now Bishop of Meaux, concerning the Church.



LONDON: Printed for T. Dring, at the Harrow in Fleetstreet, at Chancery-Lane-end. MDCLXXXVII.

THE Author's Preface.

AMONG all the Points in Controversy betwixt us, and the Gentlemen of the Romish Communion, it is plain there is not any one wherein they think better of their Cause than this, which hath been started since our Reformation, Concerning the Church; and yet, perhaps there is not any one wherein they have less reason to think so. Were this groundless confidence observed to be predominant among the Vulgar only, who seldom look beyond the prejudices of their Infancy; or among the busy men of intrigue in the Age, who are ever raising their world­ly Advantages, as a Bulwark against the Truth; there would be no great reason to be surprised at it. But the most amazing thing of all is, that we continually meet with the same Opinion in persons that want neither Understanding, nor sound Sense and Judgment; and which otherwise seem men of Integrity and Sincerity; so that there is scarce any question to be made, but that they are verily perswaded of the thing, as a certain un­doubted Truth.

Now for the undeceiving these Persons, it will, in my opinion, be convenient, not only to set their own Conceptions before them; but also to go back as far as the ground and original of those Conceptions, that so they themselves may plese to make such Reflexions upon them, as they shall judg fit and necessary. The ground then of all this mistake is, that upon pretence of the Churches being a Society, they immediately suffer themselves to be possest at first with an Opinion, That we are to judg of it almost in the same manner, that we do of a Civil Society; and so never give themselves the trouble of enquiring into the differences by which these two are distinguisht from one another. Hence they have fan­cied, that the Essence of the Church consists intirely in something Exter­nal; and that as a man need do no more to become a true Member of a Civil Society, than only live in an outward observance of the Laws; so to become a true Member of the Church, no more was required, than barely an outward Profession of the Faith and Religion; and that there [Page ii] was no necessity at all of any inward Virtues, such as Faith, Hope, and Charity. This is the very thing that hath made the Definitions of, most of their modern Divines, who place it in a meer outward Profession, be entertained with Approbation and Applause. And when once these Defi­nitions are received, they are under a necessity of looking upon, not any one part of these Professors, to be the true Church of Jesus Christ; but in general, the whole Body of Professors, whether they be good or bad men, just or unjust, hypocrites or sincere Believers.

From hence, by another unavoidable consequence, they are forced to conceive of the Church, not only as an exterior and visible Body, but as a Body distinctly, and certainly visible, to such a degree I mean, that a man might point out, without any danger of mistake, the particular men of whom it is composed; as plainly and distinctly, as you can point the Persons that make up any other Society; and declare without the least fear of mistaking your men, such and such are members of it. Such a visibility of the Church as this it is, that Bellarmin hath explained thus:Ecclesia est [...]e [...]us homi­ [...]m ita visibi­ [...], & palpa­ [...]lis, ut est cae­ [...]s populi Ro­ [...]ani, vel Reg­ [...]um Galliae, [...] Respubli­ [...] Venetorum. [...]ellarmin. de [...]ccles. Lib. 3. cap. 2. Edit. [...]ugdum. 1587. The Church is a company of Men as visible, and as palpable, as the Citizens of Rome, the Kingdom of France, or the Republick of Venice. So that his meaning is, that as the French, the Romans and Venetians, may plainly and particularly be singled out; so likewise may the Persons that make the Body of the Church be, as particularly, and with the same degree of certainty that they were. Indeed, if there be nothing besides a bare outward Profession required, to make men truly Members of the Church, This Profession is a thing discernable by the eye, in every single person; and thus the Church will be visible, so as that particular men may be plainly distinguished to be of it.

By another necessary and unavoidable Consequence, they were con­strained to apply all the Promises made by God to his Church, whether in the Old or New Testament, to this visible and exteriour Body. And be­ing these Promises include the Churches perpetuity, that they might keep as close to their first Notions as they could, there was a necessity of explain­ing the Churches subsistence in this sense: That the Church must always subsist after the manner of a sensible and palpable body, so as to be the ob­ject of our sight, and discernable by all the World, even to a plain and positive distinction of particular persons. Hence it is, that they have drawn their so much boasted Succession, and which all their disputes run so much upon. Whereby they understand a continued train of Priests, one after another, in the same Episcopal Sees, and a continued train of people, making up the same Congregations; so as that both People and Priests always make profession of the same Religion, without any change or alteration, except it be perhaps in matters of Discipline, which are things that may very well admit of a change, without making the Church to differ from what it was before.

[Page iii] Then carrying these Conceptions of theirs still further, they fancied, that as in order to the preservation of the Civil Society, an absolute Su­preme Authority, to which all must bend, is necessary, because without such a one there would be no possible means of composing differences, or preventing Domestick quarrels; the same was likewise necessary in the Church: That in this, one Supreme and Absolute Tribunal must be ac­knowledged upon Earth; that without this and an intire obedience paid to it, even in matters of Conscience, Dispute would never be ended, nor Unity preserved, but at last things would come to such a pass that there would start up as many Churches, and different Religions, as Families. And this gave birth to their pretentions to Infallibility, and a blind impli­cite obedience to the determinations of Councils, without presuming to examine them at all.

Lastly, It is by all these prejudicate opinions, that the Gentlemen of the Romish Communion suppose themselves able to overthrow the Prote­stant-Cause, and make that of their own Church impregnable. The pre­tended Reformed Church, say they, cannot be this exterior body, always visible, and palpable, which must have continued in this state of visibility, and that without any alteration, ever since Jesus Christ, and the Apo­stles time, down to ours; because this is not above a hundred or sixscore years old, Therefore it is not the Church of Christ. This cannot shew a con­tinued succession of Priests and People, Assemblies and Episcopal Sees, nor a profession of one and the same Religion without any variation, which is exactly what Christ promised. Therefore this is not the Church of Jesus Christ. This Church hath forsaken the Supreme Authority and Infallibi­lity of the Church of Rome, and refused to pay obedience to her decisions; on the contrary the hath taken upon her to examine those Decisions, and hath done all that in her lay utterly to subvert this Tribunal, which is so necessary to the subsistence of the true Church: Therefore she is not the Church of Jesus Christ.

Of these Objections especially hath M. de Meaux made his Book to con­sist; and because this of mine is made publick only with a design to an­swer that, it is not fit I should prevent the reading of it in this Preface, nor forestal the judgment men may make of my Answers, when they see them at large. I shall think it therefore sufficient to say in general, by way of preparation, That all these pretended Principles which the Gentlemen of the Romish Communion take the freedom to suppose, are every one of them false and sophistical, and capable of being confuted more ways than one, because all built upon a false and vain foundation. For in truth what grea­ter vanity can there be, than to go about to form an Idea of the Church, after the pattern of a Civil Society? The Civil Society is a humane contri­vance, [Page iv] that owes its birth to natural instinct, under the Government of a General Providence, and is kept up and preserved by Rules of Justice and humane Policy. The Church is a Divine and Supernatural work, born only of the Blood of the Son of God, and animated only by his Spirit. His hands have made it, and his particular Providence watches over it, and preserves it. The Laws of the Civil Society do not properly respect any more than the outward man, they never make it any part of their End or business to regulate mens hearts, or alter the inclinations, or inward mo­tions there; all within, they leave perfectly free, and are satisfied with an outward observation, which comes within the reach of man's power. The Laws of the Church do chiefly regard the inward man, their design is to sanctifie the heart, and fix themselves especially in the soul, which are effects above any power of man, and can belong to none but God only.

The matters in which the Civil Society is imployed, are meerly tempo­ral, such as we call the Goods of Fortune, Honour, Trade, the Exercise of Arts and Sciences, and other things of this kind, which may be cogni­sable by men, and brought under their Jurisdiction. But the matters in which the Society of the Church is concerned, consist in Mysteries con­veyed to us by a Supernatural Revelation; in Laws imposed upon the Conscience; in the internal and external practice of Christian Vertues. Now all these things are Heavenly, Spiritual, unchangeable, having no dependance upon the will, authority, or declaration of men, but solely and immediately upon the will of God, and his declaring them to be such. To make a man a true member of the Civil Society, there is no more re­quired than to seem so in the eyes of the world, who can pass a judgment only on the outward appearance, without being able to dive into the heart. To be a member of the Church, it is required that a man be so, not in the eyes of men only, but of God too, who a [...] the Scripture ex­presses it, trieth the very hearts and reins, and will not be satisfied with a pare outside. The design of Civil Societies, is, that every man may ac­cording to his quality and station, enjoy the publick Priviledges, that his Personal Rights and Properties may be preserved intire, that each parti­cular person may live quietly and peaceably under the protection of the whole Body; and these are Advantages not out of the power of men to give. The end for which the Church is designed, is everlasting Salvation, a Heavenly Paradise, the happiness of a life to come, which are all Ad­vantages not within the power of men to confer. In the Civil Society, private men ought rather to suffer injuries that are put upon them, than disturb the peace of the whole Body, because such injuries may be endu­red, and yet not approved; and besides if they do it, the evil is not past [Page v] all redress; for God who protects the innocent and oppressed, is able to right them, and recompence their losses with interest: In the Church it is far otherwise, where the Conscience must acquiesce, and a quiet submission cannot be given to a lye, an error, or an unjust thing, without approving it; and when it is approved, the evil is past redress, for God will avenge that fault, and nothing can make us amends for the loss of our Eternal Salvation: Besides, that the peace we hereby allow the whole Body, is so far from a Blessing, that it is the worst of Evils, being, in truth, no bet­ter than a War against God. I repeat it therefore once again, That there is not in the World a greater falsity, nor a more sophistical imposture, than the framing such a notion of the Church, after the model of Civil Societies.

The case standing thus, who does not perceive that all the conclusions from this false supposition fall to the ground, and utterly vanish? A man must not after this, fancy the Church to be a Body merely external, nor that all its essence consists in a bare Profession; nor that these Definitions given us of it, which run upon an outward profession of the same Faith, a participation of the same Sacraments, a submission to the same Pope, without allowing internal Graces any share, are good and valid definiti­ons; nor that wicked men, worldlings and hypocrites, are Members of Jesus Christ's true Church. All this would do, if the question were concerning a Body, or contrivance merely humane, as the Civil So­ciety is. But when we discourse of a thing that is the work and contri­vance of God, and must bear some proportion to the excellency of its Au­thor, we must affirm that Faith, Hope and Charity, and in one word, all the parts of true Regeneration are essential to it; and that this consists of the Faithful and Elect only, excluding thence the Hypocrites and Repro­bate. We must not afterwards fancy the Church so be a body or compa­ny of men, visible at the same rate that Kingdoms and Commonwealths are; Li [...]an, so as to distinguish plainly, and without danger of mistake, the very persons whereof it is composed. This were allowable, provided the Church consisted in an outward appearance, and bare profession only. But we must affirm it to be visible in the midst of dissemblers, as honest men are visible, when mixt with those that act otherwise; or to make use of a Scripture instance, as the good Corn is visible, tho mingled in the same field with Tares that look like it. The Promises of Jesus Christ must no longer be applied to all the exterior Body made up of a mere profession, nor must the perpetuity of the Church be imagined to mean a continuance of this exterior Body in the same condition, without under­going any alteration; or a constant equal succession of Priests, People, Sees and Councils. This might be admitted, if all this exterior body [Page vi] were the true Church of Jesus Christ, if that were not mixt with world­lings and wicked men, who change the Church as to outward appearances; or if it's Ministry were sure to be always intrusted in the hands of good men. But the case being otherwise, these Promises must be confined to the true Believers, and the Church conceived to subsist for ever in this mix­ture of wicked persons, and consequently, that it shall subsist sometimes among the publick corruptions of the Ministry, to which Almighty God sets bounds, as his wisdom sees fit for the preservation of his Children. We must not any longer believe a supream, visible, and speaking authori­ty in the Church, to be necessary for putting an end to differences and dis­putes; nor upon this pretence allow Ecclesiastical Assemblies to be infalli­ble, or forbid the faithful to examine their determinations. This might pass, if the Church were I reserved, as Civil Societies are, by rules of humane policy; or if some temporal advantages were the only thing en­quired after; or if the matters so determined, required only an outward compliance, as those in Civil Societies do. But now, that the Church is under a protection infinitely more effectual than all the wisdom of Man; now that Salvation is the thing in question, and a submission of Consci­ence the thing required, it must be confest, that since Divine Revelation ceased, there is no further need of any other supreme infallible: Authority, besides that of the Scripture, which is the Churches Law, its Oracle, and perpetual Rule; a Rule plain and clear in what it expresses in all things necessary to be believed; plain and clear in its silence with relation to other things not necessary to be believed: It must be owned, that since God does not call men to Ministerial functions immediately, and by him­self, it may happen that these Functions may generally be exercised by Reprobates; and to suppose that such people as these, who can challenge no share in God's Promises to his Church, are infallible, would be the most palpable absurdity in the World. We must acknowledg, that since it is so uncertain, whether the men that make up these Assemblies, are themselves really of Jesus Christ's Church, it would be not only rash, but wicked, to receive their Decrees implicitly, and submit to them without any Examination at all; because this were really to put our Salvation up­on the venture, which ought to be infinitely dearer to us than any thing in the World, and which, if once lost, can never be made amends for again. Lastly, we must not upon these pretended Principles take up Pre­judices against the Protestant Churches, nor tax them with Novelty, be­cause they are not united to this visible, exterior Body, which was before the Reformation; or because they do not shew that uniform succession of Sees, and Councils, and the profession of the same Religion, without any alteration at all, and every thing as was practised before; nor pre­tend [Page vii] they have subverted a Tribunal necessary for the subsistence of the true Church, because they refuse to acknowledg the Church of Rome's Authority, and to comply with her determinations. These several char­ges upon us might be tolerably well laid, if a man could assert that the Church consists of all this exterior body, as it might be asserted, if a Civil Society were the matter in question. But being that body must be distinguished into two parts, the one consisting of good, the other of ill men; the one of good Corn, the other of Tares; the Protestant Church cannot be called new, if it only oppose this latter part, which had gotten possession of all the outward advantages, to wit, the Ministry, the Sees, the Churches, the Councils, the Schools, and in one word, the Exterior Profession, and which had changed and corrupted all these. For is there any necessity that a Church should groan under the same oppression, in order to being the same with a Church that was before? Is there a necessity of lying under the Tares that choak'd and encompassed the Corn, in order to being of the Corn? And are not men the same Children of Jacob, without being among the same strangers among whom that Family hath been? The Protestants have not one jot the less really, and truly, a succession of Sees, of Councils, and the profession of Religion, for not having that part of them which was earthly and unclean. I acknowledg they have given quite another aspect and appearance to the House of God, by this cleansing; but still there is the same Ministry, the same Sees, the same Assemblies, the same Profession, not with respect to the corruptions that appeared in them, but in regard of the Christian Order which still continued under all this filth and nastiness. The vessels of the Temple are still the same, only they are washed, made clean, and restored to their natural use. And as for that pretended Tribunal of the Romish Church, which the Reformation has subverted, it never having any more foundation than what was imaginary, and merely humane, there is no reason to complain of the Protestants, for not submitting to it, because they would thereby have done wrong to that of the Scripture, which is Jesus Christ's true Tribunal, fixed, and to continue for ever, in the midst of his people.

But this shewing the many differences between the Church and Civil Societies, is not the only method of confuting these Gentlemen's Princi­ples. Take which way you will, their falsity and weakness is easily dis­covered, and they are likewise attended with this inconvenience, that as soon as one of them is overthrown, all the rest fall with it. Overthrow for instance but that one principle, that the true Church must be an exte­rior visible Body, even to the pointing out of the particular persons whereof it is composed, and at the same time you overthrow all those de­finitions. [Page viii] they give of it, which include bad men as well as good, and make reprobates to be no less members than the Elect; you overthrow their application of God's Promises to this whole Body; you overthrow its perpetuity in this Condition, by virtue of those Promises; you over­throw the necessity of this pretended external Succession, upon which they lay such mighty stress; you evacuate the supreme Authority, and In­fallibility of Church Assemblies, and the blind obedience required to their determinations. The case is the same with all their other principles particularly, which must of necessity, either all stand, or all fall toge­ther.

I might truly say, that you can no where observe a Systeme more ef­fectually destroyed in the several parts of it, than this is in the Book now published by me: For there is not any one of the propositions that help to make that Systeme, but I have confuted it substantially, by Arguments that amount even to a Demonstration. Which way can any one maintain that Definition of the Church which goes upon a bare outward profession, and makes it consist of bad as well as good men; and which Stapleton, Bellarmin, Cardinal du Perron, and some other Controversial Divines look upon as a principal point, after having observed what I have written on this subject, in the second question of the Letter to my Friend, and the Examination of M. de Meaux's ninth Reflection? What pretence can men have for carrying on the Churches visibility so far, as to a plain, particu­lar, and constant designation of mens persons that help to make up that Body, after having considered what is said to this purpose in my Third Question, and in the Examination of M. de Meaux's Eleventh Reflection? How can men fancy that Jesus Christ's Promises belong to this exterior Body composed of good and bad men promiscuously, after what I have written to this purpose upon the fourth Question, and the Examination of the Twelfth Reflection? Which way can the External Succession be defended, in the sense these Gentlemen understand it, after having weigh­ed my answer to the Second Part of M. de Condom's Discourse, and com­pared it with my Examination of the Eighth and Thirteenth Reflection? What can be s [...]d in behalf of the Supreme Authority Church Assemblies pretend to, and the ready Obedience to them, without any trying their decisions, which these Gentlemen would make us believe ought to be paid them, after having compared the Relation of our Conference, with what I have written on the Six first Reflections? I must confess the strength of my Reasons may possibly receive some disadvantage from the manner of my delivering them; and that it required a more skilful hand than mine, which might have spoke with all the elegance, and address of my renowned Adversary. But yet I dare aver, that even in my plain way, [Page ix] and in the midst of all my bluntness, there will be found enough to sa­tisfy and convince my Readers, That the Systeme treated of is upon ma­ny accounts quite destroyed, both as to the whole, and as to each of its parts.

I am sensible, this Systeme is a thing contrived with abundance of cun­ning and skill, that it was never the invention of one single Brain; that they have made it look as specious as the thing could possibly bear; But all the skill and cunning in the World can never give a thing so great a lustre as Truth; and it is plain, that That Systeme can never be true, which is repugnant to the evidence both of Scripture and Reason. I may add too, that notwithstanding all the pains taken to contrive it as strong as might be, they are forced to leave it with many weaknesses, which it was impossible for them to conceal. Nay, such a Systeme particularly is This, which contradicts experience, and contradicts it so far too, that were the Church of Rome it self, for whose advantage it was first esta­blish'd, to be tryed by these Principles that compose it, she could not make her party good. Let us, if you please, venture an experiment upon that principle which asserts the perpetuity of the same Exterior Body. Will you take the confidence to call that of the three first Ages, the same Body with the modern Church of Rome, where there is not the least tittle to be found of direct Invocation of Saints and Angels in the publick ser­vice of the Church; where there is not the least addressing to Images and Pictures in their worship; where there is no prohibition of the Cup to the Laity; nor of the use of Scripture in the vulgar Tongue, with­out leave granted by the Ordinary; nor of Praying in a Language which the people do not understand; where we find nothing to the contrary, but that the Scripture is the only, and the sufficient Rule of Faith, in all things necessary to Salvation; where we meet with no such number of Sacraments as seven, no use made of Papal Indulgences, no necessity of Auricular Confession, no Elevation of the Host that the people may pro­strate themselves in adoration to it; no Transubstantiation, nor Real pre­sence made Doctrines; no mention of the Church of Rome's being the Mother and Mistress of all other Churches, nor of I know not how ma­ny things besides which are of very considerable importance? Will you call the Church of Rome, as it stands at this day, as it looks upon the opinion of the M [...]llenaries to be erroneous, as it prohibits giving the Sacra­ment of the Lord's Supper to little Children, as it believes the beatifick vision of God antecedent to the last Judgment, as it forbids the Clergy to Marry; will you call this, I say, the same Exterior Body with the Pri­mitive Church, which believed and practised directly the contrary? To call this the same Body, is like Theseus his Ship, which was always [Page x] called the same Ship, tho there was scarce a Plank in it all, that had not been changed.

A Second experiment may be made in that Principle which relates to the Succession in Episcopal Sees, as these Gentlemen are pleased to under­stand it: For how can they ever maintain this Succession in the See of Rome, which they look upon as the very Original and Centre of Church-Unity, while they agree, as they do, that many of those Popes were in­truders against all Law and Custom, and consequently false Popes, such as Baronius callsBaroni­us, ad Ann. 900 de Stephano septimo. Stephanus Apostol­cae sedis invaso—& paulo post, faci­norosus homo, qui (que) ut fur, & la­tro ingres­sus est in o [...]le ovi­um.—Ad ann. 908. (de Sergio primo) Perpetrata sunt ista ab invasoribus, & intrusis in Apostolicam sedem, Pontificis nomen usurpan­tibus, & illegitime thronum Apostolicum invadentibus.—ad Ann 912. (de Joanne decimo, qui post Landonem Petri cathedram ascendit, Theodorae, scorti tunc temporis potentissimi auspiciis) Quae tunc facies Ecclesiae Romanae? Cum darentur Episcopi, intruderentur in sedem Petri me­retricum amasii Pseudopontifices, qui non sint nisi ad consignanda tantum tempora in Catalogo Romanorum Pontificum scripti. Annal. Tom. 10. Edit. Antverp. Violent seizers of the Apostolick See, unlawful Ʋsurpers of the Papal Name and Chair, False Popes which only served to make the times they lived in notorious? And now seeing this intrusion continued for almost one whole Age, and the call to all Ecclesiastical Functions depends upon the See of Rome, what must we think of those which proceeded from these false Popes, and those that followed after them? How can they make good this Succession in the person of Vigilius, who by their own confession was an Usurper of the See over Sylverius, and a Schismatick, excommunicated, he and all his party that adhered to him, by Sylverius the rightful Pope? Which adherents were not only all the Clergy of Rome, but all the Arch­bishops and Bishops of the Empire, excepting only four Bishops that were banisht with Sylverius, and joyned with him in signing the sentence of Excommunication; Sylverius dyed, Vigilius kept the Papacy still, and yet the Excommunication was not taken off. It is acknowledged to be a just and valid sentence, and yet from these excommunicated persons are all the Popes, Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops and Bishops descended ever since.

Baroni­us ad Ann. 540. Se à Pontifica­tu abdicâsse Vigilium, ex spatio vacationis sedis Silverii dicendum omnino est; nam quomodo potuit, secundum Anastasium, sedes vacâsse sex dies, si Vigilius, ipso vivente Silverio, intrusus semel, sedere post ejus obitum perseveràsset? Annal. Tom. 7. Pag. 301. Edit. Antverp. Baronius in the relation of this Accident, endeavours all he can, to de­prive us of the Conclusions we draw from it. He tells us therefore, that he guesses Vigilius acted a part all that while, and that being informed of [Page xi] Sylverius his death, he of his own accord resigned the Popedom usurped by him before, and at the same time got the Clergy of Rome to chuse him into it again. This conjecture he grounds upon four words in Ana­stasius, that the See was vacant six days. But this is a very idle story: There is not any Author mentions this voluntary resignation of Vigilius, nor his being chosen in again by the Clergy of Rome, as is pretended; 'tis all a pure fancy of Baronius, without any manner of probability for it; and the five or six days which the See continued vacant, are to be under­stood to follow, not Sylverius his death, but the time of his being de­posed by Belisarius illegally and by force, who took away his Pallium, and compelled him to resume a Monks habit. He lived after that a year in exile in the Island of Palmenia; there he excommunicated Vigilius and his faction, to wit, the Clergy of Rome, that very Clergy which chose Vigilius to succeed him; so that the Excommunication being just and va­lid, as Baronius owns it was, we cannot look upon Vigilius and his Clergy, and all the Bishops in the World then, any otherwise than as men degra­ded, and cut off from the Church: And then according to M. de Meaux's principles, there was no way left, but for Christ to come into the World once more, to re-establish the call to the Ministry. The truth of what I assert, may be tryed a third way, in that Principle of the supreme Autho­rity, and Infallibility of Councils, and the blind implicit obedience they pretend is due to them. For supposing this Principle to take place, the Church of Rome hath ceased to be a true Church long ago. I shall not here produce all those Councils heretofore that decreed in favour of Ar­rianism; such as that of Antioch, of Sardica, or of Philippi, that of Milan, of Sirmium, of Arimini, of Seleucia, or of Constantinople. I will not in­stance in the second Council of Ephesus, where the Bishop of Rome's Le­gates assisted, which establisht the Eutychian Heresy; nor that of Diospolis, which acquitted Pelagius the Heretick. Nor will I speak of those which have at several times determined things directly contradictory to one ano­ther, in the matter of Images, such as the Council of Constantinople under Constantine Copronymus; the second Council of Nice, under the Empress Irene, the Council of Franckfort under Charlemagne, and the Council of Paris under Lewis the Debonaire. Nor will I insist upon the Councils held in the Tenth Age, which contradicted one another upon this que­stion, whether Formosus could be lawfully preferred to the Papacy, con­trary to his Oath, which a Pope had dispensed with; and whether all the persons ordained by him ought not to be reordained: Without troubling our selves with things so far off, we need only desire these Gentlemen to tell us, if they really and sincerely believe these few late Councils to be infallible? That of Rome under Gregory the seventh, where Baronius says, [Page xii] it was determined,Baro­nius ad Ann. 1076. Privilegia Apostoli­cae sedis, & Roma­ni Pontifi­cis Quòd Papae [...]e­at Impera­tores de­ponere. Quòd sen­tentia illi­us à nullo debeat re­tractari, & ipse omnium solus re­tractare possit. Quòd à fidelitate iniquorum Subjectos potest absolvere. Annal. Tom. 11. Pag. 485. Edit. Romae 1605. That the Pope hath power to depose Emperors and Kings; That what he hath once determined, no man can afterwards bring to a rehearing, but that he alone can rehear, and alter the determinations of all other persons; That he cannot be judged by any man whatever; That he may absolve the Subjects of wicked Princes from their Oaths of Allegiance. That of Lateran under Alexander the Third, whichRelaxatos autem se noverint à debito fidelitatis, & hominii, ac totius obsequii, dum in tantâ iniquitate permanserint, quicun (que) illis aliquo peccato, (pacto) tenentur annexi. Conc. La­teran 3. Cap. 27. Anno 1179. Collect. Labbe. Lut. Paris. 1671. Tom. 10. Pag. 1523. relèases Subjects from their Oaths of Allegiance, which they have sworn to their Governors, if those Governors hold any correspondence with Hereticks. That of Lateran under Innocent the third, which enjoyns,Si vero Dominus temporalis requisitus, & monitus Ecclesiâ, terram suam purgare neg­lexerit ab haereticâ foeditate, per Metropolitanum, & caeteròs comprovinciales Episcopos Excom­municationis vinculo innodetur. Et si satisfacere contempserit infra annum, significetur hoc summo Pontifici, ut extunc ipse Vassallos ab ejus fidelitate denunciet absolutos, & terram exponat Catholicis occupandam, qui eam exterminatis haereticis sine ullâ contradictione possideant. Conc. Lateran. 4. Ann. 1215. Cap. 3. de Haereticis Collect. Labb. Tom. 11. Part. 1. Pag. 148. That if Temporal Princes neglect to root out Hereticks, there shall be notice given of it to the Pope, that so the Pope may pronounce their Subjects absolved from their Oaths of Allegiance, and dispose of their Countries to Catholicks who may discharge their duty better. That of Lyons under Innocent the fourthSee Innocent the fourth's sentence against the Emperor Frederick, past in the Council of Lyons. It is at large in Labbe 'sCollection of Councils, Tom. 11. part. 1. Pag. 640. in the Close are these words. Nos super praemissis—memoratum Principem—omni honore & dignitate privatum à Domino ostendimus, denunciamus, & nihilo minus sententiando privamus. Omnes, qui ei Jura­mento fidelitatis tenentur adstricti, a Juramento hujusmodi perpetuo absolventes, autoritate Apo­stolicâ [...]irmiter inhibendo, ne quisquam de caetero sibi tanquam Imperatori, vel Regi pareat vel intendat. Et decernendo quoslibet, qui deinceps ei, velut Imperatori▪ aut Regi, consilium, vel auxilium praestiterint, seu favorem, ipso facto excommunicationis vinculo subjacere. which deposed the Emperor. Frederick the Second, re­leased his Subjects from their Oaths of Allegiance, and forbid them upon penalty of being Anathematized, to acknowledg or obey him. That of Constance, which in the Bull of Martin the fifthUniversas potestates, & dominos temporales, & Judices antedictos exhortando requirimus, & mandamus eisdem,—ut pro defensione fidei—inquisitoribus Haereticae pravitatis—pa­reant & intendant, praebeant (que) auxilium, & favorem Labb. Collect. Concil. Constant. Bulla. In­ter cunctas pastoralis Curae, &c. Tom. 12. Pag. 259. containing the Clause de sacro approbante Concilio, subjects not only Patriarchs, Archbishops, and [Page xiii] Bishops, but even Kings and other supreme Governors, of what quality soever they be, to the judgment of the Inquisitors, even to a deprivation from their honours, and all other worldly possessions. That of Lateran, under Leo the Tenth, which sets the Pope's Authority above that of Cum so­lum Ro­manum Pontifi­cem, pro tempore existentem tanquam authoritatem super omnia concilia habentem, tam Con­ciliorum indicendorum—plenum jus & potestatem, nedum ex sacrae Scripturae testimonio, di­ctis sanctorum Patrum—habere manifestè constet. Conc. Lateran. 5. Sess. 11. Bulla. Pastor aeternus. Labb. Collect. Tom. 14. Pag. 309.Councils, directly contrary to what was defined by the Council of Con­stance, with the approbation of Pope Martin the Fifth, and to the Council of Basil, with the approbation of Pope Eugenius the Fourth.

In a word, the endeavouring to assert that Councils are infallible, and giving them such an Authority as supercedes all examination, is so bold an undertaking, that many eminent persons in the Church of Rome it self, thinking it could never be effected, have not scrupled to declare for the other opinion. Among these was the famous Abbot of Palerma, principal of the Canonists, whose words are so very considerable, that I cannot omit repeating them. Puto ta­men quod si Papa movere­tur melio­ribus ra­tionibus & autho­ritatibus, quam Concili­um, quod standum esset sen­tentiae suae. Nam & Concilium potest errare, sicut alias erravit, super Matrimonium contrahen­dam inter raptorem & raptam. Dictum Hieronymi melius sentientis postea praelatum fuit statuto Concilii. Nam in concernentibus fidem etiam dictum unius privati praeferendum esset dicto Papae, si ille moveretur melioribus rationibus novi & veteris Testamenti, quam Papa. Nec obstat, si di­catur quod Concilium non potest errare, quia Christus oravit pro Ecclesiâ suâ, ut non deficeret; quare dico, quod [...]icet Concilium generale repraesentet totam Ecclesiam Universalem, tamen in ve­ritate ibi non est verè Universalis Ecclesia sed repraesentativè: quia Universalis Ecclesia constitui­tur ex collatione omnium fidelium, unde omnes fideles orbis constituunt istam Ecclesiam Univer­salem, cujus caput & sponsus est ipse Christus. Papa autem est Vicarius Christi, & non vere caput Ecclesiae. Et ista est illa Ecclesia, quae errare non potest. Unde possibile est, quod vera fides Christi, remanserit in uno solo, ita quod verum est dicere, quod fides non deficit in Ec­clesiâ, sicut jus Universitatis potest residere in uno solo, aliis peccantibus. Panormitan. super S. Decret. Tit. de Election. Can. Significâsti. Fol. 86. I am of opinion, (says he) that if the Pope have better rea­sons, and better authorities than the Council, he ought to stick to his own judgment. For the Council may, and sometimes actually has erred, as particularly in the case of a Ravishers marrying with the woman on whom the Rape was committed. Saint Jerom's opinion was preferred before the Decree of a Council, because it was really better. For in matters of Faith, a single private mans judgment ought to be pre­ferred before the Pope's, if this private judgment be grounded upon better reasons, taken out of the Old and New Testament. It signifies nothing to alledg the Council cannot err because Jesus Christ hath prayed for his Church that it fail not. In an­swer to this I say, that although a General Council do indeed represent the Church universally, yet it is plain the Ʋniversal Church is not there really, but only by way [Page xiv] of representation. For the Ʋniversal Church is made up of the company of all the Faithful, so that they are the Faithful throughout the whole world, that consti­tute the Church Ʋniversally, of which Christ is the Head, and the Spouse. The Pope is Christs Vicar, but he is not truly the Head of the Church. And this Church it is, that cannot err. Thus then it may so happen that the true Faith of Christ may continue entire in a single person, and then the true Faith would not fail in the Church, as the right of a Community may be preserved in a single member of it.

See now what the force of truth made one of the greatest Doctors of his Age say: The Catholick Church in his opinion consists only of the Faithful, it is of them only that Christ is the Head and the Spouse, to them alone he hath promised that they shall abide for ever. Councils may represent the Church, but it does not follow from thence that they are the Church. They may fall into Errors. The true Church which refu­ses to fall with them, may subsist in a very few, and these few by preserving the true Faith, will also preserve all the Priviledges of Jesus Christs Church. All this is exactly what we assert in this case.

The Abbot of Palermo's opinion was likewise common to many of the Schools. Occam a famous Doctor among the Schoolmen, of the fourteenth Age hath composed a Dialogue on this Subject, where among other que­stions he discusses these six principal ones: 1.Occam. Dialog. Lib. 5. Quaeritur, utrum Papa ca­nonice e­lectus haereticari possit. cap. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Utrum Collegium Cardinali­um possit haereticâ pravitate maculari. Cap. 6. &c. Utrum Papa cum Collegio Cardinalium simul possit hereticâ pravitate maculari. Cap. 10. Utrum Eccle­sia Romana se [...] sedes Apostolica valeat in [...]ici haereticâ pravitate. Cap. 11. Utrum Concilium Generale Ecclesiae in haereticam pravitatem labi possit. Cap. 25. Utrum tota multitudo fidelium haereticari possit. Cap. 29. Whether a Pope that is Ca­nonically, chosen can afterwards turn Heretick? 2.Whether the Colledg of Cardi­nals may fall into Heresie? 3. Whether it be possible for the Pope and Cardinals together to fall into it? 4. Whether it be so, for the Church of Rome, and Apo­stolick See to fall into it? 5. Whether a General Council may fall into it? 6. Whe­ther even the Body of Christians may fall into it? He affirms, that as many held the Negative in these Points, so there were a great many too, that held the affirmative; and he gives you the reasons urged by both sides for their several opinions. I know very well, that he was engaged in that silly quar­rel between John the 22d, and the Franciscan Friers, which took up al­most the whole life of that Pope, to know whether the Friers had any proper right to the bread they eat, or only the bare use of it; and whe­ther Jesus Christ and his Apostles had likewise any proper right to the things they used. But this is no argument why such an Authors Testi­mony should not be unexceptionable, when he asserts as matter of fact that the six forementioned questions were disputed pro and con, among the Learned men of his time.

[Page xv] There is likewise a testimony of John Francis Picus Mirandula, which flourished in the beginning of the Fifteenth Age, which he gives us in his Theoremes concerning the Faith. After having said something to their opinion, who make either a Pope or a Council Infallible, he adds these words: Restite­runt alii, affirman­tes errare posse Con­cilia, & jam errâs­se, ut Ari­minense illud tam celebriter damna­tum, E­phesinum quo (que) se­cundum, item Constantinopolitanum, de ponendis imaginibus, sed & Aquisgranense cujus sen­tentiae de Matrimonio raptae Hieronymi determinatio praeponitur. Propterea, si haec aberrave­runt alia quoque errare posse dicunt. Quâ de re fatentur nonnulli, Concilia ea, sive Universales Synodos, in quibus Authoritas Pontificis summi non praesidet, errare posse; non autem ea qui­bus intervenit. Instant illi ex adverso Ephesinum secundum legitimè fuisse congregatum, praesi­dentibus etiam Legatis Pontificis; nihilominus in eversion [...]m fidei agitatum, & in ejus correcti­onem à Leone Pontifice Chalcedonensem Synodum institutam. Rursus quia dari remedia viden­tur, dum Concilia discrepant cui videlicet standum adhaerendumque magis, innuitur, aiunt, & apertè etiam significatur, aberrare Universalia Concilia posse. J. Fran. Picus Mirand. de Fide & Ord. Credendi, Theorem. 4. Tom. 2. Pag. 259. Edit. Basil. Others there are that oppose this opinion, by saying that Councils may err, and actually bave erred, as for instance, the Council of Arimini, the second Council of Ephesus, that of Constantinople concerning Images, and that of Aix la Chapelle, about the marriage of Virgins that were forced. And if these (say they) have erred, others may err as well as they; whereupon some hold, that such General Councils as the Pope does not preside in by his Authority, may err, but those where he does, cannot. To which others return, that the Council of Ephesus was lawfully convened, that the Pope's Legates presided in it, and yet the Faith was subverted there, and the regulation of this very matter was it that moved Pope Leo to call the Council of Chalcedon. They say further, that their pretending to find out remedies for knowing when two Councils clash, whether of the two a man ought to hold to, is an evident sign that General Councils may err.

It is certain then, that the Doctrine we now assert, when we affirm, that even the most numerous Assemblies are liable to error, that they may consist of such men as shall not be of the true Church, and consequently may fall off from their function, is neither a new Doctrine, nor any opi­nion we are driven to for the justfying our Reformation; but an old Do­ctrine, which the evidence of Truth hath always suggested to sincere and unbiassed men. So that if M. de Meaux had but pleased to reflect a little upon this, he would not have said, as he did, That it was a Monster, the birth whereof was reserved for the time of the New Reformation. It is convenient sometimes to be a little more advised and sparing in passing ones judgment. It would questionless be very foul to conclude form what hath been just now said against the absolute Authority and Infallibility of Ecclesiastical Assemblies, that we quite cast off all these humane Orders, for the ex­ternal guidance and government of the Church. To six any such opini­ons as this upon us, would be the unjustest thing in the world. Our Con­fessions [Page xvi] of Faith; our Discipline, and the Writings of our Authors, as well as our constant practice in all places, are a vindication of us in this parti­cular, beyond all scruple or exception. First then, we hold the Ministry to be of Divine Institution, and consequently become necessary by the necessi­ty of a Command; and that tho the use of it is not absolutely necessary by the necessity of the means, for the Existence of the Church; it is however of such excellent use and advantage in order to the preserving and propa­gating of the Church, that to go about to take it away, would be a ma­nifest impiety. Secondly, We are of opinion, that in matters of Discipline relating to the publick, such as the manner and form of Religious Assem­blies, of Administring the Sacraments, and others of this kind, these should be left to the determination of Ecclesiastical Assemblies, and provi­ded they bring in no Rite offensive to the Conscience, or contrary to the nature of the Evangelical Worship, an absolute obedience is due to them. Further yet, We allow these Ecclesiastical Assemblies a power of Censu­ring private persons, and proceeding to the last and highest Censure, that of Excommunication. And although we make no question at all, but this power may sometimes be abused by them, and unjust sentences pronoun­ced, yet we think that out of veneration for the Order, a man ought to suffer such to be executed upon him, provided this do not engage us in any thing that may wound a good conscience.

As for matters of Faith, Worship, and general Rules for ordering mens Manners, we are perswaded that these Assemblies continuing the subordi­nation to one another, may not only attain to the knowledg of them, by the Word of God, but that they must and ought to do so, for prevent­ing the encrease of error, and the preserving Gods truth in its genuine purity. It is part of their office and business to restrain the exorbitances of mens minds, to help the weak, and to the utmost of their power, che­rish and maintain publick peace in the midst of this Society. But because on one hand the persons making these Assemblies are neither inspired, nor infallible, nor have any power over mens consciences; and on the other hand, because no body can be sure, that they are good men, and will discharge their duty faithfully, there being so many several sorts of by-re­spects that influence men, when the Spirit of God does not guide them; we think it a very faulty indifference, and a manifest slighting a man's own salvation, to reveive their decisions blindfold, and upon trust, with­out any trial or examination of them at all. But still, though we think this examination highly just, and indispensably necessary, yet we think withal it is to be used with abundance of caution. Besides, that it must be undertaken in the fear of God, and with a disposition full of modesty, and Christian humility; besides that we must beg for grace from above, [Page xvii] and not presume upon our own abilities; besides that, we must bring a­long with us, not only charitable, but reverent, and respectful thoughts of such Assemblies, and judg favourably of them, till we have manifest conviction of the contrary. Besides all this, I say, the ignorant sort of people must not be too rash in offering to interpose their judgments about matters which either are not plainly exprest in Scripture, or naturally and necessarily deduced from thence. They must satisfie themselves with using these two ways, The Scriptures being silent, And the clear and plain instructions to be met with there. From its being silent, they must learn to reject what it does not teach, for strange and novel Doctrines. For whatever is not in Scripture, is not of Divine Revelation, and nothing that is not revealed by God, can be the object of Faith. By the clear and plain Instructions to be met with there, they must learn to embrace the Doctrines necessary for Salvation, and to reject all things contrary to the same, as dangerous and destructive Errors. And this is sufficient for the more ignorant sort of people.

As for other particulars, for which no certain rule can be given, nei­ther from the Scriptures being silent, nor from the plain and clear instru­ctions contained in it, nor by natural inferences deduced from thence, be­fore they either receive them, or condemn them, they must endeavour to get information by such means as God hath discovered, and established in his Church; and in the mean time entertain a good opinion of the Assemblies determinations. Thus they will preserve their Faith incorrupt, and sufficient for Salvation; they will pay to Assemblies their due respects, and keep themselves in the peace and unity of the Church.

If the Gentlemen of the Romish Communion are not content with this, but still would have us believe whatever such Assemblies may determine blindfold, we must beg of them to consider, That to exclude thus all man­ner of amendment, is to open a mighty inlet to Error and Superstition; 'tis an exposing believers to a manifest danger of having their Faith cor­rupted, and themselves damned; in a word, 'tis perfectly to ruine Chri­stianity, unless the goodness of God interpose with some remedy. Will not these Gentlemen, who are so ready at exclaiming against the inconvenien­cies that may possibly proceed from our principle, at last open their eyes, and take a view of what their own hath actually produced already? Tran­substantiation, Purgatory, Indulgences, Merit of Good-works, worship­ping of Images and Relicks, Service in an unknown Tongue, and a thou­sand other devotions, which have no great appearance of wisdom in them: These are the products of their pretended Infallibility, and all this they are forced to defend now, because they would not lose the point of an implicit obedience.

[Page xviii] And now if I were speaking any thing here concerning the occasion of this dispute between the Bishop of Meaux, and me, or the Circumstances that went before, or followed after our Conference, the world will easily perceive I do it, because this Bishop hath already been at the trouble of giving the publick a sufficient account of them. One word only I must say, which respects one of our Auditors, Mr. Cotton, who no doubt would have received a better Character from M. de Meaux, had he been so hap­py, as to be known to him more particularly. Mr. Cotton is a Gentleman of great honour, and wants neither apprehension, nor judgment; he un­derstands his Religion; and though dispute be no part of his business, is well versed in the main Controversies between us. If his modesty, or some other considerations prevailed upon him to say something that lookt like declining to engage in dispute with M. de Meaux, I do not think he ought to have taken his words in their strict and literal sense.

As for the difference between our two Relations, I leave it as M. de Meaux hath done, to the Reader's judgment. He hath observed very wise­ly, that let him say what he would of me, it was in my power to say the same of him: That all our Auditors were interested on one side or other; and that the world hath nothing at all to do with our pro­ceedings. To all which let me add, that I will not give any occasion for any private quarrel with a person I honour to that degree, that I do M. de Meaux.

The only thing I need say more, is concerning the method I have observed in this Book. It is divided into Two Parts. The first con­tains an Answer to the Instruction given Mademoiselle de Duras, by this Bishop, the day before our Conference; together with an Examinati­on of his Reflexions upon that Answer, beginning at the ninth, and go­ing on to the thirteenth, inclusively. The second part contains a Relation of what past in our Conference, with an Examination of M. de Meaux's Reflexions thereupon, which are his eight first. This method in my opi­nion is very natural.

And now, as I have made it my business to be very exact, and past nothing in his whole Book over, without giving a direct Answer to it; so I hope that when he shall think fit to set Pen to Paper against me next, he will be as exact, and apply himself as close to the pinch of the Question; and not imagine, as men commonly do, that provided they can but pick up here and there some loose passa­ges, and from thence start a few difficulties and objections, there need no more be done, and this must go for a full Answer. I be­seech [Page xix] God to shed forth his Blessing upon an undertaking, wherein the only Ends I proposed to my self, were his Glory, and the Il­lustration of the Truth. Thus much I am encouraged to hope from his mercy; and that as he hath hitherto preserved his little Ship the Church, in the midst of the billows and storms of the world, he will still continue to preserve her, as he hath promised, even to the end of the world.


WHEN persons of M. de Meaux's, and Mr. Claude's Cha­racter engage, and in a Controversy so important too, as that between the Church of Rome, and those who have separated from her; Men must naturally be desirous to know the manage­ment and issue of such a debate. For, besides what expectations the reputation of their Learning and Judgment might raise, This is a Cause, that scarce any body in our part of the World can be supposed perfectly indifferent in. Every Rea­der must look on These, not only as Disputants, but Advocates; and even they, who design no more than the gratifying their curiosity by perusing such Conferences, do yet insensibly find themselves affected with some degree of Concern.

The particular Argument insisted upon here, is likewise of the highest consequence; for it cannot but be a mighty help and direction, to know exactly how far we are obliged to comply with the Churches Decisions in matters of Faith; In what Cases we may venture to depend upon our own Collections from Reason and Scripture; and in what we must renounce these in deference to a higher Authority; Whether Coun­cils and their pretended Infallibility ought to silence all, even the most just scruples, against whatever they shall please to determine; or whether Almighty God have not ordered the matter so, that without some recourse had to our private Judgments, [Page xxii] even These cannot be received as a Rule of Faith to us; but, all imaginable care, and an impartial examination of the thing always presupposed, the decisive voice does of necessity belong at last to a mans own self.

M. de Meaux, we see, took a great deal of pains by a previous discourse upon this Topick, to prepare his Proselyte for the ensuing Conference; and he was, no doubt, in the right, to pitch upon this as the main Argument for her Conversion: It being indeed the very foundation and support of all the points in dispute between us; the best and most cunningly contrived expedient, to make men first embrace, and then persevere in Error and Superstition. For Protestants are usually apt to be squeamish, and cannot digest Opinions contrary to Sense and Reason; they sometimes grow so bold too, as to question their Adversaries integrity: Now what can be more satisfactory in such Circumstances, than to be invited into the Communion of a Church, which you are told, in all, even her most absurd Decrees, is continually assisted with the unerring guidance of the Holy Ghost; and put under a happy im­possibility of deceiving her Members, tho illnatured people should imagine her so wicked to desire and endeavour it. This then being fixed as a first principle, the understanding is sufficiently subdued; for humane reasonings to interpose afterwards, would be impertinent and sawcy; and so the harshest and most unpalatable Doctrines go glibly down, by the help of this excellent Vehicle, the Churches Authority and Infallibility.

The same method is observable among the Missionaries here in England, who after having tried us first with general schemes of the disputable points, and then endeavoured to establish some of them particularly, to little or no purpose; do now at last take sanctuary in the Churches Despotick power, and begin to seem sensible, that either this or nothing must stand them in any stead. The debate upon this Head first began to grow warm upon occasion of the Royal Papers, which (because bad money is not priviledged to pass unquestioned, tho it have the King's stamp upon it) were considered with a Judgment and Modesty becoming both a sincere zeal for Truth, and a dutiful honour for the Person whose Royal Name they bore. The several Answers, Vindications, and Replies upon this Subject, have since been fol­lowed by M. de Condom's account of his Conference, as suiting very well the bu­siness then in hand: And when once the World had seen That, it was so reasona­ble Mr. Claude should be heard what he could say for himself, that I should not think this Translation needed any Apology, or Introduction, were it not for some Objections which I foresee it may be liable to. These therefore I am concerned to remove, that so the Book may be read without prejudice, and not expose men to mistaken notions of things, for want of a short, but necessary Advertisement.

In the first place I desire the Reader to take notice, that it is not to be expected Mr. Claude should in every circumstance express himself, as the Church of Eng­land would do at this day. The necessity of reforming from the Corruptions of Rome, was easily discerned in several Countries, and each National Church ha­ving [Page xxiii] sufficient power to reform it self, was just and wise in asserting that rightful Authority upon so emergent an occasion. But tho all did the thing, yet, all not con­ferring together, they did it not by the same methods, nor with like moderation and prudence. It was enough that they all agreed in the main points, and for the less material ones, that they maintained such a Charity, as not magisterially to censure or exclude one another for these little differences. This was the very way, where­by the Communion is still preserved inviolable among the Protestant Churches in all Nations, and is a mighty argument, that they retain the true spirit of Meekness and Christian Candor. Therefore in the writings of Forreigners, we must always make allowances for the Genius of that particular Church, whereof they are Mem­bers, and not be extremely nice and critical, except where we find a disagreement in some very substantial point. The Reformed Gallican Church and we are per­fectly of one Judgment in all the most considerable parts of this dispute, concern­ing the Authority of the Church. As, That she hath no right at all to require an absolute and implicit obedience to her determinations; That the Scriptures are the only aud perfect Rule of Faith; That every Man is concerned and obliged to examine by this Rule whatever is imposed upon him as an Article of Faith; and if he finds the Doctrine conformable thereto, readily and heartily to embrace, and adhere to it; but if evidently repugnant, by all means to reject it: That no Coun­cils, even the most General, are to be received any further than they proceed in cor­respondence with this Diving Word; That they may, and actually have erred in de­viating from it, and consequently their Decrees ought to undergo some Examination before a Man complies with them; But that, notwithstanding this possibility of failing, we ought to entertain very reverend and charitable presumptions in favour of such Assemblies; and, as not to cast them off without the clearest evidence of their having perverted the Truth; so, where no such evidence appears, to submit with the most respectful humility imaginable; looking upon them as excellent means for the preservation of the Christain Faith in its Ʋnity and genuine Pu­rity.

After so punctual an agreement in matters of the greatest consequence, what can it signify, if in some few others of less consideration, and more remote from the main business, there seem a small disparity? Mens Judgments must have some room left to exercise freely in, and diversity of Opinions in Circumstantials, like Divisions in Musick, may very well be admitted, without breaking the main Cords, or doing the harmony any prejudice at all. 'Tis confest, the Divines abroad have taken up some notions distinct from ours, and particularly concerning the Church, its Visibility, Ministry, Constitution and Discipline; and it might well seene strange, if Mr. Claude should so far forget his Education and Country, as not to scatter some of these in his Writings. But I hope Englishmen may enjoy the benefit of his Discourses, without being obliged to subscribe every sentence, or espouse every punctilio contained in them. Whether the Gentlemen of the Romish [Page xxiv] perswasion relying upon the Authority of M. de Meaux his name, called in so potent an Auxiliary from beyond the Seas, out of a just diffidence of their own strength here, They best can tell: This I am sure of, that it was but Justice to Mr. Claude, and the Cause he asserts, that he should be turned into the field too: And to let the World see, that after all M. de Meaux's vain-glorious boasts of a victory, and bold defiance of all the Doctors in Christendom, neither the Cham­pion, nor the Cause, however vilified by him, are yet so feeble, that they need fear to encounter this Goliah. As many as understand the difference between us and the Reformed Protestants in France, are sensible, that we stand upon the fairer ground by much for an engagement against the Church of Rome: But I was willing cur Country-men should have the satisfaction of seeing, that it is M. de Meaux's misfortune to be reduced to streights, not only by a Church of England Pen, but by a Minister of his own Nation, who lay under some disad­vantages which we do not; and that for all his Triumphant Preface before the Con­ference, That could no more escape a reply at home, than his Exposition has done abroad.

Another Objection against this Translation may be, That the Conference hath ap­peared in our Language already. I will not say it was in such a dress, as was by no means after the English Mode, and unworthy of so good an Original, for fear of provoking a severer censure upon the habit I have now clothed it in, to which I I have reason to fear it is but too obnoxious. But setting aside all Reflections upon the defects of those who have gone before me, this single consideration is enough to justifie and recommend the present attempt, that the Relation which was then Prin­ted alone, is a very small part of the work. And when M. de Meaux's Narra­tive had appeared in such pomp, introduced by a long discourse upon the Church, and backt with so many smart Reflexions, M. Claude's memory might have suf­fered extreamly, by concealing his abilities. And particularly, that notwithstan­ding the strain of confidence visible through all the Disputant's Writings of the Romish Communion, he could and did retort to as good purpose, and with as much advantage as Modesty and Reason usually have over Vanity. This may amuse un­thinking people, who are apt to measure the weight of an Argument by the bigness of the words, and assurance of the Arguer; but the other only can prevail upon the Judicious and unprejudiced, and will force a conquest by its own strength.

One thing I have augmented this Edition with, which neither the former, nor indeed Monsieur Claude's own Original have taken care of, but 'tis what I though highly necessary at this particular juncture. The unsincerity we have so of­ten discovered in the late Advocates for Popery, makes us wish to take as little up­on trust as may be. And therefore since our repeated complaints have been so inef­fectual, I resolved to try if example would perswade them to any thing like Fide­lity. For this reason all the Quotations from Authors have been carefully consulted, and at large transcribed by me in the Margent; where you will also find, if the [Page xxv] Press do me right, the Edition of each Book, and if two have been consulted, the difference of Chapters in each, as particularly in St. Cyprian; so that any man may now see at the expence of a very little trouble, whether he be imposed upon or no. The same exactness may be taken notice of in many of our late Learned Writers; but still there are a sort of men that will never suffer themselves to be run down for want of Recrimination, and therefore tax us with negligence in this particular also. Whether party better deserve this accusation, the Author of Pax Vobis, if they please, shall be the Test, who hath the impudence to repeat over and over so obvious a thing [...] anHe says Dialogue 2d, pag. 20. That the Church of England in the 6th Article of their 39. says, We have no other Rule of Faith but Scripture, as each person of sound Judgment in the Church understands it, and what is proved by it; This he repeats, Dialog. 3. Pag. 30. and several times afterwards: whereas the words of the Article are these;Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, * is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an Article of Faith; or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. Where you see the Star, there was in the Form in Edward the 6th's Reign this Clause inserted, although it be sometimes received of the Faithful, as godly and profitable for an Order and Comli­ness. But where are the expressions, or indeed the sense of his Citation in all this? And yet the force of all his Arguments turns so much upon this, that the very convincing him of unsin­cerity in this single allegation, is in effect an Answer to his whole Book. Article of our Church, and always by his own additi­onary Gloss, make it speak quite another sense, than ever was designed for it.

As for the stile of this Translation, my care hath been to make it natural and easie, rather than elaborate and fine. As I did not enslave my self to a render­ing every where Verbal, so I durst not take upon me to alter much, in order to be­ing elegant.See Answ. to M. Con [...] Exposit. Pag. xxi. &c. and Vindicat. Pag. 13. Having one of the Parties engaged in this Conference for an eminent instance, how shameful a disguise may be put upon things, and what material Changes may be made even in the main points, only for the greater neatness of the Discourse and Style.

I must own I have been a little bold in making this English Book to differ from Mr. Claude's French one in the method: For he, after his Introductory Discourse upon the Church, hath subjoyned an Answer to M. de Meaux's five last Reflecti­ons, so dispatching that Subject entirely, and at once: And likewise to the Rela­tion of the Conference, annexed a Reply to the other eight, which concern That: But I designing chiefly the benefit of those, who either did not understand, or could not procure the French, and intending it for a direct answer to M. de Meaux in English, did rather incline to follow the method of that Translation; consulting herein▪ the Readers ease, when he shall think fit to compare them both together. And because some time hath past since M. de Meaux appeared here, I chose rather to divide This, than suffer so long a delay as the finishing of the whole must needs [Page xxvi] have occasioned. But that men may not be impatient for the remaining Part, that also consisting of an Answer to M. de Meaux's Thirteen Reflections, will, I hope, be sent after this very speedily.

Lastly,Eng. Pre­face. Because M. de Meaux hath rightly observed, that the Authority of the Relations will in a great measure depend upon the Relator's Credit, I think my self obliged to give this intimation to as many as shall peruse them; That they would do well to remember how many, and what notorious falsifications M. de Meaux hath been charged with lately,Exposit. of Church of Engl. &c. Defence of Expos. and that charge made good a second time, by evident proofs of the thing, notwithstanding all the pains taken by his Vindica­tor to bring him off; whereas Mr. Claude, for any thing I ever heard objected to the contrary, is rectus in Curia, clear and unsuspected of any such sophistical indirect dealing. So that I mightily suspect M. de Meaux would not be able to do any great feats, if both sides were agreed to put the issue of the whole Con­troversy upon each Author's Integrity and Reputation.

An Answer to Monsieur de MEAUX's Book, &c.


I Have a long time desired a sight of what you have now sent me. It was told me on all hands, That there was a Writing of Mon­sieur de Condom's abroad, containing a relation of what past, in the Conference I had the honour to have with him at the Coun­tess of Roye's; and some persons did even assure me, they had heard it read: But still I could meet with no body, capable of giving me the satisfaction I lately received by your means. This lays upon me a double engagement, both to return you my thanks for it, and at the same time, to gratify the curiosity you have to see what I wrote upon the same subject, the next day after our Interview. M. de Condom having profest it was not his desire, that what past between him and me should be publickly talked of, I thought my self under an obligation to confine what I had written, to my own Study; And this hath been hi­therto very punctually observed by me. But now, since he hath thought fit to give out Copies of his, I have reason to believe, that in this re­spect he leaves me perfectly to my liberty, and is well satisfied I should do the same thing with mine. I have too great an opinion of M. de Con­dom's Wisdom, not to follow his Example in this particular, and I pro­mise my self from his Equity, that he will not find fault with me, for treading in his steps.

But because he hath been pleased to impart to us that Discourse also, which he had with Mademoiselle de Du [...]as in private, the day before our Conference, you will think it convenient, that before I transcribe my Relation, I should first make some reflections upon That. Were this a discourse of such a nature, as common occasions or accidents are used to produce, where a man speaks without preparation or design, and deli­vers himself with all the freedom imaginable, I confess it were unjust to examine it strictly, and by rule. But seeing this was composed by M. de Condom, with a prospect of obliging Mademoiselle de Duras to change her Religion, and which seems a studied piece; a Discourse, which he hath joyned to the account of our Conference, as a considerable part of what past in this matter: Lastly, a Discourse, committed to Writing, upon supposal that it may be useful to others, and, for that purpose made in some measure publick; I cannot forbear looking upon it as a work of [Page 2] premeditation, and returning some answer to it accordingly. Besides, that you and I are concerned, as to what Mademoiselle de Duras hath done, to desire to know whether she had sufficient reasons to forsake your Com­munion, and embrace the Romish; and the examination of this Discourse will be a very proper means of clearing that point to us.

Now it may be reduced to two principal Parts: In the first, M. de Condom makes it his business to shew, that the Catholick or Universal Church, which we profess to believe in the Creed, is a Church thus de­fined:Confer­ence with Mr. Claude, Page 2, 3. A Society making profession to believe the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, and govern it self by his word: Whence he infers, That it is a visible Society. He pretends also to make it appear, that to this Church, thus defin'd, belong all the promises found in Scripture. In the Second, He labours to answer an Objection, drawn from what happened to the Church of Israel heretofore, in which we often see the true Worship of God to have been changed and corrupted, and both the People and their Guides to have fallen into Idolatry.

These two Parts, Sir, we will prosecute in order, and by applying our selves to what is most material in them, will endeavour, by the assistance of God's Grace, to make the Truth so evident, as shall remove all diffi­culties.

The first Part of M. de Condom's discourse examin'd.

Instead of granting the Ministers (says M. de Condom) to believe all the Fundamentals of the Faith,Confer­ence, p. 2. we shew that there is one Article of the Creed they believe not, which is that of the Universal Church. 'Tis true, they say with the mouth, I believe the Catholick or Universal Church, as the Arrians, Macedonians, and Socinians say with the mouth, I believe, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; But as there is reason to accuse them of not believing these Articles, because they believe them not as they ought, nor according to their true sense; so if we shew the Pretended Reformed, that they believe not as they ought, the Article of the Catholick Church; we may truly say, that in effect they reject so important an Article of the Creed.

You must know then, what is meant by this expression, The Catho­lick or Universal Church; and upon this I lay for my ground, That in the Creed, which was only a bare declaration of Faith, this Term must be taken in its most proper and most natural signification, and such as is most used among Christians.Conf. p. 3. Now all Christians by the name of the Church, understand a Society, making profession to believe the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, and govern it self by his Word. If this So­ciety [Page 3] makes this Profession, 'tis consequently visible, That this is the proper and genuine signification of the word Church, such as is known by every one, and used in common discourse; I desire no other witnes­ses than the Pretended Reformed themselves.

The sequel will declare, whether the scandal of dealing with that Article of the Universal Church, as the Arrians, Macedonians, and Socinians do, would not better agree with the Character of such as follow M. de Condom's Opinion, than the Reformed Ministers. This we shall presently be able to judge of; and to that purpose four Questions must be examined.

The first is, Whether the sense of that Article in our Creed ought to be restrained (according to M. de Condom) to the Church here on Earth, or extended farther?

Secondly, Whether this be a good and sufficient definition of the Church upon Earth; A Society making profession to believe the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, and govern it self by his word.

Thirdly, Whether this Church upon Earth be visible, or invisible? or whether it be both, considered in a different sense, and different re­spects?

Fourthly, To what Church the Promises of Jesus Christ do belong; whether to that defined by M. de Condom, or to that which we are about to define? These four Questions will include, not only all the plausible things M. de Condom hath said in this first part of his Discourse; but like­wise all the other sophistical Objections that are usually put to us upon this subject.

Quest. 1. Whether the sense of that Article in our Creed ought to be restrained, (according to M. de Condom) to the Church here on Earth, or extended far­ther?

In order to resolving the first Question, you will please, Sir, to give me leave, to explain briefly that Article of our Creed, concerning the Catho­lick or Universal Church, and how we understand it, that so you may be able to judge, whether M. de Condom had reason to accuse us of not taking it in its true sense: And this I shall immediately enter upon.

We think then (this being such a profession of Faith, as ought to em­brace its object entire, and in the utmost extent, and not in any one part only) that by the Ʋniversal Church must be understood, not barely the vi­sible body, or company of the Faithful at present upon Earth, but that body or company of all the Faithful, which have been, are, or at any time shall be, from the beginning to the end of the World. Thus the Universal Church is, That which is already triumphant in Heaven, that which is now militant on Earth, and that which is not yet in the world, [Page 4] but shall be in succeeding Ages. All these three Churches do really make but one, because united together in the eternal purpose of God, appointed to know one and the same Word, to partake of one and the same Spirit, and to inherit one and the same Glory. They are but one Family, for they have the same Father, the same Rights and Priviledges, the same Hopes, and are called to the same Duties. They are but one body, under the prote­ction and Guidance of Jesus Christ, their only Head, who is, as the Scri­pture says,Heb. 13. 8. The same yesterday, to day, and for ever. And this is our sense of the Church, called in the Creed, Catholick, or Universal.

The Latitude we here take the Church in, hath displeased M. de Con­dom; he says we put a wrong sense upon the Article; and to understand it thus, is in effect to reject it. He is of opinion it should be confined to this part upon Earth, which he defines, A Society making profession to believe, &c.

But in the first place M. de Condom must allow us to tell him, that Saint Augustine however hath taught us to explain the Church in our Creed after this manner. That Father indeed went farther than we do, for he hath not scrupled to include in this notion, the Angels confirmed in Grace. HereEcclesia tota hic accipien­da est, non solum ex parte, quae peregri­natur in terris, à solis ortu ad occa­sum us (que) laudans nomen Domini, & post vetu­statem captivita­tis cantans canticum novum; verum etiam ex illa quae in coelos semper ex quo condita est ad­haesit Deo. Aug. Enchir. ad Laurent. Cap. 46. (says he, and 'tis in his very Exposition of the Creed, that he says it) we must take the Church whole and entire, not only for that part of it upon earth, which praises the name of God from the rising of the Sun, unto the going down thereof, singing to God a new Song, since their deliverance from their former Cap­tivity; but also for that other part which is in Heaven, and never was separated from the Divine presence, the Blessed and Holy Angels.* The Body of Christ (says he in another place) is the Church, not this, or that Church, but which is diffu­sed over the whole world; not that which is made up of men now alive, but consist­ing of those which have been before us, and those which shall come after us even to the end of the world. For the whole Church being composed of all the Faithful, in as much as all the Faithful are the Members of Jesus Christ [...] Jesus Christ for its Head, and this Head though exalted high in the Heavens, does notwithstanding still continue to govern his body.

M. de Condom must likewise allow us to tell him, that the Catechism of the Council of Trent hath given this sense of the Church in our Creed. [Page 5] Catech. Conc. Trid. ad Paroch. Par. 1. Art. 9. Numb. 7, 8, 9. Ec­ciesiae au­tem duae potissi­mum sunt partes, quarum altera Tri­umphans, altera Mi­litans vo­catur. Triumphans est, coetus ille clarissimus, & faelicissimus beatorum spirituum, & corum, qui de mundo, de carne, de iniquissimo daemone triumphârunt, & ab hujus vitae molestiis liberi, ac tuti, aeterna beatitudine fruuntur. Militans vero Ecclesia est, coetus omnium fidel [...]um, qui adhuc in terris vivunt: quae ideo Militans vocatur, quod illi cum immanissimis hostibus, mundo, carne, Sathana perpetuum sit bellum. Neque idcirco tamen duas esse Ecclesias censentium est, sed ejusdem Ecclesiae, ut antea diximus, partes duae sunt, quarum una antecessit, & coelesti patria jam potitur altera indies sequitur, donec aliquando cum Salvatore nostro conjuncta in sempi­ternâ felicitate conquiescat.The Church (it says, and 'tis in the very Explication of this Article) hath two parts, one of which is called Triumphant, the other Militant. The Triumphant is that illustrious assembly of the Blessed, and all those who have vanquished and triumph'd over the World, the Flesh and the Devil, and who being now delivered from the miseries of this life, enjoy everlasting rest and felicity. The Church Militant is the company of all the Faithful yet alive upon earth, which is therefore called Mi­litant, because they are engaged in a perpetual war with these most deadly enemies, Satan, the World, and the Flesh. Yet must we not from hence imagine that they are two distinct Churches, but as was said, two parts of one and the same Church, one of which is gone before, and already possest of its Heavenly Country. The other daily following after, till at length, being united with our Saviour, it shall rest above in Eternal happiness.

Again, We must desire M. de Condom's leave to say, that the very Title of Catholick or Ʋniversal used in the Creed, does lead us to this extended no­tion of the Church. This to me seems evident for two reasons. First, that this Title is given the Church to distinguish it from all false Churches, which do neither exist always, nor every where, but spring up and die away in some particular places, and at some certain times, as having no sound nor lasting principle. Secondly, that this Title was to distinguish it from particular Churches, which are but members of this great Body collected by Christ, and separated from the world, that he might sanctifie it to himself. Whence it follows, that when we say the Ʋniversal or Catho­lick Church, by this is plainly meant the Church intire, and at large, with­out exception, or limitation, either as to time or place.

Lastly, M. de Condom must allow us to tell him, that we are brought to this notion by what follows in the Creed, The Communion of Saints, which terms explain this of the Catholick Church. For the Saints are not only per­sons now living upon Earth; but those also that reign in Heaven, and those which shall be to the worlds end; and 'tis with all these that we are in Com­munion. If the Communion of Saints were to be understood of such only, as make profession to believe in Jesus Christ, and govern themselves by his word; This could be no other than an external Communion by living under the same [Page 6] Ministry, and partaking of the same Sacraments, which good and bad men enjoy equally. And certainly this would fall far short of so great, so Ma­jestick an expression, and consequently could not deserve a room in our Creed.

But (says M. de Condom) in the Creed, Confer­ence, Pag. 2. which was only a bare declaration of faith, this term must be taken in its most proper and most natural signification, and such as is most used among Christians. I own it must be taken in its most proper and most natural sense, but even this supplies us with a fresh argument against him; it being certain, that the most proper and most natu­ral sense is to take the Ʋniversal Church for the company of all those that are truly the faithful, separated from the world by the Word and Holy Spi­rit of God, according to the purpose of his Election from the beginning to the end of all things. I acknowledg the word Church when used in a Civil sense, as for instance when spoken of the people of Israel, does most properly signifie an external and visible company, and so far I am of M. de Condom's mind, both as to what he urges out of the Acts, and from the Septuagint Translation. But still I assert, that this word when applied to a Christian Society, does not properly denote a visible Congregation, or an outward profession of the Faith, and no more; but chiefly an inward calling, a spiritual communion, and such as that outward is only a conse­quence of, and does depend upon. A man must be utterly ignorant of Christianity to deny this truth. The Church then is a name for something within, and not barely to signifie what passes without; so that implying an inward communion, when the Title of Ʋniversal is put to it, it must needs mean the whole body of true and faithful Christians. By the same reason I affirm this to be its most natural signification. When we say in plain terms the Ʋniversal Church, nothing can be more natural than to under­stand the whole company of Gods children, as opposed to the men of the world, and children of this generation. Nothing more natural to Faith, and especially a Confession of Faith, than to interpret a term expressing the object of Faith, not in a restrained sense, which gives only a partial Idea of the thing; nor in an ambiguous sense, which gives a confused and doubtful one; but in a sense that shall be perspicuous and full.

As to the common use of the word, M. de Condom must pardon me, if I say there is a fallacy in his argument. For supposing it true (which really it is not) that all Christians of this and some ages last past had confined the term Ʋniversal Church, to the Church at present upon Earth; suppose the pretended Reformed (to use M. de Condom's own expression) did commonly understand this term so, yet still 'tis a trick to attempt to adjust the sense of the Creed, by that which some latter ages have fixt upon it. 'Tis just as if I should go about to explain the terms of our language by what will [Page 7] be in vogue two or three hundred years hence. For who does not see that the acceptation alters, and words are mightily removed from their first and genuine signification?

What I have alledged from St. Austin, and the Trent-Catechism, plainly convict M. de Condom of a mistake either in matter of fact, or point of right. If the matter of fact deposited before be true, That all Christians un­derstand by the Church, a Society making profession, &c. He is out in point of right, for St. Austin and the Trent-Catechism shew, that the Church in our Creed is to be otherwise understood. But if this Rule hold, that the word in the Creed must be taken in such a sence, as is most in use among Christi­ans, he errs in matter of fact, for St. Austin and the Catechism, taking it as we see, 'tis manifest the Christians of their times did not understand it as M. de Condom does, of a Society making profession to believe, &c.

It is questionless more reasonable to say, that the term Ʋniversal Church in our Creed, should be interpreted in a way most agreeable to Scripture stile, but this very thing quite overthrows M. de Condom's pretensions. For the Scripture when speaking of the Church, as the Creed does, with re­gard to its Universality, does always mean the whole body of the Faith­ful, and not one part only. Thus St. Paul hath taken it in that excellent passage,Ephes. 22. 23. God hath given Jesus Christ to be the Head of the Church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. In the fifth Chapter of that Epi­stle,Chap. 5. he repeats it no less than six times in the same sense:Ver. 23. The husband is the head of the wife, Ver. 24. even as Christ is the head of the Church: The Church is sub­ject to Christ as the wife is to her husband. Ver. 25. Christ loved the Church, and gave him­self for it, Ver. 27. that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle. Ver. 29. Christ nourisheth and cherisheth the Church. This is a great mystery con­cerning Christ and the Church. Ver. 32. Thus again Col. 1. Christ is the head of the body the Church, Ver. 18. who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead. So lastly Heb. 12. Ye are come to Mount Sion, Ver. 22. the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of Angels, Ver. 23. to the general assembly and Church of the first-born, which are written in Heaven. For the Apostle does not mean the Church Triumphant only, as M. de Condom would perswade us, but the whole body of those whom God hath enrolled in the Book of his Predestination, whe­ther already taken up to Glory, or such as are already justify'd and sancti­fied upon Earth, but not yet glorify'd, or those whom he will call effe­ctually hereafter, and justifie, in order to their Glorification.

I conclude this Question with one observation, which ought not to give M. de Condom any offence, because the greatest demonstration of respect to an adversary, is the removing every little objection made by him. I observe then that his Argument (which contains all this part of his Discourse, nei­ther does, nor according to the rules of reasoning, can conclude any [Page 8] thing at all. He would know the meaning of Ʋniversal Church in our Creed, We must take this term (says he) in the most proper signification, and such as is most in use among Christians. I grant it. Now all Christians (as he goes on) by the name of Church understand a society, &c. and for this I desire no other witnesses, than the Pretended Reform'd themselves. Who does not per­ceive that this concludes nothing? He should have said, All Christians under­stand by the Church Ʋniversal, a society, &c. and of this I desire no other wit­nesses, &c. Thus he should have delivered himself, if he would argue regularly. All this while M. de Condom's proof all through the sequel of his discourse runs not upon the term in his Proposition, The Ʋniversal Church; but on that single term the Church, between which there is a wide difference; for the Church may well be taken in a sense, that the Ʋniversal Church can by no means admit of. Indeed had M. de Condom said, All Christians by the Church Ʋniversal, understand a Society making profession, &c. and of this I desire no other witnesses than the Pretended Reformed themselves, we should have answered him, That the Pretended Reform'd never under­stood by the Ʋniversal Church, a Society making profession to believe, &c. be­cause according to their Tenets, the Church Universal rose a great way further than this Society making profession, &c. So that we should immediately have put a stop to his Argument, and he could never have effected what he hoped for from it.

Quest. 2. Whether M. de Condom's be a good and sufficient definition of the Church upon Earth, A Society making profession to believe the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, and govern it self by his Word.

By this decision of our first question, I think, Sir, it appears that M. de Condom had no ground for accusing us of taking that Article of our Creed concerning the Ʋniversal Church, in a wrong sense. Let us now proceed to the second Enquiry, whether M. de Condom have given a good and suffi­cient definition of the Church upon Earth, in calling it, A Society making profession to believe the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, and govern it self by his Word.

Now this Question being of such mighty importance, that upon the determination o [...] it, the whole Controversie betwixt us and the Roma­ [...] touching the Church does entirely depend, I was amazed to see, [...] he did not think fit to clear it, either to Mademoiselle de Duras, or [...] other Proselytes for whom the perusal of this Discourse was [...] Methinks, when men go about to make Converts, they ought [...] pretence of saving them a little trouble, to decline any instructi­ [...] [...] may be necessary for their satisfaction; and being perswaded, [...] Church of Rome's pretensions are just, should not fear to have the [Page 9] Grounds of them examined, but suppose they will be found strong and impregnable. How comes it to pass then that M. de Condom was pleased to pass by so fundamental a Question? And how could be satisfy himself with barely propounding his definition, and saying only, that This was what all Christians understand by the name of a Church.

However I shall be bold to say, that this is neither all, nor indeed the main part of what Christians do, or ought to understand by it; and that his definition is defective by at least one half; to which therefore I shall oppose another, which I assert to be what all Christians ought to under­stand by the name of Church, viz. A Society of such persons, as making pro­fession to believe the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, do truly and effectually believe it; and making profession to govern themselves by his word, do really and effectually govern themselves by it. Our business now is to know which of these two is a good and lawful definition; whether that given us by M. de Condom in agreement with the Doctors of his Communion, or this of mine, in agreement with all Protestants? That is to say, we are concerned to know, whether the nature and essence of the Church consist barely in ex­ternals and appearances; or whether something of reality be not required? whether Hypocrisy, and superficial Cheats can make men true members of the Church? or whether something of truth be not necessary also, to know whether wicked men, worldlings, and reprobates, provided they make an outward profession, and can but dissemble handsomely, are real members of Christ's mystical body, or whether this priviledge do not be­long to those that are truly the Faithful? Here lies the pinch of the Que­stion, which in my opinion would have resolved it self, had but M. de Condom propounded it fairly: For methinks 'tis very hard to acquiesce so far in his definition. But not to insist on this first prejudice, let us exa­mine the matter throughly.

I. The Scripture represents the Church to us, as the product and ex­ecution of God's eternal decree of Predestination, or Election; and be­sides it teaches us, that God in electing and predestinating men, does it not to a mere outward profession of Faith and Holiness, but to an ef­fectual Faith, and true Holiness: And consequently, effectual Faith and Holiness are of the nature and essence of the Church, and not an out­ward profession only. The consequence is manifest; For the best way to discover the nature and essence of any thing, is to take it according to its own Author's first Idea and design; supposing that he does not (as we are all agreed God does not) swerve at all from his design in the execu­tion of it. The Church then being God's own work, the surest means to discern what that is, will be to inform our selves of God's design, if [Page 10] we can but find out that.Ephes. 1. 3, 4. Now this we find in the Election, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (says St. Paul in the name of the whole Church) who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places in Christ; According as he hath chosen us in Him, before the foundation of the world. Vers. 10, 11. And a little after, He gathers together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth, even in him; In whom we have obtain'd an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him, &c. To this relates that saying of Christ,Joh. 17. 9. I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine. Where by opposing the world, for which he does not pray, to those whom his father had given him, 'tis plain he understands the Church; and his meaning is, that the Father hath given them to Jesus Christ, because it was his by his purpose of Election. This appears further,Ver. 10. from the words that immediately follow, And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; for this mutual reciprocation of Good between his Father and Him (if I may so term it) is capable of no other sense but this, in the sequel of his discourse. My Church are thine Elect, and thy Elect are my Church; they who are mine, as my people, are thine, as thy Elect; my Communion, and thy Election, have the same mea­sures, the same extent, and do both comprehend the same persons: So that the Election is nothing else but God's design and project of the Church; and the constituting of a Church, is the putting that design of Election in Execution.Psal. 65. 3. Blessed (says David) is the man whom thou chusest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts. These Courts are the Church of God, and men enter into them only by vertue of God's Election.2 Tim. 1. 9. God hath saved us (says the Apostle) and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began. We must therefore come to the knowledg of the Church by his Eternal purpose, and to know that,Ephes. 1. 4, 5, 6. we must consult his Holy Word. He hath chosen us (says St. Paul) that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself; and, that we should be to the praise of the glory of his grace. He does not say a bare profession of Holiness, but a real Holiness; he does not say an appearance of adoption, but a true adoption; he does not say an external conversion, but an internal; That is, such as may illustrate the glory of God. God hath predestinated us to a true Faith, and not an appear­ance of Faith; to a sincere and substantial Regeneration, not to a shadow or colour of it. 'Tis past a doubt then, that a mere outward profession cannot give us a full definition of the Church; but true Faith and Regeneration are necessary parts of the Idea we have of it.

[Page 11] II. The Scripture, when speaking of the Church with reference to God, gives it such appellations as can by no means be restrain'd to a more profession, or allow us to think it can be composed of wicked per­sons. It calls the Church,Gal. 4. 26. Jerusalem which is above, Heb. 12. 22. the Hea­venly Jerusalem, the City of the living God, Ps. 2. 6. the Holy Hill of Sion, Gal. 6. 16. the Israel of God, 1 Pet. 2. 9. A Holy Nation, a peculiar people; Psal. 28. 9. the inheritance of God, Ephes. 2. 22. the habitation of God through the spirit, 1 Tim. 3. 15. the house of God, 1 Cor. 3. 17. the temple of God, 1 Pet. 2. 5. His holy Priesthood, His spiritual house, Ibid v. 9. His royal Priesthood, Eph. 1. 14. His purchased possession, 1 Pet. 2. 10. the people of God. Tell me now, I pray, if the energy of these expressions is not ad­mirably answered, by being reduced to a bare external profession? Would God have sent us a new Jerusalem, a new Sion, a new City from above, and make this up of Righteous and Wicked, Hypocrites and true Believers indifferently? Does not the Apostle understand it so, when he says, thatGal. 4. 26, 31. 30. 25. Jerusalem is free, that her children are not in bondage; i. e. those who are the Children by promise, that they shall not be cast out like Chil­dren of the bondwoman, but shall be Heirs; and that there is the same differ­ence between this and the other Jerusalem, that was between the two Wives of Abraham, Sarah and Agar? Would God make him a new Ta­bernacle, a new House, a new Temple, and build it of holy and pro­fane materials indifferently? St. Peter 1 Pet. 2. 5. did not intend it so, You (says he) as lively stones are built up a spiritual house. Would God separate to himself a new people, a new Israel, a new Nation, from all other Nations, and require from it no more than an outward profession, which alone works no regeneration at all? To shew that God himself never intended this, observe how himself speaks,Jer. 31. 32. This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, After those days (saith the Lord) I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. We must take notice, that all these names above men­tioned, are derived from the old figures of the Mosaical dispensation; this the very reading of them plainly testifies. Now this very thing makes directly against M. de Condom's definition: For as it is essential to a figure, to consist of something External and Corporeal, so is it equally essential to the thing figured, to consist of something Internal and Spiritual. The Church therefore is no longer a Jerusalem, an Israel, a people linked toge­ther by outward bands only; this would correspond well enough with the figures of the old Law; but it is a people, an Israel, a Jerusalem, united and compacted by the inward hands of the same Faith, and the same Sanctification. This very term [the Church] is of it self sufficient to confirm this truth; M. de Condom acknowledges the Christians had it from the Jews, Conf. p. 5. which is true. He says the Jews made use of it to signify the [Page 12] visible Society of God's people, the Assembly which makes profession to serve him. I agree with him in that too. He adds, That the Christians have kept it in the same sense. I am not of that opinion. This word, when applied to the figure, can signify no more than a visible outward Assembly; but when to the thing figured, it must of necessity imply something more, it must denote an inward community, a company, not of Bodies only, but Souls too;Rom. 10. 10. for it is not enough that a confession be made with the mouth, men must also believe with the heart unto Righteousness.

III. This will be yet more evident, if you reflect on some other apple­lations given to the Church, with relation to Jesus Christ. For it is called, His flock, his sheep, his spouse, his sister, his dove, his well-beloved, his body, a Body whereof He is the head, a Body that is his flesh and his bones, a house built upon him, as upon a Corner-stone, the sanctified in Jesus Christ, the Children which God hath given him, and other expressions like these. Now who can ever imagine these glorious Titles should import no more than an outward profession? or that profane persons and reprobates can have any share in them? Luke 12. 32. It is his flock, but what flock? Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. They are his sheep,Joh. 10. 27, 28. but how, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. It is his Spouse, and his Sister, but in what respect? Cant. 4. 9. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse, thou hast ravished my heart.Cant. 6. 9. It is his Dove, but why his Dove? My dove, my undefiled is but one, the daughters, saw her, and blessed her. She is his well-beloved, but Wherefore his Well-beloved? Cant. 2. 2. As the lilly among therns, so is my beloved among the daughters.Ephes. 4. 12, 13. It is his Body, but how his body? The edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.Ibid. v. 16. He is its Head, but what sort of Head? From him the whole body fitly joyned together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, maketh increase of the body, to the edifying of it self in love. It is his flesh and his bones, but how these? Eph. 5. 29. No man ever hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth, and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church. It is a structure built upon him, but how? In him all the building fitly framed together,Eph. 2. 21. groweth into an holy temple in the Lord. They are the sanctified in Jesus Christ, but how sanctsied? They are such as in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.1 Cor. 1. 2.They are the Epistle of Jesus Christ,2 Cor. 3. 3. but in what regard the Epistle? Written not with Ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. It is his People, but what kind of people? Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,Ps. 110. 3. in the beauties of holiness. They are the Chil­dren [Page 13] which God hath given him; But wherefore were they given him? To exhibit them one day, Heb. 2. 13. saying, Behold I, and the children which thou hast given me.Joh. 17. 2. Thou hast given me power over all flesh, that I should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given me. Can any man after all this grant, that the Church should be defined, A Society making profession to believe, &c. or ima­gine that Hypocrites belong to this mystical Divine Body?

IV. If we search the Scripture yet further, we shall find other Argu­ments in confirmation of this Truth. Among these I reckon the predicti­ons concerning the Church of Christ, to be met with in the Prophets. Thus it is described by Moses; Deut. 30. 6. The Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,Isa. 34. 8, 9. that thou mayest live. There shall be (saith Isaiah) a high-way, and a way, it shall be called the way of holiness, the unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those; the wayfaring men, tho fools, shall not err therein: No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there,Isa. 54. 13, 14. but the redeemed shall walk there. And in another place. All thy chil­dren shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children, In righteousness shalt thou be established. In the same sense Jeremiah speaks of it, They shall teach no more every man his neighbour,Jer. 31. 33. and every man his brother, say­ing, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, for I will forgive their inquity, and I will remember their sin no more.Ezek. 36. 25, 26, 27. Ezekiel says as much; I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes,Joel 3. 17. and ye shall keep my judgements. In like manner Joel, Then (says he) shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through it any more. Likewise Zechariah,Zech. 14. 21. In that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts. What can all these great and wonderful promises mean? This Circumcision of Heart? This way of Holiness where the un­clean shall not pass over? This keeping out of Lions and ravenous beasts? This being taught of God? This universal knowledg, joyned with a par­don of sins? This pouring out of the spirit, which shall take away the hearts of stone, and change them for hearts of flesh? This Holiness of Jeru­salem, so as to suffer no stranger, nor Canaanite in the midst of her? I say, What signifies all this, if the form and essence of a Church consist in a bare profession; and if this Communion can be composed of unjust, as well as just, of Bad as well as Good men?

[Page 14] V. St. Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, endeavours to make us apprehend the Church aright,1 Cor. 12. 12, 13: by resembling it to a man's body. As the body (says he) is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many are one body, so also is Christ. For by one spirit are we all haptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have all been made to drink into one spirit. I need not here observe, that by Christ he means the Mystical body of Christ, That is, his Church; this is manifest of it self,Verse 27. and he explains himself so afterwards: You (says he) are the body of Christ, and members in particular. All we have to do, is to enquire, what he makes to be the principle and [...]and of this unity here attributed to the Church, and with respect to which he likens it to the body of a Man. And this is easily understood; for in his opinion it is the spirit, and consequently not a bare profession. But still it may be doubtful what Spirit this is: Is it a spirit of direction only, that attends upon the Clergy, and prevents their giving erroneous determinations, and publickly professing any such, how wicked sover the persons exercising this Authority be? By no means. It is the spirit which the faithful re­ceive, and whereof Baptism is a sign: For (says the Apostle) we are all haptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have all been made to drink into one spirit. Thus you see the band and principle of the Churches Unity. The evident consequence whereof is, that inward regeneration is essential to it, and that as many as have not been washed by, nor made to drink into this heavenly spirit, cannot be parts of this body.

VI. But the Apostle carries on his Argument yet further; for he takes notice, that although God had put a difference between the members, as there is likewise in those of the Church; yet he had so qualified this dif­ference, That there should be (says he) no schism, 1 Cor. 12. 25, 26. or division in the body, but that the members should have the same care one of another; so that whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoyce with it. From hence it is plain, that according to St. Paul, there is as real an agreement between the members of the body of the Church, as there is between those of a humane body, without any contrariety or discord, and that this good correspondence is founded on that Unity which makes each part to have one and the same common inter­est. Now what true agreement, or common concern can there ever be, between the members of Christ, and members of the Devil? Or in St. Paul's own phrase, What fellowship between light and darkness? What conti­nual enmity on the contrary must there needs lurk under the Covert of such an untoward seeming Peace, as a bare outward profession may make? [Page 15] Every one aims at advancing his own Master's honour, so that the senti­ments, designs, and methods of the Servants must of necessity carry as great opposition as there is between the Masters they serve.

VII. In his Epistle to the Galatians he gives us another description of the Church very like this:Gal. 3. 27, 28, As many (says he) as have been baptizeed into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Thus far re­spects Communion with the same Christ, which is the very thing that con­stitutes the Unity of the Church, and is the essential form of it; so that persons out of this Communion are not of the Church, because they have no part in the Churches Unity. If you would now Know what kind of Communion this is,V. 29. attend to what follows. If ye be Christ's, Ye are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise. So that St. Paul does not treat of a Com­munnion consisting in a bare outward profession, but such a one as makes men Mystical Children of Abraham, and heirs of God.

VIII. In his Epistle to the Romans, Rom. 8. 1. he thought it not enough to say, They that are in Christ Jesus, walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit, which yet is intimation sufficient,V. 9. what nature that Communion is of, that makes this Mystical Body of Christ the Church; but he goes further, and is ex­press afterwards, If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Words of such strength as will not allow us to acknowledg wicked men belong to the Church unless we should make a Church that is not Christ's. If the Church formally, and as such, be Christ's, this must be true of all that are of the Church, and participate of that which constitutes it such. Now ac­cording to M. de Condom's definition, wicked men and reprobates may be of the Church; therefore in his opinion they may be Christ's. Notwith­standing St. Paul avers, that they that are Christ's, live not according to the flesh; and that as many as have not Christ's spirit, are none of his; so that he is of a judgement different from M. de Condom's. If an outward profession alone be the common band, and that which constitutes the Church, we are driven to maintain one of these three things: Either that such a profession does confer the spirit of Christ; Or, without Christ's spirit one may still be his; Or, that the things which make it to be a Church, do not yet make it to be Christ's. The first of these would be absurd. For what more so, than to as­sert,' That a bare profession of Christianity confers the Spirit of Christ? At this rate every Hypocrite is a partaker of that Holy Spirit. The second, That one without Christ's Spirit may still be his, directly contradicts Saint Paul's assertion, which positively declares, That he who hath not Christ's Spirit, is not his. And for the third, That the things which make it to be [Page 16] a Church, do not yet make it to be Christ's; it may be M. de Condom may not like this himself. I for my part look upon it as a very strange position. For can one say, that what precisely constitutes the Church, does not make it Christ's? This is as much as to say, that the Church is not his Body, nor his Spouse, nor his well-beloved, nor any of all those things the Scripture calls it. In a word, 'tis to say, that it is not considered in this quality any part of his concern. If M. de Condom frame to himself such a Church as this, let him at least give us leave to enquire why he does afterwards appropri­ate the promises to it. For what right can the Church have to these, if, as such, it be not Christ's, nor hath Communion with him? These two Propo­sitions are evidently destructive of one another. If the Church as such be not Christ's, it has no share in his promises; if it hath, then it is his, as a Church. Let him chuse which he please; if the first, our Controversie is at an end, for to what purpose should we disspute of a Church, which he says, is Jesus Christ's; and yet is not his, nor hath any title to the pro­mises? If the second, let him not talk any more of a Church considered as such, being constituted by a bare outward profession: For this not con­ferring Christ's Spirit, cannot make the Church his; or if it can, St. Paul does not say true, when he tells us expresly, That if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

IX. The sundry passages of Scripture concerning Hypocrites, who cloak themselves with such an outward profession, abundantly prove them not to be of Christ's Church.1 Joh. 2. 9. He that saith, he is in the light, and hateth his bro­ther, is in darkness. 1 Joh. 3. 10. And a little after, In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil, whosover doth not righteousness is not God, nei­ther he that loveth not his brother. 1 Joh. 4. 8. Again afterwards, He that loveth not, know­eth not God, Jud. v. 12. for God is love. St. Jude speaking of these Hypocrites, calls them, Spots in our feasts of charity, clouds without water, trees without fruit, twice dead, Mat. 7. 23. plucked up by the Roots. Jesus Christ himself says, In the last day he will profess unto them, he never knew them. What colour then have we for making such members of the Church, which is Christ's Body? But that place of St. John removes all the difficulty,1 Joh. 2. 19. They went out from us, but they were of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us, but that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us. What a plain difference is here made between being among us, and being of us; be­ing among us, is proper for Hypocrites, that are mixed with the Faithful, and joyn in the same profession: Being with us, is sincerely and truly to be of the Church; for which something more than an outward profession is requisite.

[Page 17] X. We read in Scripture of a twofold Call, one by the meer Preach­ing of the Word, commonly termed an outward Call; the other by the Preaching of the Word, and the Holy Spirit both, stiled an inward Call. Of the first our Saviour speaks,Mat. 22. 14. when he says, Many are called, but few cho­sen. Of the second St. Paul, Whom he did predestinate, them he also cased, and whom he called, Rom. 8. 30. [...] them he also justified. Now the Church, whose very name im­plies a Call, must needs have been the effect of one of these two just men­tioned. But if defined by a bare profession, it cannot refer to one or other of these, nor can it answer the design of either. It does not fulfil the end of the first, for the Preaching of the Gospel does not call men to a meer Pro­fession of believing Jesus Christ's Doctrine. A Hypocrite is so far from com­plying with this Call, that he rejects and mocks at it. It does not refer to the second Call, because the Spirit which calls with the Word, is a Spirit of Regeneration, and not bare profession. What Call shall we refer it to then? I know not any third, the Scripture mentions not any, and the na­ture of the thing will not admit of any. We can consider God in such a case but according to two different capacities, either as a Law-giver, com­manding, exhorting, promising and threating, or as an absolute disposer of Events, and so bringing to pass in us the thing he commands us.

But whether commanding us, or whether working in to, he never stops at a bare profession; he goes on to the truth of Holiness and Faith, his Word enjoyns it, his Spirit produces it. So that whether soever of these two Calls you suppose the Church to obey, it must either proceed to a true Conversion, or be no Church, for the proper and natural signification of the word is a Called Society, but no one ever called it to an outward pro­fession, and no more.

XI. I suppose it is a maxim among all Christians, That Jesus Christ hath no more Churches than one, and that this on Earth, together with that in Heaven, make but that one; thus much we learn from the Trent-Catcchisin it self. A sure method then of discovering the true nature and essence of the Church upon Earth, would be to search into that in Heaven; for it is plain, were these of different natures, they would be no longer one, but two Churches of a several species. Thus much, I think, must be granted, and so likewise must the Conclusion I deduce from it, viz. That either the nature of the Church Triumphant, must exist in a bare profession, or that of the Church Militant cannot. If the Churches Unity here below, be a Unity of Profession, an external Unity only, and the internal one be but accidental, then the Unity of the Church above must be External too, and no more, and that Internal one resulting from the agreement of hearts and wills, no more essential to it, than to this below. Otherwise (as was said [Page 18] before) they must be two different Churches. Let them be so kind then to clear this Point, Whether we must believe that a true Piety, true Regenera­tion, and true Holiness, are not really esseential parts of the Church in Hea­ven, for to this hour I never heard any such thing maintained.

XII. Those who desire to be informed what the Church, and its Uni­ty is,Joh. 17. 20, 21, 22. need only consider what Jesus Christ says in that admirable Prayer related by St. John, Neither pray I for these alone (his Apostles) but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. That they may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. The Glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one. The Churches Unity is formed after the pattern of that between the Father and the Son. This is a kind of resemblance, a draught of that which hath some of the strokes, though not all the liveliness and perfection. It is there­fore a Real Internal Unity, a Unity not of outward Profession only, but in some sort of nature and essence, a Unity of Regeneration, a Unity of the same Faith, and the same Righte­ousness; and to restrain this to a meer External Union, such as is common to both good and bad men, would not only weaken, but utterly eva­cuate the force of Jesus Christ's expression.

XIII. To all that hath been now alledged, might be added almost innumerable passages of the Primitive Fathers, who whenever they spoke of the Church in its true and genuine sense, Joh. 6. 68, 69. did always deliver themselves as we do. I will here instance in some of them: S. Cypr. in his 55 Ep. hath this passage, Petrus ait, Domi­ne ad quem ibi­mus? ver­ba vitae aeternae habes, & nos credi­mus cognovi­mus, quo­niam tues filius Dei­vivi: Significans scilicer & ostendens, eos qui à Christo recesserint culpâ suâ perire. Ecclesiam tamen, quae in Christum credat, & quae semel id quod cognoverit teneat, nunquam ab eo omnnino dis­cedere, & eos esse Ecclesiam, qui in domo Dei permanent. Plantationem vero plantatam à Deo patre non esse, quos vidimus non frumenti stabilitate solidari, sed ta [...]quam paleas dissipantis ini­mici Spiritu ventilari: De quibus & Joannes in Epistolâ suâ dicir, ex nobis exierunt, sed non fue­runt ex nobis, si enim fuissent ex nobis, mansissent utique nobiscum, Cyprian. Edit. Oxon. 1682. Where this is the 59th Epistle.Lord, says St. Peter, to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ the Son of the living God. Shewing hereby that such as depart from Christ, perish through their own default; but the Church which believes in him, and constantly perseveres in the Truths she hath re­ceived, does never depart from him; and such as continue in the House of God are his Church. Such as want the substance and solidity of good corn, and are scattered abroad with the breath of the Enemy, like chaff with the wind, are not of Gods planting. With relation to whom it is, that St. John in his Epistle says, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us. In another place, having said before, that the water mixt with their winc in the Eucharist represented the people, as [Page 19] the wine did the Blood of Christ, he adds, Quando autem in calice vi­no aqua miscetur, Christo populus aduna­tur, & credenti­um plebs ei in quem credidit copulatur & conjungitur. Quae copulatio & conjunctio aquae & vini sic miscetur in calice Domini, ut commixtio illa non possit ab invicem separaj. Unde Ecclesiam, id est, plebem in Ecclesiâ constitutam sideliter & firmiter in eo quod credidit perseverantem nulld res separare poterit à Christo, quo minus haereat semper & maneat individua dilectio. Cypr. Ep. 63. Pag. 154. Edit. Oxon. When therefore the water is mixed with the wine in the Chalice, the people are united to Jesus Christ, and the company of believers joined to him on whom they believe. Now this water and wine are so mixt in the Cup, that they cannot be parted any more: Whence it follows, that nothing can separate between Christ and his Church; that is, the persons that are in the Church, constantly and closely adhering to what they have believed; nor break off the inviolable love they bear to one another. So that wicked men and Hypocrites are not of the Body of the Church, seeing an outward profes­sion is not sufficient to make men such.

St. Jerom says the very same thing: Ecclesia Christi gloriosa est, non habens maculam, neque ru­gam, aut quidistins­modi. Qui ergo peccator est, & aliqua sorde maculatus, de Ecclesia Christi non potest appellari; nec Chri­sto subjectus dici. Possibile autem est, ut quomodo Ecclesia, quae prius rugam habuerar. & ma­culam, in juventutem & munditiam postea restituta est, ita & peccator currat ad Medieum, quia non habent opus sani Medico, sed male habentes, & curentur vulnera ipsius, & fiat de Ecclesia, quae corpus est Christi. Hieronym. in Ephes. 5. Tom. 9. Edit. Basil. 1537. The Church of Christ is a glorious Church, having neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing. He therefore that is a sinner, and stained with any pollution, cannot be said to be of Christ's Church, nor in subjection to Christ. It may happen indeed, that as the Church which had here­tofare its spots and wrinkles, was after restored to youth and purity; so a sinner may come to the Physician, for those that be well, need not a Physician, but those that be sick, and so having his maladies healed, be made a member of the Church, which is Christs Body.

St. Ambrose explaining those words of the 36th Psalm, Let not the hand of the ungodly cast me down; Et ma­nus pecca­torum non mo­veat me. Etenim sieut san­cti mem­bra sunt Christi, ita impii membra sunt Diaholi. Manus peccatorum non moveat me; id est, Actus eorum qui peccant non me de ju­stitiae statione dimoveant. Piernmque enim dum videmus peccatores prosperis abundare successibus, nutamus affectur & qaasi quadam peccatorum manu de radice virtutis avellimur. Ambros in Psal. 35. Edit. Paris. 1529. says, ‘As the Saints are members of Jesus Christ, so wicked men are members of the Devil. Let not the hand of the ungod­ly remove me; that is, Let not the actions of Sinners tempt me to depart from the way of righteousness, for we are apt to slip when we see the prosperity of Sinners, and so the hand of Sinners does in some sort shake and loosen us from the root of vertue.’ If wicked men are members of the Devil, there little probability that hypocrisie should be able to make them members of Jesus Christ.

[Page 20] But of all the Fathers, there is not any that treats of this Subject with such exactness and perspicuity, as St. Austin does; a Man might compile a whole Volume of what he hath written about it. This Father ex­plaining that of St. Jehn, They went out from us, but they were not of us. Ex nobis exierunt, ergo plan­gimu [...] damnum. Audi con­solatio­nem: Sed non erant ex nobis. Omnes haretici, omnes Schisma­tici ex no­bis exie runt, id est, ex Ec­clesia exe­unt. Sed non exirent si ex nobis essent, antequam exirent ergo non erant ex nobis. Si antequam exirent non erant ex nobis, multi intus sunt, non exierunt, & tamen Antichristi sunt. Audemus hoc dicre? ut quid? Nisi unusquisq (que) cum intus est non sit Antichristus.—Nunc interrogare debet unusquisq (que) conscientiam suam, an sit Antichristus. Latine enim Antichristus contrarius est Christo—Eos autem qui non sunt Christo contrarii, foras exire nullo modo posse, qui enim non est Christo contrarius in corpore ipsius haeret, & membrum computatur. Nunquam sibi sunt membra contraria, corporis integritas universis memberis constat; & quid de concordia dicit Apostolns? Si patitur unum membrum, compatiuntur omnia membra, & si glorificatur unum membrum, congaudent omnia membra. Si ergo in glorificatione membri caetera membra congaudent, & in passione omnia member patiuntur, concordia membrorum non habet Antichristum. Et qui sunt intus, certe sunt in corpore Domini nostri Jesu Christi, quandoquidem adhuc curatur corpus ipsus, & sanitas perfecta non erit, nisi in resurrectione mortuorum. Sic sunt in corpore Christi, quomodo humores mali, quando evomuntur, tunc re­levatur corpus, sic & mali quando exeunt, tunc Ecclesia relevatur; & dicit, quando eos evomit, at (que) projicit corpus, ex me exierunt humores isti, sed non erant ex me. Quid est, non erant ex me? Non de carne mea praecisi sunt sed pectus mihi premehant, cum inessent. Ex nobis exi­erunt, sed nolite tristes esse, non erant ex nobis. Unde probas? Quod suissent ex nobis, permansissent utique nobiscum. Hinc ergo videat Charitas vestra, quia multi, qui non sunt ex nobis, accipiunt nobiscum Sacramenta. Accipiunt nobiscum Baptismum, accipiunt nobiscum, quod novunt fideles se accipere, Benedictionem, Eucharistiam, & quicquid in Sacramentis sanctis est. Ipsius altaris communicationem accipiunt nobiscum, & non sunt ex nobis. Tentatio probat, quia non sunt ex nobis. Quando illis tentatio venerit, velut occasione venti volant foras, quia grana non erant. Augustin. Tom. 9. Tractar. 3. in Epist. Jonnis. Edit. Paris. 1531.They went out from us, (says he) we lament the loss: But hear the comfort, they were not of us. All Hereticks and Schismaticks go out from us; That is, depart from the Church; but were they truly any of outs, they would not have departed. They were not therefore out members even before they went out, and if so, then there are many within, who, tho they have not yet gone out, are Antichrists. May we dare to essert this? Yes, why not? Let every man consult his own Conscience, to know if he be not Anticrist. The meaning of Anticrist is, contrary to Christ. Whence it is clear, that none but Antichrists can go out; for such as are not contrary to Christ, will by no means do so, for they continue in the body, and are reckoned among the members of Christ. The Members are never contrary to one another; The intire composition of a body consuis in having all its members; and you know what the Apostle says upon this matual agreement of the Members, If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and if one be honoured, all shall rejoyce with it. Now if all the Members suffer in the grief of one, and rejoyce at the honour done to one, there is nothing that savours of Antichrist in this mutual agreement. Those [Page 21] that are within, are the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. For this body is still in a state of healing, and will never enjoy perfect health and sandness, till the resurrection of the dead. These Antichrists are in the body of Christ like ill humours, the voiding of which eases the body: Thus when the wicked go out, the Church finds refreshment; and when the body throws them out, she says, these noxious humours are gone out of me, but they were no part of me; that is, they were not cut away from my flesh or substance, but opprest my stomach while they lay there. They are gone from us then, but be not troubled at it, they were not ours. But how do you prove this?1 Joh. 2. 19. St. John says, If they had been of us, they would have con­tinued with us. So that you see, many people receive the Sacraments with us, which yet are not any part of us; They have Baptism administred to them, they receive that benediction which the saithful are sensible they receive truly and effectu­ally, the Eucharist, and whatever is in the Sacraments. They communicate of the same Altar with us, and yet are no parts of us. Templation discovers them to be none. When that arises they are carried away, as with a strong wind, because they are not the true solid Corn. Nothing can be more express. Evil men, tho within the pale of the Church; That is, making an outward profes­sion, yet are not of his Body, nor ought to be reckoned among his Members. These are distempered humours within the Body, but not at all of the substance of the Body, such as do but annoy the Body, and must be evacuated in order to give its relief. So that St. Augustine's sense of the Church was, That it consisted only of Righteous persons, and true Believers, and that inward vertues were essential to it, and ought to make a part of its definition.

Observe again what he delivers in his Treatise of Baptism, against the Donatists. Aug. de Bapt. con­tra Donar. Lib. 1. Cap. 17. [...] Itaq. sive intus ver­sari vide­antur sive aperte so­ris sint, quod caro est, caro est, sive in areâ suâ sterilitate perseveret, sive occasione tentationis tanquam vento, ex­tra tollatur, quod palea est, palea est: & semper ab illius Ecclesiae, quae sine maculâ & ragâ est, unitate divisus est; etiam qui congrgatione sanctorum in carnali obduratione miseetur. De nullo tamen desperandum est, sive qui intus talis apparet, sive qui foris manifestius ad­versatur. ‘Whether evil men be seemingly within the Church, or evidently out of it, still that which is flesh is flesh. Whether the barren Chaff continue in the floor, or be scattered by the blast of temptation, it is still but Chaff. Carnal and obdurate persons, tho they mix with the Saints in the same Assemblies, are still separated from the Unity of that Church which is without spot or wrinkle. Yet must we not de­spair of any, either such as being within the pale passes for Friends, or such as being without, betrays a more manifest contraricty to us.’ [Page 22] And lower in the same Treatise,Baptis­mus cor­rumpi & adulterari non po­test, etsi à corruptis & adul­teris ha­beatur, si­cut & ip­sa Eccle­sia incor­rupta, & casta, & pudica est, & i­deò ad e­am non pertinent avari, rap­tores, foe­neratores, quos non rantum foris, sed etiam in­tus esse, multis literarum suarum locis Cyprianus ipse testatur. Aug. de Bapt. contra Donatist. Lib. 4. Cap. 2. ‘Baptism it self cannot be corrupted, tho administred to corrupt persons; any more than the church, which is incorruptible, chast and innocent. To which Covetous persons, Robbers, and Usurers do not belong; such as Cyprian in many of his Epistles says, are not only without, but even within the pale.’ Pre­sently after,* ‘Such as live contrary to Christ, that is, in the breach of his Commandments, tho they seem to be in the Church, are not really so. We must not imagine they belong to that Church, which Jesus Christ cleanses by the washing of water, and the word, to make of it a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle. And if they be not of that Church, whose members they are not, then neither are they of that, concerning which it is said, My dove is but one, the only one of her mother. For this is she that is without spot or wrinkle; and let them shew us how these are members of this Dove, who have renounced the World, in words only, and not in works. And a little after that, I would ask with respect to every man's present condition, whether such men are now to be reckoned for members of that Church, which is the Dove, the Spouse without spot or wrinkle, as Cyprian describes in his Epistle. Men that kept not to the way of the Lord, nor the Heavenly receptes given for their Salvation, that did not perform the Will of God, but wholly addicted themselves to worldly gain; proud, envious, contentious persons, that neglected Hoonesty and Faith, renounced the World in words only, [Page 23] not in deeds; every one studying his own pleasure, and the dissatis­faction of all others. If this Dove refuse to own such for her Members; if God shall one day say to such wretches, that continue in their per­verse courses, I know you not, depart from me ye workers of iniquity; tho they seem never so much to be in the Church, they are not in truth of the Church, but act in direct contrariety to her.’ And in another place of the same Treatise;Etiam si discedendi occasiones ipsis de­sint, qu [...] intus vi­dentur▪ abilla invisi­bili chari­tatis com­page sepa­rati sunt; unde Joan­nes dicit, ex nobis exierunt, sed non erant ex nobis, nam si fuissent ex nobis man [...]issent utique nobiscum. Non ait quod exeundo alieni facti sunt, sed quod alieni erant, propter hoc eos exiisse declaravit. Aug. de Bapt. contra Donatist. Lib. 3. Cap. 19. ‘Such as oppose brotherly love, whether they are plainly without, or whether seemingly within, are divided from that invisible Assembly which Charity knits together. Therefore St. John says, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us. He does not say they alienated themselves by going out, but that they were aliens, and that this was the reason why they went out.’ Thus far this Father does not dissemble his opinion; He will by no means own any but the Saints to be Members of the Church, he totally excludes wicked men and hypo­crites; he uses no such nice distinctions between dead and living members, as our modern Controvertists do; in the contrary, he explains what he said, That wicked men were in the Church, by saying, that they seem to be in it; but they only seem to be so, for in very deed they are more foreigners, and such as the Church does not acknowledg for hers.

In the fifth Book of the same Treatise, he says,In Can­tico Canti­corum Ec­clesia sic describi­tur, Hortus conclusus, soror, mea sponsa, fons signatus, puteus aquae vivae, paradis [...]s cum fructu­pomorum. Hoc intelligere non audeo nisi in sanctis & justis, non in avaris, & fraudatoribus, & raptoribus, & foeneratoribus, & ebriosis, & invidis, quos tamen cum justis baptismum habuisse communem, cum quibus communem non habebant uti (que) charitatem—docemus. Nam dicat mihi aliquis, quomodo irrepserint in hortum conclusum, & fontem signatum, quos saeculo solis verbis, & non factis renunciâsse Cyprianus, & tamen intus fuisse testatur. Si enim intus sunt, & ipsi sponsa Christi sunt, itane vero talis est illa sine maculâ & rugâ, & illa speciosa columba tali membrorum parte turpatur? An istae sunt spinae in quarum medio est illa sicut lilium, quod in eodem Cantico dicitur? In quantum ergo lilium, in tantum & hortus conclusus, & fons signa­tus, in illis videlicet justis, qui in occulto Judaei sunt circumcisione cordis: Omnis enim pulchri­tudo filiae regum intrinsecus, in quibus est numerus certus Sanctorum, praedestinatus ante mundi constitutionem. Illa verò multitudo spinarum, sive occultis, sive apertis separationibus, forin­secus adjacet super numerum. Annunciavi inquit & locutus sum, multiplicati sunt super nume­rum. Numerus ergo ille Justorum, qui secundum propositum vocati sunt, de quibus dictum est, Novit Dominus qui sunt ejus, ipse est hortus conclusus, fons signatus, puteus aquae vivae, paradi­sus cum fructu pomorum. Aug. de Bapt. contra Donatist. Lib. 5. Cap. 27. ‘The Church is described in the Book of Canticles, as Christ's Garden inclosed, his Sister, his Spouse, his sealed Fountain, his Well of living waters, his Orchard of [Page 24] Pomegranates. This I dare understand of none but the Saints and Righ­teous persons; not of the Covetous, the Defrauders, the Extortioners, the Usurers, the Drunkards, and the Envious, which have indeed the same common Baptism with the just; but not the same Charity. Let them tell me how the men that have renounced the world in words on­ly, and not in deeds, got in to this inclosed Garden, this sealed Foun­tain: For if these men are really in it, if these are the Spouse of Christ, how can that Spouse be without blemish or without spot? How can she be the beautiful Dove, when stained with such a parcel of Members as these? Are not these the Thorns in the midst of which she as the Li­lies, according to that expression in the Canticles? In what respect then she is a Lilly, Cant. 2. 2. in the same is she an inclosed Garden, a sealed Fountain; That is, with regard to those just men, who are Jews inwardly, by the Circumcision of the heart. Rom. 2. 29. For the King's daughter is all glorious within, and among these are the set number of Saints predestinated before the foun­dation of the World:Ps 45. 13. But for that multitude of Thorns, whether their separation be undiscerned, or whether it be open, they are added over and above, as the Scripture says, they are multiplied above measure. This number therefore of the just, called according to the Election of God, these of whom it is said,2 Tim. 2. 19. The Lord knoweth them that be his, They are his in­closed Garden, his sealed Fountain, his Well of Living Waters.’ This Holy Doctor thought it not enough to allow wicked men and hypocrites no place in his notion of the Church, and to make it up of just men only, but he does besides shew wherein the very essential form, that Unity which constitutes a Church, does consist; to wit, not in any thing external, but in the internal graces. In the Circumcision of the heart, and the Glory within: He goes farther still, and makes the Church to consist of the pre­destinated only, ‘The number, says he, of God's Elect, are his inclosed Garden, and sealed Fountain, that is, the Church of Christ.’ How shall we reconcile this Doctrine with M. de Condom,'s who distinguishes be­tween the Church of Christ, and the predestinate, as between a whole and it's part; who counts the reprobates in too, and blames us for re­straining the Church to the number of God's Elect alone?

This being a point of consequence, and able to determine all our Con­troversy concerning the Church, I hope it may not be tedious to hear what St. Augustin says further upon it. After having recited a passage taken out of [...]t. Cyprian's Epistle to Magnus, he goes on thus.Haec verba be­ati Cypri­ani indi­cant eum etiam intellenisse decorem domus Dei, quam domum ex unanimis & concordibus con­stare a [...]irmavit, & docuit testimonio Prophetarum, & significatione Sacramentorum. In quâ utique domo non erant illi invidi, & sine charitate malevoli, qui tamen baptizabant. Ex quo ap­paret & in eis esse posse, at (que) ab eis dari posse Sacramentum Christi, qui non sunt in Ecclesia Christi, in qua non nisi unanimes & concordes habitare Cyprianus ipse testatur. Ne (que) enim hoc saltem dici potest, tunc baptisare posse cum latent, quoniam illi Paulum Apostolum non latebant, quos in Epistola sua ve racissimus testis notat, & gaudere se dicit, quoniam & ipsi Christum annun­ciabant. De his quippe ait, sive occasione, sive veritate Christus annunciatur, & in hoc gaudeo, sed & gaudebo. Quibus omnibus consideratis, puto me non temere dicere, alios ita esse in domo Dei, ut ipsi etiam sint eadem domus Dei, quae dicitur aedisicari super petram, quae unica columba appellatur, quae sponsa pulchra sine macula & ruga, & hortus conclusus, fons signatus, puteus aquae vivae, paradisus cum fructu pomorum. Quae domus etiam claves accepit, & potestatem sol­vendi & ligandi: Hanc domum si quis corripientem contempserit corrigentemque, sit tibi, inquit, tanquam Ethnicus & publicanus. De hac domo dicitur, Diliexi, Domine, decorem domus tuae, & locum habitationis gloriae tuae. Et qui habitare facit unanimes in domo. Et jocundatus sum in his quae dixerunt mihi, in domum Domini ibimus. Et, beati qui habitant in domo tua, Domine, in saeculo saeculorum laudabunt te; & innumerabilia talia. Haec domus etiam triticum dicitur, sive tricenum, sive sexagenum, sive centenum fructum afferens cum tolerantia. Haec domus est in vasis aureis, & argenteis, & lapidibus pretiosis, & lignis imputribilibus. Huic dom [...]i dicitur, sufferentes invicem in dilectione, studentes servare unitatem Spiritus in vinculo pacis. Et, templum enim sanctum Dei estis vos. Haec quippe in bonis [...]idelibus est, & Sanctis Dei servis ubi (que) dispersis, & Spiritali unitate devinctis, eadem communione Sacramentorum, sive se facie noverint, sive non noverint. Alios autem ita dici constat esse in domo, ut non pertineant ad compagem domus, nec ad societatem fructiferae pacisicae (que) Justitiae. Sed sicut palea esse dicitur in frumento, Paulo Apostolo dicente, in magna autem domo non solum aurea vasa sunt, vel argentea, sed & lignea, & fictilia, & a­lia quidem sunt in honorem, alia vero ad contumeliam. Aug. de Bapt. contra Donatist. Lib 7. Cap. 50. ‘The words of blessed Cyprian shew, that he rightly understood the beauty of [Page 25] God's House, in that he declares, and proves both by the testimony of the Prophets, and the signification of the Sacraments, that this House is composed of men living in Peace, and unity of Heart. So that those en­vious uncharitable Wretches were not in this House, notwithstanding they were baptised. And by consequence Christ's Holy Sacrament may be both administred, and received by men not in the Church of Christ; be­cause, as appears by the Testimony of Cyprian, none but the peaceable live in this Church. It will not serve the turn to say, they might bap­tize while they were hid; they were not hidden from St. Paul, when he said in his Epistle,Phil. 1. 18. he rejoyced, that Christ was preached even by such; whe­ther in pretence or in truth’ (says he) Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoyce, yea, and will rejoyce. ‘Upon these considerations I do not think it reshness in me to affirm,Mat. 16 18. that some are in the House of God, so, as that they are themselves the very House,’ Matt. 16. 19. that which is said to be built upon a Rock, called, his Dove, his only One, his beautiful Spouse, without spot or wrinkle, the inclosed Garden, the sealed Fountain, the Well of living Water, the Orchard with Pomegranates, Mat. 18. 17. and which HAth received the Keys, the power of binding and loosing; ‘this House it is, whose corrections if any man con­temptuously behave himself against, he is ordered to be to us,’ as an Heathen and a Publicar. Ps 26. 8. ‘Of this it is said, Lord I have loved the Beauty of thy House, Ps. 68. 6. and the place where thine Honour dwelleth. He maketh men of one [Page 26] mind in an house. Ps. 122. 1. I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the House of the Lord. Psal. 84. 4. Blessed are they that dwell in thy House, they will be alway praising Thee; Matt. 13. 23. ‘and a world of such like passages. This House is called the good seed, Luk. 8. 15. 2 Tim. 2. 20. bringing forth fruit with patience, thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold. This House consists of Vessels of gold and of silver, of precious stones, and incorruptible wood. To this House 'tis said, Bear up one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Ephes. 4. 2, 3. And, the Holy Temple of God are ye. 1 Cor. 3. 17. For this consists of the true Believers, and holy Servants of God dispersed throughout the Universe, and all knit to­gether in a spiritual Unity, by the participation of the same Sacraments, whether personally known to one another, or not. As for the rest, they are said to be in the House, but it is in such a manner, that they belong not at all to the building, nor have any part of that fellowship which brings forth the fruit of righteousness and peace. They are here as the Chaff is among the Corn; for we cannot deny that they be con­tained in the House,2 Tim. 2. 20. because St. Paul says, In a great house are vessels, not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honour, and some to dishonour.

I cannot imagine how St. Augustin'S sight came to differ so mightily from M. de Condam'S. If we believe the latter, by the Church must be under­stood, a Society composed of good and bad men; for he tells you, to such a Society only are those passages of Scripture applicable.Confer­ence page 5, 7, 8, 9. Ʋpon this rock will I build my Church. Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might make it a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle, &c. If he refuse to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an Heathen, &c. Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in Heaven, &c. But if St. Augustin be to be be­lieved, we must take the Church in a quite different sense; for a Society made up of none but righteous persons, and true Believers; because to such a one, and no other, do these passages belong. In his Opinion the just alone are the House built upon a Rock, the Spouse without spot or wrinkle, they only have the keys and power of binding and loosing, 'tis their censures only that men ought not to despise, if they would not be looked upon as Heathens and Publicans. M. de Condom deduces his Argu­ments from these passages; St. Augustin deduces his from the very same, and yet their Conclusions are opposite to one another: All that we have left to do then, is either to correct St. Augustin by M. de Condom, or M. de Condom by St. Augustin, and of the two, methinks the latter is the more reasonable.

Upon this ground then I will once more introduce that Father speaking thus:Nec ideò putandi sunt esse in corpore Christi, quod est Ecclesia, quia sacramentorum ejus corporaliter participes fiunt. Illa enim & in talibus sancta sunt, & eis indignè tractantibus & sumentibus ad majus ju­dicium valebunt. Ipsi autem non sunt in illâ Ecclesiae Christi compage quae in membris Christi per connexum & contactum crescit in incrementum Dei. Illa quippe Ecclesia in petrâ est, sicut Dominus dicit, super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam. Illi autem in arenâ aedificant, si­cut idem Dominus dicit, Qui audit verba mea, & non facit ea, assimilabo eum viro stulto, qui aedificat domum suam super arenam. Sed ne putes Ecclesiam quae in petrâ est, in unâ parte esse terrarum, & non diffundi us (que) ad fines terrae, audi ejus vocem de Psalmo gementis, inter mala peregrinationis suae. Ait enim, A finibus terrae ad te clamavi, dum angeretur cor meum. In petrâ exaltâsti me. Videre quemadmodum à finibus terrae clamat. Non est ergò in solâ Africâ—. Videte quemadmodum in petrâ exaltetur, Non ergò in eâ deputandi sunt omnes qui aedificant in arenâ. Aug. contra Literas Petilian. Lib. 2. Cap. 108. ‘We must not suppose that wicked men belong to Christ's body, [Page 27] i. e. the Church; because they do partake of the Sacraments corporally. The Sacraments themselves are holy in such persons, but they do but increase their condemnation, because they administer and receive them unworthily. Ephes. 4. 16. Now they are not of that Company of Christ's Church, which consists of his Members compacted together by bands and joynts, and increaseth with the increase of God.Col. 2. 19.For this Church is built on a Rock, according to that of our Saviour,Matt. 16. 16.Ʋpon this rock will I build my Church: But those build on the Sand, as the same Saviour said, Whoso heareth my Words, and doth them not,Matt. 7. 27.I will comapre him to a foolish man, that built his house upon the sand. Now lest you should fancy that the Church built upon a Rock, is in any one particular place; or that it is not ex­tended over the whole Earth,Ps. 61. 2, 3.observe her complaint in the Psalm, From the ends of the Earth have I cryed unto thee, when my heart was in heaviness, Thou hast set me up upon a rock. She cries from the ends of the Earth, there­fore she is not in Africa and no where else; she is set up upon a Rock, therefore those must not be esteemed of her, who build upon the Sand.’ There is some probability St. Augustin knew what he said, and yet you see a passage of Scripture, Ephes. 4. abused by M. de Condom, in favour of his Church, made up of a mixture of good and bad men, which this Father explains of the Church of the Just only, as well as that other of St. Matt. 16. Ʋpon this Rock will I build my Church.

He teaches the same Doctrine in his Book concerning the Unity of the Church.Haec au­tem Ec­clesia cor­pus Chri­sti est, si­cut▪ Apo­stolus dicit, Pro corpore ejus, quae est Ecclesia. Unde uti (que) manifestum est; eum qui non est in membris Christi, Christianam salutem habere non posse. Membra verò Christi per unitatis charita­tem sibi copulantur, & per endem capiti suo cohaerent. August. de Unitat. Eccles. Cap. 2. ‘The Church is the Body of Jesus Christ, according to that of the Apostle,Ephes. 5. for His body the Church; whence it is evident, that such as are not accounted his Members, cannot obtain Salvation. Now the Members of Jesus Christ are united by Love, both to one another, and to him their Head.’ A little further, answering the Donatists Cavils against the Catholicks, for having persecuted them, for having burnt their [Page 28] Bibles, for having sacrificed to Idols;Breviter respond­eo quod saepe re­spondi, aut falsa di­citis, aut si vera sunt, non ad frumenta Christi, sed ad eorum paleam pertinent ista quae dicitis. Non inde perit Ec­clesia, quae optimo judicio ventilata istorum omnium separatio­ne purga­bitur. Ego ipsam Ec­clesiam requiro ubi sit, quae audi­endo verba Christi, & ea faciendo, aedificat super petram, & audiendo, & faciendo tolerat eos, qui audiendo, & non faciendo, aedi [...]icant super arenam. Ubi sit triti [...]um, quod inter zizania crescit us (que) ad messem, non quid fecerint vel faciant zizania. Ubi sit proxima Christi in medio [...]iliarum malarum, sicut lilium in medio spinarum, non quid fecerint vel faciant ipsae: spinae: Ubi sunt pisces boni, qui donec ad littus perveniant, tolerant pisces malos pariter irretitos, non quid fecerint vel faciant ipsi pisces mali. Ibid. Cap. 16. ‘I return the same answer, (says he) which I have often done already, That what you say either is not true, or if it be, it concerns not Christ's good Corn, but the Chaff. The Church does not perish for this, which shall be throughly purged from these men at the last exact judgment. I enquire after the true Church, That is, where she is that hears the words of Jesus Christ, and does them; that builds upon a Rock; that thus hearing and doing, does yet bear with those that hear and do not, and so build up­on the Sand. I enquire where the Corn is which must grow among Tares till the Harvest, Matt. 13. not what the Tares have done, or do. I enquire where Christ's Well-beloved is, she who is among the wicked Daughters, as the Lily among Thorns, Cant. 2. not what the Thorns have done, or now do. I enquire where the good Fish are, Matt. 13. which till they are drawn to shore, must be content to lye in the same Net with bad ones, not what the bad Fish have done, or now do.’ Afterwards again, ‘Seeing both good and bad administer, and receive the Sacrament of Baptism, and the good only are spiritually regene­rated, become his true Members, and make up the building of Christ's Body, 'tis plain that Church consists of the good only, to which it was said, As the lily among thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters; Cant. 2. For it consists of those that build upon a Rock, that is, that hear the Word of God, and do it. For this Reason, when St. Peter acknowledged Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God, he said unto him, Matt. 16. And upon this Rock will I build my Church. This is not there­fore those who build upon the Sand, i. e. they that hear Christ's Words, and do them not. For the same Christ hath said, Matt. 7. He [Page 29] that heareth my words, and doth them, I will liken him to a wise man, that built his house upon a rock. And a little before the end of the Book, Multi ta­les sunt in sacra­mento­rum com­munione cum Ec­clesiâ, & tamennon jam sunt in Eccle­siâ Alio­quin, si tune quis­quam praecidi­tur, cùm visibíliter excom­munica­tur, con­sequens erit, ut tunc rur­sus inseratur, cum visibiliter communioni restituitur. Quid si ergo fictus accedat, at (que) adversus veritatem & Ecclesiam animum inimicissimum gerat, quamvis peragatur in eo illa solennitas, nunquid reconciliatur? nunquid insertur? Absit. Sicut ergo jam denuo communicans nondum insertus est sic & antequam visibiliter excommunicatur, quisquis contra veritatem quâ convinci­tur, & arguitur, inimicum gestat animum, jam praecisus est. Ita fit, ut & semen bonum, & se­men malum utra (que) per agrum crescant, us (que) ad messem; id est, & silii regni, & silii maligni. Ibid. sub sinem lib. ‘There are many who communicate with the Church in the Sacra­ments, yet are not in the Church. Else if when one is excommuni­cated visibly, he be then only separated from the Church, when he is restored to the Communion, we must say, that he is actually stated in the Church again. But suppose his return be hypocritical, That he bring a heart inveterate against the Truth, and the Church; must we own that such a one is perfectly reconciled, and become a true member of Jesus Christ, because the outward formalities of receiving him in, have past upon him? God forbid. As therefore he is not really of the Church, tho readmitted into the Communion; so if before Excommu­nication, he had a Soul at enmity with the Truth, he was in truth se­parated even then. And thus it is, that the good and I bad seed grow together in the same common Field until Harvest, that is, the Chil­dren of the Kingdom, and the Children of the wicked one.’ If after all this, M. de Condom shall still maintain that an outward profession and participation of the Sacraments are sufficient to make men members of the Church; we may take the confidence to tell him, that his Authority is not yet advanced so far with us, as to be reckon'd of equal weight with St. Augustin's.

In his Book against Cresconi [...]s,Tingere ergo pos­sunt boni & mali, abluere autem conscien­tiam non nisi ille qui semper est bonus. Ac per hoc etiam nescients Ecclesiâ propter malam pollutam (que) conscientiam damnati à Christo, jam in corpore Christi non sunt, quod est Ecclesia; quoniam non potest Christus habere membra damnata, proinde & ipsi extra Ecclesiam baptizant. Omnia quippe ista monstra absit omnino ut in membris illius columbae unicae computentur. Absit ut intrare possint limites horti conclusi, cujus ille custos est, qui non potest falli. Aug. contra Cresconium, Lib. 2. Cap. 21. Good and bad men (he says) may baptize, but God alone who is eternally good can purifie the conscience. The wicked are condemn­ed of Christ without the Churches knowledg, as having an evil and a polluted conscience, and are not even now in Christ's body the Church. For Christ cannot have such for his members as are condemned; and therefore they Baptize even while they are out of the Church themselves. God forbid such monsters should be reckoned among the members of the only Dove: God forbid such should enter into the inclosed garden, whose keeper can never be imposed upon.

[Page 30] In like manner does this holy Father speak in his Book of the Christian Doctrine. Tichonius the Donatist haveing busied himself in laying down some Rules for the understanding of Scripture, St. Augustine takes them into examination, and this is what he says to the second of them: Secunda est de Do­mini cor­pore bi­partito, quod qui­dem non ita debuit appellari. Non enim revera Do­mini corpus est, quod cum illo non erit in aeternum. Sed dicendum fuit de Domini corpore vero at (que) permixto, aut vero at (que) simulato, aut quid aliud. Quia non solum in aeternum, verum etiam nunc hypocritae non cum illo esse dicendi sunt, quamvis in ejus esse videantur Ecclesiâ. Unde po­terat ista regula & sic appellari, ut diceretur de permixtâ Ecclesiâ. Aug. de Doctr. Christ. L. 3. Cap. 32. His second Rule concerns the twofold Body of Christ, that is an improper term, for in reality none are his body, who shall not continue with him for ever. He should rather have exprest it concerning our Lords true or mixt body, or true and counterfeit, or some such like term. For though hypocrites seem to be of the Church, they are so far from being with him to all eternity, that they are really not with him now. He might then be allowed to lay down this Rule, but he should have phrased it concern­ing the mixt Church.

And afterwards, Septima Ticonii regula est, eademque postrema, de Diabo­lo & ejus corpore. Est enim & ipse ca­put impi­orum, qui sunt ejus quodammodo corpus, ituri cum illo in supplicium aeterni ignis; sicut Christus caput est Ecclesiae, quae est corpus ejus, futurum cum illo in regno & gloria sempiterna. Sicut ergo in prima regula, quam vocat de Domino & ejus corpore, vigilandum est ut intelligatur, cum de una eademque persona Scriptura loquitur, quid conveniat capiti, quid corporis sic & in ista novissima aliquando in diabolum dicitur, quod non in ipso, sed potius in ejus corpore possit agnosci, quod habet non solum in eis, qui manifestissimè foris sunt, sed in eis etiam, qui cum ad ipsum pertineant, tamen ad tempus miscentur Ecclesiae. Ibid. Cap. 37. Tichonius his seventh and last Rule is concerning the Devil and his body. For the Devil is the head of the wicked, and they in some sort his members, appointed to undergo with him the punishment of everlasting fire; as Christ is the head of the Church, which is his body, and appointed to eternal glory with him. As therefore in the first Rule, entituled, Of the Lord and his body, when the Scripture speaks of one and the same person, we must distinguish carefully, what be­longs to the Head, and what to the Body; so as to this last Rule, we shall find things spoken of the Devil, which do not so much belong to Him and his Body. Now that Body of his is composed not only of such as are visibly without, but those also who though in truth they belong to him, yet continue for a time mixed with the Church.

I make no doubt but so many passages of St. Augustine, together with those other proofs I instanced in before, for the resolving this question, may make M. de Condom a little uneasie, though he think never so well of his own principle. But in short, it concerns not only this Bishop, but all others that take this dispute into consideration, to know once for all, what mighty difficulties they must overcome, before they can establish the pretended Authority of their Church. That is to say in one word, it is fit [Page 31] they know that in order to compass this design, they must triumph over Scripture, triumph over Reason, triumph over the Fathers, but above all they must declare open war with St. Austin particularly. The Throne of Rome's Hierarchy is never capable of being set up, but upon these founda­tions, or to speak more properly, upon these ruins.

Qu. 3. Whether the Church upon Earth be visible, or invisible, or whether both together, considered in a different sense, and under different respects.

Thus much I think, Sir, may suffice to give a resolution of the second question, which was, whether the Bishop of Condom's definition of the Church upon Earth was a good and sufficient definition, viz. A Society making profession to believe the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, and govern it self by his word; or whether it was defective, and required something else to be add­ed to it. You see the necessity of handling this subject with some exact­ness; for it being our business to know what Society we must be of, to obtain Salvation, and both sides agreeing that it is the true Church; being it concerns us to know to what Society the Promises of Jesus Christ are to be applied, and both sides agreeing that it is the true Church: The first thing in reason to be done, is to form an abstracted Idea of the true Church, before it be applied to any particular subject, that so this may serve for a Rule, and direct us to know at least what that true Church is, which we enquire after. We know in general that there is one true Church; we know also, that this Church is a Religious Society; but when we come to define it particularly, every one knows his own method of doing it. This therefore is the first thing to be determined, not only to avoid equi­vocation, but to prevent a continual deviation, which may otherwise hap­pen through the whole dispute, by means of a mistake in the beginning; and this having given occasion to the second question, the dispatching that already will mightily facilitate our enquiry into the third. The thing then to be examined is, whether the Society of true believers, who only are the Church, be visible or invisible, or whether both in some senses and respects.

For the resolution of this Query, I shall not say that this true Church being a Society of men, and so a body that hath its external order, as all other Societies have, hath likewise consequent to that a visibility common to it with all other bodies. Thus much is necessarily supposed, for the Be­lievers are not Angels, nor invisible Spirits, but in this respect like the rest of mankind. But this visibility being supposed, we must further enquire, Whether there be not yet another, which gives it the Character of Jesus Christ's true Church; so that a man may say, That the body we see, and [Page 32] which is the object of our senses, as the true Church of Christ.

In this there would not be the least difficulty, had not God's design, as to his Church, been disturbed by the enemy of our Salvation. For since God calls true Believers only, and since, as we have already shewn, such alone constitute the Church; were it not for what happens from some other thing, there would not be among the outward Professors of Christianity, either Hypocrites, or Hereticks, or Superstitious, or worldly, or profane persons And thus none but such as are truly the faithful being to be found among them, this outward profession would be a sure means, and an uni­vocal Character to know the true Faith and Regeneration by, and conse­quently to know the true Church of Jesus Christ as such. So that we need say only thus much, That although the Church were not immediately vi­sible by its inward and cssential form, because none can immediately see mens hearts but God only; yet it would be visible by its external form, as by a sure distinguishing Character. For it might be seen by its Ministery and profession of Faith in Christ, and known to such a degree that a man might infallibly and positively say, That is the Church.

But we all know, that is Jesus Christ sowed his good seed in the field of the world,Matt. 13 so to use the expressions in the Parable, the enemy hath like­wise sown Tares. That is, that with the true Believers are intermixt vast numbers of men, who [...] no more than the appearance and outside of Christianity, and so make the outward profession to be a note subject to mighty uncertainties and equivocation. This God hath permitted for rea­sons known to his own wisdom, and hence have risen on one side false Churches, and on the other false members of the true, I mean whole Com­munities who have wrongfully assumed to themselves the title of a Church; and single persons who wrongfully assumed the title of the Faithful. So that the Church now, like all other things liable to hypocrisy and dissi­mulation, cannot be truly known without much difficulty. And where­as, according to the nature of the thing, the Churches visibility and in­visibility ought to lye here, that its essential and internal from cannot be seen immediately, and of it self, but may by the mediation of its external form; instead of this, they do now consist further, in a discerning be­tween true and false, a distinguishing betwixt that which is real and sin­cere, and that which is counterfeit.

We must therefore examine, how this distinction is to be made, because in it consists the visibility or invisibility of the true Church. Whether we must make it between several external bodies, differing from one another, or between several persons externally incorporated into the same Body. I b [...]gin with the former, and affirm, that the discerning between several [Page 33] bodies, depends upon some certain marks, or characters, whereby that body on whose side the true Church is, may be distinguished from another where it is not. I shall not now shew what those Characters are, for this is another dispute between the Church of Rome, and us, which we need not here engage our selves in.

It is enough we are all agreed, that such marks there are, and that by them this distinction must be made. That which most concerns us to take notice of, and which I desire you would observe with a very particular attention, is, that after we have found this Body, or external Society on whose side the true Church is, we may, and in reality do form to our selves two notions of it, one proceeding from a mere Judgment of Cha­rity, the other from a Judgment of Reflection. By the Judgment of Cha­rity, we look upon all within the Body to be true Believers, indifferently; For the searching of hearts being not in our power, but peculiar to God, Charity makes no distinctions, but supposes that things are in truth what they should be; and upon this supposition, we call all that society the visi­ble Church, speaking simply, and absolutely. By the Judgment of Re­flection, having consulted the Rules of Scripture, and the light of Expe­rience, we come to know that there are Tares mixed with the Wheat, and that it is past a doubt, that among these outward Professours, are abun­dance of hypocritical, superstitious, ambitious, and prophane people. Hence we correct our first notion, and term this Society, a visible mixt Church. Thus in the same external body, we distinguish two different Bodies, one of true Believers, which we look upon as the true Church of Jesus Christ; the other of hypocrites and worldlings, who have only the shadow, and shell of Faith and Regeneration, and consequently do not belong to Jesus Christ's true Church.

This is the original of all that ambiguity betwixt the Romanists and us. M. de Condom, according to the principles of Cardinal Bellarmin and Perron, and most of the Doctors of his Communion, does in this Dispute judge of the true visible Church, by that notion of Charity, which without making any difference, includes bad and good, true and false Believers. And we judge of the true visible Church, by that other, termed the notion of Reflection, which excludes hypocrites and worldlings, and confines it self to true Believers only. He supposes without offering any proof for it, that there is no other visible Church, than this whole Body of Professors, and that That of the true Believers is invisible; which we deny. He proves that the true Church of Christ, to whom the promises belong, is a visible Church, which we grant. We must take leave therefore to tell him, that he supposes, what he should prove, and proves what he ought to suppose; which must needs entangle the matter in dispute, and render it mighty intricate and obscure.

[Page 34] But what great matter is it (you'l say) as to this Dispute, whether a man judges of the true visible Church by the notion of Charity, or that of Reflection? I answer, if the matter had concerned only the Duties incum­bent on the Church, or exhorting and instructing men in those Duties, it would signify very little which of these two notions we followed. For the duties incumbent on beth good and had, are much the same, they all hear the same Word, partake of the same Sacraments, and are all under the same Obligations. But the present controversy does not concern the duties and exhortations to them, but the investing the Church in some particular rights and priviledges allowed her, and applying to her the promises of Jesus Christ: So that it highly concerns us in this case, not to follow a notion which may lead us into mistakes, and give away these priviledges and promises to men that have no manner of right to them. It nearly concerns us not to follow a notion, which may occasion our fall­ing into errour, under pretence of that name, the Church. There is an absolute necessity of clearing an ambiguity, which if not cleared, may prejudice our Conscience, and put our Salvation upon a hazard.

Now, Sir, let us see I beseech you, whether of these two notions is ra­ther to be received in this dispute? And this will easily appear, if we con­sider; That the notion followed by M. de Condom is grosly false in one of its parts, as taking for true Believers, persons who really are not so, and can pretend to truth no further, than as it is conformable to this second notion. That it is not grounded upon an exact knowledg of its object, but merely upon a charitable supposition, which if niecly look'd into, is not true it self: And so there can be no robable argument for allowing evil men and hypocrites a part in Christ's Promises, Those false plants, which our heavenly father hath not planted, Matt. 15. Those tares which the Lord hath not sown in his field, Matt. 13. but the enemy r [...]se by night to cast in privily, Men not at all concerned in that Idea of the true Church which Scripture gives us, and consequently not of it. In a word, this will easily appear, that the no­tion we follow is the most exact, the most certain, the most agreeable to the Idea's given in Scripture, and the only one that can bear any propor­tion to the Promises of Jesus Christ, and the dignity of the true Church.

But it may be said, Was not M. de Condom in the right, to say, there was not actually any visible Church, but that which he def [...]es, A Society making profession to believe the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, and govern it self by his word? And so no other than that which comprehends good and bad, true Believers and Hypocrites? And was it not fair then to make use of this notion in the Controversy? I answer, the true Church consisting of true Believers only, is not indeed visible, by any certain and distinct sight we can have of it, so as to affirm positively and personally, such or such are [Page 35] of the true Church. When we would carry on this distinction to parti­cular men, disguise and hypocrisie put a stop to it, so that in this sence the true Church will always continue invisible, till Jesus Christ come to make a full and perfect separation betwixt his own Corn and the Enemies Tares, which shall not be done till the end of the World. Thus it is not visible, not only immediately by its internal form in mens hearts, but even by these external Characters, as to certain and distinct visibility, be­cause dissimulation and deceit often makes these marks to be doubtful. All this I grant.

But for all this, we may and must say, that the true Church is visible, truly visible, in other senses and respects. For first of all; it cannot be denied that it is visible at least materially, as they say, because the true Believers that appear visibly in publick Assemblies, partake of the same Sacraments, and live in the same external Order: The faithful do not con­ceal themselves, nor decline the Holy Exercises of Religion, but on the contrary frequent them, and shew themselves more than other men, re­membring that of St.Heb. 10, 25. Paul, Not forsaking the assembling of our selves together. Besides, It is plain, that tho the true Church be mixt with wicked men in the same profession,Matt. 1 [...]. yet is it visible in this very mixture, as the wheat is visible, tho in the same field with the tares, and the good fish in the same net with the bad, according to the parables in the Gospel; or as true Friends are vi­sible, tho mixt with dissemblers and flatterers. This mixture indeed hinders us from an exact distinction of persons, but still we may with great certainty distinguish and discern two sorts of persons. We are not sure which particular men are true Believers, and which Hypocrites, but we are sure that there are true Belivers as well as Hypocrites; and this is enough to prove the Church visible, according to the Scriptures, and t. Austin's Hypothesis. Nay, I will go further yet; for 'tis true that upon some occasions Hypocrites do plainly distinguish themselves from true Belie­vers, and upon some other occasions true Believers do plainly make a per­sonal distinction of themselves from Hypocrites. For instance, when we see men drowned in vices inconsistent with true Faith, when we see them throw themselves into Superstitions and Errors, that are contrary to the true Doctrine and Worship of God, tho they abide still in the same Con­gregations with others, and communicate in the same Sacraments; yet this makes a negative distinction, so as we may say, these are not the true Believers, that is, not of the true Church. On the other side, when we see men undergo long sharp tryals, without being removed, either from the profession of the true Doctrine and Worship, or from that of Righte­ousness and Holiness, in this respect here is made a positive distinction, and such as makes us acknowledg, that these persons are of the true Church of [Page 36] Jesus Christ. I confess these distinctions are not always, either so certain as never to admit of mistakes, nor so universal as not to confound one with another. For a man may judg rashly of both sorts, either for want of knowing mens particular circumstances, and the motives they went upon; or some other way; and it is never seen, that all Hypocrites disco­ver themselves at once. But however, there is great use to be made of this distinction, and such a visibility of the true Church results from it, as is in some sort personal, according to our Hypothesis.

Now, Sir, you see, whether M. de Condom was in the right to take it for granted, as if it were a certain truth, that there was no visible Church, but such a one as he defined, that comprehends good and bad, true Belie­vers and Worldlings, contrary to the Scriptures, and St. Augustin's sense. You see too whether he was in the right, to maintain in this first part of his discourse,Confer. page 10. that we deny the Churches visibility. The Pretended Re­form'd (says he) will not have the visible Church to be that which is called Jesus Christ's Body. Which is then that Body where God hath established some Apostles? &c. Which is that Body where God hath placed several Members, and different Graces, Rom. 12. 4. the Grace of Ministry, the Grace of Teaching, the Grace of Exhortation and Consolation, the Grace of Ruling? Which, I say, is that Body, if it be not the visible Church? We never denied the visible Church upon Earth to be Christ's Body; not the whole Body indeed, for there is one part of it collected in Heaven, and another not yet in being, but still that part upon Earth is Jesus Christ's Body, so the Scripture calls it, and we are so far from thinking as he saies, that quite contrary, we prove Hypo­crites and Worldlings to be really no part of the true visible Church, by this very Argument, that it is called in Scripture the Body of Jesus Christ. For this reason the visible Church is thus defined in the 27th Article of our Confession of Faith.I will here set down the whole Ar­ticle to give the Reader more full Satisfaction in this matter. Credimus summo studio & prudentia discernendam esse veram Ecclesiam, cujus nomine nimium multi abutuntur. Ita (que) affirmamus ex Dei verbo, Ec­clesiam esse fidelium coetum, qui in verbo Dei sequendo, & purâ religione colendâ consentiunt, in quâ etiam quotidie proficiunt; crescentes & confirmantes se mutuò in Dei timore, ut qui quo­tidiano progressu & profectu indigeant, quos etiam quantumcun (que) promoveant, oporteat tamen assidue ad remissionem peccatorum confugere. Minimè tamen inficiamur, quin fidelibus hypo­critae & reprobi multi sint permixti, sed quotum malitia Ecclesiae nomen delere non possit. Har­monia confession. Sect. 10. Gallic. Confess. Edit. Genev. 1531. The company of the Faithful agreeing to follow the Word of God, and that pure Religion grounded thereon, and who constantly make proficiency therein. Now, this Company of the Faithful thus described, is, and is called the Body of Jesus Christ. If M. de Condom had been at the pains to read Calvin, he would find him speaking of the visible Church, [Page 37] in the 4th Book of his Institutions, Chap. 1. thus,Non vul­garis eti­am laus, quod, e­lecta, se­gregata (que) dicitur à Christo, in sponsam, quae esset sine rugâ & maculâ, corpus & plenitudo ejus. Calvin Lib. 4. Institut. Cap. 1. Sect. 10. Edit. Genev. 1588. It is no ordinary com­mendation the Scripture gives it, when 'tis said, Ephes. 5. 26, 27. that Christ hath chosen it, and separated it for his spouse, to make her without spot and wrinkle, his body, and his fullness.

M. Mestrezzat speaking of the visible Church in the same sense, says; Les Or­ganes, des­quels Dien­se sert pour l' edi­fier & construire, sont les Pasteurs & Ministres de son Evangile, selon que dit S. Paul, Ephes. 4. Il a donné les uns pour érre Apôtres, les autres pour étre Prophetes, les autres pour étre Evangelistes, les autres pour étre Pasteurs & Docteurs, pour l'assemblage des Saints, pour I'oeuvre du Ministere, pour I'edifier du corps de Christ. Mestrezzat de I'Eglise, Livre 1. Cap. 3. Pag. 31. Edit. Genev. 1649. The instruments made use of by God to build his Church, are the Pastors and Ministers of his Gospel, Ephes. 1. 23. according to that of St. Paul, Ephes. 4. He hath given some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers, for the gathering together the Saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.

And a little after,Ainsi un même corps de Christ, qui est invisi­ble quant à l'electi­on de Di­eu, & à la sanctifi­cation du coeur, jouit du Ministere visible de la parole, & en re­coit le fruit du Salut. Car il ne faur pas cher­cher l' E­glise de Dieu hors de l'état visible du Ministere de la parole. Mestrezzat. Ibid. Pag. 33. The same Body of Christ which is invisible as to the Election of God, and inward sanctification of the heart, enjoys the visible Ministry of the Word, and from it brings forth fruit unto salvation. For we must not look for the Church of God, out of this visible state of the Ministry of the Word. The same thing I say with relation to that other passage of St. Paul, where he says, Ephes. 5. 25, 26, 27. Jesus Christ loved the Church, and gave him­self for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the Word; That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle. They will not have it possible, (says M. de Con­dom, Conference, Page 5.) for this place to be understood of the visible Church, not yet of the Church on Earth. He must pardon me if I say he is mistaken; for tho we understand by this, the Church already in Heaven, yet do we besides understand the visible Church upon Earth, and M. Me­strezzat speaking of this passage, saies expresly, That St. Paul there sets forth the Church as one and the same Body, receiving Grace, and Glory, and makes Glory to be the perfection and accomplishment of Grace. It is evident then, that the visible Church is in our Opinion Jesus Christ's Body, or which comes all to one, that the Body of Christ, which is the true Church upon Earth, is visible.

[Page 38] I should now conclude my Third Enquiry, did I not think my self un­der an obligation to remove some difficulties, which may be started upon it. For it may be said, the Ministry is common to good and bad, and conse­quently it makes a Church composed of good men and bad. I answer, that the Ministry and the use of it is common both to good and bad, comes to pass only by accident, and from the treachery of the Enemy. Of right it belongs to true Believers only, and its genuine design was for them. Je­sus Christ gave it for the assembling of the Saints, and instituted it to increase and cultivate his good Corn. If the Tares use it, or to speak more truly, a­buse it, this is contrary to his intention. For his hand never sowed these, but the enemy's, who rose by night for that purpose. It is sure then that the Ministry of it self does not make up a Church composed of good and bad men, be­cause such only as it was intended to gather, are to be reckoned of his visi­ble Church. Now the Ministry is designed to gather the true Believers, and truly Righteous, not the worldlings and hypocrites in the least. If they thrust themselves into the Assemblies, it is not the Ministry that calls them, but the spirit of the world that sends them thither. An invincible argu­ment that there is no other visible Church, but what consists of true Be­lievers, because they are the only persons call'd to Religious Assemblies; and it is not Jesus Christ, but Jesus Christ's enemy that thrusts others in­to them.

To give you yet further satisfaction as to this Point, permit me, Sir, to interpose between M. de Condom and St. Augustin; not to set them at dif­ference, but endeavour to reconcile them. M. de Condom assures me, that Jesus Christ in that passage,Confer. p. 7. Tell it the Church, spoke of a visible Church, a Church visible by the exercise of the Ministry;Matt. 18. St. Augustin on the other side assu [...]es me, that he speaks of the Church consisting of true Believers only; I reconcile these two by inferring, That the Church of true Belie­vers only is a Church made visible by the Exercise of the Ministry. M. de Condom tells me St. Paul speaks of a Church visible by the use of the Mi­nistry,Confer­ence, pag. 5, 6. when he says, Christ loved it, and cleansed it, with the washing of water by the word. Ephes. 5. St. Augustin tells me, The Church of true Believers only is spoken of in this passage; I can reconcile these two no other way, than by concluding, that then the Church of true Believers only, is a Church visible by the use of the Ministry.Confer. p. 8, 9. M. de Condom teaches me, that in this passage, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church, Jesus Christ denotes a Church visible, by the Exercise of an External Ministry; St. Augustin instructs me, that it denotes the Church of true Believers; How shall these two be made agree, but by concluding, that the Church of true Believers then is a visible Church, exercising an external Ministry? If you still desire an Argument of more strongth, remember that the visi­bility [Page 39] attributed to the Church in Scripture, cannot possibly be any other than that we assign it. For as on the one hand we are taught there, that the true Church consists of true Believers only; so do we learn there also, that true Believers are mixt with wicked men and hypocrites: It is there we find the similitudes, of Chaff amongst the good Corn, of bad Fishes jumbled together with the good, of Tares sown among the good Wheat. Now whatever we deliver concerning the Churches visibility and invisibility, is grounded entirely upon these two principles.

The second difficulty that may be siarted is, whether the visibility we assign to the Church, be sufficient to maintain Christian Fellowship, to comfort the Faithful, and bring them to Salvation. I answer, that this would not be sufficient indeed to establi [...]h the Church of Romes preten­sions, such as absolute authority over mens Consciences, Infallibility of Councils, a blind obedience to their Determinations, and this very insuf­ficiency as to that shews us the injustice of such pretensions. But I say, that in its kind this visibility is sufficient, either for the maintenance of exter­nal Communion, or for the joy and consolation of the Faithful, and the bringing them to Salvation. In order to that, we need only know ourselves to be in Communion with the truly Faithful. For tho we know that there is a mixture of ill men among these, yet shall we still continue in the external Communion with them, out of respect to God's Elect: We shall still bear the disorders and offences given by others patiently; we shall still receive the same Sacraments, and partake of other fruits of the Ministry with comfort, as knowing that the efficacy of these acts does not depend upon the wicked, but are blessings that belong to the righte­ous. And our not being able to make certain and personal distinctions of men, will add to our caution, that we suffer not our selves to be sur­prised into any superstitions and errors, that would insinuate themselves under the plausible title of the Church. And thus the visibility we allow the Church is abundantly sufficient.

It might further be demanded, whether it can so happen, that the Church may at any time lose the visibility of its Assemblies, and so be­come in this respect perfectly invisible? I answer, that although we ac­knowledg Almighty God can, whenever he pleases, utterly disperse the persons of the Faithful, and still keep them in this wretched condition by the methods of his own Providence; yet we do not think this ever did so happen. The Christian Church hath lain under great persecutions, but tho they were never so great, she hath constantly had some where or other some Assemblies, and some exercise of the Ministry, publick or private; and however her Martyrs and Confessors have all along made her visible, so that she cannot be said absolutely, ever to have disappeared quite from [Page 40] the sight of men; Yet we must own, that in this respect there have been several degrees of her visibility, that is, the Church hath been more or less visible, as her Assemblies have been held, and her Ministry exerci­sed with more or less freedom. We must own too, that not any parti­cular Church upon Earth can promise it self a perpetual visibility, no nor so much as a perpetual subsistence. God removes his Candlestick from the midst of a people at his pleasure, and he does it then, when he hath no more Elect to call there. There have been many instances of this in the World, particularly in the Churches of Africa, once so beautiful and flourishing; but these are only the puttings out of some particular light, and do not at all prejudice either the subsistence, or visibility of the Chri­stian Church in general.

The last difficulty to be urged is, whether the Church can at any time lose the visibility of its Characters, (I mean that visibility) whereby without descending to personal distinctions, we are enabled to conclude that there are true Believers in this mixed Society; so far as that we can not judge whether such be there or no? I answer, It not only may, but often hath happened, that the Characters by which we should in this re­spect come to know the true Church, have been so mightily obscured, that a man could not without much trouble and difficulty affirm, that In this particular body it was, that God nourished and sustained his true Believers; and we shall find hereafter that M. de Condom himself owns enough to esta­blish the truth of this assertion. But still, tho this be uncontestable, as proved to be plain matter of fact, we do notwithstanding acknowledg, that the Church did never absolutely and entirely lose their visibility in this respect; because, as was said in answer to the Prejudices, we do not think that ever so total an Eclipse happen'd, that it could not in some measure be said, This is the Society wherein God preserves some true Be­lievers.

And here I cannot but complain of what M. de Condom does afterwards in his Discourse accuse us of,Confer. pag. 10. Pag. 12. saying, that the visible Church sometimes ceases to be. They are constrained (says he) to say, that the visible Church sometimes ceases to be upon Earth. And in another place, This is the Church, which your Ministers know not: They teach you that this visible and exteriour Church may cease to be upon Earth. But this is urging his charge against us too far: So far are we from believing, the visible Church ceases to be, that we do not so much as say, it ever absolutely ceases to be visible: And yet there would be a mighty difference, between saying she ceases to be vi­sible, and that she ceases to be at all. The Sun, the most visible thing in the World, is often not visible to our eyes, but yet he ceases not to be. In the point of Real presence, M. de Condom will own, that the Body of [Page 41] Jesus Christ ceases to be visible; but he would not be well-pleased for that reason to be taxed with saying, he ceases to be there at all. But however, let M. de Condom put what sense he please upon our words, it is certain we acknowledg the Church to be perpetually visible, in the mean­ing I explain'd just now: And M. de Condom could never have spent his time to less purpose, than in taking such pains to confute an opinion which, we never held against him.

Quest. 4. What Church the Promises of Jesus Christ belong to, whether that defined by M. de Condom, a Society making profession to believe, &c. or that which we define, A Society which making profession to govern it self by Christ's Word, does really govern it self by it?

M. de Condom speaking of us in one place of his Discourse, says, They have not the Consolation which the Catholicks have, Confer. p. 8. to see Jesus Christ's promise visibly accomplisht, and maintain'd, during so many Ages. They cannot shew a Church which has ever been since Jesus Christ came to build it on the Rock: and to save his word, they are obliged to have recourse to a Church of the Predestinate, which neither themselves; nor any else can shew. After having cleared the per­petual visibility of the Church, as you lately saw, judg you, Sir, what ground there is for his sayings we have not the consolation of seeing Jesus Christ's Promise visibly accomplish'd and maintain'd during so many Ages; and whether we have not more than it is possible to have, according to the Church of Romes principle. M. de Condom according to his Principle, sees the duration of a Church, whose whole essence consists in an outward profession. What is there in this more than human? We see the duration of a Church, whose essence consists in true Faith and Regeneration, What is there in this that is not all Divine? M. de Condom sees the duration of a Church supported by politick methods, by paying a blind obedience to the injunctions of great men, and those perhaps Hypocrites too, What is there in this more than human? We see the duration of a Church pre­served in spight of confusion, and all the froward malice of men: What is there in this less than Divine? They cannot (says he) shew a Church which hath ever been since Jesus Christ came to build it on the Rock. Yes, we shew this Church built on the Rock; for when we shew the Body in which God nourishes and breeds up his true Believers, we shew at the same time those true Believers, which are his Church built on the Rock, tho mixt with such as build on the Sand. When we shew the held where Jesus Christ sowed his good Seed, we shew the Wheat, tho there be Tares among it. But let M. de Condom tell us, if he think fit, how he can shew us a Church built on the Rock, making, as he does, the essence of the [Page 42] Church to consist entirely in an outward profession. If he call this a Church upon the Rock, Jesus Christ himself will reply for that such only are built upon a Rock, who hear this word, and do it; whereas all be­sides are built upon the Sand. To save Christ's Word (continues he) they are obliged to have recourse to a Church of the Predestinate. Does M. de Condom blame us for seeking the accomplishment of Jesus Christ's Promises, in the body of his Elect, and true Believers? Pray where should we look for it else? In a croud of Hypocrites and Reprobates, that have no Faith, no Holiness, no Piety, but in outward appearance only? Such as God never call'd, and Jesus Christ shall one day tell, he never knew them? Is not this of Cardinal Bellarmin's, Perron's, and M. de Condoms, a curious Church, to the constituting whereof no inward virtue is necessarily re­quired, but merely an outward profession of Faith, and communicating in the Sacraments? A Church, whose Unity, the formal essence of it, is that of an external Vocation, not that of Predestination, nor internal Faith, nor a Ʋnion of Souls by the works of Love: In a word, a Church defined, not by believing, and governing it self by God's word, but by making profession to believe and govern it self by God's VVord? Is not this putting a mighty value upon Jesus Christ's Promises, to apply them not only to profane and worldly men, as well as the Saints and regenerate; but to such a Church as would remain entire, tho there were no true believers, nor righteous men in it; and not cease to be the true Church of Christ, tho it were composed of Hypocrites, and none else?

Thus far, Sir, there is no great perspicacity required, to discern, that the question in hand resolves it self, there being little probability that Je­sus Christ was so lavish of his Promises. But however let us examine the matter a little more closely. The first passage M. de Condom presents us with,Confer. p. 5, 6. is that of St. Paul, Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might cleanse it with the washing of Water by the Word, that he might make it a glorious Church, Ephes. 5. 25, 26, 27. 29, 30. having neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, but that it might be holy and without blemish. And a little after, No man hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church; For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. We see in these words, the obligation Jesus Christ put himself under, to sanctify his Church, to make it a glorious Church, without spot or wrin­kle, holy and without blemish, to nourish and cherish it, as his own flesh and bones. Our business is to know, whether this obligation can upon any pretence whatever respect Hypocrites and wicked men; And who will be perswaded it does?Confer. p. 6. This Church, M. do Condom says, is glorious, because she glorifies God, because she declares to all the Earth the Glory of Jesus Christ's Gospel and Cross. Now as to the wicked, of whom we are here treating, [Page 43] there need but this one word be added, That they glorify God and the Gospel in hypocrisy and dissimulation, but in their hearts deny it. Then see what God himself hath spoken as to this matter.Psal. 50. 16. Ʋnto the ungodly said God, why dost thou preach my laws, and takest my Covenant in thy mouth? This Church (M. de Condom tells us) is holy, Conf. p. 6. because she always, con­stantly, and without varying teaches the Holy Doctrine. Add here, But as for the wicked, if they teach the holy Doctrine, this is but with their lips, and in shew only;2 Tim. 3. 5. then see what St. Paul says, They have a form of godli­ness, but deny the power thereof, from such turn away. This Church (accord­ing to M. de Condom) hath neither spot nor wrinkle, because she hath neither any evil Error, nor any evil Maxim, and because she instructs, and contains in her bo­som the Elect of God. Add, But as for sinners, They follow Truth and Right only in pretence.Matt. 7. 22. Then see what Jesus Christ says of such, Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out Devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful works? Then will I say unto them, I never knew you, depart from me ye workers of iniquity. And can any man after all this allow them a propriety in the Promises of Christ?

The second passage M. de Condom makes use of,Matt. 18. 17, 18, 19, 20. is that of Jesus Christ, which I will here set down at length. Tell the Church; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man, and a Publican; verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and what­soever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them, of my father which is in heaven; For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Jesus Christ, M. de Condom says,Conf. p. 7. used the word Church to signify this visible Society. I agree with him, that the Church there signifies a visible Church; I say further, that it signifies a Church represented by the Pastors, by whom it binds and looses, by whom it asks the Father; I am still of opinion, that those excellent Promises of Jesus Christ, that God will ratify what they have bound and loosed, that he will grant what they ask, and that the Lord himself will be in the midst of them, are all made to the Church taken in this sense. But then I say withal, that this visible Church is that of the true Believers only, and that Hypocrites have no share at all in it. It is to the true Believers alone, that this Ministry belongs, they are the persons represented by the Pastors, they the only people that ask and obtain, that are gathered together in Christ's name, and in the midst of whem he is. And yet it often happens, that the Ministers of this Church, tho they be in this function, and do the business of it, [Page 44] are not yet true Members of it themselves.Ali­quando [...] tacit, ut qu [...]dam pertinentes ad civita­tem Baby­loniam, admini­strent res pertinen­tes ad Je­rusalem. Omnes de quibus dictum est, Quae dicunt facite, quae autem faciunt, nolite facere, cives sunt Babyloniae administrantes Remp. civitatis Jerusalem. Si enim nihil administrarent civitatis Jerusalem, unde est, Quae dicunt facite? Unde, In Cathedrâ Moysi sedent? Rursus si cives sunt ipsius Jerusalem, qui regnabunt in aeternum cum Christo, unde Quae faciunt, facere nolite? Aug. in Psal. 61. It often falls out, says St. Augustin, by reason of this mixture here upon Earth, that people really belonging to Babylon, administer the things belonging to Jerusalem. All they, of whom it is said, whatsoever they bid you observe, obesereveand do, Matt. 23. 3. but do not ye after their works, are Citizens of Babylon, that rule the Commonwealth of Jerusalem. For if they had no charge belonging to Jerusalem, why should it be said, They sit in Moses seat, therefore what they bid you observe, that observe and do? Again, if they were true Citizens of Jerusalem, who should reign with Christ for ever, What occasion was there for adding, But do not ye after their works? It is not then to the Ministers that the Promises belong, but to the Body they represent, and whose Offices they discharge. Now this body is the New Jerusalem, which shall reign with Christ for ever; That is, the true Believers.

M. de Cendom's third passage is this,Confer. p. 8, 9. Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Jesus Christ (says he) would shew something illustrious and clear, when he said, that his Church, maugre the opposition of Hell, should be always invincible: he would, I say, shew something clear and resplendent, which might serve in all Ages, for a sen­sible and palpable assurance of the immutable certainty of his Promises. He adds, The Church of which Christ speaks, is then a confessing Church, a Church that publishes the Faith, and consequently an exteriour and visible Church. He says further, That it is a Church, to which an exteriour Ministry is given; for 'tis added, I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven. I answer, The Church spoken of in this passage is really a Confessing Church, a Church that publishes the Faith, a Church to whom Christ hath given an exteriour Ministry; a Church that uses the Ministry of the Keys, that binds and looses, and by Conse­quence an exteriour and visible Church. The Question is, whether wick­ed men, let them dissemble never so well, and carry never so fair an out­side, do truly belong to this Church, or whether it consist of sincere Be­lievers only. 'Tis a Church exteriour and visible, I acknowledg it, but it is also a Church interiour, and real; otherwise it would differ nothing from a Phantome, a cheating apparition. 'Tis a Confessing Church, and publishes the Faith, but it is likewise a Church believing in what it confesses and pub­lishes. [Page 45] 'Tis a Church, to which not only St. Peter's Confession must be at­tributed, but also the principle and ground of that Confession.Matt. 16. 17. Blessed art thou Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath net revealed this unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven: And therefore whose Confession proceeds not from Flesh and Blood, but from Grace and Divine Illumination. 'Tis a Church built upon a Rock, and not upon the Sand, therefore not a Church that Hypocrites are of. 'Tis a Church built by Jesus Christ; a Church therefore of true Believers only, because such only are built by Christ. 'Tis a Church to which this Promise of the Gates of Hell never prevailing against it, belongs; And can we with any pretence to modesty say, that the Gates of Hell do not prevail against the wicked ingulfed in v [...]ce? Can we say those admirable words carry no stronger importance, than the preser­vation of a mere exteriour profession? But this is a Chruch which hath, and exerciseth such a Ministry. Who questions it? But does this Ministry belong to the wicked and hypocrites? No. It belongs only to true Behevers, the rest have no part in it; only as they sometimes exercise the external Offices, without any true right to them; or receive them unworthily, under the covering of hypocrisy, and being intermixt with good Christi­ans. But M. de Condom says further, Jesus Christ promised something illustri­ous and clear, which might serve in all Ages for a sensible and palpable assurance of the immutable certainty of his Promises. These words want a little unfold­ing; If they understand hereby a temporal prosperity, a perpetual visibi­lity promised to the Church, in pomp and lustre, I deny that Christ pro­mised any such thing. If they understand an Earthly Dominion, a world­ly Greatness under the title of Hierarchy, I deny still that Christ ever promised any such thing. If they understand a constant unblemisht purity in the Ministry, in the Matters of Doctrine and Worship, of moral Rules, and orderly Government, This again I deny that Christ ever promised. If they understand Believers perseverance in Faith and Holiness, so far forth as is necessary to Salvation, in despight of all temptations to the contrary, from Hell, the World, and their own Infirmities, This I own our Lord hath promised. Now this in my opinion is a thing sufficently illustrious and clear, to serve for a sensible and palpable assurance, of the immutable certainty of his Promises. For when we see our Brethren dye, and do our selves dye in the bosom of Truth and Piety, this denotes Je­sus Christ's Grace sensibly enough. If they understand over and above this, a perpetual subsistence of the Ministry, in such a condition as is suf­ficient for the Salvation of God's Elect, mangre all the oppositions of Hell, or the disorders of the Ministers themselves, this I do likewise ac­knowledg to be promised by Jesus Christ, and herein we have a sensible and palpable assurance of the immutable certainty of his Promises. For [Page 46] in the midst of so many infirmities as the Faithful are liable to, in the midst of so many Thorns as encompass and incumber the Lilies of the Son of God; in the midst of so many superstitious, profane, heretical, de­signing, worldly-minded, lukewarm and indifferent people, that are ex­teriour Professors, and often Officers in the Church; that God should still preserve the Ministry, so far as is necessary for nourishing and cherishing his Elect, and true Believers, and to bring them safe to Heaven; is a sen­sible indication of the strength of our Saviours Words, That the Gates of Hell should not prevail against it. He does not say, the Gates of Hell shall ne­ver fight against it, nor that they shall never get any advantages over it; He supposes that they shall encounter it, that they shall very much en­damage it, that they shall sometimes reduce it to great extremities; But he assures us, they shall not prevail. In this the Assistance and perpetual Providence of Christ is the more gloriously illustrated, that the Church can say of her self,Ps. 129. 2. Matt. 28. Many a time have they vexed me from my youth up, but they have not prevailed against me.

M. de Condom alledges next,Confer. p. 9. those words of our Saviour, Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; And to I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Upon which Text M. de Condom puts this Comment. Teaching with you, Baptizing with you, Instructing with you my Faithful, to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded, consequently exercising with you in my Church and exteriour Ministry. 'Tis with you, 'tis with those who shall succeed you, 'tis with the Society assembled under their Conduct, that I shall be from this present, even to the consummation of the World, alway, without interruption; For there shall not be any one moment in which I will leave you, but tho absent in Body, I will be always present by my holy Spirit. I own that Christ speaks there to his Church, that he orders it to Baptize, to Teach, and consequently gives it a Ministry, which he com­mands to be exercised therein. I acknowledg moreover, that he promi­ses to be with it, to Teach with it till the consummation of the World, without interruption; but this is not the point in controversy. All our business is to know, what Church this is; M. de Condom will have it all that Society that makes profession to believe, &c. we think it to be that, which making profession to believe, does so really and sincerely. He supposes his Proposition without offering Arguments for it; but we prove ours. For no man can say, that Christ is with wicked men and hypocrites, by the presence of his Holy Spirit, always, without interruption; that there is never any moment when he leaves them, even to the Consummation of the World. This can be affirmed of none but the Society of true Believrs: Such a Society there will always be, and Jesus Christ always in the midst [Page 47] of them, baptizing, and instructing with them; For tho the mouth and hand of his enemies may often exercise the outward acts of the Ministry, and often with abundance of impurity and disorder; yet Jesus Christ does for ever preserve his faithful under the Ministry which is rightfully theirs, he does ever baptize, and teach them even by wicked Ministers, so as by his wonderful Providence, never to suffer so fatal a corruption in the Mi­nistry, as should render it insufficient to cherish the Faith of his Elect, even to the conclusion of the World.

To the same purpose it is manifest St. Paul speaks of the design and dura­tion of the Evangelical Ministry. Ephes. 4. Jesus Christ hath given some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastours and Teachers, for the per­fecting of the Saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ. Till we all come in the unity of the Faith, and of the knowledg of the Son of God,Confer. p. 9, 10. unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. That is, says M. de Condom, the Ecclesiastical Ministry shall last with­out any discontinuance till the general Resurrection.

I say once again; this is not the Point in Controversy. The Ministry shall last to the end of the World, and in such a degree and condition too, as may suffice for the edifying of the Body of Christ, for the conducting all his Elect, and true Believers to that perfection St. Paul speaks of. Our concern is to know two things, The first, whether This shall be constant­ly preserved from corruption and impurity, and continue in the state wherein Christ and his Apostles left it us; or whether the Tares sown by the Enemy in the Lord's Field by night, shall not vitiate it? The second, whether its uninterrupted continuance must wholly consist in being or­dinarily transmitted from one Minister to another, in the way we call ex­teriour or personal succession; or whether it may not happen, that the Church should sometime take away her Ministry from them, who have palpably abused it; and commit it to others, who she may hope will use it better? Each of these two are the matters in dispute, and not that which M. de Condom was pleased to determine from that place of St. Paul.

Give me leave, Sir, to run over these wonderful Promises of Jesus Christ to his Church, and some others of the same nature once more. The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against her.Matt. 16. He will present her without spot or wrinkle,Ephes. 5. holy and without blemish. He will love and cherish her as his own flesh and bones.Ephes. 4. He will bring her in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledg of the Son of God,Matt. 18. to the measure of a perfect man. He will be in the midst of her at solemn Assemblies.Matt. 28. He will continue with her to the end of the World. He will give his spirit to abide with her for ever.Joh. 14. He will redeem her from all iniquity, and purify her,Tit. 2. Ephes. 2. that she may be a peculiar people zealous of good works. He will [Page 48] build her upon himself, to be an holy Temple, an habitation of God through the spirit.Jev. 31. He will wrde his laws in their hearts, and engrave them in their minds. He will take away the heart of stone,Ezek. 36. and give them an heart of flesh, a new heart, and a new spirit.

How is it possible, that nothing of all this should surprise the Doctors of the Romish Communion, nor stagger their confidence, of finding these Promises fulfilled, as well in the bad as the good, the just as well as un­just? For in short, if wicked men, who have no more than external profession, become by virtue of that profession, really and truly Members of the Church; the Promises concern them, and they have a right to them in common with others; for certainly they concern as many as make up the Body of Christ. Now shall we say, that notwithstanding these are drowned in vice, Yet the Gates of Hell shall never prevail against them, provided they can but counterfeit dexterously? Shall we say, that tho gangrened and putrified from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, it matters not; They shall be without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish, so they do but continue in an external profession? Shall we say, that tho they have no Faith, no Justice, no Piety, they need not trouble themselves, Jesus Christ will be with them alway by the presence of his Holy Spirit, provided they can but maintain a fair outside? Shall we say, that although they prostitute themselves to all wickedness and villany, they need not be so much concerned, Jesus Christ will not fail to redeem them from all iniquity, and to make of them a peculiar people, zealous of good works, provided they be not wanting in dissimulation? Here is no invidi­ous aggravation in all this. The Promises of Christ are plain matters of fact, delivered expresly in Scripture in favour of the Church. The defi­ning of the Church by a bare external profession, is another plain matter of fact, to be seen through all the Writers of that Communion, and particu­larly this discourse of M. de Condom. The applying these Promises to the Church thus defined, is what M. de Condom. stitly contends for, and makes it an inducement to peoples conversion. So that I do not in the least ex­aggerate, nor do I see what reply they can make. To talk of two true Churches even in Christ's sight, one to which the Promises belong as such, viz. That of True Believers; and another to which they do not belong as such, viz. That, whose essence consists in the external profession; besides that it would be advancing a notion contrary to Scripture and Reason, which inform us but of one true Church; would be to argue to no pur­pose; for wherefore should we argue about a Church to which the Pro­mises of Jesus Christ have no relation? Why should we invest with such glorious and divine priviledges, a Church to which Christ hath promised nothing at all? Or what reason have we with a blind obedience to sub­mit [Page 49] to a Church, where it may happen, that wicked men, and Enemies of God, may get the upper hand, and the Spirit of Christ bear no Rule in it?

To say we ought to distinguish between two kinds of Promises, one such as respect inward Sanctification, and Salvation, the other respecting the perpetual Visibility of the Ministry, and its Infallibility in the external pro­fession of the Truth; and that the first sort are peculiar to the Elect and true Believers in the Church, but the other belong to the whole Body of that Society making Profession; besides that this would be to start a Di­vision of the Promises, which the Scripture divided not, for all made there, are made to one and the same Body, to one and the same Church, without distinction: besides, that this would be to frame Promises that never were given, such as a perpetual Infallibility of the Ministry in the external Profession of the Truth, as we lately saw: Besides this, I say, it is plainly to suppose that the Church, as a Church, hath no promises made her of Sanctification, and Salvation, and so consequently, 'tis to oppose Scripture, which makes them to her formally under the name and title of a Church.Matt. 16. The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against my Church, says Christ.Ephes. 5. Christ loved the Church, says St. Paul, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctifie it, and present it to himself a glorious Church, having neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. The Lord (says the Apostle) nourishes and cherishes the Church; all these Promises imply Sanctification and Salvation. What can we then with reason say to this matter? except what was said upon the foregoing Question, to wit, That we sometimes form an Idea of the Church, by a Judgment of Charity, so looking upon all external Professors in general to be true Believers, and by this Judgment we in­clude in our Notion abundance of People who really and indeed are not of the Church, and consequently have no title to the Promises of Jesus Christ. But this Notion is rectified by a Judgment of Reflection, Exactness, and Truths formed from the Idea's which Scripture and right Reason give us of the true Church, restraining it to true Believers only; and that the Promises of Scripture must be applyed to it in this last, true, exact Notion only. Add to this, that this true Church being intermixt with the counterfeit, is not indeed so distinctly visible, that we can say with certainly, this or that particular man is a true Believer; for this is proper to God alone; but that it is however visible, in a sure, though indistinct manner, which will go so far as to affirm, That there are true Pelievers in such an external Profession: Add further, that this Church thus visible, becomes more or less so, according as Corruptions and Disorders are more or less predominant in their exteriour Society; [Page 50] and that sometimes it is mightily celipsed, partly through the prevalence of worldly, superstitious, and such like Persons; partly through the in­firmities of most true Believers; but still that it never was absolutely in­visible: Add once more, that this Church now upon Earth, together with that in Heaven, and that which shall spring up in succeeding Ages, are all three that Ʋniversal Church, we profess to believe in our Creed: Add, I say, these three last Propositions to the two foregoing, and so you will comprise all I have advanced hitherto; you will be furnished with certain uncontestable Principles grounded upon Scripture, upon Reason, upon the Fathers, and upon experience; by the help of which you will be able with great ease to throw off all those difficulties usu­ally started by the Romanists upon this Subject. This will be further evidenced by what I am in the next place about to say.

Natural and necessary Consequences of the foregoing Principles.

THE first Consequence, Sir, to be drawn from what I said, is, that M. de Condom hath been very unjust, in upbraiding us, as if we dealt with that Article of our Creed concerning the Universal Church, as the Arrians and Macedonians do with those that relate to Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost; which is to confess them with the mouth, but in effect to reject them, by not believing them as we ought. Those Here­ticks evacuate the Articles concerning Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, because they allow them a Divinity, which is but a seeming, and ima­ginary one only; and thus they rob Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost of their Real Essence. Can any man say we do thus by the Church? we make it essentially to consist in true and solid Faith, and Regeneration. Is not this to make it real? what may be said of such as make it essen­tially to consist in a bare outward Profession? Is not this to make it no better than a Phantome, a Shadow? Is not this to confess with the mouth, but in effect to reject it? Does not this make all those great and noble Ideas given of it in Scripture dwindle into nothing? Judge you, Sir, if you please, to which of these two Parties M. de Condom's reproach is most applicable.

II. By all I have said concerning the Visibility or Invisibility of the Church, you may know what an unjust accusation they load us with daily, [Page 51] of making the Church utterly invisible, upon pretence that we place it in true Believers only; for if this accusation were true, it would fall not upon us, but upon Scripture, upon the Fathers, and particularly upon St. Augustine, whose Principles we follow intirely. But as St. Paul ne­ver thought of making a Church perfectly invisible,2 Tim. 2. 19. though he said, The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his; and let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from ini­quity; so neither do we pretend to spoil her of her Visibility, when we say the same thing he did. As St. Augustin hath not made her invisible, though he said all that was related out of him; the same thing must be said for us. But what can we think of this method of disputing, which supposing the charge upon tryal, to be a granted confest thing, falls strongly upon proving the Church's Visibility; and so Proselytes men upon this false supposition, and those useless Arguments? Do not you look upon this, as a very fair way of proceeding?

III. Hence likewise you may perceive, how unjustly they put that question to us, Where our Church was before the Reformation? For if the Church consist of true Believers alone, as we have shown, ours was then just where it is now, i. e. in the common Field, where Jesus Christ hath sown his Wheat, and the Enemy by Night his Tares. There is on­ly a twofold difference observable. One, that before the Reformation, that part of the Field where the Corn was sown, was wider, whereas now it is contracted into less room, because in many places the Tares have driven away the Wheat, and remain alone; another, that then in the places where Wheat and Tares grew together, the Wheat was thin­ner, and got less nourishment, and the Tares quite contrary; whereas now the Wheat is thicker, and better cultivated.

The Field is the World (as Christ says) the good Corn are true Belie­vers, the Tares are the Children of this World. Before the Reformation, the true Believers were mixt with the rest in the same exteriour Profession, as they are still; but they were, if I may so say, stifled as it were with the great number of the other sort, and the spiritual life they led had much of uneasiness, by reason of the Corruptions in the Ministry, which stinted them in their necessary Food, and besides mixt many such things with it, as were not only incapable of sustaining life, but even prejudicial to it: Whereas, since the Reformation these same Believers being sepa­rated from the rest, are by this means much disburdened of that which opprest them; they are more at liberty, the Ministry allows them the Food of heavenly life in a much larger proportion, and gives it them more pure, and free from strange mixtures; and though they still con­tinue [Page 52] among worldly men, yet now they do not find near so much pre­judice from them.

IV. Another Instance of this nature is commonly given us, and how injurious it is, you may discern by the Principles laid down before. They bid us shew them these true Believers before the Reformation, single them out, say they, tell us their names, were they visible or invisible? If even at this time, when things are not near so confused, none but God only can know distinctly and infallibly, what particular men are the true Believers; If their visibility consist only in ones being able to say with certainty, there are true Believers, and not in saying such or such are the men; is it not a very unjust demand to examine us of past Ages, when things were so strangely in the dark? Would not any man of equi­ty think it enough, that we can shew how far soever the Ministry was corrupted, that still the true Believers might subsist under it? and is not this very thing a visible indication of the Churches perpetual Visibility, that God hath not forsaken us?

V. Another necessary Consequence of the Principles now establisht, is, that in an exteriour Society carrying the name of a Church, it may so hap­pen according to the Notion we frame of it, from a Judgment of Charity, that the Ministry, Ecclesiastical Dignities, and Chairs, as they are term­ed, may come to be filled by Hypocrites, Superstitious, Worldly, and in­terested Persons, and that there shall be a great many more such as these in Office, than good men. For seeing God only can have a distinct and personal knowledge of true Believers, and since he does not bestow these Offices immediately, and by his own hand; it may without question come to pass, that both those that confer, and those that take upon them these Offices, may be the Tares sown in the Lord's Field. A man can­not have any absolute certainty, that this shall not be so; because there is not any promise to the contrary; and because on the other hand, there are instances that it hath been so already. To pretend this cannot be, because it would hinder the Churches subsisting for ever, is no Argument at all; for if the Church consist properly of true Believers, as hath been undeniably proved, the perpetual subsistence of true Believers, does not depend on the faithfulness of the Ministers, nor the untainted purity of the Ministry; except we suppose the Principle of a blind Obedience to the Ministers, which is a false Principle, and destructive of Religion, as hath been made appear in the defence of the Reformation.Part. 1. ch. 7, 8. Indeed this ground being laid, when once the Ministry is corrupted, it must needs follow, that the faithful are corrupted too, because bound to receive im­plicitely [Page 53] whatever is delivered to them by their Ministry. But reject this principle, and there is no reason why the Faithful may not separate the good from the bad, and why they may not subsist under such a Ministry, by the help of that distinction which the Grace of God enables them to make. And here, Sir, allow me to wonder a little at the pleasant double which the Doctors of the Romish Communion make when they dispute. Our first and main question is, whether we ought to acquiesce in the Coun­cil of Trent's Determinations? Yes, say they, you must yield an implicit obedience to the Decrees of the Prelates assembled in a Body. But why an Implicit Obedience? Because (say they) the Church cannot subsist without it. But why cannot it subsist without it? Cannot it subsist by resuming the Ministry out of such hands, and putting it into better? Cannot it, without going so far, subsist by separating between good and bad food? No; they tell you, it cannot, because it is obliged to receive implicitely whatever the Prelates in a Body shall deliver. What way of disputing call you this, if it be not quite to swerve from good sense and reason, and to be lost in an impertinent maze? For is not this a perfect round, first to prove an Implicite Obedience, because the Church cannot otherwise subsist; and then to prove the Church cannot otherwise subsist without this Obedience, because men ought to obey implicitely?

VI. But let us proceed in drawing our Consequences. And being we hit upon the point of the Implicit Obedience they exact to the decisions of Bishops, and that Sovereign and Absolute Authority wherewith they would invest them, let us try, if this can agree with the Principles we have establish'd. I meddle not now with those other reasons that might be made use of; you will find them in part in the Book I quoted just now. All I shall say is, that since no man can have a distinct knowledg of the True Believers, and that the True Church consists of such alone; no man consequently can be secure, that this Body of Prelates, whether considered single, or whether as convened in a Council, are the true Church. Yes, but says one, they represent the true Church. I agree with you; so far as the True Believers are still under their Ministry: But represent­ing the True Church does not presently endue them with its Opinions and Affections. The true Church in conferring her Ministry upon men, does not confer upon them withal, either true Faith, or true Regeneration, much less perfect Infallibility. Hence, whatever determinations they give, are still subject to an examination. If these prove confermable to God's Word, it is our duty, not only to embrace them, but further to respect [...]he Body of Ministers, as the true Church Representative; because they have exprest her sense; and Charity will carry us still further, and incline [Page 54] us to esteem them true Believers, because they have acted as such. But when their divisions are found to disagree with God's Word, we are to look upon them as men that have abused their ministry. If this happen in things not plainly interesting the Conscience, their ministry must be born with, and the liberty of separating the clean from the unclean, natural to every Believer, made use of: If they do interest the Conscience, we groan under their ministry, we pray to God, we implore succors from above, still using the Liberty of Conscience to refuse the Evil, and retain the Good. But if this Body of Prelates-proceed to violent taking away this necessary and indispensable Liberty of Conscience, and reduce the faithful to this hard streight, either to be damned for false Doctrine, in slavishly following their Ministers errors, or damn'd for dissimulation in pretending to follow them; Then the true Believers ought to look upon them as men that have stript themselves of the right of the Ministry, to oppose them, to take it from them, and repose the trust in other hands. It is evident then, the supreme Authority we contend about, cannot take place, because it is continually in danger of being invested in worldly men, to whom it cannot in any case belong. And so we should be con­tinually in danger of mistaking That for the Church Representative, which neither is really, nor can possibly be so.

VII. The seventh Use to be made of what we have advanced, is the right apprehending of some expressions used by us, viz. That the Church is corrupted, that the state of the Church hath been interrupted, and the like, so as to reconcile these with Jesus Christ's Promises: which import not only the perpetual existence, but also the perpetual holiness and incorruption of the Church. Now for that corruption attributed by us to the Church, I say, that whereas the Promises of Christ concern the true Church, that is, True Believers only; our expression on the contrary respects the Church, according to that Idea of Charity we form of it, including all external Professors, which are ordinarily call'd the Visible Church. 'Tis of the Church taken in this last notion, that we say, she is corrupted; for the whole Body being made up, as we have seen, of good and bad man, it hath come to pass, that the wicked are mightily increased, and the spi­rit of the World, which is a spirit of error and superstition, shewed it self in an eminent manner. But we do not understand true Believers to be corrupted, only so far forth as they may possibly have contracted some tincture of infirmity, by conversing with the others. And for that in­terruption of the state of the Church, mentioned in our Confession of [Page 55] Faith, where we say,Art 31. In the 31. Article of the Galli­can confes­sion, speak­ing of an extraordi­nary voca­tion to the Ministry in times of necessity, these words are inserted. Quoniam interdum, ut nostris etiam tempori­bus, inter­rupto Ec­clesiae sta­tu, necesse suit, non­nullos esse qui Eccle­siae collap­sae ruinas instaura­rent. That the state of the Church being interrupted, it was ne­cessary it should be raised up again out of its ruines and desolation: The mean­ing of those expressions is, not what M. de Condom pretends, that the true Church ceases to exist, or that its Ministry was quite extinct in those times which we call times of desolation and ruine, for we make a di­stinction between the Church, and the state of the Church. The Church is the true Believers making profession of Truth, and Christian Piety, and a real Holiness, under a Ministry, which dispenses all nourishment necessa­ry for spiritual life, without keeping back any; Its natural and proper state is to be freed, as much as its militant condition can admit, from the impure mixture of prophane worldly men; not to be covered over, and as it were swallowed up with this Chaff and Tares; to have a pure Mini­stry, not incumbred with errors, with false worship, superstitious customs; a Ministry in the hands of good men, who are in possession of it by honest methods, and set a good example to others. This State is what we think hath been interrupted, having seen strange opinions brought into Religion, Superstitious propagated, the Ministry invaded by men neither deserving, nor capable of it, and that were advanced by scandalous and unlawful methods; having seen vices openly predominant among Churchmen, the Pulpits more zealous for Tales and Legends, than the Word of God; The Schools busying themselves with ridiculous Questions and Curiosities, the Sacraments burdened with strange Ceremonies, the instruction and edifi­cation of mens Souls wretchedly neglected; and in a word, the Gospel liberty changed into a temporal slavery. This is what we mean by the state of the Church being interrupted; this the ruine and desolation we bewail. The Church hath not ceased to exist, nor did she perfectly lose her visibility, or her Ministry, God forbid: But both she and her Mini­stry have seen the natural state they ought to continue in, changed and interrupted.

VIII. Apply these principles now to our Reformation, and then, Sir, you will discern, that granting this supposition to be true, that the Body of the Prelates invested in the ministry of the Church in our Fathers days, and assembled in the Trent Council, supposing, I say, that they delivered such determinations in points of Faith, as are incompatible with Salva­tion; Granting it to be true, that they took away Christian Liberty by Anathematizing all who should refuse to believe, and submit to those de­terminations as they did; and by adding to all this violence and compul­sion, our Fathers had reason to look upon them as Ministers that had justly deprived themselves of all right to exercise their Ministry over them by such ill conduct, and to give that power of the Ministry to others. They [Page 56] had reason to look upon the party that adhered to these Prelates with such obstinate stiffness as a Body or Society of which a man could not positive­ly say, That is the particular Body wherein God nourishes and cherishes his Faith­ful and Elect.

IX. Hence likewise it follows, that our Fathers are wrongfully charged with making a Schism, and separating from the Church. For it being sure, that the Church consists of the Faithful only; and besides, that we are of opinion, the Trent Bishops themselves broke the band of external Communion with sound Believers, and brought things to such a pass, that our Ancestors could not possibly joyn with them in the same Assem­blies; it is evident, They were the Beginners of the Schism, the Authors and makers of this lamentable division.

X. It signifies nothing to alledg, that they were possest of the Ministry by an exterior and ordinary succession; for the Ministry is not such a thing, as men when once possest of, can never forfeit their right to, tho they abuse it never so much. They enjoyed it by an external succession, 'tis confest; but this succession with respect to mens persons continues no longer than we can say, The faithful are under their Ministry. When we cannot be sure of that any more, from thenceforth the Prelates have lost their right; and such a succession afterwards, would be but as the succession of death to a disease, or of night to twilight. I do not say the Ministry it self is ex­tinct, God forbid; but I say in such a case it devolves of right to that other part of the Society where the Faithful are. The reason of which Truth is this: That the Ministers are naturally the Church Representative; And all their Authority is derived from the Body of the Faithful; When therefore it happens that they break the band of external communion which joyns them to those Faithful, it is plain they represent them no longer; and the holding their Authority over them afterwards, is a force and usurpation.

XI. Lastly, From the Principles we have established, it appears, how vain and ungrounded a scandal it is, which the Controvertists of the Ro­mish Communion are continually upbraiding us with, of setting up a new Church. For being the Church, according to Scripture, sound sense, and the opinions of the Fathers, is nothing else but the Society of true Believers: To have set up a new Church, we must have brought in a new Faith, different from what Jesus Christ delivered to the World. If they can convict us of being guilty in this point, we are heartily content they should not only say we have formed a new Church, but that we have [Page 57] formed a false, perverse, naughty Society, and draw all the consequences against us, that can be naturally drawn from that Concession. But if we on the contrary have only rejected new Doctrines, a worship that Christi­an Religion never was acquainted with; and Errors brought into the Church since it was first established; if we have only refined the Ministry, and restored the Gospel to its natural lustre, they ought to be just in ac­knowledgment, that God hath made use of us, for the preservation of his true, Ancient, Primitive Church, and the rescuing it from oppression. If it be true, that the Trent Council have made Articles of Faith of such Doctrines and Practices as were never revealed to us by Christ, may we not say that That hath set up a new Religion, and consequently a new Church? Let us judge of one another by this Rule of right reason, and conscientiously examine the truth of what hath been done on both sides; for upon such an examination the justice or injustice of taxing us with No­velty, will depend.


THUS much I thought fit to say in Answer to the First part of M. de Condom's Discourse; The Second will not detain us ve­ry long. Confer. p. 16. They made me (says he) some Objections concerning the frequent revolts of the people of Israel, who had so often forsaken God, the Kings, and all the people, as the Holy Scripture speaks; during which, the publick worship was so extinct, that Elijah thought himself the only servant of God, till he learnt from God himself, that he had reserved to himself seven thousand men which had not bowed the knee unto Baal. To this I answer'd (proceeds he) that for what regarded Elijah, there was no difficulty, since 'twas apparent from the very words, that it concern'd only Israel, where Elijah prophesied; and that the Divine Worship was so far from being at that time extinct in Judah, that 'twas there under the reign of Josaphat in the greatest lustre it had been since Solo­mon's time.

I shall not say here, that the Divine Worship under the reign of Josaphat, was not in such great lustre neither, but that the Scripture informs us, The high places were not taken away; 1 King. 2 [...]. 43. for the people offered still, and burnt in­cense in the high places, which was a worship forbidden by God. But not to insist upon this, I say in the first place, This instance is a very good proof, that the greatest part of this exteriour Society, professing them­selves to be the people of God, that is, ten tribes out of twelve, were corrupted to that degree, that Elijah complain'd he only was left. Which shews, that we must not always conclude Truth and Purity to be of that side where the number is most; nor suppose it impossible, for what we call the Visible Church, to be corrupted, at least as to the greatest part of Professors. Secondly, I could heartily have wisht, that M. de Condom [Page 60] would have reflected a little upon the use St. Paul made of this instance of Israel in Elijah's time; because it is exactly the same with what the Prote­stant Ministers make of it now. It was objected to the Apostle, that from his Principles it would follow, that God had cast away his people, in as much as the whole Body of that people had crucified Jesus Christ, and walked contrary to his new Religion; if therefore he would undertake to maintain his new Religion was the Right, he must at the same time own, that God had forsaken his Church.Rom 11. 2, 5. No, (says he) God hath not cast away his people, for there is a remnant through the election of Grace; and hereupon he alledges what happened to Israel heretofore in Elijah's time, when God reserved to himself Seven thousand men in secret, that had not bowed the knee to Baal. What can be more exactly parallel than the use he makes of this passage, and that the Protestants make? 'Tis objected to us, that from our Principles it follows, God hath cast away his Church, because the whole Body of that Church condemns our Reformation, and walks contrary to our new Religion.Confer. Page 12. They teach that this visible exterior Church may cease to be upon Earth, says M. de Condom. No such matter, say we, God hath not deserted his Church, there is a remnant according to the Election of Grace, and in proof of this we urge the instance of Israel here­tofore, in Elijah's time. If to charge the Protestants with unsincerity for alledging this, were at the same time to charge St. Paul. If the exception of Judah, where the worship in Elias his time was in great lustre, were good, and to be admitted against us, the same was also good and to be admitted against the Apostle. For what do we more than he did? or what do we say, but what we have learnt from Him ought to be said in this Case? Let St. Paul then acquit himself, and he shall in doing so, ac­quit us. Now this is done without any difficulty, for he need only An­swer, that the exception does not make at all against him. The business is to know, which is the true people of God, his true Church which he never forsakes. Now it is plain by God's answer to Elijah, that this is not the Croud, the vast Number, not the party of greatest strength, or which makes most noise in the World, but some persons reserved, a rem­nant according to the election of Grace, these are his true people, and his true Church. Tho Judah had still maintain'd the Divine Worship in its great­est lustre, yet does not this detract from the truth of God's declaration made to Elias, viz. that his true people, his true Church consists of this Remnant, or these Persons reserved. This is all St. Paul desires; this is likewise all the Protestants desire to make of it. Lord, says Elijah, they have broken down thine Altars, 1 Kings 19. 14. and slain thy Prophets with the sword, and I only am left. Had God made his Church to consist in an exterior Body of men, who should preserve his worship in a constant uninterrupted purity, [Page 61] what could have been more natural than to return this answer, Where­fore dost thou complain, have I not still my Church in Judah? The Cardinal du Perron would have replied exactly thus, and from him it is that M. de Condom hath borrowed this shift. Yet God answers in a very different manner, he fixes his true Church, not in the exterior Body, but in the Persons he had reserved. The Apostle takes the advantage of an Argument against what the Jews in his time objected, and we in like manner take the same advantage against what is objected to us now.

Afterward M. de Condom frames to himself an Objection drawn from the Disorders and horrible Corruptions predominant in Judah during the Reign of Ahaz, 2 King. 16. and Ch. 21. who shut up the Temple of God, and caused Ʋri­jah the Priest to sacrifice unto Idols; and afterward under Manasseh, whose Impieties transcended those of Ahaz. To which he answers, first, That Isaiah,Confer. Page 16. who lived during all the Reign of Ahaz, for all these abominations of the King, of the Priest Urijah, and almost all the People, never separated from the Communion of Judah; which shews, that there is always a People of God, from whose Communion 'tis never lawful to separate. Laying aside, for one minute the business of Separation, we must in the mean time of necessity grant, that this exterior Society, called the People of God, were pro­digiously corrupted in matters of Faith and Worship, that their Corrupti­on was publick and general, diffused, not among some private Persons only, but through the whole Body of the ordinary Ministry. So that the true Church, that to which the Promises of God belong, that which must not be interrupted, nor totally fail, must be acknowledged to con­sist, not in the whole Body of this exterior Society, but merely in the Body of true Believers, who it is possible may sometimes be reduced to a very inconsiderable number of this Society, and scarce make any Fi­gure at all in it. We must likewise acknowledge it possible, for such an universal Corruption to happen in this Society, that there shall be no longer any thing perfectly sound and entire in it, that is, nothing in the publick Worship without some tincture of impurity. For at the same time that Ahaz Reigned in Judah, and the Corruption was general there, Pekah was King in Isreal, 2 Kings 15. 28. who (says the Scripture) did evil in the sight of the Lord, and departed not from the sins of Jeroboam who made Israel to sin. So that the publick Worship was then corrupted every where, as well in Israel as Judah. What then became of M. de Condom's exterior Church, which he says can never err in her Determinations? Where was then that Church, which does not only maintain some truth, but teaches and main­tains all truth? Confer. Page 16. Well, but still M. de Condom tells us, Isaiah never separated from the Communion of this People, no more than did the rest of the Prophets. [Page 62] Now this very thing strengthens our Argument, and renders it impreg­nable; because, from hence it necessarily follows, that there was not in any place of the World besides, any publick Worship, nor any Exterior Body at all, little or great, that served God in perfect Purity. So that we must inevitably allow one of these two things; Either that the Church was at that time utterly extinct, or that it was pre­served in this Remnant, which we see God spoke of to Elijah. The first of these destroys the Promises of God; the second esta­blishes our Opinion, and quite overthrows that of the Roma­nists.

Let us now examine how Isaiah and the other Prophets, not separa­ting from the Body of the People, is to be understood. Can we suppose them to have been partakers of the Wickednesses that then prevailed in the publick Worship?Confer. Page 17. By no means. These Prophets, M. de Condom says, reprehended and detested the impieties of the People, but separated not from the Communion. The meaning of which is, that they separated negatively, tho not positively; they refused to partake of the Impieties in the publick Worship; but they did not set up another sort of publick Worship distinct by themselves: I grant it. But then we must also grant, that when the Worship is corrupted, the Church may subsist by means of such a Nega­tive Separation, and that this is sufficient for its preservation. Now this is exactly what we are of Opinion was done, during the Corruptions of the Latin Ministry all along before the Reformation. But still it may be said, These Prophets never proceeded so far as a positive Separation, and you have. I answer, The Reason they never separated positively, was pecu­liar to themselves, as M. de Condom himself acknowledges, to wit, that over and above the real and spiritual Covenant, God had entred into with such as were true Believers among that People; there was besides another Exterior and Temporal one, in which the whole Nation were concern'd, founded upon their being the Blood and Progeny of Abraham, and all bearing about them the Mark of this Covenant (to wit, Circum­cision) in their Flesh; so that the true Believers were obliged upon this account to continue in Communion with the People, and could not se­parate from them positively, by reason of that common Covenant which they might not break. But the case is otherwise with the Christian Church, which hath but one Covenant with God, and that a real and spiritual one, of true Faith, and sincere Regeneration; when, therefore we can no longer maintain this Covenant, by living amongst a People, and under a Ministry which is become contrary thereto, there lies a ne­cessity upon us of separating by a positive Separation.

[Page 63] And yet M. de Condom pretends to make some advantage of this very thing. Confer. Page 17. He says, The Succession of that Ancient People was kept up by carnal Generation,—and so, tho the Priests, and almost all the People should have preva­ricated, the State of Gods People subsisted always in an exterior Form, whether they would or no.—But 'tis not so with the new People, whose exterior Form con­sists in nothing but the Profession of Jesus Christ's Doctrine: So that if the Confes­sion of the true Faith should be extinct for one only moment, the Church, which has no Succession but by the Continuance of this Profession, would be wholly extinct, without any possibility of ever rising again, either in its People or Pastors, but by a new Mission.

I confess, That carnal Generation was in that Ancient People, enough to keep up their Succession in Quality of Gods People, with Relation to that temporal Covenant common to them all. Tho it be true too, that this Quality was but very imperfectly discerned in times of general Preva­rications; because, if they were then Gods temporal People, they were a vicious and prevaricating People. But, I say, that carnal Generation was not enough to maintain among them a Succession, with respect to the spiritual Covenant; because the Succession here, could be preserved no other way, but by a Participation of the same Faith, and the same Cha­rity. Now the Covenant in which the new People live, is not any lon­ger a carnal one, but purely and solely Spiritual; and consequently, the Succession in it, can only consist in this perpetual Participation of one and the same Faith, and one and the same Charity. In this particular, the Condition of both old and new People are alike. As therefore in that Ancient People, there did still continue a Succession of Faith and Charity, tho the publick Worship and ordinary Ministry were full of strange Cor­ruptions; in like manner hath such a Succession always continued in the new, even in the midst of all Corruptions. God had then his methods of teaching the reserved, and keeping them from partaking in the publick Prevarications; the same he hath still, and useth to the same purpose, al­tho the Ministry and publick Worship have not preserved their Purity. I confess, should a full and perfect desertion of Christianity ever have hap­pened throughout all the Christian World, and not one true Believer be left upon the face of the Earth, a man might say, the Church had been utterly extinct. But blessed be God, it never came to that. We acknow­ledg that God hath all along preserved his Remnant, according to the Election of Grace. We acknowledg too, that the publick Ministry was never so totally corrupted, but still all that was necessary for the Instru­ction of Believers, was so far kept up, that the spiritual Succession was always preserved intire, by receiving from the Ministers hands nourish­ment sufficient unto spiritual Life on the one hand, and casting away all [Page 64] the evil and impure Mixtures of the Ministry on the other hand; and this is that negative Separation we spoke of before. The exterior Form of Jesus Christs true Church, does not so absolutely consist in the Mini­stries making profession of Faith pure, and void of Error, that it cannot otherwise subsist any longer. I confess, when this is done, the Church is in a happy Condition, and (if I may so say) a Condition of Health. But when this is not done, the exterior Form does not presently perish upon that account, because this consists in our being able to say, That is the Body where God nourishes and cherishes his true Believers, as I have already shewn when treating of my second question. Could we no longer say thus, the Church would have lost its external Form, and its Succession have ceased to be visible. But this might at all times be said, even when the Ministry and publick Worship was most corrupted, and so the Churches visible Succession was never quite lost. It hath indeed been mightily lessened and obscured, in Proportion to the Errors that prevailed in the Ministry; and this was the Churches Condition of Misery, it's sick and languish­ing Condition, which nevertheless went not so far, as to hinder this Suc­cession.

M.Confer. Page 17. de Condom goes on. I will not say the true Faith, and true Worship of God, could be wholly abolisht in the People of Israel, so as that God had no more any true Servants on Earth. But I find on the contrary, 'tis clear, that maugre the Corruption, God still reserved to himself a sufficient number of Ser­vants, who participated not in the Idolarty. Herein we agree; for neither do we say, That the true Faith, and true Worship could ever have been wholly abolisht among Christians; but on the contrary, that maugre the Corruption, God hath always reserved to himself a sufficient number of Servants, who have not participated in the Prevarications of the rest. So far the case is the same. 'Tis not to be imagined, proceeds he, that Gods Servants, and the true Faith, were preserved only in secret; but that in all the Succession of the Ancient People,Confer. Page 17, 18. the true Doctrine always shone forth. For there was a continual Succession of Prophets, who instead of adhering to the Peoples Errors, or dissembling them, rose up against them with force; and this Succession was so constant,2 Chron. 36. 15. that the Holy Ghost fears not to say, That God rose up Night and Morning,Jer. 11. 7. xxv. 3, 4. and daily admonisht the People by the Mouth of his Pro­phets.

M. de Condom must give us leave to make some Observations upon this Passage. The first of which is, that in the Corruptions of Israel hereto­fore, when the publick Worship, and ordinary Ministry, suffered such Depravation, there was not any where in the World another publick Worship, or another Ministry, that was preserved in Purity and Perfe­ction: So that if men must needs have lookt for the Church in the [Page 65] Body of the Peoples living under their ordinary Pastors, and in the pub­lick worship (as he is of opinion we now must under the Gospel) there could not have been any longer a Church upon Earth; because his own Principle maintains that,Confer. Page 12. if this visible and exteriour Church composed of Pastors and People, do not keep and teach all truth, (that is, if She teach any thing that is false) She is not the Church.

I observe, secondly, That in the very same place, where God is said to rise up Night and Morning, and daily admonish the People by the Mouth of his Prophets; it is also said, That all the chief of the Priests, and the Peo­ple trespassed wonderfully, 2 Chron. 36. 14, 16. according to all the Abominations of the Heathen, and polluted the House of the Lord, which he had sanctified in Jerusalem. It is said further too, That they mocked the Messengers of God, and despised his Words, and misused his Prophets. Which shews that both People and Priests were generally corrupted, and the Church reduced to a Remnant. I confess, some certain Persons of this Remnant did not keep silence; but instead of adhering to, or dissembling the Peoples Errors, opposed them strongly. But besides, that a great many more, no question, sighed in secret for these things; it is manifest, that this Remnant did not make a sepa­rate Body by themselves, nor exercise any publick Worship different from the rest. And consequently the Churches visibility, tho not wholly extinct, yet was mightily darkned and diminished, and that is all we would infer from hence.

My third Observation is, That there was indeed, in that Ancient Peo­ple, a continued Succession of Prophets; and as M. de Condom says, a Prophetical Ministry ordinary with the People, Confer. Page 19. where the Prophets made an Order always subsisting, whence God continually drew Divine Men, by whose Mouth he spake loudly and publickly to all his People. But then we must say withal, that the Body of this Order of Prophets were every whit as corrupt, as the Priests and People. This cannot be denied, for the Scripture affirms it expresly.Jer. 2. 8. The Priests said not, where is the Lord; and they that should Mi­nister the Law knew me not; the Pastors also offended against me, and the Pro­phets prophesied in Baal.Jer. 5. 8. The Prophets prohesie lies, and the Priests bear rule by their means, and my People love to have it so. I have heard what the Prophets said, Jer. 23. 25, 26, 27. that Prophesie lies in my Name, saying, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the hearts of the Prophets, that Prophesie lies? Yea, they are Prophets of the deceit of their own heart. Which think to cause my People to forget my Name by their Dreams, which they tell every Man to his Neighbour, as their Fathers have forgotten my Name for Baal. And a vast number of Passages to the like purpose. So that we cannot say, there was at that time any visible Body that opposed the Corruptions, or maintained the Worship of God in its genuine Purity. The Prophets, by whom God spoke so [Page 66] loudly and publickly, were only lookt upon as private Persons, of an Opinion different from the generality of the Society. And therefore, how loudly and publickly soever they spoke, if in order to the consti­tuting a Visible Church, it be necessary to find a Body or Socie­ty of Men, making Profession of pure Doctrine, M. de Condom must acknowledg, that there was not then any Visible Church in the World.

And now, Sir, give me leave, I beseech you, to ask, with what pre­tence to Reason men can still cavil at this instance of the Corruptions in Israel heretofore, and not own it for a sensible Proof, that confirms most of the Truths established in the former part of this Letter. In it you see the several Bodies that made up the ordinary Ministry, all of them ensnared in Idolatry, and false Worship. In it you see the whole Body of the People blindly following the exorbitancies of their Guides. In it you see the true Church of God subsisting, not in an exterior Society, enjoying its Ministers, Assemblies, and publick Worship peculiar to its self; but in some reserved Persons, that still maintained their Integrity in the midst of all these Confusions. In it you see God himself, and after him, St. Paul, making his true People to consist in these Persons so reserved. All this proves, and proclaims to the World, That the true Church consists of true Believers only; That this Church is not otherwise visible, but as mixt with wicked Men and Reprobates; That this mixture does sometimes so obscure it, that it is very difficult to come to a knowledg of it; That it does nevertheless still subsist even in that state of obscurity; And, that in these true Believers, and Persons whom God has reserved, he does fulfil the Promises of Perpetuity made to the Church.

I close this Letter with sincere Protestations, That it is much to my dis­satisfaction, that I find my self obliged to put Pen to paper, in a Dispute against M. de Condom. I have all along had, and ever shall have, not only all the Respect for him, which is due to his Quality and Station; but more especially, I esteem his Virtue so universally acknowedged, and admire his Perfections, and the excellent Gifts God hath imparted to him, as they really deserve. In our Conference, I observed in him, a Wit lively and piercing, a clear Apprehension, a proper and easy way of Expression; and especially, an extraordinary Candour and Civility of Behaviour. He maintain'd his Principles with all the strength and advantage imaginable, made them look as fair and specious, as it was possible for any man, and managed them with abundance of Skill and Address. In a word, I was strangely taken with the Accomplishments of his Person, and did often feel such kind Inclinations and Wishes, as Men should do upon such Occasions. My Sentiments of Honour and Respect for him are sincere, but the more [Page 67] they are so, the more frequent I must complain of one thing, inserted by him in his Discourse with Mademoiselle de Duras, Confer. Page 15. and that is, That in our Religion we believe, there is a point of time when a Christian is obliged to doubt whether the Scripture was inspired by God, whether the Gospel is a Truth, or a Fable; whether Jesus Christ was a Deceiver, or a Teacher of the Truth. This Discourse, I confess, was by no means agreeable to the Character of his Temper; and I was amazed to find that a Prelate, who desires to be thought a man of Equity towards us, could entertain such an Opi­nion of us. In which of our Books hath he met with such an abominable Doctrine? I know indeed, this is a consequence he pretends to deduce from our Principles; but I shall venture to say, His consequence can never be made out with such evidence, as may allow him peremtorily to affirm, without any other warrant for it, That in our Religion we believe there is a point of time when a Christian is obliged to doubt whether the Scripture was in­spired by God; whether the Gospel is a Truth, or a Fable; whether Jesus Christ was a Deceiver, or a Teacher of the Truth.

When he shall think fit to consult us upon this Point, we shall declare to him with one Consent, that we do not only not believe this Proposition, but that we have a perfect Abhorrence of it; and whenever he shall please to let us know how he understands this to be deduced from our Princi­ples, we shall make it appear to him, that he is under a great mistake, and that the quite contrary must be inferred from them.

I am, Sir, &c.



IN the Preface, Pag. xi. for Palmenia, read Palmeria; p. xviii. l. 1. f: were, r. wave. In the Answer, p. 2. l. 3. f your, r. our; p. 7. in the Marg. r. Ephes. 1. 22, 23. p. 8. l. 18. f rose, r. goes; p. 10. l. 14. f Good, r. Goods; p. 23. l. 17. f. in, r. on, p. 24. l. 10. after she, r is; p. 31. l. 23. f. knows, r. follows; p. 32. l. 1. f. as, r. is; p. 35. l. 13. dele That; p. 42. l. 2. after for, [...]us; ibid. l 3. for this, r. his; p. 60. l. 20. dele If, p. 67. l. 1. f. frequent, r. freely.

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