OF True Religion, HAERESIE, SCHISM, TOLERATION, And what best means may be us'd against the growth of POPERY

The Author J. M.

LONDON Printed in the Year, 1673.

OF True RELIGION, HAERESIE, SCHISM, and TOLERATION.

IT is unknown to no man, who knows ought of concernment among us, that the increase of Popery is at this day no small trouble and offence to great­est part of the Nation; and the re­joycing of all good men that it is so; the more their rejoycing, that God hath giv'n a heart to the peo­ple to remember still their great and happy deliver­ance from Popish Thraldom, and to esteem so high­ly the precious benefit of his Gospel, so freely and so peacealy injoy'd among them. Since therefore some have already in Publick with many considera­ble Arguments exhorted the people to beware the growth of this Romish Weed; I thought it no less then a common duty to lend my hand, how unable soever, to so good a Purpose. I will not now enter into the Labyrinth of Councels and Fathers, an in­tangl'd wood which the Papist loves to fight in, not with hope of Victory, but to obscure the shame of an open overthrow: which yet in that kind of Com­bate, many heretofore, and one of late, hath emi­nently giv'n them. And such manner of dispute [Page 4] with them, to Learned Men, is useful and very com­mendable: But I shall insist now on what is plainer to Common apprehension, and what I have to say, without longer introduction.

True Religion is the true Worship and Service of God, learnt and believed from the Word of God only. No Man or Angel can know how God would be worshipt and serv'd unless God reveal it: He hath Reveal'd and taught it us in the holy Scriptures by inspir'd Ministers, and in the Gospel by his own Son and his Apostles, with strictest command to re­ject all other traditions or additions whatsoever. Ac­cording to that of St. Paul, Though wee or an Angel from Heaven preach any other Gospel unto you, than that which wee have preacht unto you, let him be Anathema, or accurst. And Deut. 4. 2. Ye[?] shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it. Rev. 22. 18, 19. If any man shall add, &c. If any man shall take away from the Words, &c. With good and Religious Reason therefore all Protestant Churches with one consent, and particularly the Church of England in Her thirty nine Articles, Artic. 6th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and elsewhere, maintain these two points, as the main Principles of true Religion: that the Rule of true Religion is the Word of God on­ly: and that their Faith ought not to be an implicit faith, that is, to believe, though as the Church believes, against or without express authority of Scripture. And if all Protestants as universally as they hold these two Principles, so attentively and Religiously would observe them, they would avoid and cut off many Debates and Contentions, Schisms and Persecutions[?], which too oft have been among them, [Page 5] and more firmly unite against the common adversa­ry. For hence it directly follows, that no true Pro­testant can persecute, or not tolerate his fellow Pro­testant, though dissenting from him in som opini­ons, but he must flatly deny and Renounce these two his own main Principles, whereon true Religion is founded; while he compels his Brother from that which he believes as the manifest word of God, to an implicit faith (which he himself condemns) to the endangering of his Brothers soul, whether by rash belief, or outward Conformity: for whatsoever is not of Faith, is Sin.

I will now as briefly show what is false Reli­gion or Heresie, which will be done as easily: for of contraries the definitions must needs be contrary. Heresie therefore is a Religion taken up and believ'd from the traditions of men and additions to the word of God. Whence also it follows clearly, that of all known Sects or pretended Religions at this day in Christendom, Popery is the only or the great­est Heresie: and he who is so forward to brand all others for Hereticks, the obstinate Papist, the only Heretick. Hence one of their own famous Writers found just cause to stile the Romish Church Mo­ther of Error, School of Heresie. And whereas the Papist boasts himself to be a Roman Catholick, it is a meer contradiction, one of the Popes Bulls, as if he should say, universal particular a Catholic Schis­matic. For Catholic in Greek signifies universal: and the Christian Church was so call'd, as con­sisting of all Nations to whom the Gospel was to be preach't, in contradistinction to the Jewish Church, which consisted for the most part of Jews only.

[Page 6]Sects may be a in true Church as well as in a false, when men follow the Doctrin too much for the Teachers sake, whom they think almost infallible; and this becomes, through Infirmity, implicit Faith; and the name Sectary, pertains to such a Disciple.

Schism is a rent or division in the Church, when it comes to the separating of Congregations; and may also happen to a true Church, as well as toa false; yet in the true needs not tend to the breaking of Commu­nion; if they can agree in the right administration of that wherein they Communicate, keeping their other Opinions to themselves, not being destuctive to Faith. The Pharisees and Saduces were two Sects, yet both met together in their common worship of God at Jerusalem. But here the Papist will angrily demand, what! Are Lutherans, Calvinists, Ana­baptists, Socinians, Arminians, no Hereticks? I answer, all these may have some errors, but are no Hereticks. Heresie is in the Will and choice profestly against Scripture; error is against the Will, in misunder­standing the Scripture after all sincere endeavours to understand it rightly: Hence it was said well by one of the Ancients, Err I may, but a Heretick I will not be. It is a humane frailty to err, and no man is infallible here on earth. But so long as all these profess to set the Word of God only be­fore them as the Rule of faith and obedience; and use all diligence and sincerity of heart, by reading, by learning, by study, by prayer for Illumination of the holy Spirit, to understand the Rule and obey it, they have done what man can do: God will assuredly pardon them, as he did the friends [Page 7] of Job, good and pious men, though much mi­staken, as there it appears, in some Points of Do­ctrin. But some will say, with Christians it is o­therwise, whom God hath promis'd by his Spirit to teach all things. True, all things absolutely ne­cessary to salvation: But the hottest disputes among Protestants calmly and charitably enquir'd into, will be found less then such. The Lutheran holds Consubstantiation; an error indeed, but not mortal. The Calvinist is taxt with Predestination, and to make God the Author of sin; not with any dishonourable thought of God, but it may be overzealously asserting his absolute power, not without plea of Scripture. The Anabaptist is accus'd of Denying Infants their right to Baptism; again they say, they deny no­thing but what the Scripture denies them. The Ari­an and Socinian are charg'd to dispute against the Trinity: they affirm to believe the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, according to Scripture, and the Aposto­lic Creed; as for terms of Trinity, Triniunity, Co­essentiality, Tripersonality, and the like, they reject them as Scholastic Notions, not to be found in Scrip­ture, which by a general Protestant Maxim is plain and perspicuous abundantly to explain its own mean­ing in the properest words, belonging to so high a Matter and so necessary to be known; a mystery in­deed in their Sophistic Subtilties, but in Scripture a plain Doctrin. Their other Opinions are of less Moment. They dispute the satisfaction of Christ, or rather the word Satisfaction, as not Scriptural: but they acknowledge him both God and their Sa­viour. The Arminian lastly is condemn'd for set­ting [Page 8] up free will against free grace; but that Impu­tation he disclaims in all his writings, and grounds himself largly upon Scripture only. It cannot be deny'd that the Authors or late Revivers of all these Sects or Opinions, were Learned, Worthy, Zea­lous, and Religious Men, as appears by their lives written, and the same of their many Eminent and Learned followers, perfect and powerful in the Scriptures, holy and unblameable in their lives: and it cannot be imagin'd that God would desert such painful and zealous labourers in his Church, and oft­times great sufferers for their Conscience, to damna­ble Errors & a Reprobate sense, who had so often im­plor'd the assistance of his Spirit; but rather, having made no man Infallible, that he hath pardon'd their errors, and accepts their Pious endeavours, sincerely searching all things according to the rule of Scripture, with such guidance and direction as they can obtain of God by Prayer. What Protestant then who him­self maintains the same Principles, and disavowes all implicit Faith, would persecute, and not rather charitably tolerate such men as these, unless he mean to abjure the Principles of his own Religion? If it be askt how far they should be tolerated? I answer doubtless equally, as being all Protestants; that is on all occasions to give account of their Faith, either by Arguing, Preaching in their several Assem­blies, Publick writing, and the freedom of Printing. For if the French and Polonian Protestants injoy all this liberty among Papists, much more may a Pro­testant justly expect it among Protestants; and yet some times here among us, the one persecutes the other upon every slight Pretence.

[Page 9]But he is wont to say he enjoyns only things in­different. Let them be so still; who gave him authority to change their nature by injoyning them? If by his own Principles, as is prov'd, he ought to tolerate controverted points of Doctrine not slightly grounded on Scripture, much more ought he not impose things indifferent without Scripture. In Religion nothing is indifferent, but, if it come once to be Impos'd, is either a command or a Prohibition, and so consequently an addition to the word of God, which he professes to disallow. Besides, how unequal, how uncharitable must it needs be, to Impose that which his conscience cannot urge him to impose, upon him whose conscience forbids him to obey? What can it be but love of contention for things not ne­cessary to be done, to molest the conscience of his Brother, who holds them necessary to be not done? To conclude, let such a one but call to mind his own Principles above mention'd, and he must necessarily grant, that neither he can impose, nor the other believe or obey ought in Religion, but from the Word of God only. More amply to un­derstand this, may be read the 14th. and 15th. Chap­ters to the Romans, and the Contents of the 14th, set forth no doubt but with full authority of the Church of England; the Gloss is this. Men may not contemn, or condemn one the other for things indifferent. And in the 6th Article above mentioned, Whatsoever is not read in Holy Scripture, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man as an article of Faith, or necessary to salvation. And certainly what is not so, is not to be required at all; as being an ad­dition to the Word of God expressly forbidden.

[Page 10]Thus this long and hot Contest, whether Pro­testants ought to tolerate one another, if men will be but Rational and not Partial, may be ended with­out need of more words to compose it.

Let us now enquire whether Popery be tolerable or no. Popery is a double thing to deal with, and claims a twofold Power, Ecclesiastical, and Politi­cal, both usurpt, and the one supporting the other.

But Ecclesiastical is ever pretended to Political. The Pope by this mixt faculty, pretends right to Kingdoms and States, and especially to this of En­gland, Thrones and Unthrones Kings, and absolves the people from their obedience to them; sometimes interdicts to whole Nations the Publick worship of God, shutting up their Churches: and was wont to dreign away greatest part of the wealth of this then miserable Land, as part of his Patrimony, to maintain the Pride and Luxury of his Court and Pre­lates: and now since, through the infinite mercy and favour of God, we have shaken off his Babylo­nish Yoke, hath not ceas'd by his Spyes and Agents, Bulls and Emissaries, once to destroy both King and Parliament; perpetually to seduce, corrupt, and pervert as many as they can of the People. Whe­ther therefore it be fit or reasonable, to tolerate men thus principl'd in Religion towards the State, I sub­mit it to the consideration of all Magistrates, who are best able to provide for their own and the publick safety. As for tolerating the exercise of their Reli­gion, supposing their State activities not to be dan­gerous, I answer, that Toleration is either public or private; and the exercise of their Religion, as far as it is Idolatrous, can be tolerated neither way: [Page 11] not publicly, without grievous and unsufferable scandal giv'n to all consciencious Beholders; not privately, without great offence to God, de­clar'd against all kind of Idolatry, though secret. Ezekiel 8. 7, 8. And he brought me to the door of the Court, and when I looked, behold a hole in the Wall. Then said he unto me, Son of Man, digg now in the wall; and when I had digged, behold a Door, and he said unto me, go in, and behold the wicked Abominations that they do here. And verse 12. Then said he unto me, Son of Man, hast thou seen what the Antients of the house of Israel do in the dark? &c. And it appears by the whole Chapter, that God was no less offended with these secret Idolatries, then with those in public; and no less provokt, then to bring on and hasten his Judge­ments on the whole Land for these also.

Having shown thus, that Popery, as being Idola­trous, is not to be tolerated either in Public or in Private; it must be now thought how to remove it and hinder the growth thereof, I mean in our Na­tives, and not Forreigners, Privileg'd by the Law of Nations. Are we to punish them by corporal pu­nishment, or fines in their Estates, upon account of their Religion? I suppose it stands not with the Cle­mency of the Gospel, more then what appertains to the security of the State: But first we must remove their Idolatry, and all the furniture thereof, whether Idols, or the Mass wherein they adore their God under Bread and Wine: for the Commandment forbids to adore, not only any Graven Image, but the likeness of any thing in Heaven above, or in the Earth beneath, or in the Water under the Earth, thou shalt not bow down to them nor worship them, for I the Lord thy God [Page 13] am a Jealous God. If they say that by removing their Idols we violate their Consciences, we have no war­rant to regard Conscience which is not grounded on Scripture: and they themselves confess in their late defences, that they hold not their Images ne­cessary to salvation, but only as they are enjoyn'd them by tradition.

Shall we condescend to dispute with them The Scripture is our only Principle in Religion; and by that only they will not be Judg'd, but will add o­ther Principles of their own, which, forbidden by the Word of God, we cannot assent to. And the common Maxim also in Logic is, against them who de­ny Principles, we are not to dispute. Let them bound their disputations on the Scripture only, and an or­dinary Protestant, well read in the Bible, may turn and wind their Doctors. They will not go about to prove their Idolatries by the Word of God, but run to shifts and evasions, and frivolous distinctions: I­dols they say are Laymens Books, and a great means to stir up pious thoughts and Devotion in the Lear­nedst. I say they are no means of Gods appointing, but plainly the contrary: Let them hear the Pro­phets; Jerem. 10. 8. The stock is a Doctrin of Vanities. Habakkuk 2. 18. What profiteth the graven Image that the maker thereof hath graven it: The Molten Image and a teacher of Lyes? But they alleadge in their late answers, that the Laws of Moses giv'n only to the Jews, con­cern not us under the Gospel: and remember not that Idolatry is forbidden as expresly, [in several places of the Gospel,] But with these wiles and fallacies compassing Sea and Land, like the Pharisees of old, to make [Page 12] one Proselite, they lead away privily many simple and ignorant Souls, men or women, and make them twofold more the Children of Hell then themselves, Matt. 23. 15. But the Apostle hath well warn'd us, I may say, from such Deceivers as these, for their Mystery was then working. I beseech you Brethren, saith he, mark them which cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrin which ye have learned, and avoid them; for they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the heart of the simplea Rom. 16. 17, 18.

The next means to hinder the growth of Popery will be to read duly and diligently the Holy Scrip­tures, which as St. Paul saith to Timothy, who had known them from a child, are able to make wise unto sal­vation. And to the whole Church of Colossi; Let the word of Christ dwell in you plentifully, with all wisdome, Coloss. 3. 16. The Papal Antichristian Church permits not her Laity to read the Bible in their own tongue: Our Church on the contrary hath proposd it to all men, and to this end translated it into English, with profitable Notes on what is met with obscure, though what is most necessary to be known be still plainest: that all sorts and degrees of men, not un­derstanding the Original, may read it in their Mo­ther Tongue. Neither let the Countryman, the Tradesman, the Lawyer, the Physician, the States­man, excuse himself by his much business from the studious reading thereof. Our Saviour saith, Luke 10. 41, 42. Thou art careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful. If they were ask't, they would be loath to set earthly things, wealth, [Page 14] or honour before the wisdom of salvation. Yet most men in the course and practice of their lives are found to do so; and through unwillingness to take the pains of understanding their Religion by their own diligent study, would fain be sav'd by a De­puty. Hence comes implicit faith, ever learning and never taught, much hearing and small profici­ence, till want of Fundamental knowledg easily turns to susperstition or Popery: Therefore the A­postle admonishes, Eccles. 4. 14. That we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro and carryed about with every wind of Doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lye in wait to deceive. Every member of the Church, at least of any breed­ing or capacity, so well ought to be grounded in spiritual knowledg, as, if need be, to examine their Teachers themselves, Acts. 17. 11. They searched the Scriptures dayly, whether those things were so. Rev. 2. 2. Thou hast tryed them which say they are Apostles, and are not. How should any private Christian try his Teachers unless he be well grounded himself in the Rule of Scripture, by which he is taught. As there­fore among Papists, their ignorance in Scripture cheifly upholds Popery; so among Protestant Peo­ple, the frequent and serious reading thereof will soonest pull Popery down.

Another means to abate Popery arises from the constant reading of Scripture, wherein Beleivers who agree in the main, are every where exhorted to mu­tual forbearance and charity one towards the other, though dissenting in some opinions. It is written that the Coat of our Saviour was without seame: whence some would infer that there should be no [Page 15] division in the Church of Christ. It should be so indeed; Yet seams in the same cloath, neither hurt the garment, nor misbecome it; and not only seams, but Schisms will be while men are fallible: But if they who dissent in matters not essential to belief, while the common adversary is in the field, shall stand jarring and pelting at one another, they will be soon routed and subdued. The Papist with open mouth makes much advantage of our several opini­ons; not that he is able to confute the worst of them, but that we by our continual jangle among our selves make them worse then they are indeed. To save our selves therefore, and resist the common enemy, it con­cerns us mainly to agree within our selves, that with joynt forces we may not only hold our own, but get ground; and why should we not? The Gospel com­mands us to tolerate one another, though of various opinions, and hath promised a good and happy event thereof, Phil. 3. 15. Let us therefore as many as be perfect be thus minded; and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. And we are bid, 1 Thess. 5. 21. Prove all things, hold fast that which is good. St. Paul judg'd that not only to tole­rate, but to examine and prove all things, was no danger to our holding fast of that which is good. How shall we prove all things, which includes all opinions at least founded on Scripture, unless we not only tolerate them, but patiently hear them, and seriously read them? If he who thinks himself in the truth professes to have learnt it, not by implicit faith, but by attentive study of the Scriptures & full perswasion of heart, with what equity can he refuse to hear or read him, who demonstrates to have gained his knowledge by the same way? is it a fair course to assert truth by arroga­ting to himself the only freedome of speech, and stopping the [Page 16] mouths of others equally gifted? This is the direct way to bring in that Papistical implicit faith which we all disclaim. They pretend it would unsettle the weaker sort▪ the same groundless fear is pretended by the Romish Clergy in prohibiting the Scripture. At least then let them have leave to write in Latin which the common people understand not; that what they hold may be discust among the Learned only. We suffer the I­dolatrous books of Papists, without this fear, to be sold & read as common as our own. Why not much rather of Anabaptists, Arians, Arminians, & Socinians? There is no Learned man but will confess he hath much profi­ted by reading Controversies, his Senses awakt, his Judgement sharpn'd, and the truth which he holds more firmly establish't. If then it be profitable for him to read; why should it not at least be tolerable and free for his Adversary to write? In Logic they teach, that contraries laid together more evidently appear: it follows then that all contro­versies being permitted, falshood will appear more false, and truth the more true▪ which must needs conduce much, not only to the confound­ing of Popery, but to the general confirmation of unimplicit truth.

The last means to avoid Popery, is to amend our lives: it is a gene­ral complaint that this Nation of late years, is grown more numerously and excessively vitious then heretofore▪ Pride, Luxury, Drunkenness, Whoredom, Cursing, Swearing, bold and open Atheism every where abounding: Where these grow, no wonder if Popery also grow a pace. There is no man so wicked, but at somtimes his conscience, will wring him with thoughts of another world, & the Peril of his soul: the trouble and melancholy which he conceives of true Repentance and amend­ment he endures not; but enclines rather to some carnal Superstion, which may pacify and lull his Conscience with some more pleasing Doctrin. None more ready and officious to offer her self then the Romish, and opens wide her Office, with all her faculties to receive him; easy Confession, easy Absolution, Pardons, Indulgences, Masses for him both quick and dead, Agnus Dei's, Reliques, and the like: and he, in­stead of Working out his salvation with fear and trembling, strait thinks in his heart (like another kind of fool then he in the Psalmes) to bribe God as a corrupt judge; and by his Proctor, some Priest or Fryer, to buy out his Peace with money, which he cannot with his repentance. For God, when men sin outragiously, and will not be admonisht, gives over chastizing them, perhaps by Pestilence, Fire, Sword, or Famin, which may all turn to their good, and takes up his severest punishments, hardness besottedness of heart, and Idolatry, to their final perdition. Idolatry brought the Heathen to hainous Transgressions, Romans 2 a.[?] And hainous Transgressions oft times bring the slight professors of true Religion, to gross Idolatry: Thess [...] 2. 11, 12. For this cause, God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lye, that they all might be damed[?] ▪ who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteoussness. And Isaiah 44. 18. Speaking of Idolaters, They have not known nor understood▪ for he hath shut their Eyes that they cannot see, and their hearts that they can­not understand. Let us therefore using this last means, last here spoken of, but first to be done, amend our lives with all speed; least through im­penitency we run into that stupidly, which we now seek all meansso wa­rilyto avoid, the worst of superstitions, and the heaviest of all Gods Judgements, Popery.

FINIS.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.