THE TRUE Mark of the Beast: OR THE PRESENT DEGENERACY OF THE Church of Rome FROM THE FAITH once delivered to the SAINTS.

A SERMON on November 5. 1681.

By EDWARD PELLING, Rector of St. Martin's Ludgate, and Chaplain to his Grace the Duke of Somerset.

Quid Romae faciam? Mentiri nescio. Juv. Sat. 3.
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the Leopard his spots? then may Ye also do Good, that are accustomed to do Evil. Jer. 13. v. 23.
Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the Son of Perdition: Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that He as God sitteth in the Temple of God, shewing Himself that He is God.2 Thess. 2. v. 3, 4.

London, Printed for Joseph Hindmarsh at the Black-Bull in Cornhill, and Walter Davis in Amen Corner. 1682.

To his Grace, my ever Honoured and Dear Lord, CHARLES Duke of SOMERSET, Marquess and Earl of HERTFORD, Viscount BEAUCHAMP, and Baron of TROWBRIDG.

My Lord,

SEldom do some men make any Comments, but they chuse me for their Text. Since I presented to your Grace a little Sermon preached on the 30 of January, Factious people have accused me of Partiality, for not Publishing this that was Preached on the 5th of November last; and thence the Charity of our Modern Blessed Saints, (who like the Old Nestorians are—nati ad Calumniandum—rarely gifted in those two Virtues, Lying and Slandering) hath concluded, that I am a secret friend to the Popish Interest.

Which manifest and gross injury I have yet the less reason to repine at, since so many thousands of men who are far my betters, have an equal share of it, so that all who are not given to change, all who are not weary of a Happy Peace, all who Dread to be Slaves again to their Fellow-Subjects, all that are true friends to the Government Establisht in Church and State, all that love the Person and acquiesce in the Wisdom and Counsels of the King, all Ranks and Degrees of men, even Peers and Pre­lates, who Abhorr the seditious practises of Ambitious Re­vengefull and unquiet Spirits, are Libell'd under the notion of Tantivyes, Popishly affected, Papists in Masquerade, Irish Bog-trotters, and under I know not how many Nick names more.

Little do they consider in the mean while, how they Dishonour the Reformed Religion, and what great Service they do the Romanists, when they call every Honest man a Papist, and make Knavery to be a Characteristical note of a TRƲE PROTESTANT.

[Page] And though the Sons of the Church of England be thus tra­duced as unfaithfull to their Mother, yet we hope the indifferent world will consider, that none but they have effectually undertaken the defence of the Protestant Cause all a long. And 'tis obser­vable, that since the discovery of the late Popish Plot, whereas the Church of England hath both by Preaching and writing industri­dusly Laboured against Popery, the Dissenters have Laboured with all their might and main against the Church of England; which when men of Judgment and Integrity shall consider, they will soon discern who they are amongst us, that are the best friends to the Church of Rome.

As to mine own particular, My Lord, I do sincerely protest as in the presence of the Eternal and Omniscient God, that I have ever liv'd, and by Gods grace am resolved to dy a true member of our Church as it is now Establisht. And for the rest of my Brethren, the Conformable Clergy, they cannot be suspected but either by Ignorant or by Ill men; it being impossi­ble for those, who give their Ʋnfeigned Assent and Consent to our Liturgy, to entertain any kind or favourable Opinion of those Errors and Corruptions, which we justly Condemn in the Roman Church.

Therefore, to deal truly with your Grace; the onely Reason why this Sermon was not Publisht before, was, because I looked upon it as so inconsiderable a thing in comparison of what has been done by men of Great Learning and True Worth, that I could not take the confidence to shew it the World. Some discourses may be fit enough for the Pulpit, which may not be so fit for the Press; and such I conceive this Discourse to be. However since 'tis going abroad, it will not take up much room in the World; and this advantage I gain by it, an opportunity of presenting my most Hearty Service and Duty to your Grace, and of professing my self, what I am, My Lord,

Your Grace's most Obedient, Obliged, and Affectionate Servant and Chaplain, EDWARD PELLING.

A SERMON PREACHED ON The Fifth of November, 1681.

Rom. 1. 8.‘First, I thank my God, through Jesus Christ, for you all, that your Faith is spoken of throughout the whole World.’

YOu see by the Verse preceding, that St. Paul directed this Epistle to the Church of Rome that then was: and you may be sure, that the Modern Romanists have not failed to make the most use of this Text (more indeed by far, than the Apostle ever intended to give them occasion of making;) for as it is their constant custom, when they Comment upon the Fathers, if they meet with any little passage, though it be but the clink of a word, that seems to favour their Errors, to catch hold on it presently, as if all [Page 2] the world were their own, (whereas they abuse the Writer all the while, and either willingly mistake, or studiously wrest the place contrary to the true sense of the Author:) so when they are Commenting upon the Scriptures, if they light upon any one Text, which with all their Art and Skill they can but take advantage by, to plead from it, and to Hallow their Impieties, they run away strait with an [...], glad that they have found a booty, a dainty and strong Argument for their Cause.

But if St. Paul, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, an Apostle, that together with Peter preached and suffered Martyrdome at Rome, an Apostle to whose Writings the Protestants do frequently Appeal, and whose Epistles some of the Romanists have been ve­ry angry with, because they do too much favour the Hereticks (as they have been pleased to say;) if this Great man did so commend the Faith of the Church of Rome, as he doth in this Text; and if He spake so Honourably of it, as that it was admired by the whole world; we may reasonably expect to hear enough of their Brags. And indeed, this is their Starting place, whence they run out into very high Encomiums of their Church, and they tell us of a great number of Ancient Fathers that join with them in their Applauses: they would perswade us, that St. Paul here doth not only Declare what the Church of Rome was then, but moreover that he did Pro­phecy, that it should be an Excellent Church unto the worlds End, and that his Commendation re­specteth as well the Christians at Rome in his days, as their Posterity and Successors for ever. They [Page 3] tell us, that the Apostle pointeth to their Church, as to the Mother Church of the whole world, and that he extolleth their Faith, as that which all other Churches were to look upon, and mind, and observe as their Rule; that they were to account Her not their Sister, but their Mother and Superin­tendent; that they were from thenceforth to say after Her, and to seek for the Law of Christ at Her mouth, and in every particular to follow Her Directions: so that whosoever in process of time should not be of Her Communion, he ought not to be look'd upon as a Catholick, or a Christian, but as a Foreigner, and an Alien to the Covenant of Grace.

Can any thing be Higher than this? and yet what a slight Pedestal is it, which this Tower of Babel stands upon? Indeed St. Paul had reason to Praise the Church of Rome in His time, because its Faith was Pure, Entire, and Uncorrupted then, and so continued for a considerable time after. Let it be granted too, (because the words of Hegesippus Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. 4. c. 22. seem to argue it) that the Bishops of Rome were in His days of the same true Faith with the Bishops of other Churches. Let it be allowed too, that even in Iraeneus's time, that Church kept the Apostles Iren. adv. Hae­res. lib 3. c. 3. Tradition; meaning, that Doctrine which the Apo­stles had once for all delivered unto the Saints. Nay, I see no danger if we go further yet, and al­low, that those Commendations which St. Cyprian, Cyp. Ep. 55. Hier. Apol. 3. adv. Ruffin. Jerome, and others of the fourth Century gave of that Church, were not meer Complements; but that she was so Faithful in the main, that she could not easily, or would not willingly be guilty [Page 4] of Persidiousness, especially in cases of moment: I say, Let us suppose all this, that for some Ages, the Church of Rome continued a Virgin not de­flowr'd by any Hereticks; yet it will by no means follow, that she did not prostitute her Chastity in after Ages, or that it was not Possible for her ever to turn Harlot. There is no reason for that Fancy, that if men be once in a good State, they shall be so always; much less reason is there for that con­ceit, that a Church which is once Pure, shall ne­ver be defiled: and yet this is the thing which many unwary Romanists now take for granted, that since the Faith of their Church was once right and sound (which St. Paul doth here intimate, and confess) she neither did nor could Adulterate and Corrupt it, and so, that it is as Sincere & Pure now, as ever it was in the Apostles dayes. And accord­ing to this rate Cornelius à Lapide the Jesuite, doth reckon in his notes upon my Text, That the Faith of the Roman Church was sound in St. Paul's time, amd so down to St. Jerome's time, and so by necessary consequence unto this time; for never hitherto (saith he) hath any Heresie tainted Rome, as it hath other Cities.

This is a Point necessary to be Examined, or ra­ther a Fallacy that highly deserves to be Detected, for the good of such Souls as are willing to be in­structed. And therefore I shall take occasion from the Text, and the Day, to shew you these following things in Order:

  • 1. What that Faith was which St. Paul here commendeth.
  • [Page 5] 2. That it was possible for this their Faith to be altered and corrupted in After-ages.
  • 3. That the Ancient Faith of the Church of Rome hath been de facto Actually corrupted.
  • 4. That a Reformation of those Corruptions was on our side Justifiable.

And so in the last place we will leave it to the impartial world to consider, whether those violent Methods are justifiable, which the Romanists have used since the Reformation, for the Re-establishment of those Corruptions. And of these as briefly as I can.

1. What the Faith was which the Apostle here commendeth the Church of Rome for, and which he saith was spoken of throughout the whole World. It is certain in the general, that the Faith of the Church of Rome was not different from the Faith of other Churches: for as there was but One Lord, so there was but One Faith over the whole Christian World, Ephes. 4. 5. And the Reason why St. Paul with Thankfulness takes notice of the Romans Faith was, not because it was Other, or more Excellent than that which was received in other places, but because Rome, being the great Imperial City, whereunto the world was neces­sitated to have recourse, the Christian Faith was likely thence to Disseminate it self every where over all the parts of the Empire in a very short time. Now if we enquire particularly what that Faith was, we shall find it to have been this, viz. A Confession of the Necessary and Important Do­ctrines of Christianity; A Belief of those Main and Fundamental Truths, touching the Divine Nature [Page 6] and Authority of our Blessed Saviour, touching the things which he did and suffered for the Salva­tion of the world, and touching those inestimable Blessings which wereconsequent hereunto, as the Sanctification of our hearts by the Holy Spirit, the Remission of our Sins, and the Hope of an Happy Resurrection to Eternal Life for Christ his sake. These are the Grand Articles of the Christian Faith, and they are summed up in that short Col­lection of Christian Verities, which we call the Apostles Creed, because (whether they them­selves compiled that Collection or no) it contains those main Points and Doctrines which the Apo­stles preached at Rome, and in all places beside, as the only Credenda, or matters of Faith, that were absolutely Necessary to Salvation.

Of this we have Testimonies abundant: for when St. Paul preached at Athens, they were the Funda­mental & Substantial Doctrines of Christianity which he taught, viz. Jesus, and the Resurrection, as St. Luke tells us, Act. 17. 18. And when the great Apostle wrote to the Corinthian Church, he told them, what that Gospel was which he had received himself, and which he had delivered unto them, and by which they were to be saved; And what was that Gospel? why, a Collection still of these Necessary matters of Faith, how that Christ died for our sins, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures, 1 Cor. 15. 1, 2, 3, 4. Nay, writing to That Church of Rome, whose Ancient Faith we are now considering, he declares what that was, which he and the rest of the Apostles made the common subject of their discourses (to the Romans, and to [Page 7] all other people) and still it was of the necessary and prime matters of Faith; for This, saith he, is the word of Faith which we preach, that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt be­lieve in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved, Rom. 10. 8, 9. Now can any thing be plainer than this, That the Faith which all the Apostles preach'd, which all Chri­stian Churches receiv'd, and for which the Roman Church is here commended, was made up of those principal Doctrines which at this day we find in our Creed?

To these, were it necessary to add the Testimo­nies Tert de veland. Virgin. & de prascrip. Atka­nas. in initio & fine Symbol. of Church-writers, I might instance in Ter­tullian, Athanasius, and divers more, who speak­ing of the Creed, own'd it to have been the One, only, immoveable and sufficient Rule which all Chri­stians went by; the Catholick Faith, and the Faith of all Churches in the world, which whosoever be­lieved, was a right Catholick and sound Believer. But to avoid prolixity, I shall only take notice of what we meet with in Irenaeus, who lived in the Iren. adv. Haer. lib. 1. c. 2, 3. & 4. very next age to the Apostles; for, rehearsing the Articles of the Creed, he tells us, that That was the Faith which the whole Church over the whole world had received from the Apostles and their Disciples; that every Church held, taught, and kept with all diligence and care, and that the Churches in Germany, in Spain, in France, in the Eastern parts of Egypt, in Africk, and in the mid-land parts of the world (which takes in Rome too) did in His dayes believe no other Doctrines, than what were contained in the Apostles Creed, and that the Universal Church was [Page 8] One, because the Faith of every Church in the world was one and the same, and that none either taught more, or believed less, than that One Faith did amount unto.

Alas! in those dayes the Creed of all Chri­stians was a plain, easie and short one; for they thought themselves obliged to this only, to believe the Essentials of Christianity, and to lead good lives; and it had been well for Christendom, had after-ages taken no other care: but by multiply­ing Articles some have multiplyed Errors too; and as Seneca observed of the old World, that while men lived upon a Simple and Natural sort of Diet, they were very healthful and strong; but multos morbos multa fercula fecerunt, when they came to be Nice, and Luxurious, and would have variety of costly Dishes served up at their Tables, many dis­eases followed: so it is observable in this Case; as long as Christians contented themselves with a Simple Religion, and a plain short Creed, so long the Faith continued in a good state; but when they came to be wanton, and would needs have this and that Point set out according to their Gusto, Reli­gion became Sickly, and men Unsound, and by abu­sing their Learning, they were the less Virtuous, and the less Orthodox, but yet the more Techy and Imperious.

2. But (to come to our next Point) I know the Church of Rome will by no means hear of this, that She has play'd any Tricks with the Ancient Faith, either by Adding to it, or by Taking from it, or by Embasing it with any Novel Mixtures; nor indeed that it was Possible for Her to do it, con­sidering that Singular Prerogative of an Un-erring [Page 9] Judgement which she pretendeth to have above all Churches beside. But this is a most vain and ridiculous conceit: for, because she was faithful once, it will no more follow, that she hath been so ever since, then it will follow, that because the Husbandman soweth Wheat in his Field, it shall bring forth no Tares; or, that because a Child is Innocent upon his Baptism, he shall never grow up to be a Man of Sin; or, that because a Virgin is yet unspotted, she will never turn Whore; or, that because a man is yet in Health, he shall never be crazy; or, that because a Town is yet free from the Plague, it shall never be visited with it; or that we shall not be mortal, because our Climate is Temperate, our Air good, our Physicians skil­ful, and our Food at present is wholsome. A long Tract of Time produceth many and great Altera­tions; for one Generation passeth away, and ano­ther comes; and many times we see, that the Po­sterities of men are not half so good as their Pre­decessors were, and that Religion which was sprightly and visible in One Age, may be almost Lost in another. Anciently the Faith of the Church of Rome was Right, and her Bishops were Wise and Holy men; but because she had this Honour in the Primitive times, was it impossible for her ever to lose it? Was it Impossible, either for the Sheep in the fold to catch the Bane? or for the Shepherds to fall asleep? or for Wolves to creep in unawares, or be encouraged and invited to come in at Noon-day? Why, look ye now, This is as great a piece of Non-sence, as if you should believe, that because the City of London is now [Page 10] well stockt with a Knowing and Honest Clergy, it may not be as ill stockt with a pack of Illiterate and ill men, should Times alter, and our Laws and Government be subverted. 'Tis true, Christ pro­mised his Church, That the Gates of Hell should not prevail against her: But this promise belongs not to any One particular National Church, but to the Church in General. 'Tis true also that Christ said, Lo I am with you alwayes, even to the end of the world; but 'twas spoken to All the Apostles, and to all their Successors for ever. 'Tis true likewise, that Christ prayed, That Peter's Faith should not fail: but this was a Personal respect to Peter himself, but no security for those that came after him; and we may well wonder, how it should come into the head of any Papist to dream from that Text, that because Peter himself did not utterly forsake the Faith, ergo, it was impossible for Marcellinus to become an Idolator, or for Eleutherius to turn Mon­tanist, or for Liberius to fall off to the Arians, or for Honorius to be a Monothelite, or for Anastasius to turn Nestorian, or for Pope John (the 23d. of that name) to teach, That there is no Future state of Happiness, nor any Resurrection of the dead? And yet we have proved it upon them, that these things were done and taught, and that the Faith of these and other Bishops of Rome hath actually failed either in whole, or in a very great part. When St. Paul writing to the Church of Rome, gave her this warning, Be not high minded, but fear, Rom. 11. 20. and when he besought them, to mark such as caused divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which they had learned, Rom. 16. 17. either [Page 11] the Church of Rome was then in danger of being tainted with Scandalous Principles, and of Aposta­tizing from the Truth, and of Falling from the fa­vour of God; or else the Apostle was an Imperti­nent man, and ill adviz'd, to give them such Need­less admonitions, and to tell them of danger when there was none.

3. But not to argue any longer at this rate. If it be made appear, that the Primitive Faith of the Church of Rome is Actually corrupted and alter'd, that will undeniably prove the Possibility of that thing. And because this is the main point in de­bate, which (if proved) will at once take away all their pleas of an Infallible Spirit, all their pre­tences to Antiquity, all their Arguments against our Reformation, and all those Insinuations where­by they beguile Ignorant and Unwary men, I must desire your patience while I insist somewhat large­ly and particularly upon it. And for proof hereof I might take notice of one Modern Principle in the Church of Rome, which doth plainly Intimate and Argue a Confession out of their own mouths, that they have alter'd the Old Faith; for the Principle is this, That it lies in the power of their Church, not only to Declare New Articles of Faith, but to Make and Constitute New Creeds, and to Impose them as necessary to Salvation. The most Learned Bishop Taylor hath shewed this against them in his Excel­lent Disswasive from Popery, wherein he observes too, that when Pope Leo the Tenth issued out his Bull against Martin Luther, and condemned him, he condemned him for teaching this, among other things, That it is not in the power of the Church [Page 12] or Pope to make Articles of Faith. Now, saith my Learned and Judicious Author rightly,‘It is not Credible they would publish such Invidious and Ill-sounding Doctrine to no purpose, and to serve no End; therefore, it may without further Evi­dence be believed by all Discerning persons, that they have Need of this Doctrine, or it would not have been taught, and that consequently without more ado it may be concluded, that some of their Articles are parts of this New faith.’ But I shall wave this for Brevity-sake; and so I shall wave also many Testimonies of some of the Ancients, which are usually and with good Reason brought to prove the plain Innovations in Religion, which are now Taught and Practised in the Roman Church. I am willing to take a shorter course (and that which will bring me very home to them) to demonstrate that they have alter'd and adulterated the Primitive Faith, even of their own Church: and this I shall shew by men of their own, and by using some Testimonies out of, and by making some Remarks upon some of the most considerable men, whom they own to have been Bishops of their Church in the Primitive ages.

1. First then, St. Peter and St. Paul are believed by them to have founded and built their Church: Nor can it well be denied, but they were both of them at Rome; and we may suppose the One to have been the Apostle of the Jewish, the other of the Gentile-Church there. But now, when the One calls the Scripture a sure word of Prophecy, and requires us to take heed thereunto, 2 Pet. 1. 19. [Page 13] and when the other tells us, that The whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for do­ctrine, 2 Tim. 3. 17. for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be Perfect, throughly furnisht unto all good works; How can we reconcile this with the late pretended Autho­rity and Necessity of Tradition?

When St. Peter requires us, To be ready alwayes 1 Pet. 3. 15. to give an answer to every man that asketh us a Rea­son of the Hope that is in us; and when St Paul's manner was To Reason with men out of the Scrip­tures, Act. 17. 3. opening and expounding the meaning of them; How can we reconcile this with those Doctrines, touching the Necessity of Hiding the Scriptures from the Vulgar, and the Excellence of a Blind and Implicite Faith?

When St. Peter affirms, That there is no Salva­tion Act. 4. 12. in any other, but in Christ only, and no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we can be saved; and when St. Paul tells us, That Christ was by his sufferings consecrated to be our High Priest, that He intercedeth for us, and is the One onely Mediator; how can we reconcile this with that Doctrine touching the Invocation of, and trusting in the Intercession and merits of Saints?

When St. Peter tells us, That Christ Suffered Once 1 Pet. 3. 18. Heb. 7. 27. c. 9. 28. & 10. 10. for Sins; and St. Paul agrees to it, That Christ offered up himself a Sacrifice Once, that he was Once offered, and that That offering of his body was once for All; How can we reconcile this with the Do­ctrine touching the daily Sacrificing of Christ in the Mass?

When St. Peter taught, That through the Grace [Page 14] of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved; and St. Paul argued in this very Epistle to the Church of Act. 5. 11. Rom. 11. 5. Rome, That if by Grace, then it is no more of works; How can we reconcile this with that Doctrine, about Earning and Meriting Heaven by the intrin­sick value of our performances?

When St. Peter would have us to call upon the Fa­ther; and St. Paul would have us Pray with the Spi­rit, and with the understanding also; How can we reconcile this with that Doctrine of Praying in an Unknown Tongue? A thing so directly repug­nant to the Apostles order, as if it were done out of meer spight against 1 Cor. 14.

When One Apostle tells us, That we are redeemed not with corruptible things, as Silver and Gold; How can it consist with that Doctrine, about redeeming Souls out of pain by Eight-penny Offerings, and a Lusty Legacy, as if our Saviour's Vae were to be removed, and the Gospel were to run thus, Wo unto you that are Poor?

And when the other Apostle so often calls the Solid Element in the Sacrament, Bread; how can it be Natural and Real Flesh? and when he com­mands all men to eat of that Bread, and to drink of that Cup, how can we reconcile it with the Doctrine of Half-Communion, which they them­selves have confest to be contrary to the Institu­tion Licet Christus post coenam in­stituerit, & su­is discipulis ad­ministraverit sub utraque specie panis & vini hoc venerabile sacramentum, tamen hoc non obstante, &c. Concil. Constant. Sess. 13. Et similiter, licet in Primitiva Ecclesia hujusmodi Sacramentum reci­peretur à fidelibus sub utraque specie, tamen, &c. ibid. of Christ, and against the practice of the Pri­mitive Church?

[Page 15] Briesly, when St. Peter teacheth, That the King is Supream, is it not New Doctrine, that He hath a Superior? yet this is a Popish Principle, who­soever they be that believe it, that the King hath any above him, whether it be Pope or People. And when we hear both these Great Apostles preaching up the Necessity of Obedience to the Government, the one peremptorily requiring us to Honour the King, and to submit our selves to every Ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; and the other pressing this very home, particularly to the Romans, as if he had foreseen that in after-ages men of the Romish Faith would prove Traytors, and to prevent it, if it were possible, we find him charging Every soul, [no Priest or Bishop, or any other excepted] to be subject to the higher powers, and that not only for wrath, but for conscience sake: I say, when these Doctrines are so Plain before us, may we not think, that they who have Sanctified Treason, and taught the world to be Base, did wholly over-look their Bibles? or had a greater veneration for a Cursed Hildebrand, or an Ignatius Loyola, than for that noble pair of Apostles who were the Founders of the Church of Rome? To be sure, we may as soon make the Artick and Antartick Poles to meet, as ever reconcile the Apostolick Faith with the Faith of our Romanists (though it be not Theirs onely) whereby it is made lawful, forsooth, to depose and destroy Princes, to absolve Subjects from their Oaths of Allegiance (or to Interpret Oaths in a sense that will serve their own Turn) to raise Rebel­lions, to blow up Parliaments, to murder Magi­strates, whom they call Heretical, and Bishops [Page 16] whom they call Malignant, or Prerogative-men, and for the advantage of a wretched cause, to do such other Barbarities, as render Nero, Domitian and Dioclesian kind and good-natur'd Cut-throats in comparison.

I do not wonder, that the Papists care no more to look into the Scriptures, than a Monkey cares to look into a Glass, so very ugly is the Picture in it. But the Fathers, they say, are all on their side; and they say so the rather, because their Writings are in Latine or Greek, which common people cannot understand, and which every knowing man hath not time to read. Now, though to confute this pretence, enough has been said in the many Apo­logies and Appeals for the Reformed Religion; yet let us Examine the Truth of this a little, and set­ting aside all other Ancient Writers, let us see whe­ther the Old Bishops of Rome themselves, that suc­ceeded the Apostles, will do them any good.

2. Now St. Clement is supposed immediately to have succeeded St. Peter as Bishop of the Jewish Hammond. Dissert. 5. Church at Rome; and we have extant two Epistles which go under his name, one whereof is confessed­ly genuine, and it was written upon this occasion: There had hapned in the Corinthian Church sad Controversies and Schisms (such as are now in the Church of England) about thlngs not appertaining to Salvation. Yet these small matters occasioned a huge breach; for the healing whereof Clement wrote them a most Excellent Epistle; yet not as their Primate, or Bishop, but as a charitable good [...]. p. 71. Neighbour; for he exprest his desires touching the Criminals at Corinth, that they would yield (or [Page 17] be in Subjection) not to Us (saith He) but to the will of God. This makes it clear, that he claimed no Primacy or Jurisdiction over any Churches but his Own; and the whole Epistle is written, not in a Magisterial style, savouring of any pretence of Dominion over the Corinthians, but is full of Gen­tleness, Meekness, Intreaties, Prayers, Exhortations and Arguments from the Word of God; all which had been needless had He had any Superintending Power and Authority over them, for then he might (and we may well think, would) have pre­sently past a Definitive Sentence, and determin'd the Controversie without any more ado. But he sends them to the Holy Scriptures, as to the Rule which they were to judge things by; commends their knowledg of the Scriptures, wishes them dili­gently Pag. 68. to look into the Scriptures, and particularly Pag. 58. he recommends to them the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. He tells them, That we are ju­stified, Pag. 61. not of our selves, nor by our wisdome, or know­ledg, Pag. 41. or piety, or works (though we do them with sim­plicity and purity of heart) but by faith, and by the will and good pleasure of God. He exhorteth them to submit to their own Pastors and Governors; and Pag, 63. tells them, that the Greater a man is, either for Knowledg or Goodness, the more Humble he ought to be. And in his other Epistle (which seems to be as genuine as the former) he admires the good­ness V. Bevereg. Cod. vindicat. l. 2. c. 9. of God to them, that they did no longer wor­ship Stones, and Wood, and Gold, and Silver, and Brass, the works of mens hands; and so intreats Pag. 1. them to Repent while they had Time to Repent, and while they had an opportunity of being [Page 18] healed; For (saith he) after we are once gone out of This world we cannot make confession of our Sins, or Pag. 5. Repent of them (so as to be saved.) Here then let the world judge, whether they that make the Bi­shop of Rome to be the Universal Pastour of all Churches in the world, that suppress the use of the Holy Bible, that teach Blind Obedience, that talk of Salvation by their own Deserts, that adore Images and Pictures, that preach the Doctrine of Purgatory, and pretend to shew us a Trick, how we may be saved, and how we may be delivered out of Torments after Death, though we die in Sin. Judge, I say, whether these men have not corrupted the Faith, and changed it to another thing from what it was in the dayes of St. Clement.

3. Another of the old Popes of Rome was Ani­cetus, in whose dayes that Controversie arose, when the Lent Fast should conclude, and Easter be kept; some arguing that it ought to be kept on the day of the Jews Passeover (which was the Custome in Asia;) others, that it should be kept on the Resur­rection-day, (which was the Custome at Rome, and in other Churches.) Upon this, Polycarp (St. John's Scholar) goes to Rome, and disputes with Anicetus about this and other matters; but neither party convinced the other, and so after some little heats, they parted good friends, and in perfect charity, both of them having received the Holy Communion. Now can any man in his Euseb. Eccles. Hist. l. 5. c. 24. Wits believe, that in those dayes the Popes Judg­ment was thought Infallible? or that Anicetus himself thought it so, when he neither Presumed to determine the Controversie, nor could do it, [Page 19] nor was able to satisfie any of the Eastern Bishops?

4. Within a while after Him succeeded Eleuthe­rius, in whose days the Doctrines of Montanus made a filthy stir; and to stifle the spreading of that Plague the Gallican Church wrote Letters into Asia, and another they sent to the Pope himself, admonishing him to follow the things which made for Peace: For Tertullian is witness, that the Pope Tertul adv. Prax. in initio. was infected with Montanism. But yet so it was, that through Fear on the One hand, and through the solicitations of Praxeas on the other, he was fain to Reject Montanus and his followers. And can we imagine, that the world then counted Eleu­therius's Judgment Infallible, when they found him to have been Haeretical? or that Eleutherius himself thought he could not Err, when he Condemned Mon­tanism, which before he had Embraced?

5. Pope Victor was the next, and of him I ob­serve these two things: First, That whereas it was provided by an Old Canon of the Church, That every Nation should ac­knowledg [...], &c. Can. Apost. 34. their Own Primate, and count him their Head, and do nothing without bis Order, Pope Victor own'd the Au­thority of this Canon, and claimed no Primacy over Polycrates (the Metropolitan of the Procon­sular Asia) when he wrote to him about calling a Synod to consider of the Paschal Controversie. For [...]. in­quit Polycra­tes ad Vict. Eu­seb. Hist. Eccl. l. 5. c. 24. though the Popes now challenge a power of Sum­moning all Councils, by virtue of their pretended Primacy over all Churches, yet it was not so in Pope Victor's dayes; for he did entreat and beseech Polycrates that He would call a Synod of Bishops [Page 20] himself. Secondly, That when Victor purposed to Anathematize the Asiatick Churches, for not complying with his Humour, Irenaus and many other Bishops dealt very roundly and roughly with him, so that he was forced to Alter his purpose. Whence it appears, that the Popes in those dayes were so far from conceiving themselves to be Su­pream, or free from a possibility of Erring, that they stood in awe of their Fellow-Bishops, that could upon occasion Ruffle with them, and make them keep the Peace, and bind them to their good behaviour.

6. I might shew too how St. Cyprian rated both those Popes in his time, Cornelius and Stephen: but I forbear to gather any more instances of that nature, because it is so well known, that for near 600 years after Christ the Bishops of Rome never had the Title of Universal Pastors of the Church, till the dayes of Boniface the Third, and he gat it basely, and by the grant of that Bloody wretch Phocas, who had murder'd the Emperor Mauri­tius, and all his Children, and had no way to secure himself but by giving the Pope a Title that pleased him; and ever since our Bishops of Rome have pre­tended to be the Landlords of all God's Vineyard, instead of being Labourers in it; or rather have been Wolves instead of Shepherds: and it is observable, that the Donor of this title was a Bloody Tyrant and Traytor; and you may guess at the Father by the Child, for generally since, the Love of Blood­shed and Treason hath run along in the veins of the Donees.

7. To which I shall only add the Testimony of [Page 21] one Pope more, not that he is the next in Order, but because 'tis most pertinent to this point; and 'tis the Testimony of Gregory the Great, who speaking of the Title of Universal Bishop of the Church, doth up and down in his Epistles call it a Title of Novelty, Error, Blasphemy, Impiety, full of poison, contrary to the Ancient Canons, to the Holy Gospel, and to god himself, and the fore-runner of Antichrist.

8. And as touching the point of Infallibility, Pope Adrian the Sixth did plainly assert (and Bellarmine owns it) that the Pope might be guilty of down-right Heresy, and the Cardinal doth confess that for above 1400 years his judgment was not esteemed Infallible; and the plain truth is, he was never complemented under that notion, till he got the Empire over Princes, and the Preferments of the Church into his clutches. Aeneas Sylvius (who himself was a Pope) gave this reason, why the Clergy made him Infallible above all Councils, be­cause he could reward 'em well with fat promotions, which Councils could not, and had he sued for this Title in farma Pauperis, and without a good Fee in his hand, either his Cause would not have been pleaded at all, or, by the Verdict of all the Fathers, he would have been presently Cast; but in the Church of Rome, 'tis Money that doth all.

I have been the longer upon these points, because they are some of the main and most material points that are in controversie between us, which if they would but part with, many other conceits (if not all) would soon fall to the ground, which are now held up chiefly by the usurped Authority of the Church.

[Page 22] 9. I will not except the conceit of Transubstantia­tion Gelas. de dua­bus naturis in Christo. (which if it were Ruin'd, would, like the Dragons tail, sweep down a great many other ad­mired Fancies with it.) For as touching our Faith in this particular, we appeal to another of the Pri­mitive Bishops of Rome, Gelasius by name, who wrote an excellent Book which is yet extant, and he wrote it upon this occasion. The Heretick Eu­tiches and his followers did believe that though at. first Christ had two distinct Natures, yet upon the Union of 'em, the Humane nature was wholly converted into the Divine, so that his Humanity ceased, and was absorpt and turn'd into the substance of his Divinity (just as our Adversaries pretend, that the Bread in the H. Eucharist ceaseth and is turn'd into the substance of Christ's Flesh.) Pope Gelasius undertook the maintenance of the Catholic Faith against these Hereticks, and (which is well to be observed) to prove the real existence of our Saviour's Humane nature, he draws an Argument from the then received Doctrine concerning the nature of the Elements in the Eucharist: And his words I render thus. Verily the Sacraments of Christs Body and Blood, which we receive, are a Di­vine thing, because by means thereof we are made partakers of the divine Nature; and yet the substance or Nature of the Bread and Wine doth not cease to be: And indeed it is the Image and Similitude of Christs Body and Blood, which is represented in this Mysterious action. It is evident enough therefore that we must think the same of our Lord himself, which we profess, celebrate and take in the Image of him, that as [Page 23] these Elements by the operation of the Holy Spirit, do pass into this, that is a Divine condition, still nevertheless remaining in the pro­priety So I conceive the words of Gelasius should be read, Sic illud ipsum (est) mysterium prin­cipale, cujus nobis efficientiam virtutemque veraciter reprae­sentant (Scil. Sacramenta) ex quibus constat (propriè perma­nentibus) quia Ʋnum Christum, integrum, verumque permanere demonstrant. of their own nature; so is the Principal mystery it self, the efficiency and virtue whereof is truly represented unto us by the Elements which truly and properly remaining still the same, it is manifest that they shew one, entire and true Christ to remain in the union of both natures. From these words of Gelasius it is clear, that the real union of both Christs natures is the Principal mystery which is here represented; and that this is represented by the Sacramental union between the Bread and the Wine, and the Body and Blood of Christ. And hence he concludes, that the Nature of Christs Humanity doth still remain, because the Na­ture of the Elements doth still remain. But this would not have been Argumentative or Conclusive at all, had not the Church then believed, that the nature of the Bread and Wine is not abolisht in the Sacrament; for 'tisfrom that Principle, that received and common Prin­ciple, that he argues against those deceivers: So that if We are Hereticks for denying the doctrine of Tran­substantiation, Pope Gelasius himself was an Here­tick also; for Teaching that which is the Faith of all Protestants: But indeed neither was he, nor are we to be blamed; for it was the Faith not of Pope Gelasius alone, but of all the Primitive Catholicks.

10. Should I now tell you, that the same Gelasius, condemned the admini­stration Comperimus autem, quod qui­dam sumpta tantummodo corpo­ris sacri portione à Calice Sacri cruoris abstineani. Qui procul­dubio (quoniam nescio quâ super­stitione docentur obstringi) aut Integra Sacramenta percipiant; aut ab integris arceantur, quia divisio unus ejusdemque mysterii sine Grandi Sacrilegio non potest provenire. Papa Gelas. in Gratiani Decret. de Conse­crat distinct. 2. c. 12. of the Sacrament in one kind only, as contrary to the usage of the [Page 24] Church of Rome it self in his time; that Leo the first condemned all Ado­ration of any Creature; that St. Gregory disclaimed the worshiping of Images and Pictures, and overthrew the Doctrine of Purgatory; and so go on searching into the times of old, and making such other Collections, as 'tis no very hard matter to Leo ser 2. in Nativit. make, I should soon return more than a Full Jury of the Primitive Bishops of Rome (and those good Greg or. Ep. ad Seren. men and true, in comparison) to try and clear this grand point, that the Errors of the modern Roma­nists Et in 7 Job. l. 8. c. 8. which we have rejected are such, as are not to be reconciled with the Primitive Faith of the very Roman Church; which was the third thing I under­took to show.

4. But we will forbear to walk further among the Monuments of the dead. Instead of that, we will, in the next place take a short view of the vanity of their Pretences, who charge us with Noveltie, Heresie, and Schisme, for imbracing and sticking to that Reformation, which by the wonderful good Providence of God hath been wrought in many parts of the Christian world, and more especially here in this Realm. Had we broached any Doctrines which are really New, we had been guilty of Inno­vation: Had we violated the integrity of the Apostles Creed, we had been guilty of Heresie; or had we bid defiance to the Communion of the Ca­tholick and Apostolick Church, we had been guilty of Schism, and our condition would be sad. But the old Sages of the Church, and our own Consciences do bear us witness, that in every of these respects [Page 25] we are not only Innocent but Righteous; for our Faith beareth the same date with Christianity, and we have forsaken the Church of Rome in no material point, but where she hath for saken the Ancient Church, and indeed her own Primitive self. And how are we to blame, if we have done this, tho it be against her humour? Is it not very hard that the Governours of a Family shall not be per­mitted to cleanse their own house from filth and cobwebs, because the next Neighbour will chuse to let his habitation ly like a Dunghill? or is it not unreasonable that one Church must not be allowed to be a cleanly Matron, because another is resolved to be a dirty Slut? why, thus stands the case between us and our Imperious and Unconscio­nable Neighbours. Our Bishops (as to their just Authority) stand upon the same Level with the Bishops of Rome, and so do all the Bishops in the world beside: And this is according to the 34th Apostolick Canon. Now, if he will not suffer a Beesome to come near his door, the fault is not ours (and much good may his stye do him, so he do but ly in it quietly:) but neither ought it to be an offence to him, if our Prelates have taken the first and fairest opportunity they could take, to sweep our Church, and set it to rights, as all the Churches of God were of old. They commonly ask us where our Faith was before Luther? and we say, 'twas in the Creed, which our Ancestors before Luther's time believed, as well as we do Now; and as far as they believed that, so far they were Christians and Catholicks; and so far we allow our Adversaries to be Christians and Catholicks too: For this is the necessary and common [Page 26] Faith of all Christians. But before the Reformation, many Errors did bear this Faith company, and made the Table fowl wherein the Creed was written; and when we took it down to cleanse it, we only brusht off the dust from it, so that still our Faith was and is the same, though our Errors in other matters are thrown out of doors. They ask us, where our Church was before King Hen. the 8th? and we tell 'em 'twas here in England, where it is still. But before King Henry's time 'twas abused and fill'd with superstition, and Legends, and a great deal of Trum­pery and unlawfull Stuff, which either the ignorance or the knavery and secular designes of some Priests hadfoisted in (and, which we hope, God in mercy did pardon to our fore-fathers, who did not know the un­lawfullness of those Wares.) And when in King Hen­ry's dayes a Reformation was begun, and after was compleated, we did not pull down the Church over our heads, but only flung out of it such things as had been amiss in it; so that our Church is the same still, only then it was Nasty, and now it is Neat; We neither destroyed the old fabrick, nor built a New one; but we cleansed that which was, and purged the Sanctuary from its Pollutions, letting the Pillars and the Walls, the Creed, the Commande­ments, and the Pater Noster, and what else was necessary or fitting for God's Worship, to stand still as they did, and indeed better. Now if this was a Crime, truly it might have been laid to our Saviour's own charge, when he went about to Reform those abuses and innovations which had crept into the Jewish Church by the Artifice of the Pharisees, as these did into our Church by the help of [Page 27] the Priests. Did he not tell them, that from the beginning it was not so? and did he not thereby direct them to Primitive practice, as the Rule of Re­formation? and would it have been a good plea against him, should the Jews have said, Thus we have formerly believed, and done from the days of yore, therefore to teach otherwise is to be guilty of Novelty and Schism, and to set up another Church? or would it have been a sufficient plea against his Disciples, those great Reformers of the world, should the Pharisees have demanded of them, where was your Church before Christ? is it not a Mushrome of yesterday? and had not the answer been easie, that they had brought Religion to that purity which God anciently intended? why this is our case, that we have Restor'd the Catholic Faith which was once delivered unto the Saints, and have laid aside that Hay and Stuble and Trash which had been piled upon this Foundation; and if the Purifying of the Antient Faith be Heresie, if the cleansing of our Church from Litter be Innovation, and if the professing and practising of those things that were in the Apostolick Ages be Schism, then we must own our selves guilty; but own too, that Christ and his A­postles were our Precedents, only they had Miracles to speak on their side, we have (beside the Cannon of H. Scripture) the Books of the Old Fathers to speak on our behalf, and the credit of the Old Roman Church it self to testifie for us; and to those Testi­monies we Appeal.

5. Lastly, what would not the Romanists give, could they at half such an easie rate be able to justify those evil methods, whereby they have exprest their impla­cable [Page 28] enmity against Us, for no other reason but because We have told them the truth, and will not be perswaded to shake hands with them in their Im­pieties? if the spirit of Love and Goodness be the spirit of Christ; If the calling for Fire from Heaven (or the fetching of it from Hell) be utterly incon­sistent with the temper of a Christian; If our Holy o Lords Kingdom be not of this world; If the weapons of our warfare be not Carnal; and if that be the only true wisdom from above which is Pure, Peaceable and Gentle: Then they have reason to blush and hide their faces (but that Impudenoe is the Daughter of Lewdness and Apostacy) who talk so much of their Catholick Faith, which hath nothing to support it but their Catholick Villanies. Even as to this point too, if we look into the An­tient Faith of the Roman Church, we shall find it to have been exprest by self-denial, by bearing the Cross, by Subjection unto Princes, and suffering Persecuti­ons to that degree, that a great number of their primitive Bishops were successively made so many glorious Martyrs. And how comes it to pass, that whereas Loyalty and Love was once a great part of that Churches Honour; at last the lawfulness of Treason, and Rebellion and Cruelty should get in to be part of her Creed! For, are not these her Doctrines, That she can divest Princes of their Regalities? that she can (without Sinning) expose and Sacrifice their very lives? that she can free her Children from all the most Sacred tyes of subjection? that all the Kingdomes of the world and the glory of them are hers, and that she can give them to whomsoever she pleaseth (as if she had [Page 29] been trucking for a bargin with the Divel himself?) That men by being Hereticks (in her account) do ipso facto forfeit all their Rights Sacred and Civil? and that to Kill and Butcher such Hereticks is an act highly Meritorious of Salvation? let her deny these Doctrines, if she can, or Disclaim them, if she dare; but you shall never find her so Honest, because she is Conscious to her self, that did she not hallow these and the like Principles to keep the world in awe, her Court would soon want Attendants, and her cause an Advocate. And is there not a most perfect Har­mony between her lewd Faith, and her villanous Practice, whereby she hath rowled her Garments, not in her own, but in the blood of Peers, Prelates, Princes; an unaccountable Host of Martyrs, whose blood she hath abundantly shed over the whole Christian and Reformed world? witness the streams drawn in the upper and lower Germany, and in the neighbouring Countries; witness the former Massacrees in France, and the Fresh Persecu­tion there now, which is likely enough in a little while to end in Blood too. Witness the Barbarous Executions in Ireland, which are not quite lost out of our own memories: And, witness the continual Diabolical attempts which have been made against This Kingdom in every age since the beginning of the Reformation; as the Troubles under King Hen. the 8th. the Insurrections under King Edward the 6th. the huge Sacrifices and Offerings by fire under Q. Mary; the Spanish Invasion, and Domestick Conspiracies under Q. Elizabeth, and (which we commemorate our deliverance from THIS DAY) the Powder-Plot under King James, when nothing [Page 30] would satisfie those Sanguinary Catholicks, but the destruction of the whole Race Royal and of the Representatives and Flower of the whole Realm. And (to say no more) witness that Hellish and dam­nable Conspiracy, which hath been lately Levelled a­gainst the Gentlest and Kindest of Princes, against our Laws, Goverment, Religion, and the Common safety of us all.

But blessed be God that hath Providentially and Marvellously brought to light the hidden things of darkness. Blessed be God for the Miraculous Deli­verance which his own Goodness and Immediate hand wrought for us This Day. And for ever blessed be his name, that since that Time he hath kept us all along out of the hands of all our enemies, that he hath delivered us yet, and we hope will deliver us yet still. And God of his mercy grant, that as our Faith is Pure, Primitive, and Holy, so we may study not only to Contend for it, but to Adorn it too, by the Simplicity of our hearts, by the Unity of our Affections, by a perfectly Honest and Peaceable deportment, and by all the Necessary and Laudable instances of a Godly and Righteous Conversation; that Our Faith also may be spoken of and renowned throughout the whole world, and that the God of mercy and compassion may Protect and bless us for evermore. Amen.

FINIS.

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