A SERMON PREACHED AT White-Hall, Before His Late MAJESTY.

By JOHN TILLOTSON, D.D. and Dean of Canterbury.

LONDON: Printed for Brabazon Aylmer, at the Three Pigeons against the Royal Exchange in Cornhill. 1686.

Price 3 d.

A SERMON Preach'd at White-Hall, &c.

1 Cor. III.15.

But he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

THE Context is thus. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise Master-builder, I have laid the foundation and another buildeth thereon: but let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay, than that which is laid, Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every mans work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it; because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every mans work of what sort it is. If any mans work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any mans work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

In these Words the Apostle speaks of a sort [Page 2] of persons, who held indeed the foundation of Christianity, but built upon it such doctrines or practices as would not bear the trial; which he expresses to us by wood, hay, and stubble, which are not proof against the fire. Such a person, the Apostle tells us, hath brought him­self into a very dangerous state, tho he would not deny the possibility of his salvation: He himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

That by fire here is not meant the fire of Purgatory, as some pretend (who would be glad of any shadow of a Text of Scripture to countenance their own dreams) I shall neither trouble you nor my self to manifest; since the particle of similitude [ [...]] plainly shews that the Apostle did not intend an escape out of the fire literally, but like to that which men make out of a House or Town that is on fire. Es­pecially since very learned persons of the Church of Rome do acknowledg that Purga­tory cannot be concluded from this Text, nay all that Estius contends for from this place is, that it cannot be concluded from hence that there is no Purgatory; which we never pretend­ed, but only that this Text does not prove it.

It is very well known that this is a Pro­verbial phrase used not only in Scripture, but in prophane Authors to signifie a narrow es­cape out of a great danger. He shall be saved, yet so as by fire, [...], out of the fire. Just as [...] is used 1 Pet. 3.20. where the [Page 3] Apostle speaking of the eight persons of Noah's family who escap'd the flood, [...] they escaped out of the water. So here this phrase is to be rendred in the Text, he himself shall escape, yet so as out of the fire. The like expression you have, Am. 4.11. I have pluckt them as a firebrand out of the fire. And Jude 23. Others save with fear, plucking them out of the fire. All which expressions signifie the greatness of the danger and the difficulty of escaping it; as one who when his house at midnight is set on fire, and being suddenly wak'd leaps out of his bed, and runs naked out of the doors, taking nothing that is within along with him, but imploying his whole care to save his body from the flames, as St. Chrysostom upon another occasion expresseth it. And so the Roman Orator Tully. (who, it is likely did not think of Purgatory) useth this phrase; Quo ex judicio, velut ex incendio, nu­dus effugit; From which Judgment or Sen­tence he escaped naked, as it were out of a burning. And one of the Greek Orators Aristi­des. tells us, That to save a man out of the fire, was a common proverbial speech.

From the words thus explained, the Obser­vation that naturally ariseth is this, That men may hold all the Fundamentals of Christian Re­ligion, and yet may superadd other things where­by they may greatly endanger their salvation. What those things were which some among the Corinthians built upon the foundation of [Page 4] Christianity, whereby they endanger'd their Salvation, we may probably conjecture by what the Apostle reproves in this Epistle, as the tolerating of incestuous marriages, commu­nicating in Idol-feasts, &c. And especially by the doctrine of the false Apostles, who at that time did so much disturb the peace of most Christian Churches, and who are so often and so severely reflected upon in this Epistle. And what their Doctrine was, we have an ac­count Act. 15. viz. that they imposed upon the Gentile Christians Circumcision, and the ob­servation of the Jewish Law, teaching that un­less they were circumcised, and kept the Law of Moses, they could not be saved. So that they did not only build these doctrines upon Chri­stianity, but they made them equal with the Foundation, saying, that unless men believed and practised such things they could not be saved.

In speaking to this Observation, I shall reduce my discourse to these two Heads.

1. I shall present to you some Doctrines and Practices which have been built upon the Foundation of Christianity, to the great hazard and danger of mens salvation. And to b [...] plain, I mean particularly the Church of Rome

2. I shall enquire, whether our granting possibility of salvation (tho with great hazard to those in the Communion of the Rome ▪ Church, and their denying it to us, be a rea [...]sonable argument and encouragement to an [...] [Page 5] man to betake himself to that Church.

And there is the more reason to consider [...]hese things, when so many seducing Spirits [...]re so active and busie to pervert men from [...]he truth; and when we see every day so many men and their Religion so easily parted. [...]or this reason these two Considerations shall [...]e the subject of the following discourse.

I. First. We will consider some Doctrines and Practices which the Church of Rome hath built upon the foundation of Christianity, to the great hazard and danger of mens salva­tion. It is not denied by the most judicious Protestants, but that the Church of Rome do hold all the Articles of the Christian Faith which are necessary to salvation. But that which we charge upon them, as a just ground of our separation from them, is, the imposing [...]f n [...]w Doctrines and Practices upon Christians as necessary to salvation, which were never taught by our Saviour, or his Apostles; and which are either directly contrary to the do­ctrine of Christianity, or too apparently de­structive of a good life. And I begin

1. With their Doctrines. And because I have no mind to aggravate lesser matters, I will sin­gle out four or five points of Doctrine, which they have added to the Christian Religion, and which were neither taught by our Savi­our and his Apostles, nor own'd in the first A­ges of Christianity. And the

[Page 6]First which I shall mention, and which bein [...] once admitted makes way for as many e [...]rors as they please to bring in, is their Doctri [...] of Infallibility. And this they are very st [...] and peremptory in, tho they are not agree [...] among themselves where this Infallibility [...] seated; whether in the Pope alone, or a Cou [...]cil alone, or in both together, or in the diffusi [...] body of Christians. But they are sure they hav [...] it, tho they know not where it is.

And is this no prejudice against it? can an [...] man think that this priviledg was at fir [...] conferred upon the Church of Rome, and tha [...] Christians in all Ages did believe it, and ha [...] constant recourse to it for determining thei [...] differences, and yet that that very Churc [...] which hath enjoyed and used it so long shoul [...] now be at a loss where to find it? Nothing could have fallen out more unluckily, tha [...] that there should be such differences among them about that which they pretend to be th [...] onely means of ending all differences.

There is not the least intimation in Scrip­ture of this priviledg conferr'd upon the Ro­man Church, nor do the Apostes, in all thei [...] Epistles, ever so much as give the least directi­on to Christians to appeal to the Bishop o [...] Rome for a determination of the many differen­ces which even in those times happen'd among them: And it is strange they should be so silent in this matter, when there were so many occa­sions [Page 7] to speak of it, if our Saviour had plainly appointed such an infallible Judge of contro­versies for this very end to decide the diffe­rences that should happen among Christians. It is strange that the ancient Fathers in their di­sputes with Hereticks should never appeal to this Judg; nay, it is strange they should not constantly do it in all cases, it being so short and expedite a way for the ending of contro­versies. And this very consideration to a wise man is instead of a thousand arguments to sa­tisfie him, that in those times no such thing was believed in the world.

Now this Doctrine of infallibility, if it be not true, is of so much the more pernicious consequence to Christianity, because the con­ceit of it does confirm them that think they have it in all their other errors; and gives them a pretence of assuming an Authority to themselves to impose their own fancies and mistakes upon the whole Christian world.

2. Their Doctrine about Repentance, which consists in confessing their sins to the Priest; which if it be but accompanied with any de­gree of contrition does upon absolution recei­ved from the Priest, put them into a state of salvation, tho they have lived the most lewd and debauched lives that can be imagin'd; than which nothing can be more plainly de­structive of a good life. For if this be true, all the hazard that the most wicked man runs [Page 8] of his salvation is only the danger of so sudden a death as gives him no space for confession and absolution. A case that happens so rarely, that any man that is strongly addicted to his lusts will be content to venture his salvation upon this hazard; and all the arguments to a good life will be very insignificant to a man that hath a mind to be wicked, when remission of sins may be had upon such cheap terms.

3. The Doctrine of Purgatory; By which they mean an estate of temporary punishments after this life, from which men may be relea­sed and translated into Heaven by the prayers of the living, and the sacrifice of the Mass. That this Doctrine was not known in the primitive Church, nor can be proved from Scripture, we have the free acknowledgment of as learned and eminent men as any of that Church; which is to acknowledg that it is a superstructure upon the Christian Religion. And though in one sense it be indeed a build­ding of Gold and Silver upon the foundati­on of Christianity, considering the vast re­venues which this Doctrine (and that of In­dulgences, which depends upon it) brings into that Church; yet I doubt not, but in the A­postles sense, it will be found to be hay and stub­ble. But how groundless soever it be, it is too gainful a Doctrine to be easily parted withall.

4. The Doctrine of Transubstantiation. A hard word, but I would to God that were the [Page 9] worst of it; the thing is much more difficult. I have taken some pains to consider other Re­ [...]igions that have been in the world, and I must freely declare, that I never yet in any of them met with any Article or Proposition, imposed upon the belief of men, half so un­reasonable and hard to be believed as this is: And yet this in the Romish Church is esteemed one of the most principal Articles of the Christian Faith; though there is no more cer­tain foundation for it in Scripture, than for our Saviour's being substantially changed into all those things which are said of him, as that he is a rock, a vine, a door, and a hun­dred other things.

But this is not all. This Doctrine hath not onely no certain Foundation in Scripture, but I have a far heavier charge against it, namely, that it undermines the very foundation of Christianity it self. And surely nothing ought to be admitted to be a part of the Christian Doctrine which destroys the reason of our be­lief of the whole. And that this Doctrine does so, will appear evidently, if we consider what was the main argument which the A­postles used to convince the world of the truth of Christianity; and that was this, That our blessed Saviour, the Author of this Doctrine, wrought such and such miracles, and particularly that he rose again from the dead: And this they proved because they were eye-witnesses [Page 10] of his miracles, and had seen him and co [...]versed with him after he was risen from t [...] dead. But what if their senses did decei [...] them in this matter? then it cannot be d [...]nied but that the main proof of Christiani [...] falls to the ground.

Well! We will now suppose (as t [...] Church of Rome does) Transubstantiation [...] have been one principal part of the Christi [...] Doctrine which the Apostles preached. B [...] if this Doctrine be true, then all mens sen [...] are deceived in a plain sensible matter, wher [...] in 'tis as hard for them to be deceived as [...] any thing in the world: For two things ca [...] hardly be imagin'd more different, than little bit of wafer, and the whole body of man.

So that the Apostles perswading men to b [...]lieve this Doctrine, perswaded them not [...] trust their senses, and yet the argument whic [...] they used to perswade them to this was bui [...] upon the direct contrary principle, that me [...] senses are to be trusted. For if they be no [...] then notwithstanding all the evidence the A [...]postles offer'd for the resurrection of our Sa [...]viour he might not be risen, and so the fait [...] of Christians was vain. So that they repre [...]sent the Apostles as absurd as is possible, vi [...] going about to perswade men out of the [...] senses by virtue of an argument, the who [...] strength whereof depends upon the certain [...]ty of sense.

[Page 11]And now the matter is brought to a fair [...]e; If the testimony of sense be to be relied on, then Transubstantiation is false; If it be [...]t, then no man is sure that Christianity is [...]e. For the utmost assurance that the A­ [...]stles had of the truth of Christianity was [...]e testimony of their own senses concerning [...]r Saviour's miracles, and this testimony [...]ery man hath against Transubstantiation. [...]om whence it plainly follows, that no man [...]o not the Apostles themselves) had more [...]ason to believe Christianity to be true, than [...]ery man hath to believe Transubstantiation [...] be false. And we who did not see our Sa­ [...]our's Miracles (as the Apostles did) and [...]ve only a credible relation of them, but do [...]e the Sacrament, have less evidence of the [...]uth of Christianity than of the falshood of [...]ransubstantiation.

But cannot God impose upon the senses of [...]en, and represent things to them otherwise [...]an they are? Yes, undoubtedly. And if he [...]ath revealed that he doth this, are we not [...] believe him? Most certainly. But then we [...]ight to be assured that he hath made such a [...]evelation; which Assurance no man can have, [...]e certainty of sense being taken away.

I shall press the business a little farther. [...]upposing the Scripture to be a Divine Revela­ [...]ion, and that these words (This is my Body) [...] they be in Scripture, must necessarily be ta­ken [Page 12] in the strict and literal sense; I ask no [...] ▪ What greater evidence any man has th [...] these words (This is my Body) are in the [...]ble, than every man has that the Bread [...] not chang'd in the Sacrament? Nay no m [...] has so much; for we have only the eviden [...] of one sense that these words are in the Bib [...] but that the Bread is not chang'd we have t [...] concurring testimony of several of our sens [...] ▪ In a word, if this be once admmitted th [...] the Senses of all men are deceiv'd in one [...] the most plain sensible matters that can b [...] there is no certain means left either to conv [...] or prove a Divine Revelation to men; nor [...] there any way to confute the grossest imp [...]stures in the World: For if the clear eviden [...] of all mens senses be not sufficient for this p [...]pose, let any man, if he can, find a better a [...] more convincing argument.

5. I will instance but in one Doctrine mo [...] ▪ And that shall be, their Doctrine of depos [...] Kings in case of Heresie, and absolving th [...] Subjects from their Allegiance to them. A [...] this is not a meer speculative Doctrine, b [...] hath been put in practice many a time by t [...] Bishops of Rome, as every one knows that [...]vers'd in History. For the troubles and co [...]fusions which were occasion'd by this ve [...] thing make up a good part of the History [...] several Ages.

[Page 13]I hope no body expects that I should take the pains to shew that this was not the Do­ctrine of our Saviour and his Apostles, nor of the Primitive Christians. The Papists are many of them so far from pretending this, that in some times and places, when it is not seasonable and for their purpose, we have much a-do to perswade them that ever it was their Doctrine. But if Transubstantiation be their Doctrine, this is; for they came both out of the same Forge, I mean the Council of Lateran under Pope Innocent the Third. And if (as they tell us) Transubstantiation was then establish'd, so was this. And indeed one would think they were Twins and brought forth at the same time, they are so like one another, both of them so mostrously unrea­sonable.

II. I come now in the second place to con­sider some Practices of the Church of Rome, which I am afraid will prove as bad as her Doctrines. I shall instance in these five.

1. Their celebrating of their Divine service in an unknown Tongue. And that not only con­trary to the practice of the Primitive Church, and to the great end and design of Religious Worship, which is the Edification of those who are concerned in it, (and it is hard to imagine how men can be edified by what they do not understand) but likewise in direct [Page 14] Contradiction to St. Paul, who hath no less than a whole Chapter wherein he confutes this Practice as fully, and condemns it as plainly as any thing is condemned in the whole Bi­ble. And they that can have the face to maintain that this Practice was not condem­ned by St. Paul, or that it was allowed and used in the first Ages of Christianity, need not be ashamed to set up for the defence of a­ny Paradox in the World.

2. The Communion in one kind. And that notwithstanding that even by their own ac­knowledgment our Saviour instituted it in both kinds, and the Primitive Church admi­nistred it in both kinds. This I must acknow­ledg is no addition to Christianity, but a sacri­legious taking away of an essential part of the Sacrament. For the Cup is as essential a part of the Institution as the Bread; and they might as well, and by the same Authority, take a­way the one as the other, and both as well as either.

3. Their worshipping of Images. Which practice (notwithstanding all their Distin­ctions about it, which are no other but what the Heathens used in the same case) is as point-blank against the second Commandment, as a deliberate and malicious killing of a man is against the sixth. But if the case be so plain, a man would think that at least the Teachers and Guides of that Church should be sensible [Page 15] of it. Why, they are so, and afraid the peo­ple should be so too, and therefore in their ordinary Catechisms and Manuals of Devotion they leave out the second Commandment, and divide the tenth into two to make up the num­ber; lest if the common people should know [...]t their Consciences should start at the doing of a thing so directly contrary to the plain command of God.

4. The worshipping of the bread and wine in the Eucharist, out of a false and groundless perswasion, that they are substantially changed into the body and blood of Christ. Which if it be not true (and it hath good fortune if it be, for certainly it is one of the most incre­dible things in the whole World) then by the confession of several of their own learned Writers, they are guilty of gross Idolatry.

5. The worship and invocation of Saints and Angels; and particularly of the Virgin Mary, which hath now for some Ages been a principal part of their Religion. Now a man may justly wonder that so considerable a part of Religion as they make this to be should have no manner of foundation in the Scrip­ture. Does our Saviour any where speak one word concerning the worshipping of Her? Nay, does he not take all occasions to restrain all extravagant apprehensions and imaginati­ons concerning honour due to Her, as fore­seeing the degeneracy of the Church in this [Page 16] thing? When he was told that his Mother and Brethren were without; Who (says he) are my mother and my brethren? He that doth the will of my Father, the same is my mother, and sister, and brother. And when the Woman brake forth into that rapture concerning the blessed Mother of our Lord, Blessed is the womb [...] that bare thee, and the paps that gave thee suck! Our Saviour diverts to another thing, Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it. Does either our Saviour or his Apostles in all their particular Precepts and Directions concerning Prayer, and the man­ner of it, and by whom we are to address our selves to God, give the least intimation of praying to the Virgin Mary, or making use of her Mediation? And can any man be­lieve, that if this had been the practice of the Church from the beginning, our Saviour and his Apostles would have been so silent about so considerable a part of Religion; insomuch that in all the Epistles of the Apostles I do not re­member that her Name is so much as once mentioned? And yet the worship of her is at this day in the Church of Rome, and hath been so for several Ages, a main part of their publick worship, yea and of their private de­votions too; in which it is usual with them to say ten Ave Maries for one Pater Noster; that is, for one Prayer they make to Almighty God they make ten addresses to the blessed [Page 17] Virgin; for that is the proportion observed in their Rosaries. He that considers this, and had never seen the Bible, would have been apt to think that there had been more said concerning Her in Scripture, than either con­cerning God, or our blessed Saviour; and that the New Testament were full from one end to the other of precepts and exhortations to the worshipping of Her; and yet when all is done, I challenge any man to shew me so much as one sentence in the whole Bible that sounds that way. And there is as little in the Christian Writers of the first three hundred years. The truth is, this practice began to creep in among some superstitious people a­bout the middle of the fourth Century: And I remember particularly, that Epiphanius who lived about that time calls it the Heresie of the Women.

And thus I have given you some Instances of several Doctrines and Practices which the Church of Rome have built upon the Foun­dation of Christianity. Much more might have been said of them, but from what hath been said any man may easily discern how dangerous they are to the salvation of men.

I proceed now in the second place,

II. To consider, whether our granting a pos­sibility of salvation, tho with great hazard to those in the Communion of the Roman Church, [Page 18] and their denying it to us, be a sufficient argument and encouragement to any man to quit our Church and go to theirs. And there is the more need to consider this, because thi [...] is the great popular argument wherewith th [...] emissaries and agents of that Church are won [...] to assault our people. Your Church (say they) grants that a Papist may be saved; Ours de­nies that a Protestant can be saved; therefore it is safest to be of our Church, in which salva­tion by the acknowledgment of both sides is pos­sible.

For answer to this I shall endeavour to shew, that this is so far from being a good argument that it is so intolerably weak and sophistica [...] that any considerate man ought to be asham'd to be catch'd by it. For either it is good of it self and sufficient to perswade a man to relin­quish our Church, and to pass over to theirs, without entring into the merits of the cause on either side, and without comparing the Do­ctrines and Practices of both the Churches to­gether, or it is not. If it be not sufficient of it self to perswade a man to leave our Church, with­out comparing the Doctrines on both sides, then it is to no purpose, and there is nothing got by it. For if upon examination and com­paring of Doctrines the one appear to be true and the other false, this alone is a sufficient inducement to any man to cleave to that Church where the true Doctrine is found [Page 19] and then there is no need of this argument.

If it be said, that this argument is good in it self without the examination of the Do­ctrines of both Churches; this seems a very strange thing for any man to affirm, That it is reason enough to a man to be of any Church, whatever her Doctrines and Practices be, if she do but damn those that differ from her, and if the Church that differs from her do but allow a possibility of salvation in her Communion.

But they who use this argument, pretend that it is sufficient of it self; and therefore I shall apply my self to shew, as briefly and plainly as I can, the miserable weakness and insufficiency of it to satisfie any mans conscience or prudence to change his Religion. And to this end I shall,

1. Shew the weakness of the principle up­on which this argument relies.

2. Give some parallel instances by which it will appear that it concludes false.

3. I shall take notice of some gross absurdi­ties that follow from it.

4. Shew how unfit it is to work upon those to whom it is propounded. And

5. How improper it is to be urged by those that make use of it.

I. I shall shew the weakness of the principle upon which this argument relies; And that is this, That whatever different parties in Religion agree in, is safest to be chosen. The true conse­quence [Page 20] of which principle if it be driven to the head, is to perswade men to forsake Chri­stianity, and to make them take up in th [...] principles of natural Religion, for in these al [...] Religions do agree. For if this principle b [...] true, and signifie any thing, it is dangerous to embrace any thing wherein the several par [...]ties in Religion differ; because that only i [...] safe and prudent to be chosen wherein all a [...]gree. So that this argument, if the foundati [...]on of it be good, will perswade further tha [...] those who make use of it desire it should do for it will not only make men forsake the Pro [...]testant Religion, but Popery too; and which is much more considerable, Christianity it self▪

II. I will give some parallel instances by which it will clearly be seen that this argu [...]ment concludes false. The Donatists denied th [...] Baptism of the Catholicks to be good, but th [...] Catholicks acknowledged the Baptism of th [...] Donatists to be valid. So that both sides wer [...] agreed that the Baptism of the Donatists wa [...] good, therefore the safest way for St. Austi [...] and other Catholicks (according to this ar [...]gument) was to be Baptized again by th [...] Donatists, because by the acknowledgment o [...] both sides Baptism among them was valid.

But to come nearer to the Church of Rome Several in that Church hold the personal In [...]fallibility of the Pope and the lawfulness of de [...]posing and killing Kings for Heresie to be d [...]de, [Page 21] that is, necessary Articles of Faith, and [...]onsequently, that whoever does not believe [...]hem cannot be saved, But a great many Pa­ [...]ists, tho they believe these things to be no matters of Faith, yet they think those that [...]old them may be saved, and they are gene­ [...]ally very favourable towards them. But now, [...]ccording to this argument, they ought all to [...]e of their opinion in these points, because [...]oth sides are agreed that they that hold them may be saved; but one side positively says that men cannot be saved if they do not hold them.

But my Text furnisheth me with as good [...]n instance to this purpose as can be desired. St. Paul here in the Text acknowledgeth the possibility of the salvation of those who built [...]ay and stubble upon the foundation of Christia­nity; that they might be saved, tho with great difficulty, and as it were out of the fire. But now among those builders with hay and stub­ble there were those who denied the possibility of St. Paul's salvation and of those who were of his mind. We are told of some who built the Jewish Ceremonies and Observances upon the foundation of Christianity, and said that unless men were Circumcised and kept the Law of Moses they could not be saved. So that by this argument St. Paul and his fol­lowers ought to have gone over to those Judai­zing Christians, because it was acknowledged on both sides that they might be saved. But [Page 22] these Judaizing Christians were as unchari [...]ble to St. Paul and other Christians as t [...] Church of Rome is now to us, for they sa [...] positively that they could not be saved. But [...] any man think that St. Paul would have be [...] moved by this argument, to leave a safe an [...] certain way of salvation for that which w [...] only possible, and that with great difficult and hazard? The argument you see is the v [...]ry same, and yet it concludes the wrong way [...] which plainly shews that it is a contingent arg [...]ment, and concludes uncertainly and by chance and therefore no man ought to be moved by i [...]

III. I shall take notice of some gross absurd [...]ties that follow from it. I shall mention bu [...] these two.

1. According to this principle it is alway [...] safest to be on the uncharitable side. And yet uncharitableness is as bad an evidence, either of a true Christian, or a true Church, as a man would wish. Charity is one of the most essen­tial marks of Christianity, and what the Apo­stle saith of particular Christians is as true of whole Churches, that tho they have all Faith, yet if they have not Charity they are nothing.

I grant that no Charity teacheth men to see others damned, and not to tell them the danger of their condition. But it is to be consider'd that the damning of men is a very hard thing, and therefore whenever we do it the case must be wonderfully plain. And is [Page 23] [...]t so in this matter? They of the Church of Rome cannot deny but that we embrace all [...]he Doctrines of our Saviour, contain'd in the Apostles Creed and determined by the four [...]rst General Councils: And yet they will [...]ot allow this and a good life to put us with­ [...]n a possibility of salvation, because we will [...]ot submit to all the innovations they would [...]mpose upon us. And yet I think there is scarce [...]ny Doctrine or Practice in difference between [...]hem and us, which some or other of their most learned Writers have not acknowledged [...]ither not to be sufficiently contained in Scrip­ [...]ure, or not to have been held and practised [...]y the primitive Church; so that nothing an excuse their uncharitableness towards us. [...]nd they pay dear for the little advantage [...]hey get by this argument, for they do what [...] them lies to make themselves no Christians [...]hat they may prove themselves the truer and more Christian Church; A medium which [...]e do not desire to make use of.

2. If this argument were good, then by this [...]ick a man may bring over all the world to [...]gree with him in an error which another [...]oes not account damnable, whatever it be, [...]rovided he do but damn all those that do [...]ot hold it; and there wants nothing but [...]nfidence and uncharitableness to do this. But [...] there any sence, that another mans bold­ [...]ess and want of charity should be an argu­ment [Page 24] to move me to be of his opinion? cannot illustrate this better, than by the di [...]ference between a skilful Physician and [...] Mountebank. A learned and skilful Physicia [...] is modest, and speaks justly of things: H [...] says, that such a method of cure which h [...] hath directed is safe, and withall, that tha [...] which the Mountebank prescribes may possibly do the work, but there is great hazard and danger in it: But the Mountebank, who neve [...] talks of any thing less than infallible cures (and always the more Mountebank, the strong [...]er pretence to infallibiliiy) he is positive tha [...] that method which the Physician prescribe [...] will destroy the Patient, but his receipt is in­fallible and never fails. Is there any reason in this case, that this man should carry it meer­ly by his confidence? And yet if this argument be good, the safest way is to reject the Physi­cians advice and to stick to the Mountebanks ▪ For both sides are agreed, that there is a pos­sibility of cure in the Mountebank's method▪ but not in the Physicians; and so the whole force of the argument lies in the confidence of an ignorant man.

IV. This argument is very unfit to work upon those to whom it is propounded: For either they believe we say true in this, or not. If they think we do not, they have no reason to be moved by what we say. If they think we do, why do they not take [Page 25] in all that we say in this matter? Namely, [...]at tho it be possible for some in the com­ [...]union of the Roman Church to be saved, [...]et it is very hazardous; and that they are [...] a safe condition already in our Church. And [...]hy then should a bare possibility, accompa­ [...]'d with infinite and apparent hazard, be an [...]rgument to any man to run into that danger?

Lastly, This argument is very improper to [...]e urged by those who make use of it. Half [...]f the strength of it lies in this, that we Pro­ [...]estants acknowledg that it is possible a Papist [...]ay be saved. But why should they lay any [...]ress upon this? What matter is it what we Hereticks say, who are so damnably mistaken [...]n all other things? Methinks, if there were [...]o other reason, yet because we say it, it should [...]eem to them to be unlikely to be true. But I [...]erceive when it serves for their purpose we [...]ave some little credit and authority among [...]hem.

By this time I hope every one is in some measure satisfied of the weakness of this argu­ment, which is so transparent that no wise man [...]an honestly use it, and he must have a very [...]dd understanding that can be cheated by it. The truth is, it is a casual and contingent argu­ment, and sometimes it concludes right, and [...]ftner wrong; and therefore no prudent man [...]an be moved by it, except only in one case, when all things are so equal on both sides [Page 26] that there is nothing else in the whole wo [...] to determine him; which surely can ne [...] happen in matters of Religion necessary to believed. No man is so weak, as not to con [...]der in the change of his Religion the me [...] of the cause it self; as not to examine t [...] Doctrines and Practices of the Churches [...] both sides; as not to take notice of the con [...]dence and Charity of both Parties, togeth [...] with all other things which ought to move conscientious and a prudent man: And if [...] on enquiry there appear to be a clear adva [...]tage on either side, then this argument is nee [...]less and comes too late, because the work already done without it.

Besides, that the great hazard of salvatio [...] in the Roman Church (which we declare u [...] on account of the Doctrines and Practic [...] which I have mentioned) ought to deter [...]ny man much more from that Religion, th [...] the acknowledged possibility of salvation [...] it ought to encourage any man to the embr [...]cing of it: Never did any Christian Churc [...] build so much hay and stubble upon the found [...]tion of Christianity, and therefore those th [...] are saved in it must be saved, as it were, out [...] the fire. And tho Purgatory be not meant i [...] the Text, yet it is a Doctrine very well suite to their manner of building; for there is nee [...] of an ignis purgatorius, of a fire to try the [...] work what it is, and to burn up their hay an [...] [Page 27] [...]ubble. And I have so much Charity (and I [...]sire always to have it) as to hope, that a [...]eat many among them who live piously, and [...]ve been almost inevitably detain'd in that [...]hurch by the prejudice of education and an [...]vincible ignorance, will upon a general re­ [...]ntance find mercy with God; and tho their [...]rk suffer loss and be burnt, yet they themselves [...]ay escape, as out of the fire. But as for those [...]ho had the opportunities of coming to the [...]nowledg of the truth, if they continue in the [...]rors of that Church, or apostatize from the [...]uth, I think their condition so far from being [...]e that there must be extraordinary favou­ [...]ble circumstances in their case to give a man [...]pes of their salvation.

I have now done with the two things I pro­ [...]unded to speak to. And I am sorry that the [...]cessary defence of our Religion, against the [...]stless importunities and attempts of our ad­ [...]rsaries upon all sorts of persons, hath enga­ [...]d me to spend so much time in matters of [...]spute, which I had much rather have em­ [...]oyed in another way. Many of you can be [...]y witnesses that I have constantly made it [...]y business, in this great Presence and Assem­ [...]y to plead against the impieties and wicked­ [...]ss of men, and have endeavoured by the best [...]guments I could think of to gain men over [...] a firm belief and serious practice of the main [...]ings of Religion. And, I do assure you, I [Page 28] had much rather perswade any one to be good man, than to be of any party or de [...]mination of Christians whatsoever. For doubt not, but the belief of the ancient Cre [...] provided we entertain nothing that is destr [...]ctive of it, together with a good life, will ce [...]tainly save a man; and without this no m [...] can have reasonable hopes of salvation, no [...] an infallible Church, if there were any such [...] be found in the world.

I have been, according to my opportuniti [...] not a negligent observer of the genius a [...] humour of the several Sects and Professio [...] in Religion. And upon the whole matter▪ do in my conscience believe the Church of E [...]gland to be the best constituted Church th [...] day in the world; and that, as to the ma [...] the Doctrine and Government, and Worship [...] it, are excellently framed to make men sobe [...] Religious: Securing men on the one han [...] from the wild freaks of Enthusiasm; and [...] the other, from the gross follies of Supersti [...]on. And our Church hath this peculiar adva [...]tage above several Professions that we know [...] the world, that it acknowledgeth a due a [...] just subordination to the civil Authority, an [...] hath always been untainted in its loyalty.

And now shall every trifling consideratio [...] be sufficient to move a man to relinquish suc [...] a Church? There is no greater disparag [...]ment to a mans understanding, no greater a [...]ument [Page 29] of a light and ungenerous mind, than [...]shly to change ones Religion. Religion is [...]r greatest concernment of all other, and it [...] not every little argument, no nor a great [...]ise about infallibility, nothing but very plain [...]nd convincing evidence, that should sway a [...]an in this case. But they are utterly inexcu­ [...]ble who make a change of such concernment [...]pon the insinuations of one side only, with­ [...]ut ever hearing what can be said for the [...]hurch they were baptized and brought up [...] before they leave it. They that can yield [...]us easily to the impressions of every one [...]at hath a design and interest to make Pro­ [...]lytes may at this rate of discretion change [...]eir Religion twice a day, and instead of mor­ [...]ng and evening Prayer they may have a mor­ [...]ng and evening Religion.

Therefore for God's sake, and for our own [...]ouls sake, and for the sake of our Reputation, [...]t us consider and shew our selves men; Let [...] not suffer our selves to be shaken and carried [...]way with every wind. Let us not run our [...]lves into danger when we may be safe. Let [...] stick to the foundation of Religion, the Ar­ [...]cles of our common belief, and build upon [...]em gold, and silver, and precious stones, I [...]ean, the vertues and actions of a good life; [...]d if we would do this, we should not be [...]t to set such a value upon hay and stubble. [...] we would sincerely endeavour to live holy [Page 30] and vertuous lives, we should not need to [...] about for a Religion which may furnish with easie and indirect ways to get to Heav [...]

I will conclude all with the Apostles Exh [...]tation, Wherefore my beloved brethren be steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding the work of the Lord.

Now the God of peace which brought gain from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, [...] great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of everlasting Covenant, make you perfect in ev [...] good work, to do his will; working in you t [...] which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Je [...] Christ, to whom be Glory for ever and ev [...] Amen.

FINIS.

ADVERTISEMENT.

THere is now in the Press a Third Volume of Serm [...] and Discourses; some of which never before Prin [...] By Dr. Tillotson, Dean of Canterbury; in Octavo.

Also a Third Volume of the Works of the Learned Is [...] Barrow, D. D. late Master of Trinity Colledg in Cambri [...] in Folio: Never before Printed; and are the last that [...] be Published of his in English.

Both which will be Published in Easter-Term next, [...]

Brabazon Aylmer, against the Royal Exchange in Corn [...]

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