AN ABSTRACT OF Common Principles OF A Just Vindication OF THE RIGHTS OF THE Kingdom of God Upon EARTH, Against the Politick Machinations of Erastian Hereticks; Out of the Vindication of the Deprived Bishops, &c. By a very Learned Man of the Church of England.

LONDON, Printed, Anno Domini, 1700.


THE Kingdom of God upon Earth is in its Institution, and in its own Nature, really a Glorious Kingdom, tho', through the ill Administration of those to whom it hath been committed, it hath never yet appeared in its true and proper Lustre, and at present not only seems to be, but really is in a divided, shattered, and dejected condition. God in great Wisdom doth very often with great Bodies of Men, as he doth with particular Persons, put them to School to the Mistress of Fools, leave them to eat the Fruit of their own doings, and to learn Wisdom by their own Experience; to experiment and even feel the In­sufficiency of Humane Powers, the Deceitfulness of Humane Wisdom, the Malice, Subtilty and Power of their Invisible Adversaries, and the Abun­dance of his Goodness, the Infallibility of his Wisdom, and the Irresisti­bility of his Power; and their own intire Dependance upon Him, and absolute need of continual Supply of all these from Him, and of constant Subjection and Conformity thereunto. If Men would therefore at last, after so long Experience, open their Eyes, lift up their Heads, and well consider the Admirable Wisdom of his Divine Institution, the Excellent Accommodation of it for the Good and Benefit of Mankind; and of all Degrees, Orders, States, and Conditions amongst them; and how and by what Ways and Means it hath come to pass that the World hath been so little sensible of, and received no more Benefit from so powerful and effe­ctual a Divine Favour, as the Institution of this Kingdom is, and would have produced long since, had it been improved as it ought; and lastly consider, every one in his place, but especially they who are in chief Places in Church or State, what the Interest of this blessed Kingdom, and the glorious King thereof, do require of all, and of themselves in particular, for their own Good, and the common Good of all, and then, without more a-do, apply themselves with full Resolution to order all their Actions in Confor­mity thereunto, and to approve their Fidelity to their Soveraign and his Interest, as becomes Good Subjects, they would soon perceive and receive [Page]the Benefit thereof, and behold it in its Glory. And tho' there is at pre­sent little appearance of any such Disposition in those, who are first in place, that they will be forwardest in such Actions, yet whoever will heartily do their part in this, as there is none but may do something, so there is nothing that they can do so mean, if they do all they can, but will obtain a Glorious Reward, far above all this World can afford. But it will require no little Courage, Generosity, Magnanimity and Constancy to perform it: for such is the Nature and Terms of true Loyalty in this Kingdom, as will shake off Multitudes of Pretenders, when they come for Admittance. Yet it is, in short, but first to dispose themselves for the receiving of Truth, and then, when fairly proposed, cordially imbrace it, own and profess it, stick to it, and act accordingly. For the first of these there is lately printed a short Recipe: and some of the most important and fundamental Truths for this purpose are here treated in the following ABSTRACT by a very Learned Man of the Church of England established by Law, and a great and zealous Champion for it. It is true, it is but an Ab­stract, but an Abstract of what is very hard to be met with, and of the very Marrow of it, the rest being only critical Learning, of little or no use to the greatest part of even intelligent Readers; but only for Scholars, and such as are curious in Matters of little moment. And for such as desire to see more to this purpose, they may have recourse to a Learned Book of the Sinfulness and Mischief of Schism, in 40. and another in 8vo. of One Altar, and One Priesthood, besides a special Learned Defence of this Vindication, much more common to be had than the Vindication it self.

More was intended concerning this Kingdom, and the true Subjects of it, for the proper Use and Application of this Catholick Doctrine; but because it may be more seasonable when the Doctrine hath been received and digested, it may be sufficient here to add only this Admonition: That Separation from Separatists is no Separation from the One Body and Unity of this Kingdom: Nor is Visible or Episcopal inconsistent with Schismatical; but a Schismatical Communion may be really both, and hath been heretofore; nay, most visible in the same City or Country, and truly Episcopal, (tho' what is not so cannot but be Schismatical) and, besides all this, Established by Law.

Common Principles Of a just Vindication of the Rights of the Kingdom of God Upon EARTH, &c.

CHAP. I. That for Clergy-Men to appear in a Cause destructive of the Interest of Religion in general, and of their own Function in particular, is inexcusable.

THAT the Laity should be favourable to Mistakes dero­gatory to the Sacred Power, cannot be thought strange in an Age wherein they generally use so little Diligence to inform themselves, or to receive Information from those who are qualified to inform them, concerning the Rights of the Clergy: Their own Interests are alone sufficient to make them partial in affairs of this nature, tho' they were more sincerely in­fluenced by Considerations of Religion, than we generally find them: But that Clergy-Men should also favour them in Incroach­ments on their own Function; that they should professedly patronize Doctrines tending to lessen the Esteem of that greatest and most valuable of all Authorities wherewith God has honoured and in­trusted none but them, that they should make it depend on the Pleasure of the Magistrate, which was designed for greater and more noble Ends than the Magistracy it self; that they should put it in his Power to destroy the very Being of the Church, as a Society, [Page 2]by a secular Deprivation; that they should not only Own, but Teach, That none are obliged to adhere to themselves in such a Case wherein the Magistrate is against them, no not so much as in regard of Conscience; that they should by this means make the greatest and most momentous Concerns for Souls subordinate to Worldly, Carnal Politicks, and the far less weighty Interests of Worldly Prosperity, and of particular Societies; that they should hereby make it least capable of subsisting under a Persecution, which was the Case most obvious in the View of our Blessed Saviour and his Apostles, and therefore most particularly provided for, if they took care for any thing beyond their own time: These things, I say, would not be very credible, if they were not very notorious. One would think none who valued the general good of Religion, and the Catholick Church, and the Souls of Mankind, before the temporal Prosperity of any particular State, (and it is hard to conceive how any good Man can do otherwise) could even wish such Opinions true, tho' his Wish alone were sufficient to make them so. How then is it agreeable, that Clergy-Men of all Men should be the most favourable and zealous Advocates for such Opi­nions, so manifestly destructive of those greatest Interests, which they of all Men ought best to understand, and to be most zealously concerned for? How is it agreeable, that they of all Men cannot be content to let the Memory of ill Presidents die, but that they must alarm us with future Fears of having them acted again by not only Abetting, but also Justifying them? How is it agreeable, that they should do this in a Prospect, such as ours is, of a Laity so little concerned for the Good of Religion, and the Church; when even they who have any Principles, have such lax ones, and so very little obliging them, even in Conscience, to venture any thing for any particular Communion? That their preferring their Worldly Concerns, depending on the Pleasure of the Magistrate, before the greater Concerns of Souls, and Eternity, is the true Cause of it, is not to be believed, while there are any Reasons that might induce them to it. Yet little Reasons cannot in Equity excuse, when the Consequences ought to be so very valuable on that very account of Mens being either Good or Religious. Much less when the Conse­quences of the Principles on which they proceed are such in respect to the Publick Interests even of their own Church, as put it in the Power of a Popish or Schismatical Prince (and even of a secret Infidel or Apostate) to dissolve it when they please. Suppose a Popish [Page 3]Prince, with a Popish Parliament, should turn their Principles (that is, the Principles of these Men) against themselves, and deprive all our Bishops with one Act of State, I cannot see what these Fa­thers can pretend to secure their Church, as a Society, and as a Communion, in Opposition to them. They must ho longer pretend to Diocesses in England. They must not pretend to any Obligation of their Protestant Clergy and Laity to stand by them, even in Con­science. They must therefore never pretend to Communions in those Diocesses, which are plainly Exercises of Spiritual Authority in them. Nor can they then justifie, or even excuse, any Assemblies for Reli­gion, when forbidden by the Civil Magistrate, who is only supposed, by these Principles, to have also the Right to that Spiritual Authority by which alone they can be justified. And are these the ways to secure our Religion against Popery? No open Persecutions whatso­ever can ever ruine us so effectually as these Doctrines will, if ever we receive them. Doctrines of our own will break our Ʋnion among our selves, more than any of our Adversaries open Violencies.

CHAP. II. That the Church of Christ is not to be considered meerly as a Sect, but as a Sacred Society; and that its be­ing a Society is a Fundamental Doctrine.

MEN (amongst us in this and the last Age) have hitherto considered the Church rather as a Sect, than as a Society; and have therefore usually had no regard to the Doctrines Funda­mental to it as a Society, if they did not withall concern it as a Sect, and Antecedently to its being a Society. But there seems very little Reason for their doing so, if they will be pleased impartially to reflect on it. It is very true, its Notion as a Sect is antecedent to its being a Society, because it is a Society into which Men find them­selves obliged to enter by the Doctrines they must be supposed to believe, if they own it as a Sect. But even thence it appears, that the Doctrines which concern it as a Sect, do withall make it necessary it should be a Society. These two Considerations therefore are by [Page 4]no means to be separated. Nay, it hence appears, that the Do­ctrines constituting it as a Sect, do also by a near, and unavoidable, and evident Consequence, make it a Society. Thus therefore the Fundamentals of its being a Society, will be included in that System of Doctrines which concern it as a Sect. And then what Matter is it that one of these Notions is antecedent, and the other, consequent? Thus much at least will follow, that there is no subverting it as a Society, without subverting it also as a Sect; because those very Doctrines which make it a Sect, do also consequently oblige it to be a Society. For my part, I believe those Doctrines of the Trinity and Incarna­tion, which all who believe any Fundamentals proper to the Chri­stian Religion, as Revealed by God, do reckon among Fundamentals, not to have been revealed for Speculation only, but purposely to oblige Men to unite in it as a Society. The Ʋnity in Trinity, which is the principal thing insisted on in the Doctrine of the Trinity, as revealed in the Scripture, was purposely to let Men see the Extent of the Mystical Ʋnion to which they were intitled by the External Ʋnion with the visible Church, that by partaking in the Orthodox Communion, the [...] mentioned by St. John, they had also a [...] with the Father and the Son, 1 John 1.3. For it was manifest they must also partake of the Spirit, because he who had not the Spirit of Christ was none of his. It was therefore supposed, that by partaking of the Trinity we are made one Mystically, and that by being united visibly to the Church, we are intitled to that Mystical Ʋnion. So whoever is united visibly to the Church, is thereby, if he be not wanting to himself in due Conditions, united also Mystically to the Trinity; and that whoever is divided exter­nally from the Church, is thereby also dis-united from this Commu­nion and Ʋnion with the Trinity. And what more prevaeiling In­ducements could be thought of to oblige Men to keep in a Society? So also the design of the Incarnation was, by Christ's taking upon him our Body and our Flesh, to make us also one Body and one Flesh with Him, thereby to entitle our Bodies to a Resurrection; but then our being one Body and one Flesh with Him, depended on our being Members of the Church, which is called his Body, his Flesh, his Bones. We were to be Baptized into this one Body, and become one Body, by partaking of one Bread. Which plainly shew that all the Benefits of the Incarnation are derived to us by our partaking of the Sacra­ments, and therefore by our adhering inseparably to them who alone are authorized by God to administer them. Thus plain it is that [Page 5]those very Fundamentals of our revealed Religion, as revealed, are revealed and designed for this purpose of making the Church a Society. How can therefore our Adversaries make these Doctrines Fundamental, if this be not Fundamental also, that the Church was by God designed to be a Society?

This at least is certain, that we are intitled to all the Benefits of our Religion, by our owning the Church not only as a Sect, but as a Society also; and that tho' we believe all its Doctrines as it is a Sect, yet if we be divided from it as a Society, that Belief alone will not secure us a Title to any of the Benefits of our Religion. Ex­communicates, however Orthodox in their Opinions, were never suppos'd, in the Discipline of the Church, to have any actual Title to the Benefits of Religion, if they persisted wilfully in that State of Excommunication. The same is to be observed concerning the Case of Schismaticks, on the Principles of the early Age of St. Cyprian. Hence therefore it appears, that this Notion of the Church, as a Society, whatever it be in its self, is at least Fundamental as to us, in order to our partaking of any of the Benefits of Reli­gion: That is, indeed it is Fundamental to all intents and pur­poses that we can think worthy our Enquiry. Without this, the other Notions, if any be, will never be beneficial to us. So that whatever those other Notions may be, in order of Reasoning; yet this Notion of the Church, as a Society, must be Fundamental to them in order to their being beneficial; that is, as far as we have any reason to concern our selves for them. These things ought cer­tainly to be taken for Fundamental, as to the Discipline and Censures of the Church. She ought certainly to be most concerned for those things that are most influential on the Interests of Souls; and those are so whose Belief is most beneficial, and their Dis-belief most hurtful to those most valuable Interests. I cannot therefore see why she should not think Doctrines of this kind Fundamental, and reckon them among those Fundamentals on which she ought to lay out her principal Care. If therefore she ought to excom­municate for any Errors at all, certainly she ought in the first place to do it for Errors so destructive of all Obligation to her Com­munion it self, and of her Authority of Excommunicating; that is, indeed so destructive to all that Power she has either for the Pre­servation of Truth, or the Prohibition of Error in general. And if she ought not to inflict her Censures, at least these highest of them, for any Errors but those which are Fundamental; it will [Page 6]plainly follow, that Errors of this kind must be reckoned for Fun­damental ones. Our Adversaries would have Errors in Fundamen­tals published, and punished as a Spiritual Crime, by a purely Spi­ritual Authority; but they do not, in the mean time, seem to be aware how Fundamental this very Notion of the Church, as a di­stinct and spiritual Society, is to its having any Authority, or Power, to punish so much as Spiritually. All they can do as a Sect, is only to reason with Hereticks concerning their Errors; and all the Means to reduce them are those reasons which can no farther pre­vail with them than as they may seem convictive in the Judgment of the Hereticks themselves. But on that account they stand on even Terms with the Hereticks, whose Reasons ought also to take place with the Ecclesiasticks, so far as they are also in Conscience convinced by them. A true Authority, and a Power of punishing refractory Persons, by excluding from Communion, do Fudamentally suppose a spiritual Society over which they are to exercise this Authority, and from which Delinquents are to be excluded by spiritual Censures and Excommunications. How can they therefore avoid reckoning those Errors from being Fundamental ones as pu­nishable by a spiritual Authority, which ruine Fundamentally that very Authority by which such Errors are to be punished; which de­stroy the Society on which that Authority is grounded Fundamentally.

If there be degrees of Fundamentals, I should think the Funda­mentals concerning the Church, as a Society, to be of the greatest consequence, and therefore Fundamental in the highest degree. The Church is indeed obliged to keep the [...], Heb. 5.11. 1 Tim. 1.16. the [...]. These are the Expressions by which our Adver­saries themselves, I believe, conceive the Articles themselves call Fundamental to be signified. But she is obliged to keep them as a [...], 1 Tim. 6.20. as a Trust committed to her. How so? by avoiding Disputings, by stopping the Mouths of Hereticks, by rebuking them with all Authority, by rejecting and avoiding not their Doctrines only, but their Persons also, when they prove incorrigible. Now these things plainly suppose Governors invested with Spiritual Au­thority, and a Communion from whence incurable Hereticks are to be rejected. So that in order to the keeping these other Fundamen­tals, the Church, as a Society, is supposed antecedently as a Condi­tion that alone can qualifie her for having such a Trust committed to her. This Notion therefore as antecedent must be Fundamental to those other Fundamentals, and therefore Fundamental in a higher [Page 7]sense than those things can be whose Security is superstructed upon it. And accordingly the Damage of the Publick in subverting these Notions of the Church, as a Society, is proportionably greater than that which follows from the denial of other particular Arti­cles which are commonly taken for Fundamental. He that denies one of the other Articles, may yet believe all the rest, and zea­lously defend them, and that by Principles too, against all other Hereticks. But he that denies the Church, as a Society, invested with a spiritual Authority, does as effectually contribute to the Ruine of all the other Fundamentals at once, as he does to the Ruine of a House, who subverts the Foundations of it. It brings in Impunity for Heresie in general, and suffers Hereticks still to hope as well in their separate Sects, as if they were in the Orhtodox Communion. It leaves them destitute of even any Presumptions that might oblige them to judge in Favour of the Church's Doctrine, as the safest Error, if it should prove one. It does by this means reduce the trial of the Cause to the Reasons themselves, and their native Evi­dence, and puts it in the Power of assuming Men to pretend greater Evidence than either they have, or they really believe. And things being reduced to this pass, it is more God's Providence, than the Security of Principles, that hinders any Heretick, who disputes any one of the other Articles, from questioning all the rest.

CHAP. III. That the contrary Doctrine is a Fundamental Error, and obstinately asserted Heresie, very pernicious to the Church of Christ, and to the Assertors of it themselves.

ST. Augustin observes, that Schisms generally end in Heresie: That is the natural consequence of Defending it, as our Adver­saries do, by Principles. A single Act of Ʋndutifulness to Superiors will in course pass away with those who are guilty of it; so that Posterity will not be concerned in it: But when it is defended by Principles, it turns into false Doctrine, and Doctrine of that perni­cious Consequence, that the Church is obliged to take notice of it, [Page 8]as she will be faithful to her Trust, in securing her Body from the like Divisions for the future. Thus the Donatists took the first occa­sion for their Schism from the pretended Personal Faults of Caeci­lian and his Ordainers. This, whilst it was a particular Case, went no farther than that particular Schism: But when it turned into a general Doctrine, that Personal Faults were sufficient to justifie Se­paration, then it laid a Foundation of frequent Schisms, as often as any Criminals got into Places of Trust, and either Evidence was wanting, or themselves too powerful to be contested with: Then it concerned Ecclesiastical Governours to condemn this Doctrine, that encouraged even Men of Conscience to divide designedly and frequently. And when that Doctrine was thus condemned by the Church, and was notwithstanding maintained by the Donatists as a Principle on which they subsisted as an opposite Communion, it then became a Character of a Party to maintain it, and from that time forward the Donatists were reckoned among Hereticks, as well as Schismaticks: For this was the true Notion of Heresie in those Ages, as contradistinct from Schism: Both of them supposed a Division of Communion, or tended to it. But that Division was called Schism, which only broke the Political Ʋnion of the Society, without any difference of Principles; as when Thieves or Robbers transgress their Duties without any pretence of Principles autho­rizing them to do so. So whilst Resentment alone was the reason that made Subjects separate from the Communion of their Ecclesiasti­cal Governours, or whilst Ambition alone made any to invade the Office of his Bishop, and to erect an opposite Communion, this was Schism properly so called, as contradistinct from Heresie. But when the Schism is patronized by Doctrines, and justified as well done, and consistently with Conscience; such Divisions, besides their being Schismatical, were Heretical also in the sense of the Ancients, and such Doctrines, as Characteristical of a distinct Com­munion, were properly called Heresies. On this account the same Doctrine of the original Identity of Bishops and Presbyters was no Heresie in S. Hierome, who notwithstanding kept Communion with the Bishops of the Jurisdictions he lived in; and yet was Heresie in Aaerius, when upon account of that pretended Identity he pre­sumed to pay no more Duty to the Bishops of the respective Jurisdictions, than he would have done to single Presbyters. This is the most agreeable account of the Heresies, not only in Phi­lastrius, but in other more judicious Collectors of Catalogues of [Page 9] Heresies. And it is very agreeable with the Notion of that Term among the Philosophers, from whom the Christians derived it. All Notions that were proper and characteristical to particular Schools among them made Heresies, not those which were received n com­mon among them. Answerably whereunto those Differences only in Opinion made Heresies in the Church, which were the Notes of different Communions, not those which went no farther than Speculation.

I am very well aware how surprizing this will be to those who, upon popular Opinions, have used to believe no Opinion Heresie that was not against Fundamentals. But if they will for a while lay aside their Prejudices, they will possibly find this as slightly grounded as many other popular Opinions are. The very distin­ction between Fundamentals and Non-Fundamentals, is not, that I know of, ever taken notice of by the Primitive Christians, either in the same, or in equivalent Terms. And if a Person will needs make a Breach on account of an Opinion, it rather aggravates than diminishes his Guilt, that the Opinion is of little consequence: His own Will is more concerned in it; that is, his [...]; and he is therefore more a Heretick, and, as Hereticks were, more self-con­demned, Tit. 3.2. if, even in his own Opinion, the Matter for which he separates be not of any considerable Importance. Even a Truth, and a Truth that has great Evidence of its being so, may make a Heresie, if it be no way conducive nor disadvantageous to the good of Souls; and yet the Person who maintains it will by no means endure Communion with those who are of another Mind. He might have more pretence of Zeal, tho' Mistaken, if the Mistake on the Church's side did indeed concern Souls, and seemed, at least, of dangerous consequence to them. When he has not even that to pretend for himself, who can impute his breaking on such accounts to any other Original than an assuming Imperiousness of Temper, and a love of Contention, which we generally acknowledge to be the principal Ingredients of Heresie? Certain it is, that such a Breach for Opinions, tho' true, yet of no consequence, is highly cul­pable, and destructive to that Ʋnity which Christ designed for his Church, and the more culpable for that very reason, that the Opi­nion is of little consequence. Yet it cannot properly be called Schism, which is only a Breach, like those which fall out frequently in Secular Affairs, when Men fall into Parties, on account of a Temper ungovernable, or ambitions, without any proper difference [Page 10]of Opinion and Doctrine. And it being no Schism, what can we call it in the Discipline of the Church, if it be not Heresie?

These Opinions therefore which are not otherwise Heretical on account of the Nature of the Opinions themselves, do then begin to be Heretical when they begin to be characteristical of distinct Com­munions. And that they do, not only when Men designedly sepa­rate from others on that very account, because they are not of the same Opinions; but also when they venture on such Practices on account of their singular Opinions, wherein others cannot communi­cate with them, for that very reason because they cannot join with them in those their singular Opinions. Then plainly the differing in such Opinions, makes a difference of Communion unavoidable; and therefore the Opinions themselves, in such a Case as this is, are Signals of different Communions, which will come under the charge of Heresie, as contradistinct from Schism, in the Notion now de­scribed of the Primitive Church. Thus, had S. Hierome proceeded as far as Aerius in the Practice of his Opinion concerning the Ori­ginal Identity of Bishops and Presbyters, and had thereupon broken himself off from his Duty to the Bishop of the Diocese, and by that means either made or countenanced a Schism, which he had never countenanced but on account of this Doctrine of his which he held in Common with the Aerians, that Doctrine had been Heresie in him, as well as the Aerians. So also Opiuions do then begin to be Treasonable, when they are actually productive of Treasonable Actions. Thus Latitudinarian Opinions in the Church do always weaken or dissolve the Obligation in Conscience to maintain the Church, as a Society, in a time of Persecution, from the Civil Magi­strate; yet till that Case fall out, and when Interest lies on the Church's side, they often still keep one Communion who are for such Opini­ons, and may continue in it while there are any other Inducements to keep them in it besides those of Conscience. Only it may per­haps be fit to be consider'd, whether it be prudent to trust such Persons with the Management of the Government of the Church, who have no Obligation of Principles or Conscience to maintain it as an independent Society, or to suffer for it; that is, indeed who are never likely to maintain it in that very Case which was most in our Saviour's and the Apostles View; that is, of a Persecution. But when they actually divide that Communion which they were never obliged in Conscience to maintain, if they took the utmost Liberty their Latitudinarian Principles would afford them; and when their [Page 11]lax Principles are the very grounds of their dividing the Commu­nion without any remorse of Conscience for doing so; when they are hereby emboldned to do those things which inevitably cause a Breach from those who cannot follow them in these very Principles. This is the Case wherein these Principles are Characters of a distinct Communion; and therefore, by the Reasoning now mentioned, become Heretical: Especially the Principles being withall false, not only in the Opinion of those from whom they have divided themselves, but also of our earliest purest Ancestors, even those of the Apostolical Age it self.

Yet I deny not but that in this Case of Heresie, there is also re­gard to be had to the Momentousness of the Opinion it self. Who­ever sets up or abets a Communion opposite to that of the Church, on account of Opinions, is, as I have shewn, in the Judgment of the Primitive Church, an Heretick; and is the more, not the less so, if the Opinions be also frivolous. But for such Opinions the Church would never have driven him out of her own Communion, if him­self had been pleased to have continued in it. Her Judiciary Cen­sures ought, no doubt, to be confined to Opinions Fundamental and of great Importance; especially if an internal Assent be re­quired, and that under pain of Excommunication.

CHAP. IV. That the Church of Christ is a Society independent on any of the Powers of the World; and its Spiritual Rights, derived immediately from a higher Authority, subject to none of them, according to the Doctrine of the Catholick Church in the earliest Ages.

EVEN in the Age of St. Cyprian (which is the ancientest we know of that an Anti-Bishop was set up against a Bishop in the same See) it is, 1st, very notorious, that they then owned no such Power of the Secular Magistrate to deprive Bishops of their purely Spiritual Power; and that the Church, as a Society distinct [Page 12]from the State, subsisted on their not owning it, even as to a De­privation of their particular Districts and Jurisdictions. It is noto­rious, and as notorious as any one Tradition of the Catholick Church in those Ages, (not excepting that of the Canon of the New Testament it self) that Christians then, and not only then, but in all the former Persecutions that had been from the times of the Apostles to that very Age, did own themselves bound to adhere to their Bishops, when it was notorious withall, that those Bishops were set up and maintained against the Consent of the Civil Magistrate. It is as notorious also, that this Adherence of theirs was not only Matter of Fact, (which is all our Adversaries pretend here) but a Duty owned by them, as obliging in Conscience, and as the result of Principles. This appears, not only by the unquestionable Sin­cerity of the Christians of those Ages, who were generously influ­enced by no Considerations but those of Conscience; not only by their Suffering those severe Penances imposed on them, in order to their recovering the Bishop's Communion, even when the Magistrate was against him, which no other Considerations could recommend, but only those of Conscience: but from the Principles themselves insisted on in the Reasonings of St. Cyprian. Such were these: That all hopes of Pardon of Sin, of the Holy Ghost, of Eternal Life on Per­formance of Duty, were confined to the visible Communion of the Church; that their visible Communion with the Church could not appear but by their visible Communion with the Bishop, as the Head of that Church, and the Principle of its Unity; that who that Bishop was, to whom any particular Person owed his Duty, was not then any otherwise distinguishable, but by the visible Districts in which themselves lived, and to which he was therefore supposed to have a Title, whether the Magistrate would or no. It is also as notorious, that these Reasonings were not then the sense of private Persons, but the received sense of Christians in general, and indeed Fundamental to that Catholick Communion, which was then main­tained where-ever there were Christians. Not only every particu­lar Christian of a Diocess did thus assure himself of his Right to Ec­clesiastical Privileges, by his Communion with the Bishop of that particular District; but he was intitled also to Communion with all the other Bishops of the World, and consequently with the Ca­tholick Church in general, by the communicatory Letters of the Bi­shop of his own particular District. For it was by the mutual Obli­gation all Bishops of the World had to ratifie the Acts of particular [Page 13]Districts, that he who was admitted a Member of one Church, was intitled to the Communion of all; and that he who was excluded from one, was excluded from all others also; because no other Bishop could justifie his Reception of a Christian of another Jurisdiction to his own Communion, if he had not the communicatory Letters of his own Bishop. Thus it appears, that the Obligation, even of parti­cular Districts without Consent of the Magistrate, was then Catho­lick Doctrine. Whence it plainly follows, that this Lay-deprivation, which is all that can be pretended in the Case of our present Bishops, is, in the Principles of the Catholick Church in St. Cyprian's Age, a perfect Nullity, and consequently that, in regard to Conscience at least, our present Bishops are still Bishops, and Bishops of those par­ticular Districts, as much as ever; and the Obligations of the Clergy and Laity in those Districts, as obliging to them now as ever.

And it thence follows, 2dly, that Anti-Bishops, consecrated in Districts, no otherwise vacated than by the Power of the Secular Magistrate, are, by the Principles of that earliest Catholick Church, no Bishops at all, but divided from the Church. It is plain, that Novatian was disowned as soon as ever it appeared that Cornelius was canonically settled in Fabian's Chair before him, and disowned universally, so universally, that who-ever did not disown him, was for that very reason disowned himself. This is as clear as any Par­ticular mentioned in our Adversaries Collection. But we do not satisfie our selves with that. It is also further as notorious, that he was disowned by Principles obliging them in Conscience to disown him, and those again not private Opinions, but Principles also Fun­damental to the Correspondence then maintained in the whole Catholick Church, as the other were that we mentioned under the former Head. It was then a Principle, that Epist. 55. ad Antonia­num, Edit. Oxen, Cypr. Secundus was Nullus, which will as much invalidate the Consecrations of the present Anti-Bishops, as it did that of Novatian. This is a Principle so univer­sally acknowledged, where-ever there can be but one, that it needs no Authorities to recommend it. No Man can convey the same thing twice: and therefore if there be two Bonds for the same thing to several Persons, the second can never be thought obliging, but by supposing the Invalidity of the first. So also in all Monar­chical Districts, none can suppose an Anti-Monarch's Title good, till he has shewn that the first Monarch's Title is not so. Thus this Principle needed no Authority, and yet it had all the Authority of the whole Catholick Church of that Age. The whole Collegium of [Page 14]Catholick Bishops (that is St. Cyprian's Term) gave their commu­nicatory Letters, not to Novatian, but Cornelius; and received none to their own Communion on the communicatory Letters of Novatian, but only on those of Cornelius. And that upon this same common Principle, that Cornelius being once validly Bishop of Rome, Novatian could never be a Bishop of that same District without the Death, or Cession, or Deprivation of Cornelius; and that supposing him no Bishop of that Place to which he was consecrated, he could be no Bishop at all. So far they were then from our late Fancy, of a Bishop of the Catholick Church without a particular District. Had they thought so, they might have ratified Novatian's Acts, as a Bi­shop, because he had received his Power from Bishops, tho' not as Bishop of Rome. Comparing the Catholick Church to a Fanum, or Temple, he was Profanus, as not being in the Temple, nor having a Right to enter into it. Comparing it to the House in which the Passover was to be eaten by the Jews, he was Foris, not in that House, in which alone the Passover was to be eaten. These were the Notions of St. Cyprian, and were by him and his Colleagues un­derstood of the Catholick Church in general, when they all supposed Novatian out of the Catholick in general, by being out of that particular Church of Rome, of which he had formerly been a Mem­ber. Just as in ordinary Excommunications, they also always sup­posed, that he who was by any Act of obliging Authority deprived of his Right to his own particular Church, had also lost his Right thereby to all the particular Churches in the World. And they also supposed Novatian to have cast himself out of his own Body, by assuming to himself the Name of a Head of that Body, which al­ready had a Head, and could have no more than one. And these Notions, and this Language of St. Cyprian, were supposed and owned universally by the whole Body of the Catholick Bishops of his Time, when they acted consequently to them, and took them for the Measures, by which they either granted or refused their own Communion. Nor is it to be thought strange, that these Notions should be received, and received universally, not as the Opinions of private Persons, but as the publick Doctrine, and Fundamental to the Catholick Communion, as practised not only in that early Age of St. Cyprian, but as derived from the Apostles themselves, and the very first Originals of Christianity: For these were not, (as private Opinions usually were) only the result of private Reasonings; they were received as the Fundamentals of Christianity, (which were not [Page 15]as new Revelations generally were,...) from the like Notions received among the Jews, and among them received not as private Opinions, but as publick Doctrines, and Fundamental to the then practised Sacrifical Communion of the then peculiar People, and only thence deduced (as other things also are, in the Reasonings of the New Testament) to the Case of the new Mystical Peculium, and their new Mystical Sacrifices. The Language of erecting Altar against Altar in St. Cyprian, is derived from the like earlier Language re­ceived among the Jews, V. Discourse of one Altar, &c. Edit. Lond. 1683. 80. concerning the Samaritan Altar of Manasses, against the Jerusalem Altar of Jaddus, that is, of a High Priest against a High Priest, when God had appointed but one High Priest in the whole World, and him only at Jerusalem. And it is also plain, that the Body of the Jews did look on such Schismatical High Priests, and all their Communicants, as cut off from the Body of their Pe­culium, and consequently from all their publick Sacrifices, and all the Privileges consequent to them. Why should we therefore think it strange, that the Apostolical Christians should have the like Opinion of them, who set up themselves as opposite Heads of their Mystical Sacrifices?

But this is not all. It is further as notorious, 3dly, St. Cyp. Epist. 43. Edit. Oxon. that all who any way professed themselves one with Novatian, were for that very Reason of their doing so, taken for divided from the Catholick Church, as well as he was with whom they were united. Here also the reason was very evident, that he who professed, and, by publick Profession, made himself one with a Person divided, must, by the same Analogy of Interpretation, profess himself divided, and, by that very Profession, actually divide himself also, by making himself one with the Person supposed to be divided. Nor was this reason more evident, than universally acknowledged in the Discipline of that Age. All such Uniters with the Schismatick were refused to be admitted to Communion, not by particular Bishops only, (as the Case would have been if the Opinion had been singular) but by all the Bishops of one Communion in the World.

Not only so: But it is also as notorious, 4thly, from the Practice and Discipline of that Age, that all whom they looked upon as uni­ted with Novatian, they consequently looked on as divided from themselves: To be sure, in the first place, those who had any hand in his pretended Consecration, which were principally and parti­cularly reflected on by Cornelius, in his Epistle to Fabius of Antioch. Nor would his People be receiv'd to Communion by any Catholick [Page 16]Bishop on the communicatory Letters of Novatian; and they could expect none from Cornelius whilst they were divided from him. Thus all his Subjects came to be involved as well as himself. But that which was highest of all was, that even Bishops were supposed to have divided themselves from their Brethren, if they communi­cated with him; that is, if, according to the custom of that Age, they either gave communicatory Letters to him, or receiv'd any to their own Communion on the like communicatory Letters receiv'd from him. This appear'd plainly in the Case of Martian of Arles, who was on this very account denied the communicatory Letters of his Brethren; and would, no doubt, have appeared also in the Case of Fabius of Antioch, if he had proceeded so far. And this does plainly suppose, that such Bishops also had cut themselves off from Catholick Communion by their own Act. And by this means it also appeared to have been more than a private Opinion in that Age, when even no Bishop could be permitted in the Communion of his Brethren, if he dissented from them in this particular. Thus, to make Application to our present Case, all the Bishops will be invol­ved, who communicate either with the Principal Schismaticks, or the Schismatical Consecrators. And this will also take in, by the same Principles, all Communicants with such Bishops. For when the Bishop was refused Communion, the Effect of such refusal was, that none should thence-forwards expect to be received to the Commu­nion of those who had refused him on his communicatory Letters; and no other communicatory Letters could be hoped for whilst they continued in Communion with him.

And then, 5thly, it is also as notorious, on the same Principles of St. Cyprian's Age, that such Schism from the visible Communion of the Catholick Church, was also supposed to deprive the Person so divided of all the invisible Benefits of Church Communion. God was supposed obliged to ratifie in Heaven, what was done by those whom he authorized to represent Him on Earth. He avenged the Contempts of his Ministers, and would not be a Father to those who would not own his Church for their Mother, by paying her a Filial respect. They were not to expect any Pardon of their Sins: They could not hope for the Holy Ghost, who dissolved the Unity of the Spirit: V. Cypr. de Unitate Eccl. Ep. 49. Edit. Ox. Ep. 52, 54, 55. They were uncapable of the Crown of Martyrdom, whatever they suffered in the State of Separation. This is the re­sult of many of St. Cyprian's Discourses on this Argument: And indeed it is very agreeable with the Design of God, that they who [Page 17]cut themselves off from the Peculium, should, by their doing so, lose all their pretensions to the Rights and Privileges of it. Not only so, but that they should also incurr all the Mischiefs to which they were supposed liable, who had lost their Right of being Mem­bers of the peculiar People. Accordingly as they believed all Per­sons, at their first Admission into the Church, to be turned from Darkness to Light, and from the Power of Satan unto God; so upon their leaving the Church, or their being cast out of it by the judicial act of their Superiors, they were supposed to return into the State of Heathens, to lose the Protection of those good Spirits who minister only to the Heirs of Salvation, and again to relapse into their former condition of Darkness, and being consequently obnoxious to be infested by the Devil, and his Powers of Darkness. And that this was so, appeared by several ordinary Experiments in those earlier Ages, not only of the Apostles, but that also of St. Cyprian, who has many Examples of it in his Book de Lapsis. And this Confinement of the Spiritual Privileges of the peculiar People to the external Communion of the Church, as it was Fundamental to their Discipline, so it was rational consequently to their other Principles. God was not thought obliged to confer those Privi­leges, but by the Act of those whom Himself had authorized to oblige Him. But Dividers were supposed not to belong to that Body to which the Promises were made; and ambitious Intruders into other Mens Offices could not in any Equity pretend to have their Acts ratified by God, from whom they could not be supposed to receive any Authority, when they did not receive it by the Rules and Orders of the Society established by Him. These things were then believed, and believed universally. Indeed nothing but an universal Belief of them would have maintained that Discipline, which was then observed in the Church; could have obliged them generally to suffer, as they did then, the severest Inflictions from the Magistrate, rather than incurr the much more feared Displea­sure of their Ecclesiastical Superiors. When we are also of the same Mind, and alike influenced by Principles and Regard to Con­science, then indeed, and then alone, we may pretend to be a Po­sterity not degenerous from the great Examples of those glorious Ancestors: Then it will not be in the Power of Acts of Parlia­ment to drive us from our Principles, and bring a Scandal on our Religion: Then where our Bishops follow Christ, we shall follow them, and it will not be in the Power of the Worldly Magistrate, [Page 18]or the Gates of Hell it self, to prevail against our Church, and to dissolve the Union between us: Then Magistrates themselves will be more wary of involving Consciences on occasion of their little Worldly Politicks; at least they will not pretend Religion, and the Religion of that very Church which suffers by them for doing so. May we live at length to see that happy day! However it will hence appear how impossible it will be to excuse our Adversa­ries present Case from Schism, if it be tryed by that Antiquity which we do indeed profess to imitate and alledge.

Now in this Case I am discoursing of, I have purposely se­lected the Instances of St. Cyprian's Age rather than any other, not only because they are the Ancientest, indeed the first we know of, of one Bishop's invading another's Chair not vacant; but be­cause we have withall in him the most distinct account of the Sense of the Church in his Age of such Facts, and of the Principles on which they proceeded in condemning them. He had occasion given him to be so distinct by two Schisms, one of his own Church in Carthage, where Felicissimus was set up against himself; another (that I have principally insisted on) of Novatian, set up against Cornelius in Rome. On these Occasions he has written one just Discourse, be­sides several Epistles. But these Principles were not singular and proper to that Age; they descended lower, and are insisted on by Optatus and St. Augustine in their Disputes with the Donatists, when­ever they dispute the Question of their Schism, without relation to their particular Opinions.

We have here given them the sense of the Church, in an Age wherein her Testimony is every way unexceptionable, wherein she had certain means of knowing the Truth, and withall valued it as it deserved. Even there we find the Principles now mentioned universally received, and universally received as the Grounds of that universal Catholick Communion, which she had received by an uninterrupted Tradition from the Apostles to that very Time. Even there, I say, we find them received, where nothing could have been received universally that had been an Innovation. In so short a time it was hard to bring in Variations from the Primitive Rule, and harder yet, that all the Churches could have been unanimous in them, if they had been Variations, as Tertullian reasons in his Prescriptions; especially when there was no Universal Authority received over the whole Catholick Church that could induce them to it. From the Time of Trajan, the Succession of our Saviour's [Page 19]Family failed in the Church of Jerusalem, to which all particular Churches paid a Deference. From the Time of Hadrian, there could be no pretence for that Church above others, when it con­sisted not of Jews, but Greeks and Romans. What was there there­fore that could make them unanimous in Variations, and Variations of such Importance as this had been? They had then no General Councils: And the absolute Supremacy of particular Bishops in their proper Districts, is by none maintained more expressly, and more zealously, than by St. Cyprian, with particular regard to all other Powers, that in later times have pretended to oblige Bishops; that is, to Councils, and the Bishop of Rome. This Catholick Com­munion, grounded on the common Interest of all the Bishops, to have all their Acts of Discipline in their particular Districts ratified over the whole World, might have brought in other things that were consequential to these common Interests. But there was no­thing antecedent that can be imagined, that could have brought in this Catholick Communion of those times, among such a multitude of absolute and independent Societies, as the Churches were then, if it had not been brought in from their very first Originals. And yet these Notions we were speaking of were Fundamental to that Catholick Communion it self, as managed in those earlier Ages.

CHAP. V. That Intruders, or Anti-Bishops, (by Lay-Authority) cannot be defended but by Principles fundamentally destructive of the Church, as a Society distinct from the State, in time of Persecution.

IF those Errors, that destroy the very Being of the Church, as a Society, be Fundamental, I cannot for my part see how such Anti-Bishops, and all that own them, can be excused by Principles from Erring fundamentally. Their being Bishops supposes such Doctrines as, if they be once admitted, make it impossible for the Church to subsist as a Spiritual Society, whenever the State is pleased to persecute it. They cannot possibly be supposed Bishops of those [Page 20]Dioceses to which they are consecrated, till it first be supposed that their Predecessors are validly deprived, and consequently that the Sees are vacant in Gonscience. If it should prove otherwise, the Clergy and Laity of those same Jurisdictions will still be obliged in. Conscience, as much as ever, to adhere to their Canonical Bishops till they be Canonically deprived, and to disown such Intruders as are put over them, not only without any Canonical Procedure, but without any Authority also that can oblige in Conscience. The only Principle therefore on which they can pretend that their Ri­val Bishops have lost their Right, as to Conscience, must be the Power that even the Lay-Magistrate has to deprive Bishops even with regard to Conscience. If therefore they will defend their Schism by Principles, it will be necessary that they defend this Principle also, without which it is not possible that it should ever be defended. They have no Ecclesiastical Judicatory, Just or Un­just, that they can so much as pretend in this Case. And the de­fending this is that which will increase their Guilt, and will add to their charge of Schism, the aggravation of Heresie also. For in or­der to the asserting such a Right as this to the Secular Magistrate, it will be necessary to assert that the Authority of the Church, even as to Spirituals, is, in Conscience, the Right of the Civil Magistrate. If it should not be so, then the Subjects of the respective Dioceses may still be at liberty in Conscience to adhere to their deprived Bishops. And if they may, they must, because then all their former Obligations in Conscience will still hold as obliging in Conscience to it is impossible that those antecedent Obligations in Conscience to adhere to their spiritual Superiors can be dis-anulled, or diminished by a Power that can pretend no Right in such Matters with regard to Conscience. But if we grant this Power to the Magistrate, this will perfectly overthrow the Church as a Society distinct from the State, and perfectly disable it to subsist as a Society in a time of Persecution. For when the Magistrate persecutes it, it cannot then subsist as a Society without a Government, and a Government ob­liging in Conscience, and not derived from the persecuting Magi­strate. But if the Right of that spiritual Government be in Con­science the Magistrate's Right, it must be an invading the Magi­strate's Right to pretend to it, when he expressly forbids it. And if so, how can spiritual Governours in such a Case pretend to it? How can they pretend to a Right that is none of their own, con­sistently with Conscience? How can their pretending to it with [Page 21]ill Consciences oblige their Subjects to adhere to them on account of Conscience? Nay, how can it even excuse them in Conscience for not adhering rather to him whose Right it is supposed to be, and that even in Conscience? No Necessity whatsoever can excuse a Sin, much less lay an Obligation in Conscience on Subjects to abet it, least of all lay an Obligation on God to ratifie such Acts of Au­thority as must be supposed no better than Usurpations. And yet all Acts of Ecclesiastical Authority in a time of Persecution can sig­nifie nothing if they be not such as may oblige in Conscience, and such as God as well as Men is obliged to ratifie. Thus it had been Sin in the Romans to set up Cornelius (as plainly they did) not only without the Consent, but against the Will of Decius. It had been Sin in him, and not in him only, but in all the Bishops of his Age, to pretend to any Districts in the Roman Empire. It had been Sin in them to exercise Authority in Districts not belonging to them. Thus the Church had been perfectly dissolved, as a Society at least, within the Roman Empire, unless we can suppose a Notion of a Society without Governours, without Districts, without any lawful Exercises of Authority. And yet the Bishops of those Ages never thought themselves obliged in Conscience to go out of the Roman Empire to retrieve the Power which is pretended to belong to them as Bishops of the Catholick Church. And very probably it had signified nothing to have done so. They could have gone into no civilized inhabited Countries, but they must have expected Magi­strates who could pretend to the same Right, as well as Decius, and who were as much disposed as he to use their Right to the Prejudice of the Christian Religion. What therefore would our Adversaries have advised the Christians of those Ages to have preserved them­selves in a Society? Would they have had them retired into un­occupied Wildernesses? But how could they make Societies there where there were no Numbers of Subjects requisite to make a So­ciety? Plainly therefore, the Catholick Church had then been dis­solved as Societies, if these New Principles had been maintained in those earlier Ages. And these same Principles do still put it as evidently in the Power of the Civil Magistrate to dissolve the Church, as a Society, within his own Dominions. For how can a Church continue a Society where Bishops are in Conscience de­prived of their Spiritual Authority, and where Subjects are also ab­solved from their Obligations in Conscience to obey them? And this is also a dissolving the Catholick Church as to such as live in [Page 22]such Dominions, and as to any Benefits they can derive from the Catholick Church also. For Subjects of particular Districts are no otherwise received into the Catholick Church, than as they derive a Right to Communion with all the Churches in the World, by their being admitted Members of the Churches of their particular Di­stricts. And they are also deprived of their Right of Catholick Communion when they are Excommunicated by the lawful Autho­rity of their particular Districts. I cannot therefore see how our Adversaries can excuse themselves herein from Erring fundamentally, if the Church's being a Society be admitted for a Fundamental.

CHAP. VI. Arguments and Objections against this Doctrine from Instances of Fact, and Publick Good, answered.

AGAINST this truly Catholick Doctrine two things were opposed by the Adversaries: The one, a Collection of Eighteen Instances of Bishops, who being deprived, and not for He­resie, did not insist on their Right, or were not seconded by their Subjects, in the History of 900. Years. Which way of Reasoning, he shews, is neither Conscientious, nor Prudent: For if Matters of Fact so nakedly related, without Evidence of the Principles on which they were acted, be urged as Precedents barely because done, and no Opposition against them, it will be impossible to make any thing of such arguing from History. For what History is there that in a Succession of 900. Years does not afford Examples against Exam­ples? And how easie were it for an Historian, by this way of Reasoning, to justifie the Wickedest things that can be? (§. 9.) And in this case are divers circumstances, which not appearing in any of the Instances make them insignificant. §. 10-14. Nor do the Instances produced prove the Sense of the Catholick Church, but only of the Greek, and especially of Constantinople: nor even of that Church in the first and earliest Ages, (§. 15.) but most of modern, barbarous, and divided Ages, § 22. and in different cases, Part 2. §. 1. and the Deprivations, either by Synods, or disagreeable to the [Page 23]Canons of that very Church, §. 8, 9, 11. and no such Power so much as pretended by the Lay-Magistrate, §. 3. but the Emperors indeavouring to obtain their Wills by Authority of Synods; or by gross Violence murdering, disabling, or banishing the Incumbents.

The other, their great Plea of the Publick Good, §. 47. which he well retorts upon them: That the Eternal Interests of Souls and of Religion are more to be valued in a Publick Account, than Worldly Politicks: That it is more the Publick Good of the Church, and of Reli­gion, that Subordinations be preserved, than that any particular Per­son be made a Bishop by offering Violence to them; That the Glo­rious Passive Doctrines of the Church be maintained in opposition to Worldly Interests, than seem prostituted to serve them; That the Credit of the Clergy be maintained, than that they enjoy the Benefits of Worldly Protection; And that the Independency of that Sacred Function on the State be asserted, by challenging the Right, than that by yielding the Lay-Power should be owned to have any Power of Depriving us of the Comfort of Sacraments in a time of Persecution: And that this is more for the Interest of the State, even of the Civil Magistracy, than what is like to obtain upon the Cession. Even the State cannot subsist without Obligations of Conscience, and the Sacred­ness of Oaths; This hath respect to wt he said be­fore of the Sacred Vows of Canonical Obedience, for securing that Right and Duty, where no Worldly Power can force them to it; which no other Power in the World can dispence with, but that for whose Inte­rest they were imposed, and the dreadful Imprecations implied in them as an Obligation for Perfor­mance. which can signifie nothing for the Security of any future Government, if they must signifie nothing for the time past. It is not for the Interest of the Publick to secure ill Titles in their Possession, and thereby to incourage the Frequency of ill Titles, and frequent Subversions of the Fundamental Constitutions, and all the Publick Miseries that must follow on such changes.

But these things are more largely treated, and very solidly in the Defence of the Vindication, upon a farther occasion. For the Adversaries being so home pressed with this, that they had little to reply, were forced to seek for new Arguments: And first, without any Answer to his Argument, and granting the Proposition of the Invalidity of Lay-Deprivation, the Lawfulness of Submission in the Ecclesiastical Subjects to Intruders, is only insisted on; and only from other Later Facts, and pretence of Peace and Tranquility of the Church. To which it is replied, that such Submission is Sin­ful by the Law of God, makes the Subjects Accomplices in the In­justice, and moreover in the Clergy, on account of their Oaths of canonical Obedience, &c. and, That turning the Dispute to later Facts draws it from a short and decisive, to a tedious and litigious Issue, with which there is no reason to comply. And concerning [Page 24] the Case of Abiathar, he shews, That the Fact is not commended in the Scripture as a Precedent; That the Magistrate could not, by the Doctrine of that Age, have any direct Power over the Priest­hood; That in the Apostle's Age the Priesthood was expressly owned to be far more Honourable than the Magistracy it self; and, That Solomon's Act was only of Force, and what God had threatned against the House of Eli: Nor was Abiathar then the High-Priest properly so called, but Zadoc, &c. Moreover, That Christian Bishops are properly Priests, and the Gospel Priesthood more noble than that of Abiathar; and that these Principles and Infe­rences were admitted in the Apostolick Age, &c. by Clemens Ro­manus, &c.

But the Principal Pretence of all is proposed by another Author; That tho' the Argument holds where the State are Infidels, and so the Church and State distinct Bodies, yet not so where the State professes the Christian Religion: And, That the Benefits of Pro­tection, of Honor and Profit, of Security, and of Assistance, which the Church receives from the State, require in Gratitude a com­pensation. To which is replied, That more is required for such a Power than meerly being Christian, which gives no Title to any Spiritual Authority; That the same Persons may be of distinct Societies; That the Church's Obligations are more necessary for the Subsisting of the State, than those she receives from the State for hers; That the Benefits also received from her by the State, are greater than what she receives from it; That a Pious Magistrate would not desire such a Recompence, if she could grant it: But it is not in the Power of Ecclesiastical Governours to make such Contract; Nor is it agreeable to the Mind of God that the Church should so incorporate with the State. To which may be added, That the Catholick Church and particular States are, by order of Divine Providence, of different, unequal, and inconsistent Dimensions: and, That Particular States are many intire, independent Bodies; but all Par­ticular Churches, Members of One great Body, and subject to the Supream and Ʋniversal Authority thereof; Nor ought any State, Prince, or Emperor, be admitted or reputed Christian, who will not submit all their Authority to the Authority of Christ in his Kingdom upon Earth; Which being the Chief of all Powers; who-ever resists, resists the Ordinance of God, and shall receive to themselves Damnation, Rom. 13.2.

CHAP. VII. Of the Authority of the Church of England; and that the Authority of the Primitive Catholick Church is greater than that of any Modern Particular one, and to be preferred before it.

‘THE last Refuge is Argumentum ad hominem; a poor Cause indeed that is reduced to that; which tho' tolerable as an Adjective with others more substantial, yet cannot stand alone, much less support such a Cause as this. Two things are alleadged, the Oath of Supremacy, & Deprivation of the Bishops in Q. Elizabeth's time for refusing that Oath, for Proof of the Doctrine of the Church of England in this case. To all this in general our Author oppo­seth the Authority of the Church of Christ, the Catholick Church of the Primitive Ages; which the Church of England it self admits: and, having set out the Objection fully, makes this Reply.’

I should most heartily congratulate the Zeal of these Objectors for our Church, were it really such as it is pretended to be. But I can by no means commend any Zeal for any particular modern Church whatsoever, in Opposition to the Catholick Church of the first and purest Ages. We cannot take it for a Reformation that differs from that Church, which ought to be the Standard of Refor­mation to all later degenerous Ages, at least in things so essential to the Subsistence and Perpetuity of the Church, as these are which con­cern the Independence of the Sacred, on the Civil Authority. Nor is it for the Honor of our dear Mother to own her Deviation, in things of so great Importance, from the Primitive Rule; much less to pretend her Precedent for over-ruling an Authority so much greater than hers, so much nearer the Originals, so much more Universal, so much less capable of Corruption, or of Agreement in any Point that had been really a Corruption. It is impossible that ever the present Breaches of the Church can be reconciled, if no particular Churches must ever allow themselves the Liberty of Varying from what has actually been received by them, since the Ages of Divisions, the very Reception thereof having proved the Cause of those Divisions. If therefore our modern Churches will [Page 26]ever expect to be again united, it must be by Acknowledgment of Errors in particular Churches, at least in such things as have made the Differences, and which (whilst they are believed) must make them irreconcilable. Such things could never proceed from Christ, who designing his whole Church for One Body, and One Communion, could never teach Doctrines inconsistent with such Unity, and de­structive of Communion. And why should a Church, such as ours is, which acknowledges her self Fallible, be too pertinacious in not acknowledging Mistakes in her self, when the Differences, even between Churches, which cannot all pretend to be in the Right whilst they differ, and differ so greatly from each other, are a ma­nifest Demonstration of Errors in Authorities, as great as her own? Nor can any such acknowledgments of actual Errors be prejudicial to Authority, where the Decisions of the Authority are to be over­ruled not by private Judgments, but by a greater Authority. And if any Authority be admitted as competent for arbitrating the pre­sent Differences of Communion between our modern Churches, I know none that can so fairly pretend to it, as that of the Primitive Catholick Church. Besides the other Advantages she had for know­ing the Primitive Doctrines above any Modern ones whatsoever, she has withall those Advantages for a fair Decision, which recommend Arbitrators. She knew none of their Differences, nor dividing Opinions, and therefore cannot be suspected of Partiality. And it was withall an Argument of her being constituted agreeably to the Mind of her blessed Lord, that she was so perfectly one Communion as he designed her. And the Acquiescence of particular Churches in her Decision, is easier and less mortifying than it would be to any other Arbitrator. To return to her, is indeed no other than to return to what themselves were formerly before their Divisions, or dividing Principles. So that indeed, for modern Churches to be determined by Antiquity, is really no other than to make themselves, in their purest, uncorruptest Condition, Judges of their own Case, when they have not the like Security against Impurities and Corruptions. I cannot understand there­fore how, even on account of Authority, our late Brethren can excuse their pre­tended Zeal for even our Common Mother, the Church of England, when they presume to oppose her Authority to that of the Catholick Church, and of the Catholick Church in the first and purest Ages. I am sure we have been used to commend her for her Deference to Antiquity, and to have the better Opinion of any thing in her Constitution, as it was most agreeable to the Pattern of the Primitive Catholick Church.

CHAP. VIII. Arch-Bishop Cranmer's Opinion perfectly destructive of all Spiritual Authority, and his Authority in these matters none at all.

‘FOR more particular Answer, he first shews the Author and Original, and so the Novelty, of these pernicious Opinions in England; and then answers to both the Allegations aforesaid: the first not being very long, and therefore recited in his own Words at length, is as followeth:’

In Henry the Eighth's time, under whom the Oath of Supremacy was first introduced, the Invasions of the Sacred Power were most manifest. Yet so that even then they appear to have been Innova­tions and Invasions. But who can wonder at his Success, consider­ing the violent ways used by him? So many executed by him for refusing the Oath? The whole Body of the Clergy brought under a Premunire, (for doing no more than himself had done, in owning the Legatine Power of Cardinal Wolsey) and fined for it, and forced to Submissions very different from the sense of the Majority of them? He did indeed pretend to be advised by some of the Ecclesiasticks, as appears from several of their Papers still preserved. But they were only some few selected by himself, never fairly permitted to a freedom and majority of Suffrages. And when even those few had given their Opinion, yet still he reserved the Judgment of their Reasons to himself. And to shew how far he was from being in­different, those of them who were most open in betraying the Rights of their own Function, were accordingly advanced to the higher degrees in his Favour, and were entrusted with the Management of Ecclesiastical Affairs. None had a greater share in his Ecclesiastical Councils than Arch-Bishop Cranmer. Nor is there any who, upon all the Questions proposed, wherein Ecclesiastical Power was con­cerned, does more constantly side with the King's imperious Hu­mour against the true Rights of his own Order. He allows the King the Rights even of Preaching the Word, and Administring the Sacra­ments, and allows neither of them to the Ecclesiasticks, any further than as they derived them from the Prince's Lay-Commissions. He [Page 28]permitted indeed their Consecrations, as he had found them, by those of their own Order; but derives nothing of their Power from those Consecrations. He makes the Ceremonies of Consecration indifferent things, no way concerned in conveying the Spiritual Power. That he derives wholly from their Lay-Deputation. He gives them a Power of Preaching the Word, and Administring the Sacraments, where the Lay-Powers allow it, and he allows them neither where the Secular Magistrate forbids them. They must admit whom the Laws oblige them to admit, and they must not excommunicate any whom the Secular Laws take into their Protection. The Magistrate, not­withstanding his being a Lay-Man, may perform these Offices him­self, if he pleased. And the Ecclesiasticks, notwithstanding their Consecration, are not by him permitted to perform them, unless the Magistrate be pleased to give them leave. Nay, so far he pro­ceeds in his Flattery of the Civil Magistrate, that he allows no more Gifts of the Holy Ghost, in the Laying on of the Hands of the Presbytery, than in the collation of any Civil Office. Even in the Apostles themselves, he rather excuses than commends all the Exercise of their Spiritual Authority, as necessitated to it by the Exigency of their present Circumstances. As if any Necessity could excuse Usurpation. As if any Exercise of a Power not belonging to them could have been seconded by so visible manifestations of God him­self, as that was which was exercised by the Apostles. Yet even their Authority he makes perfectly precarious. He owns no Obli­gation on the Consciences of the Christians of those times to obey even the Apostles themselves, but ascribes their Obedience then wholly to their good Will, so as to leave it to their own Liberty, whether they would be subject or no. And why so? Only because the Apostles had no Civil Empire. This wholly resolves all Obli­gation of Conscience into Civil Empire, and makes it impossible for the Church to subsist as a Society, and a Communion, without the Support of the Civil Magistrate. Accordingly the same Arch-Bishop Cranmer took out a Patent for his Episcopal Power, And ano­ther before from King Henry, long before Bon­ner was Bi­shop: from which; and from the Composure, it is plain who was the Projector. preser­ved by Bishop Burnet, full of a Style so pernicious to Ecclesiastical Authority. He there acknowledges all sort of Jurisdiction, as well Ecclesiastical as Civil, to have slowed originally from the Regal Power, as from a Supream Head, and as a Fountain and Spring of all Magistracy within his own Kingdom. He says, they who had exercised this Juris­diction formerly, (for which he took out this Patent) had done it only PRECARIO, and that they ought with grateful Minds to acknow­ledge [Page 29]this Favour derived from the King's Liberality and Indulgence, and that accordingly they ought to yield whenever the King thought fit to require it from them. And to shew what Particulars of Ecclesiastical Power he meant, his Patent instances the Power of Ordering Presbyters, and of Ecclesiastical Coercion, meaning (no doubt) that of Excommunication. Nay further, the same Patent gives him a Power of Executing, by the King's Authority, those very things which were known to have been committed to him by God himself in the Scriptures, per & ultra ca­quae tibi ex Sacris Literis divinitus commissa esse dignoscuntur. By which we understand, that no Branch of Spiritual Power whatsoever was except­ed. Yet all this Grant was to last no longer than the King's Pleasure. I know not what the Lay-Encroachers themselves can desire more. Here is so little Security for the Church's subsisting, when the Secular Laws discountenance her, as that she is not allowed the same Liberty that other Subjects have, of pleading the Secular Laws already made in favour of her; but is left exposed to the Arbitrary Plea­sure of the Prince, which is thought hard in the case of other Sub­jects. This Yoke the Politicians have lately imposed on the Church of Scotland: GOD, in his good time, release her from it.

I have often wondred how the most learned Bishop Stilling fleet, who first published the fore-mentioned Papers, as far as they con­cerned Arch-Bishop Cranmer, could think them consistent with his own Principles: They are so perfectly contradictory to his Dis­course concerning the Power of Excommunication subjoined in the Second Edition of the Irenicum, and indeed to the Doctrine of the Irenicum it self, as far as it was consistent with it self, or with any one Hypothesis. For sometimes he seems to doubt whether there can be any Power properly so called without Coercion, or any Coercion without external Force. As if indeed the Fears of the future Mis­chiefs attending Exclusion from the Privileges of Church Communion had not been, in the purest Ages of the Christian Religion, more properly Coercive, than the fear of any Evils that were in the Power of the Secular Magistrate. It is certain, that good Christians then chose rather to suffer any thing the Magistrate could inflict, than Excommunication. But I more admire, that such a Betrayer of Eccle­siastical Rights should, by our Ecclesiastical Historian of the Refor­mation, be proposed as the Hero of his times, and as Exemplary to such as might, in his Opinion, deserve the Name of Heroes still. Yet he calls it a strange Commission in Bishop Bonner, when he took out a Commission from the King as to his Spirituals, conceived in [Page 30]the same terms with that of Cranmer, in the Particulars now men­tioned. He grants that It is not on­ly a ground­less Charge upon Bonner, but false; & disproved both by this, which disco­vers Cranmer the Contri­ver, and by Evidence of Fact, that he and others took out such Commissi­ons long be­fore Bonner. v. A. Harmar. pag. 51, 52. The Histori­an to excuse Cranmer cast the Odium of it upon Bon­ner, and de­vised a reason to render it credible. Bonner's Inducement to take out that Commission was, that it was observed, that Cranmer's great In­terest in the King was chiefly grounded on some Opinions he had of the Ecclesiastical Officers being as much subject to the King as all other Civil Officers were. Yet Cranmer was to be excused, because that if he followed that Opinion at all, it was out of Conscience. Why he should doubt, whether he was of that Opinion, I cannot guess, when himself has published those very Papers of the learned Bi­shop Stillingfleet, wherein Arch-Bishop Cranmer does so plainly own himself of that Opinion; when he has also published Cranmer's own Commission to the same purpose. As little Reason I can see why he should say, that Cranmer was once of that Opinion, as if he had afterwards retracted it. The Papers upon the Consult were writ­ten in Henry the Eighth's time, in the Year 1540. And then, even by the Bishop's Observation, the Change of his Opinion had lost his Interest with the King, if his Interest had been grounded on that Opinion. But Cranmer kept to the same Opinions in the Reign of King Edward the Sixth. Then it was he took out his Commission. The young King himself seems to have been of the same Opinion, in his second Paper of the Bishop's Collections, which I can ascribe to nothing more probably than to the Instructions of his God-Father. Nor does it appear the Arch-Bishop chang'd his Mind afterwards. The only thing insisted on by our Historian to prove it, is his sub­scribing a Book set out soon after, which teaches the contrary. But having already shewn that he still retained the same Opinion in the time of Edward the Sixth, his Subscription cannot prove any change of his Opinion, but that he complied, whatever his Opinion was, when he found his non-compliance could not hinder the contrary Opinion from being acceptable. But indeed that Book was not so clear in that point that his Subscribing it would argue any change from his former Opinions. But our Historian says, that when Cranmer maintained that Opinion, he did it out of Conscience. Perhaps it might have been so. But I am sure it is but an ill Argu­ment to prove it so, that his Interest in the King was visibly promoted by it. Yet if he had frequently followed Opinions contrary to Worldly Interest, that, I grant, might have been an Argument, that tho' his Interest was indeed promoted by this Opinion, yet that might have been no Inducement to him why he did imbrace it. But, on the contrary, in the great Actions of his Life, it was the Ser­viceableness [Page 31]of his Opinions to the Princa's Designs that principally recommend­ed him. It was notoriously his Opinion for the Divorce from Queen Katherine, that first brought him into the Court, and into the King's Knowledge. Nor is it denied by our Historian that it was so. And in the Case of Prosuming Consumma­tion of Marriage from Bedding, he gave contrary Judgments concerning the Mar­riage with Queen Katherine, and that with Anne of Cleve, exactly according to the King's Inclinations, and his own Interest in gratifying them. In Queen Ka­therine's Case he allowed it for a good Presumption, but not so in the Case of Anne of Cleve. Nay, when the Protestant Reformation it self was against his In­terest with the Prince then in Possession, he ranounced even that. Nor did he recant that Recantation, at least he gave no publick Signification of his recant­ing it, till he was assured by Dr. Cole, in a Sermon before him at St. Maries, that even his Compliance should avail him nothing for the Saving of his Life. And even in that compleater Collection published by Bishop Burnet, none of the other Bishops or Divines consulted on that Occasion is so perpetually thorough-paced for the King's Inclinations as he was. Which Singularity alone, not only against the Interests, but the Suffrages of his Function, in Favour of Encrcachments, sufficiently shew how far he was from being Impartial in Questions of this Nature.

Having given this account of the Worthy Author of this Doctrine, and of his Principles, he proceeds farther to shew, That it is not the Interest of the Church, that his Authority in these things should be regarded; That neither He, nor the Duke of Summerset, did deserve the Elegies by our Ecclesiastical Historian bestowed upon them, nor the Historian himself any great Commendation or Thanks for his mistaken Service in it; That there were many in those Reigns, under which the Reformation was transacted, who very much promoted the Reformation, but with no good Design on Religion or Reformation; as K. Henry himself, Cromwell, and the Duke of Northumberland, who both at their Executions declared themselves of the Roman Communion; That the part acted by Cranmer was not really contributive to a Reformation; but if his Principles freed the Church from the Tyranny then in being, they naturally introduced a Tyranny of more pernicious Consequence, which perfectly destroys the Government of the Church, and thereby dissolves the Society, which was the thing to be reformed; That as little reason there is for that advantageous Character he gives his other Hero, the Duke of This is but part of the Sa­crilege he was guilty of: and nothing of what he com­mitted in Church Lands and Churches themselves for his own use. Summerset; for he was one that advanced the Sacrilege of the former Reign against Monaste­ries; and in the time of his Protectorship against the Ʋniversities themselves; and wrote a very angry Letter to Bishop Redley for opposing his designed beginnings of it in the Suppression of Clare-Hall: and how could he reconcile any true Zeal for Religion and the Church, with his Sacrilegions Designs (and Practices too) against that very Church, whose Communion was owned by him?

After this he shews, from the several Acts of Parliament, how the Impious Notion of the Supremacy was by degrees settled by that Authority, and continued in the Reign of Prince Edward, who lived not to the Maturity of Judgment to discern the Falshood and ill Tendency of those ill Principles so destructive to all Religion, and to the very Fundamentals of the Church, as it is a Society and Communion, which had been instilled into him by his God-Father (Cranmer,) who was always the most forward Promoter of them.

And thus far our Author hath proceeded very clearly: but his more particular Answer to the two Objections being not fully concluded, but still under Conside­ration, [Page 32]a more compleat account of that is reserved for another Occasion; but may be expected ere long. And in the mean time to do him right, and gratifie the Reader, we shall conclude with the recital of part of a §. of the Vindication, (which had been altered without his Consent) according to his Mind and Original Manuscript. It is § 25. Pag. 71. as followeth.

— neither did the Emperor think that his own Authority was alone sufficient for the purpose. Calinicus by having his Eyes put out was incapaci­ted, and by that Incapaci­ty deprived of his Office without a Ju­dicial Sen­tence. The way that was taken to deprive him was the same that was usu­ally taken to deprive Emperors, without taking away their Lives, who notwith­standing being the supream Authority, were never thought deprivable by any pro­per Exercise of Authority. That was not by a Legal Sentence, but by reducing them to a natural Incapacity for Government, by putting out their Eyes. This perfectly disabled them to judge of the Decrees to be subscribed by them, without which it was impossible for them to govern. Nor was it ever thought Ʋndatiful to deny such Princes Subjection; whatever their Right was otherwise, when they once come to be so incapacitated, however they came to be so. No more than if they were Lunatick. Incapacity was alone sufficient for that. And this Incapa­city was so notorious, that we never read that even the Princes themselves, who had been thus incapacitated, did ever judge so partially even in their own Case, as to think fit to resume. Such a Case therefore as this did not put it in the Power, even of partial Subjects, to deny their Duty where it ought not to have been denied, by judging Incapacities where really there were none. And thus the Law never designs an Office for a Person incapable of it, where the Incapacity is so notorious as that it cannot be falsly applied by corrupt Interpretations. Thus therefore that Emperor deprived this Patriarch Callinicus by putting out his Eyes. Nor was this such a Maiming only as had made him at first unfit to be elected, but such as disabled him to hold his Office, tho' the Emperor had never taken it from him, however he had come to it by a Disease, or by any other Providence. It was not like Antigo­nuss's biting of the Ear of Hyrcanus. That only unqualified Hyrcanus for holding the Priesthood by the particular Constitution of the Jews, which allowed none for Priests who had any such corporal smperfections. Nor was it like the slitting of the Nose of this Emperor Justinian. That only deprived him of the [...], the graceful and Majestick Presence becoming a Prince; but was still consistent with the Essential Qualifications for Government. But this Blindness perfectly disabled our Patriarch Callinicus from ever Exercising any Patriarchal Office, especially that most essential one of our Christian Eucharistical Sacrifice, and no Law could ever design to keep an Office perpetually, unless by allowing a perpe­tual unextinguishable Right in a Person who is under a perpetual natural Incapacity of Exercising it. Thus therefore there was no need of a depriving Sentence against Callinicus when he was under this Incapacity, himself could now pretend no Right to an Office which he could never hope to be able to exercise. What Pretence therefore could he have for Separating from the Communion of Cyrus, when him­self was disabled from Officiating in any Communion? What pretence could the Church have for Questioning the Ordinations of Cyrus, when his Rival was not ca­pable of exercising any better Ordinations? But, God be praised, this is none of our present Fathers Case. They are not under any such Incapacities.


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