A SEASONABLE NEW-YEARS-GIFT. A SERMON Preached at WHITE-HALL, Before His late MAJESTY. By JOHN TILLOTSON, D. D. and Dean of Canterbury.

LONDON, Printed for B. Aylmer at the Three Pigeons against the Royal Exchange in Cornhill. 1687.

Price Two Pence.

A Seasonable New-Years-Gift. 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.

[Page 2] In these words the Apostle speaks of a sort 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, though 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 acknowledge 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 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 [Page 3] 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 OratorTully. (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 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.

[Page 4] 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 be plain, I mean particularly the Church of Rome.

2. I shall enquire, whether our granting a possibi­lity of salvation (though with great hazard) to those in the Communion of the Roman Church, and their de­nying it to us, be a reasonable argument and encou­ragement to any man to betake himself to that Church.

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

1. 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 of new 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 [Page 5] taught by our Saviour and his Apostles, nor own'd in the first Ages of Christianity. And the

First which I shall mention, and which being once admitted makes way for as many errors as they please to bring in, is their Doctrine of Infallibility. And this they are very stiff and peremptory in, though they are not agreed among themselves where this Infallibility is seated; whether in the Pope alone, or a Council alone, or in both together, or in the diffu­sive body of Christians. But they are sure they have it, though they know not where it is.

And is this no prejudice against it? can any man think that this privilege was at first conferred upon the Church of Rome, and that Christians in all Ages did believe it, and had constant recourse to it for determi­ning their differences, and yet that that very Church which hath enjoyed and used it so long should now be at a loss where to find it? Nothing could have fal­len out more unluckily, than that there should be such differences among them about that which they pretend to be the onely means of ending all differences.

There is not the least intimation in Scripture of this privilege conferr'd upon the Roman Church, nor do the Apostles, in all their Epistles, ever so much as give the least direction to Christians to appeal to the Bishop of 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 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 Judge; 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 [Page 6] 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, though 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 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 acknowledge that it is a superstructure upon the Christian Religion. And though in one sense it be [Page 7] indeed a building 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 Apostle's sense, it will be found to be hay and stubble. But how groundless soever it be, it is too gainfull a Doctrine to be easily parted withall.

4. The Doctrine of Transubstantiation. A hard word, but I would to God that were the worst of it; the thing is much more difficult. I have taken some pains to consider other Religions 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 only 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 of his miracles, and had seen him and conversed with him after he was risen from the dead. But what if their senses did deceive them [Page 8] in this matter? then it cannot be denied but that the main proof of Christianity falls to the ground.

Well! We will now suppose (as the Church of Rome does) Transubstantiation to have been one prin­cipal part of the Christian Doctrine which the Apostles preached. But if this Doctrine be true, then all mens senses are deceived in a plain sensible matter, wherein 'tis as hard for them to be deceived as in any thing in the world: For two things can hardly be imagin'd more different, than a little bit of wafer, and the whole body of a man.

So that the Apostles perswading men to believe this Doctrine, perswaded them not to trust their senses, and yet the argument which they used to perswade them to this was built upon the direct contrary prin­ciple, that mens senses are to be trusted. For if they be not, then notwithstanding all the evidence the Apo­stles offer'd for the resurrection of our Saviour he might not be risen, and so the faith of Christians was vain. So that they represent the Apostles as absurd as is possible, viz. going about to perswade men out of their senses by virtue of an argument, the whole strength whereof depends upon the certainty of sense.

And now the matter is brought to a fair issue; If the testimony of sense be to be relied upon, then Tran­substantiation is false; If it be not, then no man is sure that Christianity is true. For the utmost assu­rance that the Apostles had of the truth of Christiani­ty was the testimony of their own senses concerning our Saviour's miracles, and this testimony every man hath against Transubstantiation. From whence it plainly follows, that no man (no not the Apostles themselves) had more reason to believe Christianity to be true, than every man hath to believe Transub­stantiation to be false. And we who did not see our Saviour's Miracles (as the Apostles did) and have only a credible relation of them, but do see the Sacrament; [Page 9] have less evidence of the truth of Christianity than of the falshood of Transubstantiation.

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

I shall press the business a little farther. Supposing the Scripture to be a Divine Revelation, and that these words (This is my Body) if they be in Scripture, must necessarily be taken in the strict and literal sense; I ask now, What greater evidence any man has that these words (This is my Body) are in the Bible, than every man has that the Bread is not chang'd in the Sa­crament? Nay no man has so much; for we have only the evidence of one sense that these words are in the Bible, but that the Bread is not chang'd we have the concurring testimony of several of our senses. In a word, if this be once admitted that the Senses of all men are deceiv'd in one of the most plain sensible mat­ters that can be, there is no certain means left either to convey or prove a Divine Revelation to men; nor is there any way to confute the grossest impostures in the World: For if the clear evidence of all mens sen­ses be not sufficient for this purpose, let any man, if he can, find a better and more convincing argument.

5. I will instance but in one Doctrine more; And that shall be, their Doctrine of deposing Kings in case of Heresie, and absolving their Subjects from their Al­legiance to them. And this is not a meer speculative Doctrine, but hath been put in practice many a time by the Bishops of Rome, as every one knows that is vers'd in History. For the troubles and confusions which were occasion'd by this very thing make up a good part of the History of several Ages.

[Page 10] 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 monstrously 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 like wise in direct 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 [Page 11] our Saviour instituted it in both kinds, and the Pri­mitive Church administred it in both kinds. This I must acknowledge 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 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 it 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. [Page 12] 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 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 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 [Page 13] 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, though with great hazard to those in the Communion of the Roman Church, 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 this is the great popular argument wherewith the emissaries and agents of that Church are wont 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 acknowledgement of both sides is posible.

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 sophistical 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 [Page 14] 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; 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 [Page 15] whatever different parties in Religion agree in, is sa­fest to be chosen. The true consequence of which prin­ciple if it be driven to the head, is to perswade men to forsake Christianity, and to make them take up in the principles of natural Religion, for in these all Re­ligions do agree. For if this principle be true, and sig­nifie any thing, it is dangerous to embrace any thing wherein the several parties in Religion differ; because that only is safe and prudent to be chosen wherein all agree. So that this argument, if the foundation of it be good, will perswade further than those who make use of it desire it should do; for it will not only make men forsake the Protestant Religion, but Popery too; & which is much more considerable, Christianity it self.

II. I will give some parallel instances by which it will clearly be seen that this argument concludes false. The Donatists denied the Baptism of the Catholicks to be good, but the Catholicks acknowledged the Bap­tism of the Donatists to be valid. So that both sides were agreed that the Baptism of the Donatists was good, therefore the safest way for St. Austin and o­ther Catholicks (according to this argument) was to be Baptized again by the Donatists, because by the ac­knowledgment of both sides Baptism among them was valid.

But to come nearer to the Church of Rome. Several in that Church hold the personal Infallibility of the Pope and the lawfulness of deposing and killing Kings for Heresie to be de fide, that is, necessary Articles of Faith, and consequently, that whoever does not be­lieve them cannot be saved. But a great many Papists, though they believe these things to be no matters of Faith, yet they think those that hold them may be sa­ved, and they are generally very favourable towards them. But now, according to this argument, they ought all to be of their opinion in these points, because both sides are agreed that they that hold them may be [Page 16] 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 an instance to this purpose as can be desired. St. Paul here in the Text acknowledgeth the possibility of the salvation of those who built hay and stubble upon the foundation of Christianity; that they might be saved, though 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 hi [...] followers ought to have gone over to those Judaizing Christians, because it was acknowledged on both sides that they might be saved. But these Judaizing Christians were as un­charitable to St. Paul and other Christians as the Church of Rome is now to us, for they said positively that they could not be saved. But can any man think that St. Paul would have been moved by this argu­ment, to leave a safe and certain way of salvation for that which was only possible, and that with great dif­ficulty and hazard? The argument you see is the very same, and yet it concludes the wrong way; which plainly shews that it is a contingent argument, and con­cludes uncertainly and by chance, and therefore no man ought to be moved by it.

III. I shall take notice of some gross absurdities that follow from it. I shall mention but these two.

1. According to this principle it is always 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 [Page 17] Apostle saith of particular Christians is as true of whole Churches, that though 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 it so in this matter? They of the Church of Rome can­not deny but that we embrace all the Doctrines of our Saviour, contain'd in the Apostles Creed and deter­mined by the four first General Councils: And yet they will not allow this and a good life to put us with­in a possibility of salvation, because we will not sub­mit to all the innovations they would impose upon us. And yet I think there is scarce any Doctrine or Prac­tice in difference between them and us, which some or other of their most learned Writers have not ac­knowledged either not to be sufficiently contained in Scripture, or not to have been held and practised by the primitive Church: so that nothing can excuse their uncharitableness towards us. And they pay dear for the little advantage they get by this argument, for they do what in them lies to make themselves no Chisti­ans that they may prove themselves the truer and more Christian Church; A medium which we do not desire to make use of.

2. If this argument were good, then by this trick a man may bring over all the world to agree with him in an error which another does not account damnable, whatever it be, provided he do but damn all those that do not hold it; and there wants nothing but confidence and uncharitableness to do this. But is there any sense, that another mans boldness and want of charity should be an argument to move me to be of his opinion? I cannot illustrate this better, than by the difference between a skilfull Physician and a [Page 18] Mountebank. A learned and skilfull Physician is mo­dest, and speaks justly of things: He says, that such a method of cure which he hath directed is safe, and withall, that that which the Mountebank prescribes may possibly do the work, but there is great hazard and danger in it: But the Mountebank, who never talks of any thing less than infallible cures, (and al­ways the more Mountebank, the stronger pretence to infallibility) he is positive that that method which the Physician prescribes 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 Physician's; 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 in all that we say in this matter? Namely, that though it be possible for some in the communion of the Ro­man Church to be saved, yet it is very hazardous; and that they are in a safe condition already in our Church. And why then should a bare possibility, ac­companied with infinite and apparent hazard, be an argument to any man to run into that danger?

Lastly, this argument is very improper to be urged by those who make use of it. Half of the strength of it lies in this, that we Protestants acknowledge that it is possible a Papist may be saved. But why should they lay any stress upon this? What matter is it what we Hereticks say, who are so damnably mistaken in [Page 19] all other things? Methinks, if there were no other reason, yet because we say it, it should seem to them to be unlikely to be true. But I perceive when it serves for their purpose we have some little credit and authority among them.

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 can honestly use it, and he must have a very odd understanding that can be cheated by it. The truth is, it is a casual and contin­gent argument, and sometimes it concludes right, and oftner wrong; and therefore no prudent man can be moved by it, except only in one case, when all things are so equal on both sides that there is nothing else in the whole world to determine him; which surely can never happen in matters of Religion necessary to be believed. No man is so weak, as not to consider in the change of his Religion the merits of the cause it self; as not to examine the Doctrines and Practices of the Churches on both sides; as not to take notice of the confidence and charity of both Parties, together with all other things which ought to move a conscien­tious and a prudent man: And if upon enquiry there appear to be a clear advantage on either side, then this argument is needless and comes too late, because the work is already done without it.

Besides, that the great hazard of salvation in the Roman Church (which we declare upon account of the Doctrines and Practices which I have mentioned) ought to deter any man much more from that Religi­on, than the acknowledged possibility of salvation in it ought to encourage any man to the embracing of it: Never did any Christian Church build so much hay and stubble upon the foundation of Christianity, and there­fore those that are saved in it must be saved, as it were, out of the fire. And though Purgatory be not meant in the Text, yet it is a Doctrine very well suited [Page 20] to their manner of building; for there is need of an ignis purgatorius, of a fire to try their work what it is, and to burn up their hay and stubble. And I have so much Charity (and I desire always to have it) as to hope, that a great many among them who live pi­ously, and have been almost inevitably detain'd in that Church by the prejudice of education and an invinsi­ble ignorance, will upon a general repentance find mercy with God; and though their work suffer loss and be burnt, yet they themselves may escape, as out of the fire. but as for those who had the opportunities of coming to the knowledge of the truth, if they con­tinue in the errors of that Church, or apostatize from the truth, I think their condition so far from being safe that there must be extraordinary favourable cir­cumstances in their case to give a man hopes of their salvation.

I have now done with the two things I propounded to speak to. And I am sorry that the necessary defence of our Religion, against the restless importunities and attempts of our adversaries upon all sorts of persons hath engaged me to spend so much time in matters of dispute, which I had much rather have employed in another way. Many of you can be my witnesses that I have constantly made it my business, in this great Presence and Assembly to plead against the im­pieties and wickedness of men, and have endeavou­red by the best arguments I could think of, to gain men over to a firm belief and serious practice of the main things of Religion. And, I do assure you, I had much rather perswade any one to be a good man, than to be of any party or denomination of Christians whatsoever. For I doubt not, but the be­lief of the ancient Creed, provided we entertain no­thing that is destructive of it, together with a good life, will certainly save a man; and without this no man can have reasonable hopes of salvation, no not [Page 21] an infallible Church, if there were any such to be found in the world.

I have been, according to my opportunities, not a negligent observer of the genius and humour of the several Sects and Professions in Religion. And upon the whole matter, I do in my conscience believe the Church of England to be the best constituted Church this day in the world; and that, as to the main, the Doctrine and Government, and Worship of it, are ex­cellently framed to make men soberly Religious: Secu­ring men on the one hand, from the wild freaks of Enthusiasm; and on the other, from the gross follies of Superstition. And our Church hath this peculiar advantage above several Professions that we know in the world, that it acknowledgeth a due and just sub­ordination to the civil Authority, and hath always been untainted in its loyalty.

And now shall every trifling consideration be suffi­cient to move a man to relinquish such a Church? There is no greater disparagement to a mans under­standing, no greater argument of a light and ungene­rous mind, than rashly to change ones Religion. Re­ligion is our greatest concernment of all other, and it is not every little argument, no nor a great noise a­bout infallibility, nothing but very plain and convin­cing evidence, that should sway a man in this case. But they are utterly inexcusable who make a change of such concernment upon the insinuations of one side only, without ever hearing what can be said for the Church they were baptized and brought up in before they leave it. They that can yield thus easily to the impressions of every one that hath a design and interest to make Proselytes may at this rate of discretion change their Religion twice a day, and instead of morning and evening Prayer they may have a morning and e­vening Religion.

[Page 22] Therefore for God's sake, and for our own Souls sake, and for the sake of our Reputation, let us con­sider and shew our selves men; let us not suffer our selves to be shaken and carried away with every wind. Let us not run our selves into danger when we may be safe. Let us stick to the foundation of Religion, the Articles of our common belief, and build upon them gold, and silver, and precious stones; I mean, the vertues and actions of a good life; and if we would do this, we should not be apt to set such a value upon hay and stubble. If we would sincerely endeavour to live holy and vertuous lives, we should not need to cast about for a Religion which may furnish us with easie and indirect ways to get to Heaven.

I will conclude all with the Apostles Exhortation, Wherefore my beloved brethren be ye stedfast and un­movable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

Now the God of peace which brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the Sheep, by the bloud of the everlasting Covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to doe his will; wor­king in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be Glory for ever and ever. Amen.



There is lately Published A Discourse of the Com­munion in One Kind: In Answer to a Treatise of the Bishop of Meaux's of Communion under both Species. In Quarto.

There is now in the Press A Discourse against Transubstantiation: formerly Printed in Quarto, but now in Octavo, and sold for three pence for general benefit. By B. Aylmer.

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