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A58905 A sermon preached before the King at Chester, on August xxviii, 1687, being the feast of S. Augustin, Doctor of the Holy Catholic Church by ... Lewis Sabran ... Sabran, Lewis, 1652-1732. 1687 (1687) Wing S221; ESTC R1786 28,293 35

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to that Church which alone gives you an Infallible Guide Think well of God's infinite mercy and true desire that you should be saved and never despair to find an Authority established by God Non est desperandum ab codem ipso Deo auctoritatem aliquam constitutam qua v●lut certo gradu innitentes at●ollamur ad Deum Epist 56. Immobili authoritati himself from which as from a secure step we may take our rise to God. Heretics offer Reasons and Arguments for proof of their Belief and pretend by them to be preferr'd to the unmovable Authority of the Church which is so firmly established therein lies the rashness common to all Heretics But the most meek Lord of our Faith hath been pleased to strengthen his Church with an Authority far weightier than that of all others into this Castle of the Faith all the weaker ought to withdraw Vere illa rectiffima disciplina est in aciem fidei quam maxime recipi infirmos ut pro illis jam fictissime positis firmissima ratione pugnetur themselves whil'st for them thus secure others fight with invincible Reasons and Proofs You are willing to be guided by so weak an Authority as that of your Father and Mother and will you refuse to be guided by the pious Examples of all their Ancestors and of the whole Church for fourteen hundred years As for your Baptism in it you were christened a Catholic whoever baptized you and by declaring your self a Catholic you restore your self to the Religion you were christened in For the Catholic Church is like unto Paradise the Waters of whose Fountain could be drunk out of it in the Rivers that streamed out but that Baptism being given and belonging only to the Catholic Church as in Paradise only could be enjoyed temporal happiness Salutem beatitudinis extra cam neminem vel percipere vel tenere De bapt cont Don. l. 4. c. 2. so no one purchases or maintains a Right to eternal happiness out of that Church Thus did this holy Saint endeavor to draw back to the true Church's Communion those more stubborn Heretics creating in them that holy Fear of God which is the beginning of Wisdom Christian Brethren you who are so happy as to have been born in or early called to the Bosom of this holy Catholic Church and thereby to enjoy that Blessing with less toil and labor than it cost S. Augustin Be ever thankful for so great a Mercy wonder not when you see knowing Men sober Enquirers who even after a studious search have so thick a Veil yet over their eyes as not to see those glorious evident Marks God hath distinguished this Church by nor their Obligation of rendring themselves Members of it For twenty years Augustin a man of far greater Parts and a more diligent Searcher was thus blind Pity those 〈…〉 who pin their Faith on the Sleeve bottom it on the Authority of some such particular men whil'st they refuse to give ear to the whole Catholic Church which assures them that they go astray Pray for both obtain a Ray of Grace for them and they will see as you do judge as you do and equally bless God for it If any here present enjoy not yet that happiness may the Example and Motives of this Saint's Conversion prevail with him Let him weigh whether he be not unhappily under the same prejudices this Saint was so long prepossess'd with 'T is in vain to consult many Books or Persons on each point of Belief Alas says the Saint taught by twenty years De Doctrina Ch. c. 16. experience the helps of all sorts of Instructions received from Man avail little if God work not in us that very effect which we expect from them Seek then Knowledge from God by a devout and humble Prayer but expect not that he should give you a new Revelation or lead you to Truth but by those Guides his admirable Providence hath provided for you Resolve your Faith finally into God's Word but that you may not be deceived hear it from the Mouth receive it by the Authority of that Church you are commanded to hearken unto Thus did this holy Doctor offering to those Heretics who questioned the Grounds of his Faith these evident Marks by which God hath character'd his Church that Pillar of Truth on which all the Faithful are to lean If any stubbornly refuse to observe them they will allow me however to offer them to the Catholic part of my Auditory for their comfort This is then the account he gives of his own and our Faith Many things do most justly detain In Epist Fund cap. 4 5. me in the Bosom of the Catholic Church First the Vnion in Faith and consent of many Nations 'T is the common misery of all Heretics not to see what of all things Fo. 2. l. 7. contra Parmen c. 3. in the world is most patent and seated in the very eyes of all Nations to wit the Church out of the Unity whereof whatever they do can no more cover their Souls from the anger of God than a Cobweb could preserve their Bodies from cold That Church which every-where 1. de Symbol● cap. 5. opposing different Heresies can never be conquered by them They all went out of Her like unto so many withered Branches cut off from and cast out of the Vine whil'st She remains in her own Vine adhering to her own Root enjoying her Charity or perfect Tract 3. in Ep. Joann Union In her alone we hold the Inheritance of Christ all Nations They have it not whose Communion unites not the whole Circle of the Earth who is not in Communion with that Inheritance is gone out of it Such may challenge Christ but to as little purpose as he who in the Gospel made this address to him Say O Serm. de temp 169. Lord to my Brother that he divide the Inheritance with me Christ refused to divide it amongst them Paul was as great an Enemy to Division when he said I beg of you Brethren that you say all of you the same thing and that there be no Schisms amongst you He wept for those who tho' on his account divided Christ See then how wicked those men are who will be divided They Brevic. contra Donatistas Acutum aliquid sibi dicere videntur cum Catholicae nomen non ex totius Orbis communione interpretantur sed observatione Praeceptorum omn●um L. contra Parm. multa Frusta de Uno Frnsto think themselves witty when seeing their Congregation restrained within the bounds of some Province or Kingdom they pretend that they be a part of the Catholic Church that hath all things commanded and necessary for Salvation as if to be a Catholic did not import a Communion or Unity in Faith and Sacraments in a Church diffused the whole World over They cut off a part and that again falls into many pieces tho' no necessity can warrant
a high Tree indeed and sees thence the Place he would go to but then ranges blindly in the thick Wood whilst the other walks securely in a Way leading right thither without fear or danger of going astray a large Royal Way made and kept by the Providence of the King of Heaven Then observing how all pious humble Catholics tho' never so plain and illiterate Men enjoyed as a Birthright that Happiness the Search whereof had been so dangerous the Purchase so painful to him What Lib. 8. cap. 1. Conf. want O Lord said he what want did your Little-ones feel of a deep and quick Wit How much did this Dullness of theirs injure them Whilst they were carried in your Catholica delici●tur Ecclesia dicat ego do●mio cor meum vigilat Quid est nisi ita qui●sco ●● audiam Tract 25. in Jo. Arms and rested in the Nest of the Catholic Church enlarging the Wings of their Charity and strengthning them by the Food of a sound Faith chosen for and brought to them without their labor Happy Men who enjoy a perfect Rest while their whole Duty is to hearken Behold the final Victory of Grace over the Pride of Human Wit captivated to Faith our Self sufficiency humbled under the Tutoring Discipline and Direction of the Church No wonder if this Saint afterwards us'd no other Method in reconciling misled Heretics to Truth but that by which Gods Grace had retrieved him from his Errors the infallible Authority of a Guiding Church He advised Unlearned Men in general to relie altogether and lean on the Authority Epist 56 of the Church He minded the most Learned who feared to be deceived where Truth seemed to them Fo. 7. li● contra cresco c. 33. but obscurely revealed to consult the Church which the holy Scriptures point out without ambiguity assuring them that even in Fundamental Articles of as immediate necessity as Baptism is where Scripture mentions nothing thereof the very Truth of Scriptures is followed whilst that is done which the Catholic Church declares for and with reason since we receive said he the Books of the Old and New Testament in the same number that the Authority of Fo. 10. Serm. 191. de tempore the Catholic Church hath Sealed and Delivered up to us since I would not give any credit to the Gospel if the Authority Fo. 6. l. contra Epist ●und c. 5. of the Catholic Church moved me not to it whatever Doubts there arise not to yield to the Church 't is the utmost Ad honor de util Cred. c. 17. Fo. 6. Impiety the most loose Arrogancy For whether in her most general necessary and first Principles or in remotest Truths leading to solid Devotion whether in Contra Faust l 15. c. 3. in Fo. 6. her Milk or in her Bread the Church alone possesses Truth Those then who have their Belief yet to choose who begin a serious Search into Religion desiring to De util Cred. c. 7. 8. know to which they are to commit their Souls for Instruction they must without any Doubt begin with the Catholic Church If they have been wavering in their Mind and desire to put an end to their toil in seeking let them follow the Way of Catholic Discipline which as it is derived from Jesus Christ to us Christus miraculis conc●liavit auctoritatem auctoritate meruit sidem De util cred c. 14. by the Apostles so must it be transmitted to our Posterity in succeeding Ages We must receive our Faith from that Church as the first converted to Christianity received it from the Apostles and they from Christ Her Authority being once established by the same Proofs which Domino cooperante sermonem confirmante sequent b●s signis Marc. ult the Apostles offered for theirs our whole Work is to embrace what God teaches by her Voice tho' it be above the level and reach of Human Reason For before our Minds be cleared from that Dullness which Sin hath left De agone Chron. c. 13. in it that especially of Insidelity we must believe what we cannot yet understand the Prophet having most truly said Without you believe you shall not understand for Faith is delivered in the Church in very few words in which Eternal Mysteries are comprehended which carnal man cannot yet conceive The first Heresie arose In Psalm amongst Christ's Disciples from the refusal of yielding to his words which seemed hard they unhappily made a Schism from him If Peter stuck stedfast to Christ was it by understanding the high Mysteries of that Speech of Christ No but he piously believed what he understood In Psalm 130. not Learn little ones of Christ learn from hence due Piety for those who will dispute of Mysteries they do not understand do but heighten their Pride whil'st that curse falls on them which the Royal Prophet speaks of in the 130 Psalm If I was not humble of heart but have swelled up my mind with Pride as the Child weaned from the breast is towards his Mother so be my Soul punished The Church of God is that Mother from which they are severed they should have been nurs'd and fed by her and so might have grown and become capable of digesting the Word and Mysteries of Faith. Ponder then well the sense of those two words of your Creed Catholic Church observe what a certain death Psalm in part Donati seizes the Vine-branch how it withers when lopt off from the Body of the Vine come and seek Life from the Root number the Priests in St. Peter's Chair observe how they have succeeded to one another that 's the Rock which the proud Gates of Hell never conquer This was his method of reducing those better-disposed Souls which erred by mistake rather than by malice but if he found any obdurate before he shaked against them the dust of his feet according to Christ's Command before he avoided them as already condemned following the Apostles Counsel he with a true Charity weeping Ad Tit. 3. 10. for the certain danger they ran minded them of it thus To be fond of ones proper Opinion or to be averse L. 2. con Don. c. 5. from better to that degree as to be guilty by breaking Communion of the Sacrilege of Schism or Heresie is a Presumption beyond all others but the Devils since it is to refuse a Submission to the Spirit of Truth guiding that Church it is promised unto and which God commands all to hearken unto and to obey 'T is the Crime of Corah erecting an Altar against an Altar which involves the weak and ignorant Followers as much as the Leaders when equally stubborn in standing to their Separation it seeming even a higher Crime in unlearned men who pretend not to extraordinary Parts and yet presume to be Judges of and to condemn the Universal Church preferring to her Decisions the opposite Errors of a few L. de Bapt. con
Donat. c. 16. L. 2. contra c. 23. of her revolted Children I do not despair of the Salvation of any one in particular whether he be a great Sinner in the Church or a Schismatic out of it Judgment is reserved to God alone he only who hath in his hands the Iron Rod can break the Earthen Vessels but I equally declare of both with the Apostle That neither those who in the true Church die in sin nor those who through a stiff stubbornness die out of her Communion shall be saved De symb ad Catechum c 10. For whoever shall be found out of it will be an Alien not reckoned amongst the Children of God whom he shall not have for Father having refused to have the Church for his Mother That Catholic Church which only is the Body of Christ of which He is the Tract 32. sup Joan. Salvator corpo●is sui L. de verâ fals poen c. 12. Head whereof He alone is the Savior out of that Body no one receives Life from God's Holy Spirit nor consequently can pretend to an Eternal one Out of this Churches Vnity no one can attain to true Penance no one can obtain remission of sins her Children alone being the sole Dispensers of the Mysteries of God. In Her House only the Lamb is eaten that is on Her Altars only is sacrificed the true Victim of our Redeemer Ser. 18● de tempore which alone so applies to us the saving Sacrifice of the Cross that who eats not of that Flesh hath no Life in him As then no one escaped the Deluge who was not Q. Q. 75. ad ●●a● Q 52. Contra Petili ut supra in Noah 's Ark so no one shall be saved who is not a Member of the Church out of which an Heretic may have all things but Salvation He may have the Sacraments he may keep the Gospel he may have the Faith and preach it only Salvation he cannot have Tho' he be a Paul converted by God's Voice instructed from Heaven he must first be sent to those who can administer to him the Sacraments and enter him a Member into the Church's Body Tho' he be a pious Cornelius an Alms-giver a man of Prayer a sober Liver tho' he have an Angel to instruct him Peter must teach him and admit him into the Kingdom of God upon Earth of which he hath the Keys the Church before he Ad Bonifacium cont 2. Ep. Pelag. can be saved otherwise let him observe all the Commandments live a chast life to the purity of an entire Virginity be profuse in Alms-giving most patient in bearing with all Injuries let him sell all and give to the Poor reserving nothing for himself after all those De fide ad Pet. c. 39. seemingly laudable actions yet if he be not of the true and Catholic Faith when he departs this life he will meet a certain Damnation altho' he should shed his Blood for the Name of Christ Say not that Cyprian and his Church because they condemned no man and separated none from their Communion were not Heretics and that it may suffice you that you copy this Example That was enough when the Church had not yet decided the Dispute to whose Decision Cyprian had certainly submitted himself and with her condemned all her Opposers which you do not Say not that you err in no Fundamentals that you conceive it a thing indifferent unto what Party you joyn your selves supposing they be Epistola 45. de Donatistis Christians and therefore remain fixed to that Party in which you were born for whatsoever in particular the Opinions of Heretics and Schismatics be since they profess otherwise than the Church does and requires of Serm. 14. de verbis Dom. them to do they are in a state of Damnation because they renounce thereby one fundamental Article of Faith the In Psal 17. In ventre Ecclesiae veritas manet quisquis ab hoc separa●us fuerit necesse est ut falsa loquatur Authority and Vnity of the Catholic Church in whose bosom Truth dwells So that whosoever is removed from it 't is necessary that he be in Error Say not I am satisfied my conscience doth not reproach me that I am in an Error I am charitably persuaded others may also serve God well but many Mysteries in the Catholic Church appearing to me very strange how can I believe what I understand not or how shall I an unlearned person ever satisfie my self of the Truth 'T is then better for me to live of that Religion my Father and Mother were of and die in that Church which I was Christned in Such weak reasons which yet retain in Heresie the greatest part of those who are unhappily engaged in it betray equally the weakness of their Judgment and headstrong stubbornness of their Will. The whole Catholic Church of all Ages of all Nations in her General Councils rests satisfied of the Truth of each Article of Catholic Belief so as to Curse and Excommunicate all those who believed as you do in opposition to her Now Sunt ibi quaeda●● q●ae suboffendunt animo●●●naros negligentes sui qu● maxima turba est populariter accusarl possunt defendi autem populariter propter myste●●a quae his continentur non à multis a ●modum possunt c. 2. de util Cred. there is an ease and satisfaction which proceeds from Ignorance such as is in him who in a dark night walks without fear on the brim of a Precipice he knows nothing of another from Knowledge and can you think without the highest Presumption that Ignorance lay on the whole Church's side and Science in your private Gift Is it charity to think all those General Councils were most uncharitable which all said Anathema to the Errors which they condemned and you now approve True Faith involves Mysteries which usually scandalize ignorant Souls and careless in seeking Instruction that is the greatest part of the World because they can be plausibly argued against but not so easily made clear they would not otherwise be Mysteries of Faith. 'T is then not only most to be counsell'd to believe what you see not Credere ante ratione cum percipiendae rationi non sis idoneus ipsa ●i●e excolere animum excipiendi● seminibus ventatis non solum saluberrimum judico sed tale sine quo aegris anim●●●alus redire non potest yet the reason of since you acknowledge your self unlearned ignorant not able to judge in such Debates and by Faith to manure your Soul and to fit it to receive and improve the Seed of Truth but 't is so absolutely necessary that by no other method health can be restored to a sick mind Are you ignorant not able by your own Judgment to determin on what side the Truth lies Why then 't is evident that you are bound to leave all those Congregations which leave you to your own final Decision and to repair