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A44394 Four tracts by the ever memorable Mr. John Hales of Eaton College. Viz. I. Of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. II. Of the power of the keyes. III. Of schism and schismaticks. IV. Missellanies. Hales, John, 1584-1656. 1677 (1677) Wing H268A; ESTC R223741 37,038 64

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unto me But thus much will I say that the benefit of that sacred Influence is confined to those happy Souls in whom it is and cannot extend it self to the Church in publick And if any Catholick except against you for saying so warrant your self and me out of Aquinas whose words are these Innititur fidei natura revelationi Apostolis Prophetis factae qui Canonicos Libros scripserunt non autem Revelationi siqua fuit aliis Doctoribus factae It being granted then that Churches can err it remains then in the second place to consider how far they may err I answer for Churches as I did before for private Persons Churches may err in Fundamentals if they list for they may be heretical for Churches may be wicked they may be Idolaters and why then not heretical Is Heresy a more dangerous thing than Idolatry For whereas it is pleaded that Churches cannot fall into Heresie because of that promise of our Saviour That the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church is but out of mistake of the meaning of that place and indeed I have often mused how so plain a place could so long and so generally be misconstrued To secure you therefore that you be not abused with these words hereafter for they are often quoted to prove the Church's Infallibility I shall endeavour to give you the natural meaning of them For 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 the Gates of Hell is an Hebraism for in the Hebrew Expression the Gates of a thing signifies the thing it self as the gates of Sion Sion it self and by the same proportion the gates of Hell signifies Hell it self Now 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 which we English Hell as in no place of Scripture it signifies Heresie so very frequently in Scripture it signifies Death or rather the state of the dead and indifferently aplied to good and bad Let us then take the Word in that meaning for what greater means can we have to warrant the signification of a Scripture-word than the general meaning of it in Scripture So that when our Saviour spake these words he made no promise to the Church of persevering in the Truth but to those that did persevere in the Truth he made a promise of Victory against Death and hell And what he there says sounds to no other purpose but this That those who shall continue his although they dye yet Death shall not have the Dominion over them but the time shall come that the bands of Death shall be broken and as Christ is risen so shall they that are his rise again to Immortality For any help therefore that this Text affords Churches may err in Fundamentals But to speak the Truth I much wonder not only how any Churches but how any private Man that is careful to know and follow the Truth can err in Fundamentals For since it is most certain That the Scripture contains at least the Fundamental Parts of Christian Faith how is it possible that any Man that is careful to study and believe the Scripture should be ignorant of any necessary part of his Faith Now whether the Chucrh of Rome err in Fundamentals yea or no To answer this I must crave leave to use this Distinction To err in Fundamentals is either to be ignorant of or deny something to be Fundamental that is or to entertain something for Fundamental which is not In the first sense the Church of Rome entertaining the Scriptures as she doth cannot possibly be ignorant of any principal part of Christian Faith all her error is in entertaining in her self and obtruding upon others a multitude of things for Fundamentals which no way concern our Faith at all Now how dangerous it is thus to do except I know whether she did this willingly or wittingly yea or no is not easy to define If willingly she doth it it is certainly high and damnable presumption if ignorantly I know not what mercies God hath in store for them that sin not out of malicious wickedness Now concerning the merriment newly started I mean the requiring of a Catalogue of Fundamentals I need no answer no more but what Abraham tells the rich Man in Hell Habent Mosen Prophetas They have Moses and the Prophets the Apostles and the Evangelists let them seek them there for if they find them not there in vain shall they seek them in all the World besides But yet come a little nearer to the Particulars If the Church of Rome would needs know what is Fundamental in our conceit and what not the Answer as far as my self in Person am concerned in the Business shall be no other than this Let her observe what Points they are wherein we agree with her and let her think if she please that we account of them as Fundamentals especially if they be in the Scriptures and on the other hand let her mark in what Points we refuse Communion with her and let her assure her self we esteem those as no Fundamentals If she desire a List and Catalogue made of all those she is at leisure enough for ought I know to do it her self Last of all Concerning the imputation of Rebellion and Schism against Church-Authority with which your Catholick Disputant meant to affright you all that is but meerly Powder without Shot and can never hurt you For since it hath been sufficiently evidenced unto us That the Church of Rome hath adulterated the Truth of God by mixing with it sundry Inventions of her own it was the Conscience of our duty to God that made us to separate For where the Truth of God doth once suffer there Union is Conspiracy Authority is but Tyranny and Churches are but Routs And suppose we that we mistook and made our Separation upon Error the Church of Rome being right in all her Ways though we think otherwise yet could not this much prejudice us For it is Schism upon wilfulness that brings danger with it Schism upon mistake and Schism upon just occasion hath in it self little hurt if any at all SIR I Return you more than I thought or you expected yet less than the Argument requir'd If you shall favour me so much as carefully to read what I have carefully written you shall find at least in those points you occasioned me to touch upon sufficient ground to plant your self strongly against all Discourse of the Romish Corner-creepers which they use for the Seducing of unstable Souls Be it much or little that I have done I require no other reward than the continuance of your good Affection to Your SERVANT whom you know A TRACT Concerning the Power of the KEYS AND Auricular Confession IN opening the Point concerning the Doctrine of the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven I will follow those Lines that Tract which your self hath been pleased to set me Yet first ere I come to your particulars I will discover as far as generality will give me leave what it is which we intend when we use
FOUR TRACTS By the ever memorable Mr. JOHN HALES Of Eaton College VIZ. I. Of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper II. Of the Power of the Keyes III. Of Schism and Schismaticks IV. Missellanies LONDON Printed in the Year 1677. A TRACT ON THE SACRAMENT OF THE Lord's Supper Kind SIR IN perusal of your Letters together with the Schedule inclosed no Circumstance did so much move me as this that so ordinary Points as are discuss'd there and that in a bare and ordinary manner should amuse either your self or any Man else that pretends to ordinary Knowledge in Controversies in Christian Religion For the Points therein discuss'd are no other than the subject of every common Pamphlet and sufficiently known that I may so say in every Barber's Shop Yet because you require my Opinion of matters there in question I willingly afford it you though I fear I shall more amuse you with telling you the Truth than the Disputants there did by abusing you with Error For the plain and necessary though perhaps unwelcome Truth is That in the greater part of the Dispute both Parties much mistook themselves and that fell out which is in the common Proverb sc Whilst the one milks the Ram the other holds under the Sieve That you may see this Truth with your Eyes I divide your whole Dispute into two Heads the one concerning the Eucharist the other concerning the Churches mistaking it self about fundamentals For the first it consisteth of two parts of a Proposition and of a Reply The Proposition expresses at least he that made it intended it so to do though he mistakes the Doctrine of the reformed Churches concerning the presence of Christ in the Eucharist The Reply doth the like for the Church of Rome in the same Argument Now that you may see how indifferently I walk I will open the mistakes of both Parties that so the truth of the thing it self being unclouded of Errors may the more clearly shine forth The first mistake common to both is That they ground themselves much upon the words of Consecration as they are called and suppose That upon the pronouncing of those words something befalls that action which otherwise would not and that without those words the action were lame Sir I must confess my ignorance unto you I find no ground for the necessity of this doing Our Saviour instituting that Holy Ceremony commands us to do what he did but leaves us no Precept of saying any words neither will it be made appear that either the blessed Apostles or Primitive Christians had any such Custom Nay the contrary will be made probably to appear out of some of the ancientest Writings of the Churches Ceremonials Our Saviour indeed used the Word but it was to express what his meaning was had he barely acted the thing without expressing himself by some such Form of Words we could never have known what it was he did But what necessity as there now of so doing for when the Congregation is met together to the breaking of Bread and Prayer and see Bread and Wine upon the Communion-Table is there any Man can doubt of the meaning of it although the Canon be not read It was the farther solemnizing and beautifying that holy action which brought the Canon in and not an opinion of adding any thing to the substance of the action For that the words were used by our Saviour to work any thing upon the Bread and Wine can never out of Scripture or Reason be deduced and beyond these two I have no ground for my Religion neither in Substance nor in Ceremony The main Foundation that upholds the necessity of this form of action now in use is Church-Custom and Church-Error Now for that Topick place of Church-Custom it is generally too much abused For whereas naturally the necessity of the thing ought to give warrant to the practice of the Church I know not by what device matters are turned about and the customary practice of the Church is alledged to prove the necessity of the thing as if things had received their Original from the Church-Authority and not as the truth is from an higher Hand As for the Church's Error on which I told you this Form of action is founded it consists in the uncautelous taking up an unsound ungrounded conclusion of the Fathers for a religious Maxim St. Ambrose I trow was he that said it and posterity hath too generally applauded it Accedat verbum ad elementum fiat Sacramentum By which they would perswade us against all experience That to make up a Sacrament there must be something said and something done whereas indeed to the perfection of a Sacrament or holy Mystery for both these are one it is sufficient that one thing be done whereby another is signified though nothing be said at all When Tarquinius was walking in his Garden a Messenger came and asked him what he would have done unto the Town of Gabii then newly taken He answered nothing but with his Wand struck off the tops of the highest Poppies and the Messenger understanding his meaning cut off the Heads of the chief of the City Had this been done in Sacris it had been forthwith truly a Sacrament or holy Mystery Cùm in omnibus Scientiis voces significent res hoc habet proprium Theologia quòd ipsae res significatae per voces etiam significent aliquid saith Aquinas and upon the second signification are all Spiritual and mystical senses founded So that in Sacris a Mystery or Sacrament is then acted when one thing is done and another is signified as it is in the Holy Communion though nothing be said at all The ancient Sacrifices of the Jews whether weekly monthly or yearly their Passover their sitting in Booths c. These were all Sacraments yet we find not any sacred forms of words used by the Priests or People in the execution of them To sum up that which we have to say in this Point the calling upon the words of consecration in the Eucharist is too weakly founded to be made argumentative for the action is perfect whether those words be used or forborn And in truth to speak my opinion I see no great harm could ensue were they quite omitted Certainly thus much good would follow That some part though not a little one of the superstition that adheres to that action by reason of an ungrounded conceit of the necessity and force of the words in it would forthwith pill off and fall away I would not have you understand me so as if I would prescribe for or desire the disuse of the words only two things I would commend to you First That the use of the Canon is a thing indifferent And Secondly That in this knack of making Sacraments Christians have taken a greater Liberty than they can well justify First in forging Sacraments more than God for ought doth or can appear did ever intend And Secondly in adding to the Sacraments instituted of God
particular whether it were because of their own interests or that they saw not the Truth or for what other cause God only doth know their Judgments many times to speak most gently are justly to be suspected Which that you may see we will range all Schism into two ranks For there is a Schism in which only one Party is the Schismatick for where cause of Schism is necessary there not he that separates but he that occasions the separation is the Schismatick Secondly There is a Schism wherein both Parties are the Schismaticks For where the occasion of separation is unnecessary neither side can be excused from the guilt of Schism But you will ask Who shall be the Judge what is necessary Indeed that is a Question which hath been often made but I think scarcely ever truly answered not because it is a Point of great depth or difficulty truly to assoil it but because the true solution carries fire in the tail of it For it bringeth with it a piece of Doctrine which is seldom pleasing to Superiours To you for the present this shall suffice If so be you be Animo defoecato if you have cleared your self from froath and grounds if neither sloth nor fears nor ambition nor any tempting Spirits of that nature abuse you for these and such as these are the true Impediments why both that and other Questions of the like danger are not truly answered if all this be and yet you see not how to frame your resolution and settle your self for that doubt I will say no more of you than was said of Papias St. John's own Scholar you are 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 your abilities are not so good as I presumed But to go on with what I intended and from which that interloping Question diverted me that you may the better judge of the nature of Schisms by their occasions you shall find that all Schisms have crept into the Church by one of these three ways either upon matter of Fact or matter of Opinion or point of Ambition For the first I call that matter of Fact when something is required to be done by us which either we know or strongly suspect to be unlawful So the first notable Schism of which we read in the Church contained in it matter of fact for it being upon Error taken for necessary that an Easter must be kept and upon worse than Error if I may so speak for it was no less than a point of Judaism forced upon the Church upon worse than Error I say thought further necessary that the ground for the time of our keeping that Feast must be the rule left by Moses to the Jews there arose a stout Question Whether we were to celebrate with the Jews on the 14th Moon or the Sunday following This matter though most unnecessary most vain yet caused as great a Combustion as ever was in the Church the West separating and refusing Communion with the East for many years together In this fantastical Hurry I cannot see but all the World were Schismaticks neither can any thing excuse them from that imputation excepting only this that we charitably suppose that all Parties out of Conscience did what they did A thing which befel them through the ignorance of their Guides for I will not say their malice and that through the just judgment of God because through sloth and blind obedience Men examined not the things which they were taught but like Beasts of Burden patiently couched down and indifferently underwent whatsoever their Superiours laid upon them By the way by this you may plainly see the danger of our appeal unto Antiquity for resolution in controverted points of Faith and how small relief we are to expect from thence For if the discretion of the chiefest Guides and Directors of the Church did in a Point so trivial so inconsiderable so mainly fail them as not to see the Truth in a Subject wherein it is the greatest Marvel how they could avoid the sight of it can we without imputation of extreme grosness and folly think so poor-spirited Persons competent Judges of the Questions now on foot betwixt the Churches Pardon me I know not what Temptation drew that Note from me The next Schism which had in it matter of fact is that of the Donatist who was perswaded at least so he pretended that it was unlawful to converse or communicate in holy Duties with Men stained with any notorious Sin For howsoever Austin and others do specify only the Thurificati Traditores and Libellatici and the like as if he separated only from those whom he found to be such yet by necessary proportion he must refer to all notorious Sinners Upon this he taught that in all places where good and bad were mixt together there could be no Church by reason of Pollution evaporating as it were from Sinners which blasted righteous Persons who conversed with them and made all unclean On this ground separating himself from all whom he list to suspect he gave out that the Church was no where to be found but in him and his Associates as being the only Men among whom wicked Persons found no shelter and by consequence the only clean and unpolluted Company and therefore the only Church Against this Saint Augustine laid down this Conclusion Unitatem Ecclesiae per totum orbem dispersae propter nonnullorum peccata non esse deserendam which is indeed the whole sum of that Father's Disputation against the Donatist Now in one part of this Controversie betwixt St. Augustine and the Donatist there is one thing is very remarkable The Truth was there where it was by meer chance and might have been on either side any Reasons brought by either Party notwithstanding For though it were de facto false that pars Donati shut up in Africk was the only Orthodox Party yet it might have been true notwithstanding any thing St. Augustine brings to confute it and on the contrary though it were de facto true that the part of Christians dispersed over the Earth were Orthodox yet it might have been false notwithstanding any thing St. Augustine brings to confirm it For where or amongst whom or amongst how many the Church shall be or is is a thing indifferent it may be in any Number more or less it may be in any Place Country or Nation it may be in All and for ought I know it may be in none without any prejudice to the definition of the Church or the Truth of the Gospel North or South many or few dispersed in many places or confined to one none of these either prove or disprove a Church Now this Schism and likewise the former to a wise Man that well understands the matter in Controversie may afford perchance matter of pity to see Men so strangely distracted upon fancy but of doubt or trouble what to do it can yield none For though in this Schism the Donatist be the Schismatick and in the former both Parties
hence have proceeded publick Temples Altars Forms of Service appointed Times and the like which are required for open Assemblies yet whilst Men were truly pious all Meetings of Men for mutual help of Piety and Devotion wheresoever and by whomsoever celebrated were permitted without exception But when it was espied that ill affected Persons abus'd private Meetings whether Religious or Civil to evil ends Religiousness to gross impiety as appears in the Ethnick Eleusmia and Baecchanalia and Christian Meetings under the Pagan Princes when for fear they durst not come together in open view were charged with foul imputations as by the report of Christians themselves plainly appears and Civil Meetings many times under pretence of friendly and neighbourly Visits sheltered treasonable Attempts Against Princes and Commonweals Hence both Church and State joyned and jointly gave order for Forms Times Places of Publick Concourse whether for Religious or Civil Ends and all other Meetings whatsoever besides those of which both Time and Place were limited they censured for Routs and Riots and unlawful Assemblies in the State and in the Church for Conventicles So that it is not lawful no not for Prayer for Hearing for Conference for any other Religious Office whatsoever for people to assemble otherwise than by Publick Order is allowed Neither may we complain of this in Times of Incorruption for why should Men desire to do that suspiciously in private which warrantably may be performed in publick But in Times of manifest Corruptions and Persecutions wherein Religious Assembling is dangerous private Meetings howsoever besides publick Order are not only lawful but they are of Necessity and Duty else how shall we excuse the Meetings of Christians for publick Service in time of danger and persecutions and of our selves in Queen Maries days And how will those of the Roman Church amongst us put off the imputation of Conventicling who are known amongst us privately to assemble for Religious Exercise against all established Order both in State and Church For indeed all pious Assemblies in times of persecution and corruptions howsoever practised are indeed or rather alone the lawful Congregations and publick Assemblies though according to form of Law are indeed nothing else but Riots and Conventicles if they be stained with Corruption and Superstition MISCELLANIES How to know the Church MArks and Notes to know the Church there are none except we will make True Profession which is the Form and Essence of the Church to be a Mark. And as there are none so is it not necessary there should be For to what purpose should they serve That I might go seek and find out some Company to mark This is no way necessary For glorious Things are in the Scriptures spoken of the Church not that I should run up and down the World to find the Persons of the Professors but that I should make my self of it This I do by taking upon me the Profession of Christianity and submitting my self to the Rules of Belief and Practice delivered in the Gospel though besides my self I knew no other Professor in the World If this were not the Authors end in proposal of the Title it is but a meer Vanity To the Description of the Church The Church as it imports a visible Company in Earth is nothing else but the Company of Professors of Christanity wheresoever disperst in the Earth To define it thus by Monarchy under one visible Head is of novelty crept up since Men began to change the spiritual Kingdom of Christ to secular Pride and Tyranny and a thing never heard of either in the Scriptures or in the Writings of the Ancients Government whether by one or many or howsoever if it be one of the Churches contingent Attributes it is all certainly it is no necessary Property much less comes it into the Definition and Essence of it I mean outward Government for as for inward Government by which Christ reigns in the Hearts of his Elect and vindicates them from spiritual Enemies I have no occasion to speak neither see I any reference to it in all your Authors Animadversions How Christ is the Head of the Church From the Worlds beginning till the last hour of it the Church is essentially one and the same howsoever perchance in Garment and outward Ceremony it admits of Difference And as it was from the beginning of the World so was it Christian there being no other difference betwixt the Fathers before Christ and us but this As we believe in Christ that is Come so they believed in Christ that was to Come Jesus Christ yesterday and to day and the same for ever Reference unto Christ is the very Essence of the Church and there neither is nor ever was any Church but Christ's and therefore the Church amongst the Jews was properly and truly Christian quoad rem as we are Now as this Church at all times is Christ's Body so is Christ the Head of it For it is as impossible for the Church as for the Body to be without its Head it is not therefore as your Author dreams Christ came not to found a New Church or to profess a Visible Headship of it That Relation to this Church which we express when we call him the Head of it is one and the same from the Beginning to all Eternity neither receives it any alteration in this respect because the Person in whom this Relation is founded is sometimes Visible sometimes not 'T is true indeed the Head of the Church sometimes became Visible but this is but contingent and by Concomitancy For Christ the second Person in the Trinity becoming Man to Redeem this Church and manifest the way of Truth unto it It so fell out that the Head of the Church became Visible Of this Visibility he left no Successor no Doctrine no Use as being a thing meerly accidental I ask Had the Church before Christ any Visible Head if it had then was not Christ the first as here our Teacher tells us If it had none why then should the Church more require a Visible Head than it did from the Beginning To speak the Truth at once All these Questions concerning the Notes the Visibility the Government of the Church if we look upon the Substance and Nature of the Church they are meerly Idle and Impertinent If upon the End why Learned Men do handle them it is nothing else but Faction Of Peter's Ministerial Headship of the Church In your Author's Paragraphs concerning the visible Encrease or Succession of the Church there is no Difference betwixt us As for the Proofs of Peters Ministerial Headship this first concerning his being the Rock of the Church that cannot prove-it For Peter was the Rock then when our Saviour spake but then could he not be the visible Head for Christ himself then was living and by our Teachers Doctrine supplied that room himself Peter therefore howsoever or in what sense soever he were the Rock yet could he not be the visible Head