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A26931 Full and easie satisfaction which is the true and safe religion in a conference between D. a doubter, P. a papist, and R. a reformed Catholick Christian : in four parts ... / by Richard Baxter. Baxter, Richard, 1615-1691. 1674 (1674) Wing B1272; ESTC R15922 117,933 211

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truly believed that Christ was the Messiah They erred that thought it lawful to eat things offered to Idols and yet they erred not in believing in Christ No two men in the world its like have the same degree of personal faith and knowledge as I oft said before But if our professed object of faith that is Gods word were false in one thing we could not be sure that it were true in any thing Yet here I told you before 1. That a man may be much surer that one part of Scripture is Gods word than another because some Copies are doubtful in the diverse Readings of some particular words or sentences and which of them that so differ is Gods word we oft know not But so much as we are sure is the word of God we are sure is true So if the Authority of some few books was once doubted of as 2 Pet. Jam. Jud. Heb. c. and yet be by any it followeth not that they doubt of the truth of any which they know to be the word of God 2. Or if any do hold that the Penmen might be left to their natural fallibility in some by historical circumstances or words it would not follow that one Article of the Gospel or Christian faith is doubtful which is plainly as the Kernel of it delivered in all the Scripture and also by infallible Universal Tradition by it self in the Sacrament Creed Lords Prayer and Decalogue And our case also much differeth from the Papists in this For We profess that our objective faith Gods word is Infallible and we are Infallible so far as we believe it But we confess that we are lyable to misunderstand some parts of it and so far are fallible as being imperfect But the Papists say that their Pope and Councils and Universal Practicers are personally Infallible so as not to be lyable to any misunderstanding of any Article of faith say some or Article of Catholick faith say others And so they make their own Act of Believing to be Commensurate and equally certain with Gods word of faith and therefore they allow you to question them in all if they err in one as pretending to a gift of never erring in any D. But is it not a great reason to incline us to them rather than to you when They only pretend to Infallibility and You confess that you are all fallible in your Belief R. This is to be the subject of our next Conference and therefore not now to be anticipated only I shall tell you that It is a meer noise of ambiguous words to deceive the heedless that cannot search out the meaning of them 1. We not only Pretend but Profess and prove that our Christian Religion is altogether Infallible For which end I have written divers Treatises my self 2. And we profess that all the mystical Church of Christ that is all sincere Christians do truly and Infallibly believe all that is Essential to Christianity and as much of the Integrals as they can know 3. And we profess that the Catholick Church-Visible that is All professors of Christianity in the world do profess all these Essentials of Christianity and are Infallible in this profession But we hold withall that there is no particular Church or Bishop no Synod or Council that is so Infallible but that 1. They that hold to the Essentials may misunderstand and err about some Integrals 2. And those persons have no Certainty that they shall not err by Heresie or Apostacy from the Essentials themselves So that the Church is Infallible because it is essentiated by believing an Infallible Word which who ever believeth not ceaseth to be of the Church not Gods Word infallible because the Church or any number of men believe it or say Its true For Truth is before Knowledge and Faith As Aristotle was a Philosopher because he understood and taught the doctrine of real Philosophy and not that doctrine called Physicks or Philosophy because that Aristotle knew or taught it But alas What work shall I shew you when I come to open their bewildring uncertainties D. But to deal freely with you methinks their way of measuring out the Necessaries in Faith and Religion according to mens various parts and opportunities seemeth to me more satisfactory than yours who fix upon certain points as the Baptismal Covenant as Essentials For there is great diversity of mens Capacities R. This cometh from confounding several Questions as if they were all one 1. It is one Question What is the Christian Religion 2. ☞ It is another Question Whether the Christian Religion be absolutely necessary to the salvation of all those to whom it was never competently revealed 3. And it is another Question Whether more than the Essentials of Christian Religion be not necessary to the salvation of many who have opportunity to know more Alas what work doth Confusion make in the world To the first It is evident that as Mahometanism is a thing which may be defined so much more may Christianity Who that writeth of the several Religions of the world Ethnick Jewish Mahometan and Christian do not take them to be distinguishable and discernable Especially when Christ hath summed up Christianity into a Covenant and given it us in express words and affixed a flat promise of salvation to the true Covenanters and the Church hath ever called our Baptism our Christening Is Christianity Nothing If Something Why may it not be defined and differenced from all false Religions And if so It hath its Essential Constitutive parts All this is plain to Children that will see 2. And then as to the second question it concerneth not our Controversie at all It is but Whether any Infidels may be saved Or any that are no Christians And if it could be proved that any are saved that are no Christians do you thereby prove that they are Christians or members of the Christian Church or that Christianity is not a Religion which may be defined 3. And as to the third question We are on all sides agreed in it That they that have more than the naked Essentials of Christianity revealed to them aptly are bound to believe more Yea it is hardly conceiveable that any one should know and believe the Essentials only and no more It is not Essential to the Christian Covenant or Christianity to know that the Name of Christs Mother was Mary or that Pontius Pilate was the man that condemned him And if an Ignorant man thought that his continuance in the Grave was four dayes I do not think that this would damn his soul to Hell Much less the not believing that Mary dyed a Virgin And yet it is not like that any man should come to the Essentials of Christianity by any such way as should acquaint him with no one of these or any point besides the said Essentials And yet it is certain for all this that he that truly receiveth the Essentials and is true to the Baptismal Covenant shall be
now calling our Religion and disputing of though this Religion teach us to obey Parents Pastors and Princes and that obedience may be consequentially and reductively called Religious if you please But if really your Religion be not Divine but Humane let us know it For by the word Religion we essentially mean that which is Divine P. Men were the speakers and writers of the Scriptures and so far they are humane as well as the Decrees of the present Church R. The Decalogue was witten by God and delivered by the Ministry of Angels Christ was owned by a Voice from Heaven And himself spake and did most recited by the four Evangelists And the Prophets and Apostles spake by the immediate Infallible Inspiration of the Holy Ghost So that the Holy Ghost is the Author of the Scriptures But the present Pastors of the Church instead of that Immediate Revelation from God by the Spirits Inspiration have but the ordinary help of the Spirit to understand those same Revelations and that proportioned to the measure of their diligence natural parts and helps of Art as the knowledge of Theologie is attained by other Students who are none of them perfect or free from error P. I will tell you what our Religion is It is Gods Word concerning things to be Believed and Done delivered partly in the Canonical Scriptures and partly by Oral Tradition and received by the Church and by it delivered to us The Trent Catech. Prefac q. 12. saith Omnis doctrinae ratio quae fidelibus tradenda sit verbo Dei continetur quod in Scripturam Traditionesque distributum est The Reason of every doctrine which is to be delivered to the faithful is contained in the Word of God which is distributed into the Scripture and Traditions Vide Concil Senonens in Bin. Decr. 5. p. 671. Concil Tridentini Sess 4. p. 802. Perspiciensque hanc Veritatem disciplinam contineri in libris sacris sine scripto Traditionibus quae ex ipsius Christi ore ab Apostolis acceptae ab ipsi Apostolis Spiritu sancto dictante quasi per manus traditae ad nos usque pervenerunt orthodoxorum patrum sententiam sequuta omnes libros tam Veteris quam Novi Testamenti nec non Traditiones ipsas tum ad fidem tum ad mores pertinentes tanquam vel ore tenus a Christo vel a Spiritu sancto dicta●as continua successione in Ecclesia Catholica conservatas pari pietatis affectu reverentia suscipit ac veneratur Bellarmin de Verbo Dei lib. 4. c. 2 3. sheweth the divers sorts of unwritten Traditions which are part of Gods Word some de side as the perpetual Virginity of Mary that there are but four Gospels c. and some of Manners as Crossing Fast-dayes c. Easter Whitsontide and other Festivals Veron de Reg. fid cap. 2. saith The total and only Rule of the Catholick faith to which all are obliged under pain of Heresie and Excommunication is Divine Revelation delivered to the Prophets and Apostles proposed by the Catholick Church in her General Councils or by her Universal practice to be believed as an Article of Catholick faith All that is of this nature is an Article or doctrine of faith And no other doctrine can be of faith if either the first Condition fail viz. Divine Revelation or the second which is a Proposal by the Universal Church p. 5. No doctrine grounded on Scripture diversly interpreted either by the antient Fathers or our Modern Doctors is an Article of faith For such a doctrine though it may be revealed yet the revelation is not ascertained to us nor proposed by the Church Nor any Proposition which can be proved only by consequence drawn from Scripture though the consequences were certain and evident and deduced from two propositions of Scripture Yet these doctrines are Certain when the premises are so Gratians decrees the Papal decrees contained in the body of the Canon Law none of them do constitute an Article of saith Nor that which is defined in Provincial Councils though the Pope preside in person for the second condition is alwayes wanting in this case and very often the first p. 11. I did not say that such definitions were not of faith but they are not of Catholick faith or which all as Catholicks are bound to hold as of faith and the contrary to which is heretical and removeth from the bosome of the Church p. 12 13. The Practice even of the Vniversal Church is no sufficient ground for an Article of Catholick faith by reason the object of faith is Truth and oft times the Church proceeds in matter of practice upon probable Opinions and this probability is sufficient to justifie the practice which the Church on just cause may change As e. g. as Vasquez teacheth the Church did antiently pray in the Mass for Infidels alive and Catechumens dead and the Sacrifice of the Mass was offered for them and yet he rather inclineth to the contrary that the Sacrifice of the Mass ought not to be offered but for the faithful living and dead by which Opinion the Church seemeth guided at present But Vasquez answers that the Church following a probable opinion did practise that which she did not declare to be of faith p. 15. So General Councils when they mention any thing in this manner by way of simple assertion and do not properly define For as Bellarmine affirms it is necessary that General Councils properly define the thing in question as a Decree which ought to be held as of Catholick faith Hence Bellarmine adds they are not properly Hereticks who hold the Pope not to be above all Councils though he say the last Laterane Council under Leo the tenth Ses 11. expresly and professedly teacheth that the Pope is above all Councils and rejects the contrary Decree of the Council of Basil because it is doubtful whether the Laterane Council defined that doctrine properly as a Decree to be believed with Catholick faith The same Bellarm. de Concil l. 2. c. 19. also requireth that the definition be made Conciliarly Pope Martin the fifth said he only confirmed those Decrees of faith which were made in the Council of Constance Conciliariter that is after the manner of other Councils the question being first diligently examined But its clear saith he that this Decree that a General Council hath immediate authority from Christ which all even the Pope are bound to obey was made without any examining p. 17. The object defined must be truly and properly an object of faith and a Decree ought to be on a thing universally proposed to the whole Church Vasquez holds It is not at all erroneous to affirm that a General Council may err in Precepts and in particular Judgements and p. 19. in framing Laws not necessary to salvation or making superfluous Laws Without all doubt a General Council may err in a question of fact which depends on testimony and
When you come to prove us heretical denyers of any of its essence we will give you a sufficient answer The twelfth Principle That the Essence of our Religion or Christianity as Active and Saving is Faith that worketh by Love Or such a Belief in God the Father Son and Holy Ghost as is accompanied with a true devoting of our selves to him by Love and willingness to obey his Laws so far as we know them in opposition to the temptations of the world the flesh and the Devil And he that is truly such shall be saved P. I grant that he that truly Loveth God shall be saved But a Protestant cannot truly love God because he hath not true faith R. Do you not agree and confess then that If any Protestants do truly Love God and are sincerely willing to obey his will and to know it that they may obey it such are of the true Religion and shall be saved and that popery which denyeth their salvation is false P. If your false supposition were true these false consequents would be true But you are all deceived when you think that you sincerely Love God and are willing to know and do his will R. 1. Let all Protestants note this first that you grant that none but ☞ falshearted Hypocrites that are not what they profess to be and Love not God nor would obey him should turn Papists 2. And if a man cannot know his own Mind and Will what he Loveth and what he is willing of no not about his End and greatest concernments how can he know when he Believeth aright Why do you trouble the world thus with your noise about Believing the Proposals of your Church if a man cannot know whether he believe or not ☞ And he that cannot know what he Willeth Chooseth or Loveth can no more know what he believeth For the Acts of the Will are more plenary and easily perceived And do all Papists know their own Hearts or Minds but no Protestants What would you expect but indignation and derision by such arguing as this if you will go about the world and tell men You none of you know your own Minds and wills but we know them You think you Love God and are willing to obey him but you are all mistaken it is not so with you but you must believe our Pope and his Council and then you may know your own minds and hearts They that believe you on these rates deserve the deceit of believing you and punish themselves The thirteenth Principle That when Christ described all the Essence of Christianity by our Believing in and being baptized into the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost the Apostles and first Pastors of the Churches instructed people to understand the meaning of these three Articles And the ancient Creed called the Apostles is the exposition of them as to Belief And that this Creed was of old the symbol of the true faith by which men were supposed sufficiently qualified for baptism and distinguished from Hereticks which after was enlarged by occasion of heresies to the Nicene and Constantinopolitane Creed To which that called Athanasius's was added as a fuller explication of the doctrine of the Trinity And he that believed all these was taken for one of the true Christian Religion which was sufficient in suo genere to salvation P. All that was then Necessary to be explicitely believed necessitate medii was expressed in the Creeds if not more But not all that is now necessary when the Church hath proposed more R. 1. Some of you say no more is necessary ut medium but to believe that God is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him Others say that the chief articles of the Creed also are commonly necessary And in your discord we lay no great weight on your Opinions 2. But is not Christianity the same Thing now as it was at the beginning Is Baptism altered Hath not a Christian now the same definition as then Are not Christs promises and the Conditions the same Shall not he that was a Christian then be saved if he were now alive May not we be Christians and saved by the same Constitutive Causes which made men Christians and saved them in the primitive Churches Subvert not Christianity and confound not the Church and cheat not poor souls by labouring to hide the essence of Christianity and such plain important truths You cannot deny our faith to be true without condemning the ancient Church and Christianity it self While we aloud profess that the Christian faith explained in all the ancient Creeds is the faith which we own in its Essentials explicated The fourteenth Principle That the Books which the Protestants commonly receive as Canonical Scriptures are in the agreeing Original Copies as to the very words and in true Translations as to the sence the most true Infallible word of God R. I grant that where the Copies disagree by various Readings we are no more sure that any of them is the word of God than we are sure that such a Copy is righter than all that differ from it But as long as the essence of Christianity on which our Salvation is laid is in the Covenant of Grace explained in Credondis in the Creed and in Petendis in the Lords Prayer and in Agendis in the Decalogue as explained by Christ And no one Duty or material doctrine of our Religion dependeth on the various Lections but those texts that Agree are sufficient to establish them all yea as Franc. à Sancta Clara system fid professeth the ordinary Translations so agree as that no material point of Religion doth depend on any of their differences It is as much as we assert that the Agreeing Original Copies and the sound-Translations so far as they are such are the True Infallible word of God the former both as to words and sence and the later as to sence alone Do you not grant this P. We grant the Scripture as you say to be Gods Infallible word But 1. You cannot know it to be so because you take it not on the Roman Churches Authoritative Proposal 2. And you leave out part of it R. 1. Whether we can know it shall be tryed in due place 2. And whether we have All of it or enough is another question to be debated when you will You grant us expresly that which we now desire which is the Infallible Truth of our Canonical Scripture And this is All our Religion containing not only the Essentials but all the Integrals and Accidentals needful to be recorded So that All the Protestants Religion is confessed to be Infallibly True And from hence further note that in all our disputes you are obliged to be the defendants as to Truth For we deny the Truth of much of your Religion but you deny not the Truth of one word of ours but only the Plenitude or Sufficiency P. The name of a Protestant was never known till Luthers
saved whatsoever else he want But it is as true that he that Receiveth the Essentials will from the same principles and obligations receive more when it is aptly notified to him And he that truly Covenanteth will honestly keep the Covenant he maketh which bindeth him still to learn of Christ But if any man be saved without the Essentials he must be saved without Christianity D. But you know that they distinguish of faith Explicite and Implicite He may be Implicitely a Christian that believeth not the Essentials Explicitely as long as he believeth that which would infer them if they were made known to him to be indeed the Word of God R. Thus do Words abuse and cheat the ignorant Could you but read their own Dr. Holden before cited in his Analys fid you would find this distinction justly rendred by him shameful and ridiculous according to their common sense and use of it and the truer sense delivered and vindicated An Implicite faith or Knowledge we confess to be true as it is opposed to 1. A distinct or 2. To a well-expressed faith or Knowledge For it is Implicite ☞ 1. As to the Object when a man knoweth the whole matter but not by distinct parts As a man may know a Cup of water and not know how many drops or drams it is or he may know a sentence and not know how many letters are in it 2. Or it is Implicite as to the Act when it is yet but a crude imperfect conception and the thing is really known but not the Logical notions or Grammatical names either the verba oris or mentis by which it should be expressed So that the man cannot notifie his knowledge to another These two are called Implicite the first signifieth Confused and General Knowledge and the other Imperfect and undigested But to call that Implicite faith or knowledge which extendeth only to some Principles and not to the Conclusions themselves is 1. To Call No-knowledge and faith by the name of knowledge and faith 2. And by their application to confound the World and the Church and to make all the Infidels and Heathens to be Christians and every Fool a Philosopher For 1. All men of Reason know these two Principles who own a God 1. That God is not a lyer but all his Word is True 2. That all the Truths in the world are God's some way or other revealed by him Therefore if they knew that the Gospel were Gods word they would believe it or if they knew it to be one of those Truths that are in the world they would take it to be of God And thus all Infidels and Turks and Pagans may by such abuse be called Implicite Christians But why then do the Papists burn the Protestants when if their Religion were true we are all Implicitely Papists For we believe 1. That all Divine Revelations are True 2. And that all those are Infallible whom God hath promised to make Infallible 3. And that all those must be believed and obeyed whom God hath commanded us to believe and obey 4. And that we must not forsake that Church which God hath commanded us to adhere to 5. And that all our Lawful Pastors must be reverenced and submitted to 6. And all their lawful Precepts obeyed 7. And all Gods Sacraments holily used 8. And all Traditions from the Apostles to the Churches received with many more such Only we know not that the Pope is our Pastor or that his Councils are the Church or have a promise of Infallibility and so of the rest And yet we must burn for it if they can procure it And yet he is a true believer Implicitely who believeth not the Essentials of Christianity But the Design which is predominant here is too visible when this Implicite faith cometh to be described For it is not a Belief in God or in Christ only that will serve the turn but it must be a belief in the Church and their Church and their Pope too or else it will not do The Implicite faith is the explicite belief of these three Articles 1. All Gods Word is true 2. All that is Gods Word which the Church tells us is Gods Word 3. The Pope and his Council and Subjects are this Church And yet this man must be supposed if he know no more per impossibile not to know that there is a Christ or who he is as to his Person or Office or what he hath done or will do for us And yet that he hath a Vicar and a Church Or else they may know Christ and Christianity before they know that there is any Pope or Church and then the Pope hath lost the Game D. But if Popery be so senseless a thing as you make it how come so great a number of persons of all ranks and qualities Kings Nobles Learned men and Religiously-disposed persons to embrace it Have not they souls to save or lose as well as you and do they not lay all their hopes of Heaven upon it and can such persons and so many be so mad and senseless R. Do we need thus to ramble round about as if we would doubt of the thing till we know the Causes of it when we see and they all confess that they deny all our senses Will you not believe that there is a Sun till you know what it is made of Or whether the Sea ebb and flow till you know the Causes of it I pray you tell me Q. 1. Do you think that the Mahometan's is not a very foolish Religion and their foundation the pretended Mission of their Prophet without any shew of truth and his Alcoran if ever you read it a heap of Non-sense and Confusion D. Yes I think it deserveth no better thoughts R. And do you not know that though it arose not till about six hundred years after Christ much more of the world is Mahometan than Christian And are there not far Greater Emperours and Princes Mahometans than any that are Christians And have not all these souls to save or lose And do they not all venture their souls upon that Religion Why then is not your argument here as good for Mahometanism as for Popery D. Though the Emperours of Constantinople the Great Mogul the Persian Tartarian Mahometans c. be all Great as to their vast Dominions yet they are barbarous and unlearned in comparison of the Papists R. 1. It is not because they have not as much wit as we but because they think that our laborious wordy kind of learning is an abuse of wit and against true Policy ludicrously or contentiously diverting mens minds and time from those employments which they think more manly and profitable to the Common-wealth Though no doubt but they do err more unmanly on that extream But I further ask you Q. 2. Do you not think that the Common Religion of the Heathens is very unworthy for any wise man to venture his soul upon If you have but read