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A58886 Dr. Sherlock's preservative considered the first part, and its defence, proved to contain principles which destroy all right use of reason, fathers, councils, undermine divine faith, and abuse moral honesty : in the second part, forty malicious calumnies and forged untruths laid open, besides several fanatical principals which destroy all church discipline, and oppose Christs divine authority : in two letters of Lewis Sabran of the Society of Jesus. Sabran, Lewis, 1652-1732. 1688 (1688) Wing S217; ESTC R16398 73,086 90

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about infallibility We have the concurrent testimony of all Churches that we have those Canonical Books But let us suppose a while that your Church were infallible what greater certainty for that is the point you know which the Doctor was upon have you of it than we have of any particular Point of Faith as for the certainty of Reason and Argument That we have and would fain see you shew more What we believe is according to Scripture and doth not Contradict either Sense or Reason nor any other Principle of Knowledge Answer Never was a starved Cause so pitifully defended No wonder a Footman only doth not blush to appear in its Defence the Learned and judicious Gentlemen of the Temple had each of them too much Honor Conscience and Wit and therefore none of them would Patronize so wretched a Cause and support such weak Contradictions as the Excellent Master of the Temple so the Preface-maker calls him had blundered out Pray Sir review this last Discourse blush that your License Authorises it and hereafter have some care of your Reputation and set not your Name to such Stuff This is the Case on one side there is supposed an Infallible Interpreter of the Christians great Law-Book for thus Dr. Sherlock states the Case on the other are some men far the greater part unlearned and weak who allow not any sense to this Book which seems to them to Contradict either their Sense or Reason or any other Principle of their Knowledge And I am asked whether I proceed more prudently in receiving the sense of the Law from that Interpreter which is actually supposed infallible or in proceeding by the second method Sir if you are so weak or wilful as not to declare that I have a greater certainty in submitting to that infallible Interpreter your Counsel is not worth the asking and I appeal to that of the judicious Gentlemen of the Temple But I must not omit the untruth couched in those words We have the Concurrent Testimony of all Churches that we have those Canonical Books For no part of the Catholic Church no part of the Greek Scismatic Churches own the same Canon of Scripture-Books which you do Preservative Ibid. In particular we are assured that the Faith which we profess is agreeable to Scripture Answer fol. 5. If he means they have the same Proofs for this which Catholics have for the infallibility of the Church that is for the Continued Being of that Church which assures us that She is infallible in directing us for a Church Erring in so Fundamental a Point would cease to be the Church of Christ then it is evidently fase since each Christian in this Age hath the same Evidence of Her being the Church of Christ and of Her teaching all Truth and consequently of Her being as She declares infallible in thus teaching which he hath of Christ to wit the ancient Prophesies those of Christ himself his Miracles and the Miracles wrought in that Church according to the Promises of Christ besides the Conversion of Nations to Christianity c. These things Protestants do not so much as pretend unto as Proofs of their particular Sense in Interpreting Scripture Defence fol. 10. This is a pretty Conceit the infallibility of the Church that is to say the Being of the Church can't a Church be without being infallible We have heard much of Miracles but could never see any Answer Do you allow such Answers Sir that have so little of Sense and less of Piety Can a Church remain the Church of Christ and yet teach her self to be infallibly guided by the Spirit of Christ whil'st she is abandon'd to the Spirit of Error and that so far as Idolatry and the Evacuating of the Passion of Christ Are we come to own that Herod might well be excused from believing in Christ because he had heard much of his Miracles but could never see any Well Sir when you License such an other Discourse add to your Titles that of a Christian that we may think you are one Preservative fol. 23. If you must not use your Reason and private judgment then you must not by any Reasons be persuaded to condemn the use of Reason Answ f. 5. I never heard so much and so little of Reason All he says might with equal weight be said by a sick Man who dissuaded from choosing his own Remedies and desired to send for a skilful Doctor should answer ' T is impossible by Reason to persuade me not to use my Reason in governing my self by Reason as my own Reason teaches me which would be to Condemn Reason and yet be guided by your Reason or the Doctor 's Reason Such a Discourse would prove the Sick party at least somewhat light-headed What 't is a Symptom of in Dr. Sherlock I will not be positive Defence f. 11. Is this Sick Man persuaded to renounce his Reason or rather is it not that he should submit his judgment not renounce his Reason in that case to that Person whom he hath all the reason in the world to believe hath better knowledge and understanding of those things which are to be used for his recovery than himself And all this while methinks he is governed by Reason though he doth not think fit to trust his own skill But this bears no comparison Religion is or ought to be the Concern of all Answer The Footman prevaricates here or is ashamed of his Master 's gross Sophistry and will not stand by it 'T is Dr. Sherlock who pretends that a Catholic by following an infallible Guide renounces his Reason I contend that all the while he is governed by Reason and chiefly because that in a matter of that Concern he thinks not fit to trust his own skill which God hath as often declared to be too weak in any private person as he hath declared he would give to all such Pastors and Teachers as should guide them and Commanded each to repair to them to be guided by them But Religion is or ought to be the Concern of all a wise Observation So is or ought to be each ones health and the preservation of his life as therefore each one ought to advise with a good Doctor concerning his Health a good Lawyer for the preservation of his Fortune so and much more with a good Guide and since it can be had an infallible one for the securing of his Souls eternal happiness the Practice of Religion is the duty of all but the teaching it of those Doctors whom God hath appointed to that end as St. Paul teaches us Eph. 4. is not this Sir a most evident truth Preservative f. 25. Thou shalt Worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve is such a plain and express Scripture that no reason can justifie the Worship of another Being Answ f. 6. A rare Consequence to Infer a Negative for an Affirmative Antecedent that bears no opposition with it 'T is like this a Subject must
of Faith and a new Religion or at least Phanatick-like by Enthusiasms and new marvelous Revelations make new additions to our Faith so that we may have daily a different one their Votaries like a blind Herd being driven now to one Opinion then to another yet still supposing themselves infallibly right all this is a monstruous misrepresentation without one word of truth but men who themselves follow a lawless fancy and loose liberty must thus disfigure that admirable Guide which God hath left us otherwise they would soon be without any followers this account I shall deliver here of the infallible Guide which Catholics follow the Church of God will I am sure represent her in very different because in her true proper Colours Our Guide then is the Catholic Church either diffusive in its whole extent or representative in its Head and Bishops the Pope and a General Council for as in the State here in England we have a Common Law and a Statute Law the first not compiled by any one Lawgiver but delivered by all the Judges and Sages of the Law and preserved in all Courts and the daily use of the whole Kingdom the second delivered particularly by the Kingdoms Great Representative in its Head and Members the King and lawfully convened Parliaments So in the Church there is a general Faith first received from Christ and his Apostles and preserved by all Bishops in their respective Diocesses and in the mind and actions of each faithful Believer in the whole Catholic Church and when any difficulty arises by the opposition of new Heresies then the Church Representative the Pope and a General Council or Synod of the ablest and Holiest Bishops of the Catholic Church deliver their Sentence in favour of the ancient Truth ever followed in the Church which Decisions or Canons are like our Statute Law only declaring and applying to particular instances the Common Law or Belief of the Church We hold that this general Faith received from the Apostles and preserved in all the Members of the Catholic Church explained upon occasion by the Church Representative is infallibly true and this is all the infallibility the Catholic Church pretends unto neither the whole Church nor any person or persons in it are held to possess any intrinsick infallibility which we own to be proper to God alone Nay no man in this present state or condition of life as our Divines observe can be in himself impeccable or infallible all are of themselves subject to Error Scotus in 2. diff 2 3. Q. as well as to sin and whatever God doth in favour of his Church doth no more alter her defectibility than a strong man lifting up a great weight with a Child takes away the natural weakness of the Child which remains still the same though the weight not moveable to the Child be in effect drawn or lifted up Hence Rufinus observes that we do not say in our Creed I believe in the Holy Catholic Church as we say I believe in God the Father In Jesus Christ In the Holy Ghost By that Preposition that syllable in we separate the Creator from his Creatures Divine help from In Symb. art Eccless S. Cat. Hac prepositionis syllaba Creator a Creaturis secernitur divina humanis separantur Humane means but we say of these humane means appointed by Almighty God that although they be fallible and exposed to error in their own nature yet by Gods appointment and Grace they will prove infallible as to us and certainly lead to the knowledge of truth We do not say that they cannot of themselves deceive us but that God according to his promise directing them by his infallible Spirit it cannot possibly happen that they should deceive us If then says S. Thomas our Creed as many understand it teaches us to believe in the Catholic Church this is the sence of it That is to say our Faith leans on the Holy Ghost and the meaning of these words are I believe in the Holy Ghost who sanctifies the Hoc est intelligendum secundum quod fides nostra refertur in Spiritum sanctum Sanctificantem Ecclesiam holy Church and Guides her When God revealed to St. Paul that he should come to Rome and die there or to St. Peter that being grown old he should be Crucified were either of them immortal the one till he came to Rome the other till he became old not the least they were as srail as before as exposed to Diseases within as capable of being wounded and that mortally yet in a true sense they were immortal for that time because that by reason of the Revelation and protection of God it was impossible they should die before they came the one to Rome the other to old Age according to the Revelation Thus should God reveal to a Traveller in a wild Wilderness full of wild Beasts and beset by Thieves that he should pass certainly unhurt and not fall he nor those who follow him into the Hands of these or Claws of those this man would remain as weak as ignorant of the ways as exposed to danger as before yet would prove an infallible Guide to those who would follow him So supposing which I shall presently prove that God hath promised to the Catholic Church that his holy Spirit should guide her in all truth that she shall follow that true Guide and ever avoid falling into Error though each Member of the Church remain as fallible as weak as subject to Error as before yet it evidently follows that this Church will infallibly avoid all Errors never lead any of her followers into it and this is all we mean by the Churches infallibility A thing when thus rightly understood as clear as evident as certain as that God's Revelation cannot prove false as that the Holy Ghost and Christ himself who remains with the Teachers of this Church be in themselves infallible We do not expect any new Revelations or Lights we do not admit any new Article of Faith though where a doubt arises the Church hath infallibly power to declare what hath been revealed by Christ to the Apostles and Preached by them which perchance some part of the Church might have had a less clear understanding thereof and though when the sense of Scripture appears doubtful to some this Church can explain infallibly what the true sense and meaning is and deliver more explicitly what is implyed in the Word of Scripture for example if some doubts whether in the Mystery of our Lords Supper there be a true Change of the substance of Bread into that of the Body of our Lord. This Holy Church can declare that these plain words This is my Body do declare it and to avoid further mistake may give a new clearer Name to the old Mystery so revealed by Christ and Preached by the Apostles calling it Transubstantiation as She calls the Mystery of God one in Nature and three in Persons Holy Trinity a
separatur Cypr. de Unit. Eccles that consequently who ever forsakes her and adheres to an Adulteress any Heretical or Scismatical Congregation looses all right to the Promises made to the Church So certain was St. Gregory Nazianzen that this Si nunc vel ante suscepti sunt qui Apollinaris placita sectantur hoc ostendant nos aquiescemus Perspicuum enim Erit eos ut rectae Doctrinae assentientes susceptos fuisse nec enim se res aliter habere potest 〈◊〉 hoc consequuti sunt Church could never admit any Heretics into her Communion That as zealous an opposer as he was to the Apollinarists he owned he would acquiesce to them if they could prove they had ever been received into the Catholic Churches Communion which would be an undoubted proof that they were fallen into no Heresie And in that case it could not be otherwise but that they did assent to truth St. Athanasius owned this Rule so infallible that he conceived no other Arguments ought to be used against Heretics but this which alone Epist ad Cledon Tantummodo ad ea respondendum est quod ipsum per se sufficit ea Ecclesiae Orthodoxae noti esse nec Majores nostros it a sensisse Epist ad Epist Epist Corim. is sufficient that their Opinion was not the Doctrin of the Orthodex Church that our Ancestors were of another perswasion But what debate can there be of this truth amongst Christians after so plain a decision of Christs own Divine Mouth Matt. 16. 18. The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against her having first assured Peter that he was a Rock unmoveable and that on that Rock he would build his Church On Peter then and his Successors not on their Shoulders indeed as a Protestant Divine very briskly proved but on their personal unmoveable Faith this Church is ever to be built whence all holy Fathers have ever derived the Infallibility of Doctrin promised to the Church Let the great Patriarch of Alexandria S. Cyril be an Instance of it T●●s Sirname Petram opinor per agnominationem nihil aliud quam inconcussam firmissimam discipuli fidem vocavit in quâ Ecclesiâ Christi ita fundata firmata esset ut non laberetur esset inexpugnabilis inferorum portis in perpetuum manens Cyril in Dial. ad Prin. l. 4. of Rock says he is the unmoveable and most firm Faith of this Disciple on which the Church of Christ should be so founded and setled that it should prove impregnable to the Gates of Hell lasting for ever And that all might know that 't is the virtue of the Holy Ghost by whose Infallibility in Guiding the Church remains Infallible in being Guided our Saviour informs his Apostles of it and us by them Joh. 14. 16. He my Father will give you another Paraclite that may abide with you for ever and consequently with their Successors as a Land given to one for ever by force thereof belongs to his Heirs the Spirit of Truth whom the World knows not St. Ambrose who observed no such Promise made to particular Men reading Scripture had hence reason to conclude Let no Man make the Law the measure of his Faith but report it to Nemo fidem suam intra mensuram legis includat sed ad Ecclesiam conferat in quâ septiformis Spiritus gratia relucet uam Princeps ille Sacerdotum fulgore supernae divinitatis illuminat Lib. 7. c. 11. in Luc. the Church in which the Grace of the seven-fold Spirit shines whom that Prince of the Priests doth enlighten with Rays of the Divinity from above Hence Origen concuded That the Son of God as the Scriptures teach us is the Soul of the Body of Lib. 6. contra Gels Christ which is the Church of Christ That the Word of God by a wonderful Virtue moves together all the Members of his Church And can it enter into a Christians thought that a Body guided by the Holy Ghost moved by Christ shall ever go astray But Tertullian represents with a most sensible Energy the weakness of those who can harbor the least suspicion of it The Holy Ghost says he to this intent was sent by Christ to this end was asked of the Father that he should be the Teacher of Truth Did this Steward of God neglect his Office Did this Vicar of Christ permit the Church to believe to teach otherwise than Christ himself Preached by his Apostles St. Paul did not believe it possible when he called the Church not only the House of God but also the Pillar of Truth I omit here those plain Texts of Scripture to be found so frequently in it by which Christ declares this Churches Perpetuity only minding you Sir of that Saying of one of the most famous and Learned Primates of this Kingdom ' T is the same in the Church to Err and to Perish Idem est errare perire Ecclesiam Hanc sacrilegam vanitatem evertit Evangelica veritas Prophetarum atque SS Patrum non violanda authoritas Lanfranc contr Bereng Wherefore since the latter cannot happen if God in revealing cannot Err we may conclude with him that to say it can Err is a Sacrilegious Vanity which the Authority of the Prophets of the Gospels of the Fathers utterly reproves That what Promises were made to the Apostles for the Support and Continuance of the Church are made good to their Successors the lawful Pastors Reason it self evidently makes out God not withdrawing the Means whilst he designs the End. And St. Augustin expresses it fully in these words Commenting on those of the Royal Prophet For thy Fathers Children are born to thee The Apostles did beget thee they were sent they Preached they were thy Fathers but Genuerunt te Apostoli ipsi missi sunt ipsi praedicatores ipsi patres sed numquid nobiscum ipsi semper esse potuerunt Ergo eorum discessu deserta est Ecclesia Absit pro Apostolis nati sunt tibi filii constituti sunt Episcopi c. Aug. in Psal 44. could they remain for ever with us Was then the Church deserted by their departure God forbid For thy Fathers Children were born to thee Bishops were Constituted Think not thy self abandon'd because thou seest not Peter thou seest not Paul Out of thy Issue Fathers are given thee Hence in his Dispute he wonder'd at the sensless Position of Gaudentius Lib. 2. c. 8. contra Gauden the Donatist teaching that the Church had Perished and yet owning their Congregation to be the true Church since Donatus could not be a Father in the true Church had he not been a Son thereof had she Perished before he laid the Foundation of his Schismatical Body Against the same Heretics and the Schismatics of these Days he is as plain on the Psal 103. What mean some says he in the Name of the Church who abandoning me murmur against Quid est quod nescio qui recedentes a me
murmurant contra me quid est quod perditi me periisse contendunt certe enim hoc dicunt quia fui non sum Annuntia mihi paucitatem dierum meorum quam diu ero in hoc saeculo annuntia vit dixit ecce ego vobiscum sum usque ad consummationem saeculi totius orbis Communio Aug. l. 2. c. 2. cont Gaud. me How do those lost Men pretend that I Perish for they say I was and am not T●ll me O Lord how short are my days how long I shall last on Earth And he announced it to me and said Behold I am with you to the end of Ages What can be said more plain This Church then or this Communion with lawful Bishops this Vniversal Communion as St. Augustin calls it will ever be guided by the Holy Ghost infallibly in the of Truth They believe right who are in this Communion they are in Error who are out of it This is the most palpable and most secure way of discerning the Truth Wherefore St. Augustin tells us that disputing against Fortunatus an Heretical Bishop he pressed him but in vain to answer one Question pretending that the Answer to it would as it was manifest to all clear their Controversie Whether he could give Letters of Communion which should be accepted of by Bishops in all Parts of the World whither ever he should assign him We ask Protestant Bishops here the same Question and because there is not One Bishop in the whole World out of his Majesty's Dominions that will own their Doctrin and acknowledge himself of the same Church with them we conclude with St. Augustin that there is no need of Quaerebam utrum Epistolas Communicatorias quas formatas dicimus posset quo vellem dare affirmabam quod manifestum esset omnibus hoc modo facillime illam terminari posse quaestionem Aug. Ep. 163. Huic generali Ecclesiae communicans Christianus Catholicus est ab hâc segregatus Haereticus S. Prosp in dim temp c. 5. a farther Debate it being evident they belong not unto and are no part of the Catholic Church and they may share betwixt us and themselves this Sentence of St. Augustin's Scholar S. Prosper A Christian in Communion with this Vniversal Church is a Catholic if separated from it an Heretic which is the very Sentence of St. John in the very Text which Dr. Sherlock's Footman cited against me I have been somewhat profuse on this Subject because it is of the greatest importance and to shew what silly Questions are proposed unto us as unanswerable to which each Leaf of Scripture each holy Father yield a ready Answer against them and for us No understanding Protestant can be disputed into this kind of Preser Fol. 17. Popery which owns an Infallible Church First because no Arguments or Disputations can give me an infallible certainty of the Infallibility of the Church I observed that this way of Reasoning was a Plea for the Answer Jews against Christ our Lord this Position proving that Christ our Lord who own'd himself Infallible did imprudently to Preach or work Miracles by which he exacted a certain firm Faith grounded upon his Infallibility in Teaching for since his Preaching and Miracles did not give an Evident infallible certainty of his Infallibility and such an evident one Dr. Sherlock must mean for the certainty we have of a real Infallibility cannot be in reality Fallible no prudent Jew or Gentile could be disputed by Christ into Faith. Arguments so offensive to pious Ears ought to meet with no other Answer than Prayers for him who offers them First he tells me the Arguments which I call offensive to Defence Fol. 7. pious Ears are mentioned 2 Tim. 4. 3. Next he asks me Whether my Reasons and Arguments for my Churches Infallibility and those which Christ offered with the addition of Miracles hold a Comparison Thirdly he tells me that Christ tho' Infallible tho' he wrought Miracles to confirm his Doctrin did not command them to be content with an Implicit Faith but the contrary Search the Scripture Joh. 5. 39. and Mark 12. 24. tells them they Erred not knowing the Scripture Then he concludes that Dr. Sherlock did not say that the Jews could not be disputed into Faith unless that Faith were infallible No he leaves that to be talked of by us who are the great Pretenders to it An Error ever draws on a greater to its defence and Heresie Answer seldom supports her self without Blasphemy we have both here in store As for his first Observation I understand not the meaning of it the Text hinted at being this There shall be time when they will not bear sound Doctrin but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves Masters having itching Ears I blamed not the Hearers but the Teacher and in this particular Case I am very well satisfied that the witty and Learned Gentlemen of the Temple are so far from hearing this Doctrin of Dr. Sherlock with itching Ears that they pity his Ignorance and blame his forwardness and blush at so weak and ill-knit a piece of Sophistry and therefore I willingly submit what I write in this Engagement to their Censure As to the Question he asks me his ignorance of our Belief prompts it to him For we believe our Church Infallible by the Infallibility of Christ who remains with her and of the Holy Ghost who guides her into all Truths And for this we bring the same Proofs to wit Prophecies Christ's Preaching it and his Miracles Confirming it besides the continual visible Event of Christ's Prophecies concerning his Church This Question then is very silly But his two Proofs are in another Strain by the First he intimates That Christ could not have challeng'd an Implicit Faith reasonably from the Jews A Position which to the shame of Christianity this last Age and pretended Reformation hath often offered and supported Contrary to Christ's own Sacred words who often urged the Jews to believe his words on the account of his miraculous Works by which if he had not proved the truth of his words he owned that they had not had sin The Matter is finely mended and Christianity is brought by these Men to a fair pass when Christ's words are not to be believed by an Implicit Faith. The Church of God tho' Infallible sends as much to the Scriptures as Christ did since that she offers each Point of the Faith she teaches as delivered immediately or mediately in the Holy Scriptures The Prophecies of himself which Christ cited were indeed to be sought and found in the Scriptures but 't is a pleasant Fancy to apply those words Search the Scriptures to all that Christ did teach as if the Gospels and whatever Christ did Preach contained no new Revelations nothing but what could be found in the ancient Testament A great stock of Patience is necessary to answer calmly such Impertinencies as are brought to support the Errors
with which these late Heresies are patch'd up But the last Defence brought for Dr. Sherlock is surprising and I could well quarrel with you Sir as a Christian for Licensing it What do you own that we only are to look on the Faith even as Preached by Christ as necessarily Infallible Is it no part of your Belief that you are any way concerned in that that certain Faith which Christ exacted from the Jews St. Paul from each Christian must of necessity be Infallible 'T is impossible by Reason to prove that Men must not make use Preservative of their own Reason and Judgment in Matters of Religion That Men must use Reason to come to this Knowledge that Answer Fol. 5. God hath revealed what they believe is very certain As the Jews Exod. 14. Crediderunt Domino Moysi servo ejus Did believe God and Moses his Servant As all Nations believed Christ and his Apostles So each Christian now believes Christ and his Church the first as Author the second as Witnesses Commission'd from God of their Faith being moved by the Proofs they offered of their Commission So far Judgment Thus the Apostles believed Christ teaching himself to be the Son of God their Judgment having first been convinced that God spoke by him which Method appears more particularly in the Man born blind whom Christ our Lord cured and who Nin̄ Dominus esset cum illo was thereby convinced that God was with him taught by him and in consequence to that Conviction having barely heard from Christ that he was the Son of God he fell prostrate and adored him not exacting any farther proof beyond his Word After a full conviction that God speaks by those who Preach to us there is no farther use of Reason if we believe St. Paul but in order to the bringing into captivity all Vnderstanding in obedience to Faith. 2 Cor. 10. Defence f. 7 8. If my Sense and Reason will serve me to find out an Infallible Church it is a little severe to renounce it when I come there The Apostles were as Infallible as the Church can pretend to be now yet 1 Epist John 4. 1. Believe not every Spirit but try the Spirits if they be of God. 1 Cor. 10. 15. I speak to wise Men judge you what I say And Acts 17. 11. we have this particular Commendation of the Bereans that they were more noble than those of Thessalonica in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily to see whether what they heard were conformable thereto or no. Answer Do I renounce my Reason when I embrace what my Reason hath convinced me to be infallibly true Sure Sir you have too much Sense not to own this to be a sensless Position But let us apply it to another Case When a Protestant is convinced and that if you please infallibly that the Word of God in the Bible delivers a Truth and his Reason hath convinced him of it is he not to abandon whatever Reason can object against the Mystery If you say he is not then a Man may doubt of the truth of Gods Word A very Christian Protestant Principle If you say he is then 't is not severe but most reasonable to renounce Reason when it opposes it self to a Truth infallibly Preached and received from an Authority acknowledged Infallible As for the three Texts I have before shewed how the First is wrested from its plain natural Sense to the opposite The Third is against him for the Bereans received First the Word with all readiness of mind and then searched the Scriptures to see in them those Texts which the Apostles used to convince the stubborn and so do Catholics The Second is neither directly nor indirectly to the purpose For St. Paul having brought a Reason why they were to abstain from such Meat and Drink as was offered to Idols to wit that since they did partake of the true Sacrifice of Christ's Body and Blood they could no more use what was Sacrificed to Idols than serve at two opposite Altars and adore the true God and the false ones he asks them Whether this Reason is not convincing Now I would know whether a Supreme Judge much more an infallible one doth disclaim his own Power because he offers evident Reasons for the Sentence he gives and shews the Parties obstinacy that should refuse to submit to them As for those words As to wise Men I speak the honest Footman little understands the meaning of them it being the Language of the Primitive Church when any thing was touched concerning the great Sacrament of our Blessed Lord's Body and Blood not to publish that high Mystery but to refer to the private Instruction about it which was given after Baptism and never trusted to the Catechumens an evident Proof that in this Sacrament there was a high Mystery beyond the Faith in Christ our Redeemer as Saviour of the World and Food of our Souls by his Passion without which no one was admitted to Baptism Thus St. Augustin ever expressed himself in this Subject The Norunt fideles norunt qui Initiaati sunt In Ps 39. 33. Ps 109. Hom 42. c. 4. l. 50. Hom. Orig. in Levit. Hom. 9. Chrys Hom. 27. in Gen. Hom. 5. ad Antioch c. Faithful know what I mean those understand me that have been Christned Thus Origen and St. Chrysostom before him and St. Paul himself I speak to you more boldly of this Mystery as to the wiser and more fully taught Pray Sir leave off Licensing such wretched Trifles and such wonderful wrested Texts or never expect there should be any Answer returned to them tho' how far this Motive will prevail with you I have some small reason to doubt Preserv f. 21. We have as much assurance of every Article of our Faith as you have of the Infallibility of your Church First because we are in general assured that the Scriptures are the Word of God. Answer f. 5. This is the great Point indeed which if a Protestant loses he loses all For 't is certain and evident that the Catholic hath the same assurance for each Article of his Faith proposed by the Church which he hath of the Churches infallibility as I have the same certainty of all that my Friend says to me which I have that he speaks nothing but certain truth He proves it first because he is in general assured that the Scriptures are the Word of God Hitherto there holds some parity though but lame but suppose it were entire the Conclusion would be this Catholics are as certain of the sense of Scripture as Protestants are that they have the Letter whence it follows demonstratively that when Protestants differ in the sense from Catholics they have less assurance for it than Catholics who have always the same assurance for the sense as Protestants have for the Letter Defence f. 6. and 7. You are Judges in your own Case
Books That God commands it That each one is to judge finally for himself I offer the following Observations on these Texts to your second thoughts With reason St. Paul commands each Christian to try all Omnia probate quod bonum est tenete 1 Thes 5. Nolite omni Spiritui credere sed probate Spiritus si ex Deo sunt 1 Joan. 4. Quoniam multi Pseudo-Prophetae exierunt in Mundum things and to retain what is good And St. John in plainer terms Not to credit every Spirit but to try the Spirits if they be of God for as St. John observes in that very place many false Prophets have appeared in the World And since ' t is necessary that Heresies arise there will ever be many such the Ministers of Satan as St. Paul minds us 2 Cor. 11. 15. transfiguring themselves like unto the Ministers of Justice We ought not then to believe each Man that pretends to the pure Word of the Lord to the Spirit of the Lord. The Question is How we ought to try these different Spirits Each Man says Dr. Sherlock is to read all Heretical as well as Orthodox Books to hear all False Prophets as well as the Teachers of Truth Each ignorant Tradesman Husbandman Day-Laborer having read the Bible heard and read what the Dissenting Divines can say is to Decide as Sovereign Judge without Appeal Alii Prophetia alii discretio Spirituum 1 Cor. 12. 20. All are to choose thus their Religion Not so says St. Paul On some only is bestowed the Gift of Interpreting on some only the Gift of discerning Spirits A necessary Caution for as St. Cyprian observes Hence arise all Heresies that People Hinc Haereses ortae quod unus in Ecclesia Dei ad tempus Sacerdos ad tempus Judex vice Christi non cogitatur l. 1. c. 3. cont Haer. De Ecclesia in Academiae porticum descendunt sensui communi sed suo non Ecclesiae se sistunt Contr. Hermog Nil laborant nisi non invenire quod credunt l. 2. c. 2. de Gen. con Man. Semper discunt numquam ad scientiam veritatis perveniunt 2 Tim. 3. Visum est Spiritui Sancto nobis Act. 15. do not consider that there is one Priest in the Church of God for the time one Judge in lieu of Christ but challenge each of them the Prerogative of Judging for themselves Heretics says Tertullian abandon the Church repair to Schools of Philosophy or Natural Discourse and the Judgment of their Reason appeal to Common Sense but to their own not to that of the Church They profess in their Creed to believe the Catholic Church but as St. Augustin said of the Manicheans All they endeavor is not to sind what they believe and having left the School of Christ and those Teachers he had appointed them they make good by their continual Debates about Religion without any fixure on a certain and unwavering Faith without any secure Principles to build on that Character which S. Paul gives of all Heretics They are ever seeking ever learning and never attain the science of truth What is their Duty then but to seek out those to whom the infallible Direction of the Holy Ghost is promised by Christ our Lord and accordingly given so that they have Authority to resolve all Doubts with a The Holy Ghost declares this and we declare it That no other Method can bring us to a steddy and unwavering Faith. St. Paul did acknowledge to the Ephesians when having warned them To be careful to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace he Ephes 4. 3 11. declares that God gave some Apostles and some Prophets and some Evangelists and other Pastors and Doctors to the consummation of the Saints unto the work of the Ministry unto the edifying of the Body of Christ and that not for some Age or Ages only but until we meet all unto the unity of Faith and Knowledge of the Son of God into a perfect Man into the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ that is to the last day of the General Resurrection this Method of standing to the Decisions of such lawful Pastors being necessary That we be not children wavering and carried about with every wind of Doctrin in the wickedness of Men in craftiness to the circumvention of Error That this is the Sense of the two Texts cited in opposition to it is most evident from the very places whence they are taken for St. John having advised Christians to try the Spirits gives this standing Rule and Method for all Ages He that knows God by a true Faith hears Vs he that is not of Qui novit Deum audit nos qui non est ex Deo non audit nos in hoc cognoscimus Spiritum veritatis spiritum erroris 1 Jo. 4. 6. God hears us not By this Mark you shall discern the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error Behold St. John condemning Dr. Sherlock who will have each Man Judge for himself of the Doctrin whereas St. John declares we must try the Spirits only by this Mark That they have the Spirit of God who hear with Submission their lawful Pastors whereas those who Judge for themselves without that Deference are certainly possessed with the Spirit of Error 'T is also evident that by VS he means all lawful Pastors and not the Apostles only for they were all dead when he writ that Epistle Could any Text be a fuller and more pressing Evidence for me or assure us more positively that an unerring Spirit guides the Pastors and Teachers in the Church of God and that whoever will not fall into Error must submit by an Implicit Faith to that Churches Authority and embrace the Doctrins which she teaches by her Prelates The other Text so unhappy these Men are in their choice is as full and plain to the same effect for St. Paul having first warned the Thessalonians in the foregoing Verse not to despise the Gift of Prophecy or Interpretation given to the Teachers of the Church for the Instruction of others he bids them by this Text not to receive all sorts of Interpreters but such only as had received from the Holy Ghost the Gift of Prophesying and were Commissioned by a lawful Authority to Preach But so far he was from advising them to converse with or read the Books of those that were Aliens and out of the Church that he had warned before the Ephesians with caution to converse with such But let us In sapientia ambulate cum iis qui foris sunt Eph. 4. 5. Si quis Evangelizaverit praeterquam id quod accepistis anathema Gal. 1. Irreformabilis fides observe the several Marks given by the Apostles and by Christ whereby to distinguish those who are to be admitted of from those who ought to be rejected St. Paul gives the Galatians this Rule Whoever Preaches beside what you have received be he accursed that
's all the regard St. Paul bids us have for all such Innovators as pretend to a reformation of Faith which as Tertullian teaches is not liable to any because 't is not exposed to the least danger of failing the Gates of Hell Errors not being permitted ever to prevail against the Church which mov'd St. Augustin to declare thus his Sense We are certain Certi sumus neminem a communione genium se separare potuisse nam non quisque nostrum in suâ justitiâ sed in scripturis sacris quaerit Ecclesiam ut promissa est reddi conspicit Epist 48. Dic Ecclesiae si Ecclesiam non audierit sit tibi velut Ethnicus Publicanus Mat. 18. that no one can divide himself from the Communion of all Nations for not any one amongst us must seek the Church in his own Justice such as his own private Judgment frames but in the Holy Scriptures and he will find the Church such as she is there promised What Mark did our Blessed Lord set In whatever Offence received from a Brother whatever Scandal and there is not any greater than Heresie and Schism in case he hearken not unto obey not the Church let him be to thee as a Heathen or a Publican that is have no Converse with him separate thy self from him Certainly this Advice of Christ is perfectly opposite to that Obligation Dr. Sherlock would impose on all St. Irenaeus who received the true meaning of Christ's Doctrin from St. Polycarp St. John's Disciple understood it in a very different meaning when in his Fourth Book against Heresies he thus expressed himself ' T is necessary Qui in Ecclesiâ sunt Presbyteris obaudire oportet qui successionem habent ab Apostolis qui cum Episcopali successione charisma veritatis certum secundum placitum patris acceperunt reliquos vero qui absistunt à Principali successione quocunque loco