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A61802 A discourse concerning the necessity of reformation with respect to the errors and corruptions of the Church of Rome : the first part. Stratford, Nicholas, 1633-1707. 1685 (1685) Wing S5930; ESTC R10160 55,727 60

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a General Council confirm'd by another As the Council of Basil confirm'd by Pope Nicolas V. was esteemed a Schismatical and Seditious Conventicle and reprobated by the last Lateran Council confirm'd by Pope Leo X. (f) Binii notis in Concil Constantiens B●ll de Concil Au●t l. 2. c. 17. which at Rome is accounted a General Council So that unless Errors become Truth and Contradictions be reconciled when determin'd by a Pope and Council we may conclude that not only the Pope himself but a General Council confirm'd by him hath err'd It plainly appears by what hath been said that those have actually err'd whom the Church of Rome supposes to be her only infallible Guides From whence it unavoidably follows that the Church of Rome hath err'd First in all those Points which have been erroneously defin'd by them Secondly In supposing them to be Infallible I shall not stay to shew of what use Councils either General or Provincial are how far their Authority extends and what great Benefit may accrue to the Church by them tho they be suppos'd not to be Infallible But shall proceed to the next Proposition viz. II. That the Errors of the Church of Rome were not slight and in matters of small moment but so gross and enormous when the Reformation was set on foot that there was a necessity of reforming them This will be evident First By unquestionable Testimonies Secondly By taking a particular view of the Errors themselves First By Testimonies of unquestionable Authority of Persons who could neither be mistaken through Ignorance nor byass'd by Interest or Affection to represent Matters worse than indeed they were But who were on the contrary as well acquainted with the State of the Roman Church as any Persons in the World who were promoted to the greatest Honours in it whose worldly Interests ingaged them above all other men to maintain its Reputation and Authority and who not only liv'd but died in Communion with it Such were their learned Doctors their Bishops and Cardinals their Princes and Emperors their Popes and General Councils tho the two last are not to be reckon'd for single Witnesses but for the Voice of their Church the one being their Church Representative the other according to their Divinity their Church Virtual Of those many which offer themselves I shall content my self to produce a few and those shall be such as were either cotemporary with or who liv'd within about a hundred years of the Reformation passing over those who were at a greater distance from it John Gerson the renowned Chancellor of Paris in a Sermon to the Council of Constance applies to the modern Church of Rome these words of the Prophet Ezekiel Thou didst trust in thine own beauty and plaiedst the Harlot because of thy renown and pour'dst out thy Fornications on every one that pass'd by And in all thy Abominations thou hast not remember'd the days of thy youth Thou hast built thy brothel house at every head of the way and hast made thy beauty to be abhorr'd Behold therefore I will deliver thee into the hands of those that hate thee And after he had told them what were the sad Symptoms of approaching Ruine he advises them to a great and notable Reformation of Manners as the only means to prevent it (a) John Gerson Serm. de ●ign●● ruin● Ecclesiae And because saith he some may say that the Church is founded upon a Rock and therefore in no danger of ruin He declares more particularly what were those Enormities in which the Church-men especially needed to be reform'd and then exhorts the Council either to reform all Estates of the Church in a General Council or command them to be reform'd in Provincial Synods that by their Authority the Church might be repaired and the House of God purg'd from all Vncleanness Vices and Errors (b) Declarat Defect viror Ecclesiast The same Author earnestly press'd Pope Alexander V. to set himself to reform those Corruptions and Abuses which as he says were the Plague of the Church and without the removal of which 't was in vain to expect Peace (c) Serm. coram Alexand in die Ascens Domini Nic. Clemangis another Parisian Doctor writ several Books upon this Subject in which he represents to the World the deplorable State of the Roman Church and the necessity of Reforming it (d) De Corrupto Statu Ecclesia de Repara●●●● Ruin● Eccles Add to these single Testimonies the solemn Appeal of the whole University of Paris from Pope Leo X. to a General Council in defence of the Pragmatick Sanction In which they set forth how that the Councils of Constance and Basil made many Decrees especially about the Reformation of the Ecclesiastical State as well in the Head as in the Members which in those days especially seem'd to stand in need of Reformation And how among other things the Sacred Council of Basil consider'd how by the antient Fathers Sacred Canons and wholsome Decrees were made for the happy Government of the Ecclesiastical State which as long as they were observ'd the vigour of Ecclesiastical Discipline continued Religion Piety and Charity flourish'd But after that men through Ambition and Covetousness began to contemn the Decrees of the Holy Fathers there follow'd Deformities in the Church many of which they afterwards enumerate and then appeal from the Pope to a future General Council (e) Fascic rerum expe●end ac sugiend Richer Hist Concil General l. 4. part 2. p. 84. And 't is observable that this Appeal was made in the year 1517. the very same year in which Luther began to preach against the horrible Abuses of Indulgences If we pass on to Bishops and Archbishops tho their Interest ingag'd them more strongly to oppose it yet we shall find several even among them who were so sensible of the necessity of Reformation that they earnestly call'd for it and endeavour'd to promote it Frederick Archbishop of Salerno Jerome Archbishop of Brunswick and Joh. Matth. Gibertus Bishop of Verona plainly declar'd that they had a great Sense of the Corruptions of the Church by the Articles of Reformation which together with the rest of the Select Council they deliver'd to Pope Paul III. (f) Richer Hi●t Concil General l. 4. part 2. p. 136. In a Book Intitled Onus Ecclesiae written by John Suffragan Bishop of Saltzburgh in the year 1519. that is but two years after Luther began the Reformation we have for many Chapters together a most direful Description of the corrupt State of the Church (g) Onus Ecclesi● c 19 20 21 c. In the Council of Trent the Bishop of Conimbria said For these 150 years the World hath demanded a Reformation in the Head and the Members and hitherto hath been deceived that now it was time they should labour in earnest and not by Dissimulation (h) History of the Council of Trent l. 6. p. 558. And Dudithius an
so cheap a rate great Fools are they that will put themselves to the trouble and expence of travelling to Rome for it Those other Scriptures produc'd to this purpose As Tell it to the Church and if he neglect to hear the Church let him be to thee a● Matt. 18. 17 Heb. 13. 17. an Heathen and a Publican Obey them that have the rule over you and submit your selves c. are even to a prodigy impertinent For whosoever from these and such like Texts shall infer that any person or society of persons is infallible he must also by the same rules of arguing conclude that every Prince and subordinate Magistrate yea that every Parent and Master is so since the Commands of God to Hear and Obey these are as express and peremptory as to hear and obey the other Secondly And as the Scriptures alleg'd do not prove any Church now in being to be infallible so much less that the Church of Rome is For what proof is this Christ promis'd his Apostles that his Spirit should lead them into all Truth therefore the Church of Rome is infallible Is not the consequence altogether as good therefore the Church of England is infallible Christ hath promis'd that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against his Church And is not this Promise as applicable to the Church of England as to the Church of Rome The Church is the Pillar and Ground of Truth So was the Church of Ephesus when these words were directed to Timothy and so was every one of the Asian Churches as long as they continu'd Churches and so is the Church of England now and other reformed Churches in a higher Sense than the Church of Rome which together with the Truth she still upholds does also maintain so many Errors that the pillar and ground of Error is a Title better becoming her and so will the universal Church be in all succeeding ages Christ hath promis'd to be with his Church to the end of the World But is this Promise limited to the Church of Rome May not the Church of England put in as good a claim to it And may not Christ be in the midst of two or three that are gathered together in his name in England as well as in Italy But as more especially relating to the Church of Rome they tell us that Christ pray'd for St. Peter that his Faith might not fail 'T is true Luke 22. 32. but is every man infallible whose Faith fails not Yea suppose Christ had pray'd that St. Peter might be infallible does it thence follow that the Church of Rome is so Christ promis'd St. Paul that no man should set on him to hurt him And it seems as fairly to follow from this Promise made to St. Paul that the Church of Rome is infallible as from the Prayer made for St. Peter But St. Peter was that Rock Christ meant when he said Vpon Mattt 16. 1● this Rock will I build my Church That 's a question For St. Chrysostom understood by the Rock not the Person but the Confession of St. Peter a 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 In cap. 16. Matt. Hom. 55. and so did St. Cyril of Alexandria and many more of the Fathers And if the Pope be infallible 't is certain that by the Rock is meant the Faith or Confession of St. Peter for so Pope Felix III. hath expounded it b Super ista confessione adificabo eccles●am meam Epi●t 5. apud Binium tom 3. p. 603. Edit Paris 1636. But suppose that by this Rock is meant the person of St. Peter does it follow that the Church of Rome is infallible Yes say they because the Church of Rome was built upon him Whether it was or no is much disputed but 't is out of question that the Church of Antioch was and that some years before there was a Church at Rome if therefore any privilege accrue from thence the precedency must be given to Antioch But was not St. Paul a Rock and all the rest of the Apostles in the same Sense that St. Peter was If then a Church becomes infallible by being founded upon a Rock how comes it to pass that all the other Churches of Apostolical Foundation have err'd In brief when they shall produce one Text of Scripture that but so much as fairly intimates that his Holiness of Rome is not as subject to err as His Grace of Canterbury that a Lateran Council is more infallible than a Convocation at Westminster they will produce something that is not altogether impertinent II. Let us now consider whether their Arguments from Reason are more concluding 'T will I think be sufficient to examine that alone which they most frequently insist upon and make the greatest noise with for if that shall be found to be of no weight we may warrantably conclude that all the rest are lighter than nothing and Vanity Now that is taken from the supposed necessity of an infallible living Judge in order to the Peace of the Church For though the Scripture they grant is a Rule infallible yet since Controversies notwithstanding frequently arise about the Sense of it by what means shall these be determin'd and Sects and Heresies either prevented or suppressed if there be no infallible Interpreter of it Which Argument supposes these three things 1. That it is necessary in order to Peace that all Controversies which arise in the Church should be determined 2. That Controversies cannot be determined without an infallible Judge 3. That such a Judge would certainly give a final Determination to them Neither of which Suppositions may be granted For neither is it necessary to the Peace of the Church that all manner of Controversies should be decided and if it were there may be other means by which they may be as well decided as by an infallible Judge and in case there were not yet this Judge would not be so effectual to this purpose as is supposed 1. There is no necessity in order to this end that all sorts of Controversies should be determin'd because every difference in opinion does not necessarily infer the breach of Peace How frequently do we meet with those who live in Peace together and yet are in many things different in their Judgments one from another This the Romanists themselves must of necessity grant for they boast much of their own Peace and Unity and yet all the World knows that there are many Controversies among themselves that are yet undetermin'd and are likely so to remain Nor is this true only of particular Persons but the same is also verified of particular Churches many of which maintain Peace between themselves notwithstanding their different Judgments in many matters of smaller moment 2. When Controversies arise which really distrub the Peace of the Church is there no way to decide them without recourse to an infallible Judge If not then 't is not enough that there be such a Judge but 't is also necessary
A DISCOURSE Concerning the NECESSITY OF REFORMATION With Respect to the Errors and Corruptions OF THE Church of Rome AMONG the many Errors of the Church of Rome there is one especially that puts a ba● not only to the Reformation of her self but of all other Churches which depend upon her and that is the Doctrine of her Infallibility If she cannot err neither she nor any other Church that follows her conduct can stand in need of being reform'd for where there can be no Error there can be nothing amiss and where there can be nothing amiss there can be no need of Reformation 'T is therefore needful to remove this Prejudice in order to the clearing of the way to the ensuing Discourse When the Romanists assert that their Church is Infallible and theirs only we may in reason expect that they should produce good Proof that their Church is so highly privileged above all other Churches This they say they do and their Proofs they tell us are so convincing that they may pass for no less than Demonstrations But alas when we come to examine them we find our selves strangely disappointed instead of Demonstrations we meet with nothing that amounts to so much as Probability Their pretended Proofs are taken from Scripture from Reason and from the Authority of the ancient Church I. Those from Scripture are many but all of them as impertinent as that of their Angelical Doctor to prove that all men are not equally bound to have an explicite Faith because 't is said Job 1. 14. that the Oxen were plowing and the Asses were feeding besides them For First They do not prove that any Church now in being is Infallible Secondly Much less that the Church of Rome is First They do not prove that any Church now in being is Infallible I say now in being because we grant that there was a time when even particular Churches were in their Guides Infallible viz. while the Apostles liv'd and took upon them the Government of particular Churches And many of those Scriptures which the Romanists produce for the Infallibility of their present Church peculiarly relate to that time and to those Persons For instance these Promises The Comforter which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name he shall teach you all things John 1● 26. and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you I have many things to say unto you but ye cannot bear them now Howbeit when the Spirit of Truth is come he shall guide you into all Truth for the shall not speak of himself but whatsoever he shall Joh. 16. 12 13. hear that shall ●e speak and he shall shew you things to come 'T is plain that these Promises are to be limited to the Apostles and those Disciples only who personally convers'd with our Saviour because they were made to those to whom he himself had spoken and to whose remembrance the Holy Ghost was to bring those things he had before told them to those to whom he had many more things to say which they were not yet able to bear to those who had been with Christ from the beginning to those from whom Christ was now going away and whom he had before told of his departure to those to whom the Holy Ghost was to shew things to come a Privilege which the present Roman Church does not I think so much as pretend to And for those other Scriptures which extend to succeeding Ages tho they do for the most part concern the Catholick only and not any particular Church yet they neither assert nor promise any such thing as absolute Infallibility Let it be supposed that St. Paul calls the Church the Pillar and Ground of Truth for these words may as well be connected with 1 Tim. 3. 1● and apply'd to that Summary of Christian Doctrine which follows must the meaning needs be that the Church cannot err May it not justly lay claim to this Title 1. If it do not actually err tho it is fallible and may err If nothing may be call'd a Pillar that is capable of any defect St. Peters Church in Rome will have no Pillar left to support it Or 2. If it doth not err in things necessary to Salvation That may be truly call'd a Pillar that upholds all that is needful to the being of the House tho it do not support every little part but suffers here and there a Tile or a Stone to fall to the ground Or 3. If together with all necessary Truths it gives support to some Errors As we frequently see those Pillars that uphold the Building together with it they also support other things that are laid upon it and are no better than a nusance and incumbrance to it And such a Pillar of Truth the Romanists must be forc'd to grant the Universal Church hath sometimes been for has it not for some ages maintain'd those Doctrines which the present Church of Rome condemns as erroneous Tho the truth is the Church here spoken of was that in which Timothy was directed how to behave himself and that was the Church of Ephesus or in the largest sense that of Asia of Mr. Ryca●t's present State of the Greek Church p. 54. which Ephesus was the Metropolis and that this Church hath fundamentally err'd must needs be granted there being not one family of Christians now to be found in Ephesus From that Promise of our Saviour that the gates of Hell shall Matth. 16 18. not prevail against his Church They can by no means infer Infallibility till they have first prov'd that the gates of Hell prevail against every society yea against every person that is not infallible And when that shall be once prov'd the gates of Hell will be so largely extended and those who enter in at them so numerous that 't is to be fear'd St. Peter will never more be put to the trouble of opening the gates of Heaven for any man 'T is true Christ hath promised to be with his Church always even Matt. 28. 20. to the end of the World But if all those with whom Christ is present are infallible then every sincere Christian in the world is so and then what will become of the Popes Prerogative When the poorest Mechanick in case he be but an honest Christian will be as infallible a Guide of Controversies as he is now by his Flatterers pretended to be And as little to this purpose is that other Promise of our Saviour Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them For if Christ's being in the midst of Matt. 18. 20. them does make them infallible since 't is sure he will never be worse than his word 't is also certain that if but two or three only shall meet together in his name in London they will be when so met together infallible And if Infallibility may be had at home and at
that he should be clearly known If there be then such a Judge is not necessary for that means cannot be necessary without which the end may be attained 1. If Controversies which create disturbance to the Church cannot be determin'd without an infallible Umpire 't is also necessary for the determining of them not only that there be such an Umpire but that we be assured who he is for in this case not to be known and not to be are in effect the same thing so that let there be Judges infallible never so many our Controversies will be never the nearer an end unless we are able to discern who they are Now I cannot imagine at present how they can be known except one of these two ways only either by being clearly revealed by God in Scripture or by God's bearing witness to their Infallibility by Signs and Wonders But God hath neither expresly nor by evident consequence declared in Scripture that he hath any where constituted such a Judge much less hath he told us who he is and where we may find him till therefore they who pretend to it prove their Infallibility by unquestionable Miracles let them not expect that we should take them for such Nor can they in reason blame us for this since the disagreement in this point is so great among themselves that of all other questions it seems most to stand in need of an infallible Judge to determine it 2. If Controversies may be decided by other means then what need of an infallible Judge That cannot be necessary to an end without which the end may be obtain'd And that Controversies may be otherways determin'd is certain because they have been How were all the Controversies decided and the Heresies suppress'd which sprang up in the early Age of the Christian Church Were the Gnosticks the Valentinians the Novatians the Macedonians the Donatists the Arians suppress'd by those who took upon them to be Infallible No such thing was in those days talked of the Bishops and Councils that confuted them did not so much as pretend to any such Privilege The only means they had recourse to was the infallible Rule the Holy Scriptures this was the Judge to which in all their Questions they appeal'd and those who are so perverse as not to be determin'd by it should Elias come and take the Chair neither will they be determin'd by his Sentence for nothing can be objected to render the Scripture ineffectual to this end but the same may with equal force be objected against the Definitions of an infallible Judge And therefore 3. An infallible Judge is no such infallible means for the ending of Controversies as is by the Romanists supposed For 1. When there was such a Judge in the Jewish Church I mean our Blessed Saviour Did his Authority put an end to the Disputes between the Pharisees and the Sadduces and other Sects among them Yea did not that Church then fall into the most damnable Error by rejecting this infallible Teacher 'T will be said the reason of that was because they did not own his Infallibility Be it so and may not then any other infallible Guide be rejected Can it be imagin'd that any other Person 's Infallibility should ever be attested with more unquestionable Credentials than his was But 2. Neither those who have been own'd for Infallible have been so successful to this purpose among them who have own'd them under this Character For 1. The Apostles were thought Infallible by those Churches which they planted and yet Errors and Heresies sprang up in them and they were divided into Parties And tho St. Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians had endeavour'd to reduce them to Unity yet we find by his second Epistle that that had not put an end to their Divisions Those who know they have a Guide that cannot err may go astray as much as others in case they refuse to follow his conduct 2. The Romanists tell us that their Church cannot err and if they do indeed believe what they profess it will be as effectual for the ending of Differences among themselves as if it were indeed Infallible And yet are there not many Controversies among them And tho they upbraid us with our Divisions are not theirs as many And some of them such as are by the differing Parties reckon'd even Matters of Faith If then their Infallibility were such a Sovereign Cure of Divisions how comes it to pass that no Reconciliation is made between the dissenting Parties among themselves The truth is so far is their pretended infallible Judge from lessening that he encreases their Controversies for no sooner was he talked of but instead of deciding those that were already many were raised that were never before heard of And therefore 3. Such a work of the Holy Spirit upon mens Hearts as would make them meek and humble and charitable and heavenly minded sincere Lovers of Truth desirous to know the will of God and resolv'd to do it would be an expedient much more available for the healing of our Divisions and promoting of Peace than Infallibility of Judgment For from whence come Wars and Fightings among us come they not hence even from our Lusts Scarce ever was any Error broach'd that created disturbance to the Church but 't is manifest it took its rise from and was foster'd and maintain'd either by the Lust of the Flesh or the Lust of the Eye or the Pride of Life Let but mens fleshly worldly and devilish Lusts be once mortified and our Differences will be composed or if any remain they will be such as will be destructive neither of Peace nor Charity Should we therefore argue at the same absurd rate that our Adversuries do might we not as fairly conclude that God hath made every man Pious and Humble and a Doer of his Will as that he hath made one Man or one Church Infallible But now if that which is supposed by the Romanists were all granted If it were necessary to the Peace of the Church that all Controversies should be decided if they cannot be decided without some infallible Umpire and if it were certain that such an Umpire would give a final determination to them yet doth it hence follow that the Church of Rome must be that Umpire Suppose the Church of England were Infallible might it not be as serviceable to these Intents and Purposes III. This pretended Infallibility of the Church of Rome hath as little support from the Doctrine of the Antient Christian Church as it hath from Scripture and Reason Tho the Romanists are wont among those who will take their word to boast much of the Authority of the Fathers yet that they are not able to produce so much as one who speaks to their purpose may be reasonably concluded from the Performances of Cardinal Bellarmine in this matter * Bell. de Rom. Pontif. l. 4. c. 4. all whose Allegations are so impertinent that the very reading of
IV. who was deposed by it If therefore a General Council confirmed by the Pope cannot err it is infallibly certain and according to the Principles of the Church of Rome an Article of Faith That the Reformation of the Church was necessary Should we now pass from the Clergy to the Laity from Bishops Cardinals Popes and Councils to Secular States Kings and Emperors we should find That they were also highly sensible of the Corruptions and Abuses Usurpations and Oppressions of the Church of Rome and many of them zealous and active in their endeavours to reform them What great complaints were made by many of our Kings of England against the Encroachments of Rome How often did they petition the Pope for a redress but finding no relief from thence Edward the Third and Richard the Second did in part right themselves and their Subjects by the Statutes of Provisoes and Praemunire * 27 Edw. 3. c. 1. 25 Edw. 3. 16 Rich. 2. c. 5. 13 R. 2. c. 3. See Cook upon these Statutes Institut par 3. c. 56. Charles VII King of France as a Fence to the French Church against the Mischiefs which flowed from the Court of Rome set up the pragmatick Sanction which when Pope Pius II. endeavoured to overthrow he appealed from him to a General Council (b) Richer Hist Concil general l. 4. par 1. c. 1. p. 36 37 c. Lewis XI was indeed decoyed by the Popes fair Promises to revoke that Sanction but soon after seeing his errour he commanded it again to be observed * Richer Hist Concil general l. 4. c. 1. s 13. After the death of Lewis the three Estates of the Kingdom assembled at Tours besought Charles VIII who succeeded him to maintain the Pragmatick in its full strength † Id. s 15. Which he not only consented to but resolved to make a further progress in reforming the Church and to that purpose consulted the College of Divines at Paris (c) Id l. 4. c. 2. Lewis XII who followed next coyned his Money with this Inscription Perdam Babylonis nomen I will destroy the name of Babylon (d) Th●ani Hist l. 1 p 11. by which he plainly declared what his Judgment then was of Rome The zeal of Sigismund the Emperour for the Reformation was abundantly manifest by his indefatigable pains in procuring the Council of Constance and assisting in it By protecting the Council of Basil against the attempts of Eugenius and by labouring with other Princes to promote it but especially by that Reformation he made in many things himself Maximilian I. made bitter Complaints of many scandalous Abuses of the Roman Court and commanded the redress of them under pain of his heavy displeasure (g) Fascic rerum expetend a● fugiend s 170. The Emperor Ferdinand proposed to the Council of Trent by his Embassadors twenty Points concerning Worship Manners and Discipline which he desired might be reformed (h) History of the Council of Trent l. 6. p. 513. and in a Letter to the Pope and another to his Legates in the Council earnestly pressed for an effectual Reformation (i) l. 7. p. 682. The Princes of Germany at the Diet at Nuremberg in the Year 1523. in their Answer to Cherogat the Popes Nuncio insisted upon the reforming of Abuses and correcting of many Errors and Vices which by long tract of time had taken deep root for the effecting of which they demanded a free and general Council And those intolerable burdens as they called them laid upon them by the Court of Rome they reduced to an hundred Heads (*) Sleid. com l. 4. Fascic rerum expetend ac fugiend History of the Council of Trent l. 1. which they called the Hundred Grievances of the German Nation and presented them to the Pope protesting that they neither would nor could endure them any longer To conclude this Head to so monstrous a deformed state was the Western Church degenerated that the Prince the Priest the Clergy the Laity Men of all Conditions and of all Nations Yea if the infallible Oracle Pope Adrian the Sixth spoke truth the whole World groaned after a Reformation (k) Richer l. 4. par 2. p. 130. Secondly The necessity of which will be further evident by taking a particular view of the Corruptions and Errors themselves which for methods sake and to avoid confusion shall be reduced to four general Heads 1. Corruptions in Doctrine 2. In Worship 3. In Manners 4. In Discipline In treating of which it will plainly appear that their Errors were not small and of light importance but so gross and in matters of such high moment that there was an absolute necessity of reforming them 1. Gross Corruptions in Doctrine Many Doctrines were imposed as Articles of Faith which have not the least Foundation in Scripture Reason or Primitive Antiquity and many others which are not only Strangers to all these but contrary to the common sense and Experience of Mankind I shall instance in some of them 1. The Infallibility of the Bishop or Church of Rome We have before seen that this Doctrine hath no Foundation in Scripture and by consequence can be no Article of Faith Yea that there is no pretence of Reason why the Bishop and Church of Rome should be infallible rather than the Bishop and Church of Constantinople and all those fine flourishes they are wont to make of the expediency of this Doctrine for the ending of Controversies and the safe conducting of Souls to Heaven may be as well accounted for by making the Church of England or any other Church infallible That no such Doctrine was owned by the antient Church we may be assured both because the Fathers in those many Heresies which in their times arose never betook themselves to this easie and compendious remedy for the suppressing of them but chose the more tedious and laborious way of confuting them by Scripture by Reason and Catholick Tradition and because the Asian and African Bishops did in some Points so resolutely dissent from the Roman Bishop and Church that they chose rather to break Communion than to comply with them therein Had any such thing in those dayes been believed would the African Illyrican and Dalmatian Bishops have renounced Communion with Vigilius Bishop of Rome for consenting to the condemnation of the three Chapters (a) Petrus de Marca dissertat de Epist Vigilii s 8. Would the blessed Polycarpus have dissented from Pope Eleutherius Irenaeus from Pope Victor S. Cyprian from Pope Stephen Can any Man who is not forsaken of his Reason imagine That such Men as these would have behaved themselves so towards the Pope as they did had they not thought themselves as infallible Judges as he But what need I contend for this when such great men of the Church of Rome as Nilus Archbishop of Thessalonica Gerson Chancellor of Paris Almain Alphonsus de Castro yea Pope Adrian VI. himself teach us as even
Bellarmine himself acknowledges (b) B●ll de Rom. Pontif. l. 4. c. 2. that the Pope may not only err but be a Heretick yea and teach Heresie too if he define without a General Council And when a General Council says 't is certain the Pope may err (c) Concilii Basil Respons Synodal de Authorit Concil general supra Pap. Richer l. 3. c. 2. S. 6. And what that Council says of the Pope is experimentally verified of a Council confirm'd by the Pope as hath been before prov'd Nor is this Doctrine to be rejected meerly because it is notoriously False but more especially because of its horrid Consequences as it opens the door to and gives protection to any other the most palpable Error both in Doctrine and Practice For if this be once granted there is no remedy but we must believe Darkness to be Light if the Church of Rome says it is so Yea a Thomas Becket a Garnet or any other the most execrable Traitor must be worshipt for a Saint when the Pope is pleas'd to canonize him 2. Their Doctrine of the Popes sovereign Power over the universal Church That every Christian under pain of Damnation is bound to be subject to him that no Appeals may be made from him that he alone is the supream Judge over all Persons in all Causes Ecclesiastical but that he himself can be judged by no man This Doctrine hath not only been defin'd by Popes themselves as well as their Flatterers and many hundreds of years together put in execution by them but hath moreover been establish'd by such Councils as are by the Romanists accounted General (d) Concil Florent p. 85● tom 8. apud Binium Concil Lateranens V. Sess 11. And yet is not only destitute of all Authority from Scripture but much may be found in Scripture against it And not only in Scripture but 't is plain from Church History that the Bishops of Rome in the early Ages of Christianity had no Jurisdiction beyond their own Province that for the first 300 years there were but two only viz. Victor and Stephen that took upon them to censure Persons that were of another Diocess and that they themselves were severely censured for it by other Bishops That the eight first General Councils were all both call'd and confirm'd not by Popes but by the Emperors (e) Richer Hist Concil general l. 1. c. 13. p. 753. Review of the Council of Trent l. 3. c. 1. 2. That the Pope hath been oppos'd in many Councils and many Synodical Decrees have been pass'd full sore against his will (f) As in the Council of Chalcedon the second at Constantinople the Council of Constance of Basil c. That he himself was subject to the Laws of the Church and upon his transgression of them obnoxious to censure no less than other Bishops That no Appeals were allow'd to him by the African Bishops That by the ancient Canons every Bishop did order the Affairs of his own Diocess without dependence upon or Subordination to the Bishop of Rome and that all Causes were finally to be determin'd by Provincial Councils (g) Concil Constantinopol 1 Can. 2. Concil Nicaen 1 Can. 5. That many Popes have been anathematiz'd by other Bishops and many judg'd condemn'd and depos'd by Synods All which and many more things which might be mention'd are plainly inconsistent with this pretended universal Empire of the Pope But if nothing could be alleg'd from Scripture or the Doctrine or Practice of the antient Church to the contrary yet the intolerable Evils which unavoidably flow from it cannot but render this Doctrine detestable to all those who have any sincere Love either to Truth or Goodness For whereever this Doctrine is receiv'd a man must think himself in duty bound to entertain Error and to reject the Truth to put Virtue for Vice and Vice for Virtue in case the Pope require him so to do And that the Pope not only may but for many Ages hath commanded men so to do the sad experience of the Christian World is a proof too unanswerable 3. The Doctrine of the Popes Dominion over temporal Princes That if Kings and Emperors oppose themselves to him or turn Hereticks he may depose them absolve their Subjects from their Oaths of Allegiance and give away their Kingdoms to whomsoever he pleases This exorbitant Power hath been challenged by the Pope for many successive Ages (h) Dictates of Greg. VII Dictate 9. That all Princes should kiss the Popes Feet Dictate 12. That the Pope may depose the Emperor Dictate 27. That he may absolve the Subjects of wicked Princes from their Allegiance Binius tom 7. part 1. p. 362. Richer l. 1. c. 13. And when opportunity hath serv'd hath been frequently put in practice by them So Gregory VII excommunicated the Emperor Henry IV. and gave away his Kingdoms to Rudolphus Duke of Sweden (i) Baron an 1080. n. 8. 12. Gregory IX excommunicated the Emperor Frederick II. and absolv'd his Subjects from their Oaths of Allegiance (k) Bullarium Rom. Tom. 1. p. 89 90. Pope Paul III. excommunicated and deposed Henry VIII King of England and commanded all his Subjects under pain of a Curse to withdraw their Obedience from him (l) Bullar Rom. Tom. 1. p. 514. Pope Pius V. and Gregory XIII damn'd and depos'd Q. Elizabeth and absolv'd her Subjects from their Allegiance (m) Camdens Elizabeth This Doctrine and Practice has been defended by their learned Cardinals Baronius and Perron by their School-men Canonists and by the whole Order of Jesuits Yea 't is no more than what was decreed by divers such Councils as are generally own'd for lawful Representatives of their Church As by the third Lateran Council under Pope Alexander III. (n) Cap. 27. Relaxatos autem se noverint à debito Fidelitatis c. And by the fourth Lateran Council under Pope Innocent III. (o) Si vero Dominus temporalis requisitus monitus ab Ecclesia terram suam purgare neglexerit c. Eadem nihilominus lege servata circa eos qui non habent Dominos principales c. 3. And tho some Romanists are now asham'd to own it yet no less a man than Lessius tells us that if Kings may not be deposed by the Pope then of necessity must the General Council of Lateran have err'd But what can be more manifest than that this Doctrine is contradictory to the Holy Scripture Which tells us in express terms that the King is supream (q) 1 Epist Pet. 2. 13. and commands every Soul to be subject to the highest civil Powers (r) Rom. 13. 1. Nothing can be more repugnant to the Doctrine of the Primitive Fathers who taught that the Emperor was the supream Power on Earth that he was subject to God only and that all other Persons were put in subjection under him (ſ) Tertull. Apolog c. 30. ad Scapu●●m c. 2. that neither Prophet