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B22558 The Popish labyrinth wherein is made manifest, that the Papists are entangled in the fundamental article of their faith, that the church cannot erre / written in Dutch by ... Dr. Simon Episcopius, unto which is added, The life and death of the author ; as also, The life and death of James Arminius, both of them famous defenders of God Episcopius, Simon, 1583-1643.; Bertius, Petrus, 1565-1629. Oratio in obitum reverendi & clarissimi viri D. Jacobi Arminii. English.; Chardon de Courcelles, Etienne, 1705-1775? Short and compendious history of Simon Episcopius. 1673 (1673) Wing E3163 56,195 122

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SIMON EPISCOPIUS This Pictur 's Substance was a matchlesse wight In Learning boldnesse and a life Upright THE Popish Labyrinth Wherein is made manifest That the Papists are entangled in the Fundamental Article of their Faith That the Church cannot Erre Written in Dutch by that holy and learned Man Dr. SIMON EPISCOPIUS Vnto which is added The Life and Death of the Author As also The Life and Death of JAMES ARMINIUS Both of them famous Defenders of God's Universal Grace and Sufferers for it Now published in the English Tongue By J. K. The memory of the Just is blessed Prov. 10.7 LONDON Printed for Francis Smith at the Elephant and Castle in Cornhil near the Royal Exchange and at the same sign first Shop without Temple-Bar 1673. Christian and pious Readers IF you have but to any considerable measure conversed with the Writings of our Protestant Writers either of late or formerly against the Papists you will find that they have abundantly proved them to be if not an apostatical and false yet at least an erroneous and Schismatical Church and one that hath little cause so to boast and magnifie her self upon her pretended Priviledges of Truth and Infallibility above others as she doth That many Worthies of the Protestants both of former times and of late have written sufficiently to have convinced the Popish Partie of their gross and palpable Errors and to prove that they are nothing less than what they pretend to viz. Infallible or such as are not nor can be obnoxious to mistake any one that hath read their Writings and is but master of an ordinary measure of Reason Ingenuity and Impartiality will confess That many Worthies of the Protestants both of former and latter Times have sufficiently yea abundantly proved the Church of Rome if not wholly an apostatical and false yet at least a most grosly erroneous and corrupt Church no man of ordinary Ingenuity and Reason will deny To wave what hath been written for their Conviction by those more Ancient one would think that what some excellent Men of late Mr. B. Dr. Tiliotson and Dr. Stillingfleet have written against them would have put to utter silence their Ignorance and Folly And that they would not have had a word to plead for their Infallibility who have been found to err so grosly and palpably concerning the Faith in many the weightiest Doctrines of the Gospel as they have done but that they would have acknowledged the mighty Power of Truth and have said it is worthy to prevail But so little prevalent with them is the Light of Truth though shining never so bright both in the Scriptures and Reason that their Folly though never so much brayed thereby will not depart from them They still hold as fast as stiffly their grosly irrational and anti-scriptural and absurd Doctrines of Image-worship Transubstantiation Indulgencies Angel-worship Saint-worship or Invocation of them Purgatory c. as ever and will do All Arguments drawn from Scripture and Reason yea from common Sense it self are but as Brass with the Leviathan they esteem them all but as rotten Wood. But you will say Whence or how came this Spirit of Infatuation upon them Why the Apostle will tell you 2 Thes 2.10 But you will say This is an hard saying No not at all If men shew themselves so absurd as not to be ruled by any thing whatsoever that God hath appointed for their right-Ordering and Guidance it is evident that they are wicked as well as absurd 2 Thess 3.2 But you will go on to ask How comes this Infatuation to be so inveterate with them and impossible to be removed This our excellent Author in this little Treatise will tell you 1. They take it for an undeniable Maxime than which yet there is nothing more false that the true Church cannot err 2. They assume which is also as hard yea impossible to prove and so as false as the former that they are that true Church which cannot err or is so infallible Whilest they hold these two Positions you were as good dispute with a Post as go about to convince them of Error let them commit Errors if it were possible Seventy times seven more in Number and more gross and absurd in their Nature than they do Well then what shall or can be done for them for their recovery and for preventing others from incurring the like Distemper of Absurdity and Unreasonableness I answer By following the Directions here brieffly given and taken dextrously from them accordingly these two Maximes Now this you will effectually do if you put them to prove or but to shew you 1. What is that Church that cannot err and who is the Head of it This you you will find an impossible Task for them to perform 2. Put them likewise to prove if they could assign him as they cannot that the Head of their Church cannot err either from Scripture Reason or Fathers and you will find them at the same Loss And indeed no better help will they find from Succession and Antiquity than from the former for that proof of their first Maxime 2. As to the second Maxime that falls of it self viz. That they are that true Church that cannot err For if they cannot tell what is that Church that cannot err or who is the Head of it then cannot they say they are that Church For so they would say they know not what But enough of this For your Prevention and mine own reade this most excellent and learned Treatise written in Dutch by the pious and renowned Dr. Simon Episcopius from thence translated into Latin and now rendred into English which with the Blessing of God upon your serious Perusal may tend to your Reducement from any Hankerings after Popish Trumpery and Establishment in the Truth which is after Godliness And the Blessing of God goe along with it Amen The Popish Labyrinth c. CHAP. I. Of two sorts of Men with whom it is in vain to dispute THere is no Labour that is undertaken with greater Wearisomness and les● Profit than a dispute undertaken with those men who either will not be taught better or as it were being willing to learn better and breathing after the best and clearest Truth dispute of no other things but those which after they have been fully disputed leave the Disputants at as great an uncertainty as they were before whether the certain and necessary truth be found or no. The first are willing to remain in Ignorance The second though they would not seem on purpose and deliberately to love their Ignorance yet do they waver to and fro with uncertainty concerning the Truth yea and that oftentimes then too when after many and difficult Labours sustained they shall seem to have obtained the Victory in Dispute To desire to dispute with either of these two sorts of Men is all one as if one should plow the Sea-shore or beat the Air. To desire indeed to deal with those men with Reasons who
of which they cannot rid themselves For first they cannot tell nor intelligibly declare which is that Church which they believe cannot err Secondly it is impossible for them to bring any Demonstrative Argument whereby to perswade themselves or any other impartial man I do not say the Roman but that the Church cannot err I evince these two As to the first Member I thus query with a Papist When you say the Church or the Church of Rome cannot err what do you mean by the Church Do you mean all Christians in general who take Jesus Christ for their Saviour and submit to all his holy Commands so that not so much as one of them can err Doubtless he will deny it For every one of them considered singly apart yea and all conjunctly together may err For all are Members of one Body which ought to have a visible Head from whom they ought to receive Spiritual Life Senses and holy Affections Grant it be so what then Do you think that the Cardinals Archbishops Presbyters and Doctors are the Church He will deny it again Since all and every one singly may err for the same Reason which we have shewn already Do you therefore by the Church understand a general Council consisting of all the Cardinals Bishops and Doctors as representing the whole multitude of Christians whose Head this Council is He will affirm it But granting this although it be grounded on no Reason I will ask further Do you believe then that this Council as it is the Head of the Church cannot err howsoever assembled and whatsoever shall be decreed therein In no wise he will say it ought to be lawfully convocated By whom say I he will say by the Pope of Rome Grant this though it be void of Reason and without Ground yea and they determine or judge contrary to the Practice of the first General Councils Is this Council so convocated that Church which cannot err in its Decrees and Determinations Or is there that Head of the Church to which no Errour is incident Here he will stick or demur somewhat For I will go on to query thus Put the case that this Council decree any thing without the Consent yea contrary to the Judgment and Dignity of the Pope of Rome whether or no can it err therein Here he must of necessity be wholly at a Loss For it is known that not only diverse Ancient Councils both particular and General have past Decrees against his mind and which did diminish the Pope of Rome's Dignity as appears by many Councils in Africa and also in the fourth General Council of Chalcedon and many others But further also it is evident that the General Council of Constance held in the Year 1414. and called by the Pope of Rome John the 23. or as others the 24. At which were present more than a Thousand Fathers deputed or appointed by the Church of Rome and among these above three hundred Bishops decreed with unaminous Consent that the Council was above the Pope and therefore that it was in the power of the Council to expunge Popes out of the Register of the Church and to degrade them even as by the same Council were degraded three Popes who then exercised the Office of the Popedom and among these even Pope John himself who had called this Council and that for four and fiftie or according to others seventie one nefarious Crimes among which were these two First that he had openly denyed the Immortality of Souls supposing that Men dyed like Beasts to which he also added this Second That he affirmed that there was neither Paradise nor Hell as is manifest by the 11th Session Here the Papist must say one of these two Either that such a general Council is the Church that cannot err no not even then when it determineth any thing against the Pope and to the prejudice of his Highness as was done in this Council Or that such a Council is not the true Church and therefore is capable of Errour If he say the Former he will find himself entangled in a Gordian Knot and besides he will oppose the greatest Part of the Popish Doctors especially the Jesuits who not only affirm that the Pope is above a Council but also determine that that Council of Constance is in this respect to be blamed wherein they decreed that the Pope was inferiour to a Council as is clear out of Cardinal Bellarmin and others yea further he will be forc't expresly to confess that the Pope of Rome who hath suceeeded to Peters Right and Power is not the chief or supream Head of all Churches and by Consequence that the Pope of Rome may err in Faith and swerve from the Truth If he say the latter he falls into a new Labyrinth For then he doth not only contradict Councils but also many and diverse both Churches and Popish Doctors And namely the most ancient School of the Sorbon in France which by some is called the first Daughter of the Church which with the greatest part of the French Churches defends and approves of that decree of the Council of Constance Howbeit suppose that he find no difficulty in this matter yet there he will stick that even then he knoweth not and cannot tell or shew that Church which affirms that it cannot err For if a General Council be not the Church or if it may err and doth err when it determines any thing against the Pope or without his approbation I pray what is that which makes the Church not lyable to Errour Haply he will say the Council is the Church when it agrees with the Pope and is confirmed by Him Here again is a new Labyrinth for it may fall out and it very often hath that the greatest Part of the Council may not vote with the Pope Imagine therefore that the greatest Part of the Council do judge and decree something that the Pope disallows of Or that the Pope agree with the lesser Part Which Part in this Case makes the Church Not the greatest For that is contrary to the Pope Doth then the least Part make the Church What Reason What shew of Truth What only because the Pope favours it Then the Pope is the Church For if these few make the Church because the Pope is on their Side then if they were only two who should judge against a thousand others those two with the Pope would make the Church and what speak I of two Although there were only one yea none yet the matter would come to the same Issue the Pope alone at length would be the Fore-castle and Poop and the whole Church which cannot err Although he be even the veryest Knave in the World Yea further not only a Heretick but also an Atheist who denies the Immortality of the Soul Heaven and Hell As Pope John the 23 of whom we have lately spoken of did For which Cause he was degraded by the Council of Constance with so severe a Sentence
that he was never after to be so much as counted for a Pope as appears by the 11. and 12. Session CHAP. V. That none can lawfully decide this Question LO in what an intricate and inextricable Labyrinth the Papist sticks as to the first and chief Foundation of his Religion to wit that even to this day he cannot tell what that Church is that cannot err or which is that Head of the Church that is not subject to errour but he must contradict many and divers Catholick Churches and Doctors Nor can the Mind of Man devise any means whereby to bring Him out of this Maze of Errors into the way For who shall determine and decide this without Errour For either the Pope or a Council shall determine this Question disjunctly or conjunctly that is apart or together Disjunctly it is impossible because neither of them can remove the Controversie For as long as it doth not appear or it is not agreed whether is the true Church which cannot err neither can decide this Question by a Peremptory and infallible Judgment And if either should assume this right to himself it would justly be suspected by the other Party And he would in very deed make himself a Judge in his own Cause For if either deliver his Right unto other he will not only commit an unworthy Deed For to deliver the Right of supream Authority in the Church is a wicked and unlawful Act To whom that Right appertaineth he must of necessity maintain the same but he will also thwart or go against all the Decrees of other Councils wherein either a Council is defined to be above the Pope or the Pope above a Council And supposing this were done yet will it follow from thence that the Church of Rome hath for so great a space of Time either erred in so fundamental a Point or stuck in Uncertainty and Doubt not knowing what to determine concerning this Question It is a Deep without Bottom into which hitherto the Church of Rome hath been plung'd together with all those who think her the only Church wherein alone Salvation may and ought to be had Let any one shew himself that can free himself from thence with shew of Truth and solid Reasons CHAP. VI. That a Papist cannot demonstrate from the Sacred Scripture that the Head of his Church cannot err BUt suppose we indeed that a Papist could tell the Head of his Church which yet as hath been prov'd already he cannot by what Argument I pray will he assure both himself and others that this Head cannot err What way soever he takes to demonstrate this he will see that he falls into another far more intricate Labyrinth For that he may be certain That this Head cannot err it is necessary that either he will believe it simply and without Reason or that he labour to prove it from the Sacred Scripture or from the Fathers or by Reasons If he will believe and perswade himself thereof simply and have others believe the same all Dispute will be forthwith superfluous and void and if another on the contrary will not believe the same they will then be both alike and both continue to stick in the Labyrinth of their own carnal Will However it be his Faith is not a Faith that cannot err and consequently he cannot with Certainty rely thereon If he endeavour to prove it from Scripture he entangles himself much more For first it cannot be known according to his Opinion that the Scripture is the Word of God except the true Church first certifie us thereof If this be true as he believeth it is and according to the Rules of his Church he is bound to believe he cannot take Arguments from the Scripture whereby to maintain that the true Church cannot err Or whereby to prove that his Church is the true Church that knows not how to err Secondly suppose that it be even granted to him to fetch his Reasons from the Scripture he will then find himself much more entangled For presently the Question will be concerning the true meaning of the Scripture And the Question that is raised to wit whether it be contained in the Scripture that the Church cannot err who shall by an infallible Judgement decide it Shall his Church This is no wayes possible because the Question is concerning the meaning of the Scripture to wit whether the Scripture gives to the Church this right or Priviledge of judging authoritatively and infallibly But Thirdly granting also that the Scripture doth give this Power to the true Church which it doth not yet the Question will remain which is that Church which is the true Church and to whom this Priviledge in Scripture is given And in the Power of what Church shall the Power of deciding infallibly this Question be In the Power of the Roman But the Question is moved no less concerning it then others besides it cannot pass Judgment in its own concern more than another Church concerning its If he go about to prove it by Reasons he will rove without the bounds because those Reasons are not Scriptural and we here treat or plead about the Scripture But supposing that Reasons be opposed against Reaons There will now straightway result from thence a new Question Which Reasons are strongest and infallible whereby we may be certain That the Reason taken from Succession doth not belong to this Place we shall demonstrate hereafter That a Papist should emerge from hence is impossible CHAP. VII That He cannot demonstrate this very thing from the Fathers IF he will prove this from the Fathers their Writings he falls into the same and indeed into a more intricate Labyrinth Into the same I say For immediately the Question will be whence doth it appear certainly that this Right or Power doth belong to the Writings of the Fathers that the decision of this and other Controversies in the business of Religion ought to be fetcht from them I say also into a more intricate For first it will be demanded what Fathers and what Writings do they mean If they say these or those it will secondly be asked Why those rather than other and why not all For whoso puts this Difference between the Writings of the Fathers he does by that very Deed of his make the decision And to whom shall it belong to make this Decision Furthermore suppose that there be no Controversie raised concerning some yet thirdly the Question will remain still Whether those writings which be attributed to the Fathers be their Writings whose Names they bear or whether they might not in Tract of Time through negligence through Deceit and Fraud be corrupted and depraved or whether they might not be patcht up with the supposititious Changling or forged Books of other Writers as we see indeed done at this Day by the Writings of Tertullian Justin Hierome Augustine Chrysostome c Who shall judge between the genuine or true and the supposititious or adulterate and false For that
lawful if the succeeding Pope had approved of the same But now forsooth it shall be unlawful because the Pope that was made by this Council said not of himself and those like him that he was subject to the Council but on the contrary Lucifer-like maintained that he was above the Council Howbeit it is altogether credible that the Decree of the Council was approved of by Him before he was chosen for Pope Who here sees not a Circle of Absurdities However it be if the Authority of the Council be no more than the Popes it could not depose the Pope and therefore those ungodly Knaves Popes are to be reckoned among the Bishops that lawfully succeed by a continual Succession not interrupted by Reason of their Heresie Atheism Simony Force and Villanies or if there be granted an Interruption there will now forthwith be no Succession at all upon the same Account that Bellarmine denies that the Succession of the Greeks is to be accounted lawful He that seeth not that the Papists are wholly at a loss in all these Things as in an endless Labyrinth of Errours he truly seeing is blind For howsoever the Case stands touching Succession the Question concerning Truth will alwayes remain To what Purpose therefore do they enter into so intricate a Labyrinth and take so great Pains for to prove a Succession One of these must necessarily be concluded either that the Truth is sufficient to constitute a true Church or that it is not If the former be true To what End is Succession by these endless Windings to and fro proved If the latter What doth Truth avail if it do not constitute a true Church It is contrary to the Nature and Propertie of Truth not to constitute a true Church whether those who teach the Truth have it by Tradition from others or no or at least know not the List of their Names from whom they have it delivered to them Gold will be Gold although it have been hid and buried in the Earth a thousand Years But you will say it is requisite that there be some before I know Gold to teach me that that is Gold But say I shall the Church thorowly do this But then there is required some one besides by whom I may be sure that that this Church which doth affirm that this is Gold doth know it most exactly and cannot err therein Who shall that be Here the Papists make a Circle We assert that the Scripture is Truth which the Church of Rome granteth us But yet it is the Prerogative of the Church saith he to tell us that the Scripture is Truth But say I who shall tell me that the Church that affirms this saith true She hath not this Priviledge by Succession unless it clearly appear that she never defected from the Truth This cannot appear unless I know what is Truth If the Church herself assume this she then singeth to us the same Song and so the Church will be both Plantiff and Judge and that in her own proper Cause Here will be no End of contending And that is it which Tertullian meant in that most known Place and commonly in the mouth of all the Papists which they quote in all their Writings with a very perverse wresting of the Sense thereof in his Book of Proscript against Hereticks Chap. 32. Where he thus speaketh But if any Heresies dare insert themselves in the Times of the Apostles that so they may be thought to have been delivered by the Apostles because they were in the Apostles Dayes we may say that is we may in such Case demand of them the Succession of which they boast saying Let them produce the Originals of their Churches turn over the Order of their Bishops so running down by Succession from the Beginning as that first Bishop had some one of the Apostles or Apostolical men who yet continued with the Apostles for his Author and Predecessor c. And a little after Let the Hereticks feign any such Thing which is to be noted as serving our Purpose yet though they shall feign it they shall prevail nothing For their very Doctrine compared with that of the Apostles by its Diversity and Contrariety will aloud declare that it hath neither any Apostle nor Apostolical Man for its Authour For as the Apostles would not have taught Things differing among themselves so also the Apostolical Men would not have published Things contrary to the Apostles except it were those who revolted from the Apostles and taught otherwise According to this Form therefore or Manner note it well shall those Churches appeal which though they can produce none of the Apostles or Apostolick Men as their Authour as being long after and which lastly are daily instituted yet agreeing in the same Faith to wit with the Apostles or Apostolick Men they are not the less deemed Apostolical by Reason of the cousanguinity or nearness of kin of their Doctrine That is according to Tertullians style because they agree with the Apostles in Doctrine These words of Tertullian which the Papists so shamefully abuse and so violently wrest do not obscurely confirm what we have said For Tertullian says three Things First that those Churches which have the Truth agreeable with the Doctrine of the Apostles are no less Apostolical Churches then others although they cannot shew their Succession for that only Cause for that they have the Truth on their side Secondly that those Churches which glory of their Succession and Original derived from the Apostles and cannot demonstrate it are justly to be rejected as those who obtrude upon us that which is false And Thirdly that those Churches which demonstrate their Succession whether lawfully or unlawfully are not to be counted for true Churches unless it appear that their Doctrine is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Apostles What Churches agree therein the same are Apostolical although they be destitute of Succession This is more clear then the Noon-dayes Sun The same affirmeth Augustine in that Place which is also quoted as unfaithfully and contrary to the Meaning of Augustine by the Papists in his Book which he wrote against the fundamental Epistle of Manichee Chap. 4. For when he had said that he clave to the Catholick Church wherein from the See of Peter even to his Time the Succession of Bishops and Priests had been deduced he addes these words which are altogether agreeable with our Judgment With you he speaks of the Manichees where there is none of these to invite and detain me there is onely the noise of the Promise of Truth which indeed were it so manifestly shewed that it could not be questioned were to be preferred before all those Things by Reason whereof I am detained in the Catholick Church What could Augustine have spoken more clear to prove and shew that neither Antiquity nor Succession can avail so as that any one should be able to quit himself of the Labyrinth of Doubts touching the true Church but that the Truth
will not recede so much as a fingers breadth from the Opinion they have undertaken to maintain is all one as by Arguments to perswade him the Sun shines who shuts his eyes against the Light thereof and refuseth to see its Light Indeed for their sakes who continually fasten on such kind of Questions as when they be fully discust do yet nevertheless not convince Consciences of the principal Truth to spend much pains and to weary ones self with continual disputing is nothing else but to draw water with a sieve which if one take up out of the water immediately it appeareth empty and void of that Humour or Moysture which it abundantly drew CHAP. II. Of that kind of Papists who will not be taught better Amongst the most of Christians especially the Papists or by which title they love to be called the Catholicks when any Dispute is had with them we ordinarily meet with these two sorts of Men. The first Sort is twofold Some fear not roundly and with full mouth to affirme that they will not be taught better but that they will tooth and nayl and obstinately stick to their own Opinion Insomuch that though they should see with their eyes that the Wall is white yet nevertheless they would believe their Church so believing and judging that it is black because being forced by necessity they find that they must so speak Whereupon although they find by all their Senses that is see smell taste feel hear that the bread in the Eucharist is nothing but bread yet notwithstanding they ought to be willing to believe that it is not bread but only the accident of Bread which cannot be tasted touch'd or smelt Not considering that themselves do by this means give very many cause to doubt of every thing and so to call in question the chief Foundation of the whole Christian Religion that is the Truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead which is built on this Foundation that the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus Christ and amongst these Thomas otherwise not over-credulous perceived Jesus Christ with all their senses saw handled heard and veiwed him near to them judging that that very thing ought to be an irrefragable Argument to themselves and to the whole world for to believe that Christ rose from the dead not in shew and appearance but really in his proper body And they indeed call this very thing mens believing those things which they do not see who yet do quite contrary here whilest they do not believe that very thing which they see touch smell hear and taste He that seeth not that this is a great Efficacy of errour he seeth nothing at all and if Thomas had followed this Rule he might by the same Parity of Right have believed that it was not Christ himself whom he beheld before him into whose side he thrust his Hand and his Finger into the Prints of the Nails CHAP. III Of some Papists that cleave so stifly to their own Opinion that they will not give place to any Reason THere are others who seem not on set purpose to be willing or to dare roundly and openly to profess that they will not be taught better yea who protest to the contrary deeming that too gross and rustick a Saying and yet nevertheless they do not obscurely declare when they see their Forces reduced to Straits that they neither can nor ought to yield to a better Opinion much less receive any Information from those whom their Church counts Hereticks and although they perceive themselves in such sort wrapped in that they can give no reason of their Belief or Opinion neither from the Sacred Scriptures nor Councils nor Fathers and that their own Reasons are so solidly and strongly refuted that they may as it were feel with their hands that their Exceptions to the contrary are of no Weight or Force at all yet they defend or maintain their own so obstinately that they will rather perswade themselves that those Arguments though they seem solid and altogether Achillean are more brittle than Glass and do onely deceive under a shew of Reason which others more skilful than themselves would easily and with no trouble solve or answer and so being blinded with a prejudicate Opinion and also led with a Love and Reverence of their Mother the Church they count them meer Sophisms by this means indeed confessing on the one hand their own weakness and on the other hand shewing their singular Constancy or Obstinacy in the Faith of their Church contrary Arguments notwithstanding which press their minds and force them to doubt of their fore-going Belief yea to believe to the contrary We may easily observe that these two Sorts of Men do not seek the Truth with a pious and honest Mind but that they onely hunt after vain Glory and the Praise of Victory gotten by any means whatsoever deeming they have alwayes sufficient Causes of glorying whilest they dare affirm they are not satisfied That the case so stands daily Experience sheweth Nor is it to be wondred at The first and chiefest Article of the Papists is this That their Church cannot err consequently that of all other Churches that differ from their Church we are to conclude that they err and that as long as they persist in their Errour are liable to eternal destruction damnation With whom this foundation doth not remain wholly fixt and unshaken he cannot be a true Papist but if any hold it tooth and nail he openly professeth that he is not willing to be taught better although he shall be convinced of his Errour or if he make shew of some desire to learn yet doth he with his whole Strength and Might maintain his Opinion although the Truth be proposed to him as clearly and resplendently as the Sun-beams are wont to be when the weather is fair and clear This Foundation being laid it necessarily follows that to dispute with a true Papist is fruitless and endless and that it cannot be hoped that such an one should be taken off from his resolution or by Arguments be reduced into the right Way Furthermore a true Papist as he renders himself unmeet to embrace the Truth and to acknowledge his own Errour so doth he unadvisedly cast himself into a Labyrinth or Maze of inextricable absurdities out of which he is utterly unable to extricate or free himself as it frequently useth to befal them who receive not the Love of the Truth that they might be saved as Paul shews 2 Thes 2.10 And this appears more clear than the Noon-dayes Light when any Dispute is undertaken with them even concerning any Point whatsoever of the Christian Religion nor is it necessary in many words to prove it CHAP. IIII. That the Papists cannot show which is that true Church which cannot err THis chief and fundamental Point which they have alwayes in their mouth and on which they chiefly build That the Church of Rome cannot err is a Labyrinth out
foolishly to believe by a Proctour to whom they perswade themselves the Matter is best known although he sometimes be void of all knowledge of matters or else foolishly and without Judgment to catch at all words and syllables which they deem do any way serve their Purpose and Design How tedious a thing it is to enter upon the Stage of Disputation with such every one easily perceives For who seeth not how hard and great a Labour it is to dispatch or put an End to those Questions which are to be demonstrated from the Memory of Ages and so great variety of Books and Histories and being demonstrated so that all way to any further Exception be shut up do produce no Fruit in the Minds of the contrary Party Wherefore those who trouble the People with suc● Things what do they else but involve them in an inextricable Labyrinth whereby the unskilful Multitude either despaireth of an happy Event or End or if they have any Hope they nevertheless cease not to stick fast in the same Mire of uncertainty to wit being dull'd and stupified with the overmuch labour of search This indeed is the readiest Way whereby any one may lord it over the Consciences of simple Men and having entangled them in a Gordian Knot perswade them any Thing But let us propose both these a little more clearly The first I prove thus None will be able to deny that for the asserting the Antiquity not only of the Church but also of a continued and uninterrupted Succession of Bishops in the Church there is necessarily required first a certain undoubted and accurate Knowledge of Authors both Greek and Latin and of all Histories that have been written of this thing And Secondly that to this knowledge there ought to be added a good and quick-sighted Judgment whereby exactly to discern their true and genuine Books from those that are supposititious and adulterate true Histories from those that are foisted in and interlaced those that were composed with Partiality out of Affection and fore-stall'd Opinion from those they composed void of Partiality and Prejudice to reconcile Repugnancies and faithfully to supply Defects How much Pains Trouble and Time it requires every one sees even amongst the most learned for the whole Space of a thousand and six hundred Years there hath been none hitherto who hath been able to perform it The first of them cannot indeed be so much as sought for much less found Shall then the unlearned and unskilful common People who are counted unable to turn over one Book of the Scripture be sufficient to undergo so great a Work as accurately to enquire into all Histories wherewith even whole Barns may be filled and Ships laden The Laicks or lay-People in the the Papacie who laying aside the holy Scripture alwayes talk of Antiquity and Succession bewray a mind stupid and foolish enough because they know nothing more yea happily much less of true Antiquity and Succession than they do of the Scripture indeed being alike ignorant of both It is true indeed that there may easily be drawn up a Catalogue and Index of Bishops where in their Course and Order wherein they succeeded each other they may be set down But that is nothing to the Purpose For the same do the Grecian the Ethiopick Churches and others The Constantinopolitan doth it sayes Bellarmine from the Times of Constantine Caesar in an uninterrupted Series as also Nicephorus who continues the Names of the Bishops even from the very Times of Andrew the Apostle And yet Bellarmine denies and all the Papists with him that the Grecians can of Right claim to themselves a Succession The Succession therefore of Persons is not enough but it is required withal that it be lawful and such as that among the Bishops who have succeeded one another there have been no Heretick Atheist or Apostate among them First it is requisite that it be lawful for as the Papal Decree hath it Dist 79. If any by Money or mens Favour or Popular or Military Tumult without the unaminous and Canonical Election both of the Cardinals and of the following Clergie shall be inthron'd in the Apostolick Seat let him not be accounted Apostolical but Apostatical Secondly it is required that among the Bishops that succeed each other there have been no Heretick among them For for this cause as Cardinal Bellarmine and other Pontificial Doctors affirm the Succession of the Constantinopolitan Bishops is not to be counted lawful because there have been Hereticks amongst them Lib. 4. of the Marks of the Church Cap. 8. He therefore that will judge aright of the Succession of the Bishops of Rome he must of Necessity be most certainly assured of both these even according to the Canons of the Papists themselves But how is this possible Who can undoubtedly know whether all their Bishops have obtained the Episcopacy lawfully Whether some have not obtained the Dignity of Succession by Simony that is by Mony and Gifts as Simon Magus desired to do or by Force Arts and Wiles by Factions and unlawful Suits and Bribings for the same Again if any desirous to read their Histories do find of a certain that even those Writers themselves who have been most devoted to the Pontificians do openly and roundly confess that not only one or two but that many and diverse Bishops of Rome have climbed to the Pontifical Dignity who having been condemned of manifest Heresie have been counted impious Villains Atheists Schismaticks Ruffians and Bands who by Gifts and Bribes by Force and Factions without any precedent Choice or consequent Approbation of the Clergie by dishonest and foul Devices and Guil●●●ve intruded themselves or by Harlots and their Whores have come to the Succession Who I pray can extricate himself out of this Maze of Doubts If you say the best and faithfullest Historians are to be credited in this Case you fall into a new Labyrinth For I demand who are they and by what are they to be distinguished Why shall he derogate from the Credit of the Pontifician Writers For they cannot be termed Hereticks or mortal Enemies to the Church of Rome because themselves were sworn Vassals thereunto and some of them the greatest Flatterers and fawners upon the Popes and the pontificial Dignity He is therefore forc'd to believe that these Writers were impell'd and constrained by the Truth of the thing it self to write these things And suppose that they were not Pontifician Writers What Reason shall perswade that Credit is to be denyed to them as not faithful Writers rather then unto others who were Favourers of the Pope and his Dignity Friendship is no less able to with-hold a Writer from writing the Truth than Enmity or Hatred is He that will deliver Truth to Posterity must write without all Affectation And by what solid Reason and which will convince the Judgment shall we perswade our selves that there hath been any such Writer especially if we live not in the same age and at the
same time with him He that considers these Things without Prejudice ought to be induced to believe that those who endeavour to defend or shelter themselves under Antiquity and Succession do involve themselves in a Labyrinth in which one may easily be intangled but hardly nay nor indeed hardly be disintangled or loosed CHAP. X. That Truth is to be preferred before all Antiquity and Succession whatsoever BUt granting that any one could prove this Antiquity and Succession What will be evinced from thence as to the chief Point of the Matter Nothing at all For Antiquity and Succession of Persons being proved yet the Question concerning Truth will still remain If Antiquity and Succession be not joyned with Truth what I pray do they make for the proving of this Business Antiquity is not the Cause of Truth much less Succession And if Antiquity and Succession ought necessarily to be joyned with Truth then the Truth is first and chiefly to be known which whilest it is unknown so long a man hangs in Suspence Even as if a man should find Money which he certainly knows was coined many Ages before yet remains in doubt whether that Money be made of good Metal or no. Antiquity doth wholly differ from Goodness Nor doth a naughty Person cease to be naught because he is old Not every ancient Custom is good And this is the Cause Why the Fathers discoursing of true Antiquity and Succession would have us chiefly to Mind that Succession which is in Conjuction with the genuine Doctrine and Truth Especially when we have to do with those that reject the