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selves so, shall at any time assert. But, as believing

. in the resurrection of the body, is only believing that such a resurrection shall be, so believing in the Catholic Church is only believing that such a church is : that Christ hath united his followers into one regular society or body, of which himself is the head : which society or Church is therefore called Catholic or Universal, because it consists of all nations; whereas the Jewish Church was not Catholic, but particular, consisting only of one nation. But whether this Church be infallible or not, the creed says nothing. They that can lay a stress on such wretched arguments as these, how would they have triumphed had the same things been said of their Church, that are said of the Jewish Church ? If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, says Moses, thou shalt come unto the Priests the Levites, that shall be in those days, and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they shall inform thee; thou shalt not decline from the sentence that they shall show thee, to the right hand nor to the left* : for by their word shall every controversy be tried t. The Scribes and Pharisees, says our Saviour, sit in Moses' seat, All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do I. Now if these very strong express sions did not prove that Church infallible, (as certainly they do not; for then Christianity which they rejected would not be true,) how can much weaker expressions prove any other to be so ? But they who will needs have the Church to be infallible, and the rule of our faith instead of Scripture; what part of it do they make the infallibility reside in ? For unless that be clearly known, we are never the better for it; but instead of the same rule of faith, every dif

• Deut. xvii. 8, &c. + Deut. xxi. 5. | Matt. xxiii. S.

ferent opinion about this matter will produce a different rule of faith. And it is a matter, in which the opinions of the Romanists differ greatly. Many of them say the Pope is infallible, and he himself claims to be so. But then some think he is so in matters of faith only, some in matters of fact too. In most Popish countries it would be looked upon as heresy to deny him this prerogative; in others as great weakness to ascribe it to him. For a large part of them say nothing is infallible under a general Council, regularly called. But then they have so many different opinions about what makes a Council general, and what call of one is regular, that some of them reckon at least eighteen general Councils, and some at most but seven or eight: and indeed they might very justly question whether, strictly speaking, there was ever one such in the world. But farther; which of the Decrees and Canons of these Councils, amongst the infinite forgeries there have been, are genuine, and which not, here again is an endless controversy; and another as endless what the meaning of some of the most important ones of them is. In consequence of this they differ and dispute, and have done for ages, (as united as they would seem to be,) not only about such silly questions, as whether the Virgin Mary was conceived in original sin or not, (and yet about this they were calling one another Heretics for 300 years, and their general Councils, with all their infallibility, have not dared to determine the matter to this day ;) but they quarrel equally about things of the greatest moment. To give but one instance of many, whether a king may, for heresy or disobedience to the Church, be deposed, and his subjects discharged of their allegiance, is a question of as much weight as can well be put. The Popes and great part of their Church for 600 years have held they might; and have practised accordingly, as most nations in their turns have felt. But what tradition hath taught, and general Councils have decreed on this point, is so various and contradictory, that it would take a inan's life almost to inquire into it. So that some Popish writers speak of the affirmative of this question as an Article of Faith; and some as a most impious error. One or the other must be impious, undoubtedly. Which then are the Heretics ? and what is their infallibility good for, that either cannot, or will not, decide questions of such importance to human society as this? But to proceed: some of that Communion allow not even Councils to be infallible, and account no doctrine fundamental, unless the whole body of the Roman Church hath received it as such. And how shall the ignorant know with certainty when they have all received it, and in what sense they have received it? But why the whole body of the Roman Church? What claim hath she of being always in the right more than the Churches of Greece, of Asia, or of Æthiopia, who differ from her, as well as we, in many things, and allow her no such privilege? Nor, which is more, did St. Paul know of any she had in the least: but in his Epistle to the Church of Rome, bids her not to be high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the Jews, take heed, lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore, the goodness and severity of God: On them--severity ; but towards thee, goodness : if thou continue in his goodness, otherwise thou also shall be cut off. Strange treatment, sure, of an infallible Church! Some persons therefore have held infallibility to reside not in the Church of Rome particularly, but in the whole

body of Christians considered as one, which indeed is the only true Catholic or Universal Church. But the whole body of Christians, in the nature of things, can never meet: and, were it as easy, as it is difficult, to collect their several opinions, what one point should we find them all in all ages agree in as necessary, besides those general doctrines of Christianity, that are on every hand allowed to be clearly contained in Scripture? Which way soever then we seek for a rule of faith, to Scripture-doctrine we must return: and therefore the best way is, never to depart from it.

But here some of the Romanists (for they differ about it) will say we wrong them. They admit Scripture for the rule of faith. But do they admit it for the only one ? This they dare not say.

Or, if they did, will they allow us, when we have this rule, to know what it means ? No, we must never understand the least part of it, though ever so plain, in any different sense from what the Church is pleased to appoint. What then is this but mocking mankind, and giving with one hand, what they immediately take away with the other? But we, they say, are in a pitiable condition, that, having only the dead letter of Scripture to go by, and no living guide or judge to direct us in the interpretation of it, as they have; controversies are always among us, and can never be decided. To this we answer, that controversies are what they themselves, even with persecution to help them, can neither prevent or end any more than we. And in matters of property indeed, some decision, right or wrong, must be made. Society could not subsist without it: but what need of an infallible decision in matters of faith? Why is it not sufficient that every man determine for himself as well as he



can in this world ; and that God, the only infallible judge, will determine with equity concerning us all in the next ? But the generality of people, they say, are incapable of judging for themselves. Yet the New Testament supposes them both capable of it, and bound to it; and accordingly requires them not only to try the spirits, the pretences to infallibility, whether they be of God*, but to prove all things, and hold fast that which is goodt. But were this otherwise: if they are incapable of judging, why do you persuade them to change their judgment ? Let them alone in the way they are in. But if they have judgment enough to determine whether the Catholic Church be infallible, whether the Church of Rome be the Catholic Church, whether this infallibility be in Pope or Council, which Decrees of either are genuine, and what is the true meaning of those Decrees; all which things they must determine before the infallibility of the Church can be any guide to them: if I say every plain man hath ability enough for such points as these, why hath he not ability enough in other cases, to understand common sense and plain Scripture: to judge whether transubstantiation, for instance, be not contrary to the one, and image worship to the other? The Romanists themselves own, that men must use their eyes to find this guide: why then must they afterwards put them out to follow him ? Especially considering that the only rule, which above ninety-nine parts in a hundred of their communion have to follow, is not the doctrine of Councils and Popes even were they infallible: (for of these it is infinitely harder to know any thing than of Scripture,) but merely what a few priests, and private writers tell them; and so at last, all the 1 John iv, 1.

+ 1 Thess. v. 21.

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