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the Church of Rome, instead of imitating our good example, commanded all they could influence, to quit our communion. It is they then who made the separation, and it is they that continue it. We are ready still to join in communion with them, upon the terms of the Gospel: and they refuse to join with us, but upon terms of their own devising. Now when two Churches break communion with one another; though it is always a fault, yet it does not always follow, that either of them is thereby broken off from the Catholic Church, any more than it follows, that when two men break off acquaintance, one of them is broken off from the civil society to which they belong. But when one Church shall excommunicate another, merely because the governors of that other made such alterations in it as Scripture warrants, and because the people complied with those alterations, such an instance of presumption and uncharitableness is much more likely to cut off those that use it from the Church of Christ, than those against whom it is used. But supposing we had even acted without, and separated from, our Church governors, as our Protestant brethren abroad were forced to do: was there not a cause? When the word of God was hidden from men, and his worship performed in an unknown tongue; when pernicious falsehoods were required to be professed, and sinful terms of Communion to be complied with; when Church-authority, by supporting such things as these, became inconsistent with the ends for which it was established : what remedy was there but to throw it off, and form new establishments ?

If in these there were any irregularities, they were the faults of those who forced men into them; and are of no consequence in comparison with the reason that made a change necessary. For were a man to separate himself from every Church he knows on earth, in order to obey the laws of Christ, he would still be a most valuable member of that general assembly and Church of the first-born, that are written in Heaven*. For what communion hath light with darkness - And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ?-

. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and I will receire you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty t.

But 'tis an article of faith, they tell us, that the Church of Rome is the mother and mistress of all Churches, and therefore to cast off her authority, can never be lawful. We answer, the mother of all Churches, she certainly is not. For in Jerusalem was the first Christian society, and from thence were derived many others, more ancient than that of Rome. Nor was that Church the mother of the British Churches, nor of all the English. But had the first persons that founded the Gospel here been sent from Rome, that had given them no manner of authority

Whence is she then the mistress? Why, St. Peter was head of the Church, and the Bishops of Rome are his successors. But the Scripture tells us, Christ is head of the Church I, and tells us of no other. We own it was said to St. Peter, upon this rock will I build my Church . But this rock, for aught they can ever prove, might be, not St. Peter's person, but his confession made immediately before: that Jesus was the Christ. Or, if the Church was to be built on St. Peter, yet not on him alone, but upon the foundation of all the Apostles and Prophets, as St. Paul teaches expressly ll. And accordingly, • Heb. xii. 23. 2 Cor. vi. 15, 16, 17, 18. Eph. i. 29. iv. 15. the wall of the new Jerusalem, or Church of God, is said to have twelve foundations, on which were the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb *. To St. Peter indeed it was promised, that the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven should be given him, and that whatever he bound or loosed on earth, should be bound or loosed in Heaven f. But this very same, and other as great things, are said to all the Apostles equally I. St. Peter was appointed by Christ to feed his sheep 5: but so surely was every one of them. The first rank therefore he might have among the Apostles; but authority over them not the least. On the contrary, St. Paul tells us, that he withstood St. Peter to the face, because he was to be blamed ], and says of himself, in two different places, that he was in nothing behind, not a whit behind, the very chiefest Apostles [. But had St. Peter possessed ever so much authority, what is that to the Church of Rome? Why ; St. Peter was Bishop of Rome. But even this is what they can never prove, nor is it probable. Or if he was, perhaps it was only of the Jewish Christians at Rome. For St. Paul tells us the Gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to him, and that of the circumcision to Peter **; and the Jewish Church there is extinct. Or if Bishop of all Rome, he was Bishop, they say, also of Antioch ; and why must their Church inherit his authority more than that Church ? But why indeed must it be inherited at all ? It was given personally to St. Peter as an Apostle : what had others to do with it who were no Apostles, though they did succeed him as Bishops? All pre-eminence of one Church above another was nothing originally, but an institution of men for convenience and order. Rome being the chief city in the world, it was natural to look on the Bishop of Rome as the chief Bishop. And precedence being thus allowed them; by time and opportunity, and arts that were often very wicked ones, they improved it into a claim of authority: to which, though not near the whole Church ever submitted, yet at length a great part did. Then to the prerogative, of which they had thus by degrees got possession, they begun to pretend Christ himself had originally given them a right. And having managed so well, that part of the world believed them, and part durst not contradict them; they took on them the title of universal Bishops, which one of themselves not long before had declared, whoever should take, was the forerunner of Antichrist. And then under this they claimed all power over the souls, bodies, and fortunes of men, and exercised it with all possible insolence, rapaciousness, cruelty and impiety.

. 1 . Matt. xvi. 18.

l! Eph. ii. 20.

over us.

Rev. xxi. 14. + Matt. xvi. 19. # Matt. xviii. 18. John xx. 23. ý 1 John xxi. 15, 16, 17. || Gal. ii. 11. 9 2 Cor. xi. 5. xii. 11.

** Gal. ii. 7.

Now what could there be done when such a power was thus acquired, and thus exercised, but to throw it off, and assert that liberty to which we had an undoubted right? For as to any scheme of coming to terms, never did the Church of Rome recede from any one pretension she ever made. The exercise of authority she hath omitted indeed, whenever she durst not exercise it: but all her claims she hath constantly kept up, and excommunicates yearly to this day, every Prince in Christendom that shall refuse obedience to any constitution of the Pope's whatever. 'Tis true, even the Popish Princes at present regard not this excommunication, and she knows not how to make them regard it. But were once the Protestants reunited to that Church on the terms of allowing her any superiority: who knows how soon a power, that had once risen from nothing to that formidable height which it had attained, may rise again to be as formidable as ever ?

Another of their pleas is this : that which was the ancient religion and Church must be the true one. Now where was your Church, say they, before Henry the VIIIth? Where was your religion before Luther? We answer, our Church was before that time just where it is now. Only then it was corrupted with many sinful errors, from which it is now reformed. Still 'tis the same Church it was before : just as a man formerly addicted to many vices, and afflicted with many distempers, continues the same man, after he hath forsaken the one, and recovered from the other; and it would be very strange to make his alteration for the better an objection against him. And for our religion : where was that before Luther? Why, wherever Christianity was. Did Luther invent the Creed, the ten Commandments, the two Sacraments? These are the things in which our religion consists : and theirs consists in the same. Only they have added by degrees, a number of needless, false, and wicked things to them, which we have cast off again. Our religion therefore is the ancient Christianity, professed from the days of the Apostles. But where was their religion in those days, I mean the doctrines in which they differ from us? All of them, hundreds of years later; many of them a thousand ; some of them established no longer ago than the council of Trent, which is since the time of Luther. For then, and not before, was it, that they filled up the measure of their iniquities, which had long been growing; equalled their own traditions to the word of God, and added a new Creed to the old one. Our rejecting their additional doctrines, we own, is new;

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