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But to return, it were much to be desired, that they who engage in defence of the pure and ancient Catholic Faith as professed by the British Churches, should be careful to bring no charge against those who at present adhere to the papal domination, nor against the faith which, at present, they think it right to profess, which cannot be indisputably made good. The evil consequences of pursuing a different course-in respect of the injury done to truth, without which even victory itself is not to be desired; in the advantage afforded to the proselytizing priests of Rome, who are able to shake the faith of those who rely on unsound arguments, when they can prove such unsoundness; and in the still further estrangement between the disputants—are too obvious to require pointing out. With a view to this we must needs allow the Romans to choose for themselves the expositions by which the genuine doctrines of their Church shall be known; and not attempt to fasten upon them statements which they disclaim. For we should not endure ourselves that our Church should be charged with the expressions of individual writers within its pale, nor that we should be called upon to defend them even though the writers might be men of eminence, and their works used and approved by individual bishops. What possible object can be obtained by attempting to pursue towards our opponents a course which we should not endure if attempted against ourselves?
But of course this caution must look on both sides of the question, and not only on one. If the Romans require of us, as an act of justice, that we should form our opinion of the tenets of their Church, not from the expositions of individual writers but from the decrees of their councils, they must allow us to reject, not only Harding, and Naclantus, and Bonaventure, and St. Bridget, and others of that class, but Bossuet and Goter, and Kirke, and Berington, and others, whose diluted expositions of the Roman tenets as much fall short of the reality as the others can, possibly, be supposed to exceed it.
In order to ascertain what the genuine doctrines of the Church of Rome are, recourse must be had to the decrees of what are called the General Councils; for the Bishop of Rome, and the other Christian Bishops who submit to his yoke, (and who, together with their flocks, compose what is known as the Church of Rome) having agreed to require an assent to these decrees as a term of communion, are witnesses against themselves, and to the world, that these decrees contain that exposition of doctrine by the soundness or unsoundness of which their character for orthodoxy may and must be ascertained.
Next to understanding what are the genuine doctrines of the Church of Rome, it is desirable to bear distinctly in mind what is the position which the Church of England holds in respect to those doctrines, and also what is the cause of the interruption of the communion between her and Rome.
The case is this: the Church of England contents herself with keeping her own formularies free from the Roman innovations, and in bearing witness against them in her articles; but she neither excludes those who hold them from her communion, nor forbids her members to receive communion in the Churches of France, or Spain, or Italy, which adhere to the Roman tenets. The Church of Rome, on the contrary, carries into practical operation, as far as her power goes, the anathemas with which the Council of Trent has enforced its corrupt additions to the Catholic religion, making an assent to these dogmas an article of faith necessary for salvation, and a term without which communion is not to be had within her pale. Neither will she permit her people to communicate with the clergy of other churches who reject these decrees. The separation and interruption of communion is wholly the act of Rome.
This point deserves to be well considered and had in remembrance; I mean that the English Church has never refused communion to the members of the Church of Rome. An attempt was made during the primacy of Archbishop Tenison, to establish such a refusal; and a form of receiving a convert from the Church of Rome was prepared, in which a denial of Roman errors formed the new term of communion which it was sought to establish in our branch of the Catholic Church; but, through God's mercy, the thing fell to the ground. I say, through God's mercy; because if the scheme had been carried into effect, the Church of England would have been involved in similar guilt with that which now rests upon the Church of Rome, namely, that of adding to the Catholic Faith ; and the only difference would have been that, while the Roman additional articles are affirmative, the English would have been negative: but both alike novel, both alike unsanctioned, as terms of communion, by the Catholic Church, and, therefore, both alike indefensible in this respect. Here I cannot forbear from expressing my deep regret that some late writers on the English side, should, in this controversy, have employed the term fundamental in a way which seems to me unsanctioned by ecclesiastical use, and likely to prove very inconvenient. The term has hitherto been used to express those points of Christian belief which are indispensable to salvation according to the Christian covenant, and which the Catholic Church has therefore required as terms of communion. It is in this sense, to speak generally, that Waterland, in his Discourse upon Fundamentals, Works, viii. p. 87; Chillingworth, in his Religion of Protestants. Lond. 1727, p. 148; Claggett, in his Sermons, London, 1690, vol. ii. second sermon; Stillingfleet, in his Chapter on Fundamentals in General. London, 1665, p. 44; Hammond, Works, vol. ii. p. 275. London, 1674, and other writers, have uniformly regarded it: and, accordingly, Hammond expressly classes our differences with Rome as differences in the super
structure, not in the foundation. Either the persons of whom I am speaking use the term in this sense, or they do not. If they do not, they are merely introducing a new phraseology into divinity, which, it is to be feared, will only tend to confusion of ideas. If they do use the term in this sense, then I would fain ask, when did the Catholic Church ever make the points in which the Churches of England and Rome differ, terms of communion, or regard an agreement in definitions respecting them as indispensable to salvation? If the Catholic Church has not done so, no branch of that Church is warranted in doing so, neither can it do so, without injury to its own claim to be considered Catholic. The Catholic Church never has done so: and of this a reasonable proof may be immediately adduced. For, if any one of the points of difference comes near to be accounted fundamental, I presume it is the Canon of Scripture, which, accordingly, is usually placed first in the list. But we know that, while the Catholic Church in general held the same canon that we do, the African Church received, with one exception, the canon which the Church of Rome has since adopted. But the difference on this point was never then made a ground for interrupting communion. The other Churches did not excommunicate the African, nor the African excommunicate the others. · The Church of Rome, indeed, has made this and almost all our other differences, terms of communion, considered them as funda