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will be found the best and purest church this day in the christian world. Upon which account, I bless God that I was born, baptized, and bred up in her communion ; wherein I firmly resolve by his grace to persist, as long as I live. How far the present church of Rome hath departed from this primitive pattern, will
hereafter. Monsieur de Meaux adds, as a farther reason of his wonder, that I speak of salvation as only to be found in unity with her. Her! doth the bishop here again mean the present church of Rome? If he doth, I must plainly tell him, that I am so far from ever thinking, that salvation is only to be found in unity with her, that, on the contrary, I verily believe they are in great danger of their salvation, who live in her communion; that is, who own her erroneous doctrines, and join in her corrupt worship, of which I shall give a large account before I have done. I do, indeed, in the book which the bishop hath an eye unto, shew, that there was a canon or rule of faith received in the primitive church, which, whoever in any point thereof denied or opposed, was judged an heretick, and if he persisted in his heresy, cast out of the communion of the catholick church, and so out of the ordinary way
of salvation. But what is this to the present church of Rome and her communion ?
The bishop's last reason is, that I own the infallible assistance of the Holy Ghost, in the Council of Nice, which infers the same assistance for all others assembled in the same church. To which I
answer, I mention this indeed as the opinion of Socrates, but at the same time I give another account of the credit that is to be given to the determination of the Nicene Council in the article of our Saviour's Divinity, in the Præmium of my Defensio Fidei Nicenæ, S. 3. where my words are these : “ But the same Socrates, chap. ix. of the same “ book, reproves Sabinus for not considering with “ himself, that they who came to this council, “ how illiterate soever they were, yet being enlight“ ened by God, and the grace of the Holy Ghost, “ could in no wise depart from the truth. For he
seems to have thought the enlightening grace of “ the Holy Ghost always to accompany a General “ Council of Bishops, and to preserve them from
error, especially in any of the necessary articles “ of faith. Which supposition, if any one shall “ refuse to admit of, Socrates's argumentation may “ be thus directed and urged against him : the “ Nicene fathers, let any imagine them as unskilful " and illiterate as he will, yet, is the main, were “ doubtless pious men : but it is incredible that so
many holy and approved men, assembled from all parts of the christian world (who, how defective
in any other sort of knowledge, could by no ineans be ignorant of the first and fundamental “ doctrine of the Holy Trinity, a doctrine wherein “ the very Catechumens were not uninstructed, or “ of what themselves had received from their prede« received in the church concerning this principal “ article of christianity.” And, indeed, all these things considered and laid together, it was morally impossible that the Nicene fathers should have erred, in the determination of the article before them. And that they did not actually err, I have sufficiently proved in the bishop's own judgment, in the following treatise.
cessors concerning it), should wickedly conspire amongst themselves, to new model the faith
But suppose I were fully of Socrates's opinion, concerning the infallible assistance of the Holy Ghost attending every truly General Council in 'matters of faith, I should be never the nearer to the communion of the church of Rome, as it is now subjected to the decrees of the Trent Council. For as 1 afterwards add in the same Preface, \. 8. “ The assembly at Trent is to be called by any “ other name, rather than that of a General « Council.”
I proceed to the bishop's questions. He asks me what I mean by the Catholick church ? I answer : What I mean by the Catholick church in the book which he all along refers to, I have already shewn, and the very title of the book sufficiently declares. If he asks me what I mean by the Catholick church, speaking of it as now it is? I answer: By the Catholick church, I mean the Church Universal, being a collection of all the churches throughout the world, who retain the faith (@raz) once delivered to the Saints. Jude, 3. That is who hold and profess in the substance of it, that faith and religion which was delivered by the Apostles of Christ to the first
original churches according to Tertullian's rule before-mentioned. Which faith and religion is contained in the Holy Scriptures, especially of the New Testament, and the main fundamentals of it comprized in the canon or rule of faith, universally received throughout the primitive churches, and the profession thereof acknowledged to be a sufficient tessera or badge of a Catholick Christian. All the churches at this day which hold and profess this faith and religion, however distant in place, or distinguished by different rites and ceremonies, yea, or divided in some extra-fundamental points of doctrine, yet agreeing in the essentials of the Christian religion, make up together one Christian Catholick church under the Lord Christ, the Supreme Head thereof. The Catholick church under this notion, is not a confused heap of societies, separated one from another. But it seems no other union of the church will satisfy the bishop, but an union of all the churches of Christ throughout the world, under one visible head, having a jurisdiction over them all, and that head the Bishop of Rome for the time being. But such an union as this was never dreamed of among Christians for at least the first six hundred years, as shall be shewn in its due place.
The Catholick Church, I believe, shall never totally fail, that is, Christianity shall never utterly perish from the face of the earth, but there shall be some to maintain and uphold it to the end of the world ; although some of the ancient doctors of the church have given us a very tragical description of the state of the Universal Church of Christ, which shall be under the reign of the great Antichrist. But I know of no promise of indefectibility from the faith made to any particular church, no, not to the church of Rome itself. And if we may judge by the Holy Scriptures, and by the doctrine and practice of the primitive Catholick church, the present church of Rome hath already lamentably failed, and fallen into many dangerous and gross errors, as will by and by appear. Now that church · which hath already so far failed, why may she not utterly fail ? If she be found but in one error, the infallible direction of her judgement, upun which her indefectibility from the faith must depend, is gone and destroyed. I add, that divers eminent * doctors, even of the Roman communion, have discovered out of the Apocalypse, that Rome itself shall at length become the seat of Antichrist. If so, where will the church of Rome then be ?
But I wonder why Monsieur de Meaux should ask me, whether by the Catholick church, I mean the church of Rome or the church of England ?. He knows full well, I mean neither the one nor the other. For to say either of the church of Rome, or of the church of England, or of the Greek church, or of any other particular church of what denomination soever, that it is the Catholic or Universal Church, would be as absurd as to affirm that