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Part of Mr. G----n's LETTER, beginning with the following Query fent to Dr. George Hickes, by a Gentleman lately perverted from the Church of England to the Church of Rome.
UPPOSING this for true,That the Church of Chrift can never perifb, I defire to know (if the Protestant Church be the true One) where it was for many hundreds of Tears before Luther? Name your Bishops, Writers, Churches, nay one fingle Congregation, or Village of Proteftants, for 900 or 1000 Tears, before your Separation from the holy Catholick Church.
THE Gentleman, Sir, I fpoke to you of the laft time I had the honour of waiting on you, being to quit the Town in a very fhort time, is willing to delay no longer our Bufinefs in hand; in order to which proceeding, I here fend you, as from him, the above-written Query, &c.
February 28, 170
Dr. Hickes's ANSWER to the forego. ing Query. In a Letter to Mr. G---n. March 4. 1702.
L AST Wednesday, being. Afb-Wednesday, in the Afternoon, I receiv'd a few Lines from you under the name of a Query, containing a Suppofition, a Queftion, and a Challenge; which, you fay, you fent me from the Gentleman you lately fpoke of to me, and who you then told me was a Prieft, and by confequence, one of your Guides. Had you not told me you fent them from a Man of his Character, who was appointed by his Superior to manage the Controverly that is between your Church and Ours, 1 fhould rather have thought they had been penn'd by fome Novitiat, or late Convert, who was not skill'd in Controverfy; First, Becaufe they are, as I conceive, nothing to the purpofe of the Infallibility of the Church, the Subject in which, at your defire, we are to be engag'd. And, Secondly, Because they are unaccurately penn'd in terms of uncertain Signification; and take the main thing for granted, which is in difpute between our Church and yours. The Suppofition is penn'd in thefe Words; Suppofing this for true, that the Church of Chrift can never perish. Where I defire to know, What the Gentleman means by perifb? And, Secondly, What he means by the Church of Chrift? For perifh may fignifie, that the Church can be quite deftroy'd, fo as to have no manner of Being in the World, as it had not, before it firft began to be; or, Secondly, It may fignifie only not to be the fame Church, as to Doctrine, Worship, and
Pality, which was founded by Chrift, and finifh'd by the Apoftles, but to be corrupted and deprav'd more or lefs, in one, or more, or all thofe Parts of its Constitution. In the former acceptation of the Word, perifh fignifies to cease to be at all, or to have Exiftence in a Metaphyfical Senfe, as Cities and Colleges do, when they are disfranchifed or difcorporated; or as Kingdoms, when they are abfolutely deftroyed and turned into De- . mocracies or Commonwealths. But in the latter fenfe, it means no more than that the Church ceafes to be a found, rightly conftituted, or Apoftolical Church in one or more Parts of its Conftitution; fo that a Catholick Chriftian cannot. communicate in it without Sin; and this is to perish, or be depraved from what it was and ought to be, in a moral Senfe. Secondly, The Church of Chrift may be taken in as large a fenfe, as Chriftianity, for the whole Univerfal Church, wherefoever difperfed over the Earth; or for fome part of it greater or lefs, comprehending one or more Churches, but not the Univerfal Church: And when the Gentleman will tell me, in which fense he means the Words never perish, and in which fenfe he understands the Church of Chrift, then I will tell him in which fenfe I think his Suppofition true, and in which I think it is not: [For I have reafon to think that by the Church of Chrift he only means the Church of Rome.]
AFTER his Suppofition follows a Question, in thefe Words: I defire to know (if the Proteftant Church be the true one) where it was many bundreds of Years before Luther? This, Sir, is not
* I have added this to fhew the reafon, why I made ufe of the foregoing diftinétion.
one, but two Questions, which an accurate Adverfary would have rather propofed thus, I defire to know if the Proteftant Church be the true Church? If fo, then I defire to know where it was many bundreds of Tears before Luther? Here again I muft defire to know, before I answer the firft Queftion, what he means by the Proteftant Church? For there are many Proteftant Churches, fo call'd, whereof fome are true, and fome are not true Churches; fome perfect, and fome not perfect Churches; and when he is pleased to let me know what Proteftant Church he means, then I fhall know how to return an Answer. Secondly, As to the phrafe Proteftant Church, it may either fignifie the Clergy and People of the Church, or the Faith, or Worship, and Polity, and whatfoever elfe belongs to the Conftitution of a Church; and when he is pleased to let me know, that by the Proteftant Church he particularly means the Faith, Worship, and Polity of the Church of England, and not the Succeffion of Clergy and People teaching and profeffing that Faith, practifing that Worship, and formed into that Polity, then I will tell him where the Church of England was many hundreds of Years before Luther; or, if he pleafes, before the Council of Trent, even where the prefent Faith, Worfhip, and Polity of the Roman Church never was, i. e. in the Primitive Church. I fay, before the Council of Trent, becaufe Luther was none of our Reformers; and because I should rather have expected, that a fair and learned Adverfary fhould have faid, I defire to know, where the Church of England, or where your Religion was for many bundreds of Tears before the Reformation, or pretended Reformation, as he might have faid withoffence. But the Queftion thus put hath been fo
fo often, and fo plainly and fully answer'd, that he muft pardon me, if I fay I am tempted to think, he purposely disguised it in other uncertain and ambiguous terms.
IN the laft place comes his Challenge in thefe Words: Name your Bishops, Writers, Churches, nay one fingle Congregation, or Village of Proteftants for goo or 1000 Years before your Separa tion from the holy Catholick Church.
HERE it is, as I obferv'd, that the Gentleman beggs the Question, or takes for granted what is the greateft Point of Controverfy between us, in thofe Words, Your Separation from the boly Catholick Church; whereas we affirm, and moft af furedly believe, that our Separation (as he muft mean from the Church of Rome) was not a Separation from the holy Catholick Church, but a return unto it from many Errors, Innovations, Abufes, and Corruptions; and whether it were fo or no, we are willing to appeal to Catholick Tradi tion, which confifts in Antiquity, Univerfality, and Confent. al.
2dly, His Challenge is fallacious and fophifti cal, in asking us to Name our Bishops, Writers, Churches, &c. i. e. our Reform'd Bifbops, Writers, and Churches, before the Reformation, which he calls our Separation; that is to fay, he asks us to name our reform'd Bishops, Writers, and Chur ches, before they were reform'd, which is as ab furd, as to ask us to fhew the alteration and change of any other Society or Thing, before it was altered and changed.
SIR, in this way of Challenging, he might as well have bid us name our Proteftant Kings and Courts before Edward VI. And any Man may as reafonably ask a Sloven, where his clean Face was, for fo many Days before it was washed?