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XIV. I will conclude with him therefore, in the right sense and meaning of it saying with him: “Return to the steps of the good fathers, the prophets and apostles, framing yourselves to follow their doctrine: be not carried away with strange and diverse doctrine of popes, contrary to God's holy word, and invented of late by men. Embrace the religion and faith taught from the beginning, in Christ's church, from time to time continually.” Flee this new-fangled popish superstition, which has crept into the church of late years, and believe that only which Christ has taught, and his apostles and martys have confirmed, “and frame your lives accordingly; or else God's vengeance hangs over your heads, ready suddenly to fall upon you: and let this token of brenning of Paul's be an example and token of a greater plague to follow, except ye amend;” which God grant us all to do! Amen.
Most righteous and wise Judge, eternal God and merciful Father, which of thy secret judgment hast suffered false prophets in all ages to rise for the trial of thine elect, that the world might know who would stedfastly stick unto thy undoubted and infallible truth, and who would be carried away with every vain doctrine; and yet by the might of thy Holy Spirit hast confounded them all, to thy great glory, and comfort of thy people: have mercy upon us, we beseech thee, and strengthen our weakness against all assaults of our enemies: confound all popery, as thou did the doctrine of the Pharisees; strengthen the lovers of thy truth, to the confusion of all superstition and hypocrisy : give us due love and reverence of thy holy word; defend us from man's traditions: increase our faith; grant us grace never to fall from thee, but uprightly to walk according as thou hast taught us, swerving neither to the right hand nor the left, neither adding nor taking any thing away from thy written word; but submitting ourselves wholly to thy good will and pleasure, may so pass this transitory life, that through thy goodness we may live everlastingly with thee in thy glory, through Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns one God and our Saviour, for ever and ever.
Have not I hated them, O Lord, that hate thee, and even pined away because of thine enemics? Psal. cxxxix.
I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your enemies cannot gainsay and withstand. Luke xxi.
ALSO CERTAINE QUESTIONS PROPOUNDED BY HIM,
I. Which is the catholic church?
St Augustine and St Jerome do say: “The church is a visible company **. of people gathered of Christ our Lord and the apostles, and continued Fund. unto this day by a perpetual succession, living in one faith apostolical, i.i. under Christ the head, and his vicar in earth, being the pastor and high bishop. Out of this catholic and apostolical church is no trust of salvation".”
St Augustine says: “Whosoever shall be out of this church, although #on. his life be esteemed to be very good and laudable, by this only fault, that he is disjoined and separated from the unity of Christ and his church, he can have no life, but the wrath of God hangs over him”.”
St Cyprian says: “He separates himself from Christ, that does against §§. i. the consent of the bishop and clergy".”
St Jerome does say: “We must remain in that church which is Hiero. contra Lucifer.
[* In catholica ecclesia * * tenet me consensio populorum atque gentium: tenet auctoritas miraculis inchoata, spe nutrita, caritate aucta, vetustate firmata: tenet ab ipsa sede Petri apostoli, cui pascendas oves suas post resurrectionem Dominus commendavit, usque ad praesentem episcopatum successio sacerdotum. Augustin. contra Epist. Manich. cap. 5. (iv.) Tom. viii. p. 269. ed. Paris. 1837.
Superillam petram aedificatam ecclesiam scio. Quicunque extra hanc domum agnum comederit, profanus est: si quis in arca Noe non fuerit, peribit regnante diluvio. Hieron. Epist. xiv. ad Damasum. Tom. Iv. Parsi. p. 19. ed. Paris. 1706. If the reference in the margin to the treatise “contra Lucifer.” be correct, the passage intended must be that quoted below in note 1. p. 618. Ed.]
[* Ab ea vero separati, quamdiu contra illam sentiunt, boni esse non possunt: quia etsi aliquos eorum bonos videtur ostendere quasi laudabilis conversatio, malos eos facit ipsa divisio. August. Epist. ccviii. (al. ccIx.) Tom. II. p. 1177. Ed.]
[* An esse sibi cum Christo videtur, qui adversus sacerdotes Christi facit; qui se a cleri ejus et plebis societate secernit? De Unitate Ecclesiae: (vulgo De Simplicitate Praclatorum:) p. 83. Ed. Fell. Oxon. 17C0. Ed.]
founded of the apostles, and does endure unto this day by a succession of bishops, to whom the Holy Ghost has appointed the rule and government of this church, sanctified by Christ's blood-shedding. Nor let heretics take any comfort to themselves, if they can frame out of the chapters of the scripture for their purpose that which they say, seeing the devil has alleged some things of scripture: for the scriptures consist not in reading, but true understanding.” If we will be members of Christ's church, we must continue firmly in that faith and religion, that was sent from the apostolical see of Rome, by St Gregory, into England: which faith and religion was planted and stablished by St Augustine in this realm.” St Augustine stablished mass and seven sacraments to be used in the Latin tongue, as Gildas does witness, and such manner of divine service as is now used.
The Answer to the First Question.
St Austin, in the first place alleged, has no such definition, although the most part of the words which he puts there are true: and would to God he considered how much he speaks against himself herein This is that which we defend, that the church is gathered by Christ and the apostles first, and continues, not in the papistical but in the apostolical faith, under Christ our head, who rules his church still by his Holy Spirit and word, and has not put it into the hands of any one only general vicar in the earth, as he untruly says: whereas their church is builded not on Christ, but on the pope's decrees, which the apostles never knew, and were unwritten many years after the death of the apostles, and are always uncertain, changing ever, as it pleases the pope for his time to determine: and their church has had at one time three or four popes for their heads, like a monster with many heads; some country following one pope, some another, as their head. We say also, that the papists have divided themselves from this church of Christ, making themselves synagogues and chapels, gods, and religion of their own devising, as Micha did, contrary to God's word: and therefore the wrath of God hangs over them, except they return, how, holy soever they pretend to be.
[.. In illa esse ecclesia permanendum, que ab apostolis fundata usque ad diem hanc durat. * * Nee sibi blandiantur, si descripturarum capitulis videntur sibi affirmare quod dicunt, quum et diabolus descripturis aliqua sit locutus, et scripturæ non in legendo consistant, sed in intelligendo. Adv. Lucifer. Tom. Iv. Parsii. p. 306. Paris. 1699. Ed.]
Cyprian's words are not altogether so plain as he sets them; but if they were, he means another sort of priests and clergy than the pope's : for neither they did take then to them, nor he knew no such authority in them, as they now usurp unto themselves; for he writes as sharply and homely unto Cornelius, then bishop of Rome, as he does to any other his fellow bishops. Surely, whosoever divides himself from Christ's ministers and people, refusing their doctrine and discipline, separates himself from Christ: even as he that flees from the filthy dregs of popery, and his chaplains, is cut off from the pope, the father of such wickedness.
In Jerome's words we most rejoice, teaching us to continue in that church, which is founded by the apostles, and not popes, and endures to this day. The words of “succession,” &c. following, are his own, and not Jerome's. By this doctrine of Jerome we flee to the apostolical, and flee from the papistical church, which was never known of many years after the apostles. And we grant that the devil, papists, and heretics can allege some words of the scriptures; and therefore we say that the papists be devilish heretics, because they rack and writhe the scriptures to a contrary meaning, to their own damnation, as the devil did. For succession and government of bishops, for Austin's religion, massing and seven sacraments, I said enough afore: but where he alleges Gildas as father of his lies, he does him much wrong; for he has never such a word in all his writings. If he have, let him shew it. This is ever the fashion of lying papists, to have the names of doctors and ancient writers in their mouths, as though they were of the same opinion that they be, where indeed they be nothing less: and if they get a word or two that seems to make for them, they will add a whole tale of their own making, as though it were a piece of the same ancient man's saying; and by this means they deceive the simple, which have no learning to judge, or have not the books to try their sayings by; as this miser goes about in these places afore.
II. Who is an heretic?
He that teaches, defends, or maintains any erroneous opinion against the decrees, judgment, or determination of Christ's catholic church, is an heretic.