Images de page

them, I hope they do not expect that we should believe them, or be moved by them: And then their pretence that the church of Rome is the mother and mistress of all churches; which is now made an article of their creed : And that the bishop of Rome, as successor of St. Peter 'there, is by divine appointment the supreme and universal pastor of Christ's church : And that it is necessary to salvation, for every human creature to be subject to him : And, lastly, their invocation and worfhip of the blessed virgin and saints departed; without any warrant or example of any such thing, either in scripture, or in the practice of the first ages of the Christian religion ; and without sufficient ground to believe that they hear the prayers which are put up to them.

2. Much more are we to hold fast the profession of our faith, against the confidence of men, contrary to scripture and reason, and the common sense of mankind. And here I instanced in the worship of images; the locking up of the scriptures from the people; and celebrating the publick prayers, and service of God, in an unknown tongue; and their do&rine of transubstantiation; their communion in one kind; and their daily repetition, in the sacrifice of the mass, of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, which was offered once for all, and is of eternal virtue and efficacy; and therefore ought not, because it needs not, like Jewish sacrifices under the law, to be repeated. • To these instances, which I have already spoken to, I shall add one or two more; as, namely, that to the due administration of the facraments, an intention in the minister at least to do what the church does, is requisite, This is expressly defined, and under an anathema upon all that Thall say otherwise, by the council of Trent, feff. 7. can. 11 ; which is to make the validity and virtue of the facraments to depend upon the intention of the priest or minister. So that if in the administration of baptism, he do not intend to baptize the par. ty:he pretends to baptize; then it is no baptism ; and consequently the person baptized is not made a member of Christ's church; nor is any grace or special benefit conferred upon him; nor is he a Christian.' So likewise in the facrament of the Lord's fupper, if the priest do


[ocr errors]

not intend to consecrate the host, then is it 110 facrament; and they that receive it, receive no benefit by it; and (which according to their opinion is a dreadful consequence) by the words of consecration, there is no change made of the elements into the body and blood of Chrift, and consequently they that give adoration to the facrament in such cases, worship bread and wine for God; which is idolatry. And so likewise in their facrament of penance, though the priest pronounce the words of absolution ; yet if he do not intend to absolve the penitent, though he be never so truly penitent, and God on his part is ready to forgive him ; yet if the priest do not intend to do so, there is nothing done, and the man is still in his fin. So likewise in ordination, (which is another of their facraments), if the Bishop do not intend to ordain the man, he is no priest; and all that he does as a priest afterwards, either in administration of baptism or the Lord's supper, or the absolution of penitents, all is vain, and of no effect. Nay in marriage, (which they will needs have to be a facrament too), if the intention of the priest be wanting, there is nothing done, the contract is nulled; and they that are so married, do really live in adultery, though they do not know it, nor have any fufpicion of it.

Now, this is contrary to scripture, and the whole tenor of the gospel, which promiseth the benefit and efficacy of the facraments to all those that perform the conditions of the covenant which are required on their parts, and declares forgiveness of sins to those who confess them to God, and truly repent of them.

And there is not the least intimation given in the Bible, that the virtue and efficacy of the facraments does depend upon the intention of hiin that administers them; or that the forgiveness of fins is suspended upon the intention or absolution of the priest, but only upon the sincere resolution of the penitent. And surely nothing can be more absurd, and contrary to reason, than that when men have performed all the conditions which the gospel requires; yet they should, notwithstanding this, be deprived of all the blessings and benefits which God hath promised, and intends to confer upon them, because the priest hath not the same intention. So that when a man


hath done all that he can to work out his own salvation, he shall be never the nearer, only for want of that which is wholly out of his power, the right intention of the priest.

Besides that after all their boasts of the safe condition of men in their church, and the most certain and infallible means of salvation to be had in it, this one principle,

That the intention of the priest is necessary to the validity and virtue of the sacraments, puts the salvation of men upon the greatest hazard.anduncertainty; and such as it is impossible for any man cither to discover or prevent, unless he had some certain way to know the heart and intention of the priest. For, upon these terms, who can know whether any man be a priest, and really ordained, or not? nay, whether he be a Christian, and have been truly baptized, or not? and, consequently, whether any of his administrations be valid, and we have any benefit and advantage by them? because all this depends upon the knowledge of that which we neither do nor can know.

So that when a man hath conscientiously done all that God requires of any man to make him capable of falvation; yet, without any fault of his, the want of intention in an idle-minded man, may frustrate all. And though the man hath been baptized, and do truly believe the gospel, and hath sincerely repented of his sins, and lived a most holy life; yet all this may signify nothing, and, after all, he may be no Christian, because his baprisin was invalid. And all the promises of God to the means of salvation which his goodni ss and wisdom hath prescribed, may be of no efficacy, if the priest do not intend, in the administration of the facraments, to do that which God and the church intend.

Now, if this be true, there is certainly no church in the world, in which the salvation of men runs so many hazards; and yet all this hazard and uncertainty has its rife from a fcholaftical point, which is directly contrary to all the notions of mankind concerning the goodness of God, and to the clear reason of the thing, and to the constant tenor of the gospel ; and which was never af, serted by any of the ancient fathers, much less defined by any council before that of Trent': so that it is a doEtrine new and needless, and in the necessary consequences of it unreasonable and absurd to the utmost degree.

The last instance I shall mention is, their rule of faith. The rule of faith, universally received and acknowledged by the Christian church in all ages before the council of Trent, was the word of God, contained in the canonical books of holy scripture; which were therefore by the church called canonical, because they were the rule of faith and manners, of the doctrines to be believed, and the duties to be practised by all Christians. But when the errors and corruptions of the Romish church were grown to the height, and the Pope and his council at Trent were resolved not to retrench and reform them, they saw it pecessary to enlarge and lengthen out their rule ; because the ancient rule of the holy scriptures would by no means reach several of the doetrines and practices of that church, which they were resolved to maintain and make good by one means or 0ther : As, namely, the doctrine of transubstantiation, of purgatory, and of the seven facraments; and the practice of the worship of saints and images ; of the scriptures and the service of God in an unknown tongue ; of indulgences, and the communion in one kind; and several other superstitious practices in use

among them.

Now, to enlarge the rule to the best advantage for the justification of these doctrines and practices, they took these two ways.

First, They have added to the canonical books of the Old Testament, which were received by the Jewish church, to whom were committed the oracles of God : I say, to these they have added several apocryphal books, not warranted by divine inspiration, because they were written after prophecy and divine inspiration was ceased in the Jewilh church, Malachi being the last of their prophets, according to the general tradition of that church. But because the addition of these books did not make a rule of faith and practice large enough for their purpose; in imitation of the Jews, in the time of the greatest confusion and degeneracy of that church, zhey added, in the


Second place, to their books of scripture, which they call the written word, an unwritten word; which they call oral tradition from Christ and his Apostles; which they declare to be of equal authority with the holy fcriptures themselves; and that it ought to be received with the same pious veneration and affection. Of which traditions they being the keepers and judges, they may extend them to what they please; and, having them in their own breasts, they may declare whatever they have a mind to, to have been a constant and universal tradition of their church; though it is evident to common sense, that nothing can be more uncertain, and more liable to alteration and mistake, than tradition, at the distance of so many ages, brought down by word of mouth, without writing, and passing through so many hands. He that can think these to be of equal certainty and authority with what is delivered by writing, and brought down by books, undertakes the defence of a strange paradox, viz. That general rumour and report of things said and done fifteen hundred years ago, is of cqual authority and credit with a record, and a written history.

By which proceeding of the council of Trent, concerning the rule of faith and practice, it is very evident, that they had no mind to bring their faith to the ancient rule, the holy scriptures. That they knew could not be done; and therefore they were resolved to fit their rule to their faith. And this foundation being laid in their first decree, all the rest would afterwards

go very smoothly. For do but give men the making of their rule, and they can make good any thing by it, And accordingly, the council of Trent having thus fixed and fitted a rule to their own purpose, in the conclusion of that decree, they give the world fair warning, upon what grounds, and in what ways, they intend to proceed in their following decrecs of practice and definitions of faith. Omnes itaque intelligant, 9:!9 ordine do via-ipfa fynodus, polt jactum file confessinis fundamentum, fit progresira, dr. “Be it known there“ fore to all men, in what order and way the fynod, “ after having laid this foundation of the confession of “ faith, will proceed; and what testimonies and proofs she chiefly intends to make use of, for the confirmaVOL.IV.



16 tion

« PrécédentContinuer »