« PrécédentContinuer »
Now, if to deny every one of these proposi. tions, wherein all understanding men know the errors and abuses of the Romish church consist, be to be popish ; then indeed may we be suppos ed to be one with the papists in this matter, but not otherwise : so that the very mentioning of these things is sufficient to shew the difference betwixt us and them. But if any will needs plead our agreement with them thus ;
The papists affirm an infallibility of judgment in the Church of Christ, and so do you ; there. fore you are one with papists.
I answer, that proves no more our oneness, in
I this matter, than if it should be said, the papists plead that God ought to be worshipped, and so do you; therefore ye agree: notwithstanding of the vast differences as to that, which is not only known betwixt us and them, but betwixt them and all protestants, who agree more with them in the matter of worship than we do.
Next again, infallibility in the church (accord. ing as we hold it, and I have above defined it) no man upon our supposition, or hypothesis, can deny it. For since we first assert, as a principle, that no gathering, no church, nor assembly of people, however true their principles, or exact their form be, are to be accounted the Church of Christ, except the infallible Spirit lead and guide ; what can be the hazard to say, that in such a Church there is still an infallible judgment? Indeed this is so far from popery, that it resolves in a proposition quite contradictory to them. The Romanists say, That the infallible Spirit always accompanies the outward visible professors, and is annexed to the eternal suecession of bishops and pastors, though ever so vicious as to their lives : yea, though perfect* a. theists and infidels in their private judgments, yet if outwardly professing the catholic faith, and subjection to the church, they must be partakers of the infallible Spirit. We say the quite contrary : That where there is either viciousness of persons, or unsoundness of judgment in the particular members, these cannot, by virtue of any outward call or succession they have, or any profession they make, or authority they may pretend to, so much as claim an interest in any part of the Church of Christ, or the infallible Spirit.
So then, if we admit none to be members of the Church but such as are led and guided by the Spirit, it will be no popery, in the second place, to affirm, that where there is a company of people so gathered, who are not any longer to retain justly the name of the Church of Christ than they are led and guided by his Spirit, or a church so qualified and designed, there is still an infallible judgment. So that this infallibility is not annexed to the persons, to the succession, to the bare visible profession (though true, which the church of Rome is denied to be) or to any society, because of its profession ; but singly, and alone to the true, real and effectual work of sanctification and regeneration, the new creature brought forth in the heart : and this is the Spiritual man, which the apostle saith, judgeth all
* For some popes have been known to deny, or at least to doubt the truth of the scriptures as to the history of Christ, and to call in question the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection.
things, 1 Cor. 2. 15. To affirm there is an infallibility here, cannot well be condemned by any; or whoso doth, must needs say, the Spirit of God is fallible : for we place the infallibility in the Spi. rit, and in the power, not in the persons. And so these are the degrees we ascend by : “ because “ such and such men are led by the Spirit of “ God, and are obedient to the grace in their 6 hearts, therefore are they members and officers " in the Chureh of Christ. And because they " are members of the Church of Christ in the
respect before declared, therefore there is an ** infallible judgment among them.” We do not say, Because such men profess the christian faith, and have received an outward ordination, and so are by a lawful succession formally established officers in the church, when they meet together (according to certain rules above declared) there is an infallibility annexed to their conclusions, and they cannot but decide what is right; or rather, what they decide must needs be supposed to be right. Who seeth not here a vast disproportion
Now we differ herein fundamentally ; that is, as to the very basis and foundation upon which we build ; and that not only from the church of Rome, but also from the generality of protestants in this matter. All protestants do acknowledge a general council to be useful, yea necessary, in the case of division or debate ; let us consider the basis upon which they proceed, and the stress they lay upon it.
First, All jointly, both the prelatical and presbyterial, will have this synod or council to con
sist of a convocation of the clergy, chosen and sent from the particular congregations, with some few laick elders, called together by the civil magistrate, in case he be one in judgment with them.
They decide by plurality of votes. And though they assume not an absolute infallibility, in that they reckon it possible for them to err, yet do they reckon their decisions obligatory upon their supposed consonancy to the scripture; and however do affirm that the civil magistrate hath pow. er to constrain all to submit and obey; or else to punish them either by death, banishment, imprisonment, confiscation of goods, or some other corporeal pain ; even though such be persuaded, and offer to make appear, that the decisions they refuse, are contrary to the scriptures.
And lastly, (among the papists.) None, though otherwise confessed to be a member of the church, both knowing and sober, except commissionate in some of the respects above declared, can be admitted to sit, vote, and give his judgment.
Any that will be at the pains to apply this to the foundation I before laid of the infallibility of judgment, in that we may account only to be truly called the Church of Christ, will easily see the great difference betwixt us, which I shall sum up in these particulars :
First, Do we exclude any member of the Church of Christ, that may be truly accounted so, from telling his judgment ?
Secondly, Do we say a man ought to be persecuted in his outwards for his dissent in spirituals ? Thirdly, Do we plead
that decision is to pass conclusive, because of the plurality of votes ?
And much more, which the reader may observe from what is already mentioned; which, that it may be all more obvious at one view, will appear somewhat clearly by this following figure; which will give the reader an opportunity to re. collect what lay heretofore more scattered. 1. The Romanists say, II. The generality of pro. 1. That there is an in
testants say, fallibility in the Church ; 1. That though all sywhich infallibility is, nods and councils may when the pope calls a err; yet such assemblies general council of bish are needful for the edifiops, &c. that whatsoever cation of the Charch. they conclude and agree That such do consist of upon must needs be the a convocation of the cler. infallible judgment of the sy, with some few laicks Spirit of God, because of particularly chosen. That the promise of Christ, all others, except those That he would not suf- so elected, have not any fer the gates of hell right to vote or give to prevail against his judginent. Church.
2. That such an as2. And that the pope sembly so constitute, may and council, made up of ininisterially determine certain of the clergy, ha controversies of faith, ving one outward succes- cases of conscience, matsion, and being lawfully ters of worship, and auordained, according to thoritatively determine the
canons, are that the same. The decision church, to which that pro- is to be by plurality of mise is made, however votes, without any neceswicked or depraved they sary respect to the inbe; yet this ivfallible ward holiness or regenejudgment follows them, ration of the persons; if as being necessarily an- so be they be out wardly nexed to their oflice, in called, ordained and inwhich the authority stil vested in such a place