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diversity and contrariety thereof, will pronounce that it had for author neither any apostle nor any man apostolical.” For there cannot be a better prescription against heretical novelties, than that which our Saviour Christ useth against the Pharisees; “ From“ the beginning it was not so :” nor a better preservative against the infection of seducers, that are “crept in unawares,” than that which is prescribed by the apostle Jude', " earnestly to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
Now to the end we might" know the certainty of those things, wherein the saints were at the first instructed, God hath provided, that the memorial thereof should be recorded in his own book, that it might remain “for the time to come, for ever and ever.” He then who out of that book is able to demonstrate, that the doctrine and practice now prevailing swerveth from that, which was at first established in the Church by the apostles of Christ, doth as strongly prove, that a change hath been made in the middle times, as if he were able to nominate the place where, the time when, and the person by whom any such corruption was first brought in. In the apostles' days, when a man had examined himself, he was admitted unto the Lord's table, there to “eat of that bread, and drink of that cup :" as appeareth plainly from the first to the Corinthians. In the Church of Rome at this day, the people are indeed permitted to eat of the bread (if bread they may call it); but not allowed to drink of the cup.
Must all of us now shut our eyes, and sing, “ Sicut erat in principio, et nunc:" unless we be able to tell by whom, and when this first institution was altered ? By St. Paul's order, who would have all things done to edification, Christians should pray with "understanding,” and not in an unknown language: as may be seen in the fourteenth chapter of the same epistle to the Corinthians. The case is now so altered, that the bringing in of a tongue not understood, which hindered the
u Matt. chap. 19. ver. 8.
v Jude, ver. 3, 4.
edifying of Babel itself, and scattered the builders thereof, is accounted a good means to further the edifying of your Babel; and to hold her followers together. Is not this then a good ground to resolve a man's judgment, that things are not now kept in that order, wherein they were set at first by the apostles : although he be not able to point unto the first author of the disorder ?
And as we may thus discover innovations, by having recourse unto the first and best times : so may we do the like by comparing the state of things present with the middle times of the Church. Thus I find, by the constant and approved practice of the ancient Church, that all sorts of people, men, women, and children, had free liberty to read the holy Scriptures. I find now the contrary among the papists: and shall I say for all this, that they have not removed the bounds which were set by the fathers, because perhaps I cannot name the pope, that ventured to make the first enclosure of these commons of God's people ? I hear St. Hierome say, “Judith, et Tobiæ, et Macchabæorum libros legit quidem Ecclesia, sed eos inter canonicas scripturas non recipit : the Church doth read indeed the books of Judith, and Toby, and the Macchabees; but doth not receive them for canonical Scripture." I see that at this day the Church of Rome receiveth them for such. May not I then conclude, that betwixt St. Hierome's time and ours, there hath been a change ; and that the Church of Rome now is not of the same judgment with the Church of God then: howsoever I cannot precisely lay down the time, wherein she first thought herself to be wiser herein than her forefathers.
But here our adversary closeth with us, and layeth down a number of points, held by them, and denied by us: which he undertaketh to make good, as well by the express testimonies of the fathers of the primitive Church of Rome, as also by good and certain grounds out of the sacred Scriptures, if the fathers' authority will not suffice.
a Ledesim. de scriptur. quavis lingua non legendis, cap. 17. Bellar. lib. 2. de verbo Dei cap. 15.
6 Hieronym. prefat. in libros Salomon. epist. 115.
Where if he would change his order, and give the sacred Scriptures the precedency, he should therein do more right to God the author of them, who well deserveth to have audience in the first place; and withal ease both himself and us of a needless labour, in seeking any further authority to compose our differences. For if he can produce, as he beareth us in hand he can, good and certain grounds out of the sacred Scriptures for the points in controversy, the matter is at an end: he, that will not rest satisfied with such evidences as these, may (if he please) travel further, and speed worse. Therefore, as St. Augustinec heretofore provoked the Donatists, so provoke I him : “ Auferantur chartæ humanæ : sonent voces Divinæ : ede mihi unam Scripturæ vocem pro parte Donati: let human writings be removed: let God's voice sound : bring me one voice of the Scripture for the part of Donatus.”
Produce but one clear testimony of the sacred Scripture for the pope's part, and it shall suffice : allege what authority you list without Scripture, and it cannot suffice. We reverence indeed the ancient fathers, as it is fit we should, and hold it our duty to “ rised up before the hoary head, and to honour the person of the aged :” but still with reservation of the respect we owe to their Father and ours, that “ Anciente of days, the hair of whose head is like the pure wool.” We may not forget the lesson, which our great Master hath taught us, “ Call' no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." Him therefore alone do we acknowledge for the father of our faith : no other father do we know, upon whose bare credit we may ground our consciences in things that are to be believed.
And this we say, not as if we feared that these men were able to produce better proofs out of the writings of the fathers for the part of the pope, than we can do for the catholic cause; when we come to join in the particu
¢ Aug. serm. 46. op. tom. 5. pag. 242.
Dan, chap. 7. ver. 6.
d Levit. chap. 19. ver. 32.
lars, they shall find it otherwise : but partly to bring the matter unto a shorter trial, partly to give the word of God his due, and to declare what that rock is, upon which alone we build our faith, even “ the foundation of the apostles and prophets;" from which no slight that they can devise shall ever draw us.
The same course did St. Augustine take with the Pelagians : against whom he wanted not the authority of the fathers of the Church. “ Which" if I would collect (saith he) and use their testimonies, it would be too long a work; and I might peradventure seem to have less confidence than I ought in the canonical authorities, from which we ought not to be withdrawn.” Yet was the Pelagian heresy then but newly budded : which is the time wherein the pressing of the fathers' testimonies is thought to be best in season. With how much better warrant may we follow this precedent, having to deal with such as have had time and leisure enough to falsify the fathers' writings, and to “teach them the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans?" The method of confuting heresies, by the consent of holy fathers, is by none commended more than by Vincentius Lirinensis: who is careful notwithstanding herein to give us this caveat. “ Buti neither always, nor all kinds of heresies are to be impugned after this manner; but such only as are new, and lately sprung: namely, when they do first arise, while by the straitness of the time itself they be hindered from falsifying the rules of the ancient faith; and before the time that, their poison spreading farther, they attempt to corrupt the writings of the ancients. But
g Ephes. chap. 2. ver. 20.
bi Quos si colligere, et eorum testimoniis uti, velim, et nimis longum erit, et de canonicis authoritatibus, a quibus non debemus averti, minus fortasse videbor præsumpsisse quam debui. Aug. de nupt. et concupiscent. lib. 2. сар. . 51.
i Sed neque semper, neque omnes hæreses hoc modo impugnandæ sunt, sed novitiæ recentesque tantummodo, cum primum scilicet exoriuntur ; antequam infalsare vetustæ fidei regulas ipsius temporis vetantur angustiis ; ac priusquam, manante latius veneno, majorum volumina vitiare conentur. Cæterum dilatatæ et inveteratæ hæreses nequaquam hac via aggrediendæ sunt, eo quod prolixo temporum tractu longa his furandæ veritatis patuerit occasio. Vincent. de hæres. cap. 39.
far spread and inveterate heresies are not to be dealt withal this way, forasmuch as, by long continuance of time, a long occasion hath, lain open unto them to steal away the truth.” The heresies with which we have to deal have spread so far, and continued so long, that the defenders of them are bold to make universality and duration the special marks of their Church : they had opportunity enough of time and place, to put in use all deceivableness of unrighteousness; neither will they have it to say that, in coining and clipping and washing the monuments of antiquity, they have been wanting to themselves.
Before the council of Nice, as hath been observed by onek, who sometime was pope himself, little respect, to speak of, was had to the Church of Rome. If this may be thought to prejudice the dignity of that Church, which would be held to have sat as queen among the nations, from the very beginning of Christianity: you shall have a crafty merchant, Isidorus Mercator, I trow, they call him, that will help the matter, by counterfeiting decretal epistles in the name of the primitive bishops of Rome ; and bringing in thirty of them in a row, as so many knights of the post, to bear witness of that great authority, which the Church of Rome enjoyed before the Nicene fathers were assembled. If the Nicene fathers have not amplified the bounds of her jurisdiction, in so large a manner as she desired, she hath had her well-willers, that have supplied the council's negligence in that behalf, and made canons for the purpose in the name of the good fathers, that never dreamed of such a business. If the power of judging all others will not content the pope, unless he himself may be exempted from being judged by any other : another council', as ancient at least as that of Nice, shall be suborned; wherein it shall be concluded, by the consent of two hundred and eightyfour imaginary bishops, that no man may judge the first seat: and for failing, in an elder council" than that, consisting of three hundred buckram bishops of the very self
k Æneas Sylvius, epist. 288. | Concil. Rom. sub Sylvest. cap. 20. Nemo enim judicabit primam sedem. m Concil. Sinuessan, circa fin.