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ry, not to listen to it, but follow like beasts the first « in the herd, this were brutish."

Again, " That the authority of men should prevail " with men, either against or above reason, is no part « of our belief. Companies of learned men, though " they be never so great and reverend, are to yield unto “ reason; the weight whereof is no whit prejudiced by “ the simplicity of the person which doth alledge it ; but “ being found to be found and good, the bare opinion “ of men to the contrary must of necessity stoop and give

place.” And this he delivers, not only as his own particular judgment, but that which he apprehended to be the judgment of the church of England.

I have produced these clear and politive testimonies of so learned and judicious a person, and of so great efteem in our church, on purpose to prevent any misapprehenlion, as if by this discourse I intended to derogate from the authority of the church, and her just and reasonable determinations, in things no ways contrary to plain reafon or the word of God. And beyond this pitch no judicious Protestant, that I know of, ever strained the authority of the church. I proceed now, in the

II. Second place, to vindicate the reasonableness of.. this resolution from the objections to which this singular and peremptory kind of resolution may seem liable : As,

1. It may very speciously be faid, that this does not seem modest for a man to set up his own private judgment against the general suffrage and vote. And it is very true, as I said before, that about things indifferent a man should not be stiff and fingular; and in things doubtful and obscure a man should not be over-confident of his own judgment, and insist peremptorily upon it, against the general opinion. But in things that are plain and evident, either from scripture or reason, it is neither immodesty, nor a culpable lingularity, for a man to stand alone in the defence of the truth; because, in such a case, a man does not oppose his own single and private judgment to the judgment of many, but the common reason of mankind, and the judgment of God plainly declared in his word.

If the generality of men should turn Atheists-and infidels, and should deny the being of God, or his provi


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dence; the immortality of mens fouls, and the rewards and punishments of another world; or should deny the truth of the gospel, and of the Christian religion : it would not certainly be any breach of modelty for a man to appear single, if no body else would stand by him, in the resolute defence of these great truths.

In like manner, when a whole church, though never fo large and numerous, Thall conspire together to corrupt the Christian religion, so far as to impose upon mankind, under the name of Christian doctrines and articles of faith, things plainly contrary to the sense and reason of mankind, and to the clear and express word of God, why must a man needs be thought immodest, if he oppose such gross errors and corruptions of the Chri{tian doctrine? And what reason have the church of Rome to talk of modesty in this case, when they themselves have the face to impose upon mankind the belief of things contrary to what they and every man elfc fees, as they do in their doctrine of transubstantiation; and to require of them to do what God hath expressly forbidden, as in the worship of images, besides a great many other idolatrous practices of that church; to deny the people the free use of the holy scriptures, and the publick service of God in a known tongue, contrary to the very end and design of all religion, and in affront to the common reason and liberty of mankind?

2. It is pretended, that it is more prudent for private persons to err with the church, than to be so pertinacious in their own opinions. To which I answer, That it may indeed be pardonable in some cases to be led into miltake by the authority of those to whose judgment and inftruction we ought to pay a great deference and submillion ; provided always it be in things which are not plain and necessary : but surely it can never be prudent, to err with any number, how great foever, in matters of religion which are of moment, merely for numbers sake. But to comply with the known errors and corruptions of any church whatsoever, is certainly damnable.

3. It is pretended yet further, that men shall sooner be excufed in following the church, than any particular man or feet. To this I answer, That it is very true, if the matter be doubtful; and especially if the probabiliVOL. III.


66 Thou

ties be equal, or near equal on both sides : but, if the error be gross and palpable, it will be no excuse to have followed


number of men, or any church whatsoever. For here the competition is not between men and men, but between God and men; and, in this case, we must forsake all men to follow God and his truth. shalt in no ways follow a multitude in a known error, is a rule which in reason is of equal obligation with that divine law, Thou shalt in no ways follow a multitude to do evil; or rather is comprehended in it, because to comply with a known error is certainly to do evil.

And this very objection the Jews made against our blessed Saviour, and the doctrine which he taught, that the guides and governors of the Jewish church did utterly differ from him, and were of a contrary mind : Have any of the rulers (say they) believed on him ? What? will you be wiser than your rulers and governors ? what? follow the doctrine of one single man against the unanimous judgment and sentence of the great fanhedrim, to whom the trial of doctrines and pretended prophets doth of right belong?

But, as plausible as this objection may seem to be, it is to be considered, that, in a corrupt and degenerate church, the guides and rulers of it are commonly the worst, and the most deeply engaged in the errors and corruptions of it. They brought them in at first; and their successors, who have been bred up in the belief and practice of them, are concerned to uphold and maintain them ; and so long'a prescription gives a kind of sacred stamp even to error, and an authority not to be oppofed and resisted.

And thus it was in the corrupt state of the Jewish church in our Saviour's time; and so likewise in that great degeneracy of the Christian church, in the times of Popery, their rulers made them to err; insomuch that when Martin Luther appeared in opposition to the errors and superstitions of that church, and was hard pressed with this very objection which the Pharisees urged against our Saviour, he was forced to bolt out a kind of unmannerly truth, Religio nunquam magis periclitatur quàm inter Reverendiffimos: "Religion (says he) is never & in greater hazard and worse treated, than amongst

“ the

“ the Most Reverend ;" meaning the Pope and his Cardinals, and all the Romilh hierarchy who had their dependence upon them.

4. It is objected, That as, on the one hand, there may be danger of error in following blindly the belief of the church, fo, on the other hand, there is as great a danger of schism in forfaking the communion of the church upon pretence of errors and corruptions. Very true : but where great errors and corruptions are not only pretended, but are real and evident; and where our compliance with those errors and corruptions is made a necessary condition of our communion with that church: in that case, the guilt of schism, how great a crime foever it be, doth not fall upon those who for

ake the communion of that church, but upon those who drive them out of it by the sinful conditions which they impose upon them.

And this is truly the case between us and the church of Rome; as we are ready to make good, and have fully done it upon all occasions; and they have never yet been able to vindicate and clear themselves of those gross errors and corruptions which have been charged upon them; and which they require of all their members, as necessary conditions of communion with them here, and of eternal salvation hereafter.

For we do not object to them doubtful matters, but things as plain as any that are contained in the Bible; as every body would see, if they durft but let every body read it. The worship of images is there as plainly forbidden in the decalogue, as murder and adultery are. The communion in both kinds is as express an institution of our Saviour, as any in all the New Testament; and even as the sacrament of the Lord's fupper itself: only that church pretends to a dispensing power, as a privilege inherent in their church, and inseparable from it.

And, to add but one instance more, publick prayers and the service of God in an unknown tongue, are as plainly and fully declared against by St. Paul, in a long chapter upon this single argument, as any one thing in all his epistles. These things are plain and undeniable; and, being


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fo, are a full justification, not only of the church of England, in the reformation which she thought, fit to make within herself, from the gross errors and corruptions of the church of Rome; but likewise of particular persons, who have at any time, for the same reasons, withdrawn themselves from her communion, in any of the Popish countries; yea though that single person should happen to be in those circumstances, that he could not have the opportunity of holding communion with any other church that was free from those errors and corruptions, and which did not impose them as necessary conditions of communion.

For if any church fall off to idolatry, every good Christian not only may, but ought to forsake her communion; and ought rather to Itand single and alone in the profession of the pure and true religion, than to continue in the communion of a corrupt and idola, trous church.

I know, that some men are so fond of the name of a church, that they can very hardly believe, that any thing which bears that glorious title can miscarry, or do any thing so much amiss, as to give just occasion to any of her inembers to break off from her communion, What? the churchcrr? That is such an absurdity as is by many thought sufficient to put any objection out of coun. tenance. That the whole church, that is, that all the Christians in the world, should at any time fall off to ido. latry, and into errors and practices directly contrary to the Christian doctrine revealed in the holy scriptures, is on all hands, I think, denied: but that any particular church may fall into such errors and practices, is, I think, as universally granted; only in this case they demand to have the Roman Catholick church .excepted. And why, I pray? Because though the Roman church is a particular church, it is also the universal church. If this can . be, and good sense can be made of a particular universal church, then the Roman church may demand this high privilege, of being exempted from the fate of all other churches; but if the Roman Catholick, that is, a particular universal church, be a gross and palpable contradiction, then it is plain, that the church of Rome hath

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