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“ flatter himself with hopes of preferment, because of “' his virtue or learning ? Men do not now, as former

ly, rise in the church by such arts,” C. II.- Which “ of those that are now-a-days advanced to the Pontifi" cal dignity, hath so much as perfunctorily read, or

heard, or learned the scriptures; yea, or ever touched

any more than the cover of the Bible?” 6. 13. Again, speaking of the prodigious covetousness of the governors of the church, and the gross neglect of their flocks :

They would (says he, c. 14.) much more contentedly bear the loss of ten thousand souls, than of ten or twelve shillings. But why do I say more con

tentedly, when, without the least trouble or distur“ bance to themselves, they can bear the loss of souls ?

a thing so far from their care, that it never entered " into their thoughts.” Had the hereticks of those days but had wit enough, and a little money, they might, it seems, for a small fum, have hired the governors of the church to have renounced tradition, or to have ceased to propagate it, though they had known that in so doing they should have damned all their pofterity. He goes on, and tells us, that “if there were

perhaps any one who did not take these courses, the rest would all snarl at him, call him fool, and say he

was unfit to be a priest. -So that the study of the scri

ptures, together with the professors of it, was turned “ into laughter and scorn by all; but, which is prodi

gious, especially by the Popes, who preferred their own “ traditions many degrees beforethe commands of God." I desire Mr. S, to take notice in what kind of times tradition was set up against fcripture. Again, speaking of the choice of persons to be priests, he tells us, c. 16. that “there was no inquiry made into their lives, no

question about their manners. As for their learning,

(says he), what necd I speak of that, when we fee " the priets, almost universally, have much ado to

read, though but in an hesitating and spelling fashion, drawing out one syllable after another, without understanding either the sense of what they read, or

the words?” I am now reconciled to oral tradition, and convinced, that there was great need of it in those ages, in which scarce any of the priests could either write VOL. III.

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or read. I omit the particulars of what he says (c. 20. 21. 23.) concerning the common “drunkenness and in“ continency of priests, who [because they made con" science of marriage] kept whores in their houses; concerning the diffolute lives of monks; and concerning nunneries, which, instead of being the fanctuaries “ of God, were the abominable stews of Venus, and the

receptacles of lascivious young men; insomuch (fays

he) that at this day it is the same thing to put a virgin “ into a nunnery, and to make her a common strumpet." And, to shew that he does not speak these things of a few, but with relation to the general corruption of that age, he adds, 1.25. " that wickedness did fo “ abound in all orders of men, that scarce one a.

mong a thousand was to be found who did truly live up to his profession; and if there was any one " that did not follow these lewd courses, he became ri“ diculous to others, and was branded either as an in“ folent fingular madman, or an hypocrite.” I will conclude this long testimony with the character which he gives (c. 27.) of one of the Popes of his time, Clement by name, viz. That “he did chiefly apply himself to

gratify and oblige all the parasites and buffoons that “ had any interest in the several courts of princes ; and,

to this end, did confer upon these, and upon hand“ fome young boys, (which he much delighted in), al“ most all the vacant bishopricks, and most of the other • church-dignities” It is well that oral tradition hath the security of infallibility, otherwise it had in all

probability been lost among this lewd sort of people, which yet they gravely call the holy Roman Catholick church.

$ 6. To this effect I might have produced testimonies concerning every age from the ninth to the sixtecnth: but Mr. Cressy hath saved me that labour; who acknowledges, (Exonolog. c. 68.), that "these worft times of " the church, when ignorance, worldliness, pride, ty

ranny, c. reigned with so much fcope ; when the “ Popes (so wicked, so abominable in their lives) enjoy" ed so unlimited a power even over secular princes competent time, one would think, for tradition to have miscarried in, were it not, as Mr. S. fays, indefectible. Mr. Cressy indeed tells us, (ibid.), that this was to him “ an irrefragable testimony of a strange watchfulness of

themselves, and much more over the clergy :" I say, le acknowledges, that “these worst times continued during the space of about six ages before Luther.” A

competent

divine providence over the church, to preserve it from the gates of hell (that is, established and dan

gerous errors) during these worst times.” And very likely it is that this might appear fo to such a Catholick, whose judgment (he tells us) it is, to renounce his

own judginent.” But it will never appear irrefragable to any man that hath his judgment about him, unless Mr. Cressy can prove, that by that phrase, viz. the gates of hell, the fcripture does not mean gross wickedness of life, as well as dangerous errors in opinion ; and likewise, that a general vitiousness and debauchery of manners is not as pernicious to Christianity, and as destructive to the end of it, as established errors in doctrine; and if so, that the providence of God is not equally concerned to preserve the church from things equally pernicious. When he hath proved these three things, then this declamatory discourse of his may signify fomen thing, but not before,

$ 7. Now, if this be a true representation of the state of the Roman church in those ages, was not this a very fit time for the devil to play bis pranks in? Will any man that reads these testimonies, think it impossible that the doctrine of Christ should have been depraved in this age; or that the most senseless and absurd tenets might then be brought in under the notion of Christian doetrines; when scarce any one knew what the doctrine of Christ was; when a general ignorance of letters, and almost an universal stupidity and madness, had seized upon the minds of men ; when there was a horrid depravation of manners, and a general failure of virtue and piety, both in the head and members of the church; when the lives of the Popes were tragically wicked, and no footsteps of piety appeared in them; when for about 150 years together, in a continued succession of fifty Popes, there was scarce one pious and virtuous man (or woman) fat in that chair ; when the whores governed Rome, and put out and put in Bishops at their

pleasure, and made their own gallants Popes, who would be sure to make a H h 2

college

college of Cardinals of such monsters as themselves ; when pretty boys, and parasites, and buffoons, led the head of the church by the nose, and were gratified with the best bilhopricks and dignities in the church; when there was a general decay of knowledge, and defection of the Christian faith; when in many countries, neither facraments nor other ecclesiastical rites were observed ; when violence and fraud, and all the arts of deceit and cozenage, and blacker arts than these, were the common study and practice; when intemperance, and all kind of lewdness and debauchery, reigned in all sorts and orders of men ; when the generality of Bishops and Priests (who, according to Mr. Rushworth, Dial. 3. $ 3. can only teach the traditionary doctrine) were ignorant in the scriptures, and in every thing else, very few of them being able só much as to read tolerably; and did neglect to teach the people, and to breed up any in knowledge to succeed them in their office; and in the lewdness of their lives did surpass the vilelt of the people? Was not such an age a fit season to plant the doctrine of tranfubftantiation in? Or if any thing more monstrous than that can be imagined, it might then have taken place; for what weeds would not have grown in so rank a foil ? Doth Mr. S. think it impossible, that those that were born in the church then should be ignorant of the doctrine of Christ, when scarce any one would take the pains to teach it them; or that it could then have been altered, when fo few understood, and fewer practised it? When prodigious impiety and wickedness did overspread the church, from the Pope down to the meanest of the laity, can any one believe, that men generally made conscience to instruct their children in the true faith of Christ? Was it impossible there should be any neglect of this duty, when all others failed; that there should be any mistake about the doctrine of Christ, when there was so much ignorance? unless he be of Mr. Rushworth's mind, who (Dial. 3. $ 7.) reckons ignorance among the pa-rents of religion. Where were then the arguments of hope and fear? Were they strongly applied, or were they not ? Were they causes of actual will in Christans to believe well when they lived so ill? Or is Christianity only titted to form inens minds to a right belief, but of

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no efficacy to govern their lives ? Hath Christ taken care to keep his church from error, but not from vice ? as the

great Cardinal Perron, itooping below his own wit and reason to serve a bad cause, tells us, (Reply to King Jamesl. 4. c. 6.), that “the church sings, and will sing

to the end of the world, I am black, but I am fair ; “ that is to say, I am black in manners, but fair in do“ atrine :” As if the meaning of the prophecies and promises of scripture made to the church were this, that, by the extraordinary care of God's providence, and peculiar assistance of his Holy Spirit, she should be wicked, but othodox, to the end of the world. Where were then the vigorous causes imprinting Christ's doctrine, and continuing it more particularly at Rome than any where else; and of securing that see, and its supreme pastor, in the faith and practice of the Christian doctrine, above any other see or pastor whatsoever? Who is fó little yersed in history, as not to understand the dismal state of religion in the Romish church in those times? Who does not know what advantages the Bishops of Rome, and their fervile clergy, made of the ignorance and superstition of those and the succeeding ages; and by what arts and steps they raised themselves to that power which they held in the church for a long while after; when they could tread upon the necks of princes, and make a great King walk barefoot, and yield himself to be fcourged by a company of petulant monks: when they could send any man upon an errand to visit the holy fepulchre, or the shrine of such a saint; and command five or fix Kings with great armies upon a needless expedition into the holy land, that so, during their absence, they might play their own game the better : when they could mint miracles, and impose upon the belief of the people (without the authority of any ancient books) absurd and counterfeit tales of ancient saints and martyrs, as delivered down to them by tradition; and could bring that foppish book the Legend almost into equal authority and veneration with the Bible; and persuade the easy people, that St. Denys carried his own head in his hand, after it was cut off, two miles, and kissed it when he laid it down? Any one that shall but reflect upon the monstrous practices of the Roman Bishops and clergy in those ages, the

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