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they excommunicate any laic, who shall publicly or privately dispute concerning the Catholic faith.

This method will secure to them all that they have caught: but if observed by others as well as by themselves, they would never catch another. And it is a plain indication that who are against reason, reason is against them.

For if reason could be heard, it would make it very obvious to you, that in all the particular points before mentioned, the certainty is on our side, and the doubt (at least) on yours. For example, none make a doubt but that we may lawfully pray to God, and not before any image of him: or without the worship or invocation of any saint joined with him; and so of all the rest. But on your part, if what I have said make them not appear unlawful to your lordship, yet they must remain at least doubtful, till some stronger evidence be produced for them than bas hitherto been given. There is not a prayer in the public offices of our church to which you may not heartily say amen, in full faith and assurance: which is impossible to say as to purgatory, invocation of saints, &c. And then such prayers must be sinful. Rom. xiv. 23.

But you are pinned down in all these particular points by the authority of a supposed universal bishop, wherein likewise you place the unity of the church. And yet there never was such a bishop, or universal monarch, unless any prince calling himself so, would make him such. What is an universal monarch who was never owned by half of those he calls his subjects? And whose authority is limited and restrained, and his excommunications despised, by those who pretend to own him, and to be subject to him? What is it to fancy one's self king of all the earth ? 'And to place the unity of the world in such a monarch as never was in the world? And to call those rebels from him, who never were in subjection to him? This, my lord, I have shewed to be the case of the greatest part of the Christian churches, and from the beginning. And consequently this universal supremacy is merely imaginary. It was never named by Christ, nor ever was in fact. And so far is it from being the center of unity, that the pretence to it has been the great breach of unity among Christian churches, and is at this day: for this is it which stops the bishops in the communion of Rome from exercising the freedom of their own judgments, and that authority which Christ has given them over their own flocks, and will require an account of it from them; and which was freely exercised by the bishops in the primitive church ; and which, if restored, would open the way to that Catholic communion so greatly desired, and wherein the true unity of the church does consist. Which never can be hoped, while a negative is given to the Pope in all the particular points disputed, and especially concerning his own supremacy. But if the bishops of his communion would think themselves at liberty and under obligation to act of themselves, as in the primitive church ; and as ordained by Christ; the points we have discoursed as to doctrine and worship seem to me 80 very plain, that there could be no dispute which were the safer side to take: at least that it would not be thought a sin 'so to purge their public offices as that those Christians might lawfully join in them : and let opinions remain as opinions, not made articles of faith, and conditions of communion. And to this nothing stands in the way of the bishops of France, at least, but the fear of that excommunication from the Pope which is renewed against them every year, and which they pretend not to regard. But they are kept under by the shadow of the phantom of an universal supremacy, which never was in being; and if it were, would be insupportable and ruin the church ; and which they themselves have in effect already rejected, as inconsistent with the liberties of the Gallican or any other national church; and has bred all the dispute betwixt them and the church of Rome. And can never be healed in good earnest, if the Pope be judge ef the controversy. See then the cause of the breach of Catholic unity.

And now, my lord, forgive me, for I am sensible that there is an uneasiness at first and a prejudice to hear any thing contrary to those principles in which one has been educated from his infancy, and thinks most certain. But this must be overcome so far as to hear reason, which will confirm us the more if we be in the truth, or otherwise convince us of our error, at least make it so far excusable, that we have not refused the reasonable means of information : without this, no man could have been a Christian at first, nor has


been since but by accident, according to the place where he was born, or received his education. But the prophet calls a due examination of these things *

shewing ourselves to be men.” And the apostle gives it the character of a nobleness of spirit in those who +“ searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” And.“, therefore (says, he) many

of them believed,” of the honourable both men and women. Whilst those bigotted who stuck to implicit faith in the church, it is said, *" believed not,” but were “ moved with envy,” and stirred up persecution against those who disturbed them in their security, like wakingone out of his sleep, though when it is done, he will thank those who have raised him from darkness to light, to seeing with his own eyes,

instead of being led by others implicitly in the dark, and lulled into dreams of security from his blindness, in which he is persuaded there is less danger of stumbling, than if his eyes were open, because every man's sight is not good, and has deceived many! Have I not taken a horse for a man at a distance? And does not a stick look crooked in the water? Why then should I trust my eyes any more. This is all the reason ever I could hear for not trusting to our reason! and what is the remedy proposed ? If it were to give us rules whereby to judge of true reason, to help it, and to trim this lamp which God has lighted for us, this would be rational, like clearing our eyes if they were

* Isai. xlvi. 8. t Act. xvii. Ibid. ver, 5. VOL. II.

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dim: but the remedy you propose, is, to shut reason quite out, to make no more use of it, to silence, to extinguish it; and take implicit faith in its room ; like pulling out one's eyes, because they are not good, and choose to be led by the hand, and never examine our way any more? But I think the apostle recommends examining to us, and I will conclude with his advice,

“ Prove all things; and hold fast that which is


* 1. Thess. v, 21.



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