« PreviousContinue »
The Church of England teacheth. law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage and therefore the monastical vow of single life, accounted the highest state of perfection, is the leaven of man's feigned religion, and abominable to God, P. 59.
The Church of Rome holdeth. separated, and to be brought to penance; and if any one shall say, that such as have professed chastity may contract matrimony, or that such matrimony is valid, because they have not the gift of chastity, he is accursed.
The king in all his realms hath supreme power in all causes, whether ecclesiastical or civil and the bishop of Rome hath therein no jurisdiction, and can release none from subjection to their prince. For God alloweth neither the dignity of any person, nor the multitude of any people, nor the weight of any cause, as sufficient for the which subjects may rebel, p. 65.
The power the bishop of Rome challengeth as successor of St. Peter, is false and feigned.
The pope is the vicar of Christ, successor of St. Peter, and the supreme pastor over all the world. He may command sovereign princes, overrule what they command, excommunicate and depose them, if they contradict his commands; and absolve their subjects from allegiance, and exempt the clergy from their jurisdiction, p. 67, 70.
Lastly, the church of Rome doth hold all things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and general councils, and especially that of Trent, &c. And that this is the true catholic faith, out of which none can be saved, [Creed of Pius IVth.]
BETWEEN THE SEPARATION OF PROTESTANTS
THE CHURCH OF ROME
AND THE SEPARATION OF DISSENTERS
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
SINCE the happy reformation of this church, they of the Romish persuasion have with their utmost art insinuated that our reformation proceeded upon principles destructive of all order and government in the church, and that it naturally tends to endless separations. To this end they have laid hold upon that advantage which the divisions amongst protestants have offered them, and said, that the reasons upon which we ground our separation from the church of Rome will hold to justify the separation of the dissenters from the church of England. And the truth is, some of the dissenters have been so indiscreet, to say no more, as to allege the same thing. And I am very sorry that men of the same persuasion with us, in opposition to the impious errors and practices of the Roman church, should give so much countenance to that grievous charge upon the reformation as some of them have done. The papists are too much beholden to them for giving the occasion of this accusation; but to join with them in the same charge is too great a kindness in all reason, and indeed destructive of the common cause of the reformation, by insinuating one of these two things; either that there was no reason for this separation on either part; or else, that notwithstanding our pretended reformation, we are still as bad as the church of Rome:
for otherwise they cannot have the same reason to separate from us, that we had at first to separate from that church.
I shall endeavour with God's help to shew, in a short and plain discourse upon this subject, that the cases are vastly different; and that we have very good reasons wherewith to justify our separation from the church of Rome; and that the dissenters who forsake our communion cannot, by any good consequence from those reasons, warrant their separation from our church.
In this attempt, I am sensible that I have adversaries on both sides; and that it often happens to be a nice and hazardous business to determine between two extremes. But I hope there is no reason to apprehend great danger in this case; since it is the same false charge against the reformation in which these extreme parties agree; and it is of that nature, that it is all one whether I confute it against the papists or against the protestant separatists; for if it be disproved against one, it is shewn to be unjust in both.
This is our case, that as we charge those of the separation from our church with schism, so do the Romanists charge us of the church of England with schism too; but with this difference, as we pretend, that we have good reason for that, so have not they for this. For schism is a causeless separation from a church. And we think we may appeal to all disinterested and judicious Christians, that we have shewn our separation from Rome to be grounded upon just and necessary causes; but that the dissenters have shewn none such for their separation from us. And when all is done, it should not incline any man to think that the truth is either with the Romanist or with the dissenter, because the charge of schism is laid by the Romanist against us, and by us against the separatist, with equal confidence, unless he sees withal that it is laid with equal justice.
For it was not indeed to be expected, but that when some protestants, demanding a farther reformation, separated from our church, this pretence would soon after be set on foot both by those of the church of Rome and by those of the separation. It lay fair for them both, and, right or wrong, was likely to be taken up by both; since it would serve exceedingly well to help a bad cause, and to give popular colours to the weak ar
guments, both of the one and of the other side. The Romanist was not likely to forego such an advantage as the separation of our dissenters gave him, to disgrace the reformation amongst those that loved unity. Nor was the separatist likely to omit that advantage which our reformation gave him, to commend his separation from us, under the notion of a further separation from Rome, to those that abhorred popery. And therefore it will stand all discreet persons in hand to weigh the merits of the cause on both sides, and not to admit any prejudice against our communion in favour either of the papist or the sectary, merely because they both say, that in justifying our separation from the papist, we vindicate the separation of the sectary from ourselves.
I must not in this narrow compass pretend to enter upon a discussion of the several questions controverted between us and our adversaries on both sides; but shall take it for granted, that what has been said in answer to the several objections, of the dissenters against our communion, has been well argued against them and likewise that in charging the church of Rome with several corruptions in doctrine and practice, which have made her communion intolerable, we have said upon each point no more than what has been well proved against that church; and which upon all fit occasions, we shall, by the grace of God, be ready to make good again. But my principal design is to shew, that there is no manner of inconsistence in the way we take to vindicate ourselves from schism, charged upon us by the church of Rome, with those principles upon which we accuse our dissenting brethren of that fault, who separate from the church of England: and that the Romanist cannot take our arguments against the separation of the dissenters, to condemn our reformation; nor the separatist our reasons against the communion of the Romanist, to acquit himself in forsaking the communion of our church,
This I conceive will be made to appear,
1. By laying down the reasons on both sides; those by which we pretend to justify our separation from the church of Rome; and those upon which the dissenters lay the stress of their separation from us.
2. By comparing them together, that we may judge wherein
and how far these cases agree with or differ from one another.
In laying down the reasons on both sides, I shall begin with the grounds upon which this church separated from the church of Rome; and then proceed to those upon which the dissenters separate from us.
1. To the church of Rome charging us with schism, we answer in general: that our separation from her was necessary, by reason of those corruptions in her communion, which we could not comply with against the conviction of our consciences. More particularly we say, that this church of England had no dependence upon the authority of the church of Rome which she might not lawfully throw off, and that she does not owe any subjection to the bishop of Rome, but had just power, without asking his leave, or staying for his consent, to reform herself. And withal, that the church of Rome ought to have reformed herself, as we have done, since there were most necessary causes for so doing; the communion of that church being defiled with the profession of those damnable errors, and the practice of those superstitions and idolatries which we have done away. To this purpose we challenge those of that communion with the particulars of their doctrine of transubstantiation-their sacrifice of the mass-their service in an unknown tongue-their half communion—their worship of images their adoration of the host-and the rest of those abominations, whereof the communion of that church doth in great part consist. We acknowledge that we separated from them in these things when we reformed ouselves; but in so doing we were not guilty of schism from the church of Rome, and that, if nothing else were to be said, because this church owes no subjection to that; but withal, that the causes of the reformation being so necessary as we pretend them to be, the separation of communion that ensued upon our being, and their hating to be reformed, was on our side just and necessary upon that account also, and therefore not schismatical.
So that our answer is twofold.
1. That the church of England, being by no kind of right subject to the Roman or any foreign bishop, had full power and authority, without asking leave of foreigners, to reform