Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

lives in protestancy, and is so far from repenting it, as that he will not so much as acknowledge it to be a sin, though he be sufficiently informed thereof,” &c. From whence it is evident, that in his judgment there can be no repentance of an error, without acknowledging it to be a sin. And to this D. Potter justly opposes; that “ both sides, by the confession of both sides, agree in more points than are simply and indispensably necessary to salvation, and differ only in such as are not precisely necessary: that it is very possible a man may die in error, and yet die with repentance, as for all his sins of ignorance, so, in that number, for the errors in which he dies ; with a repentance though not explicit and particular, which is not simply required, yet implicit and general, which is sufficient: so that he cannot but hope, considering the goodness of God, that the truths retained on both sides, especially those, of the necessity of repentance from dead works and faith in Jesus Christ, if they be put in practice, may be an antidote against the errors held on either side; to such he means, and says, as being diligent in seeking truth, and desirous to find it, yet miss of it through human frailty, and die in error.” If you will but attentively consider and

compare the undertaking of C. M. and D. Potter's performance in all these points, I hope you will be so ingenuous as to acknowledge, that you have injured him much, in imputing tergiversation to him, and pretending, that through his whole book he hath not once truly and really fallen upon the point in question. Neither may you or C. M. conclude him from hence (as covertly you do) an enemy to souls, by deceiving

them with ungrounded false hopes of salvation; seeing the hope of salvation cannot be ungrounded, which requires and supposes belief and practice of all things absolutely necessary unto salvation and repentance of those sins and errors which we fall into by human frailty: nor a friend to indif- ; ferency in religion, seeing he gives them only hope of pardon of errors who are desirous, and, according to the proportion of their opportunities and abilities, industrious to find the truth; or at least truly repentant, that they have not been so. Which doctrine is very fit to excite men to a constant and impartial search of truth, and very far from teaching them, that it is indifferent what re-. ligion they are of; and, without all controversy, very honourable to the goodness of God, with which how it can consist, not to be satisfied with his servants' true endeavours to know his will, and do it, without full and exact performance, I leave it to you and all good men to judge.

4. As little justice methinks you shew, in quarrelling with him for descending to the particular disputes here mentioned by you. For to say nothing, that many of these questions are immediately and directly pertinent to the business in hand, as the 1, 2, 3. 5, 6, and all of them fall in of themselves into the stream of his discourse, and are not drawn in by him, and besides, are touched for the most part, rather than handled; to say nothing of all this, you know right well, if he conclude you erroneous in any one of all these, be it but in the communion in one kind, or the language of your service, the infallibility of your church is evidently overthrown; and this being done, I hope there will be “no such neces

sity of hearkening to her in all things : it will be very possible to separate from her communion in some things, without schism; and from her 'doctrine, so far as it is erroneous, without heresy: then all that she proposes will not be, eo ipso, fundamental, because she proposes it;" and so presently all Charity Mistaken will vanish into smoke, and clouds, and nothing.

5. You say he was loth to affirm plainly, that generally both catholics and protestants may be saved: which yet is manifest he doth affirm plainly of protestants throughout his book; and of erring papists, that “have sincerely sought the truth, and failed of it, and die with a general repentance” (p. 77, 78). And yet you deceive yourself, if you conceive he had any other necessity to do so, but only that he thought it true. For we may

and do pretend, that before Luther there were many true churches beside the Roman, which agreed not with her: in particular, the Greek church. So that what you say is evidently true, is indeed evidently false. Besides, if he had any necessity to make use of you in this matter, he needed not for this end to say, that now in your church salvation may be had, but only that before Luther's time it might be: then when your means of knowing the truth were not so great, and when your ignorance might be more invincible, and therefore more excusable. So that you may see, if you please, it is not for ends, but for the love of truth, that we are thus charitable to you.

6. Neither is it material, that these particulars he speaks against are not fundamental errors; for though they be not destructive of salvation, yet the conviction of them may be, and is, destructive

SO.

enough of his adversaries assertion; and if you be the man I take you for, you will not deny they are

For certainly, no consequence can be more palpable than this; the church of Rome doth err in this or that, therefore it is not infallible. And this perhaps you perceived yourself, and therefore demanded not since they be not fundamental, what imports it whether we hold them or no, simply; but, forasmuch as concerns our possibility to be savedi As if we were not bound by the love of God and the love of truth to be zealous in the defence of all truths, that are any way profitable, though not simply necessary to salvation! Or, as if any good man could satisfy his conscience without being so affected and resolved! Our Saviour himself having assured us, that* " he that shall break one of his least commandments (some whereof you pretend are concerning venial sins, and consequently the keeping of them not necessary to salvation) and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.

7. But then it imports very much, though not for the possibility that you may be saved, yet for the probability that you will be so: because the holding of these errors, though it did not merit, might yet occasion damnation : as the doctrine of indulgences may take away the fear of purgatory, and the doctrine of purgatory the fear of hell; as you do well know it does too frequently. So that though a godly man might be saved with these errors, yet by means of them, many are made vi. cious, and so damned. By them, I say, though not for them. No godly layman, who is verily persuaded that there is neither impiety nor su

Matt. v. 19.

perstition in the use of your Latin service shall be damned, I hope, for being present at it; yet the want of that devotion, which the frequent hearing the offices understood, might happily beget in them, the want of that instruction and edification which it might afford them, may very probably hinder the salvation of many which might otherwise have been saved. Besides, though the matter of an error may be only something profitable, not necessary, yet the neglect of it may be a damnable sin; as, not to regard venial sins is in the doctrine of your schools mortal. Lastly, as venial sins, you say, dispose men to mortal; so the erring from some profitable, though lesser truth, may dispose a man to error in greater matters : as, for example, the belief of the pope's infallibility is, I hope, not unpardonably damnable to every one that holds it; yet if it be a falsehood (as most certainly it is) it puts a man into a very congrůous disposition to believe antichrist, if he should chance to get into that see.

8. Ad. §. 3. “In his distinctions of points fundamental and not fundamental, he may seem, you say, to have touched the point, but does not so indeed : because, though he says, there are some points so fundamental, as that all are obliged to believe them explicitly; yet he tells you not whether a man may disbelieve any other points of faith, which are sufficiently presented to his understanding, as truths revealed by Almighty God." Touching which matter of sufficient proposal, I beseech you to come out of the clouds, and tell us roundly and plainly, what you mean by “points of faith sufficiently propounded to a man's understanding, as truths revealed by God.” Perhaps

« ZurückWeiter »