Imatges de pÓgina

church of Rome, in matters of religion, manifestly confirmed by the holy Scriptures. I am sorry I have not the book by me, as your ladyship supposeth; for the book you were pleased to lend me upon taking my leave of your ladyship, when last at London, after a cursory perusal of it, I left with a friend of mine to be speedily returned to your ladyship, with my humble thanks; and by what accident it hath been intercepted I cannot understand. By what I remember of the contents of the book, I may venture to say, it is an errant piece of sophistry, like those that used to be scattered among us by the ministers of the church of Rome. Indeed, if I had the book by me, it would be too long a work for a letter to answer the several chapters thereof; but otherwise the task would be easy; I desire none more facile.

V. However, by its title-page (if I could remember no more) I were able to refute it: The Catholic Scripturist. What, doth he mean the Roman Catholic Scripturist? Yes, doubtless : but then your ladyship may presently discern in the very title a contradiction in terms: you may easily see, that the very design of that book is contrary to the professed design and doctrine of the church of Rome: to make this plain, I desire your ladyship to ask the author of the letter these few questions: 1. Are all the points defended in the book, called the Catholic Scripturist, clearly proved by the holy Scriptures?

2. Is the belief of these points, (which are all principal ones in controversy betwixt us and the church of Rome,) together with the belief of the other fundamentals of the Christian faith, equally acknowledged by us and them to be delivered in the holy Scriptures, a belief sufficient unto salvation ?

3. Doth not the church of Rome professedly maintain, that all things necessary to be known and believed unto salvation are neither in express terms, or by necessary consequence, delivered and contained in the holy Scriptures, and that there is need of the tradition of the church, as a supply in this case? He cannot (for shame) but answer affirmatively to each of these questions. For as for the first question, it is the professed design of that book to maintain, that all the points undertaken to be defended therein may be proved out of the holy Scriptures; and the author of the letter adds manifestly, and he afterwards tells your ladyship, that he doubts not but that the result of his letter to you, and the book attending it, will end in this admiration: “Who “ would have thought it, that the papists could have

so much to say for themselves out of most clear “ texts of the word of God f?" Indeed, I never so much as dreamed that the papists could, out of the holy Scriptures, produce any thing to the purpose in defence of their tenets concerning image-worship, invocation of saints, transubstantiation, the halfcommunion, indulgencies, &c. Nor hath the book in the least altered my thoughts and apprehensions.

4. That the points defended in the book, (called the Catholic Scripturist,) together with those other points that are on both sides acknowledged to be clearly delivered in the holy Scriptures, do make up

f And the Catholic Scripturist tells us, that he would produce for the points most misliked in his religion many and loud-speaking texts. Pref. n. 4.

a full and complete body of catholic principles, or the necessary articles of the Christian faith, he must acknowledge; otherwise, what bounds will he put to the necessary articles of religion? How shall a sincere Christian know when he believes and practiseth that which is sufficient in order to his salvation? And, besides, what other point of the Roman faith can he produce more difficult to be proved out of the holy Scriptures, than those, whose defence is undertaken by the author of the Catholic Scripturist? From these two propositions granted, it undeniably follows, that all necessary points of Christian doctrine may be proved out of the holy Scriptures, and that by most clear and manifest texts; which is directly contrary to the known and avowed doctrine of the papists themselves : nay, the Catholic Scripturist hath a chapter (if I forget not) concerning tradition; the professed design whereof is to prove, that we must be beholding to tradition for many necessary points of faith, and that the Scripture is not a sufficient rule. I confess I am amazed when I observe with what a fatal stupidity, or rather with what an evil conscience, and how fraudulently, the Romanists defend their cause; but indeed a cause so bad could no otherwise be defended.

VI. Many particular instances of the sophistry of that book I might give your ladyship, if I had it by me; but there is one instance I took special notice of, and wrote my observations in a scrip of paper, because it was a point wherein your ladyship seemed to need satisfaction, viz., the point of invocation of saints. He undertakes not to prove the laudableness of that practice of his church by express Scriptures, but by necessary consequences from certain principles clearly delivered in Scripture. The principles he lays down, point 36. n. 2. p. 235: “1. That " the angels and saints, with God, can hear our

prayers. 2. That they can and will help us.” From these principles he draws this conclusion; “Therefore it is laudable to pray to them.” I will not quarrel (at present) with the consequence, but inquire only how he proves the antecedent. Many, yea most of the principal texts, whereby he endeavours to demonstrate his two principles, are taken out of the Old Testament: when he comes to his 37th point, (which is the first of his principles,) “ That the angels and saints can hear our prayers, he

proves it especially by texts that are either taken out of, or at least have reference to, the Old Testament. Thus, (num. 4.) from Luke xvi. 26. he observes, (like a learned divine arguing from such passages in a parable, which do not in the least belong to the scope thereof,) that though there be a great gulf fixed between the souls of Abraham and Dives, yet God gave them some means to hear what each of them said; from whence he makes his inference by way of question : “Can he then find no “ means for saints to hear us?” This text is indeed taken out of the New Testament, but it hath a manifest reference to the state of Abraham, and the saints departed under the Old Testament. But, num. 5, he professedly produceth one text out of the Old Testament, which he tells us he had kept as a reserve, to declare how saints, even there, knew what passed. It concerns the writing that came from Elias after his death (as is supposed) to king Joram, 2 Chron. xxi. 12. In the 38th point, he

delivers bis second principle, together with the conclusion drawn from both, in these words: “ That “ saints can and will help us; therefore it is laud“ able to pray to them.” How proves he this? (num. 4.) “That by the merits of saints we may

beg and obtain favours,” he proves, from 1 Kings xv. 5. and Isai. xxxvii. 35. And (num. 5.) he tells us, that “the power which the prayers of saints

have, and that they use carefully to pray for us, is “.often expressed in Scripture;" where he cites Jerem. xv. 1. and Ezek. xiv. 14. 20. and the instance of Elias's care to assist his people after his death, mentioned in the former point, (num. 5,) and the famous vision of Judas Maccabæus, 2 Macc. xv. 12. All these texts are again out of the Old Testament: and he proceeds (num. 6.) to prove the same thing from Dives's praying to Abraham, Luke xvi. 27, which texts I have already observed to have reference to the saints departed under the Old Testament.

VII. Now, after this laborious proof out of the Old Testament of both the foundations of invocation of saints, viz., That the saints can hear our prayers; 2. That they can and will help us; who would not conclude according to the author's own way of reasoning, “That it was a laudable practice “ to pray to saints even under the Old Testament?” But the Catholic Scripturist himself will by no means own this conclusion. For in the 38th point, num. 1. p. 253, he expressly tells us, that “of pray

ing to saints the Old Testament could not write, “no saints being as then in heaven.” For the understanding of which, your ladyship may please to observe, that these two hypotheses are generally re

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