Imatges de pÓgina
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myself have met with some papists, who have plainly derided the doctrine of the personal infallibility of the pope, and not without great indignation disowned it to be an article of their faith. As for the latter point, concerning the superiority of the pope to a general council, all those who disown the former must reject this also. For the

For the pope cannot be imagined superior to a general council upon any other account than this, that he is guided (at least when he sits in his enchanted chair) by an infallible spirit, to judge of the determinations of general councils, whether they are true or false, and accordingly to confirm or reject them. Yet this point must be held by all that own the council of Florence ", or the confession of faith, according to the council of Trent; for in both of them it is determined, that the pope, or bishop of Rome, is the pastor, governor, and head of the universal church, which cannot be true, if the pope be subject to the universal church, represented by her bishops in a general council. Hence Gregory of Valence », a learned papist, speaking of those that held a general council to be superior to the pope, saith, “that they did indeed plainly “ thwart (though unawares) the most certain faith

concerning St. Peter and the bishop of Rome's

primacy in the church.” Indeed they that do, seem to forget their very name of papists, which

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u Vide Caranz. Sum. Concil. Florent. et Synod. ann. 1439, p. 655, 676. [p. 864.)

Atque hinc profecto illorum auctorum sententia manifeste revincitur, qui concilium universale pontifice superius faciunt. Pugnant enim illi revera (licet non advertentes) cum certissima fide de D. Petri ac Romani pontificis in ecclesia primatu. Gregor. de Valent. Com. Theolog. tom. III. disp. 1. qu. 1. punct. 7. [p. 272.]

was given them from their dependance on the pope, as the vicar of Christ, the head of the church, and the infallible judge of all controversies. This then must be held as an undoubted article of faith, and the very foundation of the Roman catholic religion, That the pope is superior to a general council. Now from this great article of faith, not only Mr. White, and the persons but now mentioned, but also divers other Roman catholics of a higher rank, have egregiously prevaricated. We have a numerous assembly of many hundreds of bishops, called together by the emperor Sigismund at Constance y, determining pointblank against this great article: for in the fourth session they define, “ That the synod,

lawfully gathered together in the Holy Ghost, and “ making a general council, and representing the “ catholic church militant, hath a power immediately “ from Christ, to which every man, of whatsoever “ state or dignity, though it be the pope himself, is “ bound to yield obedience,” &c. And presently after they decree, “ That if any man, though he were the

pope himself, should refuse to obey the decrees of “ this synod, or any other general council lawfully

gathered together, he should do penance and suffer

condign punishment.” And about sixteen years after, the council of Basil 2 (in the second session) decreed the same thing in the very same words. Nay, in the third session, they determined this to be

a catholic verity, and that whosoever should op

pose it should be accounted an heretic.” It is to no purpose here to answer, (as Bellarmine and others

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y Caranz. Summ. Concil. Constant. sess. 4, 5. p. 647, 648. [p. 826.]

z Caranz. Summ. Concil. Bas. p. 665, 672. [p. 848-9.]

have done,) that these councils were no lawful councils, as not confirmed by the pope. For supposing this to be true, (which certainly is most false, and it may be easily evinced that each of those councils was confirmed by a pope,) yet still it is confessed, both that these bishops (which were well nigh all the bishops of the western churches) were of the Roman catholic religion and communion, and that they did so determine as we have said. Let me now ask the author of the letter this question, Was the superiority of the pope to a general council an article of faith in the time of the council of Constance and Basil, or not? If it was, then here we have the Roman catholic bishops generally guilty of prevarication from an article of faith, and that the main article of the Roman catholic religion. And then what is become of that uninterrupted succession of pastors (which the author of the letter so much boasts of) in the Roman church, always holding the same articles of religion? If it was not then held for an article of faith, as it is manifest enough it was not, from the testimony of so many bishops, then are they guilty of a grievous prevarication, who have since made that an article of faith which was not so before, but rather was held to be an error, yea a downright heresy. So that, on the one side or the other, here must of necessity be acknowledged a very lamentable prevarication from a great fundamental article of the Roman faith.

XXXIII. But let us come more closely to that standard of the Roman faith, which I am assured the author of the letter acknowledgeth for such, viz., The decrees of the council of Trent. It is well known, that a great number of those that call themselves Roman catholics, are so far from being concluded by the decrees of that council, that they utterly reject the authority thereof, accounting it as an unlawful and irregular convention. And yet the author of the letter dares not (I am sure) pronounce all these to be heretical; and as for those that profess to submit themselves to the authority of that council, how egregiously have many of them prevaricated from the canons and decrees thereof!

If the gentleman hath been so little conversant in the authors of his own church as to deny this, I will undertake to prove it by the clearest evidences, even by the confession of papists themselves. But that which I chiefly insist on (to shew the prevarication of the Trent papists) is this, that no man can make profession of his faith, according to the council of Trent, without being guilty, in that very profession, of prevarication, in the highest degree, even to perjury. For your ladyship may please to understand, that the confession of faith, according to the council of Trent, is made with a solemn oath : now in this confession, I. They swear “to receive “ as undoubted all things delivered, defined, and “ declared by the canons and general councils, and “ especially by the holy council of Trent .” Now, any understanding man, that impartially reads the canons and the decrees of those councils, acknowledged for general by the papists, will find it impossible to reconcile them one to another.

II. They swear, with the same breath wherewith they profess

* Omnia a sacris canonibus et æcumenicis conciliis, ac præcipue a sacrosancta synodo Tridentina tradita, definita, ac declarata, in. dubitanter recipio ac profiteor.

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their reception of all the canons and general councils, that “they acknowledge the holy catholic and

apostolic church of Rome to be the mother and “ mistress of all other churches, and the pope to be “ successor of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, “ and to be also the vicar of Jesus Christ, to whom our obedience is due b."

Now it is very manifest, that the first and most famous general council of Nice, in the sixth canon, decrees, That every patriarch, within his province, hath full and perfect jurisdiction, without any dependance upon the church or bishop of Rome, or any other church or bishop; and that the jurisdiction of the church and bishop of Rome is no less limited than that of other churches and patriarchs. Let any man compare the words of the canon with the usual answers given by the papist, and (if he does not wink very hard) he must needs see what wretched shifts a bad cause will put men to.

Other instances I might give your ladyship of the apparent contradictions of that confession; but these are sufficient to shew, that every man who swears to the confession of Trent, must necessarily be a perjured person, either knowingly and wittingly, or ignorantly and unadvisedly, and the best of these two sorts of per

b Sanctam catholicam et apostolicam Romanam ecclesiam omnium ecclesiarum matrem et magistram agnosco : Romanoque pontifici B. S. Petri apostolorum principis successori, ac Jesu Christi vicario, veram obedientiam spondeo ac juro.

• Τα αρχαία έθη κρατείτω, τα εν Αιγύπτω, και Λιβύη, και Πενταπόλει, ώστε τον έν 'Αλεξανδρεία επίσκοπον πάντων τούτων έχειν την εξουσίαν επειδή και τα εν τη Ρώμη επισκόπω τούτο σύνηθες εστιν ομοίως δε και κατά την Αντιόχειαν, και εν ταις άλλαις επαρχίαις, τα πρεσβεία σώSeodai tais nolais. Justell. Codex Can. Ecclesia Univers. p. 30, 31. [p. 6.]

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