« EdellinenJatka »
they affert their liberty as becomes proteftants, The greatest part however of the things contained in this creed, as was before observed, they all believe and acknowledge.
But this, it seems, was not enough for a creed of the church of Rome. There must be fome form of faith, whereby, as by an authentic act, papists must for ever be distinguished from proteftants. Twelve new articles therefore are added; which are all truly Romish, and built folely upon human authority. Thefe I fhall fet down in order, and make fome remarks on them.
But it is needful firft to warn the reader of the enfnaring manner, in which the articles of pope Pius's creed are connected with thofe of the Nicene. The Nicene creed makes mention of one, holy, catholic and apoftolic church and the creed of pope Pius begins with a profeffion of admitting and embracing the traditions, &c. of the fame church; infinuating, that all the traditions of the church of Rome are traditions of the one, holy, catholic and apoftolic church. And it is certain the Romanifts do pretend, that all these characters belong to their church, and to that alone. They make themselves the whole church of Chrift; and exclude all others from being so much as a part of it. They confine holiness to themselves; and confidently affirm, that their church alone is derived from the apostles.
These things are not indeed expreffly afferted pope Pius's firft article. It was more plaufible to fpeak of the church in a general way at the beginning; becaufe every one would more readily afcribe the characters of one, holy, catholic and
and apoftolic, to the church of Christ in an unconfined sense, than to the church of Rome, or any other church in particular. But fince this fame creed, in its eleventh article, fpeaks exprefsly of the holy, catholic, apoftolic Roman church, as the mother and mistress of all churches, and thereby clearly confines thefe characters to that church: it is proper here at the beginning to give notice of the fnare; and to avoid the dangerous fallacy of confidering any of the articles of this creed as doctrines of the one, boly, catholic and apoftolic church.
That article of the Nicene creed, [I believe one, boly, catholic and apoftolic church] is capable of a very harmless fenfe, against which no chriftian whatever will object. Which is this: that our Lord Jefus Chrift has a church, fcattered up and down in various parts of the world; the members whereof are holy in the difpofition of their minds, and entertain the fubftance of the doctrine of the apostles. This is the true general or univerfal, that is, the true catholic church, And this is undoubtedly one, in that large sense, wherein all thofe are included as its members, who heartily believe in Jefus Chrift, acknowledging him for their Saviour, and obeying him as their Ruler. To all these he becomes the author of eternal falvation; as he himself affures us, John III. 36. and his apostle after him, Heb. V. 9. Rom. X. 8, 9. And all fuch are likewise declared to be the children of God, Gal. III. 26. born of God, 1 John V. 1. Now they who are become the children of God, thro' faith in Chrift Jefus, and heirs of his promised falvation, do
certainly in the large and general fenfe belong to his church, tho' their faith fhould be attended with fome mistakes. And in this large sense alone, if at all, it is, that the members of the church of Rome can be acknowledged members of the one church of Chrift; fo very widely has that church departed from the faith which Chrift and his apoftles delivered.
If it be faid, that the Nicene fathers did not speak of the church in this large and general fenfe; but meant a vifible church, which was called catholic or univerfal, by reafon of the greater number of those who were efteemed true profeffors of the holy doctrine of the apostles, in oppofition to the fmaller number of thofe who differed from them; and that they called themselves one church, in oppofition to the different parties of those who differed from them: yet this will never prove, that the fuperior number, who pleased themselves with thefe titles, did in all points adhere to the doctrine of the apofiles, and that none who differed from them were in the right. There can be no reasonable doubt, that many of those, who call'd themselves the one, holy, catholic and apoftolic church, were far enough from agreeing with each other in several particulars; and in that case some of them must differ from the doctrine of the apoftles, and therefore not be apoftolical. Nor is there any doubt, that many of them were far enough from being holy in their hearts and in their practice. It is not therefore men's giving themfelves the name and title of one, holy, catholic and apoftolic church, that will prove them to be fo. So far as they differ from each other, they
are not one, in the Romish fenfe of Unity; nor can they, for the fame reafon, be justly called univerfal or catholic. And if they are unholy in their lives; the name of holy, with regard to the church wherewith they communicate, fignifies nothing. Nor are they apoftolic, in any refpect wherein they differ from the apostles doctrine. And yet there may be feveral churches, each of them, for the fubftance of their doctrines, apoftolical, tho' differing in fome points from each other; and each of them maintaining holiness, in the life and practice of their communicants, as well as in the tendency of their doctrines. And all these will with much better reafon go to the making up one invifible catholic or univerfal church, than any fingle vifible church whatever can be called catholic, to the exclufion of all others.
Nor does it appear from the hiftory of the Nicene council, that the bishops, and other divines of whom it confifted, look'd upon any one particular church, (and fuch was the church of Rome among the reft) as the one, holy, catholic and apoftolic church. No: they were all of them call'd together by the authority and command of the emperor Conftantine, to confult about fuch matters as he thought fit to lay before them: and the profeffed agreement of fuch a number of divines, call'd together from so many diftant nations, made them look upon their determinations as the determinations of the catholic church.
But whatever they call'd themselves; and how much foever we agree with them in the substance of their doctrine: yet their determinations are not the foundation of our faith: nor had they, B 2
nor cou'd any council of uninfpir'dmen in the world
And if the Nicene council itself had no autho-
She is not one, in that very fenfe wherein the reproaches protestants for not being one. If proteftants are in many points divided into parties; fo are the papists. Witness the divifions between the Francifcans and Dominicans about the immaculate conception; those between the Jefuits and Janfenifts about predeftination; and the prefent ftruggles, now of a pretty long ftanding, about the bull Unigenitus; befides the many horrible schisms which have arifen by fetting up one pope against another, and the contentions about the feat of infallibility. If they fay, that they are one, in