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to the Pope, and to him only, the power to explain the definitions of the council, if any difference arise about the meaning of them. So that if there be any difference about the true sense and meaning of any of the definitions of the council, particular pastors have no authority to explain them ; and where there is no doubt or difference about the meaning of them, there is no occasion for the explication of them. 2. But suppose they had authority to explain them, this can be no infallible security to the people, that they explain them right ; both because particular pastors are fallible, and likewise because we see in experience that they differ in their explications; witness the Bishop of Condom's exposition of the catholic faith, and of the definitions of the council of Trent, which is in many material points very different from that of Bellarmine, and many other famous doćtors of that church. And which is more, witness the many differences betwixt Ambrosius, Catharinus and Dominicus à Soto, about the definitions of that council, in which they were both present, and heard the debates, and themselves bore a great part in them. Now, if they who were present at the framing of the definitions of that council, cannot agree about the meaning of them, much less can it be expected from those that were absent. Secondly, This provision which I have mentioned, is likewise as good a way to prevent and put an end to controverfies in religion, so far as it is necessary they should be prevented, or have an end put to them, as any infallible church would be, if there were one. And this is another reason why an infallible church is so much insisted upon, that there may be some way and means for a final decision of controversies, which the scriptures cannot be, because they are only a dead. rule, which can end no controversy without a living judge ready at hand, to interpret and apply that rule upon emergent occasions. It is not necessary that all controverfies in religion should either be prevented or decided : This the church which pretends to be infallible cannot pretend. to have done; because there are manifold controversies fles even in the church of Rome herself, concerning matters of religion, which still remain undecided : and in their commentaries upon scripture, many differences about the sense of several texts concernin which she hath not thought fit to give an infallible in: terpretation. And where their Popes, and several of their general councils, have thought fit to meddle with scripture, they have applied and interpreted texts more improperly and absurdly than even their private doćtors. And, which is more, in differences about points of faith, which are pretended on both. fides to be fundamental, this church hath not thought fit to put an end to them by her infallible decifion, after two hundred years brangling about them. For instance, in that fierce and long difference about the immaculate conception of the blessed Virgin, which, on both sides, is pretended to be an article of faith, and for which, contrary revelations of their canonized saints are so frequently pretended ; and yet neither Pope, nor general council, have thought fit to exert their infallibility for the decifion of this controversy: so that if their church had this talent of infallibility ever committed to them, they have, with the slothful servant, laid it up in a napkin ; and according to our Saviour's rule, have long since forfeited it, for not making use of it. -And whereas it is pretended, that the scripture is: but a dead rule, which can end no controverfies without a living judge ready at hand to interpret and apply that rule upon emergent occasions; the same objećtion lies against them, unless a general council, which is their living judge, were always fitting; for the definitions of their councils in writing are liable to the same, and greater obječtions than the written rule of the scriptures. The sum of all is this. In differences about lesser matters, mutual charity and forbearance will secure. the peace of the church, though the differences remain undecided; and in greater matters, an infallible. rule searched into with an honest mind, and due diligence, and with the help of good instruction, is more likely to extinguish and put an end to such dif- ferences,
and forgive them upon a general repentance : so, on the other hand, he who sees the infincerity of men, and that the errors of their understandings did proceed from gross faults of their lives, will deal with them accordingly. But if men be honest and sincere, God, who hath said if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doćtrine, will certainly be as good as his word.
It now remains only to draw some inferences from this discourse, and they shall be these three.
First, From this text, and what hath been discourfed upon it, we may infer how slender and ill-grounded the pretence of the church of Rome to infallibility is, whether they place it in the Pope, or in a general council, or in both. The last is the most general opinion; and yet it is hard to understand how infallibility can result from the Pope's confirmation of a general council, when neither the council was infallible in framing its definitions, nor the Pope in confirming them. If the council were infallible in framing them, then they needed no confirmation : if they were not, then infallibility is only in the Pope that confirms them, and then it is the Pope only that is infallible. But no man that reads these words of our Saviour, If any man will do his will, he shall Know of the doćtrine, would ever imagine that the Bishop of Rome (whoever he shall happen to be) were secured from all fatal errors in matters of faith, much less that he were endowed with an infallible spirit in judging what doćtrines are from God, and what not. For it cannot be denied, but that many of their Popes have been motoriously wicked and vicious in their lives: Nay, Bellarmine himself acknowledgeth, that for a succession of fifty Popes together, there was not one pious and virtuous man that sat in that chair; and some of their Popes have been condemned and deposed for heresy; and yet, for all this, the Pope, and the governing part of that church, would bear the world in hand that he is infallible. But if this saying of our Saviour be true, that if any man will do his will, he shall know of his doćrine, whether it be of God; then every honest man that sincerely de