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Part of Mr.G.---n's LETTER,
beginning with the following Query fent to Dr. George Hickes, by a Gentleman lately perverted from the Church of England to the Church of Rome.
UPPOSİNG this for true,That the Church
of Christ can never perish, 1 desire to know
(if the Protestant Church be the true One) where it was for many hundreds of Tears before Luther ? Name your Bishops, Writers, Churches, nay one single Congregation, or Vila lage of Protestants, for 900 or 1000 Years, before your Separation from the holy Catholick Church.
The Gentleman, Sir, I spoke to you of the last time I had the honour of waiting on you, being to quit the Town in a very short time, is willing to delay no longer our Business in hand ; in order to which proceeding, I here send you, as from him, the above-written Query, &c. February 28, 1704
Dr. Hickes's ANSW E R to the forego
ing Query. In a Letter to Mr. Garien.
March 4. 1701 AST Wednefday, being . Afh-Wednesday, in
the Afternoon, I receiv'd a few Lines from you under the name of a Query, containing a Supposition, a Question, and a Challenge ; which, you say, you fent me from the Gentleman you lately fpoke of to me, and who you then told me was a Priest
, and by consequence, one of your Guides. Had you not told me you sent them from a Man of his Character, who was appointed by his Superior to manage the Controversy that is between your Church and Ours, I should rather have thought they had been penn'd by fome Novitiar, or late Convert, who was not skilld in Controverfy; First, Because they are, as I conceive, nothing to the purpose of the Infallibility of the Church, the Subje&t in which, at your desire, we are to be engag d. And, Secondly, Because they are unaccurately penn'd in terms of uncertain Şignification; and take the main thing for granted, which is in dispute between our Church and yours. The Supposition is penn'd in these Words ; Supposing this for true, that the Church of Christ can never perish. Where I defire to know, What the Gentleman means by perifb? And, Secondly, What he means by the Church of Christ? For perisb inay fignifie, that the Church can be quite destroy'd, so as to have no manner of Being in the World, as it had not, before it firft began to be ; or, Secondly, It may signifie only not to be the fame Church, as to Doctrine, - Worship, and
Polity, which was founded by Christ, and finish'd by the Apostles, but to be corrupted and depravd more or lefs, in one, or more, or all thofe Parts of its Constitution. In the former acceptation of the Word, peris fignifies to cease to be at all, or to have Existence in a Metaphysical Sense, as Cities and Colleges do, when they are disfranchifed or discorporated į or as Kingdoms, when they are abfolutely destroyed and turned into Democracies or Commonwealths. But in the latter sense, it means no more than that the Church ceases to be a found, rightly constituted, or Apoftolical Church in one or more Parts of its Conftitution ; fo that a Catholick Christian cannot. communicate in it without Sin ; and this is to perish, or be depraved from what it was and ought to be, in a moral Sense. Secondly, The Church of Christ may be taken in as large a sense, as Chriftianity, for the whole Universal Church, wherefoever dispersed over the Earth ; or for some part of it greater or less, comprehending one or more Churches, but not the Universal Church: And when the Gentleman will tell me, in which sense he means the Words never perish, and in which sense he understands the Church of Christ, then I will tell him in which fense I think his Suppofition true, and in which I think it is
(For I have reason to think that by the Church of Christ he only means the Church of Rome.]
AFTER his Supposition follows a Question, in these Words: I desire to know (if the Protestang Church be the true one) where it was many bundreds of Tears before Luther ? This, Sir, is not
* I have added this to shew the reason, why I made use of the foregoing distinction.
one, but two Questions, which an accurate Adversary would have rather proposed thus; I defire to know if the Protestant Church be the true Church? If so, then I de;ire to know where it was many hundreds of Tears before Luther? Here again I must desire to know, before I answer the first Question, what he means by the Protestant Church? For there are many Protestant Churches, so call'd, whereof fome are true, and some are not true Churches; some perfect, and some not perfect Churches ; and when he is pleased to let me know what Protestant Church he means, then I shall know how to return an Answer. - Secondly, As to the phrase Protestant Church, it may either signifie the Clergy and People of the Church, or the Faith, or Worship, and Polity, and whatsoever else belongs to the Constitution of a Church, and when he is pleased to let me know, that by the Protestant Church he particularly means the Faith, Worship, and Polity of the Church of England, and not the Succesfion of Clergy and People teaching and profefling that Faith, pra&tising that Worship, and formed into that Polity; then I will tell him where the Church of England was many hundreds of Years before Luther; or, if he pleases, before the Council of Trent, even where the present Faith, Wor
hip, and Polity of the Roman Church never was, 1. e. in the Primitive Church. I say, before the Council of Trent, because Luther was none of our. Reformers; and because I should rather have expected, that a fair and learned Adversary should have faid, I desire to know, where the Church of England, or where your Religion was for many "hundreds of Tears before the Reformation, or pretended Reformation, as he might have said with'out offence. But the Question thus put hath been
so often, and fo plainly and fully answer’d, that he muft pardon me, if I say I am tempted to think, he purposely disguised it in other uncertain and ambiguous terms.
In the last place comes his Challenge in these Words: Name your Bishops, Writers, Churches, nay one single Congregation, or Village of Prote ftants for goo or 1000 Years before your Separation from the holy Catholick Church.
Here it is, as I observ'd, that the Gentleman beggs the Question, or takes for granted what is 'the greatest Point of Controversy between us, in those Words, Your Separation from the boly Catholick Church; whereas we affirm, and most af füredly believe that our Separation (as he must mean from the Church of Rome) was not a Separation from the holy Catholick Church, but a return unto it from many Errors, Innovations, Abuses, and Corruptions; and whether it were so or no, we are willing to appeal to Catholick Tradition, which confifts in Antiquity, Univerfality, and Confent. .: 2dly, His Challenge is fallacious and sophistical, in asking us to Name our Bishops, Writers, Churches, &c. ii'e. dur Reformid Bisbops, Writers, and Churches, before the Reformation, which he calls our Separation, that is to say, he asks us to name our reformid Bishops; Writers, and Chura ches, before they were reformd ; which is as absurd, as to ask us to fhew the alteration and change, of any other Society or Thing, before it was altered and changed.
Sır, in this way of Challenging, he might as well have bid us name our Protestant Kings and Courts before Elward VI. And any Man may as reasonably ask a Sloven, where his clean Face was, for so many Days before it was wälhed? B 3