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to examine. But the judicious Rabble thinks it w better than all the Demonftrations in the World. And is entirely convinc'd by this manifeft Sophiftry, by this falfe and foolish Reasoning: which, if it has any Force against Catholicks, has the fame against S. Paul, in the Inftance above mention'd. So far, indeed, they are in the right, that if Catholick Religion is uncharitable, it is not Christ's Religion. But if they think this prov'd fufficiently by an Argument, which may as well be urg'd against S. Paul and his Writings; they are certainly and shamefully in the Wrong.
SIXTH VULGAR ERROR.
11. It is a vulgar Error, that he is uncharitable, whoever fuppofes, that none are fav'd in any other Religion, unless they are excus'd by invincible Ignorance. This, I say, is a very great Error; because it makes all Chriftians,and even the Apostles uncharitable. For does not every Christian, who thinks himself in the right, that is, who thinks his own Religion clearly reveal'd, fuppofe, that none are fav'd in any other, unless they are excus'd by invincible and involuntary Ignorance? For can they err against the plain Word of God, without being ignorant? And if their Ignorance is voluntary and criminal; are they in a State of Salvation? Again, did not S. Paul, and the rest of the Apostles, who believed and taught the whole Christian Religion, fuppofe that none were fav'd, who did not believe all the Articles or Parts of it, unless they were excus'd by invincible Ignorance?
12. When our Adverfaries therefore think fit to fupport their Charge of Uncharitableness against Catholicks; two Things are requifite. The firft is, that they take Care to avoid thefe vulgar Errors. The fecond is, that they avoid all Degrees of Sophistry and falfe Reasoning. For thefe prove nothing, but only the Weakness of the Caufe in which they are employ'd.
13. If you ask me, Why there are so many Divifions in Chriftendom, if all Men ought to be of the fame Faith, and in the fame Communion? Perhaps I cannot answer this Question better than by another. Why did not the Doctrine and Miracles of Christ convert all Judæa? Why did not the Doctrine and Miracles of the Apotles convert the Roman Empire, and all the World to which they preach'd? The Anfwer is obvious and undeniable. As many as fear'd God, and took their Salvation to Heart, were converted. The reft, who were much more numerous, continued as they were before, tho' the Evidence in Reafon could not be queftion'd. And will not the fame Rule hold for all the Divifions, which are, or ever were in Chriftendom, or rather in the World? Yet how hard is it to convert either a few, a Turk, an Infidel, or a Diffenter? Because they do not fear God, and take Salvation to Heart. St. Paul preach'd in (14) Athens, that is, in the most learned and inquifitive City in the World. He preach'd in the Areopagus
(14) Acts xvii. v. 16, 17.
reopagus, which was one of the most venerable and auguft Affemblies under the Sun. And what was the Iffue, but the Converfion of (15) one Man, of one Woman, and of a few others: If then the Evidence and Eloquence of S. Paul reap'd fo little Fruit; can we expect a large Harvest? Tho' if the Generality of Mankind feared God (which hitherto they never did, and probably never will) much might be done. For the Dorine and Motives of Christianity are known in all the chief Parts of the Universe. It must not therefore be denied, but Jews, Turks, and Infidels, if they fear'd God, and had a due Care of their Salvation, would foon be ChriftiAnd if all Chriftians had a due Fear of God, would they not enter into his Fold, and into the strictest Union imaginable? If so, the Fear of God is the only Catholick Remedy to heal all the Wounds and Divifions of Christendom. For to imagine, that Light and Evidence is wanting for this great Work, is to lay the Fault of our Divifions on the Divinity, and to make God the Author of that which he condemns.
14. But is not the Catholick Church highly uncharitable, in coining new Articles of Faith, and in obliging all Men to believe them?
To this I anfwer, first, If her Adverfaries are to be her Judges, and Judges in their own Caufe, She is. But if he is the One, Holy, Catholick, and Apoftolick Church; if he is
(15) Ibid. v. 34.
the Pillar and the Support of Truth, against which the Gates of Hell fhall not prevail; if She is the Judge, appointed by Christ, in all DiSputes of Religion, which she has always thought it both her Duty and her Right to decide, in feventeen Centuries; that is, if the Creed, the Scripture, and univerfal Tradition is true; She
I answer, fecondly. This Objection, I fear, will not be of much Credit to our Adverfaries. For (without reflecting upon them) it is the common Cry of all Hereticks, who ever were in Christendom. We have long and large Catalogues of beretical Sects, as well in the History and Councils of the Church, as in the Writings of Theodoret, of S. Auguftin, of S. Epiphanius, of Tertullian, and of S. Irenæus. But there was never any heretical Sect, which did not accufe the Catholick Church of coining new Articles of Faith, and of obliging all Men to believe them. And as our Adverfaries accuje the Council of Trent on this Head; fo did the Eutychians as freely accufe the Council of Calcedon; the Neftorians, that of Ephefus; the Macedonians, that of Conftantinople; and the Arians, that of Nicea. For as it is essentially neceffary for all Schifmaticks, to accuse the Catholick Church of caufal Schifm; fo it is effentially neceffary for all Herefies, which either are, or ever will be in the World, to accuse the Catholick Church of coining new Articles of Faith, and obliging all Men to believe them. Why? Becaufe Schifmaticks are certainly Offenders, unlefs the Catholick Church be guilty of their Schifm. And
And Hereticks have no Claim to Chriftianity, unlefs they pretend to the Faith firft deliver'd to
15. I must therefore beg leave to say, because it is undeniably true, that all Hereticks and Schif maticks, who ever were in Chriftendom, have accus'd the Catholick Church of UNCHARITABLENESS. All Schifmaticks have proclaim'd her uncharitable, by being the Caufe of their Schifm. All Hereticks have proclaim'd her uncharitable, by coining new Articles of Faith, and obliging all Men to believe them. A Confideration, which ought to make our Adverfaries more backward in renewing the Charge. For Hereticks and Schifmaticks are bad Precedents. And S. Auguftin makes it a Question, Whether is in the more dangerous Condition, a moft vicious Catholick, or a Person who is guilty of Herefy only?
16. The Subject, which is treated in the following Papers, is of a large Extent. And it feem'd, that I could neither dispatch it in fewer Words, nor fet it in a clearer Light, than by the Familiar Method of QUESTIONS and ANSWERS. But I hope the Reader will be so kind both to himself and me, as to bear the Question conftantly
(16) Utrum autem Catholicum peffimis moribus, alicui Hæretico in cujus vita præter id quod Hæreticus eft, non inveniunt homines quod reprehendant, præponere debeamus, non audeo precipitare Sententiam. Lib. iv. de Bapt. Cap. xx.