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CH A P. iv.
UT what shall an Orthodox Christian do,
if some part of the Church shall cat it self off from Communion with the Catholick Faith? Why then, there is nothing to be done, but to prefer the Body that is sound, before a putrefy'd and infe&ious Member. But what if some new Error should infect not only a small part, but should be ready to spread it self at the same time over the k whole Church? Then we must be sure to cleave close to Antiquity, which on a sudden cannot be totally corrupted by any novel Imposture. But what if among the very Ancients we find two or three Persons, or perhaps a whole City or Province in an Error? Why then our great Care must be to prefer the Determinations of the Ancient Church made in some general
Quid fi novella aliqua Contagio non jam portiunculam tantim, fed totam pariter Ecclesiam commaculare conetur ?] Our Author supposes a Case here, which, were I a Papift, I should
not thank him for, viz. That the whole Present Church might possibly be core rupted. And what then will become of the Infallibility of the Church of Rome? And when he comes to the Proof of this in his sixth Chapter, he gives an Instance of an Heresie, which had al most corrupted the whole world, the Latin Church, especially the Pope himself not excepted, as I fhall shew when I come to the Instance. But by the whole church, our Author must mean the Church Representative, and not the Church Diffufive, or every in dividual Member of Christendom, because he supposes some sound Christians to be left, and for a Prefervative against this universal Corruption, advises 'em to keep close to Antiquity, which on a sudden cannot be totally polluted with any novel Impofture.
Council (if any such Determinations there be) before the Rashness dr Ignorance of some Particulars. But what if a Question arise, concerning which there are no such Determinations extant ? Why then we must make it our Business to consult the Judgements of the Ancients, and compare together what those Au. thors have said at several times and distinct places, who persevering in the Faith and Communion of the one Catholick Church, may be look'd on as approved Teachers, and worthy of Credit; and whatever we find to have been asserted not only by one or two of them, but to have been held, written, and taught by all, unanimously, clearly, commonly, and constantly, there to fix our Faith, and rest fa
? Id fibi quoq; intelligat absq, ullâ dubitatione credendum.] Vincentius rells that upon any emergent Difficulty concerning the Faith, we should have Recourse to the Decrees of general Councils, if any such Decrees relating to the point in Question are to be found; if not, he bids us consult such of the Ancients, who ar different times, and different places were look'd upon as the most approved Doctors of the Age they liv'd in; and what they teach una. nimously, plainly, frequently, and constantly, of that to rest indudubitably certain. But tho indubitable Certainty in our Author's Opinion is sufficient, yet in the Opinion of the Papists, it seems it is not ; for they tell us, that we must have an absolute infallible Certainty in Marrers of Faith, and send us therefore to a Church, which (as they say) cannot err; because if we may be deceiv’d, we must be always uncertain. But first, how am I to be infallibly certain of this infallible Church? From Scripture ? That cannot be, because, tho' I undoubtedly believe the Scripture to be theWord of God, yer the Reasons I believe it upon are the intrinfick Goodness of the Revelation and human Testimony. And therefore the Effect cannot exceed the Cause, and my Belief rise higher than the Mocives of Credibilicy, that is, I cannot be infallibly certain upon the Grounds only of a moral Assurance. Second. ly, Supposing I was infallibly certain of the Truth of Scripture ; yet is it any where faid directly, and in express Terms, that the 5
tisfy'd. But to make this Matter more intelligible, I Mall illustrate each Rule by an Example, and dwell something more particularly upon it ; for fear that out of an overfond DeGire of Brevity, I shou'd too lightly pass over the most weighty Points in this short and curfory way of Writing.
Church of Rome eangor err? If not, how can I be oblig'd to see that clearly which is but obscure, and which none of the Ancients cou'd see any more than 1? This is in effect to command Imposfibilities, and oblige Men to see what is invisible. Thirdly, we read of Degrees of Faith in Scripture, of a Little and Great, a Weak and a Strong Faith, we find the Apostles praying to God to help their Unbelief, and to increase their Faith ; but do Men use to pray for degrees of Infallibility, or to believe what they see or know? So that Faith is nor founded upon infallible Certainty, nor are the Motives of it equal to the Evidence of Sense or Science. And laftly, To say, That if we may be deceiv'd, we must be always ancertain; is to tell all the world what they know to be a Lye. For 'cis possible that my Senses may deceive me sometimes, and yet I am indubitably certain of what I see and feel. I have often mistook my Road; but does it follow from thence, that I cannot be certain of my way to the next Door, or my own Parish Church? I conclude therefore with my Author, that upon any emergent Difficulty concerning Matters of Faith, when I have follow'd the Die re&tions here laid down, I may rest even so Indubitably certain as to lay down my Life for it, tho' not Absolutely infallible, that the Faith which was sufficient for the Primitive Chriftians, will be fo to me, and that God will assuredly accept of such a Faith, because I have done my best to be righty inform'd, and no Man can do more.
C H A P.
C H A P. V. The Example of the Donatists apply'd here
to fhew, That we ought to keep to Universality
N the Time of m Donatus, from whom the
Donatifts deriv'd their Name, a great Part of Africa plung'd themselves into his extravagant Error; and no longer mindful of the
Tempore Donati, a quo Donatista.] The Instance of Donatus being here produc'd to illustrate that part of the Rule, which orders us to adhere to the Communion of the Catholick Church in Cafe of any particular Schism, it may not be improper to give some Account of the Schism, and the Schism-maker. There were two Donati of the same Party, Donatus Bishop of Casa Nigre or Calame, and Donatus Bishop of Cartbage, and Succeffor to Majorinus. í bave written a Book (faith St. Austin) against the Epiftle of Donatus who was Bishop of Carchage, next after Majorinus, wherein be pretends that the Baptism of Jelus Christ is not valid out of his communion. vid. Aug. Retract. '1.'1. c. 21. From this Donatus it was, that the Schismaticks call’d themselves Donatifts, The Occasion of this long and bloody Schism, was this ; upon the Death of Mensurius Bishop of Carthage, Cecilian was chosen to succeed him by the unanimous Suffrages of the People, and consecrated by Felix Bishop of Aptungis. Whereupon Botrus and Celefius, who had been intriguing for chat Bishoprick, finding themselves disappoinsed, struck in with one Lucilla, an imperious and stomachful Lady, who cou'd never forgive the Reprimand Cecilian, when Arch-Deacon, gave her for kissing the Bones of a dead Man just before the seceiv'd the Communion. These three set their Heads a working to our Cecilian of his Bishoprick, and for chat end dispatch'd Led ters to Secundus Bishop of Tigisis to hasten to Carthage, with the rest of the Numidian Bishops, who had been Traditors in the Dioclefia an Perfecution; and yet falsly objected this very Crime against Felix, thereby to invalidate the Ordination of Cecilian; accordingly they protested against Communion with Cecilian, and set up Majorinus in his stead, who was a Domestick of Lucilla, and had been Rea
Name of Christian, nor the Religion they profess'd, preferr’d the Sacrilegious Rashness of a single Person, before the Authority of the whole Christian Church. In this critical Jun&ure then, those in Africa that detested the abominable Schism, and held Communion with all the other Churches in Christendom, those
der of Carthage when Cecilian was Deacon ; they sent likewise a Circular Letter to all the Bishops of Africa to persuade them to a Rupture with Cecilian. However, Cecilian continu'd in the See of Carthage, and in Communion with great Part of the Bishops of Africa, and with all the other Bishops of the World, who declar'd themselves in his Favour against the Numidians, who made the Schism. They were condemn'd by a Synod of nineteen Bishops
at Rome, where Miltiades was President. But the Party of MajoTinus concluding they had hard measure, address'd then felves to Constantine ; upon which, in the Year 314, he call’d a Council in the City of Arles, which condemn'd them likewise. At last they appeal'd from hence to the Emperor, who, believing he might cake Cognizance of this Cause as being a Master of Fact
the Sc D
only, an Accusation against Cecilian ; or because he wou'd oblige the Donatists to yield, ( as St. Auftin chinks) gave Judgment himself at Milan in favour of Cecilian; condemnd the Donatifts, caus'd an Information to be drawn up against Sylvanus who was of their Party, and their Temples to be taken from them; but recommends 'em to be gently treated, as a Means to bring them back into the BoTom of the Church. vid. Optat. Milev. l. 1, 2, contr. Parmen. Alto gult. Epist. 162. 165, 166. do alibi. As to their opinions, I have already taken notice of their Presumption in Rebaprizing che ca. tholicks, which Epiphanius remarks as the Practice of the Cathari also, Epiphan. Hær. 59. And as Schismaticks have always set up for Saints, so the Donatifts were the Puritans of that Age; they look'd upon themselves as the only People of the Lord, as the Church without Spot or Wrinkle, and pretended to perfect Righreteousness; and this was common to them with the Novatians. Aug. I. 2. contr. Ep. Parmen. 6. 7, 8, 9. Secondly, They held the Just to be defild by Communicating with the Wicked, and That to be no Church at all, where such a mix'd Communion was coleraced ; and this too was common to them with the Novatians. vid. Cypr. lib. 4. Ep. 2. And as a consequence of this, they agreed with the Novatians, that they alone were the Church of Chrift. Aug. Her. 69. How they subdivided into Factions, and into what Extravagances they ran at length, may be seem more fully in Theodoret. lib. 4. Håret. Fab.