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of the Church, merely because he occupies what was anciently the first see, 'is a thing extremely ridiculous and absurd. I forbear to remark the immense difference between the pope's chancery, and a well regulated administration of the Church; though this one thing is sufficient to remove every difficulty on this subject. For no man in his sound senses will include the episcopal office in lead and in bulls, much less in that school of frauds and chicaneries, in which the pope's spiritual government consists. It has justly been remarked, therefore, that the Roman Church which is boasted of, has long ago been converted into a secular court, which is all that is now to be seen at Rome. Nor am I here accusing the vices of individuals, but proving that the papacy itself is diametrically opposite to the legitimate order of the Church.

XXVII. But if we proceed to persons, it is well known what kind of men we shall find sustaining the character of vicars of Christ. Julius, and Leo, and Clement, and Paul, will be pillars of the Christian faith, and the principal oracles of religion, who never knew any thing of Christ, except what they had learned in the school of Lucian. But why do I enumerate three or four pontiffs, as though it were doubtful what kind of religion the pontiffs and the whole college of cardinals have professed long ago, and profess in the present day? For of the secret theology which prevails among them, the first article is, that there is no God; the second, that all that is written and preached concerning Jesus Christ is falsehood and imposture; the third, that the doctrine of a future life, and that of the final resurrection, are mere fables. This opinion, I confess, is not entertained by all, and is expressed by few of them; yet it long ago began to be the ordinary religion of the pontiffs. Though this is notorious to all who are acquainted with Rome, yet the Roman theologians persist in boasting that the possibility of error in the pope

has been prevented by the privilege of Christ, because he said to Peter,“ I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." (c) What can they gain by, such impudent mockery, except it be to convince the whole world of their having arrived at such

(c) Luke xxii. 32.

an extreme of presumption, that they neither fear God nor regard men?

XXVIII. But let us suppose the impiety of those pontiffs, whom I have mentioned, to be concealed, because they have not published it by sermons or by writings, but only betrayed it in their chambers and at their tables, or at least within the walls of their palaces. But if they wish to establish this privilege to which they pretend, they must expunge from the number of the pontiffs John the Twenty-second, who publicly maintained that souls are mortal, and that they perish together with the bodies till the day of resurrection. And to shew that the whole see, with its principal pillars, was then entirely overturned, not one of the cardinals resisted this capital error, but the university of Paris urged the king of France to compel the pope to a retraction. The king interdicted his subjects from all communion with him, unless he should speedily repent; and he caused this to be proclaimed in the usual manner by a herald. Compelled by necessity; the pontiff abjured his error. This example renders it unnecessary for me to dispute any longer against the assertion of our adversaries, that the see of Rome and its pontiffs cannot err respecting the faith, because Christ said to Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” John certainly fell from the true faith in such a disgraceful manner, as to furnish to posterity a signal proof, that those who succeed Peter in his bishopric are not all Peters. The argument itself, however, is too puerile to need any answer. For if they are determined to apply to Peter's successors every thing that was said to Peter, it will follow that they are all Satans, because the Lord also said to Peter, “ Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me.” (d) It will be as casy for us to retort this passage against them, as it is for thein to object the other against us.

XXIX. But it affords me no pleasure to contend with them in such fooleries, and therefore I return from the digression. To confine Christ and the Holy Spirit and the Church to one particular place, so that whoever presides

(d) Matt. xvi. 23.

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there, even though he be a devil, must nevertheless be
deemed the vicar of Christ, and the head of the Church, be-
cause that place was formerly the see of Peter, I maintain
to be not only impious and dishonourable to Christ, but al.
together absurd and repugnant to common sense.

Roman pontiffs for a long time have either been totally in-
different to religion, or have shewn themselves its greatest
enemies. They are no more made the vicars of Christ,
therefore, by the see which they occupy, than an idol is to
be taken for God, because it is placed in his temple. Now
if a judgment is to be formed on their conduct, let the pon-
tiffs answer for themselves in what part of it they can at all
be recognized as bishops, In the first place, the mode of
life generally pursued at Rome, not only without any oppo-
sition from them, but with their connivance and even tacit
approbation, is altogether disgraceful to bishops, whose duty
it is to restain the licentiousness of the people by a rigid dis-
cipline. Yet I will not, however, be so severe against them as
to charge them with the faults of other persons. But while
both themselves and their families, with almost the whole
college of cardinals, and the whole host of their clergy, are
so abandoned to all kinds of debauchery, impurity, and ob-
scenity, and to every species of enormity and crime, that
they resemble monsters rather than men, they prove them-
selves to have no just claim to the character of bishops.
They need not be afraid, however, that I shall proceed to a
further disclosure of their turpitude. For it is unpleasant to
meddle with such abominable pollution, and it is necessary to
spare chaste ears. Besides, I conceive, I have more than suf-
ficiently proved what I intended, that even if Rome had an-
ciently been the head of all Churches, yet at the present day
she is not worthy of being accounted one of the smallest toes
of the Church's feet.

XXX. With respect to the cardinals, as they are called, I know not how it has come to pass that they have so suddenly risen to such high dignity. In the time of Gregory, this title was exclusively applied to bishops; for whenever he mentions cardinals, he speaks of them not only as belonging to the Church of Rome, but to any other Churches; VOL. III.


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so that in short a cardinal priest is no other than a bishop. I find no such title at all in the writers of any preceding age; and at that time I observe they were far inferior to bishops, to whom they are now so far superior.--This passage of Augustine is well known; “ Though according to the titles of honour which have long been used in the Church, a bishop is superior to a presbyter, yet Augustine is in many things inferior to Jerome.” He clearly makes not the least distinction between a presbyter of the Roman Church and those of other Churches, but places them all alike below the bishops. And this order was so long observed, that in the council of Carthage, when two legates attended from the Roman see, one a bishop, the other a presbyter, the presbyter was obliged to take the lowest seat. But not to go too far into antiquity for examples, we have the acts of a council held under Gregory at Rome, at which the presbyters sat in the lowest place, and subscribed separately; and the deacons were not allowed to subscribe at all. And indeed the priests had no other office at that time, than to attend and assist the bishop in the ministry of the word, and the administration of the sacraments. Now their condition is so changed, that they are become the cousins of kings and emperors. And there is no doubt but they rose by degrees, together with their head, till they reached their present high dignity. This also I have thought proper to suggest by the way in a few words, that the reader may more fully understand, that the Roman see in its present circumstances is widely different from its ancient state, under the pretext of which it is now maintained and defended.-But whatever they may have been in former times, since they have now no true and legitimate office in the Church, and only retain a mere name and useless mask of one, and since every thing belonging to them is quite contrary to it, it was necessary that what Gregory often forebodes should actually befal them: “I say it with tears, I denounce it with groans, that since the sacerdotal order is fallen within, it will not long be able to stand without.” Or rather it was necessary that what Malachi declares of similar characters should be fulfilled in them: “Ye are departed out of the

way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people.” (e) I now leave it to all pious persons to consider the nature of the lofty fabric of the Roman hierarchy, to which the papists with nefarious impudence, and without any hesitation, sacrifice even the word of God itself, which ought to have been held venerable and sacred by heaven and earth, by men and angels.


The Power of the Church respecting Articles of Faith, and its

licentious Perversion under the Papacy to the Corruption of

all Purity of Doctrine. THE next subject is the power of the Church, which is to be considered as residing, partly in the respective bishops, partly in councils, and those either provincial or general. I speak only of the spiritual power which belongs to the Church. Now it consists either in doctrine, in legislation, or jurisdiction. The subject of doctrine contains two parts, the authority to establish doctrines, and the explication of them. Before we enter on the particular discussion of each of these points, we would apprize the pious readers, that whatever is asserted respecting the power of the Church, they should be mindful to refer to the end for which Paul declares it to have been given, namely, “to edification and not to destruction.”(f) and all who make a legitimate use of it, consider themselves as nothing more than “servants of Christ,”( 3") and the people's “servants for Jesus' sake.(h) Now the only way to edify the Church is, for the ministers themselves to study to preserve to Jesus Christ his rightful authority, which can no longer be secure than while he is left

(e) Mal. ii. 8, 9,
(8) Phil. i. 1.

(f) 2 Cor. x. 8. xiij. 10.
(h) 2 Cor. iv, 5.

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