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ty, ability, and integrity, but onely to deny that preten< ded infallibility which none did more diflike then them felves as we fhall fee hereafter. Let them have all the honour which is due to the noft worthy men, not acted by divine infpiration, but let them not have that Honour which belongs to God onely, and his infpired ones: We grant their Testimony is highly credible, efpecially where there is indeed that which is oft pretended, but feldome proved, viz. an univerfal confent, but their Authority is not infallible. 2. That I do not fall into this difpute as declining the judgment of the Fathers of the firft 600 years, or fufpecting their partiality on the Pope's fide. I know fufficiently, and fo may any man (whom the God of this World hath not blinded) that doth but read what our Learned Divines have faid in this particular, or with his own eyes look into the Fathers, that there is not one coufiderable point in controverfie between us and the Romanifts, but if judgment were to be given by any impartial perfon from the Fathers (excepting those who are evidently demonftrated to be spurious Authors their mouths would prefently be ftopped and their caufand confidence laid in the duft, onely becaufe that work is fo thoroughly done by others, and would fwell this into a voluminous bigneffe, I fhall forbear that, and proceed to handle what I propofed, and I fhall prove the propofition by four Arguments,
1. All thofe affertions and arguments which the Par pifts urge against the Authority of facred Scripture, for the decifion of controverfies do no leffe overthrow all the Authority of the Writings of the Fathers. When they attempt to difprove the Authority of the Scriptures confidered in themselves; these are the Arguments univerfally owned and urged: God would not have his Church depend upon Paper-books faith Cofterms. Scripture (fay they) cannot decide controverfies, because it cannot fummon
fummon and bear both parties, it cannot compell tranfgreffors to obedience, it doth not particularly condemne Hereticks: It doth not fay,erras Jacobe Gretfere,Gretfer, you are in an errour: It speaks doubtfully, and men difputé about the fence of Scripture, and so controverfies will be endliffe. Hente I thus argue, Either thofe Arguments are ftrong and cogent against the Scriptures Authority, or they are not: if they be not, then the Scripture must be owned as Judge of Controverfies, notwithstanding all those Arguments: If they be valid against the Authority of Scriptures,why are they not as ftrong against the Autho rity of the Fathers!Or what difference is there in this particular, between the writings of the Scripture and of the Fathers? Are the writings of St. Paul deaf that they cannot hear parties, and dumb that, they cannot deliver fentence, and can the writings of St. Auftine hear, and fpeake? Doth not the Scripture fay Grether you are in an errour? And do the writings of Jerome or Ambrofe fay, Luther you are in an errour? Cannot St. Paul condemne Hereticks, and compell tranfgreffors to obedience, and can St. Cyprian do it? What offence hath St. Paul done, that Peters Succeffors' fhould thus degrade him? fure, Manet altâ mente repoftum, they bare him a grudge for reproving St. Peter, Gal, 2 and now they are even with him. In short, forafmuch as the Arguments and premifes are wholly the fame concerning the Scriptures and the Fathers, either the Authority of both of them must be received as Judges of Controverfies, or else both 'must be rejected: for, in pari canfa idem jus, fay the Lawyers, in the fame cause there is the fame right..
Again,another of their arguments, why the Scripture cannot of it felfe be a ground of Faith is this because without the Church we cannot know which books of Scripture are genuine and which are fpurious: This is the great Argument of Stapleton, and all other Romish Doctors.
In like manner I argue the writings of the Fathers cannot in themselves be a folid ground of my faith, becaufe without the Churches judgment I cannot tell which of their Writings are genuine, and which are fpurious. For that there are great multitudes of fpurious Writings masked under the names of the Fathers, is acknowledged by Sixtus Senenfis, Bel: and others, and the Fathers themfelves oft complained of that practice in their daies. So again, Scripture is obfcure and ambiguous, and full of feeming contradictions, and there are many difputes about the true fence, and therofore it cannot be the rule of my faith, fay Bellarm. Becanus, Cofterus, and the reft. The fame may be more justly faid against the Authority of the Fathers. Their obfcurity and ambiguity appeares from the very fame arguments which they bring to make good their charge against the Scriptures, even from the multitude of Comments which Learned men have made upon the darke paffages of the Fathers, in which, no leffe then in St Pauls Epistles are duron,things hard to be un. derstood,which men of corrupt minds wreft to their own deftruction, and from the great difputes which are ac this day fervent in the World,concerning the judgments of the Fathers, and their meaning in feveral paffages about which there are as fierce contefts as about any paffages of the Scripture: it having been truly observed by indifferent perfons, that both Papifts and Proteftants have fortified their feveral and contrariant affections with plaufible arguments from the Fathers: Nor are there onely feeming contradictions in the Fathers (as there are in Scripture) but moft real and direct ones, and if it be not enough, that one of them contradicts another, many pregnant inftances are given of the fame Fa ther in one place, contradicting himselfe in another, But for this and other things concerning the Fathers Authority, I must refer the Reader to thofe Learned Au
thors that have exemplified this in several Instances. (a). Once more, The Scripture (they fay) is corrupted and falfified in feveral places, and so unfit to be a rule: And have the Fathers works feen no corruption? Yes, we have it under the hands of Peffevinus, Sixtus Sinenfis, Bellarmine, & others, who conteffe their hard hap in this particular, and how wofully they are corrupted in multitudes of places, and needs muft the Fathers fare worfe then the Scriptures herein, because they were never preferved with that care and confcience which was exercifed about the Holy Scriptures; Therefore, either they muft quit their Arguments against the Scriptures Authority,or elle renounce the Authority of the Fathers which is ob noxious to the fame inconveniences.
.§.4 2. That the Fathers whose writings are extant (for of them this propofition treats) are not infallible, may be undeniably evinced from the Hypothefis of our Adverfaries,and the fuppofed fubject of that Infallibility which is pretended. Infallibility is the proper and peculiar priviledge of the Church, fay all the Papifts: The onely queftion is,What this Church is? Some make it the Pope, others a Councel, others the whole body of the faithful, but they generally agree that it must be some one or all of thofe: But the Fathers I am here difcourfing of are not one,nor all of these, and therefore they cannnot pretend to the fuppofed infallibility; nor can the Papifts by their own principles afcribe it to them: to which may be added, That if the Pope himselfe, notwithstanding his pretended gift of Infallibility, may err asa private Doctor, either in fpeaking,or writing(which all the Papifts grant) how can either any, or moft of them, who have no other: capacity but that of a private Doctor be exempt from a poflibility of crring? And confequently the Fathers are not infallible,nor a folid foundation of a Papifts faith. (a) Whitaker, Gerrard, Daille.
S. Again, if they will needs obtrude upon us this up, farintalibility of particular Fathers, I demand,whether this infallibility belongs to all the Fathers that lived in ne Age, or onely to the Writers of that age, or onely to thofe of the Writers, whofe works have had better hap then others to come to our hand, and whether to all them together, or onely to a part of them? For one of thefe they muft unavoidably affert: If they say the first, that this Infallibility was in all the Fathers that lived in one Age, or the major part of them (as in reafon they muft, for what Scripture or Reafon had one to pretend Infallibility more then another, excepting alwaies the Bishop of Rome, of whose Infallibility, it muft bee confeffed, there was never any question, namely, because in thofe daies none had the impudence to affert it) if that be granted yet thofe few, whofe writings are extant (of whom alone our controversie is) might all be fallible, though the Major part of the Fathers be ac knowledged infallible Ifit be faid, thofe Fathers do not onely fpeak their own fence, but the fence of the Church of their Age, and in that refpect, they are infallible, which is the common plea, and moit plaufible argument they ufe in this point The Fathers are infallible, not in
expofitions, but in their traditions, and the Detrines they deliver as received from their Ancestors: Thus Sr. Kenelm Digby, White, Holden, and the Papills of the new Modell. This I fhall have occafion to handle more largely afterward at prefent it may fuffice to answer two things. 1 That it is most certain, they are fo far from de ivering the fence of the Church of that Age in the controverfies between us and the Romanists, that they feldome touch upon the most of them, and when they do it, it is obit r, and by acccident, not ex profeffo, and folemnly, they te ing then taken up with other matters,as difputing against Jewes, and Gentiles, and the Hereticks of that Age. D 4 2. How