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and wine. We should be the less surprised at this their literal interpretation of our Saviour's words, did they not put a figurative construction on numberless other parts of Scripture, and even on many that are purely historical. But they say, though the substance is changed, the accidents remain the same; and we say, that we know nothing of bodies, but their accidents; that seeing is believing at least; that all bodies are limited; that no body can be in two distant places at once ; and that we are sure, were what they maintain ever so true, God could not have made the belief of it a duty necessary to our eternal salvation; because the distinction between the substances and accidents of bodies, is a thing that cannot be made good by the greatest philosophers, nor at all apprehended by the bulk of mankind. But though this distinction were both intelligible and demonstrable, yet as bread, wine, flesh, and blood, are objects of our senses, the senses here, if apy where, have a right to give testimony; and, to our senses, the elements in the Eucharist, after, as well as before consecration, are truly bread and wine. If therefore our senses are not to be trusted in this their proper and immediate province, they are not to be trusted at all; and consequently, the thorough-paced Papist is reduced to the condition of a senseless block, of which those who have thus metamorphosed him may make what use they please, may either canonize him for a saint, or set him up for a god, or make a stool of him, to seat themselves at ease on.
In numberless other instances, this church presumes to interdict the use of reason, as severely as she does that of the senses in this. It is the characteristic merit of a Papist, to believe, against his natural judgment, whatsover his unerring church, or rather its infallible head, shall dictate. In times of ignorance and superstition, this church was corrupted with infinite errors, both in faith and practice, which she, being too much attached to at the reformation, to give up, defended herself with high pretensions to infallibility. If she had taught her children to believe in purgatory, to trust in indulgences, to be content with a mutilated Eucharist, to pray to creatures, and to fall down before graven images; all this, and a great deal more, directly contrary to the reason of every one, who could read the Scriptures, must
be right; because she could not be in the wrong. But how shall we know, that a church enjoining the belief and practice of such things is infallible? If neither our senses nor our reason are to be trusted in matters so naturally obvious to both, we are incapable of knowing any thing, and consequently can know nothing of her infallibility ; for belief of any kind must have some appearance, at least, of sense or reason to build on; and therefore, as we are but mere stocks and stones, it is ridiculous in her to expect we should believe any thing. If, to draw us in, she allows us but the smallest use of either, we shall presently see, by the injunctions just now mentioned, that she is far enough from infallibility. How can popery make a convert? Surely she will not presume to reason with him, in order to his conversion ; or if she does, how will he like it, to be reasoned as far as the church door, and then to be stripped of his rationality, that he may the better digest what he finds within ? Need I say more to prove this church deceived herself, and a deceiver of all who communicate with her, to men who are determined to use the senses of an animal, and the reason of a rational ani mal ? Whether it is necessary or not, I will go farther.
Let the second note, or mark, of a corrupt church be this, that she enjoins things contrary to the express injunctions of holy Scripture. I must ask you here, whether you expect I should prove this to be the infallible mark of a corrupt church? Gan that church possibly be a true and pure one, that bids us do what God peremptorily forbids, or prohibits that which he commands? Will the infallibility of the church do on this occasion, wherein it is opposed directly to the infallibility of God ? If we have not been beat out of our reason, it will answer, no. With great modesty, surely, may it venture on that negative, for which it neither hath, nor can have, any other alternative, than downright blasphemy.
But wherein does the church of Rome thus directly countermand the orders of Almighty God? Why, God says, “Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image, or the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them :' and the church of Rome says, Thou shalt bow down to graven images
and worship them. God says of the cup in the Eucharist, • Drink ye all of this :' and the church of Rome says, Ye shall not all drink of this. God says, ' Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve :' and the church of Rome says, Thou shalt worship the Virgin Mary; thou shalt also pray to her, and serve her. Many other instances, as strongly contradictory as these, though perhaps not altogether so obvious, might be assigned; but one may be sufficient: for what church shall dare to oppose the will of God? It is but an aggravation of the presumption, to say, he authorizes us thus to contradict himself.
But, on this head, the church of Rome defends herself, not only with her infallibility, but with her oral traditions. She says, God's word is twofold, either written or unwritten. She says also, that both were committed to her keeping, and subjected to her construction. The oral traditions she calls the unwritten word, and by them interprets that which is written. When the Protestants urge her with the Scriptures, she erects her own corrupt customs into traditions, and would have the Scriptures bend to these. It happens unluckily for her, that from the writings of the fathers, which is tradition on record, and to which therefore we allow its proper weight, we can shew in what remote ages, from the apostolic times, her corrupt customs were introduced. Now, we ask, whether the traditions that authorize these customs lay dormant from the days of the apostles, until the introduction of the said customs? Whether it was lawful to commit these traditions to writing, or not? Why, if it was, the fathers of the earlier ages do not mention them in their works? Why, if it was not lawful, the Romish writers have ventured to insert them in theirs ? As they are used for a check, to say no worse, on the word of God, we ought to be very scrupulous about their genuineness and authority. We therefore farther ask, whether, as it always happens in things transmitted by word of mouth, through so many reporters, these traditions, supposing they could have had a real apostolical original, may not have been enlarged, mutilated, or corrupted, in a course of so many years, and in passing through so many hands, whereof those in later ages have given us so much reason to suspect their integrity ? For our parts, we think a 'stream may as well be supposed to run through a hundred dunghills, and come out pure and limpid from the last. But when they happen, as in respect to image-worship, and many other points, flatly to contradict the express appointment of God, there is then no longer room for suspicion ; we are sure they could not have flowed from the Spirit of God; and we say to their vouchers, as Christ did to the Pharisees, 'Ye have made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. We add also, you have left out the particular commandment here hinted at, in many of your manuals, published for vulgar use, and divided the tenth into two, that the ignorant may not perceive they are robbed of one. Is not this a gross and impudent cheat? What ought we to think of a church that dares to juggle thus with the commands of God, and the souls of men ?
Let the third mark of a corrupt church be this, that she is idolatrous; that is, that she both prescribes and practices the worship of creatures. We may amuse ourselves as long as we please with idle distinctions about degrees of worship. The worship so severely prohibited in Scripture, and by all true religion, is prayer to, and dependance on, an absent creature. Either this is idolatry, or there can be no such thing. When either on common occasions, or in our extraordinary distresses, we kneel down, and offer up our prayers to any being, whom we believe in heaven, we attribute to that being the omnipresence or omniscience of God; we love and trust in that being, as more ready and able to help us than any other, or why should we thus address ourselves to him? It is ridiculous to plead humility, when we thus apply to an absent creature, not only because he may happen not to hear us, but because we know God is infinitely condescending to the addresses of his creatures ; or why do we ever presume to pray immediately to him ? Because we know he hath commanded us to pray directly to himself; and also because we know, that, so far as we stand in need of a mediator, we have one at the right hand of God, who hath already shewn us infinitely greater marks of his condescension and readiness to help us, than that of attending to our prayers.
Having shewn that praying to absent creatures is idolatry, we ought also to observe, that idolatry is a damnable sin, and represented to us as such, both by reason and Scripture. Does not reason and common sense tell us, that, since there is but one God, he alone ought to be worshipped, and prayed to ? The love and dependance of an intelligent creature are not to be alienated from its Maker, without an infinite offence to the former, and an equal loss to the latter. But when creatures become, in any degree, the objects of our worship, in the same degree are our hearts estranged and turned aside from God; and turned aside to what? Why, to beings as little able to help themselves as we are; to beings, whose happiness, whose very subsistence, results from perpetual acts of worship paid to God, on their own account. Does not the infinitely gracious Being, in condescending to make, to teach, to redeem, to comfort us, call up our affections and dependance to himself, and sufficiently encourage our continual addresses ? Nay, does he not evidently appear, by all his dealings with us, earnestly to court our love, in a manner infinitely more tender, and more engaging, than that of our fellow-creatures, who cannot be happy without it? And does he not, in his word, represent himself as a husband jealous of our affections on this very subject of his worship? How often does he peremptorily forbid us to have any other object of adoration but himself; awfully inculcating his justice, his power, his majesty, that we may fear him; pathetically pleading his mercy and bounty, that we may love him ; and strongly assuring us of his truth and faithfulness, that we may depend upon him? Shall we, thus solicited by the infinite Being himself, foolishly and impiously solicit any other ? No, my brethren; let us, from our very souls, detest the most distant thought of so enormous a practice; and look, with a mixture of horror and pity, on that church which prescribes it, as abandoned to a most unhappy infatuation. Fly far from her, you whom God, in mercy to your souls, hath already taught to see her danger. And you, who have been unhappily educated in her communion, hear his voice, who cries from heaven, saying, • Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues ; for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.'