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Is not this general Rule, that none are Sav'd out of the Catholick Communion, very uncharitable, if it be understood of a Church in one Communion only?
ANSWER, No. It is not.
FIRST, ECAUSE true Faith and Charity cannot be inconfiftent. But whatever follows by a plain and neceffary Confequence from the Scripture and from the Creed (as the Rule here mention'd does) is Part of the Chriftian Faith. Therefore it is confiftent with Charity. See the Answer to the Second Question, and the Corollary.
SECONDLY, the Catholick Church, in this, holds nothing at prefent, but what She has profefs'd in all Ages, and receiv'd by univerfal Tradition. And if this Tradition be ever uncertain, what may become of the Bible, and of Christianity it felf? See the Anfwer to the third Queftion, Num. iii, iv.
THIRDLY, the chief Plea of our Adverfaries is, that they agree with us in all Fundamentals. But this is either nothing at all to the Purpose, or is more than will be granted them: whether by Fundamentals they mean, ist, the chief Mysteries of Christianity, as the B. Trinity and the Incarnation: or 2dly,by fuch Points of Chriftian Faith, as it is neceffary even for the most Ignorant to know, in the Catholick Communion or 3dly, fo many reveal'd
Truths, as are duly propos'd to each Chriftian Chap. 1. in particular: Or 4thly, the whole Chriftian Queft.4. Revelation when duly propos'd.
In the firft fenfe they agree with us in Fundamentals, and, if you please, in all Fundamentals. But thus all Schifmaticks, and many Hereticks agree with the Church: As the Montanists did in the fecond Century; the Novatians in the third; the Donatifts, the Apolinarifts, and the Quartodecimans in the fourth; and the Pelagi ans in the fifth. And the Catholick Church, in all Ages, has, by the fame general Rule, excluded all Diffenters from Salvation, whether Hereticks, or Schifmaticks.
The fecond Senfe will not be granted. For even the most Ignorant in the Catholick Communion know, which is the Holy Catholick Church. They know, which is the One, Holy, Catholick, and Apoftolick Church. And they are oblig'd, as Chriftians, to know this Meaning of the Chriftian Creed.
In the third Senfe, neither Hereticks, nor Schifmaticks can agree with the One, Holy, Catbolick and Apoftolick Church in Fundamentals. For if the have thefe Properties; the Word and Will of God is duly propos'd by her Decrees.
The fame may be faid of Fundamentals, taken in the fourth and laft Senfe. For if the Voice of the Holy Catholick Church be a due Propofer of the whole Christian Revelation; how can thofe, who diffent from her, agree with her in all Fundamentals, understood in this Senfe?
FOURTHLY, as Charity cannot feign thofe Duties to be neceffary to Salvation, which are
Chap. 1. indeed unneceffary: So, when the Neceffity is Queft.4.real, it cannot conceal it. It is therefore Charity to publish what the Creed, the Scripture, the Tradition of all Ages obliges us to think concerning Salvation out of the Catholick and undivided Communion.
FIFTHLY, the Holy Scripture gives Men no affurance of Salvation, but on two Conditions. The first is, that they believe in Jefus Chrift, and that they firmly affent to all Parts of the Christian Revelation, when duly propos'd to them. The fecond is, that, fetting afide an abfolute Impoffibility (which in fome Cafes may happen) they comply with all Duties neceffary to Salvation, of which Duties they are not invincibly ignorant: As ift. to restore ill-gotten Goods, and the good Name of those, whom they have flander'd, S. Mat. vii. v. 12.
2dly, to avoid Herefy, and all other manifeft Works of the Flesh, Gal. v. v. 19, 20, 21; 1 Cor. vi. v. 9, 10.
3dly, to be baptiz'd, S. Mat. xxviii. v. 19. S. Jo. iii. v. 5.
4thly, to be Members of the Holy Catholick Church, Acts ii. v. 47.
SIXTHLY, it was both true and charitable in St. Luke, to tell us, that the Lord added daily to the Church, in one undivided Communion, SUCH AS SHOULD BE SAV'D. And if the Church be always Orthodox, and always one in Faith and Communion (that is, if the Scripture, and the Creed be true) what was then done daily, has been done fince continually. So that this very Charge of Uncharitableness against us, is not only groundlefs, and weak, but is itself Uncharitable in a high Degree.
LASTLY, it is not the Defign of Charity Chap. 1. to pleafe Men, Gal. i. v. 10, but to endeavour, Quest.4. or to procure their Salvation. And it is the greatest Charity, to help thofe, who think, they do not want it. Is it not Charity, to let them fee, what Sins are great and damnable according to the Gofpel? Is it not Charity to put them in mind, that no Religion is fafe to any one, because he and his Friends were bred up in it, because it fuits best with his Intereft, and is the prevailing Religion of the Place? But true Charity always was, and always will be unknown to thofe, who want it. Wicked Men think it highly uncharitable to have their Pleafures and Dreams difturb'd, by the unwelcome news of Death and Hell. Can any thing appear more Uncharitable to Infidels, than these words of Charity itself, (1) be, who believes not, fhall be damn'd? And will not Schifmaticks always think it uncharitable, to be inform'd of the real and infinite Dangers, to which they are expos'd?
But must not faving Truth be told, because we are pretty fure before hand, that it will not be believ'd? Prejudice is a Diftemper almost incurable. But must the Watchman ceafe to cry out, because the People are obstinate, and cannot or will not fee the (2) Sword, which is over their Heads? Muft Charity neglect its Duty, because Herefy is deaf? Or must Danger be diffembled, because it is infinite? It is Charity, to give Advice to a Friend in the Concerns of a fhort Life. And is a Monitor only uncharitable, when Eternity is risk'd ? D 3
They (1) S. Mar. xvi. v. 16. (2) Ezech. xxxiii. v. 2. &c.
Chap. 1. They must then have labour'd under a great Queft.5. Scarcity of Arguments, who first told the People, that Catholicks, in thefe latter Ages, had degenerated from the Piety and Charity of their Predeceffors, by rëftraining Salvation to their own Communion, As if the Catholick Church had ever granted herself to be in more Communions than one: or as if believing what the Catholick Church has always profefs'd, were departing from the Faith once deliver'd to the Saints, St. Jude, v. 3. But an ill Caufe cannot be supported by Truth.
Is it not uncharitable and barbarous to oblige all Men to think, as we do?
ANSWER. TN Matters clearly reveal'd, it is not. We firmly believe, there is a God. But is it either barbarous or uncharitable to fuppofe, that all Men are oblig'd in this to think, as we do? We believe the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Old and New Teftament, that Christianity is the only true Religion. But, if Chriftendom be only the fixth Part of the World, as Dr. (1) Heylin fays it is; is it either bar barous or uncharitable to fuppose, that the reft of Mankind, fetting afide invincible Ignorance, is oblig'd to be Chriftians, and in this refpect to think, as we do? No. For all Mankind is bound to believe,
(1) Cofmogr. pag. 27. an. 1699.