Imatges de pÓgina
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Sav'd, without invincible Ignorance? If it be Chap. 2. not; how can their Adverfaries be Sav'd, Queft.8. without it?

III. Arians think, it is clearly reveal'd, that the Son and the H. Spirit are Creatures. The Catholick Church, and almost all other Sects think it clearly reveal'd, that the Son and the H. Spirit are divine and uncreated Perfons, and adore them as fuch. If Arianifm then be an Error against the plain Word of God; how can Arians be Sav'd, without invincible Ignorance? If it be not; how can other Chriftians be Sav'd, without it?

Eighth QUESTION.

Is Ignorance always invincible,when a Man fol-
lows bis Confcience, and acts without Remorfe?

"

"T

ANSWER. TIS certain, it is not. For,
firft, a Man's Confcience it felf
may be wicked; it may be a Crime, and the
greatest of all his Crimes, as has been prov'd
(1) already. It may therefore be, and is too
often, grounded on voluntary and wilful Ig-

norance.

Secondly, A Man's Confcience being nothing elfe, but the Judgment or Opinion, which he 1 has of his Duty: his Confcience may proceed from unreasonable and unjust Prejudices, from Folly, Precipitation, and Rafhnefs; from Obftinacy, and Pride; from Hatred, Envy Ma

lice,

(1) Chap. i. Quest. vii

Chap. 2. lice, or from a criminal Neglect in Matters of Quelt.8. Religion. And in all thefe Cafes, it is joyn'd with a voluntary and criminal Ignorance.

Thirdly, The moft obftinate and perverse Schifmaticks, Hereticks, Jews, Turks, and Pagans follow their Confciences without Remorse. But whether do they follow them? Doubtlefs to Hell. For if a Man's Confcience be it felf a Crime, to what other Place can it lead him?

By fuch a discreet and tender Confcience as this, Pharaoh was or might be directed, when he refifted the Commands of God, under the greatest Evidence of an Omnipotent Hand. The Enemies of Chrift, and of his Apoftles, were directed by it,when they perfwaded themfelves, (2) that they did God Service, by thirsting their Blood.

For when a Man's Confcience is a Crime; of what Exceffes is he not capable? Tho' he was train'd up in the Light of Christian and Catholick Principles; he can apoftatize from both without Scruple. He can baffle the strongest Evidence, and can even attribute the Works of God to Satan. Hence he is wicked by Principle, he is doubly damn'd, and Sins against the H. Spirit, as the (3) Scribes and Pharifees did. A Crime, which being committed against the clearest Evidence, is the most provoking, as well as the most fatal, and the most unpardonable. For without an unusual and miraculous fort of Grace, it leaves no room for Mercy and Repentance. His Cafe

is

(2) S. Jo. xvi. v. 2. (3) S. Mat. xii. v. 31, 32. S. Mar. iii. v. 28, 29.

is fo defperate, that according to Dr Hammond, Chap. 2. S. Paul fays of him: (4) It is impoffible for Queft.8. thofe, who were once inlighten'd, and have tafted of the Heavenly Gift, and were made Partakers of the Holy Ghoft, and have tasted the good word of God, and the Powers of the World come, and (5) have fal'n; to be renew'd again to Repentance: feeing they crucify to themfelves the Son of God a fresh, and make a Fest of him. For the Soil, which drinks up the Rain, that comes oft upon it, and brings forth Herbs for their Ufe, by whom it is cultivated, receives a Bleffing from God: but that, which bears Thorns and Briars, is rejected, and is near to a Curfe,whofe end is to be burn'd. They have (6) trod under foot the Son of God, they have profan'd the Blood of the Teftament by which they were Sanctify'd, and have affronted the Spirit of Grace. What then remains, (7) but a dreadful Expectation of Judgment, and a fiery Indignation, which will devour the Adverfaries of Truth?

This gives us the true Reason, why fo few Countries, after they have once apoftatiz'd from the Chriftian or Catholick Faith, are ever blefs'd with fuch a powerful Grace, as to return to their Duty. In how many Parts of the World, and through how many Ages, have the long Schifms, which were begun by Neftorius, Eutyches, and Photius, maintain'd their Ground? And are they not still as per

verse,

(4) Heb. vi. 3. 4. Dr Hammond understands thefe words of thofe, who departed from the Church of Chrift to the Gnosticks, fo call'd because they pretended to a more exact Knowlege of the Chriftian Revelation. (5) mag πόντας ν. 6. (6) Heb. X. v. 29. (7) το 27ο

+

Chap. 2. verfe, and as incorrigible, as ever? All the Queft.9. Turkish Dominions in a manner, in Afia, Africa, and Europe, were once a Part of the Catholick Church. But which of them has ever return'd to Chrift, fince their Ancestors preferr'd Mahomet before him? No, they are Apoftates by Defcent. They inherit a National Sin against the H. Spirit, and therefore have little more than a weak Poffibility of Repentance left, with a moral Impoffibility that it will ever happen. For a National Faith is too great a Bleffing to be given twice. And National Prejudices (against Truth, once abandon'd) are never to be obliterated. Thus Blindnefs, which was the Fore-Father's Choice, be comes the Son's Inheritance: and drag's him to Perdition, without Scruple or Remorfe.

'Tis rather Stupidity therefore, than a Miftake, to fuppofe, that Ignorance is invincible, if a Man follows his Confcience, and Sins without Remorfe.

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Ninth QUESTION

If the Catholick Church did not think all Perfons damn'd, who refufe to die in ber Faith and Communion; why does not She give them Christian Burial? Why does not She pray for them, as She does even for publick Sinners, who die in her Communion?

ANSWER.

HE Catholick Church prays every Day for the Souls of all the Faithful departed; that is, of all who

T

are

are capable of being help'd by her Prayers. Chap. 2. And if She does not pray in particular for any, Queft.9. who refufe to die in her Faith and Communion, nor give them Chriftian Burial; the Reafon of this is her Charity to the Living, and that She may deter them, by this Means, from Herefy and Schifm. Nor would She pray for any, whether publick or private Sinners, who die in her Communion, if She were fure, that they die ill.

She has therefore fo much Charity, as to pray in particular for all her known Children, after their Death, even for publick Sinners, when She is not Sure, that they died as they liv'd. But her Charity and Compaffion to the Living has always hinder'd her from praying in the fame manner for those, who refuse to die in her Faith and Communion: left her Children should think, that Herefy and Schifm are small Offences; and that they are not as much oblig'd both to live and to die in her Faith and Communion, as they are oblig❜d to be baptiz'd, and to keep the Commandments of God.

Tenth QUESTION.

Can Scholars who make Religion their Study, have invincible Ignorance of the true Church?

TH

ANSWER. THO' Scholars have not the faireft Claim to invincible Ighorance of things clearly reveal'd (for the true Church is of this number, whether we confi

der

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