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Your Grace, in the Charitable Address to the Roman Catholicks of Ireland, is pleas'd to leave us at our Liberty, either of retaining our Principles, or the several Things we profess and practice, if upon a full Examination of them we find them to be right, or in rejecting them in Case they shall manifestly appear to be wrong : It is therefore my Lurd, I venture to let your Grace know, that (after perüfing faid Address with all the Care aid Attention I am Mafter of, and in which, in my humble Opinion, as much is said as can be offer'd upon that Subject) nót one of our Principles manifefly appears to me to be wrong, but rather upon a full Exami. nation find the several Things we profess and practice to be right, and which I most firmly believe, not out of Obstinacy, Prejudice or Prepoffefsion, but out of a thorough Convi&tion of Conscience; and am therefore with God's Grace, fully determin’d to retain to my 1 Breath, be. ing convinc'd that nothing is moodious or abominable to God than double Dealing in the great and weighty Affair of Religion: And to the End it may appear that we are prepared to give Satisfaction to every one, wbo asketb usa ŘeaSon of the "Hope that is in us, which, as your Grace reminds us, is given us in Charge by St. Peter, 1. Pet. 3. 15. I therefore, tho' not fo able for this Undertaking as some others of my Brethren, presume to give Satisfaction to what your Grace asks in the said Address.
And here I declare, My Lord, that if any unguarded or uncivil Expression shall drop from my Pen, which may give just Cause of Offence to your Grace, or may seem to break in upon the Respect and Efteem due to your Grace's
Perfon and great Merit ; I do from this Moment retract it, and defire it may be look'd upon, Quasi non di&tum, as being far from my Heart and Intentio'. • Your Grace's first Paragraph being only a pathetick Exhortation to read with Attention and Patience the Charitable Address, I thall
pro; ceed to the second ; where your Grace is pleased to say: “ If you refuse or neglect to enquire in" to the Ground and Reason of the Religion “ which you have embrac'd, and the several “ Parts and Branches of it, Do not think that “ it will excuse you before God at the last Day, " that your Parents br Friends brought you up " in this Religion, which was profess'd by your. " Fore-fathers; or that your Spiritual Guides “ have thus taught you : For a few, a Turkand “ a Heathen, may in the same Manner excuse " thenfelves to all Intents and purposes, as well
as you. God has given you rational Souls ; “ and if you make ufe of your own Under" ftanding, according to the best of your seve“ ral Capacities to preserve your selves, as well “ as you can, from those Evils and Calamities “ woich otherwise might, for want of Care, be"fal you in this World ; Is there not much is
more Reason, that you shou'd do the same " where your precious Couls are at Stake ? “ Look into your own Bibles (if you suspect « the Truth of ours) and there you will find St. “ Peter himself giving you a Charge, that you “ should always
be prepared to give Satisfaction “ to every one who asketh you a Reason of the " Hope that is in you, ļ. Pet. 3. 15: In like,
Manner St. Paul dire as you to prove ['or try} all Things, and to hold fast that which is Good." « 1. Thes. v. 21. And St. Jonn, in as plain “ Words as may be, says uato you and to all « Christians : Beloved, believe not every Spirit, " but try the Spirits, whether they are of God: For " thot many false Prophets are gone out into the “ World. 1. John. 4. 1. Many there are, and al
ways have been, who under the Pretence of “ teaching the true Religion, have broached most " pernicious and dangerous Errors: These are
the false Prophets of which St. Fohn here speaks : Nor is it possible for any Man to dis« tinguish them from true Prophets or Teachers,
except he trys, examins, and searches into " their Doctrine, that he may thereby find whe“ther they are guided by the Spirit of God, or “ whether they are under a Spirit of Delusion.”
My Lord, I hope your Grace will not infer from these Texts of Scripture, that it may be lawful for any private Man, whether learned or unlearned to try, examin, or search into the Faith once delivered unto the Saints; or (which is the same Thing) into Articles of Faith defia'd and determin’d by the Church, so as to be al. lowed to prefer his own private Judgme it to that of the Church If so, I mui beg leave to differ i. Opinion with your Grace: For St. Paul says expressly: Tho' we; or an Angel from Heaven Preach any other Gospel unto you, than that which we have Preached unto you, Let him be accursed. Gal. 1. 8. Thus your own En.. glith Version, of which I shall always make use to avoid Misunderstanding. Tis true Chrift our Saviour doch often recommend to the Jews to search the Scriptures and try whether his Do. Arine and W crls were agreeable to the Propłchez foretold of the Mellias, and St. Luke,
Als 17. 11. says, the Bereans were more no. ble than those or Thesalonica, who received the Word with all Readiness, , Searching the Scriptures daily whether thoje twings were so. Buc then, this was both as to the Jews and Bereans before they were Baptized, or made Profesion. of the Faith of Christ : But it is no where faid in Scripture, that the Faithful should search the Scriptures, so as that it might be lawsul for them to recede from the Faith, if upon their own Examina:ion.or Judgment of it, they did not find it agreeable to their Reason. On the contrary, we find, that when the Jews, who had received the Faith of Christ, did upon their own private Interpretation of the Law of Mofes, endeavour to oblige the Gentiles converted to Christianity to be Circumcised, and that the Apostles and Priests or Elders affem, bled in Council, did decree and determin the contrary, with a Visum est Spiritui Sancto & , nobis. It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us. Acts 15. 28. They were so far from allowing either şews or Gentiles to examin their Decree, that they delivered the same to them 10 keep, that is to be executed or obfèrved, as it is expressly recorded by St. Luke, Acts 16.4. In conformity to this Rule of the Holy Ghost, and of the Apostles, and Elders; their successors the Bi thops and Doctors of the Church in Council assembled, have in all Ages, fram d their De- • crees, when any Dispute arose concerning Matters of Faith; and obliged the Faithful, (not to examin their Decrees but) to receive and keep them on Pain of Anatbema or Curse. Thus the Bishops and Doctors affenibled in the Council of Nice in the Year 325. decreed,
that Jesus Christ was Consubstantial with the Father, and pronounced Anathema against Arius, and all those who did not believe the same.
Thus the first Council of Constantinople pronounced against Macedonius and his Adherents, who did not believe the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. The Council of Ephesus against Neftorius for not believi g the Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God, and for asserting that there were two Persons in Christ. The Council of Calce. don against Eutyches for maintaining that there was but one Nature in Chrift: And thus all fucceeding general Councils have decreed and derermin'd all Disputes arising about Matters of Faith, being perswaded they had the Affiftance of the Holy Ghost, to guide them into all
Truth, upon the repeated Promises of Christ our Saviour to that Purpose ; so that they might after the Model of the Apostles and Elders in Council assembled in Jerusalem, say with Regard to their . Decrees concerning Matters of Faith. : Vifum eft Spirit:ai Sancto &9.nobis. . It seerged good to the Holy Ghost, and to But suppose, My Lord, I should allow (as indeed I cannot Jthat it may be lawful for all Mankind to search the Scripture so as to make themselves. Judges of the Sense thereof; how few are there in the World, capable of trying, examining, or ' searching into Mysteries of Faith in comparison of those that are no“, any other way than by: submitting their Judgment to that of the Cathoa lick Church; It being evident that there are an Hundred Ignorant People in the Christian World for one that is learned, and, that before the Art cf Printing was invented, which is not above.