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THE B Y-WA Y.
THE SAFEST, AND ONELY INFALLIBLE WAY TO · FINDE OUT THE TRUE CHURCH, IS BY THE SCRIPTURE.
When the Donatists, in the most flourishing times of Cliristian Religion, arrogantly and presumptuously appropriated the Catholique and Universall Church, to their hæreticall and particular faction : 8t: Austén encountring them, states the poynt of Controversie in this manner. The question is where the Church should bee, what then shall we doe? shall wee steke it in 'our owne wordes, of in the wordes of our Lord Jesus? In my judgement we ought rather to seeke the Church" in his owne wordes, for that he is the truth, and knoweth his orone body*
You Quæstio est ubi sit Ecclesia: quid ergo facturi sumustan in verbis nostris eam quæ situri, an in verbis capitis son' Dom. Dunia
You have heard the question propounded, and answered by the Oracle of that age. Such is the difference at this day, betwixt the Church of Rome and us; and I heartily wish, wee might joine issue with them upon the like tearmes, and both agree with one unanimous consent to seeke the Church of God in the worde of God; then should wee be gathered, as sheep to one sheep-fold, and the weake in faith should be received, not to doubtfull disputations, but to the reading of the Scriptures : and they that now question the Visibilitie of our Church before Luther, would first examine the infallibillitie of their owne, by the Touchstone of the Gospell; and the rather, because it is agreed on both sides, that whatsoever Church professeth that faith and doctrine, which Christ and his Apostles taught in the first age; the same Church and doctrine hạth continued more or less visible in all ages. But to return to the Donatists.
When Christ in the Canticles, (Cant. i. 7.) de manded of his Spouse where she rested Meridie, at Noone-day, the Donatists concluded Christ's question with their owne answere, that the Church did rest Meridie, and that was in the South : and from this ground, excluded all other Churches, but their owne, in the South of Africk: The Donatists' claime, was seemingly derived from the authority of the Scriptures (for Donatus, and Austen,
nostri Jesu Christi? Puto quod in illius potius verbis eam quærere debemus, quia veritas est, et novit corpus suum. Aug. de unit. Eccles, cap. 2.
heretique and Catholique, both urge the Scriptures;) but observe the difference : Saint Austen puts the whole issue of his cause upon the Scripture; the Doñatists claimed their doctrine by the publique voices of the Africans ; they assumed to themselves the title of the Catholike Church; they magnified the Councels of their Bishops; they gloried in their frequent, though fained miracles: these were the principall grounds of their Church, and upon these they challenged that great Champion. But heare what answere hee makes them. Let the Donatists, if they can, shew their Church, not in rumors and speeches of the men of Africa, not in the Councels of their Bishops, not in discourses of any Writers whatsoever, not in signes and miracles that may be forged, for we are forewarned by God's word, and therefore fore-armed against those things : but in the prescript of the Law, in the prediction of the Prophets, in the verses of the Psalmes, in the voices of the Shepheard himselfe, in the preaching and workes of the Evangelistes, that is in all the Canonicall authorities of the sacred Scriptures *.
If Saint Austen had been living in these dayes,
Remotis ergo omnibus talibus, Ecclesiam suam demonstrant si possunt, non in sermonibus et rumoribus Afrorum, non in Conciliis Episcoporum, non in literis quorum libet dispútatorům, non in signis et prodigiis fallacibus, quia etiam contra ista verbo Dom. præparati et cauti redditi sumus; sed in præscriptio Legis, in Prophetarum prædictis, in Psalmorum cantibus, in ipsius Pastoris vocibus, in Evangelistarum prædicationibus et laboribus (hoc est) in ompibus Canonieis Sanctorum librorum aathoritatibus. Aug. de unit. Eccles. cap. 16. .
either lie must have retracted this Protestant doctrine, or hee would have been reputed for an heretique ;, for all these marks, which were anciently maintained by the Donatists, are proclaimed by our adversaries to be visible characters of the true Church : neither did this learned father require more of the Donatists, then the Catholiques of those times were willing to performe on their parts; and therefore he bindes himselfe to the same conditions which hee required of his adversaries, and withall renders the reason of his demand. Quia nec nos propterea dicimus, &c. Because wee ourselves doe not say wee must therefore be beleeved, for that wee are in the Church of Christ, or else for that Optatus and Ambrose, and infinite other Bishops of our Communion, have commended the Church which wee hold, or because our Church hath bin published in the Councells of our Colleagues, or because in all places of the world where our Communion is frequented, there are so many miracles wrought*. This was the doctrine of Saint Austen, and the ancient Fathers, and this is ours; they required no more of the Donatists, but to lay apart all pretended titles, and rely onely upon the word of God. We offer to the Romanists
* Nec non propterea dicimus nobis credere oportere quod in Ecclesia Christi sumus quia ipsam quam tenemus, commendavit Milevitanus Optatus, vel Mediolanensis Ambrosius, vel alii innumerabilis nostræ communionis Episcopi, aut quia nostrorum Collegarum Conciliis prædicata est aut quia per totum orbem in locis sanctis quæ frequentat postra communio tanta mirabilia fiunt. Aug. de unit. Eccles. cap. 16.