Page images

may lawfully be worshipped: and they who have these thoughts are as much enemies of idolatry as they that understand better how to avoid that inconvenience which is supposed to be the crime, which they formally hate, and we materially avoid. This consideration was concerning the doctrine itself.

18. Secondly and now for any danger to men's persons for suffering such a doctrine, this I shall say, that if they who do it, are not formally guilty of idolatry, there is no danger that they whom they persuade to it, should be guilty. And what persons soever believe it to be idolatry to worship the sacrament, while that persuasion remains, will never be brought to it, there is no fear of that; and he that persuades them to do it, by altering their persuasions and beliefs, does no hurt but altering the opinions of the men, and abusing their understandings: but when they believe it to be no idolatry, then their so believing it is sufficient security from that crime, which hath so great a tincture and residency in the will, that from thence only it hath its being criminal.

19. Thirdly: however, if it were idolatry, I think the precept of God to the Jews of killing false and idolatrous prophets will be no warrant for Christians so to do. For in the case of the apostles and the men of Samaria, when James and John would have called for fire to destroy them, even as Elias did under Moses's law, Christ distinguished the spirit of Elias from his own spirit, and taught them a lesson of greater sweetness, and consigned this truth to all ages of the church, that such severity is not consistent with the meekness, which Christ by his example and sermons hath made a precept evangelical: at most it was but a judicial law, and no more of argument to make it necessary to us than the Mosaical precepts of putting adulterers to death, and trying the accused persons by the waters of jealousy.

20. And thus, in these two instances, I have given account what is to be done in toleration of diversity of opinions. The result of which is principally this; let the prince and the secular power have a care the commonwealth be safe. For whether such or such a sect of Christians be to be permitted is a question rather political than religious: for as for the concernments of religion, these instances have furnished us

[blocks in formation]

with sufficient to determine us in our duties as to that particular, and by one of these all particulars may be judged.

21. And now it were a strange inhumanity to permit Jews in a commonwealth, whose interest is served in their inhabitation; and yet upon equal grounds of state and policy not to permit differing sects of Christians. For although possibly there is more danger men's persuasions should be altered in a commixture of divers sects of Christians; yet there is not so much danger when they are changed from Christian to Christian, as if they be turned from Christian to Jew, or Moor, as many are daily in Spain and Portugal.

22. And this is not to be excused by saying the church hath no power over them 'qui foris sunt,' as Jews are. For it is true, the church in the capacity of spiritual regiments hath nothing to do with them, because they are not her diocess: yet the prince hath to do with them when they are subjects of his regiment. They may not be excommunicate any more than a stone may be killed, because they are not of the Christian communion: but they are living persons, parts of the commonwealth, infinitely deceived in their religion, and very dangerous if they offer to persuade men to their opinions, and are the greatest enemies of Christ, whose honour and the interest of whose service a Christian prince is bound with all his power to maintain. And when the question is of punishing disagreeing persons with death, the church hath equally nothing to do with them both, for she hath nothing to do with the temporal sword; but the prince, whose subjects equally Christians and Jews are, hath equal power over their persons; for a Christian is no more a subject than a Jew is, the prince hath upon them both the same power of life and death: so that the Jew by being no Christian is not foris,' or any more an exempt person for his body or his life, than the Christian is: and yet in all churches where the secular power hath temporal reason to tolerate the Jews, they are tolerated without any scruple in religion. Which thing is of more consideration, because the Jews are direct blasphemers of the Son of God, and blasphemy by their own law, the law of Moses, is made capital; and might with greater reason be inflicted upon them, who acknowledge its obligation, than urged upon Christians, as an authority

[ocr errors]

enabling princes to put them to death, who are accused of accidental and consecutive blasphemy and idolatry respectively, which yet they hate and disavow with much zeal and heartiness of persuasion. And I cannot yet learn a reason why we shall not be more complying with them who are of the household of faith: for at least they are children, though they be but rebellious children; (and if they were not, what hath the mother to do with them any more than with the Jews?) they are in some relation or habitude of the family; for they are consigned with the same baptism, profess the same faith delivered by the apostles, are erected in the same hope, and look for the same glory to be revealed to them at the coming of their common Lord and Saviour, to whose service, according to their understanding, they have vowed themselves. And if the disagreeing persons be to be esteemed as heathens and publicans, yet not worse. "Have no company with them;" that is the worst that is to be done to such a man, in St. Paul's judgment: "yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."


Of the Duty of particular Churches in allowing Communion. FROM these premises we are easily instructed concerning the lawfulness or duty respectively of Christian communion, which is differently to be considered in respect of particular churches to each other, and of particular men to particular churches. For as for particular churches, they are bound to allow communion to all those that profess the same faith, upon which the apostles did give communion. For whatsoever preserves us as members of the church, gives us title to the communion of saints; and whatsoever faith or belief that is to which God hath promised heaven, that faith makes us members of the catholic church. Since therefore the judicial acts of the church are then most prudent and religious, when they nearest imitate the example and piety of God; to make the way to heaven straiter than God made it, or to deny to communicate with those with whom God will vouchsafe to be united, and to refuse our charity to those who have the

same faith, because they have not all our opinions, and believe not every thing necessary which we overvalue, is impious and schismatical; it infers tyranny on one part, and persuades and tempts to uncharitableness and animosities on both; it dissolves societies, and is an enemy to peace; it busies men in impertinent wranglings; and by names of men and titles of factions it consigns the interested parties to act their differences to the height, and makes them neglect those advantages, which piety and a good life bring to the reputation of Christian religion and societies.


2. And therefore Vincentius Lirinensis, and indeed the whole church, accounted the Donatists heretics upon this very ground, because they did imperiously deny their communion to all that were not of their persuasion: whereas the authors of that opinion for which they first did separate and make a sect, because they did not break the church's peace, nor magisterially prescribe to others, were in that disagreeing and error accounted catholics. "Divisio enim et disunio facit vos hæreticos, pax et unitas faciunt catholicos," said St. Austin. And to this sense is that of St. Paul, "If I had all faith, and had not charity, I am nothing." He who, upon confidence of his true belief, denies a charitable communion to his brother, loses the reward of both. And if Pope Victor had been as charitable to the Asiatics as Pope Anicetus and St. Polycarp were to each other in the same disagreeing concerning Easter, Victor had not been πληκτικώτερον κατατιθέμενος, so bitterly reproved and condemned as he was for the uncharitable managing of his disagreeing, by Polycrates and Irenæus. "Concordia enim, quæ est caritatis effectus, est unio voluntatum, non opinionum :" "True faith, which leads to charity, leads on to that which unites wills and affections, not opinions"."

3. Upon these or the like considerations the emperor Zeno published his ivwrukov, in which he made the Nicene Creed to be the medium of catholic communion; and although he lived after the council of Chalcedon, yet he made not the decrees of that council an instrument of its restraint and limit, as preferring the peace of Christendom and the union of cha

y Cap. 11. Vid. Pacian. Epist. ad Sempron. 2.

2 Lib. 2. c. 95. contra liter. Petilian.

Euseb. 1. 5. c. 25, 26. Aquin. 2. 2. q. 37. a. 1.

rity far before a forced or pretended unity of persuasion, which never was nor ever will be real and substantial: and although it were very convenient if it could be had, yet it is therefore not necessary, because it is impossible. And if men please, whatever advantages to the public would be consequent to it, may be supplied by a charitable compliance and mutual permission of opinion, and the offices of a brotherly affection prescribed us by the laws of Christianity. And we have seen it, that all sects of Christians, when they have an end to be served upon a third, have permitted that liberty to a second which we now contend for, and which they formerly denied, but now grant, that by joining hands they might be the stronger to destroy the third. The Arians and Miletians joined against the catholics; the catholics and Novatians joined against the Arians. Now if men would do that for charity which they do for interest, it were handsomer and more ingenuous for that they do permit each other's disagreeings for their interest's sake, convinceth them of the lawfulness of the thing, or else the unlawfulness of their own proceedings. And therefore it were better they would serve the ends of charity than of faction; for then that good end would hallow the proceeding, and make it both more prudent and more pious, while it serves the design of religious purposes.


That particular Men may communicate with Churches of different Persuasions; and how far they may do it.

1. As for the duty of particular men in the question of communicating with churches of different persuasions, it is to be regulated according to the laws of those churches. For if they require no impiety or any thing unlawful as the condition of their communion, then they communicate with them as they are servants of Christ, as disciples of his doctrine and subjects to his laws, and the particular distinguishing doctrine of their sect hath no influence or communication with him, who from another sect is willing to communicate with all the servants of their common Lord. For since no church of one name is infallible, a wise man may have either the

« PreviousContinue »