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his eternal displeasure. But in giving the final sentence, as we have no more to do than your men have, yet so we refuse to follow your evil example; and we follow the glorious precedent of our blessed Lord; who decreed and declared against the crime, but not against the criminal before the day. He that does this, or that, is in danger of the council, or in danger of judgment, or liable and obnoxious to the danger of hell-fire so we say of your greatest errors, they put you in the danger of perishing; but that you shall or shall not perish, we leave it to your Judge; and if you call this charity, it is well, I am sure it is piety and the fear of God.
7. Whether you may be saved, or whether you shall be damned for your errors, does neither depend upon our affirmative nor your negative, but according to the rate and value which God sets upon things. Whatever we talk, things are as they are, not as we dispute, or grant, or hope; and therefore it were well if your men would leave abusing you and themselves with these little arts of indirect support. For many men that are warranted, yet do eternally perish; and you in your church damn millions, who, I doubt not, shall reign with Jesus eternally in the heavens.
8. I wish you would consider, that if any of our men say, salvation may be had in your church, it is not for the goodness of your new propositions, but only because you do keep so much of that which is our religion, that upon the confidence of that, we hope well concerning you. And we do not hope any thing at all that is good of you or your religion as it distinguishes from us and ours. We hope that the good which you have common with us, may obtain pardon directly or indirectly, or may be an antidote of the venom, and an amulet against the danger of your very great errors: so that if you can derive any confidence from our concession, you must remember where it takes root; not upon any thing of yours, but wholly upon the excellency of ours: you are not at all safe or warranted for being a Papist; but we hope well of some of you, for having so much of the Protestant: and if that will do you any good, proceed in it, and follow it whithersoever it leads you.
9. The safety that you dream of, which we say to be on your side, is nothing of allowance or warranty, but a hope that is collateral, indirect, and relative.
We do not say any thing, whereby you can conclude yours to be safer than ours; for it is not safe at all, but extremely dangerous: we affirm those errors in themselves to be damnable, some to contain in them impiety, some to have sacrilege, some idolatry, some superstition, some practices to be conjuring and charming and very like to witchcraft, as in your hallowing of water, and baptizing bells, and exorcising demoniacs; and what safety there can be in these, or what you can fancy we should allow to you, I suppose you need not boast of. Now because we hope some are saved amongst you, you must not conclude yours to be safe; for our hope relies upon this: there are many of your propositions in which we differ from you, that thousands amongst you understand and know nothing of; it is to them as if they were not; it is to them now as it was before the council, they hear not of it. And though your priests have taken a course that the most ignorant do practise some of your abominations most grossly, yet we hope this will not be laid upon them who, as St. Austin's expression is, "cautâ sollicitudine quærunt veritatem, corrigi parati cum invenerint;" "do, according as they are able, warily and diligently seek for truth, and are ready to follow it when they find it ;" men who live good lives, and repent of all their evils known and unknown. Now if we are not deceived in our hopes, these men shall rejoice in the eternal goodness of God, which prevails over the malice of them that misguide you: but if we be deceived in our hopes of you, your guides have abused you, and the blind leaders of the blind will fall together. For,
10, If you will have the secret of this whole affair, this it is. The hopes we have of any of you, as it is known, principally rely upon the hopes of your repentance. Now we say that a man may repent of an error which he knows not of; as he, that prays heartily for pardon of all sins and errors known and unknown,-by his general repentance may obtain many degrees and instances of mercy. Now thus much also your men allow to us; these who live well, and die in a true, though but general, repentance of their sins and errors even amongst us, your best and wisest men pronounce to be in a savable condition. Here then we are equal, and we are as safe by your confession as you are by ours. But because
there are some bigots of your faction, fierce and fiery, who say that a general repentance will not serve our turns, but it must be a particular renunciation of Protestancy; these men deny not only to us but to themselves too, all that comfort which they derive from our concession, and indeed which they can hope for from the mercies of God. For be you sure we think as ill of your errors as you can suppose of our articles; and therefore if for errors, be they on which side it chances, a general repentance will not serve the turn without an actual dereliction, then flatter not yourselves by any thing of our kindness to your party; for you must have a particular, if a general be not sufficient. But if it be sufficient for you it is so for us, in case we be in error, as your men suppose us; but if it will not suffice us for remedy to those errors you charge us with, neither will it suffice you; for the case must needs be equal as to the value of repentance and malignity of the error and therefore these men condemn themselves and will not allow us to hope well of them but if they will allow us to hope, it must be by affirming the value of a general repentance; and if they allow that, they must hope as well of ours as we of theirs but if they deny it to us, they Meny it to themselves; and then they can no more brag of any thing of our concession. This only I add to this consideration; that your men do not, cannot charge upon us any doctrine that is in its matter and effect impious; there is nothing positive in our doctrine, but is either true or innocent; but we are accused for denying your superstructures: ours therefore, if we be deceived, is but like a sin of omission; yours are sins of commission, in case you are in the wrong (as we believe you to be), and therefore you must needs be in the greater danger than we can be supposed, by how much sins of omission are less than sins of commission.
11. Your very way of arguing from our charity is a very fallacy, and a trick that must needs deceive you if you rely upon it. For whereas your men argue thus; 'The Protestants, say we Papists, may be saved; and so say we too; but we Papists say that you Protestants cannot, therefore it is safest to be a Papist:' consider that of this argument, if it shall be accepted, any bold heretic can make use, against any modest Christian of a true persuasion. For, if he can but outface the modesty of the good man, and tell him he shall be
damned; unless that modest man say as much of him, you see impudence shall get the better of the day. But it is thus in every error. Fifteen bishops of Jerusalem in immediate succession were circumcised, believing it to be necessary so to be with these other Christian churches, who were of the uncircumcision, did communicate: suppose now that these bishops had not only thought it necessary for themselves, but for others too; this argument you see was ready; you of the uncircumcision who do communicate with us, think that we may be saved though we are circumcised; but we do not think that you who are not circumcised can be saved, therefore it is the safest way to be circumcised:-I suppose you would not have thought their argument good, neither would you have had your children circumcised. But this argument may serve the Presbyterians as well as the Papists. We are indeed very kind to them in our sentences concerning their salvation; and they are many of them as unkind to us. If they should argue so as you do, and say, 'You episcopal men think we Presbyterians, though in errors, can be saved, and we say so too but we think you episcopal men are enemies of the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and therefore we think you in a damnable condition; therefore it is safer to be a Presbyterian :' I know not what your men would think of the argument in their hands, I am sure we had reason to complain that we are used very ill on both hands for no other cause but because we are charitable. But it is not our case alone; but the old Catholics were used just so by the Donatists in this very argument, as we are used by your men. The Donatists were so fierce against the Catholics, that they would rebaptize all them who came to their churches from the other: but the Catholics, as knowing the Donatists did give right baptism, admitted their converts to repentance, but did not rebaptize them. Upon this score, the Donatists triumphed, saying, You Catholics confess our baptism to be good, and so say we but we Donatists deny your baptism to be good; therefore it is safer to be of our side than yours. Now what should the Catholics say or do? should they lie for God and for religion, and, to serve the ends of truth, say, the Donatists' baptism was not good? That they ought not. Should they damn all the Donatists, and make the rent wider? it was too great already. What then? They were quiet, and knew that
the Donatists sought advantages by their own fierceness, and trampled upon the others' charity; but so they hardened themselves in error, and became evil, because the others were good.
I shall trouble you no further now, but desire you to consider of these things with as much caution, as they were written with charity.
Till I hear from you, I shall pray to God to open your heart and your understanding, that you may return from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do your first works. Which that you may do, is the hearty desire of
Your very affectionate
Friend and Servant,