« הקודםהמשך »
that we make such allowances for you: And we make them not upon the account of those things wherein you differ from us, for therein lieth your great danger, but upon the score of those Fundamental Truths which you retain, and hold with us; and for the Belief of those, we hope, as many among you, who do not know they are in Error, I mean the invincibly Ignorant, may find Mercy from God, who makes allowances for the unwilling Mistakes of Men, in the great Day; when as I am inclin’d to hope, his Mercy, which is as infinite as his Majesty, may do for some well-meaning Heathens and Jetos.
But for my own part, as God in Mercy hath given me clear sight of all the Errors and Corruptions of your Church; so for fear of partaking of her Sins, I dare abide no longer in her Communion, and with Sorrow and contrition of Heart I bewail my Misfortune, and humble my self in the sight of God for not discerning them sooner. But I trust he hath accepted my Repentance for my sinful Blindness and Rashness in leaving the Church of England in her Distress ; the Catholick Church of England, as she deserves to be called, because she derives her Doctrine and Ministry from the Apoiles. Wois me! I left her by your persuasion in her Sorrow, when the Lord had afflicted her, in the Day of her Mourning, when her Priests sighed, and her Virgins were afficted for her ; but now, I hope, there is Joy in Heaven for my Repentance and return to her, and in her to the Catholick Church. I know you impute my return, which you call A postacy, to my Husband, and charge him with it, and the Ruine of my Soul. I must confess I love him truly, and passionately, as I conceive it to be my Duty ; but I hope I love God, and my Salvation more; and I am sure he loves not God so little, nor any worldly Interest so
much, much, as to persuade me to any thing he thought would hurt my Soul, though he might Gain the whole World by it. His Sighs, Tears, Prayers, laborious Studies, and indefatigable Pains for my Conversion, all witness this Truth to me. And in all his proceedings with me, he never went about by Fallacy or Force, to reduce me, but indeavoured to rectify my Errors by fair, rational, and gentle Christian Methods, with all Tenderness and Discretion, as well as continual Care and Diligence to convince me that I was in the Wrong. It was he that first taught me to compare the Faith, and Worship, and Discipline of the Church of England, with the Faith, Worship, and Discipline of your Church; and upon setting them in one view together to judge which looked most like Primitive and Pure. Nay, as there scarce ever was any Church without some Faults and Defects, he bid me set whatever I thought amiss in the Church of England against the Faults I began to difcern in your Church, and then to judge impartially, which I thought had the fewest and leaft. He also put into my Hands the controversial Books of the ablest and clearest English Writers, in Defence of the Church of England against her Adversaries of your Church : And as I took time to try and examine all things, so I make no doubt but I have chosen the best. He also brought me acquainted with the best Divines of the Church of England, which our Parts afford, by whom I profited very much, and by those means, and God's blesing upon them, he happily accomplish'd my Conversion. Sir, from this short account of it, I hope it will appear to you, that it was not my love to him, but to Truth, and the God of Truth, that made me return to my first Mother ; in which I did no more than the great Mr. Chillingworth, and many other seduced and fincere lovers of Truth have done,
From what I have here declared, dear Sir, unto you, you will perceive, that I am no longer to be frighted with the terrible charge of Heresy and Schism, which you so freely and precariously lay uron our Church, and those who are safe and happy, as I believe my self to be, in her Communion. You cannot shew us any one thing, which we profess or practise, for which we are juftly chargeable with Heresy or Schism. We profess the same Faith, and no other, as I have said, than that which the Church of Rome, and all other Churches taught and professed for the first six Hundred Years : and we hold Communion with all Churches whichfoever, or wherefoever they are, that are true and faithful Members of the Catholick Church : And it is only for not communicating with yours in things that are not Catholick and Apostolick, that The imputes Heresy and Schism to us, of which. The her self is of all others moft guilty. You say we are gone off from the Catholick Church, by which you still precariously and absurdly mean your own Church. But pray, Sir, consider, did we first go off from you, or you from us? Or if the Separation was on our side, did we divide from you any farther, than our Divines have shewed, you have divided in Doctrine, Worship, and EcclefiaItical Polity, from the ancient Catholick Church? You have departed as much from that in all, and every one of those respects, as we have departed from you, and our returning to it, and reforming according to its Doctrines and Practice, is that which you call departing from your Church. Let God, the Judge of all the Earth, judge between you and us, who wiil judge us both at the last Day. We appeal to his Tribunal against you, and in the mean time to a truly Free, and General Council, when such a one can be had. In particular, we appeal to the Greek Church, and all
the Churches of the East, and will be determined and concluded by them, as to the Point of your Churches being the Mother and Mistress of all other Churches, and the Supremacy of her Bishop, as Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar General of Jesus Christ. Sir, these two Points, as false as they are, are the Vitals of Popery, and have been the Source of all Mischief and Misery to Christendom, and will for ever make your Church a Schirmatick from the whole Catholick Church. You fee, Sir, how much I have alter'd my Notions upon conversing with the dead and living Divines of the Church of England, and I beseech you let it not trouble you, that I am thus changed. Upon me be all the Peril of my departure; you have done what you could to prevent it, and I heartily thank you for your well intended Care of me, and all the Pains you took with me, by which I acknowledge, in some respects, you have improved me, and made me more knowing, pious, and devout. And to conclude ; I assure you I Mall depart in nothing from the Church of Rome, as some do, out of pure Prejudice, Humour, or Aversion, for no other Reason, but because she doth so or so. No, Sir, what is truly ancient and apostolick and safe, and worthy of Imitation in her, I Mall hold, and maintain, and endeavour to practise the more, because The hath retained it, and is right and Orthodox therein.
And among Protestants, as we are called, for protesting against your Innovations, I love and honour those most, who are of this healing, peaceful, meek Temper, and think them the properest Persons to gain and profelyte your People, and of all others fittest to be Reconcilers. But as for those Gentlemen who are so narrow, and peevish, as to call every thing Popery, and every Man Papist, they do not Like; I think them, let their meaning be never so good, to be an unhappy fort
of Christians; who out of an indiscreet Zeal difserve the true Interests of Christianity and the Reformation; and though contrary to their intentions, yet are unhappy Instruments of doing much Harm to the Holy Catholick Church. I am sure no general Peace and Union is to be expected among Christians, while Men of this Temper govern the Affairs of Religion. I pray God ever to keep me in a contrary disposition to them, and I beseech you, Sir, to believe, that though I have left your Communion upon the Motives and Reasons expressed in this Letter, yet I will ever be in all sin: cerity, and with all good Will,
Your most faithful Friend