תמונות בעמוד

greatest part, received their Faith from the Church of Rome, and that we still professed that very Faith which St. Gregory the Great himself professed, and sent us by his Apostle Augustine the Monk. But that others of our Ancestors, and other parts of our Country, received the Faith from Bishops and Priests , who did not receive it from the Roman Church and that I was ready to make Proof of this before any Roman Priest. She also took an occasion to speak of the Reformation as brought about by King Henry VIII. upon whose Vices the reflected in the usual manner, as Roman Catholicks are wont to do, and indeed as they deserved. To this I replyed, That King Henry dyed a Roman Catholick, that it was not he, but his Son King Edward VI. who, under God, was the happy Instrument of our Reformation ; but that if it had been King Henry VIII. Since God doth often bring about his Parposes by the instrumency of the worst Men, the Vices of that Prince would have been no good Argument against the Reformation, becaufe it was the Duty both of Prince and Priests, and people, to contribute their joint Endeavours to fo good and necessary a Work. I told her Ladyship farther, that the Question between the Roman Catholicks and us ought to be, whether there was just Cause for a Reformation ? and if there was, the Vices of the Reformers were foreign to the Question, even as foreign as the Crimes of Constantine the Great, with which fome Historians tax him, were foreign to his Reformation of the Pagan World into Christianity, for which I supposed her Ladyship would not deny, but there was juft Cause, and that it was a blessed Work. After Dinner the Gentleman who invited me, pray'd her Ladyfhip to give him leave to ask her, if she was already reconciled to the Church of Rome; because if the were not, but was free to hear the Divines of the Church of England, he told her I would be willing to discourse with her

B 2


from time to time in the Audience of any of the Roman Religion, or otherwisez) as the pleafed, in order to resettle her in the Church, to whose Communion she had been for many Years fo firm, and a great Ornament. Tliis gave me occasion to tell her, that I thought her Lady ship obliged in Honour and Duty to give the Church of England a fair and impartial Hearing before she parted from it, and in order to that to compare the Doctrine, and Worship, and Polity of the two Churches together, which I would willingly help her to do, that she might the better discern which of them was the most Apoftolical, Pure and Primitive; and that it concerned her Salvation to hearken to my Advice, because the Moment she was reconciled to the Church of Rome, The must be answerable to God, for all the Errors, Innovations and Corruptions, with which we charged it, and liave so often-made good our Charge. She was pleased to thank me for the offer of my Allistance with the Civility of a Person of Quality and good Breeding, and so we parted at that time.

After she went up to her Chamber I had farther Discourse with the Gentleman of the House about her; which gave me occasion to desire him to tell her Lady ship that I recommended two Books to her reading: One of which was, The Es ay towards a Proposal for Catholick Communion, lately published by a (pretended) Minifter

, of the Church of Eng. land, printed at larges and answer?d Chapter by Chapter. I recommended this Book ito her, because I found the was deceived with such Fallacies as are in the Ejay, which the Roman Catholicks recommended to all Protestants, before this Answer to it was published, and perhaps still do. The other was a Book of several Letters, which passed between my self and a Romilh Priest, printed for Richard Sare at Gray's-Inn-Gate, with Bishop Bull's Answer to the Bishop of Meaux's Letter to Mr. NelJon. This Book I sent to the Gentleman for her Lady

ship thip, with a Letter directing to some places, which I desired more especially her Ladyship should read : The first place was that in p. 72. where I have fhew'd, That we still keep that very Faith which St. Gregory professed. And the other begins at p.188. where I challenged the Adversary with whom I then had to deal, to thew Antiquity, Universality and Succellion for their Trent Doctrines, or that they were involved in any of the Prime Principles or Articles of the Christian Faith, which I told him, if he could do, I would reverence, own, and honour the prefent Church of Rome as much as himfelf, and think her as pure Catholick and Apoftolick as she was in the Primitive Times. Thus-things rested for a while, till I received from her Ladyfhip the following Letter.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


November the 2916 1707. ; Hen I

who had the Honour of dining with you, about a Fortnight since at Mr.PS, hope it will incline you to pardon this Trouble, when I tell you that I beg your leave that I niay wait on you, in order to one Hour's Conference, which may, perhaps, be a means of removing some Scruples and Doubts I lie under. And if it may stand with your convenience, I propose to Morrow, after Evening Prayer, at your own House; to which I beg the favour of an Answer by the Bearer; by which you will oblige

Your Friend and Servant.

[ocr errors]


I returned Answer by the same Messenger who brought me her Ladyship's Paper, that the Hour The appointed was very convenient, and that [? would then wait for her. She came attended with a worthy Gentleman of the Church of England,


B 3

who conducted her to my House, and I both of them up to my Study, where after common Forms upon such Occasions, she began with a serious Air to tell me, that it was not Curiosity, but the regard she had for her eternal Salvation, that put her upon her new Enquiries, her Intention being at last to choose that Communion, in which she thought her Soul would be safe. Having reply'd, that our concern for the Soul was certainly of all others the greatest, she proceeded to give me an account of the dif-affections the had entertained against the Church of England, which were the very fame that all A poftates from it are want to object, before and after they are reconciled. She began to object the great number, and daily encrease of Herefies, Schisms, and religious Divisions, and Sub-divisions among us fince the Reformation; whereas the Church of Rome was in perfect Peace and Unity, and had but one Faith and one Worship, in which Roman Catholicks agreed all over the World. When she had finished this Objection I interposed, and told her she had made it very feasonably, as to the Person and Place, becaufe I could reach her a little Book, of which, though it were of my own Wri, ting, I would presume to say, that I had perfectly answer'd that Objection, and that if her Ladyship would read it, I doubted not, but the would receive full fatisfaction from it, and be convinced of the Folly and Weakness of arguing from the English Herefies and Schisms, against the Church of England; and I pray'd her to shew the Book to any of her new Guides, and tell them I challenged them to answer it, if they could. Hereupon I reached the Book, which she promised me to read; and in her following Letter of February 2, you will find her acknowledging, that it had so fatisfied her, that she would never more conclude, that Divisions and Separations were a Mark of an erroneous Church. Yet three Months afterwards the urged the fame Objections against


[ocr errors]


the Church of England, to a learned Divine of her Acquaintance, a Fellow of a College in Oxford: So hard a thing it is for People, who trusting to their own Understandings, let themselves be led into Error, to get out of the enchanted Circle, and return unto the Truth. The Title of the Book, of which I have been speaking, is, An Apologetical Vindication of the Church of England, in answer to her Adverfaries, who reproach her with the English Herefies and Schifms, printed at London in a second Edition, 1706. From this Objection her Ladyship proceeded to the Necessity of having an infallible Judge, which she said, the Church of England deny'd, owning her self to be Fallible; and this, said she, is a great discouragement from continuing in her Communion. Then the proceeded to object against the private Spirit of interpreting Scriptures

and Fathers, and the Absurdities and Inconveniencies which, she said, followed upon it; and then observed as another Ob jection, that the Protestants were not in Communi. on with one another; and in particular, that our Church was not in Communion with any other Church; an Objection, which I think is well answer'd in the Letter of a Lady converted from Popery, printed in this Collection. Some other objections the made, which being of less Moment I have forgot; but that upon which she put the great*est stress, was her Objection against the Validity of our Ordinations, which was altogether of the same nature, and to the same purpose with what you will find the hath written in her Letter of February 17. When she had done objecting the thanked me for my Book of Letters, which pasted between me and the Romijh Priest, and told me, that which made the greatest Impression upon her, was what I had written at the 188th and following Pages, concerning the Novelty of the Roman Faith ; but then fhe told me, that in Answer to it, she had brought Paper, of which she desired my Thoughts as


B 4

« הקודםהמשך »