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them most. Weak or wilful doubts may perplex, and make men irresolute, whù have no rule prescribed to them, but are left to chuse for themselves; whereas a certainty of rule by which I am to walk, abolishes in an instant the uncertainty of all doubts, and by prescribing the duty leaves no warrant for the further doubt; if it were otherwise, all government must be at an end; and private men will always have' scruples of their own, by which they will conclude that it is not lawful for them to do what the public authority and interest hath judged necessary for them to do; the king's battles shall not be fought, nor his enemies repelled, upon the doubt of the lawfulness and jus tice of the war, and so their want of courage and obedience shall be excused and justified, by the superfluity of their doubts and irresolution.
Since neither of these expedients is like to reduce us to such a peace and agreement between ourselves, that we may live comfortably and charitably together, we must resort to the last remedy, and one quit the country to the other, by removing out of it. And in this point it can be no more expected or imagined that the protestants who have their lives and estates secured to them by the law, should leave the country to be possessed by the other, because they are so uncharitable as to believe them incapable of salvation, than that free citizens,
who enjoy peace and plenty, will give up their strong and well-fortified city to a body of banditti, because they infest their fields and vineyards. Besides, they know not whither to repair, to enjoy the same benefits and advantages they have at home. Whereas the other cannot be blamed for withdrawing themselves from so many severe penalties and other reproaches, which distinguish them from other subjects, and from whence they cannot redeem themselves without offering violence to their consciences; and they have the choice of many places to resort to, where their faith shall make them the more acceptable, and their obedience to what they approve, and resolve to submit to, the more innocent; and if their consciences were as tender as they pretend to be, they would not only detest, which, no doubt, they do, but exceedingly fear the company and conversation of those who they are sure must be damned, lest their affection and indulgence, and obligations to their persons, and, it may be, some delight in their manners, may not lessen that necessary zeal in their religion, and make them believe that they may be saved; which is inconsistent, as they seem to think, with being a true catholic, or may make others suspect that their religion is not sincere. We see women, who desire to preserve the integrity of their fame, and that it may not be sullied,
though with improbable suspicions, are very careful to avoid the society of those of their own sex, who have the reputation of lightness; and yet there have been many Mary Magdalens of them, and therefore they ought not to despair of their salvation; yet their providence becomes them, and they may be reasonably thought not to be solicitous enough for their own salvation, who take pleasure. to converse with those who they are sure, or are bound to believe, shall be without it. The protes.. tants are without the reach or danger of any of those reasons or temptations; and though they may reasonably think themselves upon some disadvantage with reference to the affairs of this world, in believing themselves bound equally in honour and justice and conscience, to observe and perform all the promises, and oaths, and contracts, which they make with papists as well as protestants; whereas the other have many evasions upon the difference of their faith, and powerful assurance by dispensations and absolutions for the breach of theirs, yet they are far from believing that they are not in a state and possibility of salvation, though they should not renounce those err. ors which seem most to threaten it, and which they can never renounce till they are convinced that they are errors. We are not bound to think, that their believing that the bread or wafer which
they take in the communion is the real flesh of our Saviour, (if they do believe it) will damn them; the danger on our side is, that if we pretend to believe it, we lie, (which may damn us) because we know that it is not, as much as we know that a stone is not butter: but we may innocently believe that this error and corruption of the understanding may be one of the weeds which our Saviour would have suffered to grow till the harvest, and would not suffer to be pulled up by rude or unskilful hands, lest they pull up the wheat with
who knows whether the minds and understandings of men be not so infatuated, that if transubstantiation were pulled up, the sacraments them. selves would not be pulled up? As to all those men who have brought themselves to believe it, we do piously believe that God would never have vouchsafed to have given and prescribed that earnest of salvation to us, and then damn us for discerning any alteration in the elements, or them for thinking they discern that which they do not discern; the preparation and caution and obligation which he prescribes we all pretend to observe, which is the life of the sacrament; and if they, out of reverence to the letter (which they do not observe in other texts of scripture) are able to bring themselves to believe what is not possible for us to comprehend, and we conceive that the precise
letter (because of the seeming impossibility and contradiction) is no more to be submitted to than other expressions of the same kind used by our Saviour himself, “ I am the door, I am the true vine; call no man your father upon earth; if any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple;" and many other expressions, which are usual throughout the word of God, and which, being understood according to the literal sense, would dissolve all natural relations, and enervate the duties especially enjoined: I say, in both these cases, let the error be where it will, we may hope and believe that the penalty will be less than damnation : and then, what postures soever are used in the receiving it, which are frequently the same, or very like in devout persons of very different and contrary conceptions, will not increase the penalty of the opinion. We do not believe that God himself broke and pulled down the pale and the hedge, with which he had inclosed the church of his own chosen people the Jews, to let all the world inta the same hope and assurance with them of salvation, which was the chief end of sending his only Son, to make salvation harder, to be obtained with more difficulty under the gospel than it was under the law, where every duty was prescribed to the