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spel; pleading for equal Certainty of Salvation to
But then it must be obferved, that tho’- our
incapåble of God's Mercy. Sheleaves Infidels'therefore to the Judgment of that God, who will certainly do Right. Whether the Merits of felus Cbrift may be applied to such as live in invincible Infidelity; whether such Persons, if saved at all, must be saved by that Method; whether God will actually vouchsafe to use that Method of bringing them to Salvation; and whether he affifts them with his Grace to purify their corrupted Nature, to weaken the Power of Sin, and prevent their becoming absolute Slaves to it; These are Questions which we are not obliged to derermin. Infidels are at the Disposal of a Gracious Master, who may (for ought we know) extend that Mercy to them, which they have no Covenant Righe to, but which they are nor by any Revelation of his Will excluded from, or made abfolutely uncapable of.
The NINETEENTH ARTICLE.
ir.. Of the Church.
1. HE Visible Church of Christ is a congregation of preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministred, according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch bave erred : So also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living, and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith. This Article contains Three Propositions. 1. The Visible Church of Christ is a Congrega
tion of Faithful Men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministred according to Christ's Ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requifite to the same. 2. The Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria and An.
tioch have erred. 3.
The Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their Living, and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.
For the better understanding of the First Proposition, I must premise what follows.
The whole number of living Christians are the Catholic Church of Christ upon Earth. The Christians of any one Nation, District or Congregation, are Branches of the Catholic Church, and are conimonly called particular Churches,
Now Christians are partly good and partly evil. Both the good and the evil areoutwardly Members of the Church, whether Catholic or particular; and the whole Number of them is therefore commonly called the visible Church. Whereas those only who are good, are inwardly united to Christ; and because none can judge who they are, by reason of the Hypocrisy of Professors, therefore the whole number of them are commonly called the invisible Church.
Now the visible Church of Christ, or any particular Branch of it, is either a true or a false Church. I confess, every Church, as 'tis a Church, must needs be a true Church in one Sense, according to the known Maxims of the Schools, omne ens vere eft id quod eft, & omne ens eft verum; that is, a Church as a Church, must have the effential Properties of à Church; because those essential Properties constitute its Nature, and without them it cannot be a Church. But this is only a Metaphysical Verity. Whereas there is also a Moral Verity belonging to a Church, that is, its Agreement to the Rule which is set it; its having, not only what is essential to, but also what is perfective of, its own Nature ; its having what is necessary, not only to its effe, buç also to its bene ejse. Thus, as every Subject, tho' a bad one, is a Subject notwithstanding, and consequently a true Subject by Metaphysical Verity; whereas he only who discharges the Duty of a good Subject, is a true Subject by Moral Verity: Even so the Catholic Church, or a particular one, is a true Church by. Metaphysical Verity, tho' never so grofly corrupted; whereas by Maral Verity 'tis then only true, when it keeps to the Rule which Christ has set it, and really is what it is required to be.
And accordingly, thoʻthere can be no Degrees of Metaphysical Veriry, yet there are Degrees of Moral Verity; and a Church is more or less true, according to its greater or less Conformity to Christ's Rule. So that that Church which is less falle or corrupt, is a more true Church, than that which is more corrupt or false. 'Tis therefore no Inconfistency or Contradiction for a Man to say, of the very same Church, at the very same time, this is a true Church, meaning by a Metaphysical Verity; and this is a false or corrupt Church, meaning by a Moral Verity.
Let us now inquire into the meaning of this Propolition, The Visible Church of Christ is a Congregation of faithful Men, in the which the pure Word of God is preach'd, and the Sacraments be duly ministred according to Christ's Ordinance, in all those things that of Necesity are requifite to the same.
'Tis plain, that this Proposition neicher is, nor was intended to be, the Definition of a true Visible Church, whether Catholic or Particular, with refpect to its Metaphyfical Verity. For Corruptions in Doctrin and Sacraments are certainly conlistent with the Meraphysical Verity of a Church, whether Catholic or Particular. For the whole Number of Christians, or a particular Quantity of then, ftill continues a Christian Society, or part of such a Society, tho’they he never so much deprav'd, provided the bare Effentials of the Nature of a Chriftian Society do remain ; that is, so long as they continue in that outward Union with God and each other, which is made by Baptifin : even as a Man coutinues a Man, whilft Body and Soul continue united, tho' both Body and Soul be never so much polluted by Diseases and Sin. And that this is our Church's Nocion, iş mof evident from her so fre
quently calling the Church of Rome, particularly in this very Argicle, by the Name of a Church; which shews,thar in her Opinion the Church of Rome has the Metaphysical Verity of a Church, cho'fhe is fo grolly corrupted, as our Church upon every Occation declares, in Doctrin and Worship. And confcquently, not only a Particular Church may retain its Metaphysical Verity together with its Corruptions; but the Catholic Church it self may do the fame, if every Branch of it were grosly corrupted. For chat which does not destroy the Metaphysical Verity of a Particular Church, does not destroy the Metaphysical Verity of the Catholic Church.
Wherefore our Church does in this Proposition speak of that Visible Church (whether Catholic or Particular, it amounts at last to the very same) which is true by a Moral Verity. She shews, what che Visible Church ought to be,and what a true Visible Church is. She saies, 'tis a Congregation of faithful Men, that is, of such as profess a Belief in Chrift, in the which the pure Word of God is preach'd, and the Sacraments be duly ministred according to Christ's Ordinance, in all those things that of Neceflity are requifite to the same.
But then it must be observed, that our Church does not in this Article pretend to give an accurate Definition of a Church, even according to its Moral Verity. Tho' she saies, that Purity of Doctrin, and a due Ministration of Sacraments, are in that visible Church which is a morally true one : yet she does not say, that a morally true visible Church needs only a Purity of Doctrin and a due Miniftrarion of Sacraments; and that if she has these, the wants nothing more to make her come up to chat, Rule of Christ, by the Degree of her Conformity to which she is more or less a true visible Church.