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PUBLISHER TO THE READER.
THIS excellent and elaborate Treatise of the Pope's Supremacy, which I here present thee withal, the learned Author of it upon his death-bed gave me a particular permission to publish, with this modest character of it; That he hoped it was indifferent perfect, though not altogether as he intended it, if God had granted him longer life. He designed, indeed, to have transcribed it again, and to have filled up those many spaces which were purposely left in it, for the further confirmation and illustration of several things by more testimonies and instances, which probably he had in his thoughts: and it would certainly have added much to the beauty and perfection of this work, had it pleased God that he had lived to finish it to his mind, and to have given it his last hand.
However, as it is, it is not only a just, but an admirable Discourse upon this subject;
many others have handled before, but he hath exhausted it: insomuch that no argument of moment, nay, hardly any consideration properly belonging to it, hath escaped his large and comprehensive mind. He hath said enough to silence the controversy for ever, and to deter all wise men, of both sides, from meddling any further with it.
And I dare say, that whoever shall carefully peruse this Treatise will find, that this point of the pope's supremacy (upon which Bellarmine hath the confidence to say the whole of Christianity depends) is not only an indefensible, but an impudent cause, as ever was undertaken by learned pens. And nothing could have kept it so long from becoming ridiculous in the judgment of mankind, but its being so strongly supported by a worldly interest. For there is not one tolerable argument for it, and there are a thousand invincible reasons against it. There is neither from scripture, nor reason, nor antiquity, any evidence of it; the past and the
So that any
present state of Christendom, the histories and records of all ages, are a perpetual demonstration against it: and there is no other ground in the whole world for it, but that now of a long time it hath been by the pope's janizaries boldly asserted, and stiffly contended for, without reason. one might with as much colour and evidence of truth maintain, that the grand seignior is of right, and for many ages hath been acknowledged, sovereign of the whole world, as that the bishop of Rome is of right, and in all ages from the beginning of Christianity hath been owned to be, the universal monarch and head of the Christian church.
To this Treatise of the Pope's Supremacy I have, for the affinity of the argument, added by way of appendix another discourse of the same Author's, concerning The Unity of the Church ; which he so explains, as quite to take away the necessity of a visible head over the whole church for the preservation of its unity, which is the only specious, but yet a very remote pretence for the pope's supremacy: for if a visible monarch of the
viii THE PUBLISHER TO THE READER.
church were granted necessary, many things more must be supposed, (which neither yet are, nor ever can be proved) to make the bishop of Rome the man.
The testimonies relating to both parts were very few of them translated by the Author ; which he certainly intended, having left spaces for it, and is since done with great care by two of his worthy and learned friends of his own college.
This is all the advertisement I thought necessary.