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Title: An Apology for the True Christian Divinity

Author: Robert Barclay

Release date: February 2, 2018 [eBook #56487]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Emmanuel Ackerman and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This book was
produced from images made available by the HathiTrust
Digital Library, Google and the University of Michigan


True Christian Divinity,

Of the People called

Written in Latin and English

And since translated into High Dutch, Low Dutch, French, and Spanish, for the Information of Strangers.

The Eighth Edition in ENGLISH.

and sold by the Booksellers of London and Westminster.


To Charles II King of Great Britain.
R. B. Unto the Friendly Reader wisheth Salvation.
Concerning the true Foundation of Knowledge.
Of Immediate Revelation.
Concerning the Scriptures.
Concerning the Condition of Man in the Fall.
Concerning the Universal Redemption by Christ.
Concerning the Saving and Spiritual Light, wherewith every Man is enlightened.
Concerning Justification.
Concerning Perfection.
Concerning Perseverance, and the Possibility of Falling from Grace.
Concerning the Ministry.
Concerning Worship.
Concerning Baptism.
Concerning the Communion, or Participation of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Concerning the Power of the Civil Magistrate in Matters Purely Religious, and pertaining to the Conscience.
Concerning Salutations and Recreations &c.
A Table of the Authors cited in this Book.
A Table of the Chief Things.

And the Dominions thereunto belonging:

A Servant of Jesus Christ, called of God to the Dispensation of the Gospel now again revealed, and, after a long and dark Night of Apostasy, commanded to be preached to all Nations, wisheth Health and Salvation.

As the Condition of Kings and Princes puts Them in a Station more obvious to the View and Observation of the World than that of other Men, of whom, as Cicero observes, neither any Word or Action can be obscure; so are those Kings, during whose Appearance upon the Stage of this World it pleaseth the Great King of Kings singularly to make known unto Men the wonderful Steps of His unsearchable Providence, more signally observed, and their Lives and Actions more diligently remarked, and enquired into by Posterity; especially if those Things be such as not only relate to the outward Transactions of this World, but also are signalized by the Manifestation or Revelation of the Knowledge of God in Matters spiritual and religious. These are the Things that rendered the Lives of Cyrus, Augustus Cæsar, and Constantine the Great, in former Times, and of Charles the Fifth, and some other modern Princes in these last Ages, so considerable.

But among all the Transactions which it hath pleased God to permit, for the Glory of His Power, and the Manifestation of His Wisdom and Providence, no Age furnisheth us with Things so strange and marvellous, whether with Respect to Matters civil or religious, as these that have fallen out within the Compass of Thy Time; who, though Thou be not yet arrived at the Fiftieth Year of thy Age, hast yet been a Witness of stranger Things than many Ages before produced. So that whether we respect those various Troubles wherein Thou foundest Thyself engaged while scarce got out of Thy Infancy; the many different Afflictions, wherewith Men of Thy Circumstances are often unacquainted; the strange and unparalleled Fortune that befel Thy Father; Thy own narrow Escape, and Banishment following thereupon, with the great Improbability of Thy ever returning, at least without very much Pains and tedious Combatings; or finally, the Incapacity Thou wert under to accomplish such a Design; considering the Strength of those that had possessed themselves of Thy Throne, and the Terror they had inflicted upon foreign States; and yet that, after all this, Thou shouldest be restored without Stroke of Sword, the Help or Assistance of foreign States, or the Contrivance and Work of human Policy; all these do sufficiently declare that it is the Lord’s Doing, which, as it is marvellous in our Eyes, so it will justly be a Matter of Wonder and Astonishment to Generations to come; and may sufficiently serve, if rightly observed, to confute and confound that Atheism wherewith this Age doth so much abound.

As the Vindication of the Liberty of Conscience (which Thy Father, by giving Way to the importunate Clamours of the Clergy, the Answering and Fulfilling of whose unrighteous Wills has often proved hurtful and pernicious to Princes, sought in some Part to restrain) was a great Occasion of those Troubles and Revolutions; so the Pretence of Conscience was that which carried it on, and brought it to that Pitch it came to. And though no Doubt some that were engaged in that Work designed good Things, at least in the Beginning, albeit always wrong in the Manner they took to accomplish it, viz. by carnal Weapons; yet so soon as they had tasted the Sweets of the Possessions of them they had turned out, they quickly began to do those Things themselves for which they had accused others. For their Hands were found full of Oppression, and they hated the Reproof of Instruction, which is the Way of Life; and they evilly intreated the Messengers of the Lord, and caused his Prophets to be beaten and imprisoned, and persecuted his People, whom he had called and gathered out from among them, whom he had made to beat their Swords into Plow-shares, and their Spears into Pruning-hooks, and not to learn carnal War any more: But he raised them up, and armed them with spiritual Weapons, even with his own Spirit and Power, whereby they testified in the Streets and High-ways, and publick Markets and Synagogues, against the Pride, Vanity, Lusts, and Hypocrisy of that Generation, who were righteous in their own Eyes; though often cruelly intreated therefore: And they faithfully prophesied and foretold them of their judgment and Downfal, which came upon them; as by several Warnings and Epistles, delivered to Oliver and Richard Cromwell, the Parliament, and other then Powers, yet upon Record, doth appear.

And after it pleased God to restore Thee, what Oppressions, what Banishments, and evil Intreatings they have met with, by Men pretending Thy Authority, and cloaking their Mischief with Thy Name, is known to most Men in this Island; especially in England, where there is scarce a Prison that hath not been filled with them, nor a Judge before whom they have not been haled; though they could never yet be found guilty of any Thing that might deserve that Usage. Therefore the Sense of their Innocency did no Doubt greatly contribute to move thee, three Years ago, to cause some Hundreds of them to be set at Liberty: For indeed their Sufferings are singular, and obviously distinguishable from all the rest of such as live under Thee in these two Respects.

First, In that among all the Plots contrived by others against Thee, since Thy Return into Britain, there was never any, owned of that People, found or known to be guilty, (though many of them have been taken and imprisoned upon such Kind of Jealousies) but were always found innocent and harmless, as became the Followers of Christ not coveting after, nor contending for the Kingdoms of this World, but subject to every Ordinance of Man, for Conscience Sake.

Secondly, In that in the hottest Times of Persecution, and the most violent Prosecution of those Laws made against Meetings, being clothed with Innocency, they have boldly stood to their Testimony for God, without creeping into Holes or Corners, or once hiding themselves, as all other Dissenters have done; but daily met, according to their Custom, in the publick Places appointed for that End; so that none of Thy Officers can say of them, That they have surprized them in a Corner, overtaken them in a private Conventicle, or catched them lurking in their secret Chambers; nor needed they to send out Spies to get them, whom they were sure daily to find in their open Assemblies, testifying for God and His Truth.

By which those who have an Eye to see, may observe their Christian Patience and Courage, Constancy and Suffering joined in one, more than in any other People that differ from them, or oppose them. And yet, in the midst of those Troubles, Thou canst bear Witness, that as on the one Part, they never sought to detract from Thee, or to render Thee and Thy Government odious to the People, by nameless and scandalous Pamphlets and Libels; so on the other Hand they have not spared to admonish, exhort, and reprove Thee; and have faithfully discharged their Consciences towards Thee, without flattering Words, as ever the true Prophets in ancient Times used to do to those Kings and Princes, under whose Power Violence and Oppression was acted.

And although it is evident by Experience to be most agreeable both to divine Truth, and human Policy, to allow every one to serve God according to their Consciences; nevertheless those other Sects, who for the most Part durst not peep out in the Times of Persecution, while these innocent People stood bold and faithful, do now combine in a joint Confederacy, notwithstanding all the Former Janglings and Contentions among themselves, to render us odious; seeking unjustly to wrest our Doctrine and Words, as if they were both inconsistent with Christianity and civil Society; so that to effectuate this their Work of Malice against us, they have not been ashamed to take the Help, and commend the Labours, of some invidious Socinians against us. So do Herod and Pontius Pilate agree to crucify Christ.

But our Practice, known to Thee by good Experience to be more consistent with Christianity and civil Society, and the Peace and Welfare of this Island, than that of those who thus accuse us, doth sufficiently guard us against this Calumny; and we may indeed appeal to the Testimony of Thy Conscience, as a Witness for us in the Face of the Nations.

These Things moved me to present the World with a brief, but true Account of this People’s Principles, in some short Theological Propositions; which, according to the Will of God, proving successful, beyond my Expectation, to the Satisfaction of several, and to the exciting in many a Desire of being farther informed concerning us, as being every where evil spoken of; and likewise meeting with publick Opposition by some, as such will always do, so long as the Devil rules in the Children of Disobedience; I was thereby farther engaged, in the Liberty of the Lord, to present to the World this Apology of the Truth held by those People: Which, because of Thy Interest in them, and theirs in Thee, as having first appeared, and mostly increased, in these Nations under Thy Rule, I make bold to present unto Thee.

Thou knowest, and hast experienced their Faithfulness towards their God, their Patience in Suffering, their Peaceableness towards the King, their Honesty, Plainness and Integrity in their faithful Warnings and Testimonies to Thee; and if Thou wilt allow Thyself so much Time as to read this, Thou mayest find how consonant their Principles are both to Scripture, Truth, and right Reason. The Simplicity of their Behaviour, the Generality of their Condition, as being poor Men and illiterate; the Manner of their Procedure, being without the Wisdom and Policy of this World, hath made many conclude them Fools and Mad-men, and neglect them, as not being capable of Reason. But though it be to them as their Crown, thus to be esteemed of the Wise, the Great, and Learned of this World, and tho’ they rejoice to be accounted Fools for Christ’s Sake; yet of late some, even such who in the World’s Account are esteemed both Wise and Learned, begin to judge otherwise of them, and find, that they hold forth Things very agreeable both to Scripture, Reason, and true Learning.

As it is inconsistent with the Truth I bear, so it is far from me to use this Epistle as an Engine to flatter Thee, the usual Design of such Works; and therefore I can neither Dedicate it to Thee, nor crave Thy Patronage, as if thereby I might have more Confidence to present it to the World, or be more hopeful of its Success. To God alone I owe what I have, and that more immediately in Matters spiritual; and therefore to Him alone, and to the Service of His Truth, I dedicate whatever Work He brings forth in me; to whom only the Praise and Honour appertain, whose Truth needs not the Patronage of worldly Princes; His Arm and Power being that alone by which it is propagated, established and confirmed. But I found it upon my Spirit to take Occasion to present this Book unto Thee; that as Thou hast been often warned by several of that People, who are Inhabitants of England; so Thou may’st not want a seasonable Advertisement from a Member of Thy ancient Kingdom of Scotland; and that Thou may’st know, which I hope Thou wilt have no Reason to be troubled at, that God is raising up and increasing that People in this Nation. And the Nations shall also hereby know, that the Truth we profess is not a Work of Darkness, nor propagated by Stealth; and that we are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, because we know it to be the Power of God unto Salvation; and that we are no Ways so inconsistent with Government, nor such Disturbers of the Peace, as our Enemies, by traducing us, have sought to make the World believe we are: For which to Thee I dare appeal, as a Witness of our Peaceableness and Christian Patience.

Generations to come shall not more admire that singular Step of Divine Providence, in Restoring Thee to Thy Throne, without outward Bloodshed, than they shall admire the Increase and Progress of this Truth, without all outward Help, and against so great Opposition; which shall be none of the least Things rendering Thy Memory remarkable. God hath done great Things for Thee; He hath sufficiently shewn Thee, that it is by Him Princes rule, and that He can pull down and set up at His Pleasure. He hath often faithfully warned Thee by His Servants, since He restored Thee to Thy Royal Dignity, that Thy Heart might not wax wanton against Him, to forget His Mercies and Providences towards Thee; whereby He might permit Thee to be soothed up, and lulled asleep in Thy Sins, by the Flattering of Court-parasites, who, by their Fawning, are the Ruin of many Princes.

There is no King in the World, who can so experimentally testify of God’s Providence and Goodness; neither is there any, who rules so many free People, so many true Christians: Which Thing renders Thy Government more Honourable, Thyself more Considerable, than the Accession of many Nations, filled with slavish and superstitious Souls.

Thou hast tasted of Prosperity and Adversity; Thou knowest what it is to be banished Thy native Country, to be over-ruled, as well as to rule, and sit upon the Throne; and being oppressed, Thou hast Reason to know how hateful the Oppressor is both to God and Man: If after all these Warnings and Advertisements, Thou dost not turn unto the Lord with all Thy Heart, but forget Him, who remembered Thee in Thy Distress, and give up Thyself to follow Lust and Vanity; surely great will be Thy Condemnation.

Against which Snare, as well as the Temptation of those, that may or do feed Thee, and prompt Thee to Evil, the most excellent and prevalent Remedy will be, to apply Thyself to that Light of Christ, which shineth in Thy Conscience, which neither can, nor will flatter Thee, nor suffer Thee to be at Ease in Thy Sins; but doth and will deal plainly and faithfully with Thee, as those that are Followers thereof have also done.

GOD Almighty, who hath so signally hitherto visited Thee with His Love, so touch and reach Thy Heart, ere the Day of Thy Visitation be expired, that Thou mayest effectually Turn to Him, so as to improve Thy Place and Station for His Name. So wisheth, so prayeth,

Thy Faithful Friend and Subject,

Robert Barclay.

From Ury, in my native Country of Scotland, the 25th of the Month called November, in the Year MDCLXXV.

R. B.

R. B. Unto the Friendly Reader wisheth Salvation.

Forasmuch as that, which above all Things I propose to myself, is to declare and defend the Truth; for the Service whereof I have given up and devoted myself, and all that is mine; therefore there is nothing which for its Sake (by the Help and Assistance of God) I may not attempt. And in this Confidence, I did sometime ago publish certain Propositions of Divinity, comprehending briefly the chief Principles and Doctrines of Truth; which appearing not unprofitable to some, and being beyond my Expectation well received by many, though also opposed by some envious Ones, did so far prevail, as in some Part to remove that false and monstrous Opinion, which lying Fame, and the Malice of our Adversaries, had implanted in the Minds of some, concerning us and our Doctrines.

In this Respect it seemed to me not fit to spare my Pains and Labour; and therefore, being actuated by the same Divine Spirit, and the like Intention of propagating the Truth, by which I published the Propositions themselves, I judged it meet to explain them somewhat more largely at this Time, and defend them by certain Arguments.

Perhaps my Method of Writing may seem not only different, but even contrary, to that which is commonly used by the Men called Divines, with which I am not concerned: Inasmuch as I confess myself to be not only no Imitator and Admirer of the School-men, but an Opposer and Despiser of them as such, by whose Labour I judge the Christian Religion to be so far from being bettered, that it is rather destroyed. Neither have I sought to accommodate this my Work to itching Ears, who desire rather to comprehend in their Heads the sublime Notions of Truth, than to embrace it in their Hearts: For what I have written comes more from my Heart than from my Head; what I have heard with the Ears of my Soul, and seen with my inward Eyes, and my Hands have handled of the Word of Life, and what hath been inwardly manifested to me of the Things of God, that do I declare; not so much regarding the Eloquence and Excellency of Speech, as desiring to demonstrate the Efficacy and Operation of Truth; and if I err sometimes in the former, it is no great Matter; for I act not here the Grammarian, or the Orator, but the Christian; and therefore in this I have followed the certain Rule of the Divine Light, and of the Holy Scriptures.

And to make an End; What I have written, is written not to feed the Wisdom and Knowledge, or rather vain Pride of this World, but to starve and oppose it, as the little Preface prefixed to the Propositions doth shew; which, with the Title of them, is as followeth.


Of what Sort soever, Unto whose Hands these may come; But more particularly

To the Doctors, Professors, and Students of Divinity, in the Universities and Schools of Great Britain, whether Prelatical, Presbyterian, or any other;


A Servant of the Lord God, and one of those who in Derision are called Quakers, wisheth unfeigned Repentance, unto the Acknowledgment of the Truth.


Unto You these following Propositions are offered; in which, they being read and considered in the Fear of the Lord, you may perceive that simple, naked Truth, which Man by his Wisdom hath rendered so obscure and mysterious, that the World is even burthened with the great and voluminous Tractates which are made about it, and by their vain Jangling and Commentaries, by which it is rendered a Hundred-fold more dark and intricate than of itself it is: Which great Learning (so accounted of) to wit, your School-divinity (which taketh up almost a Man’s whole Life-time to learn) brings not a Whit nearer to God, neither makes any Man less wicked, or more righteous than he was. Therefore hath God laid aside the Wise and Learned, and the Disputers of this World; and hath chosen a few despicable and unlearned Instruments (as to Letter-learning) as he did Fishermen of old, to publish his pure and naked Truth, and to free it of those Mists and Fogs wherewith the Clergy hath clouded it, that the People might admire and maintain them. And among several others, whom God hath chosen to make known these Things (seeing I also have received, in Measure, Grace to be a Dispenser of the same Gospel) it seemed good unto me, according to my Duty, to offer unto you these Propositions; which though short, yet are weighty, comprehending much, and declaring what the true Ground of Knowledge is, even of that Knowledge which leads to Life Eternal; which is here witnessed of, and the Testimony thereof left unto the Light of Christ in all your Consciences.


R. B.

[Pg iii]

The First Proposition.

Concerning the true Foundation of Knowledge.

Seeing the Height of all Happiness is placed in the true Knowledge of God ([1]This is Life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent) the true and right understanding of this Foundation and Ground of Knowledge is that which is most necessary to be known and believed in the first Place.

[1] John 17. 3.

The Second Proposition.

Concerning Immediate Revelation.

Seeing [2]no Man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son revealeth him; and seeing the Revelation of the Son is in and by the Spirit; therefore the Testimony of the Spirit is that alone by which the true Knowledge of God hath been, is, and can be only revealed; who as, by the moving of his own Spirit, he converted the Chaos of this World into that wonderful Order wherein it was in the Beginning, and created Man a living Soul, to rule and govern it, so by the Revelation of the same Spirit he hath manifested himself all along unto the Sons of Men, both Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles; which Revelations of God by the Spirit, whether by outward Voices and Appearances, Dreams, or inward objective Manifestations in the Heart, were of old the formal Object of their Faith, and remain yet so to be; since the Object of the Saints’ Faith is the same in all Ages, though set forth under divers Administrations. Moreover, these divine inward Revelations, which we make absolutely necessary for the building up of true Faith, neither do nor can ever contradict the outward Testimony of the Scriptures, or right and sound Reason. Yet from hence it will not follow, that these divine Revelations are to be subjected to the Examination, either of the outward Testimony of[Pg iv] the Scriptures, or of the natural Reason of Man, as to a more noble or certain Rule or Touchstone: For this divine Revelation, and inward Illumination, is that which is evident and clear of itself; forcing, by its own Evidence and Clearness, the well-disposed Understanding to assent, irresistibly moving the same thereunto; even as the common Principles of natural Truths move and incline the Mind to a natural Assent: As, That the Whole is greater than its Part; That two contradictory Sayings cannot be both true, nor both false: Which is also manifest, according to our Adversaries Principle, who (supposing the Possibility of inward divine Revelations) will nevertheless confess with us, that neither Scripture nor sound Reason will contradict it: And yet it will not follow, according to them, that the Scripture, or sound Reason, should be subjected to the Examination of the divine Revelations in the Heart.

[2] Mat. 11. 27.

The Third Proposition.

Concerning the Scriptures.

From these Revelations of the Spirit of God to the Saints, have proceeded the Scriptures of Truth, which contain, 1. A faithful historical Account of the Actings of God’s People in divers Ages, with many singular and remarkable Providences attending them. 2. A prophetical Account of several Things, whereof some are already past, and some yet to come. 3. A full and ample Account of all the chief Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, held forth in divers precious Declarations, Exhortations and Sentences, which, by the moving of God’s Spirit, were at several Times, and upon sundry Occasions, spoken and written unto some Churches and their Pastors: Nevertheless, because they are only a Declaration of the Fountain, and not the Fountain itself, therefore they are not to be esteemed the principal Ground of all Truth and Knowledge, nor yet the adequate primary Rule of Faith and Manners. Nevertheless, as that which giveth a true and faithful Testimony of the first Foundation,[Pg v] they are and may be esteemed a secondary Rule, subordinate to the Spirit, from which they have all their Excellency and Certainty; for as by the inward Testimony of the Spirit we do alone truly know them; so they testify, that [3]the Spirit is that Guide by which the Saints are led into all Truth: Therefore, according to the Scriptures, the Spirit is the first and principal Leader. And seeing we do therefore receive and believe the Scriptures, because they proceeded from the Spirit; therefore also the Spirit is more originally and principally the Rule, according to that received Maxim in the Schools, Propter quod unumquodque est tale, illud ipsum est magis tale. Englished thus: That for which a Thing is such, that Thing itself is more such.

[3] John 16. 13.; Rom. 8. 14.

The Fourth Proposition.

Concerning the Condition of Man in the Fall.

[4]All Adam’s Posterity (or Mankind) both Jews and Gentiles, as to the first Adam or earthly Man is fallen, degenerated, and dead, deprived of the Sensation or Feeling of this inward Testimony or Seed of God, and is subject unto the Power, Nature, and Seed of the Serpent, which he sows in Men’s Hearts, while they abide in this natural and corrupted State; from whence it comes, that not their Words and Deeds only, but all their Imaginations are evil perpetually in the Sight of God, as proceeding from this depraved and wicked Seed. Man therefore, as he is in this State, can know nothing aright; yea, his Thoughts and Conceptions concerning God and Things spiritual, until he be disjoined from this evil Seed, and united to the Divine Light, are unprofitable both to himself and others: Hence are rejected the Socinian and Pelagian Errors, in exalting a natural Light; as also of the Papists, and most Protestants, who affirm, That Man, without the true Grace of God, may be a true Minister of the Gospel. Nevertheless, this Seed is not imputed to Infants, until by Transgression they actually join themselves therewith; [5]for[Pg vi] they are by Nature the Children of Wrath, who walk according to the Power of the Prince of the Air.

[4] Rom. 5. 12. 15.

[5] Eph. 2. 1.

The Fifth and Sixth Propositions.

Concerning the Universal Redemption by Christ, and also the Saving and Spiritual Light, wherewith every Man is enlightened.

The Fifth Proposition.

[6]God, out of his infinite Love, who delighteth not in the Death of a Sinner, but that all should live and be saved, hath so loved the World, that he hath given his only Son a Light, that whosoever believeth in him should be saved; who enlighteneth every Man that cometh into the World, and maketh manifest all Things that are reproveable, and teacheth all Temperance, Righteousness, and Godliness: And this Light enlighteneth the Hearts of all in a Day,[7] in order to Salvation, if not resisted: Nor is it less universal than the Seed of Sin; being the Purchase of his Death, who tasted Death for every Man; for [8]as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

[6] Ezek. 18. 23.; Isa. 49. 6.; John 3. 16. & 1. 9.; Tit. 2. 11.; Eph. 5. 13.; Heb. 2. 9.

[7] Pro Tempore, for a Time.

[8] 1 Cor. 15. 22.

The Sixth Proposition.

According to which Principle (or Hypothesis) all the Objections against the Universality of Christ’s Death are easily solved; neither is it needful to recur to the Ministry of Angels, and those other miraculous Means, which, they say, God makes use of, to manifest the Doctrine and History of Christ’s Passion, unto such who (living in those Places of the World where the outward Preaching of the Gospel is unknown) have well improved the first and common Grace; for hence it well follows, that as some of the old Philosophers might have been saved, so also may now some (who by[Pg vii] Providence are cast into those remote Parts of the World, where the Knowledge of the History is wanting) be made Partakers of the Divine Mystery, if they receive and resist not that Grace, [9]a Manifestation whereof is given to every Man to profit withal. This certain Doctrine then being received (to wit) that there is an Evangelical and Saving Light and Grace in all, the Universality of the Love and Mercy of God towards Mankind (both in the Death of his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Manifestation of the Light in the Heart) is established and confirmed against all the Objections of such as deny it. Therefore [10]Christ hath tasted Death for every Man; not only for all Kinds of Men, as some vainly talk, but for every one, of all Kinds; the Benefit of whose Offering is not only extended to such, who have the distinct outward Knowledge of his Death and Sufferings, as the same is declared in the Scriptures, but even unto those who are necessarily excluded from the Benefit of this Knowledge by some inevitable Accident; which Knowledge we willingly confess to be very profitable and comfortable, but not absolutely needful unto such, from whom God himself hath with-held it; yet they may be made Partakers of the Mystery of his Death (though ignorant of the History) if they suffer his Seed and Light (enlightening their Hearts) to take Place (in which Light, Communion with the Father and Son is enjoyed) so as of wicked Men to become holy, and Lovers of that Power, by whose inward and secret Touches they feel themselves turned from the Evil to the Good, and learn to do to others as they would be done by; in which Christ himself affirms all to be included. As they then have falsely and erroneously taught, who have denied Christ to have died for all Men; so neither have they sufficiently taught the Truth, who affirming him to have died for all, have added the absolute Necessity of the outward Knowledge thereof, in order to the obtaining its saving Effect; among whom the Remonstrants of Holland have been chiefly wanting, and many other Assertors of Universal Redemption, in that they have not placed the Extent of this Salvation in that Divine and Evangelical[Pg viii] Principle of Light and Life, wherewith Christ hath enlightened every Man that comes into the World, which is excellently and evidently held forth in these Scriptures, Gen. vi. 3. Deut. xxx. 14. John i. 7, 8, 9. Rom. x. 8. Tit. ii. 11.

[9] 1 Cor. 12. 7.

[10] Heb. 2. 9.

The Seventh Proposition.

Concerning Justification.

As many as resist not this Light, but receive the same, in them is produced an holy, pure, and spiritual Birth, bringing forth Holiness, Righteousness, Purity, and all these other blessed Fruits which are acceptable to God; by which Holy Birth (to wit, Jesus Christ formed within us, and Working his Works in us) as we are sanctified, so are we justified in the Sight of God, according to the Apostle’s Words, [11]But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Therefore it is not by our Works wrought in our Will, nor yet by good Works, considered as of themselves, but by Christ, who is both the Gift and the Giver, and the Cause producing the Effects in us; who, as he hath reconciled us while we were Enemies, doth also in his Wisdom save us, and justify us after this Manner, as saith the same Apostle elsewhere, [12]According to his Mercy he saved us, by the washing of Regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.

[11] 1 Cor. 6. 11.

[12] Tit. 3. 5.

The Eighth Proposition.

Concerning Perfection.

[13]In whom this holy and pure Birth is fully brought forth, the Body of Death and Sin comes to be crucified and removed, and their Hearts united and subjected unto the Truth, so as not to obey any Suggestion or Temptation of the Evil One, but to be free from actual sinning, and transgressing of the Law of God, and in that Respect perfect. Yet doth this Perfection still admit of a Growth; and[Pg ix] there remaineth a Possibility of sinning, where the Mind doth not most diligently and watchfully attend unto the Lord.

[13] Rom. 6. 14.; Id. 8. 13.; Id. 6. 2. 18.; 1 John 3. 6.

The Ninth Proposition.

Concerning Perseverance, and the Possibility of Falling from Grace.

Although this Gift, and inward Grace of God, be sufficient to work out Salvation, yet in those in whom it is resisted it both may and doth become their Condemnation. Moreover, in whom it hath wrought in Part, to purify and sanctify them, in order to their further Perfection, by Disobedience such may fall from it, and turn it to Wantonness, making Shipwreck of Faith; and [14]after having tasted of the Heavenly Gift, and been made Partakers of the Holy Ghost, again fall away. Yet such an Increase and Stability in the Truth may in this Life be attained, from which there cannot be a total Apostasy.

[14] 1 Tim. 1. 6.; Heb. 6. 4, 5, 6.

The Tenth Proposition.

Concerning the Ministry.

As by this Gift, or Light of God, all true Knowledge in Things Spiritual is received and revealed; so by the same, as it is manifested and received in the Heart, by the Strength and Power thereof, every true Minister of the Gospel is ordained, prepared and supplied in the Work of the Ministry: And by the leading, moving, and drawing hereof, ought every Evangelist and Christian Pastor to be led and ordered in his Labour and Work of the Gospel, both as to the Place where, as to the Persons to whom, and as to the Times when he is to minister. Moreover, those who have this Authority may and ought to preach the Gospel, though without human Commission or Literature; as on the other Hand, those who want the Authority of this Divine Gift, however learned or authorized by the[Pg x] Commissions of Men and Churches, are to be esteemed but as Deceivers, and not true Ministers of the Gospel. Also, who have received this holy and unspotted Gift, [15]as they have freely received, so are they freely to give, without Hire or Bargaining, far less to use it as a Trade to get Money by it: Yet if God hath called any from their Employments, or Trades, by which they acquire their Livelihood, it may be lawful for such (according to the Liberty which they feel given them in the Lord) to receive such Temporals (to wit, what may be needful to them for Meat and Clothing) as are freely given them by those to whom they have communicated Spirituals.

[15] Mat. 10. 8.

The Eleventh Proposition.

Concerning Worship.

All true and acceptable Worship to God is offered in the inward and immediate moving and drawing of his own Spirit, which is neither limited to Places, Times, or Persons; for though we be to worship him always, in that we are to fear before him, yet as to the outward Signification thereof in Prayers, Praises, or Preachings, we ought not to do it where and when we will, but where and when we are moved thereunto by the secret Inspirations of his Spirit in our Hearts, which God heareth and accepteth of, and is never wanting to move us thereunto, when Need is, of which he himself is the alone proper Judge. [16]All other Worship then, both Praises, Prayers and Preachings, which Man sets about in his own Will, and at his own Appointment, which he can both begin and end at his Pleasure, do or leave undone as himself sees meet, whether they be a prescribed Form, as a Liturgy, or Prayers conceived extemporarily, by the natural Strength and Faculty of the Mind, they are all but Superstitions, Will-worship, and abominable Idolatry in the Sight of God; which are to be denied, rejected, and separated from, in this Day of his spiritual Arising: [17]However it might have pleased him (who winked at the Times of Ignorance, with Respect to the[Pg xi] Simplicity and Integrity of some, and of his own innocent Seed, which lay as it were buried in the Hearts of Men, under the Mass of Superstition) to blow upon the dead and dry Bones, and to raise some Breathings, and answer them, and that until the Day should more clearly dawn and break forth.

[16] Ezek. 13., Mat. 10. 20., Acts 2. 4. & 18. 5.

[17] John 3. 6. & 4. 21., Jude 19., Acts 17. 23.

The Twelfth Proposition.

Concerning Baptism.

As there is [18]one Lord and one Faith, so there is one Baptism; which is not the putting away the Filth of the Flesh, but the Answer of a good Conscience before God, by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And this Baptism is a pure and spiritual Thing, to wit, the Baptism of the Spirit and Fire, by which we are buried with him, that being washed and purged from our Sins, we may walk in Newness of Life; [19]of which the Baptism of John was a Figure, which was commanded for a Time, and not to continue for ever. As to the Baptism of Infants, it is a mere human Tradition, for which neither Precept nor Practice is to be found in all the Scripture.

[18] Eph. 4. 5.; 1 Pet. 3. 21.; Rom. 6. 4.; Gal. 3. 27.; Col. 2. 12.; John 3. 30.

[19] 1 Cor. 1. 17.

The Thirteenth Proposition.

Concerning the Communion, or Participation of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The [20]Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ is inward and spiritual, which is the Participation of his Flesh and Blood, by which the inward Man is [21]daily nourished in the Hearts of those in whom Christ dwells; of which Things the breaking of Bread by Christ with his Disciples was a Figure, which they even used in the Church for a Time, who had received the Substance, for the Cause of the Weak; even as [22]abstaining from Things strangled, and from Blood; the [23]washing one another’s Feet, and the [24]anointing of the Sick with Oil; all which are commanded with no less Authority and Solemnity than[Pg xii] the Former; yet seeing they are but the Shadows of better Things, they cease in such as have obtained the Substance.

[20] 1 Cor. 10. 16, 17.

[21] John 6. 32, 33, 35.; 1 Cor. 5. 8.

[22] Acts 15. 20.

[23] John 13. 14.

[24] James 5. 14.

The Fourteenth Proposition.

Concerning the Power of the Civil Magistrate in Matters purely Religious, and pertaining to the Conscience.

Since God hath assumed to himself the Power and Dominion of the Conscience, who alone can rightly instruct and govern it therefore [25]it is not lawful for any whatsoever, by Virtue of any Authority or Principality they bear in the Government of this World, to force the Consciences of others; and therefore all Killing, Banishing, Fining, Imprisoning, and other such Things, which Men are afflicted with, for the alone Exercise of their Conscience, or Difference in Worship or Opinion, proceedeth from the Spirit of Cain, the Murderer, and is contrary to the Truth; provided always, that no Man, under the Pretence of Conscience, prejudice his Neighbour in his Life or Estate; or do any Thing destructive to, or inconsistent with Human Society; in which Case the Law is for the Transgressor, and Justice to be administered upon all, without Respect of Persons.

[25] Luke 9. 55, 56.; Mat. 7. 12. 29.; Tit. 3. 10.

The Fifteenth Proposition.

Concerning Salutations and Recreations, &c.

[26]Seeing the chief End of all Religion is to redeem Man from the Spirit and vain Conversation of this World, and to lead into inward Communion with God, before whom, if we fear always, we are accounted happy; therefore all the vain Customs and Habits thereof, both in Word and Deed, are to be rejected and forsaken by those who come to this Fear; such as the taking off the Hat to a Man, the Bowings and Cringings of the Body, and such other Sa[Pg xiii]lutations of that Kind, with all the foolish and superstitious Formalities attending them; all which Man has invented in his degenerate State, to feed his Pride in the vain Pomp and Glory of this World; as also the unprofitable Plays, frivolous Recreations, Sportings and Gamings, which are invented to pass away the precious Time, and divert the Mind from the Witness of God in the Heart, and from the living Sense of his Fear, and from that evangelical Spirit wherewith Christians ought to be leavened, and which leads into Sobriety, Gravity, and Godly Fear; in which, as we abide, the Blessing of the Lord is felt to attend us in those Actions in which we are necessarily engaged, in order to the taking Care for the Sustenance of the outward Man.

[26] Eph. 5. 11.; 1 Pet. 1. 14.; John 5. 44.; Jer. 10. 3.; Acts 10. 26.; Mat. 15. 13.; Col. 2. 8.




True Christian Divinity.


Concerning the true Foundation of Knowledge.

Seeing the Height of all Happiness is placed in the true Knowledge of God, [27](This is Life Eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent) the true and right understanding of this Foundation and Ground of Knowledge is that which is most necessary to be known and believed in the first Place.

[27] John 17. 3.

He that desireth to acquire any Art or Science, seeketh first those Means by which that Art or Science is obtained: If we ought to do so in Things Natural and Earthly, how much more then in Spiritual? In this Affair then should our Inquiry be the more diligent, because he that Errs in the Entrance, is not so easily brought back again into the Right Way; he that misseth his Road from the Beginning of his Journey, and is deceived in his first Marks, at his first setting forth, the greater his Mistake is, the more difficult will be his Entrance into the Right Way.

The Way to the true Knowledge of God.Thus when a Man first proposeth to himself the Knowledge of God, from a Sense of his own Unworthiness, and from the great Weariness of his Mind, occasioned by the secret Checks of his Conscience, and the tender yet real Glances of God’s Light upon his Heart; the[Pg 2] earnest Desires he has to be redeemed from his present Trouble, and the fervent Breathings he has to be eased of his disordered Passions and Lusts, and to find Quietness and Peace in the certain Knowledge of God, and in the Assurance of his Love and Good-will towards him, make his Heart tender, and ready to receive any Impression; and so (not having then a distinct Discerning) through Forwardness embraceth any Thing that brings present Ease. If either through the Reverence he bears to certain Persons, or from the secret Inclination to what doth comply with his natural Disposition, he fall upon any Principles or Means by which he apprehends he may come to know God, and so doth center himself, it will be hard to remove him thence again, how wrong soever they may be: For the first Anguish being over, he becomes more hardy; and the Enemy being near, creates a false Peace, and a certain Confidence, which is strengthened by the Mind’s Unwillingness to enter again into new Doubtfulness, or the former Anxiety of a Search.

Jewish Doctors and Pharisees resist Christ.This is sufficiently verified in the Example of the Pharisees and Jewish Doctors, who most of all resisted Christ, disdaining to be esteemed Ignorant; for this vain Opinion they had of their Knowledge, hindered them from the true Knowledge; and the mean People, who were not so much pre-occupied with former Principles, nor conceited of their own Knowledge, did easily believe. Wherefore the Pharisees upbraid them, saying, [28]Have any of the Rulers or Pharisees believed on him? But this People, which know not the Law, are accursed. This is also abundantly proved by the Experience of all such, as being secretly touched with the Call of God’s Grace unto them, do apply themselves to false Teachers, where the Remedy proves worse than the Disease; because instead of knowing God, or the Things relating to their Salvation aright, they drink in wrong Opinions of him; from which it is harder to be disintangled, than while the Soul remains a Blank, or Tabula rasa. For they that conceit themselves Wise, are worse to deal with than they that are sensible of their Ignorance. Nor hath it been less the Device of the Devil, the great[Pg 3] Enemy of Mankind, to persuade Men into wrong Notions of God, than to keep them altogether from acknowledging him; the latter taking with few, because odious; but the other having been the constant Ruin of the World: For there hath scarce been a Nation found, but hath had some Notions or other of Religion; so that not from their denying any Deity, but from their Mistakes and Misapprehensions of it, hath proceeded all the Idolatry and Superstition of the World; yea, hence even Atheism itself hath proceeded: For these many and various Opinions of God and Religion, being so much mixed with the Guessings and uncertain Judgments of Men, have begotten in many the Opinion, That there is no God at all. This, and much more that might be said, may shew how dangerous it is to miss in this first Step: All that come not in by the right Door, are accounted as Thieves and Robbers.

[28] John 7. 48, 49.

Epictetus.Again, How needful and desirable that Knowledge is, which brings Life Eternal, Epictetus sheweth, saying excellently well, Cap. 38. [Greek: isthi hoti to Kyriôtaton: ισθι ὁτι το Κυριωτατον], &c. Know that the main Foundation of Piety is this, To have [Greek: orthas hypolêpseis: ορθας ὑποληψεις], right Opinions and Apprehensions of God.

This therefore I judged necessary, as a first Principle, in the first Place, to affirm; and I suppose will not need much farther Explanation or Defence, as being generally acknowledged by all (and in these Things that are without Controversy I love to be brief) as that which will easily commend itself to every Man’s Reason and Conscience; and therefore I shall proceed to the next Proposition; which, though it be nothing less certain, yet by the Malice of Satan, and Ignorance of many, comes far more under Debate.

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Of Immediate Revelation.

[29]Seeing no Man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son revealeth him; and seeing the Revelation of the Son is in and by the Spirit; therefore the Testimony of the Spirit is that alone by which the true Knowledge of God hath been, is, and can be only revealed: Who as, by the Moving of his own Spirit, he disposed the Chaos of this World into that wonderful Order in which it was in the Beginning, and created Man a Living Soul, to Rule and Govern it; so by the Revelation of the same Spirit he hath manifested himself all along unto the Sons of Men, both Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles: Which Revelations of God by the Spirit, whether by outward Voices and Appearances, Dreams, or inward objective Manifestations in the Heart, were of old the formal Object of their Faith, and remain yet so to be; since the Object of the Saints’ Faith is the same in all Ages, tho’ held forth under divers Administrations. Moreover, these Divine Inward Revelations, which we make absolutely necessary for the building up of true Faith, neither do, nor can ever, contradict the outward Testimony of the Scriptures, or right and sound Reason; yet from hence it will not follow, that these Divine Revelations are to be subjected to the Test, either of the outward Testimony of the Scriptures, or of the Natural Reason of Man, as to a more noble or certain Rule and Touchstone; for this Divine Revelation, and Inward Illumination, is that which is evident and clear of itself; forcing, by its own Evidence and Clearness, the well-disposed Understanding to assent, irresistibly moving the same thereunto, even as the common Principles of natural Truths do move and incline the Mind to a natural Assent: As, That the Whole is greater than its Part; That two Contradictories can neither be both true, nor both false.

[29] Mat. 11. 27.

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§. I.

Revelation by Apostate Christians rejected.It is very probable, that many carnal and natural Christians will oppose this Proposition; who, being wholly unacquainted with the Movings and Actings of God’s Spirit upon their Hearts, judge the same nothing necessary; and some are apt to flout at it as ridiculous: Yea, to that Height are the Generality of Christians apostatized and degenerated, that though there be not any Thing more plainly Asserted, more seriously Recommended, or more certainly Attested to, in all the Writings of the holy Scriptures; yet nothing is less minded, and more rejected, by all Sorts of Christians, than Immediate and Divine Revelation; insomuch, that once to lay Claim to it, is Matter of Reproach. Whereas of old, none were ever judged Christians, but such as had the Spirit of Christ, Rom. viii. 9. But now many do boldly call themselves Christians, who make no Difficulty of confessing they are without it, and laugh at such as say they have it. Of old they were accounted the Sons of God, who were led by the Spirit of God, ibid. verse 14. But now many aver themselves Sons of God, who know nothing of this Leader; and he that affirms himself so led, is, by the pretended Orthodox of this Age, presently proclaimed an Heretick. The Reason hereof is very manifest, viz. Because many in these Days, under the Name of Christians, do experimentally find, that they are not actuated, nor led, by God’s Spirit; yea, many great Doctors, Divines, Teachers and Bishops of Christianity, (commonly so called) have wholly shut their Ears from hearing, and their Eyes from seeing, this Inward Guide, and so are become Strangers unto it; whence they are, by their own Experience, brought to this Strait, either to confess that they are as yet ignorant of God, and have only the Shadow of Knowledge, and not the true Knowledge of him, or that this Knowledge is acquired without Immediate Revelation.

Knowledge Spiritual and Literal distinguished.For the better understanding then of this Proposition, we do distinguish betwixt the certain Knowledge of God, and the uncertain; betwixt the spiritual Knowledge, and the literal; the saving Heart-[Pg 6]Knowledge, and soaring, airy Head-Knowledge. The last, we confess, may be divers Ways obtained; but the first, by no other Way than the inward immediate Manifestation and Revelation of God’s Spirit, shining in and upon the Heart, inlightning and opening the Understanding.

§. II.

Having then proposed to myself, in these Propositions, to affirm those Things which relate to the true and effectual Knowledge, which brings Life Eternal with it; therefore I have truly affirmed, that this Knowledge is no otherways attained, and that none have any true Ground to believe they have attained it, who have it not by this Revelation of God’s Spirit.

The Certainty of which Truth is such, that it hath been acknowledged by some of the most refined and famous of all Sorts of Professors of Christianity in all Ages; who being truly upright-hearted, and earnest Seekers of the Lord, (however stated under the Disadvantages and epidemical Errors of their several Sects or Ages) the true Seed in them hath been answered by God’s Love, who hath had Regard to the Good, and hath had of his Elect Ones among all, who finding a Distaste and Disgust in all other outward Means, even in the very Principles and Precepts more particularly relative to their own Forms and Societies, have at last concluded, with One Voice, That there was no true Knowledge of God, but that which is revealed inwardly by his own Spirit. Whereof take these following Testimonies of the Ancients.

Aug.1. [30]It is the Inward Master (saith Augustine) that Teacheth, it is Christ that Teacheth, it is Inspiration that Teacheth: Where this Inspiration and Unction is wanting, it is in vain that Words from without are beaten in.” And thereafter: “For he that created us, and redeemed us, and called us, by Faith, and dwelleth in us by his Spirit, unless he speaketh unto us Inwardly, it is needless for us to cry out.

[30] Aug. ex Tract. Ep. Joh. 3.

Clem. Alex.2. [31]There is a Difference (saith Clemens Alexandrinus) betwixt that which any one saith of the Truth, and that which the Truth itself, interpreting itself, saith. A Conjecture of Truth differeth from the Truth itself; a Similitude of a[Pg 7] Thing differeth from the Thing itself; it is one Thing that is acquired by Exercise and Discipline; and another Thing, which by Power and Faith.” Lastly, the same Clemens saith, [32]Truth is neither hard to be arrived at, nor is it impossible to apprehend it; for it is most Nigh unto us, even in our Houses, as the most wise Moses hath insinuated.

[31] Clem. Alex. I. 1. Strom.

[32] Pædag.

Tertullian.3. [33]How is it (saith Tertullian) that since the Devil always worketh, and stirreth up the Mind to Iniquity, that the Work of God should either cease, or desist to act? Since for this End the Lord did send the Comforter, that because human Weakness could not at once bear all Things, Knowledge might be by little and little directed, formed, and brought to Perfection, by the Holy Spirit, that Vicar of the Lord. I have many Things yet (saith he) to speak unto you, but ye cannot as yet bear them; but when that Spirit of Truth shall come, he shall lead you into all Truth, and shall teach you these Things that are to come. But of this his Work we have spoken above. What is then the Administration of the Comforter, but that Discipline be directed, and the Scriptures revealed?” &c.

[33] Tertullianus Lib. de veland. Virginibus, cap. 1.

Jerome4. [34]The Law (saith Jerome) is Spiritual, and there is need of a Revelation to understand it.” And in his Epistle 150. to Hedibia, Quest. 11. he saith, “The whole Epistle to the Romans needs an Interpretation; it being involved in so great Obscurities, that for the understanding thereof we need the Help of the Holy Spirit, who through the Apostle dictated it.

[34] Jerome Ep. Paulin. 103.

Athanasius.5. [35]So great Things (saith Athanasius) doth our Saviour daily: He draws unto Piety, persuades unto Virtue, teaches Immortality, excites to the Desire of Heavenly Things, reveals the Knowledge of the Father, inspires Power against Death, and shews himself unto every one.

[35] Athanasius de Incarn. Verbi Dei.

Gregory6. [36]Gregory the Great, upon these Words [He shall teach you all Things] saith, “That unless the same Spirit is present in the Heart of the Hearer, in vain is the Discourse of the Doctor. Let no Man then ascribe unto the Man that teacheth, what he understands from the Mouth of him that speaketh; for unless he that teacheth be within, the Tongue of the Doctor, that is without, laboureth in vain.

[36] Greg. Mag. Hom. 30. upon the Gospel.

Cyrillus Alexandrinus7. [37]Cyrillus Alexandrinus plainly affirmeth, “That Men know that Jesus[Pg 8] is the Lord by the Holy Ghost, no otherwise than they who taste Honey know that it is sweet, even by its proper Quality.”

[37] Cyril. Alex. in Thesauro, lib. 13. c. 3.

Bernard.8. [38]Therefore (saith Bernard) we daily exhort you, Brethren, that ye walk the Ways of the Heart, and that your Souls be always in your Hands, that ye may hear what the Lord saith in you.” And again, upon these Words of the Apostle [Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord] “With which Threefold Vice (saith he) all Sorts of Religious Men are less or more dangerously affected, because they do not so diligently attend, with the Ears of the Heart, to what the Spirit of Truth (which flatters none) inwardly speaks.

[38] Bernard in Psal. 84.

This was the very Basis, and main Foundation, upon which the Primitive Reformers built.

Luther.[39]Luther, in his Book to the Nobility of Germany, saith, “This is certain, That no Man can make himself a Teacher of the holy Scriptures, but the Holy Spirit alone.” And upon the Magnificat he saith, “No Man can rightly know God, or understand the Word of God, unless he immediately receive it from the Holy Spirit; neither can any one receive it from the Holy Spirit, except he find it by Experience in himself; and in this Experience the Holy Ghost teacheth, as in his proper School; out of which School nothing is taught but mere Talk.

[39] Luther. Tom. 5. p. 76.

Phil. MelancthonPhilip Melancthon, in his Annotations upon John vi. “Those who hear only an outward and bodily Voice, hear the Creature; but God is a Spirit, and is neither discerned, nor known, nor heard, but by the Spirit;By the Spirit alone God is known. and therefore to hear the Voice of God, to see God, is to know and hear the Spirit. By the Spirit alone God is known and perceived.

Which also the more Serious to this Day do acknowledge, even all such who satisfy themselves not with the Superficies of Religion, and use it not as a Cover or Art. Yea, all those who apply themselves effectually to Christianity, and are not satisfied until they have found its effectual Work upon their Hearts, redeeming them from Sin, do feel that no Knowledge effectually prevails to the producing of this, but that which proceeds from the warm Influence of God’s Spirit upon the Heart, and from the comfortable Shining of his[Pg 9] Light upon their Understanding.Dr. Smith of Cambridge, concerning Book-Divinity.And therefore to this Purpose a modern Author, viz. Dr. Smith of Cambridge, in his Select Discourses, saith well; “To seek our Divinity merely in Books and Writings, is to seek the Living among the Dead. We do but in vain many Times seek God in these, where his Truth is too often not so much Enshrined as Entombed. Intra te quære Deum, Seek God within thine own Soul: He is best discerned [Greek: noera epaphê: νοερα επαφη] (as Plotinus phrased it) by an Intellectual Touch of him. We must see with our Eyes, and hear with our Ears, and our Hands must handle the Word of Life (to express it in St. John’s Words) [Greek: hoti tês psychês aisthêsis: ὁτι της ψυχης αισθησις], &c. The Soul itself hath its Sense, as well as the Body. And therefore, David, when he would teach us to know what the Divine Goodness is, calls not for Speculation, but Sensation: Taste, and see how good the Lord is. That is not the best and truest Knowledge of God, which is wrought out by the Labour and Sweat of the Brain, but that which is kindled within us, by an heavenly Warmth in our Hearts. And again: There is a Knowing of the Truth, as it is in Jesus, as it is in a Christ-like Nature; as it is in that sweet, mild, humble, and loving Spirit of Jesus, which spreads itself, like a Morning Sun, upon the Souls of good Men, full of Light and Life. It profits little to know Christ himself after the Flesh; but he gives his Spirit to good Men, that searcheth the deep things of God. And again: It is but a thin airy Knowledge, that is got by mere Speculation, which is ushered in by Syllogisms and Demonstrations; but that which springs forth from true Goodness, is [Greek: theioteron ti pasês hypodeixeôs: θειοτερον τι πασης ὑποδειξεως] (as Origen speaketh) It brings such a Divine Light into the Soul, as is more clear and convincing than any Demonstration.”

§. III.

Apostasy and a false Knowledge introduced.That this certain and undoubted Method of the true Knowledge of God hath been brought out of use, hath been none of the least Devices of the Devil, to secure Mankind to his Kingdom. For after the Light and Glory of the Christian Religion had prevailed over a great Part of the World, and dispelled the thick Mists of the Heathenish Doctrine of the Plurality of Gods, he that knew there[Pg 10] was no Probability of deluding the World any longer that Way, did then puff Man up with a false Knowledge of the true God; setting him on work to seek God the wrong Way, and persuading him to be content with such a Knowledge as was of his own acquiring, and not of God’s teaching. And this Device hath proved the more successful, because accommodated to the natural and corrupt Spirit and Temper of Man, who above all Things affects to exalt himself; in which Exaltation, as God is greatly dishonoured, so therein the Devil hath his End; who is not anxious how much God is acknowledged in Words, provided himself be but always served; he matters not how great and high Speculations the Natural Man entertains of God, so long as he serves his own Lusts and Passions, and is obedient to his evil Suggestions and Temptations. Christianity is become an Art, acquired by human Science and Industry.Thus Christianity is become as it were an Art, acquired by human Science and Industry; like any other Art or Science; and Men have not only assumed the Name of Christians, but even have procured themselves to be esteemed as Masters of Christianity, by certain Artificial Tricks, though altogether Strangers to the Spirit and Life of Jesus. But if we make a right Definition of a Christian, according to the Scripture, That he is one who hath the Spirit and is led by it, how many Christians, yea, and of these great Masters and Doctors of Christianity, so accounted, shall we justly divest of that Noble Title?

By Revelation is the true Knowledge of God.If those therefore who have all the other Means of Knowledge, and are sufficiently Learned therein, whether it be the Letter of the Scripture, the Traditions of Churches, or the Works of Creation and Providence, whence they are able to deduce strong and undeniable Arguments (which may be true in themselves) are not yet to be esteemed Christians, according to the certain and infallible Definition above-mentioned; and if the inward and immediate Revelation of God’s Spirit in the Heart, in such as have been altogether ignorant of some, and but very little skilled in others, of these Means of attaining Knowledge, hath brought them to Salvation; then it will[Pg 11] necessarily and evidently follow, that Inward and Immediate Revelation is the only sure and certain Way to attain the true and saving Knowledge of God.

But the first is true: Therefore the last.

Now as this Argument doth very strongly conclude for this Way of Knowledge, and against such as deny it; so in this Respect it is the more to be regarded, as the Propositions, from which it is deduced, are so clear, that our very Adversaries cannot deny them. For as to the first, it is acknowledged, that many Learned Men may be, and have been, damned. And as to the second, who will deny but many illiterate Men may be, and are, saved? Abel, Seth, Noah, &c. instanced.Nor dare any affirm, that none come to the Knowledge of God and Salvation by the inward Revelation of the Spirit, without these other outward Means; unless they be also so bold as to exclude Abel, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Job, and all the holy Patriarchs from true Knowledge and Salvation.

§. IV.

I would however not be understood as if hereby I excluded those other Means of Knowledge from any Use or Service to Man; it is far from me so to judge, as concerning the Scriptures, in the next Proposition, will more plainly appear. The Question is not, what may be profitable or helpful, but what is absolutely necessary. Many Things may contribute to further a Work, which yet are not the main Thing that makes the Work go on.

The Sum then of what is said amounts to this, That where the true Inward Knowledge of God is, through the Revelation of his Spirit, there is all; neither is there an absolute Necessity of any other. But where the best, highest, and most profound Knowledge is, without this there is nothing, as to the obtaining the great End of Salvation. This Truth is very effectually confirmed by the first Part of the Proposition itself, which in few Words comprehendeth divers unquestionable Arguments, which I shall in brief subsume.

I.First, That there is no Knowledge of the Father but by the Son.

II.Secondly, That there is no Knowledge of the Son, but by the Spirit.

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III.Thirdly, That by the Spirit God hath always revealed himself to his Children.

IV.Fourthly, That these Revelations were the formal Object of the Saints’ Faith.

V.And Lastly, That the same continueth to be the Object of the Saints’ Faith to this Day.

Of each of these I shall speak a little particularly, and then proceed to the latter Part.

§. V.

Assert. I. Proved.As to the first, viz. That there is no Knowledge of the Father but by the Son, it will easily be proved, being founded upon the plain Words of Scripture, and is therefore a fit Medium from whence to deduce the rest of our Assertions.

For the infinite and most wise God, who is the Foundation, Root and Spring of all Operation, hath wrought all Things by his Eternal Word and Son. [40]This is that Word that was in the Beginning with God, and was God, by whom all Things were made, and without whom was not any Thing made that was made, [41]This is that Jesus Christ, by whom God created all Things, by whom, and for whom, all Things were created, that are in Heaven and in Earth, visible and invisible, whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers, Col. i. 16. Who therefore is called, The first-born of every Creature, Col. i. 15. As then that infinite and incomprehensible Fountain of Life and Motion operateth in the Creatures by his own Eternal Word and Power; so no Creature has Access again unto him but in and by the Son, according to his own express Words, No Man knoweth the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him, Mat. xi. 27. Luke x. 22. And again, he himself saith, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: No Man cometh unto the Father but by me, John xiv. 6.

[40] John 1. 1, 2, 3.

[41] Eph. 3. 9.

Hence he is fitly called, The Mediator betwixt God and Man: For having been with God from all Eternity, being himself God, and also in Time partaking of the Nature of Man; through him is the Goodness and Love of God conveyed to Mankind, and by him again Man receiveth and partaketh of these Mercies.

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Hence is easily deduced the Proof of this first Assertion, thus:

If no Man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him; then there is no Knowledge of the Father but by the Son.

But no Man knoweth the Father but the Son.

Therefore, there is no Knowledge of the Father but by the Son.

The first Part of the Antecedent are the plain Words of Scripture: The Consequence thereof is undeniable; except one would say, that he hath the Knowledge of the Father, while yet he knows him not; which were an absurd Repugnance.

Again, if the Son be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no Man cometh unto the Father but by him; then there is no Knowledge of the Father but by the Son.

But the first is true: Therefore the last.

The Antecedent are the very Scripture Words: The Consequence is very evident: For how can any know a Thing, who useth not the Way, without which it is not knowable? But it is already proved, that there is no other Way but by the Son; so that whoso uses not that Way, cannot know him, neither come unto him.

§. VI.

Assert. II. Proved.Having then laid down this first Principle, I come to the second, viz. That there is no Knowledge of the Son but by the Spirit; or, That the Revelation of the Son of God is by the Spirit.

Where it is to be noted, that I always speak of the saving, certain and necessary Knowledge of God; which that it cannot be acquired otherways than by the Spirit, doth also appear from many clear Scriptures. For Jesus Christ, in and by whom the Father is revealed, doth also reveal himself to his Disciples and Friends in and by his Spirit: As his Manifestation was outward, when he testified and witnessed for the Truth in this World, and approved himself faithful throughout; so being now withdrawn, as to the outward Man, he doth teach and instruct Mankind inwardly, by his own Spirit; He standeth at the Door and knocketh, and whoso heareth his Voice and openeth, he comes in to such, Rev. iii. 20. Of this Re[Pg 14]velation of Christ in him, Paul speaketh, Gal. i. 16. in which he placeth the Excellency of his Ministry, and the Certainty of his Calling. And the Promise of Christ to his Disciples, Lo, I am with you to the End of the World, confirmeth the same Thing; for this is an Inward and Spiritual Presence, as all acknowledge: But what relates hereto will again occur. Proof I.I shall deduce the Proof of this Proposition from two manifest Places of Scripture: The first is, 1 Cor. i. 11, 12. What Man knoweth the Things of a Man, save the Spirit of a Man which is in him? The Things of God are known by the Spirit of God.Even so the Things of God knoweth no Man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the Spirit of the World, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the Things which are freely given us of God. The Apostle in the Verses before, speaking of the wonderful Things which are prepared for the Saints, after he hath declared, that the Natural Man cannot reach them, adds, that They are revealed by the Spirit of God, Ver. 9, 10. giving this Reason, For the Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep Things of God. And then he bringeth in the Comparison, in the Verses above-mentioned, very apt, and answerable to our Purpose and Doctrine, that as the Things of a Man are only known by the Spirit of Man; so the Things of God are only known by the Spirit of God: That is, that as nothing below the Spirit of Man (as the Spirit of Brutes, or any other Creatures) can properly reach unto, or comprehend the Things of a Man, as being of a nobler and higher Nature; so neither can the Spirit of Man, or the Natural Man, as the Apostle in the 14th Verse subsumes, receive nor discern the Things of God, or the Things that are Spiritual, as being also of an higher Nature; which the Apostle himself gives for the Reason, saying, Neither can he know them, because they are Spiritually discerned. So that the Apostle’s Words, being reduced to an Argument, do very well prove the Matter under Debate, thus:

If that which appertaineth properly to Man, cannot be discerned by any lower or baser Principle than the Spirit of Man; then cannot those Things, that properly relate unto God and Christ, be known or discerned by any lower or baser Thing than the Spirit of God and Christ.

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But the first is true: Therefore also the second.

The whole Strength of the Argument is contained in the Apostle’s Words before-mentioned; which therefore being granted, I shall proceed to deduce a second Argument, thus:

That which is Spiritual can only be known and discerned by the Spirit of God.

But the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and the true and saving Knowledge of him, is Spiritual:

Therefore the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and the true and saving Knowledge of him, can only be known and discerned by the Spirit of God.

Proof II.No Man can call Jesus Lord, &c. The other Scripture is also a Saying of the same Apostle, 1 Cor. xii. 3. No Man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. This Scripture, which is full of Truth, and answereth full well to the enlightened Understanding of the spiritual and real Christian, may perhaps prove very strange to the carnal and pretended Follower of Christ, by whom perhaps it hath not been so diligently remarked. Spiritual Truths are Lies spoken by Carnal Men.Here the Apostle doth so much require the Holy Spirit, in the Things that relate to a Christian, that he positively avers, we cannot so much as affirm Jesus to be the Lord without it; which insinuates no less, than that the Spiritual Truths of the Gospel are as Lies in the Mouths of carnal and unspiritual Men; for tho’ in themselves they be true, yet are they not true as to them, because not known, nor uttered forth, in and by that Principle and Spirit that ought to direct the Mind, and actuate it; in such Things they are no better than the counterfeit Representations of Things in a Comedy; neither can it be more truly and properly called a real and true Knowledge of God and Christ, than the Actions of Alexander the Great, Julius Cæsar, &c. if now transacted upon a Stage, might be called truly and really their Doings, or the Persons representing them might be said truly and really to have conquered Asia, overcome Pompey, &c.

Like the Pratling of a Parrot.This Knowledge then of Christ, which is not by the Revelation of his own Spirit in the Heart, is no more properly the Knowledge[Pg 16] of Christ, than the Pratling of a Parrot, which has been taught a few Words, may be said to be the Voice of a Man; for as that, or some other Bird, may be taught to sound or utter forth a rational Sentence, as it hath learned it by the outward Ear, and not from any living Principle of Reason actuating it; so just such is that Knowledge of the Things of God, which the natural and carnal Man hath gathered from the Words or Writings of Spiritual Men; which are not true to him, because conceived in the natural Spirit, and so brought forth by the wrong Organ, and not proceeding from the Spiritual Principle; no more than the Words of a Man, acquired by Art, and brought forth by the Mouth of a Bird, not proceeding from a Rational Principle, are true, with respect to the Bird which utters them. Wherefore from this Scripture I shall further add this Argument:

If no Man can say Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost; then no Man can know Jesus to be the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

But the first is true: Therefore the second.

From this Argument there may be another deduced, concluding in the very Terms of this Assertion: Thus,

If no Man can know Jesus to be the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost; then can there be no certain Knowledge or Revelation of him, but by the Spirit.

But the first is true: Therefore the second.

§. VII.

Assert. III. Proved.The third Thing affirmed is, That by the Spirit God always revealed himself to his Children.

For making the Truth of this Assertion appear, it will be but needful to consider God’s manifesting himself towards, and in relation to his Creatures, from the Beginning, which resolves itself always herein. The first Step of all is ascribed hereunto by Moses, Gen. i. 2. And the Spirit of God moved upon the Face of the Waters. The Revelation is by the Spirit of God.I think it will not be denied, that God’s Converse with Man, all along from Adam to Moses, was by the Immediate Manifestation of his Spirit: And afterwards, through the whole Tract of the Law, he spake to[Pg 17] his Children no otherways; which, as it naturally followeth from the Principles above proved, so it cannot be denied, by such as acknowledge the Scriptures of Truth to have been written by the Inspiration of the Holy Ghost: For these Writings, from Moses to Malachi, do declare, that during all that Time, God revealed himself to his Children by his Spirit.

Object.But if any will Object, That after the Dispensation of the Law, God’s Method of Speaking was altered;

Answ.Sanctum Sanctorum. I answer: First, That God spake always immediately to the Jews, in that he spake always immediately to the High-Priest from betwixt the Cherubims; who, when he entered into the Holy of Holies, returning, did relate to the whole People the Voice and Will of God, there immediately Revealed. So that this immediate Speaking never ceased in any Age.

None shut out from this Immediate Fellowship.Secondly, From this immediate Fellowship were none shut out, who earnestly sought after, and waited for it; in that many, besides the High-Priest, who were not so much as of the Kindred of Levi, nor of the Prophets, did receive it and speak from it; as it is written, Numb. xi. 25. where the Spirit is said to have rested upon the Seventy Elders; which Spirit also reached unto two that were not in the Tabernacle, but in the Camp; whom when some would have forbidden, Moses would not, but rejoiced, wishing that all the Lord’s People were Prophets, and that he would put his Spirit upon them, Ver. 29.

This is also confirmed, Neh. ix. Where the Elders of the People, after their Return from Captivity, when they began to sanctify themselves by Fasting and Prayer, numbering up the many Mercies of God towards their Fathers, say, Ver. 20. Thou gavest also thy good Spirit to instruct them; and Ver. 30. Yet many Years didst thou forbear, and testify against them by thy Spirit in thy Prophets. Many are the Sayings of Spiritual David to this Purpose, as Psalm li. 11, 12. Take not thy holy Spirit from me; uphold me with thy free Spirit. Psal. cxxxix. 7. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Hereunto doth the Prophet Isaiah ascribe the Credit of his Testimony, saying, Chap. xlviii. 16. And now[Pg 18] the Lord God and his Spirit hath sent me. And that God revealed himself to his Children under the New Testament, to wit, to the Apostles, Evangelists, and Primitive Disciples, is confessed by all. How far now this yet continueth, and is to be expected, comes hereafter to be spoken to.

§. VIII.

Assert. IV.The fourth thing affirmed is, That these Revelations were the Object of the Saints’ Faith of old.

Proved.This will easily appear by the Definition of Faith, and considering what its Object is: For which we shall not dive into the curious and various Notions of the School-men, but stay in the plain and positive Words of the Apostle Paul, who, Heb. xi. describes it two Ways. What Faith is?Faith (saith he) is the Substance of Things hoped for, and the Evidence of Things not seen: Which, as the Apostle illustrateth it in the same Chapter by many Examples, is no other but a firm and certain Belief of the Mind, whereby it resteth, and in a Sense possesseth the Substance of some Things hoped for, through its Confidence in the Promise of God: And thus the Soul hath a most firm Evidence, by its Faith, of Things not yet seen nor come to pass. The Object of this Faith, is the Promise, Word, or Testimony of God, speaking in the Mind. The Object of Faith, Deus Loquens.Hence it hath been generally affirmed, That the Object of Faith is Deus Loquens, &c. that is, God Speaking, &c. Which is also manifest from all those Examples, deduced by the Apostle throughout that whole Chapter, whose Faith was founded neither upon any outward Testimony, nor upon the Voice or Writing of Man, but upon the Revelation of God’s Will, manifest unto them, and in them; as in the Example of Noah, Ver. 7, thus, By Faith Noah being warned of God, of Things not seen as yet, moved with Fear, prepared an Ark to the saving of his House; by the which he condemned the World, and became Heir of the Righteousness which is by Faith. Noah’s Faith.What was here the Object of Noah’s Faith, but God speaking unto him? He had not the Writings nor Prophesyings of any going before, nor yet the Concurrence of any Church or People, to strengthen him; and yet his Faith in the Word, by which he contradicted the whole World, saved him and his House.[Pg 19] Abraham’s Faith.Of which also Abraham is set forth as a singular Example, being therefore called the Father of the Faithful, who is said against Hope to have believed in Hope; in that he not only willingly forsook his Father’s Country, not knowing whither he went; in that he believed concerning the coming of Isaac, though contrary to natural Probability; but above all, in that he refused not to offer him up, not doubting but God was able to raise him from the Dead; of whom it is said, That in Isaac shall thy Seed be called. And last of all, In that he rested in the Promise, that his Seed should possess the Land, wherein he himself was but a Pilgrim, and which to them was not to be fulfilled while divers Ages after. The Object of Abraham’s Faith in all this, was no other but inward and immediate Revelation, or God signifying his Will unto him inwardly and immediately by his Spirit.

But because, in this Part of the Proposition, we made also Mention of external Voices, Appearances, and Dreams in the Alternative, I think also fit to speak hereof what in that respect may be objected; to wit,

Object.That those who found their Faith now upon Immediate and Objective Revelation, ought to have also outward Voices or Visions, Dreams or Appearances for it.

Answ.The Ministry of Angels speaking in the Appearance of Men to the Saints of old. It is not denied, but God made use of the Ministry of Angels, who, in the Appearance of Men, spake outwardly to the Saints of old, and that he did also reveal some Things to them in Dreams and Visions; none of which we will affirm to be ceased, so as to limit the Power and Liberty of God, in manifesting himself towards his Children. But while we are considering the Object of Faith, we must not stick to that which is but Circumstantially and Accidentally so, but to that which is Universally and Substantially so.

Next again, We must distinguish betwixt that which in itself is subject to Doubt and Delusion, and therefore is received for and because of another; and that which is not subject to any Doubt, but is received simply for and because of itself, as being Prima Veritas, the very First and Original Truth. Let us then consider how, or how[Pg 20] far, these outward Voices, Appearances and Dreams, were the Object of the Saints’ Faith: Was it because they were simply Voices, Appearances or Dreams? Revelations by Dreams and Visions.Nay certainly; for they were not ignorant that the Devil might form a Sound of Words, convey it to the outward Ear, and deceive the outward Senses, by making Things to appear that are not. Yea, do we not see by daily Experience, that the jugglers and Mountebanks can do as much as all that, by their Legerdemain? God forbid then, that the Saints’ Faith should be founded upon so fallacious a Foundation, as Man’s outward and fallible Senses. What made them then give Credit to these Visions? Certainly nothing else, but the secret Testimony of God’s Spirit in their Hearts, assuring them that the Voices, Dreams and Visions, were of and from God. Abraham believed the Angels; but who told him that these Men were Angels? We must not think his Faith then was built upon his outward Senses; but proceeded from the secret Persuasion of God’s Spirit in his Heart. This then must needs be acknowledged to be originally and principally the Object of the Saints’ Faith; without which there is no true and certain Faith, and by which many Times Faith is begotten and strengthened, without any of these outward or visible Helps; as we may observe in many Passages of the Holy Scripture, where it is only mentioned, And God said, &c. And the Word of the Lord came unto such and such, saying, &c.

Object.But if any one should pertinaciously affirm, That this did import an outward audible Voice to the Carnal Ear;

Answ.I would gladly know, what other Argument such an one could bring for this his Affirmation, saving his own simple Conjecture. It is said indeed, The Spirit witnesseth with our Spirit; but not to our outward Ears, Rom. viii. 16. And seeing the Spirit of God is within us, and not without us only, it speaks to our spiritual, and not to our bodily Ear. The Spirit speaks to the Spiritual Ear, not to the Outward.Therefore I see no Reason, where it is so often said in Scripture, The Spirit said, moved, hindered, called such or such a one, to do or forbear such or such a Thing, that any have to conclude that[Pg 21] this was not an Inward Voice to the Ear of the Soul, rather than an Outward Voice to the Bodily Ear. If any be otherwise minded, let them, if they can, produce their Arguments, and we may further consider of them.

From all therefore which is above declared, I shall deduce an Argument, to conclude the Proof of this Assertion, thus:

That which any one firmly believes, as the Ground and Foundation of his Hope in God, and Life Eternal, is the formal Object of his Faith.

But the inward and immediate Revelation of God’s Spirit, speaking in and unto the Saints, was by them believed, as the Ground and Foundation of their Hope in God, and Life Eternal.

Therefore these inward and immediate Revelations were the formal Object of their Faith.

§. IX.

Assert. V. Proved.That which now cometh under Debate, is, what we asserted in the last Place, to wit, That the same continueth to be the Object of the Saints’ Faith unto this Day. Many will agree to what we have said before, who differ from us herein.

There is nevertheless a very firm Argument confirming the Truth of this Assertion, included in the Proposition itself, to wit, That the Object of the Saints’ Faith is the same in all Ages, though held forth under divers Administrations. Which I shall reduce to an Argument, and prove, thus:

First, Where the Faith is one, the Object of the Faith is one.

But the Faith is one: Therefore, &c.

That the Faith is one, is the express Words of the Apostle, Eph. iv. 5. who placeth the one Faith with the one God; importing no less than, that to affirm two Faiths, is as absurd as to affirm two Gods.

The Faith of the Saints of old the same with ours.Moreover, if the Faith of the Ancients were not one and the same with ours, i. e. agreeing in Substance therewith, and receiving the same Definition, it had been impertinent for the Apostle, Heb. xi. to have illustrated the Definition of our Faith, by the Examples of that of the Ancients, or to go about to move us by the Example of Abraham,[Pg 22] if Abraham’s Faith were different in Nature from ours. Nor doth any Difference arise hence, because they believed in Christ, with respect to his Appearance outwardly as future; and we, as already appeared: For neither did they then so believe in him to come, as not to feel him present with them, and witness him near; seeing the Apostle saith, They all drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them, which Rock was Christ. Nor do we so believe concerning his Appearance past, as not also to feel and know him present with us, and to feed upon him; except Christ (saith the Apostle) be in you, ye are Reprobates; so that both our Faith is one, terminating in one and the same Thing. And as to the other Part or Consequence of the Antecedent; to wit, That the Object is one, where the Faith is one; the Apostle also proveth it in the fore-cited Chapter, where he makes all the Worthies of old Examples to us. Now wherein are they imitable, but because they believed in God? And what was the Object of their Faith, but inward and immediate Revelation, as we have before proved? Their Example can be no-ways applicable to us, except we believe in God as they did; that is, by the same Object. The Apostle clears this yet further by his own Example, Gal. i. 16. where he saith, So soon as Christ was revealed in him, he consulted not with Flesh and Blood, but forthwith believed and obeyed. The same Apostle, Heb. xiii. 7, 8. where he exhorteth the Hebrews to follow the Faith of the Elders, adds this Reason, Considering the End of their Conversation, Jesus Christ, the same To-day, Yesterday, and for ever: Hereby notably insinuating, that in the Object there is no Alteration.

Object.If any now object the Diversity of Administration;

Answ.I answer; That altereth not at all the Object: For the same Apostle mentioning this Diversity three Times, 1 Cor. xii. 4, 5, 6. centereth always in the same Object; the same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God.

But further; If the Object of Faith were not one and the same, both to us and to them, then it would follow that we were to know God some other Way than by the Spirit.

[Pg 23]

But this were absurd: Therefore, &c.

Lastly, This is most firmly proved from a common and received Maxim of the School-men, to wit, Omnis actus specificatur ab objecto, Every Act is specified from its Object: for which if it be true, as they acknowledge; (though for the Sake of many, I shall not recur to this Argument, as being too Nice and Scholastick; neither lay I much Stress upon those Kind of Things, as being that which commends not the Simplicity of the Gospel) it would follow, that If the Object were different, then the Faith would be different also.

Such as deny this Proposition now-a-days, use here a Distinction; granting that God is to be known by his Spirit; but again denying that it is Immediate or Inward, but in and by the Scriptures, in which the Mind of the Spirit (as they say) being fully and amply Expressed, we are thereby to know God, and be led in all Things.

As to the Negative of this Assertion, That the Scriptures are not sufficient, neither were ever appointed to be the adequate and only Rule, nor yet can guide or direct a Christian in all those Things that are needful for him to know, we shall leave that to the next Proposition to be examined. Christians are now to be led by the Spirit, in the same Manner as the Saints of Old.What is proper in this Place to be proved, is, That Christians now are to be led inwardly and immediately by the Spirit of God, even in the same Manner (though it befal not many to be led in the same Measure) as the Saints were of old.

§. X.

I shall prove this by divers Arguments, and first from the Promise of Christ in these Words, John xiv. 16. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. Ver. 17. Even the Spirit of Truth, whom the World cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Again, Ver. 26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my Name, he shall teach you all Things, and bring all Things to your Remembrance; and xvi. 13. But when the Spirit of Truth shall come, he shall lead you into all Truth: For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, he shall speak, and shall declare unto you Things to come. We have here first, who this is,[Pg 24] and that is divers Ways expressed, to wit, The Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Ghost, the Sent of the Father in the Name of Christ. And hereby is sufficiently proved the Sottishness of those Socinians, and other carnal Christians, who neither know nor acknowledge any Internal Spirit or Power but that which is merely Natural, by which they sufficiently declare themselves to be of the World, who cannot receive the Spirit, because they neither see him nor know him. Secondly, Where this Spirit is to be, He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. And Thirdly, What his Work is, He shall teach you all Things, and bring all Things to your Remembrance, and guide you into all Truth, [Greek: hodêgêsei hymas eis pasan tên alêtheian: ὁδηγησει ὑμας εις πασαν την αληθειαν].

Query I. Who is this Comforter?As to the First, Most do acknowledge that there is nothing else understood than what the plain Words signify: which is also evident by many other Places of Scripture, that will hereafter occur; neither do I see how such as affirm otherways can avoid Blasphemy: For, if the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, and Spirit of Truth, be all one with the Scriptures, then it will follow that the Scriptures are God, seeing it is true that the Holy Ghost is God. Nonsensical Consequences from the Socinians Belief of the Scriptures being the Spirit.If these Men’s Reasoning might take Place, wherever the Spirit is mentioned in relation to the Saints, thereby might be truly and properly understood the Scriptures: which, what a nonsensical Monster it would make of the Christian Religion, will easily appear to all Men. As where it is said, A Manifestation of the Spirit is given to every Man to profit withal; it might be rendered thus, A Manifestation of the Scriptures is given to every Man to profit withal; what notable Sense this would make, and what a curious Interpretation; let us consider by the Sequel of the same Chapter, 1 Cor. xii. 9, 10, 11. To another the Gifts of Healing, by the same Spirit; to another, the working of Miracles, &c. But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every Man severally as he will. What would now these great Masters of Reason, the Socinians, judge, if we should place the Scriptures here instead of the Spirit? Would it answer their Reason, which is the great Guide of their Faith? Would it be good and sound Reason in their Logical Schools, to affirm that[Pg 25] the Scripture divideth severally, as it will, and giveth to some the Gift of Healing, to others the working of Miracles? If then this Spirit, a Manifestation whereof is given to every Man to profit withal, be no other than that Spirit of Truth, before-mentioned, which guideth into all Truth; this Spirit of Truth cannot be the Scripture. I could infer an Hundred more Absurdities of this Kind, upon this sottish Opinion; but what is said may suffice. For even some of themselves, being at Times forgetful, or ashamed of their own Doctrine, do acknowledge, that the Spirit of God is another Thing, and distinct from the Scriptures, to Guide and Influence the Saints.

Query II. Where is his Place?Secondly, That this Spirit is inward, in my Opinion, needs no Interpretation, or Commentary, He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. This Indwelling of the Spirit in the Saints, as it is a Thing most needful to be known and believed; so is it as positively asserted in the Scripture, as any Thing else can be. If so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you, saith the Apostle to the Romans, Chap. viii. 9. And again, Know ye not that your Body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. vi. 19. And that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 1 Cor. iii. 16. Without this the Apostle reckoneth no Man a Christian. If any Man (saith he) have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. These Words immediately follow these above-mentioned, out of the Epistle to the Romans, But ye are not in the Flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. The Spirit within, the main Token of a Christian.The Context of which sheweth, that the Apostle reckoneth it the main Token of a Christian, both positively and negatively: For in the former Verses, he sheweth how the carnal Mind is Enmity against God, and that such as are in the Flesh, cannot please him. Where subsuming, he adds concerning the Romans, that they are not in the Flesh, if the Spirit of God dwell in them. What is this but to affirm, that they, in whom the Spirit dwells, are no longer in the Flesh, nor of those who please not God, but are become Christians indeed? Again, in the next Verse he concludes negatively, that If any Man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his; that is, he is no Christian. He then that acknowledges himself Ignorant, and a Stranger to the Inward[Pg 26] In-being of the Spirit of Christ in his Heart, doth thereby acknowledge himself to be yet in the Carnal Mind, which is Enmity to God; to be yet in the Flesh, where God cannot be pleased; and in short, whatever he may otherways know or believe of Christ, or however much skilled, or acquainted with the Letter of the Holy Scripture, not yet to be, notwithstanding all that, attained to the least Degree of a Christian; yea, not once to have embraced the Christian Religion. For take but away the Spirit, and Christianity remains no more Christianity, than the dead Carcase of a Man, when the Soul and Spirit is departed, remains a Man; which the living can no more abide, but do bury out of their Sight as a noisome and useless Thing, however acceptable it hath been, when actuated and moved by the Soul. Lastly, Whatsoever is Excellent, whatsoever is Noble, whatsoever is Worthy, whatsoever is Desirable in the Christian Faith, is ascribed to this Spirit; without which it could no more subsist, than the outward World without the Sun. Hereunto have all true Christians, in all Ages, attributed their Strength and Life. It is by this Spirit, that they avouch themselves to have been converted to God, to have been redeemed from the World, to have been strengthened in their Weakness, comforted in their Afflictions, confirmed in their Temptations, imboldened in their Sufferings, and triumphed in the Midst of all their Persecutions. The great and notable Acts that have been and are performed by the Spirit in all Ages.Yea, The Writings of all true Christians are full of the great and notable Things, which they all affirm themselves to have done, by the Power, and Virtue, and Efficacy of this Spirit of God working in them. It is the Spirit that quickeneth, John vi. 63. It was the Spirit that gave them Utterance, Acts ii. 4. It was the Spirit by which Stephen spake, That the Jews were not able to resist, Acts vi. 10. It is such as walk after the Spirit, that receive no Condemnation, Rom. viii. 1. It is the Law of the Spirit that makes free, Ver. 2. It is by the Spirit of God dwelling in us, that we are redeemed from the Flesh, and from the Carnal Mind, Ver. 9. It is the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, that quickeneth our mortal Bodies, Ver. 11. It is through this Spirit, that the Deeds of the Body are mortified, and Life obtained, Ver. 13. It is[Pg 27] by this Spirit, that we are adopted, and cry ABBA Father, Ver 15. It is this Spirit, that beareth Witness with our Spirit, that we are the Children of God, Ver. 16. It is this Spirit, that helpeth our Infirmities, and maketh Intercession for us, with Groanings which cannot be uttered, Ver. 26. It is by this Spirit, that the glorious Things which God hath laid up for us, which neither outward Ear hath heard, nor outward Eye hath seen, nor the Heart of Man conceived by all his Reasonings, are revealed unto us, 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10. It is by this Spirit, that both Wisdom, and Knowledge, and Faith, and Miracles, and Tongues, and Prophecies, are obtained, 1 Cor. xii. 8, 9, 10. It is by this Spirit, that we are all Baptized into one Body, Ver. 13. In short, what Thing relating to the Salvation of the Soul, and to the Life of a Christian, is rightly performed, or effectually obtained, without it? And what shall I say more? For the Time would fail me, to tell of all those Things, which the Holy Men of Old have declared, and the Saints of this Day do themselves enjoy, by the Virtue and Power of this Spirit dwelling in them. Truly my Paper could not contain the many Testimonies, whereby this Truth is confirmed; wherefore, besides what is above-mentioned out of the Fathers, whom all pretend to Reverence, and those of Luther and Melancthon, shall deduce yet one observable Testimony out of Calvin, because not a few of the Followers of his Doctrine do refuse and deride (and that, as it is to be feared, because of their own Non-experience thereof) this Way of the Spirit’s In-dwelling, as uncertain and dangerous; that so, if neither the Testimony of the Scripture, nor the Sayings of others, nor right Reason can move them, they may at least be reproved by the Words of their own Master, who saith in the third Book of his Institutions, Cap. 2. on this wise:

Calvin of the Necessity of the Spirit’s Indwelling in us.But they alledge, it is a bold Presumption for any to pretend to an undoubted Knowledge of God’s Will; which (saith he) I should grant unto them, if we should ascribe so much to ourselves, as to subject the Incomprehensible Counsel of God to the Rashness of our Understandings. But while we simply say, with Paul, that we have received[Pg 28] not the Spirit of this World, but the Spirit which is of God; by whose Teaching we know those Things that are given us of God, what can they prate against it, without reproaching the Spirit of God? For if it be an horrible Sacrilege to accuse any Revelation coming from him, either of a Lie, of Uncertainty or Ambiguity, in asserting its Certainty, wherein do we offend? But they cry out, That it is not without great Temerity, that we dare so boast of the Spirit of Christ. Who would believe that the Sottishness of these Men were so great, who would be esteemed the Masters of the World, that they should so fail in the first Principles of Religion? Verily I could not believe it, if their own Writings did not testify so much. Paul accounts those the Sons of God, who are actuated by the Spirit of God; but these will have the Children of God actuated by their own Spirits, without the Spirit of God. He will have us call God Father, the Spirit dictating that Term unto us, which only can witness to our Spirits, that we are the Sons of God. These, though they cease not to call upon God, do nevertheless dismiss the Spirit, by whose guiding he is rightly to be called upon. He denies them to be the Sons of God, or the Servants of Christ, who are not led by his Spirit; but these feign a Christianity that needs not the Spirit of Christ. He takes away the Hope of a blessed Resurrection, unless we feel the Spirit residing in us; but these feign a Hope without any such a Feeling; but perhaps they will answer, that they deny not but that it is necessary to have it, only of Modesty and Humility we ought to deny and not acknowledge it. What means he then, when he commands the Corinthians to Try themselves, if they be in the Faith; to Examine themselves, whether they have Christ, whom whosoever acknowledges not dwelling in him, is a Reprobate? By the Spirit which he hath given us, saith John, we know that he abideth in us. And what do we then else but call in question Christ’s Promise, while we would be esteemed the Servants of God, without his Spirit, which he declared he would pour out upon all his? Seeing these Things are the first Grounds of Piety, it is miserable Blindness to accuse[Pg 29] Christians of Pride, because they dare glory of the Presence of the Spirit; without which glorying, Christianity itself could not be. Without the Spirit’s Presence Christianity must cease.But by their Example they declare, how truly Christ spake, saying, That his Spirit was unknown to the World, and that those only acknowledge it, with whom it remains.” Thus far Calvin.

If therefore it be so, Why should any be so foolish as to deny, or so unwise as not to seek after this Spirit, which Christ hath promised shall dwell in his Children? They then that do suppose the Indwelling and Leading of his Spirit to be ceased, must also suppose Christianity to be ceased, which cannot subsist without it.

Query III. What is the Work of the Spirit?Thirdly, What the Work of this Spirit is, is partly before shewn, which Christ compriseth in two or three Things, [42]He will guide you into all Truth; He will teach you all Things, and bring all Things to your Remembrance. Since Christ hath provided for us so good an Instructor, why need we then lean so much to those Traditions and Commandments of Men, wherewith so many Christians have burthened themselves? Why need we set up our own carnal and corrupt Reason for a Guide to us, in Matters spiritual, as some will needs do? The Spirit the Guide.May it not be complained of all such, as the Lord did of old, concerning Israel, by the Prophets, Jer. ii. 13. For my People have committed two Evils, they have forsaken me, the Fountain of Living Waters; and hewed them out Cisterns, broken Cisterns, that can hold no Water? Have not many forsaken, do not many deride and reject, this Inward and Immediate Guide, this Spirit, that leads into all Truth; and cast up to themselves other Ways, broken Ways indeed, which have not all this While brought them out of the Flesh, nor out of the World, nor from under the Dominion of their own Lusts and sinful Affections; whereby Truth, which is only rightly learned by this Spirit, is so much a Stranger in the Earth?

[42] John 16. 13. and 14. 26.

A perpetual Ordinance to God’s Church and People.From all then that hath been mentioned concerning this Promise, and these Words of Christ, it will follow, That Christians are always to be led inwardly and immediately by the Spirit of God dwelling[Pg 30] in them; and that the same is a standing and perpetual Ordinance, as well to the Church in general in all Ages, as to every Individual Member in particular; as appears from this Argument:

The Promises of Christ to his Children are Yea and Amen, and cannot fail, but must of Necessity be fulfilled.

But Christ hath promised, That the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, shall abide with his Children for ever, shall dwell with them, shall be in them, shall lead them into all Truth, shall teach them all Things, and bring all Things to their Remembrance:

Therefore, The Comforter, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, his abiding with his Children, &c. is Yea and Amen, &c.

Again: No Man is redeemed from the Carnal Mind, which is at Enmity with God, which is not subject to the Law of God, neither can be; no Man is yet in the Spirit, but in the Flesh, and cannot please God; except he in whom the Spirit of God dwells.

But every true Christian is in measure redeemed from the Carnal Mind, is gathered out of the Enmity, and can be subject to the Law of God; is out of the Flesh, and in the Spirit, the Spirit of God dwelling in him:

Therefore every true Christian hath the Spirit of God dwelling in him.

Again: Whosoever hath not the Spirit of Christ, is none of his; that is, no Child, no Friend, no Disciple of Christ.

But every true Christian is a Child, a Friend, a Disciple of Christ:

Therefore every true Christian hath the Spirit of Christ.

Moreover: Whosoever is the Temple of the Holy Ghost, in him the Spirit of God dwelleth and abideth.

But every true Christian is the Temple of the Holy Ghost:

Therefore in every true Christian the Spirit of God dwelleth and abideth.

But to conclude: He in whom the Spirit of God dwelleth, it is not in him a lazy, dumb, useless Thing; but it moveth, actuateth, go[Pg 31]verneth, instructeth, and teacheth him all Things, whatsoever are needful for him to know; yea, bringeth all Things to his Remembrance.

But the Spirit of God dwelleth in every true Christian:

Therefore the Spirit of God leadeth, instructeth, and teacheth every true Christian whatsoever is needful for him to know.

§. XI.

Object.But there are some that will confess, That the Spirit doth now lead and influence the Saints, but that he doth it only Subjectively, or in a blind Manner, by enlightening their Understandings, to understand and believe the Truth delivered in the Scriptures; but not at all by presenting those Truths to the Mind, by Way of Object, and this they call, Medium incognitum Assentiendi, as that of whose working a Man is not sensible.

Answ.This Opinion, though somewhat more tolerable than the former, is nevertheless not altogether according to Truth, neither doth it reach the Fulness of it.

Arg 1.1. Because there be many Truths, which, as they are applicable to Particulars and Individuals, and most needful to be known by them, are in no-wise to be found in the Scripture, as in the following Proposition shall be shewn.

Besides, the Arguments already adduced do prove, that the Spirit doth not only Subjectively help us to discern Truths elsewhere delivered, but also Objectively present those Truths to our Minds. For that which teacheth me all Things, and is given me for that End, without doubt presents those Things to my Mind which it teacheth me. It is not said, It shall teach you how to understand those Things that are written; but, It shall teach you all Things. Again, that which brings all Things to my Remembrance, must needs present them by Way of Object; else it were improper to say, It brought them to my Remembrance; but only, that it helpeth to remember the Objects brought from elsewhere.

Arg. 2.My second Argument shall be drawn from the Nature of the New Covenant; by which, and those that follow, I shall prove that we are led by the Spirit, both Immediately and Objectively. The Nature of the New Covenant is expressed in divers Places: And

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Proof 1.First, Isa. lix. 21. As for me, this is my Covenant with them, saith the Lord, My Spirit that is upon thee, and my Words which I have put into thy Mouth, shall not depart out of thy Mouth, nor out of the Mouth of thy Seed, nor out of the Mouth of thy Seed’s Seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. The Leadings of the Spirit.By the latter Part of this is sufficiently expressed the Perpetuity and Continuance of this Promise, It shall not depart, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. In the former Part is the Promise itself, which is the Spirit of God being upon them, and the Words of God being put into their Mouths.

1. Immediately.First, This was Immediate, for there is no Mention made of any Medium; he saith not, I shall by the Means of such and such Writings or Books, convey such and such Words into your Mouths; but My Words, I, even I, saith the Lord, have put into your Mouths.

2. Objectively.Secondly, This must be Objectively; for [the Words put into the Mouth] are the Object presented by him. He saith not, The Words which ye shall see written, my Spirit shall only enlighten your Understandings to assent unto; but positively, My Words, which I have put into thy Mouth, &c. From whence I Argue thus:

Upon whomsoever the Spirit remaineth always, and putteth Words into his Mouth, him doth the Spirit teach Immediately, Objectively, and Continually.

But the Spirit is always upon the Seed of the Righteous, and putteth Words into their Mouths, neither departeth from them:

Therefore the Spirit teacheth the Righteous Immediately, Objectively, and Continually.

Proof 2.Secondly, The Nature of the New Covenant is yet more amply expressed, Jer. xxxi. 33. which is again repeated and re-asserted, by the Apostle, Heb. viii. 10, 11. in these Words, For this is the Covenant that I will make with the House of Israel, after those Days, saith the Lord, I will put my Laws into their Minds, and write them in their Hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a People. And they shall not teach every Man his Neighbour, and every Man his Brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me from the least to the greatest.

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The Object here is God’s Law placed in the Heart, and written in the Mind; from whence they become God’s People, and are brought truly to know him.

The Difference between the Outward and Inward Law. In this then is the Law distinguished from the Gospel; the Law before was outward, written in Tables of Stone; but now is inward, written in the Heart: Of old the People depended upon their Priests for the Knowledge of God, but now they have all a certain and sensible Knowledge of Him; concerning which Augustine speaketh well, in his Book De Litera & Spiritu; from whom Aquinas first of all seems to have taken Occasion to move this Question, Whether the New Law be a written Law, or an Implanted Law; Lex scripta, vel Lex indita? Which he thus resolves, Affirming, That the New Law, or Gospel, is not properly a Law written, as the Old was, but Lex indita, an Implanted Law; and that the old Law was written without, but the new Law is written within, on the Table of the Heart.

How much then are they deceived, who, instead of making the Gospel preferable to the Law, have made the Condition of such as are under the Gospel far worse? The Gospel Dispensation more glorious than that of the Law.For no Doubt it is a far better, and more desirable Thing, to converse with God Immediately, than only Mediately, as being an higher and more glorious Dispensation: And yet these Men acknowledge, that many under the Law had Immediate Converse with God, whereas they now cry it is ceased.

Again, Under the Law, there was the Holy of Holies, into which the High Priest did enter, and received the Word of the Lord immediately from betwixt the Cherubims, so that the People could then certainly know the Mind of the Lord; but now, according to these Men’s Judgment, we are in a far worse Condition, having nothing but the outward Letter of the Scripture to guess and divine from; concerning the Sense or Meaning of one Verse of which scarce two can be found to agree. But Jesus Christ hath promised us better Things, tho’ many are so unwise as not to believe him, even to guide us by his own unerring Spirit, and hath rent and removed the Veil, whereby not only one, and that once a Year, may enter; but all of us, at all[Pg 34] Times, have Access unto him, as often as we draw near unto him with pure Hearts: He reveals his Will to us by his Spirit, and writes his Laws in our Hearts. These Things then being thus premised; I argue,

Where the Law of God is put into the Mind, and written in the Heart, there the Object of Faith, and Revelation of the Knowledge of God, is inward, immediate, and objective.

But the Law of God is put into the Mind, and written in the Heart of every True Christian, under the new Covenant:

Therefore the Object of Faith, and Revelation of the Knowledge of God to every True Christian, is inward, immediate, and objective.

The Assumption is the express Words of Scripture: The Proposition then must needs be true, except that which is put into the Mind, and written in the Heart, were either not inward, not immediate, or not objective, which is most absurd.

§. XII.

Arg. 3. The Anointing recommended, as,The third Argument is from these Words of John, 1 John ii. Ver. 27. But the Anointing, which ye have received of him, abideth in you, and ye need not that any Man teach you: But the same Anointing teacheth you of all Things, and is Truth, and is no Lie; and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

1. Common.First, This could not be any special, peculiar, or extraordinary Privilege, but that which is common to all the Saints, it being a general Epistle, directed to all them of that Age.

2. Certain.Secondly, The Apostle proposeth this Anointing in them, as a more certain Touch-stone for them to discern and try Seducers by, even than his own Writings; for having in the former Verse said, that he had written some Things to them concerning such as seduced them, he begins the next Verse, But the Anointing, &c. and ye need not that any Man teach you, &c. which infers, that having said to them what can be said, he refers them for all to the inward Anointing, which teacheth all Things, as the most firm, constant, and certain Bulwark, against all Seducers.

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3. Lasting.And Lastly, That it is a lasting and continuing Thing; the Anointing which abideth. If it had not been to abide in them, it could not have taught them all Things, neither guarded them against all Hazard. From which I argue thus,

He that hath an Anointing abiding in him, which teacheth him all Things, so that he needs no Man to teach him, hath an inward and immediate Teacher, and hath some Things inwardly and immediately Revealed unto him.

But the Saints have such an Anointing:

Therefore, &c.

I could prove this Doctrine from many more Places of Scripture, which for Brevity’s Sake I omit; and now come to the second Part of the Proposition, where the Objections usually formed against it are answered.

§. XIII.

Object.The most usual is, That these Revelations are uncertain.

Answ.But this bespeaketh much Ignorance in the Opposers; for we distinguish between the Thesis and the Hypothesis; that is, between the Proposition and Supposition. For it is one Thing to affirm, that the true and undoubted Revelation of God’s Spirit is certain and infallible; and another Thing to affirm, that this or that particular Person, or People, is led infallibly by this Revelation, in what they speak or write, because they affirm themselves to be so led, by the inward and immediate Revelation of the Spirit. The first is only asserted by us; the latter may be called in question. The Question is not, Who are, or are not so led? But, Whether all ought not, or may not be so led?

The Certainty of the Spirit’s Guidance proved.Seeing then we have already proved, that Christ hath promised his Spirit to lead his Children, and that every one of them both ought and may be led by it; if any depart from this certain Guide in Deeds, and yet in Words pretend to be led by it, into Things that are not good, it will not from thence follow, that the true Guidance of the Spirit is uncertain, or ought not to be followed; no more than it will follow, that the Sun sheweth not Light, because a Blind Man, or one who wilfully hurts his Eyes, falls into a Ditch at Noon-day[Pg 36] for want of Light; or that no Words are spoken, because a Deaf Man hears them not; or that a Garden full of fragrant Flowers has no sweet Smell, because he that has lost his Smelling doth not Smell it. The Fault then is in the Organ, and not in the Object.

All these Mistakes therefore are to be ascribed to the Weakness or Wickedness of Men, and not to that Holy Spirit. Such as bend themselves most against this certain and infallible Testimony of the Spirit, use commonly to alledge the Example of the old Gnosticks, and the late Monstrous and Mischievous Actings of the Anabaptists of Munster; all which toucheth us nothing at all, neither weakens a Whit our most true Doctrine. Wherefore, as a most sure Bulwark against such Kind of Assaults, was subjoined that other Part of our Proposition, thus; Moreover these Divine and Inward Revelations, which we establish, as absolutely necessary for the founding of the True Faith, as they do not, so neither can they at any Time contradict the Scriptures Testimony, or sound Reason.

By Experience.Besides the intrinsick and undoubted Truth of this Assertion, we can boldly affirm it, from our certain and blessed Experience. For this Spirit never deceived us, never acted nor moved us to any Thing that was amiss; but is clear and manifest in its Revelations, which are evidently discerned by us, as we wait in that pure and undefiled Light of God, that proper and fit Organ, in which they are received. Therefore if any reason after this Manner,

That because some Wicked, Ungodly, Devilish Men, have committed wicked Actions, and have yet more wickedly asserted, that they were led into these Things by the Spirit of God:

Therefore, No Man ought to lean to the Spirit of God, or seek to be led by it;

The Absurdity of the Consequence.I utterly deny the Consequence of this Proposition; which, were it to be received as true, then would all Faith in God, and Hope of Salvation, become uncertain, and the Christian Religion be turned into mere Scepticism. For after the same Manner I might reason thus:

Because Eve was deceived by the Lying of the Serpent:

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Therefore she ought not to have trusted to the Promise of God.

Because the old World was deluded by Evil Spirits:

Therefore ought neither Noah, nor Abraham, nor Moses, to have trusted the Spirit of the Lord.

Because a lying Spirit spake through the Four Hundred Prophets, that persuaded Ahab to go up and fight at Ramoth Gilead:

Therefore the Testimony of the true Spirit in Micaiah was uncertain, and dangerous to be followed.

Because there were seducing Spirits crept into the Church of old:

Therefore it was not good, or it is uncertain, to follow the Anointing, which taught all Things, and is Truth, and is no Lie.

Who dare say, that this is a necessary Consequence? Moreover, not only the Faith of the Saints, and Church of God of old, is hereby rendered uncertain, but also the Faith of all Sorts of Christians now is liable to the like Hazard, even of those who seek a Foundation for their Faith elsewhere than from the Spirit. For I shall prove by an inevitable Argument, ab Incommodo, i. e. from the Inconveniency of it, that if the Spirit be not to be followed upon that Account, and that Men may not depend upon it, as their Guide, because some, while pretending thereunto, commit great Evils; that then, neither Tradition, nor the Scriptures, nor Reason, which the Papists, Protestants and Socinians, do respectively make the Rule of their Faith, are any Whit more certain. 1. Instances of Tradition.The Romanists reckon it an Error to celebrate Easter any other Ways than that Church doth. This can only be decided by Tradition. And yet the Greek Church, which equally layeth Claim to Tradition with herself, doth it otherwise. [43]Yea, so little effectual is Tradition to decide the Case, that Polycarpus, the Disciple of John, and Anicetus, the Bishop of Rome, who immediately succeeded them, according to whole Example both Sides concluded the Question ought to be decided, could not agree. Here of Necessity one of them must Err, and that following Tradition. Would the Papists now judge we dealt fairly by them, if we should thence aver, that Tradition is not to be regarded? Besides, in a Matter of far greater Importance, the[Pg 38] same Difficulty will occur, to wit, in the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome; for many do affirm, and that by Tradition, That in the first Six Hundred Years the Roman Prelates never assumed the Title of Universal Shepherd, nor were acknowledged as such. And as that which altogether overturneth this Presidency, there are that alledge, and that from Tradition also, That Peter never saw Rome; and that therefore the Bishop of Rome cannot be his Successor. Would ye Romanists think this sound Reasoning, to say as you do?

[43] Euseb. Hist. Eccles. Lib. 5. c. 26.

Many have been deceived, and erred grievously, in trusting to Tradition:

Therefore we ought to reject all Traditions, yea, even those by which we affirm the contrary, and, as we think, prove the Truth.

Lastly, In the[44] Council of Florence, the chief Doctors of the Romish and Greek Churches did debate whole Sessions long, concerning the Interpretation of one Sentence of the Council of Ephesus, and of Epiphanius, and Basilius, neither could they ever agree about it.

[44] Conc. Flor. Sess. 5. decreto quodam Conc. Eph. Act. 6. Sess. 11. & 12. Concil. Flor. Sess. 18, 20. Conc. Flor. Sess. 21. P. 480. & Seq.

2. Of Scripture.Secondly, As to the Scripture, the same Difficulty occurreth: The Lutherans affirm they believe Consubstantiation by the Scripture; which the Calvinists deny, as that which, they say, according to the same Scripture, is a gross Error. The Calvinists again affirm absolute Predestination, which the Arminians deny, affirming the contrary; wherein both affirm themselves to be ruled by the Scripture and Reason in the Matter. Should I argue thus then to the Calvinists?

Here the Lutherans and Arminians grossly err, by following the Scripture:

Therefore the Scripture is not a good nor certain Rule; and è contrario.

Would either of them accept of this Reasoning as good and sound? What shall I say of the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Independents, and Anabaptists of Great Britain, who are continually buffeting one another with the Scripture? To whom the same Argument might be alledged, though they do all unanimously acknowledge it to be the Rule.

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3. Of Reason.And Thirdly, As to Reason, I shall not need to say much; for whence come all the Controversies, Contentions and Debates in the World, but because every Man thinks he follows right Reason? The Debates hence arising betwixt the old and late Philosophers.Hence of old, came the Jangles between the Stoicks, Platonists, Peripateticks, Pythagoreans, and Cynicks, as of late betwixt the Aristotelians, Cartesians, and other Naturalists: Can it be thence inferred, or will the Socinians, those great Reasoners, allow us to conclude, because many, and those very wise Men, have erred, by following, as they supposed, their Reason, and that with what Diligence, Care and Industry they could, to find out the Truth, that therefore no Man ought to make use of it at all, nor be positive in what he knows certainly to be Rational? And thus far as to Opinions; the same Uncertainty is no less incident unto those other Principles.

§. XIV.

Anabaptists for their wild Practices, and Protestants and Papists for their Wars and Bloodshed, each pretending Scripture for it.But if we come to Practices, though I confess I do with my whole Heart abhor and detest those wild Practices, which are written concerning the Anabaptists of Munster; I am bold to say, as bad, if not worse Things, have been committed by those that lean to Tradition, Scripture, and Reason: Wherein also they have averred themselves to have been authorized by these Rules. I need but mention all the Tumults, Seditions, and horrible Bloodshed, wherewith Europe hath been afflicted these divers Ages; in which Papists against Papists, Calvinists against Calvinists, Lutherans against Lutherans, and Papists, assisted by Protestants, against other Protestants assisted by Papists, have miserably Shed one another’s Blood, Hiring and Forcing Men to kill each other, who were Ignorant of the Quarrel, and Strangers one to another: All, mean while, pretending Reason for so doing, and pleading the Lawfulness of it from Scripture.

Tradition, Scripture, and Reason, made a Cover for Persecution and Murder.For what have the Papists pretended for their many Massacres, acted as well in France as elsewhere, but Tradition, Scripture, and Reason? Did they not say, That Reason persuaded them, Tradition allowed them, and Scripture commanded them, to Persecute, Destroy, and Burn Hereticks, such as denied this plain Scripture, Hoc est Corpus meum, This is my Body? And are not the Protestants assenting to this Bloodshed,[Pg 40] who assert the same Thing, and encourage them, by Burning and Banishing, while their Brethren are so treated for the same Cause? Are not the Islands of Great Britain and Ireland, yea, and all the Christian World, a lively Example hereof, which were divers Years together as a Theatre of Blood; where many lost their Lives, and Numbers of Families were utterly destroyed and ruined? For all which no other Cause was principally given, than the Precepts of the Scripture. If we then compare these Actings with those of Munster, we shall not find great Difference; for both affirmed and pretended they were called, and that it was lawful to Kill, Burn, and Destroy the Wicked. We must Kill all the Wicked, said those Anabaptists, that we, that are the Saints, may possess the Earth. We must Burn obstinate Hereticks, say the Papists, that the Holy Church of Rome may be purged of rotten Members, and may live in Peace. We must cut off Seducing Separatists, say the Prelatical Protestants, who trouble the Peace of the Church, and refuse the Divine Hierarchy, and Religious Ceremonies thereof. We must Kill, say the Calvinistick Presbyterians, the Prophane Malignants, who accuse the Holy Consistorial and Presbyterian Government, and seek to defend the Popish and Prelatick Hierarchy; as also those other Sectaries that trouble the Peace of our Church. What Difference I pray thee, Impartial Reader, seest thou betwixt these?

Object.If it be said, The Anabaptists went without, and against the Authority of the Magistrate; so did not the other;

Answ.I might easily Refute it, by alledging the mutual Testimonies of these Sects against one another. Examples of Popish Cruelties.The Behaviour of the Papists towards Henry the third and fourth of France; their Designs upon James the sixth in the Gunpowder Treason; as also their Principle of the Pope’s Power to depose Kings, for the Cause of Heresy, and to absolve their Subjects from their Oath, and give them to others, proves it against them.

Protestants Violences and Persecutions in Scotland, England, and Holland.And as to the Protestants, how much their Actions differ from those other above-mentioned, may be seen by the many Conspiracies and Tumults which they have been active in, both in Scotland and England,[Pg 41] and which they have acted within these Hundred Years, in divers Towns and Provinces of the Netherlands. Have they not oftentimes sought, not only from the Popish Magistrates, but even from those that had begun to Reform, or that had given them some Liberty of Exercising their Religion, that they might only be permitted, without Trouble or Hindrance, to Exercise their Religion, promising they would not hinder or molest the Papists in the Exercise of theirs? And yet did they not on the contrary, so soon as they had Power, trouble and abuse those Fellow-Citizens, and turn them out of the City, and, which is worse, even such, who together with them had forsaken the Popish Religion? Did they not these Things in many Places against the Mind of the Magistrates? Have they not publickly, with contumelious Speeches, assaulted their Magistrates, from whom they had but just before sought and obtained the free Exercise of their Religion? Representing them, so soon as they opposed themselves to their Hierarchy, as if they regarded neither God nor Religion? Have they not by violent Hands possessed themselves of the Popish Churches, so called, or by Force, against the Magistrates Mind, taken them away? Have they not turned out of their Office and Authority whole Councils of Magistrates, under Pretence that they were addicted to Popery? Which Popish Magistrates nevertheless they did but a little before acknowledge to be Ordained by God; affirming themselves obliged to yield them Obedience and Subjection, not only for Fear, but for Conscience Sake; to whom moreover the very Preachers and Overseers of the Reformed Church had willingly sworn Fidelity; and yet afterwards have they not said, That the People are bound to force a wicked Prince to the Observation of God’s Word? There are many other Instances of this Kind to be found in their Histories, not to mention many worse Things, which we know to have been acted in our Time, and which for Brevity’s Sake I pass by.

Lutheran Seditions against the Reformed Teachers, and Assault upon the Marquis of Brandenburg, &c. in Germany.I might say much of the Lutherans, whose tumultuous Actions against their Magistrates, not professing the Lutheran Profession, are testified of by several Historians worthy of Credit. Among others, I[Pg 42] shall propose only one Example to the Reader’s Consideration, which fell out at Berlin, in the Year 1615, “Where the seditious Multitude of the Lutheran Citizens, being stirred up by the daily Clamours of their Preachers, did not only with Violence break into the Houses of the reformed Teachers, overturn their Libraries, and spoil their Furniture; but also with reproachful Words, yea, and with Stones, assaulted the Marquis of Brandenburg, the Elector’s Brother, while he sought by smooth Words to quiet the Fury of the Multitude; they killed ten of his Guard, scarcely sparing himself, who at last by Flight escaped out of their Hands.”

All which sufficiently declares, that the Concurrence of the Magistrate doth not alter their Principles, but only their Method of Procedure. So that for my own Part, I see no Difference betwixt the Actings of those of Munster, and these others, (whereof the one pretended to be led by the Spirit, the other by Tradition, Scripture, and Reason) save this, that the former were rash, heady, and foolish, in their Proceedings, and therefore were the sooner brought to nothing, and so into Contempt and Derision: But the other, being more politick and wise in their Generation, held it out longer, and so have authorized their Wickedness more, with the seeming Authority of Law and Reason. But both their Actings being equally Evil, the Difference appears to me to be only like that which is between a simple silly Thief, that is easily catched, and hanged without any more ado; and a Company of resolute bold Robbers, who being better guarded, though their Offence be nothing less, yet by Violence do, to shun the Danger, force their Masters to give them good Terms.

From all which then it evidently follows, that they argue very ill, who despise and reject any Principle, because Men pretending to be led by it do evil; in case it be not the natural and consequential Tendency of that Principle to lead unto those Things that are evil.

Again, It doth follow from what is above asserted, that if the Spirit be to be rejected upon this Account, all those other Principles ought on the same Account to be rejected. And for my Part, as I[Pg 43] have never a Whit the lower Esteem of the blessed Testimony of the Holy Scriptures; nor do the less respect any solid Tradition, that is answerable and according to Truth; neither at all despise Reason, that noble and excellent Faculty of the Mind, because wicked Men have abused the Name of them, to cover their Wickedness, and deceive the Simple; Let none reject the Certainty of the unerring Spirit of God because of false Pretenders to would I not have any reject or doubt the Certainty of that Unerring Spirit, which God hath given his Children, as that which can alone guide them into all Truth, because some have falsely pretended to it.

§. XV.

And because the Spirit of God is the Fountain of all Truth and sound Reason, therefore we have well said, That it cannot contradict either the Testimony of the Scripture, or right Reason: “Yet (as the Proposition itself concludeth, to the last Part of which I now come) it will not from thence follow, that these Divine Revelations are to be subjected to the Examination either by the outward Testimony of Scripture, or of the human or natural Reason of Man, as to a more noble and certain Rule or Touch-stone; for the Divine Revelation, and Inward Illumination, is that which is evident by itself, forcing the well-disposed Understanding, and irresistibly moving it to assent, by its own Evidence and Clearness; even as the common Principles of natural Truths do bend the Mind to a natural Assent.

He that denies this Part of the Proposition, must needs affirm, that the Spirit of God neither can nor ever hath manifested itself to Man, without the Scripture, or a distinct Discussion of Reason; or that the Efficacy of this Supernatural Principle, working upon the Souls of Men, is less evident than Natural Principles in their common Operations; both which are false.

For, First, Through all the Scriptures we may observe, That the Manifestation and Revelation of God by his Spirit to the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, was Immediate and Objective, as is above proved; which they did not examine by any other Principle, but their own Evidence and Clearness.

The Self-Evidence of the Spirit.Secondly, To say that the Spirit of God has less Evidence upon the Mind of Man than Natural Principles have, is to have too mean and[Pg 44] too low Thoughts of it. How comes David to invite us, to taste and see that God is good, if this cannot be felt and tasted? This were enough to overturn the Faith and Assurance of all the Saints, both now and of old. How came Paul to be persuaded, that nothing could separate him from the Love of God, but by that Evidence and Clearness which the Spirit of God gave him? The Apostle John, who knew well wherein the Certainty of Faith consisted, judged it no ways absurd, without further Argument, to ascribe his Knowledge and Assurance, and that of all the Saints, hereunto in these Words, Hereby know we, that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit, 1 John iv. 13. And again, Ver. 6. It is the Spirit that beareth Witness, because the Spirit is Truth.

Observe the Reason brought by him, Because the Spirit is Truth; of whose Certainty and Infallibility I have heretofore spoken. The Spirit contradicts not the Scripture, nor right Reason.We then trust to and confide in this Spirit, because we know, and certainly believe, that it can only lead us aright, and never mislead us; and from this certain Confidence it is that we affirm, That no Revelation coming from it can ever contradict the Scripture’s Testimony, nor right Reason: Not as making this a more certain Rule to ourselves, but as condescending to such, who not discerning the Revelations of the Spirit, as they proceed purely from God, will try them by these Mediums. Yet those that have their Spiritual Senses, and can savour the Things of the Spirit, as it were in prima Instantia, i. e. at the first Blush, can discern them without, or before they apply them either to Scripture or Reason: Natural Demonstrations from Astronomy and Geometry.Just as a good Astronomer can calculate an Eclipse infallibly, by which he can conclude (if the Order of Nature continue, and some strange and unnatural Revolution intervene not) there will be an Eclipse of the Sun or Moon such a Day, and such an Hour; yet can he not persuade an ignorant Rustick of this, until he visibly see it. So also a Mathematician can infallibly know, by the Rules of Art, that the three Angles of a right Triangle are equal to two right Angles; yea, can know them more certainly than any Man by Measure. And some Geometrical Demonstrations are by all ac[Pg 45]knowledged to be infallible, which can be scarcely discerned or proved by the Senses; yet if a Geometer be at the Pains to certify some ignorant Man concerning the Certainty of his Art, by condescending to measure it, and make it obvious to his Senses, it will not thence follow, that that Measuring is so certain as the Demonstration itself; or that the Demonstration would be uncertain without it.

§. XVI.

But to make an End, I shall add one Argument to prove, That this Inward, Immediate, Objective Revelation, which we have pleaded for all along, is the only, sure, certain, and unmoveable Foundation of all Christian Faith; which Argument, when well considered, I hope will have Weight with all Sorts of Christians, and it is this:

Immediate Revelation the Immoveable Foundation of all Christian Faith.That which all Professors of Christianity, of what Kind soever, are forced ultimately to recur unto, when pressed to the last; That for and because of which all other Foundations are recommended, and accounted worthy to be Believed, and without which they are granted to be of no Weight at all, must needs be the only most true, certain, and unmoveable Foundation of all Christian Faith.

But Inward, Immediate, Objective Revelation by the Spirit, is that which all Professors of Christianity, of what Kind soever, are forced ultimately to recur unto, &c.

Therefore, &c.

The Proposition is so evident, that it will not be denied: The Assumption shall be proved by Parts.

Papists Foundation, their Church and Tradition, Why?And First, As to the Papists, they place their Foundation in the Judgment of the Church and Tradition. If we press them to say, Why they believe as the Church doth? Their answer is, Because the Church is always led by the infallible Spirit. So here the Leading of the Spirit is the utmost Foundation. Again, if we ask them, Why we ought to trust Tradition? They answer, Because these Traditions were delivered us by the Doctors and Fathers of the Church; which Doctors and Fathers, by the Revelation of the Holy Ghost, commanded the Church to observe them. Here again all ends in the Revelation of the Spirit.

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Protestants and Socinians make the Scriptures their Ground and Foundation, Why?And for the Protestants and Socinians, both which acknowledge the Scriptures to be the Foundation and Rule of their Faith; the one as subjectively influenced by the Spirit of God to use them; the other, as managing them with and by their own Reason; ask both, or either of them, Why they trust in the Scriptures, and take them to be their Rule? Their Answer is, Because we have in them the Mind of God delivered unto us by those to whom these Things were inwardly, immediately, and objectively Revealed by the Spirit of God; and not because this or that Man wrote them, but because the Spirit of God dictated them.

Christians by Name, and not by Nature, hold Revelation ceased, contrary to Scripture.It is strange then that Men should render that so uncertain and dangerous to follow, upon which alone the certain Ground and Foundation of their own Faith is built; or that they should shut themselves out from that Holy Fellowship with God, which only is enjoyed in the Spirit, in which we are commanded both to Walk and Live.

If any who read these Things find themselves moved, by the Strength of these Scripture-Arguments, to assent, and believe such Revelations necessary; and yet find themselves Strangers to them, which, as I observed in the Beginning, is the Cause that this is so much gainsaid and contradicted, let them know, that it is not because it is ceased to become the Privilege of every true Christian that they do not feel it, but rather because they are not so much Christians by Nature as by Name; and let such know, that the secret Light which shines in the Heart, and reproves Unrighteousness, is the small Beginning of the Revelation of God’s Spirit, which was first sent into the World to reprove it of Sin, John xvi. 8. And as by forsaking Iniquity, thou comest to be acquainted with that Heavenly Voice in thy Heart, thou shalt feel, as the Old Man, or the Natural Man, that savoureth not the Things of God’s Kingdom, is put off, with his evil and corrupt Affections and Lusts; I say, thou shalt feel the New Man, or the Spiritual Birth and Babe raised, which hath its Spiritual Senses, and can see, feel, taste, handle, and smell the Things of the Spirit; but till then the Knowledge of Things Spiritual is but as an Historical[Pg 47] Faith. Who wants his Sight sees not the Light.But as the Description of the Light of the Sun, or of curious Colours to a blind Man, who, though of the largest Capacity, cannot so well understand it by the most acute and lively Description, as a Child can by seeing them; so neither can the Natural Man, of the largest Capacity, by the best Words, even Scripture-words, so well understand the Mysteries of God’s Kingdom, as the least and weakest Child who tasteth them, by having them Revealed inwardly and objectively by the Spirit.

Wait then for this in the small Revelation of that pure Light, which first reveals Things more known; and as thou becomest fitted for it, thou shalt receive more and more, and by a Living Experience easily refute their Ignorance, who ask, How dost thou know that thou art actuated by the Spirit of God? Which will appear to thee a Question no less ridiculous, than to ask one whose Eyes are open, How he knows the Sun shines at Noon-day? And though this be the surest and most certain Way to answer all Objections; yet by what is above written it may appear, that the Mouths of all such Opposers as deny this Doctrine may be shut, by unquestionable and unanswerable Reasons.

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Concerning the Scriptures.

From these Revelations of the Spirit of God to the Saints have proceeded the Scriptures of Truth, which contain,

I. A faithful Historical Account of the Actings of God’s People in divers Ages; with many singular and remarkable Providences attending them.

II. A Prophetical Account of several Things, whereof some are already past, and some yet to come.

III. A full and ample Account of all the chief Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, held forth in divers precious Declarations, Exhortations, and Sentences, which, by the moving of God’s Spirit, were at several Times, and upon sundry Occasions, spoken and written unto some Churches and their Pastors.

Nevertheless, because they are only a Declaration of the Fountain, and not the Fountain itself, therefore they are not to be esteemed the principal Ground of all Truth and Knowledge, nor yet the Adequate Primary Rule of Faith and Manners. Yet because they give a true and faithful Testimony of the first Foundation, they are and may be esteemed a Secondary Rule, subordinate to the Spirit, from which they have all their Excellency and Certainty: For, as by the inward Testimony of the Spirit we do alone truly know them, so they testify, That the Spirit is that Guide by which the Saints are led into all Truth; therefore, according to the Scriptures, the Spirit is the First and Principal Leader.[45] Seeing then that we do therefore receive and believe the Scriptures because they proceeded from the Spirit, so the very same Reason is the Spirit more Originally and Principally the Rule, according to the received Maxim in the Schools, Propter quod unumquodque est tale, illud ipsum est magis tale: That for which a Thing is such, that Thing itself is more such.

[45] John 16. 13. Rom. 8. 14.

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§. I.

The former Part of this Proposition, though it needs no Apology for itself, yet it is a good Apology for us, and will help to sweep away that, among many other Calumnies, wherewith we are often loaded, as if we were Vilifiers and Deniers of the Scriptures; for in that which we affirm of them, it doth appear at what high Rate we value them, accounting them, without all Deceit or Equivocation, the most excellent Writings in the World; The Holy Scriptures the most excellent Writings in the which not only no other Writings are to be preferred, but even in divers Respects not comparable thereto. For as we freely acknowledge that their Authority doth not depend upon the Approbation or Canons of any Church or Assembly; so neither can we subject them to the fallen, corrupt, and defiled Reason of Man: And therein as we do freely agree with the Protestants against the Error of the Romanists, so on the other Hand, we cannot go the Length of such Protestants as make their Authority to depend upon any Virtue or Power that is in the Writings themselves; but we desire to ascribe all to that Spirit from which they proceeded.

We confess indeed there wants not a Majesty in the Style, a Coherence in the Parts, a good Scope in the Whole; but seeing these Things are not discerned by the natural, but only by the spiritual Man, it is the Spirit of God that must give us that Belief of the Scriptures which may satisfy our Consciences; therefore some of the Chief among Protestants, both in their particular Writings and publick Confessions, are forced to acknowledge this.

Calvin’s Testimony that the Scripture certainly is from the Spirit.Hence Calvin, though he saith he is able to prove that, if there be a God in Heaven, these Writings have proceeded from him, yet he concludes another Knowledge to be necessary. Instit. Lib. 1. Cap. 7. Sect. 4.

“But if (saith he) we respect the Consciences, that they be not daily molested with Doubts, and hesitate not at every Scruple, it is requisite that this Persuasion which we speak of be taken higher than human Reason, Judgment, or Conjecture; to wit, from the[Pg 50] secret Testimony of the Spirit.” And again, “To those who ask, that we prove unto them, by Reason, that Moses and the Prophets were inspired of God to speak, I answer, That the Testimony of the Holy Spirit is more excellent than all Reason.” And again, “Let this remain a firm Truth, that he only whom the Holy Spirit hath persuaded, can repose himself on the Scripture with a true Certainty.” And lastly, “This then is a judgment which cannot be begotten but by an Heavenly Revelation, &c.

The Confession of the French Churches.The same is also affirmed in the first publick Confession of the French Churches, published in the Year 1559. Art. 4. “We know these Books to be canonical, and the most certain Rule of our Faith, not so much by the common Accord and Consent of the Church, as by the Testimony and inward Persuasion of the Holy Spirit.”

Churches of Holland assert the same.Thus also in the 5th Article of the Confession of Faith, of the Churches of Holland, confirmed by the Synod of Dort. “We receive these Books only for holy and canonical,—not so much because the Church receives and approves them, as because the Spirit of God doth witness in our Hearts that they are of God.”

Westminster Confession the same.And lastly, The Divines, so called, at Westminster, who began to be afraid of, and guard against the Testimony of the Spirit, because they perceived a Dispensation beyond that which they were under beginning to dawn, and to eclipse them; yet could they not get by this, though they have laid it down neither so clearly, distinctly, nor honestly as they that went before. It is in these Words, Chap. 1. Sect. 5. “Nevertheless our full Persuasion and Assurance of the Infallible Truth thereof, is from the inward Work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our Hearts.”

By all which it appeareth how necessary it is to seek the Certainty of the Scriptures from the Spirit, and no where else. The infinite Janglings and endless Contests of those that seek their Authority elsewhere, do witness to the Truth hereof.

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Apocrypha.[46]For the Ancients themselves, even of the first Centuries, were not agreed among themselves concerning them; while some of them rejected Books which we approve, and others of them approved those which some of us reject. It is not unknown to such as are in the least acquainted with Antiquity, what great Contests are concerning the Second Epistle of Peter, that of James, the Second and Third of John, and the Revelations, which many, even very ancient, deny to have been written by the beloved Disciple and Brother of James, but by another of that Name. What should then become of Christians, if they had not received that Spirit, and those spiritual Senses, by which they know how to discern the True from the False? It is the Privilege of Christ’s Sheep indeed that they hear his Voice, and refuse that of a Stranger; which Privilege being taken away, we are left a Prey to all Manner of Wolves.

[46]Conc. Laod. Can. 58. in Cod. Ec. 163. Conc. Laod. held in the Year 364. excluded from the Canon Eccl. the Wisdom of Solomon, Judith, Tobias, the Maccabees, which the Council of Carthage held in the Year 399. received.

§. II.

Though then we do acknowledge the Scriptures to be very heavenly and divine Writings, the Use of them to be very comfortable and necessary to the Church of Christ, and that we also admire and give Praise to the Lord, for his wonderful Providence in preserving these Writings so pure and uncorrupted as we have them, through so long a Night of Apostasy, to be a Testimony of his Truth against the Wickedness and Abominations even of those whom he made instrumental in preserving them, so that they have kept them to be a Witness against themselves; The Scriptures are not the principal Ground of Truth.yet we may not call them the principal Fountain of all Truth and Knowledge, nor yet the first adequate Rule of Faith and Manners; because the principal Fountain of Truth must be the Truth itself; i. e. that whole Certainty and Authority depends not upon another. When we doubt of the Streams of any River or Flood, we recur to the Fountain itself; and having found it, there we desist, we can go no farther, because there it springs out of the Bowels of the Earth, which are inscrutable. Even so the Writings and Sayings of all Men we must bring to the Word of God, I mean the Eternal Word, and if they agree hereunto, we stand there. For this Word always proceedeth, and doth eternally proceed from God, in[Pg 52] and by which the unsearchable Wisdom of God, and unsearchable Counsel and Will conceived in the Heart of God, is revealed unto us. That then the Scripture is not the principal Ground of Faith and Knowledge, as it appears by what is above spoken, so it is proved in the latter Part of the Proposition; which being reduced to an Argument, runs thus:

That whereof the Certainty and Authority depends upon another, and which is received as Truth because of its proceeding from another, is not to be accounted the principal Ground and Origin of all Truth and Knowledge:

But the Scriptures Authority and Certainty depend upon the Spirit by which they were dictated; and the Reason why they were received as Truth is, because they proceeded from the Spirit:

Therefore they are not the principal Ground of Truth.

To confirm this Argument, I added the School Maxim, Propter quod unumquodque est tale, illud ipsum magis est tale. Which Maxim, though I confess it doth not hold universally in all Things, yet in this it doth and will very well hold, as by applying it, as we have above intimated, will appear.

Neither are they the primary Rule of Faith and Manners.The same Argument will hold as to the other Branch of the Proposition, That it is not the primary adequate Rule of Faith and Manners; thus:

That which is not the Rule of my Faith in believing the Scriptures themselves, is not the primary adequate Rule of Faith and Manners:

That the Spirit is the Rule.But the Scripture is not, nor can it be the Rule of that Faith by which I believe them, &c.

Therefore, &c.

But as to this Part, we shall produce divers Arguments hereafter. As to what is affirmed, that the Spirit, and not the Scriptures, is the Rule, it is largely handled in the former Proposition; the Sum whereof I shall subsume in one Argument, thus,

If by the Spirit we can only come to the true Knowledge of God; if by the Spirit we are to be led into all Truth, and so be taught of[Pg 53] all Things; then the Spirit, and not the Scriptures, is the Foundation and Ground of all Truth and Knowledge, and the primary Rule of Faith and Manners:

But the first is true: Therefore also the last.

Next, the very Nature of the Gospel itself declareth that the Scriptures cannot be the only and chief Rule of Christians, else there should be no Difference betwixt the Law and the Gospel; as from the Nature of the New Covenant, by divers Scriptures, described in the former Proposition, is proved.

Wherein the Law and Gospel differ.But besides these which are before mentioned, herein doth the Law and the Gospel differ, in that the Law, being outwardly written, brings under Condemnation, but hath not Life in it to save; whereas the Gospel, as it declares and makes manifest the Evil, so, being an inward powerful Thing, it gives Power also to obey, and deliver from the Evil. Hence it is called [Greek: Evangelian: Ευαγγελιον], which is glad Tidings. The Law or Letter, which is without us, Kills; but the Gospel, which is the inward spiritual Law, gives Life; for it consists not so much in Words as in Virtue. Wherefore such as come to know it, and be acquainted with it, come to feel greater Power over their Iniquities than all outward Laws or Rules can give them. Hence the Apostle concludes, Rom. vi. 14. Sin shall not have Dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace. This Grace then that is inward, and not an outward Law, is to be the Rule of Christians. Hereunto the Apostle commends the Elders of the Church, saying, Acts xx. 32. And now, Brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of his Grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an Inheritance among all them which are sanctified. He doth not commend them here to outward Laws or Writings, but to the Word of Grace, which is inward; even the spiritual Law, which makes free, as he elsewhere affirms, Rom. viii. 2. The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the Law of Sin and Death. This spiritual Law is that which the Apostle declares he preached and directed People unto, which was not outward, as by Rom. x. 8. is manifest; where distinguishing it from[Pg 54] the Law, he saith, The Word is nigh thee, in thy Heart, and in thy Mouth; and this is the Word of Faith which we preach. From what is above said, I argue thus:

The principal Rule of Christians under the Gospel is not an outward Letter, nor Law outwardly written and delivered, but an inward spiritual Law, engraven in the Heart, the Law of the Spirit of Life, the Word that is nigh in the Heart and in the Mouth.

But the Letter of the Scripture is outward, of itself a dead Thing, a mere Declaration of good Things, but not the Things themselves:

The Scripture not the Rule.Therefore it is not, nor can be, the chief or principal Rule of Christians.

§. III.

Thirdly, That which is given to Christians for a Rule and Guide, must needs be so full, that it may clearly and distinctly guide and order them in all Things and Occurrences that may fall out.

But in that there are numberless Things, with regard to their Circumstances, which particular Christians may be concerned in, for which there can be no particular Rule had in the Scriptures:

Therefore the Scriptures cannot be a Rule to them.

I shall give an Instance in two or three Particulars to prove this Proposition. It is not to be doubted but some Men are particularly called to some particular Services; their being not found in which, though the Act be no general positive Duty, yet in so far as it may be required of them, is a great Sin to omit; forasmuch as God is zealous of his Glory, and every Act of Disobedience to his Will manifested, is enough not only to hinder one greatly from that Comfort and inward Peace which otherwise he might have, but also bringeth Condemnation.

As for Instance, Some are called to the Ministry of the Word: Paul saith, There was a Necessity upon him to preach the Gospel, wo unto me, if I preach not.

If it be necessary that there be now Ministers of the Church, as well as then, then there is the same Necessity upon some, more than upon others, to occupy this Place; which Necessity, as it may be in[Pg 55]cumbent upon particular Persons, the Scripture neither doth nor can declare.

Object.If it be said, That the Qualifications of a Minister are found in the Scripture, and by applying these Qualifications to myself, I may know whether I be fit for such a Place or not:

Answ.I answer, The Qualifications of a Bishop, or Minister, as they are mentioned both in the Epistle to Timothy and Titus, are such as may be found in a private Christian; yea, which ought in some Measure to be in every true Christian: So that this giveth a Man no Certainty. Every Capacity to an Office giveth me not a sufficient Call to it.

Next again, By what Rule shall I judge if I be so qualified? How do I know that I am sober, meek, holy, harmless? Is it not the Testimony of the Spirit in my Conscience that must assure me hereof? And suppose that I was qualified and called, yet what Scripture-rule shall inform me, Whether it be my Duty to preach in this or that Place, in France or England, Holland or Germany? Whether I shall take up my Time in confirming the Faithful, reclaiming Hereticks, or converting Infidels, as also in writing Epistles to this or that Church?

The general Rules of the Scripture, viz. To be diligent in my Duty, to do all to the Glory of God, and for the Good of his Church, can give me no Light in this Thing. Seeing two different Things may both have a Respect to that Way, yet may I commit a great Error and Offence in doing the one, when I am called to the other. If Paul, when his Face was turned by the Lord toward Jerusalem, had gone back to Achaia, or Macedonia, he might have supposed he could have done God more acceptable Service in preaching and confirming the Churches, than in being shut up in Prison in Judea; but would God have been pleased herewith? Nay certainly. Obedience is better than Sacrifice; and it is not our doing that which is good simply that pleaseth God, but that Good which he willeth us to do. Every Member hath its particular Place in the Body, as the Apostle sheweth, 1 Cor. xii. If then, I being the Foot, should offer to exercise[Pg 56] the Office of the Hand; or being the Hand, that of the Tongue; my Service would be troublesome, and not acceptable; and instead of helping the Body, I should make a Schism in it. That which is good for one to do, may be sinful to another.So that that which is good for another to do, may be sinful to me: For as Masters will have their Servants to obey them, according to their good Pleasure, and not only in blindly doing that which may seem to them to tend to their Master’s Profit, whereby it may chance (the Master having Business both in the Field and in the House) that the Servant that knows not his Master’s Will may go to the Field, when it is the Mind of the Master he should stay and do the Business of the House, would not this Servant then deserve a Reproof, for not answering his Master’s Mind? And what Master is so sottish and careless, as, having many Servants, to leave them in such Disorder as not to assign each his particular Station, and not only the general Terms of doing that which is profitable? which would leave them in various Doubts, and certainly end in Confusion.

Shall we then dare to ascribe unto Christ, in the ordering of his Church and Servants, that which in Man might justly be accounted Disorder and Confusion? Diversities of Gifts.The Apostle sheweth this Distinction well, Rom. xii. 6, 7, 8. Having then Gifts differing according to the Grace that is given to us; whether Prophecy, let us prophesy according to the Proportion of Faith; or Ministry, let us wait on our Ministring; or he that teacheth, on Teaching; or he that exhorteth, on Exhortation. Now what Scripture-rule sheweth me that I ought to exhort, rather than prophesy? or to minister, rather than teach? Surely none at all. Many more Difficulties of this Kind occur in the Life of a Christian.

Of Faith and Salvation can the Scripture assure thee?Moreover, that which of all Things is most needful for him to know, to wit, whether he really be in the Faith, and an Heir of Salvation, or not, the Scripture can give him no Certainty in, neither can it be a Rule to him. That this Knowledge is exceeding desirable and comfortable all do unanimously acknowledge; besides that it is especially commanded, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Examine yourselves whether ye be in the Faith, prove yourselves; know ye not your own selves, how[Pg 57] that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be Reprobates? And 2 Pet. i. 10. Wherefore the rather, Brethren, give all Diligence to make your Calling and Election sure. Now I say, What Scripture-rule can assure me that I have true Faith? That my Calling and Election is sure?

If it be said, By comparing the Scripture-marks of true Faith with mine:

I demand, Wherewith shall I make this Observation? What shall ascertain me that I am not mistaken? It cannot be the Scripture: That is the Matter under Debate.

If it be said, My own Heart:

How unfit a Judge is it in its own Case? And how like to be partial, especially if it be yet unrenewed? Doth not the Scripture say, that it is deceitful above all Things? The Heart of Man deceitful.I find the Promises, I find the Threatenings in the Scripture; but who telleth me that the one belongs to me more than the other? The Scripture gives me a mere Declaration of these Things, but makes no Application; so that the Assumption must be of my own making, thus; as for Example: I find this Proposition in Scripture;

He that believes, shall be saved: Thence I draw the Assumption.

But I, Robert, believe:

Therefore, I shall be saved.

The Minor is of my own making, not expressed in the Scripture; and so a human Conclusion, not a divine Position; so that my Faith and Assurance here is not built upon a Scripture Proposition, but upon an human Principle; which, unless I be sure of elsewhere, the Scripture gives me no Certainty in the Matter.

Again, If I should pursue the Argument further, and seek a new Medium out of the Scripture, the same Difficulty would occur: Thus,

He that hath the true and certain Marks of true Faith, hath true Faith:

But I have those Marks:

Therefore I have true Faith.

For the Assumption is still here of my own making, and is not found in the Scriptures; and by Consequence the Conclusion can[Pg 58] be no better, since it still followeth the weaker Proposition. The inward Testimony of the Spirit the Seal of Scripture-Promises.This is indeed so pungent, that the best of Protestants, who plead for this Assurance, ascribe it to the inward Testimony of the Spirit, as Calvin, in that large Citation, quoted in the Former Proposition. So that, not to seek farther into the Writings of the primitive Protestants, which are full of such Expressions, even the Westminster Confession of Faith affirmeth, Chap. 18. Sect. 12. “This Certainty is not a bare Conjecture and probable Persuasion, grounded upon fallible Hope, but an infallible Assurance of Faith, founded upon the Divine Truth of the Promise of Salvation; the inward Evidences of these Graces, unto which these Promises are made; the Testimony of the Spirit of Adoption, witnessing to our Spirits that we are the Children of God; which Spirit is the Earnest of our Inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the Day of Redemption.”

Moreover, the Scripture itself, wherein we are so earnestly pressed to seek after this Assurance, doth not at all affirm itself a Rule sufficient to give it, but wholly ascribeth it to the Spirit, as Rom. viii. 16. The Spirit itself beareth Witness with our Spirit, that we are the Children of God. 1 John iv. 13. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit; and Chap. v. 6. And it is the Spirit that beareth Witness, because the Spirit is Truth.

§. IV.

That the Scriptures are not the chief Rule.Lastly, That cannot be the only, principal, nor chief Rule, which doth not universally reach every Individual that needeth it to produce the necessary Effect; and from the Use of which, either by some innocent and sinless Defect, or natural, yet harmless and blameless Imperfection, many who are within the Compass of the visible Church, and may, without Absurdity, yea, with great Probability, be accounted of the Elect, are necessarily excluded, and that either wholly, or at least from the immediate Use thereof. 1. Deaf People Children, and Idiots instanced.But it so falls out frequently concerning the Scriptures, in the Case of deaf People, Children, and Idiots, who can by no Means have the Benefit of the Scriptures. Shall we then affirm, that they are without any Rule to God-ward, or that they are all damned? As such an Opinion is in[Pg 59] itself very absurd, and inconsistent both with the Justice and Mercy of God, so I know no sound Reason can be alledged for it. Now if we may suppose any such to be under the New Covenant Dispensation, as I know none will deny but that we may suppose it without any Absurdity, we cannot suppose them without some Rule and Means of Knowledge; seeing it is expresly affirmed, They shall all be taught of God, John vi. 45. And they shall all know me from the least to the greatest, Heb. viii. 11.

But Secondly, Though we were rid of this Difficulty, how many illiterate and yet good Men are there in the Church of God, who cannot read a Letter in their own Mother Tongue? Which Imperfection, though it be inconvenient, I cannot tell whether we may safely affirm it to be sinful. These can have no immediate Knowledge of the Rule of their Faith; so their Faith must needs depend upon the Credit of other Men’s Reading or Relating it unto them; where either the altering, adding, or omitting of a little Word may be a Foundation in the poor Hearer of a very dangerous Mistake, whereby he may either continue in some Iniquity ignorantly, or believe a Lie confidently. 2. Papists conceal the Second Commandment from the People.As for Example, The Papists in all their Catechisms, and publick Exercises of Examinations towards the People, have boldly cut away the Second Command, because it seems so expresly to strike against their Adoration and Use of Images; whereas many of these People, in whom by this Omission this false Opinion is fostered, are under a simple Impossibility, or at least a very great Difficulty, to be outwardly informed of this Abuse. But further; suppose all could read the Scriptures in their own Language; where is there one of a Thousand that hath that thorough Knowledge of the Original Languages, in which they are written, so as in that Respect immediately to receive the Benefit of them? 3. The Uncertainty of the Interpreters of the Scripture, and their Adulterating it.Must not all these here depend upon the Honesty and Faithfulness of the Interpreter? Which how uncertain it is for a Man to build his Faith upon, the many Corrections, Amendments, and various Essays, which even among Protestants have been used (whereof the latter have constantly blamed and corrected the former, as Guilty of Defects and[Pg 60] Errors) doth sufficiently declare. And that even the last Translators in the vulgar Languages need to be corrected (as I could prove at large, were it proper in this Place) learned Men do confess.

But last of all, there is no less Difficulty occurs even to those skilled in the Original Languages, who cannot so immediately receive the Mind of the Authors in these Writings, as that their Faith doth not at least obliquely depend upon the Honesty and Credit of the Transcribers, since the Original Copies are granted by all not to be now extant. Jerome Epist. 28. ad Lucin. p. 247.Of which Transcribers Jerome in his Time complained, saying, That they wrote not what they found, but what they understood. Epiph. in Anachor. Tom. Oper.And Epiphanius saith, That in the good and correct Copies of Luke it was written, that Christ Wept, and that Irenæus doth cite it; but that the Catholicks blotted it out, fearing lest Hereticks should have abused it. Other Fathers also declare, That whole Verses were taken out of Mark, because of the Manichees.

The various Readings of the Hebrew Character, &c.But further, the various Readings of the Hebrew Character by Reason of the Points, which some plead for, as coæval with the first Writings, which others, with no less Probability, alledge to be a later Invention; the Disagreement of divers Citations of Christ and the Apostles with those Passages in the Old Testament they appeal to; the great Controversy among the Fathers, whereof some highly approve the Greek Septuagint, decrying and rendering very doubtful the Hebrew Copy, as in many Places vitiated, and altered by the Jews; other some, and particularly Jerome, exalting the Certainty of the Hebrew, and rejecting, yea, even deriding the History of the Septuagint, which the Primitive Church chiefly made use of; and some Fathers that lived Centuries before him, affirmed to be a most certain Thing; and the many various Readings in divers Copies of the Greek, and the great Altercations among the Fathers of the first three Centuries, who had greater Opportunity to be better informed than we can now lay claim to, concerning the Books to be admitted or rejected, as is above observed; I say, all these and much more which might be alledged, puts the Minds even of the[Pg 61] Learned into infinite Doubts, Scruples, and inextricable Difficulties: Whence we may very safely conclude, that Jesus Christ, who promised to be always with his Children, to lead them into all Truth, to guard them against the Devices of the Enemy, and to establish their Faith upon an unmoveable Rock, left them not to be principally ruled by that, which was subject in itself to many Uncertainties: And therefore he gave them his Spirit as their principal Guide, which neither Moths nor Time can wear out, nor Transcribers nor Translators corrupt; which none are so young, none so illiterate, none in so remote a Place but they may come to be reached, and rightly informed by it.

Through and by the Clearness which that Spirit gives us, it is that we are only best rid of those Difficulties that occur to us concerning the Scriptures. The real and undoubted Experience whereof I myself have been a Witness of, with great Admiration of the Love of God to his Children in these latter Days: Wrong Translations of Scripture discerned in the Spirit by the Unlearned in Letters.For I have known some of my Friends who profess the same Faith with me, faithful Servants of the Most High God, and full of Divine Knowledge of his Truth, as it was immediately and inwardly revealed to them by the Spirit, from a true and living Experience, who not only were ignorant of the Greek and Hebrew, but even some of them could not read their own vulgar Language, who being pressed by their Adversaries with some Citations out of the English Translation, and finding them to disagree with the Manifestation of Truth in their own Hearts, have boldly affirmed the Spirit of God never said so, and that it was certainly wrong; for they did not believe that any of the holy Prophets or Apostles had ever written so; which when I on this Account seriously examined, I really found to be Errors and Corruptions of the Translators; who (as in most Translations) do not so much give us the genuine Signification of the Words, as strain them to express that which comes nearest to that Opinion and Notion they have of Truth. And this seemed to me to suit very well with that Saying of Augustine, Epist. 19. ad Hier. Tom. ii. Fol. 14. after he has[Pg 62] said, “That he gives only that Honour to those Books which are called Canonical, as to believe that the Authors thereof did in Writing not err,” he adds, “And if I shall meet with any Thing in these Writings that seemeth repugnant to Truth, I shall not doubt to say, that either the Volume is faulty or erroneous; that the Expounder hath not reached what was said; or that I have in no wise understood it.” So that he supposes that in the Transcription and Translation there may be Errors.

§. V.

Object.If it be then asked me, Whether I think hereby to render the Scriptures altogether uncertain, or useless?

Answ.I answer; Not at all. The Proposition itself declares how much I esteem them; and provided that to the Spirit from which they came be but granted that Place the Scriptures themselves give it, I do freely concede to the Scriptures the second Place, even whatsoever they say of themselves; which the Apostle Paul chiefly mentions in two Places, Rom. xv. 4. Whatsoever Things were written aforetime, were written for our Learning, that we through Patience and Comfort of the Scriptures might have Hope. 2 Tim. iii. 15, 16, 17. The Holy Scriptures are able to make wise unto Salvation, through Faith which is in Jesus Christ. All Scripture given by Inspiration of God, is profitable for Correction, for Instruction in Righteousness, that the Man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto every good Work.

For though God doth principally and chiefly lead us by his Spirit, yet he sometimes conveys his Comfort and Consolation to us through his Children, whom he raises up and inspires to speak or write a Word in Season, The Saints mutual Comfort is the same Spirit in all.whereby the Saints are made Instruments in the Hand of the Lord to strengthen and encourage one another, which doth also tend to perfect and make them wise unto Salvation; and such as are led by the Spirit cannot neglect, but do naturally love, and are wonderfully cherished by, that which proceedeth from the same Spirit in another; because such mutual Emanations of the heavenly Life tend to quicken the Mind, when at any Time it is overtaken with Heaviness. Peter himself declares this to have been the[Pg 63] End of his Writing, 2 Pet. i. 12, 13. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in Remembrance of these Things, though ye know them, and be established in the present Truth; yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this Tabernacle, to stir you up, by putting you in Remembrance.

God is Teacher of his People himself; and there is nothing more express, than that such as are under the New Covenant, need no Man to teach them: Yet it was a Fruit of Christ’s Ascension to send Teachers and Pastors for perfecting of the Saints. So that the same Work is ascribed to the Scriptures as to Teachers; the one to make the Man of God perfect, the other for the Perfection of the Saints.

As then Teachers are not to go before the teaching of God himself under the New Covenant, but to follow after it; neither are they to rob us of that great Privilege which Christ hath purchased unto us by his Blood; so neither is the Scripture to go before the teaching of the Spirit, or to rob us of it.

Answ. 2.Secondly, God hath seen meet that herein we should, The Scriptures a in a Looking-Glass, see the Conditions and Experiences of the Saints of old; that finding our Experience answer to theirs, we might thereby be the more confirmed and comforted, and our Hope of obtaining the same End strengthened; that observing the Providences attending them, seeing the Snares they were liable to, and beholding their Deliverances, we may thereby be made wise unto Salvation, and seasonably reproved and instructed in Righteousness.

The Scriptures Work and Service.This is the great Work of the Scriptures, and their Service to us, that we may witness them fulfilled in us, and so discern the Stamp of God’s Spirit and Ways upon them, by the inward Acquaintance we have with the same Spirit and Work in our Hearts. The Prophecies of the Scriptures are also very comfortable and profitable unto us, as the same Spirit enlightens us to observe them fulfilled, and to be fulfilled; for in all this it is to be observed, that it is only the Spiritual Man that can make a right Use of them: They are able to make the Man of God perfect (so it is not the Natural Man) and whatsoever was written aforetime, was written for our Comfort, [our][Pg 64] that are the Believers, [our] that are the Saints; concerning such the Apostle speaks: For as for the others, the Apostle Peter plainly declares, that the Unstable and Unlearned wrest them to their own Destruction: These were they that were unlearned in the Divine and Heavenly Learning of the Spirit, not in Human and School Literature; in which we may safely presume that Peter himself, being a Fisherman, had no Skill; for it may with great Probability, yea Certainty, be affirmed, Logick.that he had no Knowledge of Aristotle’s Logick, which both Papists and Protestants now,[47] degenerating from the Simplicity of Truth, make the Handmaid of Divinity, as they call it, and a necessary Introduction to their carnal, natural, and human Ministry. By the infinite obscure Labours of which Kind of Men, intermixing their Heathenish Stuff, the Scripture is rendered at this Day of so little Service to the simple People: Whereof if Jerome complained in his Time, now twelve Hundred Years ago, Jerome Epist. 134. ad Cypr. Tom. 3. saying, It is wont to befal the most Part of learned Men, that it is harder to understand their Expositions, than the Things which they go about to expound: what may we say now, considering those great Heaps of Commentaries since, in Ages yet far more corrupted?

[47] 1675.

§. VI.

The Scriptures a Secondary Rule.In this Respect above-mentioned then we have shewn what Service and Use the Holy Scriptures, as managed in and by the Spirit, are of to the Church of God; wherefore we do account them a Secondary Rule. Moreover, because they are commonly acknowledged by all to have been written by the Dictates of the Holy Spirit, and that the Errors which may be supposed by the Injury of Times to have slipt in, are not such but that there is a sufficient clear Testimony left to all the Essentials of the Christian Faith; we do look upon them as the only fit outward judge of Controversies among Christians; and that whatsoever Doctrine is contrary unto their Testimony, may therefore justly be rejected as false. And for our Parts, we are very willing that all our Doctrines and Practices be tried by them; which we never refused, nor ever shall, in all Controversies with our Adversaries, as the judge and Test. We shall also be very[Pg 65] willing to admit it as a positive certain Maxim, That whatsoever any do, pretending to the Spirit, which is contrary to the Scriptures, be accounted and reckoned a Delusion of the Devil. For as we never lay claim to the Spirit’s Leadings, that we may cover ourselves in any Thing that is evil; so we know, that as every Evil contradicts the Scriptures, so it doth also the Spirit in the first Place, from which the Scriptures came, and whose Motions can never contradict one another, though they may appear sometimes to be contradictory to the blind Eye of the natural Man, as Paul and James seem to contradict one another.

Thus far we have shewn both what we believe, and what we believe not, concerning the Holy Scriptures, hoping we have given them their due Place. But since they that will needs have them to be the only, certain, and principal Rule, want not some Shew of Arguments, even from the Scripture itself (though it no where calls itself so) by which they labour to prove their Doctrine; I shall briefly lay them down by Way of Objections, and answer them, before I make an End of this Matter.

§. VII.

Obj. 1.Their first Objection is usually drawn from Isaiah viii. 20. To the Law and to the Testimony; if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them. Now this Law, Testimony, and Word, they plead to be the Scriptures.

Answ.To which I answer; That that is to beg the Thing in Question, and remains yet unproved. Nor do I know for what Reason we may not safely affirm this Law and Word to be Inward: But suppose it was Outward, it proves not the Case at all for them, neither makes it against us; for it may be confessed, without any Prejudice to our Cause, that the outward Law was more particularly to the Jews a Rule, and more principally than to us; seeing their Law was outward and literal, but ours, under the New Covenant (as hath been already said) is expresly affirmed to be Inward and Spiritual; so that this Scripture is so far from making against us, that it makes for us. To try all Things, by what?For if the Jews were directed to try all Things by their Law, which was without them, written in Tables of Stone; then if we will have[Pg 66] this Advice of the Prophet to reach us, we must make it hold parallel to that Dispensation of the Gospel which we are under: So that we are to try all Things, in the first Place, by that Word of Faith which is preached unto us, which the Apostle saith is in the Heart; and by that Law which God hath given us, which the Apostle saith also expresly is written and placed in the Mind.

Lastly, If we look to this Place according to the Greek Interpretation of the Septuagint, our Adversaries shall have nothing from thence to carp; yea, it will favour us much; for there it is said, that the Law is given us for an Help; which very well agrees with what is above asserted.

Obj. 2.Their second Objection is from John v. 39. Search the Scriptures, &c.

Here, say they, we are commanded, by Christ himself, to search the Scriptures.

Answ. 1.I answer, First, That the Scriptures ought to be searched, we do not at all deny; but are very willing to be tried by them, as hath been above declared: But the Question is, Whether they be the Only and Principal Rule? Which this is so far from proving, that it proveth the contrary; Search the Scripture, &c.for Christ checks them here for too high an Esteem of the Scriptures, and neglecting of him that was to be preferred before them, and to whom they bore Witness, as the following Words declare; For in them ye think ye have eternal Life, and they are they which testify of me: and ye will not come unto me, that ye might have Life. This shews, that while they thought they had Eternal Life in the Scriptures, they neglected to come unto Christ to have Life, of which the Scriptures bore witness. This answers well to our Purpose, since our Adversaries now do also exalt the Scriptures, and think to have Life in them; which is no more than to look upon them as the only principal Rule and Way to Life, and yet refuse to come unto the Spirit of which they testify, even the inward spiritual Law, which could give them Life: So that the Cause of this People’s Ignorance and Unbelief was not their Want of Respect to the Scriptures, which though they knew, and had an high Esteem of, yet Christ testifies in[Pg 67] the former Verses, that they had neither seen the Father, nor heard his Voice at any Time; neither had his Word abiding in them; which had they then had, then they had believed in the Son. Answ. 2.Moreover, that Place may be taken in the Indicative Mood, Ye search the Scriptures; which Interpretation the Greek Word will bear, and so Pasor translateth it: Which by the Reproof following, seemeth also to be the more genuine Interpretation, as Cyrillus long ago hath observed.

§. VIII.

Obj. 3.Their third Objection is from these Words, Acts xvii. 11. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all Readiness of Mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those Things were so.

Answ. 1.Here, say they, the Bereans are commended for searching the Scriptures, and making them the Rule.

I answer; That the Scriptures either are the principal or only Rule, will not at all follow from this; neither will their searching the Scriptures, or being commended for it, infer any such Thing: For we recommend and approve the Use of them in that Respect as much as any; yet will it not follow, that we affirm them to be the principal and only Rule.

Answ. 2.Secondly, It is to be observed that these were the Jews of Berea, to whom these Scriptures, which were the Law and the Prophets, were more particularly a Rule; The Bereans searching the Scriptures, makes them not the only Rule to try Doctrines.and the Thing under Examination was, whether the Birth, Life, Works, and Sufferings of Christ, did answer to the Prophecies concerning him; so that it was most proper for them, being Jews, to examine the Apostle’s Doctrine by the Scriptures; seeing he pleaded it to be a fulfilling of them. It is said nevertheless, in the first Place, That they received the Word with Chearfulness; and in the second Place, They searched the Scriptures: Not that they searched the Scriptures, and then received the Word; for then could they not have prevailed to convert them, had they not first minded the Word abiding in them, which opened their Understandings; no more than the Scribes and Pharisees, who (as in the former Objection we observed) searched the Scriptures, and exalted them, and[Pg 68] yet remained in their Unbelief, because they had not the Word abiding in them.

Answ. 3.But Lastly, If this Commendation of the Jewish Bereans might infer that the Scriptures were the only and principal Rule to try the Apostle’s Doctrine by, what should have become of the Gentiles? How should they ever have come to have received the Faith of Christ, who neither knew the Scriptures, nor believed them? The Athenians instanced.We see in the End of the same Chapter, how the Apostle, preaching to the Athenians, took another Method, and directed them to somewhat of God within themselves, that they might feel after him. He did not go about to proselyte them to the Jewish Religion, and to the Belief of the Law and the Prophets, and from thence to prove the coming of Christ; nay, he took a nearer Way. Now certainly the principal and only Rule is not different; one to the Jews, and another to the Gentiles; but is Universal, reaching both: Though secondary and subordinate Rules and Means may be various, and diversly suited, according as the People they are used to are stated and circumstanced: Even so we see that the Apostle to the Athenians used a Testimony of one of their own Poets, which he judged would have Credit with them; and no doubt such Testimonies, whose Authors they esteemed, had more Weight with them than all the Sayings of Moses and the Prophets, whom they neither knew nor would have cared for. Now because the Apostle used the Testimony of a Poet to the Athenians, will it therefore follow, he made that the principal or only Rule to try his Doctrine by? So neither will it follow, that though he made use of the Scriptures to the Jews, as being a Principle already believed by them, to try his Doctrine, that from thence the Scriptures may be accounted the principal or only Rule.

§. IX.

The last, and that which at first View seems to be the greatest Objection, is this:

Obj. 4.If the Scripture be not the adequate, principal, and only Rule, then it would follow that the Scripture is not complete, nor the Canon filled; that if Men be now immediately led and ruled by the Spirit, they may add new Scriptures[Pg 69] of equal Authority with the Old; whereas every one that adds is cursed: Yea, what Assurance have we, but at this Rate every one may bring in a new Gospel according to his Fancy?

Answ.The dangerous Consequences insinuated in this Objection were fully answered in the latter Part of the last Proposition, in what was said a little before, offering freely to disclaim all pretended Revelations contrary to the Scriptures.

Obj. 1.But if it be urged, That it is not enough to deny these Consequences, if they naturally follow from your Doctrine of Immediate Revelation, and denying the Scripture to be the only Rule:

Answ. 1.I answer; We have proved both these Doctrines to be true and necessary, according to the Scriptures themselves; and therefore to fasten evil Consequences upon them, which we make appear do not follow, is not to accuse us, but Christ and his Apostles, who preached them.

Answ. 2.But Secondly, We have shut the Door upon all such Doctrine in this very Position; affirming, That the Scriptures give a full and ample Testimony to all the principal Doctrines of the Christian Faith. For we do firmly believe that there is no other Gospel or Doctrine to be preached, but that which was delivered by the Apostles; and do freely subscribe to that Saying, [48]Let him that preacheth any other Gospel, than that which hath been already preached by the Apostles, and according to the Scriptures, be accursed.

[48] Gal. i. 8.

A new Revelation is not a new Gospel.So we distinguish betwixt a Revelation of a new Gospel, and new Doctrines, and a new Revelation of the good old Gospel and Doctrines; the last we plead for, but the first we utterly deny. For we firmly believe, That no other Foundation can any Man lay, than that which is laid already. But that this Revelation is necessary we have already proved; and this Distinction doth sufficiently guard us against the Hazard insinuated in the Objection.

Books Canonical.As to the Scriptures being a filled Canon, I see no Necessity of believing it. And if these Men, that believe the Scriptures to be the only Rule, will be consistent with their own Doctrine, they must needs[Pg 70] be of my Judgment; seeing it is simply impossible to prove the Canon by the Scriptures. For it cannot be found in any Book of the Scriptures, that these Books, and just these, and no other, are Canonical, as all are forced to acknowledge; how can they then evite this Argument?

That which cannot be proved by Scripture is no necessary Article of Faith.

But the Canon of the Scripture; to wit, that there are so many Books precisely, neither more nor less, cannot be proved by Scripture:

Therefore, it is no necessary Article of Faith.

Obj. 2.If they should allege; That the admitting of any other Books to be now written by the same Spirit might infer the Admission of new Doctrines:

I deny that Consequence; for the Principal or Fundamental Doctrines of the Christian Religion are contained in the tenth Part of the Scripture; but it will not follow thence that the Rest are impertinent, or useless. Books lost.If it should please God to bring to us any of those Books, which by the Injury of Time are lost, which are mentioned in the Scripture; as, The Prophecy of Enoch, the Book of Nathan, &c. or, the Third Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians; I see no Reason why we ought not to receive them, and place them with the Rest. That which displeaseth me is, that Men should first affirm that the Scripture is the only and principal Rule, and yet make that a great Article of Faith into which the Scripture can give us no Light.

As for Instance: How shall a Protestant prove by Scripture, to such as deny the Epistle of James to be authentick, that it ought to be received?

First, If he would say, Because it contradicts not the Rest, (besides that there is no Mention of it in any of the Rest) perhaps these Men think it doth contradict Paul in Relation to Faith and Works. But, if that should be granted, it would as well follow, that every Writer that contradicts not the Scripture, should be put into the Canon; and by this Means these Men fall into a greater Absurdity than they fix upon us: For thus they would equal every one the Writings of their own[Pg 71] Sect with the Scriptures; for I suppose they judge their own Confession of Faith doth not contradict the Scriptures: Will it therefore follow that it should be bound up with the Bible? And yet it seems impossible, according to their Principles, to bring any better Argument to prove the Epistle of James to be Authentick. Whether the Epistle of James be authentick, and how to know it?There is then this unavoidable Necessity to say, We know it by the same Spirit from which it was written; or otherwise to step back to Rome, and say, We know by Tradition that the Church hath declared it to be Canonical; and the Church is Infallible. Let them find a Mean, if they can. So that out of this Objection we shall draw an unanswerable Argument ad Hominem, to our Purpose.

That which cannot assure me concerning an Article of Faith necessary to be believed, is not the primary, adequate, only Rule of Faith, &c.

Therefore, &c.

I prove the Assumption thus:

That which cannot assure me concerning the Canon of the Scripture, to wit, that such Books are only to be admitted, and the Apocrypha excluded, cannot assure me of this:

Therefore, &c.

Obj. 3.And Lastly, As to these Words, Rev. xxii. 18. That if any Man shall add unto these Things, God shall add unto him the Plagues that are written in this Book; Answ.I desire they will shew me how it relates to any Thing else than to that particular Prophecy. It saith not, Now the Canon of the Scripture is filled up, no Man is to write more from the Spirit; yea, do not all confess that there have been Prophecies and true Prophets since? The Papists deny it not. And do not the Protestants affirm, that John Hus prophesied of the Reformation? Was he therefore cursed? Or did he therein Evil? I could give many other Examples, confessed by themselves. What it means to add to the Scriptures.But, moreover, the same was in Effect commanded long before, Prov. xxx. 6. Add thou not unto his Words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a Liar: Yet how many Books of the Prophets were written after? And the same was said by Moses, Deut. iv. 2. Ye shall[Pg 72] not add unto the Word which I command you; neither shall ye diminish aught from it. So that, though we should extend that of the Revelation beyond the particular Prophecy of that Book, it cannot be understood but of a new Gospel, or new Doctrines, or of restraining Man’s Spirit, that he mix not his Human Words with the Divine; and not of a new Revelation of the Old, as we have said before.

[Pg 73]


Concerning the Condition of Man in the Fall.

All Adam’s Posterity, or Mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, as to the first Adam, or Earthly Man, is fallen, degenerated, and dead; deprived of the Sensation or Feeling of this Inward Testimony or Seed of God; [49]and is subject unto the Power, Nature, and Seed of the Serpent, which he soweth in Men’s Hearts, while they abide in this natural and corrupted Estate: From whence it comes, that not only their Words and Deeds, but all their Imaginations, are Evil perpetually in the Sight of God, as proceeding from this depraved and wicked Seed. Man therefore, as he is in this State, can know Nothing aright; yea, his Thoughts and Conceptions concerning God and Things Spiritual, until he be disjoined from this Evil Seed, and united to the Divine Light, are unprofitable both to himself and others. Hence are rejected the Socinian and Pelagian Errors, in exalting a Natural Light; as also of the Papists, and most Protestants, who affirm, That Man, without the true Grace of God, may be a true Minister of the Gospel. Nevertheless, this Seed is not imputed to Infants, until by Transgression they actually join themselves therewith; [50]for they are by Nature the Children of Wrath, who walk according to the Power of the Prince of the Air, the Spirit that now worketh in the Children of Disobedience, having their Conversation in the Lusts of the Flesh, fulfilling the Desires of the Flesh, and of the Mind.

[49] Rom. 5. 12, 15.

[50] Ephes. 2.

[Pg 74]

§. I.

Hitherto we have discoursed how the True Knowledge of God is attained and preserved; also of what Use and Service the Holy Scripture is to the Saints.

We come now to examine the State and Condition of Man as he stands in the Fall; what his Capacity and Power is; and how far he is able, as of himself, to advance in Relation to the Things of God. Of this we touched a little in the Beginning of the second Proposition; but the full, right, and thorough Understanding of it is of great Use and Service; because from the Ignorance and Altercations that have been about it, there have arisen great and dangerous Errors, both on the one Hand and on the other. While some do so far exalt the Light of Nature, or the Faculty of the Natural Man, as capable of himself, by Virtue of the inward Will, Faculty, Light and Power, that pertains to his Nature, to follow that which is good, and make real Progress towards Heaven. And of these are the Pelagians, and Semi-Pelagians of Old; and of late the Socinians, and divers others among the Papists. Others again will needs run into another Extreme, Augustine’s Zeal against Pelagius.(to whom Augustine, among the Ancients, first made Way in his declining Age, through the Heat of his Zeal against Pelagius) not only confessing Man uncapable of himself to do Good, and prone to Evil; but that in his very Mother’s Womb, and before he commits any actual Transgression, he is contaminate with a real Guilt, whereby he deserves eternal Death: In which Respect they are not afraid to affirm, That many poor Infants are Eternally Damned, and for ever endure the Torments of Hell. Therefore the God of Truth, having now again revealed his Truth (that good and even Way) by his own Spirit, hath taught us to avoid both these Extremes.

That then which our Proposition leads to treat of is,

I.First, What the Condition of Man is in the Fall; and how far uncapable to meddle in the Things of God.

II.And Secondly, That God doth not impute this Evil to Infants, until they actually join with it: That so, by Establishing the Truth, we may overturn the Errors on both Parts.

[Pg 75]

III.And, as for that Third Thing included in the Proposition itself concerning these Teachers which want the Grace of God, we shall refer that to the tenth Proposition, where the Matter is more particularly handled.

§. II.

Part I. Adam’s Fall.As to the first, not to dive into the many curious Notions which many have concerning the Condition of Adam before the Fall, all agree in this, That thereby he came to a very great Loss, not only in the Things which related to the outward Man, but in Regard to that true Fellowship and Communion he had with God. This Loss was signified unto him in the Command, For in the Day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die, Gen. ii. 17. This Death could not be an outward Death, or the Dissolution of the outward Man; for as to that, he did not die yet many Hundred Years after; so that it must needs respect his spiritual Life and Communion with God. The Consequence of this Fall, besides that which relates to the Fruits of the Earth, is also expressed, Gen. iii. 24. So he drove out the Man, and he placed at the East of the Garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming Sword, which turned every Way, to keep the Way of the Tree of Life. Now whatsoever literal Signification this may have, we may safely ascribe to this Paradise a mystical Signification, and truly account it that spiritual Communion and Fellowship, which the Saints obtain with God by Jesus Christ; to whom only these Cherubims give Way, and unto as many as enter by him, who calls himself the Door. Guilt not ascribed to Adam’s Posterity.So that, though we do not ascribe any Whit of Adam’s Guilt to Men, until they make it theirs by the like Acts of Disobedience; yet we cannot suppose that Men, who are come of Adam naturally, can have any good Thing in their Nature, as belonging to it; which he, from whom they derive their Nature, had not himself to communicate unto them.

If then we may affirm, that Adam did not retain in his Nature (as belonging thereunto) any Will or Light capable to give him Knowledge in spiritual Things, then neither can his Posterity: For whatsoever real Good any Man doth, it proceedeth not from his Nature,[Pg 76] as he is Man, or the Son of Adam; but from the Seed of God in him, as a new Visitation of Life, in order to bring him out of this natural Condition: So that, though it be in him, yet it is not of him; and this the Lord himself witnessed, Gen. vi. 5. where it is said, he saw that every Imagination of the Thoughts of his Heart was only evil continually: Which Words as they are very positive, so are they very comprehensive. Every Imagination of the natural Man is evil.Observe the Emphasis of them; First, There is every Imagination of the Thoughts of his Heart; so that this admits of no Exception of any Imagination of the Thoughts of his Heart. Secondly, Is only evil continually; it is neither in some Part evil continually, nor yet only evil at some Times; but both only evil, and always and continually evil; which certainly excludes any Good, as a proper Effect of Man’s Heart, naturally: For that which is only evil, and that always, cannot of its own Nature produce any good Thing. The Lord expressed this again a little after, Chap. viii. 21. The Imagination of Man’s Heart is evil from his Youth. Thus inferring how natural and proper it is unto him; from which I thus argue:

If the Thoughts of Man’s Heart be not only evil, but always evil; then are they, as they simply proceed from his Heart, neither good in Part, nor at any Time:

But the First is true: Therefore the Last.


If Man’s Thoughts be always and only evil, then are they altogether useless and ineffectual to him in the Things of God:

But the First is true: Therefore the Last.

The Heart of Man deceitful.Secondly, This appears clearly from that Saying of the Prophet Jeremiah, Chap. xvii. 9. The Heart is deceitful above all Things, and desperately wicked. For who can with any Colour of Reason imagine, that that which is so hath any Power of itself, or is in any wise fit, to lead a Man to Righteousness, whereunto it is of its own Nature directly opposite? This is as contrary to Reason, as it is impossible in Nature, that a Stone of its own Nature and proper Motion, should fly upwards: For as a Stone of its own Nature inclineth and is prone[Pg 77] to move downwards towards the Center, so the Heart of Man is naturally prone and inclined to Evil, some to one, and some to another. From this then I also thus argue:

That which is deceitful above all Things, and desperately wicked, is not fit, neither can it lead a Man aright in Things that are good and honest.

But the Heart of Man is such:

Therefore, &c.

[51]But the Apostle Paul describeth the Condition of Men in the Fall at large, taking it out of the Psalmist. There is none righteous, no not one; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the Way, they are altogether become unprofitable; there is none that doth good, no not one. Man’s Estate in the Fall. Their Throat is an open Sepulchre, with their Tongues they have used Deceit, the Poison of Asps is under their Lips: Whose Mouths are full of Cursing and Bitterness. Their Feet are swift to shed Blood; Destruction and Misery are in their Ways: And the Way of Peace have they not known. There is no Fear of God before their Eyes. What more positive can be spoken? He seemeth to be particularly careful to avoid that any Good should be ascribed to the natural Man; he shews how he is polluted in all his Ways; he shews how he is void of Righteousness, of Understanding, of the Knowledge of God; how he is out of the Way, and in short unprofitable; than which nothing can be more fully said to confirm our Judgment: For if this be the Condition of the natural Man, or of the Man as he stands in the Fall, he is unfit to make one right Step to Heaven.

[51] Rom. 3. 10. Psal. 14. 3. & 53. 2, &c.

Object.If it be said, That is not spoken of the Condition of Man in general; but only of some Particulars, or at the least that it comprehends not all;

Answ.The Text sheweth the clear Contrary in the foregoing Verses, where the Apostle takes in himself, as he stood in his natural Condition. What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under Sin, as it is written: And so he goes on; by which it is manifest that he speaks of Mankind in general.

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Object.If they object that which the same Apostle saith in the foregoing Chapter, Ver. 14. to wit, That the Gentiles do by Nature the Things contained in the Law, and so consequently do by Nature that which is good and acceptable in the Sight of God;

Answ. 1.I answer; This Nature must not, neither can be understood of Man’s own Nature, which is corrupt and fallen; but of the Spiritual Nature, which proceedeth from the Seed of God in Man, as it receiveth a new Visitation of God’s Love, and is quickened by it: Which clearly appears by the following Words, where he saith, By what Nature the Gentiles did do the Things of the Law.These not having a Law, (i. e. outwardly) are a Law unto themselves; which shews the Work of the Law written in their Hearts. These Acts of theirs then are an Effect of the Law written in their Hearts; but the Scripture declareth, that the Writing of the Law in the Heart is a Part, yea, and a great Part too, of the New Covenant Dispensation, and so no Consequence nor Part of Man’s Nature.

Answ. 2.Secondly, If this Nature here spoken of could be understood of Man’s own Nature, which he hath as he is a Man, then would the Apostle unavoidably contradict himself; since he elsewhere positively declares, The natural Man discerneth not, &c.That the natural Man discerneth not the Things of God, nor can. Now I hope the Law of God is among the Things of God, especially as it is written in the Heart. The Apostle, in the viith Chap. of the same Epistle, saith, Ver. 12. that the Law is, Holy, Just, and Good; and Ver. 14. the Law is Spiritual, but he is Carnal. Now in what Respect is he Carnal, but as he stands in the Fall unregenerate? Now what Inconsistency would here be, to say, That he is Carnal, and yet not so of his own Nature, seeing it is from his Nature that he is so denominated? We see the Apostle contra-distinguisheth the Law as Spiritual, from Man’s Nature as Carnal and Sinful. Wherefore, as Christ saith, [52]There can no Grapes be expected from Thorns, nor Figs of Thistles; so neither can the fulfilling of the Law, which is Spiritual, Holy, and Just, be expected from that Nature which is Corrupt, Fallen, and Unregenerate. Whence we conclude, with good Reason, that the Nature here spoken of, by which the Gentiles are said to[Pg 79] have done the Things contained in the Law, is not the common Nature of Men; The Gentiles Spiritual Nature in doing the Law.but that Spiritual Nature that ariseth from the Works of the righteous and Spiritual Law that is written in the Heart. I confess they of the other Extreme, when they are pressed with this Testimony by the Socinians and Pelagians, as well as by us when we use this Scripture, to shew them how some of the Heathens, by the Light of Christ in their Heart, came to be saved, are very far to seek; giving this Answer, That there were some Reliques of the heavenly Image left in Adam, by which the Heathens could do some good Things. Which, as it is in itself without Proof, so it contradicts their own Assertions elsewhere, and gives away their Cause. For if these Reliques were of Force to enable them to fulfil the righteous Law of God, it takes away the Necessity of Christ’s coming; or at least leaves them a Way to be saved without him; unless they will say (which is worst of all) That though they really fulfilled the righteous Law of God, yet God damned them, because of the Want of that particular Knowledge, while he himself with-held all Means of their coming to him from them; but of this hereafter.

[52] Mat. 7. 16.

§. III.

I might also here use another Argument from these Words of the Apostle, 1 Cor. ii. where he so positively excludes the natural Man from an Understanding in the Things of God; but because I have spoken of that Scripture in the Beginning of the second Proposition, I will here avoid to repeat what is there mentioned, referring thereunto: Socinians exalting the Light of the natural Man.Yet because the Socinians and others, who exalt the Light of the natural Man, or a natural Light in Man, do object against this Scripture, I shall remove it before I proceed.[53]

[53] Antequam progrediar.

Object.They say, The Greek Word [Greek: psychikos: ψυχικος] ought to be translated animal, and not natural; else, say they, it would have been [Greek: physikos: φυσικος]. From which they seek to infer, that it is only the Animal Man, and not the Rational, that is excluded here from discerning the Things of God. Which Shift, without disputing about the Word, is easily refuted; neither is it any wise consistent with the Scope of the Place. For

[Pg 80]

Answ. 1.The Animal Life is the same with Natural. First, The Animal Life is no other than that which Man hath in common with other living Creatures; for as he is a mere Man, he differs no otherwise from Beasts than by the Rational Property. Now the Apostle deduceth his Argument in the foregoing Verses from this Simile; That as the Things of a Man cannot be known but by the Spirit of a Man, so the Things of God no Man knoweth but by the Spirit of God. But I hope these Men will confess unto me, that the Things of a Man are not known by the Animal Spirit only, i. e. by that which he hath in common with the Beasts, but by the Rational; so that it must be the Rational that is here understood. Again, the Assumption shews clearly that the Apostle had no such Intent as these Men’s Gloss would make him have, viz. So the Things of God knoweth no Man, but the Spirit of God. According to their Judgment he should have said, The Things of God knoweth no Man by his Animal Spirit, but by his Rational Spirit: For to say, The Spirit of God, here spoken of, is no other than the Rational Spirit of Man, would border upon Blasphemy, since they are so often contra-distinguished. Again, going on, he saith not that they are Rationally, but Spiritually discerned.

Answ. 2.Secondly, The Apostle throughout this Chapter shews how the Wisdom of Man is unfit to judge of the Things of God, and ignorant of them. Now I ask these Men, whether a Man be called a Wise Man from his Animal Property, or from his Rational? The Rational Man in the Natural State excluded from discerning the Things of God.If from his Rational, then it is not only the Animal, but also the Rational, as he is yet in the Natural State, which the Apostle excludes here, and whom he contra-distinguisheth from the Spiritual, Ver. 15. But the Spiritual Man judgeth all Things. This cannot be said of any Man merely because Rational, or as he is a Man, seeing the Men of the greatest Reason, if we may so esteem Men, whom the Scripture calls Wise, as were the Greeks of Old, not only may be, but often are Enemies to the Kingdom of God; while both the Preaching of Christ is said to be Foolishness with the Wise Men of the World, and the Wisdom of the World is said to be Foolishness with God. Now whether it be any ways probable that either these Wise Men that are said to account the Gospel Foolishness, are[Pg 81] only so called with respect to their Animal Property, and not their Rational; or that the Wisdom that is Foolishness with God is not meant of the Rational, but only the Animal Property, any Rational Man, laying aside Interest, may easily judge.

§. IV.

Infants, no Sin imputed to them. I come now to the other Part, to wit, That this evil and corrupt Seed is not imputed to Infants, until they actually join with it. For this there is a Reason given in the End of the Proposition itself, drawn from Ephes. ii. For these are by Nature Children of Wrath, who walk according to the Prince of the Power of the Air, the Spirit that now worketh in the Children of Disobedience. Here the Apostle gives their evil walking, and not any Thing that is not reduced to act, as a Reason of their being Children of Wrath. And this is suitable to the whole Strain of the Gospel, where no Man is ever threatened or judged for what Iniquity he hath not actually wrought: Such indeed as continue in Iniquity, and so do allow the Sins of their Fathers, God will visit the Iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children.

Is it not strange then that Men should entertain an Opinion so absurd in itself, and so cruel and contrary to the Nature as well of God’s Mercy as Justice, concerning which the Scripture is altogether silent? But it is manifest that Man hath invented this Opinion out of Self-love, and from that bitter Root from which all Errors spring; The absolute Decree of Election springs from Self-love.for the most Part of Protestants that hold this, having, as they fancy, the Absolute Decree of Election to secure them and their Children, so as they cannot miss of Salvation, they make no Difficulty to send all others, both Old and Young, to Hell. For whereas Self-love, which is always apt to believe that which it desires, possesseth them with an Hope that their Part is secure, they are not solicitous how they leave their Neighbours, which are the far greater Part of Mankind, in these inextricable Difficulties. The Papists again use this Opinion as an Art to augment the Esteem of their Church, and Reverence of its Sacraments, seeing they pretend it is washed away by Baptism; only in this they appear to be a little more merciful, in that they send not these unbaptized Infants to Hell, but to a certain Limbus, concerning[Pg 82] which the Scriptures are as silent as of the other. This then is not only not authorized in the Scriptures, but contrary to the express Tenor of them. The Apostle saith plainly, Rom. iv. 15. Where no Law is, there is no Transgression. And again, v. 13. But Sin is not imputed, where there is no Law. To Infants there is no Law so no Transgression.Than which Testimonies there is nothing more positive; since to Infants there is no Law, seeing as such they are utterly uncapable of it; the Law cannot reach any but such as have in some Measure less or more the Exercise of their Understanding, which Infants have not. So that from thence I thus argue:

Sin is imputed to none, where there is no Law.

But to Infants there is no Law:

Therefore Sin is not imputed to them.

The Proposition is the Apostle’s own Words; the Assumption is thus proved:

Those who are under a Physical Impossibility of either hearing, knowing, or understanding any Law, where the Impossibility is not brought upon them by any Act of their own, but is according to the very Order of Nature appointed by God; to such there is no Law.

But Infants are under this Physical Impossibility:

Therefore, &c.

Secondly, What can be more positive than that of Ezek. xviii. 20. The Soul that sinneth, it shall die: The Son shall not bear the Father’s Iniquity? For the Prophet here first sheweth what is the Cause of Man’s Eternal Death, which he saith is his Sinning; and then, as if he purposed expresly to shut out such an Opinion, he assures us, The Son shall not bear the Father’s Iniquity. From which I thus argue:

Infants bear not Adam’s Transgression.If the Son bear not the Iniquity of his Father, or of his immediate Parents, far less shall he bear the Iniquity of Adam.

But the Son shall not bear the Iniquity of his Father:

Therefore, &c.

§. V.

Having thus far shewn how absurd this Opinion is, I shall briefly examine the Reasons its Authors bring for it.

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Obj. 1.First, They say, Adam was a publick Person, and therefore all Men sinned in him, as being in his Loins. And for this they allege that of Rom. v. 12. Wherefore as by one Man Sin entered into the World, and Death by Sin; and so Death passed upon all Men, for that all have sinned, &c. These last Words, say they, may be translated, In whom all have sinned.

Answ.To this I answer: That Adam is a publick Person is not denied; and that through him there is a Seed of Sin propagated to all Men, which in its own Nature is sinful, and inclines Men to Iniquity; yet it will not follow from thence, that Infants, who join not with this Seed, are guilty. As for these Words in the Romans, the Reason of the Guilt there alleged is, For that all have sinned. Now no Man is said to sin, unless he actually sin in his own Person; for the Greek Words [Greek: eph' ô: εφ ω] may very well relate to [Greek: thanatos: θανατος], which is the nearest Antecedent; so that they hold forth, how that Adam, by his Sin, gave an Entrance to Sin in the World; And so Death entered by Sin, [Greek: eph' ô: εφ ω] i. e. upon which [viz. Occasion] or, in which [viz. Death] all others have sinned; that is, actually in their own Persons; to wit, all that were capable of sinning: Of which Number that Infants could not be, the Apostle clearly shews by the following Verse, Sin is not imputed, where there is no Law: And since, as is above proved, there is no Law to Infants, they cannot be here included.

Obj. 2.Their Second Objection is from Psalm li. 5. Behold I was shapen in Iniquity, and in Sin did my Mother conceive me. Hence, they say, it appears that Infants from their Conception are guilty.

Answ. How they infer this Consequence, for my Part I see not. The Iniquity and Sin here appears to be far more ascribable to the Parents than to the Child. Conceived in Sin answered.It is said indeed, In Sin did my Mother conceive me; not my Mother did conceive me a Sinner. Besides that, so interpreted, contradicts expresly the Scripture before-mentioned in making Children guilty of the Sins of their immediate Parents, (for of Adam there is not here any Mention) contrary to the plain Words, The Son shall not bear the Father’s Iniquity.

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Obj. 3.Thirdly, They object, That the Wages of Sin is Death; and that seeing Children are subject to Diseases and Death, therefore they must be guilty of Sin.

Answ.I answer; That these Things are a Consequence of the Fall, and of Adam’s Sin, is confessed; but that that infers necessarily a Guilt in all others that are subject to them is denied. Death the Wages of Sin answered.For though the Whole outward Creation suffered a Decay by Adam’s Fall, which groans under Vanity; according to which it is said in Job, That the Heavens are not clean in the Sight of God; yet will it not from thence follow, that the Herbs, Earth, and Trees are Sinners.

Next, Death, though a Consequent of the Fall, incident to Man’s earthly Nature, is not the Wages of Sin in the Saints, but rather a Sleep, by which they pass from Death to Life; which is so far from being troublesome and painful to them, as all real Punishments for Sin are, that the Apostle counts it Gain: To me, saith he, to die is Gain, Philip. i. 21.

Obj. 4.Some are so foolish as to make an Objection farther, saying, That if Adam’s Sin be not imputed to those who actually have not sinned, then it would follow that all Infants are saved.

Answ. But we are willing that this supposed Absurdity should be the Consequence of our Doctrine, rather than that which it seems our Adversaries reckon not absurd, though the undoubted and unavoidable Consequence of theirs, viz. That many Infants eternally perish, not for any Sin of their own, but only for Adam’s Iniquity; where we are willing to let the Controversy stop, commending both to the illuminated Understanding of the Christian Reader.

This Error of our Adversaries is both denied and refuted by Zuinglius, that eminent Founder of the Protestant Churches of Switzerland, in his Book De Baptismo, for which he is anathematized by the Council of Trent, in the Fifth Session. We shall only add this Information: That we confess then that a Seed of Sin is transmitted to all Men from Adam, although imputed to none, until by sinning they actually join with it; in which Seed he gave Occasion to all to sin, and it is[Pg 85] the Origin of all evil Actions and Thoughts in Men’s Hearts, [Greek: eph' ô: εφ ω] to wit, [Greek: thanatô: θανατω], as it is in Rom. v. i. e. In which Death all have sinned. For this Seed of Sin is frequently called Death in the Scripture, and the Body of Death; seeing indeed it is a Death to the Life of Righteousness and Holiness: Therefore its Seed and its Product is called the Old Man, the Old Adam, in which all Sin is; for which cause we use this Name to express this Sin, and not that of Original Sin; Original Sin no Scripture Phrase.of which Phrase the Scripture makes no Mention, and under which invented and unscriptural Barbarism this Notion of Imputed Sin to Infants took Place among Christians.

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Concerning the Universal Redemption by Christ, and also the Saving and Spiritual Light, wherewith every Man is enlightened.


[54]God, out of his Infinite Love, who delighteth not in the Death of a Sinner, but that all should live and be saved, hath so loved the World, that he hath given his only Son a Light, that whosoever believeth in him shall be saved, John iii. 16. Who enlighteneth EVERY Man that cometh into the World, John i. 9. And maketh manifest all Things that are reproveable, Ephes. v. 13. And teacheth all Temperance, Righteousness, and Godliness; and this Light enlighteneth the Hearts of all, for a Time, in order to Salvation; and this is it which reproves the Sin of all Individuals, and would work out the Salvation of all, if not resisted. Nor is it less Universal than the Seed of Sin, being the Purchase of his Death, who tasted Death for every Man. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive, 1 Cor. xv. 22.

[54] Ezek. 18. 32. & 33. 11.


According to which Principle, or Hypothesis, all the Objections against the Universality of Christ’s Death are easily solved; neither is it needful to recur to the Ministry of Angels, and those other Miraculous Means which they say God useth to manifest the Doctrine and History of Christ’s Passion unto such, who, living in Parts of the World where the outward Preaching of the Gospel is unknown, have well improved the first and common[Pg 87] Grace. For as hence it well follows, that some of the Old Philosophers might have been saved, so also may some, who by Providence are cast into those remote Parts of the World where the Knowledge of the History is wanting, be made Partakers of the Divine Mystery, if they receive, and resist not that Grace, [55]A Manifestation whereof is given to every Man to profit withal. This most certain Doctrine being then received, that there is an Evangelical and Saving Light and Grace in all, the Universality of the Love and Mercy of God towards Mankind, both in the Death of his Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Manifestation of the Light in the Heart, is established and confirmed, against all the Objections of such as deny it. Therefore [56]Christ hath tasted Death for every Man; not only for all Kinds of Men, as some vainly talk, but for every Man of all Kinds: The Benefit of whose Offering is not only extended to such who have the distinct outward Knowledge of his Death and Sufferings, as the same is declared in the Scriptures, but even unto those who are necessarily excluded from the Benefit of this Knowledge by some inevitable Accident; which Knowledge we willingly confess to be very Profitable and Comfortable, but not absolutely Needful unto such from whom God himself hath with-held it; yet they may be made Partakers of the Mystery of his Death, though ignorant of the History, if they suffer his Seed and Light, enlightening their Hearts, to take Place; in which Light Communion with the Father and the Son is enjoyed; so as of wicked Men to become holy, and Lovers of that Power, by whose inward and secret Touches they feel themselves turned from the Evil to the Good, and learn to do to others as they would be done by, in which Christ himself affirms all to be included. As They have then falsely and erroneously Taught, who have denied Christ to have died for all Men; so neither have They sufficiently taught the Truth, who affirming him to have died for all, have added the absolute Necessity of the[Pg 88] outward Knowledge thereof, in order to obtain its saving Effect. Among whom the Remonstrants of Holland have been chiefly wanting, and many other Assertors of Universal Redemption, in that they have not placed the Extent of this Salvation in that Divine and Evangelical Principle of Light and Life wherewith Christ hath enlightened every Man that cometh into the World; which is excellently and evidently held forth in these Scriptures, Gen. vi. 3. Deut. xxx. 14. John i. 7, 8, 9, 16. Rom. x. 8. Titus ii. 11.

[55] 1 Cor. 12. 7.

[56] Heb. 2. 9.

Absolute Reprobation, that horrible and blasphemous Doctrine, described.Hitherto we have considered Man’s fallen, lost, corrupted, and degenerated Condition. Now it is fit to enquire, How and by what Means he may come to be freed out of this miserable and depraved Condition, which in these two Propositions is declared and demonstrated; which I thought meet to place together because of their Affinity, the one being as it were an Explanation of the other.

As for that Doctrine which these Propositions chiefly strike at, to wit, absolute Reprobation, according to which some are not afraid to assert, “That God, by an Eternal and Immutable Decree, hath Predestinated to Eternal Damnation the far greater Part of Mankind, not considered as made, much less as fallen, without any Respect to their Disobedience or Sin, but only for the demonstrating of the Glory of his Justice; and that for the bringing this about, he hath appointed these miserable Souls necessarily to walk in their wicked Ways, that so his Justice may lay hold on them: And that God doth therefore not only suffer them to be liable to this Misery in many Parts of the World, by with-holding from them the Preaching of the Gospel and the Knowledge of Christ, but even in those Places where the Gospel is preached, and Salvation by Christ is offered; whom though he publickly invite them, yet he justly condemns for Disobedience, albeit he hath with-held from them all Grace by which they could have laid hold of the Gospel, viz. Because he hath, by a secret Will unknown to all Men, ordained[Pg 89] and decreed (without any Respect had to their Obedience or Sin) that they shall not obey, and that the Offer of the Gospel shall never prove effectual for their Salvation, but only serve to aggravate and occasion their greater Condemnation.”

I say, as to this horrible and blasphemous Doctrine, our Cause is common with many others, who have both wisely and learnedly, according to Scripture, Reason, and Antiquity, refuted it. Seeing then that so much is said already and so well against this Doctrine, that little can be superadded, except what hath been said already, I shall be short in this Respect; yet, because it lies so in Opposition to my Way, I cannot let it altogether pass.

§. I.

This Doctrine a Novelty.First, We may safely call this Doctrine a Novelty, seeing in the first four hundred Years after Christ there is no Mention made of it: For as it is contrary to the Scriptures Testimony, and to the Tenor of the Gospel, so all the ancient Writers, Teachers, and Doctors of the Church pass it over with a profound Silence. The Rise of it.The first Foundations of it were laid in the later Writings of Augustine, who, in his Heat against Pelagius, let fall some Expressions which some have unhappily gleaned up, to the establishing of this Error; thereby contradicting the Truth, and sufficiently gainsaying many others, and many more and frequent Expressions of the same Augustine. Afterwards was this Doctrine fomented by Dominicus a Friar, and the Monks of his Order; and at last unhappily taken up by John Calvin (otherwise a Man in divers Respects to be commended) to the great staining of his Reputation, and Defamation both of the Protestant and Christian Religion; which though it received the Decrees of the Synod of Dort for its Confirmation, hath since lost Ground, and begins to be exploded by most Men of Learning and Piety in all Protestant Churches. However, we should not oppugn it for the Silence of the Ancients, Paucity of its Assertors, or for the Learnedness of its Opposers, if we did observe it to have any real Bottom in the Writings or Sayings of Christ and the Apostles, and that it were not highly injurious to God himself, to Jesus Christ our Mediator and Redeemer, and to the Power, Vir[Pg 90]tue, Nobility, and Excellency if his blessed Gospel, and lastly unto all Mankind.

§. II.

Highly injurious to God, in making him the Author of Sin.First, It is highly injurious to God, because it makes him the Author of Sin, which of all Things is most contrary to his Nature. I confess the Assertors of this Principle deny this Consequence; but that is but a mere Illusion, seeing it so naturally follows from this Doctrine, and is equally ridiculous, as if a Man should pertinaciously deny that one and two make three. For if God has decreed that the reprobated Ones shall perish, without all Respect to their evil Deeds, but only of his own Pleasure, and if he hath also decreed long before they were in Being, or in a Capacity to do Good or Evil, that they should walk in those wicked Ways, by which, as by a secondary Means, they are led to that End, who, I pray, is the first Author and Cause thereof but God, who so willed and decreed? This is as natural a Consequence as can be: And therefore, although many of the Preachers of this Doctrine have sought out various, strange, strained and intricate Distinctions to defend their Opinion, and avoid this horrid Consequence; yet some, and that of the most eminent of them, have been so plain in the Matter, as they have put it beyond all Doubt; of which I shall instance a few among many Passages. [57]I say, That by the Ordination and Will of God Adam fell. God would have Man to fall. Man is blinded by the Will and Commandment of God. We refer the Causes of hardening us to God. The highest or remote Cause of hardening is the Will of God. It followeth that the hidden Counsel of God is the Cause of hardening. These are Calvin’s Expressions. [58]God (saith Beza) hath predestinated not only unto Damnation, but also unto the Causes of it, whomsoever he saw meet. [59]The Decree of God cannot be excluded from the Causes of Corruption. [60]It is certain (saith Zanchius) that God is the first Cause of Obduration. Reprobates are held so fast under God’s Almighty Decree, that they cannot but sin and perish. [61]It is the Opinion (saith Paræus) of our Doctors, That God did inevitably decree the Temptation and Fall of Man. The Creature sinneth indeed necessarily, by the most just Judgment of God. Our Men do most rightly affirm, That the Fall[Pg 91] of Man was necessary and inevitable, by Accident, because of God’s Decree. [62]God (saith Martyr) doth incline and force the Wills of wicked Men into great Sins. [63]God (saith Zuinglius) moveth the Robber to kill. He killeth, God forcing him thereunto. But thou wilt say, He is forced to sin; I permit truly that he is forced. [64]Reprobate Persons (saith Piscator) are absolutely ordained to this twofold End; to undergo everlasting Punishment, and necessarily to sin, and therefore to sin, that they may be justly punished.

[57] Calvin in cap. 3. Gen. Id. 1. Inst. c. 18, S. 1. Id. lib. de Præd. Idem lib. de Provid. Id. Inst. c. 23. S. 1.

[58] Beza lib. de Præd.

[59] Id. de Præd. ad Art. 1.

[60] Zanch. de Excæcat. q. 5. Id. lib. 5. de Nat. Dei cap. 2. de Præd.

[61] Paræus lib. 3. de Amis. gratiæ c. 2. ibid. c. 1.

[62] Martyr in Rom.

[63] Zuing. lib. de Prov. c. 5.

[64] Resp. ad Vorst. part. 1. p. 120.

If these Sayings do not plainly and evidently import, that God is the Author of Sin, we must not then seek these Men’s Opinions from their Words, but some Way else. It seems as if they had assumed to themselves that monstrous and twofold Will they feigned of God; one by which they declare their Minds openly, and another more secret and hidden, which is quite contrary to the other. Nor doth it at all help them to say, That Man sins willingly, since that Willingness, Proclivity, and Propensity to Evil is, according to their Judgment, so necessarily imposed upon him, that he cannot but be willing, because God hath willed and decreed him to be so. Which shift is just as if I should take a Child uncapable to resist me, and throw it down from a great Precipice; the Weight of the Child’s Body indeed makes it go readily down, and the Violence of the Fall upon some Rock or Stone beats out its Brains and kills it. Now then, I pray, though the Body of the Child goes willingly down (for I suppose it as to its Mind uncapable of any Will) and the Weight of its Body, and not any immediate Stroke of my Hand, who perhaps am at a great Distance, makes it die, whether is the Child or I the proper Cause of its Death? Let any Man of Reason judge, if God’s Part be, with them, as great, yea, more immediate, in the Sins of Men, as by the Testimonies above brought doth appear, whether doth not this make him not only the Author of Sin, but more unjust than the unjustest of Men?

§. III.

2. It makes God delight in the Death of a Sinner.Secondly, This Doctrine is injurious to God, because it makes him delight in the Death of Sinners; yea, and to will many to die in their Sins, contrary to these Scriptures, Ezek. xxxiii. 11. 1 Tim. ii. 3.[Pg 92] 2 Pet. iii. 9. For if he hath created Men only for this very End, that he might shew forth his Justice and Power in them, as these Men affirm, and for effecting thereof hath not only with-held from them the Means of doing Good, but also predestinated the Evil, that they might fall into it; and that he inclines and forces them into great Sins; certainly he must necessarily delight in their Death, and will them to Die; seeing against his own Will he neither doth, nor can do any Thing.

§. IV.

3. It renders Christ’s Mediation Ineffectual.Thirdly, It is highly injurious to Christ our Mediator, and to the Efficacy and Excellency of his Gospel; for it renders his Mediation ineffectual, as if he had not by his Sufferings throughly broken down the middle Wall, nor yet removed the Wrath of God, or purchased the Love of God towards all Mankind, if it was afore-decreed that it should be of no Service to the far greater Part of Mankind. It is to no Purpose to allege, that the Death of Christ was of Efficacy enough to have saved all Mankind, if in effect its Virtue be not so far extended as to put all Mankind into a Capacity of Salvation.

4. It makes the Gospel a Mock.Fourthly, It makes the Preaching of the Gospel a mere Mock and Illusion, if many of these, to whom it is preached, be by any irrevocable Decree excluded from being benefited by it; it wholly makes useless the Preaching of Faith and Repentance, and the whole Tenor of the Gospel-promises and Threatenings, as being all relative to a former Decree and Means before appointed to such; which, because they cannot fail, Man needs do nothing but wait for that irresistible Juncture, which will come, though it be but at the last Hour of his Life, if he be in the Decree of Election; and be his Diligence and Waiting what it can, he shall never attain it, if he belong to the Decree of Reprobation.

5. It makes the Coming of Christ an Act of Wrath.Fifthly, It makes the Coming of Christ, and his Propitiatory Sacrifice, which the Scripture affirms to have been the Fruit of God’s Love to the World, and transacted for the Sins and Salvation of all Men, to have been rather a Testimony of God’s Wrath to the World, and one of the greatest Judgments, and severest Acts of God’s Indignation towards Mankind, it being[Pg 93] only ordained to save a very few, and for the hardening, and augmenting the Condemnation of the far greater Number of Men, because they believe not truly in it; the Cause of which Unbelief again, as the Divines [so called] above assert, is the hidden Counsel of God: Certainly the Coming of Christ was never to them a Testimony of God’s Love, but rather of his implacable Wrath: And if the World may be taken for the far greater Number of such as live in it, God never loved the World, according to this Doctrine, but rather hated it greatly, in sending his Son to be crucified in it.

§. V.

6. It renders Mankind in a worse Condition than the Devils—Sixthly, This Doctrine is highly injurious to Mankind; for it renders them in a far worse Condition than the Devils in Hell. For these were sometime in a Capacity to have stood, and do suffer only for their own Guilt; whereas many Millions of Men are for ever tormented, according to them, for Adam’s Sin, which they neither knew of, nor ever were accessary to; it renders them worse than the Beasts of the Field, of whom the Master requires no more than they are able to perform; and if they be killed, Death to them is the End of Sorrow; whereas Man is for ever tormented for not doing that which he never was able to do. Than the Israelites under Pharaoh.It puts him into a far worse Condition than Pharaoh put the Israelites; for though he with-held Straw from them, yet by much Labour and Pains they could have gotten it: But from Men they make God to with-hold all Means of Salvation, so that they can by no Means attain it; Tantalus’s Condition.yea, they place Mankind in that Condition which the Poets feign of Tantalus, who, oppressed with Thirst, stands in Water up to the Chin, yet can by no Means reach it with his Tongue; and being tormented with Hunger, hath Fruits hanging at his very Lips, yet so as he can never lay hold on them with his Teeth; and these Things are so near him, not to nourish him, but to torment him. So do these Men: They make the outward Creation of the Works of Providence, the Smiting of Conscience, sufficient to convince the Heathens of Sin, and so to condemn and judge them: But not at all to help them to Salvation. They make the Preaching of the Gospel, the Offer of Salvation by[Pg 94] Christ, the Use of the Sacraments, of Prayer, and good Works, sufficient to condemn those they account Reprobates within the Church, serving only to inform them, to beget a seeming Faith and vain Hope; yet because of a secret Impotency, which they had from their Infancy, all these are wholly ineffectual to bring them the least Step towards Salvation; and do only contribute to render their Condemnation the greater, and their Torments the more violent and intolerable.

Having thus briefly removed this false Doctrine which stood in my Way, because they that are desirous may see it both learnedly and piously refuted by many others, I come to the Matter of our Proposition, which is, That God out of his infinite Love, who delighteth not in the Death of a Sinner, but that all should live and be saved, hath sent his only begotten Son into the World, that whosoever believeth in him might be saved; which also is again affirmed in the sixth Proposition, in these Words, Christ tasted Death for every Man.Christ then tasted Death for every Man, of all Kinds. Such is the Evidence of this Truth, delivered almost wholly in the express Words of Scripture, that it will not need much Probation. Also, because our Assertion herein is common with many others, who have both earnestly and soundly, according to the Scripture, pleaded for this universal Redemption, I shall be the more brief in it, that I may come to that which may seem more singularly and peculiarly ours.

§. VI.

Christ’s Redemption universal, contrary to the Doctrine of Absolute Reprobation.This Doctrine of universal Redemption, or Christ’s dying for all Men, is of itself so evident from the Scripture-Testimony, that there is scarce found any other Article of the Christian Faith so frequently, so plainly, and so positively asserted. It is that which maketh the preaching of Christ to be truly termed the Gospel, or an Annunciation of glad Tidings to all. Thus the Angel declared the Birth and Coming of Christ to the Shepherds to be, Luke ii. 10. Behold, I bring you good Tidings of great Joy, which shall be to all People: He saith not, to a few. Now if this coming of Christ had not brought a Possibility of Salvation to all, it should rather have been accounted bad Tidings of great Sorrow to most People; neither should the Angel have had Reason to have sung, Peace on Earth, and good Will towards Men, if the[Pg 95] greatest Part of Mankind had been necessarily shut out from receiving any Benefit by it. How should Christ have sent out his Servants to preach the Gospel to every Creature, Mark xvi. 15. (a very comprehensive Commission) that is, to every Son and Daughter of Mankind, without all Exception? He commands them to preach Salvation to all, Repentance and Remission of Sins to all; warning every one, and exhorting every one, as Paul did, Col. i. 28. Now how could they have preached the Gospel to every Man, as became the Ministers of Jesus Christ, in much Assurance, if Salvation by that Gospel had not been possible to all? What! if some of those had asked them, or should now ask any of these Doctors, who deny the Universality of Christ’s Death, and yet preach it to all promiscuously, Hath Christ died for me? How can they, with Confidence, give a certain Answer to this Question? If they give a conditional Answer, as their Principle obligeth them to do, and say, If thou repent, Christ hath died for thee; doth not the same Question still recur? Hath Christ died for me, so as to make Repentance possible to me? To this they can answer nothing, unless they run in a Circle; whereas the Feet of those that bring the glad Tidings of the Gospel of Peace are said to be beautiful, for that they preach the common Salvation, Repentance unto all; offering a Door of Mercy and Hope to all, through Jesus Christ, who gave himself a Ransom for all. The Gospel is preached to every Man.The Gospel invites all: And certainly, by the Gospel Christ intended not to deceive and delude the greater Part of Mankind, when he invites, and crieth, saying; Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you Rest. If all then ought to seek after him, and to look for Salvation by him, he must needs have made Salvation possible to all; for who is bound to seek after that which is impossible? Certainly it were a mocking of Men to bid them do so. And such as deny, that by the Death of Christ Salvation is made possible to all Men, do most blasphemously make God mock the World, in giving his Servants a Commission to preach the Gospel of Salvation unto all, while he hath before decreed that it shall not be possible for them to receive it. Would not this make the Lord to send forth his Servants[Pg 96] with a Lie in their Mouth, (which were blasphemous to think) commanding them to bid all and every one believe that Christ died for them, and had purchased Life and Salvation? The Absurdity of that Doctrine of Absolute Reprobation.whereas it is no such Thing, according to the fore-mentioned Doctrine. But seeing Christ, after he arose and perfected the Work of our Redemption, gave a Commission to preach Repentance, Remission of Sins, and Salvation to all, it is manifest that he died for all. For He that hath commissionated his Servants thus to preach, is a God of Truth, and no Mocker of poor Mankind; neither doth he require of any Man that which is simply impossible for him to do: For that no Man is bound to do that which is impossible, is a Principle of Truth engraven in every Man’s Mind. And seeing he is both a righteous and merciful God, it cannot at all stand, either with his Justice or Mercy, to bid such Men repent or believe, to whom it is impossible.

§. VII.

Moreover, if we regard the Testimony of the Scripture in this Matter, where there is not one Scripture, that I know of, which affirmeth, Christ not to die for all, there are divers that positively and expresly assert, He did; To pray for all; for Christ died for all—as 1 Tim. ii. 1, 3, 4, 6. I exhort therefore, that first of all, Supplications, Prayers, Intercessions, and giving of Thanks, be made for all Men, &c. For this is good and acceptable in the Sight of God our Saviour, who will have all Men to be saved, and to come to the Knowledge of the Truth; who gave himself a Ransom for all, to be testified in due Time. Except we will have the Apostle here to assert quite another Thing than he intended, there can be nothing more plain to confirm what we have asserted. And this Scripture doth well answer to that Manner of arguing which we have hitherto used: For, first, the Apostle here recommends them to pray for all Men; and to obviate such an Objection, as if he had said with our Adversaries, Christ prayed not for the World, neither willeth he us to pray for all; because he willeth not that all should be saved, but hath ordained many to be damned, that he might shew forth his Justice in them; he obviates, I say, such an Objection, telling them, that it is good and acceptable in the Sight of God, who will have all Men to be saved. And will have all Men to be saved.I desire to know what can be more expresly af[Pg 97]firmed? or can any two Propositions be stated in Terms more contradictory than these two? God willeth some not to be saved; and God willeth all Men to be saved, or God will have no Man perish. If we believe the last, as the Apostle hath affirmed, the first must be destroyed; seeing of contradictory Propositions, the one being admitted, the other is destroyed. Whence, to conclude, he gives us a Reason of his Willingness that all Men should be saved, in these Words, Who gave himself a Ransom for all; as if he would have said, Since Christ died for all, since he gave himself a Ransom for all, therefore he will have all Men to be saved. This Christ himself gives as a Reason of God’s Love to the World, in these Words: John iii. 16. God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting Life; compared with 1 John iv. 9. This [whosoever] is an indefinite Term, from which no Man is excluded. From all which then I thus argue:

Arg. 1.For whomsoever it is lawful to pray, to them Salvation is possible:

But it is lawful to pray for every individual Man in the whole World:

Therefore Salvation is possible unto them.

I prove the Major Proposition thus;

Arg. 2.No Man is bound to pray for that which is impossible to be attained:

But every Man is bound and commanded to pray for all Men:

Therefore it is not impossible to be obtained.

I prove also this Proposition further, thus;

Arg. 3.No Man is bound to pray, but in Faith:

But he that prayeth for that, which he judges simply impossible to be obtained, cannot pray in Faith:

Therefore, &c.


Arg. 4.That which God willeth is not impossible:

But God willeth all Men to be saved:

[Pg 98]

Therefore it is not impossible.

And Lastly;

Arg. 5.Those for whom our Saviour gave himself a Ransom, to such Salvation is possible:

But our Saviour gave himself a Ransom for all:

Therefore Salvation is possible.

§. VIII.

Proof 1.This is very positively affirmed, Heb. ii. 9. in these Words, But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the Angels, for the suffering of Death, crowned with Glory and Honour, that he by the Grace of God might taste Death for every Man. He that will but open his Eyes, may see this Truth here asserted: If he tasted Death for every Man, then certainly there is no Man for whom he did not taste Death; then there is no Man who may not be made a Sharer of the Benefit of it: For he came not to condemn the World, but that the World through him might be saved, John iii. 17. He came not to judge the World, but to save the World, John xii. 47. Our Adversaries false Doctrine of a great Part of Mankind being pre-ordained for Damnation, refuted.Whereas, according to the Doctrine of our Adversaries, he rather came to condemn the World, and judge it; and not that it might be saved by him, or to save it. For if he never came to bring Salvation to the greater Part of Mankind, but that his Coming, though it could never do them good, yet shall augment their Condemnation, from thence it necessarily follows, that he came not of Intention to save, but to judge and condemn the greater Part of the World, contrary to his own express Testimony; and as the Apostle Paul, in the Words above cited, doth assert affirmatively, That God willeth the Salvation of all, Proof doth the Apostle Peter assert negatively, That he willeth not the perishing of any, 2 Pet. iii. 9. The Lord is not slack concerning his Promise, as some Men count Slackness, but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Repentance. And this is correspondent to that of the Prophet Ezekiel, xxxiii. 11. As I live, saith the Lord, I have no Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked, but that the Wicked turn from his Way and live. If it be safe to believe God, and trust in him, we must not think that he intends to cheat us by all these Expressions through his Servants, but that he[Pg 99] was in good earnest. And that this Will and Desire of his hath not taken effect, the Blame is on our Parts, as shall be after spoken of; which could not be, if we never were in any Capacity of Salvation, or that Christ had never died for us, but left us under an Impossibility of Salvation. What mean all those earnest Invitations, all those serious Expostulations, all those regretting Contemplations, wherewith the Holy Scriptures are full? As, Why will you die, O House of Israel! Why will ye not come unto me, that ye might have Life? I have waited to be gracious unto you: I have sought to gather you: I have knocked at the Door of your Hearts: Is not your Destruction of yourselves? I have called all the Day long. If Men who are so invited be under no Capacity of being saved, if Salvation be impossible unto them, shall we suppose God in this to be no other but like the Author of a Romance, or Master of a Comedy, who amuses and raises the various Affections and Passions of his Spectators by divers and strange Accidents; sometimes leading them into Hope, and sometimes into Despair; all those Actions, in effect, being but a mere Illusion, while he hath appointed what the Conclusion of all shall be?

Proof 3.Thirdly, This Doctrine is abundantly confirmed by that of the Apostle, 1 John ii. 1, 2. And if any Man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. And he is the Propitiation for our Sins; and not for ours only, but also for the Sins of the whole World. Adversaries comment on the Words the whole World. The Way which our Adversaries take to evite this Testimony, is most foolish and ridiculous: The [World] here, say they, is the World of Believers: For this Commentary we have nothing but their own Assertion, and so while it manifestly destroys the Text, may be justly rejected. For, First, let them shew me, if they can, in all the Scripture, where the [whole World] is taken for Believers only; I shall shew them where it is many Times taken for the quite Contrary; as, The World knows me not: The World receives me not, I am not of this World: Besides all these Scriptures, Psalm xvii. 14. Isai. xiii. 11. Mat. xviii. 7. John vii. 7. and viii. 26. and xii. 19. and xiv. 17. and xv. 18, 19. and xvii. 14. and xviii. 20. 1 Cor. i. 21. and ii. 12. and vi. 2. Gal. vi. 14.[Pg 100] James i. 27. 2 Pet. ii. 20. 1 John ii. 15. and iii. 1. and iv. 4, 5, and many more. Secondly, The Apostle in this very Place contra-distinguished the World from the Saints thus; And not for ours only, but for the Sins of the whole World: What means the Apostle by [Ours] here? Is not that the Sins of Believers? Was not he one of those Believers? And was not this an universal Epistle, written to all the Saints that then were? So that according to these Men’s Comment, there should be a very unnecessary and foolish Redundancy in the Apostle’s Words; as if he had said, He is a Propitiation not only for the Sins of all Believers, but for the Sins of all Believers: Is not this to make the Apostle’s Words void of good Sense? Let them shew us wherever there is such a Manner of speaking in all the Scripture, where any of the Penmen first name the Believers in Concreto with themselves, and then contra-distinguish them from some other whole World of Believers? That [whole World] if it be of Believers, must not be the World we live in. But we need no better Interpreter for the Apostle than himself, who uses the very same Expression and Phrase in the same Epistle, Ch. v. 19. saying, We know that we are of God, and the whole World lieth in Wickedness. There cannot be found in all the Scripture two Places which run more parallel; seeing in both the same Apostle, in the same Epistle to the same Persons, contra-distinguisheth himself, and the Saints to whom he writes, from the whole World; which, according to these Men’s Commentary, ought to be understood of Believers: As if John had said, We know particular Believers are of God; but the whole World of Believers lieth in Wickedness. What absurd wresting of Scripture were this? And yet it may be as well pleaded for as the other; for they differ not at all. Seeing then that the Apostle John tells us plainly, That Christ not only died for him, and for the Saints and Members of the Church of God, to whom he wrote, but for the whole World, let us then hold it for a certain and undoubted Truth, notwithstanding the Cavils of such as oppose.

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This might also be proved from many more Scripture-Testimonies, if it were at this Season needful. All the Fathers, so called, and Doctors of the Church, for the first four Centuries, preached this Doctrine; according to which they boldly held forth the Gospel of Christ, and Efficacy of his Death; The Heathens invited to Salvation; none predestinated to Damnation.inviting and intreating the Heathens to come and be Partakers of the Benefits of it, shewing them how there was a Door open for them all to be saved through Jesus Christ; not telling them that God had predestinated any of them to Damnation, or had made Salvation impossible to them, by with-holding Power and Grace, necessary to believe, from them. But of many of their Sayings, which might be alleged, I shall only instance a few.

Proof 4. The Testimonies of the Doctors and Fathers of the first Church, that Christ died for all.Augustine on the xcvth Psalm saith, “The Blood of Christ is of so great Worth, that it is of no less Value than the whole World.” Prosper ad Gall. c. 9. “The Redeemer of the World gave his Blood for the World, and the World would not be Redeemed, because the Darkness did not receive the Light. He that saith, the Saviour was not crucified for the Redemption of the whole World, looks not to the Virtue of the Sacrament, but to the Part of Infidels; since the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Price of the whole World; from which Redemption they are Strangers, who either delighting in their Captivity would not be Redeemed, or after they were Redeemed returned to the same Servitude.”

The same Prosper, in his Answer to Vincentius’s first Objection: “Seeing therefore because of one common Nature and Cause in Truth, undertaken by our Lord, all are rightly said to be Redeemed, and nevertheless all are not brought out of Captivity; the Property of Redemption without doubt belongeth to those from whom the Prince of this World is shut out, and now are not Vessels of the Devil, but Members of Christ; whole Death was so bestowed upon Mankind, that it belonged to the Redemption of such who were not to be regenerated. But so, that that which was done by the Example of one for all, might, by a singular My[Pg 102]stery, be celebrated in every one. For the Cup of Immortality, which is made up of our Infirmity and the Divine Power, hath indeed that in it which may Profit all; but if it be not drank, it doth not heal.”

The Author de Vocat. Gentium, Lib. 11. Cap. 6. “There is no Cause to doubt but that our Lord Jesus Christ died for Sinners and wicked Men. And if there can be any found, who may be said not to be of this Number, Christ hath not died for all; he made himself a Redeemer for the whole World.”

Chrysostom on John i. “If he enlightens every Man coming into the World, how comes it that so many Men remain without Light? For all do not so much as acknowledge Christ. How then doth he enlighten every Man? He illuminates indeed so far as in him is; but if any of their own accord, closing the Eyes of their Mind, will not direct their Eyes unto the Beams of this Light,The Cause they remain in Darkness. the Cause that they remain in Darkness is not from the Nature of the Light, but through their own Malignity, who willingly have rendered themselves unworthy of so great a Gift. But why believed they not? Because they would not: Christ did his Part.”

The Arelatensian Synod, held about the Year 490, “Pronounced him accursed, who should say that Christ hath not died for all, or that he would not have all Men to be saved.”

Ambr. on Psalm cxviii. Serm. 8. “The mystical Sun of Righteousness is arisen to all; he came to all; he suffered for all; and rose again for all: And therefore he suffered, that he might take away the Sin of the World. But if any one believe not in Christ, he robs himself of this general Benefit,The Sun-Beams shut out, heat not. even as if one by closing the Windows should hold out the Sun-Beams. The Sun is not therefore not arisen to all, because such an one hath so robbed himself of its Heat: But the Sun keeps its Prerogative; it is such an one’s Imprudence that he shuts himself out from the common Benefit of the Light.”

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The same Man, in his 11th Book of Cain and Abel, Cap. 13. saith, “Therefore he brought unto all the Means of Health, that whosoever should perish, may ascribe to himself the Causes of his Death, who would not be cured when he had the Remedy by which he might have escaped.”

§. IX.

Seeing then that this Doctrine of the Universality of Christ’s Death is so certain and agreeable to the Scripture-Testimony, and to the Sense of the purest Antiquity, it may be wondered how so many, some whereof have been esteemed not only Learned, but also Pious, have been capable to fall into so gross and strange an Error. But the Cause of this doth evidently appear, in that the Way and Method by which the Virtue and Efficacy of his Death is communicated to all Men, hath not been rightly understood, or indeed hath been erroneously taught. Pelagian Errors.The Pelagians, ascribing all to Man’s Will and Nature, denied Man to have any Seed of Sin conveyed to him from Adam. And the Semi-Pelagians, making Grace as a Gift following upon Man’s Merit, or right improving of his Nature, according to the known Principle, Facienti quod in se est, Deus non denegat gratiam.

Extremes fallen into by some, making God the Author of Sin.This gave Augustine, Prosper, and some others Occasion, labouring, in Opposition to these Opinions, to magnify the Grace of God, and paint out the Corruptions of Man’s Nature (as the Proverb is of those that seek to make straight a crooked Stick) to incline to the other Extreme. So also the Reformers, Luther and others, finding among other Errors the strange Expressions used by some of the Popish Scholasticks concerning Free-Will, and how much the Tendency of their Principles is to exalt Man’s Nature and lessen God’s Grace, having all those Sayings of Augustine and others for a Pattern, through the like Mistake run upon the same Extreme: Though afterwards the Lutherans, seeing how far Calvin and his Followers drove this Matter, (who, as a Man of subtle and profound judgment, foreseeing where it would land, resolved above-board to assert that God had decreed the Means as well as the End, and therefore had ordained Men to[Pg 104] sin, and excites them thereto, which he labours earnestly to defend) and that there was no avoiding the making of God the Author of Sin, thereby received Occasion to discern the Falsity of this Doctrine, and disclaimed it, as appears by the latter Writings of Melancthon, and the Mompelgartensian Conference, [65]where Lucas Osiander, one of the Collocutors, terms it Impious; calls it a making God the Author of Sin, and an horrid and horrible Blasphemy. Yet because none of those who have asserted this universal Redemption since the Reformation have given a clear, distinct, and satisfactory Testimony how it is communicated to all, and so have fallen short of fully declaring the Perfection of the Gospel Dispensation, others have been thereby the more strengthened in their Errors; which I shall illustrate by one singular Example.

[65] Epit. Hist. Eccl. Lucæ Osiand. Cent. 16. l. 4. Cap. 32.

The Arminians, and other Assertors of universal Grace, use this as a chief Argument.

That which every Man is bound to believe, is true:

But every Man is bound to believe that Christ died for him:

Therefore, &c.

Remonstrants Opinion strengthens the precise Decree of Reprobation.Of this Argument the other Party deny the Assumption, saying; That they who never heard of Christ, are not obliged to believe in him; and seeing the Remonstrants (as they are commonly called) do generally themselves acknowledge, that without the outward Knowledge of Christ there is no Salvation, that gives the other Party yet a stronger Argument for their precise Decree of Reprobation. For, say they, seeing we all see really, and in effect, that God hath with-held from many Generations, and yet from Nations, that Knowledge which is absolutely needful to Salvation, and so hath rendered it simply impossible unto them; Why may he not as well with-hold the Grace necessary to make a saving Application of that Knowledge, where it is preached? For there is no Ground to say, That this were Injustice in God, or Partiality, more than his leaving those others in utter Ignorance; the one being but a with-holding Grace to apprehend the Object of Faith, the other a withdrawing the Object itself. For answer to this, they are forced to draw a Conclusion from their former Hypothesis of Christ’s dying for all, and[Pg 105] God’s Mercy and Justice, saying, That if these Heathens, who live in those remote Places, where the outward Knowledge of Christ is not, did improve that common Knowledge they have, to whom the outward Creation is for an Object of Faith, by which they may gather that there is a God, then the Lord would by some Providence, either send an Angel to tell them of Christ, or convey the Scriptures to them, or bring them some Way an Opportunity to meet with such as might inform them. Which, as it gives always too much to the Power and Strength of Man’s Will and Nature, and favours a little of Socinianism and Pelagianism, or at least of Semi-Pelagianism, so, since it is only built upon probable Conjectures, neither hath it Evidence enough to convince any strongly tainted with the other Doctrine; nor yet doth it make the Equity and wonderful Harmony of God’s Mercy and Justice towards ALL so manifest to the Understanding. So that I have often observed, that these Assertors of Universal Grace did far more pithily and strongly overturn the false Doctrine of their Adversaries, than they did establish and confirm the Truth and Certainty of their own. None, by an irrevocable Decree, excluded from Salvation.And though they have Proof sufficient from the Holy Scriptures to confirm the Universality of Christ’s Death, and that none are precisely, by any irrevocable Decree, excluded from Salvation, yet I find when they are pressed in the Respects above-mentioned, to shew how God hath so far equally extended the Capacity to partake of the Benefit of Christ’s Death unto all, as to communicate unto them a sufficient Way of so doing, they are somewhat in a Strait, and are put more to give us their Conjectures from the Certainty of the former pre-supposed Truth, to wit, that because Christ hath certainly died for all, and God hath not rendered Salvation impossible to any, therefore there must be some Way or other by which they may be saved; which must be by improving some common Grace, or by gathering from the Works of Creation and Providence, than by really demonstrating, by convincing and spiritual Arguments, what that Way is.

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§. X.

It falls out then, that as Darkness, and the great Apostasy, came not upon the Christian World all at once, but by several Degrees, one Thing making way for another; until that thick and gross Veil came to be overspread, wherewith the Nations were so blindly covered, from the seventh and eighth, until the sixteenth Century; even as the Darkness of the Night comes not upon the outward Creation at once, but by Degrees, according as the Sun declines in each Horizon; so neither did that full and clear Light and Knowledge of the glorious Dispensation of the Gospel of Christ appear all at once; the Work of the first Witnesses being more to testify against and discover the Abuses of the Apostasy, than to establish the Truth in Purity. He that comes to build a new City, must first remove the old Rubbish, before he can see to lay a new Foundation; and he that comes to an House greatly polluted and full of Dirt, will first sweep away and remove the Filth, before he put up his own good and new Furniture. The dawning of the Day dispels the Darkness, and makes us see the Things that are most conspicuous: But the distinct discovering and discerning of Things, so as to make a certain and perfect Observation, is reserved for the arising of the Sun, and its shining in full Brightness. And we can, from a certain Experience, boldly affirm, that the not waiting for this, but building among, yea, and with, the Old Popish Rubbish, and setting up before a full Purgation, hath been to most Protestants the Foundation of many a Mistake, and an Occasion of unspeakable Hurt.The more full Discovery of the Gospel reserved to this our Age. Therefore the Lord God, who as he seeth meet doth communicate and make known to Man the more full, evident, and perfect Knowledge of his everlasting Truth, hath been pleased to reserve the more full Discovery of this Glorious and Evangelical Dispensation to this our Age; albeit divers Testimonies have thereunto been borne by some noted Men in several Ages, as shall hereafter appear. And for the greater Augmentation of the Glory of his Grace, that no Man might have whereof to boast, he hath raised up a few despicable and illiterate Men, and for the most Part Mechanicks, to be the Dispensers of it; by[Pg 107] which Gospel all the Scruples, Doubts, Hesitations and Objections above-mentioned are easily and evidently answered, and the Justice as well as Mercy of God, according to their divine and heavenly Harmony, are exhibited, established, and confirmed. According to which certain Light and Gospel, as the Knowledge thereof has been manifested to us by the Revelation of Jesus Christ in us, fortified by our own sensible Experience, and sealed by the Testimony of the Spirit in our Hearts, we can confidently affirm, and clearly evince, according to the Testimony of the Holy Scriptures, the following Points:

§. XI.

Prop. I.First, That God, who out of his infinite Love sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the World, A day of Visitation to all.who tasted Death for every Man, hath given to every Man, whether Jew or Gentile, Turk or Scythian, Indian or Barbarian, of whatsoever Nation, Country, or Place, a certain Day or Time of Visitation; during which Day or Time it is possible for them to be saved, and to partake of the Fruit of Christ’s Death.

Prop. II.A Measure of Light in all. Secondly, That for this End God hath communicated and given unto every Man a Measure of the Light of his own Son, a Measure of Grace, or a Measure of the Spirit, which the Scripture expresses by several Names, as sometimes of the Seed of the Kingdom, Mat. xiii. 18, 19. the Light that makes all Things manifest, Ephes. v. 13. the Word of God, Rom. x. 17. or Manifestation of the Spirit given to profit withal, 1 Cor. xii. 7. A Talent, Mat. xxv. 15. A little Leaven, Mat. xiii. 33. the Gospel preached in every Creature, Col. i. 23.

Prop. III.Thirdly, That God, in and by this Light and Seed, invites, calls, exhorts, and strives with every Man, in order to save him; God’s Salvation wrought by the Light in all.which, as it is received and not resisted, works the Salvation of all, even of those who are ignorant of the Death and Sufferings of Christ, and of Adam’s Fall, both by bringing them to a Sense of their own Misery, and to be Sharers in the Sufferings of Christ inwardly, and by making them Partakers of his Resurrection, in becoming Holy, Pure, and Righteous, and recovered out of their Sins. By which also are saved they that have the Knowledge of Christ outwardly, in that it opens their Under[Pg 108]standing rightly to use and apply the Things delivered in the Scriptures, and to receive the saving Use of them: But that this may be resisted and rejected in both, in which then God is said to be resisted and pressed down, and Christ to be again crucified, and put to open Shame in and among Men. And to those who thus resist and refuse him, he becomes their Condemnation.

Conseq. 1.First then, According to this Doctrine the Mercy of God is excellently well exhibited, in that none are necessarily shut out from Salvation; and his Justice is demonstrated, in that he condemns none but such to whom he really made offer of Salvation, affording them the Means sufficient thereunto.

Conseq. 2.Secondly, This Doctrine, if well weighed, will be found to be the Foundation of Christianity, Salvation, and Assurance.

Conseq. 3.Thirdly, It agrees and answers with the whole Tenor of the Gospel Promises and Threats, and with the Nature of the Ministry of Christ; according to which, the Gospel, Salvation, and Repentance are commanded to be preached to every Creature, without Respect of Nations, Kindred, Families or Tongues.

Conseq. 4.Fourthly, It magnifies and commends the Merits and Death of Christ, in that it not only accounts them sufficient to save all, but declares them to be brought so nigh unto all, as thereby to be put into the nearest Capacity of Salvation.

Conseq. 5.Fifthly, It exalts above all the Grace of God, to which it attributeth all Good, even the least and smallest Actions that are so; ascribing thereunto not only the first Beginnings and Motions of Good, but also the whole Conversion and Salvation of the Soul.

Conseq. 6.Sixthly, It contradicts, overturns, and enervates the false Doctrine of the Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, Socinians, and others, who exalt the Light of Nature, the Liberty of Man’s Will, in that it wholly excludes the natural Man from having any Place or Portion in his own Salvation, by any acting, moving, or working of his own, until he be first quickened, raised up, and actuated by God’s Spirit.

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Conseq. 7.Seventhly, As it makes the whole Salvation of Man solely and alone to depend upon God, so it makes his Condemnation wholly and in every Respect to be of himself, in that he refused and resisted somewhat that from God wrestled and strove in his Heart, and forces him to acknowledge God’s just judgment in rejecting and forsaking of him.

Conseq. 8.Eighthly, It takes away all Ground of Despair, in that it gives every one Cause of Hope and certain Assurance that they may be saved; neither doth feed any in Security, in that none are certain how soon their Day may expire: And therefore it is a constant Incitement and Provocation, and lively Encouragement to every Man, to forsake Evil, and close with that which is Good.

Conseq. 9.Ninthly, It wonderfully commends as well the Certainty of the Christian Religion among Infidels, as it manifests its own Verity to all, in that it is confirmed and established by the Experience of all Men; seeing there was never yet a Man found in any Place of the Earth, however barbarous and wild, but hath acknowledged that at some Time or other, less or more, he hath found somewhat in his Heart reproving him for some Things evil which he hath done, threatening a certain Horror if he continued in them, as also promising and communicating a certain Peace and Sweetness, as he has given Way to it, and not resisted it.

Conseq. 10.Tenthly, It wonderfully sheweth the excellent Wisdom of God, by which he hath made the Means of Salvation so universal and comprehensive, that it is not needful to recur to those miraculous and strange Ways; seeing, according to this most true Doctrine, the Gospel reacheth all, of whatsoever Condition, Age, or Nation.

Conseq. 11.Eleventhly, It is really and effectively, though not in so many Words, yet by Deeds, established and confirmed by all the Preachers, Promulgators, and Doctors of the Christian Religion that ever were, or now are, even by those that otherways in their Judgment oppose this Doctrine, in that they all, whatever they have been or are, or whatsoever People, Place, or Country they come to, do preach to the People, and to every Individual among them, that they may be saved; intreating and desiring[Pg 110] them to believe in Christ, who hath died for them. So that what they deny in the general, they acknowledge of every Particular; there being no Man to whom they do not preach in order to Salvation, telling him Jesus Christ calls and wills him to believe and be saved; and that if he refuse, he shall therefore be condemned, and that his Condemnation is of himself. Such is the Evidence and Virtue of Truth, that it constrains its Adversaries, even against their Wills, to plead for it.

Conseq. 12.Lastly, According to this Doctrine the former Argument used by the Arminians, and evited by the Calvinists, concerning every Man’s being bound to believe that Christ died for him, is, by altering the Assumption, rendered invincible; thus,

That which every Man is bound to believe, is true:

But every man is bound to believe that God is merciful unto him:

Therefore, &c.

This Assumption no Man can deny, seeing his Mercies are said to be over all his Works. And herein the Scripture every Way declares the Mercy of God to be, in that he invites and calls Sinners to Repentance, and hath opened a Way of Salvation for them: So that though those Men be not bound to believe the History of Christ’s Death and Passion who never came to know of it, yet they are bound to believe that God will be merciful to them, if they follow his Ways, and that he is merciful unto them, in that he reproves them for Evil, and encourages them to Good. Our Adversaries unmerciful Assertion of God.Neither ought any Man to believe that God is unmerciful to him, or that he hath from the Beginning, ordained him to come into the World that he might be left to his own evil Inclinations, and so do wickedly as a Means appointed by God to bring him to eternal Damnation; which, were it true, as our Adversaries affirm it to be of many Thousands, I see no Reason why a Man might not believe; for certainly a Man may believe the Truth.

As it manifestly appears from the Thing itself, that these good and excellent Consequences follow from the Belief of this Doctrine, so[Pg 111] from the Proof of them it will yet more evidently appear; to which before I come, it is requisite to speak somewhat concerning the State of the Controversy, which will bring great Light to the Matter: For from the not right understanding of a Matter under Debate, sometimes both Arguments on the one Hand, and Objections on the other, are brought, which do no Way hit the Case; and hereby also our Sense and Judgment therein will be more fully understood and opened.

§. XII.

Quest. 1.The stating of the Question. First then, by this Day and Time of Visitation, which we say God gives unto all, during which they may be saved, we do not understand the whole Time of every Man’s Life; though to some it may be extended even to the very Hour of Death, as we see in the Example of the Thief converted upon the Cross: But such a Season at least as sufficiently exonerateth God of every Man’s Condemnation, which to some may be sooner, and to others later, according as the Lord in his Wisdom sees meet. That many may out-live the Day of God’s Visitation.So that many Men may out-live this Day, after which there may be no Possibility of Salvation to them, and God justly suffers them to be hardened, as a just Punishment of their Unbelief, and even raises them up as Instruments of Wrath, and makes them a Scourge one against another. Whence to Men in this Condition may be fitly applied those Scriptures which are abused to prove that God incites Men necessarily to sin: This is notably expressed by the Apostle, Rom. i. from Ver. 17. to the End, but especially Ver. 28. And even as they did not like to retain God in their Knowledge, God gave them up to a Reprobate Mind, to do those Things which are not convenient. That many may out-live this Day of God’s gracious Visitation unto them, is shewn by the Example of Esau, Heb. xii. 16, 17. who sold his Birthright So he had it once, and was capable to have kept it; but afterwards when he would have inherited the Blessing, he was rejected. This appears also by Christ’s weeping over Jerusalem, Luke xix. 42. saying, If thou hadst known in this thy Day the Things that belong unto thy Peace; but now they are hid from thine Eyes. Which plainly imports a Time when they might have known them, which now was removed[Pg 112] from them, though they were yet alive; but of this more shall be said hereafter.

§. XIII.

Quest. 2.Secondly, By this Seed, Grace, and Word of God, and Light wherewith, we say, every one is enlightened, and hath a Measure of it, which strives with him in order to save him, and which may, by the Stubbornness and Wickedness of Man’s Will, be quenched, bruised, wounded, pressed down, slain and crucified, we understand not the proper Essence and Nature of God precisely taken, which is not divisible into Parts and Measures, as being a most pure, simple Being, void of all Composition or Division, and therefore can neither be resisted, hurt, wounded, crucified, or slain by all the Efforts and Strength of Men; The Light what it is, and its Properties described.but we understand a spiritual, heavenly, and invisible Principle, in which God, as Father, Son, and Spirit, dwells; a Measure of which divine and glorious Life is in all Men, as a Seed, [66]which of its own Nature draws, invites, and inclines to God; and this some call Vehiculum Dei, or the spiritual Body of Christ, the Flesh and Blood of Christ, which came down from Heaven, of which all the Saints do feed, and are thereby nourished unto eternal Life. And as every unrighteous Action is witnessed against and reproved by this Light and Seed, so by such Actions it is hurt, wounded, and slain, and flees from them even as the Flesh of Man flees from that which is of a contrary Nature to it. Now because it is never separated from God nor Christ, [67]but wherever it is, God and Christ are as wrapped up therein, therefore and in that Respect as it is resisted, God is said to be resisted; and where it is borne down, God is said to be pressed as a Cart under Sheaves, and Christ is said to be slain and crucified. And on the contrary, as this Seed is received in the Heart, and suffered to bring forth its natural and proper Effect, Christ comes to be formed and raised, of which the Scripture makes so much Mention, calling it the new Man, Christ within, the Hope of Glory. This is that Christ within, which we are heard so much to speak and declare of, every where preaching him up, and exhorting People to believe in the Light, and obey it, that they may come to know Christ in them, to deliver them from all Sin.

[66] Cant. 3. 9.

[67] 1 Tim. vi. 16.

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But by this, as we do not at all intend to equal ourselves to that Holy Man the Lord Jesus Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary, in whom all the Fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, That the Fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily, & neither do we destroy the Reality of his present Existence, as some have falsely calumniated us. For though we affirm that Christ dwells in us, yet not immediately, but mediately as he is in that Seed which is in us; whereas he, to wit, the Eternal Word, which was with God, and was God, dwelt immediately in that Holy Man. He then is as the Head, and we as the Members; he the Vine, and we the Branches. Now as the Soul of Man dwells otherwise and in a far more immediate Manner in the Head and in the Heart than in the Hands or Legs, and as the Sap, Virtue, and Life of the Vine lodgeth far otherwise in the Stock and Root than in the Branches, so God dwelleth otherwise in the Man Jesus than in us. We also freely reject the Heresy of Apollinarius, who denied him to have any Soul, but said the Body was only actuated by the Godhead. As also the Error of Eutyches, who made the Manhood to be wholly swallowed up of the Godhead. Wherefore, as we believe he was a true and real Man, so we also believe that he continues so to be glorified in the Heavens in Soul and Body, by whom God shall judge the World, in the great and general Day of Judgment.

§. XIV.

Quest. 3.That the Light is a Spiritual Substance, which may be felt in the Soul and apprehended. Thirdly, We understand not this Seed, Light, or Grace to be an Accident, as most Men ignorantly do, but a real spiritual Substance, which the Soul of Man is capable to feel and apprehend, from which that real, spiritual, inward Birth in Believers arises, called the New Creature, the New Man in the Heart. This seems strange to Carnal-minded Men, because they are not acquainted with it; but we know it, and are sensible of it, by a true and certain Experience. Though it be hard for Man in his natural Wisdom to comprehend it until he come to feel it in himself, and if he should, holding it in the mere Notion it would avail him little, yet we are able to make it appear to be true, and that our Faith concerning it is not without a solid Ground: For it is in and by this inward and substantial Seed in our[Pg 114] Hearts as it comes to receive Nourishment, and to have a Birth or Geniture in us, that we come to have those spiritual Senses raised by which we are made capable of tasting, smelling, seeing, and handling the Things of God: For a Man cannot reach unto those Things by his natural Spirit and Senses, as is above declared.

Next, We know it to be a Substance, because it subsists in the Hearts of wicked Men, even while they are in their Wickedness, as shall be hereafter proved more at large. Now no Accident can be in a Subject without it give the Subject its own Denomination; as where Whiteness is in a Subject, there the Subject is called White. The Degrees of its Operation in the Soul of Man.So we distinguish betwixt Holiness, as it is an Accident, which denominates Man so, as the Seed receives a Place in him, and betwixt the holy substantial Seed, which many Times lies in Man’s Heart as a naked Grain in the stony Ground. So also as we may distinguish betwixt Health and Medicine; Health cannot be in a Body without the Body be called Healthful, because Health is an Accident; but Medicine may be in a Body that is most unhealthful, for that it is a Substance. And as when a Medicine begins to work, the Body may in some Respect be called Healthful, and in some Respect Unhealthful, so we acknowledge as this divine Medicine receives Place in Man’s Heart, it may denominate him in some Part Holy and Good, though there remain yet a corrupted unmortified Part, or some Part of the evil Humours unpurged out; for where two contrary Accidents are in one Subject, as Health and Sickness in a Body, the Subject receives its Denomination from the Accident which prevails most. So many Men are called Saints, good and holy Men, and that truly, when this holy Seed hath wrought in them in a good Measure, and hath somewhat leavened them into its Nature, though they may be yet liable to many Infirmities and Weaknesses, yea, and to some Iniquities; for as the Seed of Sin and Ground of Corruption, yea, and the Capacity of yielding thereunto, and sometimes actually falling, doth not denominate a good and holy Man impious; so neither doth the Seed of[Pg 115] Righteousness in evil Men, and the Possibility of their becoming one with it, denominate them good or holy.

§. XV.

Quest. 4.Fourthly, We do not hereby intend any ways to lessen or derogate from the Atonement and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ; but on the contrary do magnify and exalt it. For as we believe all those Things to have been certainly transacted which are recorded in the Holy Scriptures concerning the Birth, Life, Miracles, Sufferings, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ; so we do also believe that it is the Duty of every one to believe it to whom it pleases God to reveal the same, and to bring to them the Knowledge of it; yea, we believe it were damnable Unbelief not to believe it, when so declared; but to resist that holy Seed, which as minded would lead and incline every one to believe it as it is offered unto them, though it revealeth not in every one the outward and explicit Knowledge of it, nevertheless it always assenteth to it, ubi declaratur, where it is declared. Nevertheless as we firmly believe it was necessary that Christ should come, that by his Death and Sufferings he might offer up himself a Sacrifice to God for our Sins, who his own self bare our Sins in his own Body on the Tree; so we believe that the Remission of Sins which any partake of, is only in and by Virtue of that most satisfactory Sacrifice, and no otherwise. That Remission of Sins is only and alone by Christ.For it is by the Obedience of that One that the Free-gift is come upon all to Justification. For we affirm, that as all Men partake of the Fruit of Adam’s Fall, in that by Reason of that evil Seed, which through him is communicated unto them, they are prone and inclined unto Evil, though Thousands of Thousands be ignorant of Adam’s Fall, neither ever knew of the Eating of the Forbidden Fruit; so also many may come to feel the Influence of this Holy and Divine Seed and Light, and be turned from Evil to Good by it, though they knew nothing of Christ’s coming in the Flesh, through whose Obedience and Sufferings it is purchased unto them. And as we affirm it is absolutely needful that those do believe the History of Christ’s outward Appearance, whom it pleased God to bring to the Knowledge of it; so we do freely confess, that even that outward Knowledge is very comfort[Pg 116]able to such as are subject to and led by the inward Seed and Light. For not only doth the Sense of Christ’s Love and Sufferings tend to humble them, but they are thereby also strengthened in their Faith, and encouraged to follow that excellent Pattern which he hath left us, who suffered for us, as saith the Apostle Peter, 1 Pet. ii. 21: Leaving us an Example that we should follow his Steps: And many Times we are greatly edified and refreshed with the gracious Sayings which proceed out of his Mouth. The History is profitable with the Mystery.The History then is profitable and comfortable with the Mystery, and never without it; but the Mystery is and may be profitable without the explicit and outward Knowledge of the History.

Quest. 5. How Christ is in all Men.But Fifthly, This brings us to another Question, to wit, Whether Christ be in all Men or no? Which sometimes hath been asked us, and Arguments brought against it; because indeed it is to be found in some of our Writings that Christ is in all Men; and we often are heard, in our publick Meetings and Declarations, to desire every Man to know and be acquainted with Christ in them, telling them that Christ is in them; it is fit therefore, for removing of all Mistakes, to say something in this Place concerning this Matter. We have said before, how that a divine, spiritual, and supernatural Light is in all Men; how that that divine supernatural Light or Seed is Vehiculum Dei; how that God and Christ dwelleth in it, and is never separated from it; also how that, as it is received and closed with in the Heart, Christ comes to be formed and brought forth: But we are far from ever having said, That Christ is thus formed in all Men, or in the Wicked: For that is a great Attainment, which the Apostle travailed that it might be brought forth in the Galatians. Neither is Christ in all Men by Way of Union, or indeed, to speak strictly, by Way of Inhabitation; because this Inhabitation, as it is generally taken, imports Union, or the Manner of Christ’s being in the Saints: As it is written, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, 2 Cor. vi. 16. But in regard, Christ is in all Men as in a Seed, yea, and that he never is nor can be separate from that holy pure Seed and Light which is in all Men; therefore may it be said in a larger Sense, that he is in all,[Pg 117] even as we observed before. The Scripture saith, Amos ii. 13. God is pressed down as a Cart under Sheaves, and Christ crucified in the Ungodly; though to speak properly and strictly, neither can God be pressed down, nor Christ, as God, be crucified. In this Respect then, as he is in the Seed which is in all Men, we have said Christ is in all Men, and have preached and directed all Men to Christ in them, Christ crucified in Man by Iniquities.who lies crucified in them by their Sins and Iniquities, that they may look upon him whom they have pierced, and repent: Whereby he that now lies as it were slain and buried in them, may come to be raised, and have Dominion in their Hearts over all. And thus also the Apostle Paul preached to the Corinthians and Galatians, 1 Cor. ii. 2. Christ crucified in them, [Greek: en hymin: εν ὑμιν], as the Greek hath it. This Jesus Christ was that which the Apostle desired to know in them, and make known unto them, that they might come to be sensible how they had thus been crucifying Christ, that so they might repent and be saved. And forasmuch as Christ is called that Light that enlightens every Man, the Light of the World, therefore the Light is taken for Christ, who truly is the Fountain of Light, and hath his Habitation in it for ever. Thus the Light of Christ is sometimes called Christ, i. e. that in which Christ is, and from which he is never separated.

§. XVI.

Sixthly, It will manifestly appear by what is above said, that we understand not this Divine Principle to be any Part of Man’s Nature, nor yet to be any Reliques of any Good which Adam lost by his Fall, in that we make it a distinct separate Thing from Man’s Soul, and all the Faculties of it: Yet such is the Malice of our Adversaries, that they cease not sometimes to calumniate us, as if we preached up a natural Light, or the Light of Man’s natural Conscience. Next there are those that lean to the Doctrine of Socinus and Pelagius, who persuade themselves through Mistake, and out of no ill Design to injure us, as if this which we preach up were some natural Power and Faculty of the Soul, and that we only differ in the wording of it, and not in the Thing itself; whereas there can be no greater Difference than is betwixt us in that Matter: For we certainly know that this Light[Pg 118] of which we speak is not only distinct, but of a different Nature from the Soul of Man, and its Faculties. The Faculties of Man’s Reason.Indeed that Man, as he is a rational Creature, hath Reason as a natural Faculty of his Soul, by which he can discern Things that are Rational, we deny not; for this is a Property natural and essential to him, by which he can know and learn many Arts and Sciences, beyond what any other Animal can do by the mere animal Principle. Neither do we deny but by this rational Principle Man may apprehend in his Brain, and in the Notion, a Knowledge of God and spiritual Things; yet that not being the right Organ, as in the second Proposition hath more at length been signified, it cannot profit him towards Salvation, but rather hindereth; and indeed the great Cause of the Apostasy hath been, that Man hath sought to fathom the Things of God in and by this natural and rational Principle, and to build up a Religion in it, neglecting and overlooking this Principle and Seed of God in the Heart; Anti-Christ in the Temple of that herein, in the most universal and catholick Sense, hath Anti-Christ in every Man set up himself, and sitteth in the Temple of God as God, and above every Thing that is called God. For Men being the Temple of the Holy Ghost, as saith the Apostle, 1 Cor. iii. 16. when the rational Principle sets up itself there above the Seed of God, to reign and rule as a Prince in spiritual Things, while the Holy Seed is wounded and bruised, there is Anti-Christ in every Man, or somewhat exalted above and against Christ. Nevertheless we do not hereby affirm as if Man had received his Reason to no Purpose, or to be of no Service unto him, in no wise; we look upon Reason as fit to order and rule Man in Things natural. The Divine Light and natural Reason distinguished.For as God gave two great Lights to rule the outward World, the Sun and Moon, the greater Light to rule the Day, and the lesser Light to rule the Night; so hath he given Man the Light of his Son, a Spiritual Divine Light, to rule him in Things Spiritual, and the Light of Reason to rule him in Things Natural. And even as the Moon borrows her Light from the Sun, so ought Men, if they would be rightly and comfortably ordered in natural Things, to have their Reason enlightened by this divine and pure[Pg 119] Light. Which enlightened Reason, in those that obey and follow this true Light, we confess may be useful to Man even in Spiritual Things, as it is still subservient and subject to the other; even as the animal Life in Man, regulated and ordered by his Reason, helps him in going about Things that are rational. The Light distinguished from Man’s natural Conscience.We do further rightly distinguish this from Man’s natural Conscience; for Conscience being that in Man which ariseth from the natural Faculties of Man’s Soul, may be defiled and corrupted. It is said expresly of the Impure, Tit. i. 15. That even their Mind and Conscience is defiled; but this Light can never be corrupted nor defiled; neither did it ever consent to Evil or Wickedness in any: For it is said expresly, that it makes all Things manifest that are reproveable, Ephes. v. 13. and so is a faithful Witness for God against every Unrighteousness in Man. Conscience defined.Now Conscience, to define it truly, comes from [Conscire,] and is that Knowledge which ariseth in Man’s Heart, from what agreeth, contradicteth, or is contrary to any Thing believed by him, whereby he becomes conscious to himself that he transgresseth by doing that which he is persuaded he ought not to do. So that the Mind being once blinded or defiled with a wrong Belief, there ariseth a Conscience from that Belief, which troubles him when he goes against it. Example of a Turk.As for Example: A Turk who hath possessed himself with a false Belief that it is unlawful for him to drink Wine, if he do it, his Conscience smites him for it; but though he keep many Concubines, his Conscience troubles him not, because his Judgment is already defiled with a false Opinion that it is lawful for him to do the one, and unlawful to do the other. Whereas if the Light of Christ in him were minded, it would reprove him, not only for committing Fornication, but also, as he became obedient thereunto, inform him that Mahomet was an Impostor; as well as Socrates was informed by it, in his Day, of the Falsity of the Heathens Gods.

Example of a Papist.So if a Papist eat Flesh in Lent, or be not diligent enough in Adoration of Saints and Images, or if he should contemn Images, his Conscience would smite him for it, because his Judgment is already blinded[Pg 120] with a false Belief concerning these Things: Whereas the Light of Christ never consented to any of those Abominations. Thus then Man’s natural Conscience is sufficiently distinguished from it; for Conscience followeth the Judgment, doth not inform it; but this Light, as it is received, removes the Blindness of the Judgment, opens the Understanding, and rectifies both the Judgment and Conscience. So we confess also, that Conscience is an excellent Thing, where it is rightly informed and enlightened: Wherefore some of us have fitly compared it to the Lanthorn, and the Light of Christ to a Candle: The natural Conscience compared to a Lanthorn, and the Light of Christ is a Candle.A Lanthorn is useful, when a clear Candle burns and shines in it; but otherwise of no Use. To the Light of Christ then in the Conscience, and not to Man’s natural Conscience, it is that we continually commend Men; this, not that, is it which we preach up, and direct People to, as to a most certain Guide unto Life eternal.

Lastly, This Light, Seed, &c. appears to be no Power or natural Faculty of Man’s Mind; because a Man that is in his Health can, when he pleases, stir up, move, and exercise the Faculties of his Soul; he is absolute Master of them; and except there be some natural Cause or Impediment in the Way, he can use them at his Pleasure: But this Light and Seed of God in Man he cannot move and stir up when he pleaseth; but it moves, blows, and strives with Man, as the Lord seeth meet. The Waiting upon the Movings of the Light and Grace.For though there be a Possibility of Salvation to every Man during the Day of his Visitation, yet cannot a Man, at any Time when he pleaseth, or hath some Sense of his Misery, stir up that Light and Grace, so as to procure to himself Tenderness of Heart; but he must wait for it: Which comes upon all at certain Times and Seasons, wherein it works powerfully upon the Soul, mightily tenders it, and breaks it; at which Time, if Man resist it not, but closes with it, he comes to know Salvation by it. Even as the Lake of Bethesda did not cure all those that washed in it, but such only as washed first after the Angel had moved upon the Waters; so God moves in Love to Mankind, in this Seed in his Heart, at some singular Times, setting his Sins in Order before him,[Pg 121] and seriously inviting him to Repentance, offering to him Remission of Sins and Salvation; which if Man accept of, he may be saved. Now there is no Man alive, and I am confident there shall be none to whom this Paper shall come, who, if they will deal faithfully and honestly with their own Hearts, will not be forced to acknowledge that they have been sensible of this in some Measure, less or more; which is a Thing that Man cannot bring upon himself with all his Pains and Industry. This then, O Man and Woman! is the Day of God’s gracious Visitation to thy Soul, which if thou resist not, thou shalt be happy for ever. This is the Day of the Lord, which, as Christ saith, [68]is like the Lightning, which shineth from the East unto the West; and the [69]Wind or Spirit, which blows upon the Heart, and no Man knows whither it goes, nor whence it comes.

[68] Mat. 24. 27.

[69] John 3. 8.

§. XVII.

Quest. 7.And lastly, This leads me to speak concerning the Manner of this Seed or Light’s Operation in the Hearts of all Men, which will shew yet more manifestly how widely we differ from all those that exalt a natural Power or Light in Man; and how our Principle leads above all others to attribute our whole Salvation to the mere Power, Spirit, and Grace of God.

To them then that ask us after this Manner, How do ye offer from the Pelagians and Arminians? For if two Men have equal sufficient Light and Grace, and the one be saved by it, and the other not; is it not because the one improves it, the other not? Is not then the Will of Man the Cause of the one’s Salvation beyond the other? The Light’s Operations in Order to Salvation.I say, to such we thus answer: That as the Grace and Light in all is sufficient to save all, and of its own Nature would save all; so it strives and wrestles with all in order to save them; he that resists its Striving, is the Cause of his own Condemnation; he that resists it not, it becomes his Salvation: So that in him that is saved, the working is of the Grace, and not of the Man; and it is a Passiveness rather than an Act; though afterwards, as Man is wrought upon, there is a Will raised in him, by which he comes to be a Co-worker with the Grace: For according to that of Augustine, He that made us without us, will not save us without us. So that[Pg 122] the first Step is not by Man’s working, but by his not contrary working. And we believe, that at these singular Seasons of every Man’s Visitation above-mentioned, as Man is wholly unable of himself to work with the Grace, neither can he move one Step out of the natural Condition, until the Grace lay hold upon him; so it is possible for him to be passive, and not to resist it, as it is possible for him to resist it. So we say, the Grace of God works in and upon Man’s Nature; which, though of itself wholly corrupted and defiled, and prone to Evil, yet is capable to be wrought upon by the Grace of God; even as Iron, though an hard and cold Metal of itself, may be warmed and softened by the Heat of the Fire, and Wax melted by the Sun. And as Iron or Wax, when removed from the Fire or Sun, returneth to its former Condition of Coldness and Hardness; so Man’s Heart, as it resists or retires from the Grace of God, returns to its former Condition again. I have often had the Manner of God’s working, in order to Salvation towards all Men, illustrated to my Mind by one or two clear Examples, which I shall here add for the Information of others.

The Example of a Diseased Man and the Physician.The first is, Of a Man heavily diseased; to whom I compare Man in his fallen and natural Condition. I suppose God, who is the great Physician, not only to give this Man Physick, after he hath used all the Industry he can for his own Health, by any Skill or Knowledge of his own; as those that say, If a Man improve his Reason or natural Faculties, God will superadd Grace; or, as others say, That he cometh and maketh Offer of a Remedy to this Man outwardly, leaving it to the Liberty of Man’s Will either to receive it or reject it. But He, even the Lord, this great Physician, cometh, and poureth the Remedy into his Mouth, and as it were layeth him in his Bed; so that if the sick Man be but passive, it will necessarily work the Effect: But if he be stubborn and untoward, and will needs rise up and go forth into the Cold, or eat such Fruits as are hurtful to him, while the Medicine should operate; then, though of its Nature it tendeth to cure him, yet it will prove destructive to him, because of those Obstructions which it meeteth with. Now as the Man that should thus undo himself would certainly[Pg 123] be the Cause of his own Death; so who will say, that, if cured, he owes not his Health wholly to the Physician, and not to any Deed of his own; seeing his Part was not any Action, but a Passiveness?

The Example of Men lying stupified in a dark Pit, and their Deliverer.The second Example is, Of divers Men lying in a dark Pit together, where all their Senses are so stupified, that they are scarce sensible of their own Misery. To this I compare Man in his natural, corrupt, fallen Condition. I suppose not that any of these Men, wrestling to deliver themselves, do thereby stir up or engage one able to deliver them to give them his Help, saying within himself, I see one of these Men willing to be delivered, and doing what in him lies, therefore he deserves to be assisted; as say the Socinians, Pelagians, and Semi-Pelagians. Neither do I suppose that this Deliverer comes to the Top of the Pit, and puts down a Ladder, desiring them that will to come up; and so puts them upon using their own Strength and Will to come up; as do the Jesuits and Arminians: Yet, as they say, such are not delivered without the Grace; seeing the Grace is that Ladder by which they were delivered. But I suppose that the Deliverer comes at certain Times, and fully discovers and informs them of the great Misery and Hazard they are in, if they continue in that noisome and pestiferous Place; yea, forces them to a certain Sense of their Misery (for the wickedest Men at Times are made sensible of their Misery by God’s Visitation) and not only so, but lays Hold upon them, and gives them a Pull, in order to lift them out of their Misery; which if they resist not will save them; only they may resist it. This being applied as the former, doth the same Way illustrate the Matter. Neither is the Grace of God frustrated, though the Effect of it be divers, according to its Object, being the Ministration of Mercy and Love in those that reject it not, but receive it, John i. 12. but the Ministration of Wrath and Condemnation in those that do reject it, John iii. 19. A Simile of the Sun’s melting and hardening Power.even as the Sun, by one Act or Operation, melteth and softeneth the Wax, and hardeneth the Clay. The Nature of the Sun is to cherish the Creation, and therefore the Living are refreshed by it, and the Flowers[Pg 124] send forth a good Savour, as it shines upon them, and the Fruits of the Trees are ripened; yet cast forth a dead Carcase, a Thing without Life, and the same Reflection of the Sun will cause it to stink, and putrify it; yet is not the Sun said thereby to be frustrated of its proper Effect. So every Man during the Day of his Visitation is shined upon by the Sun of Righteousness, and capable of being influenced by it, so as to send forth good Fruit, and a good Savour, and to be melted by it; but when he hath sinned out his Day, then the same Sun hardeneth him, as it doth the Clay, and makes his Wickedness more to appear and putrify, and send forth an evil Savour.


All have Grace sufficient for Salvation given them of God.Lastly, As we truly affirm that God willeth no Man to perish, and therefore hath given to all Grace sufficient for Salvation; so we do not deny, but that in a special Manner he worketh in some, in whom Grace so prevaileth, that they necessarily obtain Salvation; neither doth God suffer them to resist. For it were absurd to say, that God had not far otherwise extended himself towards the Virgin Mary and the Apostle Paul, than towards many others: Neither can we affirm, that God equally loved the beloved Disciple John and Judas the Traitor; yet so far, nevertheless, as none wanted such a Measure of Grace by which they might have been saved, all are justly inexcusable. And also God working in those to whom this Prevalency of Grace is given, doth so hide himself, to shut out all Security and Presumption, that such may be humbled, and the free Grace of God magnified, and all reputed to be of the free Gift; and nothing from the Strength of Self. Those also who perish, when they remember those Times of God’s Visitation towards them, wherein he wrestled with them by his Light and Spirit, are forced to confess, that there was a Time wherein the Door of Mercy was open unto them, and that they are justly condemned, because they rejected their own Salvation.

Thus both the Mercy and Justice of God are established, and the Will and Strength of Man are brought down and rejected; his Condemnation is made to be of himself, and his Salvation only to de[Pg 125]pend upon God. Also, by these Positions, two great Objections, which often are brought against this Doctrine, are well solved.

Object.The first is deduced from those Places of Scripture, wherein God seems precisely to have decreed and predestinated some to Salvation; and for that End, to have ordained certain Means, which fall not out to others; as in the Calling of Abraham, David, and others, and in the Conversion of Paul; for these being numbered among such to whom this Prevalency is given, the Objection is easily loosed.

Predestination to Salvation, and Pre-ordination to Destruction, answered.The second is drawn from those Places, wherein God seems to have ordained some wicked Persons to Destruction; and therefore to have obdured their Hearts to force them unto great Sins, and to have raised them up, that he might shew in them his Power, who, if they be numbered amongst those Men whose Day of Visitation is passed over, that Objection is also solved; as will more evidently appear to any One that will make a particular Application of those Things, which I at this Time, for Brevity’s Sake, thought meet to pass over.

§. XIX.

Having thus clearly and evidently stated the Question, and opened our Mind and Judgment in this Matter, as divers Objections are hereby prevented, so will it make our Proof both the easier and the shorter.

Prop. I.Proved. The first Thing to be proved is, That God hath given to every Man a Day or Time of Visitation, wherein it is possible for him to be saved. If we can prove that there is a Day and Time given, in which those might have been saved that actually perish, the Matter is done: For none deny but those that are saved have a Day of Visitation. Proof I.This then appears by the Regrets and Complaints which the Spirit of God throughout the whole Scriptures makes, even to those that did perish; Those that perish, had a Day of Mercy offered them.sharply reproving them, for that they did not accept of, nor close with God’s Visitation and Offer of Mercy to them. Thus the Lord expresses himself then first of all to Cain, Gen. iv. 6, 7. Instances. 1. Cain.And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy Countenance fallen? If thou dost well, shalt thou not be accepted? If thou dost not well, Sin lieth at the Door. This was said to Cain before he slew his Brother Abel, when[Pg 126] the evil Seed began to tempt him, and work in his Heart; we see how God gave Warning to Cain in Season, and in the Day of his Visitation towards him, Acceptance and Remission if he did well: For this Interrogation, Shalt thou not be accepted? imports an Affirmative, Thou shalt be accepted, if thou dost well. So that if we may trust God Almighty, the Fountain of all Truth and Equity, it was possible in a Day, even for Cain to be accepted. Neither could God have proposed the doing of Good as a Condition, if he had not given Cain sufficient Strength, whereby he was capable to do Good. This the Lord himself also shews, even that he gave a Day of Visitation to the Old World, The Old World.Gen. vi. 3. And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive in Man; for so it ought to be translated. This manifestly implies, that his Spirit did strive with Man, and doth strive with him for a Season, which Season expiring, God ceaseth to strive with him, in order to save him: For the Spirit of God cannot be said to strive with Man after the Day of his Visitation is expired; seeing it naturally, and without any Resistance, works its Effect then, to wit, continually to judge and condemn him. From this Day of Visitation, that God hath given to every One, is it, that he is said to wait to be gracious, Isa. xxx. 18. God is Long-suffering, and long waiting to be gracious unto all.—And to be Long-suffering, Exod. xxxiv. 6. Numb. xiv. 18. Psal. lxxxvi. 15. Jer. xv. 15. Here the Prophet Jeremy, in his Prayer, lays hold upon the Long-suffering of God; and in his expostulating with God, he shuts out the Objection of our Adversaries in the 18th Verse; Why is my Pain perpetual, and my Wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? Wilt thou altogether be unto me as a Liar, and as Waters that fail? Whereas, according to our Adversaries Opinion, the Pain of the most Part of Men is perpetual, and their Wound altogether incurable; yea, the Offer of the Gospel, and of Salvation unto them, is as a Lie, and as Waters that fail, being never intended to be of any Effect unto them. The Apostle Peter says expresly, that this Long-suffering of God waited in the Days of Noah for those of the Old World, 1 Pet. iii. 20. which, being compared with that of Gen. vi. 3. before-mentioned, doth sufficiently hold forth our Proposition. And[Pg 127] that none may object that this Long-suffering or Striving of the Lord was not in order to save them, the same Apostle saith expresly, 2 Pet. iii. 15. In order to save them.That the Long-suffering of God is to be accounted Salvation; and with this Long-suffering, a little before in the 9th Verse, he couples, That God is not willing that any should perish. Where, taking him to be his own Interpreter (as he is most fit) he holdeth forth, That those to whom the Lord is Long-suffering, (which he declareth he was to the Wicked of the Old World, and is now to all, not willing that any should perish) they are to account this Long-suffering of God to them Salvation. Now, how or in what respect can they account it Salvation, if there be not so much as a Possibility of Salvation conveyed to them therein? For it were not Salvation to them, if they could not be saved by it. In this Matter Peter further refers to the Writings of Paul, holding forth this to have been the universal Doctrine. Where it is observable what he adds upon this Occasion, Some Things in Paul’s Epistles hard to be there are some Things in Paul’s Epistles hard to be understood, which the Unstable and Unlearned wrest to their own Destruction; insinuating plainly this of those Expressions in Paul’s Epistles, as Rom. ix. &c. which some, unlearned in spiritual Things, did make to contradict the Truth of God’s Long-suffering towards all, in which he willeth not any of them should perish, and in which they all may be saved. Would to God many had taken more Heed than they have done to this Advertisement! That Place of the Apostle Paul, which Peter seems here most particularly to hint at, doth much contribute also to clear the Matter, Rom. ii. 4. Despisest thou the Riches of his Goodness, and Forbearance, and Long-suffering, not knowing that the Goodness of God leadeth thee to Repentance? Paul speaketh here to the Unregenerate, and to the Wicked, who (in the following Verse he saith) Treasure up Wrath unto the Day of Wrath; and to such he commends the Riches of the Forbearance and Long-suffering of God; shewing that the Tendency of God’s Goodness leadeth to Repentance. How could it necessarily tend to lead them to Repentance, how could it be called Riches or Goodness to them, if there were not a[Pg 128] Time wherein they might repent by it, and come to be Sharers of the Riches exhibited in it? From all which I thus argue.

Arg.God’s Spirit strives in the Wicked. If God plead with the Wicked, from the Possibility of their being accepted; if God’s Spirit strive in them for a Season, in order to save them, who afterwards perish; if he wait to be gracious unto them; if he be Long-suffering towards them; and if this Long-suffering be Salvation to them while it endureth, during which Time God willeth them not to perish, but exhibiteth to them the Riches of his Goodness and Forbearance to lead them to Repentance; then there is a Day of Visitation wherein such might have been, or some such now may be saved, who have perished; and may perish, if they repent not:

But the first is true: Therefore also the last.

§. XX.

Proof 2.Secondly, This appeareth from the Prophet Isaiah v. 4. The Vineyard planted brought forth wild Grapes.What could I have done more to my Vineyard? For in Ver. 2. he saith; He had fenced it, and gathered out the Stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest Vine: And yet (saith he) when I looked it should have brought forth Grapes, it brought forth wild Grapes. Wherefore he calleth the Inhabitants of Jerusalem, and Men of Judah, to judge betwixt him and his Vineyard, saying; What could I have done more to my Vineyard, than I have done in it? and yet (as is said) it brought forth wild Grapes: Which was applied to many in Israel, who refused God’s Mercy. The same Example is used by Christ, Matth. xxi. 33. Mark xii. 1. Luke xx. 9. where Jesus shews, how to some a Vineyard was planted, and all Things given necessary for them, to get them Fruit to pay or restore to their Master; and how the Master many Times waited to be merciful to them, in sending Servants after Servants, and passing by many Offences, before he determined to destroy and cast them out. First then, this cannot be understood of the Saints, or of such as repent and are saved; for it is said expresly, He will destroy them. Neither would the Parable any ways have answered the End for which it is alleged, if these Men had not been in a Capacity to have done Good; yea, such was their Capacity, that Christ saith in the Prophet, What[Pg 129] could have I done more? So that it is more than manifest, that by this Parable, repeated in three sundry Evangelists, Christ holds forth his Long-suffering towards Men, and their Wickedness, to whom Means of Salvation being afforded, do nevertheless resist, to their own Condemnation. To these also are parallel these Scriptures, Prov. i. 24, 25, 26. Jer. xviii. 9, 10. Matth. xviii. 32, 33, 34. Acts xiii. 46.

Proof 3.Lastly, That there is a Day of Visitation given to the Wicked, wherein they might have been saved, and which being expired, they are shut out from Salvation, Christ’s Lamentation over Jerusalem.appears evidently by Christ’s Lamentation over Jerusalem, expressed in three sundry Places, Matth. xxiii. 37. Luke xiii. 34. and xix. 41, 42. And when he was come near, he beheld the City, and wept over it, saying; If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy Day, the Things that belong to thy Peace; but now they are hid from thine Eyes! Than which nothing can be said more evident to prove our Doctrine. For, First, he insinuates that there was a Day wherein the Inhabitants of Jerusalem might have known those Things that belonged to their Peace. Secondly, That during that Day he was willing to have gathered them, even as an Hen gathereth her Chickens. A familiar Example, yet very significative in this Case; which shews that the Offer of Salvation made unto them was not in vain on his Part, but as really, and with as great Chearfulness and Willingness, as an Hen gathereth her Chickens. Such as is the Love and Care of the Hen toward her Brood, such is the Care of Christ to gather lost Men and Women, to redeem them out of their corrupt and degenerate State. Thirdly, That because they refused, the Things belonging to their Peace were hid from their Eyes. Why were they hid? Because ye would not suffer me to gather you; ye would not see those Things that were good for you, in the Season of God’s Love towards you; and therefore now, that Day being expired, ye cannot see them: And, for a farther judgment, God suffers you to be hardened in Unbelief.

God hardens, when.So it is, after real Offers of Mercy and Salvation rejected, that Men’s Hearts are hardened, and not before. Thus that Saying is verified,[Pg 130] To him that hath, shall be given; and from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath. This may seem a Riddle, yet it is according to this Doctrine easily solved. He hath not, because he hath lost the Season of using it, and so to him it is now as nothing; for Christ uses this Expression, Matth. xxv. 26. The one Talent was sufficient.upon the Occasion of the taking the one Talent from the slothful Servant, and giving it to him that was diligent; which Talent was no ways insufficient of itself, but of the same Nature with those given to the others; and therefore the Lord had Reason to exact the Profit of it proportionably, as well as from the rest: So, I say, it is after the rejecting of the Day of Visitation, that the Judgment of Obduration is inflicted upon Men and Women, as Christ pronounceth it upon the Jews out of Isa. vi. 9. which all the four Evangelists make Mention of, Matth. xiii. 14. Mark iv. 12. Luke viii. 10. John xii. 40. and last of all the Apostle Paul, after he had made Offer of the Gospel of Salvation to the Jews at Rome, pronounceth the same, Acts xxviii. 26. after that some believed not; Well spake the Holy Ghost, by Isaiah the Prophet, unto our Fathers, saying, Go unto this People, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. For the Heart of this People is waxed gross, and their Ears are dull of hearing, and their Eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their Eyes, and hear with their Ears, and understand with their Hearts, and should be converted, and I should heal them. So it appears, that God would have them to see, but they closed their Eyes; and therefore they are justly hardened. Cyril. Alex.Of this Matter Cyrillus Alexandrinus upon John, Lib. 6. Cap. 21. speaks well, answering to this Objection. But some may say, If Christ be come into the World, that those that see may be blinded, their Blindness is not imputed unto them; but it rather seems that Christ is the Cause of their Blindness, who saith, He is come into the World, that those that see may be blinded. But, saith he, they speak not rationally, who object these Things unto God, and are not afraid to call him the Author of Evil. For, as the sensible Sun is carried upon our Horizon, that it may communicate the Gift of its Clearness[Pg 131] unto all, and make its Light shine upon all; The Cause of Man’s remaining in Darkness, the closing of his Eyes.yet if any one close his Eye-lids, or willingly turn himself from the Sun, refusing the Benefit of its Light, he wants its Illumination, and remains in Darkness, not through the Defect of the Sun, but through his own Fault. So that the true Sun, who came to enlighten those that sat in Darkness, and in the Region of the Shadow of Death, visited the Earth for this Cause, that he might communicate unto all the Gift of Knowledge and Grace, and illuminate the inward Eyes of all by a spiritual Splendor: But many reject the Gift of this heavenly Light freely given to them, and have closed the Eyes of their Minds, lest so excellent an Illumination or Irradiation of the eternal Light should shine unto them. It is not then through Defect of the true Sun that they are blinded, but only through their own Iniquity and Hardness; for, as the wise Man saith, Wisdom ii. Their Wickedness hath blinded them.

From all which I thus argue:

The obstinate Jews had a Day.If there was a Day wherein the obstinate Jews might have known the Things that belonged to their Peace, which, because they rejected it, was hid from their Eyes; if there was a Time wherein Christ would have gathered them, who, because they refused, could not be gathered; then such as might have been saved do actually perish, that slighted the Day of God’s Visitation towards them, wherein they might have been converted and saved.

But the first is true: Therefore also the last.

§. XXI.

Prop. II.Proved. Secondly, That which comes in the second Place to be proved is, That whereby God offers to work this Salvation during the Day of every Man’s Visitation; and that is, That he hath given to every Man a Measure of saving, sufficient, and supernatural Light and Grace. This I shall do, by God’s Assistance, by some plain and clear Testimonies of the Scripture.

Proof 1.First, From that of John i. 9. That was the true Light, which lighteth every Man that cometh into the World. The Light enlightening every Man, &c.—This Place doth so clearly favour us, that by some it is called the Quakers Text; for it doth evidently demonstrate our Assertion; so that it scarce needs either Consequence or Deduction, seeing itself is a Consequence of two Propositions[Pg 132] asserted in the former Verses, from which it followeth as a Conclusion in the very Terms of our Faith. The first of these Propositions is, The Life that is in him is the Light of Men: The second, The Light shineth in the Darkness; And from these two he infers, and He is the true Light, which lighteth every Man that cometh into the World.

Obs. 1.From whence I do in short observe, That this divine Apostle calls Christ the Light of Men, and giveth us this as one of the chief Properties, at least considerably and especially to be observed by us; seeing hereby, as he is the Light, and as we walk with him in that Light which he communicates to us, we come to have Fellowship and Communion with him; as the same Apostle saith elsewhere, 1 John i. 7. Secondly, That this Light shineth in Darkness, though the Darkness comprehend it not. Not to a certain Number of Men, but every Man.Thirdly, That this true Light enlighteneth every Man that cometh into the World. Where the Apostle, being directed by God’s Spirit, hath carefully avoided their Captiousness, that would have restricted this to any certain Number: Where every one is, there is none excluded. Next, should they be so obstinate, as sometimes they are, as to say that this [every Man] is only every one of the Elect; these Words following, every Man that cometh into the World, would obviate that Objection. So that it is plain there comes no Man into the World, whom Christ hath not enlightened in some Measure, and in whose dark Heart this Light doth not shine; though the Darkness comprehend it not, yet it shineth there; and the Nature thereof is to dispel the Darkness where Men shut not their Eyes upon it. The Light dispelling Darkness begets Faith.Now for what End this Light is given, is expressed, Ver. 7. where John is said to come for a Witness, to bear Witness to the Light, that all Men through it might believe; to wit, through the Light, [Greek: di autou: δι αυτου], which doth very well agree with [Greek: phôtos: φωτος], as being the nearest Antecedent, though most Translators have (to make it suit with their own Doctrine) made it relate to John, as if all Men were to believe through John. For which, as there is nothing directly in the Text, so it is contrary to the very Strain of the Context. For, seeing Christ hath lighted every Man with this Light, Is it not that they may come to believe[Pg 133] through it? All could not believe through John, because all Men could not know of John’s Testimony; whereas every Man being lighted by this, may come therethrough to believe. John shined not in Darkness; but this Light shineth in the Darkness, that having dispelled the Darkness, it may produce and beget Faith. And, Lastly, We must believe through that, and become Believers through that, by walking in which, Fellowship with God is known and enjoyed; but, as hath been above-observed, it is by walking in this Light that we have this Communion and Fellowship; not by walking in John, which were Nonsense. So that this Relative [Greek: di autou: δι αυτου], must needs be referred to the Light, whereof John bears Witness, that through that Light, wherewith Christ hath lighted every Man, all Men might come to believe. Seeing then this Light is the Light of Jesus Christ, and the Light through which Men come to believe, I think it needs not to be doubted, but that it is a supernatural, saving, and sufficient Light. The Light is supernatural, saving, and sufficient.If it were not supernatural, it could not be properly called the Light of Jesus; for though all Things be his, and of him, and from him; yet those Things which are common and peculiar to our Nature, as being a Part of it, we are not said in so special a Manner to have from Christ. Moreover, the Evangelist is holding out to us here the Office of Christ as Mediator, and the Benefits which from him as such do redound unto us.

Obser. 2.Secondly, It cannot be any of the natural Gifts or Faculties of our Soul, whereby we are said here to be enlightened, because this Light is said to shine in the Darkness, and cannot be comprehended by it. The Darkness is Man’s natural State and Condition.Now this Darkness is no other but Man’s natural Condition and State; in which natural State he can easily comprehend, and doth comprehend, those Things that are peculiar and common to him as such. That Man in his natural Condition is called Darkness, see Eph. v. 8. For ye were sometimes Darkness, but now are ye Light in the Lord. And in other Places, as Acts xxvi. 18. Col. i. 3. 1 Thess. v. 5. where the Condition of Man in his natural State, is termed Darkness: Therefore, I say, this Light cannot be any natural Property or[Pg 134] Faculty of Man’s Soul, but a supernatural Gift and Grace of Christ.

Obser. 3.Thirdly, It is sufficient and saving.

Arg. 1.That which is given, That all Men through it may believe, must needs be saving and sufficient: That, by walking in which, Fellowship with the Saints and the Blood of Christ, Which cleanseth from all Sin, is possessed, must be sufficient:

But such is the Light, 1 John i. 7.

Therefore, &c.


Arg. 2.That which we are commanded to believe in, That we may become the Children of the Light, must be a supernatural, sufficient and saving Principle:

But we are commanded to believe in this Light:

Therefore, &c.

The Proposition cannot be denied. The Assumption is Christ’s own Words, John xii. 36. While ye have the Light, believe in the Light, that ye may be the Children of the Light.

Object.To this they object, That by [Light] here is understood Christ’s outward Person, in whom he would have them believe.

Answ.That they ought to have believed in Christ, that is, that he was the Messiah that was to come, is not denied; Whether Christ’s outward Person was the Light?but how they evince that Christ intended that here, I see not: Nay, the Place itself shews the Contrary, by these Words, While ye have the Light; and by the Verse going before, Walk while ye have the Light, lest Darkness come upon you: Which Words import, That when that Light in which they were to believe was removed, then they should lose the Capacity or Season of believing. Now this could not be understood of Christ’s Person, else the Jews might have believed in him; and many did savingly believe in him, as all Christians do at this Day, when the Person, to wit, his bodily Presence, or outward Man, is far removed from them. The Light of Christ is not Christ’s outward Man or Person.So that this Light in which they were commanded to believe must be that inward spiritual Light that shines in their Hearts for a Season, even during the Day of Man’s Visitation; which,[Pg 135] while it continueth to call, invite, and exhort, Men are said to have it, and may believe in it; but when Men refuse to believe in it, and reject it, then it ceaseth to be a Light to shew them the Way; but leaves the Sense of their Unfaithfulness as a Sting in their Conscience, which is a Terror and Darkness unto them, and upon them, in which they cannot know where to go, neither can work any Ways profitably in order to their Salvation. And therefore to such rebellious Ones the Day of the Lord is said to be Darkness, and not Light, Amos v. 18.

From whence it appears, that though many receive not the Light, as many comprehend it not, nevertheless this saving Light shines in all, that it may save them. Cyrillus Alexandrinus upon John Lib. 1. Chap. II.Concerning which also Cyrillus Alexandrinus saith well, and defends our Principle: “With great Diligence and Watchfulness,” saith he, “doth the Apostle John endeavour to anticipate and prevent the vain Thoughts of Men: For there is here a wonderful Method of sublime Things, and overturning of Objections. He had just now called the Son the true Light, by whom he affirmed, That every Man coming into the World was enlightened; yea, that he was in the World, and the World was made by him. One may then object, If the Word of God be the Light, and if this Light enlighten the Hearts of Men, and suggest unto Men Piety and the Understanding of Things; if he was always in the World, and was the Creator or Builder of the World, why was he so long unknown unto the World? It seems rather to follow because he was unknown to the World, therefore the World was not enlightened by him, nor he totally Light. Lest any should so object, he divinely infers [and the World knew him not.] The Sun enlightens: But Man through Negligence buries Illumination.Let not the World,” saith he, “accuse the Word of God, and his eternal Light, but its own Weakness; for the Sun enlightens, but the Creature rejects the Grace that is given unto it, and abuseth the Sharpness of Understanding granted it, by which it might have naturally known God; and, as a Prodigal, hath turned its Sight to the Creatures, neglecting to go forward, and through[Pg 136] Laziness and Negligence buried the Illumination, and despised this Grace. Which that the Disciple of Paul might not do, he was commanded to watch; therefore it is to be imputed to their Wickedness, who are illuminated, and not unto the Light. For as albeit the Sun riseth upon all, yet he that is blind receiveth no Benefit thereby; none thence can justly accuse the Brightness of the Sun, but will ascribe the Cause of not seeing to the Blindness: So I judge it is to be understood of the only begotten Son of God; for he is the true Light, and sendeth forth his Brightness upon all; but the God of this World, as Paul saith, hath blinded the Minds of those that believe not, 2 Cor. iv. 4. that the Light of the Gospel shine not unto them. We say then, that Darkness is come upon Men, not because they are altogether deprived of Light, for Nature retaineth still the Strength of Understanding divinely given it, but because Man is dulled by an evil Habit, and become worse, and hath made the Measure of Grace, in some respect, to languish. When therefore the Like befalls Man, the Psalmist justly prays, crying, Open mine Eyes, that I may behold the wonderful Things of thy Law. For the Law was given that this Light might be kindled in us, the Blearedness of the Eyes of our Minds being wiped away, and the Blindness being removed which detained us in our former Ignorance. By these Words then, the World is accused as ungrateful and unsensible, not knowing its Author, nor bringing forth the good Fruit of the Illumination; that it may now seem to be said truly of all, which was of old said by the Prophet of the Jews, I expected that it should have brought forth Grapes, but it brought forth wild Grapes. For the good Fruit of the Illumination was the Knowledge of the Only Begotten, as a Cluster hanging from a fruitful Branch, &c.

From which it appears Cyrillus believed, That a saving Illumination was given unto all. Grace no natural Gift.For as to what he speaks of Nature, he understands it not of the common Nature of Man by itself, but of that Nature which hath the Strength of Understanding divinely given[Pg 137] it: For he understands this universal Illumination to be of the same Kind with that Grace of which Paul makes Mention to Timothy, saying, Neglect not the Grace that is in thee. Now it is not to be believed, that Cyrillus was so ignorant as to judge that Grace to have been some natural Gift.

§. XXII.

Proof II.That this saving Light and Seed, or a Measure of it, is given to all, Christ tells us expresly in the Parable of the Sower, Mat. xiii. from Ver. 18. Mark iv. and Luke viii. 11. he saith, The Seed of the Kingdom is sown in several Sorts of Ground, without Distinction.That this Seed, sown in those several Sorts of Ground is the Word of the Kingdom, which the Apostle calls the Word of Faith, Rom. x. 8. James i. 21.[Greek: ho Logos emphytos: ὁ Λογος εμφυτος], the implanted ingrafted Word, which is able to save the Soul; the Words themselves declare that it is that which is saving in the Nature of it, for in the good Ground it fructified abundantly.

Let us then observe, That this Seed of the Kingdom, this saving, supernatural, and sufficient Word, was really sown in the stony, thorny Ground, and by the Way-side, where it did not profit, but became useless as to these Grounds: It was, I say, the same Seed that was sown in the good Ground. It is then the Fear of Persecution and Deceitfulness of Riches, as Christ himself interpreteth the Parable, which hindereth this Seed to grow in the Hearts of many: Not but that in its own Nature it is sufficient, being the same with that which groweth up and prospereth in the Hearts of those who receive it. So that, though all are not saved by it, yet there is a Seed of Salvation planted and sown in the Hearts of all by God, which would grow up and redeem the Soul, if it were not choked and hindered. Concerning this Parable, Victor Antiochenus, on Mark iv. as he is cited by Vossius, in his Pelagian History, Book 7. saith, “That our Lord Christ hath liberally sown the divine Seed of the Word, and proposed it to all, without Respect of Persons; and as he that soweth distinguisheth not betwixt Ground and Ground, but simply calleth in the Seed without Distinction, so our Saviour hath offered the Food of the divine Word so far as was his Part, although he was not ignorant what would become of many. Lastly,[Pg 138] He so behaved himself, as he might justly say, What should I have done that I have not done?” And to this answered the Parable of the Talents, Mat. xxv. he that had two Talents was accepted, as well as he that had five, because he used them to his Master’s Profit: And he that had one might have done so; his Talent was of the same Nature of the rest; it was as capable to have proportionably brought forth its Interest as the rest. And so though there be not a like Proportion of Grace given to all, to some five Talents, to some two Talents, and to some but one Talent; yet there is given to all that which is sufficient, and no more is required than according to that which is given: For unto whomsoever much is given, from him shall much be required, Luke xii. 48. He that had the two Talents was accepted for giving four, nothing less than he that gave the ten: So should he also that gave the one, if he had given two; and no doubt one was capable to have produced two, as well as five to have produced ten, or two four.


Pro. III.The Light is the Gospel, the Power of God, preached in every Creature under Heaven. Thirdly, This saving spiritual Light is the Gospel, which the Apostle saith expresly, is preached in every Creature under Heaven; even that very Gospel whereof Paul was made a Minister, Col. i. 23. For the Gospel is not a mere Declaration of good Things, being the Power of God unto Salvation to all those that believe, Rom. i. 16. Though the outward Declaration of the Gospel be taken sometimes for the Gospel; yet it is but figuratively, and by a Metonymy. For to speak properly, the Gospel is this inward Power and Life which preacheth glad Tidings in the Hearts of all Men, offering Salvation unto them, and seeking to redeem them from their Iniquities, and therefore it is said to be preached in every Creature under Heaven: Whereas there are many Thousands of Men and Women, to whom the outward Gospel was never preached. Therefore, the Apostle Paul, Romans i. where he saith, The Gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation, adds, That therein is revealed the Righteousness of God from Faith to Faith; and also the Wrath of God against such as hold the Truth of God in Unrighteousness: For this Reason, saith he, Because that which may[Pg 139] be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. Now that which may be known of God, is known by the Gospel, which was manifest in them. For those of whom the Apostle speaks, had no outward Gospel preached unto them; so that it was by the inward Manifestation of the Knowledge of God in them, which is indeed the Gospel preached in Men, That the Righteousness of God is revealed from Faith to Faith; that is, it reveals to the Soul that which is just, good, and righteous; and that as the Soul receiveth it, and believes, Righteousness comes more and more to be revealed from one Degree of Faith to another. For though, as the following Verse saith, the outward Creation declares the Power of God; yet that which may be known of him is manifest within: By which inward Manifestation, we are made capable to see and discern the eternal Power and Godhead in the outward Creation; so, were it not for this inward Principle, we could no more understand the invisible Things of God by the outward visible Creation, than a blind Man can see and discern the Variety of Shapes and Colours, or judge of the Beauty of the outward Creation. Therefore he saith, First, That which may be known of God is manifest in them, and in and by that they may read and understand the Power and Godhead in those Things that are outward and visible. And though any might pretend that the outward Creation doth of itself, without any supernatural or saving Principle in the Heart, even declare to the natural Man that there is a God; yet what would such a Knowledge avail, if it did not also communicate to me what the Will of God is, and how I shall do that which is acceptable to him? The outward Creation may beget a Persuasion in Man of an eternal Power or Virtue.For the outward Creation, though it may beget a Persuasion that there is some eternal Power or Virtue by which the World hath had its Beginning; yet it doth not tell me, nor doth it inform me of that which is just, holy, and righteous; how I shall be delivered from my Temptations and evil Affections, and come unto Righteousness; that must be from some inward Manifestation in my Heart. Whereas those Gentiles, of whom the Apostle speaks, knew by that inward Law, and Manifestation of the Knowledge of[Pg 140] God in them to distinguish betwixt Good and Evil, as in the next Chapter appears, of which we shall speak hereafter. The Prophet Micah, speaking of Man indefinitely, or in general, declares this, Mic. vi. 8. He hath shewed thee, O Man, what is good. And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love Mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? He doth not say God requires, till he hath first assured that he hath shewed unto them. Now, because this is shewed unto all Men, and manifest in them, therefore, saith the Apostle, is the Wrath of God revealed against them, for that they hold the Truth in Unrighteousness; that is, the Measure of Truth, the Light, the Seed, the Grace in them: For that they hide the Talent in the Earth; that is, in the earthly and unrighteous Part in their Hearts, and suffer it not to bring forth Fruit, but to be choked with the sensual Cares of this Life, the Fear of Reproach, and the Deceitfulness of Riches, as by the Parables above-mentioned doth appear. But the Apostle Paul opens and illustrates this Matter yet more, Rom. x. where he declares, That the Word which he preached (now the Word which he preached, and the Gospel which he preached, and whereof he was a Minister, is one and the same) is not far off, but nigh in the Heart and in the Mouth; which done, he frameth as it were the Objection of our Adversaries in the 14th and 15th Verses, How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a Preacher? This he answers in the 18th Verse, saying, But, I say, have they not heard? Yes verily, their Sound went into all the Earth, and their Words unto the Ends of the World; The divine Preacher (the Word nigh) hath founded in the Ears and Hearts of all Men.insinuating, that this divine Preacher had founded in the Ears and Hearts of all Men: For of the outward Apostles that Saying was not true, neither then, nor many hundred Years after; yea, for aught we know, there may be yet great and spacious Nations and Kingdoms that never have heard of Christ nor his Apostles as outwardly. This inward and powerful Word of God is yet more fully described in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Chap. iv. 12, 13. For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged Sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of Soul and[Pg 141] Spirit, and of the Joints and Marrow, and is a Discerner of the Thoughts and Intents of the Heart. The Virtues of this spiritual Word are here enumerated: It is quick, because it searches and tries the Hearts of all; no Man’s Heart is exempt from it: For the Apostle gives this Reason of its being so, in the following Verse, Before whom all Things are manifest.But all Things are naked and opened unto the Eyes of him with whom we have to do: And there is not any Creature that is not manifest in his Sight. Though this ultimately and mediately be referred to God, yet nearly and immediately it relates to the Word or Light, which, as hath been before proved, is in the Hearts of all, else it had been improper to have brought it in here. And every Thought and Intent of the Heart.The Apostle shews how every Intent and Thought of the Heart is discerned by the Word of God, because all Things are naked before God; which imports nothing else but it is in and by this Word whereby God sees and discerns Man’s Thoughts; and so it must needs be in all Men, because the Apostle saith, There is no Creature that is not manifest in his Sight. The Faithful Witness.This then is that faithful Witness and Messenger of God that bears Witness for God, and for his Righteousness in the Hearts of all Men: For he hath not left Man without a Witness, Acts xiv. 17. and he is said to be given for a Witness to the People, Isa. lv. 4. And as this Word beareth Witness for God, so it is not placed in Men only to condemn them: For as he is given for a Witness, so saith the Prophet, He is given for a Leader and Commander. A Leader and Commander.The Light is given, that all through it may believe, John i. 7. For Faith cometh by Hearing, and Hearing by the Word of God, which is placed in Man’s Heart, both to be a Witness for God, and to be a Means to bring Man to God through Faith and Repentance: It is therefore powerful, that it may divide betwixt the Soul and the Spirit: A two-edged Sword.It is like a Two-edged Sword, that it may cut off Iniquity from him, and separate betwixt the Precious and the Vile; A Fire and a Hammer.and because Man’s Heart is cold and hard like Iron naturally, therefore hath God placed this Word in him, which is said to be like a Fire, and like a Hammer, Jer. xxiii. 29. that like as by the Heat of the Fire the Iron, of its own Nature cold, is warmed and softened, and by the Strength of the Hammer is[Pg 142] framed according to the Mind of the Worker; so the cold and hard Heart of Man is by the Virtue and Powerfulness of this Word of God near and in the Heart, as it resists not, warmed and softened, and receiveth an heavenly and cœlestial Impression and Image. The most Part of the Fathers have spoken at large touching this Word, Seed, Light, and saving Voice, calling all unto Salvation, and able to save.

Clem. Alex.Clemens Alexandrinus saith, Lib. 2. Stromat. “The divine Word hath cried, calling all, knowing well those that will not obey; and yet, because it is in our Power either to obey or not to obey, that none may have a Pretext of Ignorance, it hath made a righteous Call, and requireth but that which is according to the Ability and Strength of every one.” The self-same, in his Warning to the Gentiles; “For as,” saith he, “that Heavenly Ambassador of the Lord, The Grace of God, that brings Salvation, hath appeared unto all, &c. This is, the new Song, Coming and Manifestation of the Word, which now shows itself in us, which was in the Beginning, and was first of all.” And again, “Hear therefore, ye that are afar off; hear, ye who are near; the Word is hid from none, the Light is common to all, and shineth to all. There is no Darkness in the Word; let us hasten to Salvation, to the new Birth, that we being many, may be gathered into the one alone Love.” The gathering unto the one and alone Love.Ibid. he saith, “That there is infused into all, but principally into those that are trained up in Doctrine, a certain divine Influence, [Greek: tis achorrhoia theia: τις αχορῥοια θεια].” And again, he speaks concerning the “innate Witness, worthy of Belief, which of itself doth plainly chuse that which is most honest.” And again he saith, “That it is not impossible to come unto the Truth, and lay Hold of it, seeing it is most near to us, in our own Houses, as the most wise Moses declareth, living in three Parts of us, viz. in our Hands, in our Mouths, and in our Hearts. This,” saith he, “is a most true Badge of the Truth, which is also fulfilled in three Things, namely, in Counsel, in Action, in Speaking.” And again he saith also[Pg 143] unto the unbelieving Nations, “Receive Christ, receive Light, receive Sight, to the End thou mayest rightly know both God and Man. The enlightening Word.The Word that hath enlightened us is more pleasant than Gold, and the Stone of great Value.” And again, he saith, “Let us receive the Light, that we may receive God; let us receive the Light, that we may be the Scholars of the Lord.” And again he saith to those Infidel Nations, “The heavenly Spirit helpeth thee; resist and flee Pleasure.” Again, Lib. 5. Strom. he saith, “God forbid that Man be not a Partaker of divine Acquaintance, [Greek: theias ennoias: θειας εννοιας], who in Genesis is said to be a Partaker of Inspiration.” And Pæd. Lib. 1. Cap. 3. “There is,” saith he, “some lovely and some desirable Thing in Man, which is called the In-breathing of God, [Greek: emphysêma Theou: εμφυσημα Θεου].” The same Man, Lib. 10. Strom. directeth Men unto the Light and Water in themselves, who have the Eye of the Soul darkened or dimmed through evil Education and Learning: Let them enter in unto their own domestic Light, or unto the Light which is in their own House, [Greek: pros to oikeion phôs badizetô: προς το οικειον φως βαδιζετω], unto the Truth, which manifests accurately and clearly these Things that have been written.

J. Martyr.Justin Martyr, in his first Apology, saith, “That the Word which was and is, is in all; even that very same Word which, through the Prophets, foretold Things to come.”

Auth. de Voc. Gent.The Writer of the Calling of the Gentiles saith, Lib. 1. Cap. 2. “We believe according to the same (viz. Scripture) and most religiously confess, that God was never wanting in Care to the Generality of Men; who, although he did lead, by particular Lessons, a People gathered to himself unto Godliness, yet he withdrew from no Nation of Men the Gifts of his own Goodness, that they might be convinced that they had received the Words of the Prophets, and legal Commands in Services and Testimonies of the first Principles.” Cap. 7. he saith, “That he believes that the Help of Grace hath been wholly withdrawn from no Man.” Lib. 2. Cap. 1. “Because, albeit Salvation is far from Sinners, yet there[Pg 144] is nothing void of the Presence and Virtue of his Salvation.” Cap. 2. “But seeing none of that People over whom was set both the Doctrines, were justified but through Grace by the Spirit of Faith, who can question but that they, who of whatsoever Nation, in whatsoever Times, could please God, were ordered by the Spirit of the Grace of God, which, although in fore Time it was more sparing and hid, yet denied itself to no Ages, being in Virtue one, in Quantity different, in Counsel unchangeable, in Operation multifarious.”

§. XXIV.

Prop. III.Proved. The third Proposition which ought to be proved, is, That it is by this Light, Seed, or Grace, that God works the Salvation of all Men; and many come to partake of the Benefit of Christ’s Death, and Salvation purchased by him. God’s Salvation wrought by the Light in all.By the inward and effectual Operations of which, as many Heathens have come to be Partakers of the Promises who were not of the Seed of Abraham after the Flesh, so may some now, to whom God hath rendered the Knowledge of the History impossible, come to be saved by Christ. Having already proved that Christ hath died for all, that there is a Day of Visitation given to all, during which Salvation is possible to them, and that God hath actually given a Measure of saving Grace and Light unto all, preached the Gospel to and in them, and placed the Word of Faith in their Hearts; the Matter of this Proposition may seem to be proved. Yet shall I a little, for the farther Satisfaction of all who desire to know the Truth, and hold it as it is in Jesus, prove this from two or three clear Scripture Testimonies, and remove the most common as well as the more strong Objections usually brought against it.

1 Part.Our Theme then hath two Parts; First, That those that have the Gospel and Christ outwardly preached unto them, are not saved but by the Working of the Grace and Light in their Hearts.

2 Part.Secondly, That by the Working and Operation of this, many have been, and some may be saved, to whom the Gospel hath never been outwardly preached, and who are utterly ignorant of the outward History of Christ.

[Pg 145]

1 Part. Proved.As to the first, though it be granted by most, yet because it is more in Words than Deeds (the more full discussing of which will occur in the next Proposition concerning Justification) I shall prove it in few Words. And first from the Words of Christ to Nicodemus, John iii. 3. Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a Man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. The New Birth (or Regeneration) cometh not by the outward Knowledge of Christ.Now this Birth cometh not by the outward Preaching of the Gospel, or Knowledge of Christ, or historical Faith in him; seeing many have that, and firmly believe it, who are never thus renewed. The Apostle Paul also goes so far, while he commends the Necessity and Excellency of this new Creation, as in a certain Respect to lay aside the outward Knowledge of Christ, or the Knowledge of him after the Flesh, in these Words, 2 Cor. v. 16, 17. Wherefore henceforth know we no Man after the Flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the Flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any Man be in Christ, he is a new Creature, old Things are passed away, behold all Things are become new. Whence it manifestly appears, that he makes the Knowledge of Christ after the Flesh but as it were the Rudiments which young Children learn, which after they are become better Scholars, are of less Use to them; because they have and possess the very Substance of those first Precepts in their Minds. As all Comparisons halt in some Part, so shall I not affirm this to hold in every Respect; yet so far will this hold, that as those that go no farther than the Rudiments are never to be accounted learned, and as they grow beyond these Things, so they have less Use of them, even so such as go no farther than the outward Knowledge of Christ shall never inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. But such as come to know this new Birth, to be in Christ indeed, to be a new Creature, to have Old Things passed away, and all Things become new, may safely say with the Apostle, Though we have known Christ after the Flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. But by the Work of Light and Grace in the Heart.Now this new Creature proceeds from the Work of this Light and Grace in the Heart: It is that Word which we speak of, that is sharp and piercing, that implanted Word, able to save the Soul, by which this Birth is begotten; and therefore[Pg 146] Christ has purchased unto us this holy Seed, that thereby this Birth might be brought forth in us, which is therefore also called the Manifestation of the Spirit, given to every one to profit withal; for it is written, that by one Spirit we are all baptized into one Body. And the Apostle Peter also ascribeth this Birth to the Seed and Word of God, which we have so much declared of, saying, 1 Pet. i. 23. Being born again, not of corruptible Seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. Though then this Seed be small in its Appearance, so that Christ compares it to a Grain of Mustard-seed, which is the least of all Seeds, Matth. xiii. 31, 32. and that it be hid in the earthly Part of Man’s Heart; yet therein is Life and Salvation towards the Sons of Men wrapped up, which comes to be revealed as they give Way to it. The Kingdom of God is in the Seed, in the Hearts of all Men.And in this Seed in the Hearts of all Men is the Kingdom of God, as in Capacity to be produced, or rather exhibited, according as it receives Depth, is nourished, and not choked: Hence Christ saith, that The Kingdom of God was in the very Pharisees, Luke xvii. 20, 21. who did oppose and resist him, and were justly accounted as Serpents, and a Generation of Vipers. Now the Kingdom of God could be no otherwise in them than in a Seed, even as the Thirty-fold and the Hundred-fold is wrapt up in a small Seed, lying in a barren Ground, which springs not forth because it wants Nourishment: And as the whole Body of a great Tree is wrapped up potentially in the Seed of the Tree, and so is brought forth in due Season; and as the Capacity of a Man or Woman is not only in a Child, but even in the very Embryo, even so the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, yea, Jesus Christ himself, Christ within, who is the Hope of Glory, and becometh Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption, is in every Man’s and Woman’s Heart, in that little incorruptible Seed, ready to be brought forth, as it is cherished and received in the Love of it. For there can be no Men worse than those rebellious and unbelieving Pharisees were; and yet this Kingdom was thus within them, and they were directed to look for it there: So it is neither lo here, nor lo there, in this or the other Observation, that this is[Pg 147] known, but as this Seed of God in the Heart is minded and entertained. And certainly hence it is, even because this Light, Seed, and Grace that appears in the Heart of Man is so little regarded, and so much overlooked, that so few know Christ brought forth in them. Calvinists, Papists, Arminians and Socinians Errors denying the Light to be saving.The one Sort, to wit, the Calvinists, they look upon Grace as an irresistible Power, and therefore neglect and despise this eternal Seed of the Kingdom in their Hearts, as a low, insufficient, useless Thing as to their Salvation. On the other Hand, the Papists, Arminians, and Socinians, they go about to set up their natural Power and Will with one Consent, denying that this little Seed, this small Appearance of the Light, is that supernatural saving Grace of God given to every Man to save him. And so upon them is verified that Saying of the Lord Jesus Christ, This is the Condemnation of the World, that Light is come into the World, but Men love Darkness rather than Light; the Reason is added, Because their Deeds are evil. All confess they feel this; but they will not have it to be of that Virtue. Some will have it to be Reason; some a natural Conscience; some, certain Reliques of God’s Image, that remained in Adam. So that Christ, as he met with Opposition from all Kinds of Professors in his outward Appearance, doth now also in his inward. The Meanness of Christ’s Appearance in the Flesh.It was the Meanness of his outward Man that made many despise him, saying, Is not this the Son of the Carpenter? Are not his Brethren and Sisters among us? Is not this a Galilean? And came there ever a Prophet out of Galilee? And such-like Reasonings. For they expected an outward Deliverer, who as a Prince should deliver them with great Ease from their Enemies, and not such a Messiah as should be crucified shamefully, and as it were lead them into many Sorrows, Troubles, and Afflictions. So the Meanness of this Appearance makes the crafty Jesuits, the pretended rational Socinians, and the learned Arminians, overlook it; desiring rather something that they might exercise their Subtilty, Reason, and Learning about, and use the Liberty of their own Wills. And the secure Calvinists, they would have a Christ to save them without any Trouble; to destroy all their Enemies for them without them, and nothing[Pg 148] or little within, and in the mean While to be at Ease to live in their Sins secure. The Nature of the Light.Whence, when all is well examined, the Cause is plain; it is Because their Deeds are Evil, that with one Consent they reject this Light: For it checks the wisest of them all, and the learnedest of them all; in Secret it reproves them; neither can all their Logick silence it, nor can the securest among them stop its Voice from crying, and reproving them within, for all their Confidence in the outward Knowledge of Christ, or of what he hath suffered outwardly for them. For, as hath been often said, In a Day it strives with all, wrestles with all; and it is the unmortified Nature, the first Nature, the old Adam, yet alive in the wisest, in the learnedest, in the most zealous for the outward Knowledge of Christ, that denies this, that despises it, that shuts it out, to their own Condemnation. They come all under this Description, Every one that doeth evil hateth the Light, neither cometh to the Light, lest his Deeds should be reproved, John iii. 20. So that it may be said, now, and we can say from a true and certain Experience, as it was of old, Psalm cxviii. 22. Mat. xxi. 42. Mark xii. 10. Luke xx. 17. Acts iv. 11. The Stone which the Builders of all Kinds have rejected, the same is become unto us the Head of the Corner. Glory to God for ever! who hath chosen us as First-fruits to himself in this Day, wherein he is arisen to plead with the Nations; and therefore hath sent us forth to preach this everlasting Gospel unto all, Christ nigh to all, the Light in all, the Seed sown in the Hearts of all, that Men may come and apply their Minds to it. And we rejoice that we have been made to lay down our Wisdom and Learning (such of us as have had some of it) and our carnal Reasoning, to learn of Jesus; and sit down at the Feet of Jesus in our Hearts, and hear him, who there makes all Things manifest, and reproves all Things by his Light, Ephes. v. 13. For many are wise and learned in the Notion, in the Letter of the Scripture, The Wise and Learned in the Notion, Crucifiers of the Pharisees were, and can speak much of Christ, and plead strongly against Infidels, Turks, and Jews, and it may be also against some Heresies, who, in the mean Time, are crucifying Christ[Pg 149] in the small Appearance of his Seed in their Hearts. Oh! better were it to be stripped and naked of all, to account it as Dross and Dung, and become a Fool for Christ’s Sake, thus knowing him to teach thee in thy Heart, so as thou mayest witness him raised there, feel the Virtue of his Cross there, and say with the Apostle, I glory in nothing, save in the Cross of Christ, whereby I am crucified to the World, and the World unto me. This is better than to write thousands of Commentaries, and to preach many Sermons. And it is thus to preach Christ, and direct People to his pure Light in the Heart, that God hath raised us up, and for which the wise Men of this World account us Fools; None are saved by the Knowledge of the History, but by the Operation of the Light of Christ in the Mystery.because by the Operation of this Cross of Christ in our Hearts, we have denied our own Wisdom and Wills in many Things, and have forsaken the vain Worships, Fashions, and Customs of this World. For these divers Centuries the World hath been full of a dry, fruitless, and barren Knowledge of Christ, feeding upon the Husk, and neglecting the Kernel; following after the Shadow, but Strangers to the Substance. Hence the Devil matters not how much of that Knowledge abounds, provided he can but possess the Heart, and rule in the Will, crucify the Appearance of Christ there, and so keep the Seed of the Kingdom from taking Root. Contentions about outward Observations and Lo here’s.For he has led them abroad, lo here, and lo there, and has made them wrestle in a false Zeal so much one against another, contending for this outward Observation, and for the other outward Observation, seeking Christ in this and the other external Thing, as in Bread and Wine; contending one with another how he is there, while some will have him to be present therein this Way, and some the other Way; and some in Scriptures, in Books, in Societies, and Pilgrimages, and Merits. But some, confiding in an external barren Faith, think all is well, if they do but firmly believe that he died for their Sins past, present, and to come; while in the mean Time Christ lies crucified and slain, and is daily resisted and gainsayed in his Appearance in their Hearts. The Call of God to blinded Christendom.Thus, from a Sense of this Blindness and Ignorance that is come over Christendom,[Pg 150] it is that we are led and moved of the Lord so constantly and frequently to call all, invite all, intreat all, to turn to the Light in them, to mind the Light in them, to believe in Christ, as he is in them: And that in the Name, Power, and Authority of the Lord, not in School-arguments and Distinctions (for which many of the wise Men of this World account us Fools and Mad-men) we do charge and command them to lay aside their Wisdom, to come down out of that proud, airy, Brain-knowledge, and to stop that Mouth, how eloquent soever to the worldly Ear it may appear, and to be silent, and sit down as in the Dust, and to mind the Light of Christ in their own Consciences; which, if minded, they would find as a sharp two-edged Sword in their Hearts, and as a Fire and a Hammer, that would knock against and burn up all that carnal, gathered, natural Stuff, and make the stoutest of them all tremble, and become Quakers indeed: Which those that come not to feel now, and kiss not the Son while the Day lasteth, but harden their Hearts, will feel to be a certain Truth when it is too late. To conclude, as saith the Apostle, All ought to examine themselves, whether they be in the Faith indeed; and try their ownselves: For except Jesus Christ be in them, they are certainly Reprobates, 2 Cor. xiii. 5.

§. XXV.

2 Part.Proved. That many by the Light may be saved, that have not the outward Knowledge of Christ.Secondly, That which remains now to be proved, is, That by the Operation of this Light and Seed, some have been, and may yet be saved, to whom the Gospel is not outwardly preached, nor the History of Christ outwardly known. To make this the easier, we have already shewn how that Christ hath died for all Men; and consequently these are enlightened by Christ, and have a Measure of saving Light and Grace; yea, that the Gospel, though not in any outward Dispensation, is preached to them, and in them: So that thereby they are stated in a Possibility of Salvation. From which I may thus argue:

Arg.To whom the Gospel, the Power of God unto Salvation, is manifest, they may be saved, whatever outward Knowledge they want:

[Pg 151]

But this Gospel is preached in every Creature; in which is certainly comprehended many that have not the outward Knowledge:

Therefore of those many may be saved.

But to those Arguments, by which it hath been proved, That all Men have a Measure of saving Grace, I shall add one, and that very observable, not yet mentioned, viz. that excellent Saying of the Apostle Paul to Titus, Chap. ii. Ver. 11. The Grace of God, that brings Salvation, hath appeared to all Men; teaching us, That denying Ungodliness and worldly Lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present World: Than which there can be nothing more clear, it comprehending both the Parts of the Controversy. First, It testifies that it is no natural Principle or Light, but saith plainly, It brings Salvation. Secondly, It says not, that it hath appeared to a few, but unto all Men. The saving Grace of God teacheth the whole Duty of Man.The Fruit of it declares also how efficacious it is, seeing it comprehends the whole Duty of Man: It both teacheth us, first, to forsake Evil, to deny Ungodliness and worldly Lusts; and then it teacheth us our whole Duty. First, to live Soberly; that comprehends Temperance, Chastity, Meekness, and those Things that relate unto a Man’s self. Secondly, Righteously; that comprehends Equity, Justice, and Honesty, and those Things which relate to our Neighbours. And lastly, Godly; which comprehends Piety, Faithfulness, and Devotion, which are the Duties relating to God. So then there is nothing required of Man, or is needful to Man, which this Grace teacheth not. Yet I have heard a public Preacher (one of those that are accounted zealous Men) to evade the Strength of this Text, deny this Grace to be saving, and say, It was only intended of common Favours and Graces, such as is the Heat of the Fire, and outward Light of the Sun. Such is the Darkness and Ignorance of those that oppose the Truth; whereas the Text saith expresly, that it is saving. The Absurdities of our Adversaries Comment upon the Word All, denying Grace to be saving. Tit. 2. 11.Others, that cannot deny but it is saving, alledge, This [All] comprehends not every Individual, but only all Kinds: But is a bare Negation sufficient to overturn the Strength of a positive Assertion? If the Scriptures may be so abused, what so absurd, as may not be pleaded[Pg 152] for from them? Or what so manifest, as may not be denied? But we have no Reason to be staggered by their denying, so long as our Faith is found in express Terms of Scripture; they may as well seek to persuade us, that we do not intend that which we affirm (though we know the Contrary) as make us believe, that when the Apostle speaks forth our Doctrine in plain Words, yet he intends theirs, which is quite the Contrary. And indeed, can there be any Thing more absurd, than to say, where the Word is plainly [All] Few is only intended? For they will not have [All] taken here for the greater Number. Indeed, as the Case may be sometimes, by a Figure [All] may be taken, of two Numbers, for the greater Number; but let them shew us, if they can, either in Scripture, or profane or ecclesiastical Writings, that any Man that wrote Sense did ever use the Word [All] to express, of two Numbers, the lesser. Whereas they affirm, that the far lesser Number have received saving Grace; and yet will they have the Apostle, by [All] to have signified so. Though this might suffice, yet, to put it further beyond all Question, I shall instance another Saying of the same Apostle, that we may use him as his own Commentator, Rom. v. 18. Therefore as by the Offence of One, Judgment come upon all Men to Condemnation, even so by the Righteousness of One, the Free-gift came upon all Men unto Justification of Life. Here no Man of Reason, except he will be obstinately ignorant, will deny, but this similitive Particle [As] makes the [All] which goes before, and comes after, to be of one and the same Extent; or else let them shew one Example, either in Scripture, or elsewhere, among Men that speak proper Language, where it is otherwise. We must then either affirm that this Loss, which leads to Condemnation, hath not come upon all; or say, that this free Gift is come upon all by Christ. Whence I thus argue:

Arg.If all Men have received a Loss from Adam, which leads to Condemnation; then all Men have received a Gift from Christ, which leads to Justification:

But the first is true: Therefore also the last.

[Pg 153]

Even the Heathens may be saved by the Light.From all which it naturally follows, that all Men, even the Heathens, may be saved: For Christ was given as a Light to enlighten the Gentiles, Isa. xlix. 6. Now, to say that though they might have been saved, yet none were, is to judge too uncharitably. I see not what Reason can be alleged for it; yea, though it were granted, which never can be, that none of the Heathens were saved; it will not from thence follow, That they could not have been saved; or that none now in their Condition can be saved. For, A non esse ad non posse non datur sequela, i. e. That Consequence is false, that concludes a Thing cannot be, because it is not.

Obj.But if it be objected, which is the great Objection, That there is no Name under Heaven, by which Salvation is known, but by the Name Jesus:

Therefore they (not knowing this) cannot be saved.

Answ.I answer; Though they know it not outwardly, yet if they know it inwardly, by feeling the Virtues and Power of it, the Name Jesus indeed, which signifies a Saviour, to free them from Sin and Iniquity in their Hearts, they are saved by it: The literal Knowledge of Christ is not saving; but the real experimental.I confess there is no other Name to be saved by: But Salvation lieth not in the literal, but in the experimental Knowledge; albeit those that have the literal Knowledge are not saved by it, without this real experimental Knowledge: Yet those that have the real Knowledge may be saved without the external; as by the Arguments hereafter brought will more appear. For if the outward distinct Knowledge of him, by whose Means I receive Benefit, were necessary for me before I could reap any Fruit of it; then, by the Rule of Contraries, it would follow, that I could receive no Hurt, without I had also the distinct Knowledge of him that occasioned it; whereas Experience proves the Contrary. How many are injured by Adam’s Fall, that know nothing of there ever being such a Man in the World, or of his eating the forbidden Fruit? Why may they not then be saved by the Gift and Grace of Christ in them, making them righteous and holy, though they know not distinctly how that was purchased unto them by the Death and Sufferings[Pg 154] of Jesus that was crucified at Jerusalem; especially seeing God hath made that Knowledge simply impossible to them? As many Men are killed by Poison infused into their Meat, though they neither know what the Poison was, nor who infused it; so also on the other Hand, how many are cured of their Diseases by good Remedies, who know not how the Medicine is prepared, what the Ingredients are, nor oftentimes who made it? The like may also hold in spiritual Things, as we shall hereafter prove.

§. XXVI.

The outward Knowledge not essential to Salvation: Instance in Infants and deaf Persons.First, If there were such an absolute Necessity for this outward Knowledge, that it were even of the Essentials of Salvation, then none could be saved without it; whereas our Adversaries deny not, but readily confess, that many Infants and deaf Persons are saved without it: So that here they break that general Rule, and make Salvation possible without it. Neither can they allege, that it is because such are free from Sin; seeing they also affirm, that all Infants, because of Adam’s Sin, deserve eternal Condemnation, as being really guilty in the Sight of God; and of deaf People, it is not to be doubted, and Experience shews us, that they are subject to many common Iniquities, as well as other Men.

Obj. 1.If it be said, That these Children are the Children of believing Parents:

Answ.What then? They will not say that they transmit Grace to their Children. Do they not affirm, That the Children of believing Parents are guilty of original Sin, and deserve Death as well as others? How prove they that that makes up the Loss of all explicit Knowledge?

Obj. 2.If they say, Deaf People may be made sensible of the Gospel by Signs:

Answ.All the Signs cannot give them any explicit Knowledge of the History of the Death, Sufferings, and Resurrection of Christ. For what Signs can inform a deaf Man, That the Son of God took on him Man’s Nature, was born of a Virgin, and suffered under Pontius Pilate?

Obj. 3.And if they should further allege, That they are within the Bosom of the visible Church, and Partakers of the Sacraments:

[Pg 155]

Answ.All that gives no Certainty of Salvation; for, as the Protestants confess, they confer not Grace ex opere operato. And will they not acknowledge, that many are in the Bosom of the Church, who are visibly no Members of it? But if this Charity be extended towards such who are where the Gospel is preached, so that they may be judged capable of Salvation, because they are under a simple Impossibility of distinctly knowing the Means of Salvation; what Reason can be alleged why the like Charity may not be had to such, as though they can hear, yet are under a simple Impossibility of hearing, because it is not spoken unto them? A Chinese or Indian excusable for not knowing the History of the Death of Christ, &c.Is not a Man in China, or in India, as much to be excused for not knowing a Thing which he never heard of, as a deaf Man here, who cannot hear? For as the deaf Man is not to be blamed, because God hath been pleased to suffer him to lie under this Infirmity; so is the Chinese or the Indian as excusable, because God hath with-held from him the Opportunity of hearing. He that cannot hear a Thing, as being necessarily absent, and he that cannot hear it, as being naturally deaf, are to be placed in the same Category.

Answ. 2.Secondly, This manifestly appears by that Saying of Peter, Acts x. 34. Of a Truth I perceive that God is no Respecter of Persons; but in every Nation, he that feareth him, and worketh Righteousness, is accepted of him. Peter was before liable to that Mistake that the rest of the Jews were in; judging that all were unclean, except themselves, and that no Man could be saved, except they were proselyted to their Religion, and circumcised. But God shewed Peter otherwise in a Vision, and taught him to call nothing common or unclean; God regarded the Prayers of Cornelius, a Stranger to the Law.and therefore, seeing that God regarded the Prayers of Cornelius, who was a Stranger to the Law, and to Jesus Christ as to the outward, yet Peter saw that God had accepted him; and he is said to fear God before he had this outward Knowledge: Therefore Peter concludes that every one in every Nation, without respect of Persons, that feareth God and worketh Righteousness, is accepted of him. So he makes the Fear of God and the working of Righteousness, and not an outward historical[Pg 156] Knowledge, the Qualification: They then that have this, wherever they be, they are saved. Now we have already proved, that to every Man that Grace is given, whereby he may live godlily and righteously; and we see, that by this Grace Cornelius did so, and was accepted, and his Prayers came up for a Memorial before God before he had this outward Knowledge. From what Scripture did Job learn his excellent Knowledge?Also, Was not Job a perfect and upright Man, that feared God, and eschewed Evil? Who taught Job this? How knew Job Adam’s Fall? And from what Scripture learned he that excellent Knowledge he had, and that Faith, by which he knew his Redeemer lived? (For many make him as old as Moses). Was not this by an inward Grace in the Heart? Was it not that inward Grace that taught Job to eschew Evil, and to fear God? And was it not by the Workings thereof that he became a just and upright Man? How doth he reprove the Wickedness of Men, Chap. xxiv? And after he hath numbered up their Wickedness, doth he not condemn them, Ver. 13. for rebelling against this Light, for not knowing the Way thereof, nor abiding in the Paths thereof? It appears then Job believed that Men had a Light, and that because they rebelled against it, therefore they knew not its Ways, and abode not in its Paths; even as the Pharisees, who had the Scriptures, are said to err, not knowing the Scriptures. Job’s Friends; their excellent Sayings.And also Job’s Friends, though in some Things wrong; yet who taught them all those excellent Sayings and Knowledge which they had? Did not God give it them, in order to save them? or was it merely to condemn them? Who taught Elihu, That the Inspiration of the Almighty giveth Understanding; that the Spirit of God made him, and the Breath of the Almighty gave him Life? And did not the Lord accept a Sacrifice for them? And who dare say that they are damned? But further, the Apostle puts this Controversy out of Doubt; for, if we may believe his plain Assertions, he tells us, Rom. ii. That the Heathens did the Things contained in the Law. From whence I thus argue;

Arg.In every Nation he that feareth God, and worketh Righteousness, is accepted:

[Pg 157]

But many of the Heathens feared God, and wrought Righteousness:

Therefore they were accepted.

The Minor is proved from the Example of Cornelius: But I shall further prove it thus;

He that doth the Things contained in the Law, feareth God, and worketh Righteousness:

But the Heathens did the Things contained in the Law:

Therefore they feared God, and wrought Righteousness.

Can there be any Thing more clear? For if to do the Things contained in the Law, be not to fear God, and work Righteousness, then what can be said to do so, seeing the Apostle calls the Law Spiritual, Holy, Just, and Good? But this appears manifestly by another Medium, taken out of the same Chapter, Ver. 13. So that nothing can be more clear: The Words are, The Doers of the Law shall be justified. From which I thus argue, without adding any Word of my own;

Arg.The Doers of the Law shall be justified:

But the Gentiles do the Things contained in the Law:

The Gentiles justified doing the Law.All that know but a Conclusion, do easily see what follows from these express Words of the Apostle. And indeed, he through that whole Chapter labours, as if he were contending now with our Adversaries, to confirm this Doctrine, Ver. 9, 10, 11. Tribulation and Anguish upon every Soul of Man that doth Evil, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no Respect of Persons with God. Where the Apostle clearly homologates, or confesses to the Sentence of Peter before-mentioned; and shews that Jew and Gentile, or as he himself explains in the following Verses, both they that have an outward Law and they that have none, when they do Good shall be justified. And to put us out of all Doubt, in the very following Verses he tells, That the Doers of the Law are justified; and that the Gentiles did the Law. So that except we think he spake not what he intended, we may safely conclude, that such Gentiles were justified, and did partake of that[Pg 158] Honour, Glory, and Peace, which comes upon every one that doth Good; even the Gentiles, that are without the Law, when they work Good; seeing with God there is no Respect of Persons. So as we see, that it is not the having the outward Knowledge that doth save, without the inward; so neither doth the Want of it, to such to whom God hath made it impossible, who have the inward, bring Condemnation. And many that have wanted the Outward, have had a Knowledge of this inwardly, by Virtue of that inward Grace and Light given to every Man, working in them, by which they forsook Iniquity, and became just and holy, as is above proved; Many wanting the History, were sensible of the Loss by Adam, and Salvation come by Christ in themselves.who, though they knew not the History of Adam’s Fall, yet were sensible in themselves of the Loss that came by it, feeling their Inclinations to sin, and the Body of Sin in them: And though they knew not the Coming of Christ, yet were sensible of that inward Power and Salvation which came by him, even before as well as since his Appearance in the Flesh. For I question whether these Men can prove, that all the Patriarchs and Fathers before Moses had a distinct Knowledge either of the one or the other, or that they knew the History of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and of Adam’s eating the forbidden Fruit; far less that Christ should be born of a Virgin, should be crucified, and treated in the Manner he was. For it is justly to be believed, that what Moses wrote of Adam, and of the first Times, was not by Tradition, but by Revelation; How little the Jews knew Christ, mistaking the Prophets.yea, we see that not only after the Writing of Moses, but even of David and all the Prophets, who prophesied so much of Christ, how little the Jews, that were expecting and wishing for the Messiah, could thereby discern him when he came, that they crucified him as a Blasphemer, not as a Messiah, by mistaking the Prophecies concerning him; for Peter saith expresly, Acts iii. 17. to the Jews, That both they and their Rulers did it through Ignorance. And Paul saith, 1 Cor. ii. 8. That had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. Yea, Mary herself, to whom the Angel had spoken, and who had laid up all the miraculous Things accompanying his Birth in her Heart, she did not understand[Pg 159] how, when he disputed with the Doctors in the Temple, that he was about his Father’s Business. And the Apostles that had believed him, conversed daily with him, and saw his Miracles, could not understand, neither believe those Things which related to his Death, Sufferings, and Resurrection, but were in a certain Respect stumbled at them.


So we see how that it is the inward Work, and not the outward History and Scripture, that gives the true Knowledge; The Heathens were sensible of the Loss received by Adam.and by this inward Light many of the Heathen Philosophers were sensible of the Loss received by Adam, though they knew not the outward History: Hence Plato asserted, That Man’s Soul was fallen into a dark Cave, where it only conversed with Shadows. Pythagoras saith, Man wandereth in this World as a Stranger, banished from the Presence of God. And Plotinus compareth Man’s Soul, fallen from God, to a Cinder, or dead Coal, out of which the Fire is extinguished. Heathen-Philosophers Divine Knowledge. Plato. Pythag. Plotin.Some of them said, That the Wings of the Soul were clipped or fallen off, so that it could not flee unto God. All which, and many more such Expressions, that might be gathered out of their Writings, shew, that they were not without a Sense of this Loss. Also they had a Knowledge and Discovery of Jesus Christ inwardly, as a Remedy in them, to deliver them from that evil Seed, and the evil Inclinations of their own Hearts, though not under that particular Denomination.

Some called him an Holy Spirit, as Seneca, Epist. 41. who said, There is an holy Spirit in us, that treateth us as we treat him. Cicero calls it an Innate Light. Lactan. In Sect.Cicero calleth it an innate Light, in his Book De Republica, cited by Lactantius, 6 Instit. where he calls this Right Reason, given unto all, constant and eternal, calling unto Duty by commanding, and deterring from Deceit by forbidding. Adding, That it cannot be abrogated, neither can any be freed from it, neither by Senate or People; that it is one, eternal, and the same always to all Nations; so that there is not one at Rome, and another at Athens: Whoso obeys it not, must flee from himself, and in this is greatly tormented, although he should escape all other Punishments. Plotinus also calls him Light, saying, That as the Sun cannot be known but by its own Light, so God cannot be known but[Pg 160] with his own Light: And as the Eye cannot see the Sun but by receiving its Image, so Man cannot know God but by receiving his Image; and that it behoveth Man to come to Purity of Heart before he could know God; calling him also Wisdom, a name frequently given him in Scripture; see Prov. i. 20. to the End; and Prov. viii. 9, 34. where Wisdom is said to cry, intreat, and invite all to come unto her, and learn of her: And what is this Wisdom but Christ? Hence such as came among the Heathen, to forsake Evil and cleave to Righteousness, were called Philosophers, that is, Lovers of Wisdom. Philosophers whence so called?They knew this Wisdom was nigh unto them, and that The best Knowledge of God, and divine Mysteries, was by the Inspiration of the Wisdom of God. Phocylides.Phocylides affirmed, That the Word of the Wisdom of God was best. His Words in the Greek are, [Greek: Tês de Theopneustou sophias logos estin aristos: Της δε Θεοπνευσςου σοφιας λογος εστιν αριστος].

And much more of this Kind might be instanced, by which it appears they knew Christ; and by his working in them, were brought from Unrighteousness to Righteousness, and to love that Power by which they felt themselves redeemed; so that, as saith the Apostle, They shew the Work of the Law written in their Hearts, and did the Things contained in the Law; and therefore, as all Doers of the Law are, were no Doubt justified, and saved thus by the Power of Christ in them. And as this was the Judgment of the Apostle, so was it of the primitive Christians. Socrates a Christian, &c.Hence Justin Martyr stuck not to call Socrates a Christian, saying, That all such as lived according to the divine Word in them, which was in all Men, were Christians, such as Socrates and Heraclitus, and others among the Greeks, &c. That such as live with the Word, are Christians without Fear or Anxiety.

Clem. Alex.Clemens Alexandrinus saith, Apol. 2. Strom. Lib. 1. That this Wisdom or Philosophy was necessary to the Gentiles, and was their School-master to lead them unto Christ, by which of old the Greeks were justified.

Augustin. de Civ. Dei.Nor do I think, saith Augustine, in his Book of the City of God, Lib. 18. Cap. 47. that the Jews dare affirm that none belonged unto God but the Israelites. Lud. Vives.Upon which Place Ludovicus Vives saith, That thus the Gentiles, not having a Law, were a Law unto themselves; and the Light[Pg 161] of so living is the Gift of God, and proceeds from the Son; of whom it is written, that he enlighteneth every Man that cometh into the World.

The Platonists saw the Word in the Beginning; which was Light.Augustine also testifies in his Confessions, Lib. 1. Cap. 9. That he had read in the Writings of the Platonists, though not in the very same Words, yet that which by many and multiplied Reasons did persuade, that in the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; this was in the Beginning with God, by which all Things were made, and without which nothing was made that was made: In him was Life, and the Life was the Light of Men: And the Light shined in the Darkness, and the Darkness did not comprehend it. And albeit the Soul gives Testimony concerning the Light, yet it is not the Light, but the Word of God; for God is the true Light, which enlighteneth every Man that cometh into the World; and so repeats to Ver. 14. of John i. adding, These Things have I there read.

Hai Eben Yokdan.Yea, there is a Book translated out of the Arabick, which gives an Account of one Hai Eben Yokdan; who living in an Island alone, without Converse of Man, attained to such a profound Knowledge of God, as to have immediate Converse with him, and to affirm, That the best and most certain Knowledge of God is not that which is attained by Premises premised, and Conclusions deduced; The Supreme Intellect enjoyed by the Mind of Men.but that which is enjoyed by Conjunction of the Mind of Man with the Supreme Intellect, after the Mind is purified from its Corruptions, and is separated from all bodily Images, and is gathered into a profound Stillness.


Seeing then it is by this inward Gift, Grace, and Light, that both those that have the Gospel preached unto them, come to have Jesus brought forth in them, and to have the saving and sanctified Use of all outward Helps and Advantages; and also by this same Light that all may come to be saved; and that God calls, invites, and strives with all, in a Day, and saveth many, to whom he hath not seen meet to convey this outward Knowledge; The Day of the Lord proclaimed.therefore we, having the Experience of the inward and powerful Work of this Light in our Hearts, even Jesus revealed in us, cannot cease to proclaim the Day of the Lord that is arisen in it, crying out with the Woman of Samaria; Come and see one that hath told me all that[Pg 162] ever I have done; Is not this the Christ? That others may come and feel the same in themselves, and may know, that that little small Thing that reproves them in their Hearts, however they have despised and neglected it, is nothing less than the Gospel preached in them; Christ, the Wisdom and Power of God, being in and by that Seed seeking to save their Souls.

Of this Light therefore Augustine speaks in his Confessions, Lib. 11. Cap. 9. In this Beginning, O God! thou madest the Heavens and the Earth, in thy Word, in thy Son, in thy Virtue, in thy Wisdom, wonderfully saying, and wonderfully doing. Who shall comprehend it? Who shall declare it? Augustine trembled at the In-shinings of the Light unto him, and why?What is that which shineth in unto me, and smites my Heart without Hurt, at which I both tremble, and am inflamed? I tremble, in so far as I am unlike unto it; and I am inflamed in so far as I am like unto it: It is Wisdom, Wisdom which shineth in unto me, and dispelleth my Cloud, which had again covered me, after I was departed from it, with Darkness and the Heap of my Punishments. And again he saith, Lib. 10. Cap. 27. It is too late that I have loved thee, O thou Beautifulness, so ancient and so new! Late have I loved thee, and behold thou wast within, and I was without, and there was seeking thee! Thou didst call, thou didst cry, thou didst break my Deafness, thou glancedst, thou didst shine, thou chasedst away my Darkness.

Buchanan testifying to the Light.Of this also our Countryman George Buchanan speaketh thus in his Book De Jure regni apud Scotos: Truly I understand no other Thing at present than that Light which is divinely infused into our Souls: For when God formed Man, he not only gave him Eyes to his Body, by which he might shun those Things that are hurtful to him, and follow those Things that are profitable; but also hath set before his Mind as it were a certain Light, by which he may discern Things that are vile from Things that are honest. Some call this Power Nature, others the Law of Nature; I truly judge it to be divine, and am persuaded that Nature and Wisdom never say different Things. Moreover God hath given us a Compend of the Law, which in few Words comprehends the Whole; to wit, that we should love him from our Hearts, and our Neighbours as ourselves. And of this Law all the Books of the holy Scriptures, which pertain to the forming of Manners, contain no other but an Explication.

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Jew and Gentile, Scythian and Barbarian, Partakers of the Salvation of Christ.This is that universal evangelical Principle, in and by which this Salvation of Christ is exhibited to all Men, both Jew and Gentile, Scythian and Barbarian, of whatsoever Country or Kindred he be: And therefore God hath raised up unto himself, in this our Age, faithful Witnesses and Evangelists to preach again his everlasting Gospel, and to direct all, as well the high Professors, who boast of the Law and the Scriptures, and the outward Knowledge of Christ, as the Infidels and Heathens that know not him that Way, that they may all come to mind the Light in them, and know Christ in them, the just one, [Greek: ton Dichaion: τον Δικαιον], whom they have so long killed, and made merry over, and he hath not resisted, James v. 6. and give up their Sins, Iniquities, false Faith, Professions, and outside Righteousness, to be crucified by the Power of his Cross in them, so as they may know Christ within to be the Hope of Glory, and may come to walk in his Light and be saved, who is that true Light that enlighteneth every Man that cometh into the World.

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Concerning Justification.

As many as resist not this Light, but receive the same, it becomes in them an holy, pure, and spiritual Birth, bringing forth Holiness, Righteousness, Purity, and all those other blessed Fruits which are acceptable to God: By which holy Birth, to wit, Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his Works in us, as we are sanctified, so are we justified in the Sight of God, according to the Apostle’s Words; But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God, 1 Cor. vi. 11. Therefore it is not by our Works wrought in our Will, nor yet by good Works considered as of themselves; but by Christ, who is both the Gift and the Giver, and the Cause producing the Effects in us; who, as he hath reconciled us while we were Enemies, doth also in his Wisdom save us and justify us after this Manner, as saith the same Apostle elsewhere; According to his Mercy he saved us, by the Washing of Regeneration, and the Renewing of the Holy Ghost, Tit. iii. 5.

§. I.

The Doctrine of Justification comes well in Order after the discussing of the Extent of Christ’s Death, and of the Grace thereby communicated, some of the sharpest Contests concerning this having from thence their Rise. Many are the Disputes among those called Christians concerning this Point; and indeed, if all were truly minding that which justifieth, there would be less Noise about the Notions of Justification. I shall briefly review this Controversy as it stands among others, and as I have often seriously observed it; then in short state the Controversy as to us, and open our Sense and Judgment of it; and lastly prove it, if the Lord[Pg 165] will, by some Scripture Testimonies, and the certain Experience of all that ever were truly justified.

§. II.

Observat. The Method of Justification taken by the Church of Rome.That this Doctrine of Justification, hath been and is greatly vitiated in the Church of Rome, is not by us questioned; though our Adversaries, who for want of better Arguments do often make Lies their Refuge, have not spared in this Respect to stigmatize us with Popery, but how untruly will hereafter appear. For to speak little of their Meritum ex condigno, which was no Doubt a very common Doctrine of the Romish Church, especially before Luther, though most of their modern Writers, especially in their Controversies with Protestants, do partly deny it, partly qualify it, and seem to state the Matter only as if they were Propagators and Pleaders for good Works by the others denied; yet if we look to the Effects of this Doctrine among them, as they appear in the Generality of their Church Members, not in Things disapproved, but highly approved and commended by their Father the Pope and all his Clients, as the most beneficial Casualty of all his Revenue, The Pope’s Doctrine of Merits, the most beneficial of all his Revenue.we shall find that Luther did not without great Ground oppose himself to them in this Matter: And if he had not run himself into another Extreme, of which hereafter, his Work would have stood the better. For in this, as in most other Things, he is more to be commended for what he pulled down of Babylon, than for what he built of his own. Whatever then the Papists may pretend, or even some good Men among them may have thought, Experience sheweth, and it is more than manifest by the universal and approved Practice of their People, that they place not their Justification so much in Works that are truly and morally good, and in the being truly renewed and sanctified in the Mind, as in such Things as are either nor Good nor Evil, or may truly be called Evil, and can no otherwise be reckoned Good than because the Pope pleases to call them so. Papists Justification depends upon the Pope’s Bulls.So that if the Matter be well sifted, it will be found, that the greatest Part of their Justification depends upon the Authority of his Bulls, and not upon the Power, Virtue, and Grace of Christ revealed in the Heart, and renewing of it, as will appear.[Pg 166] Proof 1. Their Sacraments.First, From their Principle concerning their Sacraments, which they say confer Grace ex opere operato. So that if a Man partake but of them, he thereby obtains Remission of Sin, though he remains as he was; the Virtue of the Sacraments making up the Want that is in the Man. So that this Act of Submission and Faith to the Laws of the Church, and not any real inward Change, is that which justifieth him. As for Example; Papists Penance.if a Man make use of the Sacrament, as they call it, of Penance, so as to tell over his Sins to a Priest, though he have not true Contrition, which the Lord hath made absolutely necessary for penitent Sinners, but only Attrition, a Figment of their own, that is, if he be sorry he hath sinned, not out of any Love to God, or his Law which he hath transgressed, but for fear of Punishment, yet doth the Virtue of the Sacrament, as they affirm, procure to him Remission of Sins; so that being absolved by the Priest, he stands accepted and justified in the Sight of God. This Man’s Justification then proceedeth not from his being truly penitent, and in any Measure inwardly changed and renewed by the working of God’s Grace in his Heart, but merely from the Virtue of the Sacrament, and Authority of the Priest, who hath pronounced him absolved; so that his Justification is from somewhat without him, and not within him.

Proof 2. Papist Indulgences.Secondly, This will yet more appear in the Matter of Indulgences, where Remission of all Sins, not only past but for Years to come, is annexed to the visiting such and such Churches and Reliques, saying such and such Prayers; so that the Person that so doth is presently cleared from the Guilt of his Sin, and justified and accepted in the Sight of God. As for Example: He that in the great Jubilee will go to Rome, and present himself before the Gate of Peter and Paul, and there receive the Pope’s Blessing; or he that will go a Pilgrimage to James’s Sepulchre in Spain, or to Mary of Loreto, is upon the Performance of those Things promised Forgiveness of Sins. Now if we ask them the Reason how such Things as are not morally good in themselves come to have Virtue? They have no other Answer but because of the Church and Pope’s Authority, who being the great Treasurer[Pg 167] of the Magazine of Christ’s Merits, lets them out upon such and such Conditions. Papists Mass, what it is?Thus also the Invention of saying Mass is made a chief Instrument of Justification; for in it they pretend to offer Christ daily to the Father a propitiatory Sacrifice for the Sins of the Living and Dead: So that a Man for Money can procure Christ thus to be offered for him when he pleases; by which Offering he is said to obtain Remission of Sins, and to stand justified in the Sight of God. From all which, and much more of this Nature which might be mentioned, it doth appear, that the Papists place their Justification, not so much in any Work of Holiness really brought forth in them, and real forsaking of Iniquity, as in the mere Performance of some Ceremonies, and a blind Belief which their Teachers have begotten in them, that the Church and the Pope having the absolute Dispensation of the Merits of Christ, have Power to make these Merits effectual for the Remission of Sins, and Justification of such as will perform those Ceremonies. This is the true and real Method of Justification taken by the Generality of the Church of Rome, and highly commended by their publick Preachers, especially the Monks, in their Sermons to the People, of which I myself have been an Ear and an Eye-witness; however some of their modern Writers have laboured to qualify it in their Controversies. Luther and the Protestants opposing the Pope’s Doctrine of Works, fell into the other Extreme, of no good Works necessary to Justification.This Doctrine Luther and the Protestants then had good Reason to deny and oppose; though many of them ran into another Extreme, so as to deny good Works to be necessary to Justification, and to preach up not only Remission of Sins, but Justification by Faith alone, without all Works, however good. So that Men do not obtain their Justification according as they are inwardly sanctified and renewed, but are justified merely by believing that Christ died for them; and so some may be perfectly justified, though they be lying in gross Wickedness; as appears by the Example of David, who they say was fully and perfectly justified while he was lying in the gross Sins of Murder and Adultery. As then the Protestants have sufficient Ground to quarrel and confute the Papists concerning those many Abuses in the Matter of Justification, shewing how the Doctrine of Christ [Pg 168] is thereby vitiated and overturned, and the Word at God made void by many and useless Traditions, the Law of God neglected, while foolish and needless Ceremonies are prized and followed, through a false Opinion of being justified by the Performance of them; and the Merits and Sufferings of Christ, which is the only Sacrifice appointed of God for Remission of Sins, derogated from, by the setting up of a daily Sacrifice never appointed by God, and chiefly devised out of Covetousness to get Money by; Papists Device to get the Protestants on the other Hand, by not rightly establishing and holding forth the Doctrine of Justification according as it is delivered in the holy Scriptures, have opened a Door for the Papists to accuse them, as if they were Neglecters of good Works, Enemies to Mortification and Holiness, such as esteem themselves justified while lying in great Sins: By which Kind of Accusations, for which too great Ground hath been given out of the Writings of some rigid Protestants, the Reformation hath been greatly defamed and hindered, and the Souls of many insnared. Whereas, whoever will narrowly look into the Matter, may observe these Debates to be more in Specie than in Genere, seeing both do upon the Matter land in one; and like two Men in a Circle, who though they go sundry Ways, yet meet at last; in the same Center.

Papists Belief of Justification meets in the same Center with the—For the Papists say, They obtain Remission of Sins, and are justified by the Merits of Christ, as the same are applied unto them in the Use of the Sacraments of the Church, and are dispensed in the Performance of such and such Ceremonies, Pilgrimages, Prayers, and Performances, though there be not any inward renewing of the Mind, nor knowing of Christ inwardly formed; yet they are remitted and made righteous ex opere operato, because of the Power and Authority accompanying the Sacraments and the Dispensers of them.

Protestants Belief. So saith the Westminster Confession of Faith. Chap. 11. Sect. 1.The Protestants say, That they obtain Remission of Sins, and stand justified in the Sight of God by Virtue of the Merits and Sufferings of Christ, not by infusing Righteousness into them, but by pardoning their Sins, and by accounting and accepting their Persons as righteous, they resting on him and his[Pg 169] Righteousness by Faith; which Faith, the Act of believing, is not imputed unto them for Righteousness.

So the Justification of neither here is placed in any inward Renewing of the Mind, or by Virtue of any spiritual Birth, or Formation of Christ in them; but only by a bare Application of the Death and Sufferings of Christ outwardly performed for them: Whereof the one lays hold on a Faith resting upon them, and hoping to be justified by them alone; the other by the saying of some outward Prayers and Ceremonies, which they judge makes the Death of Christ effectual unto them. I except here, being unwilling to wrong any, what Things have been said as to the Necessity of inward Holiness, either by some modern Papists, or some modern Protestants, who, in so far as they have laboured after a Midst betwixt these two Extremes, have come near to the Truth, as by some Citations out of them hereafter to be mentioned will appear: Though this Doctrine hath not since the Apostasy, so far as ever I could observe, been so distinctly and evidently held forth according to the Scripture’s Testimony, as it hath pleased God to reveal it and preach it forth in this Day, by the Witnesses of his Truth whom he hath raised to that End; which Doctrine, though it be briefly held forth and comprehended in the Thesis itself, State of the Controversy.yet I shall a little more fully explain, and shew the State of the Controversy as it stands betwixt us and those that now oppose us.

§. III.

Expl. 1.First then, as by the Explanation of the former Thesis appears, we renounce all natural Power and Ability in ourselves, in order to bring us out of our lost and fallen Condition and first Nature; and confess, that as of ourselves we are able to do nothing that is good, so neither can we procure Remission of Sins or Justification by any Act of our own, so as to merit it, or draw it as a Debt from God due unto us; Justification springs of and from the Love of God.but we acknowledge all to be of and from his Love, which is the original and fundamental Cause of our Acceptance.

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Expl. 2.Christ giving himself a Sacrifice for us. Secondly, God manifested this Love towards us, in the sending of his beloved Son the Lord Jesus Christ into the World, who gave himself for us an Offering and a Sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling Savour; and having made Peace through the Blood of his Cross, that he might reconcile us unto himself, and by the Eternal Spirit offered himself without Spot unto God, and suffered for our Sins, the Just for the Unjust, that he might bring us unto God.

Expl. 3.Thirdly then, Forasmuch as all Men who have come to Man’s Estate (the Man Jesus only excepted) have sinned, therefore all have Need of this Saviour, to remove the Wrath of God from them due to their Offences; in this Respect he is truly said to have borne the Iniquities of us all in his Body on the Tree, and therefore is the only Mediator, having qualified the Wrath of God towards us; so that our former Sins stand not in our Way, being by Virtue of his most satisfactory Sacrifice removed and pardoned. To Remission of Sins.Neither do we think that Remission of Sins is to be expected, sought, or obtained any other Way, or by any Works or Sacrifice whatsoever; though, as has been said formerly, they may come to partake of this Remission that are ignorant of the History. The only Mediator betwixt God and Man.So then Christ by his Death and Sufferings hath reconciled us to God, even while we are Enemies; that is, he offers Reconciliation unto us; we are put into a Capacity of being reconciled; God is willing to forgive us our Iniquities, and to accept us, as is well expressed by the Apostle, 2 Cor. v. 19. God was in Christ, reconciling the World unto himself, not imputing their Trespasses unto them, and hath put in us the Word of Reconciliation. And therefore the Apostle, in the next Verses, intreats them in Christ’s Stead to be reconciled to God; intimating that the Wrath of God being removed by the Obedience of Christ Jesus, he is willing to be reconciled unto them, and ready to remit the Sins that are past, if they repent.

A twofold Redemption.We consider then our Redemption in a twofold Respect or State, both which in their own Nature are perfect, though in their Application[Pg 171] to us the one is not, nor can be, without Respect to the other.

I. The Redemption of Christ without us.The First is the Redemption performed and accomplished by Christ for us in his crucified Body without us: The other is the Redemption wrought by Christ in us, which no less properly is called and accounted a Redemption than the former. The first then is that whereby a Man, as he stands in the Fall, is put into a Capacity of Salvation, and hath conveyed unto him a Measure of that Power, Virtue, Spirit, Life, and Grace that was in Christ Jesus, which, as the free Gift of God, is able to counter-balance, overcome, and root out the evil Seed, wherewith we are naturally, as in the Fall, leavened.

II. The Redemption wrought by Christ in us.The Second is that whereby we witness and know this pure and perfect Redemption in ourselves, purifying, cleansing, and redeeming us from the Power of Corruption, and bringing us into Unity, Favour, and Friendship with God. By the first of these two, we that were lost in Adam, plunged into the bitter and corrupt Seed, unable of ourselves to do any good Thing, but naturally joined and united to Evil, forward and propense to all Iniquity, Servants and Slaves to the Power and Spirit of Darkness, are, notwithstanding all this, so far reconciled to God by the Death of his Son, while Enemies, that we are put into a Capacity of Salvation, having the glad Tidings of the Gospel of Peace offered unto us, and God is reconciled unto us in Christ, calls and invites us to himself, in which Respect we understand these Scriptures; [70]He slew the Enmity in himself. He loved us first; seeing us in our Blood, he said unto us, Live; he who did not sin his own self, bare our Sins in his own Body on the Tree; and he died for our Sin, the Just for the Unjust.

[70] Eph. 2. 15. 1 John 4. 10. Ezek. 16. 6. 1 Pet. 2. 22, 24. & 3. 18.

By the Second, we witness this Capacity brought into Act, whereby receiving and not resisting the Purchase of his Death, to wit, the Light, Spirit, and Grace of Christ revealed in us, we witness and possess a real, true, and inward Redemption from the Power and Prevalency of Sin, and so come to be truly and really redeemed, justified, and made righteous, and to a sensible Union and Friendship[Pg 172] with God.[71] Thus he died for us, that he might redeem us from all Iniquity; and thus we know him and the Power of his Resurrection, and the Fellowship of his Sufferings, being made conformable to his Death. This last follows the first in Order, and is a Consequence of it, proceeding from it, as an Effect from its Cause: So as none could have enjoyed the last, without the first had been, such being the Will of God; so also can none now partake of the first, but as he witnesseth the last. Wherefore as to us, they are both Causes of our Justification; the first the procuring Efficient, the other the formal Cause.

[71] Tit. 2. 14. Phil. 3. 10.

Expl. 4.Fourthly, We understand not by this Justification by Christ barely the good Works even wrought by the Spirit of Christ; for they, as Protestants truly affirm, are rather an Effect of Justification than the Cause of it; The Formation of Christ in us begets good Works.but we understand the Formation of Christ in us, Christ born and brought forth in us, from which good Works as naturally proceed as Fruit from a fruitful Tree. It is this inward Birth in us, bringing forth Righteousness and Holiness in us, that doth justify us; which having removed and done away the contrary Nature and Spirit that did bear Rule and bring Condemnation, now is in Dominion over all in our Hearts. Those then that come to know Christ thus formed in them, do enjoy him wholly and undivided, who is the LORD our RIGHTEOUSNESS, Jer. xxiii. 6. This is to be clothed with Christ, and to have put him on, whom God therefore truly accounteth righteous and just. This is so far from being the Doctrine of Papists, that as the Generality of them do not understand it, so the Learned among them oppose it, and dispute against it, and particularly Bellarmine. Thus then, as I may say, the formal Cause of Justification is not the Works, to speak properly, they being but an Effect of it; but this inward Birth, this Jesus brought forth in the Heart, who is the well-beloved, whom the Father cannot but accept, and all those who thus are sprinkled with the Blood of Jesus, and washed with it. By this also comes that Communication of the Goods of Christ unto us, by which we come to be made Partakers of the divine Nature, as faith Peter, 2 Pet. i. 4. and are made one with him, as the Branches with the Vine, and have a Title and[Pg 173] Right to what he hath done and suffered for us; Christ’s Obedience, Righteousness, Death and Sufferings are that his Obedience becomes ours, his Righteousness ours, his Death and Sufferings ours. And by this Nearness we come to have a Sense of his Sufferings, and to suffer with his Seed, that yet lies pressed and crucified in the Hearts of the Ungodly, and so travail with it, and for its Redemption, and for the Repentance of those Souls that in it are crucifying as yet the Lord of Glory. Even as the Apostle Paul, who by his Sufferings is said to fill up that which is behind of the Afflictions of Christ for his Body, which is the Church. Though this be a Mystery sealed up from all the wise Men that are yet ignorant of this Seed in themselves, and oppose it, nevertheless some Protestants speak of this justification by Christ inwardly put on, as shall hereafter be recited in its Place.

Expl. 5.Lastly, Though we place Remission of Sins in the Righteousness and Obedience of Christ performed by him in the Flesh, as to what pertains to the remote procuring Cause, and that we hold ourselves formally justified by Christ Jesus formed and brought forth in us, yet can we not, as some Protestants have unwarily done, exclude Works from Justification. Good Works are not excluded Justification.For though properly we be not justified for them, yet are we justified in them; and they are necessary, even as Causa sine quâ non, i. e. the Cause, without which none are justified. For the denying of this, as it is contrary to the Scripture’s Testimony, so it hath brought a great Scandal to the Protestant Religion, opened the Mouths of Papists, and made many too secure, while they have believed to be justified without good Works. Moreover, though it be not so safe to say they are meritorious, yet seeing they are rewarded, many of those called the Fathers have not spared to use the Word [Merit] which some of us have perhaps also done in a qualified Sense, but no-ways to infer the Popish Abuses above-mentioned. And lastly, if we had that Notion of good Works which most Protestants have, we could freely agree to make them not only not necessary, but reject them as hurtful, viz. That the best Works even of the Saints are defiled and polluted. For though we judge so of the best Works performed by Man, endeavouring a Conformity to the outward Law by his own Strength, and[Pg 174] in his own Will, yet we believe that such Works as naturally proceed from this spiritual Birth and Formation of Christ in us are pure and holy, even as the Root from which they come; and therefore God accepts them, justifies us in them, and rewards us for them of his own free Grace. The State of the Controversy being thus laid down, these following Positions do from hence arise in the next Place to be proved.

§. IV.

Posit. 1.First, That the Obedience, Sufferings, and Death of Christ is that by which the Soul obtains Remission of Sins, and is the procuring Cause of that Grace, by whose inward Workings Christ comes to be formed inwardly, and the Soul to be made conformable unto him, and so just and justified. And that therefore, in respect of this Capacity and Offer of Grace, God is said to be reconciled; not as if he were actually reconciled, or did actually justify, or account any just, so long as they remain in their Sins really impure and unjust.

Posit. 2.Secondly, That it is by this inward Birth of Christ in Man that Man is made just, and therefore so accounted by God: Wherefore, to be plain, we are thereby, and not till that be brought forth in us, formally, if we must use that Word, justified in the Sight of God; because Justification is both more properly and frequently in Scripture taken in its proper Signification for making one just, and not reputing one merely such, and is all one with Sanctification.

Posit. 3.Thirdly, That since good Works as naturally follow from this Birth as Heat from Fire, therefore are they of absolute Necessity to Justification, as Causa sine quâ non, Good Works are Causa sine quâ non—of Justification.i. e. though not as the Cause for which, yet as that in which we are, and without which we cannot be justified. And though they be not meritorious, and draw no Debt upon God, yet he cannot but accept and reward them: For it is contrary to his Nature to deny his own, since they may be perfect in their Kind, as proceeding from a pure holy Birth and Root. Wherefore their Judgment is false and against the Truth that say, That the holiest Works of the Saints are defiled and sinful in the Sight of God: For these good Works are not the Works of the Law, excluded by the Apostle from Justification.

[Pg 175]

§. V.

Posit. 1.As to the first, I prove it from Rom. iii. 25. Whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation through Faith in his Blood, to declare his Righteousness for the Remission of Sins that are past, through the Forbearance of God. Proof I. The Efficacy of Christ’s Death to redeem Man out of Evil.Here the Apostle holds forth the Extent and Efficacy of Christ’s Death, shewing that thereby, and by Faith therein, Remission of Sins that are past is obtained, as being that wherein the Forbearance of God is exercised towards Mankind. So that though Men for the Sins they daily commit deserve eternal Death, and that the Wrath of God should lay hold upon them; yet, by Virtue of that most satisfactory Sacrifice of Christ Jesus, the Grace and Seed of God moves in Love towards them, during the Day of their Visitation; yet not so as not to strike against the Evil, for that must be burnt up and destroyed, but to redeem Man out of the Evil.

Proof II.Secondly, If God were perfectly reconciled with Men, and did esteem them just while they are actually unjust, and do continue in their Sins, then should God have no Controversy with them[72]; how comes he then so often to complain, and to expostulate so much throughout the whole Scripture with such as our Adversaries confess to be justified, telling them, That their Sins separate betwixt him and them? Isa. lix. 2. For where there is a perfect and full Reconciliation, there is no Separation. Yea, from this Doctrine it necessarily follows, either that such for whom Christ died, and whom he hath reconciled, never sin, or that when they do so, they are still reconciled, and their Sins make not the least Separation from God; yea, that they are justified in their Sins. From whence also would follow this abominable Consequence, that the good Works and greatest Sins of such are alike in the Sight of God, seeing neither the one serves[Pg 176] to justify them, nor the other to break their Reconciliation, which occasions great Security, and opens a Door to every lewd Practice.

[72] I do not only speak concerning Men before Conversion, who afterwards are converted, whom yet some of our Antagonists, called Antinomians, do aver were justified from the Beginning; but also touching those who according to the common Opinion of Protestants have been converted; whom albeit they confess they persist always in some Misdeeds, and sometimes in heinous Sins, as is manifest in David’s Adultery and Murder, yet they assert to be perfectly and wholly justified.

Proof III.Thirdly, This would make void the whole practical Doctrine of the Gospel, and make Faith itself needless. For if Faith and Repentance, and the other Conditions called for throughout the Gospel, be a Qualification upon our Part necessary to be performed, then, before this be performed by us, we are either fully reconciled to God, or but in a Capacity of being reconciled to God, he being ready to reconcile and justify us as these Conditions are performed; which latter, if granted, is according to the Truth we profess. And if we are already perfectly reconciled and justified before these Conditions are performed (which Conditions are of that Nature that they cannot be performed at one Time, but are to be done all one’s Life-time) then can they not be said to be absolutely needful; which is contrary to the very express Testimony of Scripture, which is acknowledged by all Christians: [73]For without Faith it is impossible to please God. They that believe not are condemned already, because they believe not in the only begotten Son of God. Except ye repent, ye cannot be saved: For if ye live after the Flesh, ye shall die. And of those that were converted; [74]I will remove your Candlestick from you, unless ye repent. Should I mention all the Scriptures that positively and evidently prove this, I might transcribe much of all the doctrinal Part of the Bible. For since Christ said, It is finished, and did finish his Work sixteen hundred Years ago and upwards; A Door of Mercy opened by Christ, upon Repentance.if he so fully perfected Redemption then, and did actually reconcile every one that is to be saved, not simply opening a Door of Mercy for them, offering the Sacrifice of his Body, by which they may obtain Remission of their Sins when they repent, and communicating unto them a Measure of his Grace, by which they may see their Sins, and be able to repent; The Antinomians Opinion of Reconciliation and Justification.but really making them to be reputed as just, either before they believe, as say the Antinomians, or after they have assented to the Truth of the History of Christ, or are sprinkled with the Baptism of Water, while nevertheless they are actually unjust, so that no Part of their Redemption is[Pg 177] to be wrought by him now, as to their Reconciliation and Justification; then the whole doctrinal Part of the Bible is useless, and of no Profit: in vain were the Apostles sent forth to preach Repentance and Remission of Sins; and in vain do all the Preachers bestow their Labour, spend their Breath, and give forth Writings; yea, much more in vain do the People spend their Money which they give them for Preaching; seeing it is all but Actum agere, but a vain and ineffectual Essay, to do that which is already perfectly done without them.

[73] Heb. 11. 6. John 3. 18. Luke 13. 3. Rom. 8. 13.

[74] Apoc. 2. 5.

Proof 4.But lastly, To pass by their human Labours, as not worth the Disputing whether they be needful or not, since (as we shall hereafter shew) themselves confess the best of them is sinful; this also makes void the present Intercession of Christ for Men. Christ’s daily making Intercession for us.What will become of that great Article of Faith, by which we affirm, That he sits at the right Hand of God, daily making Intercession for us; and for which End the Spirit itself maketh Intercession for us with Groanings which cannot be uttered? For Christ maketh not Intercession for those that are not in a Possibility of Salvation; that is absurd. Our Adversaries will not admit that he prayed for the World at all; and to pray for those that are already reconciled, and perfectly justified, is to no Purpose: To pray for Remission of Sins is yet more needless, if all be remitted, past, present, and to come. Indeed there is not any solid solving of this, but by acknowledging according to the Truth, That Christ by his Death removed the Wrath of God, so far as to obtain Remission of Sins for as many as receive that Grace and Light that he communicates unto them, and hath purchased for them by his Blood; which, as they believe in, they come to know Remission of Sins past, and Power to save them from Sin, and to wipe it away, so often as they may fall into it by Unwatchfulness or Weakness, if, applying themselves to this Grace, they truly repent; for to as many as receive him, he gives Power to become the Sons of God: So none are Sons, none are justified, none reconciled, until they thus receive him in that little Seed in their Hearts: And Life eternal is offered to those, who by patient Continuance in Well-doing, seek for Glory, Honour, and Immortality: For if[Pg 178] the righteous Man depart from his Righteousness, his Righteousness shall be remembered no more. And therefore on the other Part, none are longer Sons of God, and justified, than they patiently continue in Righteousness and Well-doing. And therefore Christ lives always making Intercession, during the Day of every Man’s Visitation, that they may be converted; And when Men are in some Measure converted, he makes Intercession that they may continue and go on, and not faint, nor go back again. Much more might be said to confirm this Truth; but I go on to take Notice of the common Objections against it, which are the Arguments made use of to propagate the Errors contrary to it.

§. VI.

The first and chief is drawn from that Saying of the Apostle before-mentioned, 2 Cor. v. 18, 19. God hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ: God was in Christ reconciling the World unto himself, not imputing their Trespasses unto them.

Obj. 1.From hence they seek to infer, That Christ fully perfected the Work of Reconciliation while he was on Earth.

Answ.I answer; If by [Reconciliation] be understood the removing of Wrath, and the Purchase of that Grace by which we may come to be reconciled, we agree to it; but that that Place speaks no more, appears from the Place itself: For when the Apostle speaks in the perfect Time, saying, He hath reconciled us, he speaks of himself and the Saints; who having received the Grace of God purchased by Christ, were through Faith in him actually reconciled. The Difference between Reconciled to Christ, and Reconciling.But as to the World, he saith [reconciling] not [reconciled]; which Reconciling, though it denotes a Time somewhat past, yet it is by the imperfect Time, denoting that the Thing begun was not perfected. For this Work Christ began towards all in the Days of his Flesh, yea, and long before; for He was the Mediator from the Beginning, and the Lamb slain from the Foundation of the World: But in his Flesh, after he had perfectly fulfilled the Law, and the Righteousness thereof, had rent the Veil, and made Way for the more clear and universal Revelation of the Gospel to all, both Jew and Gentile; he gave up himself a most satisfac[Pg 179]tory Sacrifice for Sin; which becomes effectual to as many as receive him in his inward Appearance, in his Light in the Heart. Again, this very Place sheweth that no other Reconciliation is intended, but the Opening of a Door of Mercy upon God’s Part, and a Removing of Wrath for Sins that are past; so as Men; notwithstanding their Sins, are stated in a Capacity of Salvation: For the Apostle, in the following Verse, saith, Now then we are Ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s Stead be ye reconciled to God. For if their Reconciliation had already been perfectly accomplished, what need any Intreating then to be reconciled? Ambassadors are not sent after a Peace already perfected, and Reconciliation made, to intreat for a Reconciliation; for that implies a manifest Contradiction.

Obj. 2.Secondly, They object, Ver. 21st of the same Chapter, For he hath made him to be Sin for us, who knew no Sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him. From whence they argue, That as our Sin is imputed to Christ, who had no Sin; so Christ’s Righteousness is imputed to us, without our being righteous.

Answ.But this Interpretation is easily rejected; for though Christ bare our Sins, and suffered for us, and was among Men accounted a Sinner, and numbered among Transgressors; yet that God reputed him a Sinner, is no where proved. For it is said, [75]He was found before him holy, harmless, and undefiled, neither was there found any Guile in his Mouth. That we deserved these Things, and much more for our Sins, which he endured in Obedience to the Father; and according to his Counsel, is true; but that ever reputed him a Sinner, is denied: Men’s imputed Righteousness solidly Refuted.Neither did he ever die, that we should be reputed righteous, though no more really such than he was a Sinner, as hereafter appears. For indeed, if this Argument hold, it might be stretched to that Length, as to become very pleasing to wicked Men that love to abide in their Sins: For if we be made righteous, as Christ was made a Sinner, merely by Imputation; then as there was no Sin, not in the least in Christ, so it would follow, that there needed no more Righteousness, no more Holiness, no more inward Sanctification in us, than there was Sin in him. So then, by his[Pg 180] [being made Sin for us] must be understood his Suffering for our Sins, that we might be made Partakers of the Grace purchased by him; by the Workings whereof we are made the Righteousness of God in him. For that the Apostle understood here a being made really righteous, and not merely a being reputed such, appears by what follows, seeing in Ver. 14, 15, 16. of the following Chapter, he argues largely against any supposed Agreement of Light and Darkness, Righteousness and Unrighteousness; which must needs be admitted, if Men are to be reckoned ingrafted in Christ, and real Members of him, merely by an imputative Righteousness, wholly without them, while they themselves are actually unrighteous. And indeed it may be thought strange, how some Men have made this so fundamental an Article of their Faith, which is so contrary to the whole Strain of the Gospel: A Thing which Christ in none of all his Sermons and gracious Speeches ever willed any to rely upon; always recommending to us Works, as instrumental in our justification. And the more it is to be admired at, because that Sentence or Term (so frequently in their Mouths, and so often pressed by them, as the very Basis of their Hope and Confidence) to wit, Christ’s imputed Righteousness not found in all the Bible.The imputed Righteousness of Christ, is not to be found in all the Bible, at least as to my Observation. Thus have I passed through the first Part, and that the more briefly, because many, who assert this Justification by bare Imputation, do nevertheless confess, that even the Elect are not justified until they be converted; that is, not until this imputative Justification be applied to them by the Spirit.

[75] Heb. 7. 26. 1 Pet. 2. 22.

§. VII.

Posit. 2. By Christ formed within we are justified.I come then to the second Thing proposed by me, which is; That it is by this inward Birth, or Christ formed within, that we are (so to speak) formally justified in the Sight of God. I suppose I have said enough already to demonstrate how much we ascribe to the Death and Sufferings of Christ, as that whereby Satisfaction is made to the Justice of God, Remission of Sins obtained, and this Grace and Seed purchased, by and from which this Birth proceeds. The Thing now to be proved is, That by Christ Jesus formed in us, we are justified, or made just. Let it be marked, I use Justification in this Sense upon this Occasion.

[Pg 181]

Proof 1.First then, I prove this by that of the Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. vi. 11. Justified, i. e. being made Just really, not by Imputation.And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. First, This [justified] here understood, must needs be a being really made just, and not a being merely imputed such; else [sanctified] and [washed] might be reputed a being esteemed so, and not a being really so; and then it quite overturns the whole Intent of the Context. For the Apostle shewing them in the preceding Verses, how the Unrighteous cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, and descending to the several Species of Wickedness, subsumes, That they were sometimes such, but now are not any more such. Wherefore, as they are now washed and sanctified, so are they justified: For if this Justification were not real, then it might be alleged that the Corinthians had not forsaken these Evils; but, though they still continued in them, were notwithstanding justified: Which as in itself it is most absurd, so it very clearly overturneth the very Import and Intent of the Place; as if the Corinthians turning Christians had not wrought any real Change in them, but had only been a Belief of some barren Notions, which had wrought no Alteration in their Affections, Will, or Manner of Life. For my own Part, I neither see any Thing, nor could ever yet hear or read any Thing, that with any Colour of Reason did evince [Justified] in this Place to be understood any other ways than in its own proper and genuine Interpretation of being made just. The Derivation of the Word Justify considered, &c.And for the more clear understanding hereof, let it be considered, that this Word [justify] is derived either from the Substantive Justice, or the Adjective just: Both which Words import the Substantive, that true and real Virtue in the Soul, as it is in itself; to wit, it signifies really, and not suppositively, that excellent Quality expressed and understood among Men by the Word [Justice;] and the Adjective [just] as applied, signifies a Man or Woman who is just, that is, in whom this Quality of Justice is stated: For it would not only be great Impropriety, but also manifest Falsity, to call a Man just; merely by Supposition; especially if he were really unjust. Now this Word [justify][Pg 182] formed from Justice, or just, doth beyond all Question signify a making just; it being nothing else but a Composition of the Verb Facio, and the Adjective justus, which is nothing else than thus, justifico, i. e. justum facio, I make just, and [justified] of justus and fio, as justus fio, I become just, and justificatus, i. e. justus factus, I am made just. Thus also is it with Verbs of this Kind, as, sanctifico, from sanctus, holy, and facio; honorifico, from honor and facio; sacrifico, from sacer and facio: All which are still understood of the Subject really and truly endued with that Virtue and Quality from which the Verb is derived. Justified none are while they actually remain unjust.Therefore, as none are said to be sanctified that are really unholy, while they are such; so neither can any be truly said to be justified, while they actually remain unjust. Only this Verb justify hath, in a metaphorical and figurative Sense, been otherwise taken, to wit, in a Law Sense; as when a Man really guilty of a Crime is freed from the Punishment of his Sin, he is said to be justified; that is, put in the Place as if he were just. For this Use of the Word hath proceeded from that true Supposition, That none ought to be acquitted, but the Innocent. Hence also that Manner of speaking, I will justify such a Man, or I will justify this or that, is used from the Supposition that the Person and Thing is really justifiable: And where there is an Error and Abuse in the Matter, so far there is also in the Expression.

Paræus de Just. Cont. Bell. L. 2. C. 7. P. 469.This is so manifest and apparent, that Paræus, a chief Protestant, and a Calvinist also in his Opinion, acknowledges this; “We never at any Time said,” saith he, “nor thought, that the Righteousness of Christ was imputed to us, that by him we should be named formally just, and not be so, as we have divers Times already shewed; for that would no less soundly fight with right Reason, than if a guilty Man absolved in Judgment should say, That he himself was formally just by the Clemency of the judge granting him his Life.” Now is it not strange, that Men should be so facile in a Matter of so great Concernment, as to build the Stress of their Acceptance with God upon a mere borrowed and metaphorical Signification, to the excluding, or at least esteeming that not necessary, without[Pg 183] which the Scripture saith expresly, No Man shall ever see God? Holiness required; therefore good Works are.For if Holiness be requisite and necessary, of which this is said, then must good Works also; unless our Adversaries can shew us an holy Man without good Works. But, moreover, [justified] in this figurative Sense is used for approved; and indeed for the most Part, if not always in Scripture, when the Word [justify] is used, it is taken in the worst Part; that is, that as the Use of the Word that way is an Usurpation, so it is spoken of such as usurp the Thing to themselves, while it properly doth not belong unto them; as will appear to those that will be at the Pains to examine these Places. Exod. xxiii. 7. Job ix. 20. & xxvii. 5. Prov. xvii. 15. Isa. v. 23. Jer. iii. 11. Ezek. xvi. 51, 52. Luke x. 29. & xvi. 15. which are all spoken of Men justifying the Wicked, or of wicked Men justifying themselves; that is, approving themselves in their Wickedness. If it be at any Time in this Signification taken in good Part, it is very seldom, and that so obvious and plain by the Context, as leaves no Scruple. But the Question is not so much of the Use of the Word, where it is passingly or occasionally used, as where the very Doctrine of Justification is handled. Where indeed to mistake it, viz. in its proper Place, so as to content ourselves with an imaginary Justification, while God requires a real, is of most dangerous Consequence. For the Disquisition of which let it be considered, that in all these Places to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and elsewhere, where the Apostle handles this Theme, the Word may be taken in its own proper Signification without any Absurdity. As, where it is often asserted in the above-mentioned Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, Justified, in its proper Signification.That a Man cannot be justified by the Law of Moses, nor by the Works of the Law; there is no Absurdity nor Danger in understanding it according to its own proper Signification, to wit, that a Man cannot be made just by the Law of Moses; seeing this so well agrees with that Saying of the same Apostle, That the Law makes nothing perfect. And also where it is said, We are justified by Faith, it may be very well understood of being made just; seeing it is also said, That Faith purifies the Heart; and no Doubt the pure in Heart are[Pg 184] just; and the Just live by Faith. Again, where it is said, We are justified by Grace, we are justified by Christ, we are justified by the Spirit; it is no ways absurd to understand it of being made just, seeing by his Spirit and Grace he doth make Men just. But to understand it universally the other Way, merely for Acceptance and Imputation, would infer great Absurdities, as may be proved at large; but because I judged it would be acknowledged, I forbear at present for Brevity’s Sake. But further, in the most weighty Places where this Word justify is used in Scripture, with an immediate Relation to the Doctrine of Justification, Justification signifies a making just.our Adversaries must needs acknowledge it to be understood of making just, and not barely in the legal Acceptation: As First, in that of 1 Cor. vi. 11. But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, as I before have proved; which also many Protestants are forced to acknowledge. Thysius Disp. de Just. Thes. 3.“Neither diffide we,” saith Thysius, “because of the most great and strict Connexion, that Justification doth sometimes seem also to comprehend Sanctification as a Consequence, as in Rom. viii. 30. Tit. iii. 7. 1 Cor. vi. 11. And such sometimes were ye, but ye are washed, &c.” Zanchius, having spoken concerning this Sense of Justification, adds, saying, Zanchius in C. P. 2. ad Eph. V. 4. Loc. de Just.“There is another Signification of the Word, viz. for a Man from unjust to be made just, even as sanctified signifies from unholy to be made holy: In which Signification the Apostle said, in the Place above-cited, And such were some of you, &c. that is, of unclean ye are made holy, and of unjust ye are made just by the Holy Spirit, for Christ’s Sake, in whom ye have believed. Of this Signification is that, Rev. xxii. 11. Let him that is just, be just still; that is, really from just become more just, even as from unjust he became just. And according to this Signification the Fathers, and especially Augustine, have interpreted this Word.” H. Bulling.Thus far he. H. Bullinger, on the same Place, 1 Cor. vi. speaketh thus; “By divers Words,” saith he, “the Apostle signifies the same Thing, when he saith, Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified.”

Proof 2.Secondly, In that excellent Saying of the Apostle, so much observed, Rom. viii. 30. Whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he[Pg 185] justified, them he also glorified: This is commonly called the Golden Chain, as being acknowledged to comprehend the Method and Order of Salvation. And therefore, if [Justified] were not understood here in its proper Signification of being made just, Sanctification would be excluded out of this Chain. And truly it is very worthy of Observation, that the Apostle, in this succinct and compendious Account, makes the Word [Justified] to comprehend all betwixt Calling and Glorifying; Righteousness, the only Medium by which from our Calling we pass to Glorification.thereby clearly insinuating, that the being really Righteous, is that only Medium by which from our Calling we pass to Glorification. Almost all do acknowledge the Word to be so taken in this Place; and not only so, but most of those who oppose are forced to acknowledge, that as this is the most proper, so the most common Signification of it: Thus divers famous Protestants acknowledge. D. Cham. Tom. 3. de Sanct. L. 10. P. 1.“We are not,” saith D. Chamierus, “such impertinent Esteemers of Words, as to be ignorant, nor yet such importunate Sophists, as to deny that the Words Justification and Sanctification do infer one another; yea, we know that the Saints are chiefly for this Reason so called, because that in Christ they have received Remission of Sins: And we read in the Revelations, Let him that is just, be just still; which cannot be understood, except of the Fruit of inherent Righteousness. Nor do we deny, but perhaps in other Places they may be promiscuously taken, especially by the Fathers.” Beza in C. 3. ad Tit. Ver. 7.“I take,” saith Beza, “the Name of Justification largely, so as it comprehends whatsoever we acquire from Christ, as well by Imputation, as by the Efficacy of the Spirit in sanctifying us. So likewise is the Word Justification taken, Rom. viii. 30.” Melanct. in Apol. Conf. Aug.Melancthon saith, “That to be justified by Faith, signifies in Scripture not only to be pronounced just, but also of unrighteous to be made righteous.” Also some chief Protestants, though not so clearly, yet in Part, hinted at our Doctrine, whereby we ascribe unto the Death of Christ Remission of Sins, and the Work of Justification unto the Grace of the Spirit acquired by his Death. Boræus, in Gen. C. 15. Credidit Abraham. Deo, P. 161.Martinus Boræus, explaining that Place of the Apostle, Rom. iv. 25. Who was given for our Sins, and rose again for our[Pg 186] Justification, saith: “There are two Things beheld in Christ, which are necessary to our Justification; the one is his Death, the other is his arising from the Dead. By his Death, the Sins of this World behoved to be expiated: By his Rising from the Dead, it pleased the same Goodness of God to give the Holy Spirit, whereby both the Gospel is believed, and the Righteousness, lost by the Fault of the first Adam, is restored.” And afterwards he saith; “The Apostle expresseth both Parts in these Words, Who was given for our Sins, &c. in his Death is beheld the Satisfaction for Sin; in his Resurrection, the Gift of the Holy Spirit, by which our Justification is perfected.” Idem Lib. 3. Reg. Cap. 9. V. 4. P. 681.And again, the same Man saith elsewhere; “Both these Kinds of Righteousness are therefore contained in Justification, neither can the one be separate from the other. So that in the Definition of Justification, the Merit of the Blood of Christ is included, both with the Remission of Sins, and with the Gift of the Holy Spirit of Justification and Regeneration.” Bucerus, in Rom. 4. ad Ver. 16.Martinus Bucerus saith; “Seeing by one Sin of Adam the World was lost, the Grace of Christ hath not only abolished that one Sin, and Death which came by it; but hath together taken away those infinite Sins, and also led into full Justification as many as are of Christ; so that God now not only remits unto them Adam’s Sin, and their own, but also gives them therewith the Spirit of a solid and perfect Righteousness, which renders us conform unto the Image of the First-begotten.” Righteousness, a Conformity to the Image of the First-begotten.And upon these Words [by Jesus Christ] he saith; “We always judge that the whole Benefit of Christ tends to this, that we might be strong through the Gift of Righteousness, being rightly and orderly adorned with all Virtue, that is, restored to the Image of God.” W. Forbes in Consider. Modest. de Just. Lib. 2. Sect. 8.And lastly, William Forbes our Countryman, Bishop of Edinburgh, saith; “Whensoever the Scripture makes Mention of the Justification before God, as speaketh Paul, and from him (besides others) Augustine, it appears that the Word [justify] necessarily signifies not only to pronounce just in a Law Sense, but also really and inherently to make just; because that God doth justify a wicked Man other[Pg 187]wise than earthly Judges. How God justifies the Wicked.For he, when he justifies a wicked or unjust Man, doth indeed pronounce him as these also do; but by pronouncing him just, because his Judgment is according to Truth, he also makes him really of unjust to become just.” And again, the same Man, upon the same Occasion, answering the more rigid Protestants, who say, That God first justifies, and then makes just; he adds: “But let them have a Care, lest by too great and empty Subtilty, unknown both to the Scriptures and the Fathers, they lessen and diminish the Weight and Dignity of so great and divine a Benefit, so much celebrated in the Scripture, to wit, Justification of the Wicked. For if to the formal Reason of Justification of the Ungodly doth not at all belong his Justification (so to speak) i. e. his being made righteous, then in the Justification of a Sinner, although he be justified, yet the Stain of Sin is not taken away, but remains the same in his Soul as before Justification: And so, notwithstanding the Benefit of Justification, he remains as before, unjust and a Sinner; and nothing is taken away, but the Guilt and Obligation to Pain, and the Offence and Enmity of God through Non-imputation. But both the Scriptures and Fathers do affirm, That in the Justification of a Sinner, their Sins are not only remitted, forgiven, covered, not imputed, but also taken away, blotted out, cleansed, washed, purged, and very far removed from us, as appears from many Places of the holy Scriptures.” The same Forbes shews us at length, in the following Chapter, That this was the confessed Judgment of the Fathers, out of the Writings of those who hold the contrary Opinion; some whereof, out of him, I shall note. Calv. Inst. L. 3. C. 11. Sect. 15.As, first, Calvin saith, “That the Judgment of Augustine, or at least his Manner of speaking, is not throughout to be received; who although he took from Man all Praise of Righteousness, and ascribed all to the Grace of God, yet he refers Grace to Sanctification, by which we are regenerate through the Spirit unto Newness of Life.” Chemnit. in Exam. Conc. Trid. de Just. P. 129.Chemnitius saith, “That they do not deny, but that the Fathers take the Word [justify] for[Pg 188] renewing, by which Works of Righteousness are wrought in us by the Spirit.” And P. 130. “I am not ignorant, that the Fathers indeed often use the Word [justify] in this Signification, to wit, of making just.” Zanchius in C. 2. ad Ep. Ver. 4. Loc. de Just. Thes. 13.Zanchius saith, “That the Fathers, and chiefly Augustine, interpret the Word [justify] according to this Signification, to wit, of making just; so that, according to them, to be justified was no other than of unjust to be made just, through the Grace of God for Christ.” He mentioneth more, but this may suffice to our Purpose.

§. VIII.

Asser. I.Having thus sufficiently proved, that by Justification is to be understood as really being made righteous: I do boldly affirm, and that not only from a notional Knowledge, but from a real, inward experimental Feeling of the Thing, Christ revealed and formed in the Soul of a Man, is the formal Cause of Man’s Justification.That the immediate, nearest, or formal Cause (if we must in Condescension to some use this Word) of a Man’s Justification in the Sight of God, is, the Revelation of Jesus Christ in the Soul,Proof 1.changing, altering, and renewing the Mind, by whom (even the Author of this inward Work) thus formed and revealed, we are truly justified and accepted in the Sight of God. For it is as we are thus covered and clothed with him, in whom the Father is always well pleased, that we may draw near to God, and stand with Confidence before his Throne, being purged by the Blood of Jesus inwardly poured into our Souls, and clothed with his Life and Righteousness therein revealed. And this is that Order and Method of Salvation held forth by the Apostle in that divine Saying, Rom. v. 10. For if when we were Enemies, we were reconciled to God by the Death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his Life. For the Apostle first holding forth the Reconciliation wrought by the Death of Christ, wherein God is near to receive and redeem Man, holds forth his Salvation and Justification to be by the Life of Jesus. Now, that this Life is an inward, spiritual Thing revealed in the Soul, whereby it is renewed and brought forth out of Death, where it naturally has been by the Fall, and so quickened and made alive unto God, the same Apostle shews, Ephes. ii. 5. Even when we were dead in Sins and Trespasses,[Pg 189] he hath quickened us together in Christ (by whose Grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together. Now this none will deny to be the inward Work of Renovation, and therefore the Apostle gives that Reason of their being saved by Grace; which is the inward Virtue and Power of Christ in the Soul: But of this Place more hereafter. Of the Revelation of this inward Life the Apostle also speaketh, 2 Cor. iv. 10. That the Life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our Bodies; and Ver. 11. That the Life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal Flesh. Now this inward Life of Jesus is that whereby, as is before observed, he said, We are saved.

Proof 2.Secondly, That it is by this Revelation of Jesus Christ, and the new Creation in us, that we are justified, doth evidently appear from that excellent Saying of the Apostle included in the Proposition itself, Tit. iii. 5. According to his Mercy he hath saved us, by the Washing of Regeneration, and Renewing of the Holy Ghost, &c. Now that whereby we are saved, that we are also no Doubt justified by; which Words are in this Respect synonymous. The immediate Cause of Justification is the inward Work of Regeneration.Here the Apostle clearly ascribes the immediate Cause of Justification to this inward Work of Regeneration, which is Jesus Christ revealed in the Soul, as being that which formally states us in a Capacity of being reconciled with God; the Washing or Regeneration being that inward Power and Virtue, whereby the Soul is cleansed, and clothed with the Righteousness of Christ, so as to be made fit to appear before God.

Proof 3.Thirdly, This Doctrine is manifest from 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Examine your own selves, whether ye be in the Faith; prove your own selves: Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be Reprobates? First, It appears here how earnest the Apostle was that they should know Christ in them; so that he presses this Exhortation upon them, and inculcates it three Times. The Cause of Reprobation is Christ not known by inward Revelation.Secondly, He makes the Cause of Reprobation, or Not-justification, the Want of Christ thus revealed and known in the Soul: Whereby it necessarily follows, by the Rule of Contraries, where the Parity is alike (as in this Case it is evident) that, where Christ is inwardly known, there the Persons subjected to him[Pg 190] are approved and justified. For there can be nothing more plain than this, That if we must know Christ in us, except we be Reprobates, or unjustified Persons; if we know him in us, we are not Reprobates, and consequently justified ones. Like unto this is that other Saying of the same Apostle, Gal. iv. 19. My little Children, of whom I travail in Birth again, until Christ be formed in you; and therefore the Apostle terms this, Christ within, the Hope of Glory, Col. i. 27, 28. Now that which is the Hope of Glory, can be no other than that which we immediately and most nearly rely upon for our Justification, and that whereby we are really and truly made just. And as we do not hereby deny, but the original and fundamental Cause of our Justification is the Love of God manifested in the Appearance of Jesus Christ in the Flesh, Christ by his Death and Sufferings has opened a Way for our Reconciliation.who by his Life, Death, Sufferings, and Obedience, made a Way for our Reconciliation, and became a Sacrifice for the Remission of Sins that are past, and purchased unto us this Seed and Grace, from which this Birth arises, and in which Jesus Christ is inwardly received, formed, and brought forth in us, in his own pure and holy Image of Righteousness, by which our Souls live unto God, and are clothed with him, and have put him on, even as the Scripture speaks, Ephes. iv. 23, 24. Gal. iii. 27. we stand justified and saved in and by him, and by his Spirit and Grace, Rom. iii. 24. 1 Cor. vi. 11. Tit. iii. 7. So again, reciprocally, we are hereby made Partakers of the Fulness of his Merits, and his cleansing Blood is near, to wash away every Sin and Infirmity, and to heal all our Backslidings, as often as we turn towards him by unfeigned Repentance, and become renewed by his Spirit. Those then that find him thus raised, and ruling in them, have a true Ground of Hope to believe that they are justified by his Blood. But let not any deceive themselves, so as to foster themselves in a vain Hope and Confidence, that by the Death and Sufferings of Christ they are justified, so long as Sin lies at their Door, Gen. iv. 7. Iniquity prevails, and they remain yet unrenewed and unregenerate; lest it be said unto them, I know you not. Let that Saying of Christ be remembered,[Pg 191] Not every one that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter, but he that doth the Will of my Father, Matt. vii. 21. To which let these excellent Sayings of the beloved Disciple be added; Little Children, let no Man deceive you; he that doth Righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth Sin is of the Devil; because if our Heart condemn us, God is greater than our Heart, and knoweth all Things, 1 John iii. 7. & 20.

Many famous Protestants bear Witness to this inward Justification by Christ inwardly revealed and formed in Man. Boræus in Gen. P. 162.As M. Boræus: “In the Imputation,” saith he, “wherein Christ is ascribed and imputed to Believers for Righteousness, the Merit of his Blood, and the Holy Ghost given unto us by Virtue of his Merits, are equally included. The Testimonies of famous Protestants of inward Justification.And so it shall be confessed, That Christ is our Righteousness, as well from his Merit, Satisfaction, and Remission of Sins obtained by him, as from the Gifts of the Spirit of Righteousness. And if we do this, we shall consider the whole Christ proposed to us for our Salvation, and not any single Part of him.” The same Man, P. 169. “In our justification then Christ is considered, who breathes and lives in us, to wit, by his Spirit put on by us; concerning which putting on the Apostle saith, Ye have put on Christ.” And again, P. 171. “We endeavour to treat in Justification, not of Part of Christ, but him wholly, in so far as he is our Righteousness every Way.” And a little after: “As then blessed Paul, in our Justification, when he saith, Whom he justified, them he glorified, comprehends all Things which pertain to our being reconciled to God the Father, and our Renewing, which fits us for attaining unto Glory, such as Faith, Righteousness, Christ, and the Gift of Righteousness exhibited by him, whereby we are regenerated, to the fulfilling of the Justification which the Law requires; so we also will have all Things comprehended in this Cause, which are contained in the Recovery of Righteousness and Innocency.” And P. 181. “The Form,” saith he, “of our Justification is the divine Righteousness itself, by which we are formed just and good. This is Jesus Christ, who is esteemed our Righteousness, partly from the[Pg 192] Forgiveness of Sins, and partly from the Renewing and the Restoring of that Integrity, which was lost by the Fault of the first Adam: So that this new and heavenly Adam being put on by us, of which the Apostle saith, Ye have put on Christ, ye have put him on, I say, as the Form, so the Righteousness, Wisdom, and Life of God.” Inuncunas.So also affirmeth Claudius Albertus Inuncanus, see his Orat. Apodict. Lausaniæ Excus. 1587. Orat. 2. P. 86, 87. Zuinglius.Zuinglius also, in his Epistle to the Princes of Germany, as cited by Himelius, C. 7. P. 60. saith, “That the Sanctification of the Spirit is true Justification, which alone suffices to justify.” Estius.Estius upon 1 Cor. vi. 11. saith, “Lest Christian Righteousness should be thought to consist in the Washing alone, that is, in the Remission of Sins, he addeth the other Degree or Part, [but ye are sanctified] that is, ye have attained to Purity, so that ye are now truly holy before God. Lastly, Expressing the Sum of the Benefit received in one Word, which includes both the Parts, But ye are justified (the Apostle adds) in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, by his Merits, and in the Spirit of our God, that is, the Holy Spirit proceeding from God, and communicated to us by Christ.” R. Baxter.And lastly, Richard Baxter, a famous English Preacher, in his Book called Aphorisms of Justification, P. 80. saith, “That some ignorant Wretches gnash their Teeth at this Doctrine, as if it were flat Popery, not understanding the Nature of the Righteousness of the new Covenant; which is all out of Christ in ourselves, though wrought by the Power of the Spirit of Christ in us.”

§. IX.

Posit. 3.The third Thing proposed to be considered is, concerning the Necessity of good Works to Justification. I suppose there is enough said before to clear us from any Imputation of being Popish in this Matter.

Object.But if it be queried, Whether we have not said, or will not affirm, that a Man is justified by Works?

Answ.I answer; I hope none need, neither ought to take Offence, if in this Matter we use the plain Language of the holy Scripture,[Pg 193] which faith expresly in answer hereunto, James ii. 24. That Works are necessary to Justification.Ye see then how that by Works a Man is justified, and not by Faith only. I shall not offer to prove the Truth of this Saying, since what is said in this Chapter by the Apostle is sufficient to convince any Man that will read and believe it; I shall only from this derive this one Argument.

Arg.If no Man can be justified without Faith, and no Faith be living, nor yet available to Justification without Works, then Works are necessary to Justification:

But the first is true: Therefore also the last.

For this Truth is so apparent and evident in the Scriptures, that for the Proof of it we might transcribe most of the Precepts of the Gospel. I shall instance a few, which of themselves do so clearly assert the Thing in Question, that they need no Commentary, nor farther Demonstration. And then I shall answer the Objections made against this, which indeed are the Arguments used for the contrary Opinion, Heb. xii. 14. Without Holiness no Man shall see God. Matt. vii. 21. Not the Sayers, but the Doers are blessed.Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the Will of my Father which is in Heaven. John xiii. 7. If ye know these Things, happy are ye if ye do them. 1 Cor. vii. 19. Circumcision is nothing, and Uncircumcision is nothing, but the Keeping of the Commandments of God. Rev. xxii. 14. Blessed are they that do his Commandments, that they may have Right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the Gates into the City: And many more that might be instanced. From all which I thus argue:

Arg.If those only can enter into the Kingdom that do the Will of the Father; if those be accounted only the wise Builders and happy that do the Sayings of Christ; if no Observations avail, but only the Keeping of the Commandments; and if they be blessed that do the Commandments, and thereby have Right to the Tree of Life, and Entrance through the Gates into the City; then Works are absolutely necessary to Salvation and Justification:

But the first is true: And therefore also the last.

[Pg 194]

The Consequence of the Antecedent is so clear and evident, that I think no Man of sound Reason will call for a Proof of it.

§. X.

Obj. 1.But they object, That Works are not necessary to Justification: First, because of that Saying of Christ, Luke xvii. 10. Unprofitable Servants.When ye shall have done all these Things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable Servants.

Answ.Answer; As to God we are indeed unprofitable, for he needeth nothing, God needeth nothing.neither can we add any Thing unto him: But as to ourselves, we are not unprofitable; else it might be said, that it is not profitable for a Man to keep God’s Commandments; which is most absurd, and would contradict Christ’s Doctrine throughout. Doth not Christ, Matt. v. through all those Beatitudes, pronounce Men blessed for their Purity, for their Meekness, for their Peaceableness, &c? And is not then that for which Christ pronounceth Men blessed, profitable unto them? Moreover, Matt. xxv. 21, 23. Those that had improved their Talents, were called good and faithful Servants.Doth not Christ pronounce the Men good and faithful Servants that improved their Talents? Was not their doing of that then profitable unto them? And Ver. 30. it is said of him that hid his Talent, and did not improve it, Cast ye the unprofitable Servant into utter Darkness. If then not improving of the Talent made the Man unprofitable, and he was therefore cast into utter Darkness, it will follow by the Rule of Contraries, so far at least that the Improving made the other profitable; seeing, if our Adversaries will allow us to believe Christ’s Words, this is made a Reason, and so at least a Cause instrumental of their Acceptance; Well done, good and faithful Servant, thou hast been faithful over a few Things, I will make thee Ruler over many Things; enter thou into the Joy of thy Lord.

Obj. 2.Secondly, They object those Sayings of the Apostle, where he excludes the Deeds of the Law from Justification; as first, Rom. iii. 20. Because by the Deeds of the Law there shall be no Flesh justified in his Sight. And Ver. 28. Therefore we conclude, that a Man is justified by Faith, without the Deeds of the Law.

Answ. 1..Answ. We have shewn already what Place we give to Works, even to the best of Works, in Justification; and how we ascribe its immediate[Pg 195] and formal Cause to the Worker brought forth in us, but not to the Works. But in answer to this Objection, I say, there is a great Difference betwixt the Works of the Law, and those of Grace, or of the Gospel. The Works of the Gospel or Grace distinguished from those of the Law.The first are excluded, the second not, but are necessary. The first are those which are performed in Man’s own Will, and by his Strength, in a Conformity to the outward Law and Letter; and therefore are Man’s own imperfect Works, or Works of the Law, which makes nothing perfect: And to this belong all the Ceremonies, Purifications, Washings, and Traditions of the Jews. The second are the Works of the Spirit of Grace in the Heart, wrought in Conformity to the inward and spiritual Law; which Works are not wrought in Man’s Will, nor by his Power and Ability, but in and by the Power and Spirit of Christ in us, and therefore are pure and perfect in their Kind (as shall hereafter be proved) and may be called Christ’s Works, for that he is the immediate Author and Worker of them: Such Works we affirm absolutely necessary to Justification, so that a Man cannot be justified without them; and all Faith without them is dead and useless, as the Apostle James saith. Now, that such a Distinction is to be admitted, and that the Works excluded by the Apostle in the Matter of Justification are of the first Kind, will appear, if we consider the Occasion of the Apostle’s mentioning this, as well here, as throughout his Epistle to the Galatians, where he speaks of this Matter and to this Purpose at large: Which was this, That whereas many of the Gentiles that were not of the Race or Seed of Abraham, as concerning the Flesh, were come to be converted to the Christian Faith, and to believe in him, some of those, that were of the Jewish Proselytes, thought to subject the faithful and believing Gentiles to the legal Ceremonies and Observations, as necessary to their Justification: The Occasion of the Apostle’s speaking of the Works of the Law, which are excluded.This gave the Apostle Paul Occasion at length, in his Epistle to the Romans, Galatians, and elsewhere, to shew the Use and Tendency of the Law, and of its Works, and to contra-distinguish them from the Faith of Christ, and the Righteousness thereof; shewing how the former was ceased and become ineffectual, the other re[Pg 196]maining, and yet necessary. And that the Works excluded by the Apostle are of this Kind of Works of the Law, appears by the whole Strain of his Epistle to the Galatians, Chap. i, ii, iii, and iv. For after, in Chap. iv. he upbraideth them for their Returning unto the Observation of Days and Times, and that, in the Beginning of Chap. v. he sheweth them their Folly, and the evil Consequence of adhering to the Ceremonies of Circumcision, then he adds, Ver. 6. For in Christ Jesus neither Circumcision nor Uncircumcision availeth, but Faith, which worketh by Love; and thus he concludes again, Chap. vi. Ver. 15. For in Christ Jesus neither Circumcision availeth, nor Uncircumcision, but a new Creature. From which Places appeareth that Distinction of Works before-mentioned, whereof the one is excluded, the other necessary to Justification. For the Apostle sheweth here, that Circumcision (which Word is often used to comprehend the whole Ceremonies and legal Performances of the Jews) is not necessary, nor doth avail. Here then are the Works which are excluded, by which no Man is justified; but Faith, which worketh by Love, but the new Creature, this is that which availeth, which is absolutely necessary: For Faith, that worketh by Love, cannot be without Works; for, as it is said in the same 5th Chapter, Ver. 22. Love is a Work of the Spirit; also the new Creature, if it avail and be necessary, cannot be without Works; seeing it is natural for it to bring forth Works of Righteousness. Again, that the Apostle no Ways intends to exclude such good Works appears, in that in the same Epistle he exhorts the Galatians to them, and holds forth the Usefulness and Necessity of them, and that very plainly, Chap. vi. Ver. 7, 8, 9. The Usefulness and Necessity of good Works.Be not deceived, saith he, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a Man soweth, that shall he also reap: For he that soweth to the Flesh, shall of the Flesh reap Corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap Life everlasting. And let us not be weary of Well-doing, for in due Season we shall reap, if we faint not: Doth it not hereby appear, how necessary the Apostle would have the Galatians know that he esteemed good Works to be? To wit, not the outward Ceremonies and Traditions of the Law, but the Fruits of the Spirit,[Pg 197] mentioned a little before; by which Spirit he would have them to be led, and walk in those good Works: As also, how much he ascribed to these good Works, by which he affirms Life everlasting is reaped. Now, that cannot be useless to Man’s Justification, which capacitates him to reap so rich an Harvest.

Answ. 2.But Lastly; For a full Answer to this Objection, and for the establishing of this Doctrine of good Works, I shall instance another Saying of the same Apostle Paul, which our Adversaries also in the Blindness of their Minds make use of against us; to wit, Tit. iii. 5. Justified not by our legal Performances, but the Fruit of the Spirit.Not by Works of Righteousness which we have done, but according to his Mercy he saved us, by the Washing of Regeneration, and Renewing of the Holy Ghost. It is generally granted by all, that [saved] is here all one as if it had been said [justified.] Now there are two Kinds of Works here mentioned: One by which we are not saved, that is, not justified; and another by which we are saved, or justified. The first, the Works of Righteousness which we have wrought, that is, which we in our first fallen Nature, by our own Strength, have wrought, our own legal Performances, and therefore may truly and properly be called ours, whatever specious Appearances they may have. And that it must needs and ought to be so understood, doth appear from the other Part, By the Washing of Regeneration, and Renewing of the Holy Ghost; seeing Regeneration is a Work, comprehensive of many good Works, even of all those which are called the Fruits of the Spirit.

Obj.Now in Case it should be objected, That these may also be called ours, because wrought in us, and also by us many Times as Instruments;

Answ.I answer; It is far otherwise than the former: For in the first we are yet alive in our own natural State, unrenewed, working of ourselves, seeking to save ourselves, by imitating and endeavouring a Conformity to the outward Letter of the Law; and so wrestling and striving in the Carnal Mind, that is Enmity to God, and in the cursed Will not yet subdued. But in this second we are crucified with Christ, we are become dead with him, have partaken of the Fellowship of his Sufferings, are made conformable to his Death; and our first Man, our old[Pg 198] Man with all his Deeds, as well the openly Wicked as the seemingly Righteous, our legal Endeavours and foolish Wrestlings, are all buried and nailed to the Cross of Christ; Not We, but Christ in us is the Worker of Righteousness.and so it is no more we, but Christ alive in us, the Worker in us. So that though it be we in a Sense, yet it is according to that of the Apostle to the same Galatians, Chap. ii. Ver. 20. I am crucified, yet nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: Not I, but the Grace of Christ in me. These Works are especially to be ascribed to the Spirit of Christ, and the Grace of God in us, as being immediately thereby acted and led in them, and enabled to perform them. And this Manner of Speech is not strained, but familiar to the Apostles, as appears, Gal. ii. 8. For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of the Circumcision, the same was mighty in me, &c. Phil. ii. 13. For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do, &c. So that it appears by this Place, that since the Washing of Regeneration is necessary to Justification, and that Regeneration comprehends Works, Works are necessary; and that these Works of the Law that are excluded, are different from these that are necessary and admitted.

§. XI.

Obj. 3.Thirdly, They object That no Works, yea, not the Works of Christ in us, can have Place in Justification, because nothing that is impure can be useful in it; and all the Works wrought in us are impure. For this they allege that Saying of the Prophet Isaiah, lxiv. 6. All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags; adding this Reason, That seeing we are impure, so must our Works be; which though good in themselves, yet as performed by us, they receive a Tincture of Impurity, even as clean Water passing through an unclean Pipe is defiled.

Answ. 1.That no impure Works are useful to Justification, is confessed; but that all the Works wrought in the Saints are such, is denied. And for Answer to this, the former Distinction will serve. We confess, that the first Sort of Works above-mentioned are impure; but not the second: Because the first are wrought in the unrenewed State, but not the other. And as for that of Isaiah, it must relate to the first[Pg 199] Kind; What Sort of Righteousness is as filthy Rags.for though he saith, All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags, yet that will not comprehend the Righteousness of Christ in us, but only that which we work of and by ourselves. For should we so conclude, then it would follow, that we should throw away all Holiness and Righteousness; since that which is as filthy Rags, and as a menstruous Garment, ought to be thrown away; yea, it would follow, that all the Fruits of the Spirit, mentioned, Gal. iv. were as filthy Rags; Whereas on the Contrary, some of the Works of the Saints are said to have a sweet Savour in the Nostrils of the Lord; are said to be an Ornament of great Price in the Sight of God; are said to prevail with him, and to be acceptable to him; which filthy Rags and a menstruous Garment cannot be. Yea, many famous Protestants have acknowledged, that this Place is not therefore so to be understood. Calvin and others their Sense concerning Isa. 64. 6. of our Righteousness.Calvin upon this Place saith, “That it is used to be cited by some, that they may prove there is so little Merit in our Works, that they are before God filthy and defiled: But this seems to me to be different from the Prophet’s Mind,” saith he, “seeing he speaks not here of all Mankind.” Musculus.Musculus upon this Place saith, “That it was usual for this People to presume much of their legal Righteousness, as if thereby they were made clean; nevertheless they had no more Cleanness than the unclean Garment of a Man. Others expound this Place concerning all the Righteousness of our Flesh; that Opinion indeed is true; yet I think that the Prophet did rather accommodate these Sayings to the Impurity of the People in legal Terms.” (Bertius) Epistolæ præfixæ dissert. ann.The Author (commonly supposed Bertius) speaking concerning the true Sense of the 7th Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, hath a Digression touching this of Isaiah, saying; “This Place is commonly corrupted by a pernicious Wresting; for it is still alleged, as if the Meaning thereof inferred the most excellent Works of the best Christians, &c.Ja. Coret Apol. Impress. Paris, Ann. 1597 Page 78.James Coret, a French Minister in the Church of Basil, in his Apology concerning Justification against Alescales, saith; “Nevertheless concerning the Counsel of certain good Men, I must admonish the Reader, that it never came into our Minds to abuse[Pg 200] that Saying of Isa. lxiv. 6. against good Works, in which it is said, that all our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags, as if he would have that which is good in our good Works, and proceedeth from the Holy Spirit, to be esteemed as a filthy and unclean Thing.”

§. XII.

As to the other Part, That seeing the best of Men are still impure and imperfect, therefore their Works must be so; it is to beg the Question, and depends upon a Proposition denied; and which is to be discussed at farther Length in the next Proposition. But though we should suppose a Man not thoroughly perfect in all Respects, yet will not that hinder, but good and perfect Works in their Kind may be brought forth in him by the Spirit of Christ: Neither doth the Example of Water going through an unclean Pipe hit the Matter; because though Water may be capable to be tinctured with Uncleanness, yet the Spirit of God cannot, whom we assert to be the immediate Author of those Works that avail in Justification: And therefore Jesus Christ’s Works in his Children are pure and perfect, and he worketh in and through that pure Thing of his own forming and creating in them. Moreover, if this did hold, according to our Adversaries Supposition, That no Man ever was or can be perfect, it would follow, that the very Miracles and Works of the Apostles, which Christ wrought in them, and they wrought in and by the Power, Spirit and Grace of Christ, were also impure and imperfect; Were the Miracles and Works of the Apostles, wrought by the Power of Christ in them, impure and imperfect?such as their converting of the Nations to the Christian Faith; their gathering of the Churches, their writing of the Holy Scriptures; yea, and their offering up and sacrificing of their Lives for the Testimony of Jesus. What may our Adversaries think of this Argument, whereby it will follow, that the Holy Scriptures, whose Perfection and Excellency they seem so much to magnify, are proved to be impure and imperfect, because they came through impure and imperfect Vessels? It appears by the Confessions of Protestants, that the Fathers did frequently attribute unto Works of this Kind that instrumental Work, which we have spoken of in Justification, albeit some ignorant Persons cry out it is Popery, and also divers, and that famous Protestants, do of themselves confess[Pg 201] it. A. Polan. Our Doctrine of Justification and Works, is not Popery.Amandus Polanus, in his Symphonia Catholica, Cap. 27. de Remissione Peccatorum, P. 651. places this Thesis as the common Opinion of Protestants, most agreeable to the Doctrine of the Fathers: “We obtain the Remission of Sins by Repentance, Confession, Prayers, and Tears, proceeding from Faith, but do not merit, to speak properly; and therefore we obtain Remission of Sins, not by the Merit of our Repentance and Prayers, but by the Mercy and Goodness of God.” Gentiletus Ex Impress. Gen. 1516.Innocentius Gentiletus, a Lawyer of great Fame among Protestants, in his Examen of the Council of Trent, P. 66, 67. of Justification, having before spoken of Faith and Works, adds these Words: “But seeing the one cannot be without the other, we call them both conjunctly instrumental Causes.” Zanchius.Zanchius, in his fifth Book, De Naturâ Dei, saith; “We do not simply deny, that good Works are the Cause of Salvation, to wit, the instrumental, rather than the efficient Cause, which they call [sine quâ non.”] And afterwards, “Good Works are the instrumental Cause of the Possession of Life eternal; for by these, as by a Means and a lawful Way, God leads unto the Possession of Life eternal.” G. Ames. in Medulla S. Theologiæ, L. 2. C. 1. Thes. 30.G. Amesius saith, “That our Obedience, albeit it be not the principal and meritorious Cause of Life eternal, is nevertheless a Cause in some Respect, administering, helping, and advancing towards the Possession of the Life.” R. Baxter.Also Richard Baxter, in his Book above-cited, Page 155. saith, “That we are justified by Works in the same Kind of Causality as by Faith, to wit, as being both Causes sine quâ non, or Conditions of the New Covenant on our Part requisite to Justification.” And P. 195. he saith, “It is needless to teach any Scholar, who hath read the Writings of Papists, how this Doctrine differs from them.”

Of the Merit and Reward of Works.But lastly, Because it is fit here to say something of the Merit and Reward of Works, I shall add something in this Place of our Sense and Belief concerning that Matter. We are far from thinking or believing, that Man merits any Thing by his Works from God, all being of Free Grace; and therefore do we, and always have denied that Popish Notion of Meritum ex condigno. Nevertheless we cannot[Pg 202] deny, but that God, out of his Infinite Goodness wherewith he hath loved Mankind, after he communicates to him his holy Grace and Spirit, doth, according to his own Will, recompence and reward the good Works of his Children; GOD rewards the good Works of his Children.and therefore this Merit of Congruity or Reward, in so far as the Scripture is plain and positive for it, we may not deny; neither wholly reject the Word, in so far as the Scripture makes use of it. For the same Greek [Greek: axion: αξιον], which signifies [Merit] is also in those Places where the Translators express it Worth, or worthy, as Mat. iii. 8. 1 Thess. ii. 12. 2 Thess. i. 5. 11. Concerning which R. Baxter saith, in the Book above-cited, P. 8. “But in a larger Sense, as Promise is an Obligation, and the Thing promised is said to be Debt, so the Performers of the Conditions are called Worthy, and that which they perform Merit; although properly all be of Grace, and not of Debt.” Also those, who are called the Fathers of the Church, frequently used this Word of Merit, whose Sayings concerning this Matter I think not needful to insert, because it is not doubted, but evident, that many Protestants are not averse from this Word, in the Sense that we use it. The Apology for the Augustan Confession, Art. 20. hath these Words; “We agree that Works are truly meritorious, not of Remission of Sins, or Justification; but they are meritorious of other Rewards corporal and spiritual, which are indeed as well in this Life, as after this Life.” And further, “Seeing Works are a certain fulfilling of the Law, they are rightly said to be meritorious; it is rightly said, that a Reward is due to them.”

Conference of Oldenburgh.In the Acts of the Conference of Oldenburgh, the electoral Divines, P. 110. & 265. say, “In this Sense our Churches also are not averse from the Word [Merit] used by the Fathers; neither therefore do they defend the Popish Doctrine of Merit.”

G. Vossius of the Word Merit.G. Vossius, in his Theological Thesis concerning the Merits of good Works, saith; “We have not adventured to condemn the Word [Merit] wholly, as being that which both many of the Ancients use, and also the reformed Churches have used in their Confes[Pg 203]sions. Now that God judgeth and accepteth Men according to their Works, is beyond Doubt to those that seriously will read and consider these Scriptures.” Matt.. xvi. 27. Rom.. ii. 6. 7. 10. 2 Cor. v. 10. James i. 25. Heb. x. 35. 1 Pet. i. 17. Rev. xxii. 12.

§. XIII.

And to conclude this Proposition, let none be so bold as to mock God, supposing themselves justified and accepted in the Sight of God, by Virtue of Christ’s Death and Sufferings, while they remain unsanctified and unjustified in their own Hearts, Job 8. 13.and polluted in their Sins, lest their Hope prove that of the Hypocrite, which perisheth. The Hope of the Hypocrite shall perish, but Grace is to the Humble.Neither let any foolishly imagine, that they can by their own Works, or by the Performance of any Ceremonies or Traditions, or by the Giving of Gold or Money, or by afflicting their Bodies in Will-worship and voluntary Humility, or foolishly striving to conform their Way to the outward Letter of the Law, flatter themselves that they merit before God, or draw a Debt upon him, or that any Man or Men have Power to make such Kind of Things effectual to their Justification, lest they be found foolish Boasters, and Strangers to Christ and his Righteousness indeed. But blessed for ever are they, that having truly had a Sense of their own Unworthiness and Sinfulness, and having seen all their own Endeavours and Performances fruitless and vain, and beheld their own Emptiness, and the Vanity of their vain Hopes, Faith and Confidence, while they remained inwardly struck, pursued, and condemned by God’s holy Witness in their Hearts, and so having applied themselves thereto, and suffered his Grace to work in them, are become changed and renewed in the Spirit of their Minds, passed from Death to Life, and know Jesus arisen in them, working both the Will and the Deed; and so having put on the Lord Jesus Christ, in Effect are clothed with him, and partake of his Righteousness and Nature; such can draw near to the Lord with Boldness, and know their Acceptance in and by him; in whom, and in as many as are found in him, the Father is well pleased.

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Concerning Perfection.

In whom this pure and holy Birth is fully brought forth, the Body of Death and Sin comes to be crucified and removed, and their Hearts united and subjected to the Truth; so as not to obey any Suggestions or Temptations of the Evil One, but to be free from actual sinning and transgressing of the Law of God, and in that Respect perfect: Yet doth this Perfection still admit of a Growth; and there remaineth always in some Part a Possibility of sinning, where the Mind doth not most diligently and watchfully attend unto the Lord.

§. I.

Since we have placed Justification in the Revelation of Jesus Christ formed and brought forth in the Heart, there working his Works of Righteousness, and bringing forth the Fruits of the Spirit, the Question is, How far he may prevail in us while we are in this Life, or we over our Souls Enemies, in and by his Strength? Those that plead for Justification wholly without them, merely by imputative Righteousness, denying the Necessity of being clothed with real and inward Righteousness, do consequently affirm, These are the Words of the Westminster larger Catechism.“That it is impossible for a Man, even the best of Men, to be free of Sin in this Life, which, they say, no Man ever was; but on the contrary, that none can, neither of himself, nor by any Grace received in this Life (O wicked Saying against the Power of God’s Grace) keep the Commandments of God perfectly; but that every Man doth break the Commandments in Thought, Word, and Deed:” Whence they also affirm, as was a little before observed, “That the very best Actions of the Saints, their Prayers, their Worships, are impure and polluted.” Whether it is possible to keep the Commandments of God?We on the contrary, though we freely acknowledge this of the natural fallen Man, in his first State, whatever his Profession or Pretence may be, so long as he is[Pg 205] unconverted and unregenerate, yet we do believe, that to those in whom Christ comes to be formed, and the new Man brought forth,Part I. and born of the incorruptible Seed (as that Birth, and Man in Union therewith, naturally doth the Will of God) it is possible so far to keep to it, as not to be found daily Transgressors of the Law of God. Controversy stated.And for the more clear Stating of the Controversy, let it be considered:

§. II.

I. Notional Knowledge.First, That we place not this Possibility in Man’s own Will and Capacity, as he is a Man, the Son of fallen Adam, or as he is in his natural State, however wise or knowing, or however much endued with a notional and literal Knowledge of Christ, thereby endeavouring a Conformity to the Letter of the Law, as it is outward.

II. The new Birth.Secondly, That we attribute it wholly to Man, as he is born again, renewed in his Mind, raised by Christ, knowing Christ alive, reigning and ruling in him, and guiding and leading him by his Spirit, and revealing in him the Law of the Spirit of Life; which not only manifests and reproves Sin, but also gives Power to come out of it.

III. Growth in Perfection.Thirdly, That by this we understand not such a Perfection as may not daily admit of a Growth, and consequently mean not as if we were to be as pure, holy, and perfect as God in his divine Attributes of Wisdom, Knowledge, and Purity; but only a Perfection proportionable and answerable to Man’s Measure, whereby we are kept from transgressing the Law of God, and enabled to answer what he requires of us; He that improved his Two Talents was nothing less acceptable than he with the five.even as he that improved his two Talents so as to make four of them, perfected his Work, and was so accepted of his Lord as to be called a good and faithful Servant, nothing less than he that made his five ten. Even as a little Gold is perfect Gold in its Kind, as well as a great Mass, and a Child hath a perfect Body as well as a Man, though it daily grow more and more. Thus Christ is said, Luke ii. 52. to have increased in Wisdom and Stature, and in Favour with God and Man; though before that Time he had never sinned, and was no Doubt perfect, in a true and proper Sense.

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IV. Wiles of the Enemy.Fourthly, Though a Man may witness this for a Season, and therefore all ought to press after it; yet we do not affirm but those that have attained it in a Measure may, by the Wiles and Temptations of the Enemy, fall into Iniquity, and lose it sometimes, if they be not watchful, and do not diligently attend to that of God in the Heart. And we doubt not but many good and holy Men, who have arrived to everlasting Life, have had divers Ebbings and Flowings of this Kind; Every Sin weakens a Man in his spiritual Condition, but doth not destroy him altogether.for though every Sin weakens a Man in his spiritual Condition, yet it doth not so as to destroy him altogether, or render him uncapable of rising again.

V. Righteousness became natural.Lastly, Though I affirm, that after a Man hath arrived at such a State, in which he may be able not to sin, yet he may sin: Nevertheless, I will not affirm that a State is not attainable in this Life, in which to do Righteousness may be so natural to the regenerate Soul, that in the Stability of that Condition he cannot sin. Others may speak more certainly of this State, if they have arrived at it. With respect to myself, I speak modestly, because I ingenuously confess that I have not yet attained it; but I cannot deny that there is such a State, as it seems to be so clearly asserted by the Apostle, 1 John iii. 9. He that is born of God sinneth not, neither can he, because the Seed of God remaineth in him.

Part II.Sect. 1. The Controversy being thus stated, which will serve to obviate Objections, I shall proceed, First, to shew the Absurdity of that Doctrine that pleads for Sin for Term of Life, even in the Saints.

Sect. 2.Secondly, To prove this Doctrine of Perfection from many pregnant Testimonies of the Holy Scripture.

Sect. 3.And, Lastly, To answer the Arguments and Objections of our Opposers.

§. III.

Sect. I.Proof 1. The Doctrine of Pleading for Sin for Term of Life absurd. First then, This Doctrine, viz. That the Saints nor can nor ever will be free of sinning in this Life, is inconsistent with the Wisdom of God, and with his glorious Power and Majesty, who is of purer Eyes than to behold Iniquity[76]; who having purposed in himself to gather to him that should worship him, and be Witnesses for him on Earth,[Pg 207] a chosen People, doth also no Doubt sanctify and purify them. For God hath no Delight in Iniquity, but abhors Transgression; and though he regard Man in Transgression so far as to pity him, and afford him Means to come out of it; yet he loves him not, neither delights in him, as he is joined thereunto. Wherefore if Man must be always joined to Sin, then God would always be at a Distance with him; as it is written, Isa. lix. 2. Your Iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your Sins have hid his Face from you; whereas on the contrary, the Saints are said to partake, even while here, of the divine Nature, 1 Pet. i. 4. and to be one Spirit with the Lord, 1 Cor. vi. 17. Now no unclean Thing can be so. It is expresly written, That there is no Communion betwixt Light and Darkness, 2 Cor. vi. 14. But God is Light, and every Sin is Darkness in a Measure: Hath God’s Wisdom been wanting to prepare a Means to serve and worship him perfectly?What greater Stain then can there be than this upon God’s Wisdom, as if he had been wanting to prepare a Means whereby his Children might perfectly serve and worship him, or had not provided a Way whereby they might serve him in any Thing, but that they must withal still serve the Devil no less, yea, more than himself? For he that sinneth is the Servant of Sin, Rom. vi. 16. and every Sin is an Act of Service and Obedience to the Devil. So then if the Saints sin daily in Thought, Word, and Deed, yea, if the very Service they offer to God be Sin, surely they serve the Devil more than they do God: For besides that they give the Devil many intire Services, without Mixture of the least Grain to God, they give God not the least Service in which the Devil hath not a large Share: And if their Prayers and all their spiritual Performances be sinful, the Devil is as much served by them in these as God, and in most of them much more, since they confess that many of them are performed without the Leadings and Influence of God’s Spirit. Now who would not account him a foolish Master among Men, who being able to do it, and also desirous it might be so, yet would not provide a Way whereby his Children and Servants might serve him more intirely than his avowed Enemy, or would not guard against their serving of him, but be[Pg 208] so imprudent and unadvised in his Contrivance, that whatever Way his Servants and Children served him, they should no less, yea, often much more, serve his Enemy? What may we then think of that Doctrine that would infer this Folly upon the Omnipotent and Only Wise God?

[76] Hab. 1. 13.

§. IV.

Proof 2. Its Inconsistency with the Justice of God.Secondly, It is inconsistent with the Justice of God. For since he requires Purity from his Children, and commands them to abstain from every Iniquity, so frequently and precisely as shall hereafter appear, and since his Wrath is revealed against all Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of Men, it must needs follow, that he hath capacitated Man to answer his Will, or else that he requires more than he has given Power to perform; which is to declare him openly unjust, and with the slothful Servant to be an hard Master. We have elsewhere spoken of the Injustice these Men ascribe to God, in making him to damn the Wicked, to whom they allege he never afforded any Means of being good; but this is yet an Aggravation more irrational and inconsistent, to say, That God will not afford to those, whom he hath chosen to be his own (whom they confess he loveth) the Means to please him. What can follow then from so strange a Doctrine?

This Imperfection in the Saints either proceeds from God or from themselves: If it proceeds from them, it must be because they are short in improving or making use of the Power given them, whereby they are capable to obey; and so it is a Thing possible to them, as indeed it is by the Help of that Power: But this our Adversaries deny: They are then not to be blamed for their Imperfection and continuing in Sin, since it is not possible for them to do otherwise. If it be not of themselves, it must be of God, who hath not seen meet to allow them Grace in that Degree to produce that Effect: And what is this but to attribute to God the Height of Injustice, to make him require his Children to forsake Sin, and yet not to afford them sufficient Means for so doing? Who will give their Children a Stone instead of Bread?Surely this makes God more unrighteous than wicked Men, who if (as Christ saith) their Children require Bread of them, will not give them a Stone; or instead of a[Pg 209] Fish, a Serpent. But these Men confess we ought to seek of God Power to redeem us from Sin, and yet believe they are never to receive such a Power; such Prayers then cannot be in Faith, but are all vain. Is not this to make God as unjust to his Children as Pharaoh was to the Israelites, in requiring Brick and not giving them Straw? But blessed be God, he deals not so with those that truly trust in him, and wait upon him, as these Men vainly imagine; for such faithful Ones find of a Truth that his Grace is sufficient for them, and know how by his Power and Spirit to overcome the evil One.

§. V.

Proof 3. The great and principal End of Christ’s Coming and Appearance was for the Removing of Sin, and to redeem us from all Iniquity.Thirdly, This evil Doctrine is highly injurious to Jesus Christ, and greatly derogates from the Power and Virtue of his Sacrifice, and renders his Coming and Ministry, as to the great End of it, ineffectual. For Christ, as for other Ends, so principally he appeared for the Removing of Sin, for the gathering a righteous Generation, that might serve the Lord in Purity of Mind, and walk before him in Fear, and to bring in everlasting Righteousness, and that evangelical Perfection which the Law could not do. Hence he is said, Tit. ii. 14. to have given himself for us, that he might redeem us from all Iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar People, zealous of good Works. This is certainly spoken of the Saints while upon Earth; but, contrary thereunto, these Men affirm, That we are never redeemed from all Iniquity, and so make Christ’s giving of himself for us void and ineffectual, and give the Apostle Paul the Lie plainly, by denying that Christ purifieth to himself a peculiar People, zealous of good Works. How are they zealous of good Works, who are ever committing evil ones? How are they a purified People, that are still in Impurity, as they are that daily Sin, unless Sin be accounted no Impurity? Moreover it is said expresly, 1 John iii. 5. 8. That for this Purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the Works of the Devil; and ye know that he was manifested to take away our Sins. But these Men make this Purpose of none Effect; for they will not have the Son of God to destroy the Works of the Devil in his Children in this World, neither will they at all believe that he was manifest[Pg 210] to take away our Sins, seeing they plead a Necessity of always living in them. And lest any should wrest this Place of the Apostle, as if it were spoken only of taking away the Guilt of Sin, as if it related not to this Life, the Apostle, as if of Purpose to obviate such an Objection, adds in the following Verses, Whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not, &c. I hope then they sin not daily in Thought, Word, and Deed. Let no Man deceive you; he that doth Righteousness, is righteous, even as he is righteous; he that committeth Sin, is of the Devil; but he that sinneth daily in Thought, Word, and Deed, committeth Sin; how comes such an one then to be the Child of God? And if Christ was manifest to take away Sin, how strangely do they overturn the Doctrine of Christ who deny that it is ever taken away here? And how injurious are they to the Efficacy and Power of Christ’s Appearance? Came not Christ to gather a People out of Sin into Righteousness; from the Kingdom of Satan into the Kingdom of the dear Son of God? And are not they that are thus gathered by him his Servants, his Children, his Brethren, his Friends? who as he was, so are they to be in this World, holy, pure, and undefiled. And doth not Christ still watch over them, stand by them, pray for them, and preserve them by his Power and Spirit, walk in them, and dwell among them; The Devil dwells among the Reprobates.even as the Devil, on the other Hand, doth among the reprobate ones? How comes it then that the Servants of Christ are less his Servants than the Devil’s are his? Or is Christ unwilling to have his Servants throughly pure? Which were gross Blasphemy to assert, contrary to many Scriptures. Or is he not able by his Power to preserve and enable his Children to serve him? Which were no less blasphemous to affirm of him, concerning whom the Scriptures declare, That he has overcome Sin, Death, Hell, and the Grave, and triumphed over them openly, and that all Power in Heaven and Earth is given to him. But certainly if the Saints sin daily in Thought, Word, and Deed, as these Men assert, they serve the Devil daily, and are subject to his Power; and so he prevails more than Christ doth, and holds the Servants of Christ in Bondage, whether Christ will or[Pg 211] not. But how greatly then doth it contradict the End of Christ’s Coming? as it is expressed by the Apostle, Ephes. v. 25, 26, 27. Even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the Washing of Water by the Word: That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having Spot or Wrinkle, or any such Thing, but that it should be holy, and without Blemish. Now if Christ hath really thus answered the Thing he came for, then the Members of this Church are not always sinning in Thought, Word, and Deed, or there is no Difference betwixt being sanctified and unsanctified, clean and unclean, holy and unholy, being daily blemished with Sin, and being without Blemish.

§. VI.

Proof 4.Pastors, Teachers, and Scriptures are given for perfecting of the Saints. Fourthly, This Doctrine renders the Work of the Ministry, the Preaching of the Word, the Writing of the Scripture, and the Prayers of holy Men, altogether useless and ineffectual. As to the first, Ephes. iv. 11. Pastors and Teachers are said to be given for the Perfection of the Saints, &c. until we all come in the Unity of the Faith, and of the Knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect Man, unto a Measure of the Stature of the Fulness of Christ. Now if there be a Necessity of sinning daily, and in all Things, then there can be no Perfection; for such as do so cannot be esteemed perfect. And if for effectuating this Perfection in the Saints the Ministry be appointed and disposed of God, do not such as deny the Possibility hereof render the Ministry useless and of no Profit? Seeing there can be no other true Use assigned, but to lead People out of Sin into Righteousness. If so be these Ministers assure us that we need never expect to be delivered from it, do not they render their own Work needless? What needs Preaching against Sin, for the reproving of which all Preaching is, if it can never be forsaken? Our Adversaries are Exalters of the Scriptures in Words, much crying up their Usefulness and Perfection: Now the Apostle tells us, 2 Tim. iii. 17. That the Scriptures are for making the Man of God perfect; and if this be denied to be attainable in this Life, then the Scriptures are of no Profit; for in the other Life we shall not have use for them. It renders the Prayers of the Saints altogether[Pg 212] useless, seeing themselves do confess they ought to pray daily that God would deliver them from Evil, and free them from Sin, by the Help of his Spirit and Grace, while in this World. But though we might suppose this Absurdity to follow, that their Prayers are without Faith, yet were not that so much, if it did not infer the like upon the holy Apostles, who prayed earnestly for this End, and therefore no Doubt believed it attainable, Col. iv. 12. Labouring fervently for you in Prayers, that ye may stand perfect, &c. 1 Thess. iii. 13. and v. 23, &c.

§. VII.

Proof 5.Darkness and Light, Sin and Righteousness, inconsistent together. But Fifthly, This Doctrine is contrary to common Reason and Sense. For the two opposite Principles, whereof the one rules in the Children of Darkness, the other in the Children of Light, are Sin and Righteousness; and as they are respectively leavened and actuated by them, so they are accounted either as reprobated or justified, seeing it is [77]Abomination in the Sight of God, either to justify the Wicked, or condemn the Just. Now to say that Men cannot be so leavened by the one as to be delivered from the other, is in plain Words to affirm, that Sin and Righteousness are consistent; and that a Man may be truly termed righteous, though he be daily sinning in every Thing he doth; and then what Difference betwixt Good and Evil? Is not this to fall into that great Abomination of putting Light for Darkness? and calling Good Evil, and Evil Good? Since they say the very best Actions of God’s Children are defiled and polluted, and that those that sin daily in Thought, Word, and Deed are good Men and Women, the Saints and holy Servants of the holy pure God. Can there be any Thing more repugnant than this to common Reason? Since the Subject is still denominated from that Accident that doth most influence it; as a Wall is called White when there is much Whiteness, and Black when there is much Blackness, and such like; but when there is more Unrighteousness in a Man than Righteousness, that Man ought rather to be denominated unrighteous than righteous. If all daily sin, where is the righteous Man then spoken of in Scripture?Then surely if every Man sin daily in Thought, Word, and Deed, and that in his Sins there is no Righteousness at all, and that all his righteous Actions are polluted and mixed with Sin, then there is in every Man more Unrighteousness than Righte[Pg 213]ousness; and so no Man ought to be called righteous, no Man can be said to be sanctified or washed. Where are then the Children of God? Where are the purified Ones? Where are they who were sometimes unholy, but now holy; that sometimes were Darkness, but now are Light in the Lord? There can none such be found then at this Rate, except that Unrighteousness be esteemed so: And is not this to fall into that Abomination above-mentioned of justifying the Ungodly? The Blasphemy of the Ranters or Libertines.This certainly lands in that horrid Blasphemy of the Ranters, that affirm there is no Difference betwixt Good and Evil, and that all is one in the Sight of God. I could shew many more gross Absurdities, evil Consequences, and manifest Contradictions implied in this sinful Doctrine; but this may suffice at present, by which also in a good Measure the Proof of the Truth we affirm is advanced. Yet nevertheless, for the further evidencing of it, I shall proceed to the second Thing proposed by me, to wit, to prove this from several Testimonies of the Holy Scriptures.

[77] Prov. 17. 15.

§. VIII.

Sect. II.Proof 1. And First, I prove it from the peremptory positive Command of Christ and the Apostles, seeing this is a Maxim engraven in every Man’s Heart naturally, That no Man is bound to do that which is impossible: Since then Christ and his Apostles have commanded us to keep all the Commandments, and to be perfect in this Respect, it is possible for us so to do. Be ye perfect, &c. Keep my Commandments.Now that this is thus commanded without any Commentary or Consequence, is evidently apparent from these plain Testimonies, Matt. v. 48, and vii. 21. John xiii. 17. 1 Cor. vii. 19. 2 Cor. xiii. 11. 1 John ii. 3, 4, 5, 6. and iii. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. These Scriptures intimate a positive Command for it; they declare the absolute Necessity of it; and therefore, as if they had purposely been written to answer the Objections of our Opposers, they shew the Folly of those that will esteem themselves Children or Friends of God, while they do otherwise.

Proof 2.The Possibility of it. Secondly, It is possible, because we receive the Gospel and Law thereof for that Effect; and it is expresly promised to us, as we are under Grace, as appears by these Scriptures, Rom. iv. 14. Sin shall not have Dominion over you; for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace:[Pg 214] And Rom. viii. 3. For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the Flesh, God sending his own Son, &c. that the Righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, &c. The Difference of the Law and Gospel.For if this were not a Condition both requisite, necessary, and attainable under the Gospel, there were no Difference betwixt the Bringing in of a better Hope, and the Law which made nothing perfect; neither betwixt those which are under the Gospel, or who under the Law enjoyed and walked in the Life of the Gospel and mere Legalists. Whereas the Apostle, throughout the whole Sixth to the Romans, argues not only the Possibility but the Necessity of being free from Sin, from their being under the Gospel, and under Grace, and not under the Law; and therefore states himself and those to whom he wrote in that Condition in these Verses, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. and therefore in the 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18 Verses, he argues both the Possibility and Necessity of this Freedom from Sin almost in the same Manner we did a little before; and in the 22d he declares them in Measure to have attained this Condition in these Words, But now being made free from Sin, and become Servants to God, ye have your Fruit unto Holiness, and the End everlasting Life. Perfection and Freedom from Sin attained and made possible by the Gospel.And as this Perfection or Freedom from Sin is attained and made possible where the Gospel and inward Law of the Spirit is received and known, so the Ignorance hereof has been and is an Occasion of opposing this Truth. For Man not minding the Light or Law within his Heart, which not only discovers Sin, but leads out of it, and so being a Stranger to the new Life and Birth that is born of God, which naturally does his Will, and cannot of its own Nature transgress the Commandments of God, doth, I say, in his natural State look at the Commandments as they are without him in the Letter; The Letter kills, and maketh not alive.and finding himself reproved and convicted, is by the Letter killed, but not made alive. So Man, finding himself wounded, and not applying himself inwardly to that which can heal, labours in his own Will after a Conformity to the Law as it is without him, which he can never obtain, but finds the more he wrestles, the more he falleth short. So this is the Jew still in Effect, with his carnal Commandment, with the Law without, in the first Covenant[Pg 215] State, which makes not the Comers thereunto perfect, as pertaining to the Conscience, Heb. ix. 9. though they may have here a Notion of Christianity, and an external Faith in Christ. This has made them strain and wrest the Scriptures for an imputative Righteousness wholly without them, to cover their Impurities; and this hath made them imagine an Acceptance with God possible, though they suppose it impossible ever to obey Christ’s Commands. But alas! O deceived Souls! that will not avail in the Day wherein God will judge every Man according to his Work, whether good or bad. It will not save thee to say, it was necessary for thee to sin daily in Thought, Word, and Deed; for such as do so have certainly obeyed Unrighteousness: And what is provided for such but Tribulation and Anguish, Indignation and Wrath; even as Glory, Honour, and Peace, Immortality and eternal Life to such as have done Good, and patiently continued in Well-doing. So then, if thou desirest to know this Perfection and Freedom from Sin possible for thee, turn thy Mind to the Light and spiritual Law of Christ in the Heart, and suffer the Reproofs thereof; bear the Judgment and Indignation of God upon the unrighteous Part in thee as therein is revealed, which Christ hath made tolerable for thee, and so suffer Judgment in thee to be brought forth into Victory, and thus come to partake of the Fellowship of Christ’s Sufferings, and be made conformable unto his Death, How we partake of Christ’s Sufferings, and are made conformable unto his Death.that thou mayest feel thyself crucified with him to the World by the Power of his Cross in thee; so that that Life that sometimes was alive in thee to this World, and the Love and Lusts thereof, may die, and a new Life be raised, by which thou mayest live henceforward to God, and not to or for thyself; and with the Apostle thou mayest say, Gal. ii. 20. It is no more I, but Christ alive in me; and then thou wilt be a Christian indeed, and not in Name only, as too many are; then thou wilt know what it is to have put off the old Man with his Deeds, who indeed sins daily in Thought, Word, and Deed; and to have put on the new Man, that it renewed in Holiness, after the Image of him that hath created him, Ephes. iv. 24. and thou wilt witness thyself to be [78]God’s Workmanship, created[Pg 216] in Christ Jesus unto good Works, and so not to sin always. And to this new Man Christ’s Yoke is easy, and his Burden is light; though it be heavy to the old Adam; yea, the Commandments of God are not unto this Man grievous; for it is his Meat and Drink to be found fulfilling the Will of God.

[78] Matt. xi. 30. 1 John v. 3.

Proof 3.Many have attained Perfection. Lastly, This Perfection or Freedom from Sin is possible, because many have attained it, according to the express Testimony of the Scripture; some before the Law, and some under the Law, through witnessing and partaking of the Benefit and Effect of the Gospel, and much more many under the Gospel. Enoch walked with God, and was perfect.As first, It is written of Enoch, Gen. v. 22, 24. that he walked with God, which no Man while sinning can; nor doth the Scripture record any Failing of his. It is said of Noah, Gen. vi. 9. and of Job i. 8. and of Zacharias and Elizabeth, Luke i. 6. that they were perfect; but under the Gospel, besides that of the Romans above-mentioned, see what the Apostle saith of many Saints in general, Ephes. ii. 4, 5, 6. But God, who is rich in Mercy, for his great Love wherewith he hath loved us, even when we were dead in Sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by Grace ye are saved; and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly Places in Christ Jesus &c. I judge while they were sitting in these heavenly Places, they could not be daily sinning in Thought, Word, and Deed; neither were all their Works which they did there as filthy Rags, or as a menstruous Garment. See what is further said to the Hebrews, xii. 22, 23. Spirits of just Men made perfect. And to conclude, let that of the Revelations, xiv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. be considered, where though their being found without Fault be spoken in the present Time, yet it is not without Respect to their Innocency while upon Earth; and their being redeemed from among Men, and no Guile found in their Mouth, is expresly mentioned in the Time past. Sect III.But I shall proceed now, in the Third Place, to answer the Objections, which indeed are the Arguments of our Opposers.

§. IX.

Obj. 1.I shall begin with their chief and great Argument, which is the Words of the Apostle, 1 John i. 8. If we say that we have no Sin,[Pg 217] we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us. This they think invincible.

Answ. 1.But is it not strange to see Men so blinded with Partiality? How many Scriptures tenfold more plain do they reject, and yet stick so tenaciously to this, that can receive so many Answers? As First, [If we say we have no Sin, &c.] will not import the Apostle himself to be included. If we say we have no Sin, &c. objected.Sometimes the Scripture useth this Manner of Expression when the Person speaking cannot be included; which Manner of Speech the Grammarians call Metaschematismus. Thus James iii. 9, 10. speaking of the Tongue, saith, Therewith bless we God, and therewith curse we Men; adding, These Things ought not so to be. Who from this will conclude that the Apostle was one of those Cursers? Answ. 2.But Secondly, This Objection hitteth not the Matter; he saith not, We sin daily in Thought, Word, and Deed; far less that the very good Works which God works in us by his Spirit are Sin: Yea, the very next Verse clearly shews, that upon Confession and Repentance we are not only forgiven, but also cleansed; He is faithful to forgive us our Sins, and to cleanse us from all Unrighteousness. Here is both a Forgiveness and Removing of the Guilt, and a Cleansing or Removing of the Filth; for to make Forgiveness and Cleansing to belong both to the Removing of the Guilt, as there is no Reason for it from the Text, so it were a most violent forcing of the Words, and would imply a needless Tautology. The Apostle having shewn how that not the Guilt only, but even the Filth also of Sin is removed, subsumes his Words in the Time past in the 10th Verse, If we say we have not sinned, we make him a Liar. Answ. 3.Thirdly, As Augustine well observed, in his Exposition upon the Epistle to the Galatians, It is one Thing not to sin, and another Thing not to have Sin. It is one Thing, not to sin, and another Thing not to have Sin.The Apostle’s Words are not, If we say we sin not, or commit not Sin daily, but if we say we have no Sin: And betwixt these two there is a manifest Difference; for in respect all have sinned, as we freely acknowledge, all may be said in a Sense to have Sin. Again, Sin may be taken for the Seed of Sin, which may be in those that are redeemed from actual Sinning; but as to the Temptations and Provocations[Pg 218] proceeding from it being resisted by the Servants of God, and not yielded to, they are the Devil’s Sin that tempteth, not the Man’s that is preserved. Answ. 4.Fourthly, This being considered, as also how positive and plain once and again the same Apostle is in that very Epistle, as in divers Places above cited, is it equal or rational to strain this one Place, presently after so qualified and subsumed in the Time past, to contradict not only other positive Expressions of his, but the whole Tendency of his Epistle, and of the rest of the holy Commands and Precepts of the Scripture?

Obj. 2.Secondly, Their second Objection is from two Places of Scripture, much of one Signification: The one is, 1 Kings viii. 46. For there is no Man that sinneth not. The other is, Eccles. vii. 20. For there is not a just Man upon Earth, that doeth Good, and sinneth not.

Answ.I answer, First, These affirm nothing of a daily and continual Sinning, so as never to be redeemed from it; but only that all have sinned, or that there is none that doth not sin, though not always, so as never to cease to sin; and in this lies the Question. Yea, in that Place of the Kings he speaks within two Verses of the returning of such with all their Souls and Hearts; which implies a Possibility of leaving off Sin. Diversity of Seasons and Dispensations respected.Secondly, There is a Respect to be had to the Seasons and Dispensations; for if it should be granted that in Solomon’s Time there were none that sinned not, it will not follow that there are none such now, or that it is a Thing not now attainable by the Grace of God under the Gospel: For A non esse ad non posse non valet sequela. And Lastly, This whole Objection hangs upon a false Interpretation; for the Hebrew Word [Hebrew: ycht': יחטא] may be read in the Potential Mood, thus, There is no Man who may not sin, as well as in the Indicative: So both the old Latin, Junius and Tremellius, and Vatablus have it; and the same Word is so used, Psalm cxix. 11. I have hid thy Word in my Heart, [Hebrew: lt'z l' 'cht' lk: לטעז לא אחטא לך׃] that is to say, That I may not sin against thee, in the Potential Mood, and not in the Indicative; which being more answerable to the universal Scope of the Scriptures, the Testimony of the Truth,[Pg 219] and the Sense almost of all Interpreters, doubtless ought to be so understood, and the other Interpretation rejected as spurious.

Obj. 3.Thirdly, They object some Expressions of the Apostle Paul, Rom. viii. 19. For the Good that I would, I do not; but the Evil which I would not, that I do. And Ver. 24. O wretched Man that I am! who shall deliver me from the Body of this Death?

Answ.I answer, This Place infers nothing, unless it were apparent that the Apostle here were speaking of his own Condition, and not rather in the Person of others, or what he himself had sometimes borne; which is frequent in Scripture, as in the Case of cursing, in James before mentioned. But there is nothing in the Text that doth clearly signify the Apostle to be speaking of himself, or of a Condition he was then under, or was always to be under; yea, on the Contrary, in the former Chapter, as afore is at large shewn, he declares, they were dead to Sin; demanding how such should yet live any longer therein? Paul personates the Wretched Man, to shew them the Redeemer.Secondly, It appears that the Apostle personated one not yet come to a spiritual Condition, in that he saith, Ver. 14. But I am carnal, sold under Sin. Now is it to be imagined, that the Apostle Paul, as to his own proper Condition, when he wrote that Epistle, was a carnal Man, who in Chap. i. testifies of himself, That he was separated to be an Apostle, capable to impart to the Romans spiritual Gifts; and Chap. viii. Ver. 2. That the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus had made him free from the Law of Sin and Death? So then he was not carnal. And seeing there are spiritual Men in this Life, as our Adversaries will not deny, and is intimated through the whole viiith Chapter to the Romans, it will not be denied but the Apostle was one of them: So then as his calling himself carnal in Chap. vii. cannot be understood of his own proper State, neither can the rest of what he speaks there of that Kind be so understood: Yea after, Ver. 24. where he makes that Exclamation, he adds in the next Verse, I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord; signifying that by him he witnessed Deliverance; and so goeth on, shewing how he had obtained it in the next Chapter, viz. viii. Ver. 35. Who shall[Pg 220] separate us from the Love of Christ? And Ver. 37. But in all these Things we are more than Conquerors: And in the last Verse, Nothing shall be able to separate us, &c. But wherever there is a continuing in Sin, there is a Separation in some Degree, seeing every Sin is contrary to God, and [Greek: anomia: ανομια], i. e. a Transgression of the Law, 1 John iii. 4. Whom Sin has conquered, he is no Conqueror.and whoever committeth the least Sin, is overcome of it, and so in that Respect is not a Conqueror, but conquered. This Condition then, which the Apostle plainly testified he with some others had obtained, could not consist with continual remaining and abiding in Sin.

Obj. 4.Fourthly, They object the Faults and Sins of several eminent Saints, as Noah, David, &c.

Answ.I answer, That doth not at all prove the Case: For the Question is not, Whether good Men may not fall into Sin, which is not denied; but whether it be not possible for them not to sin? Can they that sin, be never freed from Sin.It will not follow because these Men sinned, that therefore they were never free of Sin, but always sinned: For at this Rate of arguing, it might be urged, according to this Rule (Contrariorum par ratio, i. e. The Reason of Contraries is alike) that if, because a good Man hath sinned once or twice, he can never be free from Sin, but must always be daily and continually a Sinner all his Life long; then by the Rule of Contraries, if a wicked Man have done Good once or twice, he can never be free from Righteousness, but must always be a righteous Man all his Life-time: Which as it is most absurd in itself, so it is contrary to the plain Testimony of the Scripture, Ezek. xxxiii. 12. to 18.

Obj.Lastly, They object, That if Perfection or Freedom from Sin be attainable, this will render Mortification of Sin useless, and make the Blood of Christ of no Service to us, neither need we any more pray for Forgiveness of Sins.

Answ.I answer, I had almost omitted this Objection, because of the manifest Absurdity of it: For can Mortification of Sin be useless, where the End of it is obtained? Seeing there is no attaining of this[Pg 221] Perfection but by Mortification. Who fights and not in Hopes to overcome his Foe?Doth the Hope and Belief of overcoming render the Fight unnecessary? Let rational Men judge which hath most Sense in it, to say as our Adversaries do, It is necessary that we fight and wrestle, but we must never think of overcoming, we must resolve still to be overcome; or to say, Let us fight, because we may overcome? Whether do such as believe they may be cleansed by it, or those that believe they can never be cleansed by it, render the Blood of Christ most effectual? If two Men were both grievously diseased, and applied themselves to a Physician for Remedy, which of those do most commend the Physician and his Cure, he that believeth he may be cured by him, and as he feels himself cured, confesseth that he is so, and so can say this is a skilful Physician, this is a good Medicine, behold I am made whole by it; or he that never is cured, nor ever believes that he can so long as he lives? Praying for Forgiveness of Sins.As for praying for Forgiveness, we deny it not; for that all have sinned, and therefore all need to pray that their Sins past may be blotted out, and that they may be daily preserved from sinning. And if hoping or believing to be made free from Sin hinders praying for Forgiveness of Sin, it would follow by the same Inference that Men ought not to forsake Murder, Adultery, or any of these gross Evils, seeing the more Men are sinful, the more plentiful Occasion there would be of asking Forgiveness of Sin, and the more Work for Mortification. But the Apostle had sufficiently refuted such sin-pleasing Cavils in these Words, Rom. vi. 1, 2. Shall we continue in Sin that Grace may abound? God forbid.

But Lastly, It may be easily answered, by a Retortion to those that press this from the Words of the Lord’s Prayer, forgive us our Debts, that this militates no less against perfect Justification than against perfect Sanctification: For if all the Saints, the least as well as the greatest, be perfectly justified in that very Hour wherein they are converted, as our Adversaries will have it, then they have Remission of Sins long before they die. May it not then be said to them, What Need have ye to pray for Remission of Sin, who[Pg 222] are already justified, whose Sins are long ago forgiven, both past and to come?

§. X.

Testimonies of the Fathers, concerning Perfection, or Freedom from Sin.But this may suffice: Concerning this Possibility Jerome speaks clearly enough, Lib. 3. adver. Pelagium, “This we also say, that a Man may not sin, if he will, for a Time and Place, according to his bodily Weakness, so long as his Mind is intent, so long as the Cords of the Cithara relax not by any Vice;” Jerome.and again in the same Book, “Which is that that I said, that it is put in our Power (to wit, being helped by the Grace of God) either to sin or not to sin.” For this was the Error of Pelagius, which we indeed reject and abhor, and which the Fathers deservedly withstood, “That Man by his natural Strength, without the Help of God’s Grace, could attain to that State so as not to sin.” Augustine.And Augustine himself, a great Opposer of the Pelagian Heresy, did not deny this Possibility as attainable by the Help of God’s Grace, as in his Book de Spiritu & Literâ, Cap. 2. and his Book de Naturâ & Gratiâ against Pelagius, Cap. 42, 50, 60, and 63. de Gestis Concilii Palæstini, Cap. 7. & 2. and de Peccato Originali, Lib. 2. Cap. 2. Gelasius.Gelasius also, in his Disputation against Pelagius, saith, “But if any affirm that this may be given to some Saints in this Life, not by the Power of Man’s Strength, but by the Grace of God, he doth well to think so confidently, and hope it faithfully; for by this Gift of God all Things are possible.” That by the Gift of God all Things are possible.That this was the common Opinion of the Fathers, appears from the Words of the Aszansic Council, Canon the last, “We believe also this according to the Catholick Faith, that all who are baptized through Grace by Baptism received, and Christ helping them, and co-working, may and ought to do whatsoever belongs to Salvation, if they will faithfully labour.”

§. XI.

Conclusion.Blessed then are they that believe in him, who is both able and willing to deliver as many as come to him through true Repentance from all Sin, and do not resolve, as these Men do, to be the Devil’s Servants all their Life-time, but daily go on forsaking[Pg 223] Phil. 3. 14. Press forward to the Mark, for the Prize, and Overcoming.Unrighteousness, and forgetting those Things that are behind, press forward toward the Mark, for the Prize of the high Calling of God in Christ Jesus; such shall not find their Faith and Confidence to be in vain, but in due Time shall be made Conquerors through him in whom they have believed; and so overcoming, shall be established as Pillars in the House of God, so as they shall go no more out, Rev. iii. 12.

[Pg 224]


Concerning Perseverance, and the Possibility of Falling from Grace.

Although this Gift and inward Grace of God be sufficient to work out Salvation, yet in those in whom it is resisted it both may and doth become their Condemnation. Moreover they in whose Hearts it hath wrought in Part to purify and sanctify them in order to their further Perfection, may, by Disobedience, fall from it, turn it to Wantonness, Jude 4. make Shipwreck of Faith, 1 Tim. i. 19. and after having tasted the heavenly Gift, and been made Partakers of the Holy Ghost, again fall away, Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6. yet such an Increase and Stability in the Truth may in this Life be attained, from which there can be no total Apostasy.

§. I.

The first Sentence of this Proposition hath already been treated of in the fifth and sixth Propositions, where it hath been shewn that that Light which is given for Life and Salvation becomes the Condemnation of those that refuse it, and therefore is already proved in those Places, where I did demonstrate the Possibility of Man’s resisting the Grace and Spirit of God; and indeed it is so apparent in the Scriptures, that it cannot be denied by such as will but seriously consider these Testimonies, Prov. i. 24, 25, 26. John iii. 18, 19. 2 Thess. ii. 11, 12. Acts vii. 51. & xiii. 46. Rom. i. 18. As for the other Part of it, that they in whom this Grace may have wrought in a good Measure in order to purify and sanctify them, tending to their further Perfection, may afterwards, through Disobedience, fall away, &c. The Testimonies of the Scripture included in the Proposition itself are sufficient to prove it to Men of unbiassed Judgment; but because as to this Part our Cause is common with many other Protestants, I shall be the more brief in it: For it is not my Design to do that[Pg 225] which is done already, neither do I covet to appear knowing by writing much; but simply purpose to present to the World a faithful Account of our Principles, and briefly to let them understand what we have to say for ourselves.

§. II.

I. A Falling from Grace by Disobedience evinced.From these Scriptures then included in the Proposition, not to mention many more which might be urged, I argue thus:

Arg. 1.If Men may turn the Grace of God into Wantonness, then they must once have had it:

But the First is true: Therefore also the Second.

Arg. 2.If Men may make Shipwreck of Faith, they must once have had it; Neither could they ever have had true Faith without the Grace of God:

But the First is true: Therefore also the Last.

Arg. 3.If Men may have tasted of the heavenly Gift, and been made Partakers of the Holy Spirit, and afterwards fall away, they must needs have known in Measure the Operation of God’s saving Grace and Spirit, without which no Man could taste the heavenly Gift, nor yet partake of the Holy Spirit:

But the First is true: Therefore also the Last.

II. The Doctrine of Election and Reprobation is inconsistent with Preaching, and daily Exhortation.Secondly, Seeing the contrary Doctrine is built upon this false Hypothesis, That Grace is not given for Salvation to any, but to a certain elect Number, which cannot lose it, and that all the rest of Mankind, by an absolute Decree, are debarred from Grace and Salvation; that being destroyed, this falls to the Ground. Now as that Doctrine of theirs is wholly inconsistent with the daily Practice of those that preach it, in that they exhort People to believe and be saved, while in the mean Time, if they belong to the Decree of Reprobation, it is simply impossible for them so to do; and if to the Decree of Election, it is needless, seeing it is as impossible to them to miss of it, as hath been before demonstrated. So also in this Matter of Perseverance, their Practice and Principle are no less inconsistent and contradictory. For while they daily exhort People to be faithful to the End, shewing them if they continue not, they shall be cut off, and fall short of the Reward; which is very true, but no less inconsistent with that Doctrine that affirms there is no Hazard, because no Possibility of de[Pg 226]parting from the least Measure of true Grace; which if true, it is to no Purpose to beseech them to stand, to whom God hath made it impossible to fall. I shall not longer insist upon the Probation of this, seeing what is said may suffice to answer my Design; and that the Thing is also abundantly proved by many of the same Judgment. That this was the Doctrine of the primitive Protestants thence appears, that the Augustine Confession condemns it as an Error of the Anabaptists, to say, That they who once are justified, cannot lose the Holy Spirit. Many such like Sayings are to be found in the common Places of Philip Melancthon. The Opinion of the Fathers concerning falling from Grace.Vossius, in his Pelagian History, Lib. 6. testifies, That this was the common Opinion of the Fathers. In the Confirmation of the twelfth Thesis, Page 587. he hath these Words: “That this which we have said was the common Sentiment of Antiquity, those at present can only deny, who otherwise perhaps are Men not unlearned, but nevertheless in Antiquity altogether Strangers, &c.” These Things thus observed, I come to the Objections of our Opposers.

§. III.

Obj. 1.First, They allege, That those Places mentioned of making Shipwreck of Faith, are only to be understood of seeming Faith, and not of a real true Faith.

Answ.A good and evil Conscience. This Objection is very weak, and apparently contrary to the Text, 1 Tim. i. 19. where the Apostle addeth to Faith a good Conscience, by way of Complaint; whereas if their Faith had been only seeming and hypocritical, the Men had been better without it than with it; neither had they been worthy of Blame for losing that which in itself was Evil. But the Apostle expresly adds [and of a good Conscience,] which shews it was real; neither can it be supposed that Men could truly attain a good Conscience without the Operation of God’s saving Grace; far less that a good Conscience doth consist with a seeming false and hypocritical Faith. Again, these Places of the Apostle being spoken by way of Regret, clearly import that these Attainments they had fallen from were good and real, not false and deceitful, else he would not have regretted their falling from them; and so he saith positively, They tasted of the heavenly Gift, and were[Pg 227] made Partakers of the Holy Ghost, &c. not that they seemed to be so, which sheweth this Objection is very frivolous.

Obj. 2.Secondly, They allege, Phil. i. 6. Being confident of this very Thing, that he which hath begun a good Work in you will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ, &c. and 1 Pet. i. 5. Who are kept by the Power of God through Faith unto Salvation.

Answ.These Scriptures, as they do not affirm any Thing positively contrary to us, so they cannot be understood otherwise than as the Condition is performed upon our Part, Salvation is proposed upon certain Conditions by us to be performed.seeing Salvation is no otherways proposed there but upon certain necessary Conditions to be performed by us, as hath been above proved, and as our Adversaries also acknowledge, as Rom. viii. 13. For if ye live after the Flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the Deeds of the Body, ye shall live. And Heb. iii. 14. We are made Partakers of Christ, if we hold the Beginning of our Confidence stedfast unto the End. For if these Places of the Scripture upon which they build their Objections were to be admitted without these Conditions, it would manifestly overturn the whole Tenor of their Exhortations throughout all their Writings. Some other Objections there are of the same Nature, which are solved by the same Answers, which also, because largely treated of by others, I omit, to come to that Testimony of the Truth which is more especially ours in this Matter, and is contained in the latter Part of the Proposition in these Words: Yet such an Increase and Stability in the Truth may in this Life be attained, from which there cannot be a total Apostasy.

§. IV.

As in the Explanation of the fifth and sixth Proposition I observed, that some that had denied the Errors of others concerning Reprobation, and affirmed the Universality of Christ’s Death, did notwithstanding fall short in sufficiently holding forth the Truth, and so gave the contrary Party Occasion by their Defects to be strengthened in their Errors, so it may be said in this Case. The two Extremes some run into, by asserting a final Falling or not Falling from Grace impossible.As upon the one Hand they err who affirm, That the least Degree of true and saving Grace cannot be fallen from, so do they err upon the other Hand that deny any such Stability to be attained from which there cannot be a total[Pg 228] and final Apostasy. And betwixt these two extremes lieth the Truth apparent in the Scriptures, which God hath revealed unto us by the Testimony of his Spirit, and which also we are made sensible of by our own Experience. And even as in the former Controversy was observed, so also in this, the Defence of Truth will readily appear to such as seriously weigh the Matter; for the Arguments upon both Hands, rightly applied, will as to this hold good; and the Objections, which are strong as they are respectively urged against the two opposite false Opinions, are here easily solved, by the Establishing of this Truth. For all the Arguments which these allege that affirm, There can be no falling away, may well be received upon the one Part, as of those who have attained to this Stability and Establishment, and their Objections solved by this Confession; so upon the other Hand, the Arguments alleged from Scripture Testimonies by those that affirm the Possibility of falling away may well be received of such as are not come to this Establishment, though having attained a Measure of true Grace. Thus then the contrary Batterings of Our Adversaries, who miss the Truth, do concur the more strongly to establish it, while they are destroying each other. But lest this may not seem to suffice to satisfy such as judge it always possible for the best of Men before they die to fall away, I shall add, for the Proof of it, some brief Considerations from some few Testimonies of the Scripture.

§. V.

I. Watchfulness and Diligence is of indispensible Necessity to all. And First, I freely acknowledge that it is good for all to be humble, and in this Respect not over confident, so as to lean to this, to foster themselves in Iniquity, or lie down in Security, as if they had attained this Condition, seeing Watchfulness and Diligence is of indispensible Necessity to all mortal Men, so long as they breathe in this World; for God will have this to be the constant Practice of a Christian, that thereby he may be the more fit to serve him, and better armed against all the Temptations of the Enemy. For since the Wages of Sin is Death, there is no Man, while he sinneth, and is subject thereunto, but may lawfully suppose himself capable of perish[Pg 229]ing. Hence the Apostle Paul himself saith, 1 Cor. ix. 27. But I keep under my Body, and bring it into Subjection, lest that by any Means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a Cast-away. Here the Apostle supposes it possible for him to be a Cast-away; and yet it may be judged he was far more advanced in the inward Work of Regeneration, when he wrote that Epistle, than many who now-a-days too presumptuously suppose they cannot fall away, because they feel themselves to have attained some small Degree of true Grace. But the Apostle makes Use of this Supposition or Possibility of his being a Cast-away, as I before observed, as an Inducement to them to be watchful; I keep under my Body, lest, &c. Nevertheless the same Apostle, at another Time, in the Sense and Feeling of God’s holy Power, and in the Dominion thereof, finding himself a Conqueror therethrough over Sin and his Soul’s Enemies, maketh no Difficulty to affirm, Rom. viii. 38. For I am persuaded that neither Death nor Life, &c. which clearly sheweth that he had attained a Condition from which he knew he could not fall away.

II. A Condition attainable in this Life, from which there is no Falling away. But Secondly, It appears such a Condition is attainable, because we are exhorted to it; and, as hath been proved before, the Scripture never proposeth to us Things impossible. Such an Exhortation we have from the Apostle, 2 Pet. i. 10. Wherefore the rather, Brethren, give Diligence to make your Calling and Election sure. And though there be a Condition here proposed, yet since we have already proved that it is possible to fulfil this Condition, then also the Promise annexed thereunto may be attained. And since, where Assurance is wanting, there is still a Place left for Doubtings and Despairs, if we should affirm it never attainable, then should there never be a Place known by the Saints in this World, wherein they might be free of Doubting and Despair; which as it is most absurd in itself, so it is contrary to the manifest Experience of Thousands.

III. A certain Assurance and Establishment given of God to many of his Saints and Children.Thirdly, God hath given to many of his Saints and Children, and is ready to give unto all, a full and certain Assurance that they are his, and that no Power shall be able to pluck them out of his[Pg 230] Hand. But this Assurance would be no Assurance, if those who are so assured were not established and confirmed beyond all Doubt and Hesitation: If so, then surely there is no Possibility for such to miss of that which God hath assured them of. And that there is such Assurance attainable in this Life, the Scripture abundantly declareth, both in general and as to particular Persons. As first, Rev. iii. 12. Him that overcometh will I make a Pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall go no more out, &c. which containeth a general Promise unto all. Hence the Apostle speaks of some that are sealed, 2 Cor. i. 22. Who hath also sealed us, and given the Earnest of the Spirit in our Hearts: Wherefore the Spirit so sealing is called the Earnest or Pledge of our Inheritance, Ephes. i. 13. In whom ye were sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. And therefore the Apostle Paul, not only in that of the Romans above noted, declareth himself to have attained that Condition, but 2 Tim. iv. 7. he affirmeth in these Words, I have fought a good Fight, &c. which also many good Men have and do witness. And therefore as there can be nothing more evident than that which the manifest Experience of this Time sheweth, and therein is found agreeable to the Experience of former Times, so we see there have been both of old and of late that have turned the Grace of God into Wantonness, and have fallen from their Faith and Integrity; thence we may safely conclude such a Falling away possible. We also see that some of old and of late have attained a certain Assurance, some Time before they departed, that they should inherit eternal Life, and have accordingly died in that good Hope, of and concerning whom the Spirit of God testified that they are saved. Wherefore we all see such a State is attainable in this Life, from which there is not a Falling away: For seeing the Spirit of God did so testify, it was not possible that they should perish, concerning whom he who cannot lie thus bare Witness.

[Pg 231]


Concerning the Ministry.

As by the Light or Gift of God all true Knowledge in Things spiritual is received and revealed, so by the same, as it is manifested and received in the Heart, by the Strength and Power thereof, every true Minister of the Gospel is ordained, prepared, and supplied in the Work of the Ministry; and by the Leading, Moving, and Drawing hereof ought every Evangelist and Christian Pastor to be led and ordered in his Labour and Work of the Gospel, both as to the Place where, as to the Persons to whom, and as to the Time wherein he is to minister. Moreover they who have this Authority may and ought to preach the Gospel, though without human Commission or Literature; as on the other Hand, they who want the Authority of this divine Gift, however learned, or authorized by the Commission of Men and Churches, are to be esteemed but as Deceivers, and not true Ministers of the Gospel. The Gospel to be preached freely. Mat. 10. 8.Also they who have received this holy and unspotted Gift, as they have freely received it, so are they freely to give it, without Hire or Bargaining, far less to use it as a Trade to get Money by: Yet God hath called any one from their Employment or Trades, by which they acquire their Livelihood, it may be lawful for such, according to the Liberty which they feel given them in the Lord, to receive such Temporals (to wit, what may be needful for them for Meat and Clothing) as are given them freely and cordially by those to whom they have communicated Spirituals.

§. I.

Hitherto I have treated of those Things which relate to the Christian Faith and Christians, as they stand each in his private and particular Condition, and how and by what Means every Man may be a Christian indeed, and so abide. Now I[Pg 232] come in order to speak of those Things that relate to Christians, as they are stated in a joint Fellowship and Communion, and come under a visible and outward Society, which Society is called the Church of God, and in Scripture compared to a Body, and therefore named the Body of Christ. The Church of God is the spiritual Body of Christ.As then in the natural Body there be divers Members, all concurring to the common End of preserving and confirming the whole Body, so in this spiritual and mystical Body there are also divers Members, according to the different Measures of Grace and of the Spirit diversly administered unto each Member; and from this Diversity ariseth that Distinction of Persons in the visible Society of Christians, as of Apostles, Pastors, Evangelists, Ministers, &c. That which in this Proposition is proposed, is, What makes or constitutes any a Minister of the Church, what his Qualifications ought to be, and how he ought to behave himself? But because it may seem somewhat preposterous to speak of the distinct Offices of the Church until something be said of the Church in general, though nothing positively be said of it in the Proposition; yet, as here implied, I shall briefly premise something thereof, and then proceed to the particular Members of it.

§. II.

It is not in the least my Design to meddle with those tedious and many Controversies wherewith the Papists and Protestants do tear one another concerning this Thing; but only according to the Truth manifested to me, and revealed in me by the Testimony of the Spirit, according to that Proportion of Wisdom given me, briefly to hold forth as a necessary Introduction both to this Matter of the Ministry and of Worship, which followeth those Things which I, together with my Brethren, do believe concerning the Church.

I.The Etymology of the Word [Greek: ekklêsia: εκκλησια] (the Church) and Signification of it. The Church then, according to the grammatical Signification of the Word, as it is used in the holy Scripture, signifies an Assembly or Gathering of many into one Place; for the Substantive [Greek: ekklêsia: εκκλησια] comes from the Word [Greek: ekkaleô: εκκαλεω] I call out of, and originally from [Greek: kaleô: καλεω] I call; and indeed, as this is the grammatical Sense of the Word, so also it is the real and proper Signification of the Thing, the Church being no other Thing but the Society, Gathering, or Company of such as God hath[Pg 233] called out of the World, and worldly Spirit, to walk in his Light and Life. The Church then so defined is to be considered as it comprehends all that are thus called and gathered truly by God, both such as are yet in this inferior World, and such as having already laid down the earthly Tabernacle, are passed into their heavenly Mansions, which together do make up the one Catholick Church, concerning which there is so much Controversy. No Salvation without the Church.Out of which Church we freely acknowledge there can be no Salvation; because under this Church and its Denomination are comprehended all, and as many, of whatsoever Nation, Kindred, Tongue, or People they be, though outwardly Strangers, and remote from those who profess Christ and Christianity in Words, and have the Benefit of the Scriptures, as become obedient to the holy Light and Testimony of God in their Hearts, so as to become sanctified by it, and cleansed from the Evils of their Ways. What the Church is.For this is the Universal or Catholick Spirit, by which many are called from all the four Corners of the Earth, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: By this the secret Life and Virtue of Jesus is conveyed into many that are afar off, even as by the Blood that runs into the Veins and Arteries of the natural Body the Life is conveyed from the Head and Heart unto the extreme Parts. Turks and Jews may become Members of this Church.There may be Members therefore of this Catholick Church both among Heathens, Turks, Jews, and all the several Sorts of Christians, Men and Women of Integrity and Simplicity of Heart, who though blinded in some Things in their Understanding, and perhaps burdened with the Superstitions and Formality of the several Sects in which they are ingrossed, yet being upright in their Hearts before the Lord, chiefly aiming and labouring to be delivered from Iniquity, and loving to follow Righteousness, are by the secret Touches of this holy Light in their Souls enlivened and quickened, thereby secretly united to God, and therethrough become true Members of this Catholick Church. Now the Church in this Respect hath been in Being in all Generations; for God never wanted some such Witnesses for him, though many Times slighted, and not much observed by this[Pg 234] World; and therefore this Church, though still in Being, hath been oftentimes as it were invisible, in that it hath not come under the Observations of the Men of this World, being, as saith the Scripture, Jer. iii. 14. One of a City, and two of a Family. And yet though the Church thus considered may be as it were hid from wicked Men, as not then gathered into a visible Fellowship, yea, and not observed even by some that are Members of it, yet may there notwithstanding many belong to it; as when Elias complained he was left alone, 1 Kings xix. 18. God answered unto him, I have reserved to myself seven thousand Men, who have not bowed their Knees to the Image of Baal; whence the Apostle argues, Rom. xi. the Being of a Remnant in his Day.

§. III.

II.The Definition of the Church of God, as gathered into a visible Fellowship. Secondly, The Church is to be considered as it signifies a certain Number of Persons gathered by God’s Spirit, and by the Testimony of some of his Servants raised up for that End, unto the Belief of the true Principles and Doctrines of the Christian Faith, who through their Hearts being united by the same Love, and their Understandings informed in the same Truths, gather, meet, and assemble together to wait upon God, to worship him, and to bear a joint Testimony for the Truth against Error, suffering for the same, and so becoming through this Fellowship as one Family and Houshold in certain Respects, do each of them watch over, teach, instruct, and care for one another, according to their several Measures and Attainments: Such were the Churches of the primitive Times gathered by the Apostles; whereof we have divers mentioned in the holy Scriptures. And as to the Visibility of the Church in this Respect, there hath been a great Interruption since the Apostles Days, by Reason of the Apostasy, as will hereafter appear.

§. IV.

How to become a Member of that Church.To be a Member then of the Catholick Church, there is Need of the Inward Calling of God by his Light in the Heart, and a being leavened into the Nature and Spirit of it, so as to forsake Unrighteousness, and be turned to Righteousness, and in the Inwardness of the Mind to be cut out of the wild Olive Tree of our own first fallen[Pg 235] Nature, and ingrafted into Christ by his Word and Spirit in the Heart. And this may be done in those who are Strangers to the History, (God not having pleased to make them Partakers thereof) as in the fifth and sixth Propositions hath already been proved.

The outward Profession of the Members of the true Church.To be a Member of a particular Church of Christ, as this inward Work is indispensibly necessary, so is also the outward Profession of, and Belief in, Jesus Christ, and those holy Truths delivered by his Spirit in the Scriptures; seeing the Testimony of the Spirit recorded in the Scriptures, doth answer the Testimony of the same Spirit in the Heart, even as Face answereth Face in a Glass. Hence it follows, that the inward Work of Holiness, and forsaking Iniquity, is necessary in every Respect to the being a Member in the Church of Christ; and that the outward Profession is necessary to be a Member of a particular gathered Church, but not to the being a Member of the Catholick Church; yet it is absolutely necessary, where God affords the Opportunity of knowing it: And the outward Testimony is to be believed, where it is presented and revealed; the Sum whereof hath upon other Occasions been already proved.

§. V.

The Members of the Antichristian Church in the Apostasy, their empty Profession.But contrary hereunto, the Devil, that worketh and hath wrought in the Mystery of Iniquity, hath taught his Followers to affirm, That no Man, however holy, is a Member of the Church of Christ without the outward Profession; and unless he be initiated thereinto by some outward Ceremonies. And again, That Men who have this outward Profession, though inwardly unholy, may be Members of the true Church of Christ, yea, and ought to be so esteemed. This is plainly to put Light for Darkness, and Darkness for Light; as if God had a greater Regard to Words than Actions, and were more pleased with vain Professions than with real Holiness: But these Things I have sufficiently refuted heretofore. Only from hence let it be observed, that upon this false and rotten Foundation Antichrist hath built his Babylonish Structure, and the Antichristian Church in the Apostasy hath hereby reared herself up to that Height and Grandeur she hath attained; so as to[Pg 236] exalt herself above all that is called God, and sit in the Temple of God as God.

The Decay of the Church.For the particular Churches of Christ, gathered in the Apostles Days, soon after beginning to decay as to the inward Life, came to be overgrown with several Errors, and the Hearts of the Professors of Christianity to be leavened with the old Spirit and Conversation of the World. Yet it pleased God for some Centuries to preserve that Life in many, whom he emboldened with Zeal to stand and suffer for his Name through the ten Persecutions: But these being over, the Meekness, Gentleness, Love, Long-suffering, Goodness, and Temperance of Christianity began to be lost. When Men became Christians by Birth, and not by Conversion, Christianity came to be lost.For after that the Princes of the Earth came to take upon them that Profession, and that it ceased to be a Reproach to be a Christian, but rather became a Means to Preferment; Men became such by Birth and Education, and not by Conversion and Renovation of Spirit: Then there was none so vile, none so wicked, none so profane, who became not a Member of the Church. And the Teachers and Pastors thereof becoming the Companions of Princes, and so being enriched by their Benevolence, and getting vast Treasures and Estates, became puffed up, and as it were drunken with the vain Pomp and Glory of this World: And so marshalled themselves in manifold Orders and Degrees; not without innumerable Contests and Altercations who should have the [79]Precedency. So the Virtue, Life, Substance, and Kernel of Christian Religion came to be lost, and nothing remained but a Shadow and Image; which dead Image, or Carcase of Christianity (to make it take the better with the superstitious Multitude of Heathens that were engrossed in it, not by any inward Conversion of their Hearts, or by becoming less wicked or superstitious, but by a little Change in the Object of their Superstition) not having the inward Ornament and Life of the Spirit, became decked with many outward and visible Orders, and beautified with the Gold, Silver, precious Stones,[Pg 237] and the other splendid Ornaments of this perishing World: So that this was no more to be accounted the Christian Religion, and Christian Church, notwithstanding the outward Profession, than the dead Body of a Man is to be accounted a living Man; which, however cunningly embalmed, and adorned with ever so much Gold or Silver, or most precious Stones, or sweet Ointments, is but a dead Body still, without Sense, Life, or Motion. In the Church of Rome are no less Superstitions and Ceremonies introduced, than were either among Jews or Heathens.For that Apostate Church of Rome has introduced no fewer Ceremonies and Superstitions into the Christian Profession, than were either among Jews or Heathens; and that there is and hath been as much, yea, and more Pride, Covetousness, Uncleanness, Luxury, Fornication, Profaneness and Atheism among her Teachers and chief Bishops, than ever was among any Sort of People, none need doubt, that have read their own Authors, to wit, Platina and others.

[79] As was between the Bishop of Rome and the Bishop of Constantinople.

Whether, and what Difference there is betwixt the Protestants and Papists in Superstitions.Now, though Protestants have reformed from her in some of the most gross Points and absurd Doctrines relating to the Church and Ministry, yet (which is to be regretted) they have only lopt off the Branches, but retain and plead earnestly for the same Root, from which these Abuses have sprung. So that even among them, though all that Mass of Superstition, Ceremonies, and Orders be not again established, yet the same Pride, Covetousness and Sensuality is found to have overspread and leavened their Churches and Ministry, and the Life, Power and Virtue of true Religion is lost among them; and the very same Death, Barrenness, Dryness and Emptiness, is found in their Ministry. So that in Effect they differ from Papists but in Form and some Ceremonies; being with them apostatised from the Life and Power the true Primitive Church and her Pastors were in: So that of both it may be said truly (without Breach of Charity) that having only a Form of Godliness (and many of them not so much as that) they are Deniers of, yea, Enemies to, the Power of it. And this proceeds not simply from their not walking answerably to their own Principles, and so degenerating that Way, which also is true; but, which is worse, their laying down to themselves, and adhering[Pg 238] to certain Principles, which naturally, as a cursed Root, bring forth these bitter Fruits: These therefore shall afterwards be examined and refuted, as the contrary Positions of Truth in the Proposition are explained and proved.

For as to the Nature and Constitution of a Church[80] (abstract from their Disputes concerning its constant Visibility, Infallibility, and the Primacy of the Church of Rome) the Protestants, as in Practice, so in Principles, differ not from Papists; The Protestant Church how they become Members thereof.for they engross within the Compass of their Church whole Nations, making their Infants Members of it, by sprinkling a little Water upon them; so that there is none so wicked or profane who is not a Fellow-member; no Evidence of Holiness being required to constitute a Member of the Church. Nay, look through the Protestant Nations, and there will no Difference appear in the Lives of the Generality of the One, more than of the Other; he, who ruleth in the Children of Disobedience, reigning in both: Christianity chiefly consists in the Renewing of the Heart.So that the Reformation, through this Defect, is only in holding some less gross Errors in the Notion, but not in having the Heart reformed and renewed, in which mainly the Life of Christianity consisteth.

[80] i. e. National.

§. VI.

A Popish, corrupt Ministry all Evils follow.But the Popish Errors concerning the Ministry, which they have retained, are most of all to be regretted, by which chiefly the Life and Power of Christianity is barred out among them, and they kept in Death, Barrenness and Dryness: There being nothing more hurtful than an Error in this Respect. Like People, like Priest. Hosea 4. 9.For where a false and corrupt Ministry entereth, all Manner of other Evils follow upon it, according to that Scripture Adage, Like People, like Priest: For by their Influence, instead of ministering Life and Righteousness, they minister Death and Iniquity. The whole Backslidings of the Jewish Congregation of old are hereto ascribed: The Leaders of my People have caused them to err. The whole Writings of the Prophets are full of such Complaints; and for this Cause, under the New Testament, we are so often warned and guarded to beware of false Prophets, and false Teachers, &c. What may be thought then, where all, as to this, is[Pg 239] out of Order; where both the Foundation, Call, Qualifications, Maintenance, and whole Discipline are different from and opposite to the Ministry of the Primitive Church; yea, and necessarily tend to the Shutting out of a Spiritual Ministry, and the bringing in and establishing of a Carnal? This shall appear by Parts.

§. VII.

Quest. 1.That then which comes first to be questioned in this Matter, is concerning the Call of a Minister; to wit, What maketh, or how cometh a Man to be, a Minister, Pastor, or Teacher in the Church of Christ?

Answ.The Call of a Minister and wherein it consisteth. We answer; By the inward Power and Virtue of the Spirit of God. For, as saith our Proposition, Having received the true Knowledge of Things spiritual by the Spirit of God, without which they cannot be known, and being by the same in Measure purified and sanctified, he comes thereby to be called and moved to minister to others; being able to speak, from a living Experience, of what he himself is a Witness; and therefore knowing the Terror of the Lord, he is fit to persuade Men, &c. 2 Cor. v. 11. and his Words and Ministry, proceeding from the inward Power and Virtue, reach to the Heart of his Hearers, and make them approve of him, and be subject unto him. Object.Our Adversaries are forced to confess, that this were indeed desirable and best; but this they will not have to be absolutely necessary. I shall first prove the Necessity of it, and then shew how much they err in that which they make more necessary than this divine and heavenly Call.

Arg.1. The Necessity of an inward Call to make a Man a Christian. First, That which is necessary to make a Man a Christian, so as without it he cannot be truly one, must be much more necessary to make a Man a Minister of Christianity; seeing the one is a Degree above the other, and has it included in it: Nothing less than he that supposeth a Master, supposeth him first to have attained the Knowledge and Capacity of a Scholar. They that are not Christians, cannot be Teachers and Ministers among Christians.

But this inward Call, Power and Virtue of the Spirit of God, is necessary to make a Man a Christian; as we have abundantly proved before in the second Proposition, according to these Scriptures, He[Pg 240] that hath not the Spirit of Christ, is none of his. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the Sons of God:

Therefore this Call, Moving and Drawing of the Spirit, must be much more necessary to make a Man a Minister.

2. The Ministry of the Spirit requires the Operation and Testimony of the Spirit.Secondly, All Ministers of the New Testament ought to be Ministers of the Spirit, and not of the Letter, according to that of 2 Cor. iii. 6. and as the old Latin hath it, Not by the Letter, but by the Spirit: But how can a Man be a Minister of the Spirit, who is not inwardly called by it, and who looks not upon the Operation and Testimony of the Spirit as essential to his Call? As he could not be a Minister of the Letter who had thence no Ground for his Call, yea, who was altogether a Stranger to and unacquainted with it, so neither can he be a Minister of the Spirit who is a Stranger to it, and unacquainted with the Motions thereof, and knows it not to draw, act, and move him, and go before him in the Work of the Ministry. I would willingly know, how those that take upon them to be Ministers (as they suppose) of the Gospel, merely from an outward Vocation, without so much as being any ways sensible of the Work of the Spirit, or any inward Call therefrom, can either satisfy themselves or others that they are Ministers of the Spirit, or wherein they differ from the Ministers of the Letter? For,

3. Under the Law the People needed not to doubt, who should be Priests and Ministers.Thirdly, If this inward Call, or Testimony of the Spirit, were not essential and necessary to a Minister, then the Ministry of the New Testament would not only be no ways preferable to, but in divers Respects far worse than that of the Law. For under the Law there was a certain Tribe allotted for the Ministry, and of that Tribe certain Families set apart for the Priesthood and other Offices, by the immediate Command of God to Moses; so that the People needed not be in any Doubt who should be Priests and Ministers of the holy Things: Yea, and besides this, God called forth, by the immediate Testimony of his Spirit, several at divers Times to teach, instruct, and reprove his People, as Samuel, Nathan, Elias, Elisha, Jeremiah, Amos, and many more of the Prophets: But now under the New Covenant, where the[Pg 241] Ministry ought to be more spiritual, the Way more certain, and the Access more easy unto the Lord, our Adversaries, by denying the Necessity of this inward and spiritual Vocation, make it quite otherways. For there being now no certain Family or Tribe to which the Ministry is limited, we are left in Uncertainty, to choose and have Pastors at a Venture, without any certain Assent of the Will of God; having neither an outward Rule nor Certainty in this Affair to walk by: For that the Scripture cannot give any certain Rule in this Matter, hath in the third Proposition concerning it been already shewn.

4. Christ the Door.Fourthly, Christ proclaims them all [81]Thieves and Robbers, that enter not by him the Door into the Sheepfold, but climb up some other Way; whom the Sheep ought not to hear: But such as come in without the Call, Movings, and Leadings of the Spirit of Christ, wherewith he leads his Children into all Truth, come in certainly not by Christ, who is the Door, but some other Way, and therefore are not true Shepherds.

[81] John 10. 1.

§. VIII.

Succession pleaded by the false Church from Christ and his Apostles.To all this they object the Succession of the Church; alleging, That since Christ gave a Call to his Apostles and Disciples, they have conveyed that Call to their Successors, having Power to ordain Pastors and Teachers; by which Power the Authority of ordaining and making Ministers and Pastors is successively conveyed to us; so that such, who are ordained and called by the Pastors of the Church, are therefore true and lawful Ministers; and others, who are not so called, are to be accounted but Intruders. Hereunto also some Protestants add a Necessity, though they make it not a Thing essential; That besides this Calling of the Church, every one, being called, ought to have the inward Call of the Spirit, inclining him so chosen to his Work: But this they say is subjective and not objective; of which before.

Answ.As to what is subjoined of the inward Call of the Spirit, in that they make it not essential to a true Call, but a Supererogation as it were, it sheweth how little they set by it: Since those they admit to the Ministry are not so much as questioned in their Trials, whether they have this or not. Yet, in that it hath been often men[Pg 242]tioned, especially by the Primitive Protestants in their Treatises on this Subject, it sheweth how much they were secretly convinced in their Minds, that this inward Call of the Spirit was most excellent, and preferable to any other; The Call of the Spirit preferred to any other by Primitive Protestants.and therefore in the most noble and heroic Acts of the Reformation, they laid Claim unto it; so that many of the Primitive Protestants did not scruple both to despise and disown this outward[82] Call, when urged by the Papists against them. Modern Protestants denying the Call of the Spirit.But now Protestants, having gone from the Testimony of the Spirit, plead for the same Succession; and being pressed (by those whom God now raiseth up by his Spirit to reform those Abuses that are among them) with the Example of their Forefathers Practice against Rome, they are not at all ashamed utterly to deny that their Fathers were called to their Work by the inward and immediate Vocation of the Spirit; clothing themselves with that Call, which they say their Forefathers had, as Pastors of the Roman Church. For thus (not to go further) affirmeth Nicolaus Arnoldus,[83] in a Pamphlet written against the same Propositions, called, A Theologick Exercitation, Sect. 40. averring, That they pretended not to an immediate Act of the Holy Spirit; but reformed by the Virtue of the ordinary Vocation which they had in the Church, as it then was, to wit, that of Rome, &c.

[82] Succession.

[83] Who gives himself out Doctor and Professor of Sacred Theology at Franequer.

§. IX.

Absurdities Protestants fall into, by deriving their Ministry through the Church of Rome.Many Absurdities do Protestants fall into, by deriving their Ministry thus through the Church of Rome. As, First, They must acknowledge her to be a true Church of Christ, though only erroneous in some Things; which contradicts their Forefathers so frequently, and yet truly, calling her Antichrist. Secondly, They must needs acknowledge, that the Priests and Bishops of the Romish Church are true Ministers and Pastors of the Church of Christ, as to the essential Part; else they could not be fit Subjects for that Power and Authority to have resided in; neither could they have been Vessels capable to receive that Power, and again transmit it to their Successors. Thirdly, It would follow from this, that the Priests and Bishops of the Romish[Pg 243] Church are yet really true Pastors and Teachers: For if Protestant Ministers have no Authority but what they received from them, and since the Church of Rome is the same she was at that Time of the Reformation in Doctrine and Manners, and she has the same Power now she had then, and if the Power lie in the Succession, then these Priests of the Romish Church now, which derive their Ordination from those Bishops that ordained the first Reformers, have the same Authority which the Successors of the Reformed have, and consequently are no less Ministers of the Church than they are. But how will this agree with that Opinion which the Primitive Protestants had of the Romish Priests and Clergy, to whom Luther did not only deny any Power or Authority, but contrary-wise affirmed, That it was wickedly done of them, to assume to themselves only this Authority to teach, and be Priests and Ministers, &c. Luther affirmed, that a Woman might be a Preacher.For he himself affirmed, That every good Christian (not only Men, but even Women also) is a Preacher.

§. X.

The pretended Succession of Papists and Protestants explained.But against this vain Succession, as asserted either by the Papists or Protestants as a necessary Thing to the Call of a Minister, I answer; That such as plead for it, as a sufficient or necessary Thing to the Call of a Minister, do thereby sufficiently declare their Ignorance of the Nature of Christianity, and how much they are Strangers to the Life and Power of a Christian Ministry, which is not entailed to Succession, as an outward Inheritance; and herein, as hath been often before observed, they not only make the Gospel not better than the Law, but even far short of it. For Jesus Christ, as he regardeth not any distinct particular Family or Nation in the gathering of his Children; but only such as are joined to and leavened with his own pure and righteous Seed, so neither regards he a bare outward Succession, where his pure, immaculate, and righteous Life is wanting; for that were all one. He took not the Nations into the New Covenant, that he might suffer them to fall into the old Errors of the Jews, or to approve them in their Errors, but that he might gather unto himself a pure People out of the Earth. Now this was the[Pg 244] great Error of the Jews, to think they were the Church and People of God, because they could derive their outward Succession from Abraham; The Jews Error of Abraham’s outward Succession.whereby they reckoned themselves the Children of God, as being the Offspring of Abraham, who was the Father of the Faithful. But how severely doth the Scripture rebuke this vain and frivolous Pretence? Telling them, That God is able of the Stones to raise Children unto Abraham; and that not the outward Seed, but those that were found in the Faith of Abraham, are the true Children of faithful Abraham. Far less then can this Pretence hold among Christians, seeing Christ rejects all outward Affinity of that Kind: [84]These, saith he, are my Mother, Brethren and Sisters, who do the Will of my Father which is in Heaven: And again; He looked round about him, and said, Who shall do the Will of God, these, saith he, are my Brethren. So then, such as do not the Commands of Christ, are not found clothed with his Righteousness, are not his Disciples; and that which a Man hath not, he cannot give to another: And it is clear, that no Man nor Church, though truly called of God, and as such having the Authority of a Church and Minister, can any longer retain that Authority, than they retain the Power, Life, and Righteousness of Christianity; for the Form is entailed to the Power and Substance, and not the Substance to the Form. The Form of Godliness is entailed to the Power and Substance, and not the Substance to the Form.So that when a Man ceaseth inwardly in his Heart to be a Christian (where his Christianity must lie) by turning to Satan, and becoming a Reprobate, he is no more a Christian, though he retain the Name and Form, than a dead Man is a Man, though he hath the Image and Representation of one, or than the Picture or Statue of a Man is a Man: And though a dead Man may serve to a Painter to retain some imperfect Representation of the Man, that once was alive, and so one Picture may serve to make another by, yet none of those can serve to make a true living Man again, neither can they convey the Life and Spirit of the Man; it must be God, that made the Man at first, that alone can revive him. Succession interrupted.As Death then makes such Interruption of an outward natural Succession, that no Art nor outward Form can uphold, and as a[Pg 245] dead Man, after he is dead, can have no Issue, neither can dead Images of Men make living Men: So that it is the Living that are only capable to succeed one another; and such as die, so soon as they die cease to succeed, or to transmit Succession. So it is in spiritual Things; it is the Life of Christianity, taking Place in the Heart, that makes a Christian; The Living Members make the Church: Life lost, the Church is ceased.and so it is a Number of such, being alive, joined together in the Life of Christianity, that make a Church of Christ; and it is all those that are thus alive and quickened, considered together, that make the Catholick Church of Christ: Therefore when this Life ceaseth in one, then that one ceaseth to be a Christian; and all Power, Virtue, and Authority, which he had as a Christian, ceaseth with it; so that if he hath been a Minister or Teacher, he ceaseth to be so any more: And though he retain the Form, and hold to the Authority in Words, yet that signifies no more, nor is it of any more real Virtue and Authority, than the mere Image of a dead Man. Judas fell from his Ministry by Transgression.And as this is most agreeable to Reason, so it is to the Scripture’s Testimony; for it is said of Judas, Acts i. 25. That Judas fell from his Ministry and Apostleship by Transgression; so his Transgression caused him to cease to be an Apostle any more: Whereas, had the Apostleship been entailed to his Person, so that Transgression could not cause him to lose it, until he had been formally degraded by the Church (which Judas never was so long as he lived) Judas had been as really an Apostle, after he betrayed Christ, as before. And as it is of one, so of many, yea, of a whole Church: For seeing nothing makes a Man truly a Christian, but the Life of Christianity inwardly ruling in his Heart; so nothing makes a Church, but the gathering of several true Christians into one Body. Now where all these Members lose this Life, there the Church ceaseth to be, though they still uphold the Form, and retain the Name: For when that which made them a Church, and for which they were a Church, ceaseth, then they cease also to be a Church: And therefore the Spirit, speaking to the Church of Laodicea, because of her Lukewarmness, Rev. iii. 16. threateneth to spue her out of his Mouth.[Pg 246] The Lukewarmness of the Church of Laodicea.Now, suppose the Church of Laodicea had continued in that Lukewarmness, and had come under that Condemnation and Judgment, though she had retained the Name and Form of a Church, and had had her Pastors and Ministers, as no Doubt she had at that Time, yet surely she had been no true Church of Christ, nor had the Authority of her Pastors and Teachers been to be regarded, because of an outward Succession, though perhaps some of them had it immediately from the Apostles. From all which I infer, That since the Authority of the Christian Church and her Pastors is always united, and never separated from the inward Power, Virtue, and righteous Life of Christianity; where this ceaseth, that ceaseth also. But our Adversaries acknowledge, That many, if not most of those, by and through whom they derive this Authority, were altogether destitute of this Life and Virtue of Christianity: Therefore they could neither receive, have, nor transmit any Christian Authority.

[84] Mat. 12. 48. &c. Mark 3. 33. &c.

Object.But if it be objected, That though the Generality of the Bishops and Priests of the Church of Rome, during the Apostasy, were such wicked Men; yet Protestants affirm, and thou thyself seemest to acknowledge, that there were some good Men among them, whom the Lord regarded, and who were true Members of the Catholick Church of Christ; might not they then have transmitted this Authority?

Answ.The Protestants plead for a Succession inherent. I answer, This saith nothing; in respect Protestants do not at all lay Claim to their Ministry, as transmitted to them by a direct Line of good Men; which they can never shew, nor yet pretend to: But generally place this Succession as inherent in the whole Pastors of the Apostate Church. Neither do they plead their Call to be good and valid, because they can derive it through a Line of good Men, separate and observably distinguishable from the rest of the Bishops and Clergy of the Romish Church; but they derive it as an Authority residing in the Whole: For they think it Heresy, to judge that the Quality or Condition of the Administrator doth any Ways invalidate or prejudice his Work.

[Pg 247]

This vain and pretended Succession not only militates against, and fights with the very manifest Purpose and Intent of Christ in the gathering and calling of his Church, but makes him (so to speak) more blind and less prudent than natural Men are in conveying and establishing their outward Inheritances. An Estate void of Heirship devolves to the Prince, none claims it, but whom he sees meet to give it: So the Heirship of Life is enjoyed from Christ, the true Heir.For where an Estate is entailed to a certain Name and Family, when that Family weareth out, and there is no lawful Successor found of it, that can make a just Title appear, as being really of Blood and Affinity to the Family; it is not lawful for any one of another Race or Blood, because he assumes the Name or Arms of that Family, to possess the Estate, and claim the Superiorities and Privileges of the Family: But by the Law of Nations the Inheritance devolves into the Prince, as being Ultimus Hæres; and so he giveth it again immediately to whom he sees meet, and makes them bear the Name and Arms of the Family, who then are entitled to the Privileges and Revenues thereof. So in like Manner, the true Name and Title of a Christian, by which he hath Right to the heavenly Inheritance, and is a Member of Jesus Christ, is inward Righteousness and Holiness, and the Mind redeemed from the Vanities, Lusts, and Iniquities of this World; and a Gathering or Company, made up of such Members, makes a Church. Where this is lost, the Title is lost; and so the true Seed, to which the Promise is, and to which the Inheritance is due, becomes extinguished in them, and they become dead as to it: And so it retires, and devolves itself again into Christ, who is the righteous Heir of Life; and he gives the Title and true Right again immediately to whom it pleaseth him, even to as many as being turned to his pure Light in their Consciences, come again to walk in his righteous and innocent Life, and so become true Members of his Body, which is the Church. So the Authority, Power and Heirship are not annexed to Persons, as they bear the mere Names, or retain a Form, holding the bare Shell or Shadow of Christianity; but the Promise is to Christ, and to the Seed, in whom the Authority is inherent, and in as many as are one with him, and united[Pg 248] unto him by Purity and Holiness, and by the inward Renovation and Regeneration of their Minds.

Moreover, this pretended Succession is contrary to Scripture Definitions, and the Nature of the Church of Christ, and of the true Members. I. The House of God is no polluted Nest; no Atheist nor Pretender can rest there.For, First, The Church is the House of God, the Pillar and Ground of Truth, 1 Tim. iii. 15. But according to this Doctrine, the House of God is a polluted Nest of all Sort of Wickedness and Abominations, made up of the most ugly, defiled, and perverse Stones that are in the Earth; where the Devil rules in all Manner of Unrighteousness. For so our Adversaries confess, and History informs, the Church of Rome to have been, as some of their Historians acknowledge; and if that be truly the House of God, what may we call the House of Satan? Or may we call it therefore the House of God, notwithstanding all this Impiety, because they had a bare Form, and that vitiated many Ways also; and because they pretended to the Name of Christianity, though they were Antichristian, Devilish, and Atheistical in their whole Practice and Spirit, and also in many of their Principles? Would not this infer yet a greater Absurdity, as if they had been something to be accounted of, because of their Hypocrisy and Deceit, and false Pretences? Whereas the Scripture looks upon that as an Aggravation of Guilt, and calls it Blasphemy, Rev. ii. 9. Of two wicked Men, he is most to be abhorred, who covereth his Wickedness with a vain Pretence of God and Righteousness: Even so these abominable Beasts, and fearful Monsters, who looked upon themselves to be Bishops in the Apostate Church, were never a Whit the better, that they falsely pretended to be the Successors of the holy Apostles; unless to lie be commendable, and that Hypocrisy be the Way to Heaven. Yea, were not this to fall into that Evil condemned among the Jews, Jer. vii. 4. Trust ye not in lying Words, saying, The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord are these; throughly amend your Ways, &c. as if such outward Names and Things were the Thing the Lord regarded, and not inward Holiness? Or can that then be the Pillar and Ground of Truth, which is the very Sink and Pit of Wick[Pg 249]edness, from which so much Error, Superstition, Idolatry, and all Abomination spring? Can there be any Thing more contrary both to Scripture and Reason?

II. Christ is the Head, his Body undefiled. Secondly, The Church is defined to be the Kingdom of the dear Son of God, into which the Saints are translated, being delivered from the Power of Darkness. It is called the Body of Christ, which from him by Joints and Bands having Nourishment ministered and knit together, increaseth with the Increase of God, Col. ii. 19. But can such Members, such a Gathering as we have demonstrated that Church and Members to be, among whom they allege their pretended Authority to have been preserved, and through which they derive their Call; can such, I say, be the Body of Christ, or Members thereof? Or is Christ the Head of such a corrupt, dead, dark, abominable stinking Carcase? If so, then might we not as well affirm against the Apostle, 2 Cor. vi. 14. What Fellowship hath Christ with Belial?That Righteousness hath Fellowship with Unrighteousness, that Light hath Communion with Darkness, that Christ hath Concord with Belial, that a Believer hath Part with an Infidel, and that the Temple of God hath Agreement with Idols? Moreover no Man is called the Temple of God, nor of the Holy Ghost, but as his Vessel is purified, and so be fitted and prepared for God to dwell in; and many thus fitted by Christ become his Body, in and among whom he dwells and walks, according as it is written, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my People. It is therefore that we may become the Temple of Christ and People of God, that the Apostle in the following Verse exhorts, saying out of the Prophet, [85]Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean Thing, and I will receive you; and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my Sons and Daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. But to what Purpose is all this Exhortation? And why should we separate from the Unclean, if a mere outward Profession and Name be enough to make the true Church; and if the Unclean and Polluted were both the Church and lawful Successors of the Apostles, inheriting their Authority, and transmitting it to others? Yea, how can the Church be the Kingdom of[Pg 250] the Son of God, as contra-distinguished from the Kingdom and Power of Darkness? And what Need, yea, what Possibility of being translated out of the one into the other, if those that make up the Kingdom and Power of Darkness be real Members of the true Church of Christ; and not simply Members only, but the very Pastors and Teachers of it? But how do they increase in the Increase of God, and receive spiritual Nourishment from Christ the Head, that are Enemies of him in their Hearts by wicked Works, and openly go into Perdition? Priests frivolous Distinction of Enemies to God by Practice, and Members of his Church by Office.Verily as no metaphysical and nice Distinctions, that though they were practically as to their own private States Enemies to God and Christ, and so Servants of Satan; yet they were, by Virtue of their Office, Members and Ministers of the Church, and so able to transmit the Succession; I say, as such invented and frivolous Distinctions will not please the Lord God, neither will he be deluded by such, nor make up the glorious Body of his Church with such mere outside hypocritical Shews, nor be beholden to such painted Sepulchres to be Members of his Body, which is found, pure, and undefiled, and therefore he needs not such false and corrupt Members to make up the Defects of it; so neither will such Distinctions satisfy truly tender and Christian Consciences; especially considering the Apostle is so far from desiring us to regard this, that we are expresly commanded to turn away from such as have a Form of Godliness, but deny the Power of it. For we may well object against these, as the poor Man did against the proud Prelate, that went about to cover his vain and unchristian-like Sumptuousness, by distinguishing that it was not as Bishop but as Prince he had all that Splendor. The Answer of a poor Rustick to a proud Prelate.To which the poor Rustic wisely is said to have answered, When the Prince goeth to Hell, what shall become of the Prelate? And indeed this were to suppose the Body of Christ to be defective, and that to fill up these defective Places, he puts counterfeit and dead Stuff instead of real living Members; like such as lose their Eyes, Arms, or Legs, who make counterfeit ones of Wood or Glass instead of them. But we cannot think so of Christ, neither can we believe, for the Reasons above adduced, that[Pg 251] either we are to account, or that Christ doth account, any Man or Men a Whit the more Members of his Body, because though they be really wicked, they hypocritically and deceitfully clothe themselves with his Name, and pretend to it; for this is contrary to his own Doctrine, where he saith expresly, John xv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, &c. That he is the Vine, and his Disciples are the Branches; that except they abide in him, they cannot bear Fruit; and if they be unfruitful, they shall be cast forth as a Branch, and wither. A withered Branch can draw no Nourishment, so has no Life nor Virtue.Now I suppose these cut and withered Branches are no more true Branches nor Members of the Vine; they can no more draw Sap nor Nourishment from it, after that they are cut off, and so have no more Virtue, Sap, nor Life: What have they then to boast or glory of any Authority, seeing they want that Life, Virtue, and Nourishment from which all Authority comes? So such Members of Christ as are become dead to him through Unrighteousness, and so derive no more Virtue nor Life from him, are cut off by their Sins, and wither, and have no longer any true or real Authority, and their boasting of any is but an Aggravation of their Iniquity by Hypocrisy and Deceit. But further, would not this make Christ’s Body a mere Shadow and Phantasm? Yea, would it not make him the Head of a lifeless, rotten, stinking Carcase, having only some little outward false Shew, while inwardly full of Rottenness and Dirt? A living Head upon a lifeless Body, what a Monster would that be?And what a Monster would these Men make of Christ’s Body, by assigning it a real, pure, living, quick Head, full of Virtue and Life, and yet tied to such a dead lifeless Body as we have already described these Members to be, which they allege to have been the Church of Christ? Again, the Members of the Church of Christ are specified by this Definition, to wit, as being the sanctified in Christ Jesus, 1 Cor. i. 2. But this Notion of Succession supposeth not only some unsanctified Members to be of the Church of Christ, but even the Whole to consist of unsanctified Members; yea, that such as were professed Necromancers and open Servants of Satan were the true Successors of the Apostles, and in whom the Apostolick Authority resided, these being the Vessels through whom this Succes[Pg 252]sion is transmitted; though many of them, as all Protestants and also some Papists confess, attained these Offices in the (so called) Church not only by such Means as Simon Magus sought it, but by much worse, even by Witchcraft, Traditions, Money, Treachery, and Murder, which Platina himself confesseth[86] of divers Bishops of Rome.

[85] 2 Cor. 6. 17, 18.

[86] In the Life of Benedict 4. of John 16. of Sylvester 3. of Boniface 8. of Steph. 6. of Joan 8. Also Onuphrius’s Annotations upon this Papess (or Popess) towards the End.

§. XI.

But such as object not this Succession of the Church, which yet most Protestants begin now to do, distinguish in this Matter, affirming, That in a great Apostasy, such as was that of the Church of Rome, God may raise up some singularly by his Spirit, who from the Testimony of the Scriptures perceiving the Errors into which such as bear the Name of Christians are fallen, may instruct and teach them, and then become authorized by the People’s joining with and accepting of their Ministry only. Most of them also will affirm, That the Spirit herein is subjective, and not objective.

Object.But they say, That where a Church is reformed (such as they pretend the Protestant Churches are) there an Ordinary orderly Call is necessary; and that of the Spirit, as extraordinary, is not to be sought after: Alleging, that Res aliter se habet in ecclesiâ constituendâ, quàm in ecclesiâ constitutâ; that is, There is a Difference in the constituting of a Church, and after it is constituted.

Answ.A Difference objected between Constituting a Church and one as Constituted. I answer, This Objection as to us saith nothing, seeing we accuse, and are ready from the Scriptures to prove the Protestants guilty of gross Errors, and needing Reformation, as well as they did and do the Papists; and therefore we may justly lay Claim, if we would, to the same extraordinary Call, having the same Reason for it, and as good Evidence to prove ours as they had for theirs. As for that Maxim, viz. That the Case is different in constituting a Church, and a Church constituted, I do not deny it; and therefore there may be a greater Measure of Power required to the one than to the other, and God in his Wisdom distributes the same as he sees meet; but that the[Pg 253] same immediate Assistance of the Spirit is not necessary for Ministers in a gathered Church as well as in gathering one, I see no solid Reason alleged for it: For surely Christ’s Promise was to be with his Children to the End of the World, and they need him no less to preserve and guide his Church and Children than to gather and beget them. Nature taught the Gentiles this Maxim,

Non minor est virtus, quam quærere, parta tueri.

To defend what we attain, requires no less Strength than what is necessary to acquire it.

For it is by this inward and immediate Operation of the Spirit, which Christ hath promised to lead his Children with into all Truth, and to teach them all Things, that Christians are to be led in all Steps, as well last as first, which relate to God’s Glory and their own Salvation, as we have heretofore sufficiently proved, and therefore need not now repeat it. It is a Device of Satan for Men to put the Spirit’s Leadings far off to former Times.And truly this Device of Satan, whereby he has got People to put the immediate Guidings and Leadings of God’s Spirit as an extraordinary Thing afar off, which their Forefathers had, but which they now are neither to wait for nor expect, is a great Cause of the growing Apostasy upon the many gathered Churches, and is one great Reason why a dry, dead, barren, lifeless, spiritless Ministry, which leavens the People into the same Death, doth so much abound, and is so much overspreading even the Protestant Nations, that their Preaching and Worships, as well as their whole Conversation, is not to be discerned from Popish by any fresh living Zeal, or lively Power of the Spirit accompanying it, but merely by the Difference of some Notions and Opinions.

§. XII.

Object.Some unwise and unwary Protestants do sometimes object to us, That if we have such an immediate Call as we lay Claim to, we ought to confirm it by Miracles.

[Pg 254]

Answ.But this being an Objection once and again urged against the Primitive Protestants by the Papists, we need but in short return the Answer to it that they did to the Papists, to wit, Whether Miracles be now necessary to confirm the Gospel?That we need not Miracles, because we preach no new Gospel, but that which is already confirmed by all the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles; and that we offer nothing but that which we are ready and able to confirm by the Testimony of the Scriptures, which both already acknowledge to be true: John Baptist and divers Prophets did none.And that John the Baptist and divers of the Prophets did none that we hear of, and yet were both immediately and extraordinarily sent. This is the common Protestant Answer, therefore may suffice in this Place; though, if Need were, I could say more to this Purpose, but that I study Brevity.

§. XIII.

The Constitution of the Independent Church.There is also another Sort of Protestants, to wit, the English Independents, who differing from the Calvinistical Presbyterians, and denying the Necessity of this Succession, or the Authority of any National Church, take another Way; affirming, That such as have the Benefit of the Scriptures, any Company of People agreeing in the Principles of Truth as they find them here declared, may constitute among themselves a Church, without the Authority of any other, and may choose to themselves a Pastor, who by the Church thus constituted and consenting, is authorized, requiring only the Assistance and Concurrence of the Pastors of the neighbouring Churches, if any such there be; not so much as absolutely necessary to authorize, as decent for Order’s Sake. Gifted Brethren.Also they go so far as to affirm, That in a Church so constituted, any gifted Brother, as they call them, if he find himself qualified thereto, may instruct, exhort, and preach in the Church; though, as not having the Pastoral Office, he cannot administer those which they call their Sacraments.

To this I answer, That this was a good Step out of the Babylonish Darkness, and no Doubt did proceed from a real Discovery of the Truth, and from the Sense of a great Abuse of the promiscuous National Gatherings. Also this Preaching of the gifted Brethren, as they called them, did proceed at first from certain lively Touches and Movings of the Spirit of God upon many; but alas! Their Loss and Decay.because they went not forward, that is much decayed among them; and the Motions of[Pg 255] God’s Spirit begin to be denied and rejected among them now, as much as by others.

The Scriptures give no Call to Persons Individual.But as to their pretended Call from the Scripture, I answer, The Scripture gives a mere Declaration of true Things, but no Call to particular Persons; so that though I believe the Things there written to be true, and deny the Errors which I find there testified against, yet as to those Things which may be my particular Duty, I am still to seek; and therefore I can never be resolved in the Scripture whether I (such a one by Name) ought to be a Minister? And for the resolving this Doubt I must needs recur to the inward and immediate Testimony of the Spirit, as in the Proposition concerning the Scriptures is shewn more at large.

§. XIV.

From all this then we do firmly conclude, that not only in a general Apostasy it is needful Men be extraordinarily called, and raised up by the Spirit of God, but that even when several Assemblies or Churches are gathered by the Power of God, not only into the Belief of the Principles of Truth, so as to deny Errors and Heresies, but also into the Life, Spirit, and Power of Christianity, so as to be the Body and House of Christ indeed, and a fit Spouse for him, True Ministers Qualifications, Call and Title.that he who gathers them doth also, for the preserving them in a lively, fresh, and powerful Condition, raise up and move among them by the inward immediate Operation of his own Spirit, Ministers and Teachers, to instruct and teach, and watch over them, who being thus called, are manifest in the Hearts of their Brethren, and their Call is thus verified in them, who by the feeling of that Life and Power that passeth through them, being inwardly builded up by them daily in the most holy Faith, become the Seals of their Apostleship. And this is answerable to another Saying of the same Apostle Paul, 2 Cor. xiii. 3. Their laying on of Hands a Mock to God and Man; a keeping the Shadow, whilst the Substance is wanting.Since ye seek a Proof of Christ’s Speaking in me, which to you-wards is not weak, but is mighty in you. So this is that which gives a true substantial Call and Title to a Minister, whereby he is a real Successor of the Virtue, Life, and Power that was in the Apostles, and not of the bare Name: And to such Ministers we think the out[Pg 256]ward Ceremony of Ordination; or laying on of Hands not necessary, neither can we see the Use of it, seeing our Adversaries who use it acknowledge that the Virtue and Power of communicating the Holy Ghost by it is ceased among them. And is it not then foolish and ridiculous for them, by an apish Imitation, to keep up the Shadow, where the Substance is wanting? And may not they by the same Rule, where they see blind and lame Men, in Imitation of Christ and his Apostles, bid them see and walk? Yea, is it not in them a Mocking of God and Men, to put on their Hands, and bid them receive the Holy Ghost, while they believe the Thing impossible, and confess that that Ceremony hath no real Effect? Having thus far spoken of the Call, I shall proceed next to treat of the Qualifications and Work of a true Minister.

§. XV.

Quest. 2. The Qualification of a Minister. As I have placed the true Call of a Minister in the Motion of this Holy Spirit, so is the Power, Life, and Virtue thereof, and the pure Grace of God that comes therefrom, the chief and most necessary Qualification, without which he can no Ways perform his Duty, neither acceptably to God nor beneficially to Men. Philosophy and School-Divinity will never make a Gospel Minister.Our Adversaries in this Case affirm, that three Things go to the making up of a Minister, viz. 1. Natural Parts, that he be not a Fool. 2. Acquired Parts, that he be learned in the Languages, in Philosophy and School Divinity. 3. The Grace of God.

The two first they reckon necessary to the Being of a Minister, so as a Man cannot be one without them; the Third they say goeth to the Well-being of one, but not to the Being; so that a Man may truly be a lawful Minister without it, and ought to be heard and received as such. But we, supposing a natural Capacity, that one be not an Ideot, judge the Grace of God indispensibly necessary to the very Being of a Minister, as that without which any can neither be a true, nor lawful, nor good Minister. As for Letter-learning, we judge it not so much necessary to the Well-being of one, though accidentally sometimes in certain Respects it may concur, but more frequently it is hurtful than helpful,A poor Laick instructed the learned Taulerus. as appeared in the Example of[Pg 257] Taulerus, who being a learned Man, and who could make an eloquent Preaching, needed nevertheless to be instructed in the Way of the Lord by a poor Laick. I shall first speak of the Necessity of Grace, and then proceed to say something of that Literature which they judge so needful.

Proof 1.First then, as we said in the Call, so may we much more here, if the Grace of God be a necessary Qualification to make one a true Christian, it must be a Qualification much more necessary to constitute a true Minister of Christianity. That Grace is necessary to make one a true Christian I think will not be questioned, since it is by Grace we are saved, Ephes. ii. 8. God’s Grace alone doth constitute a true and lawful Teacher.It is the Grace of God that teacheth us to deny Ungodliness, and the Lusts of this World, and to live godly and righteously, Tit. ii. 11. Yea, Christ saith expresly, That without him we can do nothing, John xv. 5. and the Way whereby Christ helpeth, assisteth, and worketh with us, is by his Grace: Hence he saith to Paul, My Grace is sufficient for thee. A Christian without Grace is indeed no Christian, but an Hypocrite, and a false Pretender. Then I say, If Grace be necessary to a private Christian, far more to a Teacher among Christians, who must be as a Father and Instructor of others, seeing this Dignity is bestowed upon such as have attained a greater Measure than their Brethren. Even Nature itself may teach as that there is more required in a Teacher than in those that are taught, and that the Master must be above and before the Scholar in that Art or Science which he teacheth others. Since then Christianity cannot be truly enjoyed, neither any Man denominated a Christian without the true Grace of God, therefore neither can any Man be a true and lawful Teacher of Christianity without it.

Proof 2.Secondly, No Man can be a Minister of the Church of Christ, which is his Body, unless he be a Member of the Body, and receive of the Virtue and Life of the Head:

Arg.Who first must be a Member of the Body, and then Life is received, and Virtue from the Head. But he that hath not true Grace can neither be a Member of the Body, neither receive of that Life and Nourishment which comes from the Head:

Therefore far less can he be a Minister to edify the Body.

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That he cannot be a Minister, who is not a Member, is evident; because he who is not a Member is shut out and cut off, and hath no Place in the Body; whereas the Ministers are counted among the most eminent Members of the Body. But no Man can be a Member unless he receive of the Virtue, Life, and Nourishment of the Head; for the Members that receive not this Life and Nourishment decay and wither, and then are cut off. And that every true Member doth thus receive Nourishment and Life from the Head, the Apostle expresly affirmeth, Ephes. iv. 16. From whom the whole Body being fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every Joint supplieth, according to the effectual Working in the Measure of every Part, makes Increase of the Body unto the Edifying of itself in Love. Now this that thus is communicated, and which thus uniteth the Whole, is no other than the Grace of God; and therefore the Apostle in the same Chapter, Ver. 7. saith, But unto every one of us is given Grace according to the Measure of the Gift of Christ; and Ver. 11. he sheweth how that by this Grace and Gift both Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers are given for the Work of the Ministry, and edifying of the Body of Christ. And certainly then no Man destitute of Grace is fit for this Work, seeing that all that Christ gives are so qualified; and these that are not so qualified, are not given nor sent of Christ, are not to be heard, nor received, nor acknowledged as Ministers of the Gospel, because his Sheep neither ought nor will hear the Voice of a Stranger. The Sheep of Christ, neither ought, nor will hear the Stranger’s Voice.This is also clear from 1 Cor. xii. throughout; for the Apostle in that Chapter, treating of the Diversity of Gifts and Members of the Body, sheweth how by the Workings of the same Spirit in different Manifestations or Measures in the several Members of the Body the whole Body is edified, saying, Ver. 13. That we are all baptized by the one Spirit into one Body; and then, Ver. 28. he numbers up the several Dispensations thereof, which by God are set in the Church through the various Workings of his Spirit for the Edification of the Whole. Then if there be no true Member of the Body which is not thus baptized by the Spirit, neither any Thing that worketh to the Edifying of it, but according to a Measure of Grace[Pg 259] received from the Spirit, surely without Grace none ought to be admitted to work or labour in the Body, because their Labour and Work, without this Grace and Spirit, would be but ineffectual.

§. XVI.

Proof 3.Thirdly, That this Grace and Gift is a necessary Qualification to a Minister, is clear from that of the Apostle Peter, 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11. As every Man hath received the Gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God. If any Man speak, let him speak as the Oracles of God: If any Man minister, let him do it as of the Ability which God giveth; that God in all Things may be glorified through Jesus Christ; to whom be Praise and Dominion for ever, Amen. From which it appears, that those that minster must minister according to the Gift and Grace received; but they that have not such a Gift, cannot minister according thereunto. The ministering must be by the Gift and Grace received.Secondly, As good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God: But how can a Man be a good Steward of that which he hath not? Can ungodly Men, that are not gracious themselves, be good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God? Good Stewardship of what? Of God’s abounding Grace, which is the Ability and Stewardship received.And therefore in the following Verses he makes an exclusive Limitation of such that are not thus furnished, saying, If any Man speak, let him speak as the Oracles of God; and if any Man minister, let him do it as of the Ability that God giveth: Which is as much as if he had said, they that cannot thus speak, and thus minister, ought not to do it: For this [If] denotes a necessary Condition. Now what this Ability is, is manifest by the former Words, to wit, the Gift received, and the Grace whereof they are Stewards, as by the immediate Context and Dependency of the Words doth appear. Neither can it be understood of a mere natural Ability, because Man in this Condition is said not to know the Things of God, and so he cannot minister them to others. And the following Words shew this also, in that he immediately subjoineth, that God in all Things may be glorified; but surely God is not glorified, but greatly dishonoured, when natural Men, from their mere natural Ability, meddle in spiritual Things, which they neither know nor understand.

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Proof 4.Fourthly, That Grace is a most necessary Qualification for a Minister, appears by those Qualifications which the Apostle expresly requires, 1 Tim. iii. 2. Tit. i. &c. where he saith, A Bishop must be blameless, vigilant, sober, of good Behaviour, apt to teach, patient, a Lover of Good Men, just, holy, temperate, as the Steward of God, holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught. Upon the other Hand, He must neither be given to Wine, nor a Striker, nor covetous, nor proud, nor self-willed, nor soon angry. How can a Bishop have these Virtues without the Grace of God?Now I ask, If it be not impossible that a Man can have all these above-named Virtues, and be free of all these Evils, without the Grace of God? If then these Virtues, for the producing of which in a Man Grace is absolutely necessary, be necessary to make a true Minister of the Church of Christ according to the Apostle’s Judgment, surely Grace must be necessary also.

Whatsoever is done in the Church without the Ministry of God’s Spirit, is vain and wicked.Concerning this Thing a learned Man, and well skilled in Antiquity, about the Time of the Reformation, writeth thus: “Whatsoever is done in the Church, either for Ornament or Edification of Religion, whether in choosing Magistrates or instituting Ministers of the Church, except it be done by the Ministry of God’s Spirit, which is as it were the Soul of the Church, it is vain and wicked. For whoever hath not been called by the Spirit of God to the great Office of God and Dignity of Apostleship, as Aaron was, and hath not entered in by the Door, which is Christ, but hath otherways risen in the Church by the Window, by the Favours of Men, &c. truly such a one is not the Vicar of Christ and his Apostles, but a Thief and Robber, and the Vicar of Judas Iscariot and Simon the Samaritan. Who is Judas Iscariot’s Vicar?Hence it was so strictly appointed concerning the Election of Prelates, which holy Dionysius calls the Sacrament of Nomination, that the Bishops and Apostles who should oversee the Service of the Church should be Men of most intire Manners and Life, powerful in sound Doctrine, to give a Reason for all Things.” So also another,[87] about[Pg 261] the same Time, writes thus: “Therefore it can never be, that by the Tongues or Learning any can give a sound Judgment concerning the holy Scriptures, and the Truth of God. Lastly,” saith he, “the Sheep of Christ seeks nothing but the Voice of Christ, which he knoweth by the Holy Spirit, wherewith he is filled: He regards not Learning, Tongues, or any outward Thing, so as therefore to believe this or that to be the Voice of Christ, his true Shepherd; he knoweth that there is Need of no other Thing but the Testimony of the Spirit of God.”

[87] Franciscus Lambertus Avenionensis, in his Book concerning Prophecy, Learning, Tongues, and the Spirit of Prophecy. Argent. excus. Anno 1516, de Prov. Cap. 24.

§. XVII.

Obj. 1.Against this absolute Necessity of Grace they object, That if all Ministers had the saving Grace of God, then all Ministers should be saved; seeing none can fall away from or lose saving Grace.

Answ.But this Objection is built upon a false Hypothesis, purely denied by us; and we have in the former Proposition concerning Perseverance already refuted it.

Obj. 2.Secondly, It may be objected to us, That since we affirm that every Man hath a Measure of true and saving Grace, there needs no singular Qualification either to a Christian or Minister; for seeing every Man hath this Grace, then no Man needs forbear to be a Minister for want of Grace.

Answ.I answer, We have above shewn that there is necessary to the making a Minister a special and particular Call from the Spirit of God, which is something besides the universal Dispensation of Grace to all, according to that of the Apostle,[88] No Man taketh this Honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Moreover, we understand by Grace as a Qualification to a Minister, not the mere Measure of Light, as it is given to reprove and call him to Righteousness; All have God’s Grace, which calls to Righteousness, but all are not so leavened into its Nature as to bring forth Fruits, of a blameless holy Life.but we understand Grace as it hath converted the Soul, and operateth powerfully in it, as hereafter, concerning the Work of Ministers, will further appear. So we understand not Men simply as having Grace in them as a Seed, which we indeed affirm all have in a Measure; but we understand Men that are gracious, leavened by it into the Nature thereof, so as thereby to bring forth those good Fruits of a blameless Conversation, and of Justice, Holiness, Pa[Pg 262]tience, and Temperance, which the Apostle requires as necessary in a true Christian Bishop and Minister.

[88] Heb. 5. 4.

Obj. 3.Thirdly, They[89] object the Example of the false Prophets, of the Pharisees, and of Judas.

[89] So Nic. Arnoldus Sect. 32. upon Thesis 4.

Answ.But First, As to the false Prophets, there can nothing be more foolish and ridiculous; as if because there were false Prophets, really false, without the Grace of God, therefore Grace is not necessary to a true Christian Minister. The false not the true Prophets want the Grace of God.Indeed if they had proved that true Prophets wanted this Grace, they had said something; but what have false Prophets common with true Ministers, but that they pretend falsely that which they have not? And because false Prophets want true Grace, will it therefore follow, that true Prophets ought not to have it, that they may be true and not false? The Example of the Pharisees and Priests under the Law will not answer to the Gospel Times, because God set apart a particular Tribe for that Service, and particular Families, to whom it belonged by a lineal Succession; The Service under the Law was not purely Spiritual, but Figurative; for the Performance of which, as they behoved to be purified from their outward Pollutions: So the Ministers of the Gospel must be inwardly without Blemish.and also their Service and Work was not purely spiritual, but only the Performance of some outward and carnal Observations and Ceremonies, which were but a Shadow of the Substance that was to come; and therefore their Work made not the Comers thereunto perfect, as appertaining to the Conscience, seeing they were appointed only according to the Law of carnal Commandment, and not according to the Power of an endless Life. Notwithstanding as in the Figure they were to be without Blemish as to their outward Man, and in the Performance of their Work they were to be washed and purified from their outward Pollutions, so now, under the Gospel Times, the Ministers in the Anti-type must be inwardly without Blemish in their Souls and Spirits, being, as the Apostle requires, blameless, and in their Work and Service must be pure and undefiled from their inward Pollutions, and so clean and holy, that they may offer up spiritual Sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. ii. 5. As to Judas, the Season of his[Pg 263] Ministry was not wholly Evangelical, as being before the Work was finished, and while Christ himself and his Disciples were yet subject to the Jewish Observances and Constitutions, and therefore his Commission, as well as that which the rest received with him at that Time, was only to the House of Israel, Matt. x. 5, 6. by Virtue of that Commission, The Ministry of the Disciples of Christ before the Work was finished, was more Legal than Evangelical.therefore the rest of the Apostles were not impowered to go forth and preach after the Resurrection, until they had waited at Jerusalem for the pouring forth of the Spirit: So that it appears Judas’s Ministry was more legal than Evangelical. Judas was immediately called of Christ, and preached freely, which our Adversaries will not do; although they make him a Pattern of their graceless Ministry, saying, he had not the least Measure of God’s Grace at that Time.Secondly, Judas’s Case, as all will acknowledge, was singular and extraordinary, he being immediately called by Christ himself, and accordingly furnished and impowered by him to preach, and do Miracles; which immediate Commission our Adversaries do not so much as pretend to, and so fall short of Judas, who trusted in Christ’s Words, and therefore went forth and preached, without Gold or Silver, or Scrip for his Journey; giving freely as he had freely received; which our Adversaries will not do, as hereafter shall be observed: Also that Judas at that Time had not the least Measure of God’s Grace, I have not as yet heard proved. But is it not sad, that even Protestants should lay aside the eleven good and faithful Apostles, and all the rest of the holy Disciples and Ministers of Christ, and betake them to that one, of whom it was testified that he was a Devil, for a Pattern and Example to their Ministry? Alas! it is to be regretted, that too many of them resemble this Pattern over-much.

Obj.Another Objection is usually made against the Necessity of Grace, [90]That in Case it were necessary, then such as wanted it could not truly administer the Sacraments; and consequently the People would be left in Doubts and infinite Scruples, or not knowing certainly whether they had truly received them, because not knowing infallibly whether the Administrators were truly gracious Men.

[90] Ibid. Nic. Arnoldus.

Answ.But this Objection hitteth not us at all, because the Nature of that Spiritual and Christian Worship, which we according to the Truth plead for, is such as is not necessarily attended with these carnal[Pg 264] and outward Institutions, from the administering of which the Objection ariseth; and so hath not any such Absurdity following upon it, as will afterwards more clearly appear.


What true Learning is.Though then we make not Human Learning necessary, yet we are far from excluding true Learning; to wit, that Learning which proceedeth from the inward Teachings and Instructions of the Spirit, whereby the Soul learneth the secret Ways of the Lord, becomes acquainted with many inward Travails and Exercises of the Mind; and learneth by a living Experience how to overcome Evil, and the Temptations of it, by following the Lord, and walking in his Light, and waiting daily for Wisdom and Knowledge immediately from the Revelation thereof; and so layeth up these heavenly and divine Lessons in the good Treasure of the Heart, as honest Mary did the Sayings which she heard, and Things which she observed: And also out of this Treasure of the Soul, as the good Scribe, brings forth Things new and old, according as the same Spirit moves, and gives true Liberty, and as the Glory of God requires, for whose Glory the Soul, which is the Temple of God, learneth to do all Things. The good Learning which is necessary to a true Minister.This is that good Learning which we think necessary to a true Minister; by and through which Learning a Man can well instruct, teach, and admonish in due Season, and testify for God from a certain Experience; as did David, Solomon, and the holy Prophets of old, and the blessed Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, who testified of what they had seen, heard, felt, and handled of the Word of Life, 1 John i. 1. Ministering the Gift according as they had received the same, as good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God; and preached not the uncertain Rumours of Men by Hearsay, which they had gathered merely in the Comprehension, while they were Strangers to the Thing in their own Experience in themselves: As to teach People how to believe, while themselves were unbelieving, or how to overcome Sin, while themselves are Slaves to it, as all ungracious Men are; or to believe and hope for an eternal Reward, which themselves have not as yet arrived at, &c.

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§. XIX.

Literature is first the Knowledge of Latin, Greek and Hebrew.But let us examine this Literature, which they make so necessary to the Being of a Minister; as in the first Place, the Knowledge of the Tongues, at least of the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. The Reason of this is, That they may read the Scripture, which is their only Rule, in the Original Languages, and thereby be the more capable to comment upon it, and interpret it, &c. That also which made this Knowledge be the more prized by the Primitive Protestants, was indeed the dark Barbarity that was over the World in the Centuries immediately preceding the Reformation; the Knowledge of the Tongues being about that Time, (until it was even then restored by Erasmus and some others) almost lost and extinct. Before the Reformation the Prayers of the People were in the Latin Tongue.And this Barbarity was so much the more abominable, that the whole Worship and Prayers of the People were in the Latin Tongue; and among that vast Number of Priests, Monks and Friars, scarce one of a Thousand understood his Breviary, or that Mass which he daily read and repeated: The Scripture being, not only to the People, but to the greater Part of the Clergy, even as to the literal Knowledge of it, as a sealed Book. The Zeal and Endeavours of the first Reformers commended.I shall not at all discommend the Zeal that the first Reformers had against this Babylonish Darkness, nor their pious Endeavours to translate the holy Scriptures: I do truly believe, according to their Knowledge, that they did it candidly: The Knowledge of Languages commendable, and Schools necessary.And therefore to answer the just Desires of those that desire to read them, and for other very good Reasons, as maintaining a Commerce and Understanding among divers Nations by these common Languages, and others of that Kind, we judge it necessary and commendable that there be publick Schools for the Teaching and Instructing such Youth, as are inclinable thereunto, in the Languages. And although that Papal Ignorance deserved justly to be abhorred and abominated, we see nevertheless, that the true Reformation consists not in that Knowledge; The Papists Literature and Knowledge, especially the Jesuits.because although since that Time the Papists, stirred up through Emulation of the Protestants, have more applied themselves to Literature, and it now more flourisheth in their Universities and Cloysters, than before, (especially in the Ignatian or Jesuitick Sect)[Pg 266] they are as far now as ever from a true Reformation, and more hardened in their pernicious Doctrines. But all this will not make it a necessary Qualification to a Minister, far less a more necessary Qualification than the Grace of God and his Spirit; because the Spirit and Grace of God can make up this Want in the most Rustick and Ignorant; but this Knowledge can no Ways make up the Want of the Spirit in the most Learned and Eloquent. The Spirit is the truest Interpreter of the Scriptures, whether from the Original Languages, or without them.For all that which Man, by his own Industry, Learning and Knowledge in the Languages can interpret of the Scriptures, or find out, is nothing without the Spirit; he cannot be certain, but may still miss of the Sense of it: Whereas a poor Man, that knoweth not a Letter, when he heareth the Scriptures read, by the same Spirit he can say, This is true; and by the same Spirit he can understand, open, and interpret it, if Need be: Yea, finding his Condition to answer the Condition and Experience of the Saints of old, he knoweth and possesseth the Truths there delivered, because they are sealed and witnessed in his own Heart by the same Spirit. And this we have plentiful Experience of in many of those illiterate Men, whom God hath raised up to be Ministers in his Church in this Day; so that some such, by his Spirit, have corrected some of the Errors of the Translators, as in the Third Proposition concerning the Scriptures I before observed. A poor Shoemaker, that could not read, refutes a Professor of Divinity’s false Assertions from Scripture.Yea, I know myself a poor Shoemaker, that cannot read a Word, who being assaulted with a false Citation of Scripture, from a publick Professor of Divinity, before the Magistrate of a City, when he had been taken up for preaching to some few that came to hear him; I say, I know such a one, and he is yet alive, who though the Professor, who also is esteemed a learned Man, constantly asserted his Saying to be a Scripture Sentence, yet affirmed, not through any certain Letter-knowledge he had of it, but from the most certain Evidence of the Spirit in himself, that the Professor was mistaken; and that the Spirit of God never said any such Thing as the other affirmed, and the Bible being brought, it was found as the poor Shoemaker had said.

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§. XX.

2. Logick and Philosophy not needful to a Preacher.The second Part of their Literature is Logick and Philosophy, an Art so little needful to a true Minister, that if one that comes to be a true Minister hath had it, it is safest for him to forget and lose it; for it is the Root and Ground of all Contention and Debate, and the Way to make a Thing a great deal darker, than clearer. For under the Pretence of regulating Man’s Reason into a certain Order and Rules, that he may find out (as they pretend) the Truth, it leads into such a Labyrinth of Contention, as is far more fit to make a Sceptick than a Christian, far less a Minister of Christ; yea, it often hinders Man from a clear Understanding of Things that his own Reason would give him; and therefore through its manifold Rules and divers Inventions, it often gives Occasion for a Man, that hath little Reason, foolishly to speak much to no Purpose; seeing a Man, that is not very wise, may notwithstanding be a perfect Logician. And then, if ye would make a Man a Fool to purpose that is not very wise, do but teach him Logick and Philosophy; and whereas before he might have been fit for something, he shall then be good for nothing, but to speak Nonsense; for these Notions will so swim in his Head, that they will make him extremely busy about nothing. The Use of Logick is to see its Emptiness.The Use that wise and solid Men make of it, is, to see the Emptiness thereof; therefore saith one, It is an Art of Contention and Darkness, by which all other Sciences are rendered more obscure, and harder to be understood.

If it be urged, That thereby the Truth may be maintained and confirmed, and Hereticks confuted;

I answer, The Truth, in Men truly rational, needeth not the Help thereof; and such as are obstinate, this will not convince; for by this they may learn twenty Tricks and Distinctions, how to shut out the Truth: And the Truth proceeding from an honest Heart, and spoken forth from the Virtue and Spirit of God, will have more Influence, and take sooner and more effectually, than by a thousand Demonstrations of Logick; as that Heathen Philosopher[91][92] acknowledged,[Pg 268] who, disputing with the Christian Bishops, in the Council of Nice, was so subtile, that he could not be overcome by them; but yet by a few Words spoken by a simple old Rustick, was presently convinced by him, and converted to the Christian Faith; and being enquired how he came to yield to that ignorant old Man, and not to the Bishops; he said, That they contended with him in his own Way, and he could still give Words for Words; but there came from the old Man that Virtue, which he was not able to resist. This secret Virtue and Power ought to be the Logick and Philosophy wherewith a true Christian Minister should be furnished; and for which they need not be beholden to Aristotle. Natural Logick useful.As to natural Logick, by which rational Men, without that Art and Rules, or sophistical Learning, deduce a certain Conclusion out of true Propositions, which scarce any Man of Reason wants, we deny not the Use of it; and I have sometimes used it in this Treatise; which also may serve without that dialectick Art. 3. Ethicks or the Manner-Rules to Christians not needful.As for the other Part of Philosophy, which is called Moral, or Ethicks, it is not so necessary to Christians, who have the Rules of the holy Scriptures, and the Gift of the Holy Spirit, by which they can be much better instructed. 4. Physicks, and the Metaphysicks make no Preachers of the Truth.The Physical and Metaphysical Part may be reduced to the Arts of Medicine and the Mathematicks, which have nothing to do with the Essence of a Christian Minister. And therefore the Apostle Paul, who well understood what was good for Christian Ministers, and what hurtful, thus exhorted the Colossians, Col. ii. 8. Beware lest any Man spoil you through Philosophy and vain Deceit. And to his beloved Disciple Timothy he writes also thus, 1 Tim. vi. 20. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy Trust, avoiding profane and vain Babblings, and Opposition of Science, falsely so called.

[91] An Heathen Philosopher disputing with the Bishops in the Council of Nice, was converted to the Christian Faith by an ignorant old Man, when they could not.

[92] Lucæ Osiandri Epit. Hist. Eccles. Lib. 2. Cap. 5. Cent. 4.

§. XXI.

III. The learned School Divinity obnoxious; A Monster; A Letter-Knowledge Heathenized.The third and main Part of their Literature is School Divinity, a Monster, made up of some Scriptural Notions of Truth, and the Heathenish Terms and Maxims; being, as it were, the Heathenish Philosophy Christianized, or rather, the literal external Knowledge of Christ Heathenized. It is Man in his first, fallen, natural State, with his[Pg 269] devilish Wisdom, pleasing himself with some Notions of Truth, and adorning them with his own sensual and carnal Wisdom, because he thinks the Simplicity of the Truth too low and mean a Thing for him; and so despiseth that Simplicity, wheresoever it is found, that he may set up and exalt himself, puffed up with this his monstrous Birth. It is the Devil, darkening, obscuring, and veiling the Knowledge of God, with his serpentine and worldly Wisdom; that so he may the more securely deceive the Hearts of the Simple, and make the Truth, as it is in itself, despicable and hard to be known and understood, by multiplying a thousand difficult and needless Questions, and endless Contentions and Debates. All which, he who perfectly knoweth, is not a Whit less the Servant of Sin than he was; but ten Times more so, in that he is exalted, and proud of Iniquity, and so much the farther from receiving, understanding, or learning the Truth, as it is in its own naked Simplicity; because he is full, learned, rich, and wise in his own Conceit: And so those that are most skilled in it, wear out their Day, and spend their precious Time about the infinite and innumerable Questions they have feigned and invented concerning it. A certain learned Man called it, A twofold Discipline, like the Race of the Centaurs, partly proceeding from divine Sayings, partly from philosophical Reasons. Its needless Questions and endless Janglings.A thousand of their Questions they confess themselves to be no-ways necessary to Salvation; and yet many more of them they could never agree upon, but are, and still will be, in endless Janglings about them. The Volumes that have been written about it, a Man in his whole Age could scarce read, though he lived to be very old; and when he has read them all, he has but wrought himself a great deal more Vexation and Trouble of Spirit than he had before. These certainly are the Words multiplied without Knowledge; by which Counsel hath been darkened, Job xxxviii. 2. They make the Scripture the Text of all this Mass; and it is concerning the Sense of it that their voluminous Debates arise. But a Man of a good upright Heart may learn more in half an Hour, and be more[Pg 270] certain of it, by waiting upon God, and his Spirit in the Heart, than by reading a thousand of their Volumes; which by filling his Head with many needless Imaginations, may well stagger his Faith, but never confirm it: And indeed those that give themselves most to it, are most capable to fall into Error, as appeareth by the Example of Origen, who, by his Learning, was one of the first, that falling into this Way of interpreting the Scriptures, wrote so many Volumes, and in them so many Errors, as very much troubled the Church. Whereby Arius fell into Error and Schism.Also Arius, led by this Curiosity and human Scrutiny, despising the Simplicity of the Gospel, fell into his Error, which was the Cause of that horrible Heresy which so much troubled the Church. Methinks the Simplicity, Plainness, and Brevity of the Scriptures themselves, should be a sufficient Reproof for such a Science; and the Apostles, being honest, plain, illiterate Men, may be better understood by such Kind of Men now, than with all that Mass of scholastick Stuff, which neither Peter, nor Paul, nor John, ever thought of.

§. XXII.

The Apostasy, and its dangerous Consequence.But this Invention of Satan, wherewith he began the Apostasy, hath been of dangerous Consequence; for thereby he at first spoiled the Simplicity of Truth, by keeping up the Heathenish Learning, which occasioned such Uncertainty, even among those called Fathers, and such Debate, that there are few of them to be found, who, by Reason of this Mixture, do not only frequently contradict one another, but themselves also. Many of the Fathers do not only contradict each other, but themselves also, and why?And therefore when the Apostasy grew greater, he, as it were, buried the Truth with this Veil of Darkness, wholly shutting out People from true Knowledge, and making the Learned (so accounted) busy themselves with idle and needless Questions; while the weighty Truths of God were neglected, and went, as it were, into Disuse.

Now, though the grossest of these Abuses be swept away by Protestants; yet the evil Root still remains, and is nourished and upheld; and the Science kept up, as being deemed necessary for a Minister:[Pg 271] For, while the pure Learning of the Spirit of Truth is despised and neglected, and made ineffectual, Man’s fallen earthly Wisdom is upheld; and so in that he labours and works with the Scriptures, being out of the Life and Spirit which those that wrote them were in, by which only they are rightly understood, and made Use of. Merchandizing with the Scriptures: What it is. See also 2 Pet. 2. 3.And so he that is to be a Minister, must learn this Art or Trade of Merchandizing with the Scriptures, and be that which the Apostle would not be, to wit, a Trader with them, 2 Cor. ii. 17. That he may acquire a Knack from a Verse of Scripture, by adding his own barren Notions and Conceptions to it, and his uncertain Conjectures, and what he hath stolen out of Books; for which End he must have of Necessity a good many by him, and may each Sabbath-day, as they call it, or oftener, make a Discourse for an Hour long; And this they call the Preaching of the Word.and this is called the Preaching of the Word: Whereas the Gift, Grace, and Spirit of God, to teach, open, and instruct, and to preach a Word in Season, is neglected, and so Man’s Arts and Parts, and Knowledge, and Wisdom, which is from below, are set up and established in the Temple of God, yea, and above the little Seed; which in Effect is Antichrist, working in the Mystery. Thus Antichrist is established above the Seed of the Kingdom.And so the Devil may be as good and able a Minister as the best of them; How the Devil may be a Minister of the Priests Gospel.for he has better Skill in Languages, and more Logick, Philosophy and School Divinity, than any of them; and knows the Truth in the Notion better than they all, and can talk more eloquently than all those Preachers. But what availeth all this; Is it not all but as Death, as a painted Sepulchre, and dead Carcase, without the Power, Life and Spirit of Christianity, which is the Marrow and Substance of a Christian Ministry? And he that hath this, and can speak from it, though he be a poor Shepherd, or a Fisherman, and ignorant of all that Learning, and of all those Questions and Notions; yet speaking from the Spirit, his Ministry will have more Influence towards the converting a Sinner unto God, than all of them who are learned after the Flesh; as in that Example of the old Man at the Council of Nice did appear.

[Pg 272]


The Power of God by weak Instruments restoring the Simplicity of Truth.And if in any Age, since the Apostles Days, God hath purposed to shew his Power by weak Instruments, for the battering down of that Carnal and Heathenish Wisdom, and restoring again the ancient Simplicity of Truth, this is it. For in our Day, God hath raised up Witnesses for himself, as he did Fishermen of old; many, yea, most of whom, are labouring and mechanick Men, who, altogether without that Learning, have, by the Power and Spirit of God, struck at the very Root and Ground of Babylon; and in the Strength and Might of this Power, have gathered Thousands, by reaching their Consciences, into the same Power and Life, who, as to the outward Part, have been far more knowing than they, yet not able to resist the Virtue that proceeded from them. Of which I myself am a true Witness; The Powerful Ministry of illiterate Men.and can declare from certain Experience, because my Heart hath been often greatly broken and tendered by that virtuous Life that proceeded from the powerful Ministry of those illiterate Men: So that by their very Countenance, as well as Words, I have felt the Evil in me often chained down, and the Good reached to and raised. What shall I then say to you, who are Lovers of Learning, and Admirers of Knowledge? Was not I also a Lover and Admirer of it, who also sought after it, according to my Age and Capacity? But it pleased God, in his unutterable Love, early to withstand my vain Endeavours, while I was yet but eighteen Years of Age; The Time of the Author’s first Convincement.and made me seriously to consider (which I wish also may befall others,) [93]That without Holiness and Regeneration, no Man can see God; and that the Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom, and to depart from Iniquity, a good Understanding; and how much Knowledge puffeth up, and leadeth away from that inward Quietness, Stillness, and Humility of Mind, where the Lord appears, and his Heavenly Wisdom is revealed. If ye consider these Things, then will ye say with me, That all this Learning, Wisdom and Knowledge, gathered in this fallen Nature, is but as Dross and Dung, in Comparison of the Cross of Christ; especially being destitute of that Power, Life and Virtue, which I perceived these excellent (though[Pg 273] despised, because illiterate) Witnesses of God to be filled with: And therefore seeing, that in and among them, I, with many others, have found the Heavenly Food that gives Contentment, let my Soul seek after this Learning, and wait for it for ever.

[93] Job. 28. 28.

§. XXIV.

Quest. 3. The Work of a Minister. Having thus spoken of the Call and Qualifications of a Gospel-Minister, that which comes next to be considered, is, What his proper Work is, how, and by what Rule, he is to be ordered? Our Adversaries do all along go upon Externals, and therefore have certain prescribed Rules and Methods, contrived according to their human and earthly Wisdom: We, on the Contrary, walk still upon the same Foundation, and lean always upon the immediate Assistance and Influence of that Holy Spirit, which God hath given his Children, to teach them all Things, and lead them in all Things: The Holy Spirit, a Spirit of Order, and not of Confusion.Which Spirit, being the Spirit of Order, and not of Confusion, leads us, and as many as follow it, into such a comely and decent Order as becometh the Church of God. But our Adversaries, having shut themselves out from this immediate Counsel and Influence of the Spirit, have run themselves into many Confusions and Disorders, seeking to establish an Order in this Matter. Popish Orders and Offices, &c.For some will have First a chief Bishop, or Pope, to rule and be a Prince over all; and under him, by Degrees, Cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Priests, Deacons, Sub-deacons; and besides these, Acoluthi, Tonsorati, Ostiarii, &c. And in their Theology (as they call it) Professors, Bachelors, Doctors, &c. And others would have every Nation independent of another, having its own Metropolitan or Patriarch; and the rest in Order subject to him, as before. Others again are against all Precedency among Pastors, and constitute their Subordination not of Persons, but of Powers: As first the Consistory, or Session; then the Class, or Presbytery; then the Provincial; and then the National Synod or Assembly. Thus they tear one another, and contend among themselves concerning the Ordering, Distinguishing, and making their several Orders and Offices; Wars and Bloodshed about Church Government.concerning which there hath been no less Contest, not only by Way of verbal Dispute, but even by Fighting, Tumults, Wars, Devastations, and Bloodshed,[Pg 274] than about the Conquering, Overturning, and Establishing of Kingdoms. And the Histories of late Times are as full of the various Tragedies, acted on Account of this Spiritual and Ecclesiastical Monarchy and Commonwealth, as the Histories of old Times are of the Wars and Contests that fell out both in the Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman Empires: These last upon this Account, though among those that are called Christians, have been no less bloody and cruel than the former among Heathens, concerning their outward Empires and Governments. The Ground and Cause thereof.Now all this, both among Papists and Protestants, proceedeth, in that they seek in Imitation to uphold a Form and Shadow of Things, though they want the Power, Virtue and Substance; while for many of their Orders and Forms they have not so much as the Name in the Scripture. But in Opposition to all this Mass of Formality, and Heap of Orders, Rules and Governments, we say, The Substance is chiefly to be sought after, and the Power, Virtue and Spirit, is to be known and waited for, which is one in all the different Names and Offices the Scripture makes Use of; as appears by 1 Cor. xii. 4. (often before-mentioned) There are Diversities of Gifts, but the same Spirit. And after the Apostle, throughout the whole Chapter, hath shewn how one and the self-same Spirit worketh in and quickeneth each Member; then in Ver. 28. he sheweth how thereby God hath set in the Church, First Apostles, Secondly Prophets, Teachers, &c. And likewise to the same Purpose, Ephes. iv. 11; he sheweth, how by these Gifts he hath given some Apostles, some Prophets, some Evangelists, some Pastors, some Teachers, &c. Now it never was Christ’s Purpose, nor the Apostles, that Christians should, without this Spirit and Heavenly Gift, set up a Shadow and Form of these Orders, and so make several Ranks and Degrees, to establish a carnal Ministry of Men’s making, without the Life, Power and Spirit of Christ: The Work of Antichrist and Mystery of Iniquity.This is that Work of Antichrist, and Mystery of Iniquity, that hath got up in the dark Night of Apostasy. But in a true Church of Christ, gathered together by God, not only into the Belief of the Principles of Truth, but also into the Power, Life and Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God[Pg 275] is the Orderer, Ruler and Governor; as in each Particular, so in the General. Such as the Spirit sets apart to the Ministry, their Brethren hear them.And when they assemble together to wait upon God, and to worship and adore him; then such as the Spirit sets apart for the Ministry, by its divine Power and Influence opening their Mouths, and giving them to exhort, reprove, and instruct with Virtue and Power; these are thus ordained of God and admitted into the Ministry, and their Brethren cannot but hear them, receive them, and also honour them for their Work’s Sake. The Clergy and Laicks.And so this is not monopolized by a certain Kind of Men, as the Clergy (who are to that Purpose educated and brought up as other carnal Artists) and the rest to be despised as Laicks; but it is left to the free Gift of God to choose any whom he seeth meet thereunto, whether Rich or Poor, Servant or Master, Young or Old, yea, Male or Female. Women may preach.And such as have this Call, verify the Gospel, by preaching not in Speech only, but also in Power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much Fulness, 1 Thess. i. 5. and cannot but be received and heard by the Sheep of Christ.

§. XXV.

Object.But if it be objected here, That I seem hereby to make no Distinction at all betwixt Ministers and others; which is contrary to the Apostle’s Saying, 1 Cor. xii. 29. Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? Are all Teachers? &c. From thence they insinuate, That I also contradict his Comparison in that Chapter, of the Church of Christ with a human Body; as where he saith, Ver. 17. If the whole Body were an Eye, where were the Hearing? If the Whole were Hearing, where were the Smelling? &c. Also the Apostle not only distinguisheth the Ministers of the Church in general from the rest of the Members, but also from themselves; as naming them distinctly and separately, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers, &c.

Answ. 1. Diversity of Names makes no distinct Offices; but which may coincide, or be together in one Person.As to the last Part of this Objection, to which I shall first answer; it is apparent, that this Diversity of Names is not to distinguish separate Offices, but to denote the different and various Operations of the Spirit; a Manner of Speech frequent with the Apostle Paul, wherein he sometimes expatiates to the Illustrating of the Glory and Praise of God’s Grace: As in Particular, Rom. xii. 6. Having then Gifts differing according to the Grace that is given us, whether[Pg 276] Prophecy, let us prophesy according to the Proportion of Faith; or Ministry, let us wait on our Ministring; or he that teacheth, on Teaching; or he that exhorteth, on Exhortation. Now none will say from all this, that these are distinct Offices, or do not, or may not coincide in one Person, as may all those other Things mentioned by him in the subsequent Verses, viz. Of Loving, being kindly Affectionated, Fervency of Spirit, Hospitality, Diligence, Blessing, Rejoicing, &c. which he yet numbers forth as different Gifts of the Spirit, and according to this Objection might be placed as distinct and separate Offices, which were most absurd.

Secondly, In these very Places mentioned it is clear that it is no real Distinction of separate Offices; because all acknowledge, that Pastors and Teachers, (which the Apostle there no less separateth and distinguisheth, than Pastors and Prophets, or Apostles) are one and the same, and coincide in the same Office and Person; and therefore may be said so of the rest. Prophecy and Prophesying, its twofold Signification.For [Prophecy] as it signifies the Foretelling of Things to come, is indeed a distinct Gift, but no distinct Office; and therefore our Adversaries do not place it among their several Orders: Neither will they deny, but that it both may be and hath been given of God to some, that not only have been Pastors and Teachers, and that there it hath coincided in one Person with these other Offices, but also to some of the Laicks: And so it hath been found, according to their own Confession, without the Limits of their Clergy. To prophesy, a Privilege of Teachers, and of all the Saints.Prophecy in the other Sense, to wit, as it signifies a Speaking from the Spirit of Truth, is not only peculiar to Pastors and Teachers, who ought so to prophesy; but even a common Privilege to the Saints. For though to instruct, teach and exhort, be proper to such as are more particularly called to the Work of the Ministry; yet it is not so proper to them, as not to be (when the Saints are met together, as any of them are moved by the Spirit) common to others: For some Acts belong to all in such a Relation; but not only to those within that Relation: Competunt omni, sed non soli. Thus to see and hear are proper Acts of a Man; seeing it may be properly predicated of him, that he heareth and seeth: Yet are they common to other Creatures[Pg 277] also. So to prophesy in this Sense, is indeed proper to Ministers and Teachers; yet not so, but that it is common and lawful to other Saints, when moved thereunto, though it be not proper to them by Way of Relation: Because, notwithstanding that Motion, they are not particularly called to the Work of the Ministry, as appears by 1 Cor. xiv. where the Apostle at large declaring the Order and ordinary Method of the Church, saith, Ver. 30, 31. But if any Thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his Peace; for ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all be comforted: Which sheweth that none is here excluded. But yet that there is a Subordination, according to the various Measures of the Gift received, the next Verse sheweth: And the Spirits of the Prophets are subject to the Prophets: For God is not the Author of Confusion, but of Peace. Now that Prophesying, in this Sense, may be common to all Saints, appears by Ver. 39. of the same Chapter, where speaking to [all] in general, he saith, Wherefore, Brethren, covet to prophesy; and Ver. 1. he exhorts them, saying, Desire spiritual Gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

Who are Evangelists, and whether any may term themselves so now-a-day.Secondly, As to Evangelists the same may be said; for whoever preacheth the Gospel is really an Evangelist, and so consequently every true Minister of the Gospel is one; else what proper Office can they assign to it, unless they should be so foolish as to affirm that none were Evangelists but Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who wrote the Account of Christ’s Life and Sufferings? And then it were neither a particular Office, seeing John and Matthew were Apostles, Mark and Luke Pastors and Teachers, so that there they coincided in one. And indeed it is absurd to think, that upon that particular Account the Apostle used the Word [Evangelist.] Calvin acknowledgeth, that such as preach the Gospel in Purity, after some Time of Apostasy, may be truly called Evangelists, and therefore saith, that There were Apostles in his Time; and hence the Protestants, at their first coming forth, termed themselves Evangelici, or Evangelicks.

Who is an Apostle.Lastly, An Apostle, if we look to the Etymology of the Word, signifies one that is sent; and in Respect every true Minister is sent of God, in[Pg 278] so far he is an Apostle; though the Twelve, because of their being specially sent of Christ, were therefore called Apostles [Greek: kat' exochên: κατ εξοχην], or per eminentiam, i. e. by Way of Excellency. They were not limited to such a Number.And yet that there was no Limitation to such a Number, as some foolishly imagine, appears, because after that Number was filled up, the Apostle Paul was afterwards so called; therefore we judge that these are no distinct separate Offices, but only Names used upon Occasion to express the more eminent Arising and Shining forth of God’s Grace. As if any Minister of Christ should now proselyte and turn a whole Nation to the Christian Faith, though he had no distinct Office, yet I doubt not but both Papists and Protestants would judge it tolerable to call such an one an Apostle, or an Evangelist; Whether any Man be called an Apostle at this Day.for on this Account the Jesuits call some of their Sect Apostles of India and of Japan; and Calvin testifies that there were Apostles and Evangelists in his Time, in respect to the Reformation; Upon what Account John Knox was called the Apostle of Scotland.upon which Account also we have known John Knox often called the Apostle of Scotland. So that we conclude that Ministers, Pastors, or Teachers do comprehend all, and that the Office is but one, and therefore in that Respect we judge there ought to be no Precedency among them: To prove which I shall not here insist, seeing it is shewn largely, and treated of by such as have denied the Diocesan Episcopacy, as they call it.

§. XXVI.

Answ. 2.As to the first Part of the Objection, viz. That I seem to make no Distinction betwixt the Minister and People, I answer, Liberty to prophesy all have, by the Spirit.If it be understood of a Liberty to speak or prophesy by the Spirit, I say all may do that, when moved thereunto, as above is shewn; but we do believe and affirm that some are more particularly called to the Work of the Ministry, and therefore are fitted of the Lord for that Purpose; whose Work is more constantly and particularly to instruct, exhort, admonish, oversee, and watch over their Brethren; and that as there is something more incumbent upon them in that Respect than upon every common Believer, so also, as in that Relation, there is due to them from the Flock such Obedience and Subjection as is mentioned in these Testimonies of the Scripture, Heb. xiii. 17.[Pg 279] 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. 1 Tim. v. 17. 1 Pet. v. 5. Also besides these who are thus particularly called to the Ministry, and constant Labour in the Word and Doctrine, there are also the Elders, who though they be not moved to a frequent Testimony by Way of Declaration in Words, The Elders take Care for the Widows, the Poor and Fatherless.yet as such are grown up in the Experience of the blessed Work of Truth in their Hearts, they watch over and privately admonish the Young, take Care for the Widows, the Poor, and Fatherless, and look that nothing be wanting, but that Peace, Love, Unity, Concord, and Soundness be preserved in the Church of Christ; and this answers to the Deacons mentioned Acts vi.

The Distinction of Clergy and Laity not to be found in Scripture.That which we oppose, is the Distinction of Laity and Clergy, which in the Scripture is not to be found, whereby none are admitted unto the Work of the Ministry but such as are educated at Schools on Purpose, and instructed in Logick and Philosophy, &c. and so are at their Apprenticeship to learn the Art and Trade of Preaching, even as a Man learns any other Art, whereby all other honest mechanick Men, who have not got this Heathenish Art, are excluded from having this Privilege. And so he that is a Scholar thus bred up must not have any honest Trade whereby to get him a Livelihood, if he once intend for the Ministry, but he must see to get him a Place, and then he hath his set Hire for a Livelihood to him. Their Garb.He must also be distinguished from the rest by the Colour of his Clothes; for he must only wear Black, and must be a Master of Arts: But more of this hereafter.


As this Manner of separating Men for the Ministry is nothing like the Church in the Apostles Days, so great Evils have and do follow upon it. For first, Parents seeing both the Honour and Profit that attends the Clergy, do allot their Children sometimes from their Infancy to it, and so breed them up on Purpose. And others, come to Age, upon the same Account betake them to the same Trade, and having these natural and acquired Parts that are judged the necessary Qualifications of a Minister, are thereby admitted, and so are bred up in Idleness and Pleasure, thinking it a Dis[Pg 280]grace for them to work with their Hands; The Clergy’s Study out of Books; the Gift of God neglected.and so just study a little out of their Books, to make a Discourse once or twice a Week during the running of an Hour-glass; whereas the Gift, Grace, and Spirit of God, to call and qualify for the Ministry, is neglected and overlooked. And many covetous, corrupt, earthly, carnal Men, having a mere Shew and Form, but Strangers to, and utterly ignorant of, the inward Work of Grace upon their Hearts, are brought in and intrude themselves, and so through them Death, Barrenness, and Darkness, and by Consequence Superstition, Error, and Idolatry have entered and leavened the Church. And they that will narrowly observe, shall find that it was thus the Apostasy came to take Place; of the Truth of which I could give many Examples, which for Brevity’s Sake I omit. Thus the Office, Reverence, and Respect due to it were annexed to the mere Name, so that when once a Man was ordained a Bishop or a Priest, he was heard and believed, though he had nothing of the Spirit, Power, and Life that the true Apostles and Ministers were in. And thus in a short Time the Succession came to be of the Name and Title, and the Office was thereto annexed; and not of the Nature, Virtue, and Life; which in Effect made them to cease to be the Ministry and Ministers of Christ, but only a Shadow and vain Image of it; which also decaying, was in some Ages so metamorphosed, that not only the Substance was lost, but the very Form wholly vitiated, altered, and marred; The marred Church compared to Theseus’s pieced that it may be far better said of the pretended Christian Church, as was disputed of Theseus’s Boat (which by the piecing of many new Pieces of Timber was wholly altered) whether indeed it were the same or another? But in Case that the first had been of Oak, and the Pieces last put in but of rotten Fir, and that also the Form had been so far changed as to be nothing like the first, I think it would have suffered no Dispute, but might have easily been concluded to be quite another, retaining nothing but the Name, and that also unjustly. The Abuse following the Distinction of Laity and Clergy.Secondly, From this Distinction of Laity and Clergy this Abuse also follows, that good, honest, mechanick Men, and others who have not learned the Art and Trade of[Pg 281] Preaching, and so are not licentiated according to these Rules they prescribe unto themselves; such, I say, being possessed with a false Opinion that it is not lawful for them to meddle with the Ministry, nor that they are any Ways fit for it, because of the Defect of that Literature, do thereby neglect the Gift in themselves, and quench many Times the pure Breathings of the Spirit of God in their Hearts; which, if given Way to, might prove much more for the Edification of the Church than many of the conned Sermons of the Learned. And so by this Means the Apostle’s Command and Advice is slighted, who exhorteth, 1 Thess. v. 19, 20. not to quench the Spirit, nor despise Prophesyings. And all this is done by Men pretending to be Christians, who glory that the first Preachers and Propagators of their Religion were such Kind of plain mechanick Men, and illiterate. Both Protestants and Papists exclude mechanick Men from preaching, who greatly contributed to the Reformation.And even Protestants do no less than Papists exclude such Kind of Men from being Ministers among them, and thus limit the Spirit and Gift of God; though their Fathers, in Opposition to Papists, asserted the Contrary; and also their own Histories declare how that Kind of illiterate Men did, without Learning, by the Spirit of God, greatly contribute in divers Places to the Reformation.

By this it may appear, that as in Calling and Qualifying, so in Preaching and Praying, and the other particular Steps of the Ministry, every true Minister is to know the Spirit of God by its Virtue and Life to accompany and assist him; but because this relates to Worship, I shall speak of it more largely in the next Proposition, which is concerning Worship.

The last Thing to be considered and inquired into is, concerning the Maintenance of a Gospel Minister; but before I proceed, I judge it fit to speak something briefly concerning the Preaching of Women, and to declare what we hold in that Matter.

Women’s publick Preaching and Praying asserted.Seeing Male and Female are one in Christ Jesus, and that he gives his Spirit no less to one than to the other, when God moveth by his Spirit in a Woman, we judge it no Ways unlawful for her to preach in the Assemblies of God’s People. Neither think we that of Paul,[Pg 282] 1 Cor. xiv. 34. to reprove the inconsiderate and talkative Women among the Corinthians, who troubled the Church of Christ with their unprofitable Questions, or that, 1 Tim. ii. 11, 12. that Women ought to learn in Silence, not usurping Authority over the Man, any Ways repugnant to this Doctrine; because it is clear that Women have prophesied and preached in the Church, else had that Saying of Joel been ill applied by Peter, Acts ii. 17. And seeing Paul himself, in the same Epistle to the Corinthians, giveth Rules how Women should behave themselves in their publick Preaching and Praying, it would be a manifest Contradiction if that other Place were taken in a larger Sense. And the same Paul speaks of a Woman that laboured with him in the Work of the Gospel: And it is written that [94]Philip had four Daughters that prophesied. And Lastly, It hath been observed, that God hath effectually in this Day converted many Souls by the Ministry of Women; and by them also frequently comforted the Souls of his Children; which manifest Experience puts the Thing beyond all Controversy. Quest. 4. Ministers Maintenance. But now I shall proceed to speak of the Maintenance of Ministers.

[94] Acts 21. 9.


The Ministers Food and their Maintenance stated.We freely acknowledge, as the Proposition holds forth, that there is an Obligation upon such to whom God sends, or among whom he raiseth up a Minister, that, if Need be, they minister to his Necessities. Secondly, That it is lawful for him to receive what is necessary and convenient. To prove this I need not insist, for our Adversaries will readily grant it to us; for the Thing we affirm is, that this is all that these Scripture Testimonies relating to this Thing do grant, Gal. vi. 6. 1 Cor. ix. 11, 12, 13, 14. 1 Tim. v. 16. That which we then oppose in this Matter is, First, That it should be constrained and limited. Secondly, That it should be superfluous, chargeable, and sumptuous. And Thirdly, The manifest Abuse thereof, of which I shall also briefly treat.

I. Against constrained Maintenance.As to the First, our Adversaries are forced to recur to the Example of the Law; a Refuge they use in defending most of their Errors and Superstitions, which are contrary to the Nature and Purity of the Gospel.

[Pg 283]

Object.They say, God appointed the Levites the Tithes, therefore they belong also to such as minister in holy Things under the Gospel.

Answ.I answer, All that can be gathered from this is, that as the Priests had a Maintenance allowed them under the Law, so also the Ministers and Preachers under the Gospel, which is not denied; but the Comparison will not hold that they should have the very same; since, First, There is no express Gospel Command for it, neither by Christ nor his Apostles. Tithes were appointed for the Levites, not for Gospel Preachers.Secondly, The Parity doth no Ways hold betwixt the Levites under the Law, and the Preachers under the Gospel; because the Levites were one of the Tribes of Israel, and so had a Right to a Part of the Inheritance of the Land as well as the rest of their Brethren; and having none, had this allotted to them in Lieu of it. Next, The tenth of the Tithes was only allowed to the Priests that served at the Altar, the rest being for the Levites, and also to be put up in Store-houses, for entertaining of Widows and Strangers. But these Preachers, notwithstanding they inherit what they have by their Parents, as well as other Men, yet claim the whole Tithes, allowing nothing either to Widow or Stranger. But as to the Tithes I shall not insist, because divers others have clearly and learnedly treated of them apart, and also divers Protestants do confess them not to be jure divino; and the Parity as to the Quota doth not hold, but only in general as to the Obligation of a Maintenance; which Maintenance, though the Hearers be obliged to give, and fail of their Duty if they do not, yet that it ought neither to be stinted, nor yet forced, I prove; Reas. 1. The Gospel freely to be preached, without so much a Year.Because Christ, when he sent forth his Apostles, said, Freely ye have received, freely give, Mat. x. 8. and yet they had Liberty to receive Meat and Drink from such as offered them, to supply their Need. Which shews that they were not to seek or require any Thing by Force, or to stint, or make a Bargain beforehand, as the Preachers as well among Papists as Protestants do in these Days, who will not preach to any until they be first sure of so much a Year; but on the contrary, these were to do their Duty, and freely to com[Pg 284]municate, as the Lord should order them, what they had received, without seeking or expecting a Reward.

Nic. Arnoldus his Answer to Freely ye have received, &c.The Answer given to this by Nicolaus Arnoldus, Exercit. Theolog. Sect. 42, 43. is not to be forgotten, but indeed to be kept upon Record for a perpetual Remembrance of him and his Brethren; for he frankly answers after this Manner, We have not freely received, and therefore are not bound to give freely. The Answer I confess is ingenuous and good; for if those that receive freely are to give freely, it would seem to follow by the Rule of Contraries, that those that receive not freely ought not to give freely, and I shall grant it; only they must grant me, that they preach not by and according to the Gift and Grace of God received, nor can they be good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God, as every true Minister ought to be; Simon Magus.or else they have gotten this Gift or Grace by Money, as Simon Magus would have been compassing it, since they think themselves not bound to give it without Money again. But to be plain, I believe he intended not that it was from the Gift or Grace of God they were to preach, but from their acquired Arts and Studies, which have cost them much Labour and also some Money at the University; and therefore, as he that puts his Stock into the publick Bank expects Interest again, so these Scholars, having spent some Money in learning the Art of Preaching, think they may boldly say they have it not freely; for it hath cost them both Money and Pains, and therefore they expect both Money and Ease again. And therefore, as Arnoldus gets Money for teaching his young Students the Art and Trade of Preaching, so he intends they should be repaid before they give it again to others. All Things are set to Sale at Rome. To Franequer applied.It was of old said, Omnia venalia Romæ, i. e. All Things are set to Sale at Rome; but now the same Proverb may be applied to Franequer. And therefore Arnoldus’s Students, when they go about to preach, may safely seek and require hereby, telling the Hearers their Master’s Maxim, Nos gratis non accepimus, ergo neque gratis dare tenemur. But then they may answer again, That they find them and their Master to be none of his Ministers, who when he sent forth his Disciples,[Pg 285] gave them this Command, Freely ye have received, freely give, and therefore we will have none of your Teaching, because we perceive you to be of the Number of those [95]that look for their Gain from their Quarter.

[95] Isa. 56. 11.

§. XXIX.

Reas. 2.Secondly, The Scripture Testimonies that urge this are in the same Nature of those that press Charity and Liberality towards the Poor, Mere voluntary Deeds no Man can stint them.and command Hospitality, &c. but these are not nor can be stinted to a certain Quantity, because they are Deeds merely voluntary, where the Obedience to the Command lieth in the good Will of the Giver, and not in the Matter of the Thing given, as Christ sheweth in the Example of the Widow’s Mite. So that though there be an Obligation upon Christians to minister of outward Things to their Ministers, yet there can be no Definition of the Quantity but by the Giver’s own Consent, and a little from one may more truly fulfil the Obligation than a great deal from another. And therefore as Acts of Charity and Hospitality can neither be limited nor forced, so neither can this.

Object.If it be objected, That Ministers may and ought to exhort, persuade, yea and earnestly press Christians, if they find them defective therein, to Acts of Charity and Hospitality, and so may they do also to the giving of Maintenance.

Answ.I answer, All this saith nothing for a stinted and forced Maintenance, for which there cannot so much as the Shew of one solid Argument be brought from Scripture. I confess Ministers may use Exhortation in this as much as in any other Case, even as the Apostle did to the Corinthians, shewing them their Duty; Paul’s Labour was, that the Gospel might be without Charge.but it were fit for Ministers that so do (that their Testimony might have the more Weight, and be the freer of all Suspicion of Covetousness and Self-interest) that they might be able to say truly in the Sight of God that which the same Apostle subjoins upon the same Occasion, 1 Cor. ix. 15, 16, 17, 18. But I have used none of these Things; neither have I written these Things, that it should be so done unto me: For it were better for me to die, than that any Man should make my Glorying void. For[Pg 286] though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for Necessity is laid upon me, yea Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel. For if I do this Thing willingly, I have a Reward; but if against my Will, a Dispensation of the Gospel is committed unto me. What is my Reward then? Verily that when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without Charge, that I abuse not my Power in the Gospel.

Reas. 3.Thirdly, As there is neither Precept nor Example for this forced and stinted Maintenance in the Scripture, so the Apostle, in his solemn Farewel to the Pastors and Elders of the Church of Ephesus, guards them against it, Acts xx. 33, 34, 35. But if the Thing had been either lawful or practised, he would rather have exhorted them to be content with their stinted Hire, and not to covet more; whereas he sheweth them, first, by his own Example, that they were not to Paul coveted no Body’s Silver or Gold.covet or expect any Man’s Silver or Gold; secondly, that they ought to work with their Hands for an honest Livelihood, as he had done; and lastly, he exhorts them so to do from the Words of Christ, because it is a more blessed Thing to give than to receive; shewing that it is so far from a Thing that a true Minister ought to aim at, or expect, that it is rather a Burden to a true Minister, and Cross to him, to be reduced to the Necessity of wanting it.

§. XXX.

Reas. 4.Fourthly, If a forced and stinted Maintenance were to be supposed, it would make the Ministers of Christ just one with those No Hireling fitting the Gospel of Christ.Hirelings whom the Prophets cried out against. For certainly if a Man make a Bargain to preach to People for so much a Year, so as to refuse to preach unless he have it, and seek to force the People to give it by Violence, it cannot be denied that such a one preacheth for Hire, and so looks for his Gain from his Quarter, yea and [96]prepares War against such as put not into his Mouth; but this is the particular special Mark of a false Prophet and an Hireling, and therefore can no Ways belong to a true Minister of Christ.

[96] Mic. 3. 5.

Moderate Protestants and Papists exclaim against the Excess of the Clergy’s Revenues.Next, that a superfluous Maintenance, that is, more than in Reason is needful, ought not to be received by Christian Ministers, will[Pg 287] not need much Proof, seeing the more Moderate and Sober, both among Papists and Protestants, readily confess it, who with one Voice exclaim against the excessive Revenues of the Clergy; and that it may not want a Proof from Scripture, what can be more plain than that of the Apostle to Timothy? 1 Tim. vi. 7, 8, 9, 10. where he both shews wherewith we ought to be content, and also the Hazard of such as look after more; and indeed, since that very Obligation of giving Maintenance to a Minister is founded upon their Need, and such as have Opportunity to work are commended rather in not receiving than in receiving, it can no Ways be supposed lawful for them to receive more than is sufficient. And indeed, were they truly pious and right, though necessitous, they would rather incline to take too little, than be gaping after too much.

§. XXXI.

II. The Excess of the Priests and Bishops Revenues. Now that there is great Excess and Abuse hereof among Christians, the vast Revenues which the Bishops and Priests have, both Papists and Protestants, do declare; since I judge it may be said without any Hyperbole, that some particular Persons have more paid them yearly than Christ and his Apostles made use of in their whole Life-time, who yet wanted not what was needful as to the outward Man, and no Doubt deserved it far better than those that enjoy that Fulness. But it is manifest these Bishops and Priests love their fat Benefices, and the Pleasure and Honour that attends them, so well, that they purpose neither to follow Christ nor his Apostles Example or Advice in this Matter.

Object.But it is usually objected, That Christians are become so hard-hearted, and generally so little heed Spiritual Things, that if Ministers had not a settled and stinted Maintenance secured them by Law, they and their Families might starve for Want of Bread.

Answ.I answer, This Objection might have some Weight as to a Carnal Ministry, made up of natural Men, who have no Life, Power, nor Virtue with them, and so may insinuate some Need of such a Maintenance for such a Ministry; They wanted nothing whom God sent; they laboured with their Hands.but it saith nothing as to such as are called and sent of God, who sends no Man a Wayfaring upon his own Charges; and so go forth in the Authority and Power of God, to[Pg 288] turn People from Darkness to Light; for such can trust to him that sendeth them, and do believe that he will provide for them, knowing that he requireth nothing of any but what he giveth Power to perform; and so when they return, if he enquire, can say they wanted nothing. And such also when they stay in a Place, being immediately furnished by God, and not needing to borrow and steal what they preach from Books, and take up their Time that Way, fall a working at their lawful Employments, and labour with their Hands, as Paul did when he gathered the Church at Corinth. And indeed if this Objection had any Weight, the Apostles and Primitive Pastors should never have gone forth to convert the Nations, for fear of Want. Doth not the Doctrine of Christ teach us to venture all, and part with all, to serve God? Can they then be accounted Ministers of Christ who are afraid to preach him lest they get not Money for it, or will not do it until they be sure of their Payment? What serves the Ministry for but to perfect the Saints, and so to convert them from that Hard-heartedness?

Object.But thou wilt say, I have laboured and preached to them, and they are hard-hearted still, and will not give me any Thing:

Answ.Then surely thou hast either not been sent to them of God, and so thy Ministry and Preaching hath not been among them in the Power, Virtue, and Life of Christ, and so thou deservest nothing; or else they have rejected thy Testimony, and so are not worthy, and from such thou oughtest not to expect, yea nor yet receive any Thing, if they would give thee, but thou oughtest to shake off the Dust from thy Feet, and leave them. Mat. 10. 14. If they reject the Testimony, shake the Dust from off thy Feet.And how frivolous this Objection is, appears, in that in the darkest and most superstitious Times the Priests Revenues increased most, and they were most richly rewarded, though they deserved least. So that he that is truly sent of God, as he needs not, so neither will he, be afraid of Want, so long as he serves so good a Master; neither will he ever forbear to do his Work for that Cause. And indeed such as make this Objection shew truly that they serve[Pg 289] not the Lord Christ, but their own Belly, and that makes them so anxious for want of Food to it.


II. The many Abuses Priests Maintenance brings. But lastly, As to the Abuses of this Kind of Maintenance, indeed he that would go through them all, though he did it passingly, might make of it alone a huge Volume, they are so great and numerous. For this Abuse, as others, crept in with the Apostasy, there being nothing of this in the Primitive Times: Then the Ministers claimed no Tithes, neither sought they a stinted or forced Maintenance; but such as wanted had their Necessity supplied by the Church, and others wrought with their Hands. But the Persecutions being over, and the Emperors and Princes coming under the Name of Christians, the Zeal of those great Men was quickly abused by the Covetousness of the Clergy, who soon learned to change their Cottages with the Palaces of Princes, and rested not until by Degrees some of them came to be Princes themselves, nothing inferior to them in Splendor, Luxury, and Magnificence; a Method of living that honest Peter and John the Fisherman, and Paul the Tent-maker never coveted; and perhaps as little imagined that Men pretending to be their Successors should have arrived to these Things. And so soon as the Bishops were thus seated and constituted, forgetting the Life and Work of a Christian, they went usually by the Ears together about the Precedency and Revenues, each coveting the chiefest and fattest Benefice. The Protestants having forsaken the Pope, yet would not forsake the rich Popish Revenues.It is also to be regretted to think how soon this Mischief crept in among Protestants, who had scarce well appeared when the Clergy among them began to speak at the old Rate, and shew that though they had forsaken the Bishop of Rome, they were not resolved to part with their old Benefices; and therefore so soon as any Princes or States shook off the Pope’s Authority, and so demolished the Abbies, Nunneries, and other Monuments of Superstition, the reformed Clergy began presently to cry out to the Magistrates to beware of meddling with the Church’s Patrimony, severely exclaiming against making a lawful Use of those vast Revenues that had been[Pg 290] superstitiously bestowed upon the Church, so called, to the Good and Benefit of the Commonwealth, as no less than Sacrilege.

1. The Clergy’s Covetousness.But by keeping up of this Kind of Maintenance for the Ministry and Clergymen, so called, there is first a Bait laid for Covetousness, which is Idolatry, and of all Things most hurtful; so that for Covetousness Sake, many, being led by the Desire of filthy Lucre, do apply themselves to be Ministers, that they may get a Livelihood by it. If a Man have several Children, he will allot one of them to be a Minister; which if he can get it to be, he reckons it as good as a Patrimony: So that a fat Benefice hath always many Expectants; and then what Bribing, what Courting, what Industry, and shameful Actions are used to acquire these Things, is too openly known, and needs not to be proved.

The greedy Kirk, a Proverb.The Scandal that by these Means is raised among Christians is so manifest, that it is become a Proverb, that the Kirk is always greedy. Whereby the Gift and Grace of God being neglected, they have for the most Part no other Motive or Rule in applying themselves to one Church more than another but the greater Benefice. For though they hypocritically pretend, at their accepting of and entering into their Church, that they have nothing before them but the Glory of God and the Salvation of Souls; yet if a richer Benefice offer itself, they presently find it more for God’s Glory to remove from the first, and go thither. And thus they make no Difficulty often to change, while notwithstanding they accuse us that we allow Ministers to go from Place to Place, and not to be tied to one Place; but we allow this not for the gaining of Money, but as moved of God. For if a Minister be called to minister in a particular Place, he ought not to leave it, except God call him from it, and then he ought to obey: For we make the Will of God inwardly revealed, and not the Love of Money and more Gain, the Ground of removing.

2. The Clergy’s Luxury.Secondly, From this Abuse hath proceeded that Luxury and Idleness that most of the Clergy live in, even among Protestants as well as Papists, to the great Scandal of Christianity. For not having lawful[Pg 291] Trades to work with their Hands, and being so superfluously and sumptuously provided for, they live in Idleness and Luxury; and there doth more Pride, Vanity, and worldly Glory appear in their Wives and Children than in most others, which is open and evident to all.

3. The Clergy’s Cruelty.Thirdly, They become hereby so glued to the Love of Money, that there is none like them in Malice, Rage, and Cruelty. If they be denied their Hire, they rage like drunken Men, fret, fume, and as it were go mad. A Man may sooner satisfy the severest Creditor than them; the general Voice of the Poor doth confirm this. For indeed they are far more exact in taking up the Tithes of Sheep, Geese, Swine, and Eggs, &c. and look more narrowly to it than to the Members of their Flock: They will not miss the least Mite; and the poorest Widow cannot escape their avaricious Hands. Poor Widow’s Mite cannot escape the Priest’s greedy Hands.Twenty Lies they will hear unreproved; and as many Oaths a Man may swear in their Hearing without offending them; and greater Evils than all this they can overlook. But if thou owest them aught, and refusest to pay it, then nothing but War will they thunder against thee, and they will stigmatize thee with the horrible Title of Sacrilege, and send thee to Hell without Mercy, as if thou hadst committed the Sin against the Holy Ghost. Of all People we can best bear Witness to this; The Work of Antichrist is Fury, Envy, Malice.for God having shewn us this corrupt and Antichristian Ministry, and called us out from it, and gathered us unto his own Power and Life, to be a separate People, so that we dare not join with, nor hear these Antichristian Hirelings, neither yet put into their Mouths, or feed them. Oh! what Malice, Envy, and Fury hath this raised in their Hearts against us! That though we get none of their Wares, neither will buy them, as knowing them to be naught, yet will they force us to give them Money: And because we cannot for Conscience Sake do it, our Sufferings have upon that Account been unutterable. Yea, to give Account of their Cruelty, and several Sorts of Inhumanity used against us, would make no small History. These avaricious Hirelings have come to that Degree of Malice and Rage, that several poor labouring Men[Pg 292] have been carried hundreds of Miles from their own Dwellings, and shut up in Prison, some two, some three, yea, some seven Years together, for the Value of one Pound Sterling, and less. A Widow for the Tithe of Geese about four Years in Prison.I know myself a poor Widow, that for the Tithes of her Geese, which amounted not to five Shillings, was about four Years kept in Prison, thirty Miles from her House. Yea, they by Violence for this Cause have plundered of Men’s Goods the Hundred-fold, and prejudiced much more; yea, Hundreds have hereby spilt their innocent Blood; by dying in the filthy noisome Holes and Prisons. Some lost their Lives in nasty Holes, some wounded by the Priests, &c.And some of the Priests have been so enraged, that Goods thus ravished could not satisfy them; but they must also satisfy their Fury by beating, knocking, and wounding with their Hands innocent Men and Women, for refusing (for Conscience Sake) to put into their Mouths.

The only Way then soundly to reform and remove all these Abuses, and take away the Ground and Occasion of them, is, to take away all stinted and forced Maintenance and Stipends. Whoso heap Teachers to themselves, let them provide their Stipend.As whoever call or appoint Teachers to themselves, let them accordingly entertain them: And for such as are called and moved to the Ministry by the Spirit of God, those that receive them, and taste of the Good of their Ministry, will no Doubt provide Things needful for them, and there will be no Need of a Law to force a Hire for them: For he that sends them, will take care for them; and they also, having Food and Raiment, will therewith be content.


The Difference between the Ministry of the Quakers and their Adversaries.The Sum then of what is said is, That the Ministry that we have pleaded for, and which also the Lord hath raised up among us is, in all its Parts, like the true Ministry of the Apostles and primitive Church. Whereas the Ministry our Adversaries seek to uphold and plead for, as it doth in all in Parts differ from them, so, on the other Hand, it is very like the false Prophets and Teachers testified against and condemned in the Scripture, as may be thus briefly illustrated.

The true Ministers Call.I. The Ministry and Ministers we plead for, are such as are immediately called and sent forth by Christ and his Spirit unto the Work of the[Pg 293] Ministry: So were the holy Apostles and Prophets, as appears by these Places, Matt. x. 1. 5. Ephes. iv. 11. Heb. v. 4.

1. But the Ministry and Ministers our Opposers plead for, are such as have no immediate Call from Christ; to whom the Leading and Motion of the Spirit is not reckoned necessary; but who are called, sent forth, and ordained by wicked and ungodly Men: Such were of old the false Prophets and Teachers, as appears by these Places, Jer. xiv. 14, 15. item. Chap. xxiii. 21. and xxvii. 15.

True Ministers Guide.II. The Ministers we plead for, are such as are actuated and led by God’s Spirit, and by the Power and Operation of his Grace in their Hearts, are in some Measure converted and regenerate, and so are good, holy, and gracious Men: Such were the holy Prophets and Apostles, as appears from 1 Tim. iii. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Tit. i. 7, 8, 9.

2. But the Ministers our Adversaries plead for, are such to whom the Grace of God is no needful Qualification; and so may be true Ministers, according to them, though they be ungodly, unholy, and profligate Men: Such were the false Prophets and Apostles, as appears from Mic. iii. 5. 11. 1 Tim. vi. 5, 6, 7, 8, &c. 2 Tim. iii. 2. 2. Pet. ii. 1, 2, 3.

True Ministers Work.III. The Ministers we plead for, are such as act, move, and labour in the Work of the Ministry, not from their own mere natural Strength and Ability, but as they are actuated, moved, supported, assisted and influenced by the Spirit of God, and minister according to the Gift received, as good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God: Such were the holy Prophets and Apostles, 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11. 1 Cor. i. 17. ii. 3, 4, 5. 13. Acts ii. 4. Matt. x. 20. Mark xiii. 11. Luke xii. 12. 1 Cor. xiii. 2.

3. But the Ministers our Adversaries plead for, are such as wait not for, nor expect, nor need the Spirit of God to actuate and move them in the Work of the Ministry; but what they do they do from their own mere natural Strength and Ability, and what they have gathered and stolen from the Letter of the Scripture, and other Books, and so speak it forth in the Strength of their own Wisdom and Eloquence, and not in the Evidence and Demonstration of the Spirit and Power: Such were the false Prophets and Apostles, as appears, Jer. xxiii. 30, 31, 32, 34, &c. 1 Cor. iv. 18. Jude 16.[Pg 294]

True Ministers Humility.IV. The Ministers we plead for, are such as, being holy and humble, contend not for Precedency and Priority, but rather strive to prefer one another, and serve one another in Love; neither desire to be distinguished from the rest by their Garments and large Phylacteries, nor seek the Greetings in the Market-places, nor uppermost Places at Feasts, nor the chief Seats in the Synagogues; nor yet to be called of Men Master, &c. Such were the holy Prophets and Apostles, as appears from Matt. xxiii. 8, 9, 10. and xx. 25, 26, 27.

4. But the Ministers our Adversaries plead for, are such as strive and contend for Superiority, and claim Precedency over one another; affecting and ambitiously seeking after the fore-mentioned Things: Such were the false Prophets and Apostles in Time past, Matt. xxiii. 5, 6, 7.

True Ministers Free Gift.V. The Ministers we plead for, are such as having freely received, freely give; who covet no Man’s Silver, Gold, or Garments; who seek no Man’s Goods, but seek them, and the Salvation of their Souls: Whose Hands supply their own Necessities, working honestly for Bread to themselves and their Families. And if at any Time they be called of God, so as the Work of the Lord hinder them from the use of their Trades, take what is freely given them by such to whom they have communicated Spirituals; and having Food and Raiment, are therewith content: Such were the holy Prophets and Apostles, as appears from Matt. x. 8. Acts xx. 33, 34, 35. 1 Tim. vi. 8.

5. But the Ministers our Adversaries plead for, are such as not having freely received, will not freely give; but are covetous, doing that which they ought not, for filthy Lucre’s Sake; as to preach for Hire, and divine for Money, and look for their Gain from their Quarter, and prepare War against such as put not into their Mouths, &c. Greedy Dogs, which can never have enough. Shepherds who feed themselves, and not the Flock; eating the Fat, and clothing themselves with the Wool; making Merchandize of Souls; and following the Way of Balaam, that loved the Wages of Unrighteousness: Such were the false Prophets and Apostles, Isa. lvi. 11. Ezek. xxxiv. 2, 3. 8. Mic. iii. 5. 11. Tit. i. 10, 11. 2 Pet. ii. 1, 2, 3. 14, 15.

[Pg 295]

The Ministers Life and Qualification.And in a Word, We are for a holy, spiritual, pure and living Ministry, where the Ministers are both called, qualified and ordered, actuated and influenced in all the Steps of their Ministry by the Spirit of God; which being wanting, we judge they cease to be the Ministers of Christ.

But they, judging this Life, Grace, and Spirit no essential Part of their Ministry, are therefore for the upholding of an human, carnal, dry, barren, fruitless and dead Ministry; of which, alas! we have seen the Fruits in the most Part of their Churches: Of whom that Saying of the Lord is certainly verified, Jer. xxiii. 32.—I sent them not, nor commanded them, therefore they shall not profit this People at all, saith the LORD.

[Pg 296]


Concerning Worship.

What the true Worship is, that is acceptable to God.All true and acceptable Worship to God is offered in the inward and immediate Moving and Drawing of his own Spirit, which is neither limited to Places, Times, nor Persons. For though we are to worship him always, and continually to fear before him; How to be performed.yet as to the outward Signification thereof, in Prayers, Praises, or Preachings, we ought not to do it in our own Will, where and when we will; but where and when we are moved thereunto by the Stirring and secret Inspiration of the Spirit of God in our Hearts; which God heareth and accepteth of, and is never wanting to move as thereunto, when Need is; of which he himself is the alone proper Judge. All other Worship then, both Praises, Prayers or Preachings, which Man sets about in his own Will, and at his own Appointment, which he can both begin and end at his Pleasure, do or leave undone as himself seeth meet, whether they be a prescribed Form, as a Liturgy, &c. or Prayers conceived extempore by the natural Strength and Faculty of the Mind, they are all but Superstition, Will-worship, and abominable Idolatry in the Sight of God, which are now to be denied and rejected, and separated from, in this Day of his spiritual Arising: Superstition and Will-worship, Idolatry.However it might have pleased him (who winked at the Times of Ignorance, with a Respect to the Simplicity and Integrity of some, and of his own innocent Seed, which lay as it were buried in the Hearts of Men under that Mass of Superstition) to blow upon the dead and dry Bones, and to raise some Breathings of his own, and answer them; and that until the Day should more clearly dawn and break forth.

[Pg 297]

§. I.

The Duty of Man towards God lieth chiefly in these two Generals. 1. In an holy Conformity to the pure Law and Light of God, so as both to forsake the Evil, and be found in the Practice of those perpetual and moral Precepts of Righteousness and Equity. And 2. In rendering that Reverence, Honour and Adoration to God, that he requires and demands of us; which is comprehended under Worship. Of the former we have already spoken, as also of the different Relations of Christians, as they are distinguished by the several Measures of Grace received, and given to every one; and in that Respect have their several Offices in the Body of Christ, which is the Church. Now I come to speak of Worship, or of those Acts, whether private or publick, general or particular, whereby Man renders to God that Part of his Duty which relates immediately to him: And as Obedience is better than Sacrifice, so neither is any Sacrifice acceptable, but that which is done according to the Will of him to whom it is offered. But Men, finding it easier to sacrifice in their own Wills, than obey God’s Will, have heaped up Sacrifices without Obedience; True Worship and Duty to God-wards corrupted.and thinking to deceive God, as they do one another, give him a Shew of Reverence, Honour and Worship, while they are both inwardly estranged and alienated from his holy and righteous Life, and wholly Strangers to the pure Breathings of his Spirit, in which the acceptable Sacrifice and Worship is only offered up. Hence it is, that there is not any Thing relating to Man’s Duty towards God, which among all Sorts of People hath been more vitiated, and in which the Devil hath more prevailed, than in abusing Man’s Mind concerning this Thing: And as among many others, so among those called Christians, nothing hath been more out of Order, and more corrupted, as some Papists and all Protestants, do acknowledge. As I freely approve whatsoever the Protestants have reformed from Papists in this Respect; so I meddle not at this Time with their Controversies about it: The Popish Mass (Idolatry) denied, with all their Trumpery.Only it suffices me with them to deny, as no Part of the true Worship of God, that abominable Superstition and Idolatry the Popish Mass, the Adoration[Pg 298] of Saints and Angels, the Veneration of Relicks, the Visitation of Sepulchres, and all those other superstitious Ceremonies, Confraternities, and endless Pilgrimages of the Romish Synagogue. Which all may suffice to evince to Protestants, that Antichrist hath wrought more in this than in any other Part of the Christian Religion; If Protestants have made a perfect Reformation.and so it concerns them narrowly to consider, whether herein they have made a clear and perfect Reformation; as to which stands the Controversy betwixt them and us. For we find many of the Branches lopt off by them, but the Root yet remaining; to wit, a Worship acted in and from Man’s Will and Spirit, and not by and from the Spirit of God: For the true Christian and Spiritual Worship of God hath been so early lost, and Man’s Wisdom and Will hath so quickly and throughly mixed itself herein, that both the Apostasy in this Respect hath been greatest, and the Reformation herefrom, as to the evil Root, most difficult. Therefore let not the Reader suddenly stumble at the Account of our Proposition in this Matter, but patiently hear us explain ourselves in this Respect, and I hope (by the Assistance of God) to make it appear, that though our Manner of Speaking and Doctrine seem most singular and different from all other Sorts of Christians; yet it is most according to the purest Christian Religion, and indeed most needful to be observed and followed. And that there be no Ground of Mistake (for that I was necessitated to speak in few Words, and therefore more obscurely and dubiously in the Proposition itself) it is fit in the first Place to declare and explain our Sense, and clear the State of the Controversy.

§. II.

I. What Worship here is spoken of. And first, let it be considered, that what is here affirmed, is spoken of the Worship of God in these Gospel-times, and not of the Worship that was under or before the Law: For the particular Commands of God to Men then, are not sufficient to authorize us now to do the same Things; else we might be supposed at present acceptably to offer Sacrifice as they did, which all acknowledge to be ceased. So that what might have been both commendable and acceptable under the Law,[Pg 299] may justly now be charged with Superstition, yea, and Idolatry. So that impertinently, in this Respect, doth Arnoldus rage against this Proposition, [Exercit. Theolog. Sect. 44.] saying; That I deny all publick Worship, and that according to me, such as in Enoch’s Time publickly began to call upon the Name of the Lord; and such as at the Command of God went thrice up to Jerusalem to worship; and that Anna, Simeon, Mary, &c. were Idolaters, because they used the publick Worship of those Times; such a Consequence is most impertinent; and no less foolish and absurd, than if I should infer from Paul’s expostulating with the Galatians for their returning to the Jewish Ceremonies, that he therefore condemned Moses and all the Prophets as foolish and ignorant, because they used those Things: The forward Man, not heeding the different Dispensation of Times, ran into this Impertinency. Ceremonies under the Law were not essential to true Worship.Though a spiritual Worship might have been, and no Doubt was practised by many under the Law in great Simplicity; yet will it not follow, that it were no Superstition to use all those Ceremonies that they used, which were by God dispensed to the Jews, not as being essential to true Worship, or necessary as of themselves for transmitting and entertaining an holy Fellowship betwixt him and his People; but in Condescension to them, who were inclinable to Idolatry. Albeit then in this, as in most other Things, the Substance was enjoyed under the Law by such as were spiritual indeed; yet was it veiled and surrounded with many Rites and Ceremonies, which it is no Ways lawful for us to use now under the Gospel.

§. III.

II. True Worship is not limited to Place or Person. Secondly, Albeit I say, that this Worship is neither limited to Times, Places nor Persons; yet I would not be understood, as if I intended the putting away of all set Times and Places to worship: God forbid I should think of such an Opinion. Nay, we are none of those that forsake the Assembling of ourselves together; but have even certain Times and Places, in which we carefully meet together (nor can we be driven therefrom by the Threats and Persecutions of Men) to wait upon God, and worship him. Necessity of Meetings.To meet together we think necessary for the People of God; because, so long as we are clothed with[Pg 300] this outward Tabernacle, there is a Necessity to the entertaining of a joint and visible Fellowship, and bearing of an outward Testimony for God, and seeing of the Faces of one another, that we concur with our Persons as well as Spirits: To be accompanied with that inward Love and Unity of Spirit, doth greatly tend to encourage and refresh the Saints.

1. Will-worship doth limit the Spirit of God.But the Limitation we condemn is, that whereas the Spirit of God should be the immediate Actor, Mover, Persuader and Influencer of Man in the particular Acts of Worship, when the Saints are met together, this Spirit is limited in its Operations, by setting up a particular Man or Men to preach and pray in Man’s Will; and all the rest are excluded from so much as believing that they are to wait for God’s Spirit to move them in such Things: And so they neglecting that in themselves which should quicken them, and not waiting to feel the pure Breathings of God’s Spirit, so as to obey them, are led merely to depend upon the Preacher, and hear what he will say.

2. True Teaching of the Word of God.Secondly, In that these peculiar Men come not thither to meet with the Lord, and to wait for the inward Motions and Operations of his Spirit; and so to pray as they feel the Spirit to breathe through them, and in them; and to preach, as they find themselves actuated and moved by God’s Spirit, and as he gives Utterance, so as to speak a Word in Season to refresh weary Souls, and as the present Condition and State of the People’s Hearts require; suffering God by his Spirit both to prepare People’s Hearts, and also give the Preacher to speak what may be fit and seasonable for them: But he (viz. the Preacher) hath hammered together in his Closet, according to his own Will, by his human Wisdom and Literature, and by stealing the Words of Truth from the Letter of the Scriptures, and patching together other Men’s Writings and Observations, so much as will hold him speaking an Hour, while the Glass runs; Priests preach by Hap-hazard their studied Sermons.and without waiting or feeling the inward Influence of the Spirit of God, he declaims that by Hap-hazard, whether it be fit or[Pg 301] seasonable for the People’s Condition, or not; and when he has ended his Sermon, he saith his Prayer also in his own Will; and so there is an End of the Business. Which customary Worship, as it is no Ways acceptable to God, so how unfruitful it is, and unprofitable to those that are found in it, the present Condition of the Nations doth sufficiently declare. It appears then, that we are not against set Times for Worship, as Arnoldus against this Proposition, Sect. 45. no less impertinently allegeth; offering needlesly to prove that which is not denied: Only these Times being appointed for outward Conveniency, we may not therefore think with the Papists, that these Days are holy, and lead People into a superstitious Observation of them; being persuaded that all Days are alike holy in the Sight of God. Whether Days are holy.And although it be not my present Purpose to make a long Digression concerning the Debates among Protestants about the first Day of the Week, commonly called the Lord’s Day, yet forasmuch as it comes fitly in here, I shall briefly signify our Sense thereof.

§. IV.

Of the First Day of the Week, commonly called the Lord’s Day.We, not seeing any Ground in Scripture for it, cannot be so superstitious as to believe, that either the Jewish Sabbath now continues, or that the first Day of the Week is the Anti-type thereof, or the true Christian Sabbath; which with Calvin we believe to have a more spiritual Sense: And therefore we know no moral Obligation by the fourth Command, or elsewhere, to keep the first Day of the Week more than any other, or any Holiness inherent in it. But First, forasmuch as it is necessary that there be some Time set apart for the Saints to meet together to wait upon God; and that Secondly, it is fit at some Times they be freed from their other outward Affairs; and that Thirdly, Reason and Equity doth allow that Servants and Beasts have some Time allowed them to be eased from their continual Labour; and that Fourthly, it appears that the Apostles and Primitive Christians did use the first Day of the Week for these Purposes; we find ourselves sufficiently moved for these Causes to do so also, without superstitiously straining the Scriptures for another Reason: Which, that it is not to be there found, many Pro[Pg 302]testants, yea, Calvin himself, upon the fourth Command, hath abundantly evinced. And though we therefore meet, and abstain from working upon this Day, yet doth not that hinder us from having Meetings also for Worship at other Times.

§. V.

Thirdly, Though according to the Knowledge of God, revealed unto us by the Spirit, through that more full Dispensation of Light which we believe the Lord hath brought about in this Day, we judge it our Duty to hold forth that pure and spiritual Worship which is acceptable to God, and answerable to the Testimony of Christ and his Apostles, and likewise to testify against and deny not only manifest Superstition and Idolatry, but also all formal Will-worship, which stands not in the Power of God; The Worship in the Apostasy.yet, I say, we do not deny the whole Worship of all those that have borne the Name of Christians even in the Apostasy, as if God had never heard their Prayers, nor accepted any of them: God forbid we should be so void of Charity! The latter Part of the Proposition sheweth the Contrary. And as we would not be so absurd on the one Hand to conclude, because of the Errors and Darkness that many were covered and surrounded with in Babylon, that none of their Prayers were heard or accepted of God, so will we not be so unwary on the other, as to conclude, that because God heard and pitied them, so we ought to continue in these Errors and Darkness, and not come out of Babylon, when it is by God discovered unto us. The Popish Mass or Vespers.The Popish Mass and Vespers I do believe to be, as to the Matter of them, abominable Idolatry and Superstition, and so also believe the Protestants; yet will neither I or they affirm, that in the Darkness of Popery no Upright-hearted Men, though zealous in these Abominations, have been heard of God, or accepted of him: Bernard and Bonaventure, Taulerus, Tho. à Kempis, have tasted of the Love of God.Who can deny, but that both Bernard and Bonaventure, Taulerus, Thomas à Kempis, and divers others have both known and tasted of the Love of God, and felt the Power and Virtue of God’s Spirit working with them for their Salvation? And yet ought we not to forsake and deny those Superstitions which they were found in? The Calvinistical Presbyterians do[Pg 303] much upbraid (and I say not without Reason) the Formality and Deadness of the Episcopalian and Lutheran Liturgies; The Bishops Liturgy.and yet, as they will not deny but there have been some good Men among them, so neither dare they refuse, but that when that good Step was brought in by them, of turning the publick Prayers into the vulgar Tongues, though continued in a Liturgy, it was acceptable to God, and sometimes accompanied with his Power and Presence: Yet will not the Presbyterians have it from thence concluded, that the Common Prayers should still continue; so likewise, though we should confess, that, through the Mercy and wonderful Condescension of God, there have been upright in Heart, both among Papists and Protestants, yet can we not therefore approve of their Way in the General, or not go on to the upholding of that spiritual Worship, which the Lord is calling all to, and so to the testifying against whatsoever stands in the Way of it.

§. VI.

Assemblies of Worship in Publick described.Fourthly, To come then to the State of the Controversy, as to the publick Worship, we judge it the Duty of all to be diligent in the Assembling of themselves together (and what we have been, and are, in this Matter, our Enemies in Great Britain, who have used all Means to hinder our assembling together to worship God, may bear Witness) and when assembled, the great Work of one and all ought to be to wait upon God; and returning out of their own Thoughts and Imaginations, to feel the Lord’s Presence, and know a Gathering into his Name indeed, where he is in the Midst, according to his Promise. And as every one is thus gathered, and so met together inwardly in their Spirits, as well as outwardly in their Persons, there the secret Power and Virtue of Life is known to refresh the Soul, and the pure Motions and Breathings of God’s Spirit are felt to arise; from which, as Words of Declaration, Prayers or Praises arise, the acceptable Worship is known, which edifies the Church, and is well-pleasing to God. And no Man here limits the Spirit of God, nor bringeth forth his own conned and gathered Stuff; but every one puts that forth which the Lord puts into their[Pg 304] Hearts: And it is uttered forth not in Man’s Will and Wisdom, but in the Evidence and Demonstration of the Spirit, and of Power. Its glorious Dispensation.Yea, though there be not a Word spoken, yet is the true spiritual Worship performed, and the Body of Christ edified; yea, it may, and hath often fallen out among us, that divers Meetings have past without one Word; and yet our Souls have been greatly edified and refreshed, and our Hearts wonderfully overcome with the secret Sense of God’s Power and Spirit, which without Words hath been ministered from one Vessel to another. This is indeed strange and incredible to the mere natural and carnally-minded Man, who will be apt to judge all Time lost where there is not something spoken that is obvious to the outward Senses; and therefore I shall insist a little upon this Subject, as one that can speak from a certain Experience, and not by mere Hearsay, of this wonderful and glorious Dispensation; which hath so much the more of the Wisdom and Glory of God in it, as it is contrary to the Nature of Man’s Spirit, Will, and Wisdom.

§. VII.

The silent waiting upon God obtained.As there can be nothing more opposite to the natural Will and Wisdom of Man than this silent Waiting upon God, so neither can it be obtained, nor rightly comprehended by Man, but as he layeth down his own Wisdom and Will, so as to be content to be throughly subject to God. And therefore it was not preached, nor can be so practised, but by such as find no outward Ceremony, no Observations, no Words, yea, not the best and purest Words, even the Words of Scripture, able to satisfy their weary and afflicted Souls: Because where all these may be, the Life, Power, and Virtue, which make such Things effectual, may be wanting. Such, I say, were necessitated to cease from all Externals, and to be silent before the Lord; and [97]being directed to that inward Principle of Life and Light in themselves, as the most excellent Teacher, which can never be removed into a Corner, came thereby to be taught to wait upon God in the Measure of Life and Grace received from him, and to cease from their own forward Words and Actings, in the natural[Pg 305] Willing and Comprehension, and feel after this inward Seed of Life; that, as it moveth, they may move with it, and be actuated by its Power, and influenced, whether to pray, preach or sing. And so from this Principle of Man’s being silent, and not acting in the Things of God of himself, until thus actuated by God’s Light and Grace in the Heart, did naturally spring that Manner of sitting silent together, and waiting together upon the Lord. For many thus principled, meeting together in the pure Fear of the Lord, did not apply themselves presently to speak, pray, or sing, &c. being afraid to be found acting forwardly in their own Wills, but each made it their Work to retire inwardly to the Measure of Grace in themselves, not being only silent as to Words, but even abstaining from all their own Thoughts, Imaginations and Desires; so watching in a holy Dependence upon the Lord, and meeting together not only outwardly in one Place, What it is to meet in Jesus Name.but thus inwardly in one Spirit, and in one Name of Jesus, which is his Power and Virtue, they come thereby to enjoy and feel the Arisings of this Life, which, as it prevails in each Particular, becomes as a Flood of Refreshment, and overspreads the whole Meeting: For Man, and Man’s Part and Wisdom, being denied and chained down in every Individual, and God exalted, and his Grace in Dominion in the Heart, thus his Name comes to be one in all, and his Glory breaks forth, and covers all; and there is such a holy Awe and Reverence upon every Soul, that if the natural Part should arise in any, or the wise Part, or what is not one with the Life, it would presently be chained down, and judged out. And when any are, through the Breaking forth of this Power, constrained to utter a Sentence of Exhortation or Praise, or to breathe to the Lord in Prayer, then all are sensible of it; for the same Life in them answers to it, [98]as in Water Face answereth to Face. This is that divine and spiritual Worship, which the World neither knoweth nor understandeth, which the Vulture’s Eye seeth not into. Advantages of silent Meetings.Yet many and great are the Advantages which my Soul, with many others, hath tasted of hereby, and which would be found of all such[Pg 306] as would seriously apply themselves hereunto: For, when People are gathered thus together, not merely to hear Men, nor depend upon them, but [99]all are inwardly taught to stay their Minds upon the Lord, and wait for his Appearance in their Hearts; thereby the forward Working of the Spirit of Man is stayed and hindered from mixing itself with the Worship of God; and the Form of this Worship is so naked and void of all outward and worldly Splendor, that all Occasion for Man’s Wisdom to be exercised in that Superstition and Idolatry hath no Lodging here; and so there being also an inward Quietness and Retiredness of Mind, the Witness of God ariseth in the Heart, and the Light of Christ shineth, whereby the Soul cometh to see its own Condition. And there being many joined together in the same Work, there is an inward Travail and Wrestling; and also, as the Measure of Grace is abode in, an Overcoming of the Power and Spirit of Darkness; and thus we are often greatly strengthened and renewed in the Spirits of our Minds without a Word, and we enjoy and possess the [100]holy Fellowship and Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, by which our inward Man is nourished and fed; which makes us not to dote upon outward Water, and Bread and Wine, in our spiritual Things. Now as many thus gathered together grow up in the Strength, Power, and Virtue of Truth, and as Truth comes thus to have Victory and Dominion in their Souls, then they receive an Utterance, and speak steadily to the Edification of their Brethren, and the pure Life hath a free Passage through them, and what is thus spoken edifieth the Body indeed. Speaking to Edification.Such is the evident Certainty of that divine Strength that is communicated by thus meeting together, and waiting in Silence upon God, that sometimes when one hath come in that hath been unwatchful and wandering in his Mind, or suddenly out of the Hurry of outward Business, and so not inwardly gathered with the rest, so soon as he retires himself inwardly, this Power being in a good Measure raised in the whole Meeting, will suddenly lay Hold upon his Spirit, and wonderfully help to raise up the Good in him, and beget him into[Pg 307] the Sense of the same Power, to the Melting and Warming of his Heart; even as the Warmth would take Hold upon a Man that is cold coming into a Stove, or as a Flame will lay Hold upon some little combustible Matter being near unto it. Yea, if it fall out that several met together be straying in their Minds, though outwardly silent, and so wandering from the Measure of Grace in themselves (which through the Working of the Enemy, and Negligence of some, may fall out) if either one come in, or may be in, who is watchful, and in whom the Life is raised in a great Measure, as that one keeps his Place, he will feel a secret Travail for the rest in a Sympathy with the Seed which is oppressed in the other, and kept from arising by their Thoughts and Wanderings; A secret Travail one for another in silent Meetings.and as such a faithful one waits in the Light, and keeps in this divine Work, God oftentimes answers the secret Travail and Breathings of his own Seed through such a one, so that the rest will find themselves secretly smitten without Words, and that one will be as a Midwife through the secret Travails of his Soul to bring forth the Life in them, just as a little Water thrown into a Pump brings up the rest, whereby Life will come to be raised in all, and the vain Imaginations brought down; and such a one is felt by the rest to minister Life unto them without Words. Yea, sometimes when there is not a Word in the Meeting, but all are silently waiting, if one come in that is rude and wicked, and in whom the Power of Darkness prevaileth much, perhaps with an Intention to mock or do Mischief, if the whole Meeting be gathered into the Life, and it be raised in a good Measure, it will strike Terror into such an one, The Mocker struck with Terror when no Word is spoken.and he will feel himself unable to resist; but by the secret Strength and Virtue thereof, the Power of Darkness in him will be chained down: And if the Day of his Visitation be not expired, it will reach to the Measure of Grace in him, and raise it up to the Redeeming of his Soul. And this we often bear Witness of, so that we have had frequent Occasion in this Respect, since God hath gathered us to be a People, to renew this old Saying of many, [101]Is Saul also among the[Pg 308] Prophets? For not a few have come to be convinced of the Truth after this Manner, of which I myself, in Part, am a true Witness, who not by Strength of Arguments, or by a particular Disquisition of each Doctrine, and Convincement of my Understanding thereby, came to receive and bear Witness of the Truth, but by being secretly reached by this Life; The true Convincement.for when I came into the silent Assemblies of God’s People, I felt a secret Power among them, which touched my Heart, and as I gave Way unto it, I found the Evil weakening in me, and the Good raised up, and so I became thus knit and united unto them, hungering more and more after the Increase of this Power and Life, whereby I might feel myself perfectly redeemed. And indeed this is the surest Way to become a Christian, to whom afterwards the Knowledge and Understanding of Principles will not be wanting, but will grow up so much as is needful, as the natural Fruit of this good Root, and such a Knowledge will not be barren nor unfruitful. After this Manner we desire therefore all that come among us to be proselyted, knowing that though Thousands should be convinced in their Understanding of all the Truths we maintain, yet if they were not sensible of this inward Life, and their Souls not changed from Unrighteousness to Righteousness, they could add nothing to us. 1 Cor. 6. 17. The Life of Righteousness doth join us to the Lord.For this is that Cement whereby we are joined as to the Lord, so to one another, and without this none can worship with us. Yea, if such should come among us, and from that Understanding and Convincement they have of the Truth, speak ever so true Things, and utter them forth with ever so much Excellency of Speech, if this Life were wanting, it would not edify us at all, but be as sounding Brass, or a tinkling Cymbal, 1 Cor. xiii. 1.

[97] Isa. 30. 20.

[98] Prov. 27. 19.

[99] Isa. 10. 20. and 26. 3.

[100] Ephes. 4. 3.

[101] 1 Sam. 10. 12.

§. VIII.

Our Work and Worship in our Meetings.Our Work then and Worship is, when we meet together, for every one to watch and wait upon God in themselves, and to be gathered from all Visibles thereunto. And as every one is thus stated, they come to find the Good arise over the Evil, and the Pure over the Impure, in which God reveals himself, and draweth near to every Individual, and so he is in the Midst in the General, whereby each[Pg 309] not only partakes of the particular Refreshment and Strength which comes from the Good in himself, but is a Sharer in the whole Body, as being a living Member of the Body, having a joint Fellowship and Communion with all. And as this Worship is stedfastly preached and kept to, it becomes easy, though it be very hard at first to the natural Man, whose roving Imaginations and running worldly Desires are not so easily brought to Silence. And therefore the Lord Often-times, when any turn towards him, and have true Desires thus to Wait upon him, and find great Difficulty through the Unstayedness of their Minds, doth in Condescension and Compassion cause his Power to break forth in a more strong and powerful Manner. And when the Mind sinks down, and waits for the Appearance of Life, and that the Power of Darkness in the Soul wrestles and works against it, then the good Seed, as it ariseth, will be found to work as Physick in the Soul, especially if such a weak one be in the Assembly of divers others in whom the Life is arisen in greater Dominion, and through the contrary Workings of the Power of Darkness there will be found an inward Striving in the Soul as really in the Mystery as ever Esau and Jacob strove in Rebecca’s Womb. Esau and Jacob strove in Rebecca’s Womb.And from this inward Travail, while the Darkness seeks to obscure the Light, and the Light breaks through the Darkness, which it always will do, if the Soul gives not its Strength to the Darkness, there will be such a painful Travail found in the Soul, that will even work upon the outward Man, so that Often-times, through the Working thereof, the Body will be greatly shaken, and many Groans, and Sighs, and Tears, even as the Pangs of a Woman in Travail, will lay hold upon it; yea, and this not only as to one, but when the Enemy, who when the Children of God assemble together is not wanting to be present, to see if he can let their Comfort, hath prevailed in any Measure in a whole Meeting, and strongly worketh against it by spreading and propagating his dark Power, and by drawing out the Minds of such as are met from the Life in them, as they come to be sensible of this Power of his[Pg 310] that works against them, and to wrestle with it by the Armour of Light, The Travail crowned with a victorious Song.sometimes the Power of God will break forth into a whole Meeting, and there will be such an inward Travail, while each is seeking to overcome the Evil in themselves, that by the strong contrary Workings of these opposite Powers, like the Going of two contrary Tides, every Individual will be strongly exercised as in a Day of Battle, and thereby Trembling and a Motion of Body will be upon most, if not upon all, which, as the Power of Truth prevails, will from Pangs and Groans end with a sweet Sound of Thanksgiving and Praise. The Name of Quakers whence it sprung.And from this the Name of Quakers, i. e. Tremblers, was first reproachfully cast upon us; which though it be none of our Choosing, yet in this Respect we are not ashamed of it, but have rather Reason to rejoice therefore, even that we are sensible of this Power that hath oftentimes laid hold of our Adversaries, and made them yield unto us, and join with us, and confess to the Truth, before they had any distinct or discursive Knowledge of our Doctrines, so that sometimes many at one Meeting have been thus convinced: And this Power would sometimes also reach to and wonderfully work even in little Children, to the Admiration and Astonishment of many.

§. IX.

Many are the blessed Experiences which I could relate of this Silence and Manner of Worship; Yet Silence is no Law, but Words may follow.yet I do not so much commend and speak of Silence as if we had bound ourselves by any Law to exclude Praying or Preaching, or tied ourselves thereunto; not at all: For as our Worship consisteth not in Words, so neither in Silence, as Silence; but in an holy Dependence of the Mind upon God: From which Dependence Silence necessarily follows in the first Place, until Words can be brought forth, which are from God’s Spirit. And God is not wanting to move in his Children to bring forth Words of Exhortation or Prayer, when it is needful; so that of the many Gatherings and Meetings of such as are convinced of the Truth, there is scarce any in whom God raiseth not up some or other to minister to his Brethren; and there are few Meetings that are altogether[Pg 311] silent. For when many are met together in this one Life and Name, it doth most naturally and frequently excite them to pray to and praise God, and stir up one another by mutual Exhortation and Instructions; yet we judge it needful there be in the first Place some Time of Silence, during which every one may be gathered inwardly to the Word and Gift of Grace, from which he that ministereth may receive Strength to bring forth what he ministereth; and that they that hear may have a Sense to discern betwixt the Precious and the Vile, and not to hurry into the Exercise of these Things so soon as the Bell rings, as other Christians do. Yea, and we doubt not, but assuredly know, that the Meeting may be good and refreshful, though from the sitting down to the rising up thereof there hath not been a Word as outwardly spoken, and yet Life may have been known to abound in each Particular, and an inward growing up therein and thereby, yea, so as Words might have been spoken acceptably, and from the Life: No absolute Necessity for Words, though from the Life at Times.Yet there being no absolute Necessity laid upon any so to do, all might have chosen rather quietly and silently to possess and enjoy the Lord in themselves, which is very sweet and comfortable to the Soul that hath thus learned to be gathered out of all its own Thoughts and Workings, to feel the Lord to bring forth both the Will and the Deed, which many can declare by a blessed Experience: Though indeed it cannot but be hard for the natural Man to receive or believe this Doctrine, and therefore it must be rather by a sensible Experience, and by coming to make Proof of it, than by Arguments, that such can be convinced of this Thing, seeing it is not enough to believe it, if they come not also to enjoy and possess it; yet in Condescension to, and for the Sake of, such as may be the more willing to apply themselves to the Practice and Experience hereof, if they found their Understandings convinced of it, and that it is founded upon Scripture and Reason, I find a Freedom of Mind to add some few Considerations of this Kind, for the Confirmation hereof, besides what is before mentioned of our Experience.

[Pg 312]

§. X.

To wait and watch commanded in the Scripture.That to wait upon God, and to watch before him, is a Duty incumbent upon all, I suppose none will deny; and that this also is a Part of Worship will not be called in Question, since there is scarce any other so frequently commanded in the holy Scriptures, as may appear from Psalm xxvii. 14. and xxxvii. 7. 34. Prov. xx. 22. Isa. xxx. 18. Hosea xii. 6. Zech. iii. 8. Matt. xxiv. 42. and xxv. 13. and xxvi. 41. Mark xiii. 33. 35. 37. Luke xxi. 36. Acts i. 4. and xx. 31. 1 Cor. xvi. 13. Col. iv. 2. 1 Thess. v. 6. 2 Tim. iv. 5. 1 Pet. iv. 7. Also this Duty is often recommended with very great and precious Promises, as Psalm xxv. 3. and xxxvii. 9. and lxix. 6. Isa. xlii. 23. Lam. iii. 25, 26. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their Strength, &c. Isa. xl. 31. Now how is this waiting upon God, or watching before him, but by this Silence of which we have spoken? Which as it is in itself a great and principal Duty, so it necessarily in order both of Nature and Time precedeth all other. But that it may be the better and more perfectly understood, as it is not only an outward Silence of the Body, but an inward Silence of the Mind from all its own Imaginations and Self-cogitations, let it be considered according to Truth, and to the Principles and Doctrines heretofore affirmed and proved, that Man is to be considered in a twofold Respect, to wit, in his natural, unregenerate, and fallen State, and in his spiritual and renewed Condition; from whence ariseth that Distinction of the natural and spiritual Man so much used by the Apostle, and heretofore spoken of. Also these two Births of the Mind proceed from the two Seeds in Man respectively, to wit, the good Seed and the evil; and from the evil Seed doth not only proceed all Manner of gross and abominable Wickedness and Profanity, but also Hypocrisy, and those Wickednesses which the Scripture calls spiritual, Whence Wickednesses arise that are spiritual.because it is the Serpent working in and by the natural Man in Things that are spiritual, which having a Shew and Appearance of Good, are so much the more hurtful and dangerous, as it is Satan transformed and transforming himself into an Angel of Light; and therefore doth the Scripture so pressingly and frequently, as we have heretofore had[Pg 313] Occasion to observe, shut out and exclude the natural Man from meddling with the Things of God, denying his Endeavours therein, though acted and performed by the most eminent of his Parts, as of Wisdom and Utterance.

Also this spiritual Wickedness is of two Sorts, though both one in Kind, as proceeding from one Root, yet differing in their Degrees, and in the Subjects also sometimes. The one is, when as the natural Man, meddling with and working in the Things of Religion, doth from his own Conceptions and Divinations affirm or propose wrong and erroneous Notions and Opinions of God and Things spiritual, and invent Superstitions, Ceremonies, Observations, and Rites in Worship, from whence have sprung all the Heresies and Superstitions that are among Christians. From whence all Heresies did spring.The other is, when as the natural Man, from a mere Conviction of his Understanding, doth in the Forwardness of his own Will, and by his own natural Strength, without the Influence and Leading of God’s Spirit, go about either in his Understanding to imagine, conceive, or think of the Things of God, or actually to perform them by preaching or praying. True Christianity, wherein it consists not.The First is a Missing both in Matter and Form; the Second is a Retaining of the Form without the Life and Substance of Christianity; because Christian Religion consisteth not in a mere Belief of true Doctrines, or a mere Performance of Acts good in themselves, or else the bare Letter of the Scripture, though spoken by a Drunkard, or a Devil, might be said to be Spirit and Life, which I judge none will be so absurd as to affirm; and also it would follow, that where the Form of Godliness is, there the Power is also, which is contrary to the express Words of the Apostle. For the Form of Godliness cannot be said to be, where either the Notions and Opinions believed are erroneous and ungodly, or the Acts performed evil and wicked; for then it would be the Form of Ungodliness, and not of Godliness: But of this more hereafter, when we shall speak particularly of Preaching and Praying. Now though this last be not so bad as the former, yet it hath made Way for it; for Men having first departed from the Life and Sub[Pg 314]stance of true Religion and Worship, to wit, from the inward Power and Virtue of the Spirit, so as therein to act, and thereby to have all their Actions enlivened, have only retained the Form and Shew, to wit, the true Words and Appearance; and so acting in their own natural and unrenewed Wills in this Form, the Form could not but quickly decay, and be vitiated. For the working and active Spirit of Man could not contain itself within the Simplicity and Plainness of Truth, but giving Way to his own numerous Inventions and Imaginations, began to vary in the Form, and adapt it to his own Inventions, until by Degrees the Form of Godliness for the most Part came to be lost, as well as the Power. Idolatry does hug its own Conceivings.For this Kind of Idolatry, whereby Man loveth, idolizeth, and embraceth his own Conceptions, Inventions, and Product of his own Brain, is so incident unto him, and feared in his fallen Nature, that so long as his natural Spirit is the first Author and Actor of him, and is that by which he only is guided and moved in his Worship towards God, so as not first to wait for another Guide to direct him, he can never perform the pure spiritual Worship, nor bring forth any Thing but the Fruit of the first, fallen, natural, and corrupt Root. Wherefore the Time appointed of God being come, wherein by Jesus Christ he hath been pleased to restore the true spiritual Worship, and the outward Form of Worship, which was appointed by God to the Jews, and whereof the Manner and Time of its Performance was particularly determined by God himself, being come to an End, No Form of Worship but the Spirit prescribed by Christ.we find that Jesus Christ, the Author of the Christian Religion, prescribes no set Form of Worship to his Children, under the more pure Administration of the New Covenant,[102] save that he only tells[Pg 315] them, That the Worship now to be performed is spiritual, and in the Spirit. And it is especially to be observed, that in the whole New Testament there is no Order nor Command given in this Thing, but to follow the Revelation of the Spirit, save only that general one of meeting together; a Thing dearly owned and diligently practised by us, as shall hereafter more appear. Pray, preach, and sing in Spirit.True it is, Mention is made of the Duties of Praying, Preaching, and Singing; but what Order or Method should be kept in so doing, or that presently they should be set about so soon as the Saints are gathered, there is not one Word to be found: Yea, these Duties, as shall afterwards be made appear, are always annexed to the Assistance, Leadings, and Motions of God’s Spirit. Since then Man in his natural State is thus excluded from acting or moving in Things spiritual, how or what Way shall he exercise this first and previous Duty of waiting upon God but by Silence, and by bringing that natural Part to Silence? To wait on God, by what it is performed.Which is no other Ways but by abstaining from his own Thoughts and Imaginations, and from all the Self-workings and Motions of his own Mind, as well in Things materially good as evil; that he being silent, God may speak in him, and the good Seed may arise. This, though hard to the natural Man, is so answerable to Reason, and even natural Experience in other Things, that it cannot be denied. He that cometh to learn of a Master, if he expect to hear his Master and be instructed by him, must not continually be speaking of the Matter to be taught, and never be quiet, otherwise how shall his Master have Time to instruct him? A Simile of a Master and his Scholar.Yea, though the Scholar were never so earnest to learn the Science, yet would the Master have Reason to reprove him, as untoward and indocile, if he would always be meddling of himself, and still speaking, and not wait in[Pg 316] Silence patiently to hear his Master instructing and teaching him, who ought not to open his Mouth until by his Master he were commanded and allowed so to do. Of a Prince and his Servant.So also if one were about to attend a great Prince, he would be thought an impertinent and imprudent Servant, who, while he ought patiently and readily to wait, that he might answer the King when he speaks, and have his Eye upon him to observe the least Motions and Inclinations of his Will, and to do accordingly, would be still deafening him with Discourse, though it were in Praises of him; and running to and fro, without any particular and immediate Order, to do Things that perhaps might be good in themselves, or might have been commanded at other Times to others. Would the Kings of the Earth accept of such Servants or Service? To wait in Silence.Since then we are commanded to wait upon God diligently, and in so doing it is promised that our Strength shall be renewed, this Waiting cannot be performed but by a Silence or Cessation of the natural Part on our Side, since God manifests himself not to the outward Man or Senses, so much as to the inward, to wit, to the Soul and Spirit. The thinking busy Soul excludes the Voice of God.If the Soul be still thinking and working in her own Will, and busily exercised in her own Imaginations, though the Matters as in themselves may be good concerning God, yet thereby she incapacitates herself from discerning the still, small Voice of the Spirit, and so hurts herself greatly, in that she neglects her chief Business of waiting upon the Lord: Nothing less than if I should busy myself, crying out and speaking of a Business, while in the mean Time I neglect to hear one who is quietly whispering into my Ear, and informing me in those Things which are most needful for me to hear and know concerning that Business. And since it is the chief Work of a Christian to know the natural Will in its own proper Motions crucified, that God may both move in the Act and in the Will, the Lord chiefly regards this profound Subjection and Self-denial. Religious Speculations.For some Men please themselves as much, and gratify their own sensual Wills and Humours in high and curious Speculations of Religion, affecting a Name and Reputation that Way,[Pg 317] or because those Things by Custom or otherways are become pleasant and habitual to them, though not a Whit more regenerated or inwardly sanctified in their Spirits, Sensual others gratify their Lusts in Acts of Sensuality, and therefore both are alike hurtful to Men, and sinful in the Sight of God, it being nothing but the mere Fruit and Effect of Man’s natural and unrenewed Will and Spirit. Thoughts of Death and Hell to keep out Sin are Fig-leaves.Yea, should one, as many no Doubt do, from a Sense of Sin, and Fear of Punishment, seek to terrify themselves from Sin, by multiplying Thoughts of Death, Hell, and Judgment, and by presenting to their Imaginations the Happiness and Joys of Heaven, and also by multiplying Prayers and other religious Performances, as these Things could never deliver him from one Iniquity, without the secret and inward Power of God’s Spirit and Grace, so would they signify no more than the Fig-leaves wherewith Adam thought to cover his Nakedness. And seeing it is only the Product of Man’s own natural Will, proceeding from a Self-love, and seeking to save himself, and not arising purely from that divine Seed of Righteousness which is given of God to all for Grace and Salvation, it is rejected of God, and no Ways acceptable unto him; since the natural Man, as natural, while he stands in that State, is, with all his Arts, Parts, and Actings, reprobated by him. Denial of one’s Self.This great Duty then of waiting upon God, must needs be exercised in Man’s denying Self, both inwardly and outwardly, in a still and mere Dependence upon God, in abstracting from all the Workings, Imaginations, and Speculations of his own Mind, that being emptied as it were of himself, and so throughly crucified to the natural Products thereof, he may be fit to receive the Lord, who will have no Co-partner nor Co-rival of his Glory and Power. And Man being thus stated, the little Seed of Righteousness which God hath planted in his Soul, and Christ hath purchased for him, even the Measure of Grace and Life, which is burdened and crucified by Man’s natural Thoughts and Imaginations, receives a Place to arise, and becometh a holy Birth and Geniture in Man; The holy Birth.and is that divine Air in and by which Man’s Soul and[Pg 318] Spirit comes to be leavened; and by waiting therein he comes to be accepted in the Sight of God, to stand in his Presence, hear his Voice, and observe the Motions of his holy Spirit. And so Man’s Place is to wait in this; and as hereby there are any Objects presented to his Mind concerning God, or Things relating to Religion, his Soul may be exercised in them without Hurt, and to the great Profit both of himself and others; because those Things have their Rise not from his own Will, but from God’s Spirit: And therefore as in the Arisings and Movings of this his Mind is still to be exercised in thinking and meditating, so also in the more obvious Acts of Preaching and Praying. No Quakers are against a meditating Mind.And so it may hence appear we are not against Meditation, as some have sought falsely to infer from our Doctrine; From Nature’s Thoughts all Errors rise.but we are against the Thoughts and Imaginations of the natural Man in his own Will, from which all Errors and Heresies concerning the Christian Religion in the whole World have proceeded. But if it please God at any Time, when one or more are waiting upon him, not to present such Objects as give them Occasion to exercise their Minds in Thoughts and Imaginations, but purely to keep them in this holy Dependence, and as they persist therein, to cause his secret Refreshment and the pure Incomes of his holy Life to flow in upon them, then they have good Reason to be content, because by this, as we know by good and blessed Experience, the Soul is more strengthened, renewed, and confirmed in the Love of God, and armed against the Power of Sin, than any Way else; The Soul renewed, by what? The holy Life of God.this being a Fore-taste of that real and sensible Enjoyment of God, which the Saints in Heaven daily possess, which God frequently affords to his Children here for their Comfort and Encouragement, especially when they are assembled together to wait upon him.

[102] If any object here, That the Lord’s Prayer is a prescribed Form of Prayer, and therefore of Worship given by Christ to his Children:

I answer, First, This cannot be objected by any Sort of Christians that I know, because there are none who use not other Prayers, or that limit their Worship to this. Secondly, This was commanded to the Disciples, while yet weak, before they had received the Dispensation of the Gospel; not that they should only use it in praying, but that he might shew them by one Example how that their Prayers ought to be short, and not like the long Prayers of the Pharisees. And that this was the Use of it, appears by all their Prayers, which divers Saints afterwards made use of, whereof the Scripture makes mention; for none made use of this, neither repeated it, but used other Words, according as the Thing required, and as the Spirit gave Utterance. Thirdly, That this ought to be so understood, appears from Rom. viii. 26. of which afterwards Mention shall be made at greater Length, where the Apostle saith, We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh Intercession for us, &c. But if this Prayer had been such a prescribed Form of Prayer to the Church, that had not been true, neither had they been ignorant what to pray, nor should they have needed the Help of the Spirit to teach them.

§. XI.

Whatever Man does act without the Power of God, is not accepted.For there are two contrary Powers or Spirits, to wit, the Power and Spirit of this World, in which the Prince of Darkness bears Rule, and over as many as are acted by it, and work from it; and the Power or Spirit of God, in which God worketh and beareth Rule, and over as many as act in and from it. So whatever be the Things[Pg 319] that a Man thinketh of, or acteth in, however spiritual or religious as to the Notion or Form of them, so long as he acteth and moveth in the natural and corrupt Spirit and Will, and not from, in, and by the Power of God, he sinneth in all, and is not accepted of God. For hence both the [103]Plowing and Praying of the Wicked is Sin; as also whatever a Man acts in and from the Spirit and Power of God, having his Understanding and Will influenced and moved by it, whether it be Actions religious, civil, or even natural, he is accepted in so doing in the Sight of God, and is [104]blessed in them. From what is said it doth appear how frivolous and impertinent their Objection is, that say they wait upon God in Praying and Preaching, since Waiting doth of itself imply a passive Dependence, rather than an acting. To pray and preach without the Spirit is Offence to God.And since it is, and shall yet be more shewn, that Preaching and Praying without the Spirit is an Offending of God, not a Waiting upon him, and that Praying and Preaching by the Spirit pre-supposes necessarily a silent Waiting to feel the Motions and Influence of the Spirit to lead thereunto; and Lastly, that in several of these Places where Praying is commanded, as Matt. xxvi. 41. Mark xiii. 33. Luke xxi. 36. 1 Peter iv. 7. Watching is specially prefixed as a previous Preparation thereunto; we do well and certainly conclude, that since Waiting and Watching are so particularly commanded and recommended, and cannot be truly performed but in this inward Silence of the Mind from Men’s own Thoughts and Imaginations, this Silence is and must necessarily be a special and principal Part of God’s Worship.

[103] Prov. 21. 4.

[104] Ja. 1. 25.

§. XII.

II. This silent Waiting the Devil cannot counterfeit. But Secondly, The Excellency of this silent Waiting upon God doth appear, in that it is impossible for the Enemy, viz. the Devil, to counterfeit it, so as for any Soul to be deceived or deluded by him in the Exercise thereof. Now in all other Matters he may mix himself with the natural Mind of Man, and so by transforming himself he may deceive the Soul, by busying it about Things perhaps innocent in themselves, while yet he keeps them from beholding the pure Light of Christ, and so from knowing distinctly their Duty, and doing of it. For that envious Spirit of Man’s eternal[Pg 320] Happiness knoweth well how to accommodate himself, and fit his Snares for all the several Dispositions and Inclinations of Men; if he find one not fit to be engaged with gross Sins, or worldly Lusts, but rather averse from them, and religiously inclined, he can fit himself to beguile such a one, by suffering his Thoughts and Imaginations to run upon spiritual Matters, and so hurry him to work, act, and meditate in his own Will. For he well knoweth that so long as Self bears Rule, and the Spirit of God is not the principal and chief Actor, Man is not put out of his Reach; Altar, Prayers, Pulpit, Study, cannot shut the Devil therefore he can accompany the Priest to the Altar, the Preacher to the Pulpit, the Zealot to his Prayers, yea, the Doctor and Professor of Divinity to his Study, and there he can chearfully suffer him to labour and work among his Books, yea, and help him to find out and invent subtile Distinctions and Quiddities, by which both his Mind, and others through him, may be kept from heeding God’s Light in the Conscience, and waiting upon him. There is not any Exercise whatsoever, wherein he cannot enter, and have a chief Place, so as the Soul many Times cannot discern it, except in this alone: For he can only work in and by the natural Man, and his Faculties, by secretly acting upon his Imaginations and Desires, &c. and therefore, when he (to wit, the natural Man) is silent, there he must also stand. And therefore when the Soul comes to this Silence, and as it were is brought to Nothingness, as to her own Workings, then the Devil is shut out; for the pure Presence of God and Shining of his Light he cannot abide, because so long as a Man is thinking and meditating as of himself, he cannot be sure, but the Devil is influencing him therein; but when he comes wholly to be silent, as the pure Light of God shines in upon him, then he is sure that the Devil is shut out; for beyond the Imaginations he cannot go, which we often find by sensible Experience. For he that of old is said to have come to the Gathering together of the Children of God, is not wanting to come to our Assemblies. And indeed he can well enter and work in a Meeting, that is silent only as to Words, either by keeping the Minds in va[Pg 321]rious Thoughts and Imaginations, or by stupifying them, so as to overwhelm them with a Spirit of Heaviness and Slothfulness: But when we retire out of all, and are turned in, both by being diligent and watchful upon the one Hand, and also silent and retired out of all our Thoughts upon the other, as we abide in this sure Place, we feel ourselves out of his Reach. Yea, oftentimes the Power and Glory of God will break forth and appear, just as the bright Sun through many Clouds and Mists, to the Dispelling of that Power of Darkness; which will also be sensibly felt, seeking to cloud and darken the Mind, and wholly to keep it from purely waiting upon God.

§. XIII.

III. The Worship of the Quakers not stopt or interrupted by Men or Devils. Thirdly, The Excellency of this Worship doth appear, in that it can neither be stopt nor interrupted by the Malice of Men or Devils, as all others can. Now Interruptions and Stoppings of Worship may be understood in a twofold Respect, either as we are hindered from meeting, as being outwardly by Violence separated one from another; or when permitted to meet together, as we are interrupted by the Tumult, Noise, and Confusion which such as are malicious may use to molest or distract us. Now in both these Respects, this Worship doth greatly surpass all others: For how far soever People be separate or hindered from coming together, yet as every one is inwardly gathered to the Measure of Life in himself, there is a secret Unity and Fellowship enjoyed, which the Devil and all his Instruments can never break or hinder. But, Secondly, It doth as well appear, as to those Molestations which occur, when we are met together, what Advantage this true and spiritual Worship gives us beyond all others; seeing in Despite of a thousand Interruptions and Abuses, one of which were sufficient to have stopt all other Sorts of Christians, we have been able, through the Nature of this Worship, to keep it uninterrupted as to God, and also at the same Time to shew forth an Example of our Christian Patience towards all, even oftentimes to the Reaching and Convincing of our Opposers. For there is no Sort of Worship used by others which can subsist (though they be permitted to meet) unless they be either authorized[Pg 322] and protected by the Magistrate, or defend themselves with the Arm of Flesh: But we at the same Time exercise Worship towards God, and also patiently bear the Reproaches and Ignominies which Christ prophesied should be so incident and frequent to Christians. The Worship of the Papists soon interrupted.For how can the Papists say their Mass, if there be any there to disturb and interrupt them? Do but take away the Mass-book, the Chalice, the Host, or the Priest’s Garments, yea, do but spill the Water, or the Wine, or blow out the Candles (a Thing quickly done) and the whole Business is marred, and no Sacrifice can be offered. The Protestants the like, and Anabaptists.Take from the Lutherans or Episcopalians their Liturgy or Common-Prayer-Book, and no Service can be said. Remove from the Calvinists, Arminians, Socinians, Independents, or Anabaptists, the Pulpit, the Bible, and the Hour-glass, or make but such a Noise as the Voice of the Preacher cannot be heard, or disturb him but so before he come, or strip him of his Bible or his Books, and he must be dumb: For they all think it an Heresy to wait to speak as the Spirit of God giveth Utterance; and thus easily their whole Worship may be marred. But when People meet together, and their Worship consisteth not in such outward Acts, and they depend not upon any one’s Speaking, but merely sit down to wait upon God, and to be gathered out of all Visibles, and to feel the Lord in Spirit, none of these Things can hinder them, of which we may say of a Truth, We are sensible Witnesses. The Sufferings of the Quakers for their religious Meetings.For when the Magistrates, stirred up by the Malice and Envy of our Opposers, have used all Means possible (and yet in vain) to deter us from meeting together, and that openly and publickly in our own hired Houses for that Purpose, both Death, Banishments, Imprisonments, Finings, Beatings, Whippings, and other such devilish Inventions, have proved ineffectual to terrify us from our holy Assemblies. And we having, I say, thus oftentimes purchased our Liberty to meet, by deep Sufferings, our Opposers have then taken another Way, by turning in upon us the worst and wickedest People, yea, the very Off-scourings of Men, who by all manner of inhuman, beastly, and brutish Behaviour, have sought to provoke us, weary us, and molest us, but[Pg 323] in vain. It would be almost incredible to declare, and indeed a Shame, that among Men pretending to be Christians, it should be mentioned, what Things of this Kind Men’s Eyes have seen, and I myself, with others, have shared of in Suffering! There they have often beaten us, and cast Water and Dirt upon us; there they have danced, leaped, sung, and spoken all manner of profane and ungodly Words; offered Violence and shameful Behaviour to grave Women and Virgins; jeered, mocked and scoffed, asking us, If the Spirit was not yet come? And much more, which were tedious here to relate: And all this while we have been seriously and silently sitting together, and waiting upon the Lord. So that by these Things our inward and spiritual Fellowship with God, and one with another, in the pure Life of Righteousness, hath not been hindered. But on the contrary, the Lord knowing our Sufferings and Reproaches for his Testimony’s Sake, hath caused his Power and Glory more to abound among us, and hath mightily refreshed us by the Sense of his Love, which hath filled our Souls; and so much the rather, as we found ourselves gathered into the Name of the Lord, which is the [105]strong Tower of the Righteous; whereby we felt ourselves sheltered from receiving any inward Hurt through their Malice: And also that he had delivered us from that vain Name and Profession of Christianity, under which our Opposers were not ashamed to bring forth those bitter and cursed Fruits. Yea, sometimes in the Midst of this Tumult and Opposition, God would powerfully move some or other of us by his Spirit, both to testify of that Joy, which notwithstanding their Malice we enjoyed, and powerfully to declare, in the Evidence and Demonstration of the Spirit, against their Folly and Wickedness; so as the Power of Truth hath brought them to some Measure of Quietness and Stillness, and stopt the impetuous Streams of their Fury and Madness: The Rod of Moses divided the Sea: The Spirit maketh Way through the raging Waves.That even as of old Moses by his Rod divided the Waves of the Red Sea, that the Israelites might pass; so God hath thus by his Spirit made a Way for us in the Midst of this raging Wickedness, peaceably to enjoy and possess him, and accomplish our Worship to him: So that sometimes[Pg 324] upon such Occasions several of our Opposers and Interrupters have hereby been convinced of the Truth, and gathered from being Persecutors to be Sufferers with us. What brutish Pranks did not that young Fry of the Clergy commit?And let it not be forgotten, but let it be inscribed and abide for a constant Remembrance of the Thing, that in these beastly and brutish Pranks, used to molest us in our spiritual Meetings, none have been more busy than the young Students of the Universities, who were learning Philosophy and Divinity (so called) and many of them preparing themselves for the Ministry. Should we commit to Writing all the Abominations committed in this Respect by the young Fry of the Clergy, it would make no small Volume; as the Churches of Christ, gathered into his pure Worship in Oxford and Cambridge in England, and Edinburgh and Aberdeen in Scotland, where the Universities are, can well bear Witness.

[105] Prov. 18. 10.

§. XIV.

How the Old Covenant-worship doth differ from the New.Moreover, in this we know, that we are Partakers of the New Covenant’s Dispensation, and Disciples of Christ indeed, sharing with him in that spiritual Worship, which is performed in the Spirit and in Truth; because as he was, so are we in this World. For the Old Covenant-worship had an outward Glory, Temple and Ceremonies, and was full of outward Splendor and Majesty, having an outward Tabernacle and Altar, beautified with Gold, Silver, and precious Stones; and their Sacrifices were confined to a particular Place, even the outward Mount Sion; and those that prayed, were to pray with their Faces towards that outward Temple: And therefore all this was to be protected by an outward Arm. Nor could the Jews peaceably have enjoyed it, but when they were secured from the Violence of their outward Enemies: And therefore when at any Time their Enemies prevailed over them, their Glory was darkened, and their Sacrifices stopt; and the Face of their Worship marred: Hence they complain, lament, and bewail the Destroying of the Temple, as a Loss irreparable. The New Covenant-worship is inward.But Jesus Christ, the Author and Institutor of the New Covenant-worship, testifies, that God is neither to be worshiped in this nor that Place, but in the Spirit and in Truth: [106]And forasmuch as his Kingdom is not of this World, neither doth his Worship consist in it, or need either the[Pg 325] Wisdom, Glory, Riches or Splendor of this World to beautify or adorn it; nor yet the outward Power or Arm of Flesh to maintain, uphold, or protect it; but it is and may be performed by those that are spiritually-minded, notwithstanding all the Opposition, Violence, and Malice of Men; because being purely spiritual, it is out of the Reach of natural Men to interrupt or obstruct it. Even as Jesus Christ, the Author thereof, did enjoy and possess his spiritual Kingdom, while oppressed, persecuted, and rejected of Men; and as, in despite of the Malice and Rage of the Devil, [107]he spoiled Principalities and Powers, triumphing over them, and through Death destroyed him that had the Power of Death, that is, the Devil; so also all his Followers both can and do worship him, not only without the Arm of Flesh to protect them, but even when oppressed. For their Worship being spiritual, is by the Power of the Spirit defended and maintained; Carnal Worships cannot stand without the Arm of Flesh.but such Worships as are carnal, and consist in carnal and outward Ceremonies and Observations, need a carnal and outward Arm to protect and defend them, else they cannot stand and subsist. And therefore it appears, that the several Worships of our Opposers, both Papists and Protestants, are of this Kind, and not the true spiritual and New Covenant-worship of Christ; because, as hath been observed, they cannot stand without the Protection or Countenance of the outward Magistrate, neither can be performed, if there be the least Opposition: For they are not in the Patience of Jesus, to serve and worship him with Sufferings, Ignominies, Calumnies, and Reproaches. And from hence have sprung all those Wars, Fightings, and Bloodshed among Christians, while each by the Arm of Flesh endeavoured to defend and protect their own Way and Worship: And from this also sprung up that monstrous Opinion of Persecution; of which we shall speak more at length hereafter.

[106] John 18. 36.

[107] Col. 2. 15.

§. XV.

IV. True Worship in Spirit established by Christ.But Fourthly, The Nature of this Worship, which is performed by the Operation of the Spirit, the natural Man being silent, doth appear from these Words of Christ, John iv. 23, 24. But the Hour cometh, and now is, when the true Worshippers shall worship the Fa[Pg 326]ther in Spirit and in Truth: For the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in Spirit and in Truth. This Testimony is the more specially to be observed, for that it is both the first, chiefest, and most ample Testimony, which Christ gives us of his Christian Worship, as different and contra-distinguished from that under the Law. For first, he sheweth that the Season is now come, wherein the Worship must be in Spirit and in Truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him: So then it is no more a Worship consisting in outward Observations, to be performed by Man at set Times or Opportunities, which he can do in his own Will, and by his own natural Strength; for else it would not differ in Matter, but only in some Circumstances from that under the Law. The Reason Christ gives for a Worship in Spirit.Next, as for a Reason of this Worship, we need not give any other, and indeed none can give a better than that which Christ giveth, which I think should be sufficient to satisfy every Christian, to wit, GOD IS A SPIRIT, and they that worship him, must worship him in Spirit and in Truth. As this ought to be received, because it is the Words of Christ, so also it is founded upon so clear a Demonstration of Reason, as sufficiently evidenceth its Verity. For Christ excellently argues from the Analogy that ought to be betwixt the Object, and the Worship directed thereunto:

Arg.God is a Spirit:

Therefore he must be worshipped in Spirit.

This is so certain, that it can suffer no Contradiction; yea, and this Analogy is so necessary to be minded, that under the Law, when God instituted and appointed that ceremonial Worship to the Jews, because that Worship was outward, that there might be an Analogy, he saw it necessary to condescend to them as in a special Manner, to dwell betwixt the Cherubims within the Tabernacle, and afterwards to make the Temple of Jerusalem in a Sort his Habitation, and cause something of an outward Glory and Majesty to appear, by causing Fire from Heaven to consume the Sacrifices, and[Pg 327] filling the Temple with a Cloud: The Glory of the outward Temple.Through and by which Mediums, visible to the outward Eye, he manifested himself proportionably to that outward Worship which he had commanded them to perform. So now under the New Covenant, he seeing meet in his heavenly Wisdom to lead his Children in a Path more heavenly and spiritual, and in a Way more easy and familiar, and also purposing to disappoint carnal and outward Observations, that his may have an Eye more to an inward Glory and Kingdom than to an outward, he hath given us for an Example hereof the Appearance of his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, As Moses did from outward, so Christ delivers us from inward Slavery.who (as Moses delivered the Israelites out of their outward Bondage, and by outwardly destroying their Enemies) hath delivered and doth deliver us by suffering, and dying by the Hands of his Enemies; thereby triumphing over the Devil, and his and our inward Enemies, and delivering us therefrom. He hath also instituted an inward and spiritual Worship: So that God now tieth not his People to the Temple of Jerusalem, nor yet unto outward Ceremonies and Observations; but taketh the Heart of every Christian for a Temple to dwell in; and there immediately appeareth, and giveth him Directions how to serve him in any outward Acts. Since, as Christ argueth, God is a Spirit, he will now be worshipped in the Spirit, where he reveals himself, and dwelleth with the contrite in Heart. Now, since it is the Heart of Man that now is become the Temple of God, in which he will be worshipped, and no more in particular outward Temples, (since, as blessed Stephen said, out of the Prophet, to the professing Jews of old, The most High dwelleth not in Temples made with Hands) as before the Glory of the Lord descended to fill the outward Temple, it behoved to be purified and cleansed, and all polluted Stuff removed out of it; yea, and the Place for the Tabernacle was overlaid with Gold, the most precious and cleanest of Metals; so also before God be worshipped in the inward Temple of the Heart, it must also be purged of its own Filth, and all its own Thoughts and Imaginations, that so it may be fit to receive the Spirit of God, and to be actuated by it. And doth not this[Pg 328] directly lead us to that inward Silence, of which we have spoken, and exactly pointed out? And further, This Worship must be in Truth; intimating, that this spiritual Worship, thus actuated, is only and properly a true Worship; as being that which, for the Reasons above observed, cannot be counterfeited by the Enemy, nor yet performed by the Hypocrite.

§. XVI.

And though this Worship be indeed very different from the divers established invented Worships among Christians, and therefore may seem strange to many, yet hath it been testified of, commended and practised, by the most pious of all Sorts, in all Ages, as by many evident Testimonies might be proved. So that from the professing and practising thereof, the Name of Mysticks hath arisen, as of a certain Sect, generally commended by all, whose Writings are full both of the Explanation and of the Commendation of this Sort of Worship; A certain Sect of Mysticks among the Papists, their inward Exercise. See Sancta Sophia, printed An. Dom. 1657.where they plentifully assert this inward Introversion and Abstraction of the Mind, as they call it, from all Images and Thoughts, and the Prayer of the Will: The English Benedictines Testimony for the spiritual Worship, against their Masses and set Devotions.Yea, they look upon this as the Height of Christian Perfection; so that some of them, though professed Papists, do not doubt to affirm, That such as have attained this Method of Worship, or are aiming at it, (as in a Book, called Sancta Sophia, put out by the English Benedictines, printed at Doway, Anno 1657. Tract. I. Sect. 2. Cap. 5.) need not, nor ought to trouble or busy themselves with frequent and unnecessary Confessions, with exercising corporal Labours and Austerities, the using of vocal voluntary Prayers, the hearing of a Number of Masses, or set Devotions, or Exercises to Saints, or Prayers for the Dead, or having solicitous and distracting Cares to gain Indulgences, by going to such and such Churches, or adjoining one’s Self to Confraternities, or intangling one’s Self with Vows and Promises; because such Kind of Things hinder the Soul from observing the Operations of the divine Spirit in it, and from having Liberty to follow the Spirit whither it would draw her. And yet who knows not that in such Kind of Observations the very Substance of the Popish Religion consisteth? Yet nevertheless, it appears by this, and many other Passages, which out of their Mystick Writers[Pg 329] might be mentioned, how they look upon this Worship as excelling all other; and that such as arrived hereunto, had no absolute Need of the others: Yea, (see the Life of Balthazar Alvares, in the same Sancta Sophia, Tract. III. Sect. 1. Cap. 7.) such as tasted of this, quickly confessed, that the other Forms and Ceremonies of Worship were useless as to them; neither did they perform them as Things necessary, but merely for Order or Example’s Sake. And therefore, though some of them were so overclouded with the common Darkness of their Profession, yet could they affirm that this spiritual Worship was still to be retained and sought for, even though it should become necessary to omit their outward Ceremonies. Bernard preferring the Spirit above Popish Orders.Hence Bernard, as in many other Places, so in his Epistle to William, Abbot of the same Order, saith, Take Heed to the Rule of God; the Kingdom of God is within you: And afterwards, saying, That their outward Orders and Rules should be observed, he adds; But otherwise, when it shall happen that one of these two must be omitted, in such a Case these are much rather to be omitted than those former: For by how much the Spirit is more excellent and noble than the Body, by so much are spiritual Exercises more profitable than corporal. Is not that then the best of Worships, which the best of Men in all Ages, and of all Sects, have commended, and which is most suitable to the Doctrine of Christ? I say, Is not that Worship to be followed and performed? And so much the rather, as God hath raised a People to testify for it, and preach it, to their great Refreshment and Strengthening, in the very Face of the World, and notwithstanding much Opposition; who do not, as these Mysticks, make of it a Mystery, only to be attained by a few Men or Women in a Cloister; Those Mysticks did confine that Mystery to a Cloister.or, as their Mistake was, after wearying themselves with many outward Ceremonies and Observations, as if it were the Consequence of such a Labour; but who in the free Love of God (who respects not Persons, and was near to hear and reveal himself, as well to Cornelius, a Centurion and a Roman, as to Simeon and Anna; and who discovered his Glory to Mary, a poor Handmaid, and to the poor Shepherds,[Pg 330] rather than to the High Priests and devout Proselytes among the Jews) in and according to his free Love, finding that God is revealing and establishing this Worship, and making many poor Tradesmen, yea, young Boys and Girls, Witnesses of it, do intreat and beseech all to lay aside their own Will-worships, and voluntary Acts, performed in their own Wills, and by their own mere natural Strength and Power, without retiring out of their vain Imaginations and Thoughts, or feeling the pure Spirit of God to move and stir in them; that they may come to practise this acceptable Worship, which is in Spirit and in Truth. But against this Worship they object.

§. XVII.

Obj. 1.First, It seems to be an unprofitable Exercise for a Man to be doing or thinking nothing; and that one might be much better employed, either in meditating upon some good Subject, or otherwise praying to or praising God.

Answ.I answer; That is not unprofitable, which is of absolute Necessity before any other Duty can be acceptably performed, as we have shewn this Waiting to be. Moreover, those have but a carnal and gross Apprehension of God, and of the Things of his Kingdom, who imagine that Men please him by their own Workings and Actings: Whereas, as hath been shewn, the first Step for a Man to fear God, is to cease from his own Thoughts and Imaginations, and suffer God’s Spirit to work in him. We must cease to do ill, ere we learn to do well.[108]For we must cease to do evil, ere we learn to do well; and this meddling in Things spiritual by Man’s own natural Understanding, is one of the greatest and most dangerous Evils that Man is incident to; being that which occasioned our first Parents Fall, to wit, a Forwardness to desire to know Things, and a Meddling with them, both without and contrary to the Lord’s Command.

[108] Isa. 1. 16, 17.

Obj. 2.Set Times and Places for Meetings. Secondly, Some object, If your Worship merely consists in inwardly retiring to the Lord, and feeling of his Spirit arise in you, and then to do outward Acts as ye are led by it, what need ye have publick Meetings at set Times and Places, since every one may enjoy this at Home? Or should not[Pg 331] every one stay at Home, until they be particularly moved to go to such a Place at such a Time; since to meet at set Times and Places seems to be an outward Observation and Ceremony, contrary to what ye at other Times assert?

Answ.I answer, First, To meet at set Times and Places is not any religious Act, or Part of Worship in itself; Publick Meetings their Use and Reason asserted.but only an outward Conveniency, necessary for our seeing one another, so long as we are clothed with this outward Tabernacle: And therefore our meeting at set Times and Places is not a Part of our Worship, but a preparatory Accommodation of our outward Man, in order to a publick visible Worship; since we set not about the visible Acts of Worship when we meet together, until we be led thereunto by the Spirit of God. Secondly, God hath seen meet, so long as his Children are in this World, to make use of the outward Senses, not only as a Means to convey spiritual Life, as by Speaking, Praying, Praising, &c. which cannot be done to mutual Edification, but when we hear and see one another; but also to entertain an outward, visible Testimony for his Name in the World: He causeth the inward Life (which is also many Times not conveyed by the outward Senses) the more to abound, when his Children assemble themselves diligently together to wait upon him; [109]so that as Iron sharpeneth Iron, the Seeing of the Faces one of another, when both are inwardly gathered unto the Life, giveth Occasion for the Life secretly to rise, and pass from Vessel to Vessel. And as many Candles lighted, and put in one Place, do greatly augment the Light, and make it more to shine forth, so when many are gathered together into the same Life, there is more of the Glory of God, and his Power appears, to the Refreshment of each Individual; for that he partakes not only of the Light and Life raised in himself, but in all the rest. And therefore Christ hath particularly promised a Blessing to such as assemble together in his Name, seeing he will be in the Midst of them, Matt. xviii. 20. And the Author to the Hebrews doth precisely prohibit the Neglect of this Duty, as being of very dangerous and dreadful Consequence, in these Words; Heb. x. 24.[Pg 332] Assembling of ourselves is not to be neglected.And let us consider one another, to provoke unto Love, and to good Works; not forsaking the Assembling of ourselves together, as the Manner of some is;—For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the Knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more Sacrifice for Sins. And therefore the Lord hath shewn that he hath a particular Respect to such as thus assemble themselves together, because that thereby a publick Testimony for him is upheld in the Earth, and his Name is thereby glorified; and therefore such as are right in their Spirits, are naturally drawn to keep the Meetings of God’s People, and never want a spiritual Influence to lead them thereunto: And if any do it in a mere customary Way, they will no Doubt suffer Condemnation for it. Yet cannot the Appointing of Places and Times be accounted a Ceremony and Observation, done in Man’s Will, in the Worship of God, seeing none can say that it is an Act of Worship, but only a mere Presenting of our Persons in order to it, as is abovesaid. Which that it was practised by the Primitive Church and Saints, all our Adversaries do acknowledge.

[109] Prov. 27. 17.

Obj. 3.Lastly, Some object, That this Manner of Worship in Silence is not to be found in all the Scripture:

Answ.I answer; We make not Silence to be the sole Matter of our Worship; since, as I have said above, there are many Meetings, which are seldom altogether silent; some or other are still moved either to preach, pray, or praise: In waiting for the Spirit’s Guidance, Silence is supposed.And so in this our Meetings cannot be but like the Meetings of the Primitive Churches recorded in Scripture, since our Adversaries confess that they did preach and pray by the Spirit. And then what Absurdity is it to suppose, that at some Times the Spirit did not move them to these outward Acts, and that then they were silent? Since we may well conclude they did not speak until they were moved; and so no Doubt had sometimes Silence. Acts ii. 1. before the Spirit came upon them, it is said,—They were all with one Accord in one Place; and then it is said, The Spirit suddenly came upon them; but no Mention is made of any one speaking at that Time; and I would[Pg 333] willingly know what Absurdity our Adversaries can infer, should we conclude they were a While silent?

Inst.But if it be urged, That a whole silent Meeting cannot be found in Scripture;

Answ.I answer; Supposing such a Thing were not recorded, it will not therefore follow that it is not lawful; since it naturally followeth from other Scripture Precepts, as we have proved this doth. Silent Meetings are proved from Scripture and Reason.For seeing the Scripture commands to meet together, and when met, the Scripture prohibits Prayers or Preachings, but as the Spirit moveth thereunto; if People meet together, and the Spirit move not to such Acts, it will necessarily follow that they must be silent. But further, there might have been many such Things among the Saints of old, though not recorded in Scripture; and yet we have enough in Scripture, signifying that such Things were. For Job sat silent seven Days with his Friends together; here was a long silent Meeting: See also Ezra ix. 4. and Ezekiel xiv. 1. and xx. 1. Thus having shewn the Excellency of this Worship, proving it from Scripture and Reason, and answered the Objections which are commonly made against it, which, though it may suffice to the Explanation and Proof of our Proposition, yet I shall add something more particularly of Preaching, Praying, and Singing, and so Proceed to the following Proposition.


I.Preaching, as it is used both among Papists and Protestants, is for one Man to take some Place or Verse of Scripture, and thereon speak for an Hour or two, What Preaching is with the Protestants and Papists.what he hath studied and premeditated in his Closet, and gathered together from his own Inventions, or from the Writings and Observations of others; and then having got it by Heart, (as a School-boy doth his Lesson) he brings it forth, and repeats it before the People: A studied Talk an Hour or two.And how much the more fertile and strong a Man’s Invention is, and the more industrious and laborious he is in collecting such Observations, and can utter them with the Excellency of Speech and human Eloquence, so much the more is he accounted an able and excellent Preacher.

[Pg 334]

True Preaching by the Spirit.To this we oppose, that when the Saints are met together, and every one gathered to the Gift and Grace of God in themselves, he that ministereth, being actuated thereunto by the Arising of the Grace in himself, ought to speak forth what the Spirit of God furnisheth him with; not minding the Eloquence and Wisdom of Words, but the Demonstration of the Spirit and of Power: And that either in the Interpreting some Part of Scripture, in case the Spirit, which is the good Remembrancer, lead him so to do, or otherwise Words of Exhortation, Advice, Reproof, and Instruction, or the Sense of some spiritual Experiences: All which will still be agreeable to the Scripture, though perhaps not relative to, nor founded upon any particular Chapter or Verse, as a Text. Now let us examine and consider which of these two Sorts of Preaching is most agreeable to the Precepts of Christ and his Apostles, and the Primitive Church, recorded in Scripture? For, First, as to their Preaching upon a Text, if it were not merely customary or premeditated, but done by the immediate Motion of the Spirit, we should not blame it; but to do it as they do, there is neither Precept nor Practice, that ever I could observe, in the New Testament, as a Part of the instituted Worship thereof.

Object.But they allege, That Christ took the Book of Isaiah, and read out of it, and spake therefrom; and that Peter preached from a Sentence of the Prophet Joel.

Answ.1. Christ’s and Peter’s Speaking was not by Premeditation. I answer, That Christ and Peter did it not but as immediately actuated and moved thereunto by the Spirit of God, and that without Premeditation, which I suppose our Adversaries will not deny; in which Case we willingly approve of it. But what is this to their customary conned Way, without either waiting for or expecting the Movings or Leadings of the Spirit? Moreover, that neither Christ nor Peter did it as a settled Custom or Form, to be constantly practised by all the Ministers of the Church, appears, in that most of all the Sermons recorded of Christ and his Apostles in Scripture were without this, as appears from Christ’s Sermon upon the Mount, Matt. v. 1. &c. Mark iv. 1. &c. and Paul’s Preaching to the Athenians,[Pg 335] and to the Jews, &c. As then it appears that this Method of Preaching is not grounded upon any Scripture Precept, so the Nature of it is contrary to the Preaching of Christ under the New Covenant, as expressed and recommended in Scripture; for Christ, in sending forth his Disciples, expresly mentioneth, that they are not to speak of or from themselves, or to forecast beforehand, but that which the Spirit in the same Hour shall teach them, as is particularly mentioned in the three Evangelists, Matt. x. 20. Mark xiii. 11. Luke xii. 12. Now if Christ gave this Order to his Disciples before he departed from them, as that which they were to practise during his Abode outwardly with them, much more were they to do it after his Departure, since then they were more especially to receive the Spirit, to lead them in all Things, and to bring all Things to their Remembrance, John xiv. 26. And if they were to do so when they appeared before the Magistrates and Princes of the Earth, much more in the Worship of God, when they stand specially before him; seeing, as is above shewn, his Worship is to be performed in Spirit; and therefore after their Receiving of the Holy Ghost it is said, Acts ii. 4. They spake as the Spirit gave them Utterance, not what they had studied and gathered from Books in their Closets in a premeditated Way.

Franciscus Lambertus’s Testimony against the Priests studied Inventions and Figments.Franciscus Lambertus, before cited, speaketh well and sheweth their Hypocrisy, Tract. 5. of Prophecy, Chap. 3. saying, “Where are they now, that glory in their Inventions, who say, A fine Invention! A fine Invention! This they call Invention, which themselves have made up; but what have the Faithful to do with such Kind of Inventions? It is not Figments, nor yet Inventions, that we will have, but Things that are solid, invincible, eternal, and heavenly; not which Men have invented, but which God hath revealed: For if we believe the Scriptures, our Invention profiteth nothing, but to provoke God to our Ruin.” And afterwards, “Beware, (saith he) that thou determine not precisely to speak what before thou hast meditated, whatsoever it be; for though it be lawful to determine the Text which thou art to ex[Pg 336]pound, yet not at all the Interpretation; lest if thou so dost, thou take from the Holy Spirit that which is his, to wit, to direct thy Speech, that thou mayest prophesy in the Name of the Lord, void of all Learning, Meditation, and Experience, and as if thou hadst studied nothing at all, committing thy Heart, thy Tongue, and thyself wholly unto his Spirit, and trusting nothing to thy former Studying or Meditation; but saying with thyself, in great Confidence of the divine Promise, The Lord will give a Word with much Power unto those that preach the Gospel. But above all Things be careful thou follow not the Manner of Hypocrites, who have written almost Word for Word what they are to say, as if they were to repeat some Verses upon a Theatre, having learned all their Preaching as they do that act Tragedies. And afterwards, when they are in the Place of Prophesying, pray the Lord to direct their Tongue; but in the mean Time, shutting up the Way of the Holy Spirit, they determine to say nothing but what they have written. O unhappy Kind of Prophets, yea, and truly cursed, which depend not upon God’s Spirit, but upon their own Writings or Meditation! Why prayest thou to the Lord, thou false Prophet, to give thee his Holy Spirit, by which thou mayest speak Things profitable, and yet thou repellest the Spirit? Why preferrest thou thy Meditation or Study to the Spirit of God? Otherwise why committest thou not thyself to the Spirit?”

§. XIX.

2. The Words Man’s Wisdom brings beget not Faith.Secondly, This Manner of Preaching as used by them (considering that they also affirm, That it may be and often is performed by Men who are wicked, or void of true Grace) cannot only not edify the Church, beget or nourish true Faith, but is destructive to it, being directly contrary to the Nature of the Christian and Apostolick Ministry mentioned in the Scriptures: For the Apostle preached the Gospel not in the Wisdom of Words, lest the Cross of Christ should be of none Effect, 1 Cor. i. 17. But this Preaching, not being done by the Actings and Moving of God’s Spirit, but by Man’s Invention and Eloquence, in his own Will, and through his natural and acquired[Pg 337] Parts and Learning, is in the Wisdom of Words, and therefore the Cross of Christ is thereby made of none Effect. The Apostles Speech and Preaching was not with enticing Words of Man’s Wisdom, but in Demonstration of the Spirit and of Power, that the Faith of their Hearers should not stand in the Wisdom of Men, but in the Power of God, 1 Cor. ii. 3, 4, 5. But this Preaching having nothing of the Spirit and Power in it, both the Preachers and Hearers confessing they wait for no such Thing, nor yet are oftentimes sensible of it, must needs stand in the enticing Words of Man’s Wisdom, since it is by the mere Wisdom of Man it is sought after, and the mere Strength of Man’s Eloquence and enticing Words it is uttered; and therefore no Wonder if the Faith of such as hear and depend upon such Preachers and Preachings stand in the Wisdom of Men, and not in the Power of God. The Apostles declared, That they spake not in the Words which Man’s Wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, 1 Cor. ii. 13. But these Preachers confess that they are Strangers to the Holy Ghost, his Motions and Operations, neither do they wait to feel them, and therefore they speak in the Words which their own natural Wisdom and Learning teach them, mixing them in, and adding them to, such Words as they steal out of the Scripture and other Books, and therefore speak not what the Holy Ghost teacheth.

3. The Church’s Method was to speak by Revelation.Thirdly, This is contrary to the Method and Order of the Primitive Church mentioned by the Apostle, 1 Cor. xiv. 30, &c. where in Preaching every one is to wait for his Revelation, and to give Place one unto another, according as Things are revealed; but here there is no waiting for a Revelation, but the Preacher must speak, and not that which is revealed unto him, but what he hath prepared and premeditated beforehand.

4. The Spirit is shut out by Priests from being the Teacher.Lastly, By this Kind of Preaching the Spirit of God, which should be the chief Instructor and Teacher of God’s People, and whose Influence is that only which makes all Preaching effectual and beneficial for the edifying of Souls, is shut out, and Man’s natural Wisdom, Learning, and Parts set up and exalted; which no Doubt is[Pg 338] a great and chief Reason why the Preaching among the Generality of Christians is so unfruitful and unsuccessful. Yea, according to this Doctrine, the Devil may preach, and ought to be heard also, seeing he both knows the Truth, and hath as much Eloquence as any. But what avails Excellency of Speech, if the Demonstration and Power of the Spirit be wanting, which toucheth the Conscience? We see that when the Devil confessed to the Truth, yet Christ would have none of his Testimony. And as these pregnant Testimonies of the Scripture do prove this Part of Preaching to be contrary to the Doctrine of Christ, so do they also prove that of ours before affirmed to be conformable thereunto.

§. XX.

Object.But if any object after this Manner, Have not many been benefited, yea, and both converted and edified by the Ministry of such as have premeditated their Preaching? Yea, and hath not the Spirit often concurred by its divine Influence with Preachings thus premeditated, so as they have been powerfully borne in upon the Souls of the Hearers to their Advantage?

Answ.I answer, Though that be granted, which I shall not deny, it will not infer that the Thing was good in itself, more than because Paul was met with by Christ to the converting of his Soul riding to Damascus to persecute the Saints, that he did well in so doing. Paul persecuting was converted, is therefore persecuting good?Neither particular Actions, nor yet whole Congregations, as we above observed, are to be measured by the Acts of God’s Condescension in Times of Ignorance. But besides, it hath oftentimes fallen out, that God, having a Regard to the Simplicity and Integrity either of the Preacher or Hearers, hath fallen in upon the Heart of a Preacher by his Power and holy Influence, and thereby hath led him to speak Things that were not in his premeditated Discourse, and which perhaps he never thought on before; and those passing Ejaculations and unpremeditated but living Exhortations, have proved more beneficial and refreshing both to Preacher and Hearers than all their premeditated Sermons. But all that will not allow them to continue in these Things which in them[Pg 339]selves are not approved, but contrary to the Practice of the Apostles, when God is raising up a People to serve him, according to the primitive Purity and Spirituality; yea, such Acts of God’s Condescension, in Times of Darkness and Ignorance, should engage all more and more to follow him, according as he reveals his most perfect and spiritual Way.

§. XXI.

II.Having hitherto spoken of Preaching, now it is fit to speak of Praying, concerning which the like Controversy ariseth. Of Prayer, how the outward is distinguished from the inward.Our Adversaries, whose Religion is all for the most Part Outside, and such whose Acts are the mere Product of Man’s natural Will and Abilities, as they can preach, so can they pray when they please, and therefore have their set particular Prayers. I meddle not with the Controversies among themselves concerning this, some of them being for set Prayers, as a Liturgy, others for such as are conceived extempore; It suffices me that all of them agree in this, That the Motions and Influence of the Spirit of God are not necessary to be previous thereunto; The Priests set Times to preach and pray, deny the Spirit.and therefore they have set Times in their publick Worship, as before and after Preaching, and in their private Devotion, as Morning and Evening, and before and after Meat, and other such Occasions, at which they precisely set about the performing of their Prayers, by speaking Words to God, whether they feel any Motion or Influence of the Spirit or not; so that some of the chiefest have confessed that they have thus prayed without the Motions or Assistance of the Spirit, acknowledging that they sinned in so doing; yet they said they looked upon it as their Duty to do so, though to pray without the Spirit be Sin. We freely confess that Prayer is both very profitable, and a necessary Duty commanded, and fit to be practised frequently by all Christians; but as we can do nothing without Christ, so neither can we pray without the Concurrence and Assistance of his Spirit. But that the State of the Controversy may be the better understood, let it be considered, First, that Prayer is twofold, inward and outward. What inward Prayer is.Inward Prayer is that secret Turning of the Mind towards God, whereby, being[Pg 340] secretly touched and awakened by the Light of Christ in the Conscience, and so bowed down under the Sense of its Iniquities, Unworthiness, and Misery, it looks up to God, and joining with the secret Shinings of the Seed of God, it breathes towards him, and is constantly breathing forth some secret Desires and Aspirations towards him. It is in this Sense that we are so frequently in Scripture commanded to pray continually, Luke xviii. 1. 1 Thess. v. 17. Ephes. vi. 18. Luke xxi. 36. which cannot be understood of outward Prayer, because it were impossible that Men should be always upon their Knees, expressing Words of Prayer; and this would hinder them from the Exercise of those Duties no less positively commanded. What outward Prayer is.Outward Prayer is, when as the Spirit, being thus in the Exercise of inward Retirement, and feeling the Breathing of the Spirit of God to arise powerfully in the Soul, receives Strength and Liberty by a superadded Motion and Influence of the Spirit to bring forth either audible Sight, Groans, or Words, and that either in publick Assemblies, or in private, or at Meat, &c.

Inward Prayer necessary at all Times.As then inward Prayer is necessary at all Times, so, so long as the Day of every Man’s Visitation lasteth, he never wants some Influence, less or more, for the Practice of it; because he no sooner retires his Mind, and considers himself in God’s Presence, but he finds himself in the Practice of it.

Outward Prayer doth require a superadded Influence.The outward Exercise of Prayer, as needing a greater and superadded Influence and Motion of the Spirit, as it cannot be continually practised, so neither can it be so readily, so as to be effectually performed, until his Mind be some Time acquainted with the Inward; therefore such as are diligent and watchful in their Minds, and much retired in the Exercise of this inward Prayer, are more capable to be frequent in the Use of the Outward, because that this holy Influence doth more constantly attend them, and they being better acquainted with, and accustomed to, the Motions of God’s Spirit, can easily perceive and discern them. And indeed, as such who are most diligent have a near Access to God, and he taketh[Pg 341] most Delight to draw them by his Spirit to approach and call upon him, so when many are gathered together in this watchful Mind, God doth frequently pour forth the Spirit of Prayer among them and stir them thereunto, to the edifying and building up of one another in Love. But because this outward Prayer depends upon the inward, as that which must follow it, and cannot be acceptably performed but as attended with a superadded Influence and Motion of the Spirit, We cannot fix set Times to speak and pray.therefore we cannot prefix set Times to pray outwardly, so as to lay a Necessity to speak Words at such and such Times, whether we feel this heavenly Influence and Assistance or no; for that we judge were a Tempting of God, and a Coming before him without due Preparation. We think it fit for us to present ourselves before him by this inward Retirement of the Mind, and so to proceed further, as his Spirit shall help us and draw us thereunto; and we find that the Lord accepts of this, yea, and seeth meet sometimes to exercise us in this silent Place for the Trial of our Patience, without allowing us to speak further, that he may teach us not to rely upon outward Performances, or satisfy ourselves, as too many do, with the Saying of our Prayers; and that our Dependence upon him may be the more firm and constant, to wait for the Holding out of his Sceptre, and for his Allowance to draw near unto him, with greater Freedom and Enlargement of Spirit upon our Hearts towards him. Yet nevertheless we do not deny but sometimes God, upon particular Occasions, very suddenly, yea, upon the very first turning in of the Mind, may give Power and Liberty to bring forth Words or Acts of outward Prayer, so as the Soul can scarce discern any previous Motion, but the Influence and Bringing forth thereof may be as it were simul & semel: Nevertheless that Saying of Bernard is true, that all Prayer is lukewarm, which hath not an Inspiration preceding it. Though we affirm that none ought to go about Prayer without this Motion, yet we do not deny but such sin as neglect Prayer; Such sin as are neglecting Prayer.but their Sin is in that they come not to that Place where they may feel that which would lead them thereunto. And therefore we question[Pg 342] not but many, through Neglect of this inward Watchfulness and Retiredness of Mind, miss many precious Opportunities to pray, and thereby are guilty in the Sight of God; yet would they sin if they should set about the Act until they first felt the Influence. A forward and a careless Servant answers not his Duty.For as he grosly offends his Master that lieth in his Bed and sleeps, and neglects to do his Master’s Business; yet if such a one should suddenly get up, without putting on his Clothes, or taking along with him those necessary Tools and Instruments, without which he could not possibly work, and should forwardly fall a doing to no Purpose, he would be so far thereby from repairing his former Fault, that he would justly incur a new Censure: And as one that is careless and otherways busied may miss to hear one speaking unto him, or even not hear the Bell of a Clock, though striking hard-by him, so may many, through Negligence, miss to hear God oftentimes calling upon them, and giving them Access to pray unto him; yet will not that allow them, without his Liberty, in their own Wills to fall to Work.

And Lastly, Though this be the only true and proper Method of Prayer, as that which is alone acceptable to God, In Times of Darkness God did often hear their Prayers.yet shall we not deny but he oftentimes answered the Prayers and concurred with the Desires of some, especially in Times of Darkness, who have greatly erred herein; so that some that have sat down in formal Prayer, though far wrong in the Matter as well as Manner, without the Assistance or Influence of God’s Spirit, yet have found him to take Occasion therethrough to break in upon their Souls, and wonderfully tender and refresh them; yet as in Preaching, and elsewhere hath afore been observed, that will not prove any such Practices, or be a just Let to hinder any from coming to practise that pure, spiritual, and acceptable Prayer, which God is again restoring and leading his People into, out of all Superstitions and mere empty Formalities. The State of the Controversy, and our Sense thereof, being thus clearly stated, will both obviate many Objections, and make the Answer to others more[Pg 343] brief and easy. First, Spiritual Prayer proved from Scripture.I shall first prove this spiritual Prayer by some short Considerations from Scripture, and then answer the Objections of our Opposers, which will also serve to refute their Method and Manner thereof.

§. XXII.

I. God’s Spirit must be felt to move the Mind to Prayer. And First, That there is a Necessity of this inward Retirement of the Mind as previous to Prayer, that the Spirit may be felt to draw thereunto, appears, for that in most of those Places where Prayer is commanded, Watching is prefixed thereunto, as necessary to go before, as Matt. xxiv. 42. Mark xiii. 33. and xiv. 38. Luke xxi. 36. from which it is evident that this Watching was to go before Prayer. Now to what End is this Watching, or what is it, but a Waiting to feel God’s Spirit to draw unto Prayer, that so it may be done acceptably? For since we are to [110]pray always in the Spirit, and cannot pray of ourselves without it acceptably, this Watching must be for this End recommended to us, as preceding Prayer, that we may watch and wait for the seasonable Time to pray, which is when the Spirit moves thereunto.

[110] Ephes. 6. 18.

II. We know not how to pray but as the Spirit helps.Secondly, This Necessity of the Spirit’s Moving and Concurrence appears abundantly from that of the Apostle Paul, Rom. viii. 26, 27. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our Infirmities: For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh Intercession for us with Groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the Hearts knoweth what is the Mind of the Spirit, because he maketh Intercession for the Saints according to the Will of God. Which first holds forth the Incapacity of Men as of themselves to pray or call upon God in their own Wills, even such as have received the Faith of Christ, and are in Measure sanctified by it, as was the Church of Rome, to whom the Apostle then wrote. Secondly, It holds forth that which can only help and assist Men to pray, to wit, the Spirit, as that without which they cannot do it acceptably to God, nor beneficially to their own Souls. Thirdly, The Manner and Way of the Spirit’s Intercession, with Sighs and Groans which are unutterable. And Fourthly, That God receiveth graciously the Prayers of such as are presented[Pg 344] and offered unto himself by the Spirit, knowing it to be according to his Will. Now it cannot be conceived but this Order of Prayer thus asserted by the Apostle is most consistent with those other Testimonies of Scripture, commending and recommending to us the Use of Prayer. From which I thus argue,

Arg.If any Man know not how to pray, neither can do it without the Help of the Spirit, then it is to no Purpose for him, but altogether unprofitable, to pray without it:

But the First is true: Therefore also the Last.

III. Pray always in the Spirit, and Watching thereunto. Thirdly, This Necessity of the Spirit to true Prayer appears from Ephes. vi. 18. and Jude 20. where the Apostle commands to pray always in the Spirit, and Watching thereunto; which is as much as if he had said, that we were never to pray without the Spirit, or Watching thereunto. And Jude sheweth that such Prayers as are in the Holy Ghost only, tend to the Building up of ourselves in our most holy Faith.

IV. Man cannot call Christ Lord but by the Holy Ghost. Fourthly, The Apostle Paul saith expresly, 1 Cor. xii. 3. That no Man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost: If then Jesus cannot be thus rightly named but by the Holy Ghost, far less can he be acceptably called upon. Hence the same Apostle declares, 1 Cor. xiv. 15. that he will pray with the Spirit, &c. A clear Evidence that it was none of his Method to pray without it.

V. God will not hear the Prayers of the Wicked. But Fifthly, All Prayer without the Spirit is Abomination, such as are the Prayers of the Wicked, Prov. xxviii. 9. And the Confidence that the Saints have that God will hear them is, if they ask any Thing according to his Will, 1 John v. 14. So if the Prayer be not according to his Will, there is no Ground of Confidence that he will hear. Now our Adversaries will acknowledge that Prayers without the Spirit are not according to the Will of God, and therefore such as pray without it have no Ground to expect an Answer: For indeed to bid a Man pray without the Spirit is all one as to bid one see without Eyes, work without Hands, or go without Feet. And to desire a Man to fall to Prayer ere the Spirit in some Measure less or more move him thereunto, is to desire a Man to see before he opens his[Pg 345] Eyes, or to walk before he rise up, or to work with his Hands before he moves them.


VI. All Sacrifice is Sin, not offered by the Spirit. But Lastly, From this false Opinion of Praying without the Spirit, and not judging it necessary to be waited for, as that which may be felt to move us thereunto, hath proceeded all the Superstition and Idolatry that is among those called Christians, and those many Abominations wherewith the Lord is provoked, and his Spirit grieved; so that many deceive themselves now, as the Jews did of old, thinking it sufficient if they pay their daily Sacrifices, and offer their customary Oblations; from thence thinking all is well, and creating a false Peace to themselves, as the Whore in the Proverbs, because they have offered up their Sacrifices of Morning and Evening Prayers. And therefore it is manifest that their constant Use of these Things doth not a Whit influence their Lives and Conversations, but they remain for the most Part as bad as ever. Yea, it is frequent both among Papists and Protestants, for them to leap as it were out of their vain, light, and profane Conversations at their set Hours and Seasons, and fall to their customary Devotion; and then, when it is scarce finished, and the Words to God scarce out, the former profane Talk comes after it; so that the same wicked profane Spirit of this World actuates them in both. If there be any such Thing as vain Oblations, or Prayers that are Abomination, which God heareth not (as is certain there are, and the Scripture testifies, Isa. lxvi. 3. Jer. xiv. 12.) certainly such Prayers as are acted in Man’s Will, and by his own Strength, without God’s Spirit, must be of that Number.

§. XXIV.

Concerning Joining in Prayer with others.Let this suffice for Proof. I shall now proceed to answer their Objections, when I have said something concerning joining in Prayer with others. Those that pray together with one Accord use not only to concur in their Spirits, but also in the Gesture of their Body; which we also willingly approve of. It becometh those who approach before God to pray, that they do it with bowed Knees, and with their Heads uncovered, which is our Practice.

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Obj. 1.But here ariseth a Controversy, Whether it be lawful to join with others by those external Signs of Reverence, albeit not in Heart, who pray formally, not waiting for the Motion of the Spirit, nor judging it necessary.

Answ.We answer, Not at all; and for our Testimony in this Thing we have suffered not a little. The Reason why we cannot join in Prayer.For when it hath fallen out, that either accidentally, or to witness against their Worship, we have been present during the same, and have not found it lawful for us to bow with them thereunto, they have often persecuted us, not only with Reproaches, but also with Strokes and cruel Beatings. For this Cause they used to accuse us of Pride, Profanity, and Madness, as if we had no Respect or Reverence to the Worship of God, and as if we judged none could pray, or were heard of God, but ourselves. Unto all which, and many more Reproaches of this Kind, we answer briefly and modestly, That it sufficeth us that we are found so doing, neither through Pride, nor Madness, nor Profanity, but merely lest we should hurt our Consciences; the Reason of which is plain and evident: For since our Principle and Doctrine oblige us to believe that the Prayers of those who themselves confess they are not actuated by the Spirit are Abominations, how can we with a safe Conscience join with them?

Obj. 2.If they urge, That this is the Height of Uncharitableness and Arrogancy, as if we judged ourselves always to pray by the Spirit’s Motion, but they never; as if we were never deceived by praying without the Motions of the Spirit, and that they were never actuated by it, seeing albeit they judge not the Motion of the Spirit always necessary, they confess nevertheless that it is very profitable and comfortable, and they feel it often influencing them; which that it sometimes falls out we cannot deny.

Answ.To all which I answer distinctly, If it were their known and avowed Doctrine not to pray without the Motion of the Spirit, and that, seriously holding thereunto, they did not bind themselves to pray at certain prescribed Times precisely, at which Times they determine to pray, though without the Spirit, then indeed we might[Pg 347] be accused of Uncharitableness and Pride, if we never joined with them; and if they so taught and practised, I doubt not but it would be lawful for us so to do, unless there should appear some manifest and evident Hypocrisy and Delusion. Shall we confirm the Hypocrites when praying?But seeing they confess that they pray without the Spirit, and seeing God hath persuaded us that such Prayers are abominable, how can we with a safe Conscience join with an Abomination? That God sometimes condescends to them, we do not deny; although now, when the spiritual Worship is openly proclaimed, and all are invited unto it, the Case is otherwise than in those old Times of Apostasy and Darkness; and therefore, albeit any should begin to pray in our Presence, not expecting the Motion of the Spirit; yet if it manifestly appear that God in Condescension did concur with such a one, then according to God’s Will we should not refuse to join also; but this is rare, lest thence they should be confirmed in their false Principle. And although this seems hard in our Profession, nevertheless it is so confirmed by the Authority both of Scripture and right Reason, that many convinced thereof have embraced this Part before other Truths, which were easier, and, as they seemed to some, clearer. Among whom is memorable of late Years Alexander Skein, a Magistrate of the City of Aberdeen, a Man very modest, and very averse from giving Offence to others, who nevertheless being overcome by the Power of Truth in this Matter, behoved for this Cause to separate himself from the publick Assemblies and Prayers, and join himself unto us; who also gave the Reason of his Change, and likewise succinctly, but yet substantially, comprehended this Controversy concerning Worship in some short Questions, which he offered to the publick Preachers of the City, and which I think meet to insert in this Place.

Some Questions of A. Skein proposed to the Preachers in Aberdeen.1. Whether or not should an Act of God’s Worship be gone about without the Motions, Leadings, and Actings of the Holy Spirit?

2. If the Motions of the Spirit be necessary to every particular Duty, whether should he be waited upon, that all our Acts and Words may be according as he gives Utterance and Assistance?

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3. Whether every one that bears the Name of a Christian, or professes to be a Protestant, hath such an uninterrupted Measure thereof, that he may, without waiting, go immediately about the Duty?

4. If there be an Indisposition and Unfitness at some Times for such Exercises, at least as to the spiritual and lively Performance thereof, whether ought they to be performed in that Case, and at that Time?

5. If any Duty be gone about, under Pretence that it is in Obedience to the external Command, without the spiritual Life and Motion necessary, whether such a Duty thus performed can in Faith be expected to be accepted of God, and not rather reckoned as a [111]Bringing of strange Fire before the Lord, seeing it is performed at best by the Strength of natural and acquired Parts, and not by the Strength and Assistance of the Holy Ghost, which was typified by the Fire that came down from Heaven, which alone behoved to consume the Sacrifice, and no other?

[111] Lev. 16. 1.

6. Whether Duties gone about in the mere Strength of natural and acquired Parts, whether in Publick or Private, be not as really, upon the Matter, an Image of Man’s Invention as the Popish Worship, though not so gross in the outward Appearance? And therefore whether it be not as real Superstition to countenance any Worship of that Nature, as it is to countenance Popish Worship, though there be a Difference in the Degree?

7. Whether it be a Ground of Offence or just Scandal to countenance the Worship of those whose professed Principle it is neither to speak for Edification, nor to pray, but as the Holy Ghost shall be pleased to assist them in some Measure less or more; without which they rather choose to be silent, than to speak without this Influence?

Unto these they answered but very coldly and faintly, whose Answers likewise long ago he refuted.

We must not lose our Witnessing for God.Seeing then God hath called us to his spiritual Worship, and to testify against the human and voluntary Worships of the Apostasy, if we did not this Way stand immoveable to the Truth revealed, but should join with them, both our Testimony for God would be weakened and lost, and it would be impossible steadily to propagate this Worship in the World, whose Progress we dare neither retard[Pg 349] nor hinder by any Act of ours; though therefore we shall lose not only worldly Honour, but even our Lives. And truly many Protestants, through their Unsteadiness in this Thing, for politic Ends complying with the Popish Abominations, have greatly scandalized their Profession, and hurt the Reformation; Elector of Saxony’s Scandal given to appeared in the Example of the Elector of Saxony; who, in the Convention at Augsburgh, in the Year 1530, being commanded by the Emperor Charles the Fifth to be present at the Mass, that he might carry the Sword before him, according to his Place; which when he justly scrupled to perform, his Preachers taking more Care for their Prince’s Honour than for his Conscience, persuaded him that it was lawful to do it against his Conscience. Which was both a very bad Example, and great Scandal to the Reformation, and displeased many; as the Author of the History of the Council of Trent, in his first Book, well observes. Secondly, Objections against spiritual Prayer answered.But now I hasten to the Objections of our Adversaries against this Method of Praying.

§. XXV.

Obj. 1.First, They object, That if such particular Influences were needful to outward Acts of Worship, then they should also be needful to inward Acts; to wit, Desire and Love to God. But this is absurd; therefore also that from whence it follows.

Answ.I answer; That which was said in the State of the Controversy cleareth this; because, as to those general Duties, there never wants an Influence, so long as the Day of a Man’s Visitation lasteth; during which Time God is always near to him, and wrestling with him by his Spirit, to turn him to himself; so that if he do but stand still, and cease from his evil Thoughts, the Lord is near to help him, &c. But as to the outward Acts of Prayer, they need a more special Motion and Influence, as hath been proved.

Obj. 2.Secondly, They object, That it might be also alleged, that Men ought not to do moral Duties, as Children to honour their Parents, Men to do right to their Neighbours, except the Spirit move them to it.

Answ.I answer; There is a great Difference between these general Duties betwixt Man and Man, and the particular express Acts of Wor[Pg 350]ship towards God: The one is merely spiritual, and commanded by God to be performed by his Spirit; the other answer their End, as to them whom they are immediately directed to and concern, though done from a mere natural Principle of Self-love; even as Beasts have natural Affections one to another, and therefore may be thus performed. Though I shall not deny, but that they are not Works accepted of God, or beneficial to the Soul, but as they are done in the Fear of God, and in his Blessing, in which his Children do all Things, and therefore are accepted and blessed in whatsoever they do.

Obj. 3.Thirdly, They object, That if a wicked Man ought not to pray without a Motion of the Spirit, because his Prayer would be sinful; neither ought he to plow by the same Reason, because the [112]Plowing of the Wicked, as well as his Praying, is Sin.

[112] Prov. 21. 4.

Answ.This Objection is of the same Nature with the former, and therefore may be answered the same Way; How Acts of Nature differ from the Spirit’s.seeing there is a great Difference betwixt natural Acts, such as Eating, Drinking, Sleeping, and seeking Sustenance for the Body (which Things Man hath common with Beasts) and spiritual Acts. And it doth not follow, because Man ought not to go about spiritual Acts without the Spirit, that therefore he may not go about natural Acts without it. The Analogy holds better thus, and that for the Proof of our Affirmation, That as Man for the going about natural Acts needs his natural Spirit; so to perform spiritual Acts he needs the Spirit of God. That the natural Acts of the Wicked and Unregenerate are sinful, is not denied; though not as in themselves, but in so far as Man in that State is in all Things reprobated in the Sight of God.

Obj. 4.Fourthly, They object, That wicked Men may, according to this Doctrine, forbear to pray for Years together, alleging, They want a Motion to it.

Answ.I answer; The false Pretences of wicked Men do nothing invalidate the Truth of this Doctrine; for at that Rate there is no Doctrine of Christ, which Men might not set aside. That they ought not to pray without the Spirit, is granted; but then they ought to come to[Pg 351] that Place of Watching, where they may be capable to feel the Spirit’s Motion. That wicked Men neglect the Motions of the Spirit to pray.They sin indeed in not Praying; but the Cause of this Sin is their not Watching: So their Neglect proceeds not from this Doctrine, but from their Disobedience to it; seeing if they did pray without this, it would be a double Sin, and no Fulfilling of the Command to pray: Nor yet would their Prayer, without this Spirit, be useful unto them. And this our Adversaries are forced to acknowledge in another Case: For they say, It is a Duty incumbent on Christians to frequent the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, as they call it; yet they say, No Man ought to take it unworthily: Yea, they plead, That such as find themselves unprepared, must abstain; and therefore do usually excommunicate them from the Table. Now, though according to them it be necessary to partake of this Sacrament; yet it is also necessary that those that do it, do first examine themselves, lest they eat and drink their own Condemnation: And though they reckon it sinful for them to forbear, yet they account it more sinful for them to do it without this Examination.

Obj. 5.Fifthly, They object, Acts viii. 22. where Peter commanded Simon Magus, that wicked Sorcerer, to pray; from thence inferring, That wicked Men may and ought to pray.

Answ.I answer; That in the citing of this Place, as I have often observed, they omit the first and chief Part of the Verse, which is thus, Acts viii. Ver. 22. The Sorcerer may pray, but not without Repentance.Repent therefore of this thy Wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the Thought of thine Heart may be forgiven thee: So here he bids him first Repent. Now the least Measure of true Repentance cannot be without somewhat of that inward Retirement of the Mind which we speak of: And indeed where true Repentance goeth first, we do not doubt but the Spirit of God will be near to concur with, and influence such to pray to and call upon God.

Obj. 6.And Lastly, They object, That many Prayers begun without the Spirit have proved effectual; and that the Prayers of wicked Men have been heard, and found acceptable, as Ahab’s.

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Answ.This Objection was before solved. For the Acts of God’s Compassion and Indulgence at some Times, and to some Persons, upon singular extraordinary Occasions, are not to be a Rule of our Actions. For if we should make that the Measure of our Obedience, great Inconveniences would follow; as is evident, and will be acknowledged by all. Next, We do not deny, but wicked Men are sensible of the Motions and Operations of God’s Spirit oftentimes, before their Day be expired; from which they may at Times pray acceptably; not as remaining altogether wicked, but as entering into Piety, from whence they afterwards fall away.

§. XXVI.

III.Of singing Psalms. As to the Singing of Psalms, there will not be need of any long Discourse; for that the Case is just the same as in the two former of Preaching and Prayer. We confess this to be a Part of God’s Worship, and very sweet and refreshing, when it proceeds from a true Sense of God’s Love in the Heart, and arises from the divine Influence of the Spirit, A sweet harmonious Sound.which leads Souls to breathe forth either a sweet Harmony, or Words suitable to the present Condition; whether they be Words formerly used by the Saints, and recorded in Scripture, such as the Psalms of David, or other Words; as were the Hymns and Songs of Zacharias, Simeon, and the blessed Virgin Mary. But formal Singing has no Ground in Scripture.But as for the formal customary Way of Singing, it hath no Foundation in Scripture, nor any Ground in true Christianity: Yea, besides all the Abuses incident to Prayer and Preaching, it hath this more peculiar, that oftentimes great and horrid Lies are said in the Sight of God: Profane Singing of David’s Conditions refuted.For all Manner of wicked profane People take upon them to personate the Experiences and Conditions of blessed David; which are not only false, as to them, but also as to some of more Sobriety, who utter them forth: As where they will sing sometimes, Psalm xxii. 14.—My Heart is like Wax, it is melted in the Midst of my Bowels: And Ver. 15. My Strength is dried up like a Potsherd, and my Tongue cleaveth to my Jaws; and thou hast brought me into the Dust of Death: And Psalm vi. 6. I am weary with my Groaning, all the Night make I my Bed to swim: I water my Couch with my Tears:[Pg 353] And many more, which those that speak know to be false, as to them. And sometimes will confess just after, in their Prayers, that they are guilty of the Vices opposite to those Virtues, which but just before they have asserted themselves endued with. Who can suppose that God accepts of such Juggling? And indeed such Singing doth more please the carnal Ears of Men, than the pure Ears of the Lord, who abhors all Lying and Hypocrisy.

That Singing then that pleaseth him must proceed from that which is PURE in the Heart (even from the Word of Life therein) in and by which, richly dwelling in us, spiritual Songs and Hymns are returned to the Lord, according to that of the Apostle, Col. iii. 16.

Artificial Musick.But as to their artificial Musick, either by Organs, or other Instruments, or Voice, we have neither Example nor Precept for it in the New Testament.


But Lastly, The great Advantage of this true Worship of God, which we profess and practise, is, that it consisteth not in Man’s Wisdom, Arts or Industry; No Splendor of this World attends this inward Worship.neither needeth the Glory, Pomp, Riches, nor Splendor of this World to beautify it, as being of a spiritual and heavenly Nature; and therefore too simple and contemptible to the natural Mind and Will of Man, that hath no Delight to abide in it, because he finds no Room there for his Imaginations and Inventions, and hath not the Opportunity to gratify his outward and carnal Senses: So that this Form being observed, is not likely to be long kept pure without the Power; for it is of itself so naked without it, that it hath nothing in it to invite and tempt Men to dote upon it, further than it is accompanied with the Power. The carnal Worship pleases Self.Whereas the Worship of our Adversaries, being performed in their own Wills, is self-pleasing, as in which they can largely exercise their natural Parts and Invention: And so (as to most of them) having somewhat of an outward and worldly Splendor, delectable to the carnal and worldly Senses, they can pleasantly continue it, and satisfy themselves, though without the[Pg 354] Spirit and Power; which they make no Ways essential to the Performance of their Worship, and therefore neither wait for, nor expect it.


The Worship of the Quakers.So that to conclude, The Worship, Preaching, Praying and Singing, which we plead for, Is such as proceedeth from the Spirit of God, and is always accompanied with its Influence, being begun by its Motion, and carried on by the Power and Strength thereof; and so is a Worship purely spiritual: Such as the Scripture holds forth, John iv. 23, 24. 1 Cor. xiv. 15. Ephes. vi. 18. &c.

Our Adversaries Worship.But the Worship, Preaching, Praying and Singing, which our Adversaries plead for, and which we oppose, Is a Worship which is both begun, carried on, and concluded in Man’s own natural Will and Strength, without the Motion or Influence of God’s Spirit, which they judge they need not wait for; and therefore may be truly performed, both as to the Matter and Manner, by the wickedest of Men, Such was the Worship and vain Oblations which God always rejected, as appears from Isa. lxvi. 3. Jer. xiv. 12. &c. Isa. i. 13. Prov. xv. 29. John ix. 31.

[Pg 355]


Concerning Baptism.

[113]As there is one Lord, and one Faith, so there is one Baptism; which is not the putting away the Filth of the Flesh, but the Answer of a good Conscience before God, by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And this Baptism is a pure and spiritual Thing, to wit, the Baptism of the Spirit and Fire, by which we are buried with him, that being washed and purged from our Sins, we may walk in newness of Life: Of which the Baptism of John was a Figure, which was commanded for a Time, and not to continue for ever. As to the Baptism of Infants, it is a mere human Tradition, for which neither Precept nor Practice is to be found in all the Scripture.

[113] Ephes. 4. 5. 1 Pet. 3. 21. Rom. 6. 4. Gal. 3. 27. Col. 2. 12. John 3. 30. 1 Cor. 1. 17.

§. I.

I did sufficiently demonstrate, in the Explanation and Proof of the former Proposition, how greatly the Professors of Christianity, as well Protestants as Papists, were degenerated in the Matter of Worship, and how much Strangers to, and averse from that true and acceptable Worship that is performed in the Spirit of Truth, because of Man’s natural Propensity in his fallen State to exalt his own Inventions, and to intermix his own Work and Product in the Service of God: From whence Idolatries and Heathen Superstitions did spring.And from this Root sprung all the idle Worships, Idolatries, and numerous superstitious Inventions among the Heathens. For when God, in Condescension to his chosen People the Jews, did prescribe to them by his Servant Moses many Ceremonies and Observations, as Types and Shadows of the Substance, which in due Time was to be revealed; which consisted for the most Part in Washings, outward Purifications and Cleansings, which were to continue until the Time of Reformation, until the spiritual Worship should be set up;[Pg 356] and that God, by the more plentiful pouring forth of his Spirit, and guiding of that Anointing, should lead his Children into all Truth, and teach them to worship him in a Way more spiritual and acceptable to him, though less agreeable to the carnal and outward Senses; yet, notwithstanding God’s Condescension to the Jews in such Things, we see that that Part in Man, which delights to follow its own Inventions, could not be restrained, nor yet satisfied with all these Observations, but that oftentimes they would be either declining to the other Superstitions of the Gentiles, or adding some new Observations and Ceremonies of their own; to which they were so devoted, that they were still apt to prefer them before the Commands of God, and that under the Notion of Zeal and Piety. The Pharisees the chiefest among the Jews.This we see abundantly in the Example of the Pharisees, the chief Sect among the Jews, whom Christ so frequently reproves, For making void the Commandments of God by their Traditions, Matt. xv. 6. 9. &c. This Complaint may at this Day be no less justly made as to many bearing the Name of Christians, who have introduced many Things of this Kind, partly borrowed from the Jews, which they more tenaciously stick to, and more earnestly contend for, than for the weightier Points of Christianity; Many Things in Christendom are borrowed from the Jews and Gentiles.because that Self, yet alive, and ruling in them, loves their own Inventions better than God’s Commands. But if they can by any Means stretch any Scripture Practice, or conditional Precept or Permission, fitted to the Weakness or Capacity of some, or appropriate to some particular Dispensation, to give some Colour for any of these their Inventions; they do then so tenaciously stick to them, and so obstinately and obstreperously plead for them, that they will not patiently hear the most solid Christian Reasons against them. Which Zeal, if they would but seriously examine it, they would find to be but the Prejudice of Education, and the Love of Self, more than that of God, or his pure Worship. Of Sacraments so many Controversies.This is verified concerning those Things which are called Sacraments, about which they are very ignorant in Religious Controversies, who understand not how much Debate, Contention, Jangling, and Quarrelling there has been among those called[Pg 357] Christians: So that I may safely say the Controversy about them, to wit, about their Number, Nature, Virtue, Efficacy, Administration, and other Things, hath been more than about any other Doctrine of Christ, whether as betwixt Papists and Protestants, or among Protestants betwixt themselves. And how great Prejudice these Controversies have brought to Christians is very obvious; whereas the Things contended for among them are for the most Part but empty Shadows, and mere outside Things: As I hope hereafter to make appear to the patient and unprejudiced Reader.

§. II.

The Name of Sacrament (not found in Scripture) is borrowed from the Heathen.That which comes first under Observation, is the Name [Sacrament] which it is strange that Christians should stick to and contend so much for, since it is not to be found in all the Scripture; but was borrowed from the military Oaths among the Heathens, from whom the Christians, when they began to apostatize, did borrow many superstitious Terms and Observations, that they might thereby ingratiate themselves, and the more easily gain the Heathens to their Religion; which Practice, though perhaps intended by them for Good, yet, as being the Fruit of human Policy, and not according to God’s Wisdom, has had very pernicious Consequences. I see not how any, whether Papists or Protestants, especially the latter, can in Reason quarrel with us for denying this Term, which it seems the Spirit of God saw not meet to inspire the Penmen of the Scriptures to leave unto us.

Obj. 1.But if it be said, That it is not the Name, but the Thing they contend for;

Answ.I answer; Let the Name then, as not being scriptural, be laid aside, and we shall see at first Entrance how much Benefit will redound by laying aside this traditional Term, and betaking us to Plainness of Scripture Language. For presently the great Contest about the Number of them will vanish; seeing there is no Term used in Scripture that can be made use of, whether we call them Institutions, Ordinances, Precepts, Commandments, Appointments, or Laws, &c. that would afford[Pg 358] Ground for such a Debate; since neither will Papists affirm, that there are only seven, or Protestants only two, of any of these aforementioned.

Obj. 2.If it be said, That this Controversy arises from the Definition of the Thing, as well as from the Name.

Answ. The Definition of Sacrament agrees to many other Things.It will be found otherwise: For whatever Way we take their Definition of a Sacrament, whether as an outward visible Sign, whereby inward Grace is conferred, or only signified, this Definition will agree to many Things, which neither Papists nor Protestants will acknowledge to be Sacraments. If they be expressed under the Name of sealing Ordinances, as by some they are, I could never see, either by Reason or Scripture, how this Title could be appropriate to them, more than to any other Christian, religious Performance: What sealing Ordinance doth mean.For that must needs properly be a sealing Ordinance, which makes the Persons receiving it infallibly certain of the Promise or Thing sealed to them.

Obj. 3.If it be said, It is so to them that are faithful;

Answ.I answer; So is Praying and Preaching, and doing of every good Work. Seeing the Partaking or Performing of the one gives not to any a more certain Title to Heaven, yea, in some Respect, not so much, there is no Reason to call them so, more than the other.

Besides, we find not any Thing called the Seal and Pledge of our Inheritance, but the Spirit of God. It is by that we are said to be sealed, Ephes. i. 14. and iv. 30. which is also termed the Earnest of our Inheritance, 2 Cor. i. 22. and not by outward Water, or Eating and Drinking; which as the wickedest of Men may partake of, so many that do, do, notwithstanding it, go to Perdition. That outward Washing doth not cleanse the Heart.For it is not outward Washing with Water that maketh the Heart clean, by which Men are fitted for Heaven: And as that which goeth into the Mouth doth not defile a Man, because it is put forth again, and so goeth to the Dunghill; neither doth any Thing which Man eateth purify him, or fit him for Heaven. What is said here in general may serve for an Introduction, not only to this Proposition, but also to the other concerning the Supper. Of these Sacraments (so called) Baptism is always first numbered, which is the Subject of the present[Pg 359] Proposition; in the Explanation of which I shall first demonstrate and prove our Judgment, and then answer the Objections, and refute the Sentiments of our Opposers. Part I.As to the first Part, these Things following, which are briefly comprehended in the Proposition, come to be proposed and proved.

§. III.

Prop. I.First, There is but one Baptism, as well as but one Lord, one Faith, &c.

Prop. II.Secondly, That this one Baptism, which is the Baptism of Christ, is not a Washing with, or Dipping in Water, but a being baptised by the Spirit.

Prop. III.Thirdly, That the Baptism of John was but a Figure of this; and therefore, as the Figure, to give Place to the Substance; which though it be to continue, yet the other ceaseth.

Prop. I.One Baptism proved. As for the First, viz. That there is but one Baptism, there needs no other Proof than the Words of the Text, Ephes. iv. 5. One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism: Where the Apostle positively and plainly affirms, that as there is but one Body, one Spirit, one Faith, one God, &c. so there is but one Baptism.

Obj. 1.As to what is commonly alleged by Way of Explanation upon the Text, That the Baptism of Water and of the Spirit make up this one Baptism, by Virtue of the sacramental Union;

Answ.I answer; This Exposition hath taken Place, not because grounded upon the Testimony of the Scripture, but because it wrests the Scripture to make it suit to their Principle of Water-baptism; and so there needs no other Reply, but to deny it, as being repugnant to the plain Words of the Text; Whether two Baptisms make up the One.which saith not, That there are two Baptisms, to wit, one of Water, the other of the Spirit, which do make up one Baptism; but plainly, that there is one Baptism, as there is one Faith, and one God. Now as there go not two Faiths, nor two Gods, nor two Spirits, nor two Bodies, whereof the one is outward and elementary, and the other spiritual and pure, to the making up the one Faith, the one God, the one Body, and the one Spirit; so neither ought there to go two Baptisms to make up the one Baptism.

[Pg 360]

Obj. 2.But Secondly, if it be said, The Baptism is but one, whereof Water is the one Part, to wit, the Sign; and the Spirit, the Thing signified, the other;

Answ.If Water be the Type, the Substance must remain. I answer; This yet more confirmeth our Doctrine: For if Water be only the Sign, it is not the Matter of the one Baptism (as shall further hereafter by its Definition in Scripture appear) and we are to take the one Baptism for the Matter of it, not for the Sign, or Figure and Type that went before. Even as where Christ is called the one Offering in Scripture, though he was typified by many Sacrifices and Offerings under the Law, we understand only by the one Offering, his offering himself upon the Cross; whereof though those many Offerings were Signs and Types, yet we say not that they go together with that Offering of Christ, to make up the one Offering: So neither, though Water-baptism was a Sign of Christ’s Baptism, will it follow, that it goeth now to make up the Baptism of Christ. If any should be so absurd as to affirm, That this one Baptism here was the Baptism of Water, and not of the Spirit; that were foolishly to contradict the positive Testimony of the Scripture, which saith the contrary; as by what followeth will more amply appear.

Prop. II.Secondly, That this one Baptism, which is the Baptism of Christ, is not a Washing with Water, appears, Proof 1. The Difference between John’s Baptism and Christ’s.First, From the Testimony of John, the proper and peculiar Administrator of Water-baptism, Matt. iii. 11. I indeed baptize you with Water unto Repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose Shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire. Here John mentions two Manners of baptizing, and two different Baptisms; the one with Water, and the other with the Spirit; the one whereof he was the Minister of; the other whereof Christ was the Minister of: And such as were baptized with the first, were not therefore baptized with the second: I indeed baptize you, but he shall baptize you. Though in the present Time they were baptized with the Baptism of Water; yet they were not as yet, but were to be, baptized with the Baptism of Christ. From all which I thus argue:

[Pg 361]

Arg. 1.If those that were baptized with the Baptism of Water, were not therefore baptized with the Baptism of Christ; then the Baptism of Water is not the Baptism of Christ:

But the First is true: Therefore also the Last.

And again,

Arg. 2.If he, that truly and really administred the Baptism of Water, did notwithstanding declare, that he neither could, nor did, baptize with the Baptism of Christ; then the Baptism of Water is not the Baptism of Christ:

But the First is true: Therefore, &c.

And indeed to understand it otherwise, would make John’s Words void of good Sense: For if their Baptisms had been all one, why should he have so precisely contra-distinguished them? Why should he have said, That those whom he had already baptized, should yet be baptized with another Baptism?

Object.If it be urged, That Baptism with Water was the one Part, and that with the Spirit the other Part, or Effect only of the former;

Answ.I answer; This Exposition contradicts the plain Words of the Text. One Baptism is no Part nor Effect of the other.For he saith not, I baptize you with Water, and he that cometh after me shall produce the Effects of this my Baptism in you by the Spirit, &c. or he shall accomplish this Baptism in you; but, He shall baptize you. So then, if we understand the Words truly and properly, when he saith, I baptize you, as consenting that thereby is really signified that he did baptize with the Baptism of Water; we must needs, unless we offer Violence to the Text, understand the other Part of the Sentence the same Way; viz. where he adds presently, But he shall baptize you, &c. that he understood it of their being truly to be baptized with another Baptism, than what he did baptize with: Else it had been Nonsense for him thus to have contra-distinguished them.

Proof 2.Secondly, This is further confirmed by the Saying of Christ himself, Acts i. 4, 5. But wait for the Promise of the Father, which, saith he,[Pg 362] ye have heard of me: For John truly baptized with Water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many Days hence. Who were baptized by John were still to wait for Christ’s Baptism with the Spirit.There can scarce two Places of Scripture run more parallel than this doth with the former, a little before-mentioned; and therefore concludeth the same Way as did the other. For Christ here grants fully that John compleated his Baptism, as to the Matter and Substance of it: John, saith he, truly baptized with Water; which is as much as if he had said, John did truly and fully administer the Baptism of Water; But ye shall be baptized with, &c. This sheweth that they were to be baptized with some other Baptism than the Baptism of Water; and that although they were formerly baptized with the Baptism of Water, yet not with that of Christ, which they were to be baptized with.

Proof 3.The Baptism with the Holy Ghost and that with Water differ. Thirdly, Peter observes the same Distinction, Acts xi. 16. Then remembered I the Word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with Water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. The Apostle makes this Application upon the Holy Ghost’s Falling upon them; whence he infers, that they were then baptized with the Baptism of the Spirit. As to what is urged from his calling afterwards for Water, it shall be spoken to hereafter. From all which three Sentences, relative one to another, first of John, secondly of Christ, and thirdly of Peter, it doth evidently follow, that such as were truly and really baptized with the Baptism of Water, were notwithstanding not baptized with the Baptism of the Spirit, which is that of Christ; and such as truly and really did administer the Baptism of Water, did, in so doing, not administer the Baptism of Christ. So that if there be now but one Baptism, as we have already proved, we may safely conclude that it is that of the Spirit, and not of Water; else it would follow, that the one Baptism, which now continues, were the Baptism of Water, i. e. John’s Baptism, and not the Baptism of the Spirit, i. e. Christ’s; which were most absurd.

Object.If it be said further, That though the Baptism of John, before Christ’s was administred, was different from it, as being the Figure only; yet now,[Pg 363] that both it as the Figure, and that of the Spirit as the Substance, is necessary to make up the one Baptism;

I answer; This urgeth nothing, unless it be granted also that both of them belong to the Essence of Baptism; so that Baptism is not to be accounted as truly administred, where both are not; which none of our Adversaries will acknowledge: But on the contrary, account not only all those truly baptized with the Baptism of Christ, Water-baptism is not the true Baptism of Christ.who are baptized with Water, though they be uncertain whether they be baptized with the Spirit, or not; but they even account such truly baptized with the Baptism of Christ, because sprinkled, or baptized with Water, though it be manifest and most certain that they are not baptized with the Spirit, as being Enemies thereunto in their Hearts by wicked Works. So here, by their own Confession, Baptism with Water is without the Spirit. Wherefore we may far safer conclude, that the Baptism of the Spirit, which is that of Christ, is and may be without that of Water; as appears in that of Acts xi. where Peter testifies of these Men, that they were baptized with the Spirit, though then not baptized with Water. And indeed the Controversy in this, as in most other Things, stands betwixt us and our Opposers, in that they oftentimes prefer the Form and Shadow to the Power and Substance; by denominating Persons as Inheritors and Possessors of the Thing, from their having the Form and Shadow, though really wanting the Power and Substance; and not admitting those to be so denominated, who have the Power and Substance, if they want the Form and Shadow. This appears evidently, in that they account those truly baptized with the one Baptism of Christ, who are not baptized with the Spirit (which in Scripture is particularly called the Baptism of Christ) if they be only baptized with Water, which themselves yet confess to be but the Shadow or Figure. The Baptism of the Spirit needeth no Sprinkling or Dipping in Water.And moreover, in that they account not those who are surely baptized with the Baptism of the Spirit baptized, neither will they have them so denominated, unless they be also sprinkled with, or dipped in Water: But we, on the contrary, do always prefer[Pg 364] the Power to the Form, the Substance to the Shadow; and where the Substance and Power is, we doubt not to denominate the Person accordingly, though the Form be wanting. And therefore we always seek First, and plead for the Substance and Power, as knowing that to be indispensibly necessary, though the Form sometimes may be dispensed with, and the Figure or Type may cease, when the Substance and Anti-type come to be enjoyed, as it doth in this Case, which shall hereafter be made appear.

§. IV.

Proof 4.Fourthly, That the one Baptism of Christ is not a Washing with Water, appears from 1 Pet. iii. 21. The like Figure[114] whereunto even Baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the Filth of the Flesh, but the Answer of a good Conscience towards God) by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. So plain a Definition of Baptism is not in all the Bible; and therefore, seeing it is so plain, it may well be preferred to all the coined Definitions of the School-men. The plainest Definition of the Baptism of Christ in all the Bible.The Apostle tells us, first negatively, what it is not, viz. Not a putting away of the Filth of the Flesh: Then surely it is not a Washing with Water, since that is so. Secondly, He tells us affirmatively what it is, viz. The Answer of a good Conscience towards God, by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ; where he affirmatively defines it to be the Answer (or Confession, as the Syriack Version hath it) of a good Conscience. Now this Answer cannot be but where the Spirit of God hath purified the Soul, and the Fire of his Judgment hath burned up the unrighteous Nature; and those in whom this Work is wrought may be truly said to be baptized with the Baptism of Christ, i. e. of the Spirit and of Fire. Whatever Way then we take this Definition of the Apostle of Christ’s Baptism, it confirmeth our Sentence: For if we take the first or negative Part, viz. That it is not a putting away of the Filth of the Flesh, then it will follow that Water-baptism is not it, because that is a putting away of the Filth of the Flesh. Water-baptism shut out from the Baptism of Christ.If we take the second and affirmative Definition, to wit, That it is the Answer or Confession of a good Conscience, &c. then Water-baptism is not it; since, as our Adversaries will not deny, Water-baptism doth not always imply it, neither is it any necessary Consequence thereof.[Pg 365] Moreover, the Apostle in this Place doth seem especially to guard against those that might esteem Water-baptism the true Baptism of Christ; because (lest by the Comparison induced by him in the preceding Verse, betwixt the Souls that were saved in Noah’s Ark, and us that are now saved by Baptism; lest, I say, any should have thence hastily concluded, that because the Former were saved by Water, this Place must needs be taken to speak of Water-baptism) to prevent such a Mistake, he plainly affirms, that it is not that, but another Thing. He saith not that it is the Water, or the putting away of the Filth of the Flesh, as accompanied with the Answer of a good Conscience, whereof the one, viz. Water, is the sacramental Element, administered by the Minister; and the other, the Grace or Thing signified, conferred by Christ; but plainly, That it is not the putting away, &c. than which there can be nothing more manifest to Men unprejudicate and judicious. Moreover Peter calls this here which saves [Greek: antitypon: αντιτυπον], the Anti-type, or the Thing figured; whereas it is usually translated, as if the like Figure did now save us; thereby insinuating that as they were saved by Water in the Ark, so are we now by Water-baptism. But this Interpretation crosseth his Sense, he presently after declaring the contrary, as hath above been observed; and likewise it would contradict the Opinion of all our Opposers. The Protestants denying Water-baptism its absolute Necessity to Men’s Salvation; although the Papists say, None can be saved without it, yet grant Exceptions.For Protestants deny it to be absolutely necessary to Salvation; and though Papists say, none are saved without it, yet in this they admit an Exception, as of Martyrs, &c. and they will not say that all that have it are saved by Water-baptism; which they ought to say, if they will understand by Baptism (by which the Apostle saith we are saved) Water-baptism. For seeing we are saved by this Baptism, as all those that were in the Ark were saved by Water, it would then follow, that all those that have this Baptism are saved by it. Now this Consequence would be false, if it were understood of Water-baptism; because many, by the Confession of all, are baptized with Water that are not saved; but this Consequence holds most true, if it be understood as we do, of the Baptism of the Spirit; since none can have this Answer of a good Conscience, and, abiding in it, not be saved by it.

[114] Or, as it should be translated, Whose Model Baptism does also now save us.

[Pg 366]

Proof 5.Fifthly, That the one Baptism of Christ is not a Washing with Water, as it hath been proved by the Definition of the one Baptism, so it is also manifest from the necessary Fruits and Effects of it, which are three Times particularly expressed by the Apostle Paul; The Effects and Fruits of the Baptism of first, Rom. vi. 3, 4. where he saith, That so many of them as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his Death, buried with him by Baptism into Death, that they should walk in Newness of Life. Secondly, to the Galatians iii. 27. he saith positively, For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. And thirdly, to the Colossians ii. 12. he saith, That they were buried with him in Baptism, and risen with him through the Faith of the Operation of God. It is to be observed here, that the Apostle speaks generally, without any exclusive Term, but comprehensive of all. He saith not, Some of you that were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, but as many of you; which is as much as if he had said, Every one of you that hath been baptized into Christ, hath put on Christ. Whereby it is evident that this is not meant of Water-baptism, but of the Baptism of the Spirit; Which Effects Water-baptism wants.because else it would follow, that whosoever had been baptized with Water-baptism had put on Christ, and were risen with him, which all acknowledge to be most absurd. Now supposing all the visible Members of the Churches of Rome, Galatia, and Colosse had been outwardly baptized with Water (I do not say they were, but our Adversaries will not only readily grant it, but also contend for it) suppose, I say, the Case so, they will not say they had all put on Christ, since divers Expressions in these Epistles to them shew the contrary. So that the Apostle cannot mean Baptism with Water; and yet that he meaneth the Baptism of Christ, i. e. of the Spirit, cannot be denied; or that the Baptism wherewith these were baptized (of whom the Apostle here testifies that they had put on Christ) was the one Baptism, I think none will call in Question. Now admit, as our Adversaries contend, that many in these Churches who had been baptized with Water had not put on Christ, it will follow, that notwithstanding that Water-baptism, they were not baptized into Christ, or with the[Pg 367] Baptism of Christ, seeing as many of them as were baptized into Christ had put on Christ, &c. From all which I thus argue:

Arg. 1.If the Baptism with Water were the one Baptism, i. e. the Baptism of Christ, as many as were baptized with Water would have put on Christ:

But the Last is false: Therefore also the First.

And again:

Arg. 2.Since as many as are baptized into Christ, i. e. with the one Baptism, which is the Baptism of Christ, have put on Christ, then Water-baptism is not the one Baptism, viz. the Baptism of Christ:

But the First is true: Therefore also the Last.

§. V.

Prop. III.Proved. Thirdly, Since John’s Baptism was a Figure, and seeing the Figure gives Way to the Substance, although the Thing figured remain, to wit, the one Baptism of Christ, yet the other ceaseth, which was the Baptism of John.

I.John’s Baptism was a Figure of Christ’s. That John’s Baptism was a Figure of Christ’s Baptism, I judge will not readily be denied; but in Case it should, it can easily be proved from the Nature of it. John’s Baptism was a being baptized with Water, but Christ’s is a Baptizing with the Spirit; therefore John’s Baptism must have been a Figure of Christ’s. But further, that Water-Baptism was John’s Baptism, will not be denied: That Water-baptism is not Christ’s Baptism, is already proved. From which doth arise the Confirmation of our Proposition thus:

There is no Baptism to continue now, but the one Baptism of Christ:

Therefore Water-baptism is not to continue now, because it is not the one Baptism of Christ.

II.John’s Baptism is ceased our Opposers confess. That John’s Baptism is ceased, many of our Adversaries confess; but if any should allege it is otherwise, it may be easily proved by the express Words of John, not only as being insinuated there, where he contra-distinguisheth his Baptism from that of Christ, but particularly where he saith, John iii. 30. He [Christ] must increase, but I [John] must decrease. From whence it clearly follows, that the[Pg 368] Increasing or taking Place of Christ’s Baptism is the Decreasing or Abolishing of John’s Baptism; so that if Water-baptism was a particular Part of John’s Ministry, and is no Part of Christ’s Baptism, as we have already proved, it will necessarily follow that it is not to continue.

Arg.Secondly, if Water-baptism had been to continue a perpetual Ordinance of Christ in his Church, he would either have practised it himself, or commanded his Apostles so to do.

But that he practised it not, the Scripture plainly affirms, John iv. 2. And that he commanded his Disciples to baptize with Water, I could never yet read. As for what is alleged, that, Matt. xxviii. 19. &c. where he bids them baptize, is to be understood of Water-baptism, that is but to beg the Question, and the Grounds for that shall be hereafter examined.

Therefore to baptize with Water is no perpetual Ordinance of Christ to his Church.

This hath had the more Weight with me, because I find not any standing Ordinance or Appointment of Christ necessary to Christians, for which we have not either Christ’s own Practice or Command, as to obey all the Commandments which comprehend both our Duty towards God and Man, &c. and where the Gospel requires more than the Law, which is abundantly signified in the 5th and 6th Chapters of Matthew, and elsewhere. Besides, as to the Duties of Worship, he exhorts us to meet, promising his Presence; commands to pray, preach, watch, &c. and gives Precepts concerning some temporary Things, as the Washing of one another’s Feet, the Breaking of Bread, hereafter to be discussed; only for this one Thing of Baptizing with Water, though so earnestly contended for, we find not any Precept of Christ.

§. VI.

III.The Gospel puts an End to carnal Ordinances. But to make Water-baptism a necessary Institution of the Christian Religion, which is pure and spiritual, and not carnal and ceremonial, is to derogate from the New Covenant Dispensation, and set up the legal Rites and Ceremonies, of which this of Baptism, or Washing with Water, was one, as app