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&c. What poets speak not 'de Tartaro, campis Elysiis, Manibus ? and so do philosophers of best note, except Galen, Epicurus, Plinius, &c. As for Pythagoras, and his master, Pherecides, the Druids, the Indian Brahmins, Socrates, Plato, Cicero, Seneca, they all acknowledge it. Lege Marcilium Ficinum 'de Immort. Anim. ;' yea, Aristotle himself saw this, as appeareth 'De Anima,' (lib. i. context. 65, 66, lib. ii. context. 21, lib. iii. context. 4, 6, 7, 19, 20.) Sure then the light of nature discerneth it.
Yet, if these men say that there must be a guide and law for souls in their way to happiness, and yet deny that the Scripture is it, I would fain know of them which is it, and where it is to be found. Hath God any other word or law in the world above this ? Sure, neither Plato nor Aristotle did ever call their books the word of God; and Mahomet’s ‘Alcoran’ is far more unlike to be it than theirs. If they say that reason is the only guide and law, I reply, 1. Reason is but the eye by which we see our directory and law, and not the directory and law itself: 2. Look on those countries through the world that have no Scriptureguides, but follow their reason, and see how they are guided, and what difference there is between them and Christians, as bad as we are; and if you think of this well, you will be ashamed of your error. Indians have reason, as well as we; nay, look into the wise Romans, and the great learned philosophers, who had advanced their reason so high, and see how lamentably they were befooled in spirituals ; how they worshipped multitudes of idols, even taking them for their gods, whom they acknowledged to be lecherous, adulterous, perfidious, bloody, and wicked. Read but Justin's 'Apolog.' Athenagoras, Tertullian's 'Apolog.,' &c., Origen’s ‘Cont. Cels.' Arnobius, Lactantius, Clemens Alexand. Protreptic. Minutius Felix, Athanas., &c., fully of this. Most certainly, either the Scriptures are God's word and law, or else there is none in the known world ; and if there be none, how doth the just, true, and righteous God govern the rational creature, so as to lead him to the happiness prepared for him? But of this in the fourth argument following.
3. I would entreat these men, but soberly, to consider this : what if there were no full, absolute certainty of the truth of Scripture or christian religion, but it were only probable, which no considerate man can deny, were it not the wisest way to receive it? What, if it should prove true that there is a hell for the wicked, what a case are you in then! You know your
worldly happiness is a very dream and a shadow, and a brutish delight, which is mixed with misery, and quieteth not the soul, and perisheth in the using. If you do lose it, you lose but a toy, a thing of nothing, which you must shortly lose whether you will or no; but if you lose heaven, and fall into endless misery, it is another kind of loss. Methinks, then, that common reason should persuade men to venture all, though it were at uncertainty, upon that religion which tells us but of a possibility of a heaven and a hell, rather than to venture on a possibility of everlasting misery, for a little bestial pleasure, which is gone while we are enjoying it; yea, and when even in this life these sensual men have not near so inuch content as the Christian, Verily, if I doubted of the truth of the christian religion, I durst not be of any other ; but should judge it the wisest course, to venture all I had in this world upon the hopes that it propoundeth ; .yea, mere madness to do otherwise. · If men that are at a lottery will venture a small sum for a possibility of a great one, though they know there is but one of twenty that shall get it, how much more would any wise man leave a little vanity, in hope of everlasting glory, and to avoid everlasting misery, though it were uncertain : but, most of all, when we have that full certainty of it as we have !
4. Lastly: I would have these men consider, that though we doubt not but to prove that Scripture is God's full and infallible law, yet, if it were so that this could not be proved, this would not overthrow the christian religion. If the Scriptures were but the writings of honest men, that were subject to mistakes and contradictions, in the manner and circumstances, yet they might afford us a full certainty of the substance of Christianity, and of the miracles wrought to confirm the doctrine. Tacitus, Suetonius, Livy, Florus, Lucan, &c., were all heathens, and very fallible; and yet their history affords us a certainty of the great substantial passages of the Roman affairs which they treat of, though not of all the smaller passages and circumstances. He that doubteth whether there was such a man as Julius Cæsar, or that he fought with Pompey and overcame him, &c., is scarce reasonable, if he knew the histories; so, though Matthew Paris, Malmsbury, Hoveden, Speed, Cambden, and our own parliaments that enacted our laws, were all fallible men, and mistaken in divers smaller things, yet they afford us a full certainty that there was such a man as William the Conqueror, William Rufus, &c.; that there were such parliaments, such lords, such fights
and victories," &c.' He that would not venture all that he hath on the truth of these, especially to gain a kingdom by the venture, were no better in this than mad. Now, if Scripture were but such common writings as these, especially joined with the uncontrolled tradition that hath since conveyed it to us, may it not yet give us a full certainty that Christ was in the flesh, and that he preached this doctrine for the substance, and wrought these iniracles to confirm it, and enabled his followers to work the like, which will afford us an invincible argument for our Christianity? Therefore, Grotius, &c., and so the old fathers, when they disputed with the heathens, did first prove the truth of christian religion before they came to prove the divine authority of the Scriptures ; not that we are at any such uncertainty, or that any Christian should take up here, as if the Scriptures were not infallible and divine ; but being now speaking to another sort of men according to their capacity, I say, if it were otherwise, yet might we have certainty of our religion. I shall say somewhat more to these men in speaking to the rest.
The second sort that I shall speak to, are the papists. I find the chief thing that turns them from the reformed churches, and confirms them against us, is, because they think they cannot otherwise maintain their Christianity, but by deriving it from their church. The first question, therefore, that papists will dispute on with us, is, 'How know you the Scriptures to be the word of God?' For they fondly suppose, that because it cannot be known' without the help of tradition, or human testimony, that, therefore, this must be only the testimony of the true church, and that must be some visible church, and that church must be presently in being, and must be judge in the case, and must be infallible in the judging; and all this can agree to no other church; and, therefore, that theirs is the only true church. And thus the particular church of Rome will prove herself the only or universal church. To stand here to confute these vain, ungrounded conclusions, would be to digress too far, and make this preface too long. Yet something I wrote against their pretended papal infallibility, and of the uncertainty of their faith ; but, being persuaded by others to insert no more controversy here, I reserve it for a fitter place. Only I would desire briefly any papist to show, whether their doctrine do not leave the whole christian faith at utter uncertainty, and consequently destroy it, as much as in them lies ? For seeing they build all upon the.supposed infallibility of the church and
that church is the present church, and that is the Roman church only; and that is only the pope, as the Jesuits and most papists say; or a general council, as the French: see what a case they bring Christianity to with their followers! Every man that will believe the Scripture, yea, or the christian faith, must, 1. Believe or know that Rome is the true church. 2. That it hath authority to judge of God's word, and of the christian faith, which is truly it, and which not. 3. That this authority was given by God's word (this must be known, before men can know that God hath a word, or what it is). 4. That they are infallible in their judgment. 5. That Peter was at Rome, and was their bishop, and conferred this sovereignty on them as his successors. .. 6. That each particular pope is a true pope, and lawfully called; which all the world must know, that know neither him, nor when, nor how, he was called. 7. That the pope determines it as a matter of faith; otherwise, they confess he may err, and be an heretic. 8. And they must know where is the proper subject of infallibility, whether in the pope or council, or they know not which to build on, which yet they are far from agreeing on themselves. 9. When two or three popes sit together, which is no new thing, the world must know which is the right, for all the rest may err. 10. Or, if they join a council in the infallibility, they must be certain that Christ hath given councils this infallibility. ll. And that this is only to a council of Romanists. 12. And so that the Roman church is the universal church, and not only a part, as other churches are. 13. And that they are free from error in council, and not out of it. 14. That the council be general and lawful, else they confess it may err. 15. Therefore, all men must be certain that it be summoned by the pope. 16. And that the bishops that constitute it, are lawfully called. 17. And that the pope doth ratify the acts
. Vide Greg. de Valent.' tom. iii. disp. 1. quæst. 1. punct. 7. sect. 12: et Bellarmin. lib. ii. de Sacrament.' in gen. cap. xxv.: et Suarez. de Fide," disputat. v. sect. 4, 7; et disputat. xi. sect. 3: Bellar. lib. i. de Conciliis,' c. 4. et 19. et lib. ji. c. 2. Yet sometimes they seem so pious as to prefer the Scripture before the church. Nunquam sane mihi veuit in mentem ec. clesiæ judicium sacrorum voluminum authoritati anteferre, quæ Spiritus coelestis afflatú exarata fuisse cum Petro coufitemur, cum et pueri, qui ne primoribus quidem labris divina monumenta attigerunt, satis intelligant, veræ ecclesiæ rationem sine verbi Dei integritate, quæ fidei sedes est atque fundamentum, constare ullo inodo posse, &c.— Payva D'Andard. Defens. Conc. Trident, cont. Kemnit. lib. ii. p. (mini) 202. Sed de aliorum impudentia, vide Cathol. Orthodox. tract. l. q. ix. p. 94.
of this council, as well as call the councils'; else they conclude that they are unlawful, or may be fallible. He that knows not all these, cannot be certain that Scripture is God's word, no, nor of the truth of the christian faith, according to the papists' grounds. And can all the world be certain of them; or, are all their laicks certain; yea, or their clergy; yea, or any man? Adrian VI. tells us, that the pope is fallible :' and shall we not believe the pope himself, confessing his own ignorance? though councils have decreed against councils, and popes against popes, over and over. Yet we must needs believe them infallible, or forfeit our Christianity according to their doctrine : that is, we must either renounce both experience, sense, and reason, or our faith. Is not this the way to drive the world again to heathenism ? And whether all the world lose not the certainty of their Christianity, when there is an interregnum upon the death of a pope, let them further study. I am fully certain, that the christian world in Peter's days, did never pretend to hold their faith upon his mere infallibility. Nor did Justin, Irenæus, Tertullian, Cyprian, or any of the ancientest that ever I met with, hold their belief of Christ or Scripture on the infallibility of the bishop of Rome. The contrary I shall manifest in a more convenient place. I will only add this question: "How doth the pope and his council know the Scripture to be God's word?' If they believe it on their own authority, that is, because themselves say so, then they are self-idolizers. And what makes thein affirm it to be so; or what reason have they for their belief? If they believe by any convincing reason, proving Scripture to be a divine testimony, then why may not the clergy, out of council, and others also, believe on the same grounds ? Else the faith of the pope and his council will not have the same grounds with the faith of the people or church besides ; and then it is another faith; and so either the people or the pope are heretics. And why are we blamed for not believing on the authortiy of the pope and council, when the pope and council themselves believe not on that, that is, their own authority? I hope they will not turn enthusiasts, and pretend to private extraordinary revelations of the Spirit. If they say, they receive the Scripture by tradition of the ancient church, and so on their credit ; why may we not know, as well as they, what the ancients say in the point? And is it not the honestest way, if they knew more herein than we, to produce it, and show us what and where the ancients speak ? If they have it merely