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and our own carnal, deluded reason, is most apt of all to stum. ble here.
They talk of a toleration of all religions, and some desire that the Jews may have free commerce amongst us: it will then be time for us, I think, to be well armed at this point. Let the ordinary professors of our time, who are of weak judgments, and fiery spirits, look to it, how they will stand in such assaults ; lest, as now, when they cannot answer a separatist, they yield to him ; and when they cannot answer an antinomian, they turn antinomians; so, then, when they can much less answer the subtle arguments of a Jew against Christ and the Gospel, they should as easily turn Jews, and deny Christ, and the verity of the Gospel.
The libertines * among us think it necessary that we should have such a toleration to discover the unsound, who hold their faith upon tradition and custoin. I am no more of their minds in this, than of his, who would have a fair virgin to lie with him, and try his chastity, and make its victory more honourable : but if we must needs have such a trial, it is time to look to the grounds of our belief, that we may be ready to give a reason of our hope.
10. However, though I were mistaken in all this, yet certain I am, that the strengthening of our faith in the verity of Scripture, would be an exceeding help to the joy of the saints, and would advance their confident hopes of rest. For myself, if my faith in this point had no imperfection, if I did as verily believe the glory to come, as I do believe that the sun will rise
• Sicut in Polonia ubi non solum preces recitant, mala et criminosa contra Christianos et eorum magistratus continentes, sed etiam et audacter et sine omni Christianorum nielu imprimunt quæcunque volunt, ut testatur Buxtorfius Synagogæ Judaicæ, c. 5. p. 170. Nam si ad divinæ traditionis (viz. in Scripturis) caput et originein revertamur, cessat error hunsanus. Et quiequid sub caligine et uube tenebrarum obscurum latebat, in luce veritatis aperitur.- u compendio est igitur apud religiosas et simpliees meues et errorem deponere, atque invenire et eruere veritatem.-Cypriun. Epist. 74. ad Pomp. p. 231.
* If a bare convivavce at these divisions have already occasioned such a combustion, what do we thiuk would a toleratiou do? A toleration of all sorts of sects, and schisms, and heresies, and blasphemies, which is by some (and those more than a good many), under the abused notivu of liberty of conscience, so earnestly pleaded for? For my owo part, should this be obce yielded, (which I hope their eyes shall first fail that look for it, I should look on it as the passing bell to the church's peace and glory, if not to the true religion of God in this kingdom. Brinsley's Arraigument of Separation, p. 73.
again when it is set; oh! how would it raise my desires and my joys; what haste should I make; how serious should I be; how should I trample on these earthly vanities, and even forget the things below; how restless should I be till my right were assured to this rest; and then, how restless, till I did possess it : how should I delight in the thought of death, and my heart leap at the tidings of its approach : howy glad should I be of the body's decay; to feel my prison moulder to dust! Surely, this would be the fruit of a perfect belief of the truth of the proinise of our eternal rest; which, though it cannot be here expected, yet should we use the most strengthening means, and press on till we have attained. “Truly,” saith Mr, Pemble, (Vindic. Grat. p. 219.) “this loose and unsettled faith is one of the fiery darts, and forcible engines of Satan, whereby he assaults and overthrows the hope and comfort of many a dying man; who, having not strengthened himself on this point, by undoubted arguments and experiments, is there laid at where he lies open and unarmed, by such cunning cavils, shifts, and elusions against the authority of Scripture, that the poor man, not able to clear himself of them, falls into a doubting of all religion, and sinks into despair.
Sect. II. Thus much I have purposely spoken, as to stir up Christians to look to their faith, so especially to provoke some choice servants of Christ, among the multitudes of books that are written, to bestow their labours on this most needful subject; and all ministers to preach it more frequently and clearly to their people. Some think it is faith's honour to be as credulous as may be, and the weaker are the rational grounds, the stronger is the faith; and therefore we must believe and not dispute, Indeed, when it is once known to be a divine testimony, then the inost credulous soul is the best. But when the doubt is, whether it be the testimony of God, or no, a man may easily be over credulous ; else, why are we bid, “ believe not every spirit, but try them, whether they be of God, or not.” And how should the false Christs, and false prophets be known, who would “ deceive, were it possible, the very elect?” “ To be given up of God to believe a lie,” is one of the sorest of God's judgments.
Some think the only way to deal with such temptations to
y As Graserus, when he saw his legs begin to swell with a dropsy, said, Euge Deo sit laus et gloria, quod jam mea instet liberati, et horula gratissima. -Melch. Adam. in vitre Graseri.
blasphemy, is to cast them away, and not to dispute them ;? and I think the direction is very good, so it be used with distinction and caution. The rule holds good against real blasphemy, known to be such ; but if the person know it not, how shall he make use of this rule against it? Further, it is supposed, that he who knows it to be blasphemy, hath arguments whereby to prove it such ; else, how doth he know it? Therefore, here lies the sin ; when a man is, by sufficient evidence, convinced, or, at least, hath evidence sufficient for conviction, that it is a divine testimony, and yet is still cherishing doubts, or hearkening to temptations which may feed those doubts; when a man, like Balaan, will take no answer. But he who will, therefore, cast away all doubts before he hath any arguments sufficient against them, or could ever prove the thing in question, he doth indeed cast aside the temptation, but not overcome it, and may expect it should shortly return again; it is a methodical cure which prevents a relapse. Such a neglecter of temptations may be in the right, and may as well be in the wrong; however, it is not right to him, because not rightly believed. Faith always implies a knowledge, and the knowledge usually of the matter and author of that testimony; divine faith hath ever a divine a testimony, and supposeth the knowledge of the matter, when the faith is particular, but always of the author of that testimony. An implicit faith in God, that is, a believing that all is true which he testifieth, though we see no reason for it, from the evidence of the matter, this is neces. sary to every true believer : but to believe implicitly, that the testimony is divine, or that Scripture is the word of God, this is not to believe God, but to resolve our faith into some human testimony; even to lay our foundation upon the sand, where all will fall at the next assault.
It is strange to consider how we all abhor that piece of popery, as most injurious toʻGod of all the rest, which resolves our faith into the authority of the church : and yet that we do ; for the generality of professors content ourselves with the same kind of faith. Only with this difference: the papists believe Scripture to be the word of God, because their church saith so;! and we, because our church, or our leaders say so. Yea, and many ministers never yet gave their people better grounds, but tell them, which is true, that it is damnable to deny it, but help them not to the necessary antecedents of faith.
2 Impias argumentationes si ratio refutare non possit, fides irridere debet, quæ ratiocinationes evertit, et in captivitatem redigit omnem intellectum in Christi obsequium.-August.
a Though some extend belief so far as to confound it with opinion. A natura ad mysteria, ab oculo ad oraculum, a visu ad fidem, non valet con. sequentia,
If any think that these words tend to the shaking of men's faith, I answer, first, only of that which will fall of itself; secondly, and that it may, in time, be built again more strongly; thirdly, or at least that the sound may be surer settled. It is to be understood that many a thousand do profess Christianity, and zealously hate the enemies thereof upon the same grounds, to the same ends, and from the same inward, corrupt principles, as the Jews did hate and kill Christ. It is the religion of the country, where every man is reproached who believes otherwise; they were born and brought up in this belief, and it hath in- · creased in them upon the like occasions. Had they been born and bred in the religion of Mahomet, they would have been as zealous for him. The difference betwixt him and a Mahometan is more, that he lives where better laws and religion dwell, than that he hath more knowledge or soundness of apprehension.
Yet would I not drive into causeless doubtings the soul of any true believers, or make them believe their faith is unsound, because it is not so strong as some others; therefore I add, some may, perhaps, have ground for their belief, though they are not able to express it by argumentation; and may have arguments in their hearts to persuade themselves, though they have none in their mouths to persuade another; yea, and those arguments in themselves may be solid and convincing. Some may be strengthened by some one sound argument, and yet be ignorant of all the rest, without overthrowing the truth of their faith. Some, also, may have weaker apprehensions of the divine authority of Scripture than others;d and as weaker grounds for their faith, so a less degree of assent; and yet that assent may be sincere and saving, so it have these two qualifica
Sequor te non quo ducis, sed quo trahis, inquit Scaliger ad Cardanum in Exerc.
c He that doubts of this, let him see Dr. Jackson, of "Saving Faith,' pp. 146, 147; and Mr. Pinke's 'Sermons of the Sincerity of Love to Christ.'
d Articulus vi. fidei Judaicæ sic se habet : Credo perfecta fide quod omne, quodcunque prophetæ docuerunt et locuti fuerunt, veritas sincera sit. Octavus autem sic; credo perfecta fide quod lex tota, perinde ut ea hodierno tempore in manibus nostris est, ita per Deum ipsummet Musi tradita sit.-Buxtorf. Synagog. Judaicæ, cap. i, pp. 4, 5.
tions: 1. If the arguments which we have for believing the Scripture, be in themselves more sufficient to convince of its truth, than any arguments of the enemies of Scripture can be to persuade a man to the contrary; and do accordingly discover to us a high degree, at least, of probability. 2. And if being thus far convinced, it prevails with us to choose this as the only way of life, and to adventure our souls upon this way, denying all other, and adhering, though to the loss of estate and life, to the truth of Christ, thus weakly apprehended. This, I think, God will accept as true belief.
But though such a faith may serve to salvation, yet when the Christian should use it for his consolation he will find it much fail him, even as legs or arms of the weak or lame, which when a man should use them, do fail them according to the degrees of their weakness or lameness; so much doubting as there remains of the truth of the word, or so much weakness as there is in our believing, or so much darkness or uncertainty as there is in the evidence which persuades us to believe; so much will be wanting to our love, desires, labours, adventures, and, especially, to our joys.
Therefore I think it necessary to speak a little, and but a little, to fortify the believer against temptations, and to confirm his faith in the certain truth of that Scripture which contains the promises of this rest.
CHAP. III. Secr. I. And here itis necessary that we first distinguish betwixt, 1. The subject matter of Scripture, or the doctrine which it contains : 2. And the words or writings containing or expressing this doctrine. The one is as the blood, the other as the veins in which it runs. Secondly, we must distinguish betwixt, 1. The substantial and fundamental part of scripture doctrine, without which there is no salvation : and, 2. The circumstantial and the less necessary part, as genealogies, successions, chronology, &c.
Thirdly : Of the substantial, fundamental parts, l. Some may be known and proved, even without Scripture, as being written in nature itself. 2. Some can be known only by the assent of faith to divine’revelation.
Fourthly: Of this last sort, 1. Some things are above reason, as it is without divine revelation, both in respect of their proba.