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bility, existence, and futurity; 2. Others may be known by mere reason, without divine testimony, in regard of their possibility and probability, but not in regard of their existence and futurity.
Fifthly: Again, matter of doctrine must be distinguished from matter of fact.
Sixthly: Matter of fact is either, 1. Such as God produceth in an ordinary, or, 2. Extraordinary and miraculous way.
Seventhly: History and prophecy must be distinguished.
Eighthly: We must distinguish also the books and writings themselves : 1. Between the main scope, and those parts which express the chief contents; and, 2. Particular words and phrases not expressing any substantials. - Ninthly: Also it is one question, 1. Whether there be a certain number of books which are canonical, or of divine authority? And, 2. Another question, what number there is of these, and which particular books they are ? · Tenthly: The direct express sense must be distinguished from that which is only implied or consequential.
Eleventhly: We must distinguish revelation unwritten, from that which is written.
Twelfthly and lastly: We must distinguish that scripture which was spoken or written by God immediately, from that which was spoken or written immediately by man, and but mediately by God. And of this last sort, 1. Some of the instruments or penmen are known; 2. Some not known. Of those known, 1. Some that spoke much in Scripture were bad men; 2. Others were godly: and of these, some were, 1. More eminent and extraordinary, as prophets and apostles ; 2. Others were persons more inferior and ordinary. · Again; As we must distinguish of scripture and divine testimony, so must we also distinguish the apprehension of faith by which we do receive it.
1. There is a divine faith, when we take the testimony to be God's own, and so believe the thing testified as upon God's words. Secondly, there is a human faith,.when we believe it merely upon the credit of man.
2. Faith is either, first, implicit, when we believe the thing is true, though we understand not what it is; or, secondly, explicit, when we believe, and understand what we believe. Both these are, again, divine or human.
3. It is one thing to believe it as probable, another thing to believe it as certain.
4. It is one thing to believe it to be true conditionally, another to believe it absolutely. .: 5. We must distinguish betwixt the bare assent of the understanding, to the truth of an axiom, when it is only silenced by force of argument, which will be stronger or weaker as the argument seemeth more or less demonstrative. And, secondly, that deep apprehension and firm assent which proceedeth from a well-established, confirmed faith backed by experience. ; 6. It is one thing to assent to the truth of the axiom, another to taste and choose the good contained in it, which is the work of the will.
Sect. II. The use I shall make of these distinctions, is to open the way to these following positions, which will resolve the great questions on foot, how far the belief of the writtten word is of necessity to salvation, and whether it be the foundation of our faith, and whether this foundation hath been always the same?
Pos. 1. The object of belief, is the will of God revealed, or a divine testimony, where two things are absolutely necessary: first, the matter; secondly, the revelation.
o We must, therefore, know it to be a divine testimony, before we can believe it fide divina. For if you do merely believe it to be God's word, it is either by a divine testimony or without; if without, then it is not fides divina, a belief of God; if by it, then why do you believe that testimony to be divine ? If upon another divine testimony, so you may run in infinitum. But you will say, the first testimony which witnesseth of truth doth also witness itself to be of God. Answ. If you mean, that it so witnesseth as a testimony to be merely believed, then the question, how you know it to be a divine testimony, will still recur in infinitum ; but if you mean that it witnesseth itself to be divine objectively to our reason, as having the evidence of a divine spirit and authority, then you say right. But, then, as this supposeth the use of other helps to our knowledge, as tradition by human, infallible testimony, &c., so this granteth that it is more properly known than believed to be a divine testimony. Yet this is not our resolving our faith into reason or human testimony, but a discerning by reason and the help of human testimony the marks of a divine author in the writing, and the miracles, &c.; and thence also by reason concluding the divineness of that testimony into which my faith is resolved. As I detest their use of tradition, which would make it a part of God's law, to supply the defect of Scripture; so I detest that infidelity, which rejecteth all Scripture, save that which suiteth their reason, and where they can see the evidence of the thing itself. If I once know that God speaks it, I will believe any thing that he saith, though it seem ever so unreasonable : but yet I will see reason for the divineness of the testimony, and know that it is indeed God that speaks it, else I must believe every testimony which affirms itself to be divine : and for those that say they only believe Scripture to be God's word, because it so testifieth of itself, and do not know it, and so make it a proper act of faith, and not of knowledge, I ask them, 1. Why, then, do you not be. lieve (but hold him accursed) an angel from heaven, if he preach another Gospel besides this, and say; It is come from God;' and so every one that saith, “I am Christ?' 2. Why do you use to produce reasons from the objective
2. All this revealed will is necessary to the completing of our faith ;8 and it is our duty to believe it. But it is only the characters of divinity in the Scriptures, when you prove it to testify of itself? Do you not know, that to discern those characters as the premises, and thence to conclude the divinity, is an act of knowledge, and not of faith? Else you should only say, when you are asked, how you know Scripture to be the word of God, that you believe it, because it saith so, and not give any reason from the thing why you believe it. 3. And then how will you prove it against a Celsus, or Lucian, or Porphyry, or convince Turks and Indians ? 4. And why were the Bereans commended for trying apostolical doctrine, whether it were true or not? 5. And why are we bid to try the spirits whether they be of God? What, if one of these spirits say as the old prophet, or as Rabshakeh to Hezekiah," that he comes from God, and God bid him speak,” will you believe, or try by reason ? 6. Doth not your doctrine make your belief to be wholly human, as having no divine testimony for the divinity of the first testimovy? And so what are all your graces like to prove, which are built. hereon? And what a sad influence must this needs have in all our duties and comforts ? If you fly to the inward testimony of the Spirit, as distinct from the sanctifying illumination of the Spirit, then the question is most difficult of all, How you know the testimony of that Spirit to be divine ? unless you will take in the fearful delusion of the enthusiasts, and say, That the Spirit manifesteth the divinity of his own testimony. And then I ask, Doth it manifest it to reason, or only to inward sense? If to reason, then you come to that you fly from ; and then you can produce that reason, and prove it. If only to inward sense, then how, know you but a counterfeit angel of light may produce more strange effects in your soul, than these which you take to be such a manifestation ? especially seeing, (1.) We know so little of spirits, and what they can do. (2.) And we have still known those that pretended to the strongest sense of spiritual revelations, to have proved the most deluded persons in the end. 7. Doth not your doctrine teach men, in laying aside reason, to lay aside humanity, and to become brutes ? If faith and reason be so contrary, as some men talk; yea, or reason so useless, then you may believe best in your sleep; and idiots, infants, and madmen, are the fittest to make Christjans of. 8. And what an injurious doctrine is this to Christ, and disgraceful to the christian faith! 9. And how would it harden infidels, and make them deride us, rather than believe! Thus much I am forced here to add, both because I see many teachers have need to be taught these principles (the more is the pity), and, 2. Because some reverend brethren, by their exceptions, have called me to it. In a word, reason rectified is the eye of the soul, the guide of the life; the illumination of the Spirit is the rectifying it. No small part of our sanctification lieth in the rectifying of our reason. The use of the word, and all ordinances and providences, is first to rectify reason, and thereby the will, and thereby the life. Faith itself is an act of reason; or else it is a brutish act, and not human. The stronger any man's reason is, the more strongly is he persuaded that God is true, and that he cannot lie; and therefore whatsoever he saith must needs be true, though reason cannot discern the thing in its own evidence. He that hath the rightest reason hath the most grace. Sincerity, and consequently our salvation, lieth in the strength and prevalency of rectified reason over the flesh, and all its interests and desires. But, without Scripture or divine revelation, and the Spirit's powerful illumination, reason can wever be rectified in spirituals. By thus much, judge of the ignorance and vanity of those men, who when tliey read any that write of the reasonableness of christian religion, do presently accuse it, or sits pect it of Socinianism. Ad bene esse et fidei perfectionem.
SAINT'S substance and tenor of the covenants, and the things necessarily supposed to the knowing and keeping of the covenant of grace, which are of absolute necessity to the being of faith, and to salvation. A man may be saved, though he should not believe many things, which yet he is bound by God to believe. 3. Yet this must be only through ignorance of the matter, or of the divineness of the testimony. For a flat unbelief of the smallest truth, when we know the testimony to be of God, will not stand with the being of true faith, nor with salvation. For reason lays down this ground, That God can speak nothing but truth; and faith proceeds upon that supposition. 4. This doctrine, so absolutely necessary, hath not been ever from the beginning the same, but hath differed according to the different covenants and administrations. That doctrine which is now so necessary, was not so before the fall; and that which is so necessary since the coming of Christ, was not so before his coming, Then they might be saved in believing in the Messiah to come of the seed of David: but now it is of necessity to believe, that this Jesus, the son of Mary, is He, and that we look not for another. I prove it thus: That which is not revealed, can be no object of our faith; much less so necessary: but Christ was not revealed before the fall; nor this Jesus revealed to be He, before his coming; therefore these were not of necessity to be believed, or, as some metaphorically speak, they were then no fundamental doctrines. Perhaps, also, some things will be found of absolute necessity to us, which are not so to Indians and Turks. 5. God hath made this substance of scripture doctrine to be thus necessary, - primarily, and for itself. 6. That it be revealed, is also of absolute necessity : but, secondarily, and for the doctrine's sake, as a means without which believing is neither possible, nor a duty. And though where there is no revelation, faith is not necessary as a duty; yet it may be necessary, I think, as a means, that is, our natural misery may be such as can no other way be cured ; but this concerns not us that have heard of Christ. 7. Nature, creatures, and Providence, are no sufficient revelation of this tenor of the covenants. 8. It is necessary not only that this doctrine be revealed, but also that it be revealed with grounds and arguments rationally sufficient to evince the verity of the doctrine, or the divineness of the testimony, that from it we may conclude the foriner. 9. The revelation of truth is to be considered in respect of the first
h Primario et propter se.
Secundario et propter aliud.
immediate delivery from God : or, 'secondly, in respect of the way of its coming down to us, it is delivered by God immediately either by writing, as the two tables, or by informing angels, who may be his messengers, or by inspiring some choice, particular men; so that few in the world have received it from God at the first hand. 10. The only ways of revelations that, for aught I know, are now left, are Scripture and tradition. For though God hath not tied himself from revelations by the Spirit, yet he hath ceased them, and perfected his scripture revelations; so that the Spirit only reveals what is revealed already in the word, by illuminating us to understand it. 11. The more immediate the revelation, cæteris paribus, the more sure; and the more succession of hands it passeth through, the more uncertain, especially in matter of doctrine. 12. When we re- , ceive from men, by tradition, the doctrine of God, as in the words of God, there is less danger of corruption, than when they deliver us that doctrine in their own words; because here taking liberty to vary the expressions, it will represent the truth more uncertainly, and in more various shapes. 13. Therefore hath God been pleased, when he ceased immediate revelation, to leave his will written in a form of words which should be his standing law and rule to try all other men's expressions by. 14. In all the fore-mentioned respects, therefore, the written word doth excel the unwritten tradition of the same doctrine. 15. Yet unwritten tradition, or any sure way of revealing this doctrine, may suffice to save him who thereby is brought to believe; as if there be any among the Abassines of Ethiopia, the Coptics of Egypt, or elsewhere, that have the substance of the covenants delivered them by unwritten tradition, or by other writings, if hereby they come to believe, they shall be saved. For so the promise of the Gospel runs, giving salvation to all that believe, by what means soever they were brought to it. The like may be said of true believers in those parts of the church of Rome, where the Scripture is wholly hid from the vulgar, if there be any such parts. 16. Yet where the written word is wanting, salvation must needs be more difficult and more rare, and faith more feeble, and men's conversations worse ordered, because they want that clearer revelation, that surer rule of faith and life, which might make the way of salvation more easy. 17. When tradition ariseth no higher, or cometh originally but from this written word, and not from the verbal testimonies of the apostles before the word was written, there that