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rulers and stewards do require us to believe, when we know not ourselves whether it be truth or not; or if they require us to obey, when we know not ourselves whether it be a duty commanded by God or not; here it is that we ought to obey them. For though we know not whether God hath revealed such a point, or commanded such an action, yet that he hath commanded us to obey them that rule over us, who preach to us the word of God, this we certainly know. (Heb. xiii. 7.) Yet I think we are not so strictly tied to the judgment of a weak minister of our own, as to take his word before another's, that is more judicious in a neighbour congregation. Nor do I think, if we see but an appearance of his erring, that we should carelessly go on in believing and obeying him without a diligent searching after the truth : even a likelihood of his mistake must quicken us to further inquiry, and may, during that inquiry, suspend our belief and obedience. For where we are able to reach to know probabilities in divine things, we may with diligence possibly reach to that degree of certainty which our teachers themselves have attained, or at least to understand the reason of their doctrine. But still remember what I said before, that fundamentals must be believed with a faith explicit, absolute, and divine.
And thus I have showed the flat necessity of taking much upon the testimony of man; and that some of these human testimonies are so certain, that they may well be called divine. I conclude all with this intimation: you may see by this, of what singular use are the monuments of antiquity, and the knowledge thereof, for the breeding and strengthening of the christian faith; especially the histories of those times. I would not persuade you to bestow so much time in the reading of the fathers, in reference to their judgment in matters of doctrine; nor follow them in all things, as some do. God's word is a sufficient rule; and latter times have afforded far better expositors. But in reference to matters of fact, for confirming the miracles mentioned in Scripture, and relating the wonderful providences since, I would they were read an hundred times more: not only the writers of the church, but even the histories of the enemies, and all other antiquities. Little do most consider how useful these are to the christian faith. And therefore our learned antiquaries are highly to be honoured, and exceedingly useful instruments in the church.
n I may say of many of them for doctrine, as Fulbeck of Bracton, Briton, &c., Direct. p. 17: There be certain ancient writers whom, as it is not unprofitable to read, so to rely on them is dangerous; their books are monumen. ta adorandæ rubiginis, of more reverence than authority.
If yet any man be so blind that he think it uncertain whether these be the same books which were written by the apostles; I would ask him by what assurance he holdeth his lands? 1. How knoweth he that his deeds, conveyances, or leases, are not counterfeit; or that they are the same that his forefathers made? They have nothing but men's words for it; and yet they think they are certain that their lands are their own. 2. And whereas they hold all they have by the law of the land, how know they that these laws are not counterfeit ; and that they are the same laws which were made by such kings and parliaments so long ago, and not forged since? They have nothing but men's words for all this. And yet if this be uncertain, then any man, lord, or knight, or gentleman, may be turned out of all he hath, as if he had no certain tenure or assurance. And is it not evident that those laws which are so kept and practised through all the land, cannot possibly be counterfeit, but it would have been publicly known ? And yet a word in the statute-book may be falsely printed. And much more certain it is that the Scriptures cannot be counterfeit, because it is not in one kingdom only, but in all the world that they have been used, and the copies dispersed; and ministers in office still to preach it, and publish it. So that it could not be generally and purposely corrupted, except all the world should have met and combined together for that end, which could not be done in secret, but all must know of it. And yet many Bibles may be here or there mis-printed or mis-written; but then there would be copies enough to correct it by. So that if it be uncertain whether these be the very books which the apostles wrote, then nothing in the world is certain but what we see. And why we may not as well question our eyesight, I do not know. I would believe a thousand other men's eyesight before mine own alone.
SECT. I. I come now to my second argument, to prove Scrip. ture to be the word of God: and it is this :
If the Scripture be neither the invention of devils nor of men, then it can be from none but God ;o but that it is neither of devils, nor merely of men, I shall now prove ; for, I suppose, none will question that major proposition. First, Not from devils; for, First, They cannot work miracles to confirm them; Secondly, It would not stand with God's sovereignty over them, or with the goodness, wisdom, and faithfulness of governing the world, to suffer Satan to make laws, and confirm them with wonders, and obtrude them upon the world in the name of God, and all this without disclaiming them, or giving the world any notice of the forgery; Thirdly,p Would Satan speak so much for God? So seek his glory as the Scripture doth? Would he so vilify and reproach himself, and make known himself to be the most hateful and miserable of all creatures ? Would he so fully discover his own wiles, his temptations, his methods of deceiving, and give men such powerful warning to beware of his snares, and such excellent means to conquer himself? Would the devil lay such a design for men's salvation? Would he show them their danger, and direct them to escape it? Would he so mightily labour to promote all truth and goodness, and the happiness of mankind, as the Scripture doth ? Let any man tell me what book or project in the world did ever so mightily overthrow the kingdom of Satan as this book, and this Gospel-design : and would Satan be such an enemy to his own kingdom? Fourthly, If Satan were the author, he would never be so unweariedly and subtilely industrious, to draw the world to unbelief, and to break the laws which this book containeth, as his constant temptations do sensibly tell many a poor soul that he is ; would he be so earnest to have his own words rejected, or his own laws broken? I think this is all clear to any man of reason.
Sect. II. Secondly: That no mere men were the inventors of Scripture, I prove thus : If men were the devisers of it, then it was either good men or bad; but it was neither good men nor bad ; therefore, none.
Though goodness and badness have many degrees, yet under some of these degrees do all men fall. Now, I will show you that it could be neither of these ; and, First, Good men they could
• I take it for granted that good angels could not be guilty of forging the Scripture.
P As Origen many times demands of Celsus, if magicians by evil powers could work miracles, would they do it for the leading men from sin to exact holiness and justice ?
not be; for you might better say that murderers, traitors, adulterers, parricides, sodomites, &c. were good men, rather than such. To devise laws, and father them upon God; to feign miracles, and father them upon the word of the Lord; to promise eternal salvation to those that obey them; to threaten damnation to those that obey them not; to draw the world into a curse so destructive to all their worldly happiness, upon a promise of happiness in another world, which they cannot give; to endeavour so egregiously to cozen all mankind : if all this, or any of this, be consistent with common honesty; nay, if it be not as horrible wickedness as can be committed, then I confess I have lost my reason. Much less, then, could such a number of good men in all ages, till Scriptures were finished, be guilty of such inexpressible crimes : neither will it here be any evasion to say, they were men of a middle temper; partly good, and partly bad : for these are not actions of a middle nature, nor such as will stand with any remnants of ingenuity or humanity. We have known wicked persons, too many, and too bad; yet where or when did we ever know any that attempted any so more than hellish an enterprise ? False prophets have sent abroad indeed particular falsehoods; but who hạth adventured upon such a system as this? 9 Mahomet’s example, indeed, comes nearest to such a villany; yet doth not he pretend to the hundredth part of so many miracles, nor so great as the Scripture relateth, nor doth pretend to be God, nor any more than a great prophet: trusting more to his sword for success, than to the authority or truth of his pretended revelations; not denying the truth of much of the Scripture; but adding his Alcoran, partly drawn from Scripture, and partly fitted with fleshly liberties and promises to his own ends. And doth not every man among us take that act of Mahomet to be one of the vilest that the sun hath seen; and judge of the man himself accordingly? So that I think it beyond doubt, that no one good man, much less so great a number as were the penmen of Scripture, could devise it of their own brain, and thrust it on the world.
9 Saith Duplessis : Mahomet was an Arabian, one of Heraclitus's soldiers; and, in a mutiny, chosen by the Arabian soldiers for their commander. In his Alcoran be confesseth himself to be a sinner, an idolater, an adulterer, given to lechery: his laws run thus : Avenge yourselves of your enemies; take as many wives as you can keep, and spare not; kill the infidels ; be that fighteth lazily shall be damned, and he that killeth the most shall be in paradise. He saith that Christ had the Spirit and power of God, and the soul of God; and that he is Christ's servant. See Alcoran Azoar, 2, 3, 6; also, Azoar, 18, 4, 11, 13. He confesseth that Christ is the Spirit, and Word, and Messenger of God; that his doctrine is perfect, that it enlighteneth the Old Testament, and that he came to confirm it, yet denieth him to be God. Magnus fuit sanctus, magnus Dei amicus, magnus propheta, &c. Vid. Thom.. Bradwin De Causa Dei,' lib. i. c. 1. Carol. part. 32. and Aquin. cont. Gentil. lib. i. c. 6.
Secondly: And it is as certain that no bad men did devise the Scriptures. Could wicked deceivers so highly advance the glory of God, and labour so mightily to honour him in the world ; would they have so vilified themselves, and acknowledged their faults ; could such an admirable, undeniable spirit of holiness, righteousness, and self-denial, which runs through every vein of Scripture, have been inspired into it from the invention of the wicked ?r Would wicked men have been so wise, or so zealous for the suppression of wickedness; or so earnest to bring the world to reformation? Would they have been such bitter adversaries to their own ways; and such faithful friends to the ways they hate? Would they have vilified the ungodly, as the Scripture doth; and pronounced eternal damnation against them? Would they have extolled the godly, who are so contrary to them; and proclaimed them a people eternally blessed ? Would they have framed such perfect and such spiritual laws; and would they have laid such a design against the flesh, and against all their worldly happiness, as the scope of the Scripture doth carry on? It is needless, surely, to mention any more particulars : I think every man, of the least ingenuity, that considers this, or deliberately vieweth over the frame of the Scriptures, will easily confess that it is more than probable that it was never devised by any deceiving sinner; much less, that all the penmen of it in several ages were such wicked deceivers.
So, then, if it was neither devised by good men nor by bad men, then surely by no men; and, consequently, must of necessity proceed from God.;
Sect. III. Secondly, That it proceed not merely from man, I also prove thus : That which was done without the help of human learning, or any extraordinary endowments of nature, and yet the greatest philosophers could never reach near it, must needs be the effect of a power supernatural ; but such is both the doctrine and the miracles in Scripture; therefore, &c.
* Origen. contra Cels., Arnob., Tertul., Justin, Athanas., Clemens Alexan. in Protreptic., Athanag., Lactant., with the rest that dealt with the beatben, do make the pure excellency of Christ's doctrine, above all others, one of their main arguments for the christian faith. Christiana fides si miraculis non esset approbata, honestate sua recipi debuit, inquit Ænæas Sylvius, ut Platina, p. 328.