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rtue to the foule virtue ; yea, most test moralists,
the writings of Moses, is proved already by divers authors. The like may be said of Seneca,* and many others. So that if this means had contained any sufficiency in it for salvation, yet it would have extended but to some few of all the learned philosophers : and what is this to an universal sufficiency to all mankind ? nay, there is not one of all their exactest moralists, that have not mistaken vice for virtue ; yea, most of them give the name of virtue to the foulest villanies, such as self-murder, in several cases, revenge, a proud and vain-glorious affectation of honour and applause, with other the like; so far have these few learned philosophers been from the true knowledge of things spiritual and divine, that they could never reach to know the principles of common honesty. Varro saith, that there were in his days, two hundred and eighty-eight sects or opinions among philosophers concerning the chief good : what, then, should the multitudes of the vulgar do, who have neither strength of wit to know, nor time, and books and means to study, that they might attain to the height of these learned men ? so that I conclude with Aquinas, y that if possibly, nature and creatures might teach some few enough to salvation, yet were the Scriptures of flat necessity; both for the more enlarged : Secondly, And the more easy and speedy: Thirdly, And the more certain spreading of knowledge and salvation.
Sect. VII. But here are some objections? to be answered, First, Were not the fathers till Moses, without Scripture ? Answ. First, Yet they had a revelation of God's will, besides what nature or creatures taught them. Adam had the doctrine of the tree of knowledge, and the tree of life, and the tenor of the covenant made with him, by such revelation, and not by nature. So had the fathers the doctrine of sacrificing; for nature could teach them nothing of that, therefore, even the heathens had it from the church. Secondly, All other revelations are now ceased,
Atticus : and divers of Numenius' books do recite with great reverence many texts out of Moses and the prophets.
• Though the epistles betwixt Paul and Seneca may be feigned, yet it is more than probable that he had heard or read Paul's doctrine. And Clemens Alex., citing the same in Numenius, shows also out of Aristobulus, 1. Philomatrem, that Plato was very studious of Moses and the Jews' laws; and saith also that Pythagoras took many things out of the Scriptures.--Stromat. lib. i.
y Aquin. Sum. la, læ. art. 1. q. 1. and 2a, 2æ, q. 1. art. 34. But more fully, ! Cont. Gent.' lib. i. c. 4-6.
* See Scharpii cursus Theol. de S. Scrip. Contro. 6. de Neces. S. S. pp. 122 -124, and so almost every common-place book answers this,
therefore this way is more necessary. Thirdly, And there are many truths necessary now to be known, which then were not revealed, and so not necessary.
Object. 2. Doth not the apostle say, that which may be known of God, was manifest in them, &c. ?
Answ. This, with many other objections, are fully scanned by many divines, to whom I refer you; particularly Dr. Willet, on Rom. i. 14, 20, &c. Only in general I answer, there is much difference between knowing that there is a God of eternal power, which may make the sinner inexcusable for his open sin against nature, (which the apostle there speaks of,) and knowledge which is sufficient to salvation. How God deals with the multitude that have not the Scripture, as to their eternal state, I leave as a thing beyond us, and so nothing to us : but if a possibility of the salvation of some of them be acknowledged, yet in the three respects above mentioned, there remains still a necessity of some further revelation than nature or creatures do contain. And thus I have manifested a necessity for the welfare of man. Now it would follow that I show it necessary for the honour of God; but this follows so evidently as a consectary of the former, that I think I may spare that labour.
Object. But what if there be such a necessity, doth it follow that God must needs supply it? Answ. Yes, to some part of the world. For, First, It cannot be conceived how it can stand with his exceeding goodness, bounty, and mercy, to make a world, and not to save some. Secondly, Nor with his wisdom, to make so many capable of salvation, and not reveal it to them, or bestow it on them. Thirdly, Or to prepare so many other helps to man's happiness, and to lose them all for want of such a sufficient revelation. Fourthly, Or to be the Governor of the world, and yet to give them no perfect law to acquaint 'men with their duty, and the reward of obedience, and penalty of disobedience. · Having thus proved that there is certainly some written word of God in the world, the last thing that I have to prove is, that there is no other writing in the world but this that can be it. And, First, Therea is no other book in the world, that ever I heard of, that doth so much as claim this prerogative and dignity. Mahomet' calleth himself but a prophet, he acknowledgeth the truth of most of the Scripture, and his Alcoran contradicteth the very light of nature. Aristotle, Plato, and other philosophers, acknowledge their writings to be merely of their own study and invention. What book saith, Thus saith the Lord,' and ' This is the word of the Lord,' but this ? So that if it hath no competitor, there needs not so much to be said.
a The apocryphal books are but records more imperfect and uncertain, of the same doctrine for the substance with the rest, though mixed with some suspected history, and doth confirm, but not contradict the Scriptures; and but few of those books do pretend to a divine authority, as the rest.
2. What other book doth reveal the mysteries of God, of the Trinity, of God and man in one person, of creation, of the fall, the covenants, their conditions, heaven, hell, angels, devils, temptations, regeneration, worship, &c., besides this one book, and those that profess to receive it from this, and profess their end to be but the confirming and explaining the doctrine of this? Indeed, upon those subjects which are below the Scripture, as logic, arithmetic, &c., other books may be more excellent than it; as a tailor may teach you to make a cloak better than all the statute books or records of parliament. But this is a lower excellency than the Scripture was intended to.d
And thus I have done with this weighty subject, that the Scripture, which contains the promises of our rest, is the certain infallible word of God. The reason why I have thus digressed, and said so much of it, is, because I was very apprehensive of the great necessity of it, and the common neglect of
Though Mahomet pretended to speak from God as a prophet, the barbarousness and sottishness of his Alcoran, its contradiction of itself, and to the Scripture, which he acknowledgeth, may satisfy any man of its sorgery, so that it is the most stupendous judgment of God, that so great a part of the world should continue so brutish as to believe and follow him still. Read Bradwardine's excellent dispute on this subject, 'De Causa Dei,' lib. i. Corol. part 32, and Grotius · De Veritate Relig. Christianæ.
© Certe in Alcorano nulla, aut infrequens, fit mentio miraculorum ; aut si quæ fiat, sunt illa monstrosa, et hac nota inusta, ut non modo pro ingenio conficta, sed barbare quoque excogitata videantur : tum non audet illius miraculi testes appellare ; non enim sunt talia, ut author Alcorani palam ausit asserere patrata.-Camero de Verbo Dei, p. 441.
a That the heathen religion is not the true religion, all the old fathers that wrote against them, Justin, Arnobius, Lactantius, Tertullian, Athanasius, Origen, and the rest before named, have showed at large. Non ideo majorem fidem adhibemus evangelio Joannis, quam Nicodemi, quod ab ecclesia con. stitutum et decretum fit, &c. Nullibi enim decretum est, nec ullum de hac re conciliam unquam vocatum. Sed quod apostoli adhuc in vivis, hujusmodi evangelia rejecerunt. His enim credidit ecclesia, et eorum fides posteris manifestavit apostoli etiam et evangelistæ evangelia sua conscripta tradiderunt ecclesiæ, quibus ipsa alia deinde examinavit; et quoniam illa multum differre cognovit ea rejecit ; aliosque de illis præmonuit.-Bullinger, Corp. Doct. lib, i. c. 4.
being grounded in it; and withal, that this is the very heart of my whole discourse ; and that if this be doubted of, all the rest that I have said will be in vain. Jf men doubt of the truth, they will not regard the goodness. And the reason why I have said no more, but passed over the most common arguments, is, because they are handled in many books already; which I advise Christians to be better versed in. To the mere English reader I commend especially these: Sir Philip Morney, Lord du Plessis's “Verity of Christian Religion ;' Grotius Of the Truth of Christian Religion,' which is lately translated into English; and Mr. Perrin's Cases of Conscience,' (lib. ii.c. 3); Parson's “ Book of Resolution,' corrected by Bunny, (the second part.) Dr. Jackson on the Creed, and (come forth since I began this) Mr. White's, of Dorchester, ‘ Directions for Reading Scripture. Mr. John Goodwin's Divine Authority of Scripture Asserted. Also, read a book called, ' A Body of Divinity,' (first party) written by our honest and faithful countryman, Colonel Edward Leigh. Also, Ursinus's Catechism on this question ; and Ball's Catechism, with the exposition, which, to those that cannot get larger treatises, is very useful.e
For the question, How it may be known which books are canonical? I here meddle not with it : I think human testimony, with the fore-mentioned qualifications, must do most in determining that. Yet we must carefully distinguish between those canonical books which have been questioned, and those which were unquestioned, but delivered by more infallible tradition ; and also between those which contain most of the sub, stance of our faith, and those which do not.
Prop. 1. No book in the canon was ever generally doubted of; but when one church doubted of it, others received it, from whom we have as much reason to receive them, as from the Roman church.
Prop. 2. Those books which have been generally received, are known to be canonical, by the same way, and testimony, and means, as the Scripture in general is known to be God's word.
e So Dr. Preston On the Attributes,' pp. 40, 41, ånd forward; and Byfield's Principles. In Latin, the best that I know of is Grotius • De Veritate Relig. ;' and especially Camero's • Prælectiones de Verbo Dei ;' though every common-place book speaks to this end, and some very well, as Lud. Crocius, Polanus, &c., Kimidontius De Verbo Scripto,' &c. And the fathers that write against the pagans, are of great use to students in this point, a3 Justin, Athenagoras, Tatianus, Lactantius, Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius, Clemeus Alexandrinus, &c. but especially Origen against Celsus.
Prop. 3. It is not a thing which one cannot be saved without, to believe every particular book to be canonical ; if we believe all that were generally received, yea, or but one book which containeth the substance of christian doctrine, though we doubt of those, that some formerly doubted of, it would not exclude from salvation. The books are received for the doctrine's sake. It is vain cavilling, therefore, for the papists, when they put us to prove the canon, they stick only on the questioned books; especially when those were but few and short. Matthew, and Mark, and Luke, and John, and Paul's writings, which are full, and contain the main body of christian doctrine, do, withal, contain the characters of their own canonical verity, which, seconded by the conveyance of universal, rational, infallible tradition, (not Romish authoritative tradition, or the judgment of the pope, or the present church,) may certainly be discerned; even with a saving certainty, by those that are specially illuminated by God's Spirit; and with an ordinary rational certainty, by those that have God's common help.
I conclude this as I began, with an earnest request to ministers that they would preach, and to people that they would study this subject more thoroughly; that while they firmly believe the truth of that word which promiseth them rest, and prescribes them the means thereto, they may believe, and hope, and love, and long, and obey, and labour, with the more seriousness, and liveliness, and patient constancy.
Rest for none but the People of God, proved.
Sect. I. It may here be expected, that as I have proved, that this rest remaineth for the people of God; so I should now prove, that it remaineth only for them; and that the rest of the world
When Jerome proveth the 'Epistle to the Hebrews' to be canonical, he showeth how we must judge of the canon : Non per hujus temporis consuetudinem, sed veterum Scriptorum authoritatem pleruinque utriusque abutentium testimoniis ; non ut apocryphis, sed canonicis et ecclesiasticis.-- Hier. ad Dardan. tom. 4. fol. 29. Where then is the papists' judicial authority of the present pupe or church?