Imagens das páginas

it to the next, as the scholar of the preceeding and the master of the following. There is no Speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. If they were words, the instruction would cease with their found: but now what the heavens declare, they do it always, and in the same manner. If speeches, and fentences deduced with much fubtlety from their reasons and causes, they would labour under obscurity: if their voice was heard, it would ftun us with its noise. But now the heavens instruct both constantly, clearly and sweetly. For, tho' their voice is not heard, yet they have a voice, no less strongly adapted to strike the mind, than the found of a trumpet, or of thunder ; seeing they exhibit; to the eģes of all the magnificence of their creator, so clearly as to escape the observation of none, but the wilfully blind. Or' possibly this may be the meaning: I here is no speech nor language, where their voice is not beard. Tho' people differ in languages, and the greek understands not the barbarian: yet the heavens have a common language adapted to the instruction of all a like: and nothing but a culpable carelessness can hinder the most diftant people from improving by the instruction, as it were, of one teacher. Their line is gone out through all the earth. The instruction of the heavens resembles that of school masters, who teach children their letters, namely, by drawing their strokes before them. Thus the heavens draw lines, or strokes, with their rays, and as it were letters of the alphabet; from which combined and variously joined together an entire volume of wisdom is formed. This is the signification of ip, as Isa. 28. 10, line upon line: from which the Greek fogyas which the apostle uses, Rom. 10. 18, does not differ much, denoting not only a sound, but also a letter of the alphabet, as Plutarch in fabio notes,as Scapula has observed in his lexicon. Nor is it nécessary we say, that the text is here corrupted, or that


[ocr errors][merged small]

the septuagint read ship their voice. And this line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. All mankind, whether in a habitable or desart country, are taught by this master. There is no corner of the world, where the figures of the heavens, as so many arguments of the divine perfections, are not to be seen. And this is the reason, why I have just now proposed the reasonings of those (if you except: the quotation from Agapetus, a deacon of the church of ConItantinople) who had no other master but na


XIII. - But tho’ the invitation, which nature gives Nature's to seek God, be sufficient to render them without invitation excuse, who don't comply with it, Rom. I. 20; yet

to salva-,

tion insufit is not sufficient, even objectively, for salvation.

ficient, For, it does not afford that lively hope, which maketb not ashamed; for this is only revealed by the gospel; whence the Gentiles are said to have been without hope, in the world, Eph. 2. 12. It does not thew the true way to the enjoyment of God, which is no other than faith in Chrift. , It does not sufficiently inftruct us about the manner, in which we ought to worship and please God, and do what is acceptable to him. In short, this call by nature never did, nor is it even possible, that it eyer can, bring any to the saving knowledge of God; the gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth Rom. 1. 16.

XIV. We cannot agree with thole, whether objected they be ancients, a list of whoni Casaubon, Exercit, to by some I. ad Apparat. Annal. Baronii, and after him Vofhus, ancients

and mos Hiftor. Pelag. Lib. 3. P. 3. Thef. 11, have drawn up;'or whether they be moderns, who maintain, that good men, among the Gentiles, were brought to falvation by this call of nature, without the knowledge of Christ. And we think, some of our brethren ascribe too much to nature, who tell us ; That men, if not wilfully blind, could, by what is known of God, VOL. II. D




have attained to Some knoweledge of the divine mercy, by which they might obtain salvation, in a manner perhaps unknown to us; tho destitute of the distinēt knowledge of Some mysteries, which they could no way discover of themselves, Amyraldus, Specim. Animad in Exerc. de Gratia Univ. P. 2. p. 133. For we are persuaded, there is no salvation without Christ, Aets 4 12': no communion of adult persons with Christ, but by faith in him, Eph. 3. 17: no faith in Christ, with out the knowledge of him, John 17. 3; no knowledge, but by the preaching of the Gospel, Rom. 10. 14: no preaching of the Gospel in the works of

For, it is that mystery, which was kept, fecret fince the world began, Rom. 16. 25. Yet that

XV. To what purpose then, you will say, is thisa calling by call by the light of nature ? Not to speak of the without being without excuse, just now metioned, which, its use. indeed, may

be the end of him who calls, tho' not of the call itself : that calling ferves to pave the way for a further, a more perfect and a more explicite call by the Gospel, and as a prelude of a fuller inftruction. For, as grace fupposes nature, and makes it perfect; fo the truths, revealed in the Gospel, are built on those made known by the light of nature. When a perfon under that glimmering light has discovered, that there is a God, that happiness confiits in his communion with him and in comparifon of him all things are nothing, and that he is the rewarder of those, who seek him; and that, if he is fought in proper way and manner, he is not fought in vain ; he has now a foundation laid, on which to build the gospel, which declares what that God is, in what manner he becomes propitious to men in Christ, how he is to be fought, and in what method he will certainly be found. And thus that knowledge, he learns from nature, being fanctified by the Spirit, better prepares the mind for embracing those truths which, tho'they furpafs, are yet so far from destroying, that they perfect nature.


And it is very

[ocr errors]

expedient for believers, who live under the Gospel, to have always the book of nature before their

eyes: which furnishes them with useful instructions, and lashes the conscience with continual reproaches, un-' . less they love, worship and celebrate the Deity, who is every where present.

Which the Heathens them-, selves, as Epictetus and others, have represented in their own way.

XVI. We must therefore add the other call by Especially the word of God, fupernaturally revealed, either im if accommediately from God's own mouth, as was formerly the reveal. done to the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and others; ed word, or mediately by the ministers of God, whether they both of the preached it by word of mouth, or consigned it to writ-law, mg. Thus Paul says, Rom. 10. 14, bow ball they believe in bim, of whom they have not beard? And how small they bear witbout a preacher ? And here indeed both parts of the word are to be made use of; thus the law convincing man of sin, Rom. 3. 20, awakens him to a sense of his misery, drives the finner out of himself, stirs him up to desire deliverance, and makes him figh, in this manner, O wretched man that I am, who fall de. liver me from the body of this death! Rom. 7. 24. Therefore the law ought certainly to be preached, in its full vigour and force, that knowing the terrour of the Lord, we may persuade nten, 2 Cor. 5. 11. But yet And of the the principal part is performed by the Gospel, which Gospel. revealing Christ, and the fulness of all grace and falvation in him, allures, by its endearing sweetness, awakened and concerned finners to communion with God. Nothing more powerfully sinks into the inmost soul, than that most alluring invitation of Jesus, come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rijt, Mat. 11. 28. Let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely, Rev. 22. 17. This word is the power of God unto salvctiou, to every one that believeth, Rom. 1. 16. If the law only was preached, it would, by its horrours, harden fouls, driven to despair, into a hatred

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

20. 17:

of God, as a severe avenger of sin. But by adding
the Gospel, which makes a bright hope of grace to
shine, even on the most abandoned and wretched
finner, if, displeased with himself, he heartily desires
it : obstinate hearts come to relent, and to be melted
down into a love of God, and of his Christ. And
therefore, nothing ought to be more sweet and dear
to us than the moit delightful word of the Gospel,

in which are brooks of honey and butter. * Job. Sufficient, XVII. This word of grace was published in the ly, declar world from the very first fin of man, tho' variously elect from dispensed, Heb. 1. 1. But in fuch a manner, as to be the time sufficient for the instruction of the Elect to falvation, of the very in all ages, according to that measure of grace and first fin. knowledge, which the providence of God distributed

in each period of time. When the revelation was
more sparing and obscure, God being satisfied with a
lefs meafure of knowledge, did, by the secret power
of his Spirit, unite the elect to Christ, and kept them
united by an almost invisible band, which yet no
force, could break asunder. But when he had more
brightly discovered himself, he called for a more ex-
act knowledge and faith. And as he clearly teaches
his people, how they ought to walk, and to please God,
so he also requires them to abound more and more.

i Tbel. 4. 1. Not only

XVIII. We do not agree with those, who think, revealed that, by the unwricten word of God, those only to the Pro- were called to falvation through faith in Christ, who also by

were eminent for the spirit of prophesy, but the rest
of the church was fo rude and ignorant, that they

were brought to an unknown Chriít, by the help of godly per- che law of nature alone, without the spirit of faith. foas,

phets, but

them to all other

* The author's quotation of 11. 52.7. seems to be a mistake of the press, and therefore I have given this to which he appears to have referred.


« AnteriorContinuar »