Page images
PDF
EPUB

tel, and will bring to pass : but therefore must there be an extraonlinary light or Spirit, and not rather an extraordinare xrac and sense from one and the same

lixhe i ;5:6 in them? Besides, that which gives H U N 200 favour it to be from the spirit, Diana

R u perture, is my rule for believing it. La lui le circo doch, both Calvin and Beza, as meng words were for me, viz. "The same spirit that powy die mouth of the prophets, must pierce

De jur desirts, to persuade us that they faithfully oute cu mac which was committed to them of

Jina

***. But this light you speak of, could not tell you in thy sin came into the world: that there was an

He wiki Eve, that they fell after that manner, and that

Duntered the world: that Christ was born of a virgin, wered death, and rose again : that you ought not to swear i wny case, &c. if the scriptures had not told you fo.

Answ, That is boldly said. But consider well : « Mofes,' says the vulgar opinion, 'had that account 6 of the creation, above two thousand years after it, « by revelation, which we find in Genesis. Now that there could be no revelation without this divine light or fpirit, which is the life of the eternal, creating Word, must needs be granted; “ for," saith the apolcle Paul, “ the spirit of God only knoweth the things 66 of God; and whatever makes manifeft is light.» And that the spirit and light are one, though two pames, has been sufficiently evidenced already. If then it was this light of the eternal Word, that delivered those past things to Moses, and gave that profpect of future things to the prophets; as no doubt it was, if the scriptures be credible; then to say, the

light or spirit could not do it,' is blasphemous, as well as absurd, Again, to argue, because the light

ves not reveal every circumstance of history to each

1 Cor. ii. 10, 11. Eph. v. 13.

individual individual that hath already an account thereof, that therefore it could not, is unreasonable. Were the history of the transactions of Christ and his followers wanting, (as before Moses was that of Adam and his pofterity) and that the Lord saw it needful to acquaint mankind therewith, no doubt but the light and spirit which revealed the account of the creation, above two thousand years after, to Moses, and foretold several hundred years many of those transactions of Christ by the prophets, would also have supplied that want: but inasinuch as an account is extant, and therefore not needed, that objection is vain.

Again, it does not follow, because every man has a measure of light to inform and rule him, that therefore he must needs know all which that light knows, or is able to reveal to him. I return that argument thus upon our adversaries: they say, they have the • Spirit of God:' then they know all that the spirit of God knows, or can reveal to them. If the latter be absurd, then the former. Again, say they, "The - light within did not reveal Christ to the Gentiles, ( and that Christ should be born of a virgin, &c. " therefore insufficient. I return upon them thus; The spirit of God, given to the children of Israel, Neh. ix. 20. did not acquaint them that Christ should be born of a virgin, nor much more of his life and bodily transactions; therefore the spirit of God was insufficient. The like may be concluded against the spirit in the prophets : for it is manifest from 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. that the spirit had not revealed to all the prophets the time of Christ's appearance and suffer, ings. Was the spirit therefore an insufficient rule to them? But that which falls heaviest upon our opposers, is this, That the scriptures, by their own argument, are a most imperfeet account themselves of what was done, not relating the hundredth part of things; thereforė as insufficient in not relating what is behind, as they would weakly render the light or spirit, in not revealing to every individual those things which are already past, Nay, they may as well infer insufficiency

to the spirit, or the light within, in that it does not shew all that mall be to the end of the world, which in their proper seasons there will be a necessity to know, as to reflect insufficiency upon it, &c. because it did not foretel things that are now paft unto former ages, or needlessly reveal them over again to us in this age. Neither is history, or can it be, the rule of that faith and life we speak of, which are so absolutely necessary to salvation; which is the faith that God, and not hiltory, gives; and that works not by history, but by love, and overcomes the world; by which millions of bistorical believers are overcome, and wallow in the spirit and practice of. And the rule must be answerable to the nature and workings of the faith : the same in point of practice, which is duty done. Now hiftory, though it inform me of others actions, yet it does not follow that it is the rule of duty to me, since it may relate to actions not imitable, as in the case of Adam and Eve in several respects, and Christ's being born of a virgin, dying for the sins of the world, &c. wherefore this cannot be the rule of duty. The like may be said of the Jewish story, that was the partiçular concern and transaction of that people.

The

in and transactioil Story, that w duty.

Obj. But these things ought to be believed,

Answ. I fay so too, where the history has reached, and the spirit of God hath made a conviction upon the conscience; which, says Dr. J. Owen, as before cited, gives them authority, verity, and perspicuity." But where this history has not reached any people, or they die ignorant of it, they are not responsible for not believing any such passages, as faith bishop Sanderson. It is one thing to say, The scriptures ought to be read, believed, and fulfilled; and another thing to say, They are the evangelical rule of faith and life: for when I read, and believe, and witness them fulfilling, I must needs have a rule by which to read, under,

& Prelect. 4. $ 21, 22

standa

AND PRACTICE. 319 Itand, believe, and witness them: which being the divine light and spirit of Christ, it must be that, and not themselves, that must be my rule for so reading, understanding, and believing them.

And farther, to prove that the light and spirit within the heathens was sufficient to discover these things, it is granted on all hands, that the sybils had divine sights. I mean not those made in their name by some professors of Christianity, as is charged upon them, to gain authority upon the Gentiles, against which Blundel writes; but those that are acknowledged, who prophesied of - a virgin's bringing forth a son, and i that he should destroy the serpent, and replenish the s earth with righteousness,' as is before cited out of Virgil, who took it out of the remains of Cumæa's verses, then among the Romans.

And for the practical part of the objection, viz. How should we have known it had been unlawful to swear at all in any case, if Matt. v. 34. had not been (which is of most weight in this case, because it is inatter of duty, and called particularly by some an evangelical precept, being a step above the righteoufness of the outward law among the Jews) I have this to say for proof of the light's sufficiency:

There were among the Jews themselves, long before Christ came, an entire people, that would not fwear, to wit, the Effeni: “They keep their promises,' faith Josephus, and account every word they speak " of more force than if they had bound it with an oath: " and they shun oaths worse than perjury; for they

esteem him condemned for a lyar, who without iç is not believed.''

Philo writes to the same purpose, and taught himself, " That it was beit to abstain from swearing ; that I one's word might be taken instead of an oath."

And Pythagoras, in his oration to the Crotonian fenators, exhorted them thus, Let no man attest God

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

by oath, though in courts of judicature; but use to • speak such things that he may be credited without an coath.se

The Scythians are said to have told Alexander of themselves, "Think not that Scythians confirm their • friendship by oath: they swear by keeping their word."

And Clinias, a Greek, and follower of Pythagoras, rather chose to suffer the fine of three talents, (which made three hundred pounds English) than to lessen his veracity by taking of an oath. Which act was greatly commended of Bafilius, who upbraided the Christians of his time with it, thereby (after our adversaries way of drawing consequences) preferring the light of the Gentiles before the light of the Christians : though indeed the light was, and is, always one in itself. But the Christian did not live up so closely to it as the heathen did, and therefore took a greater liberty, and walked in a broader way."

I would now know of our opposers, if they can yet think the light that preached this doctrine in the mount, was the same with that light that shined in the consciences of those Gentiles, so many hundred years before that sermon was writ or preached, who so plainly believed, practised, and taught it, yea or nay? Perhaps some will yet stick out; while the more moderate will submit, and conclude ignorance and folly have made all this opposition against us; and that of a truth, the voice which cried, Prov. viii. 4, 6. « Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to « the sons of men; hear, for I will speak excellent « things,” was also heard by the Gentiles; and that what concerned the doctrine of holy living was not hid from them; I mean, evangelically so; provided Christ's heavenly sermon upon the mount, related by Matthew the Evangelist, may be esteemed such : for their writings flow with amens thereunto.

• Laert. Herm. & Orig. contr. Cell. + Quint. Curt. in vit. Alex. * H. Grotius on Mat. v. 34.

But

« PreviousContinue »