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lightens every man that comes into the World, the Light of the World, and the Light of Life. And St Paul speaking of the Gospel says, That the Grace of God wbich bringeth Salvation hath appeared to all Men, has been manifeft to all Men. For who is there that is not capable of a sufficient Understanding, of the Story, the Precepts, the Prohibitions, the Promises, and Threatnings of the Gospel? Who, that will but read it, is nog able to understand the Meaning of that heavenly Sermon of our Saviour's upon the Mount, deliver'd with Equal Plainness and Power to the Capacity of the Weakest, as well as the Conviction of the Wifeft? Both the Law and the Gospel were writ for All Men, that All might come to the Knowledge of the Truth. And as God commanded, not only the Priests and the Levites, but the whole People to read and be perpetually conversant in the Law; So has Chrift, by his Apoftles, deliver'd his Gospel, and commanded it to be read, not by the Learned only, or the Clergy, but by the whole Chriftian Church, by all Ranks and Conditions of Men, from the highest to the lowest, in Fortune, or Understanding. Further, Every Man, to whom the Writings of the Gospel have come, oblig'd under Pain of everlasting Damnation both to believe its Doctrines and obey
its Commands; and St Paul tells us, That in the great Day God Mall judge the secrets of Men's hearts by Christ Jesus according to his Gospel. Now what is the direct and natural Conclusion from this, but that this Covenant between God and Man, which is so Univerfal as equally to concern all Mankind the Wise and the Unwise, the Simple and the Learned, fo Obligatory, that without the fulfilling the Conditions of it, No One can be say, d, so adequate a Measure of the whole Duty of a Christian, that it shall be the Standard by which Christ will judge the World, must bear a Sense most perspicuous and plain to all Persons it concerns, that is the Whole World, in those Parts of it by which they are to be judg’d, that is all that are Fundamental and absolutely Necessary to Salvation? Unless we would charge the Judge of all the world with the highest Injustice, in 'exacting Belief and Obedience of those, who had no Means of knowing what they were either to believe or obey; and of the most Barbarous Cruelty, in punishing his Creatures to all Eternity, for not finding that plain, which he himself had purposely left Obscure.
This I think may be sufficient, both from the Testimony of Scripture, and from the Nature and Reason of the thing it self, to evince the perspicuity of Holy Writ in all
Necessary Points. In all Necessary Points I say, which I desire may all along this whole Discourse be observ'd and remembred. For, that there are several difficultys, not only in St Paul's Epistles, in which the Romanists object to us from St Peter, Some things are hard to be Understood; but in many other Places of both Old and New Testament, none is so blind or partial as not to grant. But because some are Obscure, do's it thence follow that all are so? Because things, that are not Necessary, are not always and in every place so clear, that the most ordinary capacity may see thro'them; can it be concluded from hence, that whatever is absolutely necessary to every Mans Soul's health is equally Dark? This were Injurious to God, Contradictory to Scripture, Disagreeing to Reason, and which is the most impudent of all Oppositions, against Experience too.
To sum up this Head therefore, It must be allow'd that as in Scripture there is contain'd every thing, that of Neceflity a Chriftian Man ought to Believe or Practice, in Terms most expressive and Evident to the Simple and Unlearn'd; fo there are also in it, depths and hidden Treasures of Knowledge, which may exercise all the Industry, and Skill, and Parts, of the most Learned and Wife, and surpass them too. But then this is our comfort, that Where the Scripture is not plain, There, if We ufing honeft diligence to find the Truth do yet miss of it and fall into Error, there is no danger in it. Neither therefore need we any living Infallible Judge or decider of Controversies; For Thofe places that contain things necessary, and wherein Errors are dangerous, need no such Interpreter, because they are plain; And those that are Obscure need none, because containing things not necessary, Error in them is not dangerous. The Scripture itself, by its own Light, is able to end all Controversies neceffary to be ended; and for others that are not so, they will end when the World ends, and that will be time enough, In the mean while, let us be thankful to God for that Knowledge of his Will which he has been pleas'd to favour us with, and having done Our Duty, according to so much of it as he has plainly taught, and which therefore he may justly claim of us, and we are indispensably bound to perform; be content to wait his good Pleasure for the rest, and leave those things, which he has more obscurely deliver'd, to his All-wise disposal; Remembring that of Mofes, Deut. 29. 29. The Secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are reveald, belong unto Vs and to our Children for Ever, that we may do all the Words of his Lam.
I have thus, with what brevity I could, endeavour'd co affert the Scripture's being an Absolute Rule, by shewing it to be qualify'd for such in both its capacitys; so that by Reason of its Fullness and Perfection, there is no need of Human Tradition; nor by reason of its Clearness and Perspicuity, of any infallible Judge upon Earth.
III. But because the Scriptures, as plain as they are in themselves, may thro' our default prove obscure, and thro' our blindness of Heart be to Us dark; I shall now proceed to the Qualifications requisite to the Reading of 'em with Profit and Understanding, which I shall comprehend under a few Heads, and
The First I hall name is Humility. Truth never takes Root so kindly, never finds so agreeable a Soil as in an Humble Heart. He that is conscious of his Own Natural Blindness, and having a just Sense of his Infirmitys, approaches reverently these Holy Oracles with the perfect and entire Submilfion of a Disciple, whose business is to Learn, and not to Judge or Controll; void of all vain Conceit of his Own Wisdom, or Natural Reason, or acquir'd abilitys, is of all Others fittelt to be admitted into the School