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for our comfort; otherwise the glorified humanity of Christ would be no means of our comfort there : and the heavenly Jerusalem would not then have been set out to us by its created excellencies as it is Rev. xxi. xxii. Nor would it be any comfort to us in the kingdom of God, that we shall be with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Direct. XII. · Pray for the protection and help of angels, as part of the benefits procured for the saints by Christ; and be thankful for it as a privilege of believers, excelling all the dignities of the ungodly. And walk with a reverence of their presence, especially in the worshipping of God.' It is not fit such a mercy should be undervalued or unthankfully received: nor that so ordinary a means of our preservation should be overlooked, and not be sought of God by prayer. But the way to keep the love of angels, is to keep up the love of God: and the way to please them, is to please him; for his will is theirs.
Direct. x111. `In all the worship you perform to God, remember that you join with the angels of heaven, and bear your part to make up the concert.'. Do it therefore with that holiness, and reverence, and affection, as remembering not only to whom you speak, but also what companions you have; and let there not be too great a discord either in your hearts or praises. O think with what lively, joyful minds they praise their glorious Creator; and how unwearied they are in their most blessed work! And labour to be like them in love and praise, that you may come to be equal with them in their glory o.
» Luke xiii. 28. Matt. viii. 11. " Luke xx. 36.
I have something to say to thee of the number of these cases, somewhat of the order, and somewhat of the manner of handling and resolving them. I. That there are so many is because there are really so many difficulties which all men are not able to resolve. That they are no more, is partly because I could not remember then any more that were necessarily to be handled, and I was not willing to increase so great a book with things unnecessary.
II. As to the order, I have some reasons for the order of most of them, which would be too tedious to open to you. But some of them are placed out of order, because, 1. I could not remember them in due place. 2. And great haste allowed me not time to transpose them. If you say that in such a work I should take time, I answer, You are no competent judges, unless you knew me and the rest of my work, and the likelihood that my time will be but short. They that had rather take my writings with such defects which are the effects of haste, than have none of them, may use them, and the rest are free to despise them and neglect them. Two or three questions about the Scripture, I would have put nearer the beginning if I could have time; but seeing I cannot, it is easy for you to transpose them in the reading.
III. The resolution of these Cases so much avoideth all the extremes, that I look they should be displeasing to all that vast number of Christians, who involve themselves in the opinions and interests of their several sects as such ; and that hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons. But there will be still a certain number of truly Catholic, impartial readers, whose favourable acceptance I confidently prognosticate; and who, being out of the dust, and noise, and passions of contending sides and parties, and their interests, will see a self-evidencing light in those solutions, which are put off here briefly, without the pomp of formal argumentation, or persuading oratory. The eternal Light reveal himself to us, by Christ who is the Light of the world, and by the illumination of the Spirit and Word of Light; that we may walk in the Light, as the children of Light, till we come to the world of glorious, everlasting Light. And what other defect soever our knowledge have, if any man hath knowledge enough to kindle in him the love of God, the same is known of Him, and therefore is beloved by Him, and shall be blessed with and in Him for ever.
Quest. 1. How to know which is the true church, among all
pretenders, that a Christian's conscience may be quiet in his relation and communion.
I HAVE written so much of this already in four books, (viz. one called, “The Safe Religion,” another called, “A Key for Catholics,” another called, “The Visibility of the Church,” another called, “ A True Catholic, and the Catholic Church described,”) that I shall say now but a little, and yet enough to an impartial, considerate reader.
The terms must first be opened: 1. By a church is meant, a society of Christians as such. And it is sometimes taken narrowly, for the body or members as distinct from the head, as the word kingdom is taken for the subjects only as distinct from the king; and sometimes more fully and properly for the whole political society, as constituted of its head and body, or the · Pars imperans et pars subdita.'
2. The word church thus taken, signifieth sometimes the universal church called Catholic; which consisteth of Christ and his body politic, or mystical; and sometimes some part only of the universal church. And so it is taken either for a subordinate, political part, or for a community, or a part considered as consociate, but not political ; or as many particular, political churches agreeing and holding concord and communion without any common head, save the universal Head.
3. Such political churches, are either of divine constitution and policy, or only of human.
2. By Christians, I mean such as profess the essentials of the Christian religion. For we speak of the church as visible.
3. By'true,' may be meant, either reality of essence, opposite to that which is not really a church in this unequivocal acceptation; or else sound and orthodox, in the integrals, as opposite to erroneous and defiled with much enormity. And now I thus decide that question.
Prop. 1. The true Catholic church consisteth of Christ the Head, and all Christians as his body, or the members. As the kingdom consisteth of the king and his subjects a.
Prop. 11. As all the sincere heart-covenanters make up the church as regenerate, and mystical or invisible; so all that are christened, that is, baptized, and profess consent to all the essentials of the baptismal covenant, not having apostatized, nor being by lawful power excommunicated, are Christians, and make up the church as visible.
Prop. 111. Therefore there is but one universal church, because it containeth all Christians; and so leaveth out none to be the matter of another. C
Prop. iv. It is not ignorance or error about the mere integrals of Christianity, which maketh them no Christians who hold the essentials, that is, the baptismal covenant d.
Prop. v. That the baptismal covenant might be rightly
understood and professed, the churches have still used the creed as the explication of the covenant, in point of faith ; and taken it for the symbol of the Christian belief. And no further profession of faith was or is to be required, as necessary to the being of Christianity. • Prop. vi. If proud usurpers or censurers take on them to excommunicate, or unchristian, or unchurch others, without authority and cause, this maketh them not to be no Christians, or no churches, that are so used.
Prop. vii. Therefore to know which is the true catholic or universal church is but to know who are baptized, pro- . fessed Christians &.
Prop. viii. The reformed churches, the Lutherans, the Abassines, the Coptics, the Syrians, the Armenians, the Jacobites, the Georgians, the Maronites, the Greeks, the Moscovites, and the Romanists, do all receive baptism in all its visible essentials, and profess all the essentials of the Christian religion, though not with the same integrity h.
Prop. ix. He that denieth any one essential part, in itself, is so a heretic as to be no Christian, por true member of the church, if it be justly proved or notorious ; that is, none ought to take him for a visible Christian, who know the proof of his denying that essential part of Christianity, or to whom it is notorious i. - Prop. x. He that holdeth the essentials primarily, and with them holdeth some error which by unseen consequence subverteth some essential point, but holdeth the essentials so much faster, that he would forsake his error if he saw the inconsistence, is a Christian notwithstanding: and if the name heretic be applicable to him, it is but in such a sense, as is consistent with Christianityk.
Prop. xi. He that is judged a heretic and no Christian justly by others, must be lawfully cited, and heard plead his cause, and be judged upon sufficient, and not unheard, or upon rash presumption'.
Prop. xii. Christianity and heresy being personal qualities, and no where found but in individuals, nor one man
e I Cor. xv. 1, 2, &c. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.
Rom. xiv. 3, 4.
Tit. iji. 10,