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a Cicero, an Augustine, a Chrysostom, and that the laws and statutes of the land were really enacted by the kings and parliaments whose names they bear; because the natural and civil interests of so many thousands that are able to detect it, could never be reconciled here to a deceit. When judges and counsellors, kings and nobles, and plaintiffs and defendants, utter enemies, are all agreed in it, it is more certain to a single person than if he had seen the passing of them with his eyes. So in our case, when an office was established in the church, to read and preach this Gospel in the assemblies; and when all the congregations took it as the charter of their salvation, and the rule of their faith and life; and when these pastors and churches were dispersed over all the Christian world, who thus worshipped God from day to day; and all sects and enemies were ready to have detected a falsification or deceit, it is here as impossible for such a kind of history, or tradition, or testimony to be false, in such material points of fact, as for one man's senses to deceive him, and much more.
Thus I have at once shewed you the true order of the preaching, and proofs, and receiving of the several matters of religion, and how and into what our faith must be resolved ; and how far your teachers are to be believed. “And here you must especially observe two things, 1. That there can be no danger in this resolution of faith, of derogating either from the work of the Holy Ghost, or the Scriptures' self-evidence, or any other cause whatever : because we ascribe nothing to history or tradition which was ascribed to any of these causes by the first Christians; but only put our reception by tradition instead of their reception immediately by sense: our receiving by infallible history, is but in the place of their receiving by sight; and not in the place of the self-evidence of Scripture, or any testimony or teaching of the Spirit. The method is exactly laid down, Heb. ii. 3, 4. “ How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness both with signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost according to his own will.” Here is the sum of what I have been saying.
2. Observe also the great difference between us and the
Papists in this controversy of using tradition in the resolution of our faith. 1. They decide the main question in gross by tradition, viz. Whether the Scripture be the Word of God? But we only decide the questions about history or matters of fact by it, which åré subservient to the other. 2. The tradition which most of them plead, is nothing but the authoritative judgment of the successive pastors of the church in a general council confirmed by the popé; and as another faction among them saith, The reception of the whole church both laity and clergy; and this church must be only the Roman faction. But the tradition which we plead is the concurrent testimony of friends and foes, orthodox and heretics; and of all the churches throughout the world, both Greek and Latin, Ethiopian, Armenian, Protestants, &c. And this testimony we plead, not merely as a human testimony, much less as such as is credible chiefly for the mere power (real or pretended) of the testifiers; but as such as by a concurrence of testimonies and circumstances hath (besides the teachers' authority) the evidencés-of infallible moral certainty, in the very history; as we have of the statutes of the realm..
Direct. vi. · Understand what kind and measure of obedience it is that you owe your lawful pastors, that you neither prove schismatical and unruly, nor yet have a hand in setting up idols and usurpations in the church.' This you may learn from the foregoing description of the pastor's work. The kind of your obedience is commensurate to the kind of his office and work. You are not to obey your pastors, as civil magistrates that bear the sword; nor as physicians, to tell you what you must do for your health ; nor as artificers, to command you how to plough, and sow, and trade, &c. (except in the morality of these): but it is as your teachers and guides in matters of salvation that you must obey thems. And that not as prophets or lawgivers to the church; but as the stated officers of Christ to open and apply the laws that he hath given, and determine of such circumstances as are subservient thereunto. Not as those that have dominion of your faith, or may preach another Gospel, or contradict any truth of God, which by Scripture or nature he hath revealed, or can dispense with any duty which he hath commanded; but as those that have all their power from God, and for God and your salvation, and the good of other men's souls ; to edification only, and not to destruction : particular cases i here purposely forbear.
s We may not offer any violence, but only persuade: we have not so great authority given us by the laws, as to repress offenders : and if it were lawful for us so to do, we have no use of any such violent power : for that Christ crowneth them that abstain from sin, not of a forced, but of a willing mind and purpose. Chrys. citante Bilson of Subjection, p. 526. Et ibid. ex Hilar. If this violence were used for the true faith, the doctrine of bishops would be against it: God needeth no forced service. He requireth no constrained confession. I cannot receive any man but him that is willing : I cannot give ear, but to him that entreateth, &c. Ita et Origen. ibid. citat. 2 Cor. i. 24. Gal. i. 7, 8. 2 Cor. x. 8. xiii. 10.
Direct. vii. · Be sure that you look on them as the officers of Christ in all that they do as such ; and see not only their natural, but their ecclesiastical persons, that through them you may have to do with God.' Especially in preaching and administering the sacraments, and binding the impenitent, and absolving the penitent, and comforting the sad and humbled souls. All the holiness, and life, and power of your spiritual converse with them consisteth in your seeing and conversing with God in them, and using them as his messengers or officers, that deliver his message and do his work, and not their own. If you disobey them in his work, it is God that you disobey: and if they teach you his Word, or deliver you Christ and his benefits in the sacraments, it is Christ himself that doth it by them as by his instruments, so far as they do it according to his commission and his will. This observing Christ in their teaching will possess you with due reverence and care, and cause you to do it as a holy work; and to see Christ in them, delivering and sealing his covenant to you, will very much increase your joy; when man as man is but a shadow.
Direct. viii. “Make use of their help in private, and not in public only :' as the use of a physician is not only to read a lecture of physic to his patients, but to be ready to direct every person according to their particular case (there being such variety of temperatures, diseases, and accidents, that in dangerous cases the direction of the judicious is needful in the application): so here, it is not the least of the pastoral work, to oversee the individuals, and to give them personally such particular advice as their case requireth. Never expect that all thy books, or sermons, or prayers, or meditations should serve thy turn without the counsel of thy
pastors, in greater cases; for that were but to devise how to prove God's officers needless to his church. If thou be an ignorant or unconverted sinner, go to the minister, and ask him, what thou must do to be saved? And resolve to follow his sound advice. If thou be in doubt of any weighty point of faith or godliness, or assaulted perilously by any adversary, or need his advice for thy settled peace, thy assurance of pardon and salvation, and thy preparation for death; go ask counsel of thy pastors, and receive their help with readiness and thankfulness : or if thou live where there is none that is able and willing thus to help thee, remove to them that are such, if lawfully thou canst.
Direct. ix. * Assist your pastors in the work of God, by the duties of your places which tend thereto.' Labour by your holy, serious conference, to instruct' the ignorant, and convince the unbelieving, and convert the ungodly, and strengthen the weak, with whom you have fit opportunity for such work. Labour by your holy examples, by love, and concord, and meekness, and sobriety, and contempt of the world, and a heavenly life, to shine as lights in the midst of a dark and crooked generation. Preach all of you by the examples of your blameless, humble, holy lives. O how abundantly would this course promote the success or the public preaching of the Gospel! If you would cause those men to see the glory and power of the Gospel in your holy and heavenly lives, who cannot see it in itself; then many that would not be won by the Word, might be won without it (to seek after it at least) by your conversations. Thus all must preach and be helpers of the ministers of Christ.
Direct. x. • Forsake not your faithful pastors to follow deceivers ; but adhere to them who spend and are spent for you : defend their innocency against false accusers; and refuse them not such maintenance as is needful to their entire giving up themselves to that holy work to which they are devoted. Read and study well Ephes. iv. 13-15. Acts xx. 30. It is for your sakes that your faithful pastors are singled out in the world to bear the slanders and contradictions of the wicked; and to lead the way in the fiery trial. If they would forsake you, and that sacred truth and duty that is needful to your salvation, and sell you up into the hands of cruel and deceitful men, it were as easy for them to have the applause of men, and the prosperity of the world as
others : it is perfidious ingratitude to forsake them in every trial, that must lose their lives and all the world, rather than forsake you or betray your souls: or to grudge them food and raiment that lay by the gainful employments of the world, that they may attend continually on the service of your souls.
CHAPTER VII. Directions for the Discovery of the Truth among Contenders, and
the Escape of Heresy and Deceit.. Though truth be naturally the object of man's understanding, to which it hath a certain inclination, and though it be a delightful thing to know the truth a ; yet that which is saving meeteth with so much opposition in the flesh, and in the world, that while it is applauded in the general, it is resisted and rejected in particulars : and yet while the use of holy truth is hated and obstinately cast away, the name and the barren profession of it is made the matter of the glorying of hypocrites, and the occasion of reproaching dissenters as heretics, and the world is filled with bloody persecutions, and inhuman, implacable enmities and divisions, by a wonderful zeal for the name of truth, even by those men that will rather venture on damnation, than they will obey the truth which they so contend for. Multitudes of men have tormented or murdered others as heretics, who themselves must be tormented in hell for not being Christians. It concerneth us therefore to deal very wisely and cautiously in this business.
Direct. 1. • Take heed lest there be any carnal interest or lust which maketh you unwilling to receive the truth, or inclineth you to error, that it may serve that interest or lust. It is no small number of men that are strangers or enemies to the truth, not because they cannot attain the knowledge of it, but because they would not have it to be truth. And men of great learning and natural parts are frequently thus deceived and led into error by a naughty, carnal, biassed heart : either because that error is the vulgar
a Nitebatur Socrates summo ingenii acumine, non tam illorum sententiam re. fellere, quam ipse quid verum esset, invenire. Diog. Laert. in Socrat. lib. ii, sect. 22. p. 93.