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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 are 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 pope; 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 evidences 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 them '. And that not as prophets or lawgivers to the
! 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. citantn 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 required* no constrained confession. I cannot receive any man but him that is willing: 1 cannot give ear, but to him that entreateth, &c. Ita ct Origen. ibid, citat. 2 Cor. i. 24. Gal. i. 7, 8. 2 Cor. x. 8. xiii. 10. 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.
Direct, vn. '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, vni. '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 »; 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, i. '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 JAP. VII.J CHRISTIAN ECCLESIASTICS. 135 opinion, and necessary to maintain their popular reputation, and avoid reproach; or because it is the way of men in power, and necessary to their preferment and greatness in ""'• 'fee world; or because the truth is contrary to their fleshly '"- lists and pleasures, or contrary to their honour and worldly interest, and would hazard their reputations or their lives. _ low loath is a sensual, ungodly man to believe, that " with)ut holiness none shall see God," and that he "that is in Christ is a new creature, and that if any man have not the spirit of Christ, the same is none of his, and that if they live after the flesh they shall die." How loath is the am""'bitious minister to believe that the way of Christ's service lieth not in worldly pomp, or ease, or pleasures, but in taking up the cross and following Christ in self-denial, and in being as the servant of all, in the unwearied performance of careful oversight, and compassionate exhortations unto all the flock. Let a controversy be raised about any of these points, and the mind of lazy, ambitious men doth presently fall in with that part which gratifieth their fleshly lusts, and excuseth them from that toilsome way of duty which they already hate. The secret lusts and vices of a false, hypocritical heart, are the commonesj'and the most powerful arguments for error; and such men are glad, that great men or learned men will give so much ease to their consciences, and shelter to their reputations, as to countenance, or make a controversy at least of that which their lusts desire to be true. Above all therefore see that you come not to inquire after truth with an unsanctified heart, and unmortified lusts, which are a bias to your minds, and make you warp from the truth which you inquire after: for if the carnal mind neither is, nor can be subject to the law of God, you may easily perceive that it will be loath to believe it; when in so doing they believe their own condemnation. An honest, sanctified heart is fittest to entertain the truth.
'Nitebalur Socrates summo ingciiti acumiiir, non tarn illortim sententiaiu refellere, quam ipse quid vcrum esset, invenire. Diog Larrt. in Socral. lib, ii, sect. Ti. p. 93.
Direct, ii. ' Seek after the truth, for the love of truth, and love it especially for its special use, as it formeth the heart and life to the image and will of God; and not for the fanciful delight of knowing; much less for carnal, worldly ends b." No means are used at all as means, where
b Socrates de ethice, et in officinis, et in publico quotidie philosophans, e* potius inquirenda hortabatur, quae mores instruerent, et quorum osus nobis domi esset nveessarius. Diog. Laert. in Soerat.