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churches, by which professed Christians draw the guilt of Christian blood upon themselves 12. And hereby it hath dolefully hindered the Gospel, while the persecutors have silenced many worthy, conscionable ministers of it. 13. And by this it hath quenched charity in the hearts of both sides, and taught the sufferers and the afflicters to be equally bitter in censuring if not detesting one another. 14. And the infidels seeing these dissensions and bitter passions among Christians, deride, and scorn, and hate them all. 15. Yea, such causes as these in the Latin and Greek churches have engaged not only emperors and princes against their own subjects, so that chronicles and books of martyrs perpetuate their dishonour, as Pilate's name is in the creed; but also have set them in bloody wars among themselves. These have been the fruits, and this is the tendency of usurping Christ's prerogative over his religion and worship in his church. And the greatness of the sin appeareth in these aggravations. 1. It is a mark of pitiful ignorance and pride, when dust shall thus (like Nebuchadnezzar) exalt itself against God, to its certain infamy and abasement. 2. It sheweth that men little know themselves, that think themselves fit to be the makers of a religion for so many others; and that they have base thoughts of all other men, while they think them unfit to worship God any other way, than that of their making; and think that they will all so far deny God as to take up a religion that is made by man. 3. It shews that they are much void of love to others, that can thus use them on so small occasion. 4. And it sheweth how little true sense or reverence of Christian religion they have themselves who can thus debase it, and equal their own inventions with it.
6. And it leaveth men utterly inexcusable, that will not take warning by so many hundred years' experiences of most of the churches through the world. Even when we see the yet continued divisions of the Eastern and Western churches, and all about a human religion (in the parts most contended about): when they read of the rivers of blood that have been shed in Piedmont, France, Germany, Belgia, Poland, Ireland, and the flames in England, and many other nations, and all for the human parts of men's religion! He that will yet go on and take no warning, may go read the eighteenth and nineteenth of the Revelation, and see what joy will be in heaven and earth, when God shall do justice upon such. • •>But remember that I speak all this of no other than those expressly here described. Quest, cxxxv. What are the mischiefs of men's error on the other extreme, who pretend that Scripture is a rule where it is not, and deny the aforesaid lawful things, on pretence that Scripture is a perfect rule (say sotne,for all things)?Answ. 1. They fill their own minds with a multitude of causeless scruples, which on their principles can never be resolved, and so will give themselves no rest. 2. They make themselves a religion of their own, and superstition is their daily devotion; which being erroneous, will not hang together, but is full of contradictions in itself; and which being human and bad, can never give true stability to the soul. 3. Hereby they spend their days much in melancholy troubles, and unsettled, distracting doubts and fears; instead of the joys of solid faith, and hope, and love. 4. And if they escape this, their religion is contentious, wrangling, censorious, and factious, and their zeal flieth out against those that differ from their peculiar superstitions and conceits. 5. And hereupon they are usually mutable and unsettled in their religion; this year for one, and the next for another; because there is no certainty in their own inventions and conceits. 6. And hereupon they still fall into manifold parties, because each man maketh a religion to himself, by his misinterpretation of God's Word; so that there is no end of their divisions. 7. And they do a great deal of hurt in the church, by putting the same distracting and dividing conceits into the heads of others. And young Christians, and women, and ignorant, well meaning people, that are not able to know who is in the right, do often turn to that party which they think most strict and godly, (though it be such as our Quakers). And the very good conceit of the people whom they take it from, doth settle so strong a prejudice in their mind, as no argument or evidence scarcely can work out; and so education, converse, and human estimation, breedeth a succession of dividers, and troublersof the churches. 8. They sin against God by calling good evil, and light darkness, and honouring superstition, which is the work of satan, with holy names. 9. They sin by adding to the Word of God; while they say of abundance of lawful things, 'This is unlawful, and that is against the Word of God,' and pretend that their 'Touch not, taste not, handle not,' is in the Scriptures. For while they make it a rule for every circumstance in particular, they must squeeze, and force, and wrest it, to find out all those circumstances in it which were never there; and so by false expositions make the Scriptures another thing. 10. And how great a sin is it to father satan's works on God, and to say that all these and these things are forbidden or commanded in the Scripture, and so to belie the Lord and the Word of truth. 11. It engageth all subjects against their ruler's laws and government, and involveth them in the sin of denying them just obedience; while all the statute book must be found in the Scriptures, or else condemned as unlawful. 12. It maintaineth disobedience in churches, and causeth schisms and confusions unavoidably; for they that will neither obey the pastors, nor join with the churches, till they can shew Scriptures particularly for every translation, method, metre, tune, and all that is done, must join with no churches in the world. 13. It bringeth rebellion and confusion into families, while children and servants must learn no catechism, hear no minister, give no account, observe no hours of prayer, nay, nor do any work, but what there is a particular Scripture for. 14. It sets men on enthusiastical expectations, and irrational, scandalous worshipping of God, while all men must avoid all those methods, phrases, books, helps, which are not expressly or particularly in Scripture, and men must not use their own inventions, or prudence in the right ordering of the works of religion. 15. It destroyeth Christian love and concord, while men are taught to censure all others, that use any thing in God's worship which is not particularly in Scripture, and so to censure all true worshippers in the world. 16. Yea, it will tempt men at last to be weary of their own religion, because they will find it an unsatisfactory, uncomfortable, tiresome thing, to do their own superstitious work. 17. And they will tempt all that they draw into this opinion, to be weary of religion also. And truly had not God's part, which is wise, and good, and pleasant, prevailed against the hurtfulness of men's superstition, which is foolish, bad, and unpleasant, religion had ere this been cast off as a wearisome, distracting thing; or, which is as bad, been used but to delude men. 18. Yea, it will tempt men at last to infidelity; for satan will quickly teach them to argue, that if Scripture be a perfect, particular rule, for forty things that were never there, then it is defective, and is not of God, but an undertaking of that which is not performed, and therefore is but a deceit. 19. And the notoriousness and ridiculousness of this error, will tempt the profane to make religious people a scorn. 20. Lastly, and rulers will be tempted in church and state, to take such persons for intolerable in all societies, and such whose principles are inconsistent with government. And no thanks to this opinion, if they be not tempted to dislike the Scripture itself, and instead of it to fly to the Papists' traditions, and the church's legislative sovereignty or worse. But here also remember that I charge none with all this, but those before described.
Quest, cxxxvi. How shall we know what parts of Scripture precept or example, were intended for universal, constant obligations, and what were but for the time and persons that they were then directed to? Answ. It is not to be denied, but some things in Scripture, even in the New Testament, are not laws, much less universal and perpetual. And the difference is to be found in the Scripture itself. As, 1. All that is certainly of universal and perpetual obligation, which is but a transcript of the universal and perpetual law of nature. 2. And all that which hath the express characters of universality and perpetuity upon it; and such are all the substantial parts of the Gospel; as, "Except ye repent, ye shall all perish V "Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven \" "He that believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life*." "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, and he that believeth not, shall be damned b." "Without holiness none shall see Godc." "Go, preach the gospel to all nations, baptizing them, &c., teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you d." Abundance such texts have the express characters of universality and perpetuity (which many call morality). 3. And with these we may number those which were given to all the churches, with commands to keep them, and propagate them to posterity. 4. And those that have a plain and necessary connexion to these before mentioned. 5. And those which plainly have a full parity of reason with them; and where it is evident that the command was given to those particular times and persons, upon no reasons proper to them alone, but such as were common to all others. I deny not but (as Amesius noteth after others) many ceremonial and temporary laws, are urged (when they are made) with natural and perpetual motives: but the reasons of making them were narrower, whatever the reasons of obeying them may be. On the other side, narrow and temporary precepts and examples, 1. Are void of all these foresaid characters. 2. They are about materials of temporary use. 3. Or they are but the ordering of such customs as were there before, and were proper to those countries. 4. And many speeches are