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plainly appropriated to the time and persons. 5. And many actions were manifestly occasional, without any intimation of reason or purpose of obliging others to imitation. For instance, 1. Christ's preaching sometimes on a mountain, sometimes in a ship, sometimes in a house, and sometimes in the synagogues, doth shew that all these are lawful in season on the like occasion: but he purposed not to oblige men to any one of them alone. 2. So Christ's giving the sacrament of his body and blood, in an upper room, in a private house after supper, to none but ministers, and none but his family, and but to twelve, and on the fifth day of the week only, and in the gesture of a recumbent, leaning, sitting; all these are plainly occasional, and not intended as obliging to imitation: for that which he made a law of, he separated in his speeches, and commanded them to do it in remembrance of him till his coming. And Paul expoundeth the distinction, 1 Cor. xi. in his practice. So the promise of the spirit of revelation and miracles is expounded by the event, as the seal of the Gospel and Scripture, proper to those times in the main. So the primitive Christians selling their estates, and distributing to the poor, or laying it down at the apostles' feet, was plainly appropriated to that time, or the like occasions, by the reason of it; which was suddenly to shew the world what the belief of heaven through the promises of Christ, could make them all, and how much their love was to Christ and one another, and how little to the world; and also by the cessation of it, when the persecutions abated, and the churches came to any settlement; yea, and at first it was not a thing commanded to all, but only voluntarily done. So the women's veil, and the custom of kissing each other as a token of love, and men's not wearing long hair, were the customs of the country there ordered and improved by the apostles about sacred things; but not introduced into other countries that had no such custom. So also anointing was in those countries taken for salubrious, and refreshing to the body, and a ceremony of initiation into places of great honour: whereupon it was used about the sick, and God's giving the gift healing in those times was frequently conjunct with this means. So that hence the anointing of the sick came up; and the ancient Christians turned it into an initiating ceremony, because we are kings and priests to God. Now these occasions extend not to those countries where anointing neither was of such use, or value, or signification. So also Paul's becoming a Jew to the Jews, and being shaved, and purifying himself, and circumcising Timothy, are evidently temporary compliances in a thing then lawful, for the avoiding of offence, and for the furtherance of the Gospel, and no obligatory, perpetual law to us. And so most divines think the eating of things strangled, and blood, were forbidden for a time to them only that conversed with the Jews, Acts xv. Though Beckman have many reasons for the perpetuity, not contemptible. So the office of deaconesses (and some think of deacons) seemeth to be fitted to that time, and state, and condition of Christians. And where the reasons and case are the same, the obligations will be the same. In a word, the text itself will one way or other shew us, when a command or example is universally and durably obligatory, and when not.
Quest, cxxxvn. How much of the Scripture is necessary to salvation, to be believed, and understood?Answ. This question is the more worthy consideration, that we may withal understand the use of catechisms, confessions and creeds (of which after), and the great and tender mercies of God to the weak, and may be able to answer the cavils of the Papists against the Scriptures, as insufficient to be the rule of faith and life, because much of it is hard to be understood. 1. He that believeth God to be true, and the Scripture to be his Word, must needs believe all to be true, which he believeth to be his Word. 2. All the Scripture is profitable to our knowledge, love and practice; and none ofit to be neglected, but all to be loved, reverenced and studied, in due time and order, by them that have time and capacity to do it. 3. All the Holy Scriptures, either as to matter or words, are not so necessary, as that no man can be saved, who doth not either believe or understand them; but some parts of it are more necessary than others. 4. It is not of necessity to salvation to believe every book or verse in Scripture, to be canonical, or written by the Spirit of God. For as the Papists' canon is larger than that which the Protestants own; so if our canon should prove defective of any one book, it would not follow that we could not be saved for want of a sufficient faith. The churches immediately after the apostles' time, had not each one all their writings, but they were brought together in time, and received by degrees, as they had proof of their being written by authorized, inspired persons. The second of Peter, James, Jude, Hebrews and Revelations were received in many churches since the rest. And if some book be lost, (as Enoch's prophecy, or Paul's epistle to the Laodiceans, or any other of his epistles not named in the rest) or if any hereafter should be lost or doubted of, as the Canticles, or the second or third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, 8cc., it would not follow, that all true faith and hope of salvation were lost with it. It is a controversy whether 1 John v. 7. and some other particular verses be canonical or not, because some Greek copies have them, and some are without them: but whoever erreth in that only, may be saved. 5. There are many hundred or thousand texts of Scripture, which a man may possibly be ignorant of the meaning of, and yet have a saving faith, and be in a state of salvation. For no man living understandeth it all. 6. The Holy Scripture is an entire comely body, which containeth not only the essential parts of the true religion, but also the integral parts, and the ornaments and many accidents; which must be distinguished, and not all taken to be equal ". more adorned Christians, and to promote our knowledge of greater things.
7. So much as containeth the essentials of true religion, must be understood and believed of necessity to salvation; and so much as containeth the integrals of religion doth greatly conduce to our salvation, both that we may be the surer and the better Christians, as having greater helps to both. The very adjuncts also have their use to make us the
'Rom. xiv. 17, 18. xiii. 8—10. 1 Cor. xv. 2—6. Mark xvi. 16.
Quest, cxxxvin. How may we know the fundamentals, essentials, or what parts are necessary to salvation? And is the Papists' way allowable that (some of them) deny that distinction, and make the difference to be only in the degrees of men's opportunities of knowledge?Answ. 1. Those Papists' perverseness can mean no better than that Christianity itself is not necessary to salvation, to those that have not opportunity to know it (as Johnson's Rejoinder to me, and Sancta Clara and many others plainly intimate) and were that never so true and certain, it were nothing to the question between them and us, which is, What are the essentials of Christianity? And what is necessary to salvation, where Christianity is necessary? or where the Christian religion is made known, and men may come to the knowledge of it, if they will do their best? This is the true state of our controversy with them. And whereas they would make all the parts of Christian faith and practice equally necessary, where men have a capacity and ability to know, believe and practice them, it is a gross deceit, unworthy of men pretending to a mediocrity of knowledge in the nature of religion; and thereby they make all sins and errors as equal as all duties and truths. Whereas, 1. There is no man that hath not some error and some sin. 2. There is no man that doth all that ever he was able to do, to understand all the truth. 3. Therefore there is no man whose errors themselves are not (many of them at least) culpable or sinful. 4. And they that distinguish between mortal and venial sins, and yet will not distinguish between mortal and venial errors, are either blind, or would keep others blind. As it is not so damning a sin for a man to think a vain thought, or to speak a vain word, as not to love God, or holiness, (no, though he was more able to have forborne that idle word, than to have loved God;) so it is not so mortal a sin, (that is, inconsistent with a justified state) to mistake in a small matter, (as who was the father of Arphaxad, or what year the world was drowned in, &c.) as to blaspheme the Holy Ghost, or deny Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of the world, or to deny that there is a God, or everlasting life, or a difference between good and evil. All sins are not equal in magnitude or danger. Therefore all errors are not equal in magnitude, sinfulness or danger. 2. And what priest is able to know whom to take for a Christian, and baptizable upon such terms as these? Who knoweth just what opportunities of knowledge other men have had, and what impediments? And will they indeed baptize a man that is a heathen, because he had not opportunity to come to the knowledge of Christianity? I think they will not: or will they deny baptism to one that knoweth and believeth only all the articles of the creed, and the chief points of religion, because he knoweth not as much more, as he had opportunity to know? I think not. Do not these men perceive how they condemn themselves? For do they not say themselves, that baptism to the due receiver washeth away sin, and puts the person in a state of life? O when will God deliver his poor church from factious deceivers?3. Either Christianity is something, and discernible, or nothing, and undiscernible. If the latter, then Christians are not to be distinguished from heathens and infidels. If the former, then Christianity hath its constitutive parts, by which it is what it is. And then it hath essential parts distinguishable from the rest. 4. The word ' fundamentals' being but a metaphor, hath given room to deceivers and contenders to make a controversy, and raise a dust about it. Therefore I purposely use the word ' essentials' which is not so liable to men's cavils. 5. Those are the essentials of Christianity, which are necessary to the baptism of the adult. Know but that, and you answer all the pratings of the Papists, that bawl out for a list of fundamentals. And sure it is not this day unknown in the Christian world, either what a Christian is, or who is to be baptized: do not the priests know it, who baptize all that are christened in the world? And why is baptism called our christening, if it make us not Christians? And why hath Christ promised, that "he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved f;" if that so much faith as is ne'Mark xvi. 16.