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12. Christ giveth a great deal of mercy to them that never heard of him or know him: and he giveth far more mercy to believers, than they have a particular knowledge or belief of°. 13. There is no salvation but by Christ the Saviour of the world; though there be more mercy from Christ, than there is faith in Christ».
14. No man could ever be saved without believing in God as a merciful, pardoning, saving God, though many have been saved who knew not the person of Christ, determinately. For he that cometh to God must believe that God is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; who is no respecter of persons, but in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of himq.
15. All nations on earth that have not the Gospel, are obliged by God to the use of certain means, and improvement of certain mercies, in order or tendency to their salvation. And it is their sin if they use them notr. 16. God hath appointed no means in vain, which men must either not use, or use despairingly. But his command to use any means for any end, containeth (though not an explicit promise, yet) great and comfortable encouragement to use that means in hope -.
17. Therefore the world is now in comparison of the Catholic church, much like what it was before Christ's incarnation in comparison of the Jews' church; who yet had many ways great advantage, though God was not the God of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles, who had a law written on their hearts, and an accusing or excusing conscience. 18. Those over-doing divines who pretend to be certain, that all the world are damned that are not Christians, do add to God's Word, and are great agents for satan to tempt men to infidelity, and to atheism itself, and to dissuade man
» Psal. cxlv. 9. 1 Tim. iv. 10. Rom. x. 20. P Acts iv. 12. Johnxiv. 6.
i Heb. xi. 6. Acts x. 35. 2Thess. i. 11,12. Jer. x. 25. Rom. x. 12—15.
'Acts xiv. 17. x«i. 27—30. Rom. i. 19—22. ii. 4. 7. 10. 14, 15. Is*. 1v. 6, r.
» Jonah iv. 2. Hi. 10. Acts x. 35. Mal.iii. 14. Isa. xlv. 19. Deut. xxxii. 47. Mai. i. 10. Prov. i. 22—24. Gen. iv. 7. Rom. ii. iii.
kind from discerning the infinite goodness of God; and occasion many to deny the immortality of the soul, rather than they will believe, that five parts in six of the world now, and almost all before Christ's incarnation, have immortal souls purposely created in them, to be damned without any propounded means and possibility-natural of remedy; and as I know they will pour out their bitter censure on these lines (which I could avoid if I regarded it more than truth) so with what measure they mete, it shall be measured to them: and others will damn them as confidently as they damn almost all the world: and I will be bold to censure that they are Undoers of the church by Over-doing. See more in my "Vindication of God's Goodness."
Quest, ctvm. Should not Christians take up with Scripturewisdom only, without studying philosophy and other heathens' human learning? Answ. I have already proved the usefulness of common knowledge called human learning, by twenty reasons in my book called " The Unreasonableness of Infidelity," Part ii. sect. 23. p. 163. to which I refer the reader: and only say now, 1. Grace presupposeth nature; we are men in order of nature at least before we are saints, and reason is before supernatural revelation. 2. Common knowledge therefore is subservient unto faith: we must know the Creator and his works; and the Redeemer restoreth us to the due knowledge of the Creator: human learning in the sense in question is also Divine, God is the author of the light of nature, as well as of grace. We have more than heathens, but must not therefore have less, and cast away the good that is common to them and us; else we must not have souls, bodies, reason, health, time, meat, drink, clothes, &c., because heathens have them. God's works are honourable, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein; and physical philosophy is nothing but the knowledge of God's works. 3. And the knowledge of languages is necessary both for human converse, and for the understanding the Scriptures themselves. The Scriptures contain not a Greek and Hebrew grammar to understand the languages in which they are written, but suppose us otherwise taught those tongues that we may interpret them. 4. The use of the Gospel is not to teach us all things needful to be known, but to teach us, on supposition of our common knowledge, how to advance higher to supernatural saving knowledge, faith, love and practice. Scripture telleth us not how to build a house, to plough, sow, weave, or make our works of art. Every one that learneth his country tongue of his parents hath human learning of the same sort with the learning of Greek and Hebrew: he that learneth not to read, cannot read the Bible. And he that understandeth it not in the original tongues, must trust other men's words that have human learning, or else remain a stranger to it'.
But though none but proud fools will deny the need of that human learning which improveth nature, and is subservient to our knowledge of supernatural revelations, yet well doth Paul admonish us, to take heed that none deceive us by vain philosophy, and saith that the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God, and that the knowledge of Christ crucified is the true Christian philosophy or wisdom. For indeed the dark philosophers groping after the knowledge of God, did frequently stumble, and did introduce abundance of logical and physical vanities, uncertainties and falsities, under the name of philosophy, by mere niceties and high pretendings, seeking for the glory of wisdom to themselves; when as it is one thing to know God's works and God in them, and another thing to compose a system of physics and metaphysics containing abundance of errors and confusion, and jumbling a few certainties with a greatmany uncertainties and untruths, and every sect pulling down what others asserted, and all of them disproving the methods and assertions of others, and none proving their own. And the truth is, after all latter discoveries, there is yet so much error, darkness, uncertainty and confusion in the philosophy of every pretending sect, (the Peripatetics, the Stoics, the Pythagoreans and Platonists, much more the Epicureans, the Lullianists, the Cartesians, Telesius,
• Prov. ii—vi. Psal. xcii. 5, 6. civ. 24, 25. cxiii. 5, 6. cvii. 8. 15. 21. lxvi. 3, 4. cxi. 2—6. cxlv. 7—11. 17—19. Acts ii. 6—9. xxi. 40. xxiv. 2. 1 Cor. xiv. 2. 4. 9.13,14. 19. 26, 27. Rev. ix. 11. xiv. 16. v. 9. Psal. xix. 1—3. xciv. 10. cxxxix. 6. Prov. ii. 1—4. 8—10. 12. 1 Cor. xv. 34. Prov. xix. 2. Job xxxii. 8. xxxviii. 36. Yet I refer the reader to my "Treatise of Knowledge," which sheweth the vanity of pretended learning. Campanella, Patricius, Gassendus, &c.) that it is a wonder that any that ever thoroughly tried them, can be so weak as to glory much of the certainties and methods of any, which hitherto are so palpably uncertain, and full of certain errors. We may therefore make use of all true human learning, real and organical, (and he is the happy scholar who fasteneth upon the Certain and Useful parts well distinguished from the rest, and truly useth them to their great and proper ends): but niceties and fooleries which some spend their lives in for mere ostentation, and also uncertain presumptions, should be much neglected; and the great, certain, necessary, saving verities of morality and the Gospel must be dearly loved, and thankfully embraced, and studiously learned, and faithfully practised, by all that would prove wise men at last".
Quest, Clix. If we think that Scripture and the law of nature do in any point contradict each other, which may be the standard by which the other must be tried?Answ. 1. It is certain that they never do contradict each other: 2. The law of nature is either that which is very clear by natural evidence, or that which is dark (as degrees of consanguinity unfit for marriage, the evil of officious lies, &c.). 3. The Scriptures also have their plain and their obscurer parts. 4. A dark Scripture is not to be expounded contrary to a plain, natural verity. 5. A dark and doubtful point in nature is not to be expounded contrary to a plain and certain Scripture. 6. To suppose that there be an apparent contradiction in cases of equal clearness or doubtfulness, is a case not to be supposed; but he that should have such a dream, must do as he would do if he thought two texts to be contradictory, that is, he must better study till he doth see his error; still remembering that natural evidence hath this advantage, that it is, 1. First in order,
» Col. ii. 8, 9. 23. 1 Cor.ii. 1. 4—6.18. iii. 19, 2 Cor. i. 12. Job xxriii. •2!&. Prov. i. 7. ix. 10. Johnxvii. 3. Gal.iv. 9. Eph. iii. 10. 1 John ii. 13, 14. Col. i. 9. 27, 28. Eph. vi. 19. 1 Cor. ii. 11. Col. iii. 16. Acts xvii. 18, 19. fee. Eph. iv. 18,19. Hos.iv. 1. vi. 6. Psal. cxix. 99. 2 Pet. iii. 18. i.3. 5.8. Col. ii. :;. iii. 10. Phil. iii. 8. Eph. iii. 19. i. 17. Rom. i. 20,21. Eccl. i.16—18. 1 Cor. viii. 1.11. xiii. 2—I, »• Rom. ii. 20. James iii. 13,14. 17. Jer. iv. 22. 1 Cor. viii. 2. 2. And most common and received by all; but supernatural evidence hath this advantage, that it is for the most part the most clear and satisfactory".
Quest, Clx. May we not look that God should yet give us more revelations of his will, than there are already made in Scripture?Answ. You must distinguish between, 1. New laws or covenants to mankind, and new predictions or informations of a particular person. 2. Between what may possibly be, and what we may expect as certain or probable. And so I conclude, 1. That it is certain that God will make no other covenant, testament or universal law, for the government of mankind or the church as a rule of duty and of judgment. Because he hath oft told us, that this covenant and law is perfect, and shall be in force as our rule till the end of the world y. Object. 'So it was said of the law of Moses, that it was to stand for ever, yea, of many ceremonies in it.' Answ. 1. It is in the original only,' for ages and ages ;' or 'togenerations and generations,' which we translate ' for ever, ' when it signifieth but 'to many generations.' 2. It is nowhere said, of Moses's law as such, that it should continue either till the end of the world, or till the day of judgment, as it is said of the Gospel. And 3. It is not said that he will add no more to the former testament, but contrarily, that he will make a new covenant with them, &c. But here in the Gospel he peremptorily resolveth against all innovations and additions 2.
2. It is certain that God will make no new Scripture or inspired Word as an infallible, universal rule for the exposition of the Word already written. For, 1. This were an addition which he hath disclaimed, and, 2. It would imply such an insufficiency in the Gospel to its ends (as being not intelligible) as is contrary to its asserted perfection, and, 3.
* 1 John i. 1—3. Heb. ii. 3, 4.
i <3a).i.7—9. Matt, xxviii. 2O. 2 Thess. i. 10, 11. Mark xvi. 15,16. •Rev xiv. 6. xxii. 18, 19. Heb. vii. 28, 29. lTim. i. 16. Rom. vi. 22. Johu v. 22. 24- vi. 27. 40. 47. xii.50. Heb. i. 7—9.