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Eunapius, Lucian, and Porphyry, and Julian, and all such enemies may convince him: he shall read the history of their sufferings, which will tell him, that certainly such a sort of persons there was then in the world.
Sect. 70. The succession of pastors and preachers in all generations, is another proof: for it was their office to read publicly, and preach this same Scripture to the church and world, as the truth of God.
I speak not of a succession of pastors in this one city or that, or by this or that particular way of ordination, having nothing here to do with that: but that a certain succession there hath been since the days of the apostles, is past question: for, 1. Else there had been no particular churches; 2. Nor any baptism; 3. Nor any public worship of God; 4. Nor any synods, or discipline: but this is not denied.
Sect. 71. IV. The continuance of baptism, which is the kernel or sum of all Christianity, proveth the continuance of the christian faith. For all Christians in baptism, were baptised into the vowed belief and obedience of the Son and Holy Ghost, as well as of the Father.
Sect. 72. V. The delivering down of the three breviate symbols, of faith, desire, and duty,—the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Decalogue, is the churches' delivery of the christian religion, as that which all Christians have believed.
Sect. 73. VI. The constant communion of the church in solemn assemblies, and setting apart the Lord's-day to that use, was a delivery of the christian faith, which those assemblies all professed to believe.
Sect. 74. VII. The constant preaching and reading of the same Scriptures in those assemblies, and celebrating there the sacrament of Christ's death, and the custom of openly professing their belief, and the prayers and praises of God, for the resurrection and miracles of Christ, are all open, undeniable testimonies that these things were believed by those churches.
Sect. 75. VIII. The frequent disputes which Christians in all ages have held with the adversaries of the Scriptures and Christianity, do show that they believed all these Scriptures, and the doctrines and miracles therein contained.
Sect. 76. IX. The writings of the Christians in all ages, their apologies, commentaries, histories, devotional treatises, all bear the same testimony, that we have these things by their tradition.
Sect. 77. X. The confessions, sufferings, and martyrdom of many in most ages, do bear the same testimony, that they believed this, for which they suffered; and that posterity received it from them.
Sect. 78. XI. The decrees and canons of the synods or councils of the bishops of the churches, are another part of the history of the same belief.
Sect. 79. XII. Lastly, the decrees and laws of princes concerning them, are another part of the history; showing that they did believe these things.
Sect. 80. And if any question whether our Scriptures which contain these histories and doctrines be indeed the same which these churches received and delivered from the apostles, he may easily be convinced, as followeth.
Sect. 81. I. Various copies of it in the Hebrew and Greek text, were very quickly scattered about the world, and are yet found in all nations agreeing in all material passages.
Sect. 82. II. These Scriptures were translated into many languages, of which there are yet extant, the Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Persian, &c., which agree in all material things.
Sect. 83. III. It was the stated office of the ministers in all the churches in the world, to read these Scriptures openly to the people, and preach on them in all their solemn assemblies: and a thing so publicly maintained and used, could not possibly be altered materially.
Sect. 84. IV. All private Christians were exhorted to read and use the same Scriptures also, in their families, and in secret. Sect. 85. V. This being through so many nations of the world, it was not possible that they could all agree upon a corruption of the Scriptures: nor is there mention in any history of any attempt of any such agreement.
Sect. 86. VI. If they would have met together for that end, they could not possibly have all consented; because they were of so many minds, and parties, and inclinations.
Sect. 87. VII. Especially when all Christians by their religion, take it to be matter of damnation, to add to, or diminish from, these sacred writings, as being the inspired word of God.
Sect. 88. VIII. And every Christian took it for the rule of his faith, and the charter for his heavenly inheritance; and there. fore would certainly have had his action against the corrupters of it.
As the laws of this land, being recorded, and having lawyers and judges, whose calling is continually to use them, and men holding their estates and safety by them, if any would alter them, all the rest would quickly detect it, and make head against him.
Sect. 89. IX. Yea, the many sects and contentions among Christians, and the many heretics that were at enmity with them, would certainly have detected any combination to corrupt the Scriptures.
Sect. 90. X. Some few heretics in the beginning did attempt to bring in the Gospel of Nicodemus, and some other forged writings, and to have corrupted some parts of Scripture; and the churches presently cried them down.
Sect. 91. XI. Most heretics have pleaded these same Scriptures and denied them not to be genuine : yea, Julian, Celsus, Porphyry, and other heathens, did not deny it, but took it as a
Sect. 92. XII. The ancient writers of the church, Clemens, Ignatius, Justin, Irenæus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius, Athenagoras, Lactantius, Eusebius, Nazianzen, Nyssen, Basil, Chrysostom, Epiphanius, Hierom, Augustin, &c., do all cite these Scriptures as we now have them in all things material.
Sect. 93. XIII. The christian emperors have inserted the mention of some passages in their laws, in the same words as they are in our Bibles.
Sect. 94. XIV. Several councils have not only cited several passages out of them, but pleaded them still as the word of God, and enumerated the particular books which constitute the whole system.
All this set together, will tell any man of reason, consideration, and impartiality, that we have much fuller certainty that these Scriptures are the same which the first churches received from the apostles, than they can have that Virgil's, Ovid's, Cicero's, or Plutarch's works are theirs; or that the statutes of this land are current. Yea, were it not lest I be too tedious, I might distinctly show you the forementioned, threefold certainty of all this. 1. A moral certainty of the strongest human faith 2. A natural certainty, grounded upon physical impossibilities of the contrary; 3. And somewhat of a divine, supernatural attestation, by the continued blessing of God on the Scriptures, for the sanctifying of souls in every age.
And this bringeth me up to the last part of this chapter. I have all this while been showing how the three first parts of the Spirit's witness to Christ, are made known to us, viz. prophecy, the holiness of the doctrine, and miracles. I come now in a word to the fourth.
Sect. 95. IV. How may we certainly know the fourth part of the Spirit's witness to Christ, viz. the success of his doctrine in the regeneration of his disciples, and the actual saving them from their sins? f
Answ. I shall answer this, 1. As to the times past; And, 2. As to the present age.
Sect. 96. I. What men have been in times past, we have but these three ways to know: 1. By the history of those ages: 2. By their remaining works: 3. By their successors, in whom their belief and qualities are continued. And, 1. That there have been holy persons in all ages, yea, that all true Christians were such, we have as good testimony as history can afford; whether you will judge of them by their profession, life, or sufferings. 2. Their remaining works are very great testimonies what a spirit of holiness, charity, and justice, doth breathe in the writings of those holy men, which are come to our hands. Clemens Romanus, Ignatius, Cyprian, Ephrem Syrus, Macarius, Augustin, Gregory Nazianzen, Gr. Nyssen, Basil, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Salvian, Cassianus, Bernard, &c. 3. Those that succeed them at this day in the serious profession of Christianity, are a living history of the virtues of their ancestors.
Sect. 97. II. Of the sanctity of the Christians of this present age, there is a double knowledge to be had: 1. By them that are regenerate themselves; 2. By them that are not: between these ways of knowledge the difference must be great.
Sect. 98. I. As he that hath learning, or love to his parents, or loyalty to his king, or faithfulness to his friend, may know that he hath it; so may he that is renewed by the Spirit of God, and hath a predominant love to God, a heavenly mind and conversation, a hatred of sin, and delight in holiness, a love to all men, even his enemies; a contempt of the world; a mastery over his fleshly appetite, sense, and lusts; a holy government of his passions, thoughts, and tongue; with a longing desire to be
f Matt. i. 21. He shall save his peo le from their sins. Vide quæ de nomine Jesu habet Beda in Luc. ii. (l. 1. c. 7. fol. 62. p. 2.) de numero 888 in literis numeralibus 'Inass incluso.
perfect in all this, and a supporting hope to see God's glory, and enjoy him in the delights of love and praise, for evermore.
Sect, 99. This evidence of the spirit of sanctification in ourselves, is not the reason or motive of our first faith, but of our confirmation, and fuller assurance in believing afterwards: for a man must in some sort believe in Christ, before he can know that he is sanctified by him.
The rest of the motives are sufficient to begin the work of faith; and are the means which God ordinarily useth to that end.
Sect. 100. It is Christ's appointed method, that by learning of him, and using his appointed means, men be brought up to such a degree of holiness, as to be able to discern this witness in themselves, and thence to grow up to full assurance of faith and hope; therefore, if any one that hath heard the Gospel, do want this inward assuring testimony, it is because they have been false to the truth and means before revealed to them.
He that will but inquire into the Gospel, and receive it and obey it so far as he hath reason to do it, and not be false to his own reason and interest, shall receive that renewing, sanctifying Spirit, which will be an abiding witness in himself. But if he will reject known truth, and refuse known duty, and neglect the most reasonable means that are proposed to him, he must blame himself if he continue in unbelief, and want that evidence which others have. Suppose, that in a common plague, one physician should be famed to be the only and infallible curer of all that take his remedies; and suppose many defame him, and say, 'He is but a deceiver,' and others tell you, 'He hath cured us, and many thousands, and we can easily convince you, that his remedies have nothing in them that is hurtful, and therefore you may safely try them, especially having no other help :' he that will so far believe in him, and trust him now, as to try his remedies,
Sicut ars in eo qui nactus est illam, ita gratia Spiritus in eo qui recepit, semper quidem præsens, at non perpetuò operans est.-Basil. de Spir, sanct. Animæ afflatæ ac illustratæ Spiritu, fiunt et ipsæ spirituales; et in alios gratiam emittunt: hinc futurorum præscientia, arcanorum intelligentia, occultorum comprehensio, donorum distributiones, cœlestis conversatio, cum Angelis chorea; hinc gaudium nunquam finiendum, hinc in Deo perseverantia, et cum Deo similitudo, et quo nihil sublimius expeti potest, hinc est ut divinus fias.-Basil. Ibid. Hoc itaque prodest in Deum credere, rectâ fide, Deum colere, Deum nosse, ut et bene vivendi ab illo sit nobis auxilium; et si peccaverimus, indulgentiam mereamur; non in factis quæ odit, securi perseverantes, &c.-August, de Fid, et Operib. c. 21. p. 34.