« VorigeDoorgaan »
unto life. Nor hath he promised this to all that are baptised or called Christians, but only to those that sincerely consent to learn of him, and take his counsel, and use the remedies which he prescribeth them. And is it not certain that Christ doth truly perform this undertaking? How, then, can he be a deceiver, who doth perform all that he undertaketh? Of this all true Christians have a just demonstration in themselves, which is his witness."
Object. But Christ undertaketh more than this, even to bring us to everlasting blessedness in heaven.
Answ. It is our comfort that he doth so. But methinks it is easy to believe him in that, if he perform the rest. For, 1. I have proved in the first part of this book, that by the light of nature, a future life of retribution must be expected, and that man is made for a future happiness. 2. And who then should have that happiness, but the holy and renewed souls? Doth not natural reason tell you, that so good a God will show his love to those that are good, that is, to those that love him? 3. And what think you is to be done to bring any man to heaven, but to pardon him, and make him holy? 4. And the nature of the work doth greatly help our faith. For this holiness is nothing but the beginning of that happiness.
When we find that Christ hath by his Spirit begun to make us know God, and love him, and delight in him, and praise him; it is the easier to make us believe that he will perfect it. He that promiseth to convey me safely to the antipodes, may easily be believed, when he hath brought me past the greatest difficulties of the voyage. He that will teach me to sing artificially, hath merited credit when he hath taught me the gradual tones, the scale of music, the sol-fa-ing, the clefs, the quantity, the moods, the rules of time, &c. He that causeth me to love God on earth, may be believed if he promise me that I shall love him more in heaven. And he that causeth me to desire heaven above earth, before I see it, may be believed when he promiseth, that it shall be my great delight when I am there. It is God's work to love them that love him, and to reward the obedient; and I must needs believe that God will do his work,
Spiritus Paracletus dat pignus salutis, robur vitæ, scientiæ lumen. Pignus salutis, ut ipse reddat testimonium spiritui tuo quod filius Dei sis: robur vitæ, ut quod per naturam tibi est impossibile, per gratiam ejus non solum possibile sed facile fiat: lumen scientiæ, ut cum omnia bene feceris, te servum inutilem putes; et quicquid boni in te inveneris, illi tribuas, à quo omne bonum est. Bern. Serm. 2. Pentecost.
and will never fail the just expectations of any creature. All my doubt is whether I shall do my part, and whether I shall be a prepared subject for that felicity. And he that resolveth this, resolveth all he that will make me fit for heaven, hath overcome the greatest difficulty of my belief, and I should the more easily believe that he will do the rest, and that I shall surely come to heaven when I am fit for it.
Object. But Christ doth not only undertake to regenerate and to save us, but also to justify us, and this by a strange way, by his sacrifice and merits.
Answ. The greater is his wisdom and goodness, as made known to us. I am sure an unpardoned, unrighteous person is incapable of felicity in that state; and I am sure I cannot pardon myself, nor well know which way else to seek it and I am sure that so excellent and holy a person is fitter to be wellbeloved by God than I. But I pray you remember; 1. That he undertaketh not to pardon or justify any man, whom he doth not renew and sanctify; 2. And that all his means, which seem so strange to you, are but to restore God's image on you, and fit you for his love and service. And this we can testify by experience, that he hath done in some measure in us: and if I find his means successful, I will not quarrel with it, because it seemeth strange to me. A physician may prescribe me remedies for some mortal disease, which I understand not, but seem unlikely to do the cure; but if I find that those unlikely means effect it, I will not quarrel with him, nor refuse them, till I know myself to be wiser than he, and have found out some surer means.
It is most evident, then, that he who saveth us is our Saviour, and he that saveth us from sin, will save us from punishment; and he that maketh us fit for pardon, doth procure our pardon; and he that causeth us to love God above all, doth fit us to enjoy his love; and he that maketh us both to love him and to be beloved by him, doth prepare us for heaven, and is truly the Mediator.
Sect. 112. Four or five consectaries are evident from this, which I have been proving: 1. That we have left no room for their insipid cavil, who say that we fly to a private spirit, or conceit, or enthusiasm, for the evidence of our faith.
There are some, indeed, that talk of the mere persuasion, or inward active testimony of the Spirit, as if it were an inward word that said to us, 'This is the word of God:' but this is
• Of this see Amyraldus in Thess. Salmuriens.
not it which I have been speaking of; but the objective testimony, or evidence of our regeneration, which could not be effected but, 1. By a perfect doctrine; and, 2. By the concurrent work or blessing of God's Spirit, which he would not give to confirm a lie. The Spirit is Christ's witness in the four ways forementioned; and he doth moreover cause me to believe and increase that faith, by blessing due means; but for any enthusiasm, or unproved, bare persuasion, we own it not.
Sect. 113. II. That malignity is the highway to infidelity: as the holiness of his members is Christ's last, continued witness in the world, so the malicious slandering and scorning at godly men, or vilifying them for self-interest, or the interest of a faction, is the devil's means to frustrate this testimony.
Sect. 114. III. That the destruction of true church discipline tendeth to the destruction of Christianity in the world, by laying Christ's vineyard common to the wilderness, and confounding the godly and the notoriously ungodly, and representing Christianity to pagans and infidels, as a barren notion, or a common and debauching way.
Sect. 115. IV. That the scandals and wickedness of nominal Christians is, on the same accounts, the devil's way to extirpate Christianity from the earth.
Sect. 116. V. That the great mercy of God hath provided a sure and standing means for the ascertaining multitudes of holy Christians of the truth of the Gospel, who have neither skill nor leisure to acquaint themselves with the history of the church, and records of antiquity, nor to reason it out against a learned, subtile caviller, from other extrinsic arguments.
Abundance of honest, holy souls, do live in the fervent love of God, and in hatred of sin, and in sincere obedience, in justice and charity to all men, and in heavenly desires and delights; who yet cannot well dispute for their religion; nor yet do they need to fly to believe as the church believeth, though they know not what or why, nor what the church is. But they have that Spirit within them, which is the living witness and advocate of Christ, and the seal of God, and the earnest of their salvation; not a mere pretence that the Spirit persuadeth them, and they know not by what evidence; nor yet that they count it most pious to believe strongest without evidence; when they least know why. But they have the Spirit of renovation and adoption, turning the very bent of their hearts and lives from the world to God, and from earth to heaven, and from carnality to spirituality,
and from sin to holiness. P And this fully assureth them, that Christ, who hath actually saved them, is their Saviour, and that he who maketh good all his undertaking, is no deceiver, and that God would not sanctify his people in the world by a blasphemy, a deceit and lie, and that Christ who hath performed his promise in this, which is his earnest, will perform the rest. And withal the very love to God, and holiness, and heaven, which is thus made their new nature by the Spirit of Christ, will hold fast in the hour of temptation, when reasoning otherwise is too weak. O what a blessed advantage have the sanctified against all temptations to unbelief? And how lamentably are ungodly sensualists disadvantaged, who have deprived themselves of this inherent testimony? If two men were born blind, and one of them had been cured, and had been shown the candlelight and twilight, how easy is it for him to believe his physician, if he promise also to show him the sun; in comparison of what it is to the other who never saw the light?
Of some other subservient and collateral Arguments for the Christian Verity.
HAVING largely opened the great evidence of the christian verity, viz. the Spirit in its four ways of testifying antecedently, inherently, concomitantly, and subsequently; I shall more briefly recite some other subservient arguments, which I find most satisfactory to my own understanding.
Sect. 1. I. The natural evidence of the truth of the Scripture, about the creation of the world, doth make it the more credible to me in all things else.
For that is a thing which none but God himself could reveal For the Scripture telleth what was done, before there was any man in being. And that this world is not eternal, nor of any longer continuance, is exceedingly probable, by the state of all things in it. 1. Arts and sciences are far from that maturity, which a longer continuance, or an eternity would have produced. Guns and printing are but lately found out: the body of man is not yet well anatomized; Asellius's milky veins, and Pecquet's receptacle of the chyle, and Bartholine's P O magna vis veritatis! quæ contra hominum ingenia, calliditatem, solertiam, contraque fictas omnium insidias facilè se per se ipsam defendat!-Cic. pro Cœli.
glandules, and the vasa lymphatica, are of late discovery: Galilæus's glasses, and his four Medicæan planets, and the lunary mutations of Venus, and the strange either opacous parts and shape of Saturn, or the proximity of two other stars which misshape it to our sight, the shadowy parts of the moon, &c. with the innumerable stars in the via lactea, &c., were all unknown to former ages. Gilbert's magnetical discoveries, (I speak not of those questionable inferences which Campanella and others contradict,) the nature of many minerals and plants, the chief operations and effects of chemistry, abundance of secrets for the cure of many diseases, even the most excellent medicaments, are all of very late invention. Almost all arts and sciences are increasing towards perfection. Ocular demonstrations by the telescope, and sensible experiments, are daily multiplied: yea, the world itself is not all discovered to any one part; but a great part of it was but lately made known even to the Europeans, whose knowledge is greatest, by Columbus, and Americus Vesputianus ; and it is not long since it was first measured by a circumnavigation. If the world had been eternal, or of much longer duration than the Scripture speaketh, it is not credible that multiplied experiences, would not have brought it above that infancy of knowledge in which it so long continued.
Object. Cursed wars by fire and depopulation, consume all antiquities, and put the world still to begin anew.
Answ. It doth indeed do much this way; but it is not so much that war could do: for when it is in one country, others are free, and some would fly, or lie hid, or survive, who would. preserve arts and sciences, and be teachers of the rest. Who can think now that any wars are likely to make America, or Galilæus's stars, unknown again, or any of the fore-named inventions to be lost?
2. Moreover, it is strange, if the world were eternal, or much older than Scripture speaketh, that no part of the world should show any older monument of antiquity; no engraven stones or plates; no mausoleums, pyramids, or pillars; no books; no chronological tables; no histories, or genealogies, or other memorials and records. I know to this, also, cursed wars may contribute much; but not so much, as to leave nothing to inquisitive successors.
Sect. 2. II. It greatly confirmeth my belief of the holy Scriptures, to find by certain experience, the original and universal pravity of man's nature, how great it is, and wherein it doth