Page images

phesying, or interpretation of tongues, or the like ; if this were

; false,

1. Every unbeliever that was near them could know it to be false; and then, 1. Some would have confuted it. 2. None would have believed it, and been converted by it.

2. Every Christian would have known this to be a false report, for men to write and publish that they had those gifts, which they knew they had not; and do those works which they do not, it would certainly have made all Christians deride and forsake them, and some of them publish the deceit. But yet to come closer to my text : when the apostle shall reprove the church, as Paul did the Corinthians, for too much using and affecting the gift of tongues, and endeavour to restrain them in it, and bid them use it but by two or three, and not so much neither without an interpreter, if there had been no such gift as this of tongues among them, or the rest which he mentioneth of healing and miracles,) would not these Corinthians have derided Paul? Would they not have been unchristianed and unchurched by such reproofs as these? But yet, to come nearest of all, when false teachers come among them, and persuade them of the necessity of obeying the law of Moses in conjunction with Christ; and some bring the person of the apostle Paul into disgrace with them for opposing this: when the apostle shall make this open challenge to them to answer this argument, 'Did you receive the spirit, and do you work miracles by the works of the law, or by faith in Christ ?'. When he shall appeal to the miracles which he wrought among them, to prove the truth of his apostleship, “Verily the marks of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs and wonders, and mighty deeds.” (2 Cor. xii. 12.) When he shall threaten to deliver offenders to Satan, and make them supplicants to be . spared. (1 Cor. v., and 2 Cor. ii.) Nay, when he shall appeal to the Spirit in themselves, received by his ministry, and tell them, “He that hath not the spirit of Christ is none of his; and Christ dwelleth in them, unless they are reprobates.” And if he do dwell in them, and they have the Holy Ghost, it was by his ministry and the faith of Christ. (2 Cor. xii. 5.) Is it possible that any man of reason should be deceived by them that spoke such things, if they were not true?

When men's minds are exasperated against us, they will be glad of any matter against us : so were many of the Corinthians and Galatians against Paul; they were become his enemies for telling

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

them the truth, in opposition to the jewish Christians. Now was this a likely way for him to vindicate himself or the christian doctrine, to make solemn appeals to themselves, even the whole churches, whether the Holy Ghost which they generally had, and the miracles which were commonly done among them, were not by the doctrine and faith of Christ ? Yet so he doth in my text; 1. To call them angrily, bewitched fools and madmen, for going against the same doctrine, by which themselves had received the Spirit, and by which miracles were still done among them: would they not all have hated the very name of Christianity, if this had been false? I pray do but


the like case to ourselves, if we were in a case of doubt between several teachers, and one of them should write thus to public churches, even the churches of England, Scotland, Holland, Germany; 'I appeal to yourselves, whether you did not by that doctrine which I delivered to you, receive the Holy Ghost, by which you all received either gifts of tongues, healing, prophesying, or the like, by which miracles are still wrought among you ? I challenge you to answer this argument; if you were not bewitched fools and madmen, you would never offer to turn from that doctrine by which yourselves do these things, to that by which you never received the Spirit. If all this were false, would not all these churches forsake that teacher, and renounce the doctrine which depended upon so notorious an untruth? And could not every enemy, yea, every silly person, know whether this were true or no? Would they not all say, 'Wliy, what doth the man mean to talk of common miracles, and that done among us, and by ourselves, and of the Spirit in us, when we know we have no such thing?' And yet Paul's epistles to

?' the Corinthians and Galatians run in this strain : I think God suffered those false teachers to oppose the truth the rather that we might see afterward how it was defended. I conclude, therefore, that if ever any history in the world had certain evidence of the truth of the fact in it, and that there was no deceit, or overreaching of the ignorant by shows, then certainly this history of the Gospel hath much more; for greater is scarce possible.

2. And that we have the records or transcripts of those histories or writings, without any considerable corruption, is a truth that any learned man may be as easily satisfied in, without any special illumination of the Spirit; a truth that hath fuller evidence than for any other book in the world can be pro

duced. For, 1. The copies were numerous which were dispersed.

2. And that in many languages.
3. And that in places at the remotest distance.

4 And all Christians in all those places held their religion ripon this revelation.

5. And every heretic, and men of all opinions, alleged the same Scriptures.

6. No one church could corrupt it in any material part, but all the Christians in the world would have discovered it, and cried him down.

7. It was the constant business of ministers, whereof then every church had many, ordinarily to preach this same doctrine and Scripture. They had no greater work to mind, nor any other, but publicly and privately to acquaint people with this doctrine, and keep them in obedience to it: and if no lawyer or person can corrupt our Magna Charta but all the land would know it, and be on the head of him ; how much less could any corrupt one charter by which all the men in England should hold all their estates, and have every man a copy, or most men, and have in every town án officer on purpose to teach people the meaning of it. No one schoolmaster in England can corrupt Lilly's Grammar, because it is in every school, and is the work of every schoolmastér to teach it, and they would all presently discern it.

8. We have yet copies of the Scripture extant of very great antiquity. There is, or lately was, one in England, sent to the king from Cyril, Patriarch of Constantinople ; a very fair copy brought out of Egypt, which was wrote about two hundred and twenty years after the apostles' time.

9. All the writings of the fathers, in every age since, are full of citations of Scripture passages, and all according to our present Scripture in the substance. Clemens Romanus, that lived with Paul, and Justin Martyr, and Irenæus, and Tertullian, and Origen, Cyprian, and all the rest downward, quote abundance of sayings out of those same Scriptures : and all thecopies dispersed abroad agree in all substantials.

10. And consider also that all the churches had the same truths doctrinal and historical among them in those times, by unwritten tradition also, as is said before ; for they were preached before they were written. So that it may far more reasonably be questioned, whether those acts of parliament, or our present


Magna Charta be not counterfeit, or Lilly's or Cambden's Grammar, which yet no man of any brains can suspect, than whether these Scriptures which we receive and use, were the true writings of those holy apostles. The hand of universal tradition hath delivered them to us with more certainty than if we had received them from the hands of any apostle ourselves. For our sense may sooner deceive us than the universal sense of the first age, and the universal sense and credit of all succeeding ages.

11. Lastly. None of the enemies of Christianity, that in all ages have wrought against this, do deny these writings to be those which the apostles wrote and delivered ; as may

be in those of Celsus, Porphyry, Julian, yet extant in the fathers. Else Julian need not rail against Paul and John as he doth, for affirming Christ to be God, and other such things, if he durst have denied those to be their writings, as in Cyril, Alexandria, Nazianzen, and others that write in confutation of Julian, you may see. Blessed be that holy providence of the Governor of the world, that hath so spread, promulgated, and maintained his law to this day, that no writings in the world of any antiquity have near the like certainty.


1. But why is it that Christ would thus convincingly send abroad such abundance of the Spirit in those days ? Answer, 1. He had the old law of Moses to repeal; and that was well known to the Jews to be God's own law. And therefore if he had not brought that seal of God to his commission, and such as men might well know to be his seal, no wonder if every true subject of God had disobeyed him. Men must not believe God's law ceased or abrogated without good proof.

2. Christ had a new law to promulgate, even the law of faith and Gospel ordinances, and he must both manifest his authority before they could be received and submitted to, and also give his Spirit to enable men to keep them: for as he required new duties of fallen, disabled man, so he must give a strength proportionable.

3. Yea, then himself was to be entertained as the Redeemer of the world; which was a new work and office, and man's salvation was to lie upon the receiving of him : and this they neither could do, nor ought, without sufficient evidence or proof, that he was the Redeemer indeed. And therefore he saith, “If I had not done the works which no man else could do, you had

not had sin'. If any prophet came as from God with any new revelation, he was to prove himself to be a prophet; much more when Christ shall affirm himself to be the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world.

2. Quest. But why did not Christ continue this communication of the Holy Ghost to his churches still, seeing our unbelief is strong, and we have still need of such help as well as they ?

Answ. 1. We have the full use and benefit of the Holy Ghost which was given then, that seal that was then set to the christian doctrine and Scriptures stands there still. When Christ hath fully proved to the world the truth of his mediatorship, office, and doctrine, must he still continue the same actions ? not enough that he sealed it up once, but must he set a new seal for every man that requireth it in every age? Then miracles would be no miracles. Must your landlord seal your lease anew, every time you will causelessly question his former seal ?

Then, if Christ had done miracles among a thousand, every man that was not present, should come and say, 'Do the like before me also, or I will not believe.' Will you put God to this, that either he must work constant miracles in every age, and before every man, or else he must not be believed ? What, if all Christ's works had been done at London, and we had not seen them here in the country, or, what, if all this town had seen them except one man; should no man believe them but he that did see them ? Should no man believe that there hath been any wars and fighting in England, but those that saw the battles ? or, what, if these things had been done in our forefathers' days, should not we have believed them except they had been done in ours? We have as full testimony of Christ's and his apostles' true works, as we can have of


of these. 2. Also I answer, Christ doth still continue his Spirit to his churches, and every true member thereof, but not to the same use; and therefore not to enable them to the same work as then, “ Tongues are not for them that believe, but for them that believe not,” saith Paul; (1 Cor. xiv. 22 ;) that is to show them the power of Christ, and so convince them. But now the Scripture is sealed by these, there is not the same use or need of them. But because there is still need of the subduing of corruptions, and sanctifying our natures, and enabling us to keep the law of Christ, and conformingus to his holy image; therefore, the Spirit of sonship or sanctification is still continued. And let me tell you, even this Spirit hath enough in it

« PreviousContinue »