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very image of our Maker, his wisdom, truth, goodness, power,
2. Besides this objective advantage, Christianity hath an ef-
tage of the christian religion, that besides what the doctrine tendeth to of itself there is the Spirit of God within that doth second these doctrines, and take the received species of them, and impress them on the soul, and doth this effectually and potently, according to the mighty, irresistible power of the agent. I confess (and I would more would confess it considerately) that its way of working is secret to us, as is the way of the Spirit's forming us in the womb : some question; whether it be physical or moral, this way or that way; I think it may be called both, and many learned disputers do, in a blind zeal for the glory of God's strength, deny him the glory of his admirable wisdom, as if he governed not the rational creature, and healed and sanctified the souls of believers, per viam sapientiæ, but only per viam omnipotentiæ ; yea, as if his wisdom itself had not in it such an omnipotency as God will have to be observed and glorified, but the manner is past our clear and exact apprehension; and he that knows himself, and his distance from God and spiritual things, will not wonder at that. But yet, though we know not how the Spirit worketh, yet through the great mercy of God, we feel that it doth work, and what it doth work; and hence we see those holy affections in Christians, those holy breathings after God, and that sense of the evil of sin, and that conscience of duty, and those groans excited by the spirit of prayer, and those mindings of the things of another world, and those joys and spiritual comforts in life and death, and that ability to deny the flesh its desires, and to overcome all temptations from things below, and to suffer in hope of an unseen glory, and that hearty love to one another, and that ability to forgive enemies, with many the like excellencies, which are not in any other sort of men in the world. I speak of those that have truly and thoroughly received the impress and spirit of this religion, though even the half Christians go beyond all other men by far; for even they are often cleansed from the pollutions of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Christ. God will not give forth the Spirit with a false religion; no, not to make forcible these few truths of his own which the heathen, or Jewish, or Mahometan world doth detain in unrighteousness. So that you see the truth of the christian religion by the Spirit of holiness; besides that of miracles formerly.
Use II. You see here, also, what clear, evident light it is that those
men among us do sin against, who say we have lost our Scriptures, and our church, and our ministry in antichristian darkness, which hath choked the truth, and destroyed and drowned the certainty of all; and that, therefore, we must have new prophets, or apostles, and a new spirit of miracles, for the restoration of all. Do these men think that God must seal one and the same Scripture and religion with miracles, as often as they will be unbelieving? Is it not enough that he sealed it with the miracles of an age, before a thousand of witnesses in open congregations, in many countries; and that even those that quarrelled with the apostles, were forced to confess it, as being eye and ear-witnesses, being challenged to deny it if they could ? Moses once sealed his doctrine by miracles; should the Jews they would not believe it, except it were so sealed over again, in every age? Should not these wretches, that in their ignorance cry for signs and wonders afresh, forgetting, or undervaluing, the old, (like the Israelites in the wilderness,) do better to blame their own unbelieving hearts, than God's providence ? and rather beg and wait for a spirit of faith, than a spirit of miracles? Blessed be the great Governor of the world, and Lord of the church, that hath delivered us his Scriptures, and the testiinony of his first miracles, in so clear, so certain, so infallible a way, as no book or matter of fact in the world hath the like. For all that is said against Rome, true or false, this is certainly true, that God hath kept them in the acknowledgment of his Scripture, though they sinfully magnify unwritten traditions of doctrines; yet they confess all the Scripture to be the word of God, and to be true, which we maintain, and have carefully preserved it to this day. And what silly souls are those to think, either that Ronie could have corrupted the Scripture considerably, if they had been willing, (there being so many thousand copies among them, and some of more conscience than such corrupters would be,) or that the church of Rome was the only keeper of Scripture? - Do they not know there are far more Christians in the world than all those of the church of Rome are? And that all they have kept the Scripture among them as safely and certainly as we could desire, as to all considerable things? Have not all the Greek churches in Muscovy, and through all the Turks' dominions in Asia and Africa, the Scripture pure? And have not the Ethiopian churches, which are exceedingly large, all the same Scripture as the church of Rome have, and we have? Is there any book that ever the world saw, that had such means to preserve it from alteration or corruption? When so great a part of the world, and almost all the learned part of the world, have had it among them, as that which they held their hope of salvation by, and that which they take for their guide in worshipping God, having all ministers, whose constant office hath been to read it, and expound it in the open congregations; and have, every week, one day in seven set apart, wherein all the people should come together to hear the Scripture read and expounded to them, as the law, by which they all must live, and by which God will judge them at the last. Let men be men, and not renounce their reason, nor turn stark mad, and let them tell us how it is possible that such a book should be considerably depraved, and the depravation take so generally through all the world, as that all the books should be the very saine to this day? Except here and there a letter or inconsiderable word that differs through the fault of some transcribers : as our printers may now misprint a word,
2. Besides, do not these men see God accompanying this doctrine to this day, with the Spirit of sanctification and consolation ? Certainly these men do but tempt God, and delude themselves and others, by talking of the loss of Scriptures, and church, and ministry, and manifest their own gross ignorance and unbelief. Though, for my part, I confess that I am strongly persuaded that some wicked, subtle Jesuits have fomented this opinion among us : for they may well know, that if they can once get the people to believe, that either there is no church or ministry, or Scripture, or else it must be the church of Rome, all reasonable men will easily believe rather that the church and ministry of Rome is true, than that there is none. For he that believeth not that there is a church, doth believe, I think, that there is a Christ, the Head of the church. There are many such books lately gone forth, that confirm me in this opinion ; such as “ William Parker’s Answer to the Assemblies' Confession of Faith,' which maintains the main substance of the doctrine of Rome; only, instead of pleading the infallibility of the church or pope, they plead the necessity of new prophets. But it is easy, when that doctrine is once received, to show men the vanity of their grounds, and bring them to receive the same doctrines, upon other grounds: their prophets will be gazed after but a few days. A little time ever discovereth the folly of such pretenders; and then how easy is it for a papist to
challenge such to dispute about the grounds of their religion, and to show them that their prophets are deceivers ; and therefore they must rather hearken to their church? In the mean time, it is a sad providence to us, that so many should be permitted to call other men, and their ways of worship, anti
, christian, and so long cry out of antichrist, till they are almost papists already, and more likely than others to turn such, when they are tempted.
Here observe these three parts of my assertion :
3. And every one is of the true religion and true church, and that is apparent from my text and experience set together;