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God is worshipped, sin detected, conscience convicted, duty manifested, scripture unfolded and explained, and consequently the rule for understanding the scriptures themselves (since by it they were at first given forth) from hence our adversaries are pleased to make us blasphemers of the holy scriptures, undervaluing their authority, preferring our own books before them, with more to that purpose: whereas, we, in truth and sincerity, believe them to be of divine authority, given by the inspiration of God, through holy men; they speaking or writing them as they were moved by the Holy Ghost that they are a declaration of those things most surely believed by the primitive Christians, and that as they contain the mind and will of God, and are his commands to us, so they, in that respect, are his declaratory word; and therefore are obligatory on us, and are "profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, and thoroughly furnished to every good work.”
Nay, after all, so unjust is the charge, and so remote from our belief concerning the holy scriptures, that we both love, honour, and prefer them, before all books in the world; ever choosing to express our belief of the Christian faith and doctrine in the terms thereof, and rejecting all principles or doctrines whatsoever, that are repugnant thereunto.
Nevertheless we are well persuaded, that notwithstanding there is such an excellency in the holy scriptures, as we have above declared, yet the unstable and unlearned in Christ's school too often wrest them to their own destruction. And upon our reflection on their carnal constructions of them, we are made undervaluers of scripture itself. But certain it is, that as the Lord hath been pleased to give us the experience of the fulfilling of them in measure, so it is altogether contrary to our faith and practice, to put any manner of slight or contempt upon them, much more of being guilty of what maliciously is suggested against us; since no society of professed Christians in the world can have a more reverent and honourable esteem for them than we have. John iv. 24. and xvi. 8. Rom. i. 19. Luke i. 1, 2. Tim. iii. 16, 17. 2 Pet. iii. 16.
IV. Concerning Magistracy.
Because we have not actively complied with divers statutes, which have been made to force an uniformity to what we have no faith in, but the testimony of our conscience is against; and because, for conscience sake, we could not give those marks of honour and respect, which were and are the usual practice of those that "seek honour one of another,
and not that honour which comes from God only," but (mea, sure and weigh honour and respect in a false balance, and deceitful measure, on which, neither magistrate, ruler, or people can depend) we say, because we could not, for conscience sake, give flattering titles, &c. we have been rendered as despisers and contemners of magistracy: whereas our principles, often repeated upon the many revolutions that have happened, do evidently manifest the contrary; as well as our peaceable behaviour from the beginning, under all the various forms of government, hath been an undeniable plea in our favour, when those that also have professed the same principles of non-resistance, and passive obedience, have quitted their principles, and yet quarrel with us, upon a supposition that we will, in time, write after their copy: which, as nothing is more contrary to our principles, faith, and doctrine, so nothing can be more contrary to our constant practice.
For we not only really believe magistracy to be an ordinance of God, but esteem it an extraordinary blessing, where it is "a praise to them that do well, and a terror to evildoers:" which that it may be so in this our native land, is the fervent desire of our souls, that the blessing and peace of God may be continued thereupon, Job xxxii. 21. John v. 44. Acts v. 29. 1 Pet. ii, 13, 14.
V. Concerning Baptism.
Because we do not find any place in the four evangelists, that Jesus Christ instituted baptism by water to come in the room of circumcision, or to be the baptism proper to his kingdom, which stands "in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;' we are therefore rendered as contemners of Christ's baptism: whereas the baptism of Jesus Christ, of which he was Lord and administrator, according to the nature of his office and kingdom, is, even by John the baptist, declared to be that of fire (not water) and of the Holy Ghost, of which water-baptism was but the forerunner, and is, by them that now practise it, called but the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace: and therefore not the grace itself; which grace, as the apostle saith, is sufficient for us, and which we believe, profess, and expe rience to be come by Jesus Christ, who is the substance of all signs and shadows to true believers; he being no more a Jew or a Christian that is one outwardly, by the cutting or washing of the flesh; but he is a Jew or Christian who is one inwardly, and circumcision and baptism is of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is therefore not of men, but of God: and this baptism Christ preferred
and recommended at his farewell to his disciples: in reverence and duty to whom, to say nothing of the abuse of water-baptism, we decline the use thereof, Mark i. 8. Luke iii. 16. John i. 17. Acts i. 5. Rom. xiv. 17. Rom ii. 28, 29. 1 Cor. i. 17. 2 Cor. xii. 9.
VI. Concerning breaking Bread, &c.
Because we also disuse the outward ceremony of breaking bread and drinking wine, which is commonly called the Lord's supper, we are therefore rendered deniers and contemners of the Lord's supper: whereas the inward and spiritual grace, thereby signified, viz. that bread which came down from heaven, which Christ prefers to the bread the fathers eat in the wilderness (which did not keep them from death) and that cup which he promised to drink a-new with his disciples in his Father's kingdom, we not only believe, but reverently partake of, to our unspeakable comfort, which is rightly and truly the communion of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, " Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you," John vi. 53, 63. For it is "the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing" It was also his promise to all those that would open at his knocks, viz. "That he would come in, and sup with them;" which inward and spiritual coming, we have both known, and testified to; feeling the blessed effects thereof in our souls, and knowing the outward breaking of bread and drinking of wine, in the way commonly practised, is no more than it is declared to be, viz. An outward and visible sign: why, then, should any contend about it, and render us unchristian, for disusing what themselves allow to be but an outward and visible sign? and that none can reasonably believe to be an essential part of religion, as is the bread from heaven; of which the outward is, at best, but a signification: but the wine that Christ promised to drink with his disciples a-new, is such an essential, that without it none have, nor can have eternal life, Mat. xxvi. 29. Mark xiv. 25. John vi. 41, 50, 51, 58, 63. Rev. iii. 20.
VII. Concerning the Light of Christ.
Because we assert the sufficiency of the light within, it being the light of Christ, viz. That if men live up to the teachings thereof, in all manner of faithfulness and obedience," they shall not abide in darkness, but have the light of life and salvation, and the blood of Christ shall cleanse them from all sin ;" our adversaries from thence conceive, that we undervalue the rule of holy scriptures, and all out
ward means, as having no need thereof, since we have such a means and rule within us, and that this leaves us without any certain rule, and exposes us to many blasphemies, &c. whereas the light within (or Christ, by his light, inwardly teaching) was never taught by us in opposition to, or contempt of, any outward means, that God, in his wisdom and providence, affords us for our edification and comfort, no more than did that blessed apostle, who said, "You need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you all things, and is truth, and is no lie," John xii. 46. 1 John i. 6, 7. 1 John i. 2, 27.
VIII. Concerning the Father, the Word, and the Spirit. Because we have been very cautious in expressing our faith concerning that great mystery, especially in such school terms and philosophical distinctions as are unscriptural, if not unsound, (the tendency whereof hath been to raise frivolous controversies and animosities amongst men) we have, by those that desire to lessen our Christian reputation, been represented as deniers of the Trinity at large: whereas we ever believed, and as constantly maintained, the truth of that blessed (holy scripture) "three, that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and that these three are one;" the which we both sincerely and reverently believe, according to 1 John v. 7. And this is sufficient for us to believe and know, and hath a tendency to edification and holiness; when the contrary centres only in imaginations and strife, and persecution, where it runs high, and to parties, as may be read in bloody characters in the Ecclesiastical Histories.
IX. Concerning Works.
Because we make evangelical obedience a condition to salvation, and works wrought in us by the Spirit to be an evidence of faith, and holiness of life to be both necessary and rewardable; it hath been insinuated against us, as if we hoped to be saved by our own works, and so make them the meritorious cause of our salvation, and consequently popish.
Whereas we know, that it is not by works of righteousness that we can do, but by his own free grace he is pleased to accept of us, through faith in, and obedience to, his blessed Son the Lord Jesus Christ, Heb. v. 9. and xii. 14.
X. Of Christ's being our Example.
Because, in some cases, we have said, the Lord Jesus was our great example, and that his obedience to his Father doth not excuse ours; but as by keeping his commandments, he abode in his Father's love, so must we follow his example of obedience, to abide in his love; some have been so ignorant (or that which is worse) as to venture to say for us, or in our name, that we believe our Lord Jesus Christ was, in all things, but an example.
Whereas we confess him to be so much more than an example, that we believe him to be the most acceptable sacrifice to God his Father; who, for his sake, will look upon fallen man, that hath justly merited the wrath of God, upon his return by repentance, faith, and obedience, as if he had never sinned at all, 1 John ii. 12. Rom. iii. 26. and x. 9, 10. Heb. v. 9.
XI. Concerning Freedom from Sin.
Because we have urged the necessity of a perfect freedom from sin, and a thorough sanctification in body, soul, and spirit, whilst on this side the grave, by the operation of the holy and perfect Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the testimony of the holy scripture, we are made so presumptuous, as to assert the fulness of perfection and happiness to be attainable in this life: whereas we are not only sensible of those human infirmities that attend us, whilst clothed with flesh and blood; but know that here we can only "know in part, and see in part:" the perfection of wisdom, glory, and happiness, being reserved for another and better world, John viii. 24, 25. Heb. xiii. 20, 21. and vi.
XII. Concerning Worship to God.
Because we say, with the apostle, that men ought to pray, preach, sing, &c. with the spirit, and that without the preparation and assistance of it, no man can rightly worship God, (all worship without it being formal and carnal) from hence ignorance, or envy, suggests against us, that if God will not compel us by his Spirit, he must go without his worship: whereas nothing can be more absurd, since without it "no man can truly call Jesus Lord :" besides, it is our duty to wait upon him, who hath promised, not to compel, but fill them with renewings of strength, that so wait upon him, by which they are made capable to worship him acceptably, be it in praying, preaching, or praising of God: and how warrantable our practice herein is from holy scripture, see Psalm xxv. 5. xxxvii. 7. xxvii. 14. cxxx. 5, 6. Hosea xii. 6.