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separated time, besides others, for such constant assemblies: all which tend to the preservation and certain proof of the continuation and tradition of that Scripture and religion. One part of their work was to read the Scripture in their assemblies. And as we thus prove the undoubted tradition of Scripture, so do we, 2. Also, of all the fore-mentioned forms of religion. Not only as these are delivered in and with the Scripture, but compendiums delivered to the people by themselves; so that in the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Commandments, with baptism, &c., was the substance of the christian religion so delivered, that men were saved by it before the Scripture was seen, I mean the New Testament, and thousands might, for ought we know, be saved by it after, that knew not the Scripture; yet, was not the Scripture, therefore, unnecessary, or less excellent: for though the sum of religion, enough to the being of Christianity, and so much as may save, might by tradition be preserved from age to age, in a form of words, yea, though there had been no writing in the world.
Yet, first, writing the same thing is a surer and easier way, and leaves it most undoubted to posterity, that there hath been no change. 2. And it was not so easy, nor so probable a way, without writing, to have preserved uncorrupted such copious doctrines, histories, and larger instructions, as were necessary to the well being of the church: and, therefore, God was pleased, both for our more undoubted security, and for our fuller information, to deliver it us down in writing, even in the very words, as it was delivered to his churches, by the direction of the Holy Ghost.
3. The same may be said concerning our certainty of the third particular, viz., the tradition of church ordinances, which contain the sum of the christian religion. All the aforesaid fourteen arguments, besides many more that might be given, do prove all three.
Object. Doth not this, with the papists, ascribe too much to tradition? Answ. No: there are several sorts of tradition. 1. As to the agent. 2. As to the manner of the action. 3. As to the end, in all which, our tradition differs from theirs.
1. We allow the apostles' delivering of the word to the churches by voice.
2. And by writing.
3. And the church's delivering that writing, and forms of doctrine, and directories for practice, by word or writing to their posterity.
And 4. Parents delivering all this (book writing and verbal forms and custom of ordinances) to their children.
5. Aud all ministers delivering them by word, or writing, to those whom they teach.
6. And writers of all ages delivered the truth, historically, or doctrinally.
7. The unanimous consent of other churches, manifested in their immediate professions and practices.
8. The declaration of such consent by councils, on fit occasions congregated.
9. The concessions of heretics.
10. The testimony of infidels. All these traditions we make use of.
But the tradition of a visible head or vicar of the catholic church; or of an infallible person; or of a particular church, pretending to be the universal, this we do disclaim..
2. And as to the manner, we allow an apostolical authoritative tradition by the apostles; and a ministerial authoritative tradition by every minister, and a tradition by testimony from all the churches, and enemies also: but a tradition by way of decision by one pretending now an authority of being judge to all the world, when the other churches see not his grounds, this we leave to the Romanists.
3. Also, a tradition for the conveying of Scripture from age to age, and a tradition of the sum or compendium of Scripture doctrine in a form by itself; this we allow. But a tradition of necessary, unwritten verities to supply the supposed defects of Scripture, and to add the doctrine that there is wanting, as if it were but part of God's word, this we leave to the papists. Yet, if we had assurance that any other doctrine were delivered down from the apostles, which is not in Scripture, though it were but by word of mouth, we would receive it as of God: but we know of no such evidence of any such traditions, and therefore cannot entertain them.
And thus I have resolved that question, whether this which we now profess be the religion which was delivered by the first churches, and so by the apostles?
Sect. 8. If any will suppose that the other part of the question doth need a further distinct resolution, viz., whether the apostles delivered it to the first churches, as they did to us? I answer, first, It is proved by most that hath been said already. Secondly, It was the apostles that turned them to Christianity }
and that is, to this religion which we inquire after. They had not been made churches or Christians by the apostles, if they had not received the christian religion from them. Thirdly, They prove it by the apostles' own writings to them. Fourthly, All about them would have evinced them of forgery else, if they had pretended to have their religion from the apostles, when they had not. Fifthly, The apostles had no worldly glory or dignity, which might incite so many thousands to forge their names. Sixthly, It was impossible for so many persons of so many distant nations through the earth, to agree in such an action. Seventhly, The apostles themselves would have discerned and disclosed it in their own days. Eighthly, All the enemies of the church, Jews, and heathens, and heretics, confess, without the least doubt, that it was from the apostles that the churches received the christian religion. Ninthly, Had it been from any other, they would not have hid it, but have gloried in their leader, and he in his design. Tenthly, No other eame with that authority of miracles, which might compel belief, so that to say, the first churches had not the christian religion from the apostles, is to be blind against the fullest convincing evidence.
Sect. 9. We have thus followed our religion up the stream, till we have brought it unquestionably to the apostles themselves: our next question, then, in order to be resolved, will be, how it is proved that the apostles spoke truth, in their preachings and writings of the christian religion? To which we answer, the great argument (not excluding divers others) is, from the infallible testimony of the Holy Ghost, by multitudes of apparent, uncontrolled miracles, sealing to their doctrine, and illuminating men, and writing this Gospel in their hearts.
And thus we are by degrees come up to the matter of our question, of the obligation of miracles: concerning which I shall first lay down these preparatory conclusions, and then affirm the question, and prove the affirmative.
Propos. 1. Miracles do oblige by way of sign or seal, as declaring God's interest in, and owning of the testimony to which they are annexed.
.. This is concerning the way of their obligation they oblige most directly to credit the testimony.
Propos. 2. The seal of miracles was not affixed to every word that an apostle should speak, nor did it make them in all things impeccable or infallible. But it is affixed to those works,
which they were commissioned to perform, and obligeth us to believe, that in doing the works, which, as apostles, they were sent upon, they did not err: that is, in being witnesses of Christ's oral doctrine, life, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension. And in delivering his doctrine to the world, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever he commanded them. Propos. 3. All that they did in preaching this doctrine, and writing it to the churches, being the work on which they were thus sent, it followeth that their miracles sealed all this; and so that every word of their writings of this subject are of certain and sealed truth.
Propos. 4. Those that affirm that it was but the doctrine of Christianity that was sealed by the Holy Ghost, and in which they were infallible, but that their writings were in circumstantials, and by passages, and method, and words, and other modal respects, imperfect and fallible as other good men's, (in a less degree,) though they heinously and dangerously err, yet do not destroy, or hazard the christian religion by it. For if we could not prove, that every historical, chronological, or personal by-passage, or difficult lesser point there delivered, were sealed by the Holy Ghost, yet if we can prove that the christian religion contained in that writing was so sealed, it sufficeth to confirm that religion, beyond doubt.
Propos. 5. The supernatural works of Christ, and the Holy Ghost in his disciples, did indispensably oblige all that beheld them, to believe that the testimony was divine, which they were affixed to. This is the very root of all the controversy between the Christian and the infidel; and hither all is at last devolved.
If they that saw these miracles were not bound to believe the testimony which they sealed to be of God, then it must be either because their senses were deceived, and they uncertain whether they might credit their eyes and ears; or else because the testimony itself was invalid, and insufficient to compel belief. There is no third reason imaginable. For if they were certain that their sight and hearing deceived them not, but that they did indeed see and hear what they supposed they did; and 2. If the testimony of the Holy Ghost, which they saw and heard, were unquestionably divine; then there is no doubt but the doctrine, or the testimony of the preachers was divine, which was sealed with this testimony of the Holy Ghost.
1. And for the first, if any man say, that all their eyes ears were deceived, and that the thousands who supposed that
they spoke with tongues, or heard others do it, or saw the great works that were done, were all mistaken; they will sure take their own senses to be fallible as well as other men's, and not advance themselves in point of sensibility above the rest of mankind. And if none else will doubt of the truth of Christianity, but those that doubt of the certainty of sense, we may well leave it at this issue, and give over arguing for it. And for such men, I would have them honoured with no other disputation, than to be tied to the fool's post, and whipped till they are sure that they feel the smart, and are able to conclude of the certainty of sense,
2. And for the latter point, that the Holy Ghost, that is, a Spirit of such wisdom, power, and holiness, as appeared in the doctrine, miracles, and lives of the disciples, is indeed the Spirit of God, and a sufficient seal to the christian faith, it is so clear to the very light of common reason, and I have said so much for it already, that I will say but thus much now.
The full resolved denial of this truth, is the sin against the Holy Ghost to say, that it was Satan that was the Spirit from whom proceeded the wise doctrine, mighty works, and holy hearts and lives of Christ's disciples, may well be the incurable, unpardonable sin, supposing it be concluded with the whole heart, when it is so horrid a blasphemy, as to make the devil himself to be God, by ascribing God's attributes and prerogatives to him, and doth reject the last and most potent evidence that can be expected for conviction. For if Satan can be such a spirit of wisdom, power, and sanctity, and if he can do such miracles without control from heaven, to persuade poor mortals to an entertainment of error, and to delude the world, who have no sufficient means to discover the delusion ; then it plainly follows, that the devil is the wise, powerful, and Holy Spirit, and that he is the governor of the world; that is, that he is God, or that God hath so little mercy or justice as to give up the world to the power of the devil to be remedilessly deluded by him, so that they that fain would know the true way of worshiping God, yet cannot know it. And that God hath lent his seal to the devil to sign his delusions. And he that will rather believe this than the christian faith, deserves remedilessly to perish for his blasphemous, malicious infidelity.
Moreover, I demand of them that deny the sufficiency of this evidence of the Holy Ghost, what evidence they do desire, or will take for sufficient to compel them to believe, which is fit