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for God to use with such creatures as we? We are not capable of seeing God himself, or hearing him speak immediately to us; nor hath the voice or tongue of a man, though he can create both. If one should rise from the dead, it would be far more questionable and less convincing. Angels we know not, the good from the bad, nor when they speak rightly; but so much evidence as this can afford, was afforded : for the voice from heaven was heard of Christ, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear him." The angels were seen with Christ in the mount, and sitting by his grave; and divers times they appeared to the apostles. I conclude, therefore, that if the Holy Ghost so given were not a sufficient proof that the testimony and doctrine of the apostles was of God, it is past my understanding to discover what evidence would be sufficient.
I do all this while suppose that the first churches did see and hear these works of the Holy Ghost, because that is anon to be proved; and I now have showed that sense being certain, and the works a certain seal of God, it must needs follow that all they that did indeed see and hear them, were obliged to believe beyond all doubt, that the doctrine which they did confirm was owned by God, and so was of certain truth.
Having proved that miracles obliged them that saw them to believe, I now come to affirm and prove the question.
Propos. 6. The Holy Spirit of Christ, appearing in his own and his disciples' doctrine, works, and lives, doth indispensably. oblige, even those who never heard them preach, or saw those works, to believe the certain truth of the christian faith, and, consequently, of the Holy Scriptures.
This proposition supposeth that such a spirit of miracles would oblige us to believe, if we ourselves did see them : for, 1. This is proved. 2. The infidel seekers whom we deal with, pretend to confess it, at least, in their ordinary discourse; so that the doubt is, whether our not seeing do hinder our obligation? I prove the proposition by these arguments following:
Argument ). All they to whom the Gospel and the aforesaid miracles are re
vealed in sufficient evidence of their certain truth, are bound, by the seal of those miracles, to believe the doctrine of the Gospel to be of God. But to us, and millions more, that never saw them, the Gospel and the said mira
cles are revealed in sufficient evidence of their certain truth, Therefore, we are bound by the seal of those miracles, though we never saw them, to believe the doctrine of the
Gospel to be of God. By "sufficient,' I mean, in its own place and kind sufficient; but not absolutely and in all kinds : for evidence supposeth many other things, especially in the receiver, to actual intellection or belief. A sound understanding in due reasoning, and by the supposed helps which are common in the church, máy discern this evidence: therefore it is sufficient.
The major is past doubt. The reason why they that saw miracles were obliged by them to believe, is because they had sufficient evidence of their certain truth that such things were doné. But we that do not see them may have such evidence. Therefore, they may oblige us as well as them : what can we expect more from God to oblige us, than a sufficient revelation of that which carrieth the signification of his will ? All that needs proof, therefore, is the minor ; whether have we such a certain revelation, or may any that saw not have it?
I prove, first, that there is a certainty of matters of fact, without seeing them.
Secondly. That we have such of these in question.
1. For the first, universal consent doth save me the labour of further proof. All men confess that there is certainty in some reports and histories. Many a thousand in England that never. saw any fighting, are yet certain that we have had a war in England; and many that never saw him are certain that we had a king, and that he was beheaded. We are certain there are such countries as France, Spain, Italy, though we never saw them. So that all men grant that some human testimony hath such a certainty. And that we have, de facto, a certain revelation that this Holy Ghost was poured out on the first churches, and wrought miracles among them before their eyes, I prove thus: If we have an infallible testimony of this, from those same men who possessed this Holy Ghost and saw these miracles, then we have a certain revelation of it. But that we have such an infallible testimony I prove : and, first, I will show you the testimony itself; secondly, the infallibility of it.
The first christian churches, generally, have attested to us, de facto, that such a Spirit was poured forth, and such miracles wrought, by these five means, which, taken conjunctly, make up the fullest testimony that we can reasonably desire.
First, By the preaching and doing of these miracles, they were converted, and became Christians and churches : it was the preaching of Christ's miracles, resurrection, and ascension, and of the Holy Ghost to be given, and the sight of what was done by the apostles in confirmation of it, that wrought the change, and brought them in. This is still visible in the Gospel which was preached. So that the very being of all those churches, is their full attestation to the truth of the miracles, and giving of the Holy Ghost. That which never was, at least in their apprehensions, could not have produced such great alterations, and strange effects in the world. And to imagine that all their senses did deceive them, is ourselves to become mad, in feigning them to be so from whom we see the effects of a sound mind. And that it was indeed miracles that did convert them, appears, 1. In that it is recorded fully in the writings, which themselves have delivered to us (of which more anon); 2. In that the doctrine delivered to them being supernatural, above the reach of common reason, and contrary to the interest of the flesh, was unlikely to have been entertained without such means; 3. And it is confessed by the enemies. So that I may well take the conversion of the multitudes of unbelievers, and the very being of the churches for one evidence that they saw the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the miracles then wrought.
Secondly, The same hath the church attested by owning the Holy Scriptures, and delivering them as the unquestionable writings of the apostles. The substance of the Gospel is much of the miracles and resurrection of Christ. The 'Acts of the Apostles' containeth many of their miracles : both that and the Epistles do testify that the gift of the Holy Ghost was then common to the disciples; and that whole households, and great part of cities, (as Samaria, &c.,) received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the apostles' hands, (so that Sinion would have bought that power with money,) and that commonly in the churches for many years after; by this Spirit they spake with tongues, and prophesied, and healed the sick, &c. I mention not all this as now supposing these Scriptures to be divine, but as proving them divine by the Holy Ghost, and using them now as the testimony of the first churches. For we had (as is proved) all these Scriptures from them, commended to us as the writings of the apostles, and words of truth : which testimony or approbation they would never have given if they had known all these reports to be false. So that the church's act of delivering
us the Scripture as true, doth attest the truth of those matters of fact, whereof themselves were the eye and ear-witnesses.
Thirdly, The same truth of these miracles was attested by those first churches, by their great sufferings and confessions before magistrates, and ordinary martyrdom, which they underwent, because they would not deny the truth of these very things, and because they proclaimed them.
Fourthly, The same truth of these miracles the first churches have attested, by vocal and practical tradition. Neighbours did assert it, and teach it their neighbours : parents delivered it to their children. They made it the greatest act of charity to convince a neighbour of it, that he might believe: and the greatest act of love and parental duty, to acquaint their children with these things. As to this day, we do not only show the bible to children and neighbours, but we distinctly acquaint them with the main contents, and sum of the christian religion, and so did the first churches: by which they attested that the things were true.
Also, their constant practising the religion thus confirmed, doth attest it both in the public ordinary worship of God, and in their lives towards men.
Fifthly, It was most fully attested by the standing office and constant work of the preachers of the Gospel. Two sorts of preachers were then among them. Some that were to go abroad and persuade Jews and heathens of the truth of this Gospel, and make them disciples, and baptise them. Some that were resident with particular churches, already called, to teach them more fully the doctrine, which these miracles did confirm, and to guide them in the practice of it. It was the office and daily business of these teachers, to acquaint them with that Gospel which declareth these great works. They had special meetings every Lord's day to that very end, even in remembrance of Christ's resurrection (which very day, much more all the works of the day, is a record of their believing it to be true). These ministers were men known and approved of by the churches, so that as the skill in physic, law, philosophy, &c., hath been delivered down by a succession of teachers of these sciences, one teaching another, and fitting him to teach it to others again, so hath the sum of sacred history and doctrine been delivered. The apostles, by their own consent, appointed over the churches in their days teachers and overseers, whose office it should be to teach these things.
I leave it, therefore, as utterly past doubt, by these five ways of attestation, that we have the universal testimony of those first churches, that the report of these miracles and gift of the Holy Ghost, is a certain truth. And themselves being the possessors, agents, or eye-witnesses, could not be deceived, unless they were all mad.
2. I am next to show you the infallibility of their testimony, that certainly they have not all conspired to deceive the world, but did themselves believe what they did thus profess to believe : it is commonly objected, that the acts of a free agent being contingent, and all men being defectible and fallible, therefore we can have no proper absolute certainty upon the testimony of any men. But as man's freedom is servato ordine finis, and as nature doth infallibly incline hiin to his natural end, so a man may pass an infallible judgment of man's acts, where the prevalent interest of nature and the end are certainly visible: and that not only in cases past, but in prognostics of things to come. And, therefore, (as is said,) I certainly know by human testimony, that men were burned for supposed heresy in Queen Mary’s days, that King Edward before her, and Queen Elizabeth after her, did befriend the reformed doctrine and worship. And though I cannot say it of any one man, yet I am certain of a whole city, country, or nation, that they will not all hang themselves, or famish themselves wilfully, unless they be intoxicated, or bewitched, or all run mad.
And that the church's testimony in question is infallible, you may see in these particulars following.
1. They were thousands of persons attested it, and not only a few.
2. They were of several countries through the world, for the apostles divided the world among them, for the propagation of this Gospel.
3. They were people of several languages, dispositions, and interests.
All this showeth, first, that so many persons and countries could not possibly have a prevalent motive to carry them all purposely to deceive the world with a volume of lies; no more than all the people of England can have a prevalent motive to persuade them all, to pretend that we have had a war here, and tell the world of our several fights, when there was no such matter. Allow the remnants of common honesty and veracity to have their reasonable force, and consider the strength of what is