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that their principles greatly contradict and · jar one against another; and though they
inay alledge scripture for fome of their principles, yet they are put itrangely to, wrest it, and to deny it for others. My appeal then to, and expostulation with, all forts of professors, is, not to prove some one or two points, by the scriptures (for there be some general notions of truth, which most, if not all, agree to) but the whole body of their principles, as they stand in relation to each other, which none, of them all is able to do. For, among the many professors, their catechisms and confessions of faith, I find none (fave the difpensation of truth, now again revealed) but such as in most of their substantial principles differ greatly, and in many contradiet grolly the plain text and tenor of the scripture. I confess there be certain men: in this age, who, 'with some plausible appearance of reality, undertake this task : these are they that join with, and own not wholly any imbodied people; but while they pretend a general love to all, yet find fault with some part of every fort; while in the mean time they scarce can give any account of their own religion, and most of them prove at bottom to have none at all. These men, I say, may perhaps acknowledge fome general truths, and also hold N 2
to the letter of the scripture in some other things, so as thereby to take occasion largely to judge others; while themselves offer not to bring these good things to practice, they blame others for the want or neglect of. But such an enterprize from these men, will not (when weighed) prove a fulfilling of this matter ; seeing it is not enough to acknowledge many truths, but aļso to deny and witness against all error; and likewise, not to fall short of any truth which ought to be acknowledged: whereas these sort of men, for the most part, cannot give accònnt of their faith in many things needful to be believed; and whatever things they may acknowledge to be true, they err most grievously, and contradict a truth most needful to be minded and answered, proved as is (before) in that they fland not forth to appear for any of these discoveries they pretend they have; but make a shift to hide their heads in times of trial, so as not to suffer for, nor with any. And through these fine pretences above mentioned, through their scruples of joining with any, they can cunningly fhun the difficulties of persecutions that attend the particular fedt of Christians; yet by their general charity and love to all, claim a share in any benefits or advantages that accrue to one and all. Such then
cannot honestly lay claim - to justify their principles and practices from the scriptures. But I leave these stragglers in religion, and come again to the divers sects.
To begin with those that are most numerous: I think I need not say much to the Papists in this case; for they do not so much as pretend to prove all their dogmas by the scriptures; fith it is one of their chief doctrines, That tradition may authorize doctrines, withoutany authority of scripture : yea, the council of Constance hath made bold to command things to be believed, Non obstante fcriptura, i. e.. though the scriptures say the contrary; and indeed it were their great folly, to pretend to prove their doctrines by scripture, seeing the adoration of saints and images, purgatory, and prayer for the dead, the precedency of the bishop of Rome, the matter of indulgencies, with much more stuff of that kind, hath not the least shadow of scripture for it.
Among Protestants, I know the Socinians are great pretenders to the scriptures, and in words as much exalt them as any other people; and yet it is strange to fee, how that not only in many things they are not agreeable to them, but in some of their chief principles quite contrary to them: as in their denying the divinity of Christ, which is as expressly inentioned as any
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thing can be, And the word was God, Joha i. as also in denying his being from the beginning, against the very tenor of that of John i. and divers others, as at large is fhewn in the third chapter of this treatise. Divers other things, as to them, might be mentioned; but this may suffice, to stop their boasting in this matter.
The Arminians are not more successful in their denying the false doctrine of absolute reprobation, and in asserting the uni. versal extent of Christ's death for all, than they are short in not placing this salvation in that spiritual light, wherewith man is enlightened by Chrift; but wrongfully ascribing a part of that to the natural will and capacity, which is due alone to the grace and power of God, by which the work is both begun, carried on, and ac. complished. And herein they, as well as both the Socinians and Pelagians, though they do well in condemning fome errors, yet they miss, in setting up another, and not the truth, in place thereof; and in that respect are justly reproved by such fcrip. tures as their adversaries (who otherwise are as far wrong as they) bring against them, in shewing the depravity of man's will by nature, and his incapacity to do any good, but as assisted by the grace of God so to do.
On the other hand, it is strange to obferve how many Protestants (the first article of whose confeffion of faith, is to assert the ; scripture to be the only rule) should deny the universal extent of Christ's death, colltrary to the express words of scripture, which faith, He tasted death for every man; or the universality of grace, and a sufficient principle; which the scriptures assert in as many positive words as, except we may suppose the pen-men intended another thing than they spoke, viz. A manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. The grace of God that bringeth salvation, bath appeared unto all men; and many more before mentioned.
The like may be said of their denying the perfection of the saints, and asserting the impoflibility of any falling away from real beginnings of true and saving grace; contrary to so many express scriptures, as are heretofore adduced in their proper place. But, to give all that desire to be undeceived, a more full opportunity to observe how the devil has abused many pretending to be wise, in making them cloak, with a pretence of scripture, falfe and pernicious doctrines, I shall take a few of many instances out of the confeffion of faith and catechism, made by the divines at Westminster (so called) because the same is not only most