- A Just and Necessary Apology.
- Chapter I.: Of the Largeness of Churches.
- Chapter II.: Of the Administration of Baptism.
- Chapter III.: Of Written Liturgies.
- Chapter IV.: Of the Ecclesiastical Presbytery.
- Chapter V.: Of Holy Days.
- Chapter VI.: Of the Celebration of Marriage By the Pastors of the Church.
- Chapter VII.: Of the Sanctification of the Lord's Day.
- Chapter VIII.: Of the Exercise of Prophecy.
- Chapter IX.: Of Temples.
- Chapter X.: Of Things Indifferent.
- Chapter XI.: Of Civil Magistrates.
- Chapter XII.: Of the Church of England,
- Notice Respecting the Two Letters.
- On Religious Communion
- The Preface.
- Chapter I.: Of Private Communion.
- Chapter II.: Of Public Communion.
- Chapter III.: Of Flight In Persecution.
- Chapter IV.: The Outward Baptism Received In England Is Lawfully Retained.
- Chapter V.: Of the Baptism of Infants.
- Chapter VI.: A Survey of the Confession of Faith Published In Certain Conclusions By the Remainders of Mr. Smyth's Company After His Death. *
- The People’s Plea For the Exercise of Prophecy
- An Answer to the Arguments Laid Down By Mr. John Yates, Preacher In Norwich , to Prove Ordinary Prophecy In Public, Out of Office, Unlawful; Answered By John Robinson.
- A Treatise On the Lawfulness of Hearing Ministers In the Church of England
- On the Lawfulness of Hearing the Ministers of the Church of England. By John Robinson.
- A Letter to the Congregational Church In London
- An Appeal On Truth's Behalf.
- To Our Beloved, the Elders and Church At Amsterdam , Grace and Peace From God the Giver Thereof, and In Him Our Salutations .
- An Answer to a Censorius People
- Letter By Rev. Joseph Hall, B.d., Rector of Halstead, Called By Mr. Robinson “a Censorious Epistle.”
- An Answer to “a Censorious Epistle.”
- A Catechism
- An Appendix to Mr. Perkins’ Six Principles of Christian Religion.
- No I.: The Church In Southwark.
- No. II.: The Exiles and Their Churches In Holland.
- Chronological Index of Mr. Robinson's Works.
- Index of Subjects.
- Index of Authors Referred to Or Quoted, With Occasional Brief Notices of Their Works and Lives.
- Index of Important Texts of Scripture Illustrated Or Quoted.
The title and preface of the following Work sufficiently explain its object.
It was doubtless written at Leyden, and probably printed in that city. The first part, “On Communion,” shows the progress of Mr. Robinson's mind towards more enlarged and liberal views on Christian fellowship, than those he entertained when the correspondence took place between Mr. Ames and himself, three years previously; and furnishes an illustration of his remark respecting himself, at the close of the Preface, that he was one of those who desired “to learn further or better what the good will of God is.”
The second and third parts are more controversial in their character, and may be regarded as amplifications and confirmations of the arguments on similar topics, in the “Defence of the Doctrine propounded at the Synod of Dort,” contained in vol. L, pp. 260–471.
There passed out, some while since, a defamatory libel, under the names of Charles Lawne and three other, his brethren in evil; but certainly penned by some other persons, whose greater knowledge did arm their cruel hatred the more to hurt: making them fathers of that “generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the afflicted from off the earth, and the poor from among men.” Prov. xxx. 14. Against whom and whose friends, durst I use the same liberty, in publishing to the world their personal corruptions which I know, and could soon learn by the testimony of honester men than these informers, they who have written of others what hath pleased them, should read that which would not please them, of their own, if not of themselves. But God forbid! My desire is rather to pacify than to alienate affections; remembering Christ's instruction unto his disciples, to “bless those that curse them,” “to do good to those that harm them,” and “to pray for those that persecute them.” Matt. v. 44. Besides, in following their course, I should, for the faults of a few corrupter persons, wrong the credit of many honest and innocent men; for whose sakes, I would rather cover the others' failings, than for them blemish the credit of the rest. But herein special respect is to be had to the common truths of the Lord Jesus, by them and us acknowledged; upon the ‘honour whereof, had they been but half so bent as upon our disgrace, they would not thus have gratified the common adversaries thereof, even theirs and ours, and with them the atheists and epicures in the land, by whom their book is most affected; blessing themselves in their professed contempt of God, and of all religion, by the sayings of those, whether truly or falsely suggested they regard not, who profess his more special fear and service; and concluding that all others are as ill as themselves, though more covertly. It is the spider's disposition, so she may entangle the silly flies in her web, to weave out her own bowels.
This libel it hath pleased divers persons of note for learning and zeal to countenance, with their writings of divers kinds. Amongst the rest, Mr. W. Ames, fearing belike lest either it should want credit, or I discredit, by the acccusations in it against the persons of other men in other churches, (which, though they were all true, as I know some of them to be wholly false, and others impudently published by such as were themselves chief agents in them, yet did no more concern me and the church with me, than did the abuses in the church of Corinth, the church at Rome; or those in some of the seven churches in Asia, the rest which were free from them,) hath published to the world, in the body of that book, without my consent, privity, or least suspicion of such dealing, certain private letters, passing between him and me, about private communion betwixt the members of the true visible church, and others; though he take advantage and occasion, by certain general words of mine, to alter the state of the question. The occasion of which passages, if I should also publish, I am sure he would not like it, nor have cause.
Now, as I neither am, nor would be thought, insensible of this unchristian enmity, and violent opposition by them against us, in the practice of those things which themselves, as their writings testify, do so far approve; so I think a preface very convenient for my present purpose, to communicate with others, such grounds as upon which they seem, to raise the same.
And, first, all oppositions in religion are carried usually with violence, as wherein men have special persuasion they please God in that, their special work of conscience and zeal for him and his truth. And, as men are in danger to mistake error for truth, so to prosecute the same with wrath and indignation, instead of the true zeal of God. And I do much intreat and warn those men, in the fear of the Lord, to beware that instead of zeal against our supposed errors, they nourish not in their hearts wrath and hatred against our persons; which is a great iniquity where it is found, and most contrary unto love, and so unto God, who is love, 1 John iv. 16, and the breaking of the whole law, which love fulfilleth. Gal. v. 14.
But, besides this general, they take more special occasion of offence at us, and our separation, by which we carry our differences; as wherein we do not only in word, but even really and indeed reprove their state and standing, as unlawful; and such, as we rather choose all calamities by loss of country, friends, riches, credit, liberty, yea and life itself, than by continuance therein to withhold the truth of God in unrighteousness, and uphold the chair of apostacy, and so to pull down wrath from heaven upon our heads. Which our sequestration is yet the more offensive unto them, by how much the nearer we were, and yet are in many things, united: the contentions of brethren being as the bars of a castle, Prov. xviii. 19; as also for that their party, for the reformation of their pretended national Judah, is thereby weakened. And as any, according to the proverb, may easily find a staff to beat a dog withal, so do men easily take occasion, to lay load upon us, who are, for our fewness in number and meanness of condition, so contemptible in their eyes; and against whom they have all advantages for treading upon us (save the truth) which they can desire. But the Lord Jesus, in teaching that “the way to life is narrow, which few find,” and that “to the poor the gospel is preached,” and thereupon that “he is blessed who is not offended at him,” doth plainly forewarn all his servants of this offence. Matt. vii. 14; xi. 5, 6. Others there are, also, who, whatsoever they boast of the Scriptures, have for the most part a traditional faith and religion; and, as Naaman, the Syrian, would not believe that there could be any better waters than the rivers of Damascus, 2 Kings v. 12, so neither do they think it possible that there should be any purer manner of worshiping God, than that to which they have been always used; unto which they are so superstitiously addicted, as that they are ready to think it an heretical way for any man to step out of the beaten trod of their teachers' traditionary religion.
There are also besides all these, that have their politic ends, and respects, for which they affect opposition against us. Some, of the prelates' faction, to gratify their lords and masters, at whose devotion they stand, and against whom we principally witness: others, though they like not the bishops, yet think it a point of their wisdom to take and hold up professed opposition against us, that under it as a buckler they may cover their own irregularity, and make their jealous masters believe, that they cannot but be indifferently well affected towards them, being so vehemently bent against us. Yea, others perceiving that their own grounds do in the judgment of others, wise and impartial, directly lead to the way, in which we walk, and yet seeing it not to be for their purposes to have the world so to esteem of them, do undoubtedly strain and wring the neck of their consciences, and courses, to look the contrary way, that they may not be thought to have their faces towards us.
Lastly, there are, who fearing belike to be overcome of the truth we profess, if with quiet and calm thoughts they come to consider of it, and not having hearts to embrace it, do set themselves against it tumultuously; like those cowards, who fearing the force of their adversaries, do think by debasing and reviling of them, to encourage their own faint and feeble hearts against them.
But good had it been for the truth, if at it, offences had only been taken by the adversaries thereof, and not also given by them, who have professed it: and those both so public, as they cannot be concealed, and so great, as they can receive no sufficient excuse. Yet are there notwithstanding. divers things, and those such as will seem, I doubt not, of weight, to the wise in heart, which both justly may, and necessarily must be observed about those matters: whether offensive contentions, or other personal evils, laid to our charge, and published to the world against us.
First then, and in the general; the publishers of those accusations cannot be unsuspected of any reasonable man: being such generally, as are both enemies to our profession, and have either for their unfaithful apostacy. or other scandalous sins, or both, been cast out of the church and excommunicated. Now as for the former, it is truly and commonly said, that no person running away from his master, will easily speak well of him: so doth experience confirm it, for the latter, that scarce any condemned in any court, how justly soever, but will complain either of the malice of the evidence, or ignorance of the jury, or injustice of the judge. Condemned persons must repair their own, by ruinating the credits of their judges.
More especially: and first, of the contentions which have fallen out amongst the professors of this way. As Paul complaineth, that sin taking occasion by the law, wrought in him all manner of concupiscence, Rom. vii. 8: so indeed hath the malice of Satan, and man's corruption taken occasion to work much evil of this kind, by sundry good things specially found in the professors of this truth; as 1, by their knowledge, 2, zeal, and 3, liberty of the gospel. Knowledge, saith the apostle, puffeth up, 1 Cor. xiii. 1; i. 5, 7, 11; iii. 3: and hence was it, that the same church to which he so writes, exceeding other churches in knowledge, did also pass them in contentions, and strifes. So the churches this way, which I may truly speak, and without boasting, going before other ordinary assemblies in knowledge, are the more in danger of contentions, without special modesty, and watchfulness. Ignorant persons, and peoples, are for the most part, easily ruled, as being content to trust other men with their faith and religion: neither was there ever so great peace in the Christian world, as it is called, as in the deepest darkness of popery. 2ndly, as the greatest zeal for God is rightly found amongst God's people, so is peace and agreement greatly endangered thereby, if it be not tempered with much wisdom, moderation, and brotherly forbearance: and that they consider not aright, that both themselves and others are frail men, and compassed about with much ignorance, and infirmity otherwise: who are therefore to study, not only how to have that which they like, but also how to bear that in other men (if not intolerable) which they like not: otherwise, whilst men think by their zeal to warm the house, they will burn it over their own, and other men's heads. 3rdly, and lastly, they only, who enjoy liberty, know how hard a thing it is to use it aright. And when I see them in England wondering at the dissensions in this way, methinks I see two prisoners, being themselves fast chained and manacled together by feet, and hands, wondering to see that other men, at liberty, walk not closer together than they do. Their thraldom makes them unequal censurers of the abuse of our liberty. How many thousands are there, whose very hearts are fretted with the chains of their spiritual bondage! Yea, how many several factions of ministers are there, whose differences, if by servile fear they were not nipped in the bud, would bring forth no small both dissensions and divisions: as at this day woeful experience teacheth in the reformed, churches, whose dissensions do infinitely exceed all that ever have been amongst us! As ignorance begot, so tyranny maintained the greatest peace and unity, when popish iniquity most prevailed.
Now for personal offences; as we profess, and avow before all men, that, for ourselves, we neither receive, nor keep amongst us any persons not sanctified in their measure (in our discerning:) so do we not think ourselves any way privileged, either from the common infirmities of God's more worthy servants in all ages, or from the malice of Satan in thrusting upon us false brethren unawares, Jude 4: whose hypocrisy, and profane usurpation of the Lord's covenant, and holy things, unto which they have no right, he often punisheth with scandalous sins, and so leadeth them out amongst the workers of iniquity. Which scandals we could yet cover from the eyes of the world in a great measure, if we durst, as others do, either let sin rest upon our brethren, Lev. xix. 17: or smother in a consistory such offences, as are either public, of their own nature, or so made by the offender's private impenitence, 1 Tim. v. 20: which because we dare not do, nor but rebuke him openly, which so sinneth, and so judge both his sin and person, in which our proceedings and dealings, new offences are also added oftentimes, we do thereby lay open our own shame in the eyes of the world: and so walking in our simplicity, because we dare not be wise against the Lord Jesus Christ, his order and ordinances, we have in so great a measure our faults written in our foreheads, and are a wonder and offence unto others, who are far better acquainted with our failings, than with their own.
But besides, if not above the rest, great offence hath been taken, by many, at our extreme straitness in respect of the order wherein we walk: and more especially for refusing communion in the private and personal exercises of religion with the better sort in the assemblies; as wherein we have not only made a separation from the wicked, and from the godly also in things unlawful, or unlawfully performed, but even in their lawful actions. This Mr. Ames calls the bitterness of separation: and for it, as it seems, thinks it lawful to cast upon me the reproach of the sins of other churches and persons, whether truly, or falsely laid to their charge, he knoweth not; as also to insinuate against me, that I despise the writings of Junius, and so of other learned men: as justly as others have laid to his charge the contempt of all ancient writers: wherein if men deal unjustly with him, and his friends, let him see whether God deal not justly, in rewarding him as he hath served others.
For the matter of his letters, if I would strive with him about the arguments, with whom I agree in the question, I could manifest, I doubt not, how he hath not dealt sufficiently in it. Whether or no there were in the assemblies faithful and godly persons, and the same so appearing unto men, I never called into question, nor could without sinning greatly against mine own conscience: the thing I feared, was the violation, and breach of order in the communion between the members of the true visible church, and others out of that order, or in the contrary. Mine objection hereabout Mr. A. answereth not, but only makes light account of it, as a strange order, which is broken by saying amen to a godly man's prayer. But all men know, that to set light by an argument is no sufficient answer unto it. And many cases may be put in which order may be sinfully broken in communicating even with a godly man's prayers; either privately, as if he will professedly offer up the prayers of an excommunicate, detected heretic, or other ungodly person: or publicly, if he perform the same without a true, or by a false calling. Here was use of a distinction of religious actions, into personal and church actions: which if either Mr. A. had observed unto me, or I myself then conceived of, would have cleared the question to my conscience: and with which I did wholly satisfy myself in this matter, when God gave me once to observe it.
My judgment therein, and the reasons of it, I have set down in the first part of the book: unto which I bind no man further to assent, than he sees ground from the Scriptures. In it I oppose no article of our Confession: neither was it the author's meaning, as it seemeth, further to conclude and profess separation than from communion in the public worship, and administrations there: neither do I herein oppose any set order of any church this way, to my knowledge. I myself, and the people with me generally, did separate from the formal state of the parish assemblies, in this persuasion, and so practised all the -while we abode in England as some there continuing, have done to this day: there having been also sundry passages between Mr. Smyth, and me about it; with whom I also refused to join, because I would use my liberty, in this point: and for which I was, by some of the people with him, excepted against, when I was chosen into office in this church. Indeed afterwards finding them of other churches, with whom I was most nearly joined, otherwise minded for the most part, I did through my vehement desire of peace, and weakness withal, remit and lose of my former resolution: and did, to speak as the truth is, forget some of my former grounds; and so have passed out upon occasion, some arguments against this practice. Which yet notwithstanding I have, in the same place, so set down, as all may see I was therein far from that certainty of persuasion, which I had and have of the common grounds of our separation: of which I think this no part at all. But had my persuasion in it been fuller than ever it was, I profess myself always one of them, who still desire to learn further, or better, what the good will of God is. And I beseech the Lord from mine heart, that there may be in the men, (towards whom I desire in all things lawful to enlarge myself) the like readiness of mind to forsake every evil way, and faithfully to embrace and walk in the truth they do, or may see, as by the mercy of God, there is in me; which as I trust it shall be mine, so do I wish it may be their comfort also in the day of the Lord Jesus.
of private communion.
The apostle writing to the church at Colosse with much joy for their stableness in the grace of God received, reduceth the whole matter of that his “rejoicing” to two general heads: “faith,” and “order.” Col. ii. 5. Of which two, faith, though set after in place, is before, both in nature, time, and dignity: as making men in their persons severally fit for, and capable of that order, wherein they are jointly to be united.
Now from these two spring-heads, as it were, thus distinguished, do issue and arise two sorts of external religious actions, or exercises: which we may not unfitly, for distinction's sake, call, personal and church actions. By personal actions I do understand such as arise from, and are performed immediately by the personal faith, and other graces of God, in the hearts of holy men. Of which sort are, private prayer, thanksgiving, and singing of psalms, profession of faith, and confession of sins, reading or opening the Scriptures, and hearing them so read, or opened, either in the family, or elsewhere, without any church power, or ministry coming between. Of the second sort, are the receiving in, and casting out of members, the electing and deposing of officers, the use of a public ministry, and all communion therewith. For which works, howsoever “faith” and other personal graces be required that men in them may “please God,” Heb. xi. 6: yet are not these graces sufficient for the doing of them, except withal there concur, and come between, a Church state, and order: in, and by which, they are to be exercised, as by their most immediate and proper cause: from which, by the rule of reason, they are to have their denomination, and so to be called church actions.
And that the actions of the first kind, and more particularly, private prayer, of which I am specially to speak, may, and ought to be performed by godly persons, though out of the order of a true visible church, both the Scriptures and common reason teach: and that not only by them severally, and one by one, but jointly, and together also, as there is occasion: they being joint members of the mystical body of Christ by faith, and jointly partakers of the same Spirit of adoption, and prayer; from which common faith, and union of the Spirit dwelling in them, this communion ariseth, they thereby being privileged jointly to say, “Our Father:” as was also practised by Cornelius, and his holy family, though out of a true visible church. Matt. vi. 8–10, xv. 22, 23; Acts x. 1–3, 34, 35; Rom. viii. 26, x. 10; 1 Cor. xii. 7. Neither is it a matter worthy the proving lawful for a godly husband and wife jointly to sanctify their meat and drink by prayer, and thanksgiving, and so to beg together at God's hands, or to give thanks for other good things upon themselves, and theirs, though they be out of the order of a true church. Neither, indeed, do the members of the visible church perform private prayer, or the like exercises, whether severally, and by one and one, or jointly, by virtue of that their church state, or with any reference unto it, but merely as a duty of the Christian person, or family: (which must be before the Christian church, as the parts before the whole:) and which they were also as well, and as much bound unto, though they were of no visible church at all: no more than was Cornelius, and his family, and friends, which, notwithstanding, was his, and their fault.
These things thus premised, I come to the thing I aim at in this whole discourse, which is, that we, who profess a separation from the English national, provincial, diocesan, and parochial church, and churches, in the whole formal state and order thereof, may notwithstanding lawfully communicate in private prayer, and other the like holy exercises (not performed in their church communion, nor by their church power and ministry,) with the godly amongst them, though remaining, of infirmity, members of the same church, or churches, except some other extraordinary bar come in the way, between them and us.
And since the subject and ground of this communion, is holy persons, and the same so discerned mutually, and on both sides, I think it needful, for the clearer passage of things, and better information of divers both adversaries and friends, having greatly misinterpreted our writings and testimony, here briefly to note down what our judgment hath always been of the sincere faith and holiness of many particular persons in the assemblies, notwithstanding our testimony against the body of the same assemblies, in their communion, order, and ordinances.
And first, our witnessing against the Church of England, so called, as Babylon, in her degree, both in respect of the confusion, as of persons good and bad, of all sorts, so of things Christian, and antichristian, covering all: as also of that spiritual bondage, wherein the Lord's people are kept under the spiritual lordship of the prelacy, there reigning, doth witness for us against all men, that we acknowledge the Lord's people, and godly persons there: out of which they are therefore called by the voice of the Lord from heaven, to build up themselves “as lively stones into a spiritual temple” for the Lord to dwell in, Rev. xviii. 4; 1 Pet. ii. 5: as were the Lord's people of old called out of Babylon civil, to build the material temple in Jerusalem, although as then was, so now is too slack obedience yielded to the Lord's call herein. Ezra i. and vii.; Nehemiah ii.
More particularly. Mr. H. Barrowe in that his letter written a little before his death, and so the more advisedly, especially in that point, in which a snare was laid for his life, to an honourable lady yet living, as he acknowledgeth her in her person, to have been educated and exercised in the faith and fear of God, so professeth ho further, that he gladly embraceth, and believeth the common faith received, and professed in the land as good, and sound: that he had reverend estimation of sundry, and good hope of many hundred thousands in the land, though he utterly disliked the present constitution of the church, &c.
Unto which his testimony as the authors of the “Apology” do assent, so do they further profess their persuasion that of many the Lord's people in the realm, belonging to the Lord's election of grace, and partakers of his mercy to salvation in Christ, some are further called, and some still remain in defection: further instancing in sundry priests and friars, that have been martyrs of Jesus, witnessing the truth they saw against the Romish antichrist and yet retaining their popish functions, and communion with that church, which stands subject to the wrath of God: both Mr. Barrowe, and they accordingly in another place, commending the faith of the English martyrs, and deeming them saved, notwithstanding the false offices and great corruptions in the worship they exercised: and so professing the same judgment of others in the realm, where the same precious faith in sincerity and simplicity is found, they neither neglecting to search out the truth, nor despising it, when they see it, the mercy of God through their sincere faith to Jesus Christ, extending, and superabounding above all their sins seen and unseen.
Lastly, Mr. Penry. a little before his execution, acknowledgeth in his “Confession” that both of the teachers and professors of the assemblies have so embraced the truth of doctrine in the land established, and professed, that the Lord in his infinite goodness hath granted them favor, to show out wherein, in regard of God's election, he judgeth them members of the body, whereof the Son of God Jesus Christ is the head: only herein praying the Lord to be merciful unto them, as unto himself in regard of his sins, that they are not ordered in that outward order which Christ Jesus left in his church, but instead thereof, &c.
All these, we see, as they rightly distinguish between faith and order, though even order also be a matter of faith, if it be not a matter of sin, and without warrant from God's Word, Rom. xiv. 23: so do they plainly acknowledge the personal faith, and grace unto salvation in many though remaining (of ignorance, and infirmity) members of that church against whose constitution, order, and ordinances, they witnessed, divers of them, unto death: and not only, that such people were there in the general, but also that they did so esteem and judge of many of them, in particular. And surely if the Lord's people be there, it is no difficult thing for the spiritual man, conversing with them, to discern and judge ordinarily, which they be. The Spirit of God in one of his people will own itself in another of them though disfigured with many failings, especially in outward orders, and ordinances: and faith, if it be not dead, may be seen by works, of him that hath a spiritual eye, through many infirmities. James ii. 17, 18. “The tree,” saith Christ, “is known by the fruits,” Luke vi. 44: so may the good trees truly planted by faith into Christ, and having in them the heavenly sap and juice of his Spirit, though growing for the present, out of the Lord's walled orchard, the true visible church, and in the wild wilderness of the profane assemblies, ordinarily be known by the good fruits of faith and of the Spirit evidently appearing in their persons, whom, whilst the world can in all places so far discern, as to hate, despise, and persecute them, as none of theirs, it were marvel if we should not discern them to be children of the same common Father with us, and so know and acknowledge one another, though the world, which knows not him, know neither of both. 1 John iii. 1. And passing this judgment one upon another mutually, though not by the rule of certainty, which a man can have only of himself ordinarily, as only knowing his own heart, yet more than in hope, which extends itself to the apparently profane, for we are to hope that they who are not to-day, may be to-morrow, and even by that golden rule of love or charity, which “thinketh not evil,” nor is suspicious, but “be-lieveth all things,” and taketh them in the best part: 1 Cor. xiii. 5,7: “covering,” especially under the graces of God's Spirit, where they appear, though in never so small a measure, “a multitude of sins;” 1 Pet. iv. 8; we shall walk in love, after Christ's example, and fulfil the law of Christ by bearing one another's burden: thereby also procuring the like merciful measure to be meted out to us again both by God, and men, in respect of our infirmities. Eph. v. 2; Gal. vi. 2; Mark iv. 24.
Lastly, if men were to judge us, even whilst we abode in the assemblies of ignorance, or infirmity, men fearing God, and sanctified in our persons, by the profession and appearance which we made: then are we also in equity to make the same estimate of the persons of others, though abiding in the assemblies, as we did, making the same manifestation, and appearance, (and it may be greater than) the most of us have done. And, as we ourselves then having received of God the grace of sanctification, in our measure; and making manifestation thereof, according to that, we had received; and being to be judged by others according to the manifestation we made; did, and might justly look, that they should deem us truly faithful, and sanctified, though never so weakly: so are we to have again the like estimation of others, according to their measure received, and manifested: remembering always that most equal rule of Christ our Lord, that “whatsoever we would men should do unto us, even so to do to them, which is the law, and the prophets.” Matt. vii. 12.
I will, therefore, conclude this point with a double exhortation: the former, respecting us ourselves, who have, by the mercy of God, with the faith of Christ, received his order, and ordinances; which is, that we please not ourselves therein too much, as if in them, piety and religion did chiefly consist: which was not the least calamity of the Lord's people of old, for which he also sharply reproved, and severely punished them; of which evil, and over valuation of these things, howsoever great in themselves, we are in the more danger, considering our persecutions, and sufferings for them: but that, as we believe these things are necessarily to be done, so we consider, that other things are not only not to be left undone, but to be done much more. The grace of faith in Christ, and the fear of God, the continual renewing of our repentance, with love, mercy, humility, and modesty, together with fervent prayer, and hearty thanksgiving unto God, for his unspeakable goodness, are the things wherein especially we must serve God: nourishing them in our own hearts, and so honouring them in others, wheresoever they appear to dwell. Psa. xl. 6–8; Heb. x 3; Psa. xxxi. 16, 17; Jer. vii. 4, 21–23; Hos. vi. 6; Mic. vi. 6–8. And if God will be known, and honoured in all his creatures, yea, even, in the silliest worm that crawleth upon the earth, how much more in the holy graces of his Spirit vouchsafed to his elect, notwithstanding their failings of infirmity, especially in outward ordinances! Which personal graces whilst too many have undervalued in other men, and neglected in themselves, in comparison, God hath been provoked to suffer so many amongst us to fall, some, into such personal sins and evils, notwithstanding their advantage in the Lord's ordinances, as from which, without these helps many thousands of them have been preserved: and others, both from the conscience of God's ordinances, and of the personal duties of holiness, and honesty; as is generally to be seen in such as have made apostacy from their former profession with us.
The other exhortation, I direct unto them about whom I deal: which is, that they content not themselves with that faith and grace in their persons, which they have received, rejecting, or neglecting, under any pretext or excuse whatsoever, the order, ordinances, and institutions of the Lord Jesus; by the use whereof, their faith should be nourished in itself, and manifested unto others: much more, that they continue not their submission to the contrary, which is of antichrist; lest God, besides greater evils, punish them with yet greater confusion, and bondage therein: that, under which they are, being such already, as, I suppose, I may truly affirm, that never church in the world, in which so many excellent truths were taught, stood in such confusion both of persons and things, and under such a bondage spiritual, as that of England doth at this day.
Now before I come to prove the thing I aim at, I think it fit to satisfy the principal objections, which I have taken knowledge of against the thing I intend.
And it will first be demanded of me, considering my judgment of the parish assemblies, as antichristian, and of sundry the practices there as idolatrous, and withal, what judgments the Scriptures denounce against such estates, and practices, how I can deem any the members of such assemblies, and so practising, as truly Christian? or how I can, without pollution, communicate with them, who are by the touching of so many unclean, both persons and things, themselves made unclean?
For answer. First, it is true, that upon the true church, the Scriptures do pronounce most excellent blessings; as they do also denounce fearful curses upon the false: as it is also true, that whatsoever is spoken of the whole body, the one or other, jointly, belongs to each member of either, severally: provided, that in both, things be in their right state and order: which is, that there be none but faithful and holy persons in the true church, and none but unholy and profane persons in the false: for none other should be, in the one or other. But, if now it come to pass otherwise, and that through the church's want of vigilance or zeal, and the party's hypocrisy, which hath been always, and is, too, too common, there be in the true church unfaithful and profane persons, shall we say, that those precious promises made to the true church in which they wrongfully are, do appertain unto them, and unto their persons? and that they are elect of God, saints by calling, and sanctified in Christ, to the hope of life, &c,? So if, on the contrary, it come to pass, through her craft and cruelty, and their own weakness, which is, too, too common also, that godly and faithful persons be in the false church, where they should not be, shall we now lay upon their persons all the curses, and condemnation, which the Scriptures denounce against the estate of the false church, and the superstitions thereof? Were not this to justify the wicked, because he is in the true church, where he should not be? and to condemn the righteous because he is in the false church, where he should not be neither? Or, are not all godly-wise men in these, and the like disordered state of things, to have use of Christian discretion for the putting of difference between person and person, notwithstanding their common church-state, and order, the wicked with the godly in the true church, and under Christ's ordinances, and the godly with the wicked in the false church under the forgeries of antichrist? Otherwise, our judgment will be as confused as is their estate. Neither is it a more difficult thing, for a spiritual and unpartial eye to discern a godly man in a false church where the falseness ariseth not from the falsity of faith, but of order and ordinances, than to discern a wicked man in a true church.
And this consideration had, may serve for answer to the chief part of the objection: which is also no more in effect, than hath been answered by the authors of the “Apology,” before me, (page 113) in their defence against that unjust accusation laid upon them by their adversaries, that they affirmed the whole realm to be drowned in confusion without assurance of salvation.
Their answer is, that “There is difference to be put between persons themselves, and between their actions or estate otherwise. The person sometimes is blessed, when the action or standing in another behalf, may be such as is subject to curse, &c. As on the contrary also, sometimes the person is subject to curse, when as yet the action or standing may be blessed in another respect.” And both those parts of their distinction they prove by sundry instances from the Scriptures. Some whereof I will here note down, adding also some others thereunto, for the confirmation of the first head of the distinction, which more directly concerns the present question, which is about godly persons performing of, or standing in some corrupt and cursed actions or estate otherwise. Thus were Simeon, and Levi, both blessed in their persons, and cursed in their outrageous act against the Shechemites, Gen. xlix. 5, 7, 28: thus were the Canaanitish woman and her daughter, both dogs, or whelps, in respect of their nation and people, and children of Abraham in their persons, Matt. xv. 26–28: thus was Peter both a faithful and beloved disciple, in his person, and yet in his counsel to Christ, Satan, Matt. xvi. 16, 17, 23: thus were the Corinthians both unleavened and holy in their persons, and leavened or impure in the lump of their communion with the incestuous man uncensured amongst them, 1 Cor. v. 6, 7: as also the same Corinthians, both spiritual (though hut babes in Christ), and yet in respect of their strife and divisions, not spiritual but carnal. 1 Cor. iii. 1, 3. Where the apostle also noteth out the original cause of these contrarieties in and about the same persons: and how it comes to pass, that one and the same man doth works so contrary one to another, and so subject, in respect thereof, to two so contrary estimates and censures. The reason then is, because every regenerate man, in this life, hath in him two men: the old man, not yet fully cast off; and the new man, though prevailing, yet not perfectly put on and renewed, Eph. iv. 22–24: and these two, elsewhere called the flesh, and the Spirit; contrary the one to the other, and lusting the one against the other. Gal. v. 17. And so forcible is this lusting sin and flesh in the best, as that, it not only keeps them from knowing much truth which they should know, and from doing much good which they would do, and from doing that good they do, as they both should and would; but also misleadeth them into sundry aberrations, and evils, besides their falls into greater mischiefs, at times, out of which they are restored by particular repentance, and therein continueth them to their dying day. The apostle professeth of himself that he knoweth but in part, 1 Cor. xiii. 12, and how small a part of his knowledge is ours! The prophet David teacheth, that no man can understand his errors, and so prays God to cleanse him from his secret sins. Psa. xix. 12. And amongst, and above, those of all other kinds, the servants of God are still endangered by the errors and evils of the times: whose corrupt customs do often either dim their eyes, as a mist, or carry them along, as a strong stream: or otherwise oppress them with a thousand tyrannies. Examples of this mischief we have too many in the Scriptures. In Abraham's, Jacob's, David's, and many more holy patriarchs, and prophets, taking at once more wives than one, contrary to the institution of marriage, which was, that “two” (and not more) “should be one flesh.” Gen. ii. 24; Matt. xix. 4. Likewise in Asa, Amaziah, and Azariah their failings, in not taking away the high places, though the Holy Ghost give testimony of the uprightness of their hearts, and works otherwise, in the sight of the Lord. 1 Kings xv. 14; 3 Kings xiv. 3, 4, xv. 3, 4. Also, in many of the church of Corinth; continuing their accustomed fellowship, with their friends, and kindred, in their superstitious feastings in the idol temples, in honour of the idols, to which they offered. 1 Cor. viii. 10; x. 13, 14, 20, 31; 2 Cor. vi. 14–16. Lastly, we have a plain proof of this evil in the apostles themselves, whom the common error of the times, that the Messiah should be a great, worldly prince, and exercise a temporal kingdom, did so possess, as that it could not be rooted out of them, by all that they had heard of Christ, and seen touching him; hut that it still abode with them, till the death of Christ, yea, some while after his resurrection. Matt. xvi. 22, xx. 21; Mark ix. 34; Luke xxiv. 21; Acts i. 6. Which consideration, as it must work in all the servants of the Lord, a godly jealousy of the customs of the times, that they be not captived in their evils; so must it also teach them, who by the mercy of God have escaped them, much moderation towards such, being otherwise godly, as are still too much abused by their craft or violence.
To apply this, then, to the present purpose. Considering the many excellent truths taught in divers of the assemblies, and that with so great fruit in the knowledge, zeal, and other personal graces of many; the constant sufferings of divers martyrs for the truths there professed against that antichrist of Rome; the knowledge we had, of ourselves, in that estate; together with the judgment of other churches abroad, touching the Church of England, as it is called, though indeed ignorant of her estate, save in such general heads of faith, wherein we also assent unto her; as also the manifold afflictions upon, and great offences, and those, many too just, at such as have made separation from that church; it is no marvel, that so many (though otherwise learned and godly) by reason of the ignorance and infirmity yet cleaving to the best overmuch, are abused, by the times, for the succouring of antichrist in his declining age; for whose furtherance, in his rising, through the corruptions of times then so many, howsoever otherwise learned and godly, have, though unwittingly, put to their hands, as all men, soundly minded, if but a little exercised in their writings, and the stories of the times, will confess.
Now for the second part of the objection, touching the idolatrous practices of the assemblies, I do answer, that every idolatry makes not an idolater, any more than every ignorance, or other sin of ignorance, an ignorant or wicked person. To make an idolater, there is required an idolatrous disposition, which we may not lay to their charge, of whom we speak. Besides, by this ground, we should challenge the reformed churches generally to he idolaters; for the most of them use a stint form of prayer, less or more, though they be not bound unto it: and so, consequently, should exclude them from God's kingdom; for no idolater hath any inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. Eph. iv. 3. And if any further object, that the Scriptures teach expressly, that they who partake of the sins of Babylon, shall receive of her plagues: and that every man worshipping that beast, and his image, and receiving his mark in his forehead or in his hand, shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, &c., Rev. xviii. 4; xiv. 9, 10. I answer, as before, that that estate, and those practices are, indeed, under that curse in themselves; and further also, that every person so walking, as I am persuaded every member of the Church of England doth, is under that condemnation without repentance: which repentance, as it must be particular for sins known, so doth the Lord, in mercy, accept of the general repentance of his servants, for their sins unknown and secret, and which they discern not to be such: otherwise no flesh could be saved. Psa. xix. 12. Lastly, as I cannot excuse them, nor they themselves, from great sin in joining themselves with the profane parish assemblies, with which God hath not joined them; and that in the practice of their superstitions, especially, in such a bondage spiritual under the prelacy, as makes them cease to be the Lord's free people, and deprives them of all power for the reformation of public evils, either of persons, or things; so that being, as I hope, but their sins of infirmity, and by them unseen, though we discern them, as it may be, they also discern some evils in us, which we see not in ourselves, they no more dissolve the bond of the Spirit between their and our persons, than they destroy the work of the same Spirit in themselves: neither can these their sins pollute me, if by the default of my place or person I leave no means lawful unused, for their reformation: who, if they either purposely neglect to search out the truth, or unfaithfully withhold it in unrighteousness, for any fleshly fear, or other corrupt regard, shall not, for our more respective judgment of them, or practice towards them, receive the more easy judgment at the hands of the Lord, in the day of the revelation of the secrets of all hearts,
As he that hath hold of one member of the body, is not separated from the body, nor any part thereof, but hath hold of the whole body by the natural coherence of the parts: so he that communicates with one member of the church, communicates and joins with the whole, and every member thereof, by answerable coherence of the parts of that mystical body.
In communicating with the godly, there, in private prayer, and the like exercises, we do not communicate with them, as members of the church, hut merely as Christians, private prayer being, as hath been showed, no church action at all, nor performed either by them, or us, by virtue of any church-state, or membership, or with any respect thereunto: but merely as by persons, made partakers, by the grace of God, of the Spirit of adoption, and prayer, mutually. Rom. viii. 13, 26, 27.
If we may thus communicate with them in private, and they with us, why not also in public?
It followeth not, that, because I may partake with godly men in things lawful, and lawfully done, therefore, in things, unlawful in themselves, as are many things, or unlawfully done, as are all things in their public communion. More particularly. In communicating with the godly in public, even in things good in themselves, I partake with all the profane parish also: the minister being the minister of the whole parish, and to speak as the truth is, the parish priest; and so in his public administration, offering up the souls and bodies, and the prayers withal of the parish church, in the name of Christ, and therein, with a few clean, many unclean beasts, upon the Lord's altar: whereas the private communion I intend, is restrained to the godly only, though wicked persons be in the place. Secondly, whereas, in private, I communicate only with the persons and personal graces of holy men; in public, I communicate with their church-state and order, as also with the public ministry, and in, and with it. with the prelacy, whence it is: of which more hereafter. Neither yet may we admit them into communion of the public ordinances with us, till they be actually members of a true and lawful public body ecclesiastical, or visible church. As they are private Christian persons, so we may partake with them in private Christian duties; but may not admit them to public church communion, though never so holy persons, till they have a true and lawful church-state, and calling thereunto. And here that general rule hath place, that whatsoever is done by any person, though both he and it, in themselves, never so holy, without a just calling, is sin unto him.
But with men uncircumcised, and which might not enter into the temple, the Jews were forbidden all communion by the law of God. Acts xi. 2, 3; xxi. 28.
But they, of whom we speak, are not unbaptized, but such as, with the outward baptism, (the same with our own) though both unlawfully administered, have, also, received the inward baptism of the Spirit: though they cannot have, in that their estate, all the right ends and uses of baptism. Secondly, I find not, where the law of God so said: but rather think it may be proved, that the circumcised Israelites, coming out of Egypt, had communion in the wilderness, though not in all things, with the uncircumcised, both Israelites and others. Exod. xii. 38; Numb, xi. 4. But admit the law so forbade. It must be considered that the matter of Peter's trouble was, “his going in to men uncircumcised, and eating with them,” and it will then appear that there was a legal and ceremonial restraint and bondage, under which the Jewish church was, as a child in his nonage, from which the church now, as a man of fuller age, is free. Gal. iv. 1–4. And by the Jews not communicating privately, or not eating with any uncircumcised (if so, by the law, they were forbidden, and that it were not rather a tradition, as Calvin thinketh), and by their not admitting any such into the temple, which is evident, we are taught not to communicate with, nor to receive into the church, any uncircumcised in heart, so by us discerned; but are not forbidden all private religious communion with unbaptized persons, if appearing holy, much less to go in and eat with them; no, nor yet to receive such, neither into the now temple, the church of God, 1 Cor. x. 27, into which indeed they must be received before they can be baptized. And, for the instance, Acts xi. considering that Christ, at his death, had “broken down the partition wall, and in his flesh abolished the enmity of the law of commandments, standing in ordinances,” Eph. ii. 14, 15, and that Peter, by his apostolical commission, was to “teach all nations,” Matt. xxviii. 19; and how his opposites had “heard that the Gentiles had received the word,” and therewith the Spirit of God, it could be none but they of the circumcision, that is, such as being themselves circumcised, did think there could be no grace without it, (with which mischief Satan laboureth, always, to possess the hearts of such as enjoy God's ordinances, as theirs, on the other side, who enjoy them not, to undervalue them,) who would thus contend, or quarrel with the apostle of Christ, and the same, to speak as the truth is, manifesting himself to be too Jewishly affected, for that his practice, Acts x. 14; Gal. ii. 1, 12,]4. And, methinks, by the Lord's charge unto Peter, “not to call that profane which God had purified,” Acts x. 15, and with it, by Peter's testimony afterwards, v. 34, 35, that “they that fear God and work righteousness, are accepted of God,” whether circumcised or not circumcised, baptized or not baptized, so there be no contempt of God's ordinances, but only human frailty hindering, as it was with Cornelius, in his not being circumcised formerly; and so ought to be accepted of his people, so far as God accepteth of them; and that, by Christ's example in receiving the prayers of, and therein communicating with, the faithful centurion, though out of the visible church and uncircumcised, Matt. viii. 5–13, personally and privately, with whom he would not have communicated in the temple, into which, for order's sake, he might not have been admitted; we, also, have warrant for communicating with godly persons, privately; with whom, for their disordered estate that way, we can have no lawful public communion.
But thus to acknowledge any in the assemblies, for our brethren, and partakers of the same common grace and faith with us, unto life, is to confirm them in their evil ways, and as if we should tell them, that to do more, or otherwise, than they do, were in vain.
This exception is unworthy of any godly-wise man, who hath learnt aright, either to worship God, or to converse with men. Exception might, as justly, have been made against the apostle's doctrine, and practice, for receiving and applying unto the weak in things lawful for their edification and gaining, and the discharge of his own duty, Rom. xiv. 1; 1 Cor. ix. 22; and, as justly, might men have told him, that he had taken a course to continue and harden them in their sin; for that, their weakness, was their sin. The equity of the apostle's doctrine and practice is general, and directs all God's people, at all times, towards all that are weak in the faith, any manner of way; as are those that fear God in the assemblies, (how strong soever otherwise,) in respect of their church-state, and ordinances.
The same apostle, writing to the Corinthians, whom he was, in the body of his epistle, to reprove for many evils amongst them, doth in the first place give them their due, with the most, acknowledging them “sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, enriched with the grace of God by Christ Jesus, in all utterance, and in all knowledge.” 1 Cor. i. 2, 4, 5. The same manner of proceeding, also, the apostle Johnuseth, being directed by the same good Spirit, towards the churches in Asia, upon the like occasion. Rev. ii. 1–3, 12–14, 18–20. And, as their practices are (in their common equity) our instructions, so doth both the law of love and rule of reason direct us the same course. When men see us ready to take knowledge, and in acknowledging of the good things in them, they will much more willingly listen to our just reproofs of their evils, as deeming us equally and lovingly affected towards them: which good things if, on the contrary, we neglect or undervalue in any manner of way, they will, and that justly, he prejudiced against us, as unequal and looking at them only with the left eye. Besides, there are no arguments so forcible, either for admonition or exhortation, to them that have any spark of grace in them, as those which are taken from the mercies of God, whereof they are made partakers. Rom. xii. 1. Neither will any of God's children, indeed, make that use, either of the knowledge which themselves have, or acknowledgement which others make, of the grace of God in them, to be emboldened thereby to go on in evil; for this were to “turn the grace of God into wantonness,” which only the reprobates do, Jude 4, no more than will a good child, when he knows by himself, or hears by others, that his father hath made sure his inheritance unto him, take, thereby, liberty to despise his commandments, and no further to regard him: this were a hastardly practice, and from which a child naturally disposed would abhor.
To conclude then, this our judgment, and answerable practice, touching the better sort in the assemblies, as faithful persons, and under the assurance of salvation, is no hindrance to the further manifestation of their faith, in withdrawing their feet from every evil way, and the planting them in the Lord's house; but on the contrary, a real exhortation, and provocation of them to keep safe that their precious faith in a good conscience in all things, as the passenger in the ship, 1 Tim. i. 19: and in the obedience of all Christ's commandments, to make their election more sure to themselves, Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; 2 Pet. i. 10, and so to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, Phil. ii. 12; always providing for themselves the prophet's assurance, which was, that he should not be ashamed, when he had respect to all God's commandments. And this may serve, not only, for an answer to the objection, but also, for an argument for the thing intended.
But Christ hath left an order for the reformation of every brother falling into sin, which cannot be observed towards any of them whom we cannot therefore thus acknowledge, and communicate with accordingly. Matt. xviii. 15–17.
This, indeed, showeth, that they are without the order of Christ in his church, in which they ought to be; but doth not therefore, conclude them not to be our brethren, or God's children, or that there is no bond of faith and the Spirit between their and our persons. And, by this ground, we should not repute a godly person though actually separated, our brother, nor keep private communion with him: nor any at all with the reformed church, or with any their members; who are too much wanting in this order. But, as we may communicate with thousands in England, as with holy persons, in private exhortations, and admonitions, so may we also, in private prayer, though in neither the one, nor other, publicly, as hath formerly been showed. And this I, also, conceive to have the force of another argument for the practice.
The Lord Jesus hath promised so far to hear men's prayers, as they agree together in the things they ask: which cannot be between them and us, seeing they are to pray for the prosperous estate of their church, communion, government, and ministry, against which we both pray and witness. Matt. xviii. 19.
There are thousands in the assemblies, who, whatsoever through human frailty, their practice be, pray for little more, in effect, in the Church of England, than we do. And, secondly, though there be between them and us some differences, yet may the same be so carried by Christian discretion, and moderation mutual, as that our prayers be not interrupted. And though we must agree in the particulars, which we expressly pray for, yet if we may not join in prayer with them, with whom we have particular differences, how shall we pray with almost any the members of the reformed churches? yea, what two churches, or persons in the same church, should not at one time or other refuse prayer together? But divers inconveniences will, I doubt not, arise in this practice, as there do many, in all our doings: which we must, therefore, labour to prevent, or moderate by godly wisdom, and not abandon for them things otherwise lawful.
If this practice may be warranted with them, why not with sundry papists also, and much more, with many excommunicants out of the church for some particular sin?
The faith of Rome, and so of papists, indeed, cannot by the Word of God be proved true, justifying faith; nor the spirit received by that faith, the spirit of prayer, which God hath promised to hear. But the faith published in the name of the Church of England, and professed by many there, personally, is to be esteemed such by the Word of God. Neither are we now come to a diverse faith, but to a diverse order, from that there prevailing: in submission whereunto we think ourselves bound to make further manifestation of our faith, than there we did, or could do. And for excommunicates, there is this apparent difference, that, whereas we are to apply ourselves to the other, not yet come so far, what we may for their further provocation; we are, on the contrary, to withdraw ourselves from them, what we may for their humbling, both in spiritual communion, and civil familiarity: their estate in the one, and other, putting a special bar between them and us. 1 Cor.v. 11.
But this will endanger the bringing in of great confusion, when one man will thus esteem of, and walk towards one, a second another, and a third will be otherwise minded towards them both.
The very same might have been objected against Paul's doctrine of application to the weak: and it might have been said; one will judge this man but weak, another that man, but a third neither of them, but both obstinate; what confusion will here be! Rom. xiv. 1; 1 Cor. ix. 22. So, for our walking towards the members of the Dutch, and French churches. Have we not administered publicly to some of either, which, unto some others of them, we would not do? The same course we hold in our private walking. Yea, do we not sundry times fall into the same difficulties in our public communion, being diversely minded in the receiving in, and casting out of members? In all which cases, we must have use of Christian discretion in ourselves, and moderation one towards another: and must study, not only how to effect that which ourselves think best, but how, to bear the contrary, with the least offence, if it be not intolerable.
And thus much for the objections against this practice: the reasons to justify it follow.
1. Arg.—The former grounds being held, and more specially, that private prayer is no church action, nor done by any church power, or order, but merely personal, both Mr. Bernard's argument, “that we are taught by our Saviour Christ, to join in prayer, and to say, ‘Our Father,’ with them, whom we judge the children of God;” as also Mr. Ames', that “we may have visible communion with them, whom we rightly discern to have communion with Christ,” are of force, to wit, according to the limitations and distinctions formerly made. Matt. vi. 6; Gal. iii. 26; 1 John i. 8.
2. Arg.—As all communion in actions presupposeth an union of persons, so doth every union of persons, necessarily, draw with it communion in works, as a natural effect thereof. Which, as it is true in Christ the head first, with whose merits and grace no man can communicate, till by faith he be united to his person, and with which all so united do necessarily partake; so is it in the members mutually, who must first be knit together by that one faith, and one Spirit, and so being united must preserve the unity and walk in the communion thereof. John xv. 4, 5; Titus i. 3; Philem. 6; Eph. iv. 3. We are to walk in the common works of humanity with every man, according to that common bond: in the works of kindred, or friendship, as with a friend, or kinsman: of common Christianity, with a Christian: and so in the works of church communion with the members of the true church. As, then, God hath united us in our persons, by faith, and the Spirit, under one head, Christ, with many in the assemblies, so are we also to unite ourselves, in the exercises of those our personal graces, notwithstanding the human infirmities, especially about outward ordinances, appearing in us, or them.
3. Arg.—There was between them in the assemblies, who feared God, and: us, before our separation a bond of the Spirit, and we might lawfully pray together for lawful things, personally. And hath our growth in the knowledge, and obedience of the will of God, dissolved that bond, they remaining the same they were, and it may be growing, further also, therein? Surely, such is the nature, and so great the strength of this bond of the Spirit, to them who duly consider it, with that reverence which is meet, as that many and great infirmities cannot break it. And by reason of it, and of many other, so excellent things, there to be found, it deeply concerneth us to weigh with ourselves, in what respect, and how far, we make our separation: that, as we make not the good things there, as snares to entangle our souls in the things which are evil, so that neither for the evils, unavoidable in the public ordinances there, we throw away all at a venture, as some ill-advised do. And if two godly persons of them may lawfully pray together, privately, for lawful things, why not we with either, or both of them? Do we lose any lawful liberty in a common Christian duty, by breaking of our unlawful course, and standing? If not, then neither can this course be justly reproved, neither should we debar ourselves of our Christian liberty herein. Gal. v. 1.
4. Arg.—As we are not, for infirmities and corruptions, to refuse the fellowship of a true Christian church in things lawful, but, by all good means, to endeavour her reformation, whilst there is any hope: so, neither, are we to refuse the fellowship of a true Christian person, so appearing, in things lawful, for his infirmities and corruptions, especially, till he appear unto us obstinate and irrecoverable therein.
5. Arg.—Lastly, To repute them holy persons, and partakers of the same precious faith with ourselves, as I have showed you before, we have always done, notwithstanding their church state, and yet, not to join with them in the personal works of faith, no extraordinary bar coming between, seemeth a denial of that in deed, which in word is professed: and all one, if not worse, as if one man should profess of another, that he held him his special friend, but would neither perform to him, nor receive from him, any duty of special friendship: or, that he deemed him a, very honest man, but yet would neither trust him, nor have otherwise to deal with him, for a farthing,
For conclusion then let us follow the counsel of the apostle, to proceed by one rule, whereunto we are come, Phil. iii. 16: under hope that God will further reveal the truth in those particulars unto them, who are otherwise minded: as also following his example, in becoming all to all in the things which are lawful. Phil. iii. 16. And above all things let love abound in us, which will teach us, as many other good lessons, so this amongst the rest, not to cover the good graces of God, in men, under their infirmities, but contrariwise, their infirmities, under the graces of God's Spirit in them. Prov. x. 12; 1 Pet. iv. 8.
But lest this practice, and the grounds thereof be further strained, than I intend, or than it will reach, I think it here meet to add a few things, for the just and lawful bounding of it.
of public communion.
As we are, then, to join ourselves with them, wherein God hath joined us; so are we, wherein he severeth us, to sequester and sever ourselves. And this I verily believe he doth, in their and our church communion, service, order of government, ministry, and ministrations. If the parish assemblies, gathered by compulsion, of all the parishioners promiscuously; the provincial, diocesan, and lordly government; the ministry thence derived, with the service-book, and administrations accordingly, be of God; then is our fellowship, only of persons sanctified, at least outwardly, joining themselves by voluntary profession under the government and ministry of an eldership; conceiving prayers and thanksgivings, according to the churches' present occasions, by the teachings of the Spirit, and so administering the sacraments according to the simplicity of the gospel, not of God, nor from heaven. If on the contrary, ours be of God, and of his Christ; then is theirs of antichrist, God's and Christ's adversary. Either the one or other are plantings which God hath not planted, and shall be rooted up. We will briefly consider of the particulars.
And first, the word, “kahal,” in Hebrew; in Greek, “ecclesia;” in English, “church;” signifieth, a company of people called out; and that in respect both of the voice or will of the caller, and obedience of the called: and so, restrained to religious use, signifieth a company of people called, and come out of the state of nature, into the state of grace; out of the world, into the kingdom of Christ. Who are therefore entitled, “saints” by calling, and “sanctified,” or separated, “in Christ Jesus:” the temple, “house,” and “household of God,” and “kingdom of heaven,” and “of God.” 1 Cor. i. 2; Eph. ii. 19–21; 1 Tim. iii. 15; Matt. xiii. 24; xxi. 43; Acts i. 3. And since the church is neither a natural, nor a civil, but a spiritual state, it must not be gathered, nor consist, of natural, or civil, or other than spiritual persons. And this will yet better appear, if we consider it, as the Scriptures direct us, as the body of Christ, under him the head; unto which therefore it must be conformable in every part, by the indwelling of his Spirit, effectually working in the measure thereof. Eph. i. 22, 23; iv. 15,16; Col. i. 24.
2ndly, Unto the true church, appertain the covenant and promises, the ministry, sacraments, and services of God, with all the holy things of God and of Christ, Rom. ix. 4; 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22: which must, therefore, be gathered, and consist of such persons, as unto which, these things belong in communion, and by common right. And both the Scriptures, and common reason teach, that whomsoever the Lord doth call, and use to and in any special work, and employment, he doth, in a special manner, separate and sanctify them thereunto. And so the church, being to be employed in the special service of God, to the glory of his special love, and mercy in their happiness, and to show forth his virtues, must be of such persons, as by, and in whom, he will, and may thus be worshipped, and glorified: and as are by him, both in their persons, and fellowship, separated and sanctified thereunto.
But here, the authors of a certain treatise published against M. de Lescluse, charge him with much falsehood, for affirming all true churches from the beginning of the world, to have been established by this separation, which we, whom they call Brownists, as the Church of England calls them Puritans, do desire. And for this they desire it may be showed, how the church of God before the flood was gathered by such a separation, to wit, of the godly, from the profane; for this is the separation we desire. And know they not, that God, in establishing the first church of the gospel, “put enmity,” which is more than separation, “between the seed of the woman, Christ and the faithful in him: and the seed of the serpent, Satan, and the wicked with him their father,” Gen. iii. 15; iv. 12, 16; John viii. 44; which separation also stood so firm, as the sons of God might not so much as take them wives of the daughters of men. Gen. vi. 2–5. Or if these men will have marriage, as by their practice they make it, a church action, then they see an express separation for church communion before the flood.
And where they further allege that the Dutch and French churches which we acknowledge for true churches, were not established by such a separation, as we make, they accuse them unjustly, to excuse themselves.
They were, at the first, established of a sanctified people, by voluntary profession separating themselves into particular churches from the profane multitudes in the places and parishes where they lived, and that with great persecution: and so do still continue a separated people, though, through continuance of time and peace, they, as all other churches use to do, have lost of their first purity and zeal. Were or are any compelled into them by penal laws? Or do they consist of all the parish inhabitants, as the English parishional churches were, and do? Doth not M. de Lescluse and we all and these men themselves know, that scarce one of ten in the parish, is of the church in the whole country throughout? How do they then reproach the churches of God, (contrary to their own, and all men's knowledge,)as not being a separated people from the profane multitude? The thing is, they would by casting dirt and mire in other men's faces, make their own seem the fairer.
That the Dutch and French churches condemn our separation, or schism, is neither to the purpose nor true; neither can they name one church that ever passed any such censure upon us; neither hath any one learned and godly man amongst them (to my knowledge) ever gone about to refute our practice or confession, though published both in Dutch and Latin unto them; which, notwithstanding, they have done in their public writings generally, against such heretics and schismatics as have been amongst them. It is more both pertinent and true, that the Church of England, for which these men plead, condemns them, her proctors, as schismatics, and excommunicates for their wicked errors.
If Mr. Johnson confess, as they tell us, the Church of England a true church, he must be able to prove it established by separation, and a separated body in the constitution. He, with the rest, has formerly defined “a true visible church, a company of people called, and separated from the world by the Word of God,” &c., and proved the same by many scriptures.
And to conceive of a church, which is the body of Christ and household of God, not separated from the profane world, which lieth in wickedness, is to confound heaven and earth, and to agree Christ with Belial, 1 John v. 19; and in truth, the most profane and dangerous error which, this day, prevails amongst them that fear God; and by which Christianity is more exposed to the contempt of Turks and Jews, than by any other evil.
But here a defence, by many made and much set by, must be considered of; which is, That the wicked and profane in the parishes, though frequenting the same place with the rest, are not of the church; but only they who fear God, and make conscience of their ways.
If they said no other should be of the church, though coming into the same place, it were true; but to argue from that which should be, to that which is, when that is not which should be, is unsound and presumptuous; as is that indeed of all other defences, most frivolous. Thus might the Corinthians have answered Paul, that the incestuous man was not of the church, though he frequented the same place with them. 1 Cor. v. 1–6. And if this defence were good, the greatest part of the ministers of the church should not be of the church; for the greatest part, from the prelate to the paritour, are (God knoweth) irreligious and unconscionable persons. For conclusion, then, we all know that the ministers, parsons, vicars, or curates, are appointed, and so called, the parish priests, and are accordingly to minister; offering up the parish prayers and sacrifices, and of the parishes to receive tithes and offerings, as their duties; to marry, church after child-birth, baptize, and bury, all that are married, delivered of child, born, and do die in their parishes; and so to give the Lord's Supper to every one of them at sixteen years old. If it be said the minister may suspend, and so procure, if they reform not, the excommunication of all unworthy persons; admit it; and even this proves the whole parish, yea, the most wicked with the rest, to be the church. For, otherwise, what needed they to be suspended? or, how could they be excommunicated, since the church is not to judge them which are without, but them which are within?
Let all them, then, that fear God, know and consider, that when they come to worship in the parish assemblies, they join themselves where God hath not joined them, and acknowledge that society for the true church of God and communion of saints, which he hath not sanctified for that purpose; that they offer their solemn sacrifices out of the true temple, made of lively stones, 1 Pet. ii. 5; Deut. xii. 5–7, where alone they should present them; that in eating of one bread, they make themselves one body with them, 1 Cor. x. 17, and them members of Christ, who are, for the present, apparent limbs of Satan; and that, in saying “Our Father” with them, they acknowledge them for the children of God, who, in the persuasion of their own consciences, are of their father, the devil, and do his lusts. John viii. 44.
And, which is most of all to be observed, and wherein those parish assemblies do differ from all true churches in the world, this mischief is not casual, and falling in by occasion, but of the very first frame and constitution; into which false brethren and wicked men have not crept privily, as into the churches of God of old, and of late also, but have been, and are, by bodily punishments, publicly and openly into them constrained, and in them continued. Gal. ii. 4; Jude 4. Neither, in this confusion, did the wicked intrude and thrust themselves into the fellowship of holy assemblies, as in true churches is too commonly to be seen; but, on the contrary, the godly, few as they were and yet are in comparison, did unite and mingle themselves (after their dispersion in popery) in and into the profane parishes, where their outward estates and occasions lay. And, secondly, Whereas the true churches of Christ enjoy his presence and power, for the purging out of persons appearing ungodly and incorrigible, Matt. xviii. 17; 1 Cor. v. 4, 5; Heb. xii. 15; Gal. v. 12; 2 Thess. iii. 14; these parishional assemblies want not only all such power, in them or their ministers, which the prelates and their substitutes have seized into their hands, and for the stablishing of whose state, and advantage of whose honour and profit it is to have them no better, but even all possibility of reformation, except they cease to be gathered by their parish perambulation, as they are, instead of holy, voluntary, and personal profession of faith, and confession of sins, as they should be.
Now touching their solemn, and set book-service, thus much. Since the Lord hath nowhere commanded, or required in his Word, which is the only rule for his worship, any human, and apocryphal writings to be used in his church to worship him by, much less to be read, by stint, for prayer, it is unlawful for any of God's servants to submit unto any such voluntary religion, through humbleness of mind, or for any other cause, Col. ii. 23: or to partake in the holy things of God by it administered: lest they worship in vain, and God reprove them, saying, “Who hath required these things at your hands?” Matt. xv. 9.
But they tell us, that Christ hath taught his disciples when they prayed, to say, “Our Father,” &c. True, but I deny it to be Christ's meaning to bind them to these very words: as the ministers are bound to say their “Certain.” For neither do the two evangelists use the very same words: neither, if that were Christ's meaning, were it lawful to use any other form of words.
For he saith, “When you pray,” that is, whensoever you pray, “say,” &c., Luke xi. 2: and he who prays not, as Christ there teacheth, offers strange fire before the Lord. He, then, there teacheth to pray without hypocrisy and vain babbling, and with faith, and perseverance: though I doubt not, but these words also, being applied to present occasions, and without opinion of necessity, may be used. But admit Christ's meaning were to tie his disciples to a form of words: will the bishops, therefore, presume to impose upon men, another form of words, and so another form, and manner of worship? which, if Christ tied his disciples to worship him by a certain form of words, they appointing another form of words for his worship, they undeniably do. Will they thus walk cheek by jowl with Christ in his house, and set up “their thresholds by God's,” Ezek. xliii. 8, and appoint a new manner of worshipping God, and so a new will of God, as indeed they do?
M.de Lescluse's forenamed adversaries demand, touching a prayer of his in the end of his book, whether any of his flock in reading of that his prayer, may lift up their heart, and say Amen to his petition. If not, then, say they, It is a sorry prayer, &c.: if they may, then according to our doctrine, he sets up a golden calf, or erects an idol, by setting down this form of prayer: and they, which in the reading of it, lift up their hearts in prayer to desire the same thing, commit idolatry.
Nothing is absolutely, or in itself, an idol: but in relation to, and respect of the end, to which it is appointed and used. And we do, therefore, repute the service-book an idol, because it is, and is appointed to be read by the minister, for his, and the church's prayers. But what proportionable to this hath M. de Lescluse's prayer? Is it appointed by him to this end, or by the church with him so used? It is published by him for the manifestation unto others of his desire, that they by reading the same privately, might be admonished of, and provoked unto their duty. It is his prayer, but their instruction, and provocation: and so by them to be read, and used. And for the inward lifting up of the heart, is nothing to the question in hand; which is about the outward exercise, and manifestation of prayer. A man in reading, or hearing read, Paul's Epistles: or in singing, or hearing sung, David's Psalms, or in opening, or hearing opened those, or any other scriptures in the church, may say, “Amen,” to any truth, or desire in his heart that the good things in them contained may be accomplished, and come to pass. Are therefore these scriptures and sermons the prayers of the church? or, which is the very point, is the reading, singing, preaching, and hearing of them the church's exercise of prayer, or praying? We doubt not but it is lawful to read privately the prayers, or sermons of any godly men that come to our hands for instruction, and provocation in and unto any good duty, and to have the heart therewith affected accordingly: but to conclude, that therefore it is lawful to bring the same into the church, and to read them publicly for that end, and, which is more, that the so reading of them is the preaching, and praying which the ministers of Christ are to give themselves unto, Acts vi. 4: and for their furnishing whereunto, he giveth them the special gifts of his Spirit, 1 Cor. xii. 4, 7, 8; is to make ropes of sand: both will hold alike, and are indeed alike childish. But let us a little further weigh their words. They call it De Lescluse's prayer, because he penned it: acknowledging therein, that their church service is the prayers of the bishop or chaplain that penned them: and the manifestation of the Spirit given to him, that is dead, and rotten. Whereas the ministers of Christ have received their proper measure of the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal:, by which their infirmities are holpen, and they taught to pray, as they ought, and as are the church's necessities, and occasions. 1 Cor. xii. 7; Rom. viii. 28.
They further call this “the reading of De Lescluse's prayer:” and therein confess their church's praying to be reading. And is reading praying? or are not these two distinct exercises, and for divers ends? Do men read to God, which if to read be to pray, they must do? In praying, we pour matter out of the heart: but in reading we receive matter in: as common reason teacheth. How ignorant then or obstinate soever men are in their customs, and traditions received from their ancestors, their set service read for prayer is but a human device for God's worship (and that unreasonable also:) and so an idol and against the second commandment; with which no fellowship is to be had. Which whilst these men, and others will not learn of God, by us, whose persons they despise, but will still plead for it, as they do; most justly do they provoke God to punish them, and their fellows by it, as he doth. It is just, that whilst one kindleth, and another bloweth, and a third offereth this strange fire, they should together be scorched with the flame of it.
It now remains, I add a few things touching the government ecclesiastical, and ministry. But for that it becometh all honest, and modest men to be more forward in defending their own, than in reproving other men's doings; and that many loud clamours of Anabaptistry, and popularity are raised against our government, I think it meet, briefly, to insert a few things touching our profession, and practice therein.
The government of the church, then, as it is taken most strictly for the outward ordering, directing, and guidance of the same church in her affairs, (for in a more general sense the whole administration of Christ's kingdom by himself, or others, inwardly, or outwardly, publicly, or privately, may be comprehended under the government of the church,) we place in the bishops, or elders thereof, called by Christ, and the church to feed, that is to teach, and rule the same. Acts xx. 17, 20; 1 Tim. v. 17. Which their government, and the nature thereof, I will plainly lay down in such particulars, as wherein the people's liberty is greatest: which are reduced to these three heads: 1. Exercise of prophesying: 2. Choice of officers: and 3. Censuring of offenders.
And 1. For the exercise of prophesying; wherein men, though not in office, have liberty to move, and propound their questions, and doubts for satisfaction, as also having received a gift, to administer the same, unto edification, exhortation, and comfort. As then Paul, and Barnabas coming into the synagogue of the Jews, where they were no officers, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them after the lecture of the law, if they had any word of exhortation to the people, to say on, Luke ii. 46; Rom. xii. 6; 1 Pet. iv. 10; 1 Cor. xiv.; Acts xiii. 14, 15 (which order the Jews also observe in their synagogues at this day): so with us, the officers after their ordinary teaching, signify, and exhort unto the use of, the like liberty, in that, and the other particulars formerly named: and so, as there is occasion, open and explain things obscure and doubtful: reprove things unsound and impertinent: and so order, moderate, and determine the whole exercise by the Word of God. And in this I suppose it appears to all men, that the officers govern.
For the choice of officers, we do take for our directions the practices of the apostles, and apostolical church, Acts i. and vi. and xiv., grounded upon a perpetual equity, that men should choose them under Christ, unto whose faithfulness, under the same Christ, and by his appointment, they are to commit themselves, and their souls: and them, as Christ's, and their servants to maintain: in any one of which examples, the conscience of a godly man is better established, than in all the canons of popes, or prelates, or other devices of politic men whatsoever, departing from the apostolical simplicity. I will instance in one example where this point is most largely and clearly set down; unto which therefore the rest must be referred, and by it other places, handling the same matter more briefly, explained, and opened. We do read, Acts vi., how the apostles call together the multitude; show them the necessity of choosing deacons, what their work is, and how they must be qualified, and how many they would have chosen: whom, being chosen accordingly, by the multitude, they ordain; sanctifying the whole action with prayer. Where it is evident, that though the calling did chiefly depend upon the multitude, yet did the government of the whole action lie upon the officers. Conformable whereunto is our practice, so near as we can, upon the like occasion.
Lastly, for our direction in the public use of the censures, we propound to ourselves the rule of Christ, Matt. xviii. 17, touching sins private in themselves, but to be made public by the sinner's refusing to hear admonition: and with it, the practice thereof by the doctrine of his apostle, 1 Cor. v., about a sin of public nature. For the not censuring whereof he sharply reproveth the church; vehemently exhorting them, that being “come together in the name of the Lord Jesus,” they would “by his power,” for the use whereof he shows his judgment, for his part severally, and promiseth his joint assent in their public assembly, excommunicate the offender. For neither could the apostle being but one, be the church, or congregation, which consists of two or three, that is a company, though never so small, gathered together in Christ's name, as he expounds himself, Matt. xviii. 20: neither did he seize into his own hands the liberty of the Corinthians, for their neglecting it; as oppressors use to deal with their tenants and debtors, taking the advantages of forfeitures against them: neither indeed could the apostle with any equity or justice proceed to any censure against the offender, he not being before sufficiently convinced of and rebuked for his sin, as he should have been. 1 Tim. v. 20.
Answerable to the course by Christ and the apostle there directed, and by the Corinthians observed, as appeareth, 2 Cor. ii. 6, we desire our practice may be. In which, sins scandalous, if in themselves of public nature, are brought to the church by one of the officers: or, if private, and to be made public by the sinner's impenitence, by the brother offended, and his witnesses, at the officer's appointment. Where the sin, being manifested, and for fact orderly proved against the offender, is by the elders condemned, and rebuked by the Word of God, and the sinner exhorted to repentance, according to the quality of the sin. In which conviction, and admonition lawfully, and sufficiently made, the church resteth: the men manifesting their assent thereunto by some convenient word, or sign, and the women by silence. And so the admonition which before was Christ's, and the officer's, becomes the church's: following the other as their governors, and not otherwise.
Upon which admonition if it please God to give the sinner repentance, 2 Tim. ii. 25, answerable, and that he so manifest, God thereby receiveth glory, who was dishonoured by his sin, and men who were offended, satisfaction: and so all further proceeding is stayed, and the person exhorted, and others by his example, to sin no more lest a worse thing happen unto him. But if he remain obstinate, and refuse to hear the church, and in it, Christ, admonishing him, then with sorrow for the hardness of his heart, all long sufferance, and patience in the meanwhile used, according to the nature and circumstances of the offence, by the power of the Lord Jesus, not given to the church in vain, the impenitent sinner is, for his humbling, to be cut off, and excommunicated from the fellowship of the church: the elders, as governors, going before in decreeing the sentence, and so one of them, upon the people's assent, as in admonition, pronouncing it in the name of Christ, and his church.
But, for that the officers are frail men, and those not “lords over God's heritage,” as are princes, and magistrates over their subjects, but ministers and servants of Christ the husband, and the church the wife, whom the thing concerns in their places, as well as them, 1 Pet. v. 3; 1 Cor. iv. 1; 2 Cor. iv. 1, 5, we think it lawful for the brethren, either doubtful of anything in the officer's administration, to propound their doubt for satisfaction; or seeing them failing in any material thing, to admonish them of their duty and that they “look to their office,” Col. iv. 17, or, if need stand, to supply the same for the further clearing of things. And this whole proceeding we make, and use ordinarily on the Lord's-day, as being properly the Lord's work, a work of religion, directly respecting the soul, and conscience: and of spiritual nature, as being an administration of Christ's kingdom, which is not of this world. John xviii. 36. And this also when the whole church is gathered together, as which it concerneth many ways. 1 Cor. iv. 4, 5. 1. Because the church which is offended by public sins, must be publicly satisfied. 2. A little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump, to wit of the church, being unpurged out. 3. They that sin must be rebuked openly, that the rest may fear. 1 Tim. v. 20. 4. The elders, or bishops are to feed the flock by government publicly, as well as by doctrine; and being by them, over whom they are, to be highly loved for their work's sake, their work of government must be seen by the church which is for the same so to esteem them. 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. And thus we believe, and practise accordingly, though, we confess, with great weakness. By which our weakness it cometh also to pass, that this comely order is sometimes interrupted, and human frailties intermingle themselves, either by the officer's fault, in not governing, or the people's in not obeying, as they ought: so as we are at times overtaken with some things both disorderly, and difficult to determine; as it also cometh to pass in all societies, and governments of, and by men, whatsoever. And as in nature, the corruption of the best thing is the worst, so in the breach of the most comely order, there is the greatest both uncomeliness, and disorder. But things are not to be defined by their abuses, as the philosophers teach, and all wise men know: so neither must the Lord's ordinances be esteemed by the disorders personally incident unto them, but as they are in their right state, and lawful use.
The order of our government then being such, as I have described it, let every indifferent reader judge, whether or no, in respect of outward order, it be popular, and wherein the people govern, as many please to reproach us, and it. But if men will still shut their eyes against the things we plainly and simply lay down, and yet open their mouths against us for popularity, and Anabaptistry, we can but, making this and the like our just defences, commit both ourselves, and cause to God.
And thus much of our order of government. I will now go on where I left, to show that the Lord's people may not communicate with the Church of England in regard of the government ecclesiastical, and ministry thence derived.
And 1. The Scriptures teach us, that the Holy Ghost hath appointed sundry overseers, or bishops over one flock to feed, that is, to teach, and govern it: of which it also standeth in need. It is then the unholy ghost of Antichrist, which hath devised one bishop over many flocks, which he cannot possibly feed, if he would. Acts xx. 17, 20; xiv. 23; Phil. i. 1; 1 Tim. v. 17; Tit. i. 5. Only for his government he hath this help, that he is a lord over them, and not a minister, and servant unto them, and so bears more sway over the profane multitude, whereof those churches most-what consist, by lording it with his imperious canons, and purse-penalties, than many true bishops could do, by their faithful ministry, and service, according to Christ's testament.
2. It is written, Eph. iv. 8, 11–13, that Christ “when he ascended on high, gave gifts to men:” “some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and teachers, for the work of the ministry,” &c. “until all the saints were met together unto a perfect man,” &c. Where the apostle teacheth, how Christ the king of his church hath set in it certain orders of officers, answerably gifted, extraordinarily and ordinarily, and those also there to be, and continue in their time, till the same church and body of Christ were complete, both for number of persons, and measure of graces. Now if the bishops be pastors, or shepherds, and teachers, as some would make them, over their provinces, and dioceses, how will they answer the Lord for not teaching them? Or how hath the Lord appointed such a ministry, being an office of trust, and wherein the personal ability, and faithfulness of the minister is required, as which, he that received it, cannot possibly fulfil if he would? Col. iv. 17, Or if the bishops be of the order of pastors, and teachers, which are the lowest ministers, of what order are the parishional ministers, which are below them? And for the first three, apostles, prophets, and evangelists, they were extraordinary, for the first planting, and watering of the churches. The apostles, and prophets laying the foundation, by doctrine infallibly true: and the evangelists employed by the apostles' direction, here and there, for the perfecting of their work, as there was need. Neither were they, one or other, tied to any particular flock, diocese, province, or nation; but were general men, and for all places; being thereunto furnished with the knowledge, and use of all tongues, as there was occasion. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; 1 Cor. iii. 6, 10, 11; Eph. ii. 20; Acts xvi. 1–3; Rom. xvi. 21; 1 Cor. xvi. 10; 2 Cor. viii. 6, 16, 23, and xi. 28; 2 Tim. iv. 5, 21; Tit. i. 5, and iii. 12. So that whilst our English bishops plead their provincial, and diocesan jurisdiction from the commission of the apostles and evangelists, they are found to be of their number, who said they were apostles, and were not. Rev. ii. 2. They then, in their order of ministry, are not of the gifts, which Christ, the king of his church gave, when he ascended on high, but of the gifts of Antichrist in his ascent to the throne of his apostacy: of whose body also they are natural members, without which it cannot consist: as may all other bodies, whether civil or ecclesiastical. And since the officers of the church are members of the body, 1 Cor. xii. 12, 27, 28, of Christ, as the eyes, mouth, hand, &c., he who adds to, or takes from the church an order of ministry or office, presumes to add to, or take from Christ's body, a member: and so abolishing a member of the body, he doth also abolish a gift, and grace of the Spirit, working effectually according to the measure, or proportion of every part; or adding a member, he must be able to quicken, and furnish it with a proportionable gift of that same Spirit, who distributeth to every member, as it pleaseth, ver. 11. And so where the apostle saith, ver. 4, 5, “that there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit: and diversities of ministries, but the same Lord:” he plainly teacheth these two things. 1. That all lawful ministries in the church are of Christ: 2. That none may appoint a ministry in the church but he who can bestow an answerable gift of qualification: which is not in the power of any man, or angel.
3. The Lord by his apostle hath ordered, that the elders, or bishops which labour in the word, and doctrine, should have double honour, specially, and above them that rule, though well: and that upon a ground of perpetual equity, that since the bishop's, or elder's office is a work, the chief work, which preaching is, should have the chief honour. 1 Tim. v. 17; iii. 1. But this order of Christ, and of nature itself, is clean subverted by the order of the prelacy, and ministry in England, where tenfold honour is given to ruling, though not well, above the most painful labouring in the word, and doctrine. It well suits with the spirit of Antichrist, that imperious lording over the souls and consciences of men should be advanced above the base, and burdensome work of preaching God's Word.
Lastly, the rights, and liberties wherewith Christ the Lord hath in his Word endowed his church, the elders for their government, and the people for their liberty, for the calling of officers, and censuring of offenders these oppressors spiritual have seized into their own hands, as their peculiars, Matt. xviii. 17; 1 Cor. v.; Acts i. and vi.: in, and upon which their usurpation, which is specially to be noted, their very office, and order is founded. “Woe be to him,” saith the Lord, “that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong,” Jer. xxii. 13: how much more then unto them, who build their high palaces by such spiritual injury against the Lord, his house, ministers, and people as they apparently do.
For conclusion; the tree is known by the fruits: and too evident it is by their fruits, upon what root the prelates' tree groweth. Their preferring, and that, in their most solemn constitutions, the wearing of a surplice, or making a cross in a babe's forehead by the minister, before the preaching of the gospel; of bowing the knee by the people to, or at the Lord's Supper, before the most worthy receiving otherwise; the reading, and hearing of their, rather than God's, service, by the one and other, above the performance of any part of God's worship appointed in his Word, by either of them, do declare them to be no mean members of that “man of sin, and adversary, who exalteth himself above all that is called God.” 2 Thess. ii. 3, 4.
Their constraining the ministers to receive from them, and by their sole authority, their order of priesthood, and institutions to their cures, with their licences to preach: enforcing them to subscribe, and that from their hearts, to their devised government, service, and ceremonies, and even to swear canonical obedience to them therein; and both them, and the people to obey their summons, and citations, running, and riding to and fro, to sue and serve in their courts: to take the oath ex officio, to accuse themselves, and their friends, and that often for well-doing: to submit to their censures of all sorts, and not so much as to dare to speak against their tyrannies and superstitions, under pain of excommunication, ipso facto do proclaim unto all men that have ears to hear, that they are in a great measure, spiritual Babylonish lords, “causing all both small and great, rich and poor, to receive their mark in their right hand, or forehead, and otherwise not suffering them either to buy, or sell.” Rev. xiii. 16, 17.
Their sale of orders and institutions, and that most-what unto persons utterly unworthy, to the destruction of how many thousand souls for whom Christ died, either by starving them through ignorance, or poisoning them by profane example; of dispensations for pluralities, and nonresidences, of licences to preach up and down the country, and to marry at times by their canons prohibited: of pardons, and absolutions, when men are excommunicated, and sometimes when they are dead, before they can have Christian burial: with their extorted fees, and purse-penalties, the very sinews of their kingdom, do clearly pronounce against them, that they and their subordinates are “merchants of that great city Babylon, trafficking for all manner of ware, and for the souls of men.” Rev. xviii. 10–13.
Now touching the parochial ministers, I have proved against Mr. Bernard, that neither their office, nor calling by which they administer it, is of Christ. The office of the bishop is a work, 1 Tim. iii. 1; and this work stands in feeding the flock, Acts xx. 28; and this feeding in preaching and ruling. Now, as the government of their flocks is not so much as permitted unto them, so neither is preaching any natural or necessary part of their office, but an accessory and casual ornament, and which may be or may not be, as the persons can or will. And for their calling, whether to their priesthood at large, by the archdeacon's presentation and bishop's ordination; or to their special charges, either by the patron's presentation, bishop's institution and archdeacon's induction, or by the bishop's sole licence; the very naming of the means by which it is had, sufficiently proves it not to be from heaven, but of man, even the man of sin, his vain device. Luke xx. 4. But I will for the present insist only upon this consideration, that the parishional ministry is a branch of the prelacy; and so all communion with the one, as other, is to be avoided by God's people.
And for the better discerning of things, it must be observed, that as the whole nation is divided into two provinces, under the two archbishops, and the two provinces into sundry dioceses under the bishops, and they into their several parishes under the ministers thereof; so do the archbishops and bishops share out unto the parish priests, in their ordination, a part of their charge, to wit, so much as concerns the ordinary service of the parish; as they do also unto their chancellors, commissaries, and archdeacons, another part for inferior government; reserving unto themselves the lordship over both, for the best advantage of their own honour and profit. So that the chancellor in the consistory, and the priest in the pulpit or desk, doth administer by one and the same power: namely, that of the prelate, which from and by him, both the one and the other doth receive. And, as Christ told the twelve when he sent them to preach, that “he who received them, received him; and that he who received him, received him that sent him,” Matt. x. 40; so he that receives or communicates with the minister, in any parish of the land, receives the bishop that sent him, and so indeed, originally, the Pope that sent him; and of whose sending the Pope is, they and we make no question. The prelacy, then, being to be rooted out, as a plant which God hath not planted, and the ministry, in the order and office of which we speak, being a branch of it, can the branch survive, if the root be plucked up? or, shall any of God's people, by their maintenance of it, submission unto it, or communion with it, give thereunto any life or preservation?
But here sundry defences are made, by them who in judgment, word, and writing, and some practices, dislike the prelacy: as that “they are not subject to their government; that the ministers do not stand by the ordination and power received from and by them, but by the people's acceptation; that these things are but matters of outward order and government, which, though they may something concern the ministers themselves, yet are they little or nothing to private persons.”
We will briefly consider of these defences: and let them who make them consider and beware, that they be not of them, who will not be reformed, but seek excuses after their own heart.
And, first, They who thus disclaim, in word, the bishop's government, confess themselves, therein, to be under no spiritual external government at all; and so be lawless persons, and inordinate walkers, and such as have neither that conscience which is meet, of the commandments of Christ by his apostles, to give due honour to them who rule well, and to “submit themselves to those who are over them in the Lord,” 1 Tim. v. 17; Heb. xiii. 17; nor of their own frailty, and in what need they stand of the Lord's ordinances, and of this in special, for their guidance and conservation in his ways. Secondly, The daily practice of these men, every one of them less or more, in the sight of the sun, is a sufficient conviction of their unhonest excuse. Their obedience unto the summons and citations, unto their spiritual courts of the prelates and their deputies; their suing or appearing there by themselves or their proctors; the submission of the ministers to their suspensions and deprivations; and both of ministers and people to their excommunications, do really plead their spiritual subjection to their jurisdiction. Yea, so far are the people from freeing the ministers by their acceptation from the prelates' jurisdiction, as on the contrary, they enthral them much more under the same; not only by accepting them at the first under their mark of institution, or licence, but even ever after, year by year, by choosing a churchwarden, or sides-man as they call him, to present both their own and minister's defaults in and unto their consistories and visitations: as doth the minister also choose another for the same purpose; for the performance of which presentations they are to bind themselves by oath, and so ordinarily do. So that, howsoever many are ashamed of their lords and masters, both ministers and people, not actually separated from their parish assemblies, stand in spiritual subjection to the prelates, and receive their mark, though some in their forehead and more professedly; and others as effectually, though more covertly, in their right hand.
Now for the outward government, and ordering of the house of God, the church, and the outward calling of the ministers thereof, they are not so slighty matters, as politic men, out of their fleshly hearts would persuade themselves and others. The apostle unto Timothy, treating at large of these things tells him, how the cause why he so writes is, that in his absence, he “might know how he ought to behave himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar, and ground of truth.” Where he adorneth the church with most honourable titles, for this very end, that he, and all other God's ministers, and people, might be admonished more carefully to preserve unviolated that sacred economy, and church government there prescribed: obtesting, and charging him before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, to observe these things impartially, 1 Tim. iii. 15, 16, 21: as also writing unto the Corinthians he propounds the matter of outward order unto them, as “the commandments of the Lord Jesus,” 1 Cor. xiv. 37, which are all to be observed by his disciples in their places, Matt. xxviii. 20: in whose eyes he is worthy of more honour in his own house, and in the ordering of it, than was Moses a servant in his Master's house, Heb. iii. 3, &c.: according to whose direction, notwithstanding, all things were to be ordered. I add, that the same apostle, whatsoever other men despising, it seems, his simplicity, think or say, testifieth of the Colossians, that they had received Christ, as well in their order, as faith: and rejoiceth as well in their continuance in the one, as other, Col. ii. 5, 6: as on the contrary he sharply reproveth the Corinthians, for the breach of order, and neglect of discipline, as well as for any other evil. 1 Cor. v. 14. And see how unequal these men are. The Pope's arrogating to himself to be the universal bishop, is in itself but a matter of order and government: and yet they generally, who are soundly minded, deem him properly Antichrist therein: alleging that of Gregory against John of Constantinople, for that purpose. And if the universal bishop make Antichrist in the head, surely the bishops of dioceses, and archbishops of provinces, and metropolitans of nations, may well challenge the parts of arms, and shoulders of that body.
Now touching the minister's outward calling, of such force it is, that he is by it alone, if at all, properly, and immediately, a true church officer; as is the magistrate in the commonwealth, the captain in the army, the steward in the family, by the outward calling of those in whom that right is, a true and lawful magistrate, -captain, or steward: and without which, all, and every of them, are mere usurpers, howsoever qualified in their persons, and serviceable in their administrations. “No man,” saith the apostle, “takes unto himself this honour, but he, that is called of God, as Aaron.” Heb. v. 4. And let them who think it a small matter to usurp, or being usurped, to communicate with, a calling without order by God's Word, consider what befel them, who usurped, or communicated in the usurpation of, the priestly honour, not being thereunto called, as was Aaron. Numb. xi. 16. And how it lieth on all the ministers of Christ in hand, to be able to justify their outward calling to their offices, the apostle teacheth by his own example, and, specially, in his Epistle to the church of Galatia, where it was most called in question, Gal. i. 1: which they also that cannot do, are to be served, as were they, who could not find the writing of their genealogy, and were therefore put from the priesthood. Neh. vii. 64.
And, as they know who have experience thereof, what comfort it ministereth against the manifold trials incident to the lawful ministers of Christ, that they are called by them thereunto, whom, under the Lord, it most concerneth, as over whose souls they are to watch: so on the contrary, I verily suppose, it cometh to pass, that even the best ministers in the assemblies, do so easily, and unworthily forsake their flocks, for their greater ease, profit, or credit; and which not, for fear of a little persecution? because they want this testimony, and comfort of good conscience, that they have been lawfully called to minister unto them.
To conclude then this point also: the same scriptures and grounds which prove the order of prelacy, and so of priesthood, being a branch of it, not to be of God, do also prove it unlawful for the people of God to partake in the administrations of the one, or other, and therein to submit themselves unto them.
For 1. Their very administrations, by an unlawful calling, are their sins: and so to partake with them in their administrations, is to partake with them in their sins, contrary to 1 Tim. v. 22; Rev. xv. 4.
2dly. The ground of submission unto the officers of the church is, that they are made “overseers of the flock by the Holy Ghost,” and are “over it in the Lord,” Acts xx. 17, 28; 1 Thess. v. 12: which subjection therefore neither the prelates, nor priests being appointed by their ghosts, can challenge, neither can the people by faith yield the same unto them. The apostle, Rom. xiii., urging submission to all sorts of magistrates doth it upon this ground, that they are of God, and his ordinances: so the ground of our submission to any office of ministry in the church, and stay of our faith, is this, that it is of Christ the Mediator of his church, and one of his ordinances.
3dly. In the second commandment of the first table are commanded all external spiritual ordinances, and so the external spiritual ministry, and government of the church: neither can the same be referred to any other of the ten commandments: whereupon I infer, that every such government, and ministry not commanded by God, and Christ, is as an idol, there forbidden, and all subjection unto it, as the bowing down unto an idol.
Fourthly, They who judge the prelacy not to be of Christ, but of Antichrist, and so speak, and write (to whom more principally I direct my speech), and yet stand members of the parish assemblies under the government, and ministry thereof, do really, and indeed underprop, and uphold that, which in word, and writing they would overthrow: they would blow or dash it down with their mouths, and pens, and yet uphold it with their shoulders. Far are they from giving unto Christ his due honour in his officers and orders, whilst they thus submit unto the officers and orders of his adversary Antichrist, as is that whole hierarchy and every order in it, from the pope unto the sumner. If any traitor, or rebel should now rise up, and strive with the king for any, the dignities or prerogatives royal of the kingdom, and should so far prevail with any able men, as that they should be content to take upon them, by his commission and sending, to administer justice publicly, were it lawful for any the king's subjects to join with, or submit unto them in their ministrations, though in themselves never so just? or were they not all, under pain of disloyalty, bound to abandon them, and their courts, or assemblies, and to adjoin, and submit themselves unto the king's lawful officers, how few, or feeble soever? Even so must all the loyal subjects of Jesus Christ the king of his church, withdraw themselves wholly from the powers of Antichrist, striving with Christ whether shall rule by his officers, orders, and laws: whatsoever truths they teach or administer: and must adjoin themselves to the officers of Christ, lawfully called, and sent to teach, and guide his church by his Word: and therein must show, as in other things, their loyalty to their lord and king.
But here M. de Lescluse's forenamed opposites step in, and plead for submission unto unlawful ministers, 1. That “in Christ's time there were divers officers whose names had not been heard of in the primitive church of the Jews, nor ever were instituted by any example of former times, in that church, as the names of lawyers, scribes of the people, and rulers of the synagogues, or archi-synagogues. 2. If the godly may lawfully submit unto the government, and guidance by private admonition of such private brethren, who for their sects, factions, and superstitious observations have had such names as were formerly unknown unto the church of God; who also in respect of their wickedness deserved to be cast out of the church, and are unjustly retained, as it was in the communion of the godly with the scribes and pharisees, then is it also lawful to stand under the guidance and government of unlawful officers.”
In whose defence I observe, first, that they yield the ministers of England to be unlawful, and to have had their names of primates, metropolitans, lord archbishops, lord bishops, deans, archdeacons, chancellors, commissaries, priests, parsons, vicars, curates, given unto them for their sects, factions, and superstitious observations: and yet all of them make suit, take, pay for, and answer to some or other of these names, with the orders to which they appertain. Secondly, I note how vain a pretext it is, that the persons, whose names are prefixed, are the authors of the book, as if John Fowler, and his fellows durst take upon them to set down what names of officers had been heard of, or not, in the Jewish church from the first institution, till Christ's time. Thirdly, where in their former reason they make the scribes of the people church-officers, in the second reason they make the scribes and pharisees, private brethren. Fourthly, they grant one private brother to be under the guidance, and government of another, and so establish a popular government, in a sense expressly; and by just consequence, as far as we intend and do, howsoever they reproach us for popularity. Now for their arguments. First, I deny that, which they take for granted, and upon which they build, to wit, that the names of lawyers, scribes of the people, and rulers of the synagogues, were not in the Jewish church, before Christ's time.
And 1. The lawyers were such as were skilful in the Law of God, and the scribes such as gave themselves either to expound, or write it, or both: being also Levites for the most part, in which respects these their names, as honourable, and not for their factions, were most fitly given them: and not first in Christ's time, as is affirmed, but long before, as appeareth, Jer. viii. 8, and Ezra vii. 6, 11,12, where Ezra is called a scribe prompt in the law of Moses; which Tremelius and Junius translate a lawyer, or one skilful in the law: as indeed these scribes and lawyers were the same, as is testified, Matt. xxii. 35, compared with Mark xii. 28, and so the Hebrew word may indifferently be turned and is. And if there were nothing else, that which we read, 1 Maccab. v. 42 reproves these men's peremptory affirmation, that the names of the scribes of the people were not in the church of the Jews, before Christ's time. But both better, and more ancient testimony may be brought against it: take that one, amongst many, in the Greek Bible, Numb. xi. 16, where the seventy interpreters have it, πρεσαύτεροι τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ γραμματεῖς ἀυτῶν. So for the names of archi-synagogues, or rulers of the synagogues spoken of, Mark v. 22, &c., the same interpreters use the same words, Exod. xxxiv. 31; Numb. xxxi. 13, &c., which the evangelists do writing in Greek, and herein without doubt, following them, as in other things. And there being synagogues of old among the Jews, there must needs be rulers of them and the same so called.
Touching the second argument: I deny the proportion upon which they build it. In receiving an admonition from an unlawful brother, as they speak, I do submit only to that which is good in itself, and of God: but in submitting to an unlawful officer, prelate, or priest, I submit to that which is evil in itself and not of God, to wit, his very office, or order. The unlawful brother, though in sin, yet doth not perform the admonition by virtue of his sin, but out of his personal knowledge, and zeal, at least in appearance, against the sin he reproves in particular, but the unlawful officer doth administer the public doctrine, (as the sacraments) by virtue, or rather by vice, of his very sin immediately, and properly: wherein I may not partake with him. These men have refused to submit to Mr. Johnson's public ministry, and so profess: do they, therefore, think it unlawful to receive any information, or admonition, or reproof by the Word of God for their sins, from him, or any the people with him privately, and upon occasion? And, by their large grounds, it should be lawful to submit to the ministry of any heretical minister: for from such a one it is not unlawful to receive a private admonition for sin, upon occasion. But how much better were it for these men, and their friends to advance by all good means a lawful ministry, than thus to support that which is unlawful, by pleading for submission unto it. But if they needs will, as they plead in their book, submit their souls to thieves, and robbers, and to such ministers, as were the scribes, and pharisees in Christ's time, in whom they instance, notorious heretics denying both the nature, offices, and person of the Messiah, teaching justification by the works of the law, and power in man to keep it, let them rejoice in their ministers, and let their ministers also rejoice in them, as Jotham said of the men of Schechem and Abimelech: but for us, we have learnt to give more honour to God's ordinance, and to have more care of Christ's precious purchase, our souls, than to commit the same to such watchmen's keeping.
Thus have I briefly noted down, and confirmed the principal grounds of our separation from the communion, and order of the church assemblies, notwithstanding the admission of the personal communion before mentioned. And I have of purpose taken in, and answered the chief reasons brought by M. de Lescluse's accusers, against our practice, that it may appear, both, how they fail of that they promise in the Preface of their book; as, also, that it is a far more easy thing to reproach men's persons, than justly to evince their profession. And would the king but give toleration, and withhold from bodily violence against their persons and estates, I doubt not, but we should have many thousands in the land concurring with us for substance of practice, as they do now in opinion: who would speedily unite themselves in other spiritual societies, than the profane parishes: leaving the service-book, and ceremonies to the prelates, with their dumb priests, and formal clergy: withdrawing from their and their chancellor's, and official's spiritual jurisdiction, neither obeying their summons, nor regarding their censures: neither would the ministers sue to them for their orders and licences; nor the people receive them of their making, nor present them by their church-wardens to their courts, nor keep them by their leave, and under their correction: but both ministers, and people would find other, and better rules of direction in Christ's testament, for their walking, and worshipping of God, than the bishop's canons and injunctions. Which so being, he, who indeed “judgeth his people with justice, and his poor afflicted ones with judgment,” be judge between them and us, Psa. lxxii. 2: and whether, we, submitting ourselves so near as we can discern to all the commandments and ordinances of Christ in his gospel, reject them; or they, us, who rather choose the unhallowed church-state, order, and ordinances in and under which they stand, than that, and those, by themselves, esteemed more agreeable to the will of God, with persecution: but specially whether we, for these things, do deserve that cruel hatred, and those most hostile carriages, which many of them, who would be thought to mourn for reformation, do bear, and use towards us: making it their glory to cast shame upon us, and their great matter of rejoicing to add to our afflictions, and who say to our souls in the day of our sorrow, “Bow down, that we may go over.” Isa. li. 23.
There is yet another danger, into which men may easily fall by occasion of the former doctrine: which is, in taking liberty to withhold, or withdraw from the church of God, and ministry thereof: satisfying themselves in that, their private fellowship, with the better sort of people: with whom, by this means, they may converse with more comfort to themselves, and contentment to them. For the preventing of which evil, I will here annex a few reasons to enforce the necessity, and conscience of living, and walking with the church of God, and so under the ministry thereunto given, if it can be had.
And, 1. The Scriptures calling the church “the house,” “temple,” and “tabernacle of the living God,” where he hath promised that most full presence of his grace, and “to dwell with,” and “amongst men,” and “in the midst of them, as their God,” do, therein, effectually admonish the people of God to beware, that by their own default, they do not any way deprive themselves of the fruit of this, God's so gracious promise and presence, in the true visible church, his house, and temple, 1 Tim. iii. 15; 2 Cor. vi. 16; Rev. xxi. 3; Matt. xviii. 20; 1 Cor. v. 4: either by not adjoining themselves thereunto, as members: or being members, by withdrawing from her actual communion: therein making themselves, to speak as the truth is, but idol members, and as “eyes which see not, ears which hear not, and feet which walk not,” at least, in respect of the body, whereof they are.
2. And if we look to the most worthy servants of God, for our examples, we shall find them always to have had a most ardent desire unto, and vehement delight in this visible presence of God in his church and ordinances: the necessary use and sweet fruit whereof they so sensibly found in their own experience. Take we David for an instance: whose love was such, to the mansion of God's house, and place of the habitation of his glory, as that it was the only thing he desired, in comparison, that he might dwell in the Lord's house all the days of his life, and there behold his glory, Psa. xxvii. 4; xxvi. 8: professing in his absence from it, that the thirsty hind did not more bray after the rivers of waters, than did his soul for God's presence, and that he might appear before his face in his tabernacle, Psa. xlii. 1,2: deeming them most happy, who did always abide in God's house; and himself in that his sequestration more miserable than the sparrows and swallows, which could nestle, and lay their young near God's altars. Psa. Ixxxiv. 1, 2, &c. And yet, was he a most excellent prophet himself, and so could abundantly instruct both himself, and them with him. It is likewise testified of Moses the servant of God, that he “rather chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season: esteeming the rebuke of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” Heb. xi. 25, 26. A plain, and loud testimony against them, who, because they would not bear their part in the rebuke of Christ, and afflictions of his people, do rather withdraw or withhold themselves from Christ's church, and ordinances; or, which is worse, defile themselves with the pleasures of sin in Egypt spiritual: of whom without their repentance, Christ Jesus will be ashamed, before his Father, and the holy angels. Luke ix. 26.
3. That which the wise man speaketh more generally, “Woe be to him that is alone, for he falleth, and there is not a second to lift him up; but if two be together, the other lifteth up his fellow when he falleth,” Eccl. iv. 9, 10, &c., is of special use this way. And, considering how subject even the strongest are to fall, by occasion, it is most necessary, all so walk in the communion of saints, as that others, upon such occasion, may by the hand of their godly admonitions and exhortations reached out unto them, again restore them, 1 Cor. x. 12; or, if need so require, that they may have use of the stronger hand of the church and ministry, strengthened with Christ's power, for their recovery; through the want whereof, how many fall and perish, which by it, and the blessing of God thereupon, might be restored, as we doubt not but we may truly affirm from experience! And if any man think himself to have received that strength of grace, that he stands in no great need of these helps, “let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall:” and let him also in love consider, that the less need he hath of the church, by reason of his greater measure of grace, the more need the church hath of him and it, unto which and whose service, they of due belong.
4. “When the Lord Jesus ascended on high, he gave gifts unto men,” to wit, his ministers gifted accordingly, for the edification of the body and help of the joy of the faithful, and furtherance of their salvation; unto whom they are bound, therefore, to submit, and them, in the Lord, to obey, for their own great good. Eph. iv. 8–11; 2 Cor. i. 24; 1 Tim. iv. 6; Heb. xiii. 17. From whom, and whose ministrations, whilst men without just and necessary cause, withdraw themselves, they break Christ's commandment, lose this fruit of his ascension, and fail in their own edification and salvation many ways.
5. This duty yet lieth more specially upon them that have families and children about them; whom they shall hardly govern at home in private, as they desire, if they have not public encouragement and help from abroad, but they shall have them still in danger to be corrupted with the superstitions of the times, or with greater evils, or both. Which dangers yet will be the greater, and that of the first kind almost inevitable, if the parents die, whilst their children are young and unestablished in the truth; whereas living with the church, they might much more easily dispose of them for their education and establishment in the ways and ordinances of the Lord; into the fellowship whereof, together with themselves, they are taken. Gen. xvii. 7, 10.
6. Lastly. It is a great offence to all, who have known men, formerly zealous hearers of God's Word in the parish assemblies, to see them hear the same in no assemblies, or where no public ministry is in use; and this, more especially, to the better sort of people, who will run and ride to hear a sermon, if they want at home, though they go but a borrowing of him who hath indeed no right himself so to dispense it publicly, or any other holy thing of God as he doth.
But it will here be objected, that “the church's ministry and ordinances are indeed to be desired, if men could enjoy them in their own country, and amongst their friends; otherwise, it seems better to witness the truth and suffer persecution at home, though without them, than for the use of them to flee into a strange country.”
It must here be known, that the truth of the Lord is witnessed two ways: first, when men walk in the obedience of it, and of all the ordinances thereof, roundly and holily, Deut. xxviii. 1; Matt. vi. 10; xxviii. 20; Psa. cxix. 4, 6; and, secondly, when men, being called thereunto, suffer persecution for the same. And of these two, the former is the more necessary, as being commanded of God, and by men to be desired and prayed for; the latter not so. For neither doth God command persecution, neither are we to desire it, or to pray for it, but to avoid it by all good means; and, being laid upon us by the Lord, with patience to bear it. Yet they that desire to please God, and to walk roundly in his appointments, shall not want persecution of sundry kinds; neither if the world thought we did, would so many -withhold or withdraw from us, as do some under one, and some under another pretext, besides those who are persuaded indeed of the unlawfulness of flight.
Now touching our country, and friends, our answer is, that we deem the want of them a grievous loss, which we would also redeem at a great rate. Yet for our country, we do not forsake it, but are by it forsaken and expelled by most extreme laws, and violent proscriptions, contrived and executed by the prelates, and on their behalf. And for private friends thus we judge, that the wife is no way to leave her husband, but to give him, as the head, the honour, of choosing probably, the place of their cohabitation: nor children and servants, their parents and masters to their prejudice, without their consent, or an apparent impossibility of doing them service: nor at all, where through their absence, they shall want necessary help and comfort. But for those, who are either the.governors of others, or free, we think they may use greater liberty.
of flight in persecution.
And here, being thereunto forced by the unreasonable provocation of Mr. Thomas Helwisse, who in great confidence, and passion, layeth load of reproaches both upon our flight in persecution, and also upon our persons for it, I will (God assisting me) by the Scriptures, approve the same, as lawful, and so answer what he hath written to the contrary.
For which purpose we will consider, for our instruction, what the practice hath been of the holy patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, with other godly men in their times, in cases of danger for well-doing, and what approbation therein they have had from the Lord.
We will begin with the patriarch, Jacob, whose two notable flights, for fear of danger, the Scriptures mention: the former from his profane brother Esau, the other from his churlish uncle Laban. Gen. xxvi. 42, 43; xxxi. 20. Touching whose flights these three things are more specially to be observed: 1. That he fled from one country to another. 2. That in his very flight, the Lord did abundantly communicate himself with him, comforting and blessing him. 3. That it was he which thus fled, who had power and strength, to wrestle with God, and by wrestling to prevail.
Next unto him is Moses the servant of the Lord, who having entered upon the execution of his office in killing the Egyptian, and perceiving that the thing was known, fled out of Egypt, for fear of Pharaoh into Midian, another country also, and there dwelt, and took him a wife: during whose time of exile, and abode there, the Lord also did marvellously communicate himself with him, and called him to the greatest dignity in the earth: which was to be the deliverer, and guide of his peculiar people. Acts vii 25; Exod. ii. 12, 14, 15; iii. 4, 18.
Descend we next unto David, whose flights, though he wanted no true courage, how many were they, and those also from the tabernacle, the only place of God's special presence, by reason of Saul's persecution, not only in his own country, where he was driven to hide himself in wildernesses, and caves, and desert mountains, but even into strange, and profane countries, as to Gath of the Philistines, and to Mizpeh in Moab, 1 Sam. xix. 12; xxi. 1. 10; xxii. 1, 3: all whose wanderings God did count, putting his tears in his bottle, Psa. lvi. 8: and directing him graciously in his flights, and that of times, even for such meditations, as are left for the instruction, and comfort of God's people in their flights, and other trials, to the world's end.
We do also read of Jeremiah and Baruch, their hiding themselves from danger, Jer. xxxvi. 19: and of Elijah the prophet's hiding himself by the Lord's appointment from Ahab's cruelty: and how the Lord did extraordinarily furnish him for his further flight in the wilderness, by the ministry of his angel. 1 Kings xvii. 3; xviii. 10; xix. 3, 5.
Yea, we have even Christ our Lord himself, when Herod thought to kill him, in his infancy, carried into Egypt by Joseph, with Mary his mother, whither they fled to keep the babe from being destroyed, and there abode, till the danger was over, Matt. ii. 13–15: and therein, as our head, sanctifying flight in his mother's arms, to all his members in their time, who are partakers of the fellowship of his afflictions, and of this amongst the rest. Phil, iii. 10. Which liberty he did also sundry times in his riper years use himself, and so ratify unto us, by avoiding the places of danger, where his enemies were, who sought to destroy him: and thereby escaping out of their hands, till his hour were come, unto him certainly, and infallibly known: directing his disciples also, that when they were persecuted in one city they should fly unto another: and to beware of men, and to look to themselves. Mark. iii. 6, 7; Luke iv. SO, 30; John iv. 1, 3, vii. 1, x. 39; Matt. x. 23. Which liberty they also used time after time, as appears in many particulars: as first, in all the church at Jerusalem, scattered abroad, and dispersed, save the apostles, by means of persecution: with whom the Lord also was, blessing them wheresover they came. So, in Peter being freed from Herod's tyranny, getting him to another place. Likewise in Paul and Barnabas flying from Iconium to avoid violence, unto Lystra, as Paul had done before from Damascus; where to avoid the lying in wait of the Jews he was let down by night through the wall of the city, by a rope in a basket. In which his base flight he doth also rejoice afterwards, as being one of his infirmities or sufferings for Christ. Acts viii. 1, xi. 19–21, xii. 3, 4, 17, xiv. 1, 5, 6; ix. 23–25; 2 Cor. xi. 30.
Add we in the last place, that which is written of the servants of God elsewhere, that they of whom the world was not worthy, did by faith wander up and down, in sheepskins, and goatskins, and that in wildernesses, and mountains, and dens, and caves of the earth. Heb. xi. 37–39.
And for not only flight, but even banishment also, we have John the servant of Christ in the isle called Patmos for the word of God, and for the witnessing of Jesus Christ, Rev. i. 9: that is, banished, and confined to that isle, by the Roman emperor, with which also that in Isaiah, xvi. 4, consorteth, where the Lord requires of Moab, to let his banished dwell with her. Considering then, how plainly, and expressly the Scriptures speak in the point, it is marvel, that any, making them their direction, should abridge either themselves, or others ordinarily of the liberty of flight in persecution. But we will come to Mr. Helwisse's oppositions against it.
And as he hath a better faculty in reviling men's persons, than in refuting their judgments, so begins he his plea with a bitter accusation against false-hearted leaders, who, as he saith, to be sure not to lose their lives for Christ, flee into strange countries, and free states, and draw people after them, to support their kingdom, &c.; seeking the kingdom of heaven, as far they may with their safety. Page 205.
If we principally sought our earthly good, or safety, why did we not abide at home, or why return we not thither, applying ourselves to the times, as so many thousands do? that I may not allege, that by seeking such a kingdom of heaven, or church, as out of which we should throw our children, as he hath done, which we might do safely enough, if without sin, we could procure to ourselves much more earthly help and furtherance, in the country where we live, as he knew well. And for drawing over the people, I know none of the guides, but were as much drawn over by them, as drawing them. The truth is, it was Mr. Helwisse, who above all, either guides or others, furthered this passage into strange countries: and if any brought oars, he brought sails, as I could show in many particulars, and as all that were acquainted with the manner of our coming over, can witness with me. Neither is it likely, if he, and the people with him at Amsterdam, could have gone on comfortably, as they desired, that the unlawfulness of flight would ever have troubled him: but more than likely it is that, having scattered the people, by his heady and indiscreet courses, and otherwise disabled himself, that natural confidence, which abounded in him, took occasion, under an appearance of spiritual courage, to press him upon those desperate courses, which he, of late, hath run. By which he might also think it his glory, to dare and challenge king, and state to their faces, and not to give way to them, no not a foot: as indeed it far better agrees with a bold spirit, and haughty stomach, thus to do, than with the apostle in the base infirmity of Christ to be let down through a wall in a basket, and to run away.
But we will weigh his reason against our flight. And first, he accuseth us, page 205, that, for justifying of it we pervert Christ's saying, Matt. x. 28, which is, “When they persecute you in one city, flee into another:” and that Christ there bids his disciples, when they are persecuted in one city, go to another, to preach the gospel: because they should not go over all the cities of Israel, till the Son of man come.
The truth is, it is he that too boldly both alters the words, and perverts the meaning of Christ, in putting going to preach, for fleeing from persecution: which liberty if he may lawfully use against the Scriptures, there will then be for us no lawful liberty of flight indeed. But as the word φέυγετε is properly, and necessarily turned “flee,” so Christ, saying unto them, “When they persecute you, flee,” saith unto them flee, to avoid their persecution, as they also afterwards did. Yet because he directs his speech, immediately, to the twelve apostles designed, who were by their office to preach, as to all the world, so first to the Jews, he chargeth them not to think themselves freed, by their persecution, from preaching, nor so to flee as to forget, or neglect their office of apostleship, but that still in their fleeing they should remember their special calling: telling them both for their provocation, and comfort, that before they would pass through all the cities of Israel he would come, to wit, by the more glorious work of his Spirit, for the advancement of his kingdom. So that in the words of Christ to his apostles, two things are contained: the former a liberty of flight in persecution, and the same so evidently, as that an angel from heaven teaching the contrary, were not to be believed; the other, a charge so to fly, as that for any persecution, they ceased not to preach whithersoever they were driven. And so the answer-is easy to that which followeth, namely, that we flee to cities of a strange country to whom we cannot preach, &c. For 1. It is the fulfilling of our office if we preach to the particular flocks over which we are set, not being apostles, as they were: though I could also allege, that we have so preached to others in those cities, as that by the blessing of God working with us, we have gained more to the Lord, than Mr. Hehwisse's church consists of. And secondly, I would know, how he, and the people with him have preached to the city of London? Surely not as the apostles did, in the synagogues, and public places: much less do they flee, being persecuted (or go, if so they will have it), from city to city, to preach, as did the apostles.
Where he, Mr. Helwisse. further objecteth that our fleeing is to save ourselves from being as sheep in the midst of wolves, and from being delivered up to councils, &c., pp. 205–207: I answer, that as these trials did necessarily follow upon the apostles' callings, as being to be employed amongst unbelieving Jews, and Gentiles, in their ordinary ministration, so do they not in like manner, or measure of necessity, lie upon us, who are appointed to feed the particular flocks of believers, over which we are set. Acts xx. 17, 28; 1 Pet. v. 1. Only they teach, that, if God so dispose of us, and that we cannot by good means avoid the same, we then patiently, and in faith give witness to Christ's truth, and testament, by suffering these, and all other kind of evils. The Scriptures in many places exhort unto poverty, hunger, nakedness, loss of goods, and lands for Christ's sake; must now the servants of God, therefore, necessarily be poor, and destitute of outward necessaries? Some indeed upon these grounds have vowed wilful poverty: as did this man upon the like, vow (it seems) wilful persecution.
Touching the practice of the apostles, Acts v. 19, 20, 40, 42, and viii. 1, I answer that at other times those very apostles did fly persecution; as did also Paul, though of both as great courage, and zeal, as any other. But for that present they were tied to that very place, and might not depart thence, but were at Jerusalem first soundly to publish and plant the gospel of Christ: as also thence to send, or go to other places, as they were occasioned. Luke xxiv. 47; Acts i. 8. And (excepting the extraordinary occasion of the apostles) the latter of the scriptures he brings, is directly against him: where it is said that the whole church at Jerusalem was scattered abroad, and dispersed, by reason of persecution. And for their preaching to their countrymen the Jews, where they came; and, as they had occasion, to the Gentiles, it is that we also do, and desire to do, as we have occasion, and means: this being always remembered, that we are distinct and entire congregations, in ourselves, which they were not. Acts v. 19, 20; viii. 14; and xi. 22.
Where in the next place he notes, for his purpose, the assault made against Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, Acts xiv. 5, he should also have noted for the truth's sake, that, ver. 6, they being aware of it, fled to Lystra, and Derbe. And for their returning again into the places where they had been persecuted, ver. 21, 22, first, their persecutions in those places had been but by the tumultuous multitude, by the provocation of the Jews, which like a tempest, were soon over, and not by any stablished laws, or settled course of justice; and secondly, it was but the apostles' duties, as being universal men, and having upon them the care of all the churches, 2 Cor. xi. 28, and not being tied to any (Certain congregation as we are.
The commendations given of the churches of Thessalonica, 2 Thess. i. 4, and of Pergamos, Rev. ii. 13, for their patience in affliction, and that dwelling where Satan's throne was, they kept Christ's name, even when Antipas was martyred, do not reprove our practice at all, p. 207: the like commendations being. elsewhere given of others, as I have shown, for keeping the faith with holiness, in their wandering flight from one place, and country to another. Heb. xi. 1, 2, 37, 38. The apostle, 1 Cor. vii., commends them who keep themselves single to avoid trouble in the flesh, and that they may be the more free for the Lord: doth he therefore condemn them that marry in the Lord to avoid fornication? Or doth he not commend both, as doing well? and either in doing better, in divers regards? He that is in danger of uncleanness doth better to marry: and he that is without that danger, and can more freely, in a single state, give himself to the Lord, doth better in that respect, so to abide. So is it in flight, which is allowed, nay required, against natural fear, and many other both inconveniences, and evils, ordinarily, in persecution, as is marriage against fornication besides, as those churches knew not, happily, whether to go to be better, in those days, so neither was their persecution such, but that they might enjoy their mutual fellowship and ministers, and bring up their children and families in the information of the Lord, and his truth, though with great persecution even of some particular men unto death, at times, and by occasions, which in England all men know, we could not possibly do.
That which he adds, p. 220, of Christ's enjoining the man dispossessed of the devil, to go home to his friends, and show them, what great things the Lord had done for him, makes as much against themselves as us. For why go not they home every one to his friends, for that end, but abide in London where fewest of their friends are? It is, then, his ignorance to tie all by that special commandment. At another time Christ would not suffer one, so much as to go home, and bid his friends farewell: nor another to bury his father, before they followed him, Luke ix. 69–62; as here on the contrary he would not suffer this man to follow him, but sends him back to his friends: but doth not at all therein forbid him flight in persecution, as Mr. Helwisse gathereth.
That we should not fear men, which can kill the body, but deny ourselves, &c.: we do acknowledge, and by the grace of God, so practise. We have not feared men, that is so feared them, as for their persecutions, to deny any part of the truth of Christ known unto us, or any way to sin against the same: but do keep, as frail men, a good conscience in the obedience of all the parts thereof: having also (the glory be the Lord's! who hath shown us his mercy, and enabled us thereunto) learnt to deny ourselves, though with much weakness, in our country, friends, possessions, riches, credits, liberty, yea and in our lives also in resolution, and will, for Christ's sake, and truth: and, withal, to suffer those kinds of afflictions, for the avoiding of which, many have withdrawn from the same truth, for which they have offered their lives to a magistrate, as resolvedly, as this man hath his for his errors.
Where he saith further, that the cities where we are, neither receive us, nor the word we bring, otherwise than they receive Turks and Jews, he speaks very untruly both of them, and us, as, were it of use, I could show evidently. And lastly, to his demand, page 211, when we will shake of the dust of our feet for a witness against the city, or house, that will not receive us, and depart thence as the apostles did? I answer, when we are apostles, as they were: and do again ask, why did not he, and why do not his companions shake off the dust of their feet against London, which receives them not at all? And if the churches of Christ be thus to shake off the dust of their feet against the cities, which receive not their doctrine, how could the church of Pergamos be commended for dwelling, and continuing in that city, which received not the truth, but had on the contrary, Satan's throne established in it, and persecuted the martyrs of the truth unto death?
For flight, then, thus much. As we read that Christ our Lord, the prophets and apostles, did at some times, and ordinarily, avoid and flee persecution, and at other times not; so are we to know, that there are times and occasions seasonable for both. Neither are the words of Christ, “When they persecute you, flee,” an absolute commandment, as he thinketh, any more than those of the master to his servant, “When thou hast served me, eat thou and drink thou.” Luke xvii. 8. They are a grant of liberty, and a direction how to use it. As we, then, shall perceive either our flying or abiding to be most for God's glory and the good of men, especially of our family and those nearest unto us, and for our own furtherance in holiness; and as we have strength to wade through the dangers of persecutions, so are we with good conscience to use the one or other. Which, our hope and comfort also is, we have done in these our days of sorrow; some of us coming over by banishment, and others otherwise.
And thus have I answered whatsoever in this book hath any colour of reason against our flight in persecution. His rash and ungodly censures, both upon our practice and persons, yea upon the very secret intents of our hearts, I do of purpose pass by, as being the fruit of his stout stomach, and heart soured with his own leaven; assuring myself, that no wise man will for the same, either think us the less, or him the more, truly zealous.
But, for that divers weak persons have been troubled and abused by some other things in the same book, in which also he much insulteth, and that over myself amongst and above others, I think it fit in this place to annex an answer to that part of it which is directed against us, whom he, with others, miscalls Brownists, and. and against our (falsely called by him, false) profession.
the outward baptism received in england is lawfully
And to prove our profession of Christ false, and us, the teachers, false prophets he takes his first ground out of our Apology, where a true visible church is described, “a company of people called and separated from the world by the Word of God,” &c.; and thereupon concludes peremptorily, pages 133, 124, of his “Mystery,” that we are all mere infidels, unbelievers, and without Christ; and taking it for our own grant, that before our separation we were of the world, that is, of them that hate Christ, and cannot receive the spirit of truth, and that believe not in Christ, but lie in wickedness, John vii. 7; xiv. 17; xvi. 9; xvii. 25; 1 John v. 19; he goes about to prove, that if then we were of the world, we arc so still, because we have not been joined to Christ by amending our lives, and by being baptized, and so by putting on of Christ by baptism. Acts ii. 88; Gal, iii. 27.
The effect, then, of all is, that, because we have not taken up a new outward washing, or baptism, for that of amendment of life, he but adds for fashion, as he hath done, therefore we are of the world, infidels, haters of Christ, and what not.
For answer, then, first, we grant that, remaining in the assemblies, we were not separated from the world, to wit, in our fellowship; but doth it follow, thereupon, that till our separation we were of the world, namely in our persons? Which is as if he should conclude, that because in a confused heap, as are the assemblies, the good stones are not severed from the rubbish, therefore even they, as the rest, are rubbish also. Were such of the Corinthians as through error, or evil custom, or other infirmity, continued communion with the idolaters in their idolatrous feastings in the idol temples, (whom the apostle therefore exhorts to separate themselves, and to come from among them, 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18,) were they, I say, infidels and darkness? or, doth not the same apostle there expressly call them believers, light, righteousness, notwithstanding that their great failing and evil of ignorance, or human frailty, out of which the Lord did call them? Or was Mr. Helwisse himself, all the while he was unseparated, an infidel, without Christ and his spirit, and hating him? If so Ire were, considering the great show he made of faith and love, in and to Christ, and the singular manifestations of the Spirit, he was a notorious hypocrite as the earth bore: but if, on the contrary, he did not then hate Christ, but had faith and grace, though in never so small a measure, his proof is of no force, but he himself proved a vain man, that would deny the grace of God in himself, to advantage an error against other men; which is a kind of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, though not of malice, as was that of the Pharisees, yet of preposterous and perverse zeal, of which I wish all the Lord's people may beware.
Secondly, It is not true he saith, that none can come and be joined to Christ without baptism. The Scriptures testify, that so many as believe in Christ, receive him, are engrafted into him, having him living in them, and dwelling in their hearts. John i. 12; Rom. xi. 20; Gal. ii. 20; Eph. iii. 17. Which faith is before baptism, in some men a longer time, in some, a shorter, and in some, also dying unbaptized. Matt. viii. 10; xv. 28; Acts x. 4, 36; Luke xxiii. 40, &c. And according to this was the tenor of Christ's commission to his apostles, by teaching to make disciples or Christians, and to bring men to believe, and afterwards to baptize them. Matt. xxviii. 19; Acts xi. 26; Mark xvi. 16. And to baptize any of years, but being before joined to Christ by actual faith, and so making manifestation, were to profane God's ordinance. Neither is it Paul's meaning, where he tells the Galatians, that “they which had been baptized into Christ, had put on Christ,” that they were not joined to Christ before their outward baptism, but to show that their baptism was a lively sign of their union with, and incorporation into Christ, and participation of the washing of his blood and Spirit, as also an effectual means more and more to apply the same unto them; being all their life long to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the new man, as the same apostle teacheth, Rom. xiii. 14; Eph. iv. 24. And for Acts ii. 35, it shows, indeed, that they who believe and repent are to he baptized, to wit, being unbaptized before, as they then were, and as we now are not; God having also added to the outward washing or baptism, though in the false church, the inward washing of the Spirit torepentance and amendment of life.
To his inference, pages 127, 128, that “if England be Babylon, out of which the Lord's people are to come, and baptism the seal of the covenant of grace, as we teach, then we retain the baptism of Babylon thereby to be sealed unto the covenant of grace:” I answer, that we retain the seal of the covenant of grace, though ministered in Babylon; and not the baptism of Babylon, but the baptism of the Lord in itself, and by the Babylonians Spiritual, usurped and profaned; but, by faith and the Spirit, now sanctified to our use. Which we therefore retain, as we do the same gospel or covenant, by the same men and means there taught and administered unto us; bringing both the one and other thence, as were the holy vessels of the Lord's house of old, brought out of Babylon civil, after their profanation there. Dan. v. 1–4; Ezra i. 7–9. And as well may the doctrines of faith, there ministered and thence brought by us, be called the stolen bread of Babylon, as he, in wantonness of wit, calls the baptism the stolen waters of Babylon.
So that it is neither true he saith, that we were infidels, and without Christ, till our separation: nor that men are made Christians by baptism: nor that we retain the baptism of Babylon. Neither yet, though we ought to receive a new outward washing, which we neither think nor he proves, it being but our failing of ignorance in an outward ordinance, were we thereby debarred from being true Christians, no, nor from being a true visible church.
And as I have elsewhere proved against others, with whom these men consort, and both of them, herein, with the Papists, that the church is not gathered, nor men thereinto admitted, by baptism; so will I here for the same purpose further add these reasons.
And, first, The church is not given to baptism, but baptism, on the contrary, to the church: as are all other the Lord's public ordinances and oracles. Rom. iii. 2; Psa. cxlvii. 19, 20. And since baptism is a public action, it cannot be performed but by public authority in and of the church, which church, therefore, must be presupposed and before it.
2. John the Baptist did, as we know, baptize many, hut yet neither gathered churches, nor received men into them, Matt. iii. 5,6; but lived and died himself a member of the Jewish church. Matt. xi. 11. Therefore the church is not gathered by baptism.
3. If men be received into the church by baptism, then must they, as occasion is, be cast out by being unbaptized; and so if God again give them repentance, they must be received in by a second baptism, and so by a third or fourth, if occasion be. The truth is, such men must renew their covenant with God and his church, by which they were at the first received, but not their outward baptism, to which these and other men's fancy leadeth.
4. To receive in and so to cast out members, are dispensations of Christ's kingly office: whereas, baptism is a work of his prophecy; which is, indeed, to be joined with men's admission into the church, and to follow upon it immediately, if the persons be not before baptized.
Lastly, If the church be gathered by baptism, then will Mr. Helwisse's church appear to all men to be built upon the sand, considering the baptism it had and hath: which was, as I have heard from themselves, on this manner: Mr. Smyth, Mr. Helwisse, and the rest, having utterly dissolved and disclaimed their former church state and ministry, came together to erect a new church by baptism; unto which they also ascribed so great virtue, as that they would not so much as pray together before they had it. And after some straining of courtesy who should begin, and that, of John Baptist, Matt. iii. 14, misalleged, Mr. Smyth baptized first himself, and next Mr. Helwisse, and so the rest, making their particular confessions. Now to let pass his not sanctifying a public action by public prayer, 1 Tim. iv. 4, 5; his taking unto himself that honour which was not given him, either immediately from Christ or by the church, Heb. v. 4; his baptizing himself, which was more than Christ himself did, Matt. iii. 14: I demand, into what church he entered by baptism? or, entering by baptism into no church, how his baptism could be true by their own doctrine? Or, Mr. Smyth's baptism not being true, nor he, by it, entering into any church, how Mr, Helwisse's baptism could be true, or into what church he entered by it? These things thus being, all wise men will think that he had small cause either to be so much enamoured of his own baptism, or so highly to despise other men's for the unorderly or otherwise unlawful administration of it.
The next clamour he raiseth is against our prophets, whom he so falsifieth, as if by oft and much so calling them, he would make them such, viz. that to draw people to separate, we call and prove England, Babylon, Sodom, and Egypt, out of which God's people must come; but after, when we. would persuade to the retaining of the baptism there received, we call it rebellious and apostate Israel, whose circumcision was not to be repeated, when upon their repentance they came unto the passover. For the reproof of which our doctrine, he affirmeth some, and inferreth sundry other untruths. As, first, that we teach men to retain the first and chief badge or mark of Babylon, which is their baptism, the seal of the covenant of grace as we say.
This challenge I answered even now; and shall further, hereafter, justify, the Lord assisting me, the retaining our outward washing without repetition: as I have also disproved that his second affirmation, that there cannot be a church of unbaptized Christians.
Besides, it is not true he saith, that we have no other seal for our whole Christianity, than the baptism we received in England. We have, besides the inward seal of the Spirit, and faith, the promises of the gospel, and supper of the Lord, with many experiments of the love of God, sealing and confirming unto us, that we are Christ's.
His peremptory affirmation, page 129, that “we might have cried long enough, Come from Israel, and separate yourselves from Israel, before any fearing God, or having understanding of his truth, would have followed us,” is but his wild guess, without warrant. And the fear of God being the same, in the hearts of his people now, and of old, yea, greater conscience of sin being required now, according to the greater measure of revelation, why should not the conscience of the like estate of England as well persuade men to separate themselves from the apostacy thereof, to the true church and ordinances, as it did such of all the tribes of Israel, as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel, to separate themselves, with the priests, and Levites, from Jeroboam's apostacy, to Judah and Jerusalem? 2 Chron. xi. 13,16.
Of like truth with the former, is his after-affirmation, page 1S9, that if we were true Israelites before our separation, then all we left behind us are true Israelites: for so all the ten tribes under Jeroboam were true Israelites: and all we in the assemblies before our separation were in one estate, &c.
It is true, that the ten tribes in their apostacy, were true Israelites, naturally, and so were the Ishmaelites, and Edomites Abraham's true natural seed. But what is this to our question, which is not about men's natural estate, but about their religions, and church-state? The church is not a natural estate, neither was Abraham and Israel God's peculiar people and church by nature, for they were by nature children of wrath, as well as others, Eph. ii. 3, but by grace, and because God loved them above other people, and separated them into covenant with himself. Deut. vii. 6–8. Our question then being about religion, and men's religious estate, and as they are worshippers of God, Christ our Lord teacheth us in Nathaniel's person, who are true Israelites: namely they in whom there is no guile. John i. 41. And Paul telleth us, that he is not a Jew, who is a Jew outwardly, nor that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh, but that he is a Jew, who is one within, and that circumcision, which is of the heart, &c. But for the ten tribes, or other Abraham's natural seed, in their rebellion against the Lord they were of true plants, degenerate, and changed into the plants of a strange, or false vine. Jer. ii. 21. They were true Israelites, as a thief is a true man, to wit, naturally; but not he, morally; much less they, spiritually, or in the consideration of religion, of which we speak.
And for us, it followeth not, that because we came from the parish assemblies, therefore all that we left behind us were true Israelites, as we. For then the main cause of our separation had been taken away. We did even there, by the great mercy of God, receive grace to be in our measure Nathaniels, and without guile: and so to serve God, and walk with men, though we were ignorant of many of Christ's ordinances, as was Nathaniel without guile, when he was ignorant of his person, which to say of all in the assemblies, and that they are Nathaniels, were false and foolish. Neither could Mr. H. without being reproved by his own heart, say that, when he was a professor in England there was no difference between him, and the atheists, and epicures in the parishes, though in that confused state of things they, and he were of one and the same visible church.
Lastly, To pass by his misputting the words, and misinterpreting the meaning of them that wrote the Apology, by taking that, as meant of the members of the assemblies, which was spoken of such as were separated; as also his bitter upbraiding them with ignorant dissimulation and flattery, through his own rash ignorance, that which he affirmeth of Judah's never denying Israel to be her sister, is his saying, without proof or explanation.
What Judah thought of her, appears by the speech of Abijah the king, 2 Chron. xiii. 4–7, &c: and what the Lord thought of her, we shall show hereafter; howsoever they are called sisters sometimes in respect of their joint estate before the division, Ezek. xxiii. 2–4, and so Edom also was called Israel's brother, in respect of their first fathers, Numb. xx. 14; Obad. x. 12: sometimes in respect of their concurrence in iniquity, and so Sodom also is called a third sister with them. Ezek. xvi. 46. And yet were not their estates alike, no not the two likest of them, though both evil. For there is, besides good and evil, as was Judah in her integrity, and Israel in her apostacy, evil, and worse, both in persons and things, though both evil, compared together. And so as the evils in England are of divers degrees, and kinds, we do proportionably, by way of resemblance, term it apostate Israel, Babylon, Sodom, and Egypt, spiritually so called. In respect of the spiritual external government there, not in the hands of the son of David, Christ, the King of saints, but of his usurping adversary, the prelacy, and of the apostate priesthood thence derived: of the will-worship, though of the true God: of the forged holy-days, and other the like defections, we call it apostate Israel; in regard of the great and monstrous confusion there both of persons and things, with the spiritual bondage of the Lord's people to the prelacy, Babylon; in regard of the same bondage, together with the Egyptian darkness spiritual, with other the spiritual botches, and plagues, upon the souls of the body of that church, Egypt: and lastly Sodom, in respect of the iniquity of Sodom abounding there, as pride, fulness of bread, idleness, and want of mercy towards the poor, Ezek. xvi. 49: with contempt of heavenly admonition. Gen. xix. 9, 14.
The next thing he reproveth is our distinction of churches, and so of sacraments into true, false, and none. And having in the first place liberally reproached us, he inveighs greatly against our distinctions in general, and the several respects we put of things: betraying plainly therein his tumultuous ignorance, by which ho would confound, and blunder all things together: whereas there is nothing more necessary for the just knowledge of things, and ending of controversies, than distinctions, and respects, rightly and seasonably put: which are in disputations, like that distributive justice in many suits of law. For whereas both parties would have all, for some right, which either hath to a part, a just distinction gives unto either his several right, and satisfieth both.
And having spent his breath in reproaching our distinctions of true, false and none, he for our conviction begins with a distinction of worldly things: in which he grants a difference between false and none: as that there is a false hour-glass, and no hour-glass, a false looking-glass, and no looking-glass, &c. whereas, in the ordinances of God (saith he, page 134) as the church, and baptism, there is no such difference; and in so saying he doth indeed offer to the view of all wise men; who have their eyes in their heads, Eccl. ii. 14, a looking-glass, wherein both the ill-favoured face of his own distinction, and the vanity of his exception may appear.
The use of a looking-glass is to show what manner the native face of a man is. James i. 23, 24. And the reason why we call such a one false, is, because it doth not that, in truth, which it makes show of, but deceives him that looks in it, for the fashion and portraiture of his countenance. So the use of an hour-glass is to show when the hour is just come about: which we therefore call false, when it doth not so indeed, but deceives him that looks unto it, either by running short, or over. Hence common-sense teacheth, that if there may he a church, or assembly of people making a profession and show of Christ, and Christian baptism, and religion, but not being, and having that indeed, which in show and appearance it seems to be and have, and so but deceiving him that regards it, then may there also be, and so rightly be called, a false church. If reply be made, that this false church is no church, it may as truly be answered, that that false hour-glass is no hourglass: as in truth, and indeed, it is not an hour-glass, but a three, or five-quarter glass, or over, or under. It is evident by the same common reason of both, that there may be as well'a false church, which is not no church, as a false looking, or hour-glass, which are not none: and other conviction needs he not, than by his own instance.
The scriptures he brings for his purpose, which are, “They said they were apostles, and were not, and Jews, and were not,” Rev. ii. 2, 9, and iii. 9, he corrupteth very audaciously, though, I hope, much of ignorance: instead of “not,” putting “none:” whereas between these there is great difference. For “not” only denieth that which they said they were; whereas “none” extendeth further, as lie also intends it, and denies them to be apostles, or Jews at all, or of any sort. They said they were apostles, that is true apostles, sent, and set a work by Christ immediately; but they were not, that is not these, or such, as they pretended themselves to be. They were false apostles, setting themselves a work, and deceitful workers, not, no workers, as elsewhere the apostle calleth them, 2 Cor. xi. 13. They said they were Jews, and were not, that is not Jews within, nor the circumcision of the heart, as Paul expounds the phrase of speech more at large, Rom. ii. 28, 29. For Jews, without doubt, they were, and circumcised in the flesh; for which circumcision, with other Jewish ceremonies, they contended. It is usual with the Scriptures to speak of things in religion, as if they were not at all, when they are not, as they should be; and the reason is, because God doth not accept of them, nor they themselves receive the right fruit thereof. Thus it is said of the inhabitants of Samaria that they feared not the Lord, though it be said immediately before, they feared the Lord, 2 Kings xvii. 32 —34: thus Paul saith that he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly, nor that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh, Rom. ii. 28: as he also tells the Corinthians that they cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils, 1 Cor. 10, 21. They did drink of both outwardly, but unlawfully, and of the better without fruit: as he also tells the same Corinthians ch. xi. 17, 18, 20, 21, that by reason of their contentions, and other abuses, their eating the Lord's Supper was not to eat the Lord's Supper, that is, as he expounds himself, not with profit, or for the better, but for the worse. Even so these were not apostles, that is sent of Christ, and whom the churches ought so to receive; nor Jews, that is such as whom God would praise.
The same I answer to Eph. iv. 4, 5, which is after objected, of one body, one church, one faith, one baptism: that is one true faith, church, and baptism. And to hold that, besides that one true, justifying and saving faith, there are not other false faitbs, is itself a special point of a false faith, and persuasion. The apostle, 1 Tim. i. 5, speaks of faith unfeigned, from which love springeth: showing therein that there is a feigned, or false faith, which James calleth a dead faith, for the want of this love, and the fruits thereof, the works of mercy. James ii. 17, 20. Yea, the devils themselves believe, and have a kind of faith, ver. 19, as have also some wicked men such a faith, as by which they cast out devils, and do many miracles in Christ's name. Matt. vii. 22, 23. And both the Scriptures and experience teach, that wicked men have a faith, or persuasion of God's favour, and salvation, which is no true faith, and therefore a false faith, or persuasion, and so rightly called. The same may be said of the church, and sacraments, and much more. The consideration of one God, and one Christ, is something different, but directly against these men: for there may be, and are assemblies of false worshippers, of this one God, and one Christ: and therefore false churches, and so their sacraments, accordingly, false sacraments.
And thus much to show how vain his distinction is between God's ordinances, and worldly things, though, even, they be also God's ordinances, as he applieth it: and to prove, that false may as well, and by the same reason, be applied to the outward ordinances of the church, as unto worldly things; as also to answer the scriptures he brings to disprove that part of our distinction, touching a false church. It now remains I prove by the Scriptures, and good reasons grounded thereupon, that there are false churches, and false church ordinances: and that such a church the ten tribes were in their defection, and division from Judah.
And first, Since false is nothing but that which deceiveth under a show, and appearance of that which it is not, (as the knowledge of three Latin words would have taught Mr. Helwisse) and that such churches, or assemblies there are too many, which under a profession of the name, and sundry truths, and ordinances of Christ, do deceive; it followeth necessarily, that there may be, and are, false churches. And thus much in effect he grants elsewhere, viz. that “a false church are they, that say, and make show, they are a true church, and are not.” Only he labours upon his ordinary disease in misinterpreting these words, and are not, as if they were and are none; whereas they only deny the thing affirmed, which is, a true church, and no more.
Secondly, In his entrance against us, and everywhere, he condemns our profession, as a false profession, and us as false prophets; as he doth also the profession and prophets of the prelates, and Puritans, as he calleth them, and therein yieldeth necessarily, that the churches making this false profession, under these false prophets, by him so deemed, are false churches. Neither can he turn off the matter, as his custom is, by saying we are no churches, and no prophets; for he knows the prophets, or teachers teach, and the people with them, profess the main truths in the gospel: which he therefore cannot say to be no prophets, or to make no profession.
Thirdly, The apostle, 2 Cor.xi. 26, complains of his perils amongst false brethren, and Gal. ii. 4, that false brethren were crept into the church. Now if there may be (as the apostle expressly teacheth) false brethren., and the same also baptized outwardly, then is a church consisting of such in the body thereof, a false church, and their baptism answerably, false baptism.
Fourthly, The Scriptures, and common-sense teach, that there are false worshippers, of God. Christ our Lord saith of the Samaritans, who feared the Lord and worshipped the God of Jacob, after a manner, and had a temple in Mount Gerizim, 2 Kings xvii. 32, that they worshipped they knew not what: opposing them to true worshippers, and therein calling them false worshippers, and their assembly a false church. John iv. 12, 20–23. And when a Papist prayeth unto God in an unknown tongue, or in the name, or merits of the Virgin Mary; or when any other man “draweth nigh unto God with his mouth, and honoureth him with his lips, but having his heart far from him:” or teacheth for doctrines, men's commandments, Matt. xv. 8, 9; he worshippeth, though in vain, and his prayers, are prayers and sacrifices, though abominable. Prov. xv. 8. He is not then no worshipper, but a false worshipper; and so by consequence, a company, or congregation of such, so combining, and continuing, are falsely called no church, or congregation, but most truly a false church, congregation, or assembly, which are all one.
Lastly, That Israel in Jeroboam's apostacy was a false church, though others have done it sufficiently, I will plainly prove, (God assisting me) against mine adversary, page 135; answering, in the first place, what he objecteth to the contrary. Which is, that the ten tribes then apostate, were the true seed of Abraham, separated from the world, under the covenant of God, which was the covenant of circumcision, Gen. xvii. 7, 15, as well as Judah in Hezekiah's time, when they came to the passover.
If the church of God had been in those days a natural state, and the covenant a natural covenant, and circumcision a natural sign, or seal, then had the ten tribes, indeed, been within that covenant, and of the true church: into what apostacy, idolatry, or other wickedness soever they did, or could fall: and with them the Ishmaelites, and Edomites also, for they all were alike Abraham's natural seed: yea, with the one and other, the whole world; for there is one common state of nature, and the Jews by it, children of wrath, as well as others. Eph. ii. 3. But since the Lord's covenant with Abraham, and his seed, was 110 natural or universal covenant, but a covenant of God's special love and promise with his peculiar people, Gen. xvii. 1, 7: in which he bound himself to be their God, that is, all happiness, unto them; and them to perfect, or upright walking before him, Psa. cxliv. 15; having circumcision annexed, as a seal of the righteousness of faith, Rom. iv. 11, it is ignorance too gross thus to measure them by natural respects: or to think that any had a part in that covenant by nature, or natural generation: by which, as before hath been proved, and shall be hereafter, more at large, all are under God's curse, and children of wrath. Neither is it true, that the ten tribes (in their apostacy) were separated from the world under the covenant of God, which was the covenant of circumcision. They were by, and in their apostacy separated from God, his church, ordinances, and worship. 2 Chron. xv. 3. And since the world lieth in wickedness, having the devil for the prince thereof, how were they separated from the world, who served devils in all idolatry, and wickedness? 1 John v. 19; Eph. ii. 2; 2 Chron. xi. 15. Neither is the consequence of any force, because faithful, and obedient Abraham, with his seed in his time, and so successively continuing in his faith, and obedience, were in that the Lord's covenant, and had right to all the gracious promises thereof, that therefore, unfaithful and rebellious Israel, the fathers with the children, so remaining incorrigible, were in, and under the same covenant, and promises of grace; of which more, hereafter.
But, saith he, page 135, “If they had been the false seed of Abraham, then had their circumcision been false, and they a false church.” I answer, that, coming of Abraham naturally, and pretending the same faith, and religion with him, and so the same right to the gracious covenant of God, and seal thereof, hut being indeed without either the one or other; both believing, and worshipping after a false, and feigned manner; they were, though his true seed in respect of nature, yet in respect of faith, religion, the covenant, and worship of God, his false, and adulterous seed, and even bastards, and the children of whoredoms, as the prophet speaketh, yea, the children of the devil, doing his works, and serving him, and so by his own confession, and undeniable truth, a false church, to the deceiving of themselves, and others. Hos. ii. 4; 2 Chron. xi. 15.
2ndly. Every true church is truly, and rightly gathered, and constituted, for thereby it is, that which it is: whereas Israel considered in her apostacy, and separation from Judah, and as we now speak of her, was not truly, nor rightly gathered, but by most sinful schism, and rebellion both against God, and man: and therefore was no true visible church.
3rdly. The Lord expressly testifieth by his prophets, that he had for her wickedness, and rebellions, wherein she was incorrigible, given her a bill of divorce, and put her away: that she was not his people, nor wife, nor he, her husband: in which respect also it is, that he called Samaria, Aholah, that is, her own tabernacle: as on the other side, he calleth Jerusalem, Aholibah, which is my tabernacle in her. Jer. iii. 8; Hosea i. 9; ii. 2; Ezek. xxiii. 4.
4thly. There was at that time but one only, true, visible church, one temple, one priesthood, one altar, one sacrifice, one kingdom of the Lord, in the hands of the sons of David. And so, the ten tribes in this their apostacy, and division, being neither this church, nor any part of it, but actually divided from it, and that also by a special hand of the Lord's providence, for the punishment of both, could not be the true visible church of God, nor any part of it, whatsoever good, either person, privilege, or thing, is still retained above other people. Deut. xxii. 5,6; 1 Kings viii.; 2 Chron. xi. 4; xiii. 5, 6.
Lastly, The covenant with Abraham on God's part was, that he would be his God, and the God of his seed, Gen. xvii. 7; and thereof their circumcision was a sign, ver. 8–10. Now we read, 2 Chron. xv. 3, that Israel had been a long time without the true God. By which it appeareth, that Israel, was without the Lord's covenant: and that unto them circumcision could not possibly be a sign, that God was their God. It was by them merely usurped, and in that their usurpation, a false and lying sign, and like a seal set to a blank, yea, like the king's broad seal treacherously usurped, against his express will.
Wicked men, and such as hated to be reformed, and cast God's Word behind them, had nought to do with God's covenant, Psa. 1. 16, 17; nor with circumcision, the seal thereof: nor with any other of God's ordinances. Their sacrificing of a lamb was, as if they had cut off a dog's neck, Isa. Ixvi. 3; and so consequently their circumcising their children, as if they had cut the foreskin of their dogs: notwithstanding they were true Israelites, yea, true Jews, naturally. They were expressly forbidden by the Lord to meddle with his covenant; and in that their abuse of it, it was a lying sign in the ends, and uses thereof, and no way affording that, which it pretended: neither could they so using it, be by it, at all confirmed, that God was their God. And yet was not the outward cutting afterwards to be repeated, if God gave repentance: neither is the outward washing in the name of the Trinity now, though merely usurped by them, who are forbidden to meddle with it. Neither matters it whether such persons be in true church, or false, which Mr. Helwisse calls none. Both, profane and usurp it, and have the bare outward lying sign, as it is said of Ephraim, or Israel, that she compassed about the Lord with lies, and deceit: whereas Judah ruled with God, and was faithful with the most Holy. Hos. xi. 12.
But for conclusion of this point. If any of the heathen joined themselves unto Israel in her apostacy, and so were circumcised, they being neither Abraham's true seed, by nature, nor by faith, but merely false, and counterfeit, their circumcision must be false circumcision by Mr. Helwisse's own grant: which notwithstanding was not afterwards to be repeated, if God gave them repentance, and to come to Judah to eat the passover. There was one law for the eating of the passover, to him that was home-born, and to him that was a stranger, or sojourner. Exod. xii. 49. And. here appeareth a direct warrant for our retaining the outward baptism received and usurped, in the like apostate estate, and assemblies, wherein they, and their families, and synagogues were.
I add, that either the outward baptism received out of a true church must be retained, or else all other churches must be able certainly to discern, what day, and hour a true church falling by degrees, into notorious heresy, idolatry, or other impiety, and still baptizing notwithstanding, becomes a false church, as we hold; or, as Mr. Helwisse will have it, no church. For except other churches can certainly know, and discern this, they cannot with faith receive such members, as unto whom God may give grace, to leave that apostate synagogue, and to come unto them. Such of them, as were baptized, whilst it remained a true church, they must not rebaptize: but such as were baptized after it ceased to be a true church must, say our adversaries, be received in by baptism. But it being impossible for other churches thus to discern of the day, and hour of the removing of a church's candlestick, especially for such as are far off, and have had little, or no meddling with her, it followeth necessarily, that the outward baptism administered in a church or assembly degenerated from a true church into a false, which they call, no church, must be retained upon the party's repentance, without reiteration.
For conclusion then of this point also, I demand, whether a man cast out of the true church for some notorious sin, and for impenitence therein, have true baptism, or no? They will not, neither can they say, he hath, writing of it, as they do: neither indeed hath he true baptism, in the ends, and uses thereof. He must then either have a false baptism, or none. Not none, for then upon his repentance, and re-admission into the church he must be rebaptized: he hath therefore upon him a false baptism. There is then contrary to their doctrine false baptism, which is not none, and the same also to be retained, and by the person's repentance becoming true baptism. Neither matters it, that such a man was baptized in a true church at the first, since by his transgression, his circumcision is made uncircumcision. Rom. ii, 25. In his obstinate iniquity he cannot enjoy the fruit, or benefit of his baptism: which serveth only to make him the more inexcusable, and a more profane covenant-breaker with God. He hath only remaining the outward washing, and that much more without right, than many thousands in England have, or in Rome either.
And thus much for the justifying of the difference in the Apology, between a true, false, and no church, and sacraments; as also for the applying of the same distinction to our present occasion.
The particulars following in his book do more specially concern myself, and writings: against whom, and which, through high persuasion of his own knowledge, and most unrnortified affections, together with that zeal of God, which I bear him record he had, though not according unto knowledge, he letteth loose his tongue into most intemperate rage.
And first he reproacheth me, page 138, for the use of that, for the want whereof I have just cause to blame myself: which is my logic, and philosophy, as being none of the gifts, wherewith Christ endued his apostles: wherein he verifieth the old saying, that, Knowledge hath no enemy but ignorance. Logic is nothing but the right use of reason: as is philosophy the love of wisdom Divine and human. And did the apostles want these? Or doth Mr. Helwisse envy unto me my small pittance in them? Would he have me a new Nebuchadnezzar, with an ox's heart in a man's body ? Indeed, this his judgment against those arts of wisdom, and reason, well agrees with his ignorant, and brutish dealing against me, and the truth. And for my terms of art, which he also blameth, they are neither many, nor without cause: nor yet so dark, but that an ordinary reader may, as they are explained by me, understand them.
But I come to the points themselves, against which he dealeth: the first whereof is a double consideration I put of baptism: the one taking it, in itself, and as I speak nakedly, and in the essential causes or parts, to wit, washing with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: the other, in respect of the manner of administering it: namely, the minister by, and the person upon whom, and the communion wherein it is administered. In the former respect I affirm the baptism true, both in England and Rome: but not so in the latter, but on the contrary false, and idolatrous, as being against the second commandment, which forbids nothing but idolatry, and false worship.
Against the former of these respects Mr. H. speaks angrily, as himself confesseth, and ignorantly, as I shall manifest, God assisting me. Yea, I did so manifest in the same place of my book, by the holy vessels of the temple, carried to Babylon: and yet still remaining such in their nature, and right, though in their use, or rather abuse, they became Belshazzar's quaffing bowls. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 7; Ezra i. 7; Dan. v. 3. Likewise the circumcision of the Shechemites was in in itself true circumcision, and they circumcised in the flesh, as Jacob, and his sons were circumcised, Gen. xxxiv. 13, 22. But to call this true circumcision in the right ends, and administration, were to call darkness, light; and profane hypocrisy, the true worship of God. So is there also a true outward baptism, or washing with water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, both in England and Rome also, notwithstanding the unworthy profanation of that ordinance, in the one, or other place.
The things he objecteth, page 139, for substance, are these. That baptism is a spiritual ordinance; which water, washing, and words are not. That they that are baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Gal. iii. 27 That there is one baptism of Christ. Eph.iv. 5. That the baptism of Christ is the baptism of amendment of life, for the remission of sins. Mark i. 4. That, except a man be born of water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John iii. 5; Heb. x. 22. That we ought to have our hearts pure from an evil conscience, and to be washed in our bodies with pure water; and that, here is the true matter, wherewith men must be washed, which is, water, and the Holy Ghost: and that we cannot divide the water, and the Spirit in this baptism, being joined together by Christ: and that he that denies washing, or is not washed with the Spirit, is not baptized: and that he that denies washing, or is not washed with water, is not baptized.
That which must be first, and chiefly considered for answer, and as the ground of the rest is that, that one baptism mentioned, Eph. iv. hath in it two parts: the sign, and the thing signified: either of which is also in the Scriptures called baptism: the one, the,'baptism with water, wherewith John baptized, Matt. iii. 11; Mark i. 8, and wherewith all ministers do baptize; which is the outward baptism, and sign of the inward: the other, the baptism with the Holy Ghost, wherewith only Christ, and God do baptize: as there is in like manner, an outward teaching by the Word, and an inward teaching by the Spirit: an outward eating of the Lord's Supper in the use of the signs, and an inward eating of the thing, by faith in the heart. And even this outward washing with water in the name of the Trinity, which he calls “water,” “washing,” and “words,” is in itself a spiritual ordinance, though he take the contrary for granted, as being properly subordinate to man's spiritual estate, and appointed of God to signify, and confirm the inward washing of the soul by the blood, and Spirit of Christ.
And this ground laid, I grant, first, that the outward, and inward baptism are joined together by Christ, and so ought not by men to be separated, but joined together in their time, and order: but deny that, therefore, where the inward baptism by the Spirit is not actually manifested, as in the infants of believers, there the outward is not to be ministered: or that being administered unlawfully in apostate churches, it is no outward baptism at all, nor spiritual in itself, though carnally used, nor to be held upon repentance, without repetition.
The outward circumcision of the flesh, and the inward circumcision in the heart, which it signified, and whereof it did admonish the circumcised, were joined together of God, and so were to be by men, and might not be severed without great iniquity, Deut. x. 16; Jer. iv. 4: were the infants therefore of the true church debarred it? Or being profanely administered amongst the idolatrous, and apostate Israelites, or to the idolatrous proselytes amongst them, did their abuse change the nature of it in itself ? Or was it no circumcision at all, and so to be repeated, when the Lord vouchsafed to add the circumcision of the heart?
The law of God, (and these words, Thou shalt not lust, and so all, the rest) is spiritual in itself, though received, and used never so carnally, Rom. vii. 14: so is the gospel with all the ordinances thereof much more: and the power of God, in itself to salvation, whatsoever use men make of it, or them. Rom. i. 16. The apostle teacheth us, that all the Israelites, coming out of Egypt were baptized in the cloud, and in the sea, under Moses, that is, under his ministry, and that they all ate of that spiritual meat, namely manna: and all drank of that spiritual drink, namely the rock, or water flowing out of it, which was Christ. And yet with many of them God was not pleased: neither were they baptized with the Holy Ghost, or effectually made partakers of Christ. 1 Cor. x. 1–5. Where also these two things are plainly manifested. The one, that the outward ordinance, or sign, may be spiritual, to wit, in itself, though the inward power, and thing signified be wanting. 2nd, that there is sometimes an outward baptism, and the same so to be reputed, where there is not the inward baptism by the Holy Ghost: as there is also sometimes an outward eating of the Lord's Supper unworthily, that is, without discerning the Lord's body, or any inward participation thereof, or profit thereby. 1 Cor. xi. 20, 27, 29. The same apostle, as I have formerly noted, complains elsewhere of false brethren creeping into the church, Gal. ii. 4: who, being unbaptized before, were also baptized at this their entry. Take Simon Magus for one: who being convinced of the truth of the gospel, and believing after a sort, did deceive Philip, through hypocrisy, and was by him baptized: remaining notwithstanding in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity all the while, as Peter afterward perceived. Acts viii. 13, 23. And I would know of these double-washers, whether if a man professing the same faith with them in holiness outwardly, but in hypocrisy, should be baptized by them: and that afterwards his heart should strike him, and God give him true repentance, (let it be the person they know of, that fled from us under admonition for sin, and joining to, and being baptized by them, was presently after by themselves found in the same sin, and so censured) whether, I say, they would repeat their outward washing formerly made, as none, because there was not joined with it the inward washing of the Spirit? Or if they think it none, and so the fore-mentioned person not, indeed, received in by baptism, as they speak, wherefore did they then excommunicate the same person?
I conclude, therefore, that there is an outward baptism by water, and an inward baptism by the Spirit: which though they ought not to be severed, in their time, by God's appointment, yet many times are by men's default: that the outward baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, administered in an apostate church, is false baptism, in the administration, and yet in itself, and own nature, a spiritual ordinance, though abused: and whose spiritual uses cannot be had without repentance: by which repentance, and the after baptism of the Spirit it is sanctified, and not to be repeated.
The second part of the distinction followeth, page 140, which respects the manner of administering the outward ordinance of baptism: and namely the person by whom, the subject upon which, and the communion wherein it is to be dispensed. In which respects I approve it not as true, either in Borne, or England. And here Mr. H. falls into one of his hot fits of raving against me after an outrageous manner, for justifying such a baptism: where also to make it worse, he adds as my words, these of his own, “that the Spirit of God is not there.”
I answer, that there is a great difference between the justifying of the manner of doing a thing (good in itself:) and die holding the thing done (though unlawfully) not to be nothing. Zipporah's wrathful circumcising of her son, and the Israelites' profane circumcising of their children having nought to do to meddle with the Lord's covenant, could not be justified; and yet they were not no circumcision, nor to be reiterated upon them, Exod. iv. 25; Psa. 1. 16; Isa. i. 11–13, &c. Simon Magus's receiving baptism, being in the gall of bitterness, and the Corinthians' receiving the Lord's Supper, one hungry and another drunken, could not be justified, and yet the baptism of the one, and Lord's Supper of the other, was not no baptism and no Lord's Supper: nor such as whereof there could be no right use upon the repentance of the persons having so profanely usurped them. The apostles Peter and Paul, teach no such thing, but exhort the one and other to repentance, that so they might have the sanctified use of those very holy things, by them formerly abused so unholily. These, our adversaries, do not justify their marriages in the assemblies, celebrated by the parish priest, as a part of the solemn worship of God: and in that respect against the second commandment, and idolatrous: neither yet account they them no marriages at all, nor cast them away as idols of Babylon: though they can esteem them no other, in the administration there.
But saith he, page 141, if this ground were true, then a Turk baptizing a Turk with water, and these words, in any assembly whatsoever, it is the true baptism of Christ.
It is true, outward baptism profaned and abused; as is also that of midwives and children. Also touching stage-players, of which he speaks in the next leaf, I affirm, that if any parts of the Scripture, or other particulars agreeable thereunto, or any forms of prayers contained therein, be by them uttered upon the stage, they still remain in themselves, and own nature, the truths of God, and forms of prayers conceived by holy men; yea, their prayers, notwithstanding that sinful profanation of them: although that uttering of them be nothing less than true preaching or true praying. So may there be, and is too commonly, true outward baptism, that is, the very outward thing for substance done, where there is no true baptizing, that is, no true, and lawful manner of administering it. And if the washing with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of a fit person, by a lawful minister, in a lawful communion, and manner, be true baptism truly, and lawfully administered: then is washing with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by an unlawful minister, of an unfit subject, and in an unsanctifled communion, and manner, true baptism unlawfully, and falsely administered. The thing done is the same in both: the difference is only in the manner of doing it.
But between the baptism of a Turk upon a Turk, and of a midwife, I put this difference: that whereas that of a Turk is not done as a religious action, but merely in mockery; (as is that of a child, in sport;) the latter, by a midwife, is performed as a religious action upon a member of an apostate church; of which there is, therefore, another consideration to be had, than of that which is done in sport, and mockery, which common sense teacheth to be as nothing: as we may see in an oath, which being taken in jest bindeth not at all, but if taken in earnest, and for a thing lawful, (though profanely) bindeth him that took it.
For the shutting up, then, of this point, let the reader observe, that the baptism which we repeat not, is that, which hath been ministered upon the members, and according to the order (how corrupt soever) of such a church, as wherein the Lord hath his people, and for their sakes, many of his truths, and ordinances, which he so far blesseth unto his elect, as by them (notwithstanding all the confusion there,) he doth communicate, and confirm his saving grace unto them. Of the number of which his elect, we have also, by his grace, testified ourselves to be, as otherwise, so in particular, by coming as his people out of Babylon, or confusion, at his call. And we rather think it our duty to acknowledge the great goodness of God towards us, in passing by the sins of our ignorance, and in blessing unto us, what was of himself, and his own there: than unthankfully to disclaim the least, either inward work of his grace, or outward means by which he wrought it.
In the next place Mr. H. raiseth himself upon his tiptoes, and in vain confidence of his mighty strength, threateneth terribly to strike me with a rod of iron, and to break me in pieces like a potter's vessel. And because he chooseth as his ground of best advantage, a point of our profession, viz.: that baptism comes in the stead of circumcision, which neither he, nor they with him, will in another case acknowledge, I will therefore in the first place prove that ground, by the Scriptures, and reasons unto them agreeable, and so come toward his so sore threatened stroke.
And, first, The apostle dissuading the Colossians, ch. ii. 8–11, from Jewish ceremonies, and in special from circumcision, teacheth them, that in Christ's person dwelleth all fulness: and that in him as the head thereof, the church hath all perfection: who by his circumcision hath abolished the former, as the shadow by the substance: by whom also, and whose circumcision the faithful have their hearts circumcised. But whereas it might be objected, that faithful Abraham had his heart circumcised, and yet, he had withal the outward sign, and seal annexed; the apostle answereth, ver. 12, that they are baptized into Christ: (the effects of which baptism he also noteth down in the same place) and therefore needed not circumcision, as the false apostles bore them in hand: therein directly teaching, that our baptism is instead of their circumcision: as is also our Lord's Supper instead of their passover: which Supper no unbaptized person may eat of, as could no man uncircumcised eat of the passover. Their circumcision was not to be repeated, nor our baptism now, though our eating the Lord's Supper be, as their passover also was. Likewise the Israelites in the wilderness wanting the ordinary sacraments of circumcision and the passover, and having instead of them the extraordinary sacraments of baptism in the sea and cloud, and of manna, and the rock; and that baptism signifying our baptism now, and that manna, and water of the rock, the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ now, 1 Cor. x. 1–4; it is evident that our baptism cometh instead of their circumcision. Besides circumcision was their first, and solemn ordinance of initiation, or entrance, by which, say our adversaries, they were received into the church: so is baptism our first and solemn ordinance of initiation, by which also (say they) men are received into the church now. How then do not they succeed one another, as doth the church now, the church then?
Lastly, Their circumcision then was a sign or seal of the covenant of God; so is our baptism now of the same covenant, as shall be proved hereafter: their circumcision admonishing them of that original corruption of all that came naturally of Adam, not to be purged but with the shedding of the blood of the promised seed: as doth also our baptism admonish us of our original spiritual filthiness, not to be washed away but by the blood of Christ poured upon us: the same outward circumcision yet further signifying the inward circumcision of the heart, as doth our baptism with water the inward baptism of the Spirit: which circumcision was also unto them a note or badge of distinction from the world, as is also baptism now; though by many usurped, as that also then was.
This ground then being cleared, I come to that which must strike this stroke so terribly threatened: which is, that in my granting, and proving in my book, that Rome and England were never in the covenant of God, as Judah was, I do therefore debar myself from bringing my baptism from apostate Israel; and therefore must prove, that circumcision, and so baptism, received in a Babylonish assembly, by a Babylonian, upon a Babylonian, might be retained: and a man so circumcised, eat the passover, page 142. To disprove this he quotes Ezra x. 3, and Nehem. xiii. 23–25, for the putting away of the children, though circumcised, born of the strange wives in Babylon.
I profess, as before, that neither the Catholic, so called, Church of Rome, consisting of many countries and nations, nor the national Church of England, was ever within the covenant of the gospel, or new testament; as was Judah, and with her, Israel before the division; notwithstanding either the particular holy persons that are, or particular churches which happily have been there. Neither of both, therefore, saith Mr. H. can be apostate Israel, which was before her apostacy, the true church, or of it, by our grant. I deny the consequence; and his ignorance it is to think, that only they can be apostate Israel, who were formerly of Judah. For then such of the heathen, as joined to Israel in her apostacy, were not of apostate Israel, because they or their parents were never of Judah. And, by his ground, neither the national English, nor Catholic Romish Church should be antichristian, for neither of both were ever the temple of God, in which Antichrist at first raised himself. 2 Thess. ii. 4. But, as they are apostolic churches, which have received and do keep the faith, and order delivered by the apostles, though the apostles did not gather them personally; so are they answerably apostatical churches, which have taken up, and received an apostatical state, and condition from others, though they were never true in themselves: the rule of nature here having place; which is that the accessory followeth the nature of the principal. We do, likewise, most properly, and immediately call that a schismatical church, which was once either of, or a true church, and hath causelessly made a division: but yet if any other assembly, though having never been of, or a true church, do take up a schismatical profession, and walking, even it is also, though secondarily, a schismatical church, and so to be reputed. So that, though England never was, either in the whole nation, or several parishes, a true visible church, or churches, yet, having taken up the apostate communion, worship, government, ministry, and order of Rome, with the doctrines which defend them; and Rome, of that particular church, which was once planted there, having degenerated by degrees from the primitive constitution, it is truly called by us apostate Israel, for the purpose in hand: and that outward baptism there received, rightly by us retained, as was the outward circumcision in apostate Israel of old.
The scriptures he brings, which are Ezra x. 3; Nehem. xiii. 23–25, make much against him in the general cause, and nothing for him in the particular.
For to let pass other oversights. 1. They prove, that to he of Abraham's seed, carnally, was not enough to make one a member of the church, and within the Lord's covenant of circumcision. For these very children thus “put away,” as having no part therein, were, and so are by Mr. H. acknowledged, the males of the Israelites. 2. If any of them thus “put away,” had afterwards chosen the Lord God of Israel to be their God, should they have been re-circumcised? Or is there in the Scriptures any syllable tending that way? 3. He is utterly deceived in saying, those “children were born in Babylon:” upon which notwithstanding, he layeth all the weight of his argument. They were born in Canaan, and of the wives of the people near adjoining, as in the same places is expressed: and so their circumcision nothing at all to the circumcision ministered in Babylon: and yet is he more peremptory in this his error, than a wise man would be in the truth. And thus all may see how his rod of iron is proved a broken reed, whose shivers have pierced his own hands.
The next thing he comes to, is, that other ground of ours, for with his by-babblings, and revilings, I will neither trouble myself, nor the reader, thus by him related, that baptism is the vessel of the Lord's house; and as when the house of the Lord was destroyed, and the vessels thereof together with the people carried into Babylon, they remained still the vessels of the Lord's house, in nature, and right, though profaned by Belshazzar; and being brought again out of Babylon to the house of the Lord, were not to be new cast, but being purified, might again be used to holy use: so this holy vessel of baptism, though profaned, in Babylon, being brought again to the house of the Lord, remains still the holy vessel of the Lord's house.
Against this he allegeth, page 144, 1st. That our baptism seeing it was administered upon us all in the assemblies was performed, moulded, and made, in Babylon. 2nd. That the true doctrine, or ordinance of baptism either carried to Rome, or England was by way of comparison the vessel of the Lord's house, and so to be brought back, and used.
The administration of baptism is not the framing, or moulding of it, but the applying, and using of it, being formerly moulded, and made: and this common sense teacheth: otherwise there should be a new vessel made and moulded, or a new ordinance brought into the church every time that baptism is administered. The outward washing, then, with water “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” was first framed and moulded in the true churches, by John Baptist, Christ and the apostles, and there, at the first, rightly applied, and administered: and was afterwards usurped, and misapplied by, and in the apostate churches, and so is in England amongst the rest: whence we also by the grace of God, have brought it into the Lord's house, built of living stones, orderly laid together, for a spiritual building unto him, 1 Pet. ii. 5: and there have the rightful use of it, being purified by repentance.
More particularly. If the true doctrine of baptism be the vessel of the Lord's house, then, cannot this vessel of the Lord's house be brought out of the mother Babylon, which Rome is, because the doctrine of baptism there is most false in itself: as that, baptism doth by the very work done, confer grace, and wholly abolish original sin: that it imprinteth in the soul of the baptized a character, or mark indelible, by which even the damned in hell, which have been baptized, are differenced from the unbaptized: that it is of absolute necessity to salvation: that such infants are to be baptized as neither of whose parents are sanctified, or faithful: and that it is only to be administered by the Pope's anointed ones, save in the case of necessity, and that then the midwife may do it, with the like. How then can the vessel of the doctrine of true baptism be brought from Babylon, where it is not? And so far as the doctrine is true, so far the baptism is true also, being administered according unto it.
The truth then, is, that, as there were, in the material temple, both the vessels, and doctrine teaching their use, so is there, by proportion, in the church now the vessel of baptism, or thing ordained, which is most properly called the ordinance, Lev. v. 17; Rom, xiii. 1, 2, and the doctrine ordaining, and teaching it: which are two several things in all men's eyes, which have sight in them. And since baptism administered, besides the doctrine which teacheth it, is appointed of God, as a means, to signify, and apply the blood, and Spirit of Christ thereby signified, it is very absurd to deny it to be a vessel for the service of the Lord's house, and of the holy things therein: rightly used in the temple; usurped in Babylon, or elsewhere.
Lastly, Mr. Smyth, and Mr. H. with him in their Character of the Beast, &c., page 51, confess, that if the Antichristians had baptized persons, confessing their sins, and their faith into the name of the Son of God, and the Trinity, it had been true baptism, though in the hands of the Anti-christians, as the vessels of the Lord's house in the hands of the Chaldeans, and therefore, needed not repetition, as the vessels needed no new casting: therein acknowledging not the new doctrine, but the outward washing in the name of the Trinity to be the vessel of the Lord's house in Babylon: as also, that there might be baptism so far true, without out either lawful communion, minister, or subject, (for all are Antichristian,) as that it might be retained without repetition: which is also justly proved from circumcision, administered in a profane usurping family, though naturally Israelitish, either in Babylon, or Canaan, or elsewhere, it matters not, and not to be repeated upon repentance.
In the things following, being partly more general, and partly already handled, I will be the briefer.
He first tells us, page 149, that if we be Judah, and come from Israel, then we must not war against her as against Babylon, since she is the ten tribes, our brethren, which were not false Israelites, but the true seed of Abraham. 1 Kings xii. 24.
Edom also was Israel's brother, and the true seed of Abraham naturally, against whom he was forbidden to war, as against Canaan, Numb. xx. 14, 21; Deut. ii. 4, 5, &c.: was Edom therefore the true church or interested in the Lord's covenant, as well as Israel then? And though Judah was, at that one time, by special restraint, to forbear fighting against the ten tribes, as there was a time also, when she might not fight against Babylon, yet not so at other times; but she was, contrariwise, holpen of the Lord, to make a very great slaughter amongst them. 2 Chron. xiii. 3, 14–17. But for our fighting against England, it is only by the spiritual weapons of our testimony, the Word of God, our practice of Christ's ordinances and sufferings, against the confusion, clergy, and superstitions there: and thus we must war against all iniquity, whether of apostate Israel, or Babylon, it matters not.
His reasons to prove Judah as well as Israel a false church, are of no weight. And 1st, it is not true he saith, that the calves set up at Dan and Bethel did no more make them a false church, for in speaking of false Israelites, as he doth, he betrayeth too great ignorance, than the setting up of the calf in Horeb. For that calf was forthwith taken down again, burnt in the fire, and beaten to powder, the chief authors of the idolatry destroyed, and the rest brought to repentance, by which the wrath of the Lord was pacified, Exod. xxxii. and xxxiii.: whereas the ten tribes continued their idolatry, and with and for it, their schism from the true church Judah, and Jerusalem: and so were for their obstinacy and irrepentance joined with their sin, cast out of God's favour.
Alike frivolous is his second argument: from Solomon's following Ashtoreth, Milcom, and other idols: of which he also repented, as appears by his writing the Book of the Preacher, besides other arguments, and whom Judah is nowhere said to have followed in his idolatry, as did the ten tribes Jeroboam, in his. And not only so, but they went on also from evil to worse: adding to the false worship of the true God the worship of false gods, Baal and others. 1 Kings xvi. 25, 31.
Thirdly, Though Jerusalem was at a time (in the body) called by the prophet, an harlot, and her sins said to be greater than either Samaria's or Sodom's, to wit, considering her estate, and means of bettering (for otherwise her sins in themselves were not comparable to theirs) yet, were there many in her abiding faithful in the Lord's covenant, and the other brought again into the bond thereof, by repentance, after the rod of the Lord's correction had passed, over them, and that he had taken the chief rebels from amongst them, Ezek. xx. 37, 38; and in those the true church consisted; the rest not being true members thereof: but a false seed, the plants of a strange vine, by right to have been cut off from the Lord's people, Jer. ii. 21: whereas the ten tribes went on in their sin, without repentance, or return out of their captivity, into the land of Canaan, the proper seat of the church. But of these things I have spoken before at large, as also of the outward baptism received in England, which he here calls the mark of the beast, and us for it, what he pleaseth: whereas, though he, that receives any doctrine, or ordinance of God ministered by the power of Antichrist, may therein be said to receive the mark of the beast, yet that doctrine, or ordinance is not in itself, the mark of the beast, but an holy thing of God, how unlawfully soever administered.
His mistaking the speech in the Apology of the seven thousand in Israel, I have formerly manifested. The peremptory doom which here he passeth upon all in England, and us with them, as out of the state of grace, and salvation, is a fruit of his rashness. Well is it for us, that he is not our judge: and better much had it been for him, if he had judged himself more severely, and others more charitably.
Touching Gal. v. 1, and 2 Cor. iii. 17, teaching, that, “where the Spirit of Christ is, there is liberty:” and that we must “stand fast in the liberty, wherewith Christ hath freed us,” I do answer, that as for ourselves, we stand for, and enjoy the liberty of Christ in all things, to our knowledge, and power: so doubt I not but there are thousands in England truly partakers of the liberty of Christ, both, from the guilt, and tyranny of sin in their measure, not withstanding that spiritual external bondage in their church order, and ordinances, through human frailty. Wherein if they, or any of them, either affect ignorance, or pretend it, being “condemned of their own hearts,” because they would avoid the cross of Christ, or for any other carnal respects, “God which is greater than their hearts,” and searcheth, and knoweth them, will condemn them much more, though we, through love, be persuaded better things of them. 1 John iii. 20.
It is true he addeth, that all who come not out of Babylon, or receive the least mark, or print of the beast, that is yield the least submission unto Antichrist, are threatened with her plagues, and under the Lord's curse. Which shows how greatly the Lord abhorreth, and how all his people ought to abhor from those sins, and also unto what wrath they stand subject without repentance. But, withal, it must be remembered, that as God requireth particular repentance for sins known, so doth he pardon the unknown sins of his servants upon their general repentance arising from true faith in Christ, and having joined with it, an honest and earnest desire, to know, and do the whole will of God: otherwise no flesh could be saved: for no man knoweth how oft he offendeth. Psa. xix. 12. And he who believes not, that as other men may, so God doth know much evil by him, even against all the commandments, which he knows not by himself, (of which he can only repent in general) neither hath learnt to know God aright, nor other men, nor himself, how much soever he presume of his knowledge, which alas, was too, too much this vain man's malady.
His other two affirmations, pages 152–155, that, if the faith of the Church of England be true faith, then the church is a true church; and that, if the church be not a true church, then is it a company of infidels, have alike truth in both, and indeed none in either. Cornelius and his family show the falsity of both; who had true faith, and, therefore, were not a company of infidels, and yet, were not a true visible church, of which we speak. Acts x. True faith maketh a true Christian person: but the covenanting, and combining of a company of such into Christian order doth immediately make the church.
And for John xv. 19, and Matt. xii. 30, I do answer, that a man may truly in his person be “chosen out of the world, and for Christ,” in his measure, though he be not of a true visible church. There must be true faith, and holiness before the true church; for of faithful persons the church must be gathered: and in reason, the parts must he before the whole to be made of them, and the stones, and timber before the house.
But he adds, that since all in the Church of England drink of one cup, 1 Cor. xi., they are all one body, and so no double respect to be had, nor putting of difference of persons.
It is true, they are all one body, and there should be no such contrary spirits: but all the members of one body should be led by one spirit in a measure: for there is (to wit, in right) “one body, and one spirit,” Eph. iv. 4, but who, having in him any light of the Spirit, seeth not the contrary; and that, in that one body of the national, and parishional church, and churches, two contrary spirits rule? By right, there is none but led by the Spirit of Christ in the true church and body of Christ: nor any led by that Spirit, out of it, or in any other society. But that good, whether in persons or things, which Satan hath not had power to destroy, he hath laboured to confound, and mingle with evil, what he possibly could, both by thrusting false brethren into the true church, and by keeping godly persons out of it. So that the servants of God Stand in great need as first, of spiritual discerning to know good, and evil, so after, of true zeal on the one side, that they be not for the good's sake entangled with any evil; as also of godly moderation, and sobriety, on the other side, no way to wrong that which is good for the evil's sake, mingled with it: as this man hath done in the frowardness of his heart instead of zeal, making no difference between himself, and others, so walking in his and their best profession, in England: and the most desperate crew of atheists, and epicures in their professed contempt of God.
His plea which followeth, that the Pope and Papists are not true believers, we do receive: and profess withal, that no infants of such, or of any other parents, the one whereof is not faithful, is to be baptized: and practise accordingly, as he knew well. Gen. xvii. 7; 1 Cor. vii. 14. And his accusation that we hold all infants, whether of believing, or unbelieving parents to be baptized, and so practise, is unjust, and but a mere presumption inferred upon our not rebaptizing the baptized formerly in the assemblies. Which our practice, I hope, is sufficiently justified, against his loud, and licentious clamours, (although by them he have affrighted two, or three simple people, from that their baptism so received,) as also, that his peremptory position, that whatsoever is not done aright, is to be accounted as not done at all, and is to be cast away, notwithstanding any after-repentance, is but a short cut of his haste, and fruit of his ignorance: which two being coupled together, cannot but gender many monsters.
of the baptism of infants.
He proceedeth to the. baptism of infants; a point of great both difference between us, and weight in itself; and which concerneth all churches, at all times, whereas the former respects only such churches as come out of a state of apostacy.
And to prove infants incapable of baptism, he begins with the covenant of the gospel, or new testament, which he rightly makes one, as, indeed they are in substance; though the new testament may be taken in a stricter sense, for the gospel more clearly dispensed since Christ came in the flesh.: touching which covenant he speaketh thus:—
“This is the covenant, saith the Lord, that I will make with the house of Israel, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jer. xxxi. 33; Heb. viii. 10. And our Saviour Christ declares this more fully, Mark xvi. 16, where he saith, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel; he that shall believe and be baptized, shall be saved.” And here, saith he, pages 162–166, is the new covenant set down both on God's behalf, and theirs, with whom it is made. On God's that he would write his law in men's hearts, by the power of his Spirit in the preaching of the gospel, and will be their God, and save them: and on the people's behalf, to believe the gospel and to be baptized. And hereupon he infers, and concludes that children are not within the covenant of the new testament, or gospel, and therefore not to be baptized.
Let the reader in the first place observe, that the word covenant in the Hebrew, חידב, as Jeremiah hath it, signifieth any compact or agreement upon a difference, between two or more. Which the LXX. in the Greek Bible, and so the apostle after them, turn by a word, διαθηκη, signifying a will or testament properly. So that he who aright understands, and well weighs the very word, will plainly see, how Mr. H. erreth in making the writing of God's law in men's hearts, the covenant on God's behalf, or baptism any part of it on men's behalf. The covenant is the very agreement and promise by mutual accord, for the things to be done, and not the doing of the things, which is the keeping of the covenant or promise made. And so all that can he concluded hence is that God receiveth none into his church but such as in whose hearts he promiseth to write his law; which he promised to do to the infants of the faithful, in promising Abraham to be the God of his seed: and more particularly in promising to circumcise (which is all one with writing his law in) the hearts of the seed of his people. Deut. xxx. 6. By which it is also evidently proved, that the infants of faithful parents are, together with them, within the Lord's covenant.
But to answer more fully: the intent of the prophet, and so of the apostle following him, is to oppose the old covenant, or testament of works written with ink in tables of stone, and the new testament, or covenant of grace written in the hearts of men by the finger of God's Spirit. Exod. xxxi. 18; Ezek. xxxvi. 96, 27; 2 Cor. iii. 3. Now the persons with whom the Lord made these covenants, primarily and expressly, both the one and other were men of years; but in whom their infants were included, and so within these the Lord's covenants, though secondarily, and as was agreeable to their estate.
These men profess everywhere, and truly, (although not upon good grounds) that the Israelitish infants were within the old covenant, or testament; and yet when God either proclaimed it upon Mount Sinai, or wrote it in the tables of stone, they knew not what it meant, neither could they have the same use of it with their parents, and others of discretion, as may appear in the particulars contained in the scriptures, Exod. xix. 10, 11, 15, 21, 25; xx. 1, 3, 8, 12, 18, 19, amongst others, where it is set down; doth it therefore follow that those infants were not within the compass of the old testament, or law? So neither followeth it because the infants of the faithful now cannot for the present observe the conditions of the covenant of grace, or reap all the fruits thereof, and particularly, to have the law written in their hearts by the ministry of the gospel, and work of the Holy Ghost, that therefore they are excluded from the covenant of grace, or testament of Christ. Children may with far better reason be denied to have been within the covenant of the old testament, or law, upon which the curse followeth, than to be shut out of the new covenant of grace, and mercy. Gal. iii. 10. And upon this ground infants should not be within either the natural covenant or bond with their parents, or the civil covenant with their magistrates, because they cannot for the present “Honour father and mother,” which is the condition of these covenants on their behalf. His exception then, that “infants cannot by the preaching of the gospel, have God's law written in their heart,” this being but a condition of the covenant, which respects men of riper years, is of no force.
When the Lord saith to Israel, “I am thy God,” his meaning is not to exclude their infants, though he spake not unto them, but to exclude other peoples, and nations; so where he makes this new covenant with those in whose hearts he writes his laws, he doth not debar their children, but wicked men destitute of the Spirit of God, and from under his promise. So for Mark xvi. 15, 16, which he also alleges, where Christ sends his apostles into the world to preach the gospel, and adds that “he who believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved,” he no more intends to exclude the infants of the faithful from baptism, because they believe not, than from salvation because they believe not, which is yet more plain in the words following, “but he that believes not shall be damned.” Shall children now be damned because they believe not? There is, hence, more colour for that, than that they shall not be baptized because they believe not: for Christ saith not, “he that believes not” shall not be baptized, but “shall be damned.” The thing then is, Christ neither excludes the children of believers from baptism, nor from salvation, for want of faith, but unbelievers, and such as refuse the gospel from both. So that the stone upon which these men stumble, is the ignorance of the opposition in the scriptures they bring; which is not between believers, or sanctified persons, and their children, but between them and unbelieving and profane persons; who are shut from the Lord's “covenant, baptism, and salvation.” But where in sharing this covenant “on man's behalf,” into faith, and baptism, he makes the one part thereof, his being baptized, he speaks he knows not what, and yet wonders that all men believe him not. For as baptism is indeed no part of the covenant, but a sign and seal of further confirmation, so is it principally and in the main end performed, not on man's behalf toward God, but on God's behalf towards men; God, by the outward washing of the body with water, signifying, confirming, and applying the inward washing of the soul, by the blood, and Spirit of Christ, and for the further testification of the admission of the party baptized into the family of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, into whose name he is baptized: whereas, in a second, and inferior respect, it is a work of man unto God, for the profession, and exercise of faith, repentance, and thankfulness, in them who received the former covenant, and promise with the confirmation thereof, on God's part, towards them, and theirs; as it is also, thirdly, a sign of union between the members of the church; and in the fourth and last place, a badge of Christianity, and sign of distinction between the true church and all false churches. The same considerations are to be had of the Lord's Supper. And they who know not these things, had need have the foundation of the doctrine, of baptism, and other principles of Christian religion laid again, Heb. vi. 1, 2; and yet the want of the knowledge of this, and, in especial, that the sacraments are in their first and main end works of God to men, by which he can both declare, and effect his goodness towards infants, though for the present, they neither know it, nor can do anything again to the Lord in answer thereunto, is a main ground of that offence, which these men take at our receiving and baptizing of infants. And if the new covenant or testament consist so much in baptism, as these men think, then could not Adam, and Abraham, and other the holy patriarchs, and prophets unbaptized, have been within the compass of the covenant, and promise of grace, or have had their parts in the testament of Christ, the promised seed. Also if baptism were, especially so great, a part of the covenant, so oft as any either person or church, renewed their covenant, especially after any greater sin, they should so oft renew their baptism also.
These things thus laid down by way of answer, it remains I prove by the Scriptures, and further arguments, that the infants of the faithful are within the compass of the new covenant here spoken of.
And since all children coming naturally of Adam, are conceived, and born in sin, and, by nature, the children of wrath, Psa. li. 5; Eph. ii. 2; if these men believe, as they do of all, that their children so dying shall be saved by Christ, then must they have a part in his testament, or in this new covenant, which are all one. There are not two new covenants, or testaments established in the blood of Christ, but one. And since Christ is propounded unto us as the saviour of his body, which is his church, it is more than strange, that these men will have all infants saved by Christ, and yet none of them to be of his body or church. Eph. v. 23; Col. i. 18.
It pleased God, in his special love, to send his Son to take upon him our nature, and so our childhood, that as the head thereof, he might sanctify even that estate for his body, the church: with which he did also in the days of his flesh, visibly communicate his grace, consecrating unto his Father, as their true high-priest, the infants of the Jewish church, by laying his hands on them, and blessing them. Mark x. 13,16.
I add, if any, either children, or men of years, be to “enter into the kingdom of heaven,” they must be born again: and this new birth must be by the Spirit of God working in either, according to their kind, and writing God's law in their hearts; in those of years, distinctly, and by the preaching of the gospel, in infants, otherwise, according to the efficacy of the power, and grace of God.
Lastly, It is evident that the children of the faithful are within this covenant of the gospel or new testament, by that covenant which God made with faithful Abraham, and his seed, adding the seal of circumcision to ratify it. Gen. xvii. 10–14. But, that this was the covenant of the gospel, or new testament, Mr. Helwisse denieth, and opposeth. I will therefore answer what he objecteth, and then prove my exposition, and affirmation by the Scriptures.
And first, he lays down this covenant, Gen. xvii., on the Lord's behalf, thus: “I will establish my covenant between me, and thee, and thy seed after thee, and their generations for an everlasting covenant to be God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee,” ver. 7, and on Abraham's behalf, and his seed, in these words, “This is the covenant that thou, and thy seed after thee shall keep, Let every man child among you be circumcised: you shall circumcise the foreskin, as well of him that is born in the house, as of him that is bought with money:” adding for exposition, page 166, that “thus the Lord declares in every particular his covenant with his people, as well what he will do for them, as what he requires them to do, in obedience to him.”
A great untruth, and full of ignorance. Is the land of Canaan all that the Lord covenants and promises to give unto Abraham and his seed? What is this but to make the Lord's people an herd of oxen which are promised to be brought into a fat pasture, there to feed at ease? And is circumcision of their males all, in particular, which God requires of his people by covenant, which any profane Shechemite might do, and did as well, and as [diligently as they? and which being done without faith, and repentance, doth no way please but offend God. Isa. i. 11, 12; Heb. xi. 6.
The Lord promised to be a God (even all-sufficient, as ver. 1,) unto Abraham, and his seed, ver. 7, that is, to be all happiness and bliss unto them: for blessed are the people that have the Lord for their God. Psa. cxliv. 15. And except we will say they had only bodies, and no souls, God in promising to be their God, promiseth not only to be the God of their bellies, and backs, but of their souls most; as the soul of a man is most the man. And so Christ himself teacheth against the Sadducees, that God in calling himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and so of their seed the Hebrews, means, that he is the God of their souls, and that most specially, which lived when their bodies were dead. Exod. iii. 6; Matt. xxii. 32.
The apostle Paul, who well understood the Lord's meaning, doth interpret the promises of this covenant with Abraham, as meant of better things than Canaan, and indeed as comprehending in them, (though more darkly, according to the dispensation of those times) Christ himself, and in him all spiritual blessings. And so speaking of this covenant, or promise, with, or to Abraham, and his seed, avoucheth, that by his seed is meant Christ, Gal. iii. 15, 16, viz., as the head with his body, the church of the Jews, and Gentiles also in their time “made one in him,” Eph. iii. 6; as he also proveth, Rom, iv. 3, 18, and Gal. iii. 6; that Abraham's believing the promise of God for the multiplying of his seed, Gen. xv. 5, 6, and xvii. 4; was imputed to him for righteousness to justification: therein teaching, evidently, that in this promise was comprehended Christ, and spiritual things: otherwise, how could Abraham be justified by believing it? And how carnally soever these men are conceited of this covenant, and promise, Abraham in it saw Christ's day, and seeing it, rejoiced. John viii. 56.
And for the land of Canaan, albeit in itself, and naturally, but like other lands, yet was it by the Lord sanctified to spiritual ends, and uses: as to be the peculiar inheritance of God's peculiar people, unto which it was allotted from the first division of the sons of Adam, and distribution of their possession by the Most High, Deut. xxxii. 8; whither he would bring his people, and there plant them in the mountain of his inheritance, in the sanctuary, which his hands had established, Exod. xv. 17: where he would have his tabernacle pitched, and temple built, for his most solemn presence, and worship: out of which land when the ten tribes were carried captive, he is said to have put them out of his sight, 2 Kings xvii. 18: the very land being figuratively holy, and a sacrament of God's presence, and the resting of God's people there a sign of their eternal rest in heaven, Heb. iii. 11; iv. 5, 8: into which not Moses, but Joshua or Jesus, the type of our and their true Jesus, was to bring them. Neither did the Lord indeed promise either entrance into, or continuance in that land, but upon the conditions of eternal life: true faith in the gospel, with the love, and fear of God, and faithful obedience of his commandments: godliness having then as it hath now, and always, the promise of good things for this life, and the life to come: of earthly things then more distinctly and fully, but of heavenly things more generally and sparingly: where now on the contrary, there is a more clear, and full revelation of heavenly things, but the promise of things earthly, more general and sparing. Heb. iii. 17–19, with” iv. 2; Lev. xx. 1, 2, &c.; xxvi. 39; Deut. x. 12, 13, with xi. 1, 8, 9, 22–24; 1 Cor. x. 5— 7; 1 Tim. iv. 8, 9. It is therefore an ill collection he makes, that because God promised earthly Canaan, therefore not heavenly things: the promise of them was contained in the other, which all amongst them but hypocrites understood and tasted of.
The like folly with the former showeth he, in affirming that the circumcision of their males was all the obedience which God required of Abraham, and his seed, for the keeping of the covenant on their part towards him. For, 1. Circumcision (which must be well considered) was not appointed of God principally for a work of their obedience towards him, but for a sign or seal of confirmation, on his part, towards them, of the righteousness of faith imputed to Abraham, the root, in the promised seed. Rom. iv. 11. 2ndly. It is evident that this covenant unto which the land of Canaan was an appurtenance, was contracted and made with Abraham many years before circumcision was once mentioned. Gen. xii. 3, 6, 7; xiii. 14–16; xv. 1, 4, &, 18. Which covenant God also renewed with the Israelites his seed in the wilderness, the most of them being uncircumcised. Deut. xxix. and xxx., compared with Josh. v. 2–6. By which it is evident that circumcision was so far from being the substance of the covenant, as that it was not so much as any substantial part of it, but only a sign of ratification, and that specially on God's part, as was Canaan an accessory unto it. 2dly. The apostle, Rom. iv., proving at large, justification by faith, without works, and so specially without circumcision, of which as of a special work the Jews made account, takes Abraham for an instance, and shows, that he was first justified by believing God's free promise touching his seed, Christ, and so the church in him, as well as of uncircumcised Gentiles in their time, as of circumcised Jews: and adds, that after this, he received the seal of circumcision, for the confirmation of this bond of promise, on God's part, having the promise itself before. Which, circumcision, therefore, whosoever presumed to use, whether upon himself, or his infant, not having before the promise of Christ, and faith for justification, with Abraham, he did treacherously usurp the great seal of the King of heaven and earth. The lawful using, then, of circumcision did presuppose, both God's promise, and his faith who was to use it, either upon himself, or his child. And since without faith no man either can, or ever could please God, especially, in the matters of his worship, whereof circumcision was one; and that God appointed his people so to worship him in it, and all other things, as they might please him therein, it followeth necessarily, that he required true faith in all, whom he enjoined, or rather privileged to circumcise their infants. Gen. iv. 4, with Heb. xi. 4–6; Matt. iii. 17; 1 Cor. x. 5; Heb. iii. 17. Neither indeed do the Scriptures of those times, more plenteously testify any one thing, than, that the Israelites did most heinously transgress, and break God's covenant with Abraham and them, when they did use, and observe circumcision very diligently: which had the covenant, on their part, stood in circumcision, they had not done. Isa. xxiv. 5; Jer. xi. 10; Hos. viii. 1. And (for conclusion) that the Lord God should separate a people, as his own peculiar, above all the peoples in the earth, into covenant with himself, to worship him, and to enjoy his special presence, and yet should require no more of them for the keeping of this covenant, than the cutting of their foreskins, is a mere mockery, unworthily blemishing God's great majesty, and from the imagination whereof all godly-wise men do abhor.
Now though this which I have spoken be more than enough, yet will I, for more clearness, annex a few other reasons to prove this covenant with Abraham, and his seed, the covenant of the gospel, and the same with ours, now, for substance; and established in Christ to come, as ours, in Christ come in the flesh.
And, 1. The apostle to the Galatians, iii. 8, expressly teacheth, that the gospel was preached unto Abraham, “In thee shall all the Gentiles be blessed;” and, ver. 17, that the covenant with, and in Abraham's seed, was confirmed of God in respect of Christ, and that 430 years before the law, or old testament was given. And here also the apostle answereth Mr. Helwisse his objection, and removeth that great stone of offence, which he, and others cast in their own way; which is, “that the old testament, or covenant with the ordinances thereof is disanulled, Heb. vii. 18, and that we ought not to frame the new covenant like the old, as we do, in the baptizing of infants, because infants then were circumcised.” The apostle answereth directly (to let pass other things) that the covenant with Abraham was confirmed in respect of Christ: and that it was not the law or old testament, which was added 430 years after for transgression, and so is abolished indeed, but could not disannul the former covenant of the gospel.
And because these men (whose recovery I do from mine heart desire of the Lord) do especially stumble at this, that the covenant made with Abraham, and his seed, was the covenant of the law, or old testament, I will (and that briefly as I can) show the clear, and evident difference between these two testaments. Which had such of oar later writers as have been most followed observed and put distinctly, as others have done, much light had been given for the preventing of this error.
And 1. This difference appears notoriously, in the time. For this old and cancelled covenant was made with the people of Israel in the day when the Lord took them by the hand and brought them out of Egypt, Jer. xxxi. 32, which was 430 years after the covenant made with Abraham, as the scriptures formerly cited teach.
2. The law, or old testament, was given in Mount Sinai, Exod. six., whereas the covenant with Abraham was first drawn in Ur of the Chaldeans, and afterward confirmed, and renewed in Canaan. Gen. xi., xii., xv., and xvii.
3. The law was given with great terror of burning, fire, and smoke, and blackness, and tempest, on the mount, with the loud sound of the trumpet, as became the glory of God's justice, Exod. xix. 16, 18; Heb. xii. 18: but the covenant with Abraham was free from all terror, and replenished with all sweetness of love, and mercy, and comfort against sin.
4. The old testament had Moses for the mediator, Exod. xix. 14, 19; Gal. iii. 19: whereas Abraham himself received the other from God, in the mediation of Christ, as I have formerly shown.
5. The law was dedicated in the blood of beasts, and established unto the people under the priesthood of the Levites, Exod. xxiv. 6, 7, &c.; Heb. vii. 11: where the covenant with Abraham was established in the promised seed Christ, and in his blood: himself being both priest and sacrifice. Gal. iii. 16.
Lastly. The covenant of the law, or old testament, had indeed, the promise of good things heavenly, and earthly, but under the condition of perfect obedience to all the commandments, Lev. xviii. 5; Gal. iii. 10, 12; Deut. xxvii. 26: and under the threatening of the contrary curse to the least breach of any of them. Whereupon, respecting man's corruption, and inability to keep it, Acts xiii. 38, and xv. 10; Rom. viii. 8, 7, it is said to be weak, and unprofitable, yea, generating to bondage, Gal. iv. 24, and the power of sin, 1 Cor. xv. 56, causing wrath, and death, Rom. it. 15, and vii. 5; the letter which killeth, and administration, of death, and condemnation, 2 Cor. iii. 6, 7. But of the covenant, and promise which God made with, and to Abraham, the Scriptures do not so speak, neither can any man having wisdom, and grace. It was profitable every manner of way, and the means both to beget, and nourish faith in him, and his.
The confounding, then, of the covenant given to Abraham with that given by Moses, is in itself a great error, and the ground of this amongst other evils, that it curseth where God blesseth. For where God promised unto Abraham, and his seed a blessing in that covenant, this other of the law bringeth all flesh, as unable to keep it, under God's curse: being given principally for transgression; that is, to discover men's transgressions, and sins, that despairing in themselves they might fly to the gracious promise made to Abraham, and in it, unto Christ to come, and so find mercy with God through repentance. Which covenant, therefore, the Lord upon their repentance, so oft renewed with the seed of Abraham: whereas the covenant of the law admits of no repentance for mercy by it, but stands peremptory in, and upon “Do this, and live:” and “Cursed-be he that abideth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” And this so oft renovation of the covenant made with Abraham doth plainly show it not to be the covenant of the law, but of the gospel, whose two general virtues are, faith in Christ, and repentance. Mark i. 15.
But it will be demanded, How the covenant made with Abraham could be called the new covenant, and that by Moses 430 years after, the old covenant, or testament?
First. In respect of the object, upon which the law worketh properly, which is the old man, or part unregenerate: which it convinceth, suppresseth, condemneth, and killeth: whereas the gospel, or gracious promise, as was that to Abraham, respects properly the new man, which it begetteth, and nourisheth.
2ndly. Even the same law in substance with that given to Moses in tables of stone, unto which the ceremonial, and judicial laws, considered apart from Christ, were subordinate, the one for explanation of the first table, the other of the latter, and so as accessories following the nature of the principal, was in substance be-fore the covenant of the gospel, and as old as Adam; in the table of whose heart it was engraven by creation: as being that image, of God in which he was made: and which is renewed in us by the Spirit's writing the same law in our hearts, in “wisdom, righteousness, and holiness,” Col.iii.10; Eph. iv. 24; Rom. ii. 14, 15: which is yet more evident in the remnants of the same law unblotted out in all Adam's natural posterity; which covenant of the law was, therefore, before the covenant of the gospel with Abraham, yea, or with Adam either.
3rdly and lastly. The whole body of the Scriptures may be divided into two parts: the law, or old testament, and the gospel, or new. Now, of the old testament Moses is propounded unto us as the minister and mediator: as is Christ for the minister and mediator of the new. For “the law was given by Moses, and grace and truth by Christ Jesus.” Not as though Moses preached not the gospel, for he wrote of Christ: and preached the gospel to the Israelites in the wilderness, John v. 46; Heb. iv. 2: nor as if, on the contrary, Christ taught not the law, for we may see the contrary, as elsewhere, so especially Matt v., where he both openeth, and enforceth it against the corrupt glosses of the Pharisees, but because the ministry of Moses was chiefly legal, and the ministry of Christ chiefly evangelical, or of the gospel. In which respect also it is, that we, though the Scriptures never so speak, use to call the writings of Moses, and the prophets, the Old Testament, and those of the evangelists, and apostles, the New Testament. Now unto those two generals; 1. The law most fully, and solemnly published by Moses; and 2. The gospel by Christ, all the particulars of what kind soever dispersed throughout the whole Bible must be referred immediately; and so the covenant made with Abraham, being referred to that clear, and full revelation of Christ come in the flesh, as a part to the head, is after the law given to, and by Moses: whom the Scriptures do everywhere, in that respect, oppose unto Christ, but never Abraham. I proceed.
The Virgin Mary, speaking of the fruit of her womb, Christ, testifieth, that God therein remembered his mercy, as he spake to Abraham, and his seed for ever, Luke i. 41, 42, 54, 56, and Zacharias in the same consideration, that he performed his mercy promised to their forefathers, and remembered his holy covenant, and the oath he sware to their father Abraham, Luke ii. 67, 72, 73, Mary and Zacharias filled with the Holy Ghost do teach that God in his covenant with Abraham, and his seed promised Christ: and, in giving him, remembered the same covenant; with what ghost then do others affirm that in that covenant he promised nothing but the land of Canaan? or how can godly men put out this clear light of the Scriptures shining in their hearts?
The apostle, Rom. iv. 11, calls circumcision, which was the sign of that covenant, the seal of the righteousness of the faith in or of that of the uncircumcision, that is of the faith which he being uncircumcised had, that in his seed Christ should be justification, for believing, uncircumcised Gentiles, as well as circumcised Jews. Whereupon it followeth, if the covenant and seal agree in one, that the covenant itself was of the righteousness of faith, which the gospel bringeth: opposed to the righteousness of the law, which Moses describeth, where he saith, “The man that doth these things, shall live in them.” Rom. x. 5, 6. In which place the apostle plainly teacheth, that the covenant renewed with Israel, Deut. xxix. and xxx., was the covenant of the gospel, and righteousness of faith in Abraham's promised seed.
Lastly, The Scriptures do most plainly, and plentifully teach, that the covenant with Abraham and his seed, the Israelitish church, was the same with ours in nature (though diversely dispensed), and therefore the covenant of the gospel. I will note some special places.
We are taught by Christ, Matt. xxi, 41, that the vineyard, which the Jews had should be taken from them, and let out to other husbandmen: and more plainly, ver. 43, that the kingdom of God should be taken from them, and given to a nation, which should bring forth the fruits thereof, Luke xix. 14. Here is “the very same kingdom of God,” or church whereof they were, and we are subjects; as they elsewhere are called Christ's citizens, and he, their king. Zech. ix. 9; Matt. xxi. 5. Likewise Paul teacheth, that the Gentiles, which before were wild olives, are by faith grafted into the same root, from which the Jews, the natural branches, through unbelief, were broken off: and into which, they should, if they abode not in unbelief, be grafted in again, Rom, xi. 17, 18, 23: making the church of Jews and Gentiles one tree growing upon the same root, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The same apostle also comparing the Ephesians before their calling, with the Jews, saith, “They were in times past without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world,” Eph. ii. 11, 12, 17: therein showing that the Jews in their right estate and calling, had all these; as they also were near before, the Ephesians being of far off, made near by the blood of Christ: unto which add that the Gentiles were to be made by the preaching of the gospel, co-heirs, and one body, with the Jews, who were before the heirs of promise, Eph. iii. 4–6; Heb. vi. 27: and having all been baptized, and all eaten of the same spiritual meat, and drunken of the same spiritual drink, Christ.
And such is the clearness of those places to prove the covenant and church, with and of Abraham and his seed, the same in nature with ours, and so the covenant, and church of the gospel, as that he who goes about to darken their light, would cover the sun with a ragged clout. And as every by-way, and false profession (notwithstanding any other likely things in it) hath some or other such notorious error, as that all having spiritual eyes, not dazzled too much some way or other, may discover it: so would the Lord mark out this profession of Anabaptistry, as not from heaven, by this error, that the covenant with Abraham, “I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed,” is the covenant of the law, and not of the gospel. Upon which, notwithstanding, doth depend the rejecting of infants from' the church and baptism: as also lie repeating of the baptism received in false churches, as may appear to him, who well observes their pleading for apostate Israel, as a true church because it was Abraham's carnal seed, and so had circumcision as a seal of a carnal covenant.
And, here, I think it a fit place to lay down such scriptures and grounds, as, upon which we admit the infants of the faithful into the church, and to the baptism thereof: and so, after to answer what is objected, intermingling also, amongst mine answers, other proofs, as occasion is.
Now 1. These men grant, that, according to the covenant mentioned, Jer. xxxi., and Heb. viii., the church is to be gathered, and baptism to be administered: and that the infants of the faithful (for they hold it of all), are under a covenant, or promise of salvation, by Christ; whence I conclude, that since there is but one new covenant, or testament established in the blood of Christ, therefore these infants (and of others hereafter) have interest in the church gathered according to this covenant, and in the baptism thereof.
2. If the covenant made with Abraham and his seed, whereof circumcision was a seal, were the covenant of the gospel, or new testament, as I have formerly proved, then standeth it good to all the faithful, and their seed to the world's end, notwithstanding the different ordinances according to the considerations of Christ's being to come, and being come in the flesh. And so these men denying our seed this covenant, and privilege of entrance, do deny the gospel and new testament. And if “the kingdom of God,” or church state of the Jews, which did comprehend infants with their parents, be given to us, and we made “one body” with them, then must the church now comprehend infants also with their parents: otherwise we are not the same body, and kingdom with them. Matt. xxi. 43; Eph. iii. 6. And if with the unbelieving Jews, their infants were “broken off” (who are, otherwise, unbroken off at this day), then must our infants be planted in with us, whom God hath given to believe: otherwise we are not “planted in their place.” And if the Jews shall be “grafted in again,” which “again” shows it to be of them who had been grafted in before, if they continue not in belief, then must the infants be grafted in with their parents at the first, and so our seed with us. Rom. xi. 17, 23.
3. That God did, out of his special love, separate from the world, the infants with their beloved parents into his church and covenant under the seal thereof, before Christ's coming, the Scriptures expressly teach, and every one will grant. Gen. xvii. 7; Lev. xx. 24, 26; Deut. xxix. 10, 11. Except these men can show where God hath cast the infants of those beloved parents out of the church into the world, and taken that his love from them, they must remain in the church to the world's end. For what God hath once established, God only can repeal: and that this covenant with Abraham was not the old cancelled covenant, or testament, I have proved before. They bid us prove that children are of the church, and to be baptized: but we require of them proof how they are cast out of the church, and baptism thereof: and how the grace of God is so shortened by Christ's coming in the flesh, as to cast out of the church, the greatest part of the church before, the infants of believers?
4. The Lord Jesus sent out his apostles, Matt. xxviii. 19, to “teach,” or make disciples, “all nations,” and to “baptize them:” opposing all nations to that one nation of the Jews: as if he should have said thus: I have formerly declared my will to that one nation, and circumcised it: go you now, and “teach all nations,” and baptize them. Now if Christ's meaning had been, that they should not with the parents (being made disciples and baptized) baptize the children, as before they had with the parents (being made disciples and circumcised) circumcised the children, it had been needful he had given them a caveat to leave the children of the faithful out in the world, though they had formerly been in the church. If it be objected, that they who were taught, and. “believed, were to be baptized,” therefore not infants, I deny the consequence: which should be, if it were true, and therefore not infidels, and such as refuse the gospel. And this is the opposition which the Scriptures make, setting impenitent and unbelieving persons, against the penitent and believers, and not children against their parents, which is childish to imagine.
5. The apostle Peter, Acts ii. 38, 39, exhorts the Jews to repent, and to be baptized, upon this ground, that “the promise was made to them, and their children, and to all afar off as many as the Lord should call.” As if he should say, God hath promised unto Abraham, that he would be his God, and the God of his seed, in that blessed seed Christ. He hath now remembered his holy covenant, or promise, and Christ is come to you his own. Luke i. 72; John i. 13. Do not by your unbelief, and impenitence deprive yourselves, and your children of the fruit of this gracious promise: but that it may be profitable to you, and them, repent, and so be baptized for your confirmation: and let the seal be set to the covenant in which you and your children are.
To elude this place alleged in my former book, Mr. Helwisse, in page 177, comments upon it in these words: “The apostle saith to and of all the unbelieving Jews, and Gentiles, The promise is made to you, and to your children, even as many as the Lord shall call:” and so taking his own imagination both for text and exposition, he bids me “prove that by children there are meant infants.”
These words, “to them that are afar off,” which he leaves out in his accustomed boldness with the Scriptures, with the words following, are not meant of the Gentiles at all, but of the Jews “far off” in time, as the original Greek beareth it. For neither was Peter himself yet so well informed of the calling of the Gentiles, neither, had he so been, was it then a fit time to speak of it to the weak Jews. He speaks, then, indefinitely of the Jews as the seed of Abraham, and within the Lord's covenant, or promise: whom therefore, Acts iii. 25, he calls the sous of the covenant: and to the Jew alone, as is evident, where, Acts ii. 14, 16, 22, 29, he quotes the prophecies of Joel, and David: which to unbelieving Gentiles had been in vain. Yea, that of the promise he directs distinctly to such Jews only, as had the work of grace begun in them: being “pricked in their hearts “for the crucifying of Christ, and earnestly set to know, and do the will of God. ver. 37, 39.
That by “children” here are meant infants, I have, by the drift of the place, and conference of other scriptures, proved; and that the Holy Ghost speaks of the covenant with Abraham, neither was there, otherwise, cause of naming their children.
Where he further bids me prove that “the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven goes by succession of generation, as the land of Canaan did,” he begets bastardly errors of his own, and then would have me nourish them. For neither did the land of Canaan come by succession of generation, but by God's promise made upon condition of faith and holiness, as I have formerly proved; much less doth the kingdom of heaven, but by God's gracious promise and gift, both to young and old. These men think the kingdom of heaven comes to all infants so dying; and doth it, therefore, come by carnal generation? If it come otherwise to all, and by the free grace of God in Christ, as they suppose; can they see no other way, but it must needs come to the infants of the faithful, by carnal generation? as if their estate were worse than the estate of all the rest?
Add to this scripture that which we read, Acts xvi. 14,15, that God having “opened the heart of Lydia,” to attend to and believe the word of Paul: “she was baptized, and her family.” She believed, and the fruits and effect thereof was, she and her family were baptized. With these things doth agree Christ our Lord's taking the little children (to wit of the Jewish church) in his arms, his blessing them, that is, his communicating his grace with them, and pronouncing that of such is the kingdom of heaven: as also his commanding the bringing of such unto him. Mark x. 14, 16. In blessing them visibly, he shows them to be lawful members of his visible church or body; and more plainly in pronouncing the kingdom of heaven, which is his church upon earth, to be of such. In commanding such to be brought unto him, he commands them by consequence, to be baptized; since they cannot be brought unto him personally, as then, nor otherwise outwardly, or by men, save by baptism. And if infants be to partake of Christ's blood, and Spirit, there must be some ordinary means to apply them, God working ordinarily by ordinary means, and the same none but baptism, that lavacher (laver) of the new birth, as the apostle calleth it. Tit. iii. 5.
6. Lastly, Paul testifieth, 1 Cor. vii. 14, that if one of the parents be a believer, the “children are holy,” viz. with the holiness of the covenant (secret things being left to God) ‘who otherwise, are unholy. Neither is it truly answered, that they are only holy to their parents' use, as is the unbelieving wife to the use of her husband. For, 1. They must either be holy in their persons, or they cannot be saved. 2. He saith the unbelieving wife is sanctified in, or to her believing husband: but he saith not that children are sanctified to their parents, but simply that they are sanctified, or holy. 3. It is not true that children are sanctified to the parents there spoken of: the one of them being unbelieving to whom nothing is sanctified. Tit. i. 15. Lastly, The very drift of the place proves, that the apostle hath reference to the covenant of Abraham, “I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed.” The thing he intends, is, to prove it lawful for a believing husband, or wife to abide with an unbelieving wife, or husband. This he proves by the covenant made with Abraham, and with every faithful son and daughter of Abraham, that he will be the God of his or her seed: and so endow them with the holiness of the covenant: and that, therefore, they should not make scruple of living with their (though unbelieving, if otherwise lawful) wives, and husbands. And in this interpretation is force of argument, both for the apostle's meaning, and Corinthians' satisfaction. And so, the seed of the faithful being holy with the holiness of the covenant are, necessarily, within the same covenant which halloweth them.
Now, whereas, some marvel why the Holy Ghost speaks not more plainly, and expressly of the admission of infants into the church and baptism thereof, they must remember, 1. That none must presume to teach the Lord how to speak, but that all are with reverence to search out his meaning. 2. That they may with as much reason marvel, why there is no express mention made of the casting out of the Jewish infants with their unbelieving parents. In the very same places the Holy Ghost speaks of the taking the kingdom of God from them, for not bringing forth fruit; and of giving it to the Gentiles, who would bring forth fruit: of breaking off the natural branches for unbelief; and of planting in the Gentiles by faith. Now here is no mention of the infants of either. Both the one and other are comprehended for those outward prerogatives and dispensations, in their parents, as the branches in the roots: the infants of the godly, in their godly parents, according to the tenor of God's mercy: the infants of the ungodly in their ungodly parents, in the tenor of his justice, of which more hereafter.
And here, for the better clearing of things following thereabout, it is of special use to observe the divers considerations, and respects, in which the Scriptures speak of the Jewish church and ordinances: which are in number three.
First, Considering the Israelites, in their just constitution and calling of God, they were the first-fruits and root, with the mass and branches, holy: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, faithful persons, and their posterity an holy people unto the Lord their God: separated unto him from all other people: beloved of him, and out of his love chosen to be a precious people unto himself; above all the people on the earth: in whom God saw none iniquity, nor transgression: to whom belonged the adoption, glory, covenants, constitution of the law, worship, and promises: God's children, having him their Father: being the heir, and heirs of promise: his dearest son, and the child of his delight: natural branches, and in the same regard, Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles: Christ's own: in Christ: without whom the Gentiles were: and the twelve tribes worshipping God instantly, day and night, in hope of the promised Christ. Rom. xi. 16; Lev. xx. 26; Deut. vii. 6–8; Numb, xxiii. 21; Rom. ix. 4; Isa. Ixiii. 16; Exod. iv. 22; Gal. iv. 1; Heb. vi. 17; Jer. xxxi. 20; Rom. xi. 21; Gal. ii. 15; John i. 11; Eph. ii. 12; Acts xxvi. 6, 7. So for their ordinances, in their institution and right use; their circumcision was a seal, or sign of the righteousness of faith: their offerings a sweet savour unto the Lord, for the forgiveness of sins, as leading to Christ by faith: their washings applying the blood of Christ, which they figured, Rom. iv. 11; Heb. iv. 2; Lev. iv. 26, 31, 35; Numb. xv. 24–26: unto which David had respect, when he prayed, that for the forgiveness of his adultery and murder, God would wash him thoroughly from his iniquities, and purge him with hyssop, Psa. li. 4, 9, with Lev. xiv. 4, &c., that he might be clean. Thus were the oracles given, “lively:” the law, “spiritual:” the manna and rock, “spiritual,” and sacramentally, “Christ.” Acts vii. 38; Rom. vii. 12,14; 1 Cor. x. 3, 4.
Secondly, The Scriptures, sometimes, speak of that church and ordinances by way of comparison with the church and ordinances after Christ's death, and ascension. And in that respect the apostle, comparing not person with person, but church with church, calls it, though “the heir,” yet a child, in the nonage: and the ordinances tutors, and governors, under which it was, Gal. iv. 1; ii. 4; but the church now a man of full age, and so freed from them unto greater liberty. The person is the same both a child, and a man grown: though not to be trained up after the same manner: even such is the difference between them and us. They as a child, had a harder hand held over them, and were stinted sundry ways, where we are free. They were taught by signs, and hand-writings, and pointings with the finger, as it were: where our institution is more manlike, and simple. They had earthly things more distinctly, and fully; we, heavenly. In which respect, the church since Christ's ascension, and possession of heavenly glory, is called more especially “the kingdom of heaven,” which he dispenseth, with more than kingly bounty in the largess of his spirit. Matt. xi. 11. They had the gospel by “the prophets shining as a light in a dark place:” we, by Christ, and the apostles, “as the dawning of the day, and morning star.” 2 Pet. i. 19. They had the prophecies, and “shadows of good things to come,” Heb. x. 1: we, the stories and remembrances of the same good things to come, even Christ exhibited according to the promise of the Father. 1 Cor. xi. 24. In which respect it is also said, Gal. iii. 24, 25, that faith was not come to them: but that “they were shut up into the faith to be revealed:” and that “they died, and received not the promise,” to wit, Christ come in the flesh. Heb. xi. 34, 40. And in this consideration, and comparison, neither Abraham, nor David received the promise, or had faith come unto them, or “were made perfect,” as the apostle speaketh.
Thirdly, The Scriptures do oft speak of the Jewish church, and ordinances, in respect of the degenerate state of the one, and corrupt abuse of the other, in that estate. Which, as at other times, so were the one, and other very notable in the days of Christ, and his apostles: the leaven of pharisaical hypocrisy, besides the worse error of the Sadducees, having so far infected, as that the greatest part of the Israelites being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and going about to establish their own righteousness did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God, in receiving Christ. Rom. x. 3. They did not consider the law as given for transgression and to kill them, as revealing the will of God in the rigour of justice, and his eternal, and unchangeable judgment against sin, Gal. iii. 19; Rom. vii. 11: unto which also the sacrifices, and ceremonies served in their legal, and literal use, that so despairing in themselves, they might fly to the free promise of grace in that promised seed of Abraham now come; but taking the law, and ordinances thereof, to be for outward discipline only, they imagined they might by outward obedience satisfy it, and therein be justified before God: and so did glory in the outward works, and ceremonies thereof: especially in their “circumcision of the flesh.” Rom. ii. 17. And as the most of them conceiving carnally or fleshlily of the Lord's covenant did glory in the flesh, and that they were Abraham's seed, and circumcised, and so despised the free promise of grace in Christ, so others of them receiving him in part, did mingle with the righteousness of faith the righteousness of the law, Phil. iii. 3,4; souring also with that leaven many of the Gentiles especially in the churches of Galatia. Whereupon it was, that the apostle wrote to the Hebrews, and Galatians as he did, both of the persons, and things we speak of.
The persons, whether Jews, or Judaising Christians, glorying in the works of the law, especially in their circumcision in the flesh, he calls Abraham's seed according to the flesh, carnal, and under the yoke of Ishmaelitish bondage, of whom Ishmael was a figure; who being the son of the bond-woman, and born after the flesh, or ordinary course of nature, mocked at him who was born after the promise, and was therefore cast out of Abraham's house; and so is propounded as a figure of all them, Jews, or Gentiles, who in the confidence of works, reject the promise of grace, and persecute them that embrace it; bringing themselves also therein under the bondage of the whole law. And thus all, whether Jews or Gentiles, then or now, despising the free promise of grace, and looking to works for justification, were and are rank Ishmaelites, and of Abraham's -seed according to the flesh, as the apostle expressly taxeth the Galatians, desiring to be under the law, though not descending naturally of Abraham. Phil, iii. 3; Gal. iii. 3, and v. 1, 3, 4; Gen. xvi. 1–4, and xxi. 9,10; Gal. iv. 21–23, 39–31.
Now, that I may apply these things to the present purpose, what is all this of Abraham's seed, according to the flesh, in the apostle's meaning, to the infants of the faithful, whether of the Jews formerly, or Gentiles now? Did, or do they, as Ishmael, glory in the flesh, and mock at God's promise, or any way reject Christ? Did, or do they “establish the righteousness of the law, and of works,” or “persecute him that is born after the Spirit,” as all they who are “born after the flesh,” in the apostle's meaning, did, and always do? Only they, who thus Ishmael-like, glory in works, and persecute the true believers, are by the apostle called Abraham's seed, according to the flesh, and of Ishmael. So for the ordinances, and works of the law thus abused, and perverted for justification, they were base, and beggarly, unprofitable, unholy, unhallowing, yea dross and dung: yea, pernicious, and hurtful, cursing, and killing them, who so wrought, or deemed them. And thus considered, the apostle to the Galatians, Philippiane, and Hebrews speaketh of them; giving them, as Luther used to say, ignominious names, having to do with those, who either did, or were in special danger, thus to pervert them.
And these grounds thus laid, unto that his objection, page 167, that “the covenant made with Abraham was a carnal covenant, because it had a worldly sanctuary, and priesthood, and carnal rites purifying the flesh, but not purging the spirit,” I do answer, that those ordinances were no part of the covenant made with Abraham, but accessories unto the law given 430 years after: though there might be a spiritual use of them, and was, by faith, as of any ordinances now and as of the moral law itself, to them that believe and repent: but in, and according unto this lawful use of them the apostle speaketh not, hut in respect of their abuse, as either” severed from Christ, as their end; or joined with him for justification.
His assertion, so oft repeated, that “God in his covenant with Abraham, promised but worldly things, and so inquired only carnal obedience,” I have formerly refuted, as a notorious ground of Judaism and Pharisaism. Neither was it the more a carnal covenant, because the sign was set in the flesh, than is ours now, because baptism is administered upon the flesh, or bodies of the persons baptized.
But where he adds, that “the judgment for the breaking of the covenant of circumcision was a worldly judgment,” and that “no judgment of condemnation as pronounced against any, though presumptuously breaking the ordinances, and law of Moses, but bodily death,” quoting for that purpose Gen. xvii. 14; Numb. xv. 30; Heb. x. 28, he proceeds on, indeed, from Pharisaism, which made the promises, and Messiah carnal, to plain Sadducism, which denied a resurrection, especially unto the Jews, which, as it is written of them, hath been, the persuasion of divers Anabaptists in former times. For if eternal death were not threatened the Jews for breaking the law, and commandments given by Moses, though presumptuously and blasphemously, of which he speaks, Numb. xv. 30, nor for the worshipping of false gods, of which sin Paul speaks, Heb. x. 28, compared with Deut. xvii. 2, 3, 6, then, for no sin whatsoever, and so there is no judgment to come, nor needs be no Christ to save from it.
The scriptures quoted speak indeed of bodily death, but including in it spiritual death, without repentance, as did their bodily blessings promised include spiritual. The apostle Paul speaking of the last judgment, Rom. ii. 12, saith that “the Jews sinning, in or under the law, should be condemned,” (to wit eternally) “by the law.” It is true he addeth, that “they who so sinned, might through repentance be saved:” and so may they that sin against the gospel now, except their sin be against the Holy Ghost, which was then unpardonable, as now, and in so saying, he grants, though he observe it not, that the sin then was in itself, and without repentance, damnable.
He adds, page 170, that “by our ground we must baptize all our household, and infants, both born in the house, and bought with money.” I answer, 1. That it followeth not, that if we succeed the Jews in the covenant of the Lord, and our baptism and Lord's Supper, their circumcision and passover, therefore there must be an agreement in all the particulars about them. The substance of the Lord's covenant with Abraham, was, that he would be his God, and the God of his seed: and this about his bond-servants was an accessory unto it. And of it there was a more special reason for them, than for us: because they were to be separated, even civilly, in a more special manner from uncircumcised persons, than we now from persons unbaptized, as appeareth, Ezra x. 3, 11, &c.; Neh. ix. 2, and xiii. 3, 23, 25, 30; Dan. i. 8; Acts x. 9–11, and xi. 3, &c. 2. Even the families, and households of the faithful now, if they be in the estate of Abraham's family, are to be baptized also.
And for this purpose, it shall be useful to consider, what the Scriptures both promise, and testify of families, and households. The Lord promised Abraham the father of the faithful, that in him all the families of the earth should be blessed: bids him circumcise all the males of Ms family, which he knew before he would command to keep the way of the Lord. Gen. xviii. 19. As Jacob also purged his household from idolatry, and all uncleanness, that he might sacrifice unto God with them. Thus Joshua professeth for himself, and his household, that they will serve the Lord: and David, that he who walked in a perfect way should serve him: and that none working deceit, should dwell in his house. Accordingly the Lord told Zaccheus, when he became a son of Abraham, that that day salvation was come into his house. We read likewise of Cornelius, that he was a devout man, and one that feared God with all his household: as was the jailor also converted, and baptized, with all his family. Gen. xviii. 19, and xxi. 2, 3, 12, xii. 3, xvii. 13, xxxv. 2; Josh. xxiv. 15; Psa. ci. 6, 7; Luke xix. 9; Acts x. 2, xvi. 32–34. And lastly, in the places brought by Mr. Helwisse for the gathering of the church under Christ, the Lord promiseth to make his covenant with the house, or family of Israel, and with the family of Judah. Jer. xxxi. 31; Heb. viii. 8. In all which, with other scriptures, we see how the tenor of the Lord's promise, and blessing runs upon godly governors, and their families. Nor but that it comes oft to pass otherwise, and that faithful governors have unbelievers in their households: but that this is the ordinary, and orderly state of things, and where it falls out otherwise, it is, at the least, the governors' cross, if not their sin. Now in this, as in all other particulars, we must consider of the dispensation of the Lord's ordinances, according to the orderly state of things. But to conceive, that Abraham would circumcise any unbelieving, or unholy person, so appearing, or seed of such, on both sides, is to accuse “the father of the faithful” of unfaithful dealing with the seal of the Lord's covenant, in setting it upon them, who had no part in it, nor promise of “God to be their God:” though I doubt not but, they under godly government in the family, may be admitted into the church upon the manifestation of a very small measure of grace, with promise of submission unto all good means of growth, public, and private; as might they yet with a lesser measure have been admitted into the Israelitish church, having a far less measure of revelation of grace, than we now.
He addeth, page 168, that “baptism is by John taught to be the baptism of amendment of life, and remission of sins,” Mark i. 4, the burying into the death of Christ, that men might walk in newness of life, Rom. vi. 4, and the putting on of Christ by faith, Gal. iii. 26, 27.
I answer, that these are preparations unto, and ends and uses of baptism for men of years: and should not be alleged to the prejudice of infants: no more than their want of faith, by which men of years are justified, or of works, by which they are to be judged, to the prejudice of the salvation of infants, which have them not. Christ our Lord had the same outward circumcision with the Jews, and the same baptism with us, and yet neither the same preparation unto, nor ends or uses of the one or other, with them or us. Luke ii. 21; Matt. iii. 16.
Besides, upon this ground, any might have excepted against the circumcision of infants of old. Abraham believed before he was circumcised, Rom. iv. 3, 11: so the ends and uses of circumcision were, to be a seal of the righteousness of faith, and to confirm, that God was the God of the person circumcised, Gen. xvii.: as also to teach, that nothing clean could come of the unclean seed of man, Job xiv. 4: to admonish of the circumcision of the heart, Deut. x. 16; Jer. iv. 4; 1 Sam. xiv. 6; xvii. 36; Judges xiv. 3; Acts xi. 3: to confirm faith in the time of danger especially against the uneireumcised: and to be a sign of distinction and separation from the same uncircumcised Gentiles. These were the ends and uses of circumcision, which, notwithstanding infants could not possibly propound or have, were they therefore to be kept from it? So reasons this man against the baptism of infants: which followeth in the room of the other, as I have formerly proved. It is sufficient, that the infants of believers are capable of the manifestation of God's goodness towards them, in being baptized, as of old they were circumcised, according to the covenant. The other particular ends were and are to follow, and to be attained in their times. Where let it also be noted, that whereas, in the Lord's Supper there are required for the act of partaking, sundry works implying understanding, and knowledge in the partaker; as his being put in mind, that it is Christ's body and blood given for him: that, he take, eat, and drink it in remembrance of Christ's death: there is no such thing in the act of the administering of baptism: but only the person baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The same difference may be also observed to have been of old, between circumcision, and the eating of the passover, prohibited them who were not capable of the meaning of the mystery. Exod. xii. 26, 27.
That we “hold, and profess that Christians beget Christians,” and “that only we” (whom he calls Brownists, page 172, because we are not Anabaptists) “beget infants that are heirs of salvation, and under the covenant of grace,” is but his rash, and unhonest accusation of us.
All men know we hold the reformed churches, in all places, the true churches of Christ, and so within the Lord's covenant, the faithful parents with their seed. The like also we think of such in England in their persons, and seed with them, as are made partakers of the faith of Abraham. 2ndly, we hold, that our, as all other men's, children are, by natural generation, the children of wrath, Eph. ii. 3: and that it is by the grace of God, that we, and they with us, are within this the Lord's covenant, as was Abraham and his seed.
Against our doctrine, that baptism is a seal of the covenant of the gospel, he objecteth, that then washing with water is a seal in the flesh, and makes a print, or impression. I answer, noting in the first place, how he calls the very “outward washing with water, baptism,” that, even that washing by God's appointment, is an outward seal, or sign of confirmation, of the New Testament in the blood of Christ; for that we mean by a “seal:” and to require a print, or impression, is but to quarrel about the word, or letter; when even circumcision itself, to speak properly, was no print. Where Christ teacheth, John vi. 27, that “the Father sealed him,” doth he mean that he set any print upon his soul or body, or more than this, that he designed him to the office of the Mediator? Where the Lord bids the prophet “seal up the law among his disciples,” would he have a print set in their flesh, or more, than that he should more fully declare, and confirm the law unto them? Isa. viii. 16. When Paul tells the Corinthians that they are the seal of his apostleship, doth he mean any more than that their conversion from paganism both by doctrine and signs and wonders of an apostle amongst them, was a confirmation thereof? 1 Cor. ix. 2; 2 Cor. xii. 11. So, since baptism is, by God's appointment, a declaration, and confirmation of the inward, and effectual washing by that blood and spirit of Christ, from the guilt, and contagion of sin, it is rightly, and truly called a seal, or sign of confirmation of Christ's testament established in his blood; as is also the Lord's Supper, of the breaking of his body, and shedding of his blood for our sins. And for this sealing, and confirming of Christ's testament in his blood those ordinances especially serve, and are by his servants to be used.
He tells us, that “in the new testament there is no seal, but the seal of the Spirit:” and quotes Eph. i. 17, and other scriptures speaking of that inward seal, and proving it, indeed; but not disproving the outward seals, but plainly establishing them. For if God's teaching of, and testifying unto us, inwardly, by his Spirit, that we are his in Christ, be an inward seal, then is his teaching of, and testifying unto us, the same thing outwardly, by the gospel, and sacraments, an outward seal, or seals, and so rightly called. And not only the spirit, which is inward, but water, and blood, which are outward, do bear record of Christ, or confirm, and seal up his death unto us. 1 John v. 8. In respect of which water and blood issuing out of his side, our sacraments are said to have flown thence. John xix. 34. Lastly, Abraham, our father, when he believed, was also sealed by the Spirit of promise: and yet this hindered not, but that both he, and his seed had the outward seal of circumcision added; even so our good God, knowing how frail, and feeble in faith we are, hath to his gracious covenant, and promise in word, and writing, annexed, besides the inward seal of the Spirit, the outward seals, which we call sacraments, for the confirmation thereof, not in itself, but unto us: which we are therefore accordingly to use, with reverence, and thankfulness.
His assertion, that “infants are not in the covenant of the new testament, and therefore not under the seal,” I have formerly disproved. If they be under the promise of salvation, they have a part, or legacy in the will, or testament of Christ, or new covenant, which are both one: and so in this seal of initiation, or entrance, baptism.
To his affirmation, that “parents cannot set the seal upon their infants now, as they could the seal of circumcision of old, upon theirs,” I do answer, that they cannot indeed set the inward seal, no more could they then: but the outward they can now, as then they could: unto which God also setteth the inward in due time, as he hath promised, if they make not themselves unworthy thereof.
He objects in the last place against a ground in my book, the former part whereof is this: “The Scriptures everywhere teach, that parents by their faith bring their children into the covenant of the church, and entitle them to the promises.” This I proved from Gen. xviii. 7; Acts ii. 37; which proofs I have also confirmed against his unjust exceptions. He here objects further, page 176, that I “bring in a meritorious faith, where my faith is little enough to bring myself under the covenant of God, were it not for his merciful acceptance in Christ.”
A vain, and ignorant collection: and by which the apostle teaching justification by faith, might, as truly, have been accused for bringing in a meritorious faith, &c. I do not, then, make faith a meritorious cause to deserve, but an instrumental means, or hand, as it were, to receive God's gracious promises in Christ to the faithful, and their seed: as Abraham when God promised him to be “his God, and the God of his seed,” did by faith lay hold of, and receive this promise, and so interested himself and his in it, and the seal thereof: which promise had he not believed, he had visibly, or before men, deprived himself and his of all interest in it. The same I judge of all other faithful parents, leaving merit to free-willers, who hold particular election to arise from faith foreseen: and, as this man affirmed unto me and others, that if God showed to him any more favour, or mercy, than to the profanest man in the world, it were partiality in him.
He adds, page 177, that “Abraham's faith and earnest prayer could not bring Ishmael his child of thirteen years old, nor his other children by Keturah, under the covenant.” Gen.xvii. 18, 21. Where meaning, as he must, the covenant of circumcision, he overthrows one error, as he that interferes, strikes down one ill leg, by another. For, 1. Since Ishmael, and the children by Keturah, were circumcised, and yet had no promise of the land of Canaan, his main foundation, which is, that “God in the covenant of circumcision, promised nothing on his part, but the land of Canaan,”is raised, and so all falls, which he builds upon it. 2. Since the covenant there spoken of was the covenant of circumcision, and that Ishmael with the rest were circumcised, how saith he, that he and they were not in the covenant, to wit outwardly? Besides the Lord tells Abraham, ver. 20, that he had heard his prayer touching Ishmael: though he meant to establish his covenant with Isaac, as the root; of which both the church, and promised seed should come, and unto whom Ishmael, with the rest, should have submitted, and adjoined himself; whom because he despised, and in him Christ, he was cut off from the church and covenant afterwards. Which things till they were revealed made no difference between Isaac and Ishmael: neither can the like difference in God's secret knowledge, or purpose, till the time of revelation, exclude one of the children of the faithful now, more than another.
Of Acts ii. 39, I have spoken formerly, and therefore come to the latter part of the ground, which he putteth down thus, page 178. “God takes occasion by the sins of parents to execute his justice to condemnation, upon the children.” “Where,” saith he, “I double my sin, in that as before I made the parent's faith the cause of blessing to salvation, so here, their infidelity a cause of God's judgment to condemnation, to their children.” Where the truth is, he both doubleth, and trebleth injury upon me, and just blame upon himself. For first, I neither mention, nor meddle with either the salvation, or condemnation of infants, though he falsify my words, as if I did: our question being only about the outward, or visible covenant of the church, and privileges thereof: secret things being left to God, as I there expressly speak, alleging Deut. xxix. 29, for that purpose. Secondly, As I make not the faith of parents a cause meritorious, as he imagineth, of that good unto their children, but only a means of embracing God's gracious offer, and promise: so neither do I write, as he challengeth me, that the father's infidelity is a cause of the children's damnation, but an occasion, which God useth for the execution of his justice upon the children, being by nature the children of wrath. That then, which I have written, and do avouch, is, that God ordinarily includeth in the parents, the infants, as branches in the root, either for blessings, or judgments visibly, or in respect of men, reserving to himself, the secret dispensation of things, according to the tenor either of his mercy or justice. That the children of the faithful are with their parents in the visible covenant of God's love, I have at large proved by the Scriptures, and might allege for that purpose many more, Deut. iv. 37; Psa. xxxvii. 25, 26: and those not figurative, and shadowish, but containing in them promises of eternal truth: howsoever these men can have no more comfort in those promises for their children, than if they were the children of Turks and Pagans.
The other part touching the administration of God's justice I proved in my book by sundry scriptures: which because he passeth by, as unseen, I will here insert, as there I wrote,.word for word. “Cain going out from the presence of the Lord, carried his posterity with him; so did Ishmael and Esau theirs, the Ishmaelites and Edomites. “And if the Lord disclaim the mother for an harlot, not reputing her his wife, he accounts the children no better than bastards, on whom he will have no pity.” Gen. iv. 16; vi. 2; Hos. ii. 2. And if the children of the Jews be not broken off with their parents, for their unbelief, they are successively within the Lord's covenant, every one of them to this day. To the same purpose we may consider how in the drowning of the old world: the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah: the plaguing of Egypt, especially in the death of the first-born: the swallowing up of Dathan and Abiram: the stoning of Achan: the destruction of the Canaanites and Amalekites: the rooting out of Eli's, Jeroboam's, and Baashan's families, how I say in all these, and many more, though most grievous, yet most just judgments of God, the children were enwrapped in their fathers' judgments: drowned, burned, swallowed up by the earth, and otherwise destroyed with them. Gen. vi. 7; xix. 24, 25; 1 Pet. iii. 20,21; 2 Pet. ii. 6; Exod. xi. 5; xii. 29; Numb. xvi. 27,32; Josh. vii. 24, 25. With which examples join the testimony of Job, v. 3, 4, “The habitation of the fool is cursed: his children are far from safety: they are crushed in the gates, and there is no rescue:” and that of David, Psa. xxi. 10, “The Lord will destroy the fruit of his enemies from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men:” and again, Psa. xxxvii. 28, “The seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” Yea, what need we seek further for this dispensation, than David himself, though a godly man, because of whose sin, the child born in adultery died the death. 2 Sam. xii. 14, 18. What reason, then, this man had in his blind zeal thus to revile this doctrine, “as a doctrine of devils,” and me, for it as “a false prophet,” let all wise men judge.
But, saith he, “I propound this doctrine for a general rule.” I do, for the ordinary course of God's justice of which we speak. Which notwithstanding hinders not, but that his extraordinary mercy may, and doth oft, and much, rejoice against his judgment. But let us see, what he objecteth. 1. That Abijah the son of wicked Jeroboam, though young, yet was not cursed for his father's sin, 1 Kings xiv. First, I speak nowhere of any such cursing, as he casts out. 2. Abijah was not so young but he disliked his father's courses: and “had good found in him towards the Lord,” ver. 13. 3. It is evident, ver. 10, that the Lord punished his father's sin, in his death, ver. 11. That in Ezek. xviii. 14,17, is impertinent, being spoken of a son forsaking his father's sin, and doing the contrary; with whom the Lord doth not deal in the course of his justice, but of his mercy. So for Josiah, at eight years old, he forsook the wicked ways of his father Ammon, “and sought after the God of his father David.” 2 Chron. xxxiv. 1–3. And yet even for him, it appears in the Scriptures, that the Lord in giving him into the hands of the king of Egypt, had respect to. the sins of Judah, and so of his father, amongst and above the rest. In his last example, he affirmeth untruly, that the Lord did not punish the people of Israel's children for their great transgression, Numb. xiv. 26, 27, &c. It is expressly affirmed, ver. 33, that their “children should wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear their whoredoms:” though respecting their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and his promise to them, he brought the most of them into the land of Canaan, at the last: which Mr. Helwisse grants to have been God's mercy, and therein, that in his justice he might have taken them away also. And so, ver. 12, the Lord plainly showeth, that his justice moved him to the destroying of them altogether, save that his singular mercy did rejoice against judgment. And so this instance is clear against himself.
Where he further confesseth with me, that all are by nature, children of wrath, conceived, and born in sin; and then demands, page 178, whether I hold not all children alike children of wrath: or that some parents confer grace by generation, more than others; or if not, which he assures himself we will confess, how I can prove, that God should execute his justice to condemnation upon some children, for the sins of their parents, and show mercy upon others, for the faith of their parents, seeing God hath said, that every one shall receive salvation, or condemnation, according to that, which he hath done in the flesh, and not according to that his parents have done, I answer sundry things.
And, first, as before, that I do not say that infants are saved or condemned for the faith or sins of their parents, as he most untruly accuseth me. The infants saved, are saved by the grace of God in Christ; which their faithful parents also believe, according to God's promise, “I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed.” Those that perish, (though I desire, if such were the will of God, and so could gladly believe, if the Scriptures taught it, that all were saved) do perish for that original guilt and corruption, wherein they are conceived and born, being “the children of wrath by nature,” and therein liable to God's curse every way. But for that parents are, in a sort, in their children, and so punished in their punishments, their sins also may and do concur as con-causes, or causes with other of God's judgments: both the Scriptures and reason teaching, that many causes may meet together in one effect. Yet it must be here and always remembered, that our question is not about the peremptory salvation or condemnation of any, but about their admission or non-admission into the visible church. And strange it is for this man to make it all one to be saved and to be of the visible church; and to be condemned, and to be out of it, specially for children; since he will have them all saved, and yet none of them at all to be of the church. Secondly, If he were assured, as he saith, that we would “confess that no parents do confer grace by generation more than others,” I am assured he showed the less grace in accusing us in another place, page 172, against his conscience, to hold, “that Christians beget Christians by generation.” Thirdly, Since all are by nature alike children of wrath, I would know of these free-willers, how some, become the children of God and believers, and some, abide under the wrath of God? To make the things or persons, which are altogether alike in themselves, unlike, there must come something from elsewhere, and that not alike, unto them both. For either let them alone which are alike, or add alike unto them both, and they will remain alike still. It must not then he any universal grace alike common to all, which makes them who are alike to become unlike one to another.
Mr. Helwisse, elsewhere and rightly, disclaims all free-will, or power in a man's self to work, out his salvation, but teacheth, that “this grace, which is his mercy in Christ, God hath given to all, though all receive it not;” for which he quotes Phil. i. 10, 11; Acts vii. 51; xiii. 46. Where first he lays a notorious error for his foundation, in making all and every person in the world partakers of the grace of God in Christ. For they to whom God gives grace in Christ, must themselves be in Christ; and so all the unbelievers and wicked in the world should be in Christ, which is expressly contrary to the Scriptures. Rom. viii.]; Gal. v. 24; Eph. ii. 12; John iii. 3. So that wicked and unregenerate men have neither power in themselves nor in Christ (in whom they are not), to work out their salvation. They, indeed, who are in Christ by faith, and have received his spirit, are thereby enabled to work out their salvation; which Phil. i. 10, 11, proveth; as the rest also are able and have power to despise and reject the grace of God offered to condemnation, and this the other two scriptures, Acts vii. 51, and xiii. 46, do prove. Which yet a great part of the wicked in the world do not; as not having so much as heard of Christ, at least in any competent measure for salvation by him; but shall be judged according to the law of nature, written in the creatures, and in their natural consciences. Rom. ii. 12. Again, he speaks contradictions in saying, that all have this grace or power in Christ, and that God giveth it to all, and yet confessing that all receive it not. For though there may be a purpose, will, and offer to give, yet there can be no giving so as the person have the thing, especially that thing which none can have against his will, as none can have grace, except there be also a receiving. Since, then, all men are not in Christ, and so not partakers of the grace of God in him; nor yet, if they were, could a common, universal, and equal grace make them unequal who were formerly equal, it followeth that there is a special and peculiar grace, which God in Christ giveth unto some, and not to others; by which they are enabled to understand and believe the gospel, and to repent; and so by consequence, a special and particular election of those persons before the world, since God's works are known unto him of old, Acts xv. 18; neither doth he anything in time, which he did not purpose to do before time.
Lastly, Since all children are by nature children of, or subject to, wrath, and which God might in justice destroy, why should it seem harsh unto these men, that he should execute his justice upon some, and show mercy upon others, and save them? If he might in justice have condemned all, (which they must needs grant, if they believe that all are “by nature the children of wrath,” and that God gave his Son in his mercy, and that it had been no injustice if he had given him for none, no more than he did for the angels that sinned,) will they sue God at the law, because he hath not given him effectually for all, or saved all by him? Will they have him give them account why he takes some into the arm of his mercy, when he might have left all to the hand of his justice? If he condemn any, they have their due: those whom he saveth, he doth it of free mercy, unto which he is not bound. And is any man's eye evil, because his is good? or because men know no reason why God should rather choose and save some than others, all deserving condemnation, will they yield him to be no more wise, and no more holy than they? “The depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, and the unsearchableness of his judgments” appears in this, if in any other thing; as doth also man's intolerable presumption, who will yield him no more than he sees reason for.
Now though I have done it fully before, yet will I further clear by the Scriptures, that, though all children are by nature alike, yet in respect of the grace of adoption, they are not alike, especially unto us, and in that judgment, which we are to pass upon them, leaving unto the Lord his secrets.
And 1. Who will say, that Isaac, being separated from the infants of the heathen into the covenant of God's love, and so signed, as one of the Lord's peculiar people; and those infants of the world, from whom he was separated, for example, the infants of the Sodomites, about his time, who were in God's fierce wrath destroyed with fire, and brimstone from heaven, were alike in God's acceptance? We have Isaac set forth as an example of God's mercy, and love; and them, with their parents, of his justice, and vengeance. Jude 7. And who will say that the Israelitish children received into solemn covenant by and with the Lord, Neh. x. 28, 29, and the children of the heathenish women, which were shut out with their mothers, and separated, before the other could enter it, were to be accounted alike acceptable? Neh. ix. 2. The Prophet Malachi testifieth for the Lord that he “loved Jacob, and hated Esau” (to wit in the decree of his love, and hatred, by just means to be applied), “before they were born:” and this the apostle, Rom. ix., applieth to the question of election, and reprobation, touching the two parties, primarily, and distinctly; and their posterity, secondarily, and indefinitely, both for persons, and things. And lest any should say, that God thus decreed, in respect of anything, which he foresaw they would do, or prove, the apostle prevents this shift, and shows that this was not in respect of works, but that the purpose of God might stand, according to election, ver. 11. Besides had this been primarily in respect of faith, or works foreseen, and for that the one would receive the grace of God, and not the other, the apostle needed not to have broken out as he did, speaking of the reason of this his love, or hatred. “But what art thou, O man, who pleadest with God,” &c. ver. 20. The answer had been easy for a child to have given, namely, that the reason why God purposed to love Jacob was because he foresaw he would receive of himself the grace to be offered, and believe: and so to hate Esau for his sin in not receiving the same grace to be offered as effectually on God's part, as unto his brother.
It is also noted of John the Baptist, that he was “filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb,” Luke i. 15: which to affirm of all children were a vanity not worthy the refuting. Lastly, Christ our Saviour blessed the infants of the Israelites, being of the church, when they were brought unto him, Matt. xix. 13–15: but with the little daughter of the Canaanitish woman he refused to communicate his grace, accounting her as a dog, or whelp, till her mother by her faithful, and zealous confession, had obtained for her, interest in the children's bread. Matt. xv. 22. And thus it appeareth, besides the things formerly laid down, that though all children be alike in nature, yet are they not all alike in respect of God's adoption, especially outwardly manifested, of which we speak.
He adds, that “every one shall receive salvation, or condemnation according to that which he hath done in the flesh,” &c. And for answer, I would know of him, how any infants, so dying, who have done neither good, nor evil, shall either be saved, or damned? He must answer, that the Scriptures he brings concern not infants at all, but men of years; and, therefore, are, by him, misapplied to them, whom they nothing concern.
And here note, that as the church in heaven, or of glory, and this in earth, or of grace, is one in substance; this, the beginning of that, and that the consummation of this, so they, who come into the church here, must enter by the profession, which themselves make: and they that come into the church there, by the profession, which Christ shall make of, and for them, according to their works. Matt. xxv. But as it were absurd to say, that infants cannot enter into the church and state of glory, because Christ cannot profess of them, that they have “fed the hungry,” &c.: so is it as absurd to exclude them from the church or state of grace, because they cannot themselves make profession of faith, and repentance. This man by one, and the same error, which is the perverting, and misapplying of the Scriptures to infants, which are peculiar to men of years, debars them of both.
These things considered, I hope it will appear to the godly, and wise reader, that the things for which he challengeth me in this, as in other points, are only false, wherein they are, by him, falsified. Yea and if there were nothing else, two of the three last scriptures, which he brings against me, do undeniably prove as much as, yea, more than, I speak: which is, that wicked parents do enwrap their children in the same evils visibly (for so I speak), with themselves, adding in the same place, that “this is not so, as though the children were without fault, but as being by Adam's transgression, and their natural, and original corruption children of wrath, and liable to all God's curses, which he also takes occasion by the sins of the parents to execute upon the children, in whose punishments he also punisheth the parents themselves after a sort.” The former scripture is Rom. v. 14, which proves by his own exposition, that all infants are by the sin of their common father Adam, under the reign or tyranny of death: the guilt, and contagion of which sin is, by their next parents immediately conveyed unto them by natural generation. And that God hath usually punished the sins, even of the next parents, both in the death of their children and otherwise, is so evident in the Scriptures, as that no modest man will gainsay it. Yea, even for them of years, that other scripture which he brings, Exod. xx. 5, teacheth plainly, that “the Lord visits” not only their own “sins, who hate him, upon them,” but the “sins of their fathers” also. That in Ezek. xviii. 14, 17, as before I have answered, is not of an infant, but of a child of years, “forsaking his father's sins,” and doing the contrary: with whom therefore the Lord deals not in the course of his justice, but of his mercy: and so is not pertinent to the question in hand: which is about infants, and those such as with whom the Lord deals in the course, and tenor of his justice.
And thus have I answered all the particulars in his book, which either respect mine own writings, or our special cause, and practice. My purpose also was to have showed, how, whilst he pretends “the discovery of the mystery of iniquity,” himself is deep plunged in many points of popish iniquity. But for that I have drawn out the thread of mine answer further than I intended; and that most of the particulars will come, for substance, under consideration, in the “Survey of Mr. Smyth's Confession,” in the following chapters, I will here conclude for the matter of his writing: adding especially for the manner thereof, only thus much; that in him, and some others I have had great cause to observe, and bewail, in a special regard, man's misery, in lying open to this, amongst other, of Satan's dangerous practices: which is, when men have escaped his snares of gross ignorance, and profaneness, and are come to some measure of knowledge, and conscience of godliness, and have suffered something for the truth, than to bring them into love with themselves, and their own knowledge, zeal, and other graces: and withal into the contempt of the knowledge, judgment, zeal, and graces of all other men: that, so soaring aloft upon the wings of vain presumption, and beholding all others afar off, and as searce creeping upon the earth, whilst they mount on high, they might fall by rising, and that their fall might be great. But let all God's people be exhorted, and admonished to serve him in modesty of mind, and meekness of wisdom, with reverence, and fear: avoiding, as the sands of humble hypocrisy, in pinning their faith and obedience upon the sleeves of others, so much more the rock of proud presumption: which is so much the worse than the other, as it is more dangerous for any to overvalue himself, than another man. James iii. 13; Heb.xii. 28; Col. ii. 18.
a survey of the confession of faith published in certain
conclusions by the remainders of mr. SMYTH's company
after his death.
In honour of the truth, and love of them, who un-feignedly seek it, and more especially of the persons, under whose names this confession passeth out, I have thought myself even called to examine, and censure by the Word of God, such errors, as by the light thereof, I do discern in it, as also in the other writing annexed unto it: purposing herein to pass by (as approving it) what I find agreeable to the Scriptures, albeit not set down in so convenient terms: to explain, and clear what may seem doubtful, and so to evince by the same Scriptures, what I deem contrary to the wholesome doctrine of godliness and form thereof. In all which I desire my endeavours may so far be blessed of God, and accepted of men, as they contain in them his simple truth, and proceed from him, who entirely loveth all that seek the same truth in holiness.
sect. i.—on knowledge of god.
And first, the 7th conclusion which is, “That to understand and conceive of God in the mind, is not the saving knowledge of God; but to be like to God in his effects and properties, to be made conformable to his Divine and heavenly attributes, this is the true saving knowledge of God, 2 Cor. iii. 18; Matt. v. 48; 2 Pet. i. 4; whereunto we ought to give all diligence,” stands need of explanation. For taking the former part of the sentence either exclusively, that salvation stands not in these things alone, or comparatively, that it stands not therein principally, according to that form of speech, Rom. i. 19; 1 Cor. i. 17; it is true, and the scriptures brought do prove it: but not so, if the words be taken negatively, as though it stood not in these things at all. For “without faith,” which is wrought in the mind and understanding, “no man can please God:” nor come unto him. Heb. xi. 6. “And this,” saith Christ, “is eternal life to know God the Father,” John xvii. 3, &c., and everywhere the Scriptures teach, that by faith Christ is received, and salvation obtained, John i. 12; Rom. iii. 28: as is also that renewing of God's image in us, first, in the understanding, in which we are first joined to God by true knowledge, Col. iii. 10; and secondly, in our heart by sincere love: and so after in the other affections, and parts of soul and body.
sect. ii. — on god's decrees about sin.
The 9th position, where it is said “that God, before the foundation of the world did foresee, and determine the issue and event of all his works,” Acts xv. 18, cometh much short of the truth, though there be no untruth in it. For God hath not only foreseen, and determined the issues, and events of his works, but hath also decreed and purposed the works themselves before the foundation of the world. And so much the place in the Acts proveth: where James teaching that “all the works of God are known unto him from eternity,” purposeth to prove that the calling of the Gentiles, of which work he speaks, is not a thing newly come into the thoughts of God, but that which he hath promised, and purposed before. Which the other place also after alleged plainly proves: where it is said, that God “worketh all things according to the counsel of his will.” Eph. i. 11. And to conceive that God doth anything, in time, which he did not, from eternity purpose to do, as he doth it, is derogatory to his infinite wisdom and power: and, indeed, to deny him to be God, and to make him finite: in whom there is a change wrought, and a beginning, and growth of counsels. And this I note for two purposes. First, that we may know that the condemnation of wicked men by God, for sin, by their free will to be wrought, was purposed of God before the world: it being a good work of God, and effected by his infinite power for the holiness, and glory of his justice: 2ndly, that since “every good giving, and every perfect gift is from above, descending from the Father of lights,” James i. 17, and that, to know God, to believe in him, to love, and obey him, to receive Christ, and the gospel of salvation offered, are the good gifts of God, we may also know, that God not only foresees, that those graces will be in men, but also fore-purposes, from eternity, himself to work and effect them: that if any should tell us, as many do, that God hath indeed predestinated such men unto salvation, as he foresaw would believe in Christ, and receive the grace in him offered, we may answer them, that God foresees indeed those graces in those men, but it is because he fore-purposeth to work them. He works them, in time, because, of his free grace, he purposed to work them before time was: without which, his purpose, he could not have foreseen them. And as the Lord in the beginning “saw” that the things “he had made were all good” when he had made them such: so did he foresee all other good graces in men, because he fore-purposed so to work and effect them.
The beginning and end of the tenth position: viz. “That God is not the author, or worker of sin: and that he gives no influence, instinct, motion, or inclination to the least sin,” I embrace. But the middle part thereof, viz: that God only did foresee, and determine what evil the free will of men, and angels would do, I except against, as derogatory to the infiniteness of God's power, and wisdom: neither indeed is it sensible to say, that God determined, what the will of others would do.
But what the forethoughts and purposes of God have been from eternity about sin, so far as the knowledge thereof concerneth us, will best appear, if we consider, what the work of his providence is, in and about it, in time, and when it is wrought by men or angels.
And, first, since sin is the work of men and angels, it followeth that sin is from them, who are themselves from God: though the sin be not, but of themselves: yea, not only the natures and persons, but even the natural powers, faculties, and instruments together with their natural motions and actions, in and by which sin is wrought, are of God also; by him sustained, and upheld, and acted by His almighty power, which is the cause of every creature, and upholdeth all things, and so of every action, as an action, Acts xvii. 28; Rom. xi. 36; Col. i. 17; Heb. i. 3; sin not being created of God, nor any part or power of man, or angel, nor any motion or action, but only the depravation, corruption, crooked and inordinate abuse and application of the same created part, power, or motion. For example: the very power, and use of seeing the forbidden fruit, the natural desire of it, as a pleasant thing, the power and ability of taking, as also of eating it, were of God in themselves: but the sin stood in the inordinateness and abuse of the sense, appetite, and power upon that, which was forbidden by God. And this will yet appear more plainly, if we consider that the very same sense, appetite, and work both of body, and mind set upon another fruit not forbidden by God, had been no sin at all.
Secondly, God doth administer the occasions, by which the creature through his own default, is provoked, and incited unto sin: as in the creation of the forbidden fruit “very pleasant to the eyes,” and of “the serpent subtle,” and fit to be used by Satan for temptation. Gen. iii. Thus even the law of God is the occasion of all lust, and sin, Rom. vii. 8; the gospel of fire, and sword, and all variance, and debate. Matt. x. 34, 35; Luke xii. 49. Thus God's commandment to Pharaoh to let his people go, the miracles which Moses did in his sight, his conviction of conscience, and remorse of heart, which by them the Lord wrought in him, were occasions of sin unto him, by his own rebellion, and God's judgment: and did harden his heart, and God by them, not as by causes, but occasions, which are also used of God, as all other the like occasions, to all men, for the trial, discovery, and conviction of his creature, and to make way for his own further work of mercy, or justice. Exod. viii. 5.
Thirdly, God doth permit, and suffer sin, and that, both willingly and wisely, not by giving the creature leave to sin, for that is impossible; but by not putting the effectual impediments which might hinder sin, as he both could and lawfully might, if he would. He could and might, had he so pleased, not have created men and angels, which have sinned: or by irresistible grace, restraint, or other disappointment have prevented their sin. He, therefore, permitteth it willingly, and when he could hinder it, if he would; otherwise it were no permission, though he did not hinder it; no more than a man can be said to permit, or suffer the sun to shine, or rain to fall, that hinders them not. And thus sin, though it be always against the decrees of the commanding, approving, and effecting will of God, yet is not at all against his permitting will, or against that decree of manifestation of that one in itself, and simple will of God: neither is it wrought, he absolutely nilling it. For he being in heaven doth whatsoever he pleaseth. Psa. cxv. 3. “His counsel shall stand, and he will do whatsoever he will,” saith the prophet. Isa. xlvi. 10. This sin he doth also suffer, not, as men oft suffer things to come to pass, without care or consideration of it, but of purpose and with infinite wisdom, as knowing how to bring light out of darkness, and by the creature's sin, to effect his most holy work, according to his unsearchable counsel: the depth whereof may swallow up the mind, but cannot be sounded by it, and in the meditation whereof, the best bound, and bottom is for man to consider and confess, that God is both more wise, and more holy than he.
And so in the fourth place, God doth most wisely, and most powerfully determine, order, and direct the sins of men, and angels, in respect of the continuance, extent and use thereof by him to be made: bringing light out of darkness, by his almighty power, and wisdom: and effecting by the creature's unrighteousness his own most holy, and righteous purposes. And thus he sometimes punisheth one sin with another, in the same persons, giving them over to reprobate minds, for holding his truth in unrighteousness: sending upon them the efficacy of delusion to believe lies, that they might be damned, who have not received the love of the truth, that they might he saved: searing with an hot iron their consciences, who have spoken lies in hypocrisy, and punishing the neglect of former conviction, with want of feeling, and numbness of heart afterwards, Rom. i. 28, 29; 2 Thess. ii. 10: and sometimes the sin of one man by the sin of another: and thus he punished David's adultery and murder, by Absalom's treason and incest, 2 Sam. xi., xii., xv., xvi., xviii.: and the Israelites' idolatries, and other iniquities, by the pride and cruelty of the Assyrians, and Babylonians. 2 Kings xvii., xxiv., xxv. Sometimes also he useth, or rather abuseth, the sins of wicked angels and men, for the trial of the faith and patience of his servants, as we see in the story of Job: and sometimes to make way for his own most excellent works; as the redemption of mankind by the death of his Son, for which he used the envy of the Pharisees, the malice of Satan, the treason of Judas, and the injustice of Pontius Pilate. And in this ordination of evil, God giveth us to see, that nothing is absolutely, and infinitely evil, as he is absolutely and infinitely good; who also, in these ordinations, triumpheth over sin and iniquity: which he surely would never suffer, save as he is able to serve his most holy purpose of it, and of them that work it: and, in this respect, especially, God is said to do these things, which indeed are done by wicked angels and men, and by him ordered, and determined to his most holy purposes.
And lastly, God doth either mercifully pardon, and so abolish in Christ, or punish in the course of justice, sin, and sinners, as the Scriptures everywhere teach.
And by these the works of God in and about sin, it appeareth what the purposes of God were touching it from eternity: for whatsoever God doth, in time, whether about sin, or otherwise, that he purposed to do, before time, ere the world was: and so for the contrary.
section III.— on adam's fall and sin.
The sixteenth Conclusion: “That Adam died the same day that he sinned, Gen. ii. 17, for that the reward of sin is death, Rom. vi. 23, and that his death was loss of innocency, peace of conscience, and of the comfortable presence of God,” Gen. iii. 7–11, must be further opened and better cleared than, I suppose, the author intendeth it.
For by death threatened, Gen. ii. 17, is not only meant spiritual death standing in loss of innocency, peace of conscience, and God's comfortable presence, but, withal, eternal death, whereof the other is but the beginning: as one of the noted scriptures proveth. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Rom. vi. 23; where the apostle opposeth unto death, eternal life, and therefore intendeth eternal death of soul and body. In which death threatened was included bodily death also, with all the means, and miseries, which lead unto it. And this appears in the last scripture alleged, which is Gen. iii. 16, 19, where God, after many bodily calamities both upon the woman and man for that sin, denounceth, as their end, and consummation, death and dissolution of body into the earth from which they were taken.
It is true, that the body being made of corruptible creatures, was subject, in itself, to corruption, and mortality: yet must it be remembered, that even the heavens themselves were made of one and the same first common matter, that rude lump and unformed chaos, and so are, also, in themselves subject to dissolution. Gen. i. 1, 2. Yea, whatsoever, hath a beginning, and is a creature, is subject to come to an end naturally: as with which is communicated but a finite power and virtue; and so the very souls of men, and the angels are in themselves subject to death, and mortality, save as they are by the continual influence of the Divine power and providence, sustained and preserved. But God now having ennobled the whole man soul and body with His image and joined them together in one person: the soul to inform, and quicken the body, and the body to be quickened, and used by it, as an active, and lively instrument for her operations, and works: the separation of these two, which death is, being a dissolution of so great a work of God, and of the habitation of his own image, could not come, but by sin. Not that I think Adam should always have continued in that his natural estate, in tilling, and keeping the garden of Eden, in eating, drinking, procreating of children, governing the family, and the like: or should always have had an earthly, heavy, gross, and dark body, but that, in the Lord's appointed time, there should have been a change of all those earthly imperfections, as there shall be in the bodies of all the faithful, who shall be alive at Christ's second coming, l Cor. xv. 51; 1 Thess. iv. 17: but the same without all grief and pain; much more without all separation of soul and body: most of all, without the bodies corrupting and rotting in the grave: which are the proper fruits of sin. And, therefore, as God gave him “a living soul,” so he gave him “the tree of life in the garden,” as an effectual sacrament of life: he made all things good in themselves, and for him: subject unto him, and serviceable to his use. So that though his body were, in itself, capable of violence by fire, water, and otherwise, yet should the providence of God, the ministry of angels, and his own perfect wisdom so have directed, and ordered both them, and himself, as that no hurt, but good every way should have come unto him, by them.
“Wherefore,” saith the prophet, “doth the living man complain?” he answereth, man complaineth for his sins: Lam. iii. 39. So that all the sorrows of this life, all the grievous pangs and passions of the mind, all the turmoilings of the body, by hunger, thirst, wearisomeness, sickness, diseases, and so death unto which they lead, and which is the extremity of them all, are for sin, inflicted by God, and by man borne; which the Scriptures everywhere testify, and that, in examples so well known, as in vain it were to trouble the reader with noting them down.
To conclude: The apostle, Rom. v. 12, 14, speaking of bodily death, affirmeth expressly that for sin, it reigned even before the law was given by Moses, and that, over them who had not sinned as Adam, that is actually: and more plainly, 1 Cor. xv. 21–26, where speaking of the bodily resurrection, after bodily death, he teacheth, that by man and in Adam, all die: and that even this bodily death is one of Christ's enemies to be destroyed at the last: which these men themselves do also confess, though they observe it not, (Conclusion 34,) and that death and the grave are vanquished by Christ upon the cross. And since Christ suffered nothing but for our sins, if bodily death had not been a punishment of sin, why should Christ have suffered it, as he did, and that for our sins, according to the Scriptures? 1 Cor. xv. 3. But it will here he demanded, if God threatened bodily death upon Adam, the day he sinned, why he did not accordingly execute it? I answer that the threatening was legal, and according to the course of justice, and, therefore, did not hinder but God in mercy might find a remedy, as he also did: and so the Lord's meaning was no more, hut that in the day wherein Adam ate, he should he subject to, and guilty of death, and the curse of God. In the very same form of speech, Solomon threateneth Shimei, that the day he went out of Jerusalem any whither, he should surely die, 1 Kings ii. 37: that is, be guilty of death: for neither did, neither almost possibly could, he actually kill him that very day. The truth, then is, that God threatened not only spiritual, and eternal death, which is the consummation of the former, but bodily also, and with it, all bodily, and temporary calamities leading unto it. And of this, it is most needful, the servants of God should be firmly persuaded, and continually mindful, that in their sorrows both of life, and death, they might be led to the remembrance of their sins, and for them be humbled under the hand of God, of which fruit of their afflictions these men's doctrine bereaveth them. 1 Kings xvii. 18; 1 Cor. xi. 29, 30.
The 17th conclusion: “That Adam being fallen did not lose any natural power, or faculty, which God created in his soul, because the work of the devil, which is sin, cannot abolish God's works, and creatures: and, therefore, being fallen, he still retained freedom of will, Gen. iii. 23, 24,” is in part doubtfully set down, and in part, untrue.
That Adam had, as well, freedom of will after, as before his fall, is as true as that he was a man after, as before. For take away will from a man, and he ceaseth to be a man: and take away freedom from the will, in that which it willeth, and it ceaseth to be will. But here is the difference, that the same natural power of free will, which before, was rightly ordered, and disposed only to good actually, though changeably, was afterwards corrupted, disordered, and clean contrarily disposed, till by supernatural grace, it was rectified and renewed. It is true, then, that sin destroyeth not the natural powers, or parts of soul, or body, but only corrupteth, infecteth, and disordereth them: whence also ariseth in the mind, ignorance, error, doubtings, and unbelief; and in the will, and affections, perverseness, and disorder, with manifold lusts, to the fulfilling and execution whereof, the bodily instruments are disposed. But the reason brought, “that sin cannot abolish God's work, or creatures,” is frivolous: for God suffering sin to enter, suffereth, therein, an abolition of his own work and creature. It is confessed, Proposition 11: “That Adam sinning, died the death, and lost innocency, peace of conscience, and the comfortable presence of God.” Now, was not this spiritual death which Adam died, an abolition, and destruction of his spiritual life, innocency, &c. works of God, and his creatures? the same may be said of the whole image of God. What were these, but works of God, creatures, and created graces, and endowments, wrought in him, and bestowed on him by the hand of the Creator, which sin abolished both in him, and in his posterity by natural propagation? as will appear in the refutation of the 18th Conclusion, which is,
section iv.—on original sin.
“That original sin is an idle term, and that there is no such thing as men intend by the word, Ezek. xviii. 20. Because God threatened death only to Adam, Gen. ii. 17, not to his posterity, and because God created the soul. Heb. xii. 9.”
That original sin is an hereditary evil, I shall prove hereafter, God assisting, and do answer to the Scriptures; and first to that in Ezekiel, “The soul that sinneth shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.” The prophet speaks of such children as forsake sin, and repent, as the whole context showeth, which was to reprove the hypocrisy of the Jews, who complained of injustice from God in punishing them, who are holy, for their fathers' sins. Besides, all Adam's natural posterity were souls sinning in him; whom, in that his sin, we must not consider as a private person, but as the common father of mankind, communicating with the nature, the sin, which was not merely personal, but natural, with his natural posterity: both which are also their own; as, on the contrary, the second Adam, Christ, and his righteousness are so communicated with the members of his body, as every faithful person may truly say, that both he, and it are his. And, hence, was it, that in the punishment of this sin, the earth was cursed, not to him alone, but to his ensuing posterity: neither was Eve alone to suffer the sorrows of conception, and childbirth, but all her daughters after her: neither were the cherubims set to keep them two alone, but all their after posterity out of the garden of Eden: and so is it for death itself, and all the passages which lead unto it: according to that of the apostle, “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, even so death went over all men, in whom all have sinned,” Rom. v. 12. Where they further allege, “that because God created the soul,” that is, doth immediately create the soul of every particular person, Heb. xii. 9, “there is therefore no original sin,” they take too much liberty, both for the exposition of the scripture, and their inference upon it, showing no reason for the one or other.
First then, by σαρκος, flesh, Heb. xii. 9, for so it should be turned, and not bodies, is not meant the bodies of men without souls, which the parents do not correct, that is correct with instruction, as the word παιδευτὰς, signifieth: nor by spirits, souls without bodies, since God is the father of the bodies of men, and of all creatures, Job xxxviii. 28; Luke iii. 38; but, as by flesh is oft, in the Scriptures, meant earthly things, for which our natural parents train us up, and correct us, and as God is our spiritual master, and guide, so the meaning may well be, that if, for the conveniency of this life, we submit to the chastisement of our earthly father, much more ought we to humble ourselves to the discipline of our heavenly Father, for spiritual things. Secondly, Since they, generally, who think the soul to be created immediately, and infused, do not only hold original sin, but also show how they conceive it to be propagated, it is but presumption in these men, without answering what others so ordinary bring to the contrary, thus to conclude, that, because the soul is thus immediately created, therefore, there is no original sin. But as I see small reason to persuade me, that the dead body, before the soul be united with it, can be the proper subject of sin, or means to traduce it, or indeed any way sinful, more than after it be separated from the soul: and less reason, that the same body can infect the soul, being of spiritual nature, with any contagion of sin, though it might hinder, or fail it, in some outward execution; so seemeth it to me much more agreeable unto truth, that the “blessing of God to increase, and multiply,” Gen. i. 22, 28, did as well give virtue, and power unto mankind, as unto other kinds, to beget, and generate their like: and not only a dead carcase, and lifeless body, inferior to the issue of brute beasts, which do procreate their kind, both body and soul, or life. Neither see I, how Adam could be said to have “begotten a son. after his own image,” Gen. v. 3, opposed to God's image, ver. 1, that is, sinful, and corrupt, if he only had begotten the body, and not the soul also: which I think he did, even the whole, after a manner convenient to either nature. And if these two positions cannot stand together, that God createth the soul immediately; and that there is original sin: where these men conclude, that there is therefore no original sin, I conclude, contrariwise, that, therefore, the soul is not immediately created, nor the place in the Hebrews, so to be expounded; since the proofs for original sin are so certain, and evident.
And that it is no idle term, as is imagined, but a miserable calamity, possessing all the posterity of Adam by natural generation, and ever by them to be bewailed, and purged out, I hope plainly to prove, and withal, that by reason of it, they are naturally unable to choose, or will anything spiritually good, or truly pleasing God.
And for this, remembering what I have formerly noted from Rom. v. 12, about all men's sinning in that one and first man, observe we, that these men confess everywhere, and truly, that a man must be regenerate, or “born anew, before he can enter the kingdom of God,” John iii. 3, 5, whereupon it followeth necessarily, that, by the first birth, and generation, all men are excluded from the kingdom of God. And if, by the first birth, men be not corrupt, then is not the second birth simply necessary: but all are, rather, to endeavour to preserve the purity of the former. And this my argument is further confirmed, where Christ our Lord teaeheth, that “that which is born of the flesh, is flesh,” that is sinful, which he therefore opposeth to the Spirit, John iii. 6: and so the second, or new birth by the Spirit, required for that entering the kingdom of heaven, to the first, or old birth, by which all men are naturally excluded. And the same it is which we read, John i. 12, 13, that “the sons of God are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man.” In which respect also Job treating of “man bom of a woman,” saith, that no man “can bring a, clean thing out of filthiness,” Job xiv. 4. Hence also was it, that David bewailing his sins of adultery and murder, in particular, and leading both himself and others from the stream, to the fountain, doth confess that “he was born in iniquity, and conceived in sin,” Psa. li. 7. Join, with all these, that which the apostle testifieth both of Jews and Gentiles, that they were by nature children of wrath, that is born such, as the word nature importeth, Eph. ii. 2. Hence is it, that Jude speaking of such deceivers, as had crept into the church, and taken upon them the profession of Christ, and after “turned that grace of God into wantonness,” calls them “corrupt and rotten trees, and twice dead,” ver. 4,12, who had they not been first dead in Adam in trespasses and sins, Eph. ii. l, how could they have been twice dead? Add we unto these, the consideration of the circumcision of the Lord's people of old, livelily teaching, that nothing, coming of man's unclean seed naturally, could be clean, as Job saith, which was also further declared in the uncleanness, and so in the purification of every woman after childbirth, by burnt-offerings, and sin-offerings.
Lastly, Even common sense, and experience, which teacheth the most simple, confirmeth this doctrine of original sin. Who seeth not in children, even from their cradles, the fruit of this bitter root? crying (as Austin confesseth of himself) to be avenged of their nurses, being naturally prone to lying, for complaints, or excuses, though so brought up, as they hear no lie told: also priding themselves in any gay, or gorgeous thing, and despising others which want the like: and so evident is this to sense, and experience, as that the fire is warm, and a stone heavy.
Now the same scriptures, which prove this natural and original sin, serve also to disprove all original and natural freedom of will or other power to any good thing truly spiritual, or pleasing God. I will apply some of the fore-named scriptures, and add some others to that purpose.
And first, since all must he regenerate, or begot, and, born anew, before they can enter, or see, the kingdom of heaven, this wholly disarmeth the natural man of all power unto spiritual things, without a supernatural regeneration, or new birth by that incorruptible seed of the Word of God and Spirit of life: which must also be of the whole, and of all the parts, as is the first generation, John iii. 3, 5; 1 Pet. i. 23. Agreeable whereunto is that Eph. ii. 1, where all are said to be dead in trespasses and sins. These men grant it of Adam, by his offence: and that scripture, with others, teach the same of all men by nature, and through that his “one offence.” And as no motion, or action of natural life, can possibly be made, or performed, by a man naturally dead; so neither any spiritual motion, or action, by any dead spiritually, till God breathe into him anew that his quickening Spirit, the Spirit of life. And as of things unknown there is no desire, or will, so is it not possible that the natural or animal man (for that title is given him of his more noble part the soul) which knows not, nor is capable of the things of the Spirit, being discerned spiritually, should will, or desire them. Rom. viii. 10; 2 Cor. iii. 6. Yea, being offered by the preaching of the gospel, they are foolishness unto him, and things which he savoureth not: the very wisdom, or minding of the flesh being enmity against God, which is “not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Rom. viii. 5. If it be asked, why doth God then require it should be, or punish men where it is not? it is easily answered, that this inability cometh by man's own default. God made all men, in Adam, able to keep the law: and the obedience thereof is due debt unto God: now the inability of the debtor, and his heirs, especially by their own default, is no sufficient discharge of the debt unto the creditor who lent it: so neither doth man's inability prejudice the Lord's right, but that he may in the course of justice, require that obedience to his holy law, unto which by creation he enabled mankind. And for faith in Christ, and repentance, which are the sum of the gospel, God doth not require them, as due from the creature, to a Creator, by order of justice, but as conditions convenient unto man, dead in sin and misery, if he will be made partakers of that life and light to come into the world; and offered by Christ: which whilst men despise, loving darkness more than light because their works are evil: their condemnation followeth upon their impenitency, and unbelief, as doth the death of a wounded man upon his wilful contempt of the sovereign salve offered for his healing. John iii. 19.
To conclude, then, they of whom God requires this faith, repentance and “obedience, either yield it him answerably, or not? If not; as they cannot, so their own hearts and consciences will witness against them, that they will not; but do, on the contrary, willingly withstand, and withdraw from the Lord's commandments: who are, therefore, inexcusable, and have no cause to complain, save upon themselves. And for them who yield submission by the effectual work of God's Spirit writing faith and the law in their hearts, much less have they cause of complaining against God, but only of thanksgiving for the grace received, by which he hath even created them anew as his workmanship: not being fit of themselves, as of themselves, so much as to think a good thought, but having God working in them both the will, and deed, according to his good pleasure. Eph. ii. 10; 1 Cor. iii. 1.
It is added, that “If original sin might have passed from Adam to his posterity, yet is the issue thereof stayed by Christ's death, which was effectual, and he, the Lamb of God, slain from the beginning of the world.” Rev. xiii. 8.
I answer, that he was indeed from eternity that Lamb of God, in time to be slain: but to take away the sins of the world, as John witnessed of him: and so his death was effectual. John i. 29. It is confessed, and truly, Conclusion 30, “That Christ is become the Mediator of the new testament, and Priest of the Church.” This new testament, is established in his blood: and he, a Priest for us, as he offered, and gave himself a sacrifice, and ransom for us: and his bloodshed was for the washing away of sins: this sacrifice for procuring pardon: and this ransom for the freeing of them, that are taken captive by sin, and Satan. This stopping then of the issue of sin, as it is intended, is but a fiction.
“That infants are,” as is further affirmed, “conceived, and born in innocency without sin” is contrary to the Scriptures, 20th Conclusion: as, that “they are all undoubtedly saved,” is a peremptory affirmation, but without ground. Unto the scriptures brought to prove it, which are Gen. v. 2, and i. 27, compared with L Cor. xv. 49, I answer, that by the image of the earthly Adam, in the last scripture, is not meant the image of God. “in wisdom, righteousness, and holiness,” according to which Adam was said to be created in the former places, Col. iii. 10; Eph. iv. 24: but that corruptible and ignoble state of the body in death, from which at the resurrection of the just it shall be freed: which therefore, verse 50, is called flesh and blood, which cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven: and corruption, which cannot inherit incorruption. It should rather be minded, that Moses speaking of Adam's estate in innocency, saith he was created after God's image and likeness, Gen. i. 26, 27: but speaking of him after his fall, and of his estate then, saith that “he begat a son in and after his own likeness and image,” that is, sinful and miserable, Gen, v. 1. It is further objected, from Rom. iv. 15, that “Where there is no law there is no transgression, or sin,” and again from Rom. v. 13; Matt. xiii. 9; Neh. viii. 3, that “the law was not given to infants, but to them that could understand,” I answer, that the law is either given vocally, and in the letter, spoken and written, and so it is not given to infants, no, nor to thousands of men and women in their persons: or written in the heart by creation with the finger of God: and so all infants have it given, as both experience, and also the Scriptures testify, where they teach that the very Gentiles, to whom it was never vocally preached, show the effects of it written in their hearts, Rom. ii. 15: unto the fulfilling of which law, all infants by nature corrupted are averse, and disposed to all disobedience, even as the whelps, and cubs of foxes, and wolves, are disposed to prey, and raven from the first, though they cannot actually so practise. Besides, in Adam the common father of mankind, all his posterity being in his loins received, as the image of God, and lordship over the creatures, so the law of God; as “Levi,” long before he was born, did in Abraham his father, “in whose loins he was, pay tithes to Melchisedec.” Heb. vii. 9.
“That all actual sinners bear the image of the first Adam in his innocency, fall and restitution in the offer of grace. 1 Cor. xv. 49, and so pass under this threefold estate,” is unsound sundry ways.—21st Conclusion. The great misinterpreting the Scripture, I have showed in the last Conclusion: as also Conclusion 18, that neither all, nor any of his naturally conceived posterity bear the image of his innocency: neither, yet all of them in the offer of grace; though the offer of grace not received, is a very naked image of restitution. How many thousands never had the gospel, the only means of their restitution, offered them? but sinning against the law of nature written in their hearts, and in the creatures, and “holding that truth of God in unrightousness,” have been given over of God to reprobate minds, and so perished in their sins, as the apostle teacheth, Rom. i. and ii.
section v.—on god's love and man's recovery.
Conclusions 22–25.—” That Adam being fallen, God did not hate him, but loved him still, and sought his good, Gen. iii. 8, 15. Neither doth he hate any man, that falleth with Adam, but that he loveth mankind, and from his love sent his only begotten Son into the world, to save that which was lost. John iii. 16. And that God never forsaketh the creature till there be no remedy, neither doth cast away his innocent creature from all eternity but casteth away men irrecoverable in sin. Isa. v. 4; Ezech. xviii. 23, 32, and xxxiii. 11; Luke xiii. 6, 9. And that as there is in all creatures an inclination to their young to do them good, so in the Lord towards man infinitely: who therefore doth not create, or predestinate any to destruction, no more than a father begets his child to the gallows. Ezek. xxxiii. 11; Gen. i. 21, 15, 49; Gen. v. 3,” must be received with sundry limitations.
For first, it is true, that God hateth nothing that he hath made, so far as it is his work: but as sin, coming in, hath destroyed the work of God, though not in respect of the nature, or being, yet of the integrity, and holy being of the creature; so God, through his unchangeable holiness, hating sin, doth, also, most fervently hate and abhor from the sinful creature, in whom it reigneth, in respect of it, as the Scriptures do expressly and plentifully teach, Mal. ii. 3; Psa. v. 5, 6; Prov. xvi. 5; Tit. i. 16. And God loving himself and his own holiness in the first place and most, and the creature and his good, but in the second place, the love of the creature must give way to the love of himself, and so he, necessarily, hate the obstinate sinner. And this it is most needful for all men firmly to believe, and continually to bear in mind, that they may always bewail their sins, and nourish in themselves the hatred of that which God so hateth, and for it, the creature; and for which he punisheth it with most horrible curses, and punishments for ever.
And yet, even in the very execution of his most fearful vengeance upon the reprobate, men and angels, he retaineth the general love of a Creator; and out of it, preserveth the being of the creature, which in itself, and in respect of the universal is better than not to be, though not so in the sense of the person: and also moderateth the extremity of that torment, which he both could, and might in justice, inflict.
Secondly, Though God do love all men, even sinning, as he did Adam sinning, yet not with the same degree of love wherewith he loved him: neither doth he seek their good, as he did his. When he had sinned, and so fled from God, as his enemy, he, notwithstanding, followed after him, and for his recovery, preached unto him the gospel of salvation in the seed of the woman, Gen. iii. 15: and not only so, but gave him also an heart to believe his promise; and repentance, to turn unto him: whereas many thousands in the world (even the body of the Gentiles to speak of, before Christ, and how many now?) never had the gospel so much as once published unto them, nor Christ named amongst them: Psa. cxlvii. 19, 20; Isa. Iii. 15; Rom. xv. 20, 21; but had and have only the sound and preaching of the creatures, and of their natural consciences, too much corrupt, by which they were and are taught, that there is a God, and he the Maker and Governor of the world, and Judge of all persons and things; and to be honoured and inquired after, that his will being known, he might be worshipped accordingly, Acts xiv. 16; Psa. xix. 1,5; Rom.x. 10: for the neglect whereof, and the “withholding” of that truth offered, in unrighteousness, they were and are given, over of God to reprobate minds, and to all vile affections, and filthy lusts of their own hearts, that so sinning without the law (to wit which the Jews had, much more without that clearer revelation of Christ vouchsafed to many others) they might perish by God's judgment, Rom. i. 18–20. Much, less doth God seek after all, for their recovery, as he did after Adam, by giving them his Spirit in their hearts, and by it faith and repentance, to believe and to be saved, as lie did him. Matt. xi. 25; xiii. 11; John iii. 8; 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11, &c.; Phil. i. 29; 2 Tim. ii. 25. And for the love of God in sending his Son into the world to save that which was lost, John iii. 16, it is determined in the same place, to those that believe on him. But for those that believe not, but continue in unbelief, God did not love them unto salvation, so as to give his Son, effectually, to redeem them from their sins, of which more hereafter.
Secondly, It is also true that “God doth not east away his innocent creature, nor hath created or predestinated any man to destruction,” to wit, either remaining as he created him, or because he would destroy him: and this, some of the scriptures, Conclusion 25, do prove, the rest being impertinent: but that God hath from eternity decreed the condemnation of some for sin, fore-purposed by him to be suffered, and so foreseen to be wrought by man, is evident, both by the Word of God, as Jude testifieth of certain wicked men that they were ordained of old to condemnation: and God is said to have hated Esau, before he was born: that is, to have purposed the hatred of him for his sin, foreseen, and fore-purposed to be suffered: and also by the work of God, in that he doth, in time, cast away and condemn impenitent sinners: for all God's works are known unto him from the beginning of the world: and God's very doing a thing, in time, is an unanswerable proof that he purposed the same thing, before time and from eternity. Jude 3, 4; Mal. i. 3; Rom. ix. 11, 13; Acts xiii. 18.
And, for God's forsaking, or leaving a man unto himself, as he usually doth it, for a punishment of former sins, so did he thus leave Adam without any such respect. He could, if he would, either have kept him from being tempted, or have delivered him out of his temptation, by his almighty power, and grace, and the irresistible efficacy of his Spirit: but God, for the trial of the will of man, and to manifest how weak the most excellent creatures are, not depending wholly upon the Creator, and not seeking their good and happiness, by cleaving unto him, the chief and unchangeable good: as also, to make way to the further declaration of his mercy and justice, did suspend, and withhold from Adam in his temptation, that efficacy of grace, by which he could, if he would, have established him irresistibly unto perseverance.
So also, could God by his all-sufficient power, if such his good will were, recover thousands, that perish in and by their sins: otherwise he were not almighty, nor that true, which is said of him in the psalm, “He doth whatsoever pleaseth him,” Psa. cxv. 3. Besides, it should else follow, that sin and Satan were stronger than he: and which he could not possibly defeat and withstand: which is as impossible, as that God should not be God. He is able by his almighty power, if such his good pleasure be, to raise, of the very stones, children unto Abraham, Luke iii. 8: and by taking away the stony heart, to give an heart of flesh, tender and sensible, and to write in it his will and law. Ezek. xi. 19.
And what the Lord's power is, in remedying, and recovering of most desperate sinners, may be seen in some particulars. In the recovery of Mauasseh, an horrible and apostate idolater, a vile sorcerer and wizard, and most cruel murderer, “filling the streets with innocent blood,” 2 Kings xxi. 1, 2, 16; 2 Chron. xxxiii. 12, 13: of Mary Magdalen possessed with seven devils, Luke viii. 2: and of Saul, a persecutor, blasphemer, and oppressor, and that when the fire of most violent persecution burned hottest in his breast: causing him to breathe out of his mouth threatenings and slaughter, as smoke, Acts ix. 1; 1 Tim. i. 13. And since all men are, by nature, children of wrath and dead in sins, Eph. ii. 2, so that they who are the Lord's, have new life put into them, yea, are born, yea, which is more, created anew, it showeth, that the whole being and life of the spiritual man, with all the motions and inclinations thereof, are of God's special and supernatural grace; as also that though men in themselves be utterly remediless, and irrecoverable, yet are they by God's grace, and power recoverable, if such his good will be.
The scriptures, Isa. v. 4; Ezek. xviii. 23, 33; Luke xiii. 6, 9, speak of the Lord's dealing with his church in the outward ministry of the Word, and other common motives to repentance: as is also further manifest, Matt. xxi. 33, 34, &c., and so are neither to be understood (as here they are) of the Lord's dealing with all men, nor at all of the uttermost efficacy of his Spirit, when he pleaseth to work by it, what he can for the recovery of sinners.
Lastly, Touching the similitude brought from a natural father, I must use two limitations: the former that a natural father would not suffer his son to come to the gallows, or desert thereof, if he could possibly in his utmost power hinder it: he would rather wish not to beget him at all, or that he might never be born: but so is it not with God, who both willingly produceth, and pre-serveth the creature, whom he purposeth to destroy for sin, which he foreseeth the creature will work, and suffereth him to fall into, though he could, would he use the utmost of his power, hinder both the sin, and punishment. And secondly, the hanging of the child is no way to the honour of his natural father, but to his grief, and shame every way: but, on the contrary, the destruction of the wicked for their sins, is to the great glory of the justice of the Creator, which than it should not be magnified, better all men and angels perish.
Touching the 26th Conclusion, God hath not only determined before the world, that the way of salvation shall be by Christ: and foreseen who would follow it, (as they teach) but hath also determined, in particular, whom he would effectually call to the participation of that grace: which being his own work, in time, he hath therefore purposed, before time. It is he that revealeth this way unto man from heaven: which flesh and blood cannot do: who also must draw them who come unto it. Matt. xi. 25; Eph. i. 5, 7, 9, 11; Rom. ix. 11, 15. And this he doth first by sending his gospel of salvation to such, as are his (in his decree), Acts xiii. 47, 48; xviii. 9,10, then by opening the heart, as of Lydia, to listen unto it, Acts xvi. 4, and so working in their hearts by his Spirit to believe and obey it, he perfecteth their happiness in glory. Rom. viii. 30, 31. So that, God foreseeth that such and such will believe, and choose the way of life, because he fore-purposeth to give them this grace, knowledge, will, and power to believe, and to choose the good way: and all this of his good and gracious pleasure towards them, on whom he will show mercy. And this, the places brought by those men, Eph. i. 4, 5; 2 Tim. i. 9, do most directly prove: so also doth, Jude 4, expressly teach, not that God foresaw who would follow the way of infidelity and impenitence, for which they allege it: but whom God hath fore-ordained to condemnation for their wickedness. The Scriptures, then, do, nowhere, prove any such idle foresight in God, as is imagined by these men, and others: as if God were in truth, but a prognosticator and reader of men's destinies: who could only foretell what should be done by, and become of these and these men.
section vi.—on universal redemption.
Touching the 27th Conclusion: That “as God created all men according to his image, so hath he redeemed all that fall by actual sin, to the same end: and that God in his redemption hath not swerved from his mercy, which he manifested in his creation:” and that part of Conclusion 28th, where it is said, “that God in his love to his enemies gave Christ to die, and so bought them that deny him;” sundry things are to be observed.
And first, that God did not manifest any mercy. but only goodness, in the creation: for mercy presupposeth misery in him towards whom it is shown. Secondly, it is no swerving at all of God's goodness, if he extend not the grace of redemption to as many as he did the grace of creation: for then Christ should have redeemed the angels, who were partakers of a greater grace of creation, which he in no sort did. And if God did in justice pass by the angels that sinned, Heb. ii. 16: might he not in the same justice have passed by men also? And if he might in justice have passed by all, (where he could not, in justice, nor possibly, create one man unjust, as no man will deny but our redemption by Christ was a work of God's mercy and not of his justice) is it injustice in him to pass by some, who also on their part take pleasure in unrighteousness, and so continue in their estate of impenitence, and unbelief, loving darkness more than light, because their works are evil?
Of the scriptures brought: first, that of John i. 3, shows that by Christ, to wit, as God, all things were made or created, which is nothing to the present matter. And where, ver. 16, he saith, of his fulness we all have received, and grace for grace, he speaks not of all men, but only of all those, who receive Christ, and believe in his name, as ver. 12, and are born of God, ver. 13. So 2 Cor. v. 19, by the world which God reconciled to himself in Christ, are not meant all that actually sin, but such as by the word of reconciliation preached unto them, and believed by them, have their sins forgiven them.
By all men, 1 Tim. ii. 6, is meant all sorts of men, as well kings and magistrates, whom, because they were for the present, persecutors of the saints, it seems some thought they were not to pray for, as for others. Ver. 1, he exhorts to pray for all men: and ver. 2, he shows his meaning to be for all sorts, as kings, and them in authority under them, whom, ver. 4, he saith God would have saved as well as others: as for whom Christ died, and so redeemed them, as well as others. Of Ezek. xxxiii. I have spoken formerly, as also of John iii. 16.
By the enemies spoken of, Rom. v. 10, are meant only such, as are, in time, actually reconciled to God, and saved: as appears plainly, if the place be well considered; whom God is said to love, and that not with the common love of a Creator towards the creature, but with the love of a Redeemer, in respect of his decree of love, and not of the actual application of it, as he is said to have loved Jacob, and hated Esau, before they were born. Actually he did not hate, or love the one, or other, neither doth or can God love actually wicked men so remaining, Psa. v. 5, 6. Lastly, Christ is said, 2 Pet. ii. 1, to have bought those deceivers, in respect of the former profession of holiness which they made; by which in the judgment of charity, they were so esteemed: as appears evidently in Jude, who speaking of the same persons saith, ver. 3, they were “ungodly men crept” into the church.
Now for Christ's redemption, it must be known, that the word λύ τρωσις, redemption, used in the Scriptures, is borrowed from the custom of freeing prisoners, taken in war, from death, or bondage, by paying a just price, or ransom for them. And so to affirm that “Christ hath redeemed all that fall by actual sin,” is to affirm, that he hath paid a price to the justice of God, for all such, and freed them from the guilt and bondage of sin and Satan; and so, consequently, that all who have sinned, actually, have faith, and repentance: without which they cannot have forgiveness of sins, nor freedom from the bondage, and guilt thereof. It is confessed, and truly, Conclusion 35, that the efficacy of Christ's death is only derived to them which mortify their sins, &c., and, therein, directly granted that Christ's death is not effectual for all men; and that it is in itself sufficient for all, being the death of him that was God, Acts xx. 28, we acknowledge, as also that no particular person, not having sinned against the Holy Ghost, can be excluded either by himself, or us, from the number of them, for whom Christ died. John iii. 36; Acts x. 43; 2 Cor. iii. 17. It were against faith, to pray that God would save all the men, that are, and shall be in the world to the end thereof: but love teacheth me to pray for any person particularly, upon occasion.
Now, for that these men allege, Rom. v. to prove that “Christ redeemed all who sin actually:” and Mr. Helwisse and others much insist upon the same place, to prove that he redeemed all, who sin in Adam: and so would have a free-will though not by nature, which they dislike, but by grace given to all: as if Turks, and Pagans, and all the wicked world were in Christ, and so free from condemnation, Rom. viii. 1, and they who had crucified the flesh and the lusts thereof, Gal. iv. 24, which they must be, before they can be partakers of the grace of God through Christ, or of any free-will through him. John xv. 5. I will plainly, and briefly prove, the Lord assisting me, that the apostle intends neither the one, nor the other, but the contrary.
The apostle's meaning there is to show the privileges of the faithful: that, notwithstanding all their afflictions, “they have peace with God:” “access unto his grace and hope of glory,” having by faith assurance of “the love of God shed into their hearts by the Holy Ghost.” This love of God he confirmeth unto them, by the work of their redemption: and proveth that since out of the love of God, “Christ died for them when they were sinners, and justified them by his blood, much more should they be saved from wrath through him;” and that if “when they were enemies, they were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled they should be saved by his life:” and again, “that they who had received that abundance of grace, and gift of righteousness, should reign in life by Jesus Christ:” and in the last place, that “that grace should reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. v. 2, 3, 8–10, 17. Which grace he also amplifieth, and confirmeth by comparing Christ as the second Adam, with the first Adam; teaching that both the one, and the other did, and do propagate to all theirs, what theirs was: the first Adam, sin and death to all coming of him naturally: the second Adam, Christ, righteousness and eternal life to all that are in him spiritually, and for whom he died. The meaning then of the apostle seems unto me plainly to be this: that, for whomsoever Christ did indeed and effectually die, they should certainly be saved; and that, whomsoever God did reconcile by his death., he will much more save by his life, notwithstanding their afflictions and all other the enemies of their salvation: and so to be the same in effect with that which the same apostle hath, Rom.viii. 28, that “All things shall work together for the best unto them that love God even unto them who are called of purpose:” and that “those who are predestinate are also called, and justified, and glorified;” and verses 32, 39, that to them, “for whom God hath not spared to give his Son, he will give all things with him:” and so victory over sin, and Satan, and their own flesh, with all temptations, so as “nothing shall separate them from the love of God.”
section vii.—on apostacy from grace.
From Rom. v. then, may be more truly, and I am persuaded undeniably, concluded, these two things. 1. That Christ did not effectually die for, or reconcile, by his death, all men in particular: for then all should be saved by his life: and 2ndly, That whomsoever he so died for, and effectually reconciled, they shall be kept by the power of God, and of his grace, unto eternal life: yea “He that believeth in the Son,” saith John the Baptist, “hath eternal life,” John iii. 36: and drinking once of the water which Christ giveth, “he shall never thirst again, but it shall be in him a well of water, springing up to eternal life,” John iv. 14. A well-spring, we know, is never wholly dry, though a ditch be: as it is also one thing to drink of this water of life: and another thing only to taste of it: which they that do, may fall away, as never having had their thirst indeed quenched in them, nor having drunk in the rain of grace, as ver. 7; Heb. vi. 4–6. And it is well to be observed by us, how carefully the Holy Ghost, in this, and in other places, preventeth both the offence at, and error about men's falling away from their holy profession.
We read of some, in the parable of the sower, who receive the seed of the Word with joy, and in whom it hath also got some kind of growth, and yet they come to nothing: but we find in the same place, that the soul of those men's hearts, was never indeed good; but at the best, as stony and thorny ground: but the seed sown in the good ground indeed, decays not, but grows up, and is fruitful to the harvest. Matt. xiii. 5, 7, 20, 23.
So Paul, 2 Tim. ii. 18–20, showeth that some there are, who have their faith destroyed by heresies, and evil lies: but he gives us to understand in the same place, that these men were never indeed under the seal of God's election, nor known of him, nor vessels of honour, of silver, and of gold.
The apostle Peter, 2 Epis. ii. 1, 21, 22, likewise speaketh of some, who denied the Lord that bought them, to wit, being judged by their former profession, but in the same place, he shows that the same persons were but indeed dogs and swine, at the best, though outwardly washed, and disburdened of such sins, as clogged their consciences, as is the dog by vomiting of his surchargure. And Jude, ver. 4, speaking of those very men expressly chargeth them, but to have crept in, at the first, &c.
Lastly, John, 1 Epis. ii. 18, 19, speaking of “many Antichrists,” who “went out” from the true church and Christians, saith plainly that they “were not of them,” that is, not of the number of God's truly anointed ones: and that by their not continuing with them it appeared, “they were never of them.” “For they that are born of God cannot commit sin, because the seed of God's Word abideth in them,” as it followeth in the same Epistle, chap. iii. 9: and thus much in effect these men confess, when they teach, as the truth is and Scripture proveth, Conclusion 47, “ That the regenerate man shall be a pillar in the house of God, and shall go no more out.” Rev. iii. 12. And if men truly justified, and sanctified should wholly fall away, they could not possibly be recovered, but were as trees twice dead, and so to be plucked up by the roots, Jude 12: neither can there be two new births, any more than two first births: and if there might, then must there be also an answerable repeating of baptism, which is the lavacher of the new birth. Tit. iii. 5.
To conclude this point, they who either hold, that Christ effectually redeemed all from their natural corruption, or, that any truly justified and sanctified, may wholly fall away and perish, do divide Christ from himself, and make him a party Saviour; and a priest for some, to redeem them by his death, to whom he is not a king to save them by his life; and a Saviour, in part, to the very damned at the last day: freeing all of them from the guilt of their original sin; and many of them, even from one part of their actual sins, namely, so much as they wrought, before the time of their falling away, but not from the rest. Which, how vain a thing it is to imagine, and how derogatory to the excellency and perfection of Christ's sacrifice and mediation, needs not be' shown. All who have any part in Christ, are in Christ, and so free from condemnation, Rom. viii. 5: and unto whomsoever he shall appear a Saviour they are his people and he shall save them from all their sins, and not from some part of them only.
section viii.—on christ's sacrifice.
That “the sacrifice of Christ's body and blood offered unto God, his Father, upon the cross, though a sacrifice of sweet savour, and that God be well pleased in him, doth not reconcile God unto us, who did never hate us, nor was our enemy, but reconcileth us unto God, 2 Cor. v. 19, and slayeth the enmity and hatred, which is in us against God,” Eph. ii. 14, 16; Rom. i. 30, is most untrue, and, indeed, a very pernicious doctrine, destroying the main fruit of Christ's sacrifice, and death.
As one of the scriptures quoted, which is Rom. i. 30, speaks of wicked men's hating of God, so are the rest meant of God's hatred towards wicked men; which they also fully prove. And if the sacrifice of Christ's body and blood upon the cross, were a sweet-smelling savour unto his Father, is it not evident that we did formerly stink in God's nostrils by reason of our sins? Where he gave himself a sacrifice for us, was it not to appease the Father's wrath towards us? In which respect he is said to be our propitiation and advocate if we sin, 1 John ii. 1,2: being as our eternal High-priest, sprinkled with the blood of his cross, entered the most holy place, the heavens, and there appearing continually to pacify the wrath of his Father, and to procure for us all grace. Who also to redeem us from the curse of the law under which we, with all flesh, were, was made a curse for us: paying a price for us to satisfy the justice of his Father. Gal. iii. 10; 1 Cor. vi. 20. And if God be well-pleased in him, doth it not follow that he is displeased without him? Matt. iii. 17. So by “the reconciliation of the world unto God through Christ,” 2 Cor. v. 19, is not meant our laying aside of hatred, and enmity against God, though that follow upon the other, but the taking away of his hatred and enmity towards us, as is evident in that the apostle in the former verse placeth this reconciliation in God's not imputing our sins unto us: the end of his exhortation, ver. 20, being to provoke us to the growth of faith for the applying of the same. Neither speaketh he, Eph. ii. 14–16, of the slaying of the enmity and hatred in us against God, as is said: but first of the slaying of the hatred between Jews and Gentiles, by breaking down the partition wall of ceremonies: and secondly, and more principally, of slaying the hatred wherewith God hated both, for sin, being the one, and other by nature “children of wrath,” ver. 3, that is, under the wrath of God, as their deserved inheritance. So that the chief and first work of our redemption by Christ, is the freeing of us from the guilt of sin and most fearful wrath of God, by paying the price of his precious blood for a ransom to the justice of his Father, thereby procuring him, of a most severe and fearful Judge to become unto us a gracious Father, and to love us unto life: which love of his “being shed into our hearts by the Holy Ghost,” and we being thereof persuaded, doth effectually allure us to love him again, who hath so loved us in his Son.
section ix.—on regeneration.
Now whereas in Conclusion 57th, and so forward, many things concerning faith, repentance, the regenerate man, and new creature: are set down both unsoundly and un-orderly, I think it best briefly to note down in the first place, the truth, and order of those things: and so to compare therewith the particulars in the confession.
This work of grace, then, in the general, God beginneth ordinarily by the ministry of his Word, and first of the law: which, through man's inability to keep it, convinceth and condemneth him, and so leaves him under God's curse: from whence also ariseth in the mind, a servile fear of God and his judgments, with grief and sorrow in respect thereof, which is commonly called legal repentance, or (better) penitency, and so a despairing of all remedy in a man's self. Rom. viii. 3, and chap. vii. 7; Gal. iii. 10. Then cometh the gospel of glad tidings, offering grace, and mercy unto those, who “being weary and heavy laden,” do come unto Christ for ease and rest, by believing in him, Matt. xi. 28; which so many do as are ordained of God to eternal life, Acts xiii. 48; 2 Cor. iii. 6; ii. 10—12: God with and by the same gospel ministering, and conveying the graces of his Spirit into the heart, by which a man becomes of a natural man, a spiritual man, and of these graces, first and principally faith, by which Christ is received, John i. 12, and the life of grace begun, as Paul testifieth, Gal. ii. 20, that he lived by faith in the Son of God. From which faith and assurance of the forgiveness of sins, and so great love of God shed into the heart of a miserable sinner, ariseth, by reflection, as it were, a love again towards God, and from this love, a godly sorrow for sin wrought against so good a God: and from this sorrow, true repentance, and the turning of the heart from evil to good, with an hatred, fear, and earnest endeavour to avoid sin in respect of God's mercy: as on the contrary a love, desire, and constant endeavour of and unto whatsoever pleaseth him. Now all these, and all other truly spiritual graces, howsoever wrought by that one Spirit, and at one time, yet are in the order of nature and manifestation, one before another, and so faith the cause of the rest. Luke vii. 47; 2 Cor. vii. 10; Psa. ciii. 4, and cxxx. 4; 1 Cor. xii. 4.
Where then it is said, Conclusion 56, that “the new creature followeth repentance,” it is not so in truth, nor the scripture brought, which is Luke iii. 6, anything pertinent, though to our sense and manifestation, it seem so to be. For this repentance is a work of man immediately, though formerly wrought in him of God, 2 Tim. ii. 25, and so followeth the work of our regeneration or re-creation, which is God's work. Repentance ariseth from a “godly sorrow,” which can only be in a godly man, as a fruit of a good tree; and this godly man, all being ungodly by nature, must be a new creature, or regenerate of God: though for the perfecting of our new creature, and till the old man be wholly crucified, repentance be required, as a cause, or means thereof. 2 Cor. vii. 10; Matt. vii. 18. So neither doth repentance go before faith, as it is put, Conclusion 58, but followeth it as a fruit thereof; without which no man can please God; and so not repent aright, Heb. xi. 6: our repentance arising from a sorrow for the offending of God, this sorrow from the knowledge of his love towards us, which is faith: which faith purifieth the heart, and is the beginning of all spiritual life in us, as I have formerly proved. Acts xv. 9.
That “man,” viz. natural, “hath power to reject the motions of God's Spirit,” as is affirmed, I acknowledge, and the two scriptures, Matt. xxiii. 37; Acts vii. 51, besides woeful experience prove it: but deny, that he hath power to receive these motions, till God by the supernatural gift of grace open his eyes, and change his will thereunto, as hath formerly been proved in the 18th Conclusion. The third scripture, which is Acts vi. 10, speaks of no such thing, but only shows how mightily Stephen confuted his adversaries in disputation.
The last place, which is Rom. x. 14, showeth that none can believe without preaching: and ver. 18, that the Gentiles had God preached unto them from the beginning, by the sound of the creatures, as Psa. xix. 5, neither can more be thence proved. Lastly, in the 58th Conclusion, the “new creature” is ill and dangerously, made a part of “our justification before God,” which the Scriptures do ascribe only to faith: and “the free grace of God, through that redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Rom. iii. 24, 25, 28. Our redemption, then, or justification properly taken, is in Christ, and not in ourselves; as it should be, if it stood in our sanctification or the new creature, which is affirmed. Our sanctification, or renovation is an inseparable work of that faith by which we are justified, Acts xv. 9, but doth not answer the rigour of God's justice, nor can present us innocent, before his judgment-seat, being imperfect in this world, by reason of the “root of sin yet abiding in us, which we cannot pluck up out of our hearts,” as is confessed, Proposition 67, though elsewhere denied. That only the righteousness of Christ can do, being imputed by grace, and by faith received: “who was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Cor. v. 21. Now as Christ became sin for us, not by having our sin dwelling in him, but imputed unto him, so we become the righteousness of God, that is, perfectly righteous before God, by his righteousness imputed to us, and not by that which dwelleth in us: which was also livelily figured in, and is effectually proved by the sacrifices uader the law, by the offering whereof, as the unclean person, or he that had sinned, was legally cleansed and purified, and his sin forgiven: so by the merit, and purity of that one oblation of Christ offered once for all, and applied by faith, are we cleansed from the guilt of sin, and reconciled to God for ever. Lev. v. 10, 13, 16, 18; xii. 8.
“That God doth not, in our regeneration, use the help of any creature, nor doth it, by the doctrine of faith and repentance, but immediately in the soul,” 59th Conclusion, is an old error of the Anabaptists, condemned expressly by the scriptures brought to justify it. The first whereof is James i. 15, where God is said to “have begotten us by the word of truth:” which word therefore we are “to be swift to hear,” ver. 19, which is elsewhere called good seed, and the word of life, which word even that which was preached by the apostles, ver. 25; is also called, 1 Pet. i. 23, the immortal seed, which falling in good ground never perisheth, but bringeth forth fruit to eternal life. Matt. xiii. 3—23.
Not to trouble the reader with many scriptures for the proof of that, which every regenerate man's experience doth confirm, the apostle calling himself the father of the Corinthians, who had in Jesus Christ begot them by the gospel, and them his children in the same respect, ver. 14, and Onesimus his son, whom he begot in his bonds: and Titus his natural son, according to the common faith, expressly teacheth the use of man's ministry for the regeneration of the elect, and ministration of the Spirit of life. 2 Cor. iii. 6; 1 Cor. iv. 15; Philemon 10; Tit. i. 3.
Alike, if not more deceitful, and dangerous is that other proposition, Conclusions 60–63.
“That the new creature, which is begotten of God, needeth not the outward scriptures, creatures, or ordinances of the church to support him, but is above them, 1 Cor. xiii. 10; 1 John ii. 27, seeing he hath in himself three witnesses, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, which are better than, all scriptures, or creatures, though such as have not attained the new creature need them, for instruction, comfort, and to stir them up, &e, 2 Pet i. 19; 1 Cor. xi. 26; Eph. iv. 12, 13.”
Let the scriptures brought be judge, and they will plead their own dignity against them, by whom they are thus vilely debased. In 2 Pet. i. 19, the apostle doth not compare the inward Spirit with the outward Scriptures, but the Scriptures with themselves, the writings of the prophets, which he compares to a light shining in a dark place, unto the writings and preachings of the apostles, which revealing Christ come in the flesh, he compares to the dawning day, and morning star. Besides even they whom Peter exhorts to attend upon the Scriptures, had obtained the new creature: as having obtained the same precious faith with Peter, and all things belonging to life and godliness, by the Divine power, 2 Pet. i. 1, 3: who are also expressly said to be regenerate unto a lively hope, 1 Pet. i. 3, and ver. 23, to be born anew, by the immortal seed, the Word of God. So were the Corinthians also born anew, in that they were, though but babes in Christ, and having much flesh yet abiding in them, 1 Cor. iii. 1; Phil. i. 6; 1 Thess. v. 2; Acts i. 11: who were to use the Lord's Supper, to show forth his death till he came, that is, till his general coming to judgment, or special, at their death, 1 Cor. xi. 26, which is the second scripture.
So for the third scripture, Eph. iv. 12, 13, the apostle's meaning is not, that the godly should have no further need of the ministry for their edification, when they were “come to a perfect man,” as there he speaks, that is, when they ceased to be as children, wavering-minded, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, but that they should so use it, as thereby to bring them to that perfect and manly estate, and therein to establish them. Neither does the particle “until” import a ceasing of the use of the ministry when men become perfect, and growing] past that childish waveringness there reproved, but a not ceasing before then: as it is also used sundry times in the Scriptures, as, 1 Tim. iv. 13; Rev. ii. 25, and elsewhere.
In 1 Cor. xiii. 10, 1 2, the apostle doth not speak of the estate of perfection in this life, but in that to come, when the measure of our knowledge shall be perfect, which is now but in part, and but as a child's in comparison of a man's: as it shall also be immediate, and we see God face to face: when there shall be no use of the glass of the Word, and ordinances, when prophesying and tongues shall cease, yea when even faith and hope shall cease: the things believed and hoped for being fully attained, and only love shall abide, which is therefore called the greatest of the three, ver. 13.
The apostle's meaning also, 1 John ii. 27, is greatly mistaken: which is not that the anointing, or Spirit which they had received, set them above the Scriptures, and all outward teachings: hut that he needed not teach them, as ignorant of these things, which by that anointing, or Spirit, were sealed up unto their consciences: as where Paul tells the Thessalonians “that he needs not write unto them of brotherly love, because they were taught of God one to love another,” his meaning only is, that they were not without that grace, but did practise it: yet doth he in the very same place, ver. 10, exhort them to increase more and more. 1 Thess. iv. 9. So doth John also write that his Epistle to teach and admonish those anointed ones to beware of false prophets and Antichrists of whom they were in danger, as of other evils.
Two other scriptures are intended, but so misput, as I cannot find which they are, and therefore pass them by; being also assured they can give no confirmation to this vain presumption, deceiving under a show of angelical perfection.
The reason, to prove the Scriptures unnecessary from the inward witness of the Father, Word, and Spirit, is very deceitful; since the inward grace doth not abolish but establish the outward means, by which it is wrought, and increased. David had this witness in his heart, being a man after God's heart, and was regenerate, and yet he desires God to teach him the way of his statutes: and that he would open his eyes that he might see the marvels of his law, which he professes he will not forget. Psa. cxix. 16, 18, 33. And being driven from the tabernacle, and visible ordinances of God, how did he bewail his want, and misery? Far was he from this imagined spirituality. The apostle calls the gospel the power of God to salvation: and exhorts Timothy to continue in it, to the saving of himself and others: by the ministry whereof, he also laboured to present the Corinthians a pure virgin unto Christ Rom. i. 16; 1 Tim. iv. 16; 2 Cor. xi. 2. All which places prove the necessary use of it till death, even for the most perfect.
And see whither these things lead. The natural, unregenerate, and unsanctified man, can have no right use of the gospel, and holy things: and the spiritual, regenerate, and new creature, needs them not. 1 Cor. ii. 14; Tit. i. 15. To whom then are they given: or by whom can they be rightly used? And behold here, the malice and craft of the devil, who assailing God's people continually with his temptations: from which, Peter and Paul were not free, Luke xxii. 31; ii Cor. xii. 7, no nor Christ himself, who was “tempted in all points, like as we are, but without sin,” Heb. iv. 15: would yet persuade them, they had no need of their spiritual armour, in special, of the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, Eph. vi. 17; whereof even Christ himself also in his temptations had use, yea, need to drive away Satan, as he had need of meat and drink to drive away hunger, and thirst: though he could by his Divine power have resisted both, without means. Matt. iv. 1, 4, 7, 10. Our victory, saith John, is our faith, 1 John v. 4: and the foundation of our faith, are the writings of the apostles and prophets: and is the foundation of no use for the standing of the building? or will not the enemy of our salvation easily overthrow the building, when he hath undermined the foundation? Eph. ii. 20.
Add to these things, that the Scriptures, the law and gospel, shall be the judge of all to whom they come. And is any man above his judge? or if this be not, what is it for man to exalt himself above all that is called God? Rom. ii. 12, 16; 2 Thess. 2, 4; 1 Pet. iv. 18.
Lastly, The regenerate are continually to grow in grace, and for that end to desire the sincere milk of the Word to grow thereby. 1 Pet. ii. 2.
section x.—on perfection.
But, lo! here another mischief; the persuasion of perfection in holiness, which these men would also have us think Mr. Smyth had attained, a little before his death. And it made well for the credit of the doctrine, that he did not survive: for then the imperfections of his life, would have discovered the error of the doctrine. Yea, verily, if this were his faith here published, it is too evident how far he was from perfection. And for the help of those who are in danger of this great and deep seduction, I will here insert a few things touching perfection.
And first, We acknowledge all the faithful perfect, and that perfectly, by Christ's perfect obedience and righteousness imputed unto them for their justification: for by one oblation he hath perfected or consecrated for ever them that are sanctified. Heb. x. 14. Secondly, We acknowledge in them an inherent perfection of righteousness and holiness, which is their sincerity, integrity, and uprightness of heart in all things before God: usually called the perfection of parts: as a child, though new born, is a perfect man in all the parts: and thus James saith, that he who sins not in word, is a perfect man, that is, he is able to bridle all the body. James iii. 2, 3. And this commendation the Scriptures give of men, notwithstanding their frailties, that are not hypocrites, and hollow-hearted: the whole man being sanctified, though not wholly. 1 Kings xv. 14; Job i. 1. Thirdly, We acknowledge also in some men a perfection in degree, not absolute, but hi comparison of others, though godly: and that, whereas some are but as children and babes in grace, others are as grown and perfect men in comparison, both for knowledge, stableness of faith, and all grace. Which two sorts of men are usually opposed as strong and weak, in the Scriptures: unto which perfection all must strive to attain, and not continue always children and babes, which is both shameful and dangerous. Heb. v. 12–14; Eph. iv. 11–13; Phil. iii. 15; Rom. xv. 1.
But, for any such perfection in this world, as wherein a man stands not need continually to renew his repentance, and to purge himself of the remnants of sin, “casting off the old man,” and “putting on the new man,” and to grow in the knowledge, and grace of God by the use of the Scriptures, and other God's ordinances leading thereunto, it is none other but a most dangerous delusion of that “prince of darkness transforming himself into an angel of light.”
And to let pass the common infirmities, yea (by occasion) the greater falls, noted in the Scriptures, of those holy men, of whose perfection the same Scriptures testify: as also the daily, monthly, and yearly sacrifices ordinarily to be offered of old, for all and every one of the congregation, as evidences of their guilt. Solomon teacheth, 1 Kings viii. 46, that there is no man, that sinneth not; according to which, is that in the Preacher, Eccl. vii. 20, “There is not a wise man upon earth that doth good, and sinneth not.” And who can say (saith the wise man) “I have made my heart clean, I am clean from my sin?” Prov. xx. 9. And if any man do say that he hath no sin, he deceiveth himself, and there is no truth in him. For though he who is born of God sinneth not, that is commits not, or works not sin, making it his course and trade, as it were, which only he doth, who is of the devil, yet puts John himself in the number of them, who cannot say without lying, that they sin not. 1 John i. 8; iii. 4—8. Thus David acknowledged in general, that no man can know his errors, and so doth pray to be freed from secret faults, Psa. xix. 12: and so doth the apostle profess of himself in particular that he is not perfect; but only follows after, and presses hard toward the mark, Phil. iii. 12, 13: and however in that his race, he was so cumbered with that his clogging and pressing sin, Heb. xii. 1, as that like a law it forced him both from the good which he would have done, and to the evil which he would not have done, and that when he would have done well, evil was present with him: though in his inward man, that is, so far as he was regenerate, which was far beyond any now, “he delighted in the law of God, and served it.” Rom. vii. 7—25.
Lastly, If any in this life come to the perfection of leaving sinning, they must also leave praying, and so leave being Christ's disciples: for he hath taught all his disciples every day to ask the forgiveness of their trespasses, Matt. vi. 12: yea, they must be past being godly, for “for this,” because God is merciful in forgiving sins, “every godly man shall pray unto him in an acceptable time. “Psa. xxxii. 6. And lastly, they must be past hope of Christ's coming in glory, for “every one that hath this hope in him, purgeth himself,” as he is pure. 1 John iii. 3. So long, therefore, as we are absent from Christ, and till our glory in him appear, we must still be purging ourselves; which if the filth of sin were not still in us, less or more, we need not be: as we must also grow in grace, and edify ourselves in our most holy faith, being, as we are from the truth, se far from the vain presumption of any such perfection, as is by these men intended.
section xi.—on the visible church.
That “the outward or visible church consists of penitent persons, and believing only,” Conclusions 61–71, opposing them to impenitent and unbelievers, and that such only are to be baptized, I acknowledge, and the scriptures brought confirm; but deny it, opposing believers to their infants, which are neither unbelievers and impenitent, nor innocent, as is affirmed. The vineyard and kingdom which was taken from the Jews, is let out, and given to us, Matt. xxi. 43, in which though no briars, nor brambles, nor fruitless trees might grow, yet young plants, and imps, not yet bringing forth fruit actually, both might and may; as children might and maybe in God's kingdom, though no rebels.
In Conclusion 65, the visible church is unfitly called, “a figure of the invisible;” as is the “invisible” untruly said to “consist only of the spirits of just and perfect men.” He who hath in him true faith, and holiness, is a member of the invisible church; and the same person, making holy profession thereof, outwardly, in the order left by Christ, a member of the visible church: and the whole man of both, and not the soul of the one, and body of the other: though of the invisible in respect of the inward faith seen of God; and of the visible in respect of the outward manifestation before men, arising from the former. The scriptures brought, which are Rev. i. 10, with xxi. 2,13,27, speak of the visible church only, and so are impertinent.
The particulars which I deem amiss, Conclusion 68, I have noted in the 56th proposition: and refer the reader thither.
“That the sacraments have the same use that the Word hath, and teach to the eye of them that understand, as the Word teacheth the ears of them, that have ears to hear, Prov, ii. 3, and that therefore they pertain no more to infants, than the Word doth,” Conclusion 74; is neither true in all points, nor well applied in any.
For First, The Word serves to convert men, Psa. xix. 7, and is to be ministered to unconverted and profane persons: which use the sacraments have not, nor must be administered to such. Secondly, If this, applied to infants, were true, then should not circumcision have been administered to the Israelitish infants, who had not ears to hear. Yet is the ground good, being rightly laid, unto which that also, Conclusion 73, is agreeable, though the Scriptures be brought hand over head to confirm it. For as God by promising Abraham that he would be his God, and the God of his seed, preached to his ear, so by giving him, and his seed circumcision, he preached to his eye, for the ratification of the same promise. And so is it now with us, who have received grace to be of the faith of Abraham, having the same covenant, promise, or gospel preached by doctrine to our ear, and confirmed by baptism to our eye, for ourselves and our seed.
To the 82nd Conclusion, “that there is no succession in that outward church, but that all the succession is from heaven, and that the new creature only hath the thing signified, and substance, whereof the outward church, and ordinances are shadows,” Col. ii. 16, 17, I answer, 1. That the apostle, Col. ii., speaks only of the Jewish ordinances, which are abolished, and not of the church ordinances now. 2ndly. If it be meant that all succession is from heaven, immediately, it is a phantasy: if, mediately, then must the outward succession, to wit of ministry, be in the outward church, whereof it is an ordinance. And whereas the church, and new creature are opposed, it is amiss, since the church is to consist only of such men as are in their measure renewed by the Holy Ghost, and sanctified: and if by the new creature they mean any other thing, it is a new creature of their own making.
section xii.—on magistracy and oaths.
In Conclusion 83, where the office of the magistrate, is called a “permissive ordinance of God,” it is both a contradiction, and evil speaking of them in authority. Where it is called “an ordinance of God,” it is confessed good, for “every creature of God is good,” and all his ordinances are his creatures; and so, many things are ascribed to the office of magistrates in this, and the other Conclusions about it, which prove it to be good, and lawful in itself: but where it is made “permissive,” it is condemned as evil: since only evil is permitted, or suffered of God.
And where it is objected, Proposition 85, that Christ's disciples must love their enemies, and not kill them: pray for them, and not punish them, &c, I answer, that the godly magistrate may do both. Doth not God punish with temporary death those that he loveth? and why may not God's deputies, the gods upon earth, be minded as God herein? Psa. lxxxii. 1, 6. When the godly kings, and governors in Israel were commanded to execute judgment and justice upon the people for their transgressions, were they commanded not to love them, and not to pray for them? When Mr. Smyth in his sickness, tells his children, as it is in the end of the book, “that if he live, he must correct and beat them, not because he hates them, but because he loves them, as God did him,” doth he not answer the objection, and show that those two may well stand together, as in the private father, so in the public father, the magistrate? Where again it is said that “Christ's disciples must with him be persecuted, afflicted, murdered,” &c., and “that by the authority of the magistrate:” I do answer; that those things are not simply necessary for all persons, but as God calls men unto them. And second, both the Scriptures, and other stories do testify that godly magistrates themselves, have suffered these things for the Lord and his truth, and for well-doing: sometimes the inferior magistrates, by the superior, and sometimes the governors by the people under them. Instances we have hereof in Moses, David, Gedaliah, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, with Nicodemus, and others many more. Exod. iii. 11, 12, 15; Acts vii. 25; xvi. 2, 3; Numb. Xiv. 2,10; xvi. 1–3; 1 Sam. xviii. 8, 9, 12; Dan. vi. 3; iii. 12; John vii. 52; Tit. i. 5. And much it is that these men should acknowledge that magistrates are to be prayed for, and given thanks for, as the Scriptures teach, 1 Tim. ii. 1, 3, and that their ordinance is of God, and for the good of mankind, Rom. xiii. 1, in the works whereof they may please God, 2 Kings x. 3O; and in all these, that it is a good and lawful thing, for no unlawful thing is of God, nor pleaseth him, nor is to be prayed, or given thanks for, and yet for it should exclude them from the church, as not being Christ's disciples. Doth any good and lawful thing hinder a man from being Christ's disciple, unto whom all creatures and ordinances are sanctified, and pure? or are men to be kept out of the church for well-doing? Surely even as lawfully as to be received in for evil-doing. They add “that the magistrate is not to meddle with religion, or matters of conscience, nor to compel men to this, or that form of religion, because Christ is the King, and Lawgiver of the church and conscience.” James iv. 12. I answer that this indeed proves that he may alter, devise, or establish nothing in religion otherwise than Christ hath appointed, but proves not, that he may not use his lawful power lawfully for the furtherance of Christ's kingdom and laws. The prophet Isaiah speaking of the church of Christ, foretells “that kings shall be her nursing fathers, and queens her nursing mothers:” which if they meddle not with her, how can they be? Isa. xlix. 23. And where these men make this, the magistrate's only work, “that justice, and civility may be preserved amongst men,” the apostle teacheth another end, which is, “that we may lead a peaceable life under them in all godliness.” 1 Tim. ii. 2. It is true they have no power against the laws, doctrines, and religion of Christ: but for the same, if their power be of God, they may use it lawfully, and against the contrary. And so it was in special foretold by John, that” the kings of the earth should make the whore desolate, and naked, and eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” Rev. xvii. 16.
This Mr. Helwisse frivolously interprets “of their spiritual weapons,” which are no other than the spiritual weapons of all other Christians; besides that it is contrary to the clear meaning of the Holy Ghost, which is, that these kings should first use their civil power for the “beast”and “whore,” and after against them to their destruction.
To conclude this point then; both these men, and Mr. H. especially, in his whole discourse about this matter, labours of the common disease of all ignorant men, in pleading against the use of the ordinance by the abuse; which stands either in prohibiting anything which God hath commanded, or in commanding anything which he-hath forbidden; as indeed he hath whatsoever he bath not commanded, either expressly or by consequence, in his religion and worship.
Lastly, It is not truly affirmed “that Christians must judge all their causes of difference amongst themselves, sad may not go to law before magistrates, nor use an oath.” For the first head is alleged 1 Cor. vi. 1, 7.
I answer that Paul doth not there simply forbid the saints going to law, but going to law under infidels; and that wronging and oppressing one another, when they should rather have suffered wrong, or at least have appointed some able men for arbitrators, to have ended things. Which course, when doubtful differences of weight do arise, the members of the church ought to take, and so to Test in their equal determinations. But what if none of the church can sufficiently judge of the things, or settle them in peace for after posterity? as it may well come to pass, in cases of inheritance especially, the matter may, and ought, quietly and peaceably to be referred to the magistrate's determination. His office being of God, God's people may have the sanctified use of any lawful work thereof.
Touching an oath. It is not the meaning of our Saviour, Matt. v. 34, 37, nor of his apostle James, v. 12, absolutely to forbid the use of it: and to restrain all speech to “yea and nay:” for then Christ had broken his own rule ia his so usual asseverations of “verily, verily,” or “amen,” which are more than bare “yea and nay.”
The meaning of Christ was to free the law from the corrupt gloss of the Pharisees, who taught that it was no binding oath, in which the name of God was not expressly mentioned, but the creature's only; as it was both his and his apostle's meaning to reprove needless swearing in ordinary communication. Christ our Lord professeth of himself “that he came not to destroy the law,” or ten words, “but to fulfil it,” Matt. v. 17: and having taken away the curse thereof by his death, to “write the same in our hearts,” that we might also observe it, and so use God's name holily as a part thereof. Jer. xxxi. 32; Heb. viii. 10. We read how God himself swore sundry times for man's confirmation and assurance. And is any man either more holy, or better to be trusted than he, that an oath should be either unholy or grievous to him? We have also for our warrant the examples of the holy patriarchs and prophets, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the rest, sometimes giving unto others, and sometimes taking oaths of them, which being done religiously, was also a part of, and sundry times put for the whole solemn worship of God; and the same, not ceremonial and shadowish, but moral and eternal. Isa. xlv. 23; Jer. xii. 16; Psa. Ixiii. 11. And since strifes will always be amongst men, and those many times such, as in which no sufficient testimony by men, or other proof, can be had, an oath, wherein God is called to witness the truth, and to avenge the contrary, is always of use: which the apostle directly teacheth, Heb. vi. 10, “An oath for confirmation is unto men an end of all doubts.” The lawfulness whereof the same apostle doth plainly confirm, by his own practice, “taking God for his witness,” Rom. i. 9, and again, “taking God for a record upon his soul,” that is to be revenged upon him therein, that he “lied not” unto them. 2 Cor. i. 13.
And thus much for this conclusion, wherewith I will also conclude the book; entreating of God through Christ, that all who seek his truth in sincerity, that in the knowledge and obedience thereof, they may please him, may both find the same, and with myself, mercy and forgiveness in all our errors and failings of this life, which how many they are no man knoweth, nor can know, while he knoweth but in part, as all men but do, whilst they live in this world and are absent from the Lord.