- 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.
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.
PREFATORY NOTICE BY THE EDITOR.
The Rev. John Yates, B.D., was Fellow of Emanuel College, Cambridge, and subsequently minister of St. Andrews, Norwich. He was a Puritan, distinguished for his piety and abilities, and for whom Mr. Robinson entertained great respect. He wrote a treatise against “Persons Prophesying out of Office,” or, what in modern times is designated “Lay-preaching.” The arguments of Mr. Yates were copied out, and, when duly attested, were forwarded to Mr. Robinson, at Leyden, by a person whom he designates by the initials W. E. On reading them, the solicitudes of the expatriated minister of Norwich were revived, and he resolved on publishing, for the benefit of his former friends in that city, a Defence both of Lay-preaching in general, as a substitute for official ministrations when such could not be obtained, and of the practice which was not uncommon among the early Independents, of allowing any gifted brother who felt disposed, to arise and speak at the close of the minister's discourse.
The “People's Plea” contains this Defence, and consists, first, of a summary of Mr. Yates' arguments, seriatim; secondly, of Mr. Robinson's reply to each argument; and, thirdly, of a general view of the whole subject, confirming, illustrating, and amplifying the arguments already adduced.
Lay-preaching has long been a controverted subject among various parties. The Congregationalists themselves have not always been agreed respecting its validity and expediency. Generally, however, it has been allowed and encouraged by them, as a means of supplying the lack of ministerial service.
Mr. Hanbury has given an extended list of works on the subject, which were published shortly after the death of Mr. Robinson.