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tend it for, that we permit women and children, tinkers and cobblers, to read the scripture. But I pray, what was the meaning of Timothy's knowing the holy scripture from a child ? Was it that he knew the words of it only, or the sense of it also ? If the former, a parrot may be taught as much as Timothy had learned, and consequently deserve as high a commendation as he; if the latter, then it seems the scripture is plain enough for a well-disposed child to know the sense of it, so far forth at least as it is necessary to be known; and this is as much as we desire. If therefore God requires us to read the scripture, as Timothy did, to the end that we may know and understand it as he did, then either we may understand the sense of it by reading it, or else God requires us to read it in vain.
4. And lastly, From the obligation we lie under upon pain of damnation to believe and receive those necessaries to salvation contained in scripture, it is also evident, that as to all those necessaries it is plain and clear. That we are obliged to believe, under pain of damnation, all that the scripture proposes as necessary to our salvation, is agreed on all hands; but how can men be justly obliged to believe such things as are obscure, and doubtful, and uncertain, and of which they can have no certain knowledge? Either the necessaries to salvation must be plainly and clearly expressed in scripture, or we have not sufficient reason to believe them; and to say God will damn us for not believing those things which he hath not given us sufficient reason to believe, is to charge him with the most outrageous oppression and injustice. But we are told, that though God hath not clearly revealed to us in scripture those things which he hath obliged us to believe upon pain of damnation, yet he hath left us sufficient reason to believe them; for he hath left us to the conduct of an infallible church, that is to say, of the present church of Rome in all ages, whom he hath authorized to explain and define to us all things that are necessary to be believed, which we are to receive upon her authority, and not upon the scriptures; so that if we firmly believe what she defines and proposes to us, we are sure to believe all things that are necessary to be believed. Now in answer to this objection, which indeed is the great foundation that the faith of those of the present church of Rome relies on, I desire these things may be seriously considered :
1. That before we can reasonably rely upon the authority of the present church of Rome, in defining and proposing to us the articles of our faith, there are sundry things that we must believe upon the authority of scripture.
2. That these things which we must believe from scripture, before we can rely upon the authority of that church, are at least as obscurely revealed in scripture as any other article of our Christian faith.
3. That after all these things, upon our relying on that church's authority, we are left to the same or greater uncertainties than upon our relying upon the authority of scripture.
4. That in relying upon the authority of the scripture, we are left to no other uncertainties than just what is necessary to render our faith virtuous and rewardable; whereas by relying upon the authority of that church, supposing it to be a certain ground, as it is pretended, our faith would have little or nothing of virtue in it.
1. That before we can reasonably rely upon the authority of that church, in defining and proposing to us the articles of our faith, there are sundry things that we must believe upon the authority of scripture. As for instance, we must in the first place believe that there is a church, or society of Christians separated from the world, or incorporated by a peculiar divine charter. Now whether there be such a church or no, is a question that must be resolved by the scripture, and not by the church ; because to believe that there is a church, because the church saith there is a church, is to take that for granted which is the thing in question. Secondly, We must believe that this church hath authority to define and propose to us the articles of our faith, which must also for the same reason be believed on the authority of the scripture, and not of the church. For to believe that there is a church that hath authority to propose to us the articles of our faith, is to believe that there is a church which we are obliged to believe; and how can I believe this upon the church's authority, unless I can believe it before I do believe it? Thirdly, Before we can rely upon this church's authority in defining and proposing to us the articles of our faith, we must believe that this church is infallible; for if she be not infallible, how is it consistent with the truth of God to oblige us to believe her, seeing in so doing he must oblige us whensoever she errs to believe her errors? But that she is infallible is not to be believed upon her own authority, for then her infallible authority must be the reason of our belief that she is infallible; that is, we must believe her infallible because we believe her infallible. Seeing then we cannot believe it on her own authority, if we believe it at all, it must be upon the authority of scripture. Fourthly, Before we can rely upon the church of Rome's authority to define to us the articles of our faith, we must believe the church of Rome to be this infallible church : but seeing this is no self-evident principle, we must have some other evidence besides herself to induce us to believe it; and what else can that be but scripture? We are told indeed by some of her greatest divines, that there are certain marks and notes of a true church, peculiar to the church of Rome, by which we are obliged to believe her the true church; such as antiquity, universality, holiness of doctrine, &c. But seeing no doctrine can be holy that is not true, we must be satisfied that that church is true before we can know that it is holy; so that before we can reasonably submit to her authority, we must be very well assured that her doctrine is true, and this we cannot be assured of by her authority, because that, as yet, is the matter in question; and therefore we can be no otherwise assured of it, but only by the authority of scripture; and when we are assured beforehand by the authority of scripture that her doctrines are true, her authority comes too late to assure us. Seeing therefore it is evident that there are some, if not all the articles of the Roman faith, that must be known and believed by us upon the authority of scripture, before we can safely rely upon her authority to define them to us, how can we be obliged to settle our faith upon her authority, when as before we can reasonably admit her au
thority, we must believe several of the articles of our faith upon the authority of scripture ? For I would fain know, are these articles of faith, or no: That there is a church; that this church hath authority to define the articles of our faith, and that in so defining, this church is infallible, and that this infallible church is the church of Rome? If they be, as they themselves own they are, then there are some articles it seems that must be believed without the church's authority, upon the single authority of scripture; and if some, why not all ? Why should not the scripture be as sufficient to authorize us to believe the rest as these, since its authority is as great in one text as in another ? Especially considering,
2. That these things which we must believe from scripture, before we can rely upon the authority of the church of Rome, are at least as obscurely revealed in scripture, as any other article of our Christian faith. The great reason urged by the Romanists against our reliance upon the scripture for our faith, is the obscurity of it; and if this be a good reason, it proves a great deal more than they would have it, viz. that we ought not to rely upon scripture even for those articles, without believing of which we can have no sufficient ground to rely upon the authority of their church. For I would fain know, is it clear and plain from scripture that the present catholic church of every age hath authority to define the articles of faith, and that in all its definitions it is infallible ? and that the present church of Rome is this catholic church? If so, how come those texts, upon which those articles are founded, to be understood in a quite different sense, not only by us, but by the greatest part of the primitive fathers, as hath been