« PreviousContinue »
THE SIXTH PROPOSITION.
According to which principle (or hypothesis), all the objections against the universality of Christ's death are easily solved; neither is it needful to recur to the ministry of angels, and those other miraculous means which, they say, God makes use of, to inanifest the doctrine and history of Christ's passion unto such, who, living in those places of the world where the outward preaching of the gospel is unknown, hare well improved the first and common grace; for hence it well follows, that as some of the old philosophers might have been saved, so also may now some—who by providence are cast into those remote parts of the world where the knowledge of the history is wanting—be made partakers of the divine mystery, if they receive and resist not that
grace, “a manifestation whereof is given to every man to profit withal.” This certain doctrine then being received, to wit, that there is an evangelical and saving light and grace in all, the universality of the love and mercy of God towards mankind—both in the death of his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the manifestation of the light in the heart—is established and confirmed against all the objections of such as deny it. Therefore 'Christ hath tasted death for every man:'? not only for all kinds of men, as some vainly talk, but for every one, of all kinds; the benefit of whose offering is not only extended to such, who have the distinct outward knowledge of his death and sufferings, as the same is declared in the Scriptures, but even unto those who are necessarily excluded from the benefit of this knowledge by some inevitable accident; which knowledge we willingly confess to be very profitable and comfortable, but not absolutely needful unto such, from whom God himself hath withheld it; yet they may be made partakers of the mystery of his death—though ignorant of the history—if they suffer his seed and light-enlightening their heartsto take place; in which light communion with the Father and Son is enjoyed, so as of wicked men to become holy, and lovers of that power by whose inward and secret touches they feel themselves turned from the evil to the good, and learn to do to others as they would be done by; in which Christ himself affirms all to be included. As they then
11 Cor. xii. 7.
Heb. ii. 9.
is not lawful for any whatsoever, by virtue of any authority or principality they bear in the government of this world, to force the consciences of others; and therefore all killing, banishing, fining, imprisoning, and other such things, which men are afflicted with, for the alone exercise of their conscience, or difference in worship or opinion, proceedeth from the spirit of Cain, the murderer, and is contrary to the truth; provided always that no man, under the pretense of conscience, prejudice his neighbor in his life or estate, or do any thing destructive to, or inconsistent with, human society; in which case the law is for the transgressor, and justice to be administered upon all, withont respect of persons.'
THE FIFTEENTH PROPOSITION. Concerning Salutations and Recreations, etc. Seeing the chief end of all religion is to redeem man from the spirit and vain conversation of this world, and to lead into inward communion with God, before whom, if we fear always, we are accounted happy, therefore all the vain customs and habits thereof, both in word and deed, are to be rejected and forsaken by those who come to this fear; such as the taking off the hat to a man, the bowings and cringings of the body, and such other salutations of that kind, with all the foolish and superstitions formalities attending them; all which man has invented in his degenerate state, to feed his pride in the vain pomp and glory of this world; as also the unprofitable plays, frivolous recreations, sportings, and gamings which are invented to pass away the precious time, and divert the mind from the witness of God in the heart, and from the living sense of his fear, and from that evangelical Spirit wherewith Christians ought to be leavened, and which leads into sobriety, gravity, and godly fear; in which, as we abide, the blessing of the Lord is felt to attend us in those actions in which we are necessarily engaged, in order to the taking care for the sustenance of the outward man.?
* Luke ix. 55, 56; Matt. vii. 12, 29; Titus iii. 10. * Eph. v. 11; 1 Pet. i. 14; John v. 44; Jer. x. 3; Acts x. 26; Matt. xv. 13; Col. ü. 8.
or temptation of the evil one, but to be free from actual sinning and transgressing of the law of God, and in that respect perfect. Yet doth this perfection still admit of a growth; and there remaineth a possibility of sinning where the mind doth not most diligently and watchfully attend unto the Lord.'
THE NINTH PROPOSITION.
Concerning Perseverance, and the Possibility of Falling from Grace.
Although this gift and inward grace of God be sufficient to work ont salvation, yet in those in whom it is resisted it both may and doth become their condemnation. Moreover, in whom it hath wrought in part, to purify and sanctify them, in order to their further perfection, by disobedience such may fall from it, and turn it to wantonness, making shipwreck of faith; and after having tasted of the heavenly gift, and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, again fall away.'2 Yet such an increase and stability in the truth may in this life be attained, from which there can not be a total apostasy.
THE TENTH PROPOSITION.
Concerning the Ministry. As by this gift, or Light of God, all trne knowledge in things spiritual is received and revealed; so by the same, as it is manifested and received in the heart, by the strength and power thereof, every trne minister of the gospel is ordained, prepared, and supplied in the work of the ministry; and by the leading, moving, and drawing hereof ought every evangelist and Christian pastor to be led and ordered in his labor and work of the gospel, both as to the place where, as to the persons to whom, and as to the times when he is to minister. Moreover, those who have this anthority may and ought to preach the gospel, though without human commission or literature; as, on the other hand, those who want the authority of this divine gift, however learned or authorized by the commissions of men and churches, are to be esteemed but as deceivers, and not true ministers of the gospel. Also, who have received this holy and unspotted gift, ' as they have freely
? Rom. vi. 14; viji. 13; 1 John iïi. 6.
received, so are they freely to give,'' without hire or bargaining, far less to use it as a trade to get money by it: yet if God hath called any from their employments or trades, by which they acquire their livelihood, it may be lawful for such, according to the liberty which they feel given them in the Lord, to receive such temporals, to wit, what may be needful to them for meat and clothing—as are freely given them by those to whom they have communicated spirituals.
THE ELEVENTH PROPOSITION.
Concerning Worship. All true and acceptable worship to God is offered in the inward and immediate moving and drawing of his own Spirit, which is neither limited to places, times, or persons; for though we be to worship him always, in that we are to fear before him, yet as to the outward signification thereof in prayers, praises, or preachings, we ought not to do it where and when we will, but where and when we are moved thereunto by the secret inspirations of his Spirit in our hearts, which God heareth and accepteth of, and is never wanting to move us thereunto, when need is, of which he himself is the alone proper judge. All other worship then, both praises, prayers, and preachings, which man sets about in his own will, and at his own appointment, which he can both begin and end at his pleasure, do or leave undone, as himself sees meet, whether they be a prescribed form, as a liturgy, or prayers conceived extemporarily, by the natural strength and faculty of the mind, they are all but superstitions, will-worship, and abominable idolatry in the sight of God; which are to be denied, rejected, and separated from, in this day of his spiritual arising: however it might have pleased himwho winked at the times of ignorance, with respect to the simplicity and integrity of some, and of his own innocent seed, which lay as it were buried in the hearts of men, under the mass of superstition—to blow upon the dead and dry bones, and to raise some breathings, and answer them, and that until the day should more clearly dawn and break forth.2
* Matt. x. 8. Ezek. xiji. ; Matt. x. 20; Acts ii. 4; xviii. 5; John iii, 6; iv. 21; Jude 19; Acts xvii. 23.
THE TWELFTH PROPOSITION.
Concerning Baptism. As there is one Lord and one faith, so there is one baptisın; which is not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience before God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And this baptism is a pure and spiritual thing, to wit, the baptism of the Spirit and Fire, by which we are buried with him, that, being washed and purged from our sins, we may walk in newness of life;' of which the baptism of John was a figure, which was commanded for a time, and not to continue forever.
As to the baptism of infants, it is a mere human tradition, for which neither precept nor practice is to be found in all the Scripture.
THE THIRTEENTH PROPOSITION.
Concerning the Communion, or Participation of the Body and
Blood of Christ. The communion of the body and blood of Christ is inward and spiritual, which is the participation of his flesh and blood, by which the inward man is daily nourished in the hearts of those in whom Christ dwells;? of which things the breaking of bread by Christ with his disciples was a figure, which they even used in the Church for a time, who had received the substance, for the cause of the weak; even as 'abstaining from things strangled, and from blood; the washing one another's feet, and the anointing of the sick with oil;3 all which are commanded with no less authority and solemnity than the former; yet seeing they are but the shadows of better things, they cease in such as have obtained the substance.
THE FOURTEENTH PROPOSITION.
Concerning the Power of the Civil Magistrate, in matters purely
religious, and pertaining to the conscience. Since God hath assumed to himself the power and dominion of the conscience, who alone can rightly instruct and govern it, therefore it
Eph. iv. 5; 1 Pet. iii. 21; Rom. vi. 4; Gal. iii. 27; Col. ii, 12; John iii. 30; 1 Cor. i. 17. ' 1 Cor. x. 16, 17; John vi. 32, 33, 35; I Cor. v. 8. Acts xv. 20; John xiii. 14 ; James v. 14.