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THE Credit and favourable Reception that this Book of Dr. Ellis‘s has met with amongst Men of Letters, is a sufficient Apology for giving it a new Birth, and making its Use of a larger Extent. It was Published in Latin in the Year 1660. Reprinted in 1694. And because both Impressions are now quite sold off, it became necessary either to give it a new Edition, or a new Language: The latter (as being of more general Use ) was chosen: And therefore I have endeavoured to make the Author speak as good English, as a Sententious and Argumentative Style would easily bear, without too much wresting and wandering from the Sense.
It is something wonderful to observe, how ignorant many People are of the very Articles of that Religion, which they have all along professed themselves to be Members of: As if it were enough to be of the Church of England, without having any tolerable System of its Doctrine, much less knowing how to defend them against the Cavils of our Enemies: Whereas we are not afraid to encourage Men to have recourse to those Articles of our Religion, by which (we own ) we must stand or fall. The bold and daring Attempts of Men of restless Spirits in this Age, make it highly necessary for every Christian to consider well, and examine what it is he believes, and what Foundation his Faith stands upon: that he may be ready always to give an Answer to them that ask him a Reason of the Hope that is in him, and may be able by sound Doctrine to convince the Gainsayers.
Nov. 11. 1699.
A Defence of the Thirty Nine Articles of the Church of England.
Artic. I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
THERE is but One Living and True God everlasting, without Body, Parts, or Passions; Of infinite Power, Wisdom, and Goodness; the Maker and Preserver of all things, both visible and invisible: And in the Unity of this Godhead there are Three Persons of One Substance, Power and Eternity; The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Obj. 1. Against which it is objected, 1. That there are Gods many; according to the Apostle, 1 Cor. 8. 5.
Answ. 1. The Apostle says not, that there are many Gods with respect to their Essence; but either with Relation to the Error of some that say the Planets are Gods, or else according to some certain Similitude; as Magistrates are sometimes called so.
Obj. 2. The Phrases of [Time past] and [Time to come] are spoken of God, and therefore he is not Eternal.
Answ. Such Words are spoken of God, not as tho’ he had any Variation thro’ them, but because his Eternity does comprehend all Times.
Obj. 3. The Scriptures testify, that God has Hands and Eyes, &c. and therefore he is not Incorporeal.
Answ. Such Parts are not attributed to God, as really such; but by way of Similitude, and upon the account of his Actings, as the Action of the Eye is to see; from whence it is that the Eye, when ’tis spoken of God, means his Power of Seeing, not after a sensible, but intellectual manner; and the like is to be said of all other Parts of the Body.
Obj. 4. It is said, Gen. 6. 6. that God repented; and elsewhere, that he was subject to other Passions.
Answ. Repentance is indeed attributed to God, as if he were affected as Men are, because he acts sometimes after the manner of one that repents; but this is spoken not as to any Affection in God, but as to the Effect of the thing: And the like is to be said of other Passions.
Obj. 5. The Angels are not reckoned up by Moses among the Works of the Creation.
Answ. We do not read in Genesis the very Words of the Creation of Angels, yet this is to be understood there, both Chap. 1. ver. 1. and Chap. 2. ver. 1. They are the heavenly Host; and the Apostle to the Colossians (Chap. 1. 16, 17.) expresly affirms, That God is the Creator of all things Visible and Invisible.
Obj. 6. It is objected, That the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not true, but rather contradicts it self; because there is but One God, therefore not Three; but there would be Three Gods, if the Father was God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God. Now when we speak of a Person, we mean these Two things the Essence, and the manner of Subsisting.
Answ. From a Trinity of Persons in created Beings is rightly inferred a threefold Essence; but not so in Divine Beings. If we name a Person of the Holy Trinity, we mean a Nature or Essence that is common to more Persons than One: But created things, because they are finite, their Substances or Persons must be separate. So Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, although by a common Nature and Reason they are called Men, yet are not One but Three Men: And because in Divine Persons, the Being or Essence is infinite, therefore Three Persons subsisting in it, although they they be truly Three, yet are but One God.
Obj. 7. The Doctrine of a Trinity of Persons does infer a Composition in God. Where there is Essence and Person, there is a Composition either from a general or a particular Nature: And where there are these Two, there there is a Composition: But in God there is both, because his Essence is one thing, and his Person another.
Answ. There is not in God a Conjunction of an universal and particular Nature, since God is the most simple Essence. Nature, and Suppositum (tho’ two things) do not make a Composition in God, as it does in created Beings, in which Nature is one absolute thing, and the Suppositum another: whereas in God the Suppositum has a relative Nature, and a Relation does not compound, but distinguish; more especially in God, where the Relation does not really differ from its Foundation. Where there is an Union between Two absolute Things, there indeed there is a Composition: But in God, his Essence is absolute, and the Person relative: And Persons do not differ from one another really and essentially, but really and personally, i. e. by relative Personalities.
Obj. 8. Where there are One and Three Beings, there there are Four: But in God there are One and Three Beings; the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are Three, and yet Essence it self is none of these.
Answ. * There is one only Essence in God, and Three Persons are only the Three Modes of his Subsistence: Now Modes do not number a thing, but they are numbered and included in it; so that it cannot be said to be different from them. So, for Example, if there be Three Degrees of Light, the Morning, Noon, and Evening Light, Light it self will not be any fourth thing in respect of these Degrees, which are to be reckoned up and included under Light singly and simply considered.* We are not to imagine here, that the Author meant to favour the Sabellian Heresy: For though to say, that Three Persons are Three modes of Subsistence, be Sabellianism, yet as an Answer to the foregoing Objection, the fairest Interpretation is, That though there be Three distinct Persons in the Godhead or Divine Nature, the Divine Nature is not to be reckoned as a thing distinct and separate from them: And this will give likewise an Orthodox Sense to the Comparison of Light.
Obj. 9. If there be Three Persons in the Divine Essence, then there will be first and second, before and after, and so it will not be perfectly simple.
Answ. [Before and after] do not relate to the Essence, but to the Modes of subsisting: And though they generally suppose a priority of Time and Essence, yet there is a priority of Order, that does not exclude a Co-aeternity: And Eternity has relation to the Essence of God.
Obj. 10. The Doctrine of the Trinity is contrary to Reason, because it asserts the same numerical Essence to be wholly in One and wholy in Three, which seems impossible.
Answ. The Divine Essence is One and Infinite, and so is wholly in One Person, and wholly in Three: This cannot be said to be impossible, since the Essence of a reasonable Soul is totally in the whole, and wholly in every Part. Now the true Image of this thing is this, That many Men are One Man only by a Participation of the Species or Humane Nature.
Obj. 11. This Doctrine introduces Three Infinites, when it is impossible there should be any more than One.
Answ. There is One Infinite, viz. the Divine Essence; however that Infinity is not a personal Property, but an essential one: There are not indeed Three infinite Gods; but Three Persons make up One infinite Nature.
Obj. 12. The Father is said to be the only true God, Joh. 17. 3.
Answ. Hereby are excluded all fictitious Deities or Creatures, but not the Son or the Holy Ghost: Even the Father alone is God, who has an Omnipotent Son.
Obj. 13. The Scripture does not make use of these Words and Phrases: Trinity, Person and to proceed.
Art. II. Of the Word or Son of God which was made very Man.
THE Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one Substance with the Father, took Man’s Nature in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin of her Substance: So that Two whole and perfect Natures; that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood were joined together in One Person never to be divided; whereof is One Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a Sacrifice, not only for Original Guilt, but also for the Actual Sins of Men.
Obj. 1. That it does by no means agree to a Spiritual Nature to beget; therefore Christ is not begotten of God.
Answ. This is true, Physically speaking, in the manner that corporeal Substances beget their Likeness and Substance; but it very well agrees in a Metaphysical Sense, as an Angelical or Human Mind begets Reason, which is the proper Fruit of the Mind, and in the most Spiritual Sense of all, we may suppose one Person to beget another, from and in himself, as the Father begat the Son.
Obj. 2. That Christ has not all the Divine Perfections, because he wants Paternity, which is a Perfection of the Father; therefore he is not God.
Answ. Christ has all the absolute Perfections that are common to the Three Persons, which is sufficient, although he has not the Chracteristical Ones, which are proper only to One.
Obj. 3. That if the Father and the Son are of the same Essence, then if the Son be incarnate and made Flesh, the Father is so too.
Answ. The whole Divine Essence is incarnate, not absolutely, but relatively; inasmuch as it is wholly in the Son, the whole Divinity originally undertook the Work of Incarnation. This may be illustrated by a Similitude: Three Sisters weave one Garment, and the second wears it.
Obj. 4. If the eternal Son of God be incarnated, it follows that he had a Being, and was a Person before he was incarnate: If this be so, What is that which was conceived in the Virgin’s Womb, and born? Not a Person; for then there would be Two Persons, and Two Sons of God. If the Person is not born of the Virgin, how does that deserve to be called a Man which is born of her, since no body can be called a Man, that is not a Humane Person? For a Man is distinguished to be such by his Person, and nothing else.
Answ. There is one sort of Individual which subsists of it self, and is rightly called Person; and another, which does not subsist of it self, but in another, as the Hand in the Body: But because it does not subsist of it self, is therefore not to be called a Person. So the Humane Nature of Christ never did subsist by it self, but always in the Divine Logos; and for that Reason was never of it self a Person.
Obj. 5. God sent his Son, not in true Flesh, but (as the Apostle says, Rom. 8. 3.) in the Similitude of sinful Flesh: And so Christ was not a true Man.
Answ. The true Flesh of Christ is called the Similitude of Flesh, not simply so, but as obnoxious to the Sin of the Flesh; not that Christ did assume the Likeness of Flesh, and as it were the Image of a Body, and not a real one, but only the Similitude of sinning Flesh: This could not be; for Christ was not a Sinner, though he was like to Sinners.
Obj. 6. Christ and Melchisedeck are compared together, because both of them were without Father and without Mother, Heb. 7. 3. And therefore Christ was not born of a Virgin.
Answ. Christ is said to be without Father and Mother, in respect to different Natures, not simply so: For he was without Father in respect of his Humane Nature, and in respect of his Divine, without Mother.
Obj. 7. God was not angry with Mankind, but abundantly loved it, and therefore out of meer Charity sent his Son; for which Reason there was no necessity that the Father should be reconciled to us.
Art. III. Of the going down of Christ into Hell.
AS Christ died for us, and was buried, so also it is to be believed that he went down into Hell.
Obj. 1. The Evangelists that have mentioned the most minute Circumstances in the History of Christ, do not speak one Word of this Descent into Hell.
Answ. The Evangelists desired only to relate those things of Christ, whereof either they themselves were Eye-witnesses, or else had it from others that were so; but no Mortal could see Christ descend.
Obj. 2. Christ did not go down into Hell in his Deity, which is every where; nor in his Body, which was laid in a Sepulcher; nor in his Soul, which was in Paradise, Luke 23. 43.
Answ. The Soul of Christ might be upon one and the same Day in Hell and in Paradise: For why may we not say, that Christ, after his Death, and the Union of his Soul and Body restored, might in a Moment descend into Hell, and in a Moment return from thence? We ought to believe many things, the Manner and Circumstances whereof we are not able to define.
Obj. 3. Christ did not descend, that he might, show his Victory, because his Resurrection was but the beginning of his Triumph; nor that he might further suffer, because he said upon the Cross, It is finished: nor finally, that he might free the Fathers from Limbo, since Limbo is a meer Tale.
Answ. * His Resurrection was the beginning of his Triumph manifested to us, but perhaps not absolutely so; for his Descent into the Lower Parts (mentioned Eph. 4. 9.) was before his Resurrection: And this Place seems very strongly to prove the real Descent of Christ into Hell. Nor by our Adversaries Confession is there any Impiety in this Opinion, if it be said, that Christ went to manifest his Victory to the infernal Spirits, and then presently enter’d into Paradise, as he promis’d the Thief.* The Opinion of Bishop Pearson, and other eminent men of our Church in this Matter, seems to be safer, and less liable to Exceptions. That by Hell or Hades is meant rather the Place and State of the Dead, after the Separation of Soul and Body, when Christ (as to his Humanity) was willing to be detained till his Resurrection.
Obj. 4. It did not become Christ to honour those with his Presence, who had been unworthy of his Favour, and were eternally damned.
Art. IV. Of the Resurrection of Christ.
CHRIST did truly rise again from Death, and took again his Body, with Flesh, Bones, and all things appertaining to the Perfection of Man’s Nature, wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sits, until he return to judge all Men at the last Day.
Yet it should seem that Christ could not raise himself from the Dead. For, (Obj. 1.) It appears very unaccountable, that any one should die, and yet raise himself to Life again.
Answ. It is indeed very unaccountable that mere Man should rise again by his own Power; but Christ is God as well as Man.
Obj. 2. The Scriptures generally ascribe the Resurrection of Christ to God the Father, as Rom. 6. 4.
Answ. His Resurrection is indeed ascribed to the Father, but not to him alone: It is attributed to both, because of the perfect Unity of their Essence. Whatsoever the Father does, that does the Son do likewise.
Obj. 3. ‘Tis objected, That Bodies, after Resurrection, are not Flesh and Bones, but of a Spiritual Nature, 1 Cor. 15. 44. how could Christ then reassume his Body with Flesh and Bones?
Answ. Bodies after their Resurrection are said to be Spiritual, not as to their Substance and Essence; but as to their Qualities and Endowments, they will be like to Spirits, immortal, and wanting neither Meat nor Drink.
Obj. 4. Bodies of Flesh are not immortal, because, as the Prophet Esa. 4. 6. says, All Flesh is Grass.
Ans. All Flesh of pure Man is corruptible, and as Grass; but the Flesh of Christ is not such: The Prophet there speaks of the common and ordinary Condition of Mortals, and not of a most glorious Saviour, who is very God.
Obj. 5. The Apostle tells us, 1 Cor. 15. 50. That Flesh and Blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; how then could Christ with both these ascend up into Heaven?
Answ. The Apostle speaks of Man as corrupted, and not washed from his Sins by Christ, or else of Flesh not yet freed from Corruption, That such shall not inherit the Kingdom of God; for the Body cannot enter into Heaven till it be freed from Corruption.
Obj. 6. Christ will not forsake us even to the last Judgment; for he told his Disciples, Mat. 28. 20. Lo I am with you, even to the end of the World. And in the way to Damascus he appeared to St. Paul. Acts 9. 17. And again in the Castle, he stood by him in the Night, Acts 23. 11.
Answ. Christ speaks of a Spiritual Presence by his Grace, and not of a Bodily one by Nature: And then what if Christ did promise his Disciples that he would be with them by a Substantial Presence, if need so required? We are not to fix Christ so to the Heavens, as if he could not appear upon Earth, as perhaps in an extraordinary manner he did appear to St. Paul; although many understand that place of a mental Vision: However Heaven is the ordinary place of his Residence.
Obj. 7. It is apparent that Christ will not judge all Men; for he that believes shall not come into Judgment, John 5. 24. The Prince of this World, the Devil, is already judged, John 16. 11. And also he that believes not, John 3. 18. is condemned already.
Art. V. Of the Holy Ghost.
THE Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one Substance, Majesty, and Glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
Obj. 1. Altho’ the Spirit of Truth be said to proceed from the Father, John 15. 16. yet it does not seem to proceed from the Son, because it is no where said so in Scripture.
Answ. Although it be not said in the very Words, that the Spirit proceeds from the Son, yet ’tis plainly called the Spirit of the Son, Gal. 4. 6. And the Spirit of Christ, Rom. 8. 9. And then Christ says, John 15. 26. that he would send them the Spirit from the Father: In which Words he seems to mean, that it would proceed from him likewise: Though, speaking as a Man, by way of Respect, he attributes it to the Father. There is no need to dispute too nicely about this Matter; if it be but granted, that the Holy Ghost has an eternal Dependance on the Son, ’tis to no purpose to strive about Words and Terms.
Obj. 2. The Holy Ghost was not from Eternity, John 7. 39.
Answ. This Place does not speak concerning the Being or Person, but of the Gifts and Operations of the Holy Ghost.
Obj 3. The Holy Ghost is not every where, because he changes place: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, says the Angel to Mary, Luke 1. 35. And in the same place; the Virtue of the most High shall over-shadow thee; therefore neither is he the most High.
Answ. The Words [come upon thee] do not signify any change of Place, but a particular Manifestation in some certain Place: And then the Holy Ghost is essentially the most High, tho’ not personally so, if by the Name of [most High] the Father be understood.
Obj. 4. The Holy Ghost does not know all things; because none knows the Father but the Son, Mat. 11. 27. therefore he is not God.
Answ. The Word [none] excludes only Creatures, and not the Holy Ghost, who perfectly knows the Father, 1 Cor. 2. 10.
Obj. 5. All things are made by Christ; and so is the Holy Ghost: Therefore he is not God, Joh. 1. 3.
Answ. All things are said to be made by Christ which are made; but then only Creatures are made.
Obj. 6. He that prays to God, is not God; but the Holy Ghost supplicates God for us.
Answ. It is not said what the Holy Ghost acts immediately and of it self, but what it stirs up and effects in us.
Obj. 7. He that is sent is inferiour to him that sends; but the Holy Ghost is sent by the Father, and then he is not of the same Majesty and Glory.
Art. VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
HOLY Scripture contains all things necessary to Salvation, so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any Man, that it should be believed as an Article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to Salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture, we do understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose Authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomium, Jeshua, Judges, Ruth, the First Book of Samuel, the Second Book of Samuel, the First Book of Kings, the Second Book of Kings, the First Book of Chronicles, the Second Book of Chronicles, the First Book of Esdras, the Second Book of Esdras, the Book of Hester, the Book of Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or Preacher, Cantica or Songs of Solomon, Four Prophets the greater, Twelve Prophets the Less.
And the other Books (as Hierom saith) the Church doth read for Example of Life, and Instruction of Manners; But yet does it not apply them to establish any Doctrine; such are these following.
The third Book of Esdras. The fourth Book of Esdras. The Book of Tobias. The Book of Judith. The rest of the Book of Hester. The Book of Wisdom. Jesus the Son of Sirach. Baruch the Prophet. The Song of the Three Children. The Story of Susanna. Of Bell and the Dragon. The Prayer of Manasses. The first Book of Maccabees. The second Book of Maccabees.
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive and account them Canonical.
It may be thought, that the Scriptures do not contain all things necessary to Salvation; for (Obj. 1.) It is necessary to Salvation, that we should know what, and how many Books are Canonical.
Answ. This is not so absolutely necessary, for we only enforce it, that the Faithful may be Baptized, may Believe and Live well.
Obj. 2. It is likewise necessary to know, that these Books came to us uncorrupted.
Answ. The Goodness of God is such, that he would not suffer those Books to be corrupted, which contain the business of Salvation: There was a Promise made to Esay, that his Prophetical Writings should remain for ever, (Esay 30. 8.) and Christ has promised (Mat. 5. 18.) That not one Iota or Tittle should pass from the Law.
Obj. 3. We ought to know how many Articles of Faith are to be believed by every one, under the hazard of forfeiting his Salvation; but neither is this revealed in the Sacred Writings.
Answ. We have a Creed, that is collected from the Scriptures; but yet it is not necessary to Salvation to have a distinct knowledge of the number of our Mysteries. One thing is needful, as Christ answered Martha (Luke 10. 42.) One thing is absolutely necessary, namely, that in comparison of Christ we should look upon all things as Loss. I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him Crucified, says St. Paul, 1 Cor. 2. 2.
Obj. 4. We no where meet with the Means that God made use of, to purify Females from Original Sin, or Males that died before the Eighth day, or indeed concerning the Gentiles, how they were to be saved under the Old Testament.
Ans. By the circumcision of the Men, the Females were consecrated; the Married Women belong’d to their Husbands, the Unmarried to their Parents: The purging of Females from Sin was done chiefly by Faith; they and the Children of Jews that died before the Eighth Day, were saved by virtue of the Promise made to Abram. I will be thy God, and the God of thy Seed. God was not bound to any external Sacrament; even without that he could confer his Grace: So also the Gentiles were justified by Faith, Gen. 12. 3. All the Families of the Earth shall be blessed in Abram.
Obj. 5. If the Scripture be perfect, either the single Books of the Canon are perfect, or the whole Canon: It is granted, that the single Books of it are not so: And then the whole Canon is not, because many Books are lost, as the Writings of Nathan and Gad, with others, 1 Chron. 29. 29. as also the Epistle of St. Paul to the Laodiceans, Col. 4. 16.
Answ. The single Books have an essential Perfection, because they have the Matter and Form of the Word of God; the whole Canon has a proportionate one: The one has the perfection of the part, the other of the whole: But we have all the Books that are Canonical; those Books that are lost, were Historical Narrations; and some others too, that were not Canonical.
Obj. 6. All that Christ said and did are not comprehended in the Scriptures.
Answ. All that Christ did and said, necessary for our Salvation, are in the Scriptures.
Obj. 7. St. Paul bids us, 2 Thess. 2. 15. to hold or keep the Traditions.
Answ. Either the Apostle there speaks of those free and indifferent Constitutions that concern the Government of the Church, or concerning the Doctrine which he himself in Person had preached to them, and then even that was contained in his Writings, and other Canonical Books; for Tradition is wont to be taken in that Sense: Now he had delivered nothing contrary to the Scriptures, as some others had done.
Obj. 8. But besides, Those Books (which we call Apocrypha) should seem to be truly Canonical, because not only many Councils, but many Fathers have called and accounted them Canonical.
Answ. We are to give credit to Councils, as far as they follow the guidance of Scripture, and no further; and if at any time General Councils call these Books Canonical, this is only in a comprehensive Sense, and has no other meaning, but that they were wont to be read in the Church for the edification of the People; not that they had the same assurance of them, as of those that are truly Canonical, because these were never received into the Hebrew Canon; and from hence they were called Deutero-Canonici, or, Canonical in a second Form: And then as to some of the Fathers, that they called them Canonical; that will not prove them such: Neither is it very likely, that the more Ingenuous of them would call them so, unless in the foregoing Sense.
Obj. 9. The Church is wont to cite many things from thence.
Answ. The Apostles cited some things from the Writings of the Heathens, but we must not gather from thence, that their Writings are Canonical.
Obj. 10. There are many things in the Books of the Apocrypha, which mightily encourage Faith and Piety: There you have little Morals, Oeconomics, and Politicks; in short, a Compendium of Scripture.
Art. VII. Of the Old Testament.
THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament, everlasting Life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man: Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign, that the Old Fathers did look only for transitory Promises: Altho’ the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian Men, nor the Civil Precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any Commonwealth; yet notwithstanding no Christian Man whatsoever is free from the Obedience of the Commandments, which are called Moral.
Against the aforesaid Article it is Objected,
Obj. 1. That in the Old Testament things were obscure, but in the New they are clear. In the Old, Christ was shadowed out under Ceremonies; in the New, himself is present; from whence may be inferred, an Opposition between the Two Testaments.
Answ. There may be inferred some difference between the Old and the New Testament, in respect to the manner of Administration, to the clearness and circumstances of Things; but no contrariety in respect to the Substance.
Obj. 2. Christ (as a Man ) had not yet suffered; and for that reason, Grace thro’ him was not yet offered.
Answ. Grace was effectually offered thro’ Christ, that was to come.
Obj 3. The Mystery of the Incarnation was unknown to the Sons of Men, Eph. 3. 5.
Answ. It was unknown to the Gentiles, before their Conversion: Or, This Mystery was unknown to the Fathers, i. e. It was not so plainly and distinctly known as now it is; as you have it in that Text.
Obj. 4. The ancient Church was in its Infancy, and its Knowledge was accordingly, Gal. 4. 3, So in bodily things, it could not discern Spiritual ones.
Answ. The ancient Church is called childish, not because it knew nothing of Christ, but because its Knowledge was very weak in respect of the Church of the New Testament, which saw those things brought to pass, which were before prophesied of.
Obj. 5. Christ was the Mediator of a better Covenant, because it was established by better Promises, Heb. 8. 6.
Answ. Christ is the Mediator of a better Covenant than that of Moses; for that promised only Blessing, upon condition they kept the Law: But the ancient Covenant, that was freely made with the Patriarchs, has the same Promises with the New Testament, in which Life is promised by Faith.
Obj. 6. Circumcision is called an everlasting Covenant, Gen. 17. 13. The Passover is called an everlasting Worship; and the whole Levitical Service is called an eternal Precept, a perpetual Ordinance, and therefore it does bind all Christians, Exod. 12. 14.
Answ. The Levitical Ordinances are called everlasting, i. e. so long as the Old Law should last; so that such a duration is spoken of, as the nature of the thing will bear. And the Word [Olam] in the Original signifies an Age or long time, but does not always denote an absolute Eternity.
Obj. 7. The Law of not eating Blood, does bind Christians, Acts 15. 29.
Answ. The eating of Blood was forbidden to the Gentiles; not for ever, but for a time, to avoid giving Offence to the weak Jews, who were not yet fully confirmed in the Faith of Christ, and did still believe, that this Ordinance was not quite abolished: But then you’ll say, that abstaining from Blood and Fornication, are both joined together in the Apostle’s Edict, Acts 15. 29. therefore by the same necessity that Christians are obliged to abstain from Fornication, by the same likewise are they bound as to the eating of Blood; I answer, that the eating of Blood and Fornication were joined together by the Apostles, not that they really were, but only were accounted equal. For by most Heathens, Fornication was accounted no Sin, and Christians began to be wondered at by the Gentiles, that they were so much in love with Chastity: Neither is it any new thing in the Law of Moses, to have moral, judicial, and ceremonial Precepts mix’d together.
Obj. 8. None can make wiser Laws than God: Now the civil Precepts of the Law: Of not defrauding the Hirelings, of care for the Poor, and several others, do highly oblige every Christian.
Answ. ‘Tis true, no body makes Laws wiser than God; but among the Laws which He has made, some are only proper for the Jewish Commonwealth, and these do not bind Christians; but there are others which have the nature of common Justice, and a natural Law, and are the Explications and Determinations of the moral one, and the observation of them is likewise enjoined in the New Testament: But these do bind every one to observe them.
Obj. 9. The moral Law is not made for a Righteous Man, 1 Tim. 1. 9.
Art. VIII. Of the Three Creeds.
THE Three Creeds, Nice Creed, Athanasius‘s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostle‘s Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain Warrants of Holy Scripture.
Obj. 1. This Article seems to be imperfect, because it makes no mention of the Ephesian, Chalcedonian, and Constantinopolitan Creeds, which were wont to be approved of by the Church.
Answ. This Article mentions the chief Creeds, not exclusively to others, as if they might not be true likewise; and it was not necessary to mention All.
Obj. 2. The Inventions of Men are not to be obtruded upon the Church, nor to be received as necessary to be believed; but the foregoing Creeds as such; and are proposed to our Faith, as if they were the Word of God.
Answ. The aforesaid Creeds were indeed composed and methodized by Men; but yet they are not the meer Fancies of Men contrary to the Holy Scriptures, which the Argument supposes; but the Doctrine contained in them is conformable to the Word of God. Neither do we receive them with an equal degree of Faith with the Holy Scripture, but we give them the next place to That, and reverence them, as the chief Monuments of Faith.
Obj. 3. To omit others; that Sentence in Athanasius‘s Creed seems to be too severe, where he speaks of the Confession of Faith; That except every one do keep it whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly: What shall we then say of those that labour under an invincible Ignorance? How shall they believe on him, of whom they have not heard? says St. Paul, Rom. 10. 14, If then Men want the Means of Knowledge, and the Tidings of this Doctrine has in no sort come to them, it is plain they are not to be blamed, and that they are free from Damnation; for God obliges no one to Impossibilities.
Art. IX. Of Original Sin.
ORiginal Sin stands not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk) but it is the Fault and Corruption of the Nature of every Man, that naturally is ingendered of the Off-spring of Adam, whereby Man is very far gone from Original Righteousness, and is of his own Nature inclined to Evil; so that the Flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; And therefore in every Person born into this World, it deserves God’s Wrath and Damnation: And this Infection of Nature does remain; yea, in them that are Regenerated, whereby the Lust of the Flesh, called in Greek
φρόνημα σαρκός, which some do expound the Wisdom, some Sensuality, some the Affection, some the Desire of the Flesh, is not subject to the Law of God. And altho’ there is no Condemnation for them that believe, and are Baptized, yet the Apostle does confess, that Concupiscence and Lust has of it self the nature of Sin.
Against which it is Objected,
Obj. 1. That God does not punish the same Sin twice; but he has already punished Adam‘s Sin in Adam, and therefore will not punish it in us.
Ans. Adam‘s Sin was not Numerically, but Specifically, One; and that inclusive of the whole Species: As he sinned, so have we likewise sinned in him, and we are justly punished in our selves.
Obj. 2. It is plain, there is no such thing as Original Sin, because the Son shall not bear the Iniquity of the Father, says the Prophet, Ezek. 18. 20.
Answ. The Son does not bear the Personal Sins of his Father; but the Sin of the first Man was a stain of the whole Nature; when therefore any one is punished for the Sin of Adam, he is punished for his own.
Obj. 3. Sin is a voluntary thing; but Original Sin is not so in Infants.
Ans. Original Sin is voluntary in All, nay, even in Infants too: for our Wills were in the Will of Adam, as in the Principle of Mankind; in him we willed and desired Evil.
Obj. 4. An Accident of one Individual is not transferred to the whole Species, but the Sin of Adam was only an Accident of one Individual.
Ans. Adam, inasmuch as he was the Principle of Human Nature, was to be look’d upon here as an universal Cause.
Obj. 5. The Children of Holy Men are Holy, 1 Cor. 7. 14. therefore they are not born in Sin.
Ans. The Children of Holy Men are not so Holy as to be free from Original Sin; but they are called so in regard of a Communion with the Church, by reason of that Covenant, Gen. 17. 7. I will be a God to Thee, and to thy Seed. They are therefore Holy, with a relative, and not with any inherent Holiness; so also they are Innocent, in respect to those Sins which are committed against Knowledge.
Obj. 6. In Baptism we receive a perfect Remission of Sins, therefore Original Sin is wholly taken away, and so remains not in the Regenerate.
Ans. Remission of Sin takes away Sin, as to its Imputation, not as to its Being; for Mortification is but imperfect in this Life: so in Baptism Sin is taken away; but not so much the Sin it self, as the Sting of it, that it may not hurt us.
Obj. 7. Things absolutely disagreeing do not meet in the same Subject; but Sin and Righteousness are of that sort; therefore since there is Righteousness in the Regenerate, there can be no Sin there.
Answ. Sin and Righteousness cannot be in the same Subject in the highest; but yet easily in lower degrees.
Obj. 8. Concupiscence, or a proneness to Evil, is distinguished from Sin, as the Cause is from the Effect, Jam. 1. 15. and therefore is not of it self to be accounted Sin.
Art. X. Of Free-Will.
THE Condition of Man, after the Fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural Strength, and Good Works to Faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no Power to do Good Works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the Grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a Good Will, and working with us, when we have that Good Will.
Against this Doctrine it is Objected,
Obj. 1. That God commands Men to turn to him, and to believe in him, Zach. 1. 3. Mark 1. 15. and in many other places to perform all Works of Piety: Therefore this they can do, otherwise it would be commanded to no purpose.
Answ. From a Precept, to an Ability to perform it, we can draw no Argument: We can indeed, do Offices of Piety, and that only when we are acted and excited to them. God gives what he Commands, and helps what he has given; without Him we cannot be good, and without our selves he will not make us so.
Obj. 2. It is tyrannical to punish any one for not doing what he could not so much as Will or Desire.
Answ. He would be indeed a Tyrant, that should command such things to be done as are not in Mens Power: But God made Man with Abilities to fulfil his Commands; And then God requires of Man Obedience to his Law, not by setting himself upon the exact fulfilling of it by his own feeble Strength; but, upon considering the impossibility of the thing, with respect to the Powers of Nature, to betake himself to Christ, through whom the Faithful are able to do all things.
Obj. 3. If Man had not a Free-Will, he would Sin necessarily, and then ought not to be punished, and so all Use of Exhortations, Reproofs, and all endeavour after Good Works would be taken away.
Answ. A Man without the help of Grace sins necessarily; whosoever is under this necessity, it is his Fault; for he has drawn this necessity of sinning upon himself, and therefore is justly punished by God: And then as for the Use of Exhortations, that is not taken away with those that have the sufficient Assistance of God. The Precepts which cannot be performed by the strength of Nature, are useful in this respect, that they put us in mind of our Weakness, invite us to an earnest endeavour to pray, and so lead us to Christ, who is wont to assist the weak: And these are the efficacious means that God (together with his Grace) makes use of in Man’s Conversion; that what is impossible to Nature, may in this way become very easy.
Obj. 4. Men are called Labourers, Mat. 20. 8. and Labourers together with God in the business of Salvation, 1 Cor. 3. 9.
Art. XI. Of the Justification of Man by Faith.
WE are accounted Righteous before God, only for the Merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own Works or Deservings; wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholsome Doctrine, and very full of Comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.
Obj. 1. In this Article there seems to be a Contradiction, when it is said we are accounted Righteous only for the Merit of Christ; but afterward it is said, this is done by Faith.
Answ. Here is no Contradiction at all: We are only accounted Righteous by the Merit of Christ, as by an impellent Cause; yet this is done likewise by Faith, as by an instrumental Cause, whereby we obtain that Merit.
Obj. 2. By Justification we are restored to that State, from which, by the Sin of Adam, we were fallen, Rom. 5. 19. Since therefore we lost inherent Righteousness by Adam‘s Fall, we recover it again by Justification.
Answ. We are restored by the Righteousness of Christ, and partly by inherent Righteousness too: The one as the most perfect, is imputed for perfect Righteousness, Rom. 4. But the other is too weak for us to be able to stand before God, Esa. 64. 6. In the aforecited place, Rom. 5. the Word [as] does not determine the manner or the quality, but the original Author of Righteousness.
Obj. 3. It is said, Rom. 8. 24. By Hope we are saved.
Answ. By Hope is there meant Trust, and so it falls in with Faith: Even by Hope we are said to be saved, because we are not actually possessed of Salvation, but by Hope, not that we are justified by any peculiar Virtue of Hope.
Obj. 4. Many Sins were forgiven Mary Magdalen, because she loved much, says the Text, Luke 7. 47. therefore by Love she was Justified.
Art. XII. Of Good Works.
ALbeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our Sins, and endure the severity of God’s Judgments; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith, insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a Tree discerned by the Fruit.
Obj. 1. Many Men believe the Articles of Faith to be true, that do yet lead wicked Lives; therefore Good Works are not always the Fruit of Faith.
Answ. Such Men as always live wickedly, have not justifying Faith; but only the empty Profession of it.
Obj. 2. The Integrity of Job is described, Chap. 1. 2. David asks to be judged according to his Righteousness, nay, and boasts of it too, Psal. 7. 8. And then we read of Zachariah and Elizabeth, that they were both Righteous before God, Luke 1. 6. It seems then, that their Works would bear the Judgment of God.
Answ. A partial Perfection, which is Sincerity, is attributed to the Godly, but not an absolute one, such as is called a gradual Perfection; as if they could be able to stand the severe Trial of Divine Judgment. Job says he could not do so, Chap. 9. 2, 3. It is one thing to speak of the Righteousness of a Cause, and another of a Personal Rightcousness; in respect of which latter, David himself confesses, that he could not bear the Judgment of God, Psal. 130. 3. 143. 2.
Obj. 3. St. James concludes, Chap. 2. 24. That a Man is justified by Works, and not by Faith only.
Answ. St. James speaks of Justification, or the proof of Justification before Men, as is plain from Verse 18. Show me thy Faith by thy Works, and Ver. 21. Abram was justified by the Work of Offering up his Son, i. e. he was declared Righteous, whereas before, by the righteousness of Faith he had been pronounced Just before God, Gen. 15. 6. Rom. 4.
Obj. 4. Evil Works condemn, therefore Good Ones justify; for the same reason holds in things that are opposite.
Answ. These Opposites here are not equal, which that Axiom supposes; for Evil Works are perfectly Evil, but Good Ones are imperfectly Good.
Obj. 5. We are justified by Faith, as appears by the foregoing Article; but Faith is a Good Work; for he that believes does well, therefore we are justified by Faith, which is a Good Work.
Art. XIII. Of Works before Justification.
WOrks done before the Grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God; forasmuch as they spring not of Faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make Men meet to receive Grace, or (as the School Authors say) deserve Grace of Congruity: Yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but that they have the nature of Sin.
It is Objected,
Obj. 1. That God has rewarded some Works of Unbelievers; as for Example, the Egyptian Midwives, Exod. 1. 21. and therefore they seemed to be acceptable to him.
Answ. From any Temporal Reward we are not to gather, that the Work was in it self pleasing to God.
Obj. 2. The Gentiles do by Nature the things of the Law, Rom. 2. 14. Now with such God is well pleased.
Answ. The Gentiles do indeed by Nature the things of the Law, in some external Duties: But not as to all other requisite Circumstances. because they do them not in Faith, nor to the Glory of the true God.
Obj. 3. Cornelius was a Gentile: But before his Conversion to Christ, his Alms-deeds were praised, as good and acceptable, Acts 10. 1. So that his Good Works seem to have disposed him to Grace, or to have deserved (as the School-Men say) the Grace of Congruity.
Answ. Cornelius was endued with the extraordinary Grace of God, and God rewarded him accordingly: And he seems to have had a knowledge of Christ to come; for his Prayers had not been heard, but by Christ our Mediator, and upon that account he is thought to have been Regenerate.
Obj. 4. If the Works of the Unregenerate have the nature of Sin (as the Article expresses it) it were better not to do, than to do them, because by doing them they sin, and by not doing them, the Sin would not possibly be so great: And therefore it were better, if such Men neither relieved the Poor, nor taught the Ignorant.
Art. XIV. Of Works of Supererogation.
VOluntary Works besides, over and above God’s Commandments, which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without Arrogancy and Impiety: For by them Men do declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his Sake, than of bounden Duty is required. Whereas Christ says plainly, When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable Servants.
Obj. 1. Christ said to a certain young Man, Mat. 19. 21. If thou wilt be perfect, sell all that thou hast, and give to the Poor: This was Counsel that did not indeed oblige all Men; but if it were put in practice, ‘twould procure a most excellent degree of Glory.
Answ. This was a particular Precept given to this young Man; and what is here commanded, that every one is obliged to perform, if the Necessity of his Brethren require it, which also was practised by the Primitive Christians. Affirmative Precepts, although they always oblige, yet not in all Conditions simply considered; but on Supposition there be found requisite Circumstances.
Obj. 2. The Apostle tells us, 1 Cor. 7. 25. Concerning Virgins, I have no command; yet I give my Advice, which whosoever follows, will do more than is absolutely necessary.
Answ. We cannot gather from hence, that there is any thing more perfect than the Observation of God’s Commands, or indeed conducing to eternal Life. Neither does this Opinion of St. Paul respect all times, but only that present Necessity, whilst the Church was under Persecution: And then, be it the Apostle’s Council, that Virginity is to be preferred to Matrimony; this is directed to none but those to whom God has given the Gift; in which Case this Counsel becomes a Precept to those who have the peculiar Gift of Continence. There are indeed many Counsels concerning indifferent things; but we reject such as ascribe a meritorious and greater Power to things purely arbitrary, than to the Commands of God.
Obj. 3. St. Paul, 1 Cor. 9. 15. boasts of his Works of Supererogation, because be had preached the Gospel freely, which was not necessary for him to do.
Art. XV. Of Christ alone without Sin.
CHRIST in the Truth of our Nature was made like unto us in all things, (Sin only excepted) from which he was clearly void, both in his Flesh, and in Spirit. He came to be a Lamb without Spot; who by Sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the Sins of the World, and Sin (as St. John says) was not in him. But all we, the rest (although baptized and born again in Christ) yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no Sin, we deceive our selves, and the Truth is not in us.
Obj. 1. It is said, That God made Christ to be Sin for us, who knew no Sin, 2 Cor. 5. 21.
Answ. God is said to have made Christ to be Sin for us, because he gave him as a Sacrifice for Sin, and no otherwise.
Obj. 2. Every one that abideth in God sinneth not, 1 John 3. 6. Therefore the Regenerate that so abide, do not offend in many things.
Answ. By this we are to understand, that a regenerate Man can very hardly be brought to sin, at least to habitual ones: Or else, that a regenerate Man, as such, or as far as he abideth in God, sinneth not: But so far as he has a Propension to sin, so far he departs from Grace and Regeneration.
Obj. 3. Eternal Life is promised to none but him that overcometh, Re. 3. 5. Now only they can be said to overcome, that have absolutely subdued Sin.
Answ. As we are not rewarded with the Crown of Glory, till our Race is run, so neither can we poor Mortals expect wholly to overcome Sin.
Obj. 4. We ought to be perfect, as our Father which is in Heaven is perfect (says our Saviour, Mat. 5. 48.) But this could not be, if we be sullied with the least Spot of Sin.
Answ. We must not argue for what we are, from what we ought to be; neither is there here supposed any Equality of Holiness with God the Father, which is absolutely impossible; but we are exhorted to some kind of Likeness with God, which (Sin notwitstanding) may be consistent enough with some Duties of Piety.
Obj. 5. Christ said, John 9. 3. That neither the blind Man, nor his Parents did Sin.
Art. XVI. Of Sin after Baptism.
NOT every deadly Sin willingly committed after Baptism is Sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the Grant of Repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into Sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from Grace given, and fall into Sin; and by the Grace of God (we may) arise again, and amend our Lives. And therefore they are to be condemned which say, They can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of Forgiveness to such as truly repent.
Obj. 1. Every Sin is a Sin in or against the Holy Ghost; and therefore every voluntary Sin after Baptism is such.
Answ. A blasphemous, obstinate, and malicious denying of, and opposition to a known Truth, is called the Sin against the Holy Ghost. Not that other Sins may not likewise be committed against the Holy Ghost; or that this very Sin is not likewise a Sin against the Father and the Son; but that it is committed against the proper and immediate Operation of the Holy Spirit. And thus every one sins, when the Truth of the Gospel (though clearly and sufficiently avowed) is denied, is obstinately, and by voluntary Malice rejected, and violently opposed. And when in this denial of an avowed Truth, and hostile Resistence, Men obstinately persist to the last Day of their Lives: This is the Sin against the Holy Ghost.
Obj. 2. It is said, Heb. 6. 4, 5, 6. That if Men who have tasted of the Grace of God, fall away, they cannot be renewed again to Repentance.
Art. XVII. Of Predestination and Election.
PRedestination to Life is the everlasting Purpose of God, whereby (before the Foundations of the World were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his Council, secret to us, to deliver from Curse and Damnation, those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of Mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting Salvation, as Vessels made to Honour. Wherefore they which be indued with so excellent a Benefit of God, be called according to God’s Purpose by his Spirit working in due Season: They through Grace obey the Calling: They be justified freely: They be made Sons of God by Adoption: They be made like the Image of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good Works, and at length, by God’s Mercy, they attain to everlasting Felicity.
As the Godly Consideration of Predestination and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable Comfort to godly Persons, and such as feel in themselves the Working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the Works of the Flesh, and their earthly Members, and drawing up their Mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their Faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it does fervently kindle their Love towards God. So for curious and carnal Persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their Eyes the Sentence of God’s Predestination is a most dangerous downfal, whereby the Devil does thrust them either into Desperation, or into Wretchlesness of most unclean Living, no less perillous than Desperation. Furthermore we must receive God’s Promises in such wise as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: And in our Doings that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expresly declared unto us in the Word of God.
Obj. Against the foregoing Article it is objected, 1. That Men are not predestinated, because no other Creatures are said to be predestinated; whereas there is the same Reason for all God’s Creatures, which are ordained to some End by his Providence.
Answ. There is not the same Reason for all Creatures; for irrational Creatures are not capable of this Supernatural End. Predestination therefore is wrongfully called an Ordainment to any End whatsoever.
Obj. 2. He that predestinates Men, ought to prae-determine whatsoever relates to their Merits or Demerits: But God does not prae-determine any of our Powers; for then we should be necessarily forced either to Salvation or Destruction. But God thus compels no body.
Answ. God has not prae-determined Mens Merits or Demerits, so as to impose any Necessity upon them; but has given to Man before the Fall a most free Will.
Obj. 3. That it is not agreeable to the Nature of Angels to be predestinated to Life; and therefore neither is it to Men: The Antecedent is thus proved; because Predestination to Life is a Purpose of Compassion; but the Angels never were in Misery: The Consequence is true, because Angels are capable of Happiness as well as Man.
Answ. Why may we not say of good Angels, that they were predestinated to Life? Since Pity is not only a Releasement from Misery; but every Reward above what is due is such: And the Nature of the Mercy is not to be taken from any Prior State, but from the present Condition; and therefore it is not material whether any one be predestinated from a State of Misery or not.
Obj. 4. If God should reprobate any one, the Man that is reprobated is not to be charged with his own Ruin: For no Man must be charged with what he could not avoid: But if God should reprobate, Man could not help it; for no Man can withstand God.
Answ. This Argument would hold, if God should damn a Man inevitably without any Cause; but because Man’s falling into Sin proceeds from his own Degeneracy; therefore his Destruction is deservedly imputed to himself.
Obj. 5. God has accepted a sufficient Ransom for all Men, that is, the Satisfaction of Christ; therefore he ought to receive all Men into his Favour; and by consequence none are to be damned.
Answ. The Ransom that Christ made was sufficient, but ’twas upon the Condition of our applying it to our selves; otherwise it would not be so: But all Men do not rightly apply Christ’s Merits.
Obj. 6. They, whose Salvation depends upon the secret Determinations of God, can have no true Comfort or Support; therefore the Doctrine of Predestination is not so full of Comfort as we speak of.
Art. XVIII. Of obtaining Eternal Salvation only by the name of Christ.
THey also are to be had accursed, that presume to say, that every Man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his Life according to that Law and the Light of Nature; for Holy Scripture does set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby Men must be saved.
Obj. 1. Not only the Gentiles may be saved by the Law of Nature, but the Jews also by the Law of Moses, Rom. 2.
Answ. It is asserted, Rom. 3. 28. That no Man can be saved by the Law of Nature or of Moses. Although Gentiles and Jews did perform some Works, yet they were imperfect without Christ.
Obj. 2. It is said, That the whole of the Law and the Prophets is comprehended in that known Law of Nature: All things that ye would that Men should do unto you, do ye also to them, Mat. 7. 12. Whence we may easily gather, that it appears to all Men what is absolutely necessary to Salvation.
Answ. The Love that we are to show to our Neighbour is comprehended in that Principle; but that alone is not sufficient: for the Doctrine of the Gospel, which is unknown to Nature, is likewise requisite to Salvation.
Obj. 3. God does not require at our Hands things impossible; but it is impossible that they who have never heard of Christ, should rely upon or believe in him.
Answ. Either, according to the Apostle, Rom. 10. 18. All Men have heard of the Gospel of Christ: Or, All may hear of him in the utmost Parts of the World, where the Gospel is daily preached: Or if there have been, and are some, who have never heard of it, we must think, that this was and is for some very grievous Impieties, which make them unworthy of such a Knowledge.
Obj. 4. Christ told the Pharisees, John 9. 41. If ye were blind, ye would not have Sin: And then told his Disciples concerning the Jews, John 15. 22. If I had not come and spoke unto them, they had not had Sin: So that in these places he gives us sufficiently to understand, that simple Ignorance ought not to be imputed to any one: Of which see more in Article VIII.
Art. XIX. Of the Church.
THE visible Church of Christ is a Congregation of faithful Men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s Ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred, so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their Living and manner of Ceremonies but also in Matters of Faith.
Obj. 1. That the Church is compared to a Fold, wherein are Sheep and Goats, i. e. good and bad: Therefore the Church is not only the Congregation of the Faithful.
Answ. Wicked Men may be said to be in the Church, but not of the Church.
Obj. 2. Very many Sects have boasted, that with them was to be sound wholsome Doctrine, and a right use of the Sacraments; and therefore these Marks do not always distinguish the true visible Church.
Answ. It is one thing falsly to boast, and another really to have; the infallible Word of God, well considered, will show to what Assembly Men ought to join themselves. We find that the Beraeans (tho’ not of the Priestly Order) could know how to value St. Paul‘s New Doctrine, with Profit to themselves.
Obj. 3. That these Marks are later and more obscure than the Church; later because the Doctors or Teachers are before the Doctrine; more obscure, because it is the part of the Church to explain its own Doctrine.
Answ. The Word of God, tho’ not as the written Word, yet as to its Substance, was before the Church, because by that the Church was formed: But tho’ it were after the Church, yet it might be a mark of it, as the Effect may be a mark of the Cause. Even the written Doctrine was before its Teachers, who have lived in these last Ages: And then, to an Unbeliever, the Church is more plain and remarkable than the Scripture, as to its external Form; but to a Believer, the Scripture is plainer than the Church, as to its internal Form, because the Holy Spirit enlightens the Minds of the Faithful. Now the Church explains the Scripture, but then it is by Scripture, because it lays down Scripture in its own simple native Light: And so far we ought to give credit to the Decisions of the Church, as far as its Determinations are agreeable to the Scriptures.
Obj. 4. We can assign no time wherein the Church of Rome has failed.
Answ. As to the time wherein the Church of Rome has begun to fail, the Apostle witnesseth, That in his time the foundations of that Mystery of Iniquity were already laid, 2 Thess. 2. 7. And Christ tells us, Mat. 13. 25. That the Enemy the Devil came and sowed Tares among the Wheat, while Men slept, that is, before they were aware: And who (I pray you) will be able to show us, when Religion began so to be corrupted by the Pharisees as it was? It is sufficient to us, that the Doctrine of the Romanists (as we now find it) is not conformable to the Word of God.
Obj. 5. We can name no visible Assembly or Church that has had a Being, since the Defection of the Church of Rome.
Art. XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
THE Church has Power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and Authority in Controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written; neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, altho’ the Church be a witness and keeper of Holy Writ, yet as it ought not to decree any thing against the same; so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.
Against which it is Objected:
Obj. 1. The Lord has said, Deut. 4. 2. Ye shall not add any thing to the Word which I command you; and therefore it seems the Church has no Power of adding Rites and Ceremonies.
Ans. These Words are not to be understood of every Addition that is made, but of That only, which is contrary and repugnant to Scripture; or which is a Corruption of what God had commanded by Moses.
Obj. 2. The Apostle would not have the Christians to be subject to the Ordinances of Men, Col. 2. 20. but Ecclesiastical Ceremonies are such.
Answ. The Apostle forbids the Colossians to be subject to the Decrees of the Ceremonial Law of Moses; such as, The not touching dead Bodies, lest they should be defiled; The not eating of this or that Meat, as if it were unclean; but he does not speak against such Rites and Ceremonies which tend to preserve the external Worship of God and the State of the Church.
Obj. 3. Those Doctrines which are the Commandments of Men, ought not to be taught, otherwise it were in vain to worship God, Mat. 15. 4.
Answ. Men would indeed worship Christ in vain, if they neglected his Commands to obey the Commandments of Men: But Christ does not blame such Precepts of the Church, as are not contrary to the Divine Laws; but only such Commandments of Men, as are purely human Conceits, invented by Men, contrary to the Will of God, Of which there are some vain and trifling; as the Superstitious Washings, ver. 2. others Erroneous as that the Soul is polluted with Meats, ver. 11. and others again absolutely contrary to the Word of God, as the defrauding of Parents, ver. 6.
Obj. 4. Scripture is the Judge of Controversies, and therefore the Church has no Authority in them.
Art. XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils.
GEneral Councils may not be gathered together without the Commandment and Will of Princes; and when they be gathered together (forasmuch as they be an Assembly of Men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God) they may Err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them, as necessary to Salvation, have neither Strength nor Authority; unless it may be declared, that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.
Obj. 1. The Church is sometimes destitute of a Christian Prince; and yet even then Councils are to be called.
Answ. This Article is to be understood of that time, when the Church is not destitute of such a Prince.
Obj. 2. Princes have only Authority in Political Matters, and Christian Princes are not set over Christians, as they are Christians, but as they are Men: For Princes themselves, as they are Christians, are the Sheep, and for that reason must be Subject to the Shepherds.
Answ. Princes have Authority in Ecclesiastical Matters, not to officiate in Holy Things, but to take care that they be done. Christian Princes are set over Christians as such: because altho’ Princes are the Sheep in respect of such Actions which relate to an inward Ecclesiastical Government; such as the Preaching of the Word, and Administration of the Sacraments; yet in respect of the outward Government of the Church, Princes are the Pastors of all their People. Kings are under Ministers in some Ecclesiastical Matters, but Ministers are subject to Kings in all Civil Concerns.
Obj. 3. It is said, that where two or three are gathered together in the Name of Christ, they shall always obtain what they desire: Much more then shall Bishops, praying in a Council, obtain all things necessary to determine whatsoever relates to the Church.
Answ. The Faithful do not always obtain what they desire, and if they did obtain it, they do not always use it with the best Wisdom and Discretion, therefore they often Err: And altho’ Christ be with us, yet in this Life we know but in part.
Obj. 4. The whole Church cannot err in Faith, Mat. 16. 18. but a Council does represent the Church, and the whole Authority of the Church is formally in the Bishops, as the Sight is in the Eye.
Answ. Tho’ a Council do represent the Church, yet its Legates and Ministers may err, whilst the whole Body of the Church does not. Councils are but a part of the Church, and the same Privileges do not belong to the Part as to the Whole. They that are not in Councils, have sometimes particular Gifts, by which Councils themselves might be mended: Neither are all the Eyes of the Church in those Bishops that are met in Council, whereas there are many Bishops out of the Council that see as well as the other: Nay, all single Christians do in some measure see; And their Gifts are not to be despised neither.
Obj. 5. If the Judgment of Councils was not Infallible, we might deservedly call in question, whether all the ancient Heresies have been rightly condemned or not.
Art. XXII. Of Purgatory.
THE Romish Doctrine, concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshiping, and Adorations, as well of Images as of Relicks, and also Invocation of Saints is a fond thing, vainly invented and grounded upon no Warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
Obj. 1. It is almost the universal Consent of all Nations, that the Soul is not immediately admitted into Heaven, but is purged and purified in Hell, and therefore the Opinion of Purgatory is not so vain.
Answ. The consent of Nations may take place in Natural Things, but not in Spiritual.
Obj. 2. There is mention made of the Fire of Purgatory, 1 Cor. 3. 10, &c.
Answ. Either the Fire of Tribulation and Trial is there understood, and so it means not a real, but imaginary Fire: Or else [The Fire shall try,] that is, the Spirit of God shall search and examine every ones Work, as a Sanctifier. Others understand this place of the Conflagration of the World, and the severe Judgment of God.
Obj. 3. There is in the Church an infinite treasure of Satisfactions from the Sufferings of Christ, that can never be exhausted: To this Treasure belong likewise the Passions of the Blessed Virgin, and other Saints, who have suffered more than their Sins required. Now the Pastors of the Church, out of this inexhaustible Treasure, have Authority to dispense, and grant Indulgencies to those who are guilty of suffering Temporal Punishment.
Answ. The Satisfaction of Christ is not applied by Parts, but wholly to all and every of the Faithful, neither is there any thing here superfluous. And then as for the Blessed Virgin, and other Saints, they have not done any good thing, or suffered any thing, which was not before a Debt. A Creature ought both to do and suffer the greatest things for God’s Glory; because whatever they do and suffer, they will be abundantly rewarded for it, and therefore it cannot be satisfactory for others: Besides this Authority of dispensing any thing at Will, was never granted to the Pastors of the Church.
Obj. 4. Images are capable of Injury and Contempt; and so consequently of Honour and Worship.
Answ. This Argument may be allowed to have a sound and wholsome meaning, provided we do not understand it of a Religious Worship.
Obj. 5. The Bodies of the Saints are the Temples of the Holy Ghost, and for that reason are to be worshiped.
Answ. The Bodies of the Saints are to be honoured with a lawful Honour, but are not to be worshiped with Religious Worship.
Obj. 6. There are Intercessors usually appointed for these that would ask any thing of a King; and therefore much more ought those who come to God to make use of such; since he is at a greater distance in his Nature from Men, and superior to them.
Art. XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation.
IT is not lawful for any Man to take upon him the Office of publick Preaching or Ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same: And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this Work by Men who have publick Authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord’s Vineyard.
Obj. 1. There were in the Primitive Church, not a few that taught and preached the Word, who were never called, as appears by the Example of those that were dispersed upon the Persecution of the Church, after the Death of St. Stephen, Acts 8. 4.
Answ. Among those that were dispersed, some perhaps were called; If not, we grant it to be lawful in an extraordinary time of Persecution, publickly to teach, without an ordinary Vocation; and not otherwise.
Obj. 2. He may be truly said to be called, who is furnish’d with proper Gifts for teaching and instructing others.
Answ. Altho’ the foundation of a true Calling, be such Gifts as enable a Man to teach others; yet there is likewise required a Trial and Approbation of his Gifts, to be made by others, before he be admitted into Holy Orders.
Obj. 3. St. Paul, when he is describing a Bishop, does not mention any necessity of a Vocation, 1 Tim. 3. Tit. 1. 4.
Answ. Altho’ in those places he does not expresly mention a Vocation; yet in others he does; as Rom. 10. 15.
Obj. 4. To teach others is a Work of Charity, Jam. 5. 19, 20. and for that reason should not require a special Vocation.
Art. XXIV. Of Speaking in the Congregation in such a Tongue as the People understand.
IT is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the Custom of the Primitive Church, to have Publick Prayers in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments in a Tongue not understood of the People.
Obj. 1. We are told, Lev. 16. 17. that the People, according to the Commandment, were to stay without, and the Priest was to enter into the Sanctuary: Of which likewise we have an Example, Luke 1. 20. And therefore it is not necessary, that the People should understand the Priest.
Answ. The Priests entering into the Sanctuary was a Type of Christ, who alone by his own Virtue is entered into Heaven, there to pray for us: Besides, when the Priest spoke to the People, he spoke so as to be understood by All.
Obj. 2. If the People ought to pray for those things only which they understand, then they must never repeat the Psalms and other Scriptures, in which they cannot be supposed to understand every thing.
Answ. Tho’ all things out of the Psalms and other Books cannot be perfectly understood, yet very many may: But there is nothing at all understood by the unlearned in the Latin Versions. Prayer is our Conference with God, and this ought to spring from our own Sense: And therefore, as far as we are able, we ought to know those things we speak, whilst we are praying.
Obj. 3. It is observed, that Piety is much diminished, ever since the Mother Tongue began to be in Use in the Church.
Answ. True Piety is not diminished; instead of a senseless Superstition, which did formerly prevail, there is now in many, sincere Piety, altho’ the Church was never without many profane Persons: And if Piety was diminished in many, this would be only accidentally so, by the default of some wicked Men; As the Gospel, when it is preached is to very many a savour of Death unto Death: But Prayers in a known Tongue cannot be the cause of this Impiety.
Obj. 4. The Churches of the Lesser Asia made use of the Greek Tongue in their Worship: But all the People did not understand it; because when the Lame Man was healed, they spoke in the Lycaonian Language, Acts 14. 11. And so again, Acts 2. there are reckoned up various Tongues, that were then in Asia, and which the Apostles made use of.
Answ. The Lycaonian Tongue was a Dialect of the Greek, as well as many others were, and the Apostles preached in Greek to these People; so that without doubt they understood them.
Obj. 5. If there was one Tongue used in all Churches, it would much tend to the Unity of the Church.
Answ. The Unity of the Church does not depend upon the Unity of Tongues, but upon the Unity of Doctrine.
Obj. 6. The end of Divine Service is not the Instruction of the People, but the Worship of God. Now God understands our Prayers, when they are uttered in an unknown Tongue; and it is enough, that the People have devout Minds.
Art. XXV. Of the Sacraments.
SAcraments ordained of Christ be not only Badges or Tokens of Christian Mens Profession; but rather they be certain sure Witnesses and effectual Signs of Grace and God’s good Will towards us; by the which he does work invisibly in us, and does not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him. There are Two Sacraments ordain’d of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. Those Five, commonly called Sacraments; that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel; being such as are grown, partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles; partly are States of Life allowed by the Scriptures: But yet have not like Nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; for that they have not any visible Sign or Ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them: And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome Effect or Operation; but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves Damnation, as St. Paul says.
Obj. 1. The Sacraments are often made use of by Hypocrites; and therefore they are not certain Signs of Grace.
Answ. Out of a charitable Opinion the Sacraments are distributed to All; but they are certain Signs of Grace, only to them that believe, and receive them worthily.
Obj. 2. Neither this Word [Sacrament] nor the number of only Two Sacraments, is to be met with in Scripture.
Answ. Although we do not find the Word [Sacrament] in Scripture, yet the thing that is meant by that Word is to be found there: And the Apostle 1 Cor. 10. reckons up only these Two Sacraments; neither in the Sacred Writings the Word [Sacrament] being strictly taken) can we find any more. Some have thought that these Two were signified by the Water and Blood which came out of Christ’s Side, John. 19.
Obj. 3. The external Sign of Confirmation, is, Imposition of Hands, Acts 8. 17.
Answ. That Confirmation (there spoken of) by Imposition of Hands, was extraordinary and peculiar to the Apostles.
Obj. 4. The Judicial Sign of Repentance, is, Absolution, John 20. 23.
Answ. There is no outward Sign there prescribed, not so much as the Matter or Form of a Sacrament. because there is nothing that is distinct from the Word spoken. Christ himself made use of no other outward Sign besides Breathing on them.
Obj. 5. The Ceremony of Extreme Unction is to be met with Jam. 5. 14. together with a Promise annext to it.
Answ. The Command concerning Extreme Unction, took place only, whilst there was miraculous Gifts in the Church; and relate only to the miraculous curing of sick People.
Obj. 6. The outward Sign of Orders, is Imposition of Hands, 1 Tim. 4. 14.
Answ. Imposition of Hands is not essential to Holy Orders, because it was not always practised. Matthias was chosen into the Place of Judas without it, Acts 1. The Apostles were chosen and consecrated without it, Mat. 10. Mark 3. And it is strange that the Romanists should make Imposition of Hands a Sacramental Rite, as well in Orders as Confirmation; whereas we no where find in Scripture, that one and the same Sign should be in Two different Sacraments.
Obj. 7. Concerning Matrimony we are told, Eph. 5. 32. That it is a Mystery or Sacrament.
Art. XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinder not the Effects of the Sacraments.
Although in the visible Church the Evil be ever mingled with the Good, and sometimes the Evil have chief Authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments; yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own Name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by his Commission and Authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving of the Sacraments: Neither is the Effect of Christ’s Ordinance taken away by their Wickedness, nor the Grace of God’s Gifts diminished from such as by Faith, and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministred unto them, which be effectual because of Christ’s Institution and Promise altho’ they be ministered by Evil Men.
Nevertheless it appertaineth to the Discipline of the Church, that Enquiry be made of Evil Ministers, and that they be accused by those that have Knowledge of their Offences: And finally, being found guilty, by just Judgment be deposed.
Obj. 1. No body can give what he has not: But wicked Ministers have not Grace and Forgiveness of Sins; and therefore they cannot effectually administer the Sacraments, whereby they are obtained.
Answ. A minister does not give Heavenly Gifts effectually as the principal efficient Cause, but as the instrumental one: Now the Effect ought not to be like the Instrument, but the first Cause. Besides he does not properly give the same Gifts, but only the external Signs of them. Hence God is said to circumcise the Heart, Deut. 3. 6. And Christ baptized with the Holy Ghost; but John with Water, Mat. 3. 11.
Obj. 2. God said to the Wicked or Ungodly Men, What hast thou to do to declare my Statutes, or that thou shouldest take my Covenant in thy Mouth, seeing thou hatest Instruction, and castest my Words behind thee? Psal. 50, 16, 17. And since God would not have wicked Men administer Holy Things, methinks their Ministry should be unprofitable.
Answ. This 50th Psalm does not speak peculiarly of Ministers, but of the People of the Jews, whom God chastised, because they had his Law always in their Mouths, and were very frequent in their Sacrifices, and yet lead wicked Lives; and this sort of Worship it is that is there spoken against. But if the Place be applied to Ministers, it may be said, that the Ministry of one that leads a wicked Life, is not acceptable to God in respect to the Person that administers, but yet it may be efficacious and profitable in respect to the Hearers.
Obj. 3. A Man that is overtaken in a Fault is to be restored by the Spirit of Meekness, Gal. 6. 1. Much more then ought a Minister in respect to his Person; therefore he ought not to be chastised and deposed.
Art. XXVII. Of Baptism.
BAptism is not only a Sign of Profession, and Mark of Difference, whereby Christian Men are discerned from others that be not Christened; but it is also a Sign of Regeneration or New Birth, whereby, as by an Instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly, are grafted into the Church: The Promises of the Forgiveness of Sin, and of our Adoption to be the Sons of God, by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed. Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by Virtue of Prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the Institution of Christ.
Obj. 1. God confers Grace, whereby Men are grafted into the Church, and there were some that were Members of the Church before their Baptism; namely, The Treasurer to Queen Candace, Acts 8. Cornelius the Centurion, Acts 10. who even by their good Works showed that they were regenerate; and for this Reason, Baptism is not the only Sign of Regeneration; nor is it owing solely to that, that Men are grafted into the Church.
Answ. Although God be the principal Cause of Salvation; yet this does not hinder but that Baptism may be the Means that God may make use of in bestowing Salvation. And then Baptism, in Infants, is their first Entrance into the Church, though it be not so in Persons grown up; as in the Examples that are alledged: But yet Baptism is not without its Benefit, even in Persons grown up, inasmuch as it confirms their Faith. It is true, Good Works did testify, that there were many Believers; but they did not so solemnly do it, as publick Baptism in the Church.
Obj. 2. The Promises of God are most sure in themselves, and do not need any Confirmation by the Sacraments.
Answ. The Promises of God are indeed most sure in themselves; but in respect to us they do want Confirmation.
Obj. 3. It is the Holy Ghost that fixes in our Minds the Certainty of the Divine Promises.
Answ. The Holy Ghost gives us Assurance; but it is by the Mediation of the Word and Sacraments.
Obj. 4. The Faith of the Gospel, which is preached to us, does exclude all manner of doubting; and therefore does not need any Confirmation by the Sacraments.
Answ. The Faith which we preach does exclude all doubt in respect of the Object, but not in respect of the Subject. We know that Christ is Omnipotent, and Faithful, although we our selves be weak: We know that a weak Faith may be true: but yet that which is less liable to doubting is more perfect: And then we cannot doubt, that Men by Baptism and other Means, may still obtain a greater measure of Faith.
Obj. 5. Infants are not to be baptized, because Christ commands us first to teach, and then baptize, Mat. 28. 19. But Infants cannot be taught.
Ans. That place is to be understood of such Persons as are grown up, that are capable of Learning, and not of Infants. Besides, the Word in the Original [
μαθητευσατε] does not properly signify [to teach] but to make Disciples; and this may be spoken of Infants. The Children of the Jews were, without any appointment, circumcised; and the same Reason holds for baptizing Christian Infants.
Obj 6. Those who believe not, are to be with-held from Baptism; but Infants do not believe, because they have no Knowledge of Good or Evil, Deut. 1. 39.
Art. XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper.
THE Supper of the Lord is not only a Sign of the Love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another: But rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s Death: Insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with Faith receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ. And likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ. Transubstantiation or the Change of the Substance of Bread and Wine in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ: but it is repugnant to the plain Words of Scripture, overthroweth the Nature of a Sacrament, and has given occasion to many Superstitions. The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper only, after a Heavenly and Spiritual manner: And the Mean, whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s Ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
Obj. 1. Transubstantiation is founded on the very Words of the Institution, Mat. 26. 26. and these must signify a true change of the Bread and Wine.
Answ. In the Holy Supper there is not a Substantial, but a Sacramental Change.
Obj. 2. The same thing which was exhibited by Christ to his Disciples to be eaten and drank, was given and shed for us for the Remission of our Sins: But it was not Bread, but the Body of Christ which was given: It was not Wine, but the Blood of Christ which was shed; and therefore the true Body and the true Blood of Christ was exhibited, which could not be without a Substantial Change of the Bread into his Body, and of the Wine into his Blood.
Answ. It is called the true Body and true Blood of Christ; but only secondarily and represented as such. So we say of Caesar‘s Picture: This is Caesar that overcame Pompey.
Obj. 3. The Words of the Institution are to be understood in their proper Sense, because they are the Words of a Will or Testament, and Christ uttered them, when he was about to die, to his illiterate Disciples.
Answ. The Words of a Will may be clear, though figurative. Every Trope is not obscure; it is sometimes the Light and Beauty of Speech. We meet with this Figure also, Luk. 22. 20. where the Cup is called the New Testament. And then the Ignorance of the Disciples ought not to hinder a common way of speaking in all Sacraments; because something they must signify to us.
Obj. 4. Christ is Omnipotent; and therefore his Body may be offered in the Eucharist under the Species of Bread and Wine.
Answ. We must not argue from what may be to what is. We are not inquiring what Christ can do, but what he will do: Christ can do all things which do not imply a Contradiction; but it is a Contradiction to say, that one and the same Body should be both in Heaven and in the Sacrament at the same time.
Obj. 5. The Ancients kept and laid up the Sacramental Elements.
Answ. We do not inquire what the Ancients did, but what Christ and his Apostles did: The Ancients, perhaps, kept up the Sacrament for the Communion of sick Men, that were absent, and not for Adoration.
Obj. 6. The Body and Blood of Christ are corporeally in the Sacrament; otherwise the thing figured, viz. The Supper would not be better than the Figures themselves, viz. the Paschal Lamb, the Manna, and the Blood whereon the Old Testament was established; all which were bodily exhibited.
Answ. The Paschal Lamb and the Manna, were chiefly the Figures of Christ (who is the thing signified in the Supper) and not of the Supper it self.
Obj. The Eucharist is to be religiously carried about in publick Processions, because the Ark of the Covenant, which was the Type of this, was so carried about, 2 Sam. 6. 8.
Answ. There was a Command or Permission for the carrying about or transferring of the Ark; which also was honoured with a Civil but not adored with a Divine Worthip. There is nothing there like the Pompous and Idolatrous Elevation of the Host.
Obj. 8. We have the Testimony of some Fathers for the Elevation of the Host.
Answ. It is not material what some Fathers, and especially the more Modern have done; but we are to mind what our Lord did and said.
Obj. 9. The Body and Blood of Christ are to be adored: Now the Eucharist consists of the Body and Blood of Christ, and for that reason it is to be Worshiped.
Art. XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the Use of the Lord’s Supper.
THE Wicked, and such as be void of a lively Faith, altho’ they do carnally and visibly press with their Teeth, as St. Augustine says, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they Partakers of Christ; but rather to their Condemnation do eat and drink the Sign or Sacrament of so great a Thing.
Obj. 1. The Entireness of a Sacrament does not depend upon the Faith of the Receiver, but upon the Authority of the Institution; and therefore by the Incredulity of the Man, it cannot be changed or made void.
Answ. The Entireness of a Sacrament, taken in its largest Sense, does depend upon Both.
Obj. 2. Judas eat the Body of the Lord, and drank his Blood; And St. Mark witnesseth, that they all drank of the Consecrated Cup, Mark 14. 23. And then St. Luke writes, that after Supper Christ uttered these words, Behold the Hand of him that betrayeth me, is with me on the Table, Luke 22. 21.
Answ. Some deny that Judas was present at the Holy Supper, much less that he did partake of it: However it be, if he was present, he received only the Sign, and the Bread of the Lord, (as other Hypocrites do) and not the thing signified, i. e. the Spiritual Bread and Body of Christ.
Obj. 3. St. Paul teaches us, 1 Cor. 11. 27. That the Unworthy are guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ; as if they had received them, tho’ irreligiously.
Art. XXX. Of Both Kinds.
THE Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-People; for both the Parts of the Lord’s Sacrament, by Christ’s Ordinance and Commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian Men alike.
Obj. 1. There is no Precept which obliges Man to both Parts of the Sacrament, Christ only told his Disciples, Take Eat, Drink.
Answ. There is a Precept in the Institution of Christ, that does oblige Lay-Men, altho’ it is not expressed, yet ’tis implied: And that by the Apostle, 1 Cor. 11. 26. and ver. 28. his meaning is explained and cleared: for what Christ told his Disciples, that must be meant by the Apostle of the whole Church, and is enjoined to the whole Assembly of the Corinthians.
Obj. 2. Christ himself proves in words, the use of only one Species, where he promises eternal Life to them that eat his Flesh, making no mention at all of drinking.
Answ. The Sixth of John treats properly of a Spiritual Eating; and the mentioning of Bread alone was done with relation to the Manna, which the Jews boasted of as if it were Bread from Heaven, ver. 31. In the same Chapter, and in explaining the same thing, Flesh and Blood are joined together four times by our Lord, as the necessary Meat and drink, ver. 53, 54, 55, 56.
Obj. 3. Christ, by what he did himself, approves of the Use of only one Species, Luke 24. 30. For there he gave the Sacrament to Two Disciples at Emaus, under the single Species of Bread.
Answ. Either St. Luke there speaks of an ordinary Supper, and not of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, or else Bread by a Synecdoche is taken for the whole Repast.
Obj. 4. Those that can drink no Wine, must be excluded from the Sacrament, and those People likewise who have no Wine, if the Communion may not be performed under one Species.
Art. XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
THE Offering of Christ once made, is that perfect Redemption, Propitiation, and Satisfaction for all the Sins of the whole World, both Original and Actual; and there is no other Satisfaction for Sin, but that alone. Wherefore the Sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the Quick and the Dead, to have remission of Pain or Guilt, were blasphemous Fables, and dangerous Conceits.
Obj. 1. The Offering of Christ was made only for many, Mat. 20. 28. and for the Sheep, i. e. for the Elect, John 10. 15.
Answ. That Christ died for many, and for the Sheep or Elect, we must not deny; but from hence to imagine, that the Death of Christ was not a Price sufficient for All, is a vain Conclusion: not only because the Word [many] is very often equivalent to the word [All] Dan. 12. 2. Rom. 5. 19. but because the Dignity of Christ’s Death was so great in it self, that not only Mankind by God created, but tho’ God had created many more Worlds, it would have been a fit and sufficient Satisfaction for them All: Altho’ the World only of Believers can obtain Salvation thro his Death.
Obj. 2. Praying, Fasting, Alms, and Temporal Punishments, are Satisfactions for Sin.
Answ. Whatever Good Works we are able to perform, or whatsoever we may suffer for God’s Glory, even all that we are obliged to do and suffer by the right of Creation, Redemption, and Divine Precept, Luke 17. 19. Eph. 2. 10. Tit. 3. 1. But it would be an extreme rash thing to think of paying a Debt with a Debt. And then as for Temporal Punishments, they are not Satisfactions, but the Divine Corrections and Chastisements, even which God does often avert, when Men repent; not that they Satisfy; but only because he regards their true Faith.
Obj. 3. The Offering that Christ made upon the Cross, is to be represented in the Supper.
Answ. The Offering of Christ is to be represented bloody; and not by any other unbloody Offering, but by the Breaking of Bread, and the pouring out of Wine.
Obj. 4. The Mass is the Application of the Sacrifice of Christ.
Answ. The Sacrifice of Christ is applied only by Faith.
Obj. 5. The Prophets foretold, that there should be a perpetual Sacrifice in the Church, Mal. 1. 11. Esa. 66 23.
Answ. The Sacrifices of the Church of the New Testament, are Eucharistical and Spiritual, and these are Perpetual.
Obj. 6. Christ said to his Disciples, Do this in remembrance of me, i. e. Sacrifice this; for the Word [facere or do] is often taken in this sense; as Virgil has it, Cum faciam Vitula: When I offer Sacrifice with a Heifer. So Lev. 15. 15. 1 Kings 18. 23. Hos. 2. 8. And in other places in the vulgar Translation.
Art. XXXII. Of the Marriage of Priests.
BIshops, Priests, and Deacons are not commanded by God’s Law, either to vow the estate of Single Life, or to abstain from Marriage: Therefore it is lawful for Them, as for all other Christian Men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to Godliness.
Obj. 1. Marriage hinders Holy Duties; and therefore in the Old Testament, the High Priest, and Priests were commanded to abstain from the Conjugal Bed, so often as they were obliged to attend upon Holy Things, Exo. 19. 15. and 28. 4.
Answ. It is the abuse of Marriage, and not Marriage it self, that hinders Holy Duties. David, whilst he was married, prayed seven times in a Day; and did meditate upon the Law of God, Day and Night. That Abstinence which was commanded the Priests under the Old Testament, is said to be Ceremonial, and was required even in Lay-Persons, for a certain time; to which belongs likewise the abstaining from Wine and Strong Drinks, which was commanded the Priests, when they were upon Holy Duty. However it be, it is, without doubt, convenient for all Christians, as well as Pastors, to abstain from such conjugal Commerce, as may hinder their Worship of God.
Obj. 2. St. Paul commands married People, that they should abstain from one another by consent for a time, that they might give themselves the more ardently to Prayer, 1 Cor. 7. 5. Wherefore since Priests must daily attend upon Prayer and Sacrifices, it is plain that they are enjoined to a perpetual Continence.
Answ. The Apostle there speaks concerning extraordinary Prayer, such as is join’d with Fasting; but Clergy-Men are not every Day obliged to such Devotions: Nay, and by this Rule all Christians must abstain for ever from Marriage; for ’tis said to All In general, 1 Thess. 5. 17. Pray without ceasing.
Obj 3. They that are unmarried do care for the Things of the Lord, better than those that are married, 1 Cor. 7. 32.
Art. XXXIII. Of Excommunicated Persons; how they are to be avoided.
THat Person which by open denunciation of the Church, is rightly cut off from the Unity of the Church and Excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the Faithful, as an Heathen and Publican, until he be openly reconciled by Penance, and received in the Church by a Judge, that has authority thereunto.
Obj. 1. Christ has said, Mat. 13. 39. Let both grow together until the Harvest; which is to be understood of the Good and the Bad: Therefore the Wicked ought not to be Excommunicated.
Answ. Christ speaks there concerning Hypocrites, that cannot be discerned from those that are sincerely Good: Or else he is distinguishing the Duty of Ministers from that of a Magistrate: Let them grow, i. e. do not kill them.
Obj. 2. In the Old Testament God commanded that All should keep the Passover, Num 9. 10.
Answ. God commanded all that were Members of his People to keep the Passover, Exod. 12. 43. There was a Command concerning the Presumptuous, that they should be cut off from among his People Num. 15. 30. and those that were defiled were defiled kept back, Nu. 9. 6. Now under the Ceremonial Uncleanness the Moral was typified and figured.
Obj. 3. John Baptized a Generation of Vipers, Luke 3. 7.
Answ. Altho’ they were a Generation of Vipers, whom John Baptized; yet they were no longer Vipers, when they were once Baptized, at least not so in Profession.
Obj. 4. It seems not to be in the Power of Men to exclude any One from the Kingdom of God, and to thrust Others down to Hell.
Answ. The Church condemns no Man, but agrees with, and executes the Judgment of God, by declaring it according to express Command; and it delivers Men over to Satan, not by its own Authority, but in the Name of Christ, 1 Cor. 5. 4.
Obj. 5. St. Paul says of him that would by no means obey his Word, that such an one should be esteemed, not as an Enemy, but admonished as a Brother, 2 Thess. 3. 14. 15. Whereas a Brother is not to be look’d upon as a Heathen or a Publican.
Art. XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.
IT is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the Diversity of Countries, Times, and Mens Manners, so that nothing be Ordained against God’s Word. Whosoever, thro’ his private Judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common Authority, ought to be rebuked openly (that others may fear to do the like) as he that offendeth against the common Order of the Church, and hurteth the Authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the Consciences of the weak Brethren. Every particular or National Church hath Authority to Ordain, change and abolish Ceremonies or Rites of the Church, ordained only by Man’s Authority; so that all things be done to Edifying.
Obj. 1. Christians ought to walk according to the same Rule, and to have the highest Agreement amongst themselves; as may be gathered from Gal. 6. 16. 1 Pet. 3. 8. and therefore the same Ceremonies are alike necessary in all places.
Answ. The variety of Ceremonies does not destroy the Unity of the Church, provided the Faithful do but walk according to the same Rule of Doctrine.
Obj. 2. Christ has said, Reprove a Sinner betwixt him and thy self alone, Mat. 18. 15. therefore he is not publickly to be reproved by any One.
Answ. This Place treats of the Duty of private Men for private Offences committed against private Persons; and not of the Duty of Pastors in reproving scandalous and notorious Sins, publickly committed: Such as these must be publickly reproved.
Obj. 3. The Apostle advises Titus to avoid Strifes and Contentions, Chap. 3. 9. and therefore they are not to be reproved, who oppose the Traditions of the Church.
Answ. Unprofitable Disputations and noisy Talk without Edification, are to be avoided; because such vain Contentions do not convert the Froward and Obstinate, but rather confirm them in their Errors: In the mean time Ministers may reprove Gainsayers with much Prudence, Patience, and Sobriety, and all this be done to the Good and Profit of others.
Obj. 4. The same Apostles commanded the Thessalonians to hold the Traditions, 2 Thess. 2. 15. And therefore that Church had not Authority to change or disannul the Traditions of it.
Art. XXXV. Of Homilies.
THE Second Book of Homilies, the several Titles whereof we have set down under this Article, does contain a Godly and wholsome Doctrine, and necessary for these Times, as does the former Book of Homilies, which were set forth in Time of Edward the Sixth: And therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the Ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understood of the People.
Of the Names of the Homilies.
- Of the right Use of the Church.
- Against Peril of Idolatry.
- Of repairing and keeping clean of Churches.
- Of Good Works, first of Fasting.
- Against Gluttony and Drunkenness.
- Against Excess of Apparel.
- Of Prayer.
- Of the Place and Time of Prayer.
- That Common Prayers, and Sacraments, ought to be ministred in a known Tongue.
- Of the Reverend Estimation of God’s Word.
- Of Alms-doing.
- Of the Nativity of Christ.
- Of the Passion of Christ.
- Of the Resurrection of Christ.
- Of the Worthy Receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
- Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
- For the Rogation-Days.
- Of the State of Matrimony.
- Of Repentance.
- Against Idleness.
- Against Rebellion.
Obj. 1. The Doctrine contained in the Homilies is not in these Times so necessary, because there is plenty of Ministers, who can and do, viva voce preach the Word of God.
Answ. This Article was intended chiefly for the Beginning of the Reformation, when there was a much greater want of Men, that were fit for the Ministry: And then, if even of these Times we would suppose it to speak, there are very many Churches (for want of sufficient Encouragement, or other Reasons) which are destitute of a Learned Preacher, and which indeed is to be lamented: And besides, such is the carelesness of some in their Preachings, that it would be more profitable to hear a Homily, than their Sermons.
Obj. 2. It seems to be an Office unworthy of a Minister of the Gospel to repeat Word for Word, Exhortations from the Copy of another, for a Child can do that.
Answ. It would be unworthy of a Minister of the Gospel to do this from the Copy of any private Man; but it is not so to do it from the Copy and Direction of the Church: And it is not unworthy of a Minister to do some things that Children can do, viz. to read Prayers or Chapters within Book.
Obj. 3. No body can execute the Office of an Advocate, or a Physician, by repeating any prescribed Forms: Now a Minister is a Spiritual Advocate and Physician, who ought to apply his Doctrine, according to the different Circumstances of Time and Persons, which is not to be done, nor can be done, whilst the prescribed Words of a Homily, composed by other Men, are read to the People.
Art. XXXVI. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
THE Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops, and ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth, and confirmed at the same time by Authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering: Neither hath it any thing, that of it self is Superstitious and Ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrated and ordered according to the Rites of that Book, since the the second Year of the aforenamed King Edward, unto this time, or hereafter, shall be consecrated and ordered according to the same Rites; we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
Obj. 1. We do not any where in Scripture read of Archbishops.
Answ. An Archbishop is no other than the highest of the Bishops, who is as a Head, set over other Bishops: And although we do not meet with this Word in the Scriptures, yet it agrees thereunto for the preserving of Order in the Church; that ’tis prudent and useful to constitute Degrees in the Church of different Dignity and Authority. In the Old Testament; there was a High Priest and Priests of a second and Inferiour Order: In the New, there were Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers: And it is not contrary to the Word of God, that One should be above Another in the Church for Government’s sake.
Obj. 2. It is an impious thing, that the Bishop should say to every one of those that are Ordained, Receive the Holy Ghost; as if he had the Power of conferring the Holy Ghost, which is peculiar to Christ himself, and was the miraculous Token of his Divine Power: But no mortal Man can assume this to himself, or ought to imitate it.
Answ. The Bishop does not mean, when he says, Receive the Holy Ghost, as if he could bestow upon them the inward Gifts of the Holy Ghost in an extraordinary manner; but he says it, because he confers upon them the external and ordinary Ministry, whereof the Holy Ghost is the Author: In which Sense also he says, Receive thou Authority to preach the Gospel, &c.
Obj. 3. Those first Bishops and Ministers after the Reformation were not rightly ordained, because they were not Ordained by such other Bishops, who had a continued Succession from preceding Bishops lawfully called, and because in the Solemnity of Consecration and Ordination, the accustomed Rites and Ceremonies were wanting.
Art. XXXVII. Of the Civil Magistrates.
THE Queen’s Majesty hath the chief Power in this Realm of England, and other her Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all Causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any Foreign Jurisdiction. Where we attribute to the Queen’s Majesty the chief Government: By which Titles we understand the Minds of some slanderous Folks to be offended; we give not to our Princes the Ministering either of God’s Word, or of the Sacraments: The which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen, do most plainly testify, but that only Prerogative which we see to have been given always to all Godly Princes in Holy Scripture by God himself; that is, that they should rule all Estates and Degrees committed to their Charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal; and restrain with the Civil Sword the Stubborn and Evil-doers.
The Bishop of Rome has no Jurisdiction in this Realm of England.
The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian Men with Death for heinous and grievous Offences.
It is lawful for Christian Men, at the Commandment of the Magistrate, to wear Weapons and serve in the Wars.
Obj. 1. King Johasophat ingenuously confessed, that the Priests, and not he, had the chief Power in the Church, 2 Chron. 19. 11. Amarian the Chief Priest is over you in all Matters of the Lord.
Answ. In interpreting and administering of Divine Things, the High-Priest was chief and principal; but as to the Temporal Government, he was subject to the King.
Obj. 2. The Holy Scriptures inform us, that the Government of the Church is in the Hands of the Bishops and Priests, Act. 20. 28. 1 Tim. 5. 17. Heb. 13. 17.
Answ. The Government was then in the Hands of the Bishops and Priests, because at that time the Church had no other Watchmen and Conducters of Souls; but the Word of God does not exclude other Supporters of the Gospel, such as pious Princes are, whom the Church has sometimes accounted Guides to promote Piety.
Obj. 3. We find that the Apostles governed the Church, Acts 20. 28. Passed Sentence concerning Religious Controversies, Acts 15. 6. and inflicted just Punishments upon Offenders, Acts 5. 3. And therefore the Government of the Church in this Kingdom of England does of Right belong to the Ministers, and not to the King’s Majesty.
Answ. The Apostles were Ministers extraordinary: And that ancient State of the Church, wherein there were no Christian Princes, must not be made use of for a constant and standing Rule.
Obj. 4. To Christ was given all Power both in Heaven and Earth, Mat. 28. 18. By which is signified a Spiritual and an Earthly Kingdom: But Christ gave the Keys of both to Peter, Mat. 16. 19. Now Peter has given his Authority to the Bishop of Rome, And therefore to this Bishop, as in others, so also in this Kingdom of England does this Jurisdiction belong.
Answ. Some understand the aforecited Place of a Spiritual Power: As if Christ had said; As in Heaven I am the King of Angels and blessed Spirits, so by Faith I reign in the Hearts of Men. Others interpret this exalted Power to be given to Christ the Mediator over all Creatures, which could not be communicated to mere Man. But now in neither of these Senses did Christ give an absolute Power to Peter; he only gave him a Share in the Ecclesiastical Ministry; and in the same Sense the Keys were given to the rest of the Apostles, Mat. 18. 18. Besides, could you suppose that Peter had such a Power given him above the rest of the Apostles, it could not yet be proved, that the Pope, as being his Successor, is possessed of the same Authority.
Obj. 5. King John made this Country tributary to the Pope.
Answ. King John unwillingly and out of Fear made England tributary to the Pope, and because it was to the Prejudice of the Kingdom, and his Successors, Henry his Son, with the chief Estates of the Realm, protested against this Donation; nay, and threatened that they would defend themselves by Arms against the Temporal Jurisdiction of the Pope, as appears by our English Annals.
Obj. 6. Against the latter part of this Article ’tis objected, that Theft is a grievous Crime, and yet the hanging of Thieves is against the Law of God, which thinks it sufficient to punish it with a Four, or a Five-fold Restitution, Ex. 22. 1, 2.
Answ. Some answer to this, that That Law of not inflicting a Capital Punishment upon Thieves was parely Political, and did belong only to the Jews: Neither was it ever repeated or confirmed under the New Testament: And then they say, that when Faults were multiplied, the Punishment was to be more severe, and prove from Prov. 6. 31. That the Punishment of Theft was heightned to a Seven-fold Restitution; and then they alledge, 2 Sam. 12. 5. that of a Thief that was condemned to Death by King David. They say besides, that the Law of Moses does not at all hinder but that Thieves may suffer Death, especially supposing that Capital Punishments for such Crimes be established by a publick Law, and a general Consent of All: For Laws of this sort in things not contrary to Piety, do approach very near the Nature of Divine Laws. Rom. 13. 1, 2. And again, supposing that the Thieves are not weak and sickly Men, unfit for working, or not taken care of by the Overseers of the Poor; for there is a regard to be had to such as are compelled, by extreme Want, to steal: Besides too, supposing Thefts cannot be corrected by gentler and lighter Punishments: Or, lastly, supposing that which is taken away by stealth be a considerable Injury and Loss to the Owner.
Obj. 7. Capital Punishment of heinous Offences seems to be contrary to the Law of Charity so peculiar to the Gospel; for the New Testament, as ’tis a gracious Dispensation, does not admit of Revenge, or Punishments too severe.
Answ. Under the Old Testament heinous Offences were punished with Death, notwithstanding the Law of Charity, which was as much in force then as it is now: But Grace in the New Testament, as to the Matter of Salvation, is opposed to a slavish Fear, and rigorous Observance of the Law of Moses; but nor to any Capital Punishments inflicted by the Magistrate upon Offenders.
Obj. 8. To the last part of the Article ’tis objected, That ’tis the express Command of God, that Man’s Blood be not shed, Gen. 9. 6. But Wars cannot be waged without shedding of Blood.
Answ. It is a private and not a publick Slaughter, that is there forbidden.
Obj. 9. It is the Command of Christ, that we resist not Evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy Right Cheek, turn to him the other also, Mat. 5. 39.
Answ. Christ here teaches us the utmost Patience, that we should not repell Injuries in any violent manner; but rather to bear them patiently, than to strive with self-will’d Men or study any private Revenge; especially when the Love of our Neighbour, the Conversion of Infidels, or the Glory of God require this Submission from us. This Duty seems chiefly to belong to Christians in the time of a publick Persecution; such as was almost continual in the Primitive Church: Yet we are not hereby forbid to avoid an Injury by such Rules of Defence as are unblameable. Neither are Magistrates forbidden to execute publick Revenge; otherwise the Malice of wicked Men would be sharpened, and the Commonwealth would never be in quietness.
Obj. 10. It is said, Mat. 26. 52. All they that take the Sword, shall perish with the Sword.
Answ. Our Saviour here speaketh of him that shall take up the Sword by a private Authority, and not of a Magistrate, who is God’s Minister, that beareth not the sword in vain, Rom, 13. 1, 2.
Obj. 11. The Arms of Christians are not Carnal, but Spiritual, saith St. Paul, 2 Cor. 10. 4.
Art. XXXVIII. Of Christian Mens Goods, which are not common.
THE Riches and Goods of Christians are not common, as touching the Right, Title, and Possession of the same: as certain Anabaptists do falsly boast: Notwithstanding every Man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give Alms to the Poor, according to his Ability.
Obj. 1. The more common any Good is, the better it is; and therefore it were better if the Goods of Christians were common.
Answ. It were better indeed for others, if Goods were common, but not for him whose Goods they are, and who cannot conveniently part with them. Every one, in the Order of Charity, is obliged to take care of himself first; and if after that he gives Alms according to his Ability, he is in a fair way of Salvation.
Obj. 2. All things are common among Friends.
Answ. That is a true Maxim, as to such things as may be communicated with Honesty, and without the Prejudice of another; by a voluntary, not by a civil and necessary Imparting: and then again, as to a Temporal Use, and not a perpetual Possession.
Obj. 3. The Apostles and Primitive Christians had all things common, Acts 2. 44.
Art. XXXIX. Of a Christian Man’s Oath.
AS we confess that vain and rash Swearing is forbidden Christian Men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James his Apostle; so we judge, that Christian Religion does not prohibit, but that a Man may Swear when the Magistrate requireth, in a Cause of Faith and Charity; so it be done according to the Prophets teaching, in Justice, Judgment, and Truth.
Obj. 1. It is the express Admonition of Christ, Mat. 5. 34. Swear not at all. And ’tis the Exhortation of St. James, Chap. 5. 12. Above all things my Brethren swear not, neither by Heaven, nor by the Earth, nor by any other Oath.
Answ. Christ and St. James condemn only rash, not necessary Oaths, such as the Article means. And then the Prohibition of Christ is to be strictly understood of all those Oaths, which the Pharisees allowed, and thereby seduced the People: For they taught, that it was lawful, upon any Account, to swear, provided their Oath was but true. Nay, and they added, that it was lawful for them to swear by Heaven, the Earth, Jerusalem, or any other Creature: And that they were never guilty of Perjury, but where there was mention made of the express Name of God, or of the Gifts that were consecrated to God: For that by these Interpretations the Pharisees did corrupt the Law of God concerning Oaths, no Man will deny that will but diligently consider what Christ has said against such Oaths as were allowed by the Pharisees, Mat. 23. 16, 17, &c.
Obj. 2. In the Law of Moses it was lawful upon any Account whatsoever, to swear, provided there was no Lie in it. And this is plain from the Hebrew Word [
שא Shav] which signifies as much as [untruly, falsly] to swear, and not to swear without Cause, Ex. 25. 1. Deut. 5. 20. And for this Reason, Christ, when he said, Swear not at all, did perfect and complete the Law.
Now to the Only Wise God, be Praise and Glory for ever. Amen.