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To imagine that, without such revelation, mortals can understand, or know the mind and will of God, is an absurdity, even greater than to suppose we can know the thoughts of each other, without any declaration of them either by words or actions. But to admit the necessity of a divine revelation, to receive the scriptures as that revelation, and not to make them the only infallible rule and guide, in all matters which relate to the mind and will of God therein revealed, is, so far, to lay aside the revelation of God, to make it void and of none effect, and to place ourselves in no better fituation, than if no such discovery of the mind and will of God had ever been vouchsafed us.
Thus we rob God of His honour, by flighting His word, and thus are people led to set up the determinations of human wisdom against it, and expose themselves to be carried about with every wind of doctrine, which the folly and superstition of weak men, and the wickedness and craft of dehgning men, may happen to invent.
By such means it has been, that so many errors of various kinds have found their way, in all ages, into the church, and have maintained their empire over the minds of men. Long usage has made them venerable. The prescriptive power of custom has given them establishment and
both these have prevailed on human legislatures, to afford them the awful obligation of their most folemn sanctions.
It cannot want many arguments to prove, that fundry practices; as well as opinions, which are found among the heathen nations, are abhorrent from all our conceptions of propriety, decency, and even humanity itself*. -All these have but one source--They do err, not knowing the scriptures.
Where revelation is received, yet if it be not adhered to as the only rule of faith and manners, and this unreservedly, the opinions and practices of men will be as wide from the mind and will of God, as those of the Heathen are. I might here. instance in the opinions and practices of the Pharisees of old, as well as of many nations called Christian, in more modern days, and who are members of that for
* I cannot forbear mentioning here that valuable, learned, and excellent work of John Leland, D.D. on the Advantage and Necesity of the Christian Revelation-wherein that author hath, with a strength of judgment, and depth of learning and erudition peculiar to himself, so proved his point, as to deserve the thanks of all who know how to set a just value on the scriptures, as well as of thofe who would with to do it. This valuable author says, “It is the “ mighty advantage of a written revelation, that by " an impartial consulting it, the deviations from it
may be detected, and things may again be reduced “ to the original standard.” Vol. i. p. 453.
ciety of professing Christians which infolently and exclusively styles itself—" THE
HOLY APOSTOLICAL and CATHOLIC “ CHURCH”-amongst whom the most devout are worshipping a wooden god, which they call a crucifix*, and a breaden god, which they call the hot; and, belides these, they worship saints and angels, and many such like things they do. The foundation of all which is still one and the same—They do err, not knowing the scriptures ; for though the Papists have the scriptures, yet they do not adopt them as the only rule of faith and worship. Their fear towards God is taught them by the doctrines and commandments of men te If. xxix. 13. which take place of the
* This invention of the crucifix, or image of Christ on the cross, is but old heathenism new vamped. Maximus Tyrius, a Platonic philosopher, who was master to M. Antoninus, says-. The divine na
ture stands not in need of images or statues; but " the nature and condition of man being very weak, “ and as far distant from the Divinity as heaven is " from earth, framed these figns for itself, and at« tributed to them the names and titles of the “ gods”-and he thinks that the legislators acted wisely in contriving images for the people. See Leland, vol. i. p. 338. The wise men and philosophers pleaded for images as necessary helps to human in. firmity. Ib. 4243
+ Two of the articles in the famous creed of Pope Pius IV. are as follows : XIII. I most firmly admit and embrace apostolical and ecclefiaftical traditions, and all other obfer,
mind and will of God, as revealed in His holy word.
Happy would it be, could we, reform-, ed Protestants, clear ourselves of this charge in all respects ! To
prove that we cannot, in some points of the utmost consequence, is the purpose of the following pages; which, while the reader peruses, I could wish him to weigh in the balance of the sanctuary, to
vations and constitutions of the one catholic and apostolic church. XIV. I do admit the holy scriptures in the fame
sense that holy Mother Church doth, whose business it into judge of the true sense and interpretatic.t of them, and I will interpret them according to the unanimous consent of the fa
thers. The Popish canon law frequently affirms that the church is above the scriptures.
Omnis quæ nunc apud nos eft scripturæ authoritas ab écclefiæ authoritate necessario dependet.-“ All the au" thority which we attribute to the scriptures, ne« cessarily depends on the authority of the church.” Pighius de Hierar. Eccl. Lib. i. c. 2. Eccius, in his Enchiridion de Authoritate Ecclefia, maintains Ecclefiam efe fcripturis antiquiorem, & fcripturam non elle authenticam, nisi ecclefiæ authoritate.--" The
church is more antient than the scriptures, and “ the scriptures are not authentic, fave by the au“thority of the church."
Hermannus goes farther, and affirms—Scripturas tantum valere quantum valent Æsopi fabulæ, nisi accederet ecclefia testimonium.-" The scriptures are no
more to be valued than Æsop's Fables, unless it
were for the testimony of the church.” See Hift. of Popery, vol. i. p. 214.
lay his Bible before him, and to call every
wrong, or detect any thing that is false, let him freely set it down to the Author's account. But whatever he shall find agreeable to, or clearly proved by, the word of God, let him not listen to the lying testimony of prejudice or vulgar error against it, but treasure it up in his mind, for the direction of his own judgment and conscience, in all situations and conditions of life.
If the judgment be mis-led or rpil-informed, the more conscientious a mản is, the farther will he be led into error, and the more firmly will he be attached to it; therefore it is well. for us to listen to the counsel of the wise man-Prov. iv. 7. " WISDOM is the principal thing, there“ fore get WISDOM; and with all thy
getting get UNDERSTANDING.”
As to differences, or even errors, (if mistakes about indifferent matters can be fo called) where mere outward forms are concerned, and those of human invention, the tîuthor desires to think, and to let think, and wheresoever the scriptures are filent, to be so too. He does not esteem it worth his while to expend a single drop of ink in such controversies. He does not sup