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in the primitive church. John would have that "if any did not bring his doctrine with him, they should not receive him into their house, nor bid him God speed," 2 John, vs. 10, 11. Jesus himself, commends the Ephesians, because "they hated the works of the Nicolaitans, and saith that he hated them also," Rev. ii. 6. It is sufficiently known from ecclesiastical history, how the Arians, Pelagians, Nestorians, Eutychians, and others were condemned and re jected by those who taught a different doctrine, and how these were in their turn reprobated by their opponents. Matters are conducted in the same manner even now. The Quakers or enthusiasts, the Socinians, Arminians, Mennonites, Papists, Lutherans and Reformed cannot endure each other. It is true, the Arminians and Socinians pretend that they could exercise brotherly fellowship with all, they tolerate also one another; nevertheless they will not maintain fellowship with the idolatrous papists: they say that they would unite with the reformed if they would receive them into fellowship with them. But if these men should once prevail, we should then see how moderate and tolerant they would be toward us. Their forerunners, the Arians, Pelagians and Semipelagians showed sufficiently what bitter enemies they were of the orthodox. The Remonstrants bestirred themselves vigorously against us in the last century, when they saw their help in the gates. Since then there are so many different opinions, which overthrow each other, it follows that all these denominations cannot be the true church and peculiar people of God; there is then only one among all these, which hath the true nature of the church.
But how shall we find the pure and true church of God among all these different denominations? Every one thinks that we must seek and find her among his people, with whom he converses. Surely there must be a possibility of knowing the true church, if we must join ourselves to her, that we may partake of her privileges and saving benefits; she is indeed " a city upon a hill, which cannot be hid.” Matt. v. 14. But what is the mark whereby we may know her? Shall we ask the church of Rome which is the true church and the right mark, by which she may be known? She weens indeed that she hath a better right to this than all besides. She pretends that she hath the highest claim, and the oldest title: she saith that her high priest, the pope, is the supreme judge in disputes, to whom we must submit our faich in this great controversy. But others, who belong to the Romish society, think that the pope is not the supreme judge in disputes, but the council, to whom the pope must submit himself. How then shall we get right in the church of
Rome? cannot she decide her own controversies, how will she then those which she hath with others? and although she should be of one mind, and say that she hath a supreme right to pronounce sentence, those who are not of her communion will dispute that right, and assert that she hath no such right at all, and that she can not prove it, which we may justly deniand of her. The Romish church is party concerned, every one will condemn her: shall she now be both party and judge, and pronounce sentence in her own case? who would not condemn this, as a most unfair and most unreasonable proceeding? and who would submit to such a sentence? It will therefore be most proper to consult the mouth and the word of the Lord: so the spouse acted, Song i. 7. The Son of God is indeed the Head, the Shepherd, the Prophet, the Priest and King of his church; he is the word and the wisdom of his Father: the word of God was written by the inspiration of the infallible Spirit, and the Lord speaks to every one in his word: "The scripture saith," Rom. iii. 4. ix. 17. x. 11. To that the Saviour appealed in his disputes with the Jews, John v, 39, so also the apostles, Rom. iii. 19. iv. 3. xxi. 4. Gal. iv. 21, 22, 27, 30. God commands every one to conduct himself according to his word, and to speak according to it, and denounceth a severe threatening against those who do not. Isaiah viii. 20. Therefore soundness of doctrine according to the written word of God is the right mark of the true church. Jesus himself give us this mark, John viii. 31, 32, 47. "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God." See this also, John x. 27. xiv. 21, 23. They who abide not by this word are condemned and accursed, how great soever their authority may be, yea, though they were angels from heaven, Gal. i 8, 9. The word is also that by which a person is called to the church, and is born in the church, 2 Thess. ii. 14. James i. 18. i Peter i. 23. The doctrine according to the word of God is also the privilege of the church only, to the exclusion of all others. Psalm cxlvii. 19, 20. The priests of the Old Testament, who were ordained by God him. self, might judge only "according to the sentence of the law," Deut. xvii, 8, 9, 10. And truly every one must and will admit, either wittingly and willingly, or unwittingly and unwillingly, that the pure doctrine of the church is the right mark of the true church. For what person is there of all the different denominations, who, when he is urged to prove his opinion, will not forthwith alledge one
or other passage of scripture? Doth he not show thereby, that his faith must be tried by the word of God, as the proper touchstone.
Say not worthy reader, that the matter which we would explain, remains thus as obscure as ever, and that we cannot know by the agreement of any person's doctrine with the word of God, with what people we may find the church of God; because every one makes use of this word to answer his purpose, and saith that his opinn agreeth with the word of God; yea, that he will submit himself to the word only. For when this matter is properly considered, shall perceive clearly and presently, that all who are without the Reformed, or permit me to say, the Protestant church, avoid the decision of the holy scripture, and set up another judge above, and in opposition to the holy book of God, because they perceive that they are condemned by that book.
In order to illustrate and confirm this assertion, thou must, reader, allow, and thou wilt do it, if thou wilt examine this matter thoroughly, and without prejudice, that he who foundeth all, at least all his capital doctrines upon a principle different from the word of God, and who models and fashions the whole word of God according to that principle, I say, thou must allow that such a person doth not submit himself to the word of God and that he doth not regulate his opinions according to it, but subjects himself to a different judge, whom he sets up, to wit, that principle of his; yea, that he subjects even the word of the Lord of hosts to that principle. If thou, reader, wilt now duly attend to the conduct of those who oppose us, thou wilt perceive that they build and suspend all their doctrinal tenets either upon ethusiasm, as those who are called Quakers do; or upon natural reason and free will, as the Pelagians and Semipelagians, who were condemned of old, did, and as those still do, who extoll their reason so much, as sound, though somewhat weakened, and their indifferent free will, to wit, the Socinians, Jesuits, Remonstrants, and many Mennonites, who collude with them; or upon lordship, which is introduced by the Papists.
We say the Quakers build and suspend the articles of their faith upon enthusiasm; for they will not receive any part of the word of God, but what is suggested to them by an immediate revelation of the Spirit of God, whereby they are then, as they pretend, in a manner deified, imagining that they are above the holy word of God, which they subject to their accidental notions; and therefore they utter the most absurd and fantastical doctrines of faith, and use unseemly and offensive gestures. What thinkest thou, candid reader, can this people appeal to the word of God, as the only judge,
and the perfect standard of faith; do they not reject, yea, do they not reproach this judge, when they decry the written word of God, as "a mere paper word, a book for children, milk for babes, an am biguous scripture, which hath neither meaning nor force, unless it be inspired and animated by an inward word?"
The Socinians establish their doctrine upon a different principle, to wit, natural reason and free will. Natural reason, they think, is still sound and unimpaired; men can perceive all things clearly by reason; "We do not by any means assent to things, which we clearly perceive to be impossible," saith Socinus de Servatore, part. 3. cap. 6. page 282. They think therefore that reason is the rule and expositor of the scripture, and that all the controversies, that relate to the scripture, ought and can be determined by the voice of reason. They deny for the sake of their sound reason the simplicity of God, his essential omnipresence, his foreknowledge, his free and unchangeable decrees, the divine Trinity, the personal union of the two natures in Christ, and his satisfaction to the justice of God, &c. They cannot comprehend these things, nor reconcile them to their reason, and therefore they reject them, though they are plainly set forth in the word of God. Ostorod saith that he would not believe the incarnation, (that is, Christ's taking upon himself the human nature, or the personal union of a divine and human nature in Christ,) although it should seem to be clearly asserted in the scripture, because it is contrary to reason, which judgeth it to be false. Another champion of the Socinians, namely, Samalcius saith, "There is not the least tittle of the Christian religion, which doth not agree with reason; and if any opinion agree not with reason, it is not admissible in theology; and it must necess cessarily be exceedingly pernicious and false. In refut. thes. Franc. page 137. et in prafat. Socinus himself saith, de Servatore, part. 3. cap. 6. pag. 282. "With respect to myself, although the scripture said not once, but often," (to wit, that Christ hath satisfied God for our sins)" I should nevertheless not believe that it was altogether so. It cannot by any means be so," according to the judgment of his reason. What thinkest thou, reader, can we believe that these men receive the scripture only for their judge and rule, and that they submit themselves to it, and prove from it that they have the right mark of the church and people of God? I judge not. In the same manner do they make free will a foundation, upon which they build many other opinions. They think that free will is indifferent, and not so exceedingly corrupt, as the Reformed pretend, and therefore they do not believe the inability of the sinner to do good, they deny the necessity
of a heart changing regeneration, God's effectual grace in working faith and conversion, &c. And why, because these things agree not with the word of God? no, but because they can not be reconciled to their indifferent free will. Doth it not then plainly appear, that the word of God is not the foundation of their faith, but their own vain glorious free will?
The Jesuits and Remonstrants will not indeed speak so harshly, nevertheless free will is the hinge upon which most of their doc. trines, which they hold in common with each other, turn. They believe that man is not so good as Adam was before the fall: he hath lost the image of God, his supernatural grace, his golden bridle ; the inbred lusts of his flesh have bewildered him, and he is thus become weak; but he is not therefore so dead, so dark, corrupt and incapable of doing good; but he can still by the help of grace discern the things of God, desire and dispose himself for conversion. He would otherwise he deprived of his free and indifferent will, and they think that this is impossible, unless he should cease to be man. And therefore we must not hold an absolutely free, and eternally unchangeable decree, but a conditional one, that is a decree suspended upon the condition of foreseen faith, good works and perseverance. And on this account they believe that Christ died for all men, that God hath entered into a general covenant of grace with all men, that he bestows a general and sufficient, but not a particular, effectual, and irresistible grace upon all men, and that the saints may apostatize from the faith. If this were not so, free will would be forced, and God could not with any equity demand of man what he was unable to perform. Do we not then see that these men make free will, by them considered as indifferent, and not the word of God, the foundation of their doctrine of faith? How dare they then pretend that they make the word of God their foundation?
The Papists exalt their sovereign lordship to the throne, that they may subject the word of God, its mysteries, and all that is sacred and profane to themselves. They have therefore introduced the ruling power of a pope, of cardinals, bishops and other lords. They teach that their church is superior to the scripture, that we cannot derive the authority and sense of scripture from the scripture itself, but we must derive it from the Romish sovereignty. They introduce traditions, many articles of faith, and ceremonies without, above, yea, contrary to the word of God: they say, the church of Rome hath a right to do this, and men ought to obey her implicitly. The common people must depend only upon the words of their teachers; they may not read the word of God, nor search it, they would become too