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things, then them among the rest. I would fain know what I must try them with. With the scriptures? Then the scriptures must be the rule of my examination and faith concerning themselves, which is improper. If with the spirit that gave them forth, which searcheth the deep things of God (a measure of which is given to me to profit withal) then is it most congruous to call the Spirit, by way of excellency, and not the fcriptures, the rulé.
7. If the scriptures are the rule, they must be so in the original, or copies: if in the original, that is not extant, and so there would be no rule in being; for the last of it that was extant, was the Evangelift John's history at Ephesus, not seen almost these thousand years. If the copies must be the rule, it were to be wished we knew which were the nighest to the ori. ginal, there being above thirty in number. This is undetermined, and for ought we see undeterminable. And that which farther confirms what I say is, the variety of readings which we find amongst those copies, amounting to several thousands. And if the copies cannot, how can the translations be the rule, so various (if not differing) from the true sense of the copies in many things, and one froin another ? Besides, I would fain know of those of our present age, who thus contend for the scriptures being the general rule, &c. in opposition to the spirit, upon what foot they receive them into this place and authority: is it by tradition or revelation? I mean, the internal testimony of ibe fpirit; or the external award and determination of men? If the former, they must unavoidably come over to us; for then the spirit will, and must be both rule and judge: if the latter, I ask how are they assured that they are not miserably abused by carelessness or design ; since we fee, that using the utmost diligence, both translation, transcription and printing, are fub. ject to numerous mistakes, and those sometimes very material, againit which the scripture of itself can be no fence?
But admit there were no ground for any such objection, I farther demand of our adversaries, if they are well assured of those men that first collected, embodied, and declared them authentic by a publick canon? Which we read was in the council of Laodicea, held three hundred and fixty years after Christ, though not as they are now received : during which time they had been toffed and tumbled through many hands, and of many judgments and opinions. Some were received, and some rejected, and doubtless many thousands of times transcribed; and it is not improbable that they were also abused. If they miss in their judgment here, they are gone till they come to
I say, how do they know that these men rightly discerned true from spurious ? Either their judgment was infallible in the matter, or it was not : if it were, then there was such a thing as infallibility since the apoftles days, which is a contradiction to yourselves. But be it so that they were infallible; how came you to be assured they were so ? Not by inspiration, for that is dangerous doctrine with you: which way was it then? Not by tradition: was it by the scripture? That were to say that the scripture tells you that those men that collected it for true, were right in their judgment: but we are yet to find any such place; and if it were so, that would but beg the question. I cannot see any other ground, besides your very great indulgence to their choice; which you call Popery, and believing as the church believes, in other folks. But if these men were fallible, as your opinion makes them, and their own determinations prove them, what then? Doubtless
condition will be very uncertain. Now, sure it is, that some of the scriptures taken in by one council for canonical, were rejected by another as apocryphal; and that which was left out by the former for apocrypbal, was taken in by the latter for canonical. Now visible it is, that they contradicted each other, and as true that they both erred, respecting the present belief: for your canon and catalogue vary from theirs, and, let me fay without offence, from
any catalogue you can produce. Behold the labyrinth of uncertainties you run yourselves into, who go
from that heavenly gift in yourselves, by which the holy scriptures are truly discerned, relilhed, and distinguished from the inventions and abuses of men !
8. Farthermore, if the scriptures were the rule of faith and life, &c. then, because they cannot be the rule in their translations, supposing the ancient copies were exact, it cannot be the rule to far the greatest part of mankind; indeed to none but learned men: which neither answers the promise relating to gospeltimes, which is universal; nor the necessity of all mankind for a rule of faith and life.
9. That the scriptures are not the rule of faith and life, is proved from those voluminous discourses of cases of conscience that are extant among us: for had the scriptures been as sufficient as the nature of the rule of faith and life requireth, there had been no need of such tracts: every man might have read his own condition laid down in scripture, without those numerous supplements. Do not your own language and practice prove its insufficiency to that end, at what time you both exhort to, and go in secret to seek, the mind of the Lord in this or that important affair? Why do not you turn to chapter and verse for fatiffaction, if the scripture be appointed of God for the general rule? Strange! that what is so common in the mouths of all forts, viz. “ God direct you,” (which implieth inspiration and revelation, or immediate counsel or guiding from God) should not be known, much less acknowledged by you in our writings; but disdained with such scaring epithets, as enthusiasm, familisin, fanaticism, Quakerism, &c. In short, there are a thousand cases, and not a few occurring almost daily, in which the scripture cannot be our plain and distin£t rule and guide:' yet has not God left himself without a witness in any bofom; for his GRACE, “ that
| There is not laid down in fcripture any general rule how to answer before magiftrates; and to act in times of sufferings.
« brings salvation, has appeared unto all men, teach
ing them that believe in it, to deny ungodliness and « worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and “ godly in this present world."" And Christ Jesus, the Eternal Word, has for that end lighted every man coming into the world, viz. to discover, reprove, and instruct about faith and practice. But it may be, and is objected by some :
Obj. If this law and light in the conscience had been enough, what need bad their been of scripture?
Answ. The same argument will hold against God, Christ, his Spirit and grace; all which are sufficient, notwithstanding the use and benefit of scripture. The case was this: Man's mind being estranged from the light and spirit, through its wanderings after visible and perishing things; and inasmuch as the light became thereby veiled from him, the Spirit as it were quenched, and the law defaced, God, in peculiar mercy to the Jews, according to his covenant with faithful Abraham, superadded, or repeated (as Ursin terms it) the law inward, by a declaration of it outwardly; that both God might not be without an outward witness, as well as an inward (they having lo much lost the feeling thereof); and likewise more deeply to strike their minds by their senses (into which their minds were gone) and to meet them abroad, where they were roving and wandering from the law and light within.
As it is great vanity and weakness to infer insufficiency to the light, froin the imbecility and darkness that are in men; fo is it, from God's fuperadding scripture, and other external assistances, to men in that ftate ; since their blindness is occasioned through their rebellion to the law and light within. What! would such have God, his light, and Spirit, appear to, and converse with, people's outward senses? That cannot be: the one is fpiritual, and the other too carnal for any such thing Or are they insufficient, because they converse with men through these exterior things, suited to that weak state? Or tell me if the most confiderable part of scripture be any more than the declared knowledge and experience of such as were come to a more improved state in the teachings of that light and spirit; which is therefore given forth, that others loitering behind might be stirred up, and the more prevailed with to follow them, as they had followed the Lord in the light of his spirit? Certainly, it can never be that scripture should impeach the light of insufficiency, when that very scripture is but the mind and teachings of the divine light in others, declared or recorded. Does the declaration jar with, or make weak, that from whence it came? Or because of God's condescension for a time to external mediums, shall they turn the light and spirit out of the office of rule and judge? Or is it to lay down instituted religion, as some ignorantly talk, to press after that which was before, and ends those temporary things? The law outward, as a rule, was but as Moses, till the Son came. “ The servant abideth not in the house for ever.” The written law held its place but till the inward arose in more glory and brightness; or rather, till people became more capable of being turned to it, and living with and in it. “ In those days" saith the Lord, “I will “ write my law in their hearts, "" &c. They who say otherwise of scripture, do pervert and abuse it; for there is nothing more clearly laid down in it, from beginning to end, than the rule and reign of the spirit. “ My kingdom,” said Christ, “ is not of this « world." Again,
John i. 9. Titus ii. 11, 12,