Page images
PDF
EPUB

here declares, that Wkosoever believes, and is baptized, is put into a Capacity of Salvation. It therefore follows undeniably, that whosoever believeth, and is baptized, is within the Catholick Church. I do ask, Is it true, that whosoever believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; or is it not? If it be not, then we cannot rely upon our Saviour's Words, who yet is the Author of our Faith. If it be true, then every such Person is a Member of the Catholick Church; otherwise People may be saved without being in the Church.

So that you see in this present divided State of Christendom, where there are so many different Communions, if a Man be unfatisfied which of them he should chuse to venture his Soul in; the Question he is to put to himself is not this, Which of these Communions is the true Catholick Church in Opposition to all the rest ? as the Papists put it ; for none of thenı are so, tho' perhaps they are all Parts or Members of that Catholick Chuch: But this, In which of those Communions, that he hath any

Knowledge of, is the Gospel of Christ most purely taught and professed according to the primitive Rules of it, and consequently which of them he may with the greatest Safety join himself to? Now if this be the Queftion, as it certainly is, a serious Enquirer may, without very much Pains, give himself Satisfaction.

The

The Fifth Reflection I make

upon

these Words is this ; We may from hence be able to give a true Account of the Measure and Standard of that Faith, which is required of Christians in order to their Salvation.

All Christians agree that we must be Believers: But some, taking Advantage of this, will not allow us to have a right Faith, or to be Orthodox Christians, unless we can come up to all those Notions and Propositions which they esteem Articles of Faith. One would think therefore that some Rule ought to be given us, by which we might measure the Sufficiency of our Faith, or by which we might know when we have believed all that is necessary ; that so we might not be under the Tyranny of suchUsurpers upon our Consciences, as would be always imposing on our Faith, till at last they came to make us swallow Impossibilities for Divine Revelation. And such a Rule, methinks, our Saviour hath here given us.

His Commission to the Apostles is, Go into all the World, and preach the Gospel unto every Creature; and he adds, Whosoever believeth shall be saved. Believeth? believeth what? Why certainly the Gospel that he spoke of before: Whosoever believeth the Gospel, and is baptized, shall be saved; that must be his Meaning. It is the Gospel therefore that we must believe; and to the believing of that alone, without VOL V.

R

any

any more, the Promises of Salvation are made. But what is this Gospel ? Why, it is plainly that Doctrine which Jesus Chrift himself taught, and which the Apostles from him preached to the World, and which was all in their Times put into Writing, and which is all fully contained in those Books that we have at this Day in our Hands, which we call the New Tefiament. This Gospel then is the Rule of our Faith. Every Doctrine that is there delivered we must believe : But as for any Doctrine that is not ibere delivered, nor can be deduced from thence, we are not bound to believe that as an Article of Faith, let it come never so well recommended by the Authority of Popes or their Councils, nay, or back'd with the Credit of Miracles wrought for the Attestation of it. This

, I say, is our Rule of Faith: That Rule, which our Church prescribes to us as well as the Holy Scriptures; And blessed be God we do so striếtly keep to it. So long as we do fo, it is impossible but we must be not only a true Church, but also a right and a found Church. We cannot indeed, upon those Principles, admit of abundance of Points, which our Neighbours lay fo much Weight upon, as to make all those that deny them to be Infidels and Hereticks. We do not believe the Infallibility of the Church, nor the Supremacy of the Church of Rome, nor Transubstantiation, nor Pura

[ocr errors]

gatory,

gatory, nor Invocation of Saints, nor twenty other such Articles, which they make necessary to Salvation. And the Reafon is, because we find none of those Things in the Gospel, as it is contained in the Holy Scriptures, which we are sure would have been there, if God had made it our Duty to have believ'd them. But we believe all that the Gospel teacheth, and make use likewise of all the Means that are possible to understand it in its true Sense : and this we are sure is all that Christ hath required of us, as to the Business of Believing.

But Sixthly, Another Reflection I make upon this Text is this; That this Propofition of our Saviour's, Whosoever believeth, and is baptized, pall be saved; and whosoever believeth not, mall be damned, doth only respect those People to whom the Gospel of Christ is preached, but not others to whom it is not preached. This will appear by the Connexion of these words with the former, Go; faith our Saviour, into all the World, and preach the Gospel to every Creature; and then he immediately subjoins, Whosoever believeth, and is baptized, Thall be saved; but whosoever believeth not, jhall be damned. How is that? Shall every one be damned that believeth not, tho' they never heard the Gospel. No; that cannot be inferr'd from these Words, but only this; Those that upon the preaching of the R 2

Gospel Gospel do embrace it, and enter into the new Covenant it tenders to them, those shall be saved; but thofe that upon the preaching of the Gospel to them do not embrace it, all such shall be damned. But here is not a Word faid of those that never had the Gospel preached to them, either as to their Salvation or Damnation. The Inference I draw from hence is this ; That those Promises of Salvation, and those Threatenings of Damnation, which are made in the Gospel, do only concern those that have the Gospel preached to them, and that have Means and Opportunities afforded them for the closing with the one, and avoiding the other. But what then is to become of those people that never had these Means and Opportunities put into their Hands ? Are they to be saved, or are they to be damned ? I answer, We can say nothing to their Cafe, but must refer them to God. To pronounce positively of their Salvation we have no Warrant, because the Promises of Salvation, as the Gospel declares them to us, (and we have no Promises of Salvation but in the Gospel) are only made to those that believe in Jesus Christ, and enter into his Covenant by Baptism. On the other side, to pronounce of their Damnation, seems very harsh and uncharitable; nor do I know that any in the Scripture are threaten'd with Damnation, but such as reject the Gospel after it is

preached

« PreviousContinue »