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The Puritan Doctrine a Snare to the conscience.
Ch. viii. 7.
the choice of good and evil in the daily affairs of this life. BOOK II. Admit this, and what shall the Scripture be but a snare and a torment to weak consciences, filling them with infinite perplexities, scrupulosities, doubts insoluble, and extreme despairs 5 ? Not that the Scripture itself doth cause any such thing, (for it tendeth to the clean contrary, and the fruit thereof is resolute assurance and certainty in that it teacheth,) but the necessities of this life urging men to do that which the light of nature, common discretion and judgment of itself directeth them unto; on the other side, this doctrine teaching them that so to do were, to sin against their own souls, and that they put forth their hands to iniquity whatsoever they go about and have not first the sacred Scripture of God for direction ; how can it choose but bring the simple a thousand times to their wits' end: how can it choose but vex and amaze them? For in every action of common life to find out some sentence clearly and infallibly setting before our eyes what we ought to do, (seem we in Scripture never so expert,) would trouble us more than we are aware. In weak and tender minds we little know what misery this strict opinion would breed, besides the stops it would make in the whole course of all men's lives and actions. Make all things sin which we do by direction of nature's light, and by the rule of common discretion, without thinking at all upon Scripture; admit this position, and parents shall cause their children to sin, as oft as they cause them to do any thing, before they come to years of capacity and be ripe for knowledge in the Scripture: admit this, and it shall not be with masters as it was with him in the Gospel, but servants being commanded to go 6 shall stand still, till they have their errand warranted unto them by Scripture. Which as it standeth with Christian duty in some cases, so in common affairs to require it were most unfit.
[7.] Two opinions therefore there are concerning sufficiency of Holy Scripture, each extremely opposite unto the other, and both repugnant unto truth. The schools of Rome teach
Where this doctrine is accused “remedy, it must need be that it" “ of bringing men to despair, it bringeth comfort and joy to the “ hath wrong. For when doubting “ conscience of man.” T. C. lib. " is the way to despair, against ii. p. 61. “ which this doctrine offereth the Luke vii. 8.
336 Puritan and Romish Doctrine alike repugnant to Truth.
BOOK 114 Scripture to be so unsufficient, as if, except traditions were Ch. viii. 7.
added, it did not contain all revealed and supernatural truth, which absolutely is necessary for the children of men in this life to know that they may in the next be saved. Others justly condemning this opinion grow likewise unto a dangerous extremity, as if Scripture did not only contain all things in that kind necessary, but all things simply, and in such sort that to do any thing according to any other law were not only unnecessary but even opposite unto salvation, unlawful and sinful. Whatsoever is spoken of God or things appertaining to God otherwise than as the truth is; though it seem an honour, it is an injury. And as incredible praises given unto men do often abate and impair the credit of their deserved commendation; so we must likewise take great heed, lest in attributing unto Scripture more than it can have, the incredibility of that do cause even those things which indeed it hath most abundantly to be less reverently esteemed. I therefore leave it to themselves to consider, whether they have in this first point or not overshot themselves; which God doth know is quickly done, even when our meaning is most sincere, as I am verily persuaded theirs in this
THE THIRD BOOK.
CONCERNING THEIR SECOND ASSERTION, THAT IN SCRIPTURE THERE
MUST BE OF NECESSITY CONTAINED A FORM OF CHURCH POLITY, THE LAWS WHEREOF MAY IN NOWISE BE ALTERED.
THE MATTER CONTAINED IN THIS THIRD BOOK.
I. What the Church is, and in what respect Laws of Polity are thereunto
necessarily required. II. Whether it be necessary that some particular Form of Church Polity
be set down in Scripture, sith the things that belong particularly
to any such Form are not of necessity to Salvation. III. That matters of Church Polity are different from matters of Faith and
Salvation, and that they themselves so teach which are our reprovers
for so teaching IV. That hereby we take not from Scripture any thing which thereunto
with the soundness of truth may be given. V. Their meaning who first urged against the Polity of the Church of
England, that nothing ought to be established in the Church more
than is commanded by the Word of God. VI. How great injury men by so thinking should offer unto all the
Churches of God. VII. A shift notwithstanding to maintain it, by interpreting commanded,
as though it were meant that greater things only ought to be found set down in Scripture particularly, and lesser framed by the general
rules of Scripture. VIII. Another device to defend the same, by expounding commanded, as
if it did signify grounded on Scripture, and were opposed to things
found out by light of natural reason only. IX. How Laws for the Polity of the Church may be made by the advice
of men, and how those Laws being not repugnant to the Word of
God are approved in his sight. X. That neither God's being the Author of Laws, nor yet his committing
of them to Scripture, is any reason sufficient to prove that they
admit no addition or change. XI. Whether Christ must needs intend Laws unchangeable altogether,
or have forbidden any where to make any other Law than himself
did deliver, HOOKER, VOL. I.
The Church Mystical : its Members unknown.
LBEIT the substance of those controversies whereinto we Ch. i. 1, 2.
have begun to wade be rather of outward things appertainWhat the Church is, ing to the Church of Christ, than of any thing wherein the respect Laws nature and being of the Church consisteth, yet because the thereunto subject or matter which this position concerneth is, A Form
of Church Government or Church Polity, it therefore behoveth us so far forth to consider the nature of the Church, as is requisite for men's more clear and plain understanding in what respect Laws of Polity or Government are necessary thereunto.
[2.] That Church of Christ, which we properly term his body mystical, can be but one; neither can that one be sensibly discerned by any man, inasmuch as the parts thereof are some in heaven already with Christ, and the rest that are on earth (albeit their natural persons be visible) we do not discern under this property, whereby they are truly and infallibly of that body. Only our minds by intellectual conceit are able to apprehend, that such a real body there is, a body collective, because it containeth an huge multitude ; a body mystical, because the mystery of their conjunction is removed altogether from sense. Whatsoever we read in Scripture concerning the endless love and the saving mercy which God sheweth towards his Church, the only proper subject thereof is this Church. Concerning this flock it is that our Lord and Saviour hath promised, “I give unto them eternal life, and
they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out “ of my hands ?." They who are of this society have such marks and notes of distinction from all others, as are not object unto our sense ; only unto God, who seeth their hearts and understandeth all their secret cogitations, unto him they are clear and manifest. All men knew Nathanael to be an Israelite. But our Saviour piercing deeper giveth further testimony of him than men could have done with such certainty as he did, “ Behold indeed an Israelite in whom is
no guilea.” If we profess, as Peter did 3, that we love the Lord, and profess it in the hearing of men, charity is prone to believe all things, and therefore charitable men are likely to think we do so, as long as they see no proof to the contrary. John X. 28.
3 John xxi. 15.
2 John i. 47
The Church Visible : its Unity. .
Ch. i. 3, 4.
But that our love is sound and sincere, that it cometh from BOOK II. “ a pure heart and a good conscience and a faith unfeigned4," who can pronounce, saving only the Searcher of all men's hearts, who alone intuitively doth know in this kind who are His?
[3.] And as those everlasting promises of love, mercy, and blessedness belong to the mystical Church ; even so on the other side when we read of any duty which the Church of God is bound unto, the Church whom this doth concern is a sensibly known company.
And this visible Church in like sort is but one, continued from the first beginning of the world to the last end. Which company being divided into two moieties, the one before, the other since the coming of Christ ; that part, which since the coming of Christ partly hath embraced and partly shall hereafter embrace the Christian Religion, we term as by a more proper name the Church of Christ. And therefore the Apostle affirmeth plainly of all men Christian 5, that be they Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, they are all incorporated into one company, they all make but one body The unity of which visible body and Church of Christ consisteth in that uniformity which all several persons thereunto belonging have, by reason of that one Lord whose servants they all profess themselves, that one Faith which they all acknowledge, that one Baptism wherewith they are all initiated ?
[4.] The visible Church of Jesus Christ is therefore one, in outward profession of those things, which supernaturally appertain to the very essence of Christianity, and are necessarily required in every particular Christian man. « Let all “ the house of Israel know for certainty,” saith Peter, “ that "God hath made him both Lord and Christ, even this Jesus whom
you have crucified 8.” Christians therefore they are not, which call not him their Master and Lord 9. And from hence it came that first at Antioch, and afterwards throughout the whole world, all that are of the Church visible were
i Tim. i. 5.
1 Cor. xii. 13. 6 “ That he might reconcile both “ unto God in one body.” Ephes. ö. 16. “ That the Gentiles should “ be inheritors also, and of the same
“ body.” Ephes. iii. 6. Vide Th.
[Ephes. iv. 5.]