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The Law Positive was relative to Things as they were. 395 Moses 49: “ Go thou near,

and hear all that the Lord our God BOOK III. “ saith, and declare thou unto us all that the Lord our God “ saith unto thee, and we will hear it and do it.” The people's alacrity herein God highly commendeth with most effectual and hearty speech 50 : “I have heard the voice of the “ words of this people; they have spoken well. O that there

were such an heart in them to fear me, and to keep all my “ commandments always, that it might go well with them « and with their children for ever! Go, say unto them, “Return you to your tents ;' but stand thou here with me, “ and I will tell thee all the commandments and the ordinances “ and the laws which thou shalt teach them, that they may “ do them in the land which I have given them to possess.' From this latter kind the former are plainly distinguished in many things. They were not both at one time delivered, neither both after one sort, nor to one end. The former uttered by the voice of God himself in the hearing of six hundred thousand men; the former written with the finger of God; the former termed by the name of a Covenant ; the former given to be kept without either mention of time how long, or of place where. On the other side, the latter given after, and neither written by God himself, nor given unto the whole multitude immediately from God, but unto Moses, and from him to them both by word and writing ; the latter termed Ceremonies, Judgments, Ordinances, but no where Covenants; finally, the observation of the latter restrained unto the land where God would establish them to inhabit.

The laws positive are not framed without regard had to the place and persons for the which they are made. If therefore Almighty God in framing their laws had an eye unto the nature of that people, and to the country where they were to dwell; if these peculiar and proper considerations were respected in the making of their laws, and must be also regarded in the positive laws of all other nations besides : then seeing that nations are not all alike, surely the giving of one kind of positive laws unto one only people, without any liberty to alter them, is but a slender proof, that therefore one kind should in like sort be given to serve everlastingly for all, [7.] But that which most of all maketh for the clearing


50 Deut. v. 28–31.

49 Deut. v. 27:


The Jews had Need of additional Laws :

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BOOK 111, of this point is, that the Jews 51, who had laws so particularly

determining and so fully instructing them in all affairs what to do, were notwithstanding continually inured with causes exorbitant, and such as their laws had not provided for. And in this point much more is granted us than we ask, namely, that for one thing which we have left to the order of the Church, they had twenty which were undecided by the express word of God; and that as their ceremonies and sacraments were multiplied above ours, even so grew the number of those cases which were not determined by any express word. So that if we may devise one law, they by this reason might devise twenty; and if their devising so many were not forbidden, shall their example prove us forbidden to devise as much as one law for the ordering of the Church? We might not devise no not one, if their example did prove that our Saviour had utterly forbidden all alteration of his laws; inasmuch as there can be no law devised, but needs it must either take away from his, or add thereunto more or less, and so make some kind of alteration. But of this so large a grant we are content not to take advantage. Men are oftentimes in a sudden passion more liberal than they would be if they had leisure to take advice. And therefore so bountiful words of course and frank speeches we are contented to let pass, without turning them unto advantage with too much rigour.

[8.] It may be they had rather be listened unto, when they commend the kings of Israel “which attempted nothing in “the government of the Church without the express word of “ God 52 ;" and when they urge 53 that God left nothing in his word“ undescribed,” whether it concerned the worship of God or outward polity, nothing unset down, and therefore charged them strictly to keep themselves unto that, without any alteration. Howbeit, seeing it cannot be denied, but 61 “Whereas you say, that they

“ God.” T. C. lib. i. p. 35. [22.] “ (the Jews) had nothing but what 52 T. C. in the table to his second “ was determined by the law, and book.

we have many things undetermined 53 “ If he will needs separate the “ and left to the order of the Church; worship of God from the external “ I will offer, for one that you shall polity, yet as the Lord set forth “ bring that we have left to the order “the one, so he left nothing un“ of the Church, to shew you that “ described in the other.” T. C. “ they had twenty which were un- lib. i. p. 446. “ decided by the express word of

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which were supplied by occasional Revelation. 397 that many things there did belong unto the course of their BOOK III. public affairs, wherein they had no express word at all to shew precisely what they should do; the difference between their condition and ours in these cases will bring some light unto the truth of this present controversy. Before the fact of the son of Shelomith, there was no law which did appoint any certain punishment for blasphemers 54. That wretched creature being therefore deprehended in that impiety, was held in ward, till the mind of the Lord were known concerning his case. The like practice is also mentioned upon occasion of a breach of the Sabbath day. They find a poor silly creature gathering sticks in the wilderness, they bring him unto Moses and Aaron and all the congregation, they lay him in hold, because it was not declared what should be done with him, till God had said unto Moses, “ This man shall die the death 55.” The law required to keep the Sabbath ; but for the breach of the Sabbath what punishment should be inflicted it did not appoint. Such occasions as these are rare. And for such things as do fall scarce once in many ages of men, it did suffice to take such order as was requisite when they fell. But if the case were such as being not already determined by law were notwithstanding likely oftentimes to come in question, it gave occasion of adding laws that were not before. Thus it fell out in the case of those men polluted 56, and of the daughters of Zelophehad 57, whose causes Moses having brought before the Lord, received laws to serve for the like in time to come. The Jews to this end had the Oracle of God, they had the Prophets : and by such means God himself instructed them from heaven what to do, in all things that did greatly concern their state and were not already set down in the Law. Shall we then hereupon argue even against our own experience and knowledge ? Shall we seek to persuade men that of necessity it is with us as it was with them ; that because God is ours in all respects as much as theirs, therefore either no such way of direction hath been at any time, or if it hath been it doth still continue in the Church ; or if the same do not continue, that yet it must be at the least supplied by some such mean as pleaseth us to account of equal force ? A more dutiful and religious way for us were to admire the 54 Levit. xxiv. 12.

Ch. xi. 1.


56 Numb. ix, 57 Numb. xxvii.

55 Numb. xv.


The Superiority of the Gospel Dispensation

Ch, xi.9.

BOOK III. wisdom of God, which shineth in the beautiful variety of all

things, but most in the manifold and yet harmonious dissimilitude of those ways, whereby his Church upon earth is guided from age to age, throughout all generations of men.

[9.] The Jews were necessarily to continue till the coming of Christ in the flesh, and the gathering of nations unto him. So much the promise made unto Abraham 58 did import. So much the prophecy of Jacob at the hour of his death did foreshew 59. Upon the safety therefore of their very outward state and condition for so long, the after good of the whole world and the salvation of all did depend. Unto their so long safety, for two things it was necessary to provide; namely, the preservation of their state against foreign resistance, and the continuance of their peace within themselves.

Touching the one, as they received the promise of God to be the rock of their defence, against which whoso did violently rush should but bruise and batter themselves; so likewise they had his commandment in all their affairs that way to seek direction and counsel from him. Men's consultations are always perilous. And it falleth out many times that after long deliberation those things are by their wit even resolved on, which by trial are found most opposite to public safety. It is no impossible thing for states, be they never so well established, yet by oversight in some one act or treaty between them and their potent opposites utterly to cast away themselves for ever.

Wherefore lest it should so fall out to them upon whom so much did depend, they were not permitted to enter into war, nor conclude any league of peace, nor to wade through any act of moment between them and foreign states, unless the Oracle of God or his Prophets were first consulted with.

And lest domestical disturbance should waste them within themselves, because there was nothing unto this purpose more effectual, than if the authority of their laws and governors were such, as none might presume to take exception against it, or to shew disobedience unto it, without incurring the hatred and detestation of all men that had any spark of the fear of God; therefore he gave them even their positive laws 58 Gen. xviii. 18.

59 Gen. xlix. 10.

no Presumption of exacter Rules of Polity.


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from heaven, and as oft as occasion required chose in like sort BOOK III. rulers also to lead and govern them. Notwithstanding some desperately impious there were, which adventured to try what harm it could bring upon them, if they did attempt to be authors of confusion, and to resist both governors and laws. Against such monsters God maintained his own by fearful execution of extraordinary judgment upon them.

By which means it came to pass, that although they were a people infested and mightily hated of all others throughout the world, although by nature hard-hearted, querulous, wrathful, and impatient of rest and quietness; yet was there nothing of force either one way or other to work the ruin and subversion of their state, till the time before-mentioned was expired. Thus we see that there was not no cause of dissimilitude in these things between that one only people before Christ, and the kingdoms of the world since.

(10.) And whereas it is further alleged 60 that albeit“ in civil “ matters and things pertaining to this present life God hath “ used a greater particularity with them than amongst us, “ framing laws according to the quality of that people and “ country; yet the leaving of us at greater liberty in things civil “ is so far from proving the like liberty in things pertaining “ to the kingdom of heaven, that it rather proves a straiter bond. “ For even as when the Lord would have his favour more “ appear by temporal blessings of this life towards the people “ under the Law than towards us, he gave also politic laws “ most exactly, whereby they might both most easily come “ into and most steadfastly remain in possession of those “ earthly benefits: even so at this time, wherein he would “ not have his favour so much esteemed by those outward « commodities, it is required, that as his care in prescribing “ laws for that purpose hath somewhat fallen in leaving them “ to men's consultations which may be deceived, so his care for “ conduct and government of the life to come should (if it “ were possible) rise, in leaving less to the order of men than “ in times past.” These are but weak and feeble disputes for the inference of that conclusion which is intended. For saving only in such consideration as hath been shewed, there is no cause wherefore we should think God more desirous to

60 T. C. lib. ii. p. 440.

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