« PreviousContinue »
on oben all that was therein commanded, yet, do they oblige all who come to the knowledge of chem, to believe all that is therein reveald. The Levitical or Ceremonial, and fudicial Laws therein Recorded, concern'd no other, but the People of Israel ; nor have they any Obligation on other People ; yet may it be very useful in divers refpects, that we should know them. But all the Moral Laws, there given to the Israelites, concein Mankind in general, and therefore us Christians, as well as others. And the historical Relations are all of excellent Use to all Men, and some of them necessary to be known by all; 10 give us a right understanding of the Original of the World, the Nature of Man, the Entrance of Sin, and of all the Evils consequent to it, into the World; the wonderful Methods of God's Providence, and his astonishing Goodness in the promifes of mercy, and the restauration of fallen Man ; his especial care of his Church ; the manifestations of his Love to them that fear and serve him, and the encouragements they have always had from him; and his Severity to those that rebelled against him, and his heavy Judgments inflicted on them. The Prophefies now visibly fulfilled, confirm our faith of his Providence and Government, and especially in our Lord JESUS Chrift, as the Saviour of the World. In other parts of those Scriptures we are taught, how to pray unto, and to praise God on all Occasions, and may have many helps in these Duties. And therefore cho'the New Testament ought to be our principal study, yet should we not negle&t che reading of the Old, or willingly rest ignorant of the things contained in it.
Secondly, Secondly, We learn hence, That the Holy Scriptures contain enough ro guide us to Heaven, all things needful for our Salvation, and are a sufficient Rule of Faith and Life. There was no need of Lazarus his coming from the dead to instruct Men in the way of Life. They who then lived had Moses and the Prophets, and that in Abraham's Judgment was enough; they that would bear them needed no more, Now if Moses and the Prophets were then enough for the Jews who had them; certainly the Evangelists and Apostles added to them are abundantly enough for us Christians. We need not then either the unwritten Traditions, of the Roman Church, to piece up the Scriptures withall on the one side; nor the pretended New Lights and Revelations of any sort of Se&taries among our selves on the other hand. The holy Scriptures given by inspiration of God are profitable for Doctrines for Reproof, for Correction, for Instruction in Righteoufneß. That the Man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good Works, 2 Tim. 3. 16.
Thirdly, We hence conclude it to beour duty to bearken, and attend with all diligence to the hoJy Scriptures, and to govern our felves both in our Faith and Practice wholly by them ; having always a very high veneration for thein. For, tho’the Fews had fewer Scriptures than we have, and those a great deal more mystical and obscure than ours are ; and tho' Moses and the Prophets could, after they were dead, speak no other way to the Jewish Church, but by chose obscurer Writings which they had left behind them; yet faith Abraham, as our blessed Saviour here makes him [peak, Let them hear them. Our Saviour caught
nor Abraham to call those obscure and mystical Wrio tings, a Dead Letter, or Liveless Ink and Paper, which can reach nothing; as both Papifts and Quakers are wont to call them. These poor deluded People last named, how much foever they are taught to rail at the Whore and the Beast, have yet been caught withal to speak too much of their Language in many things. Whereby one may shrewdly conjecture (how little foever most of themselves are sensible of it) who have been, and still are their principal Teachers. Abraham faith not, They have the Church, the Living Voice of the Church, which gives the Sense to those dead Letters, let 'em hear it; or they have a Light within them, and that must enliven those dead Characters, and make thein legible and intelligible; the Voice they are to bearken to is within them, let them hear that. Neither was Abrabam ever taught such Language as this, neither (I dare fay) hath the blessed JESUS ( whatsoever that which fome call the Holy Ghost in the Church, and others Chrift, or the Spirit within them, may do ) ever taught any one to speak of the holy Scriptures, as these Men love to do.
Let not us give ear to such Teachers as these are, fo long as we have a Teacher from Heaven, and may be taught of God, as they boast themselves to be. Let us hearken to the Voice within us, bus let it be no farther, than we find it to be an Echo to the Voice from Heaven, which once said, This is my beloved Son, hear ye him ... ... Ler us make good use of the Light within us, but take heed of being guided by it, where it is not a Reflection of Illumination of that Light which shines trom Heaven upon us in the Written Word of God, which
was shed thence on the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost, to guide them into all Truth; which they have made visible to us by the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ writter by them for our Instruction. What they preached by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, was certainly preached in. telligibly, or else they preached in vain. And what was intelligible when preach'd, may be also intelligibly written, or else it must be written in vain. If by hearing the Words we might understand the Mind of God, we may so understand it by Reading the same Words written. If we do nor, it is because we have no mind to ir.
But here it will be very fit, that we be minded of one thing more, which is this. That when Abraham said, They have Moses and the Prophets, he added not, Let them keep them laid up hanfomly in their Closets; or let them be sure, for'a Shew, to have them lying in their Windows; but let them hear them. That is, let them read, or hear them read, learn what is there taught, and be careful to do what they learn; for to hear is to obey. To have a Bible, tho it have a gilded Cover, and filken Strings, is not enough to make a good Man. A Bible lying in the House, can fo liccle preserve a Soul from Hell, that it cannot save the House from the Fire, nor it self from the Rats and Mice. As we too generally use the Holy Scripture, we make it to our selves as very a dead Letter, as useless and insignificant Ink and Paper, as any Papift or Quaker would have us take it for. Wemay poflibly some of us delight to talk of the Scripture, and learn to cant in the phrase of it, and again bestow upon it some of those good Words, which we have learn'd in it; and all this they will do,
who yet revile it as we have heard. But what use after all do we make of it? Truly just the fame that they do. Whatever we read in the holy Scripture, or whatever it command or teach us, is nothing to us; we have another Rule to live by. And what's that, when it comes to be examin'd? Why? 'Tis either custom and fashion, the generally receiv'd Opinions of the World, or those of our Party, the manner of our Education, the way of our Forefathers, or some such thing, much what one with the Tradition of the Papists : Or else 'tis what we call our own Reason and Judgment; but is oftener Humour and Phantsy, or indeed to speak more properly, our own carnal Will and Lufts; and truly this favours too much of the Quaker's Light within them.
Let us all be well allur'd of this one Thing, that neither Mofes and the Prophcts, nor Christ and his Apostles, will ever avail any one of us one jor towards our getting into Abraham's Borome, or escaping the Rich Man's torments in Hell; so long as they are made no better use of, than some of us now make of them. At this rate, we have them, and we have them not; just as one hath Meat set before him, but never catech of it.
How fad a thing is it, that so many thousand Souls go to Hell, unto whom God hath liberally vouchsafed all the means of Salvation, and given a most sure and infallible Guide to Heaven; and merely because they are too Lazy to make any use of God's kindnel's ? Let us but free quently and deliberately read, diligently attend to, perfe&tly learn, and duly ponder, what in the Holy. Scripture God teacherh us most plainly, and we