« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
interest, tell them, I believe you as fallible men ; but this is none of my divine faith or religion. To learn to know, is to learn scientifical evidence, and not to learn what is another man's opinions, nor whether they are probable or not; much less to read a council's decrees, or the propositions of a disputing system, and then for the men's sake to say, this is orthodox: nor yet because it hath a taking aspect. To learn of a priest to believe God, is one thing; and to believe him, or his party, church, or council, is another thing. Learn to know as much as you can; and especially to know what God hath revealed to be believed : and learn to believe God as much as you can : and believe all your teachers, and all other men as far as they are credible in that case, with such a human belief as fallible men may justly require. And where contenders do consent, suspect them the less. But where they give one another the lie in matters of fact, try both their evidences of credibility before you trust them, and then trust them not beyond that evidence.
But still difference your divine faith and religion from your opinion and human faith ; and let men solicit you never so long, take not on you to know or believe till you do; that is, not beyond the evidence. I do but persuade you against presumption and hypocrisy. Shall I say, SUSPEND TILL YOU HAVE TRUE EVIDENCE, and you are safe! Why if you do not, you will know never the more, nor have ever the more Divine faith : for I mean no more than SUSPEND YOUR PRESUMPTIONS, and do not foolishly or hypocritically take on you to know what you do not, or to have a faith which you have not. If you can know truly, do it with fidelity, and be true to the truth, whoever offer it, or whatever it cost you. But suspend your profession or hasty opinions and conceits of what you know not.
Object. •But every side almost tells me that I am damned if I do not believe as they do.'
Answ. By that you may see that they are all deceived, at least save one (which ever it be) while they differ, and yet condemn each other. 2. Thereby they do but give you the greater cause to suspect them, for" by this shall all men know Christ's disciples, if they love one another." Right Christians are not many masters, as knowing that themselves shall have the greater condemnation ; for in many things we offend all. And the wisdom which hath envy and strife, is not from above, but from beneath, and is earthly, sensual, and devilish, introducing confusion and every evil work. (James iii. 1, 15, 16.) Christ's disciples judge not, lest they be judged.
3. By this you may see that unless you can be of all men's minds, you must be damned by the censures of many. And if you can bear it from all the sects save one, why not from that one also ?
4. But I pray you ask these damning sectaries, “is it believing your word, and being of your opinion that will save me? Or must I also know by scientific evidence that you say true, and that God himself hath said what you say : if he say that believing him and his party (though he call it the Church) is enough to save you, you have then less reason to believe him : for unless he can undertake himself to save you, he cannot undertake that believing him shall save you ? If he say, God hath promised to save you if you believe me,' believe that when he hath proved it
But if it be knowledge and divine faith which he saith must save you, it is not your believing his word or opinion that will help you to that. I would tell such a man,' help me to knowledge and faith, by cogent or certifying evidence, and I will learn and thank you with all my heart.' But till I have it, it is but mocking myself and you to say that I have it.
Object. ' But the Papists herein differ from all other sects: for they will say, that if I believe the church concerning divine revelations, and take all for divine revelation which the church saith is so, and so believe it, then I have a divine faith.'
Answ. 1. And is this to you a certifying evidence that indeed God revealed it, because their church saith so? If their church agree with Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, Coptics, Abassines, Protestants, and all other Christian churches, then it will be no part of the contest in question; and it is a stronger foundation of the two, to believe it, because all say it, than because they say it. But if they differ from the rest, know their proof that their church can tell God's mind, and not the rest of the Christian world. And that about a third part of the Christians in the world have such a promise which all the rest have not. 2. And how doth their church know that it is God's word? Is it by any certifying evidence, or by prophetical inspiration? If by evidence, let it be produced. Is it not revealed to others as well as to them? Must not we have a faith of the same kind as the church hath ? If so, we must believe by the same evidence as that church believeth. And what is that? It is not their own words. Doth a pope believe him. self only? or a council believe themselves only? Or hath God said, “You shall be saved if you will believe yourselves, and believe that I have said all that you say I have said ?' Where is there such a promise ? But if pope and council be not saved for believing themselves, how shall I know that I shall be saved for believing them, and that one kind of faith saveth me, and another them.
I ask it of each particular bishop in that council, is he saved for believing himself or the rest? If no man be saved for believing himself, why should another be saved for believing him ? And the faith of the council is but the faith of the individual members set together.
Object. But they are saved for believing themselves as consenters, and not singly.'
Answ. All consenters know nothing as consenters, but what they know as individuals. And what is the evidence by which they know, and are brought to consent ? Must not that evidence convince us also ?
Object. “But the present church are saved for believing not themselves but the former church.
Answ. Then so must we: it is not the present church then that I must believe by a saving faith : but why then was the last age saved, and so the former and so on to the first? Is any thing more evident than that all men must be saved for believing God, and that his word must be known to be his word by the same evidence, by one man and another? And that evidence I have proved in several treatises to be another kind of thing than the decree of a pope, and his council.
But if it be not evidence, but prophetical inspiration and revelation by which the council or church knoweth God's word, I will believe them when by miracles or otherwise they prove themselves to be true prophets ; till then I shall take them for fanatics, and hear them as I do other enthusiasts.
Should I here stay to bid you ask them, as before, how you shall be sure that their council was truly general, and more authentic and infallible than the second at Ephesus, or that at Ariminum, or that at Constance and Basil, &c. And whether the more general dissent of all the other Christians from them be not of as great authority as they that are the smaller part? And how you shall be sure of that? And also how but on the word of a priest you can know all that the church hath determined ? with abundance such questions, of the meaning of each council, the ambiguity of words, the error of printers, the forgery of publishers, &c. I should help you to see, that saying as a priest saith, is not knowing the thing, nor believing God.
Stop therefore till you have evidence: follow no party as a party in the dark : or if probability incline you more to them than to others, call not this certainty Religion, Divine Faith. Thus your faith will be faith indeed, and you will escape all that would corrupt and frustrate fit. The business is great. God requireth you to refuse no light: but withal he chargeth you to