Imágenes de páginas


xxiv. 12.

pass, without turning them to advantage with too much rigour. 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; and when they urge,a 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 that many things there did belong unto the course of their 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 Levit. which did appoint any certain punishment for blasphemers: that wretched creature being therefore deprehended in that impiety was held inward, till the mind of the Lord was known concerning his case. The like practice is also mentioned

upon occasion of a breach of the sabbath-day. They Namb, xv. 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." The law requireth to keep the sabbath day ; 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 into question, it gave occasion of adding laws that were not before. . Thus it fell out in the case of those men polluted, and of the daughters of Zelophehad, whose causes Moses having brought before the Numb. ix. Lord, received laws to serve for the like in time to come. xxvii. 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 con


a If he will needs separate the worship of God from the external polity, yet as the Lord set forth the one, so he left nothing undescribed in the other. T. C. lib. i.

p. 446.

cern their state, and were not already set down in 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 ņot 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 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. The Jews were necessarily to continue till the coming of Christ

in the flesh, and the gathering of nations unto him. So much Gen. the promise made unto Abraham did import. So much the xviii. 18. xlix. 10. prophecy of Jacob at the hour of his death did foreshew.

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 necessarily 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 over-sight 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 would 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 from heaven, and as oft as occasion required, chose in like sort 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 there was nothing of force, either one way or other, to work the ruin and subversion of their state till the time beforementioned was expired.

Thus we see that there was no cause of dissimilitude in these things between that one only people before Christ, and the kingdoms of the world since. And whereas it is farther alleged, “That albeit in civil matters and things pertaining to T.C. this present life, God hath used a greater particularity with lib.ii. 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 intend

P. 440

ed. For, saving only in such consideration as hath been shewed, there is no cause wherefore we should think God more desirous to manifest his favour by temporal blessings towards them than towards us. Godliness had unto them, and it hath also unto us, the promises both of this life and the life to come. That the care of God hath fallen in earthly things, and therefore should rise as much in heavenly; that more is left unto men's consultations in the one, and therefore less must be granted in the other; that God, having used a greater particularity with them than with us for matters pertaining unto this life, is to make us amends by the more exact delivery of laws for government of the life to come. These are proportions, whereof if there be any rule, we must plainly confess that, which truth is, we know it not. God which spake unto them by his prophets, hath unto us by his only-begotten Son; those mysteries of grace and salvation which were but darkly disclosed unto them, have unto us more clearly shined. Such differences between them and us, the apostles of Christ have well acquainted us withal. But as for matter belonging unto the outward conduct or government of the church; seeing that even in sense it is manifest, that our Lord and Saviour hath not by positive laws descended so far into particularities with us, as Moses with them; neither doth by extraordinary means, oracles, and prophets, direct us, as them he did, in those things which rising daily by new occasions, are of necessity to be provided for; doth it not hereupon rather follow, that although not to them, yet to us there should be freedom and liberty granted to make

laws ? Yea, but the apostle St. Paul doth fearfully charge 1 Tim. Timothy, "even in the sight of God who quickeneth all,

and of Jesus Christ who witnessed that famous confession xviii. 37. before Pontius Pilate, to keep what was commanded him

safe and sound, till the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This doth exclude all liberty of changing the laws of Christ, whether by abrogation, or addition, or howsoever. For in Timothy the whole church of Christ receiveth charge concerning her duty. And that charge is to keep the apostle's commandment; and his commandment did contain the law that concerned church-government, and those laws he straightly requireth to be observed without breach or blame till the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Scripture we grant every one man's lesson to be the common instruction of all

vi. 14. John

XX. 28.

iv. 1.

men, so far forth as their cases are like; and that religiously to keep the apostles' commandments in whatsoever they may concern us, we all stand bound. But touching that commandment which Timothy was charged with, we swerve undoubtedly from the apostle's precise meaning, if we extend it so largely that the arms thereof shall reach unto all things which were commanded him by the apostle. The very words themselves do restrain themselves unto some special commandment among many. And therefore it is not said, "Keep the ordinances, laws, and constitutions, which thou hast received; but την εντολήν, that great commandment which doth principally concern thee and thy calling :” that commandment which Christ did so often inculcate unto Peter; that com- Jolin mandment unto the careful discharge whereof they of Ephe- xxi. 18. sus are exhorted,“ Attend to yourselves, and to all the flock Acts wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased by his own blood :” finally, that commandment which unto the same Timothy is by the same apostle, even in the same form and manner afterward again urged, “I charge thee in the sight of God ? Tim. and the Lord Jesus Christ, which will judge the quick and dead at his appearance, and in his kingdom, preach the word of God.” When Timothy was instituted in that office, then was the credit and trust of this duty committed unto his faithful care. The doctrine of the gospel was then given him, as the precious talent or treasure of Jesus Christ; then received he for performance of this duty, the special gift of the Holy Ghost. To keep this commandment immaculate and blame- rin less, was to teach the gospel of Christ without mixture of rata.Táxnv

. corrupt and unsound doctrine; such as a number even in iv. 14. those times intermingled with the mysteries of Christian belief. Till the appearance of Christ to keep it so, doth not import the time wherein it should be kept, but rather the time whereunto the final reward for keeping it was reserved ; according to that of St. Paul concerning himself, “I have 2 Tim. kept the faith; for the residue there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall in that day render unto me.” If they that labour in this harvest should respect but the present fruit of their painful travail, a poor encouragement it were unto them to continue therein all the days of their life. But their reward is great in heaven; the crown of righteousness which shall be given

1 Tim. vi. 20.





« AnteriorContinuar »