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that their principles greatly contradict and jar one against another; and though they may alledge fcripture for fome of their principles, yet they are put ftrangely to, wreft it, and to deny it for others. My appeal then to, and expoftulation with, all. forts of profeffors, is, not to prove fome one or two points by the fcriptures (for there be fome general notions of truth, which most, if not all, agree to) but the whole body of their principles, as they ftand in relation to each other, which none of them all is able to do. For, among the many profeffors, their catechifms and confeffions of faith, I find none (fave the dif penfation of truth, now again revealed) but fuch as in most of their fubftantial principles differ greatly, and in many contradict grofly the plain text and tenor of the fcripture. I confefs there be certain men in this age, who, 'with fome plaufible appearance of reality, undertake this task: thefe are they that join with, and own not wholly any imbodied people; but while they pretend a general love to all, yet find fault with fome part of every fort; while in the mean time they fcarce can give any account of their own religion, and most of them prove at bottom to have none at all. These men, I fay, may perhaps acknowledge fome general truths, and alfo hold
to the letter of the fcripture in fome other things, fo as thereby to take occafion largely to judge others; while themselves offer not to bring these good things to practice, they blame others for the want or neglect of. But fuch an enterprize from these men, will not (when weighed) prove a fulfilling of this matter; feeing it is not enough to acknowledge many truths, but also to deny and witness against all error; and likewife, not to fall fhort of any truth which ought to be acknowledged: whereas thefe fort of men, for the most part, cannot give account of their faith in many things needful to be believed; and whatever things they may acknowledge to be true, they err moft grievously, and contradict a truth moft needful to be minded and answered, proved as is (before) in that they fland not forth to appear for any of these discoveries they pretend they have; but make a fhift to hide their heads in times of trial, so as not to suffer for, nor with any. And through these fine pretences above mentioned, through their scruples of joining with any, they can cunningly fhun the difficulties of perfecutions that attend the particular fect of Chriftians; yet by their general charity and love to all, claim a fhare in any benefits or advantages that accrue to one and all. Such then
cannot honestly lay claim to juftify their principles and practices from the scriptures. But I leave these ftragglers in religion, and come again to the divers fects.
To begin with those that are most numerous I think I need not fay much to the Papifts in this cafe; for they do not fo much as pretend to prove all their dogmas, by the scriptures; fith it is one of their chief doctrines, That tradition may authorize doctrines, without any authority of fcripture: yea, the council of Conftance hath made bold to command things to be believed, Non obftante fcriptura, i. e. though the fcriptures fay the contrary; and indeed it were their great folly, to pretend to prove their doctrines by fcripture, feeing the adoration of faints and images, purgatory, and prayer for the dead, the precedency of the bishop of Rome, the matter of indulgencies, with much more stuff of that kind, hath not the leaft fhadow of fcripture for it.
Among Proteftants, I know the Socinians, are great pretenders to the fcriptures, and in words as much exalt them as any other. people; and yet it is ftrange to fee, how that not only in many things they are not agreeable to them, but in fome of their chief principles quite contrary to them: as in their denying the divinity of Chrift, which is as exprefsly mentioned as any
thing can be, And the word was God, John i. as alfo in denying his being from the beginning, against the very tenor of that of John i. and divers others, as at large is fhewn in the third chapter of this treatise. Divers other things, as to them, might be mentioned, but this may fuffice, to stop their boasting in this matter.
The Arminians are not more fuccessful in their denying the falfe doctrine of abfolute reprobation, and in afferting the univerfal extent of Chrift's death for all, than they are short in not placing this falvation in that fpiritual light, wherewith man is enlightened by Chrift; but wrongfully afcribing a part of that to the natural will and capacity, which is due alone to the grace and power of God, by which the work is both begun, carried on, and accomplished. And herein they, as well as both the Socinians and Pelagians, though they do well in condemning fome errors, yet they mifs, in fetting up another, and not the truth, in place thereof; and in that respect are justly reproved by fuch fcriptures as their adverfaries (who otherwise are as far wrong as they) bring against them, in fhewing the depravity of man's will by nature, and his incapacity to do any good, but as affifted by the grace of God fo to do.
On the other hand, it is flrange to obferve how many Proteftants (the first article of whose confeffion of faith, is to affert the fcripture to be the only rule) fhould deny the univerfal extent of Chrift's death, contrary to the exprefs words of scripture, which faith, He tafted death for every man; or the univerfality of grace, and a fufficient principle; which the scriptures affert in as many pofitive words as, except we may suppose the pen-men intended another thing than they fpoke, viz. A manifeftation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. The grace of God that bringeth falvation, hath appeared unto all men; and many more before mentioned. The like may be faid of their denying the perfection of the faints, and afferting the impoffibility of any falling away from real beginnings of true and faving grace; contrary to fo many exprefs fcriptures, as are heretofore adduced in their proper place. But, to give all that defire to be undeceived, a more full opportunity to observe how the devil has abufed many pretending to be wife, in making them cloak, with a pretence of fcripture, falfe and pernicious doctrines, I fhall take a few of many inftances out of the confeffion of faith and catechism, made by the divines at Westminster (fo called) because the fame is not only most univerfally