Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

er ;' these are not to be considered as tokens uniformly attending the visible church, but as testimonies which, however necessary at the time of its first establishment, when the doctrines of Christianity were to Jews and Gentiles alike, new, unheard of, and all but incredible, are less requisite at the present period, when men are educated in the apostolical faith, and begin their belief from their earliest childhood. Under these circumstances, the same end is answered by their hearing and reading of the miracles performed at the beginning by Christ and his apostles. Deut. xxxi. 13. “that their children, which have not known anything, may hear, and learn to fear Jehovah your God, as long as ye live. So also 1 Cor. xiv. 22.

tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not,' and they shall cease,' 1 Cor. xiii. 8. The working of miracles was sometimes permitted even to impostors, and to a false church. Deut. xiii. 1-3. if there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass whereof he spake unto thee......thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for Jehovah your God proveth you, toʻknow whether ye love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul.' Matt. vii. 22, 23. many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful works ? and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you.' xxiv. 24. “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.' Gal. i. 8. though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 2 Thess. ii. 9. whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.' Rev. xiii. 13. he doeth great wonders.'

Neither is the re-establishment of the church uniformly attended by miracles ; in like manner as this species of attestation was not granted to several of the prophets, nor to the Baptist, John x. 41. nor in all cases to the apostles themselves, Matt. xvii. 16. "I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.' 2 Tim. iv. 20. Trophinus have I left at Miletum sick :' whence it appears that Paul was unable to heal, not only one who was a believer, but who was of note among the believers.

Miracles have no inherent efficacy in producing belief, any more than simple preaching ; it is God that gives the right heart in the one case as in the other.* Deut. xxix. 2-4. ye have seen all that Jehovah did before your eyes in the land of Egypt.....yet Jehovah hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.' Psal. lxxviii. 11. they forgat his wonders.' v. 32. they believed not his wondrous works. Luke xvi. 31. if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.' Acts iv. 16, 17. that a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem,

was

* "It is God only who gives as well to believe aright, as to believe at all. Considerations touching the likeliest Means to remove Hirclings out of the Church. Prose Works, III. 351.

and we cannot deny it.' Those also are declared blessed who believe without the testimony of miracles. John xx. 29. blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.' Matt. xii. 39, &c. 'an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas....the men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonas. Luke X. 20. in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.

So long therefore as charity, the greatest of all gifts, exists, and wheresoever it is found, we cannot doubt that the visible church there established is a true church. John xiii. 35. "by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. 1 Cor. xii. 31. covet earnestly the best gifts; and yet show I you a more excellent way.' xiii. 1, &c. “though I speak with the tongue of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass—' v. 8. charity never faileth : but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail-.' v. 13. now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three ; but the greatest of these is charity.

As Christ is the head of the mystical church, so no one besides Christ has the right or power of presiding over the visible church.* Matt. xviii. 20. there am

en

* ........ Man over men

He made not lord; such title to himself

Reserving, human left from human free. Paradise Lost, XII. 69. • Christ hath a government of his own, sufficient of itself to all his ends and purposes in governing his church.? Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. Prose Works, III. 331. VOL. II.

19

[ocr errors]

I in the midst of them.' xxviii. 20. "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. 1 Cor. v. 4.

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Heb. iii. 6. Christ as a son over his own house.' Rev. ii. 1. who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. They are therefore in error, who would set up an earthly head over the church in the person of the apostle Peter, and his successors commonly so called, the Roman pontiffs ; for which no authority can be found in Scripture. * As to Peter, it does not appear that any preference was given to him over the other apostles, either with regard to his mission, Matt. x. 1. or to any special command assigned to him, John xx. 21, 22. or to any authority reposed in him for the deciding of controversies, Acts xv. 2, 6, 7, 19, 23, 25. or to his knowledge of the faith, at least to his constancy in professing it, since he fell grievously in his denial of Christ, and was afterwards reprehensible, though in a less degree, in the matter for which he was reproved by Paul, Gal. ii. 11. He was also an elder like the others, 1 Pet. v. 1. neither is he promised any distinction of honours hereafter, Matt. xix. 28. nor is superiority of any kind attributed to him rather than to James, or John, or Paul and Barnabas, Gal. ii. 9. Nay, he was the apostle of the circumcision

* *All Protestants hold that Christ in his church hath left no vicegerent of his power; but himself, without deputy, is the only head thereof, governing it from heaven : how then can any Christian man derive bis king. ship from Christ, but with worse usurpation than the pope his headship over the church? since Christ not only hath not left the least shadow of a command for any such vicegerence from him in the state, as the pope pretends for his in the church'. Ready Way to establish a Free Commonwealth. Prose Works, III. 411

only, as was Paul of the Gentiles, v. 8, 9. who was

not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles,' 2 Cor. xi, 5. He was likewise sent as the colleague of John into Samaria, Acts visi. 14. and gave an account of his apostleship to those who contended with him, xi. 2. Lastly, the church is not said to be built upon the foundation of Peter alone, but of the apostles, Eph. ii. 20. Rev. xxi. 14. Even supposing, however, that it were otherwise, how can a foundation have any succession ? Nor does the celebrated text, Matt. xvi. 18, 19. which is perverted by the Pope to form the charter of his authority, confer any distinction on Peter beyond what is not enjoyed by other professors of the same faith. For inasmuch as many others confessed no less explicitly than Peter that Christ was the Son of God (as is clear from the narrative of the evangelists) the answer of Christ is not, "upon thee Peter, but upon this rock I will build my church, that is, upon this faith which thou hast in common with other believers, not upon thee as an individual ; seeing that, in the personal sense of the word, the true rock is Christ, 1 Cor. x. 4. nor is there any other foundation, iii. 11. whence also faith in Christ is called the foundation, Jude 20. building up yourselves on your most holy faith ;' and the same term is applied to the apostles as the original teachers of that faith, though not to the exclusion of others, Eph. ii. 20. ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.' Nor is it to Peter exclusively that the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed,* inasmuch as the power of those keys, as it is

* Milton elsewhere, to ridicule the notion that Peter and his successors are specially entrusted with the keys of heaven, places him at the 'wicket!

« AnteriorContinuar »