A DISCOURSE OF THE General Rule OF Faith and Practice, AND Judge of Controversie.

Greatly importing all those who desire to take Right Measures of Faith, and to Determine (at least to them­selves) the numerous Controversies now on foot in the World.

By W. Penn.

For in Christ Jesus, neither Circumcision availeth any thing, nor Vncircumcision, but a NEW Creature: And as many as walk according to THIS, Rule, Peace be on them, and Mercy, and upon the whole Israel of God, Gal. 6. 16.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.—The Things of God knoweth no Man save the Spirit of God.—He that is Spiritual judgeth all things, 1 Cor. 2. 10, 11, 15.
But ye have an Vnction from the Holy One; and ye know all things, 1 John 2. 20.

London, Printed and Sold by T. Sowle in White-Hart-Court in Gracious-Street, and at the Bible in Leaden-Hall-Street, near the Market, 1699.

OF THE General Rule OF Faith and Practice.

SInce there are so many Faiths in the World, and perplex Controversies about them; and that it greatly behoveth every Man, if to Contend for, then first to Know the True Faith that overcometh the World; it may not be unnecessary to say something of the General Rule of Faith and Life, and Judge of Controversie, at this time. And indeed I am prest from this weighty Consideration, that Men perish for want of it, and can no more arrive at Truth without it, than the distressed Marriner can gain his Port who Sails with­out either Star or Compass.

I shall begin with an Explanation of the Terms, Rule, and Faith, of which we shall first treat, that we may as well express what we intend by the one, as what we mean by the other, which will be a proper Introducti­on to the whole Discourse.

By General Rule, &c. we understand, that Constant Measure or Standard, by which Men in all Ages have been enabled to Judge of the Truth or Error of Doctrines, and the Good or Evil of Thoughts, Words and Actions.

[Page 4] By Faith we understand an Assent of the Mind, in such manner to the Discoveries made of God thereto, as to resign up to God, and have Dependence upon him, as the Great Creator and Saviour of his People; which is inseparable from good Works.

That Men, in all Ages, have had a Belief of God, and some Knowledge of him, tho' not upon equal Discovery, must be granted from that account that all Story gives of Man­kind in matters of Religion; several have fully performed this: Of old, Justin Martyr, Clemens Alexandrinus, Augustine, and others; of latter times, Du Plessy, Grotius, Amiraldus, L. Herbert, and above all Dr. Cudworth: And indeed the relicks we have of the most an­cient Historians and Authors, are a Demon­stration in the Point. Now the Scripture tells us, [...]at. 11. [...]7. that no Man knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son reveals him:Cor. 2. 1. And as none knows the things of Man, save the Spirit of Man; so the things of God knows no Man, but the Spirit of God. Hence we may safely conclude, that the Creating Word that was with God, and was God, in whom was Life, and that Life the Light of Men, and who is the Quickning Spi­rit, was He, by whom God in all Ages hath revealed Himself; consequently, that Light or Spirit must have been the General Rule of Mens Knowledge, Faith and Obedience, with re­spect to God. And thus much Pythagoras, who liv'd about Six Hundred Years before those Words were spoke or writ, laid down for a [Page 5] Maxim, viz. That no Man can know what is agreeable to God, except a Man hear God himself, and that must be within; for that was his Doctrine. To which the Apostle and Prophet thus agree: 1. In that what­ever makes manifest is Light. Eph. 5. 1 2. That what­ever might be known of God was made manifest within; Rom. 1. 1 for God (who is Light, 1 John 1. 5.) had shewn it unto them: And, God hath shewn unto thee, Mic. 58 O Man, what is good, and what God requireth of thee, &c. which could not be with­out the Light of his Son shines in Man's Con­science; Therefore the Light of Christ in the Conscience must needs have been the General Rule, &c. It was by this Law that Encch, Noah, Abraham, Melchizedeck, Abimilech, Job, Je­thro, Iren. l. 2. 30. Tert con. Jud. 184. &c. walked and were accepted, as saith Irenaeus and Tertullian; They were Just by the Law written in their Hearts: Then was it their Rule to, and in that just State.

Obj. It seems then you deny the Scripture to be the General Rule, &c.

Answ. How can they be the General Rule, Quakeri [...] a new Nic [...] name for [...] Christiani P. 54. 55. Invalid. [...] J. F's V [...] p. 69, 70. Reas. aga [...] Rail. p. 40. that have not been General? That which was both before, and since they were in being, must needs be More General than they: But that was this Light in the Conscience, the Law and Guide of those Patriarchs (for the Scriptures began long after, in the time of Moses) consequently that must be the Gene­ral Rule, &c.

[Page 6] Obj. But granting that the Light within were so before Scripture was extant, yet since the Writings of holy Scripture, the Scripture, and not the Light, hath been the General Rule.

Answ. That cannot be, unless Palestina or Canaan, a little Province of Asia, was the whole World, and that the Jews, a particular People, were All Mankind. For at what time those Writings were among the Jews, other Nations were only left to the Law and Light within; this the Apostle confirmeth in that Passage,Rom. 2. 14, 15. For the Gentiles, which have not the Law (that is, the outward Law, or Law writ­ten upon Stone) do by Nature the things con­tained in the Law, which sheweth the Work of the Law written in their Hearts. And the Gen­tiles themselves called it, the Immutable Law, the Everlasting Foundation of Vertue; no Liveless Precepts, but Immortal; a Sacred Good, God the Overseer; the Living Rule, the Root of the Soul; that which makes the Good Man. Thus Thales, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Plotin, Hieron, Philo, Plutarch, as cited. And saith Sophocles, God grant that I may always observe that venerable Sanctity in my Words and Deeds which these Noble Precepts (writ in Man's Heart) reuire: God is their Father, neither shall they ever be Abrogated; for there is in them a Great God that never waxeth Old. More reverent Epithetes than our Opposers can afford, as their Books but too openly witness; yet would go for Christian-Men, tho' manifestly short of Heathens.

[Page 7] Thus is it evident that the Scripture was [...] the General Rule, after it was given forth.

Obj. But hath it not been since, and is it not [...] the General Rule, &c?

Answ. There hath been since, and is now [...] same Impediment; for before Christ's [...]ing in the Flesh and since, where the [...]ptures never reach'd, there hath been the [...] Light: And though Nations, by not [...]rifying God as God, when they have [...]wn him, have been given up to all man­ [...] of Impieties, insomuch as their Under­ [...]dings have been greatly vail'd; yet did [...] the Light within so entirely lose its Ru­ [...] Exercise among them, as that they lived [...]hout any Sense of such a thing: Therefore [...] the Scriptures have not been, neither are [...] General Rule; no not so much as of any [...]; since in no Age can it be prov'd that [...] whole, or greatest part of the World [...] them. But had they been so for some [...] or two Ages, as they never were; yet [...] granting it will not reach our Question, [...]ere the Word General implieth the Na­ [...]e of the Thing it self, respecting Man­ [...]d from the Beginning of the World to [...] Day, and so to the End.

Obj. But is not the Scripture the Rule, &c. our Day?

Answ. If The Rule, then The General Rule: [...] whatsoever is The Rule of [...] and Life, [Page 8] excludeth all other from being General, [...] being but particular in respect of it [...] Therefore not The, though A Rule of Faith and Life.

But besides their not being General, I [...] several Reasons to offer, why they cannot The Rule of Faith and Life, &c.

1. If now the Rule, then ever the Ru [...] But they were not ever the Rule; and th [...] ­fore they cannot [...] be the Rule.Justin Martyr saith, ‘That all are Christians who live with Christ, as Abraham and Elias; and amongst the Greeks, as Socrates, Hero­clitus, &c.’ See Scultetus on him, who also saith, That some at this day are of his Judg­ment, who have taught that Melchizedech, Abimelech, Ruth, Rachab, the Queen of Sheba, Hyram of Tyre, Naa­man the Syrian, and the City of Ninive, are in the Cata­logue of Christians. That [...] were not ever the [...] is granted: But [...] they are not there [...] now the Rule may [...] by some denied; [...] I shall prove thus the Faith of [...] People in all Ages of One Nature, Eusebius Pamph. in his Ec­clesiastical History, saith, That Abraham and the ancient Fa­thers were Christians: And defines a Christian to be, one that by the Knowledge and Doctrine of Christ excels in Moderation of Mind, in Righ­teousness and Continency of Life, and Strength of Vertue and Godliness towards one on­ly God; see Scultetus on him. [...] the Rule but of [...] Nature: But cle [...] is, Heb. 11. The [...] has been but of [...] Nature; Conseque [...] the Rule but of [...] Nature. In short, the holy Ancients [...] Faith before they [...] or wrote Scriptu [...] they had a Rule [...] ­fore they had or [...] Scripture;Clemens Alexandrinus saith, The Law of Nature and of Di­scipline is one. And Moses seems to call the Lord the Co­venant: For he had said be­fore, the Covenant was not to be sought in Scripture; for that is the Covenant, which God, the Cause of all, setteth, whence his Name in Greek is derived. And in the Preaching of Peter, thou mayest find the Lord cal­led the Word or Reason, and the Law. See his 1 Book Strom. at the end. And be­fore Page 353. he saith, The Law and the Gospel is the Ope­ration of one Lord, who is the Vertue and Wisdom of God: And the Fear which the Law had bred, is merciful to Sal­vation: And the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wis­dom. That She (that is, Wis­dom) that ministreth Provi­dence, is Mistress and Good; and the Power of both procu­reth Salvation: The one Cha­stizing as Mistress; the other being Bountiful, as a Benefa­ctor; for one must pass from Darkness to Life; and apply­ing his Ear to Wisdom, first be a Servant, then a faithful Mi­nister, and so ascend into the number of Sons, and be brought into the elect Adoption of Sons. That the Law works to make them Immortal, that chuse to Live temperately and justly. And again, Evil Men do not understand the Law; but they that seek the Lord, do under­stand in every good thing. And the whole first Book of the Stromata is especially to prove the Antiquity of the one true Religion, or Philosophy, as he calls it. for [...] Faith is, there is [Page 9] [...] for that Faith. [...] if the Faith be One Nature, the [...] is of One Nature [...] And since the [...] is Inward, Spiri­ [...] begotten of the [...]ortal Word, in [...] is Life, and that the Light of Men, that this Word of [...] and Light was the [...]; then no Book, [...]ing, or ingraving visible and perish­ [...] Matter, can be the [...] now.

[...]gain, such as the [...] is, such must the [...] be: But the Faith [...] before, Inward [...] Spiritual; there­ [...] the Rule must be [...] and Spiritual, [...] no Meer Book [...] be.

If the Scriptures were the General Rule, [...] must have always been a Perfect Rule, [...] since they were a Rule: But this is [...]ossible, since they were many Hundred Years Writing, and are now Imperfect also as Number; How then are they the Perfect [...]?

[Page 10] That they were not the Perfect Rule [...]fore they were written must be grante [...] and that they were many Hundred Ye [...] writing must also be allowed; and that [...] are Imperfect now, as to Number, I prove [...]

First, Enoch's Prophecy is mentioned [...] Jude, but not extant in the Bible: The Bo [...] of the Wars of the Lord, Numb. 21. 14. [...] Book of Jasher, Josh. 10. 13. 2 Sam. 1. [...] The Book of Nathan, 2 Chron. 9. 29. [...] Book of Shemaiah, 2 Chron. 12. 15. [...] Book of Jehu; The Epistle of the Ap [...] Paul to the Laodiceans, Collos. 4. 16. [...] several others mentioned in the Script [...] not now extant. And lastly, Luke says, [...] many took in hand to relate from Eye-Wit [...] the things most surely believed, &c.

Now 'tis taken for granted that [...] wrote many Years after Luke: Some [...] Luke wrote before Mark: However, M [...]thew and Mark were not many, and to [...] day we see no more than those Four in [...] Bibles; and therefore many such Writi [...] are lost: And if lost, then the Scriptures, aforesaid, not Perfect; and if Imperfect, [...] can they be the Rule of Faith, since the [...] of Faith must be Perfect?

3. My Third Reason is this, The Sc [...]tures, however Useful to Edification [...] Comfort, seem not in their own Nature [...] Frame to have been compil'd and deliver [...] as the General Rule, and Intire Body of Fa [...] but rather written upon particular Occasi [...] and Emergencies. The Doctrines are [...] [Page 11] [...]ered throughout the Scriptures, insomuch [...]hat those Societies who have given forth Verbal Confessions of their Faith, have been necessitated to toss them to and fro, search [...]ere and search there, to lay down this or [...]he other Principle; and then as like the ori­ginal Text as their Apprehensions can render [...]t: Whereas, were it as plain and distinct as [...]he Nature of a Rule requires, they needed only to have given their Subscription for a Confession. Besides, here They are Proper, [...]here Metaphorical: In one place Literally, in [...]nother Mystically to be accepted: Most times Points are to be prov'd by comparing and weighing Places coherent; where to allude Aptly, and not wrong the Sense, is Difficult, [...]nd requires a clear and certain Discerning, notwithstanding the Clamours upon us about infallibility. Now from all this, with abun­dance more that might be said, plain it is [...]hat the Scriptures are not plain, but to the Spiritual Man: Thus Peter said of Paul's Wri­tings, that in many things they were hard to be understood: Therefore not such a Rule which ought to be Plain, Proper and Intelligi­ble.

4. Again, the Scripture cannot be the Rule of Faith, because it cannot give Faith; for Faith is the Gift of God which overcomes the World: Eph. 2. 8. Neither of Practice, because it can­not distinguish of it self in all Cases what ought to be practised and what not;1 John 5. 4. since [...]t contains as well what ought not to be practised, as what ought.

[Page 12] This was the Case of Christ's Disciples, who had no particular Rule in the Old Te­stament Writings, for the abolishing of some part of the Old Testament Religion: On the contrary they might have pleaded for the Perpetuity of it, because Christ said unto them, Do as they say that sit in Moses's Chair▪ more reasonably than many who make that a Plea now a-days for their invented Wor­ships. What then guided them in their de­claring void and relinquishing those things? For Instance,Gen. 17. God gave Circumcision as [...] Sign for ever: And Paul tells the Galatians, That if they be circumcised, Gal. 5. 1, 2. Christ should pro [...] them nothing: Was not this the Spirit of Truth that leads into all Truth, that the Apostle made the Judge and Rule of their Doctrine [...] and Practices? So said James and the As­sembly of the Apostles, when they told the Believers,Acts 25. 26. It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, &c.

5. These very Men that say it is the Rule of Faith and Life, diviate in their Proof from their Assertion, for the Scriptures no where say so of themselves. Here they fly to Meanings and Interpretations: The Que­stion arises not about the Truth of the Text, for that is agreed on all hands; but the Exposition of it: If then I yield to that Man, do I bow to the Letter of the Text, or to his Interpretation? If the Lat­ter, as manifestly I do, is the Scripture o [...] that Man's Sense of it my Rule? Nay the Person so interpreting makes not the Scrip­ture [Page 13] his Rule but his own Apprehen­sion, whatever he may say to gain Credit to his Conceptions with others; then Mine it must needs be, I consenting there­to.

6. How shall I be assured that these Scrip­tures came from God? I am bound to try all things: If all things, then Them amongst the rest. I would fain know what I must try them with? with the Scriptures? Then the Scriptures must be the Rule of my Ex­amination, and Faith concerning themselves, which is improper: If with the Spirit that gave them forth, which searcheth the deep things of God (a measure of which is given to me to profit withal) Then is it most congruous to call the Spirit, by way of Excellency, and not the Scriptures, The Rule.

7. If the Scriptures are the Rule, they must be so in the Original, or Copies: If in the Original, that is not extant, and so there would be no Rule in being; for the last of it that was extant, was the Evangelist John's History at Ephesus, not seen almost these thousand Years: If the Copies must be the Rule, it were to be wished we knew which were the nighest to the Original, there being above Thirty in Number: This is undeter­mined, and for ought we see Indetermina­ble. And that which further confirms what I say, is the Variety of Readings which we find among those Copies, amounting to several Thousands: And if the Copies cannot, how [Page 14] can the Translations be the Rule, so various (if not differing) from the true Sense of the Copies in many things, and one from ano­ther? Besides, I would fain know of those of our present Age, who thus contend for the Scriptures being the General Rule, &c. in Opposition to the Spirit, upon what foot they receive them into this Place and Au­thority: Is it by Tradition, or Revelation? I mean, the Internal Testimony of the Spirit; or the External Award and Determination of Men: If the former, they must unavoidably come over to us; for then the Spirit will, and must be both Rule and Judge: If the Latter, I ask how are they assured that they are not miserably Abused by Carelesness or Design; since we see, that using utmost Dili­gence, both Translation, Transcription and Print­ing, are subject to numerous Mistakes, and those sometimes very material, against which the Scripture of it self can be no Fence?

But admit there were no Ground for any such Objection, I further demand of our Adversaries, if they are well assured of those Men that First Collected, Embodied and de­clared them Authentick by a Publick Canon? Which we read was in the Council of Laodi­cea, held 360 Years after Christ, though not as they are now received: During which time They had been tossed and tumbled through many Hands, and of many Judg­ments and Opinions. Some were receiv'd, and some rejected, and doubtless many Thou­sands of times transcribed; and it is not im­probable [Page 15] that they were also abused. If they miss in their Judgment here, they are gone till they come to us. I say, how do they know that these Men rightly discerned true from spurious? Either their Judgment was infallible in the Matter, or it was not: If it were, then there was such a thing as Infal­libility since the Apostles Days, which is a Contradiction to your selves. But be it so that they were infallible; how came you to be assured they were so? Not by Inspiration; for that is dangerous Doctrine with you: Which way was it then? Not by Tradition▪ Was it by the Scripture? That were to say that the Scripture tells you that those Men that collected it for true, were Right in their Judgment: But we are yet to find any such place, and if it were so, that would but beg the Question. I cannot see any other Ground, besides your very great Indulgence to their Choice, which you call Popery, and believing as the Church believes, in other Folks. But if these Men were fallible, as your Opi­nion makes them, and their own Deter­minations prove them, what then? Doubt­less your Condition will be very uncer­tain.

Now, sure it is that some of the Scriptures taken in by one Council for Canonical, were rejected by Another as Apocryphal; and that which was left out by the Former for Apo­criphal, was taken in by the Latter for Cano­nical. Now visible it is that they contra­dicted each other, and as true that they [Page 16] both erred, respecting the present Belief: For your Canon and Catalogue vary from theirs, and, let me say without Offence, from any Catalogue you can produce. Behold the Labyrinth of Incertainties you run your selves into, who go from that Heavenly Gift is your selves, by which the Holy Scriptures are truly Discerned, Relished and Distinguished from the Inventions and Abuses of Men!

8. Furthermore, If the Scriptures were the Rule of Faith and Life, &c. then because they cannot be the Rule in their Translations, supposing the ancient Copies were Exact, it cannot be the Rule to far the Greatest Part of Mankind; indeed to none but Learned Men: Which neither answers the Promise relating to Gospel-times, which is universal; nor the Necessity of all Mankind for a Rule of Faith and Life.

9. That the Scriptures are not the Rule of Faith and Life, is proved from those vo­luminous Discourses of Cases of Conscience that are extant among us: For had the Scri­ptures been as sufficient as the Nature of the Rule of Faith and Life Requireth, there had been no need of such Tracts: Every Man might have read his own Condition laid down in Scripture without those numerous Supplements. Doth not your own Lan­guage and Practice prove its Insufficiency to that End, at what time you both exhort to, and go in secret to seek the Mind of the Lord in this or that important Affair? Why do not you turn to Chapter and Verse for Sa­tisfaction, [Page 17] if the Scripture be appointed of God for the General Rule? Strange! That what is so common in the Mouths of all sorts, viz. God direct you (which implieth Inspiration and Revelation, or immediate Council or Guiding from God) should not be known, much less acknowledged by you in our Writings;There's laid down Scripture [...]ny gener [...] Rule how answer b [...]fore Magi [...]strates; [...] to act in Times of Suffering but disdained with such scaring Epithetes, as Enthusiasm, Familism, Fanaticism, Quakerism, &c. In short, there are a * Thousand Cases, and not a few oc­curring almost daily, in which the Scripture cannot be our plain and distinct Rule and Guide: Yet has not God left himself without a Wit­ness in any Bosom;John 1. for his Grace that brings Salvation has appeared unto all Men, Titus 2. 11. 12. teaching them that believe in it, to deny Ungodliness and worldly Lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present World. And Christ Jesus the Eternal Word has for that End lighted every Man coming into the Wold (viz.) to Discover, Reprove, and Instruct about Faith and Practice. But it may be, and is objected by some;

Obj. If this Law and Light in the Con­science had been enough, what need had there been of Scripture?

Answ. The same Argument will hold a­gainst God, Christ, his Spirit and Grace, all which are sufficient, notwithstanding the Use and Benefit of Scripture. The Case was this: Man's Mind being estranged from the [Page 18] Light and Spirit, through its wandrings after Visible and Perishing things: And in as much as the Light became thereby vailed from him, the Spirit as it were quenced, and the Law defac'd, God in peculiar Mercy to to the Jews, according to his Covenant with faithful Abraham, superadded, or Repeated (as Ursin terms it) the Law inward, by a Declaration of it Outwardly; that both God might not be without an outward Witness, as well as an inward (they having so much lost the Feeling thereof) And likewise more deeply to strike their Minds, by their Senses (into which their Minds were gone) and to meet them abroad, where they were ro­ving and wandering from the Law, and Light within.

As it is great Vanity and Weakness to infer Insufficiency to the Light from the Imbe­cility and Darkness that are in Men, which is; so is it from God's superadding Scripture, and other external Assistances to Men in that State. Since their Blindness is occasioned through their Rebellion to the Law and Light within. What! would such have God, his Light and Spirit appear to, and converse with Peoples outward Senses? That can't be: The one is too Spiritual, the other too Carnal for any such thing. Or are they In­sufficient, because they converse with Men through these exteriour things, suited to that weak State? Or tell me if the considerablest part of Scripture be any more than the de­clared Knowledge and Experience of such [Page 19] [...] were come to a more improved State in [...] Teachings of that Light and Spirit; [...]ch is therefore given forth, that others [...]ering behind, might be stirred up and [...] more prevailed with to follow them, as [...] had followed the Lord in the Light of [...] Spirit? Certainly it can never be that [...]ipture should impeach the Light of Insuf­ [...]ency, when that very Scripture is but the [...]nd and Teachings of the Divine Light in [...]ers, declared or recorded. Does the De­ [...]ration jarr or make weak that from whence [...]ame? Or because of God's Condescen­ [...]n for a time to External Mediums, shall [...] turn the Light and Spirit out of the Of­ [...]e of Rule and Judge? Or is to lay down In­ [...]uted Religion, as some ignorantly talk, [...] press after that which was before, and [...]ds those temporary things? The Law out­ [...]rd, as a Rule, was but as Moses till the Son [...]. The Servant abideth not in the House for [...]. The written Law held its place but [...] the inward rise in more Glory and Bright­ [...]ss; or rather, till People became more ca­ [...]ble of being turned to it, and living with [...] in it? In those Days, said the Lord, I will [...]rite my Law in their Heart, &c. They who [...] otherwise of Scripture, do pervert and [...]use it; for there is nothing more clearly [...]id down in it, from Beginning to End, than [...] Rule and Reign of the Spirit. My King­ [...]m, said Christ,John 18. 36. is not of this World. Again, [...]he Kingdom of God is within: I will write my [...]aw in their Hearts, and place my Fear in their [Page 20] inward parts.Isa. 54. 13. All thy Children shall be [...] of the Lord, and in Righteousness shall [...] established.Joel 2. 28. I will pour out my Spirit [...] Flesh. The Grace of God that brings Salv [...] hath appeared to all Men, teaching, &c.

Obj. But if the Law engraven and deli [...] to Moses, was a Rule to the Jews; why [...] not the Law deliver'd by Christ, and writt [...] his Apostles, be the Rule to Christians?

Answ. Christ left nothing in writing the Rule of Faith and Practice that we h [...] of; and it is not to be thought that he [...] Less faithful in his House than Moses: A doubtless, had he intended the Rule of Followers to have been a written Rule, would have left it upon Record with all P [...]ctuality, This must be believed, and That [...] on Pain of Eternal Death. Nor did his Fol­lowers write in the Method of a Rule, as [...] Law was written; nor did they So call recommend what they writ.

But this leads me to my Eighth Reason why the Scriptures cannot be the Rule under the New Covenant, &c. For admitting the Law written by Moses were The Rule ( [...] Rule I grant it was) to the Jew outward yet Christ, the Spiritual Leader of a spiritual Israel, writeth his spiritual Law in the Heart, as Moses, the Outward Israel's Leader writ the Law upon Tables of Stone. This was God's Promise, and the Priviledge and Bles­sing [Page 21] of the New Covenant, that as the Out­ward Jew had an Outward Law, for a Dire­ectory, the Inward Jew should have an Inward [...]w for his Directory: And as the outward [...] had an outward Priest, Mal. 2. 7. at whose Mouth [...] ought to seek the Law,Heb. 7. 24, 25, 26, 27. so the Jew Inward, Circumcision in Spirit, has an Inward Spiritual High-Priest, whose Lips preserve knowledge; at whose Mouth he is to receive Law of Life. And This is his Rule, even who is the Ruler of his People Israel,Isa. 9. 6, 7. [...]o reigneth in Righteousness, and of the increase of whose heavenly Government [...]ere shall be no End. The King, Ruler, Judge, Law-giver, High-Priest, Law, Rule, Temple, are all Spiritual: so the Scriptures inform us; My Kingdom, said Christ, is not this World. Luke 17. 20, 21. Again, The Kingdom of God is within: I will write my Law in their Hearts, and place my Fear in their inward Parts. Heb. 8. 10. They shall be all taught of me; Rev. 21. 3. and in Righteousness shall they be established, The Tabernacle of God is with Man; He will dwell with them, I will pour out my Spirit on all Flesh. Joel 2. 28. The Grace hath appeared to all Men, Tit. 2. 11, 12. teaching, &c. A Measure of the Spirit is given to all Men to profit withal. Job 32. 8. The Inspiration of the Almighty giveth Under­standing. Rom. 1. 19. Whatsoever may be known of God is manifest within. Gal. 5. 16. Walk in the Spirit: 1 John 1. 7. If ye walk in the Light, Isa. 2. 5. &c. Come let us walk in the Light of the Lord. Rev. 21. 23. And there needed neither Sun or Moon to shine; for the Glory of God did light­en it, Gal. 6. 15, 16. and the Lamb was the Light thereof. As many as walk according to this Rule, Peace be on [Page 20] [...] [Page 21] [...] [Page 22] them, and Mercy, and upon the Israel of God, [...] What Rule? Not that of the Old Legal [...] which then passed away; but the [...] of the [...], new Creation, Galat. 6. 16. [...], in this Rule; as it is translated, Phil. 3. 16. which is spoken of the Mea­sure of Attainment: And Gro­tius saith, in the Manuscript, Rule is not; so it must be un­derstood, let us walk in the same Attainment; as also in 2 Cor, 10. 13, 15. in which three Places that word is only found: See Erasmus, Vata­blus, Zegerus, Cameron. Jac. Capellus and Grotius, on those places, none whereof can be drawn to the Scriptures. Ze­gerus interprets this Place of Gal. 6. 16. thus, ‘They that have followed this Form of Life, or Rule of the new Creature, having turned a­way from the invalid Cere­monies of the Law; Peace, &c. Drusius explains it from Chap. 5. 6. The new Creation. 1. Faith which worketh by Love. Grotius saith, ‘Rule here is a Way made as to a Rule that is plainly Right; such is that Way of the new Cre­ation, which was foretold, Isa. 42. 9. And signifies the State of the new Man, of which paul speaks, Col. 3. 10. Eph. 2. 15. Rom. 6. 4.’ as it [...] be rendred, and as D [...] sius cites one to ha [...] interpreted it; and G [...] tius also does interpr [...] it: Which is the [...] of Life Isaiah spoke [...] An High-Way there shall be, and it shall be call [...] the Way of Holiness; [...] Unclean shall not pass [...]ver it, and wayfari [...] Men, though Fools, [...] not err therein: There shall be no Lyon there, [...]ravenous Beast go there [...] but the redeemed sha [...] walk there; which Way, Teacher, Guide, Rule, Light, Spirit, and holy Unction that directs and keepeth in steady Paths of Truth, is Christ Jesus our Lord.

Obj. But do you not turn the Scriptures off for an Uncertain and Unserviceable Writing, and as good as reject and deny them altogether?

[Page 23] Answ. Some indeed, to render us odious to all [...]testants, have said as much in our Names the Consequence of our Principles; but without great Injustice to us.

The Scriptures are uncertain upon their [...]ndation, but not upon ours. Doth our [...]ifesting their Faith concerning the Scri­ptures, to be grounded upon their own Ima­ [...]ations or humane Traditions, make void Scriptures or render them uncertain? By means; for we would have them receiv­upon the Spirit's Testimony and Evi­dence which gave them forth. And though cannot allow them to be The Rule of [...] and Life under the Dispensation of [...] Gospel, which is Power and Life it self; [...] are they to be reverently Read, Believed [...] Fulfilled under the Gospel. For not­withstanding the Law written upon Stone, was [...] Paul's Rule, after the Son of God was [...]vealed in him; yet the Son of God taught [...] to fulfil the Righteousness declared by [...] Law. If it be to deny and reject (as [...] have enviously said of us) yea, to vi­lifie the Scripture, because we cannot allow to be The Rule, &c. Paul then may be said deny, reject and vilifie the written Law, what time the Law of the Spirit of [...] in Christ Jesus became his Rule. There a great Difference between asserting that [...] Spirit is the Rule, and casting away and [...]lifying of Scripture. And indeed it is but [...] old Fetch of the Devil's, to pretend Ho­ [...]our to the Letter that he might the more [Page 24] unsuspectedly oppose the bringing in of Dispensation of the Spirit; which the [...] it self testifies of and to. They that [...] to be led of the Spirit, arrive at the End which the Scripture was given forth: [...] Apostle John did as good as say the [...] thing, when he told them to whom wrote, That the Anointing which they had [...]ceived and abode in them, would lead them all Truth; and that they needed not that Man should teach them: To deny this to [...] been the Saints Teacher, is to deny as [...] a Proposition as is in the whole Scripture And that one Age of Christianity [...] have one Rule, and another Age ano [...] Rule: That Age the Spirit, and This but Letter, is more then any Man can [...] Yet did John's so writing to the Believers valid the Scripture, or vilifie his own [...]? I would think none could talk so [...] How then doth our Exalting the Light [...] Spirit of Christ, which fulfils the Scripture (by bringing such as are led by. It to enjoy the good things therein declared) reject [...] vilifie the Scriptures? Does our living up them by an higher Rule make us to deny a [...] reprobate them? Erasmus and Grotius thi [...] them then most to be valued, when [...] are Witnesses of their Truth in themselve [...] See them on 2 Pet. 1. 19, 20. I do acknowledge they contain an Account of sever heavenly Prophecies, Godly Reproofs, Instructions and Examples that ought to be [...]beyed and followed.

[Page 25] Object. If so, Then how are they not A Rule Faith and Life.

Answ. A Rule and the Rule, are two [...]ngs. By The Rule of Faith and Practice, understand, the Living, Spiritual, Immediate, [...]mipresent, Discovering, Ordering Spirit of [...]: And by A Rule, I apprehend some In­ [...]ment, by and through which this Great [...] Universal Rule may convey its Directi­ [...]. Such a Subordinate, Secondary and De­ [...]ratory Rule we never said several parts of [...]ripture were not: Yet we Confess the [...]eason of our Obedience, is not meerly be­cause they are there written (for that were [...]) but because they are the Eternal Pre­ [...]ts of the Spirit in Mens Consciences,Bp. Rob. Sand. de Regul. There [...]epeated and Declared. It is the Testimony of [...] Spirit which is The True Rule for believing [...]nd understanding of the Scripture;Cons. Proe [...]. 4ta. sect. 31. therefore [...] the Scripture, but the Spirit of Truth must [...] The Rule for our believing and under­standing Them. Thus held the Ancients.

Tertullion saith, Tertul. de Prescript. Worldly Wisdom the Lord [...]alls Foolishness, he hath chosen the foolish things of the World to the confounding of Philosophy;Heraetic. pag. 204. [...]or that is the Matter of Worldly Wisdom, a di­vine Interpreter of the divine Nature and Dispo­sings.

Justin Martyr in Exposit. fid. Dell. Con­fut. of Simps. P. 89, 90. The Interpre­tation of the Scriptures is to be accommodated to the Will of the Doctrine of the Spirit; and not to humane Reasonings.

[Page 26] Hieron saith, Hieron Tom. 4. 70. The Scriptures (must be) open with Spiritual Exposition.

Epiphanius saith, Only to the Children the Holy Ghost all the Scriptures are plain [...] clear.Bp. Jewel, p. 532.

Nor were the most approved Protestants any sort (who have been so reputed in O [...]position to Popery) of another mind. It the Substance of the Fourth Article ex [...]bited against the Lutherans in the Council Trent, Polano. Hi­stor. Counc. Tr. p. 150. as an Erroneous Doctrine they he [...] That to understand the Scripture, neither Gloss [...] Comment is necessary; but only to have the [...] of a Sheep of Christ's Pasture.

Erasmus tells us, Erasmus on 1 Pet. 1. 19. Ib. on 1 Cor. 2. What Man sets forth Man's Device, may be received by Man's [...] But the thing that is set forth by the Inspiration the Holy Ghost, requireth an Interpreter inspire with the like Spirit; and without the In­spiration of it the Secrets of God cannot [...] known.

Luther giveth us his Mind thus. Luther Tom. 3. fol. 169. The Scrip [...]tures are not to be understood, but by that [...] Spirit by which they were writ.

Peter Martyr,Peter Mar­tyr, Com. loc. p. 1. c. 6. that famous Italian Prote [...]stant, teacheth us, The Spirit is the Abett [...] by which we must assure our selves for under [...]standing of the Scriptures, that thereby we may discern between Christ's Words, and a Stranger (quoting Christ's words) My Sheep know my Voice, and several other places of Scrip [...]ture.

Again, Ibid. p. 2. c. 18. The Spirit of God revealeth the Truth in the Scriptures.

[Page 27] H. Bullinger Decad. 4. Serm. 8. Men fetch [...]he Understanding of Heavenly Things, and Knowledge of the Holy Ghost from No where [...]lse, but from the same Spirit.

John Bradford answer'd to the Arch-Bishop of York thus, Book of Martyr 3 vol. p. 298. We know the Scrip­tures, as Christ's Sheep, by the same Spirit that wrote and spake them, being thereby assured, &c.

[...] teacheth thus in his Institutes: Calvin. In­stit. lic. [...] cap. 8. It necessary the same Spirit that spake by the Mouth of the Prophets, should Pierce into our Hearts, to perswade us, that they Faithfully Delivered that which was committed to them of God.

Beza saith,Beza on 2 Pet. 1. 19. ‘That the Way of understand­ing Prophecies, and referring them to the right Scope, must be sought or fetcht from the Same Spirit, which dictated them to the Prophets themselves;’ and more to that purpose.

W. Tindal, Tindal. Works, p. 319. & 80. call'd the English Apostle by J. Fox, saith, ‘It is impossible to understand in the Scriptures, more than a Turk, for any that hath not the Law of God writ in the Heart to fulfil it.’

Bp. Jewel says thus against Harding, Jewel agai. Harding, p. 532, 534. ‘The Spirit of God is bound neither to Sharp­ness of Wit, nor to abundance of Learn­ing: Flesh and Blood is not able to under­stand the Holy Will of God, without Special Revelation: Without This Special Help and Prompting of God's Spirit, the Scripture is to the Reader, be [Page 28] he never so Wise and well Learned, as the Vision of a Sealed Book.

D. Ames, D. Ames against Bel­larm. l. 1. c. 5. Thes. 32. a great Father of the Independents, saith upon occasion of Bellarmin's words; ‘The Anointing of the Holy Spirit doth teach the Faithful, to understand those things which they received of the Apostles; there­fore to understand the Scriptures in those things which are necessary to Salvation,’ with more to that purpose.

Vatablus on Job 32. 8. with Drusius, [...] and others, speak to the same effect.

G. Cradock, G. Cradock Divin. drops page 217. a famous Independent Preacher, preach'd, ‘That the Scripture is a Speechless Thing without the Spirit.’

Ch. Goad, C. Goad Refr. drops, page 12. an Eminent Separate in his Works, stil'd B. D. of K. College in Cambridge, and an Independent Pastor, thus taught, ‘There is no Knowledge of Christ, nor of the Scrip­ture, but by Revelation.

D. J. Owen, Exercit 2. 7. 9. against Quak. a Man of greatest Fame among the present Independents, saith, ‘The [...] Publick, Authentick and Infallible Interpreter of the holy Scripture, is He who is the Au­thor of them; from the Breathing of whose Spirit it Deriveth all its Ve­rity, Perspicuity and Authority.

So that we see, upon the Judgment of ma­ny considerable Persons, the Scripture is no [...] Rule for our believing and understanding [...] It self; and therefore not The Rule of Faith and Practice concerning the things therein declared.

[Page 29] I will give a short Instance in Christ's words about Regeneration: He taught (and strange it was, no doubt, to wise Nicodemus) That unless a Man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. This is as plain a Pro­position as can be laid down, and may be credited Historically: But what is that to the Knowledge and Experience of the New Birth? That they are never like to be inform­ed of there. Nor can that Scripture be my Rule in that Heavenly Travel, respecting the many and wonderful Trials and Exercises that are to be met with in the way to It: Neither can any other Writing whatever. This only is the Office of that Spirit and Word Immortal, by which we are begotten again. What then is my Rule, to inform, order, strengthen and lead through the whole Ope­ration, but the Same Spirit? All Doctrinal Scripture was experienced before written, or they had not been true Witnesses who wrote it.

Now that which was their Rule can only guide us into the same Experiences; nor are they to be rightly known before experienced: Do my Will, John 7. 17. and you shall know more of my Doctrine, saith Christ. I read the History of such things; This saves not: Neither can the History be the Rule leading into the Mystery. That belongs only to the Spirit,1 Cor. [...], 10. that search­eth out the deep things of God. Conse­quently the Spirit, and not the Scripture, is the Rule for So believing and living.

[Page 30] Obj. But is not this to make void the Pro­testants Plea against the Papists, viz. That the Scriptures are the Rule of Faith and Practice?

Answ. No such matter: For the Question was not, Whether the Spirit of Christ or the Scripture was the Rule; But, Whether the Scripture, which is God's Tradition, or Popish Traditions were the Rule to measure the Truth of Doctrines and Practices by? We grant that particular Scriptures, rightly un­derstood, may measure what is agreeable or disagreeable to them: That is, such Do­ctrines and Practices as are contrary to that part of Scripture, more particularly relating to our days, are questionable by the Scrip­ture; especially since all Parties pretend that what they say and do is according to Scrip­ture: Yet this concludes not the Scripture to be The General and Evangelical Rule.

Obj. But if God had not revealed those things that are in Scripture, by it to us, how could they have been known by us?

Answ. They were known by the Light and Spirit of Christ before they were writ­ten (for from being written they are called Scripture) Therefore it is said,1 Pet. 1. 11. That the Pro­phets searched diligently what, and what manner of Time the Spirit of Christ, tha [...] was in them, did signifie, when it testified before hand of the Sufferings of Christ. No [...] [Page 31] are they ever the more reveal'd to the blind and dark Mind, because they are written. The Mysteries of Regeneration are as Puzling to Natural Wit and Earthly Wisdom, as be­fore. Therefore well said Epiphanius, Only to the Children of the Holy Ghost all the Holy Scriptures are Plain and Easie. Mens going to hammer out Prin­ciples, without this Infallible Guide and Rule, hath been the Cause of that great Confusion that is over Mankind about Re­ligion to this very day.

Obj. But how else could you have known those Prophesies to be true, for that is not matter of Witnessing, but Fore-telling?

Answ. That is an extraordinary Revelation, not falling within the Ordinary Discoveries that are absolutely necessary to Man's Sal­vation, by which he shews his Power and Faithfulness, that he is God, and can fore­tell, and will bring to pass: But therefore must there be an Extraordinary Light or Spirit, and not rather an Extraordinary Sight and Sense from One and the Same Light and Spirit in them? Besides, That which gives me to Believe and Savour it to be from the Spirit, and not by Imposture, is my Rule for believing it. Now that the Spirit so doth, both Calvin and Beza, as before cited, assert for me, viz. ‘The Same Spirit, that spake by the Mouth of the Prophets, must Pierce into our Hearts, to perswade us, that they Faith­fully [Page 32] Declared that which was committed to them of God.’

Obj. But this Light you speak of could not tell you which way Sin came into the World: That there was an Adam and Eve, that they fell after that manner, and that Sin so entered the World: That Christ was born of a Virgin, suffered Death and rose again: That you ought not to Swear in any case, &c. If the Scriptures had not told you so.

Answ. That is boldly said: But consider well: Moses, says the vulgar Opinion, had that Account of the Creation, above Two Thousand Years after it, by Revelation, which we find in Genesis. Now that there could be no Revelation without this Divine Light or Spirit, which is the Life of the Eternal, Cre­ating Word, must needs be granted: For, saith the Apostle Paul, Cor. 2. [...]0. 11. the Spirit of God knoweth Only the Things of God; and whatever makes mani­fest is Light: Eph. 5. 13. And that the Spirit and Light are One, tho' Two Names, has been sufficiently evidenced already. If then it was This Light of the Eternal Word, that delivered those past things to Moses, and gave that Prospect of future things to the Prophets, as no doubt it was, if the Scripture be Credible, then to say, the Light or Spirit could not do it, is Blasphemous as well as absurd. Again To argue, because the Light does not Reveal every Circumstance of History to each In­dividual that hath already an Account there­of, [Page 33] of therefore it could not, is Unreasonable. Were the History of the Transactions of Christ and his Followers wanting, as be­fore Moses was that of Adam and his Poste­rity, and that the Lord saw it needful to acquaint Mankind therewith, no doubt but the Light and Spirit which revealed the Ac­count of the Creation, above Two Thou­sand Years after, to Moses, and fore-told seve­ral Hundred Years many of those Transacti­ons of Christ by the Prophets, would also have supplied that Want: But inasmuch as an Account is extant, and therefore not need­ed, that Objection is vain.

Again it does not follow, because every Man has a Measure of Light to Inform and Rule him, that therefore he must needs know all which that Light knows, or is able to Reveal to him. I return that Argu­ment thus upon our Adversaries: They say they have the Spirit of God; Then they know all that the Spirit of God knows, or can reveal to them: If the latter be absurd, then the former. Again say they, The Light within did not reveal Christ to the Gentiles, and that Christ should be born of a Virgin, &c. therefore Insufficient: I return upon them thus; The Spirit of God, given to the Children of Israel, Neh. 9. 20. did not acquaint them that Christ should be born of a Virgin, nor much more of his Life and Bodily Transactions; therefore the Spirit of God was Insufficient. The like may be concluded against the Spirit in the Pro­phets: For 'tis manifest from 1 Pet. 1. 10, 11. [Page 32] [...] [Page 33] [...] [Page 34] that the Spirit had not revealed to all the Prophets the Time of Christ's Appearance and Sufferings: Was the Spirit therefore an Insufficient Rule to them? But that which falls heaviest upon our Opposers is this, That the Scriptures by their own Argument, are a most Inperfect Account themselves of what was done, not relating the hundredth part of things; therefore as Insufficient in not re­lating what is behind, as they would weakly render the Light or Spirit in not revealing to every Individual those things which are already past: Nay, they may as well infer Insufficiency to the Spirit, or the Light within, in that it does not now shew all that shall be to the End of the World, which in their proper Seasons there will be a Necessity to know, as to reflect Insufficiency upon it, &c. because it did not fore-tell things that are now past unto former Ages, or needlesly Re­veal them over again to us in this Age. Neither is History, or can it be, the Rule of that Faith and Life we speak of, which are so absolutely necessary to Salvation; which is the Faith that God and not History gives, and that works not by History, but by Love, and overcomes the World; by which Mil­lions of Historical Believers are overcome, and wallow in the Spirit and Practice of: And the Rule must be answerable to the Nature and Workings of the Faith: The same in Point of Practice, which is Duty Done. Now History, though it inform me of others Actions, yet it does not follow that it is the [Page 35] Rule of Duty to me, since it may relate to [...]ctions not imitable, as in the Case of Adam [...]nd Eve in several Respects, and Christ's be­ [...]ng born of a Virgin, dying for the Sins of the World, &c. wherefore this cannot be The Rule of Duty. The like may be said of the [...]ewish Story, that was the particular Concern [...]nd Transaction of that People.

Obj. But these things ought to be believed.

Answ. I say so too, where the History has [...]eached, and the Spirit of God hath made [...] Conviction upon the Conscience; which, says D. J. Owen, as before Cited, gives them Authority, Verity and Perspicuity: But where [...]his History has not reached any People, or they dye ignorant of it, they are not re­sponsible for not believing any such Passages, as saith Bishop Sanderson. Prelect. 4. §. 21, 22. 'Tis one thing to say the Scriptures ought to be Read, Believed and Fulfilled, and another thing to say they are the Evangelical Rule of Faith and Life: For when I read, believe and witness them fulfilling, I must needs have a Rule by which to Read, Understand, Believe and Witness them: Which being the Divine Light and Spirit of Christ; it must be That, and not themselves that must be my Rule for so Read­ [...]ing, Understanding and Believing Them.

And further, to prove that the Light and Spirit within the Heathens was sufficient to discover these things, it is granted on all hands that the Sybills had divine Sights: I [Page 36] mean not those made in their Name by some Professors of Christianity, as is charged upon them to gain Authority upon the Gentile [...] against which Blundel writes: But tho [...] that are acknowledged, who prophesied [...] a Virgin's bringing forth a Son, and that [...] should Destroy the Serpent, and Replenish th [...] Earth with Righteousness, as is before [...] out of Virgil, who took it out of the Re­mains of Cumaea's Verses, then among the Romans.

And for the Practical Part of the Object on, viz. How should we have known [...] had been Unlawful to Swear at all in [...] Case, if Mat. 5. 34. had not been (which [...] of most weight in this Case, because it is ma [...] ­ter of Duty, and called particularly by some an Evangelical Precept, being a Step abov [...] the Righteousness of the outward Law among the Jews) I have this to say fo [...] Proof of the Light's Sufficiency.

There were among the Jews themselves long before Christ came, an entire People that would not Swear; to wit, the Esse [...] ‘They keep their Promises (says Josephus) and account every Word they speak [...] more Force than if they had bound it with [...] Oath: Josephus, Wars of the Jews, l. 2. c. 7. And they shun Oaths worse than Per­jury; for they esteem him condemned for a Lyar, who without it is not believed.’

Philo writes to the same purpose, and taught himself,Philo, de spec. leg. & decalog. that it was best to abstain from Swearing; that one's Word might be taken instead of an Oath.

[Page 37] And Pythagoras, in his Oration to the Cro­ [...]ian Senators, exhorted them thus,Laert. Her­mip. & Orig. contr. Cels. ‘Let no Man attest God by Oath, though in Courts of Judicature; but Use to speak such things that he may be credited without an Oath.’

The Scythians are said to have told Alexander [...] themselves,Quint. Cur­tius, ni vit. Alex. Think not that Scythians con­firm their Friendship by Oath; They Swear by keeping their Word.

And Clinias, H. Grotius on Mat. 5. 34. a Greek, and follower of Py­thagoras, rather chose to suffer the Fine of Three Talents (which make 300l. English) [...] to lessen his Varacity by taking of an [...]ath. Which Act was greatly commended [...] Basilius, who upbraided the Christians of [...]s time with it: Thereby (after our Ad­versaries Way of drawing Consequences) [...]eferring the Light of the Gentiles before [...] Light of the Christians: Though indeed [...] Light was and is always One in it self: [...]ut the Christian did not live up so closely it as the Heathen did, and therefore took greater Liberty, and walked in a broader Way.

I would now know of our Opposers if they can yet think the Light that preach'd his Doctrine in the Mount, was the same with that Light that shined in the Con­sciences of those Gentiles, so many Hundred [...]ears before that Sermon was writ or preach­ [...], who so plainly believed, practiced and [...]ought it, Yea or Nay? Perhaps some will [...] stick out, while the more moderate will [...]bmit, and conclude Ignorance and Folly [Page 38] have made all this Opposition against us, [...] that of a Truth, The Voice which cried, Prov. 4, 6. Unto you, O Men, I call, and my Voice to the Sons of Men; hear for I will speak Ex­cellent Things, was also heard by the Gentile and that what concerned the Doctrine Holy Living was not hid from them: I me [...] Evangelically so; provided Christ's Heaven Sermon upon the Mount, related by Ma­thew the Evangelist, may be esteemed, [...] For their Writings flow with Amens the unto.

But allowing our Adversaries that [...] Voice was then so Low, and the Manifes [...]tion of the Light so Small, as it discover not many of those things before-mentioned could that give reasonable Men Ground conclude, Therefore the Divine Wisdom Light was Insufficient; or that the Divine Wisdom or Light was not then, and [...] not in other Ages become The Rule a Guide of the Children of Men? Yet [...] false Consequences have been the Cor [...] Stone and Foundation of our Oppos [...] Building against us; and no reasonable [...] I think, will attempt to clear it from being a Sandy One.

OF THE Judge of Controversie.

I Shall explain what I mean by these Terms.

A Judge, is one that has not only Power [...] determine, but Discerning to do it Rightly.

Controversie, is a Debate between two Parties about the Truth or Falshood of any [...]roposition to be determined by that Judge.

From whence I am led to assert, that the Judge of Controversie must be certain and un­ [...]ring.

And though this may seem strange to some, 'tis nevertheless true in it self: For if the Judge be fallible, he may indeed silence the Contending Parties by his Authority, but not the Controversie by a certain Judg­ment, since he may as well determine Falsly as Truly. So that Controversie can never be rightly determined by a fallible Judge, there­fore He is no true Judge of Controversie. Indeed it is absurd, and a Contradiction in it self to think otherwise; since he that is uncertain can never be certain of his De­cision: And if not a certain one, then none to the Purpose. Nor ought any Person, no otherwise judged, that is persuaded of the Truth of his Cause, to let fall his Belief up­on so Doubtful a Determination; since he moves not only without Conviction, but a­gainst [Page 40] Conviction: And which is worse, [...] is not ascertained of the Truth of what he required to submit to. Therefore of all Peo­ple they are most condemnable, who, not­withstanding they keep so great a stir about Religion, and sometimes use coercive Mean to compass their designed Uniformity, ac­knowledge to us they are not Certain of the own Faith.

Since then the Judge must be unerring, [...] will be worth our while to consider, whe [...] this infallible Judge is to be found. There none Good but God, said God himself, whe [...] manifested in the Flesh, that is, Originally, [...] as of himself: So truly there is none Infalli­ [...]ble but God, as of himself; yet as the su­preme Good is communicated unto Man ac­cording to measure;Book Mar­tyr. vol. 3. p. 475. so (as well says Bp Latimer) is there Infallibility, Certainty or As­surance of the Truth of things given to Man according to Capacity: Otherwise Men would be oblig'd to believe and obey, and that upon Damnation, those things concern­ing which there can be no Certainty whether they be true or false.

Immanuel, God with Men, as he is their Rule, so their Judge; he is the Law-giver, and therefore the best Interpreter of any Point that may concern his own Law: And Men are so far Certain as they are subject to his Voice, Light, or Spirit in them, and no farther; for, humanum est errare, Man is Er­rable. Nor can any thing rescue him out of Error, or preserve him from the Infecti­ons [Page 41] of it, but the sound and certain Judg­ment that God, by the Light of his Spirit gives unto him.

Obj. But is not the Scripture the Judge of Controversie?

Answ. How can that be, since the Que­stion most times arises about the Meaning of Scripture? Is there any place tells us, with­out Interpretation, whether the Socinian Or Trinitarian be in the Right, in their differing Apprehensions of the Three that bear Record, &c. also the Homousian and Arrian about Christ's Divinity; or the Papists or Protestants about Trans-substantiation? If then things are [...]eft undefined and undetermined, I mean Litterally and Expresly, in the Scripture; and that the Question arises about the Sense of Words, doth the Scripture determine which of those Interpreters hit the Mark? As this is not reasonable to think, so must it be acknowleged, that if Interpretation de­cide the Matter in Controversie, then not the Scripture but the Interpreter must be the Judge.

Now this Interpreter must either interpret by his own meer Wisdom or Spirit, called by the Apostle, 1 Cor. 2. 11. the Spirit of a Man; who by weighing the Text, consult­ing the Intent of the Writer, comparing pla­ces together, gives the Judgment which the Scripture does not give of it self, or, from the Spirit of God, which gives Understand­ing, [Page 42] as Job 32. 8. and as the same Apostle saith, in the same place, searcheth the [...] things of God: If the first, then a Fallible; [...] the last, then an Infallible Judge.

I would fain know, whether it was the Scripture or the Holy Ghost that presided among the Apostles, when they were come together, Acts 15. when they said, It seem­eth good to the Holy Ghost and to us, &c. If the Holy Ghost, then pray give us a plain Scri­pture to prove we are to have another Judge now; If that cannot be done, then we must have the Same, and consequently an Infalli­ble Judge, viz. the Spirit of Truth which leads Christians into all Truth, and is given of God, by Christ for that very End.

Obj. 'Tis granted that the Spirit is Infallible But how shall I know that any Man determine a thing by this Spirit, and does not rather ob­trude his own Sense upon us, under that specio [...] Pretence.

Answ. By the same Spirit; As well said Gualt. Cradock, G. Crad. Divine Drops, p. 210. ‘The Way to know whether the Spirit be in us is its Own Evidence▪ And that is the Way to know it in others too: And the Man that hath the Spirit may know the Spirit in another; There is saith he, ‘a kind of Sagacity in the Saints to this Purpose.’ Which is also true in the Judgment of abundance of Protestant-Wri­ters: For as they held that no Man could know the Scriptures but by the same Spirit [Page 43] which indicted them; so consequently that the Same Spirit only could assure him of the Truth of the said Interpretation. And Peter Martyr, as before quoted, tells us, The Holy Ghost is the Arbiter or Judge. Also D. J. Owen saith, That the Holy Ghost is the Only Authentick Interpreter of the Scripture: And if the Only Authentick, then the Only and Infal­lible Judge; then the Judge of the Mind or Meaning of Scripture, is both an Only and an Infallible Judge. But to wave this: Does not the very same Objection lie against the Sense of Scripture, since one says This is the Sense, and another That? To know God's Mind Men must come to God's Spirit, else Diffi­culties of that sort are Insuperable.

In short, It were greatly to be wisht that all Men would hold themselves unconcern'd, in disputing about what they have not re­ceived an Assurance of from the Holy Spi­rit; since they beat but the Air and obtain no solid Satisfaction, neither can they upon any other Bottom. God never Prostrates his Secrets to Minds disobedient to what they do already know. Let all Practice what they assuredly know to be their Duty, and be spar­ing in their search after Nice and Unknown Matters. Weighty and Seasonable was and is the Apostle's Saying,Phil. 3. 16. Nevertheless, where­unto we have already attained, let us walk by the same Rule: Where he both limits us to the present Knowledge communicated to us, and exhorts us to live up to that; and if any thing be further necessary for us, God in due [Page 44] time will reveal it by his Spirit, that on gives to Know, Discern and Judge of the things that are of God.

Obj. But how will this determine the Contro­versie, and allay the Fury of Debates that are foot in the World?

Answ. Nothing like it if Man adhere to it and if he does not, there is no way left but the Wrath that is to be reveal'd. But mo [...] Persuasions are agreed about the absolute Necessaries in Religion, from that Light and Witness God has placed in Man's Consci­ence, viz. That God is; That he is a Rewarde of them that diligently seek him; That the [...] of God is a Way of Purity, Patience, Meekness &c. Without whcih no Man can see the Lord▪ Nay, they accord in some considerable Mat­ters superadded, as some of them speak, to wit, That God was manifested extraordinarily in the Flesh; that he gave his Life for the World that such as believe and obey his Grace in their Hearts, receive Remission of Sins and Life Ever­lasting. Now I say, since these things Men generally Consent to, let them live up to them; and forbear wanton Scrutinies after Things or Notions that gender to Strife and Contention, and leave not Mankind better, but rather worse than they found them, and the World would be soon Rid of Controver­sie. Holy Living, and not Disputing, would be the Business of Mankind. What more ex­cellent Judgment can be given then that Men [Page 45] quit their Contentions about Notions and Opinions, and betake themselves to the Pra­tice of that Good which God hath already shewn unto them; as spake both the Pro­phet Micah 6. 8. and the Apostle Paul, Rom. [...]. 19. And if any thing be revealed to one more than another, let the rest judge in the Spirit, or be silent till God manifest more [...]o them, in order to Right Judgment.

'Tis good to Try all things; but we must have something to try them by; and what [...]ught that to be,1 Cor. 2. but the Spirit that search­eth, and the Anointing that teaches all things, 1 John 2. 20, 27. which is Truth it self. Here Mankind will [...] in Love, having at least Natural Af­fections (now lost by the Barbarity of some of their cruel Religions, or Heats for their Opinions) and a Judgment of things will be made, not from the Rash, Partial, Short- [...]ghted and Froward Mind of Man, but that Eternal Light and Spirit that never erred; which, however disgustful to some Prote­stants in this Age, was no false Doctrine in the Account of John Philpot and Bp. Latimer, Two great Founders of the Reformation in England.

The first, in his Answer to the Bishop of Chichester, reproving his Confidence about true Faith in Christ;B. Martyr vol. 3. P. 577. These Hereticks, saith One, take upon them to be Sure of all things obey stand in. ‘Let him doubt (saith John Philpot) of his Faith that listeth; God give me Always to believe that I am Sure of true Faith and Favour in Christ.’


[Page 46] The second, in his Answer to Sir Ed. Baynton, B. Martyr. vol. 3. p. 475. objecting the Uncertainty of Man in what he calls Truth, thus recorded by J. Fox, ‘Your Friends deny not, but that certain Truths are communicated to us according to Capacity: But as to my Pre­sumption and Arrogancy; either I am cer­tain or uncertain that it is Truth that [...] preach; if it be Truth, why may not I say so? If I be uncertain, why dare I be so bold as to preach it? And if your Friends be Preachers themselves, after their Sermon, I pray you ask them, Whether they be Certain and Sure. they preach the Truth or no; and send me word what they say, that I may learn to speak after them. If they say they be Sure, you know what fol­lows; if they say they be Unsure, when shall you be Sure, that have so Doubtful and Unsure Teachers.

Let not Protestants, for Shame, judge us for owning a Doctrine that is Confessed to and Confirmed by some of the Worthiest of their own Ancestors, viz. That an Unerring, Certain or Infallible Judgment in things Ne­cessary to Salvation, is both Possible and Re­quisite, and that God communicates it by his Spirit to the Souls of Men.

The Conclusion.

TO Conclude, Immanuel, a word suited not only to that Appearance, but the whole Dispensation of the Gospel, imports, God nigh to or with Men: Rev. 21. 3, 7. The Tabernacle of God is with Men; he will dwell in them, and walk in them: Isa. 54. 13. They shall be all taught of me, and in Righteousness shall they be established: That is, by the Spirit of his Son. And this admits not of any Book, or Literal Rule or Judge, to come between that Indwelling Spi­rit of Light, Life and Wisdom from God, and the Soul, as its Rule of Faith and Pra­ctice.

And because it is the unutterable Good­ness of God to People in these latter Days, as the Sum of Scripture-Prophecy, thus to make known himself; we are incessant in our Cries unto them, that they will turn their Minds Inward (now abroad, and ta­king up their Rest in the Externals of Re­ligion) that they may hear his Heavenly Voice and Knocks, and let him in, and be taught of him to know and do his Will, that they may come to be Experienced and Ex­pert in the School of Christ: For never Man spoak and taught, as he livingly speaks and teaches in the Consciences of those who diligently hear him, and are willing to be taught of him the Knowledge of his Ways. The Priest was Outward, but he is now Inward; the Law [Page 48] Outward, but it is now Inward. And now he is no more a Jew that is one Outward, Rom. 11. 28, 29. nor that Circumcision which is outward in the Flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and Cir­cumcision is that of the Heart, in the Spirit, and not in the Letter, whose Praise is not of Men, but of God. Which is so far from lessening the Authority of the Scriptures of Truth, that unless This be Man's Rule and Judge in the Reading and Believing of them, he can never understand them Rightly, or keep their saying Faithfully. And indeed, as before I have expressed, I cannot but say, That Man (whilst unregenerated) setting his Wit and Wisdom to Fathom and Comprehend the Intention of the Holy Ghost in many of those Writings, hath occasioned that Con­fusion, Darkness and Perplext Controversie, that now so lamentably Pesters the World: In which State, for all the External Imitations of the Ancients in some temporary and figu­rative Parts of Worship, I am to tell such, and that from the Spirit of the Lord God of all Truth, They will never be Accepted.

The Utmost of that Literal Knowledge, Historical Faith, and Outward Religion, is but as the Old Heavens that are to be wrap­ped up as a Scroul, and the Old Wine and Bot­tles that belong not to the Kingdom of God: Such Believers may slatter on themselves, and at last cry, Lord, Lord; But alas! They shall never enter into the Rest that God hath reserved for his Regenerated and Redeemed Children. For under such a Faith and Re­ligion, [Page 49] Envy, Wrath, Malice, Persecution, Pride, Passion, Covetousness, Worldly, [...]ndedness, &c. may and do prevail; yea, and are Cloaked, as with a secure Cover from the Stroak of God's Spirit; insomuch, as when any are moved of the Lord to Decry such Fair and Hypocritical Shews of Religion, they are reputed Rash and Censorious, and presently a Plea must be made on this wise; Do not we follow the Commands of the Scripture? Did not such and such do so and so? Which at best are but the Duties of Sacrifice, and not of Obedience: Never regarding from what Ground the Performance springs, whether it be according to the Rule of the New or of the Old Creature: But abuse and vilifie us for making such Distinctions; as if the Prayers, Preachings, Singings, outward Baptizings and Suppings, &c. of Men in their own unsanctified Spirits, Strength and Will were required and accepted of God for Evangelical Worship. Thick Darkness, and a Dangerous Presumption! Thus are Men Out of the Way concerning both Faith and Practice, and the true Rule and Judge of Them. They make the former, viz. Faith and Practice, to lie in an Assent of the Un­derstanding to such Propositions, and in an Imitation of former Observations, that were at best but Signs of good things to come, and the Duties of Sacrifice (which is far from the Immanuel-State) And the latter, viz. the Rule and Judge to be the Scriptures; which is but an Account of those [Page 50] Things that others were Ruled to, and Di­rected in by the Holy Spirit, before they were ever Recorded or made Scripture; and no other Rule or Judge can so Regulate: For as the Faith and Experience, so the Rule and Judge of that Faith and that Experience must be One. God by his Spirit begets Faith; God by his Spirit rules Faith, and governs the Life of his Children;Rom. 8. 14, 15. for as many as are Children of God are led by the Spirit of God. The Scripture, much of it, is but a Declaration of Faith and Experience; therefore not The Rule, or Judge: For as Faith and Experience were before Scripture, so the Rule and Judge were before Scrip­ture; because, as I said before, there must be a Rule and Judge where there is Faith; therefore the Scripture is not That Rule or Judge: And before that Declaration be an­swered or fulfilled by any, they must come to the Faith, Rule and Judge, of which That is a Declaration: So that Faith is yielding up to the Requirings of God's Spirit in us, in full Assurance of the Remission of Sins that are past, through the Son of his Love and Life Everlast­ing; from whence daily flows Works of Holiness well-pleasing to God; which is more than a meer Assent of the Understanding to a verbal, though a true Proposition. Again; The Life of a true Christian stands not in Bodily Exercise, which says the Apostle pro­fits little: Nor in an Imitation of the An­cients in Temporary and Shaddowy Things, which the Hypocrite as well as the Sain [...] [Page 51] can do; But in Self-denial and walking in the Spirit, 1 Tim. 4. 8. to bring forth the Fruits thereof unto all Godliness, Col. 2. 20, 21, 22, 23. which is the pure and spiritual Obedience,Mat. 10. 38 resulting from the Living Spi­ritual Faith of God's Elect,Gal. 5. 16, 22, 23. and the Rule and Judge thereof, is their Author and Be­getter, even the Spirit of Truth, which alone gives saving Understanding, Faith and Obedience, and searcheth the deep things of God.

O you Professors of Religion, that you would but seriously weigh these things, and examine your selves in God's Sight (for he respects none for their Fair Out­side) If this Saving Faith be your Faith, and this Heavenly Life be your Life, and if the Holy Spirit be your Ruler and Leader? If not, you are but Legal, Formal, and in the Old­ness of the Letter, and Will-worshipers, which obtains not with God: In which State, not the Wisdom from above, but that which [...] from below, of the Old Creature, is your Rule: In it you read Scripture, Expound it, Pray, Preach, Sing and Perform all your Duties;Gal. 6. 16. and this is not to walk according to the Rule of the New Creature; but in a Legal Spirit to make a Gospel-Profession, the End of which, from the Lord, I am to tell you,Prov. 6. 23. will be a Bed of Sorrow. Therefore Re­sist not the Light and Spirit within, but Turn at the Reproof thereof, that you may come to walk in the Way of Life, Daily Life to your Souls, that so you may be quickned and made alive to God in all your [Page 52] Duties, and live to him while you live [...] that Life, which is hid with Christ in God that being thus Born again, and become Re­newed in your inward Man, you may per­form that Pure and Spiritual Worship, which is of a sweet Savour with the Lord; so shall he Bless you with his Heavenly Blessing and daily Replenish your Souls with the un­speakable Joys of his Love and Salvation▪ This I heartily desire, and through all Diffi­culties Incessantly Travel for, in Body, Soul and Spirit, that the All-Wise, Good, Omnipotent God may be Known, Served and Obeyed by you, to your Comfort, and his Eternal Honour, who alone is worthy to receive [...] now and for ever, Amen.

William Penn


I Would not be misunderstood in what I have writ of the Excellency and Prefer­ence of the Holy Spirit of God, as the first, chief and general Rule of Life and Practice, and as the infallible, and therefore the best Judge of Controversy among Christians; as if I thereby intended to lessen or undervalue the divine Authority, or Service, of the blessed Scriptures of Truth, since we most heartily believe them to have been given forth from the same Holy Spirit, and are a Declaration of the Mind and Will of God; and, as such, are obliging upon all that have, and can have them, both in reference to Faith and Practice: And we utterly disclaim and renounce all Doctrines and Practices repugnant to them.

But as the holy Spirit gave them forth through Holy Men, so without the Help of the Holy Spirit, they cannot be truly and spiritually understood, by those that read them, for their Edification and Comfort; for that which writ them can best apply them: Which is the Reason of that Prefer­ence we give to the Spirit of God, and of our pressing People to take diligent Heed to the Manifestation of it, that they may read, pray, praise, preach and live in the Spirit, to God's Glory and their eternal Comfort.

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