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SECT. VI. Nothing else ought to be imposed upon Christian, but what they can gather from the New Testament.

This, therefore, is the only thing that can justly be imposed upon all Christians.883883   To this belongs what Christ saith, Matt. xxiii. ver. 8. and following: “Be ye not called Rabbi, for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren. And call no man your Father upon the earth, for one is your father which is in heaven; neither be ye called Masters, for one is your Master, even Christ.” See also James iii. 1. To the same purpose, Rev. iii. 7. where Christ Is said to have the “key of David,” which is thus described, “which opens (namely heaven) and no one shuts, and which shutteth and no one openeth.” If we are to believe Christ only, and there remains no other certain record of the revelation made by Christ but the New Testament; it is manifest from hence, that in matters of faith we ought to give credit only to these books. viz. that they embrace whatever they think is contained in the books of the New Testament, and obey those things which they find there commanded, and abstain from those things which are there forbidden; if any thing further be required of them as necessary, it is without any authority. For would any fair judge require a Christian to believe a doctrine came from Christ, which he does not find in the only faithful and 262undoubted records, in which all are agreed the revelation of Christ is derived down to us? Let other doctrines be true; let us take this for granted a little while; they cannot however be esteemed as true by him, who, amongst the different sorts of Christians, follows the middle way, and allows of no certain record of the revelation of Christ, but the books of the New Testament. Whilst he believes this, nothing else can justly he required of him; and he will believe this, till it shall be made appear to him by plain arguments, that the knowledge of Christianity is safely to he had somewhere else, which I believe will never be done.

If any one, therefore, attempts to take away from Christians the books of the New Testament, or to add to them such things as do not appear to be true, we are by no means to hearken to such an one;884884   To this relates that saying of Paul, Gal. i. 8. “If we, or an angel from heaven preach any other thing for the Gospel, than that Gospel we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” And indeed it is no man’s business to add any thing to the Gospel, an necessary; nor to diminish any thing from it, as unprofitable. because he requires that of us, which no prudent man will allow, viz. that we should believe that which we are not certain of, or neglect that which all own to be the sure record of the revelation of the Gospel. There is no need of examining all controversies singly, and one by one; which would be an endless thing, and cannot be done but by very learned men, who have abundance of leisure. Whoever imposes any thing upon us, as necessary to be believed, which we cannot believe, he derives us from himself; because belief cannot be extorted by force; nor will any one who fears God, and is a lover of truth, suffer himself to profess what he does not believe, for the sake of another.

But they who differ from this, object, that if every one be left to their own liberty, in judging of the meaning of the books of the New Testament, there will be as many religions as there are men and truth, which is but one, will immediately be oppressed by a multitude of errors. But I think, that before an opinion, which is established upon Solid arguments, be opposed by objections, the foundation 263 upon which it is built ought to be overthrown; because so long as that remains firm, the whole superstructure raised Upon it cannot be shaken; as we see here. For, if any inconvenience should follow from what has been said, it is nevertheless true, till it be made appear not to be fixed on a firm bottom. But to pass by this now; it is false that the revelation of the New Testament is so obscure, that the sum of the Christian religion cannot be truly learned from it, by any one of a sound mind, who is desirous of truth. It is evident from experience, that it may be truly learned from thence; for all Christians. as has been already shewn, agree in the principal parts of it; which was observed by Grotius, book II. sect. xvii. We have no regard here to a few simple or wicked men; since whole societies of Christians, who, in other respects, out of their too great eagerness of contention, are apt to differ from one another, and to run into the contrary extremes, are here agreed.


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