Page images

ordinance of GOD, of His own appointment, both with respect to the thing itself, and its operation, force, and effect, with refpect to us

-therefore, as to thefe, is folely under God's authority, and cannot be changed or altered by human laws. As the fubftance of the bread and wine in the LORD's Supper, remained the fame after confecration as before it, notwithstanding the bloody edict of Henry VIII. above mentioned; fo marriage remains, as to the matter, force, effect, and obligation of it upon the parties, juft the fame in the fight of GOD now, as before 26 Geo. II. C. 33.


As no human law can change any ordinance of GOD, so neither can it change any truth of GOD.-I firmly believe, that the 39 articles of the church of England contain, in point of doctrine, the truth of GoD; but I do not believe this one jot the more because they are enacted by authority of parliament: nor should I believe it one jot the less, if the efforts of their Arian and Socinian adverfaries were to fucceed, and the parliament was to declare their obligation upon men's confciences, as well as the articles themselves, and all things contained therein-" null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever; <i any law or ufage to the contrary notwithftanding."

[ocr errors]

There is a ftatute which has been before mentioned, viz. 31 Hen. VIII. c. 14. which makes it felony, without benefit of clergy, to affert that the communion in both kinds is ne


ceffary to the laity, or ought to be administered or received-but this law could have no effect upon the nature of the ordinance as in GOD'S fight. So Jac. c. 11. makes a man a fe lon, and to fuffer death, for having two wives together-but can this be proved to affect fuch a marriage, or to make it null and void or finful in GoD's fight? The only way to prove that either of these laws are binding on men's confciences, is, to prove that they harmonize with GoD's truth as revealed in the. fcripture, otherwise one is just as much unauthorized as the other.

[ocr errors]


As to mere circumftantials, which respect outward order and deceney, as they are no part of the ordinances themselves, they may be under the appointment and controul of man. So when our Rubric fays-that there fhall be a table with a fair white linen "cloth upon it," at the administration of the facrament of the LORD's fupper-and again, with refpect to baptifm-that" without great "caufe and neceffity, the people fhall be. "warned that they procure not their chil"dren to be baptized at home in their "houfes"-I fee no fort of harm in all this; but if the act of parliament, which confirmed the Rubric, had gone on-" And be it en"acted, that if the facrament of the LORD'S

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Supper be administered without fuch fair "white linen cloth upon the table, or baptifm "be administered in private houses, unless "for fuch great caufe and neceffity aforefaid, "fuch facraments of the LORD's Supper, and




baptifm, so adminiftered, fhall be utterly " null and void to the receivers of the fame, "to all intents and purpofes whatsoever"-this had been an attack upon the ordinances and truths of scripture-not a lawful and authorized ftatute. Let this reafoning be applied to the question of marriage, as it is a * civil contract, and as fuch the object of human laws

and as it is a divine inftitution, and as fuch not the object of human laws-then it may eafily be determined how far thefe ought to be binding on the confciences of men, where marriage is concerned.

The outward contract between the parties, is certainly of a civil nature, and ought to belong to the civil magiftrate. In this refpect, the clergy have no more to do with it than they have with fines and recoveries, ór any other temporal caufes. The payment of the or dowry (fee before, vol. i. p. ) among the Jews, which was in nature of a civil contract, was tranfacted between the man and the damfel's father; but had nothing to do with the priests and Levites, nor was it any part of the Temple fervice.

[ocr errors][merged small]


Of SUPERSTITION, more especially relating to the Subjects treated in this Book.


HEN man fell from God by difobedience, in ftriving to make himself wifer than God had made him, and that by means which GOD had forbidden, he loft that image of knowledge and wifdom in which he was originally created. (Comp. Gen. i. 26. Col. iii. 10.) The only means of any reftoration to this, must be by revelation; for as man by tranfgreffion had brought darkness into his foul, as well as guilt, this could never have been removed by any powers of the human will or understanding; He alone who created the material light, could dispel the clouds in which the human mind was involved, and cause once more the light of the knowledge of the glory of GOD to fhine into the defolate and benighted heart of man. Nothing could have * discovered any traces of

"God hath given out to us the whole of His mind "and counsel concerning us in writing, as a merciful " and ftedfast relief against all that confufion, darkness, " and uncertainty, which the vanity, folly, and loofe"nefs of the minds of men, drawn out and heightened "by the unspeakable altercations which fall out amongst "them, would otherwife certainly have run into." Dr. Owen on the Scriptures, p. 28.-to which we may add-which they have run into by leaving the written word.

the divine mind and will, but those gracious declarations of them, for which fallen man ftands folely indebted to the free and gratuitous interpofition of divine mercy and goodnefs. For what man knoweth the things of a man, fave the Spirit of man which is in him? Even fo the things of GOD none (des) knoweth -but the Spirit of GOD. 1 Cor. ii. 11.-Who bath known the mind of the LORD, and who bath been His counfellor? Rom, xi. 34.—My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, faith the LORD; for as the beavens are higher than the earth, fo are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. If. lv. 8, 9.-Canft thou by fearching find out GOD, canft thou find out the ALMIGHTY to perfection? It is as high as heaven, what canft thou do?-deeper than bell, what canft thou know? Job. xi. 7, 8.

This is giving us fair warning of our deplorable ignorance with refpect to GOD and His will and ways.-Still-vain man would be wife, though man be born like a wild * afs's colt.

*"How keenly is this comparifon pointed!-Like "the afs's-an animal remarkable for its ftupidity, even "to a proverb;-like the afs's colt-which must be still "more egregiously ftupid than the dam; like the wild, "afs's colt-which is not only blockifh, but ftubborn

and intractable; neither poffeffes valuable qualities "by nature, nor will eafily receive them by discipline. "The image in the original is ftill more strongly "touched. The comparative particle like is not in the "Hebrew; it is-born a wild afs's colt-or, as we should fay in English-a mere wild afs's colt." HERVEY, Ther. and Afpaf. vol. ii. p. 237. 5th edit. 1777, o☎avo.



« PreviousContinue »