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nify and act our justice we give that which is due, and a great deal more to make it quite sure, this is the matter of counsel; for it is the external prosecution of the inward grace, and although this hath no degrees, yet that hath; and therefore that hath liberty and choice, whereas in this there is nothing but duty and necessity.
Some Things may be used in the Service of God, which are not commanded in any Law, nor explicitly commended in any Doctrine of Jesus Christ.
1. THIS rule is intended to regulate the conscience in all those questions, which scrupulous and superstitious people make in their inquiries for warranties from Scripture in every action they do,-and in the use of such actions in the service of God; for which particulars because they have no word, they think they have no warrant, and that the actions are superstitious. The inquiry then hath two parts;
1. Whether we are to require from Scripture a warrant for every action we do, in common life.
2. Whether we may not do or use any thing in religion, concerning which we have no express word in Scripture, and no commandment at all.
: 1. Concerning the first the inquiry is but short, because there is no difficulty in it, but what is made by ignorance and jealousy; and it can be answered and made evident by common sense, and the perpetual experience and the natural necessity of things. For the laws of Jesus Christ were intended to regulate human actions in the great lines of religion, justice, and sobriety, in which as there are infinite particulars which are to be conducted by reason and by analogy to the laws and rules given by Jesus Christ; so it is certain that as the general lines and rules are to be understood by reason how far they do oblige, so by the same we can know where they do. But we shall quickly come to issue in this affair. For if for every thing there is a law or an advice; let them that think so find it out and follow it. If there be not for
every thing such provision, their own needs will yet become their lawgiver, and force them to do it without a law. Whether a man shall speak French or English; whether baptized persons are to be dipped all over the body, or will it suffice that the head be plunged; whether thrice or once; whether in water of the spring, or the water of the pool; whether a man shall marry, or abstain; whether eat flesh or herbs; choose Titius or Caius for my friend; be a scholar or a merchant; a physician or a lawyer; drink wine or ale; take physic for prevention, or let it alone; give to his servant a great pension, or a competent ;-what can the Holy Scriptures have to do with any thing of these, or any thing of like nature and indifferency?
2. For by nature all things are indulged to our use and liberty; and they so remain till God, by a supervening law, hath made restraints in some instances to become matter of obedience to him, and of order and usefulness to the world; but therefore (where the law does not restrain, we are still free as the elements, and may move as freely and indifferently as the atoms in the eye of the sun. And there is infinite difference between law and lawful; indeed there is nothing that is a law to our consciences but what is bound upon us by God, and consigned in Holy Scripture (as I shall in the next rule demonstrate); but therefore every thing else is permitted or lawful, that is, not by law restrained: liberty is be- . fore restraint; and till the fetters are put upon us, we are under no law and no necessity, but what is natural. But if there can be any natural necessities, we cannot choose but obey them, and for these there needs no law or warrant from Scripture. No master needs to tell us or to give us signs to know we are hungry or athirst; and there can be as little need that a lawgiver should give us a command to eat, when we are in great necessity so to do. Every thing is to be permitted to its own cause and proper principle; nature and her needs are sufficient to cause us to do that which is for her preservation; right reason and experience are competent warrant and instruction to conduct our affairs of liberty and common life; but the matter and design of laws is "honeste vivere, alterum non lædere, suum cuique tribuere ;" or as it is more perfectly described by the Apostle, that we should " live a godly, righteous, sober life;" and be
yond these there needs no law. When nature is sufficient, Jesus Christ does not interpose; and unless it be where reason is defective or violently abused, we cannot need laws of self-preservation, for that is the sanction and great band and endearment of all laws: and therefore there is no express law against self-murder in all the New Testament; only it is there and every where else by supposition; and the laws take care to forbid that, as they take care of fools and madmen; men that have no use or benefit of their reason or of their: natural necessities and inclinations, must be taken under the protection of others; but else when a man is in his wits, or in his reason, he is defended in many things, and instructed in more, without the help or need of laws: nay, it was need and reason that first introduced laws; for no law, but necessity and right reason, taught the first ages,
Dispersos trahere in populum, migrare vetusto
'to meet and dwell in communities, to make covenants and laws, to establish equal measures, to do benefit interchangeably, to drive away public injuries by common arms, to join houses that they may sleep more safe?' and since laws were not the first inducers of these great transactions, it is certain they need not now to enforce them, or become our warrant to do that, without which we cannot be what we cannot choose but desire to be.
3. But if nothing were to be done but what we have Scripture for, either commanding or commending, it were certain that with a less hyperbole than St. John used, “the world could not contain the books, which should be written;" and yet in such infinite numbers of laws and sentences no man could be directed competently, because his rule and guide would be too big: and every man, in the inquiry after lawful and unlawful, would be just so enlightened, as he that must for ever remain blind, unless he take the sun in his hand to search into all the corners of darkness; no candlestick would
⚫ Juvenal,Satyr. 15. 151. Ruperti.
hold him, and no eye could use him. But supposing that in all things we are to be guided by Scripture, then from thence also let us inquire for a conduct or determination even in this inquiry;-Whether we may not do any thing without a warrant from Scripture? And the result will be, that if we must not do any thing without the warrant of Scripture, then we must not for every thing look in Scripture for a warrant ; because we have from Scripture sufficient instruction, that we should not be so foolish and importune, as to require from thence a warrant for such things, in which we are by other instruments competently instructed, or left at perfect liberty.
4. Thus St. Paul affirms, "All things are lawful for me;" he speaks of meats and drinks, and things left in liberty, concerning which, because there is no law (and if there had been one under Moses, it was taken away by Christ), it is certain that every thing was lawful, because there was no law forbidding it: and when St. Paul said, "This speak I, not the Lord;" he that did according to that speaking, did according to his own liberty, not according to the word of the Lord;' and St. Paul's saying in that manner is so far from being a warranty to us from Christ,-that because he said true, therefore we are certain he had no warranty from Christ, nothing but his own reasonable conjecture. But when our blessed Saviour said, " And why of yourselves do ye not judge what is right?" he plainly enough said, that to our own reason and judgment many things are permitted, which are not conducted by laws or express declarations of God.
Add to this, that because it is certain in all theology, that 'whatsoever is not of faith, is sin," that is, whatsoever is done against our actual persuasion, becomes to us a sin, though, of itself, it were not; and that we can become a law unto ourselves, by vows and promises, and voluntary engagements and opinions, it follows, that those things which of themselves infer no duty, and have in them nothing but a collateral and accidental necessity, are permitted to us to do as we please, and are in their own nature indifferent, and may be so also in use and exercise: and if we take that which is the less perfect part in a counsel evangelical, it must needs be such a thing as is neither commanded nor commended, for nothing" of it is commanded at all; and that which is commended, is the
more not the less perfect part; and yet that we may do that less perfect part, of which there is neither a commandment nor a commendation, but a permission only, appears at large in St. Paul's discourse concerning virginity and marriage. But a permission is nothing but a not prohibiting, and that is lawful which is not unlawful, and every thing may be done, that is not forbidden; and there are very many things which are not forbidden, nor commanded; and therefore they are only lawful and no more.
5. But the case in short is this; In Scripture, there are many laws and precepts of holiness, there are many prohibitions and severe cautions against impiety: and there are many excellent measures of good and evil, of perfect and imperfect whatsoever is good, we are obliged to pursue; whatsoever is forbidden, must be declined; whatsoever is laudable, must be loved, and followed after. Now if all that we are to do, can come under one of these measures, when we see it, there is nothing more for us to do but to conform our actions accordingly, But if there be many things which cannot be fitted by these measures, and yet cannot be let alone; it will be a kind of madness to stand still, and to be useless to ourselves and to all the world, because we have not a command or a warrant to legitimate an action which no lawgiver ever made unlawful.
6. But this folly is not gone far abroad into the world; for the number of madmen is not many, though possibly the number of the very wise is less: but that which is of difficulty, is this,
Quest. Whether, in matters of religion, we have that liberty as in matters of common life?—or whether is not every thing of religion determined by the laws of Jesus Christ, or may we choose something to worship God withal, concerning which he hath neither given us commandment or intimation of his pleasure?
To this I answer by several Propositions.
7. (1.) All favour is so wholly arbitrary, that whatsoever is an act of favour, is also an effect of choice, and perfectly voluntary, Since therefore that God accepts any thing from us,
1 Cor. vii. 6.