Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of Robert Barclay > Apology for the True Christian Divinity > Prefaces: To the King, the Friendly Reader, and the Clergy
Acts 24:14 - After the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers; believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets.
Titus 2:11-14 - For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
1 Thess. 5:21 - Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
As the condition of kings and princes puts them in a station more obvious to the view and observation of the world than that of other men, of whom, as Cicero observes, neither any word or action can be obscure; so are those kings, during whose appearance upon the stage of this world it pleaseth the great King of kings singularly to make known unto men the wonderful steps of his unsearchable providence, more signally observed and their lives and actions more diligently remarked and inquired into by posterity; especially if those things be such as not only relate to the outward transactions of this world but also are signalized by the manifestation or revelation of the knowledge of God in matters spiritual and religious. These are the things that rendered the lives of Cyrus, Augustus Caesar, and Constantine the Great in former time, and of Charles the Fifth and some other modern princes in these last ages, so considerable.
But among all these transactions which it hath pleased God to permit for the glory of his power and the manifestation of his wisdom and providence, no age furnisheth us with things so strange and marvelous, whether with respect to matters civil or religious, as these that have fallen out within the compass of thy time; who, though thou be not yet arrived at the fiftieth year of thy age, hast yet been a witness of stranger things than many ages before produced. So that whether we respect those various troubles wherein thou foundest thyself engaged while scarce got out of thy infancy; the many different afflictions wherewith men of thy circumstances are often unacquainted; the strange and unparalleled fortune that befell thy father; thy own narrow escape and banishment following thereupon, with the great improbability of thy ever returning (at least without very much pains and tedious combattings); or finally the incapacity thou wert under to accomplish such a design; considering the strength of those who had possessed themselves of thy throne and the terror they had inflicted upon foreign states; and yet that after all this thou shouldst be restored without stroke of sword, the help or assistance of foreign states, or the contrivance and work of human policy; all these do sufficiently declare that it is the Lord's doing, which, as it is marvelous in our eyes, so it will justly be a matter of wonder and astonishment to generations to come and may sufficiently serve, if rightly observed, to confute and confound that atheism wherewith this age doth so much abound.
As the vindication of the liberty of conscience (which thy father, by giving way to the importunate clamours of the clergy, the answering and fulfilling of whose unrighteous wills has often proved hurtful and pernicious to princes, sought in some part to restrain) was a great occasion of these troubles and revolutions; so the pretense of conscience was that which carried it on and brought it to that pitch it came to. And though no doubt some that were engaged in that work designed good things, at least in the beginning, albeit always wrong in the manner they took to accomplish it, viz. by carnal weapons; yet so soon as they had tasted the sweet of the possessions of them they had turned out, they quickly began to do those things themselves for which they had accused others. For their hands were found full of oppression, and "they hated the reproofs of instruction, which is the way of life"; and they evilly entreated the messengers of the Lord and caused to beat and imprison his prophets and persecuted his people, whom he had called and gathered out from among them, whom he had made to "beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks," and not to learn carnal war any more: but he raised them up and armed them with spiritual weapons, even with his own Spirit and power, whereby they testified in the streets and highways and public markets and synagogues against the pride, vanity, lusts, and hypocrisy of that generation who were righteous in their own eyes, though often cruelly entreated therefor; and they faithfully prophesied and foretold them of their judgment and downfall which came upon them, as by several warnings and epistles delivered to Oliver and Richard Cromwell, the Parliament, and other then powers yet upon record, doth appear.
And after it pleased God to restore thee, what oppressions, what banishments and evil entreatings they have met with by men pretending thy authority and cloaking their mischief with thy name, is known to most men in this island; especially in England, where there is scarce a prison that hath not been filled with them nor a judge before whom they not have been haled; though they could never yet be found guilty of anything that might deserve that usage. Therefore the sense of their innocency did no doubt greatly contribute to move thee, three years ago, to cause some hundreds of them to be set at liberty: for indeed their sufferings are singular, and obviously distinguishable from all the rest of such as live under thee in these two respects.
First, in that among all the plots contrived by others against thee since thy return into Britain, there never was any, owned of that people, found or known to be guilty, though many of them have been taken and imprisoned upon such kind of jealousies, but were always found innocent and harmless as became the followers of Christ; not coveting after nor contending for the kingdoms of this world, but "subject to every ordinance of man for conscience sake."
Secondly, in that in the hottest times of persecution and the most violent prosecutions of those laws made against meetings, being clothed with innocency, they have boldly stood to their testimony for God without creeping into holes or corners or once hiding themselves, as all other dissenters have done; but daily met, according to their custom, in the public places appointed for that end; so that none of thy officers can say of them that they have surprised them in a corner, overtaken them in a private conventicle, or catched them lurking in their secret chambers; nor needed they to send out spies to get them, whom they were sure daily to find in their open assemblies, testifying for God and his Truth. By which those that have an eye to see may observe their Christian patience and courage, constancy and suffering, joined in one, more than in any other people that differ from them or oppose them. And yet in the midst of those troubles thou canst bear witness that as on the one part they never sought to detract from thee or to render thee and thy government odious to the people by nameless and scandalous pamphlets and libels; so on the other hand they have not spared to admonish, exhort, and reprove thee and have faithfully discharged their consciences towards thee without flattering words, as ever the true prophets in ancient times used to do to those kings and princes under whose power violence and oppression was acted.
And albeit it is evident by experience to be most agreeable both to divine Truth and human policy to allow everyone to serve God according to their consciences, nevertheless those other sects, who for the most part durst not peep out in the times of persecution, while these innocent people stood bold and faithful, do now combine in a joint confederacy (notwithstanding all the former janglings and contention among themselves) to render us odious; seeking unjustly to wrest our doctrine and words as if they were inconsistent both with Christianity and civil society; so that to effectuate this their work of malice against us they have not been ashamed to take the help and commend the labours of some invidious Socinians against us. So do Herod and Pontius Pilate agree to crucify Christ.
But our practice, known to thee by good experience to be more consistent with Christianity and civil society and the peace and welfare of this island than that of those who thus accuse us, doth sufficiently guard us against this calumny that we may indeed appeal to the testimony of thy conscience as a witness for us in the face of the nations.
These things moved me to present the world with a brief but true account of this people's principles in some short theological propositions; which, according to the will of God, proving successful beyond my expectation to the satisfaction of several and to the moving in many a desire of being further informed concerning us, as being everywhere evil spoken of; and likewise meeting with public opposition by some as such will always do so long as the devil "rules in the children of disobedience"; I was thereby further engaged in the liberty of the Lord to present to the world this Apology of the Truth held by those people: which, because of thy interest in them and theirs in thee, as having first appeared and mostly increased in these nations under thy rule, I make bold to present unto thee.
Thou knowest and hast experienced their faithfulness towards their God, their patience in suffering, their peaceableness towards the king, their honesty, plainness and integrity in their faithful warnings and testimonies to thee; and if thou wilt allow thyself so much time as to read this thou mayest find how consonant their principles are both to Scripture, Truth, and right reason. The simplicity of their behaviour, the generality of their condition as being poor men and illiterate, the manner of their procedure being without the wisdom and policy of this world, hath made many conclude them fools and madmen and neglect them as not being capable of reason. But though it be to them as their crown thus to be esteemed of the wise and the great and learned of this world, and though they rejoice to be accounted fools for Christ's sake, yet of late some, even such who in the world's account are esteemed both wise and learned, begin to judge otherwise of them, and find that they hold forth things very agreeable both to Scripture, reason, and true learning.
As it is inconsistent with the Truth I bear, so it is far from me to use this epistle as an engine to flatter thee, the usual design of such works; and therefore I can neither dedicate it to thee nor crave thy patronage, as if thereby I might have more confidence to present it to the world or be more hopeful of its success. To God alone I owe what I have, and that more immediately in matters spiritual; and therefore to him alone, and to the service of his Truth, I dedicate whatever work he brings forth in me; to whom only the praise and honor appertain, whose Truth needs not the patronage of worldly princes, his arm and power being that alone by which it is propagated, established, and confirmed. But I found it upon my spirit to take occasion to present this book unto thee, that as thou hast been often warned by several of that people who are inhabitants of England, so thou mayest not want a seasonable advertisement from a member of thy ancient kingdom of Scotland, and that thou mayest know (which I hope thou wilt have no reason to be troubled at) that God is raising up and increasing that people in that nation. And the nations shall also hereby know that the Truth we profess is not a work of darkness nor propagated by stealth, and that we are "not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ" because we know it to be "the power of God unto salvation"; and that we are no ways so inconsistent with government, nor such disturbers of the peace, as our enemies, by traducing us, have sought to make the world believe we are: for what to thee I dare appeal as a witness of our peaceableness and Christian patience.
Generations to come shall not more admire that singular step of Divine Providence, in restoring thee to thy throne without outward bloodshed, than they shall admire the increase and progress of this Truth without all outward help and against so great opposition, which shall be none of the least things rendering thy memory remarkable. God hath done great things for thee; he hath sufficiently shown thee that it is by him princes rule, and that he can pull down and set up at his pleasure. He hath often faithfully warned thee by his servants, since he restored thee to thy royal dignity, that thy heart might not wax wanton against him to forget his mercies and providence towards thee, whereby he might permit thee to be soothed up and lulled asleep in thy sins by the flattering of court-parasites, who by their fawning are the ruin of many princes.
There is no king in the world, who can so experimentally testify of God's providence and goodness; neither is there any who rules so many free people, so many true Christians: which thing renders thy government more honorable, thyself more considerable, than the accession of many nations filled with slavish and superstitious souls.
Thou hast tasted of prosperity and adversity; thou knowest what it is to be banished thy native country, to be overruled as well as to rule and sit upon the throne; and being oppressed, thou hast reason to know how hateful the oppressor is both to God and man. If after all these warnings and advertisements thou dost not turn unto the Lord with all thy heart, but forget him who remembered thee in thy distress and give up thyself to follow lust and vanity, surely great will be thy condemnation.
Against which snare, as well as the temptation of those that may or do feed thee and prompt thee to evil, the most excellent and prevalent remedy will be to apply thyself to that Light of Christ, which shineth in thy conscience, which neither can nor will flatter thee nor suffer thee to be at ease in thy sins, but doth and will deal plainly and faithfully with thee as those that are followers thereof have also done.
God Almighty, who hath so signally hitherto visited thee with his love, so touch and reach thy heart, ere the day of thy visitation be expired, that thou mayest effectually turn to him so as to improve thy place and station for his name. So wisheth, so prayeth,
Thy faithful friend and subject,
From Ury, the place of my pilgrimage, in my native country of Scotland, the 25th of the month called November, in the year 1675.
Forasmuch as that which above all things I propose to myself is to declare and defend the Truth, for the service whereof I have given up and devoted myself and all that is mine; therefore there is nothing which for its sake, by the help and assistance of God, I may not attempt. And in this confidence I did some time ago publish certain propositions of divinity, comprehending briefly the chief principles and doctrines of Truth, which appearing not unprofitable to some and being beyond my expectations well received both by foreigners, though differing from us (albeit also opposed by some envious ones) did so far prevail, as in some part to remove that false and monstrous opinion which lying fame and the malice of our adversaries had implanted in the minds of some concerning us and our doctrines. In this respect it seemed to me not fit to spare my pains and labour.
Therefore, being acted by the same measure of the Divine Spirit and the like design of propagating the Truth by which I published the propositions, I judged it meet to explain them somewhat more largely at this time and defend them by certain arguments.
Perhaps my method of writing may seem not only different, but even contrary, to that which is commonly used by the men called divines, with which I am not concerned; for that I confess myself to be not only no imitator and admirer of the schoolmen but an opposer and despiser of them as such, by whose labour I judge the Christian religion to be so far from being bettered, that it is rather destroyed. Neither have I sought to accommodate this my work to itching ears, who desire rather to comprehend in their head the sublime notions of Truth than to embrace it in their heart. For what I have written comes more from my heart than from my head; what I have heard with the ears of my soul and seen with my inward eyes and my hands have handled of the Word of Life, and what hath been inwardly manifested to me of the things of God, that do I declare; not so much minding the eloquence and excellency of speech as desiring to demonstrate the efficacy and operation of Truth; and if I err sometime in the former it is no great matter; for I act not here the grammarian or the orator, but the Christian; and therefore in this have followed the certain rule of the Divine Light, and of the Holy Scriptures.
And to make an end; what I have written is written not to feed the wisdom and knowledge, or rather vain pride of this world, but to starve and oppose it, as the little preface prefixed to the propositions doth show; which, with the title of them, is as followeth.
To the clergy of what sort soever unto whose hands these may come, but more particularly to the doctors, professors, and students of divinity in the universities and schools of Great Britain, whether Prelatical, Presbyterian, or any other: ROBERT BARCLAY, a servant of the Lord God and one of those who in derision are called Quakers, wisheth unfeigned repentance, unto the acknowledgment of the Truth.
Unto you these following propositions are offered; in which, they being read and considered in the fear of the Lord, you may perceive that simple, naked truth which man by his wisdom hath rendered so obscure and mysterious that the world is even burdened with the great and voluminous tractates which are made about it and by their vain jangling and commentaries, by which it is rendered a hundredfold more dark and intricate than of itself it is: which great learning so accounted of—to wit, your school divinity which taketh up almost a man's whole lifetime to learn, brings not a whit nearer to God, neither makes any man less wicked or more righteous than he was. Therefore hath God laid aside the wise and the learned and the disputers of this world, and hath chosen a few despicable and unlearned instruments, as to letter-learning, as he did fishermen of old, to publish his pure and naked Truth and to free it of these mists and fogs wherewith the clergy hath clouded it that the people might admire and maintain them. And among several others, whom God hath chosen to make known these things—seeing I also have received, in measure, grace to be a dispenser of the same Gospel—it seemed good unto me, according to my duty, to offer unto you these propositions; which, though short, yet are weighty, comprehending much and declaring what the true ground of knowledge is, even of that knowledge which leads to Life Eternal; which is here witnessed of, and the testimony thereof left unto the Light of Christ in all your consciences.
Seeing the height of all happiness is placed in the true knowledge of God ("This is life eternal, to know the true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent"a), the true and right understanding of this foundation and ground of knowledge is that which is most necessary to be known and believed in the first place.
Seeing "no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son revealeth him";b and seeing the revelation of the Son is in and by the Spirit; therefore the testimony of the Spirit is that alone by which the true knowledge of God hath been, is, and can be only revealed; who, as by the moving of his own Spirit, he converted the chaos of this world into that wonderful order wherein it was in the beginning and created man a living soul to rule and govern it; so by the revelation of the same Spirit he hath manifested himself all along unto the sons of men, both patriarchs, prophets, and apostles; which revelations of God, by the Spirit, whether by outward voices and appearances, dreams, or inward objective manifestations in the heart, were of old the formal object of their faith, and remain yet so to be; since the object of the saints' faith is the same in all ages, though set forth under divers administrations. Moreover, these divine inward revelations, which we make absolutely necessary for the building up of true faith, neither do nor can ever contradict the outward testimony of the Scriptures, or right and sound reason. Yet from hence it will not follow, that these divine revelations are to be subjected to the examination, either of the outward testimony of the Scriptures, or of the natural reason of man, as to a more noble or certain rule or touchstone: for this divine revelation, and inward illumination, is that which is evident and clear of itself, forcing, by its own evidence and clearness, the well-disposed understanding to assent, irresistibly moving the same thereunto; even as the common principles of natural truths move and incline the mind to a natural assent: as, that the whole is greater than its part; that two contradictory sayings cannot be both true, or false: which is also manifest, according to our adversaries' principle who (supposing the possibility of inward divine revelations) will nevertheless confess with us, that neither Scripture nor sound reason will contradict it: and yet it will not follow, according to them that the Scripture, or sound reason, should be subjected to the examination of the divine revelations in the heart.
From these revelations of the Spirit of God to the saints, have proceeded the Scriptures of Truth, which contain, 1. A faithful historical account of the actings of God's people in divers ages, with many singular and remarkable providences attending them. 2. A prophetical account of several things, whereof some are already past, and some yet to come. 3. A full and ample account of all the chief principles of the doctrine of Christ, held forth in divers precious declarations, exhortations, and sentences, which, by the moving of God's spirit, were at several times, and upon sundry occasions, spoken and written unto some churches and their pastors; nevertheless, because they are only a declaration of the fountain, and not the fountain itself, therefore they are not to be esteemed the principal ground of all Truth and knowledge, nor yet the "adequate primary rule of faith and manners." Nevertheless, as that which giveth a true and faithful testimony of the first foundation, they are and may be esteemed a secondary rule, subordinate to the Spirit, from which they have all their excellency and certainty; for as by the inward testimony of the Spirit we do alone truly know them, so they testify, that the Spirit is that guide by which the saints are led into all Truth:c therefore, according to the Scriptures, the Spirit is the first and principal leader. And seeing we do therefore receive and believe the Scriptures, because they proceeded from the Spirit; therefore also the Spirit is more originally and principally the rule, according to that received maxim in the schools, Propter quod unumquodque est tale, illud ipsum est magis tale. Englished thus: "That for which a thing is such, that thing itself is more such."
All Adam's posterity (or mankind), both Jews and Gentiles, as to the first Adam, or earthly man, is fallen,d degenerated, and dead, deprived of the sensation or feeling of this inward testimony or seed of God, and is subject unto the power, nature, and seed of the serpent, which he sows in men's hearts, while they abide in this natural and corrupted state; from whence it comes, that not their words and deeds only, but all their imaginations, are evil perpetually in the sight of God, as proceeding from this depraved and wicked seed. Man, therefore, as he is in this state, can know nothing aright; yea, his thoughts and conceptions concerning God and things spiritual, until he be disjoined from this evil seed, and united to the divine Light, are unprofitable both to himself and others: hence are rejected the Socinian and Pelagian errors, in exalting a natural light; as also of the Papists, and most Protestants, who affirm, that man, without the true grace of God, may be a true minister of the Gospel. Nevertheless, this seed is not imputed to infants, until by transgression they actually join themselves therewith; for they are by nature the children of wrath who walk according to the power of the prince of the air.e
God, out of his infinite love, who "delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but that all should live and be saved,"f hath "so loved the world, that he hath given his only Son" a Light,g that "whosoever believeth in him" should be saved;h who "enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world,"i and "maketh manifest all things that are reprovable,"j and teacheth all "temperance, righteousness, and godliness": and this Light enlighteneth the hearts of all in a day, in order to salvation, and this is it, which reproves the sin of all individuals, and would work out the salvation of all, if not resisted: nor is it less universal than the seed of sin, being the purchase of his death, who "tasted death for every man";k "for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."l
According to which principle (or hypothesis), all the objections against the universality of Christ's death are easily solved; neither is it needful to recur to the ministry of angels, and those other miraculous means, which, they say, God makes use of, to manifest the doctrine and history of Christ's passion unto such who (living in those places of the world where the outward preaching of the Gospel is unknown) have well improved the first and common grace; for hence it well follows, that as some of the old philosophers might have been saved, so also may now some - who by providence are cast into those remote parts of the world, where the knowledge of the history is wanting—be made partakers of the divine mystery, if they receive and resist not that grace, "a manifestation whereof is given to every man to profit withal."m This certain doctrine then being received (to wit) that there is an evangelical and saving Light and Grace in all, the universality of the love and mercy of God towards mankind (both in the death of his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the manifestation of the Light in the heart) is established and confirmed against all the objections of such as deny it. Therefore "Christ hath tasted death for every man":n not only for "all kinds of men," as some vainly talk, but for every one, of all kinds; the benefit of whose offering is not only extended to such, who have the distinct outward knowledge of his death and sufferings, as the same is declared in the Scriptures, but even unto those who are necessarily excluded from the benefit of this knowledge by some inevitable accident; which knowledge we willingly confess to be very profitable and comfortable, but not absolutely needful unto such, from whom God himself hath withheld it; yet they may be made partakers of the mystery of his death (though ignorant of the history) if they suffer his Seed and Light (enlightening their hearts) to take place; in which Light, communion with the Father and Son is enjoyed, so as of wicked men to become holy, and lovers of that power, by whose inward and secret touches they feel themselves turned from the evil to the good, and learn to do to others as they would be done by; in which Christ himself affirms all to be included. As they then have falsely and erroneously taught, who have denied Christ to have died for all men; so neither have they sufficiently taught the Truth, who, affirming him to have died for all, have added the absolute necessity of the outward knowledge thereof, in order to the obtaining its saving effect; among whom the Remonstrants of Holland have been chiefly wanting, and many other asserters of universal redemption, in that they have not placed the extent of this salvation in that divine and evangelical principle of Light and Life, wherewith Christ hath enlightened every man that comes into the world, which is excellently and evidently held forth in these scriptures: Gen. 6:3, Deut. 30:14, John 1:7-9, Rom. 10:8, Tit. 2:11.
As many as resist not this Light, but receive the same, in them is produced an holy, pure, and spiritual birth, bringing forth holiness, righteousness, purity, and all those other blessed fruits which are acceptable to God; by which holy birth, to wit, Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his works in us, as we are sanctified, so we are justified in the sight of God, according to the apostle's words, "But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Therefore it is not by our works wrought in our will, nor yet by good works, considered as of themselves, but by Christ, who is both the gift and the giver, and the cause producing the effects in us; who, as he hath reconciled us while we were enemies, doth also in his wisdom save us, and justify us after this manner, as saith the same apostle elsewhere: "According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost."o
In whom this holy and pure birth is fully brought forth the body of death and sin comes to be crucified and removed, and their hearts united and subjected unto the Truth, so as not to obey any suggestion or temptation of the evil one, but to be free from actual sinning, and transgressing of the law of God, and in that respect perfect.p Yet doth this perfection still admit of a growth; and there remaineth ever in some part a possibility of sinning, where the mind doth not most diligently and watchfully attend unto the Lord.
Although this gift and inward grace of God be sufficient to work out salvation, yet in those in whom it is resisted, it both may and doth become their condemnation. Moreover, in whom it hath wrought in part, to purify and sanctify them, in order to their further perfection, by disobedience such may fall from it, and turn it to wantonness making shipwreck of faith; and "after having tasted of the heavenly gift, and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost again fall away."q Yet such an increase and stability in the Truth may in this life be attained, from which there cannot be a total apostasy.
As by this gift or Light of God all true knowledge in things spiritual is received and revealed, so by the same, as it is manifested and received in the heart by the strength and power thereof, every true minister of the Gospel is ordained, prepared and supplied in the work of the ministry; and by the leading, moving, and drawing hereof ought every evangelist and Christian pastor to be led and ordered in his labour and work of the Gospel, both as to the place where, as to the persons to whom, and as to the times when he is to minister. Moreover, those who have this authority may and ought to preach the Gospel, though without human commission or literature; as on the other hand, those who want the authority of this divine gift, however learned or authorized by the commissions of men and churches, are to be esteemed but as deceivers and not true ministers of the Gospel. Also, who have received this holy and unspotted gift, "as they have freely received so are they freely to give,"r without hire or bargaining, far less to use it as a trade to get money by it: yet if God hath called any from their employments or trades by which they acquire their livelihood, it may be lawful for such (according to the liberty which they feel given them in the Lord) to receive such temporals—to wit, what may be needful to them for meat and clothing—as are freely given them by those to whom they have communicated spirituals.
All true and acceptable worship to God is offered in the inward and immediate moving and drawing of his own Spirit, which is neither limited to places, times, or persons; for though we be to worship him always, in that we are to fear before him, yet as to the outward signification thereof in prayers, praises, or preachings, we ought not to do it where and when we will, but where and when we are moved thereunto by the secret inspirations of his Spirit in our hearts, which God heareth and accepteth of, and is never wanting to move us thereunto, when need is, of which he himself is the alone proper judge. All other worship then, both praises, prayers and preachings, which man sets about in his own will, and at his own appointment, which he can both begin and end at his pleasure, do or leave undone, as himself sees meet, whether they be a prescribed form, as a liturgy, or prayers conceived extemporarily, by the natural strength and faculty of the mind, they are all but superstitions, will-worship, and abominable idolatry in the sight of God; which are to be denied, rejected, and separated from, in this day of his spiritual arising: however it might have pleased him, who winked at the times of ignorance, with respect to the simplicity and integrity of some, and of his own innocent seed, which lay as it were buried in the hearts of men, under the mass of superstition, to blow upon the dead and dry bones, and to raise some breathings, and answer them, and that until the day should more clearly dawn and break forth.s
As there is "one Lord" and "one faith," so there is "one baptism, which is not the putting away the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience before God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." And this baptism is a pure and spiritual thing, to wit the baptism of the Spirit and fire, by which we are buried with him, that being washed and purged from our sins we may "walk in newness of life"; of which the baptism of John was a figure which was commanded for a time and not to continue forever. As to the baptism of infants, it is a mere human tradition for which neither precept nor practice is to be found in all the Scripture.t
The communion of the body and blood of Christ is inward and spiritual, which is the participation of his flesh and blood, by which the inward man is daily nourished in the hearts of those in whom Christ dwells; of which things the breaking of bread by Christ with his disciples was a figure, which they even used in the church for a time, who had received the substance, for the cause of the weak;u even as "abstaining from things strangled, and from blood"; the washing one another's feet, and the "anointing of the sick with oil"; all which are commanded with no less authority and solemnity than the former; yet seeing they are but the shadows of better things, they cease in such as have obtained the substance.v
Since God hath assumed to himself the power and dominion of the conscience, who alone can rightly instruct and govern it, therefore it is not lawful for any whatsoever, by virtue of any authority or principality they bear in the government of this world, to force the consciences of others; and therefore all killing, banishing, fining, imprisoning, and other such things, which men are afflicted with, for the alone exercise of their conscience, or difference in worship or opinion, proceedeth from the spirit of Cain the murderer, and is contrary to the Truth; provided always, that no man, under the pretence of conscience, prejudice his neighbour in his life or estate; or do anything destructive to, or inconsistent with human society; in which case the law is for the transgressor, and justice to be administered upon all, without respect of persons.w
Seeing the chief end of all religion is to redeem man from the spirit and vain conversation of this world and to lead into inward communion with God, before whom, if we fear always, we are accounted happy; therefore all the vain customs and habits thereof, both in word and deed, are to be rejected and forsaken by those who come to this fear; such as the taking off the hat to a man, the bowings and cringings of the body, and such other salutations of that kind, with all the foolish and superstitious formalities attending them; all which man has invented in his degenerate state to feed his pride in the vain pomp and glory of this world; as also the unprofitable plays, frivolous recreations, sportings and gamings, which are invented to pass away the precious time and divert the mind from the witness of God in the heart, and from the living sense of his fear, and from that evangelical Spirit wherewith Christians ought to be leavened and which leads into sobriety, gravity, and godly fear; in which, as we abide, the blessing of the Lord is felt to attend us in those actions in which we are necessarily engaged in order to the taking care for the sustenance of the outward man.x
a. John 17:3.
b. Matt. 11:27.
c. John 16:13; Rom. 8:14.
d. Rom. 5:12,15.
e. Eph. 2:2-3.
f. Ezek. 18:23.
g. Isa. 49:6.
h. John 3:16.
i. John 1:9; Tit. 2:11.
j. Eph. 5:13.
k. Heb. 2:9.
l. 1 Cor. 15:22.
m. 1 Cor. 12:7.
n. Heb. 2:9.
o. Tit. 3:5.
p. Rom. 6:14; 8:13; 6:2,18; 1 John 3:6.
q. 1 Tim. 1:6; Heb. 6:4-6.
r. Matt. 10.
s. Ezek. 13; Matt. 10:20; Acts 2:4; 18:5; John 3:6, 4:21; Jude 19; Acts 17:23.
t. Eph. 4:5; 1 Pet. 3:21; Rom. 6:4; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12; John 3:30; 1 Cor. 1:17.
u. 1 Cor. 10:16-17; John 6:32-33,55; 1 Cor. 5:8.
v. Acts 15:20; John 13:14; James 5:14.
w. Luke 9:55-56; Matt. 7:12,29; Tit. 3:10.
x. Eph. 5:11; 1 Pet. 1:14; John 5:44; Jer. 10:3; Acts 10:26; Matt. 15:13; Col. 2:8.