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Table of contents
- The Gentleman's Magazine, Volum 6
- On Being Reformed
- London Baptist Confession – Petty France
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The Gentleman's Magazine, Volum 6
Upon these and the like Instances, founded in the express Will and Revelation of God, delivered in the writings of Moses and the Prophets, preserved in the publick Monuments and sacred Archives of the Sanctuary, the Church of God in after-ages followed the same Rule, and without any scruple put upon themselves the same Obligation.
For having a due apprehension of the great Equity and Justice of the thing it self required, whensoever the like Goodness of God was manifested to them, though his Will was not expresly revealed, when his Promises were fulfilled, though the Prophesies ceased, they thought it necessary to oblige themselves and their Posterity to the Duty; as knowing that Thankfulness is a necessary virtue by the eternal Law of Nature, and that the Design of God, who changeth not, could not but be the same for his Glory, whensoever he made the same Demonstration of his Mercy. Thus the Jews in their Dispersion, being saved from a National Destruction, of themselves instituted the Feast of Purim: they ordeined and took upon them and upon their seed, so that it should not fail, that they would keep these two days every year; And that these days should be remembred and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.
It is easie to derive and justifie a Doctrin from so many holy Examples, all beyond exception, all the safest Patterns for our imitation: It is easie to improve it, if we will attend not only to the Truth, but also to the Reasons and the Use of it. And great Reasons there are, whether we consider the Benefit received or the duty required.
First, in reference to any signal benefit, any extraordinary mercy received, it is necessary we should have a true sense and firm persuasion of the work of God in it, that we may learn to depend upon his Providence, which we find so vigilant over us, so beneficial to us; that we may attribute nothing to our selves, or sacrifise to our own nets; that we may discern his hand in his own work, and say with the Prophet, I will praise thy name for ever, because thou hast done it; that we may speak as unfeignedly, as emphatically, To thee, O Lord, do we give thanks, to thee do we give thanks.
Secondly, this design of God teacheth man to make a true estimate, and set a value upon the benefit received as coming from his hand. How great soever any temporal deliverance may be, which beareth proportion with the evil or danger escaped; it can never be so great in it self as in the consideration of the deliverer. No enjoyment on earth can equal this assurance, that the preserver of men careth for us, that the Lord taketh pleasure in his people.
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We ought not to value so much any preservation, as his favour who preserveth us; because his loving kindness is better than life. Again, in relation to the duty of a grateful remembrance and sutable return of praise and thanksgiving, this design of God ought to be embraced with all comfort and chearfulness. For what greater honour can man receive, than that God should desire to be honoured by him? What greater advantage can we have, than that he should therefore bless us, that he may receive praise from us, and purchase his glory by the expence of his goodness?
If God, who enjoyed himself alone from eternity, hath made all things for the praise of his glory; if he hath designed to bless us, that we may glorifie him, and makes so advantageous an interpretation of the return of our thanks; if he hath thus made his wonderful works to be remembred, nothing but a wretched ingratitude can deprive us of them.
Lastly, the equity and excellency of the duty enforce the obligation. Here is not any thing required, but what may be justly challenged, what cannot be with any pretence denied.
On Being Reformed
There is a moral obligation between men, to render to every man his due, honour to whom honour: and this divine acknowledgment is required upon no other terms, Give unto the Lord the praise due unto his name. It is required in a due proportion, praise him according to his excellent greatness, according to the manifestation of it. This is the exercise of the blessed Saints and Angels in the nearest view of his perfections: the language of heaven is Alleluja; and there is nothing more heavenly upon earth. For it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is comely.
O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men. I Am willing to suppose we may be in some measure by this brief discourse persuaded, that if this Nation hath received any signal mercy as upon this day, we are some way obliged to remember, to acknowledge, to give thanks for it.
If we be sensible of any extraordinary manifestation of the goodness of God towards us, I hope we shall not be so singular as to desert all the examples of the people of God in former ages. And as to the certainty of the mercy, I think we may safely say with the Prophet, O Godm, thou hast taught us from our youth, and hitherto have we declared thy wondrous works.
We have been all brought up in this persuasion: hitherto we have thought the mercy great, and the duty necessary. Certainly we may without vanity say, We have heard with our ears, and our fathers have told us of the great works which God wrought for us in their days: Hitherto we have believed them, and praised him.
But if there be any which speak so much of our forefathers, that we may give no credit to our fathers: if they teach us that our eyes and our hands daily deceive us, and therefore we must take heed lest we believe what we have heard with our ears: if in that which we take to be so grand a conspiracy, there was nothing of substance, but only the species of a treason; though the doctrin you have heard, be good to other purposes, yet as to this days assembly it will signifie little. Being therefore the new Apologists for those Popish Conspirators have invented those shifts and excuses for them, which they themselves, though great Masters in that Roman art, could never pretend to, it will be necessary now to shew how this doctrin is applicable to this Nation, how the Text agreeth with the day.
God hath made his wonderful works to be remembred, saith the Prophet: this is the rule. The work of this day was his wonderful work. The work of this day is never to be forgotten: this I take to be our cafe. We must acknowledge the first, or we are most stupid and insensible; we must perform the second, or we shall be most unworthy and ungrateful.
First, the work of this day was his wonderful work. The providence of God is concerned in all events, but is most conspicuous in his greatest mercies; the mercy manifesting his goodness, the greatness his power.
London Baptist Confession – Petty France
One Sparrow shall not fall to the ground without our Father, saith our Blessed Saviour; and can we believe that thousands of men should in that manner be preserved from destruction without his gracious and fatherly concurrence? How low soever their opinion of Hereticks be, as they are pleas'd to call them, can we think so many persons designed to slaughter were not of more value than many sparrows? Touch not mine anointed, is the voice of God: shall the King and the Royal Family, shall the Nobles and Judges of the land, shall the Church and People of God, shall all whose lives are pretious in his sight, be saved at once from utter destruction by any other hand than his?
Certainly either the design, or the deliverance was from God; except we place him, as Epicurus did, without the world, and wholly unconcerned in it. But that was too black, too horrid, too impious, to be ascribed to any but to the grand enemy of God and man, the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience. The deliverance therefore was from him from whom he fell, and by whom, though he continue the prince of the power of the air, he is still reserved in everlasting chains. As the machination of so much mischief to mankind bewrays the inveterate enmity of him who incessantly seeketh whom he may devour; so the prevention of so much cruelty is a sufficient demonstration of God's Philanthropy.
Though many other Arguments might be used to demonstrate that this was the work, the wonderful work of God, yet I shall make use onely of one more, drawn from the words of God, and those very remarkable. Isaiah xxix. Wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord; and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth it? Surely their turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as potters clay. Now if this be God's proceeding to his marvelous works, as he himself assureth us, it was never more evident than in the detection and defeat of this conspiracy.
For never any sought so deep to hide their counsel: never any work was so in the dark. I speak not of the secret connivance of the mischief in a cellar, but of their horrid secrecy and combination under the Seal of Sacramental Confession; which they profess to be so sacred with them, that not for the saving of a whole nation from the greatest mischief imaginable it may be violated.
For, as they say, all men are commanded by the Law of God to confess all their sins to a Priest; and therefore the Priest by the same Law is obliged in no case to reveal them. For certainly God never intended to impose so hard a necessity on a sinner, as necessarily to lose one of the two, either his temporal, or his eternal life; his temporal, if he confess, his eternal, if he do not.
Now if it were lawful for the Priest in any case to reveal the confession, and not lawful for the sinner not to confess, he could not obtain eternal, without manifest danger of his temporal, life. O the subtilty of the doctrin! O the great Roman Asylum!
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Here they may freely open their tender Consciences, and by a safe consultation receive advice in the worst of their designs for the advancement of the Gospel, and the propagation of the Faith. For they have of late so fortified this Castle, that it is become impregnable, though the Foundation of it be laid on a Tradition of their own, wholly unknown, as they have acknowledged, to the vast number of the Eastern Churches.
But if we grant the sacredness of Confession, and the duty of Secrecy in the Confessor, which I shall not deny; yet reason which can judge what designs are fit to be kept secret, and what not will teach all men, and some of their Divines have formerly taught, that a private secret ought to be revealed for a great and publick good, for the prevention of a general evil, the Confessor keeping the person confessing as close and safe as he may. And if this doctrin had been observed, our danger could not have long continued, which consisted in the mischief of the design, not in the number or power of the persons engaged, and consequently had vanished as soon as it was disclosed.
But they were sufficiently fortified against this truth. For, that a private secret must yield to a great and publick good, holds only, they say, in those Countries where the Prince is a Catholick, who believes the great Religion of private and Sacramental Confession, and bears a great reverence unto it.
And that too, when that Catholick Prince is so pious and religious, that it may be rationally presumed that he will by no means urge the Confessor with dangerous or troublesom interrogations, or in the least desire the persons of the Traitors. Thus upon an unjust supposal that our King was not a Catholick, and consequently not a Christian, both he and his kingdom were wholly excluded from the benefit of universal reason and the doctrin of their most sober Divines; and so their most pernicious counsel lay still in the deep, wrapt up in the conscience of the Priest, who had been taught that he knew it not as men but as God, and that it was not a natural or civil, but a supernatural secret.