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had published before. For though a man were never fo much difpofed to receive a revelation from God, and to fubmit his faith to it; yet it is not poffible for any man to believe God against God himfelf; that is, to believe two revelations, plainly contradictory to one another, to be from God; and the reafon of this is very obvious, becaufe every man doth first, and more firmly, believe this propofition or principle, That contradictions cannot be true, than any revelation whatsoever; for if contradictions maybe true, then no revelation from God can fignify any thing, becaufe the contrary may be equally true, and fo truth and falfhood be all one.

The Apostle indeed only makes a fuppofition, when he fays, though we or an Angel from heaven preach any other doctrine unto you; but by this fuppofition he plainly bars any man or company of men, from adding to the Chriftian religion any article of faith, or point of practice, as of neceffity to falvation. which the gofpel hath not made fo; I fay, any man, or company of men, whatever authority or infallibility they may lay claim to, becaufe they cannot pretend to a clearer commiffion and greater evidence of infallible affiftance, than an Apoftle or an Angel from heaven, and yet the text tells us, that would not be a fufficient warrant to preach another gofpel. It might indeed bring in queftion that which they had. preached before, but could not give credit and authority to any thing plainly contrary to it, and inconfiftent with it.

III. Chriftians may judge and difcern when another gofpel is preached, when new articles of faith, or points of practice, not enjoined in the gospel, are impofed upon Chriftians. This the Apoftle fuppofeth every particular church, and for ought I know, every particular Chriftian, that is duly inftructed in the Chriftian religion, to be a competent judge of, and to be fufficiently able to difcern when another gospel is preached, and new terms and conditions, not declared in the gospel, are added to the Chriftian religion; for if they be not able to judge of this, the Apoftle does in vain caution them against the fe


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duction of those who perverted the doctrine of Christ, and endeavoured to remove them from him, that had called them by the grace of Christ, unto another goSpel.

It may perhaps be faid, that there was no need that they fhould be able to difcern and judge of the doctrines of thofe falfe teachers; it was fufficient for them to believe the Apoftle concerning the doctrines of those feducers, when he declared to them the falfhood and pernicious confequence of them. But the Apoftle fpeaks to them upon another fuppofition, which does neceffarily imply, tha: they were able to difcern and judge what doctrines were agreeable to the gofpel, and what not; for he puts the cafe, that if he himself, or any of the Apoftles, or an Angel from heaven, fhould preach to them another doctrine, contrary to that of the gospel, they ought to reject it with deteftation. But this doth neceffarily fuppofe them able to judge, when fuch doctrines were preached, and confequently that all things neceffary to be believed and practifed by all Chriftians, are clearly and plainly declared in the gofpel; all the doctrines whereof are now contained in the holy fcriptures, in which all things neceffary to faith, and a good life, are fo plainly delivered, that any fober and inquifitive perfon may learn them from thence; and the meanest capacity, by the help and direction of their guides and teachers, may be inftructed in them.

And this is not only the principle of Proteftants, but the exprefs and conftant doctrine of the ancient fathers of the church, whatever the church of Rome, for the maintaining of her ufurped authority over the confciences of men, pretends to the contrary. And if this were not fo, that men are able to difcern and judge, which are the doctrines of the gofpel, and what is contrary to them; the doctrine of the gospel was in vain preached, and the holy fcriptures containing that doctrine were written to no purpose.

Some things in fcripture are granted to be obfcure and difficult, on purpofe to exercife the ftudy and enquiries of those who have leifure and capacity for But all things neceffary are fufficiently plain; o


therwife it would be impoffible to judge when another gospel is preached, which the Apoftle here fuppofeth the Galatians capable of doing. For if the revelation of the gofpel be not fufficiently plain in all things neceffary to be believed and practifed, then Chriftians have no rule whereby to judge what do&trines are agreeable to the gofpel, and what not; for an obfcure rule is of no ufe, that is, in truth, is no rule to thofe to whom it is obfcure.

I proceed to the IVth obfervation, which is plainly confequent from thofe laid down before; namely, that fince the declaration of the gospel, and the confirmation given to it, there is no authority in the Christian church to impofe upon Chriftians any thing, as of neceffity to falvation, which the gospel hath not made fo.

The commiffion given by our Lord and Saviour to his Apoftles, was to preach the gospel to all nations (or, as St. Matthew expreffes it) to go and teach all nations, to obferve all things whatsoever he had commanded them. And this is that which we call the GoSpel, viz. that doctrine which Chrift commanded his Apostles to preach and publifh to the world; and if the Apostles themselves had exceeded their commiffion, and added any other points of faith or pratice to those which our Saviour gave them in charge to teach and publifh to the world, they had, in fo doing, been guilty of that which St. Paul here in the text chargeth the falfe Apoftles with, viz. of preaching another gospel. And if the Apostles had no authority to add any thing to the gofpel, much lefs can any others pretend to it, fince they have neither fo immediate a commiffion, nor fuch a miraculous power to give teftimony to them, that they are teachers come from God.

Now this doctrine of the gospel, which the Apoftles preached to the world, is that which Chriftians are fo often, and fo earnestly by the Apostles in all their epistles exhorted to continue in, and not to fuffer themselves to be fhaken in mind, by every wind of new doctrine; because that which the Apostles had delivered to them, was the entire doctrine of the go


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fpel, which was never to receive any addition or alteration. This is that which St. Peter calls, the holy commandment which was delivered unto them, 2 Pet. ii. 21. It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them, fpeaking in all probability of thofe who were feduced by the errors of the Gnofticks, from the purity of the Chriftian doctrine delivered to them by the Apostles. This likewife St. Paul calls the common faith, Titus i. 4. and St. Jude, ver. 3. the common falvation; that is, the doctrine which contains the common terms of falvation, and the faith which was once delivered to the faints, that is, by the Apoftles of our Lord, who publifhed the gofpel; once delivered, that is once for all, fo as never afterwards to admit of any change or alteration. This faith he exhorts Chriftians earnestly to contend for, against those several fects of feducers, which were crept into the Christian church, and did endeavour by feveral arts to pervert the gospel of Chrift, and to deprave the faith delivered by the Apoftles.

So that the doctrine of the gofpel published by the Apoftles, is fixed and unalterable, and there can be no authority in the church to make any change in it, either by taking from it, or adding any thing to it, as neceflary to be believed or practifed in order to falvation.

V. It follows likewife from the foregoing obfervations, that there is no vifible judge (how much foever he may pretend to infallibility) to whofe determination and decifion in matters of faith and practice neceffary to falvation, Chriftians are bound to fubmit, without examination whether thofe things be agreeable to the doctrine of the gofpel, or not.

When our Saviour appeared in the world, though he had authority enough to exact belief from men, yet because there was a ftanding revelation of God inade to the Jews, he appeals to that revelation, as well as to his own miracles, for the truth of what he said, and offered himself, and his doctrine to be tried by the agreeablenefs of it to the fcriptures of the


Old Teftament, and the predictions therein concerning him. And this was but reasonable, it being impoffible for any man to receive two revelations, as from God, without liberty to examine whether they be agreeable to, and confiftent with one another. In like manner the Apoftles of our Lord and Saviour, though they were guided and affifted by an infallible fpirit, and had an immediate commiffion from Chrift to preach the doctrine of the gospel, did not require from men abfolute fubmiffion to their do&trines and dictates, without examination of what they delivered, whether it were agreeable to the divine revelation which was contained in the ancient fcriptures.

This was St. Paul's conftant custom and way of teaching among the Jews, who had received the revelation of the Old Teftament; he did not dictate to them by virtue of his infallibility, but reafoned with them out of the fcriptures, and required their belief no farther than what he faid fhould, upon examination, appear agreeable to the fcriptures. So we find, Acts xvii. 2, 3. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them (fpeaking of the Jews) and three fabbath days reafoned with them out of the fcriptures, opening and alledging, that Chrift must needs have fuffered, and rifen again from the dead, and that this Jesus whom I preach unto you is the Chrift. And chap. xviii. 28. he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, fhewing by the fcriptures that Jefus was the Chrift. And St. Paul was fo far from reproving them for examining his doarine by the fcriptures, that he commended it, as an argument of a noble and generous mind in the Bereans, that they did not give full affent to his doarine, till upon due fearch and examination they were fatisfied that what he had faid was agreeable to the fcriptures, chap. xvii. 11, 12. where fpeaking of the Bereans, it is faid, That these were more noble than those in Theffalonica, in that they received the word, with all readiness of mind, and fearched the fcriptures daily, whether those things were fo; therefore many of them believed; that is, because upon fearch


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