Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

glofses of the law ; re bave heard that it was said by them of old, thus, and thus, but I Say unto you, &c, as if the Son of God in checking the upstart antiquity, of a mil-grounded and unreasonable tradition, meant to condemn the truely-antient and commendable customes of the whole Christian Church; which all sober and judicious christians are wont to look upon with meer respect and reverence: And certainly whosoever shall have for down this resolution with himielf to sleight those either institucions or practises which are derived to us from the Primitive times, and have ever since been intertained by the whole church of Christ upon earth, that man hach laid a fufficient foundation of Schisme and dangerous fingularity; and doth chat which the moft eminent of the Fathers, St. Augustine, chargeth with no less then most insolent madnesle. For me and my friend, God give us grace to take the advice which our Savicur gives to his spouse, co Go forth by the footsteps of the Flock, and to feed Our Kids befide the Shepheards tents, ( Cant. 1. 8. ) and to walk in the fure paths of uncorrupt antiquity. For the celebration of the solemn Feafts of our Saviours Nativiry, Resurrection, Ascention, and the comming down of the Holy Ghost, which you say is cryed down by your zealous lecturer one would think there should be reason enough in those wonderful and unspeakable benefits which those dayes serve to commemorate unto us; For, to instance in the late feast of the Nativity, when the Angel brought the newes of that blessed birth to the Jewish fhepheards, Behold, faith he, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to a!! people ; for un

is borne this day a Saviour. If then the report of this blessing were the best tidings of the greatest jov that ever was, or ever could be possibly incident intu mankind, why should not the commemoration chercof be answerable? Where we conceive the greatest joy, what should hinder us to expresso it in a juyfull festivity.

But you are taught to say, the day conferred nothing to the blefsing, that every day we nould with equal thankfulneffe remember chis inestimable benefic of the incarnation of the Son of God, so as a set anniversary day is altogether needless; know then and consider, that the all wile God, who knew it fit that his People should every day think of the great work of the creation, and of the miraculous deliverance out of the Egyptian servitude and

Kk 2

should

[ocr errors]

to you

should daily give honour to the Almighty Creator and deliverer yet ordained one day of seven for the more special recognition of. thele marvellous works;as well knowing how apt we are to forget those duties wherewith we are only encharged in common without the designment of a particular rememoration. Besides, the fame reason will hold proportionably against any monechly or annualL celebration whatsoever ; the Jewes should have been much to blame, if they had not every day thankfully remembred the great deliverance which God wrought for them from the bloody design of cruel Haman, yet it was thought requisite ( if not neceffary ) thac there should be two special dayes of Purim set apare for the anniversary memorial of that wonderful preservation : The like may be said for the English Purim, of our November ; it is well if, bea sides the general eye of our thankfulness,a precise day ordain’d by authority can enough quicken our unthankful dulness, to give God his own for so great a mercy; fhall we fay now, it is the work of the year, what needs a day?. As therefore no day should passe over our head without a grateful acknowledgment of the great mystery of God incarnare ; So withall, the wisdome of the primitive Church ( no doubt by the direction of the holy Gholt:) hath pitched upon one special day wherein we should intirely devote our thoughts to the meditation of this work, which the Angels of heaven can not enough admire.

But you are told that perhaps we miss of the day since the sea son is litigious, uncertain, unknown, and in likelyhocd other then our December, and that it is purposely not revealed, that it may not be kept : As to the firft, 1 deny not, that the juft day is not certainly known : The great Saviour of the World that would have his second coming without observation going before it;would have his first coming without observation following ic;he meant to come down without noise, without a recorded notice:Even in the second hondred (fo antient we are sure this festivity is ) there was question and diffc-. rent opinions of the season ; the just knowledg and determination whereof matters noching at all to the duty

of our celebration : Most sure we are that such a day there was ; and no lesse sure, that ir was the happiest day that ever lookt forth into the world; it is all one to us whether this day or that ; we content our selves with this, that it hath pleased the Church for mapy hundred years to or

dain this day for the commemoration of that transcendent blessing; what care we to stand upon those twelve hours that made

up

the artificial day wherein this wonderful work was wrought? which we are sure cannot buc be much changed by so many intercalations ; so long and constant a practise of the christian church, upon so holy grounds is no lesse warrant to us, then if an Angel from heaven ihould have revealed unto us the just hour of this blessed Nativity.

As to the second, Surely whosoever shall tell you that God did purposely hide this day from us, that it might escape a celebration; as he concealed the burial of Mofes to avoid the danger of an idolatrous adoration, makes himself a presumptuous commenter upon the actions of the Almighty. Where did God tell him so ? Or what revelation can he pretend for so bold an assertion ? If this were the matter, why then did not the same God with cqual caution conceal the day of the Paffion, Resurrection, Ascension of our blessed Saviour, and of the descent of the Holy Ghost ? the observation of all which dayes, is with no less vehemence and upon the same danger cryed down by these scrupulous persons. Either therefore let him say that God would have these other feast dayes observed because he would have them known to the world, or yield that he did not therefore conceal the day of the Nativity of Christ, because he would not have it observed. :. But you hear it said, There is popery and superstition in keeping that day; cell chose that suggest so, that they cast a foul flander upon the Saints of God in the primitive times, upon the holy and learned fathers of the Church who preached, and wrorc for, and kept the feast of Christs Nativity with facred solemnity many hunadred

years before popery was hatched; and that they' little know what wrong they do to rcligion and themselves, and what honor they put upon thar superstition which they profefs to detest; in afcribing that to popery which was the more act of holy and devour Chriftianity.

But to colour this plea; you are taught that the mystery of iniquiry began early to work, even in the very Apoftolick times, and that Antichrist did secretly put in his claw, before his whole body appeared. Surely there is fingular use wont to be made of this shift by those

which would avoid the countenance of all primitive authority to a. ny displeasing (how ever lawlull and laudable ) instimacions and practises ; So the Anabapcilt tells us that the Baptizing of children is one of the cimely workings of the mystery of iniquity; So the Blasphemous Nearrians of our time tell

us that the mystery of the blessed Trinity of persons in the unity of one Godhead is but an ancient devise of Antichrist working under-hand before his formal exhibition. Every sea is apt to make this challenge ; and therefore it behoves us wisely to distinguish berwixt chose things which Men did as good Christians, and those which they did as ingaged to their own private or to the more common interest of others. what advantage can we conceive it might be to Antichrist, that Christ should have a day celebrated to the memory of his blessed Birth; and that devour Christians should meet together in their holy assemblics to praisc God for the benefit of that happy incarnation ? and what other effect could be expected from so religious a work, but glory to God, and cdification to Men ? who can suppose chat the enemy of Christ should gain by the honour done to Chrift? Away therefore with this groundless imagination ; and let us be so popish, so fuperftitious as those holy Fathers, and Doctors of the primitive Church, famous for learning and piery, who lived and dyod devout observers of this Christian festival.

But you are bidden to ask what warrant we find in the word of God (which is to be the rule of all our actions ) for the solemn keeping of this day? In answer, you may if you please tell that questionift, that to argue from Scriprure negatively in things of this nature is somewhat unthcological ; Ask you him again with better reason, what Scripture he finds to forbid it ? for if it be unlawfull to be done which is not in Gods word commanded, then much rather that which is not there forbidden cannot be unlawfull to be done ; General grounds of edification, decency, cxpedience, peaceable conformity to the injunctions of our fpiritual governors are in these cafes more then enough to build our practise upon. If it be replied that we are injoyned fix daies co labour, and forbidden to observe dayes & times, (as being a part of the Jewish pædagogue, two common pretenses wherewith the eyes of the ignoranc are wont cobe bleared) know that for the first, it is not so much preceptive as permisive ; neither was it che intention of the Almighty to inter

sperse

[ocr errors][merged small]

{perse the command of humane affaires in the first Table of his royall law, wherein himself and his service is immediately concerned ;. In such like expreffions, maist, and, Robalt are equivalent, and promiscuously used;that instance is clear and pregnant Gen.2.16.The Lord, faith the Text, commanded the Mar, Saying, Eating tbox Balt eat of every tree in the Garder,which our last version renders

well to the sense, Thou maist freely eat of everytree in the Garden ; And if the charge in that fourth commandement were absolute and perempeory, what humane authority could dispense with chole large fhreds of time which are usually cut out of the fix daves for sacred occasions ? what warrant could we have.co intermit our work for a dayly lecturc, or a monthly faft, or for an anniversary Fifth of November ? and if notwithstanding this command of God, it be allowed to be in the power of Man, whether Soveraine (as Conftantine appropriated it) or fpiricual, to ordain the setting a part of some fet parcels of time to holyuses , why should it be stuck at in the requiring and observing the pious and usefull cclebrity of this festivall?

As for that other suggestion of the Apostles taxation of obferving dayes and rimes, any one that hath but halfc an eye, may sec that it hath respect to those Judaicall holy-dayes which were part of the ceremonial law, now long since out of date ; as being of typical fignification, and, fhadowes of things to come.

Should we therefore go about to revive those Jewish feasts, or did we erect any new day to an effentiall part of the worship of God, or place holiness in it, as such we should juftly incurr thar blame which the Apostle cafts upon the Galatian, and Colossian falseteachers.

But to wrest this forbiddance to a: Christian solemnity which is merely commemorative of a bleffing received, withouc any prefia guration of things to come, withour any opinion of holiness annexed to the day is no ocher then an injurious violence.

Upon all this which hath been said, and upon a serious weighing of what ever may be further alledged to the contrary, I dare confi. dently affirm that there is no juft reason why good Christians should not with all godly cherefulness observe this, which that holy facher ftylca the metropolis of all feafts ; To which I add that those which by their example and doctrine fleight this day, causing their people

to:

« ZurückWeiter »