BY Miracles are signified the admirable works of God: and therefore they are also called wonders. And because they are for the most part done for a signification of His commandment in such occasions as, without them, men are apt to doubt (following their private natural reasoning) what He hath commanded, and what not, they are commonly, in Holy Scripture, called signs, in the same sense as they are called by the Latins, ostenta and portenta, from showing and foresignifying that which the Almighty is about to bring to pass.
To understand therefore what is a miracle, we must first understand what works they are which men wonder at and call admirable. And there be but two things which make men wonder at any event: the one is if it be strange, that is to say, such as the like of it hath never or very rarely been produced; the other is if when it is produced, we cannot imagine it to have been done by natural means, but only by the immediate hand of God. But when we see some possible natural cause of it, how rarely soever the like has been done; or if the like have been often done, how impossible soever it be to imagine a natural means thereof, we no more wonder, nor esteem it for a miracle.
Therefore, if a horse or cow should speak, it were a miracle, because both the thing is strange and the natural cause difficult to imagine; so also were it to see a strange deviation of nature in the production of some new shape of a living creature. But when a man, or other animal, engenders his like, though we know no more how this is done than the other; yet because it is usual, it is no miracle. In like manner, if a man be metamorphosed into a stone, or into a pillar, it is a miracle, because strange; but if a piece of wood be so changed, because we see it often it is no miracle: and yet we know no more by what operation of God the one is brought to pass than the other.
The first rainbow that was seen in the world was a miracle, because the first, and consequently strange, and served for a sign from God, placed in heaven to assure His people there should be no more a universal destruction of the world by water. But at this day, because they are frequent, they are not miracles, neither to them that know their natural causes, nor to them who know them not. Again, there be many rare works produced by the art of man; yet when we know they are done, because thereby we know also the means how they are done, we count them not for miracles, because not wrought by the immediate hand of God, but by mediation of human industry.
Furthermore, seeing admiration and wonder is consequent to the knowledge and experience wherewith men are endued, some more, some less, it followeth that the same thing may be a miracle to one, and not to another. And thence it is that ignorant and superstitious men make great wonders of those works which other men, knowing to proceed from nature (which is not the immediate, but the ordinary work of God), admire not at all; as when eclipses of the sun and moon have been taken for supernatural works by the common people, when nevertheless there were others could, from their natural causes, have foretold the very hour they should arrive; or, as when a man, by confederacy and secret intelligence, getting knowledge of the private actions of an ignorant, unwary man, thereby tells him what he has done in former time, it seems to him a miraculous thing; but amongst wise and cautelous men, such miracles as those cannot easily be done.
Again, it belongeth to the nature of a miracle that it be wrought for the procuring of credit to God's messengers, ministers, and prophets, that thereby men may know they are called, sent, and employed by God, and thereby be the better inclined to obey them. And therefore, though the creation of the world, and after that the destruction of all living creatures in the universal deluge, were admirable works; yet because they were not done to procure credit to any prophet or other minister of God, they use not to be called miracles. For how admirable soever any work be, the admiration consisteth not in that could be done, because men naturally believe the Almighty can do all things, but because He does it at the prayer or word of a man. But the works of God in Egypt, by the hand of Moses, were properly miracles, because they were done with intention to make the people of Israel believe that Moses came unto them, not out of any design of his own interest, but as sent from God Therefore after God had commanded him to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptian bondage, when he said, "They will not believe me, but will say the Lord hath not appeared unto me," [Exodus, 4. 1] God gave him power to turn the rod he had in his hand into a serpent, and again to return it into a rod; and by putting his hand into his bosom, to make it leprous, and again by pulling it out to make it whole, to make the children of Israel believe that the God of their fathers had appeared unto him: [Ibid., 4. 5] and if that were not enough, He gave him power to turn their waters into blood. And when he had done these miracles before the people, it is said that "they believed him." [Ibid., 4. 31] Nevertheless, for fear of Pharaoh, they durst not yet obey him. Therefore the other works which were done to plague Pharaoh and the Egyptians tended all to make the Israelites believe in Moses, and properly miracles. In like manner if we consider all the miracles done by the hand of Moses, and all the rest of the prophets till the Captivity, and those of our Saviour and his Apostles afterwards, we shall find their end was always to beget or confirm belief that they came not of their own motion, but were sent by God. We may further observe in Scripture that the end of miracles was to beget belief, not universally in all men, elect and reprobate, but in the elect only; that is to say, in such as God had determined should become His subjects. For those miraculous plagues of Egypt had not for end the conversion of Pharaoh; for God had told Moses before that He would harden the heart of Pharaoh, that he should not let the people go: and when he let them go at last, not the miracles persuaded him, but the plagues forced him to it. So also of our Saviour it is written that He wrought not many miracles in His own country, because of their unbelief; [Matthew, 13. 58] and instead of, "He wrought not many," it is, "He could work none." [Mark, 6. 5] It was not because he wanted power; which, to say, were blasphemy against God; nor that the end of miracles was not to convert incredulous men to Christ; for the end of all the miracles of Moses, of the prophets, of our Saviour and of his Apostles was to add men to the Church; but it was because the end of their miracles was to add to the Church, not all men, but such as should be saved; that is to say, such as God had elected. Seeing therefore our Saviour was sent from His Father, He could not use His power in the conversion of those whom His Father had rejected. They that, expounding this place of St. Mark, say that this word, "He could not," is put for, "He would not," do it without example in the Greek tongue (where would not is put sometimes for could not, in things inanimate that have no will; but could not, for would not, never), and thereby lay a stumbling block before weak Christians, as if Christ could do no miracles but amongst the credulous.
From that which I have here set down, of the nature and use of a miracle, we may define it thus: a miracle is a work of God (besides His operation by the way of nature, ordained in the Creation) done for the making manifest to His elect the mission of an extraordinary minister for their salvation.
And from this definition, we may infer: first, that in all miracles the work done is not the effect of any virtue in the prophet, because it is the effect of the immediate hand of God; that is to say, God hath done it, without using the prophet therein as a subordinate cause.
Secondly, that no devil, angel, or other created spirit can do a miracle. For it must either be by virtue of some natural science or by incantation, that is, virtue of words. For if the enchanters do it by their own power independent, there is some power that proceedeth not from God, which all men deny; and if they do it by power given them, then is the work not from the immediate hand of God, but natural, and consequently no miracle.
There be some texts of Scripture that seem to attribute the power of working wonders, equal to some of those immediate miracles wrought by God Himself, to certain arts of magic and incantation. As, for example, when we read that after the rod of Moses being cast on the ground became a serpent, "the magicians of Egypt did the like by their enchantments";[Exodus, 7. 11] and that after Moses had turned the waters of the Egyptian streams, rivers, ponds, and pools of water into blood, "the magicians of Egypt did likewise, with their enchantments";[Ibid., 7. 22] and that after Moses had by the power of God brought frogs upon the land, "the magicians also did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt";[Ibid., 8. 7] will not man be apt to attribute miracles to enchantments; that is to say, to the efficacy of the sound of words; and think the same very well proved out of this and other such places? And yet there is no place of Scripture that telleth us what an enchantment is. If therefore enchantment be not, as many think it, a working of strange effects by spells and words, but imposture and delusion wrought by ordinary means; and so far from supernatural, as the impostors need not the study so much of natural causes, but the ordinary ignorance, stupidity, and superstition of mankind, to do them; those texts that seem to countenance the power of magic, witchcraft, and enchantment must needs have another sense than at first sight they seem to bear.
For it is evident enough that words have no have now effect but on those that understand them, and then they have no other but to signify the intentions or passions of them that speak; and thereby produce hope, fear, or other passions, or conceptions in the hearer. Therefore when a rod seemeth a serpent, or the waters blood, or any other miracle seemeth done by enchantment; if it be not to the edification of God's people, not the rod, nor the water, nor any other thing is enchanted; that is to say, wrought upon by the words, but the spectator. So that all the miracle consisteth in this, that the enchanter has deceived a man; which is no miracle, but a very easy matter to do.
For such is the ignorance and aptitude to error generally of all men, but especially of them that have not much knowledge of natural causes, and of the nature and interests of men, as by innumerable and easy tricks to be abused. What opinion of miraculous power, before it was known there was a science of the course of the stars, might a man have gained that should have told the people, this hour, or day, the sun should be darkened? A juggler, by the handling of his goblets and other trinkets, if it were not now ordinarily practised, would be thought to do his wonders by the power at least of the Devil. A man that hath practised to speak by drawing in of his breath (which kind of men in ancient time were called ventriloqui) and so make the weakness of his voice seem to proceed, not from the weak impulsion of the organs of speech, but from distance of place, is able to make very many men believe it is a voice from heaven, whatsoever he please to tell them. And for a crafty man that hath enquired into the secrets and familiar confessions that one man ordinarily maketh to another of his actions and adventures past, to tell them him again is no hard matter; and yet there be many that by such means as that obtain the reputation of being conjurers. But it is too long a business to reckon up the several sorts of those men which the Greeks called thaumaturgi, that is to say, workers of things wonderful; and yet these do all they do by their own single dexterity. But if we look upon the impostures wrought by confederacy, there is nothing how impossible soever to be done that is impossible to be believed. For two men conspiring, one to seem lame, the other to cure him with a charm, will deceive many: but many conspiring, one to seem lame, another so to cure him, and all the rest to bear witness, will deceive many more.
In this aptitude of mankind to give too hasty belief to pretended miracles, there can there can be no better nor I think any other caution than that which God hath prescribed, first by Moses (as I have said before in the precedent chapter), in the beginning of the thirteenth and end of the eighteenth of Deuteronomy; that we take not any for prophets that teach any other religion than that which God's lieutenant, which at that time was Moses, hath established; nor any, though he teach the same religion, whose prediction we do not see come to pass. Moses therefore in his time, and Aaron and his successors in their times, and the sovereign governor of God's people next under God Himself, that is to say, the head of the Church in all times, are to be consulted what doctrine he hath established before we give credit to a pretended miracle or prophet. And when that is done, the thing they pretend to be a miracle, we must both see it done and use all means possible to consider whether it be really done; and not only so, but whether it be such as no man can do the like by his natural power, but that it requires the immediate hand of God. And in this also we must have recourse to God's lieutenant, to whom in all doubtful cases we have submitted our private judgements. For example, if a man pretend that after certain words spoken over a piece of bread, that presently God hath made it not bread, but a god, or a man, or both, and nevertheless it looketh still as like bread as ever it did, there is no reason for any man to think it really done, nor consequently to fear him till he enquire of God by his vicar or lieutenant whether it be done or not. If he say not, then followeth that which Moses, saith "he hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shalt not fear him." [Deuteronomy, 18. 22] If he say it is done, then he is not to contradict it. So also if we see not, but only hear tell of a miracle, we are to consult the lawful Church; that is to say, the lawful head thereof, how far we are to give credit to the relators of it. And this is chiefly the case of men that in these days live under Christian sovereigns. For in these times I do not know one man that ever saw any such wondrous work, done by the charm or at the word or prayer of a man, that a man endued but with a mediocrity of reason would think supernatural: and the question is no more whether what we see done be a miracle; whether the miracle we hear, or read of, were a real work, and not the act of a tongue or pen; but in plain terms, whether the report be true, or a lie. In which question we are not every one to make our own private reason or conscience, but the public reason, that is the reason of God's supreme lieutenant, judge; and indeed we have made him judge already, if we have given him a sovereign power to do all that is necessary for our peace and defence. A private man has always the liberty, because thought is free, to believe or not believe in his heart those acts that have been given out for miracles, according as he shall see what benefit can accrue, by men's belief, to those that pretend or countenance them, and thereby conjecture whether they be miracles or lies. But when it comes to confession of that faith, the private reason must submit to the public; that is to say, to God's lieutenant. But who is this lieutenant of God, and head of the Church, shall be considered in its proper place hereafter.
THE maintenance of civil society depending on justice, and justice on the power of life and death, and other less rewards and punishments residing in them that have the sovereignty of the Commonwealth; it is impossible a Commonwealth should stand where any other than the sovereign hath a power of giving greater rewards than life, and of inflicting greater punishments than death. Now seeing eternal life is a greater reward than the life present, and eternal torment a greater punishment than the death of nature, it is a thing worthy to be well considered of all men that desire, by obeying authority, to avoid the calamities of confusion and civil war, what is meant in Holy Scripture by life eternal and torment eternal; and for what offences, and against whom committed, men are to be eternally tormented; and for what actions they are to obtain eternal life.
And first we find that Adam was created in such a condition of life as, had he not broken the commandment of God, he had enjoyed it in the Paradise of Eden everlastingly. For there was the tree of life, whereof he was so long allowed to eat as he should forbear to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which was not allowed him. And therefore as soon as he had eaten of it, God thrust him out of Paradise, "lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and live forever." [Genesis, 3. 22] By which it seemeth to me (with submission nevertheless both in this, and in all questions whereof the determination dependeth on the Scriptures, to the interpretation of the Bible authorized by the Commonwealth whose subject I am) that Adam, if he had not sinned, had had an eternal life on earth; and that mortality entered upon himself, and his posterity, by his first sin. Not that actual death then entered, for Adam then could never have had children; whereas he lived long after, and saw a numerous posterity ere he died. But where it is said, "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die," [Ibid., 2. 17] it must needs be meant of his mortality and certitude of death. Seeing then eternal life was lost by Adam's forfeiture, in committing sin, he that should cancel that forefeiture was to recover thereby that life again. Now Jesus Christ hath satisfied for the sins of all that believe in him, and therefore recovered to all believers that eternal life which was lost by the sin of Adam. And in this sense it is that the comparison of St. Paul holdeth: "As by the offence of one, judgement came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life." [Romans, 5. 18, 19] Which is again more perspicuously delivered in these words, "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." [I Corinthians, 15. 21, 22]
Concerning the place wherein men shall enjoy that eternal life which Christ hath obtained for them, the texts next before alleged seem to make it on earth. For if, as in Adam, all die, that is, have forfeited Paradise and eternal life on earth, even so in Christ all shall be made alive; then all men shall be made to live on earth; for else the comparison were not proper. Hereunto seemeth to agree that of the Psalmist, "Upon Zion God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore"; [Psalms, 133. 3] for Zion is in Jerusalem upon earth: as also that of St. John, "To him that overcometh I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." [Revelation, 2. 7] This was the tree of Adam's eternal life; but his life was to have been on earth. The same seemeth to be confirmed again by St. John, where he saith, "I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband": and again, verse 10, to the same effect; as if he should say, the new Jerusalem, the Paradise of God, at the coming again of Christ, should come down to God's people from heaven, and not they go up to it from earth. And this differs nothing from that which the two men in white clothing (that is, the two angels) said to the Apostles that were looking upon Christ ascending: "This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him go up into heaven." Which soundeth as if they had said he should come down to govern them under his Father eternally here, and not take them up to govern them in heaven; and is conformable to the restoration of the kingdom of God, instituted under Moses, which was a political government of the Jews on earth. Again, that saying of our Saviour, "that in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven," is a description of an eternal life, resembling that which we lost in Adam in the point of marriage. For seeing Adam and Eve, if they had not sinned, had lived on earth eternally in their individual persons, it is manifest they should not continually have procreated their kind. For if immortals should have generated, as mankind doth now, the earth in a small time would not have been able to afford them place to stand on. The Jews that asked our Saviour the question, whose wife the woman that had married many brothers should be in the resurrection, knew not what were the consequences of life eternal: and therefore our puts them in mind of this consequence of immortality; that there shall be no generation, and consequently no marriage, no more than there is marriage or generation among the angels. The comparison between that eternal life which Adam lost, and our Saviour by his victory over death hath recovered, holdeth also in this, that as Adam lost eternal life by his sin, and yet lived after it for a time, so the faithful Christian hath recovered eternal life by Christ's passion, though he die a natural death, and remain dead for a time; namely, till the resurrection. For as death is reckoned from the condemnation of Adam, not from the execution; so life is reckoned from the absolution, not from the resurrection of them that are elected in Christ.
That the place wherein men are to live eternally, after the resurrection, is the heavens, meaning by heaven those parts of the world which are the most remote from earth, as where the stars are, or above the stars, in another higher heaven, called coelum empyreum (whereof there is no mention in Scripture, nor ground in reason), is not easily to be drawn from any text that I can find. By the Kingdom of Heaven is meant the kingdom of the King that dwelleth in heaven; and His kingdom was the people of Israel, whom He ruled by the prophets, his lieutenants; first Moses, and after him Eleazar, and the sovereign priests, till in the days of Samuel they rebelled, and would have a mortal man for their king after the manner of other nations. And when our Saviour Christ by the preaching of his ministers shall have persuaded the Jews to return, and called the Gentiles to his obedience, then shall there be a new king of heaven; because our King shall then be God, whose throne is heaven, without any necessity evident in the Scripture that man shall ascend to his happiness any higher than God's footstool the earth. On the contrary, we find written that "no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man, that is in heaven." Where I observe, by the way, that these words are not, as those which go immediately before, the words of our Saviour, but of St. John himself; for Christ was then not in heaven, but upon the earth. The like is said of David where St. Peter, to prove the Ascension of Christ, using the words of the Psalmist, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thine Holy One to see corruption," saith they were spoken, not of David, but of Christ, and to prove it, addeth this reason, "For David is not ascended into heaven." But to this a man may easily answer and say that, though their bodies were not to ascend till the general day of judgement, yet their souls were in heaven as soon as they were departed from their bodies; which also seemeth to be confirmed by the words of our Saviour, who, proving the resurrection out of the words of Moses, saith thus, "That the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for they all live to him." [Luke, 20. 37, 38] But if these words be to be understood only of the immortality of the soul, they prove not at all that which our Saviour intended to prove, which was the resurrection of the body, that is to say, the immortality of the man. Therefore our Saviour meaneth that those patriarches were immortal, not by a property consequent to the essence and nature of mankind, but by the will of God, that was pleased of His mere grace to bestow eternal life upon the faithful. And though at that time the patriarchs and many other faithful men were dead, yet as it is in the text, they "lived to God"; that is, they were written in the Book of Life with them that were absolved of their sins, and ordained to life eternal at the resurrection. That the soul of man is in its own nature eternal, and a living creature independent on the body; or that any mere man is immortal, otherwise than by the resurrection in the last day, except Enos and Elias, is a doctrine not apparent in Scripture. The whole fourteenth Chapter of Job, which is the speech not of his friends, but of himself, is a complaint of this mortality of nature; and yet no contradiction of the immortality at the resurrection. "There is hope of a tree," saith he, "if it be cast down. Though the root thereof wax old, and the stock thereof die in the ground, yet when it scenteth the water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and wasteth away, yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" [Job, 14. 7] And, verse 12, "man lieth down, riseth not, till the heavens be no more." But when is it that the heavens shall be no more? St. Peter tells us that it is at the general resurrection. For in his second Epistle, third Chapter, verse 7, he saith that "the heavens and the earth that are now, are reserved unto fire against the day of judgement, and perdition of ungodly men," and, verse 12, "looking for and hasting to the coming of God, wherein the heavens shall be on fire, and shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless, we according to the promise look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Therefore where Job saith, "man riseth not till the heavens be no more"; it is all one, as if he had said the immortal life (and soul and life in the Scripture do usually signify the same thing) beginneth not in man till the resurrection and day of judgement; and hath for cause, not his specifical nature and generation, but the promise. For St. Peter says not, "We look for new heavens, and a new earth," but "from promise."
Lastly, seeing it hath been already proved out of diverse evident places of Scripture, in the thirty-fifth Chapter of this book, that the kingdom of God is a civil Commonwealth, where God Himself is sovereign, by virtue first of the Old, and since of the New, Covenant, wherein He reigneth by His vicar or lieutenant; the same places do therefore also prove that after the coming again of our Saviour in his majesty and glory to reign actually and eternally, the kingdom of God is to be on earth. But because this doctrine, though proved out of places of Scripture not few nor obscure, will appear to most men a novelty, I do but propound it, maintaining nothing in this or any other paradox of religion, but attending the end of that dispute of the sword, concerning the authority (not yet amongst my countrymen decided), by which all sorts of doctrine are to be approved or rejected; and whose commands, both in speech and writing, whatsoever be the opinions of private men, must by all men, that mean to be protected by their laws, be obeyed. For the points of doctrine concerning the kingdom of God have so great influence on the kingdom of man as not to be determined but by them that under God have the sovereign power.
As the kingdom of God, and eternal life, so also God's enemies, and their torments after judgement, appear by the Scripture to have their place on earth. The name of the place where all men remain till the resurrection, that were either buried or swallowed up of the earth, is usually called in Scripture by words that signify under ground; which the Latins read generally infernus and inferi, and the Greeks ades; that is to say, a place where men cannot see; and containeth as well the grave as any other deeper place. But for the place of the damned after the resurrection, it is not determined, neither in the Old nor New Testament, by any note of situation, but only by the company: as that it shall be where such wicked men were, as God in former times in extraordinary and miraculous manner had destroyed from off the face of the earth: as for example, that they are in Inferno, in Tartarus, or in the bottomless pit; because Corah, Dathan, and Abiram were swallowed up alive into the earth. Not that the writers of the Scripture would have us believe there could be in the globe of the earth, which is not only finite, but also, compared to the height of the stars, of no considerable magnitude, a pit without a bottom; that is, a hole of infinite depth, such as the Greeks in their demonology (that is to say in their doctrine concerning demons), and after them the Romans, called Tartarus; of which Virgil says,
Bis patet in praeceps, tantum tenditque sub umbras, Quantus ad aethereum coeli suspectus Olympum:for that is a thing the proportion of earth to heaven cannot bear: but that we should believe them there, indefinitely, where those men are, on whom God inflicted that exemplary punishment.
Again, because those mighty men of the earth that lived in the time of Noah, before the flood (which the Greeks called heroes, and the Scripture giants, and both say were begotten by copulation of the children of God with the children of men), were for their wicked life destroyed by the general deluge, the place of the damned is therefore also sometimes marked out by the company of those deceased giants; as Proverbs, 21. 16, "The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the giants," and Job, 26. 5, "Behold the giants groan under water, and they that dwell with them." Here the place of the damned is under the water. And Isaiah, 14. 9, "Hell is troubled how to meet thee" (that is, the King of Babylon) "and will displace the giants for thee": and here again the place of the damned, if the sense be literal, is to be under water.
Thirdly, because the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, by the extraordinary wrath of God, were consumed for their wickedness with fire and brimstone, and together with them the country about made a stinking bituminous lake, the place of the damned is sometimes expressed by fire, and a fiery lake: as in the Apocalypse, 21. 8, "But the timorous, incredulous, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death." So that it is manifest that hell fire, which is here expressed by metaphor, from the real fire of Sodom, signifieth not any certain kind or place of torment, but is to be taken indefinitely for destruction, as it is in Revelation, 20, at the fourteenth verse, where it is said that "Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire"; that is to say, were abolished and destroyed; as if after the day of judgement there shall be no more dying, nor no more going into hell; that is, no more going to Hades (from which word perhaps our word hell is derived), which is the same with no more dying.
Fourthly, from the plague of darkness inflicted on the Egyptians, of which it is written, "They saw not one another, neither rose any man from his place for three days; but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings";[Exodus, 10. 23] the place of the wicked after judgement is called utter darkness, or, as it is in the original, darkness without. And so it is expressed where the king commandeth his servants, "to bind hand and foot the man that had not on his wedding garment and to cast him into," eis to skotos to exoteron "external darkness," [Matthew, 22. 13] or "darkness without": which, though translated "utter darkness," does not signify how great, but where that darkness is to be; namely, without the habitation of God's elect.
Lastly, whereas there was a place near Jerusalem called the Valley of the Children of Hinnon in a part whereof called Tophet the Jews had committed most grievous idolatry, sacrificing their children to the idol Moloch; and wherein also God had afflicted His enemies with most grievous punishments; and wherein Josiah had burnt the priests of Moloch upon their own altars, as appeareth at large in II Kings, Chapter 23; the place served afterwards to receive the filth and garbage which was carried thither out of the city; and there used to be fires made, from time to time, to purify the air and take away the stench of carrion. From this abominable place, the Jews used ever after to call the place of the damned by the name of Gehenna, or Valley of Hinnon. And this Gehenna is that word which is usually now translated hell; and from the fires from time to time there burning, we have the notion of everlasting and unquenchable fire.
Seeing now there is none that so interprets the Scripture as that after the day of judgement the wicked are all eternally to be punished in the Valley of Hinnon; or that they shall so rise again as to be ever after underground or underwater; or that after the resurrection they shall no more see one another, nor stir from one place to another; it followeth, methinks, very necessarily, that which is thus said concerning hell fire is spoken metaphorically; and that therefore there is a proper sense to be enquired after (for of all metaphors there is some real ground, that may be expressed in proper words), both of the place of hell, and the nature of hellish torments and tormenters.
And first for the tormenters, we have their nature and properties exactly and properly delivered by the names of the enemy, or Satan; the Accuser, or Diabolus; the Destroyer, or Abaddon. Which significant names, Satan, Devil, Abaddon, set not forth to us any individual person, as proper names use to do, but only an office or quality; and are therefore appellatives; which ought not to have been left untranslated, as they are in the Latin and modern Bibles, because thereby they seem to be the proper names of demons; and men are more easily seduced to believe the doctrine of devils, which at that time was the religion of the Gentiles, and contrary to that of Moses and of Christ.
And because by the Enemy, the Accuser, and Destroyer is meant the enemy of them that shall be in the kingdom of God; therefore if the kingdom of God after the resurrection be upon the earth (as in the former chapter I have shown by Scripture it seems to be), the enemy and his kingdom must be on earth also. For so also was it in the time before the Jews had deposed God. For God's kingdom was in Palestine; and the nations round about were the kingdoms of the Enemy; and consequently by Satan is meant any earthly enemy of the Church.
The torments of hell are expressed sometimes by "weeping, and gnashing of teeth," as Matthew, 8. 12; sometimes, by "the worm of conscience," as Isaiah, 66. 24, and Mark, 9. 44, 46, 48; sometimes, by fire, as in the place now quoted, "where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," and many places besides: sometimes, by "shame, and contempt," as, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life; and some to shame, and everlasting contempt." [Daniel, 12. 2] All which places design metaphorically a grief and discontent of mind from the sight of that eternal felicity in others which they themselves through their own incredulity and disobedience have lost. And because such felicity in others is not sensible but by comparison with their own actual miseries, it followeth that they are to suffer such bodily pains and calamities as are incident to those who not only live under evil and cruel governors, but have also for enemy the eternal king of the saints, God Almighty. And amongst these bodily pains is to be reckoned also to every one of the wicked a second death. For though the Scripture be clear for a universal resurrection, yet we do not read that to any of the reprobate is promised an eternal life. For whereas St. Paul, to the question concerning what bodies men shall rise with again, saith that "the body is sown in corruption, and is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power";[I Corinthians, 15. 42, 43] glory and power cannot be applied to the bodies of the wicked: nor can the name of second death be applied to those that can never die but once. And although in metaphorical speech a calamitous life everlasting may be called an everlasting death, yet it cannot well be understood of a second death. The fire prepared for the wicked is an everlasting fire: that is to say, the estate wherein no man can be without torture, both of body and mind, after the resurrection, shall endure for ever; and in that sense the fire shall be unquenchable, and the torments everlasting: but it cannot thence be inferred that he who shall be cast into that fire, or be tormented with those torments, shall endure and resist them so as be eternally burnt and tortured, and yet never be destroyed nor die. And though there be many places that affirm everlasting fire and torments, into which men may be cast successively one after another for ever, yet I find none that affirm there shall be an eternal life therein of any individual person; but to the contrary, an everlasting death, which is the second death: "For after death and the grave shall have delivered up the dead which were in them, and every man be judged according to his works; death and the grave shall also be cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." [Revelation, 20. 13, 14] Whereby it is evident that there is to be a second death of every one that shall be condemned at the day judgement, after which he shall die no more.
The joys of life eternal are in Scripture comprehended all under the name of salvation, or being saved. To be saved is to be secured, either respectively, against special evils, or absolutely, against all evil, comprehending want, sickness, and death itself. And because man was created in a condition immortal, not subject to corruption, and consequently to nothing that tendeth to the dissolution of his nature; and fell from that happiness by the sin of Adam; it followeth that to be saved from sin is to be saved from all the evil and calamities that sin hath brought upon us. And therefore in the Holy Scripture, remission of sin, and salvation from death and misery, is the same thing, as it appears by the words of our Saviour, who, having cured a man sick of the palsy, by saying, "Son be of good cheer thy sins be forgiven thee"; [Matthew, 9. 2] and knowing that the scribes took for blasphemy that a man should pretend to forgive sins, asked them "whether it were easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or, Arise and walk";[Ibid., 9. 5] signifying thereby that it was all one, as to the saving of the sick, to say, "Thy sins are forgiven," and "Arise and walk"; and that he used that form of speech only to show he had power to forgive sins. And it is besides evident in reason that since death and misery were the punishments of sin, the discharge of sin must also be a discharge of death and misery; that is to say, salvation absolute, such as the faithful are to enjoy after the day of judgement, by the power and favour of Jesus Christ, who that cause is called our Saviour.
Concerning particular salvations, such as are understood, "as the Lord liveth that saveth Israel," [I Samuel, 14. 39] that is, from their temporary enemies; and, "Thou art my Saviour, thou savest me from violence";[II Samuel, 22. 3] and, "God gave the Israelites a Saviour, and so they were delivered from the hand of the Assyrians," [II Kings, 13. 5] and the like, I need say nothing; there being neither difficulty nor interest to corrupt the interpretation of texts of that kind.
But concerning the general salvation, because it must be in the kingdom of heaven, there is great difficulty concerning the place. On one side, by kingdom, which is an estate ordained by men for their perpetual security against enemies and want, it seemeth that this salvation should be on earth. For by salvation is set forth unto us a glorious reign of our king by conquest; not a safety by escape: and therefore there where we look for salvation, we must look also for triumph; and before triumph, for victory; and before victory, for battle; which cannot well be supposed shall be in heaven. But how good soever this reason may be, I will not trust to it without very evident places of Scripture. The state of salvation is described at large, Isaiah, 33. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24:
"Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities; thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
"But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.
"For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king, he will save us.
"Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast; they could not spread the sail: then is the a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.
"And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; the people that shall dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity."
In which words we have the place from whence salvation is to proceed, "Jerusalem, a quiet habitation"; the eternity of it, "a tabernacle that shall not be taken down," etc.; the Saviour of it, "the Lord, their judge, their lawgiver, their king, he will save us"; the salvation, "the Lord shall be to them as a broad moat of swift waters," etc.; the condition of their enemies, "their tacklings are loose, their masts weak, the lame shall take the spoil of them"; the condition of the saved, "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick"; and lastly, all this is comprehended in forgiveness of sin, "the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity." By which it is evident that salvation shall be on earth, then, when God shall reign, at the coming again of Christ, in Jerusalem; and from Jerusalem shall proceed the salvation of the Gentiles that shall be received into God's kingdom: as is also more expressly declared by the same prophet, "And they" (that is, the Gentiles who had any Jew in bondage) "shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the Lord, out of all nations, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain, Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the Lord":[Isaiah, 66. 20, 21] whereby it is manifest that the chief seat of God's kingdom, which is the place from whence the salvation of us that were Gentiles shall proceed, shall be Jerusalem: and the same is also confirmed by our Saviour, in his discourse with the woman of Samaria concerning the place of God's worship; to whom he saith that the Samaritans worshipped they knew not what, but the Jews worshipped what they knew, "for salvation is of the Jews"[John, 4. 22] (ex Judaeis, that is, begins at the Jews): as if he should say, you worship God, but know not by whom He will save you, as we do, that know it shall be by one of the tribe of Judah; a Jew, not a Samaritan. And therefore also the woman not impertinently answered him again, "We know the Messias shall come." So that which our Saviour saith, "Salvation is from the Jews,: is the same that Paul says, "The gospel is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith";[Romans, 1. 16, 17] from the faith of the Jew to the faith of the Gentile. In the like sense the prophet Joel, describing the day of judgement, that God would "shew wonders in heaven, and in earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun should be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come." [Joel, 2. 30, 31] He addeth, "and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be salvation." [Ibid., 2. 32] And Obadiah, verse 17, saith the same, "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance; and there shall be holiness, and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions," that is, the possessions of the heathen, which possessions he expresseth more particularly in the following verses, by the mount of Esau, the land of the Philistines, the fields of Ephraim, of Samaria, Gilead, and the cities of the South, and concludes with these words, "the kingdom shall be the Lord's." All these places are for salvation, and the kingdom of God, after the day of judgement, upon earth. On the other side, I have not found any text that can probably be drawn to prove any ascension of the saints into heaven; that is to say, into any coelum empyreum, or other ethereal region, saving that it is called the kingdom of heaven: which name it may have because God, that was king of the Jews, governed them by His commands sent to Moses by angels from heaven; and after their revolt, sent His Son from heaven to reduce them to their obedience; and shall send him thence again to rule both them and all other faithful men from the day of judgement, everlastingly: or from that, that the throne of this our Great King is in heaven; whereas the earth is but His footstool. But that the subjects of God should have any place as high as His throne, or higher than His footstool, it seemeth not suitable to the dignity of a king, nor can I find any evident text for it in Holy Scripture.
From this that hath been said of the kingdom of God, and of salvation, it is not hard to interpret what is meant by the world to come. There are three worlds mentioned in the Scripture; the old world, the present world, and the world to come. Of the first, St. Peter speaks, "If God spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing the flood upon the world of the ungodly," etc. [II Peter, 2. 5] So the first world was from Adam to the general flood. Of the present world, our Saviour speaks, "My kingdom is not of this world." [John, 18. 36] For He came only to teach men the way of salvation, and to renew the kingdom of His Father by His doctrine. Of the world to come, St. Peter speaks, "Nevertheless we according to his promise look for new heavens, and a new earth." [II Peter, 3. 13] This is that world wherein Christ coming down from heaven in the clouds, with great power and glory, shall send His angels, and shall gather together his elect, from the four winds, and from the uttermost parts of the earth, and thenceforth reign over them, under his Father, everlastingly.
Salvation of a sinner supposeth a precedent redemption; for he that is once guilty of sin is obnoxious to the penalty of the same; and must pay, or some other for him, such ransom as he that is offended, and has him in his power, shall require. And seeing the person offended is Almighty God, in whose power are all things, such ransom is to be paid before salvation can be acquired, as God hath been pleased to require. By this ransom is not intended a satisfaction for sin equivalent to the offence, which no sinner for himself, nor righteous man can ever be able to make for another: the damage a man does to another he may make amends for by restitution or recompense, but sin cannot be taken away by recompense; for that were to make the liberty to sin a thing vendible. But sins may be pardoned to the repentant, either gratis or upon such penalty as God is pleased to accept. That which God usually accepted, in the Old Testament, was some sacrifice or oblation. To forgive sin is not an act of injustice, though the punishment have been threatened. Even amongst men, though the promise of good bind the promiser; yet threats, that is to say, promises of evil, bind them not; much less shall they bind God, who is infinitely more merciful than men. Our Saviour Christ therefore to redeem us did not in that sense satisfy for the sins of men, as that his death, of its own virtue, could make it unjust in God to punish sinners with eternal death; but did make that sacrifice and oblation of Himself, at His first coming, which God was pleased to require for the salvation at His second coming, of such as in the meantime should repent and believe in Him. And though this act of our redemption be not always in Scripture called a sacrifice and oblation, but sometimes a price; yet by price we are not to understand anything by the value whereof He could claim to a pardon for us from his offended Father; but that price which God the Father was pleased in mercy to demand.
THE WORD Church (ecclesia) signifieth in the books of Holy Scripture diverse things. Sometimes, though not often, it is taken for God's house, that is to say, for a temple wherein Christians assemble to perform holy duties publicly; as, "Let your women keep silence in the churches":[I Corinthians, 14. 34] but this is metaphorically put for the congregation there assembled, and hath been since used for the edifice itself to distinguish between the temples of Christians and idolaters. The Temple of Jerusalem was God's house, and the house of prayer; and so is any edifice dedicated by Christians to the worship of Christ, Christ's house: and therefore the Greek Fathers call it Kuriake, the Lord's house; and thence in our language it came to be called kirk, and church.
Church, when not taken for a house, signifieth the same that ecclesia signified in the Grecian Commonwealths; that is to say, a congregation, or an assembly of citizens, called forth to hear the magistrate speak unto them; and which in the Commonwealth of Rome was called concio, as he that spake was called ecclesiastes, and concionator. And when they were called forth by lawful authority, it was ecclesia legitima, a lawful Church, ennomos Ekklesia. [Acts, 19. 39] But when they were excited by tumultuous and seditious clamour, then it was a confused Church, Ekklesia sugkechumene.
It is taken also sometimes for the men that have right to be of the congregation, though not actually assembled; that is to say, for the whole multitude of Christian men, how far soever they be dispersed: as where it is said that "Saul made havoc of the church":[Acts, 8. 3] and in this sense is Christ said to be Head of the Church. And sometimes for a certain part of Christians; as, "Salute the Church that is in his house." [Colossians, 4. 15] Sometimes also for the elect only; as, "A glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish"; [Ephesians, 5. 27] which is meant of the Church triumphant, or Church to come. Sometimes, for a congregation assembled of professors of professors of Christianity, whether their profession be true or counterfeit, as it is understood where it is said, "Tell it to the Church, and if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be to thee as a Gentile, or publican." [Matthew, 18. 17]
And in this last sense only it is that the Church can be taken for one person; that is to say, that it can be said to have power to will, to pronounce, to command, to be obeyed, to make laws, or to do any other action whatsoever; for without authority from a lawful congregation, whatsoever act be done in a concourse of people, it is the particular act of every one of those that were present, and gave their aid to the performance of it; and not the act of them all in gross, as of one body; much less the act of them that were absent, or that, being present, were not willing it should be done. According to this sense, I define a Church to be: a company of men professing Christian religion, united in the person of one sovereign; at whose command they ought to assemble, and without whose authority they ought not to assemble. And because in all Commonwealths that assembly which is without warrant from the civil sovereign is unlawful; that Church also which is assembled in any Commonwealth that hath forbidden them to assemble is an unlawful assembly.
It followeth also that there is on earth no such universal Church as all Christians are bound to obey, because there is no power on earth to which all other Commonwealths are subject. There are Christians in the dominions of several princes and states, but every one of them is subject to that Commonwealth whereof he is himself a member, and consequently cannot be subject to the commands of any other person. And therefore a Church, such a one as is capable to command, to judge, absolve, condemn, or do any other act, is the same thing with a civil Commonwealth consisting of Christian men; and is called a civil state, for that the subjects of it are men; and a Church, for that the subjects thereof are Christians. Temporal and spiritual government are but two words brought into the world to make men see double and mistake their lawful sovereign. It is true that the bodies of the faithful, after the resurrection, shall be not only spiritual, but eternal; but in this life they are gross and corruptible. There is therefore no other government in this life, neither of state nor religion, but temporal; nor teaching of any doctrine lawful to any subject which the governor both of the state and of the religion forbiddeth to be taught. And that governor must be one; or else there must needs follow faction and civil war in the Commonwealth between the Church and State; between spiritualists and temporalists; between the sword of justice and the shield of faith; and, which is more, in every Christian man's own breast between the Christian and the man. The doctors of the Church are called pastors; so also are civil sovereigns: but if pastors be not subordinate one to another, so as that there may be one chief pastor, men will be taught contrary doctrines, whereof both may be, and one must be, false. Who that one chief pastor is, according to the law of nature, hath been already shown; namely, that it is the civil sovereign: and to whom the Scripture hath assigned that office, we shall see in the chapters following.
THE FATHER of the faithful, and first in the kingdom of God by covenant, was Abraham. For with him was the covenant first made; wherein he obliged himself and his seed after him to acknowledge and obey the commands of God; not only such as he could take notice of (as moral laws) by the light of nature; but also such as God should in special manner deliver to him by dreams and visions. For as to the moral law, they were already obliged, and needed not have been contracted withal, by promise of the land of Canaan. Nor was there any contract that could add to or strengthen the obligation by which both they and all men else were bound naturally to obey God Almighty: and therefore the covenant which Abraham made with God was to take for the commandment of God that which in the name of God was commanded him, in a dream or vision, and to deliver it to his family and cause them to observe the same.
In this contract of God with Abraham, we may observe three points of important consequence in the government of God's people. First, that at the making of this covenant God spoke only to Abraham, and therefore contracted not with any of his family or seed otherwise than as their wills (which make the essence of all covenants) were before the contract involved in the will of Abraham, who was therefore supposed to have had a lawful power to make them perform all that he covenanted for them. According whereunto God saith, "All the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him, for I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord." [Genesis, 18. 18, 19] From whence may be concluded this first point, that they to whom God hath not spoken immediately are to receive the positive commandments of God from their sovereign, as the family and seed of Abraham did from Abraham their father and lord and civil sovereign. And consequently in every Commonwealth, they who have no supernatural revelation to the contrary ought to obey the laws of their own sovereign in the external acts and profession of religion. As for the inward thought and belief of men, which human governors can take no notice of (for God only knoweth the heart), they are not voluntary, nor the effect of the laws, but of the unrevealed will and of the power of God, and consequently fall not under obligation.
From whence proceedeth another point; that it was not unlawful for Abraham, when any of his subjects should pretend private vision or spirit, or other revelation from God, for the countenancing of any doctrine which Abraham should forbid, or when they followed or adhered to any such pretender, to punish them; and consequently that it is lawful now for the sovereign to punish any man that shall oppose his private spirit against the laws: for he hath the same place in the Commonwealth that Abraham had in his own family.
There ariseth also from the same a third point; that as none but Abraham in his family, so none but the sovereign in a Christian Commonwealth, can take notice what is or what is not the word of God. For God spoke only to Abraham, and it was he only that was able to know what God said, and to interpret the same to his family: and therefore also, they that have the place of Abraham in a Commonwealth are the only interpreters of what God hath spoken.
The same covenant was renewed with Isaac, and afterwards with Jacob, but afterwards no more till the Israelites were freed from the Egyptians and arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai: and then it was renewed by Moses (as I have said before, Chapter thirty-five), in such manner as they became from that time forward the peculiar kingdom of God, whose lieutenant was Moses for his own time: and the succession to that office was settled upon Aaron and his heirs after him to be to God a sacerdotal kingdom forever.
By this constitution, a kingdom is acquired to God. But seeing Moses had no authority to govern the Israelites as a successor to the right of Abraham, because he could not claim it by inheritance, it appeareth not as yet that the people were obliged to take him for God's lieutenant longer than they believed that God spoke unto him. And therefore his authority, notwithstanding the covenant they made with God, depended yet merely upon the opinion they had of his sanctity, and of the reality of his conferences with God, and the verity of his miracles; which opinion coming to change, they were no more obliged to take anything for the law of God which he propounded to them in God's name. We are therefore to consider what other ground there was of their obligation to obey him. For it could not be the commandment of God that could oblige them, because God spoke not to them immediately, but by the mediation of Moses himself: and our Saviour saith of himself, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true";[John, 5. 31] much less if Moses bear witness of himself, especially in a claim of kingly power over God's people, ought his testimony to be received. His authority therefore, as the authority of all other princes, must be grounded on the consent of the people and their promise to obey him. And so it was: for "the people when they saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us lest we die." [Exodus, 20. 18, 19] Here was their promise of obedience; and by this it was they obliged themselves to obey whatsoever he should deliver unto them for the commandment of God.
And notwithstanding the covenant constituteth a sacerdotal kingdom, that is to say, a kingdom hereditary to Aaron; yet that is to be understood of the succession after Moses should be dead. For whosoever ordereth and establisheth the policy as first founder of a Commonwealth, be it monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, must needs have sovereign power over the people all the while he is doing of it. And that Moses had that power all his own time is evidently affirmed in the Scripture. First, in the text last before cited, because the people promised obedience, not to Aaron, but to him. Secondly, "And God said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord, but they shall not come nigh, neither shall the people go up with him." [Exodus, 24. 1, 2] By which it is plain that Moses, who was alone called up to God (and not Aaron, nor the other priests, nor the seventy elders, nor the people who were forbidden to come up), was alone he that represented to the Israelites the person of God; that is to say, was their sole sovereign under God. And though afterwards it be said, "Then went up Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel, and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone," [Ibid., 24. 9] etc.; yet this was not till after Moses had been with God before, and had brought to the people the words which God had said to him. He only went for the business of the people; the others, as the nobles of his retinue, were admitted for honour to that special grace which was not allowed to the people; which was, as in the verse after appeareth, to see God and live. "God laid not His hand upon them, they saw God, and did eat and drink" (that is, did live), but did not carry any commandment from Him to the people. Again, it is everywhere said, "The Lord spake unto Moses," as in all other occasions of government, so also in also in the ordering of the ceremonies of religion, contained in the 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st chapters of Exodus, and throughout Leviticus; to Aaron, seldom. The calf that Aaron made, Moses threw into the fire. Lastly, the question of the authority of Aaron, by occasion of his and Miriam's mutiny against Moses, was judged by God Himself for Moses. [Numbers, 12] So also in the question between Moses and the people, who had the right of governing the people, when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly "gathered themselves together against Moses, and against Aaron, and said unto them, ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is amongst them, why lift you up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?" [Ibid., 16. 3] God caused the earth to swallow Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, with their wives and children, alive, and consumed those two hundred and fifty princes with fire. Therefore neither Aaron, nor the people, nor any aristocracy of the chief princes of the people, but Moses alone had next under God the sovereignty over the Israelites: and that not only in causes of civil policy, but also of religion: for Moses only spoke with God, and therefore only could tell the people what it was that God required at their hands. No man upon pain of death might be so presumptuous as to approach the mountain where God talked with Moses. "Thou shalt set bounds," saith the Lord, "to the people round about, and say, Take heed to yourselves that you go not up into the Mount, or touch the border of it; whosoever toucheth the Mount shall surely be put to death." [Exodus, 19. 12] And again, "Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze." [Ibid., 19. 21] Out of which we may conclude that whosoever in Christian Commonwealth holdeth the place of Moses is the sole messenger of God and interpreter of His commandments. And according hereunto, no man ought in the interpretation of the Scripture to proceed further than the bounds which are set by their several sovereigns. For the Scriptures, since God now speaketh in them, are the Mount Sinai, the bounds whereof are the laws of them that represent God's person on earth. To look upon them, and therein to behold the wondrous works of God, and learn to fear Him, is allowed; but to interpret them, that is, to pry into what God saith to him whom He appointeth to govern under Him, and make themselves judges whether he govern as God commandeth him, or not, is to transgress the bounds God hath set us, and to gaze upon God irreverently.
There was no prophet in the time of Moses, nor pretender to the spirit of God, but such as Moses had approved and authorized. For there were in his time but seventy men that are said to prophesy by the spirit of God, and these were all of Moses his election; concerning whom God said to Moses, "Gather to me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people." [Numbers, 11. 16] To these God imparted His spirit; but it was not a different spirit from that of Moses; for it is said, "God came down in a cloud, and took of the spirit that was upon Moses, and gave it to the seventy elders." [Ibid., 11. 25] But as I have shown before, Chapter thirty-six, by spirit is understood the mind; so that the sense of the place is no other than this, that God endued them with a mind conformable and subordinate to that of Moses, that they might prophesy, that is to say, speak to the people in God's name in such manner as to set forward (as ministers of Moses, and by his authority) such doctrine as was agreeable to Moses his doctrine. For they were but ministers; and when two of them prophesied in the camp, it was thought a new and unlawful thing; and as it is in the 27th and 28th verses of the same chapter, they were accused of it, and Joshua advised Moses to forbid them, as not knowing that it was by Moses his spirit that they prophesied. By which it is manifest that no subject ought to pretend to prophecy, or to the spirit, in opposition to the doctrine established by him whom God hath set in the place of Moses.
Aaron being dead, and after him also Moses, the kingdom, as being a sacerdotal kingdom, descended by virtue of the covenant to Aaron's son, Eleazar the high priest: and God declared him, next under Himself, for sovereign, at the same time that He appointed Joshua for the general of their army. For thus God saith expressly concerning Joshua: "He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him before the Lord; at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him." [Numbers, 27. 21] Therefore the supreme power of making war and peace was in the priest. The supreme power of judicature belonged also to the high priest: for the Book of the Law was in their keeping, and the priests and Levites only were the subordinate judges in causes civil, as appears in Deuteronomy, 17. 8, 9, 10. And for the manner of God's worship, there was never doubt made but that the high priest, till the time of Saul, had the supreme authority. Therefore the civil and ecclesiastical power were both joined together in one and the same person, the high priest; and ought to be so, in whosoever governeth by divine right; that is, by authority immediate from God.
After the death of Joshua, till the time of Saul, the time between is noted frequently in the Book of Judges, "that there was in those days no king in Israel"; and sometimes with this addition, that "every man did that which was right in his own eyes." By which is to be understood that where it is said, "there was no king," is meant, "there was no sovereign power," in Israel. And so it was, if we consider the act and exercise of such power. For after the death of Joshua and Eleazar, "there arose another generation that knew not the Lord, nor the nor the works which He had done for Israel, but did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baalim." [Judges, 2. 10] And the Jews had that quality which St. Paul noteth, "to look for a sign," not only before they would submit themselves to the government of Moses, but also after they had obliged themselves by their submission. Whereas signs and miracles had for end to procure faith, not to keep men from violating it when they have once given it, for to that men are obliged by the law of nature. But if we consider not the exercise, but the right of governing, the sovereign power was still in the high priest. Therefore whatsoever obedience was yielded to any of the judges (who were men chosen by God extraordinarily to save His rebellious subjects out of the hands of the enemy), it cannot be drawn into argument against the right the high priest had to the sovereign power in all matters both of policy and religion. And neither the judges nor Samuel himself had an ordinary, but extraordinary, calling to the government, and were obeyed by the Israelites, not out of duty, but out of reverence to their favour with God, appearing in their wisdom, courage, or felicity. Hitherto therefore the right of regulating both the policy and the religion were inseparable.
To the judges succeeded kings: and whereas before all authority,
both in religion and policy, was in the high priest; so now it was all
in the king. For the sovereignty over the people which was, before,
not only by virtue of the divine power, but also by a particular
pact of the Israelites in God, and next under Him, in the high priest,
as His vicegerent on earth, was cast off by the people, with the
consent of God Himself. For when they said to Samuel, "make us a
king to judge us, like all the nations," [I Samuel, 8. 5] they signified that they
would no more be governed by the commands that should be laid upon
them by the priest, in the name of God; but by one that should command
them in the same manner that all other nations were commanded; and
consequently in deposing the high priest of royal authority, they
deposed that peculiar government of God. And yet God consented to
it, saying to Samuel, "Hearken unto the voice of the people, in all
that they shall say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee; but
they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." [Ibid., 8. 7]
Having therefore rejected God, in whose right the priests governed,
there was no authority left to the priests but such as the king was
pleased to allow them; which was more or less, according as the
kings were good or evil. And for the government of civil affairs, it
is manifest, it was all in the hands of the king. For in the same
chapter they say they will be like all the nations; that their king
shall be their judge, and go before them, and fight their battles; [Ibid., 8. 20]
that is, he shall have the whole authority, both in peace and war.
In which is continued also the ordering of religion: for there was
no other word of God in that time by which to regulate religion but
the Law of Moses, which was their civil law. Besides, we read that
Solomon "thrust out Abiathar from being priest before the Lord":[I Kings, 2. 27]
he had therefore authority over the high priest, as over any other
subject, which is a great mark of supremacy in religion. And we read
also that he dedicated the Temple; that he blessed the people; and
that he himself in person made that excellent prayer, used in the
consecrations of all churches and houses of prayer; [
Notwithstanding the government both in policy and religion were joined, first in the high priests, and afterwards in the kings, so far forth as concerned the right; yet it appeareth by the same holy history that the people understood it not; but there being amongst them a great part, and probably the greatest part, that no longer than they saw great miracles, or, which is equivalent to a miracle, great abilities, or great felicity in the enterprises of their governors, gave sufficient credit either to the fame of Moses or to the colloquies between God and the priests, they took occasion, as oft as their governors displeased them, by blaming sometimes the policy, sometimes the religion, to change the government or revolt from their obedience at their pleasure; and from thence proceeded from time to time the civil troubles, divisions, and calamities of the nation. As for example, after the death of Eleazar and Joshua, the next generation, which had not seen the wonders of God, but were left to their own weak reason, not knowing themselves obliged by the covenant of a sacerdotal kingdom, regarded no more the commandment of the priest, nor any law of Moses, but did every man that which was right in his own eyes; and obeyed in civil affairs such men as from time to time they thought able to deliver them from the neighbour nations that oppressed them; and consulted not with God, as they ought to do, but with such men, or women, as they guessed to be prophets by their predictions of things to come; and though they had an idol in their chapel, yet if they had a Levite for their chaplain, they made account they worshipped the God of Israel.
And afterwards when they demanded a king, after the manner of the nations, yet it was not with a design to depart from the worship of God their King; but despairing of the justice of the sons of Samuel, they would have a king to judge them in civil actions; but not that they would allow their king to change the religion which they thought was recommended to them by Moses. So that they always kept in store a pretext, either of justice or religion, to discharge themselves of their obedience whensoever they had hope to prevail. Samuel was displeased with the people, for that they desired a king (for God was their King already, and Samuel had but an authority under Him); yet did Samuel, when Saul observed not his counsel in destroying Agag as God had commanded, anoint another king, namely, David, to take the succession from his heirs. Rehoboam was no idolater; but when the people thought him an oppressor, that civil pretence carried from him ten tribes to Jeroboam an idolater. And generally through the whole history of the kings, as well of Judah as of Israel, there were prophets that always controlled the kings for transgressing the religion, and sometimes also for errors of state; as Jehoshaphat was reproved by the prophet Jehu for aiding the King of Israel against the Syrians; [II Chronicles, 19. 2] and Hezekiah, by Isaiah, for showing his treasures to the ambassadors of Babylon. By all which it appeareth that though the power both of state and religion were in the kings, yet none of them were uncontrolled in the use of it but such as were gracious for their own natural abilities or felicities. So that from the practice of those times, there can no argument be drawn that the right of supremacy in religion was not in the kings, unless we place it in the prophets, and conclude that because Hezekiah, praying to the Lord before the cherubim, was not answered from thence, nor then, but afterwards by the prophet Isaiah, therefore Isaiah was supreme head of the Church; or because Josiah consulted Huldah the prophetess, concerning the Book of the Law, that therefore neither he, nor the high priest, but Huldah the prophetess had the supreme authority in matter of religion, which I think is not the opinion of any doctor.
During the Captivity the Jews had no Commonwealth at all; and after their return, though they renewed their covenant with God, yet there was no promise made of obedience, neither to Esdras nor to any other: and presently after they became subjects to the to the Greeks, from whose customs and demonology, and from the doctrine of the Cabalists, their religion became much corrupted: in such sort as nothing can be gathered from their confusion, both in state and religion, concerning the supremacy in either. And therefore so far forth as concerneth the Old Testament, we may conclude that whosoever had the sovereignty of the Commonwealth amongst the Jews, the same had also the supreme authority in matter of God's external worship, and represented God's person; that is, the person of God the Father; though He were not called by the name of Father till such time as He sent into the world His Son Jesus Christ to redeem mankind from their sins, and bring them into his everlasting kingdom to be saved for evermore. Of which we are to speak in the chapter following.
WE FIND in Holy Scripture three parts of the office of the Messiah: the first of a redeemer, or saviour; the second of a pastor, counsellor, or teacher, that is, of a prophet sent from God to convert such as God hath elected to salvation; the third of a king, an eternal king, but under his Father, as Moses and the high priests were in their several times. And to these three parts are correspondent three times. For, our redemption he wrought at his first coming, by the sacrifice wherein he offered up himself for our sins upon the cross; our conversion he wrought partly then in his own person, and partly worketh now by his ministers, and will continue to work till his coming again. And after his coming again shall begin that his glorious reign over his elect which is to last eternally.
To the office of a redeemer, that is, of one that payeth the
ransom of sin, which ransom is death, it appertaineth that he was
sacrificed, and thereby bore upon his own head and carried away from
us our iniquities, in such sort as God had required. Not that the
death of one man, though without sin, can satisfy for the offences
of all men, in the rigour of justice, but in the mercy of God, that
ordained such sacrifices for sin as He was pleased in His mercy to
accept. In the old law (as we may read, Leviticus, 16) the Lord
required that there should, every year once, be made an atonement
for the sins of all Israel, both priests and others; for the doing
whereof Aaron alone was to sacrifice for himself and the priests a
young bullock, and for the rest of the people he was to receive from
them two young goats, of which he was to sacrifice one; but as for the
other, which was the scapegoat, he was to lay his hands on the head
thereof, and by a confession of the iniquities of the people, to lay
them all on that head, and then by some opportune man to cause the
goat to be led into the wilderness, and there to escape and carry away
with him the iniquities of the people. As the sacrifice of the one
goat was a sufficient, because an acceptable, price for the ransom
of all Israel; so the death of the Messiah is a sufficient price for
the sins of all mankind, because there was no more required. Our
Saviour Christ's sufferings seem to be here figured as clearly as in
the oblation of Isaac, or in any other type of him in the Old
Testament. He was both the sacrificed goat and the scapegoat: "He
was oppressed, and he was afflicted; he opened not his mouth; he is
brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is dumb before
the shearer, so opened he not his mouth":[Isaiah, 53. 7] here is the sacrificed
goat. "He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows";[Ibid.Ibid., 53. 6] and
so he is the scapegoat. "He was cut off from the land of the living
for the transgression of my people": [Ibid., 53. 8] there again he is the
sacrificed goat. And again, "he shall bear their sins":[
For as much therefore as he that redeemeth hath no title to the thing redeemed, before the redemption and ransom paid, and this ransom was the death of the redeemer, it is manifest that our Saviour, as man, was not king of those that he redeemed, before he suffered death; that is, during that time he conversed bodily on the earth. I say he was not then king in present, by virtue of the pact which the faithful make with him in baptism: nevertheless, by the renewing of their pact with God in baptism, they were obliged to obey him for king, under his Father, whensoever he should be pleased to take the kingdom upon him. According whereunto, our Saviour himself expressly saith, "My kingdom is not of this world." [John, 18. 36] Now seeing the Scripture maketh mention but of two worlds; this that is now, and shall remain to the day of judgement, which is therefore also called the last day; and that which shall be after the day of judgement, when there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; the kingdom of Christ is not to begin till the general resurrection. And that is it which our Saviour saith, "The Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." [Matthew, 16. 27] To reward every man according to his works is to execute the office of a king; and this is not to be till he come in the glory of his Father, with his angels. When our Saviour saith, "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you do, that observe and do";[Ibid., 23. 2] he declareth plainly that he ascribeth kingly power, for that time, not to himself, but to them. And so he doth also, where he saith, "Who made me a judge or divider over you?" [Luke, 12. 14] And, "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." [John, 12. 47] And yet our Saviour came into this world that he might be a king and a judge in the world to come: for he was the Messiah, that is, the Christ, that is, the anointed priest and the sovereign prophet of God; that is to say, he was to have all the power that was in Moses the prophet, in the high priests that succeeded Moses, and in the kings that succeeded the priests. And St. John says expressly, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgement to the Son." [Ibid., 5. 22] And this is not repugnant to that other place, "I came not to judge the world": for this is spoken of the world present, the other of the world to come; as also where it is said that at the second coming of Christ, "Ye that have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." [Matthew, 19. 28]
If then Christ, whilst he was on earth, had no kingdom in this world, to what end was his first coming? It was to restore unto God, by a new covenant, the kingdom which, being his by the old covenant, had been cut off by the rebellion of the Israelites in the election of Saul. Which to do, he was to preach unto them that he was the Messiah, that is, the king promised to them by the prophets, and to offer himself in sacrifice for the sins of them that should by faith submit themselves thereto; and in case the nation generally should refuse him, to call to his obedience such as should believe in him amongst the Gentiles. So that there are two parts of our Saviour's office during his abode upon the earth: one to proclaim himself the Christ; and another by teaching, and by working of miracles, to persuade and prepare men to live so as to be worthy of the immortality believers were to enjoy, at such time as he should come in majesty to take possession of his Father's kingdom. And therefore it is that the time of his preaching is often by himself called the regeneration, which is not properly a kingdom, and thereby a warrant to deny obedience to the magistrates that then were; for he commanded to obey those that sat then in Moses' chair, and to pay tribute to Caesar; but only an earnest of the kingdom of God that was to come to those to whom God had given the grace to be his disciples and to believe in him; for which cause the godly are said to be already in the kingdom of grace, as naturalized in that heavenly kingdom.
Hitherto therefore there is nothing done or taught by Christ that tendeth to the diminution of the civil right of the Jews or of Caesar. For as touching the Commonwealth which then was amongst the Jews, both they that bore rule amongst them and they that were governed did all expect the Messiah and kingdom of God; which they could not have done if their laws had forbidden him, when he came, to manifest and declare himself. Seeing therefore he did nothing, but by preaching and miracles go about to prove himself to be that Messiah, he did therein nothing against their laws. The kingdom he claimed was to be in another world: he taught all men to obey in the meantime them that sat in Moses' seat: he allowed them to give Caesar his tribute, and refused to take upon himself to be a judge. How then could his words or actions be seditious, or tend to the overthrow of their then civil government? But God having determined his sacrifice for the reduction of His elect to their former covenanted obedience, for the means, whereby He would bring the same to effect, made use of their malice and ingratitude. Nor was it contrary to the laws of Caesar. For though Pilate himself, to gratify the Jews, delivered him to be crucified; yet before he did so, he pronounced openly that he found no fault in him; and put for title of his condemnation, not as the Jews required, "that he pretended to be king," but simply, "that he was King of the Jews"; and notwithstanding their clamour, refused to alter it, saying, "What I have written, I have written."
As for the third part of his office, which was to be king, I have already shown that his kingdom was not to begin till the resurrection. But then he shall be king, not only as God, in which sense he is king already, and ever shall be, of all the earth, in virtue of his omnipotence; but also peculiarly of his own elect, by virtue of the pact they make with him in their baptism. And therefore it is that our Saviour saith that his Apostles should sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, "When the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory":[Loc. cit.] whereby he signified that he should reign then in his human nature; and "The Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works." [Ibid., 16. 27] The same we may read, Mark, 13. 26, and 14. 62, and more expressly for the time, Luke, 22. 29, 30, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed to me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." By which it is manifest that the kingdom of Christ appointed to him by his Father is not to be before the Son of Man shall come in glory, and make his Apostles judges of the twelve tribes of Israel. But a man may here ask, seeing there is no marriage in the kingdom of heaven, whether men shall then eat and drink. What eating therefore is meant in this place? This is expounded by our Saviour where he saith, "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give you." So that by eating at Christ's table is meant the eating of the tree of life; that is to say, the enjoying of immortality, in the kingdom of the Son of Man. By which places, and many more, it is evident that our Saviour's kingdom is to be exercised by him in his human nature.
Again, he is to be king then no otherwise than as subordinate or vicegerent of God the Father, as Moses was in the wilderness, and as the high priests were before the reign of Saul, and as the kings were after it. For it is one of the prophecies concerning Christ that he be like, in office, to Moses: "I will raise them up a prophet," saith the Lord, "from amongst their brethren like unto thee, and will put my words into his mouth";[Deuteronomy, 18. 18] and this similitude with Moses is also apparent in the actions of our Saviour himself, whilst he was conversant on earth. For as Moses chose twelve princes of the tribes to govern under him; so did our Saviour choose twelve Apostles, who shall sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel: and as Moses authorized seventy elders to receive the Spirit of God, and to prophesy to the people, that is, as I have said before, to speak unto them in the name of God; so our Saviour also ordained seventy disciples to preach his kingdom and salvation to all nations. And as when a complaint was made to Moses against those of the seventy that prophesied in the camp of Israel, he justified them in it as being subservient therein to his government; so also our Saviour, when St. John complained to him of a certain man that cast out devils in his name, justified him therein, saying, "Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is on our part." [Luke, 9. 50]
Again, our Saviour resembled Moses in the institution of sacraments, both of admission into the kingdom of God and of commemoration of his deliverance of his elect from their miserable condition. As the children of Israel had for sacrament of their reception into the kingdom of God, before the time of Moses, the rite of circumcision, which rite, having been omitted in the wilderness, was again restored as soon as they came into the Land of Promise; so also the Jews, before the coming of our Saviour, had a rite of baptizing, that is, of washing with water all those that, being Gentiles, embraced the God of Israel. This rite St. John the Baptist used in the reception of all them that gave their names to the Christ, whom he preached to be already come into the world; and our Saviour instituted the same for a sacrament to be taken by all that believed in him. For what cause the rite of baptism first proceeded is not expressed formally in the Scripture, but it may be probably thought to be an imitation of the law of Moses concerning leprosy; wherein the leprous man was commanded to be kept out of the camp of Israel for a certain time; after which time, being judged by the priest to be clean, he was admitted into the camp after a solemn washing. And this may therefore be a type of the washing in baptism, wherein such men as are cleansed of the leprosy of sin by faith are received into the Church with the solemnity of baptism. There is another conjecture drawn from the ceremonies of the Gentiles, in a certain case that rarely happens: and that is, when a man that was thought dead chanced to recover, other men made scruple to converse with him, as they would do to converse with a ghost, unless he were received again into the number of men by washing, as children new born were washed from the uncleanness of their nativity, which was a kind of new birth. This ceremony of the Greeks, in the time that Judaea was under the dominion of Alexander and the Greeks his successors, may probably enough have crept into the religion of the Jews. But seeing it is not likely our Saviour would countenance a heathen rite, it is most likely it proceeded from the legal ceremony of washing after leprosy. And for the other sacrament, of eating the Paschal Lamb, it is manifestly imitated in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; in which the breaking of the bread and the pouring out of the wine do keep in memory our deliverance from the misery of sin by Christ's Passion, as the eating of the Paschal Lamb kept in memory the deliverance of the Jews out of the bondage of Egypt. Seeing therefore the authority of Moses was but subordinate, and he but a lieutenant to God, it followeth that Christ, whose authority, as man, was to be like that of Moses, was no more but subordinate to the authority of his Father. The same is more expressly signified by that that he teacheth us to pray, "Our Father, let thy kingdom come"; and, "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory"; and by that it is said that "He shall come in the glory of his Father"; and by that which St. Paul saith, "then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father";[I Corinthians, 15. 24] and by many other most express places.
Our Saviour therefore, both in teaching and reigning, representeth, as Moses did, the person God; which God from that time forward, but not before, is called the Father; and, being still one and the same substance, is one person as represented by Moses, and another person as represented by His Son the Christ. For person being a relative to a representer, it is consequent to plurality of representers that there be a plurality of persons, though of one and the same substance.