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SECT. V. Whence every one ought to learn the knowledge of the Christian.

IN this agreement and disagreement amongst Christians, prudent men will judge it most safe to take their knowledge of the Christian religion from the fountain, which is not in the least suspected, and whose streams all confess to be pure and undefiled. And this fountain is not the creed or the confession of faith of any particular church, but only the books of the New Testament, which all acknowledge to be genuine. I confess seine Christians do sometimes say, that those books cannot be understood but by the doctrine of their church; but others again deny it; and (to mention but this one thing) that opinion is very suspicious which depends only on the testimony of those that affirm it; and they such, whose chief interest it is that it should seem true. Others say, that there is need of the extraordinary assistance of the Holy Spirit, not only in order to the belief of the Scripture, (which may without any great difficulty be allowed), but also in order to understand the meaning of the words contained in it; which I do not see how it can be proved; but we will grant this also, provided they will acknowledge that all men, who read the books of the New Testament with a religious mind, intent upon the truth, are afforded this Spirit by the goodness of God; there is no need of contending for any thing more than this. Every one, therefore, may wisely and safely gather his knowledge of the Christian religion from these books; yet making use of those helps that are necessary or profitable for the understanding of such books; which we will not now enquire after.

Whoever, therefore, believes that the revelation of the will of God made by Christ is faithfully related in the books of the New Testament, such an one must of necessity embrace ail things which he there meets with, according as he understands them, as matters of faith, practice, and hope; for Whoever believes in Christ, ought to receive with a religious mind, every thing which he thinks comes from him; he cannot defend himself with any excuse, whereby to admit some 261and reject others, of those things which he acknowledges to come from Christ. And such are those doctrines I before explained, and concerning which all Christians, as I said are agreed.

As to the rest, about which they contest, since they are not so very plain, a religious and pious man may and ought to deliberate concerning them, and withhold his judgment till they appear more evident to him: for it is very imprudent to admit or reject any thing, before it sufficiently appears to be either true or false. Nor is eternal salvation, in the books of the New Testament. promised to any one who embraces this or that controverted opinion; but to hire who heartily receives in his mind, and expresses in his actions, the sum of the Christian religion, as we have described it.

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