What is meant in Scripture by the word Heresies, and how we are to understand, that there must be Heresies, for making manifest the the godlie parti•… or these that are approved. 1 Cor: 11. 19.
FOr there must be also Heresies among you, saith the Apo∣stle, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you, or as others read, that they which are appro∣ved among you may be manifest.
By Heresies here some understand no more but divisions and Sects, and conceave that Heresies in point of opinion or doctrine, are not here meant. So Chrysostome, Erasmus and others. If so, then the very divisions and sects, will make a discovery who are approved, who not, before it come to He∣reticall opinions, i. e. Sectaries are not approved, and these who are indeed approved, are none of theirs, but keep them∣selves unspotted, and free from them. So Tit. 3. 10. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is rendered in the Tigurin Bible, Sectarum authorem, and in the mar∣gin f•…ctiosum, i. e. a man that is an author of sects (or factions) after the first and second admonition, reject, and 1 Cor: 11 19. they read, opportet enim & Sectas in vobis esse. Sometimes the word, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is taken in the new Testament for a sect, yet (to Page 111 note that by the way) onely for such a sect, as either was in∣deed, or was esteemed to be of some hereticall opinion, as Act. 5. 17. and 15. 5. and 24. 5. and 26. 5. and 28. 22. The Apo∣stle hath the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, twise in his Epistles, and in both pla∣ces he makes some difference, and distinction between heresies, and divisions, or strifes and variance, 1 Cor: 11. 18, 19. Gal: 5. 20. For every division, strife, or variance, is not Heresie. There∣fore in the Text which I now speak to, I understand Heresie to be some what more then division. The Arabick 1 Cor: 14. 2. that is in the Greek, and our Translations, 1 Cor: 11. 19. re∣peateth the word Schismes out of the precedent vers: & addeth moreover the word Heresies, reading 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; for there most arise Schismes and Heresies among you, that these of you who are godly may be known: it seems that they who understand, only divisions to be meant by the word Heresies, do not observe the rising of the Apostles speach, for after he hath spoken of their 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or Schismatical divisions contrary to the rule of love;* he addeth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, &c. For there must bee also Heresies a∣mong you. I partly beleeve it, saith he, that there are divisions among you, for there must be, not onely Schismes, but worse then that, there must bee Heresies also! If you aske now, what is Heresie? I shall without any implicit following of Writers, ground my answer on Scripture it self. And I an∣swer first negativelie, then positively. Negatively,
1. Heresie is neither to be so farre taken at large, as to bee extended to every error, which may be confuted by Scripture, although happily such an error be too tenaciously maintained. Nor yet is it to be so farre restricted, as that no error shall be accounted Hereticall, but that which is destructive to some fundamentall Article of the Christian faith, if by a fundamen∣tall Article, you understand such a truth without the know∣ledge and faith whereof, 'tis impossible to get salvation. When Peter Martyr defines Heresie, he makes no mention of a funda∣mentall Page 112 error, but of an error contrarie to the Scriptures, loc: com. class: 2. cap: 4. § 50. So Calvin: Instit: lib: 4. cap: 2. § 5. understands all such to be Heretiks, as make a breach in the Church by false Doctrines. Walaeus, tom: 1. pag: 57. saith, Hereticall Churches do either erre in the foundation, or onlie in some other things built upon the foundation. When Peter speaks of such Heresies, as take away the very foundation, Ie∣sus Christ, he thinks it too little to call them simple Heresies, but he cals these damnable Heresies. But if you understand by fundamentall truths, all the chief and substantiall principles (I do not mean onely the first Rudiments, or A, B, C, of a Catechisme, which we first of all put to new beginners, but I mean all such truths as are commonly put in the confessions of faith, and in the more full and large Catechismes of the re∣formed Churches, or all such truths, as all and every one who live in a true Christian reformed Church, are commanded, and required to learn and know, as they exspect in the ordinary dispensation of God to be saved,) in this sense, I may yeeld that Heresie is alwayes contrary to some fundamentall truth. 'Tis one thing to dispute of the absolute soveraigne power of God, and what are the truths, without the beleif whereof 'tis absolutly, and altogether impossible that one can be saved: Which question (I doubt) is hardly determinable by Scripture, nor do I know what edification there is in the canvassing of it▪ sure I am 'tis a question much abused. 'Tis another thing to dispute what are these truths, which in a Church where the Gospell is truely preached, all and every one, (come to years of knowledge and discretion) and having means and occasions to learne, are bound to know, (and according to the revealed will and ordinary dispensation of God) must learne, as they desire or exspect to have a true fellowship with Christ in the Sacra∣ment of the Lords supper, or to bee accepted of God, and sa∣ved eternally: Page 113 2. We must not think that no man is a Heretick, but he who is consistorially or judicially admonished, and thereafter con∣tinueth pertinaciously in his error. For where 'tis said Tit: 3. 10 A man that is an Heretick after the first and second admoni∣tion, reject: 'Tis intimated that he is an Heretick before such admonition. Positively, I concieve that these six things doe concurre to make a Heresie. 1. Tis an error held by some Minister or member of a Church, I mean either a true Church or an assembly pretending and professing to be a true Church. For both Peter and Paul where they foretell that Heresies were to come, 2 Pet: 2. 1. 1 Cor: 11. 19. they adde 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, among you, i.e. among you Christians. So Act: 20. 30. also of your owne selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things. Therefore the Scripture gives no•… the name of Hereti•…ks to these who are altogether without the visible Church, but it calleth such by the names of Heathens or unbel•…evers, or they that are with∣out, or the like. 2. Tis an error volunntarlie and freely chosen, both in the first invention and broaching of it, (which is pro∣per to the Heresiarchs,) and in the maintaining of it, or adhe∣ring to it, (whic•… is common to all Hereticks.) This I collect from the very name which the Scripture gives to it for, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, comes from 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I choose. Therefore we give not the name of Hereticks to such Christians as are compelled in time of persecution to profess such or such an error, which peradven∣ture were a formal▪ Heresie, if voluntarly and without compul∣sion professed. They ought indeed to die, and to indure the greatest torments, before they professe what they know to be an error: but this their sin is not properly called Heresie, for an Heretick doth freely and voluntarily hold that which is his* error. And in this respect and consideration, Tertullian thinks Page 114 that an Heretick is said to be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, condemned of himself. Tit: 3. 10. because he hath of himself choosed that which doth condemne him. The Apostle there hath commanded to reject an Heretick. If I reject him (might one say) then I loose him, I destroy his soule. Nay (saith the Apostle) his perdition is of himself, for he hath chosen his own wayes, and his soul delight∣eth in his abominations. This interpretation is much surer and safer, then to say that a Heretick is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or self∣condemned, because he goes against his own light, and a∣gainst the principles received and acknowledged by himself: Which sense is accompanied with many dangerous conse∣quences. 3. 'Tis such a choosing of error as is accompanied with a rejecting of Truth. A Hereticke puts light for darknesse, and darknes •…or light; good fo•… evill, and evill for good, he chooseth e•…ror as truth, and ref•…seth truth as error, they that give heed to seducing •…pirits and doctrines of Devils, do also depart from the faith, 1 Tim. 4. 1. resist the 〈◊〉, 2 Tim 3. 8, and turne away their ears from the truth, 2 Tim: 4. 4. their course hath a te•…minus a quo als well as ad quem. 4 'Tis an error pro∣fessed and maintained, and which •…y that means becomes a scandal and snare to others. For although there may be Heresie (a•…s well as other kinds of sin•…urking and hid in the thoughts, yet that belongs to Gods judgement only, not to mans. The Heresies which are spoken of, 1 Cor: 11. •…9. are certainly known and apparently discriminative; even among men. And Heretic•…s are scandalous persons to be avoided and rejected, Rom: 16. 17. Tit: 3. 10. which could not be, except their errors were known. 5. 'Tis an error contradictory to some chiefe and substantial•… truth grounded upon, or be necessary conse∣quence drawne from, the holy Scripture. There was never yet any Heretick in the Christian world who contradicted that whi•…h is literally and syllabically in Scripture. The most damnable Hereticke will offer to subscribe to the Scrip∣ture Page 115 in stead of a Confession of Faith, who yet will not sub∣scribe to all truths, which necessarily follow from the words of Scripture. But I call not every error Heresie which is con∣trary to any consequentiall truth, grounded upon Scripture. As the Scr•…pture reckons not all who sin, to be workers of ini∣quitie, so it reckons not all who erre to be Hereticks. Although there is not any, either sin or errour, in the own nature of it ve∣niall, yet every sin is not a grosse and hainous sin, and every errour is not Heresie. Heresies are mentioned as greater evills then Schismes. 1 Cor: 11. 18. 19. which could not be so, if e∣very errour were an Heresie. 6. 'Tis an errour factiously main∣tained, with a renting of the Church, and drawing away of Disciples after it. In which respect Augustine said, Errare pote∣ro, Haereti us non ero, I may e•…re, but I shall not be an Hereticke. Hereticks are deceivers and seducers who endeavour to per∣vert others, and to overthrow their faith, 2 Tim: 3, 13. Act. 20: 30. 2 Tim. 2. 17. 18. Rom: 16. 17, 18, 19. 2 Pet: 2. 2. All known and noted Hereticks are also Schismaticks who make a rupture, and strengthen their own party by drawing after them, or confirming unto them Disciples and followers (in so much that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, is often used for a Sect, as Act. 5, 17. and 15. 5. and 24. 5. and 26. 5.) For this cause, the Donatists were condemned, as Hereticks, without imputation of Heresie to Cyprian. And O strange turning about of things! (saith vincentius Lirinensis advers: haeret: cap: 11.) the Authors of the same opinion are judged Catholiks, but the followers Hereticks. The Masters are absolved, the Disciples are condemned. The writers of these books are the Children of the Kingdome, but Hell shall receive the asser∣tors or mantainers. This last ingredient which is found in Here∣sie, is hinted by the Arabick interpreter, 1 Cor: 11. 19. where he joyneth Schismes and Heresies as was noted before. And indeed in the Originall, the particle 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and the rising of the speech, sets forth Heresie as carying schisme with it in its bo∣some: Page 116 I believe saith the Apostle in part, what I hear of your schismes, for there must be also Heresies, i.e. both Schismes and somewhat more. Calvin Institut. lib: 4. cap: 2. §. 5. makes the breaking of Church communion & the making of a rent, a thing common both to Hereticks, and Schismaticks: for Hereticks break one band of Church communion which is consent in doctrin: Schismaticks break another, which is love, though sometimes they agree in the like faith.
From all which Scripturall observations we may make up a description of Heresie, to this sense. Heresie is agrosse and dangerous errour voluntarily held, and factiously maintained by some person or persons within the visible Church, in opposition to some chief or substantiall truth or truths grounded upon and drawn from the holy Scripture by necessary consequence.
But next, why saith the Apostle that there must be Heresies? This is not a simple or absolute necessity, but ex Hypothesi. I mean, not onely upon supposition of Sathans malice, and mens corruption, but upon supposition of Gods eternall, and infallible foreknowledge: and not only so, but upon supposi∣tion of the eternall decree of God, whereby he did decree to permit Sathan, and corrupt men, to introduce Heresies into the Church, purposing in the most wise, and most holy coun∣sell of his will, to disabuse (as I may so say) his Church by these Heresies, that is to order and over-rule them, for the praise of his grace and mercy, to manifest such as are approved, and from the glory of his justice, in sending strong delu∣sion upon such as received not the love of the truth, but had pleasure in unrig•…teousnesse. These things being so, i. e. Sa∣thans malice, and mens corruption being such, and there being such a foreknowledge; yea, such a decree in God, therefore it is, that there must be Heresies, and so we a•…e also to under∣stand, Mat: 18. 17. it must needs be that offences come: These things I doe but touch by the way.
Page 117That which I here aime at, is the good use which God in •…is most wise and soveraigne providence, can, and doth make of Heresies: 'Tis, that they which are approved, may bee made manifest. Whereby 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, they which are approved, we can understand nothing but such as are true and sincere Saints, ap∣proved and accepted of God, or (as Bullinger on the place) vere pii, truely godly: In which sense the same word is used, Rom: 16. 10. 2 Cor: 10. 18. 2 Tim: 2. 15. Ia•… 1. 12. The word is properly used of good money, or silver well refined, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. 'Tis transferred to Saints with speciall reference to their mortification, or to the refyning of them from the drosse of their corrup•…ions, and so noteth such as walk in the spirit, and not in the flesh. The contrarie word is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Re∣probate, rejectaneous, naughty, or to bee cast away like the drosse of silver, 1 Cor: 9. 27. 2 Cor: 13. 5, 6. But how is it that by means, or occasion of Heresies, the godly party is made manifest? Surely the meaning of the Apostle is not, that the authors, and followers of Heresies are the godly party, for he calls Heresie, a work of the flesh. Gal: 5 20. and will have an Heretick to be rejected, as one who is of himself con∣demned, Tit: 3. 10. Therefore most certainly his meaning is that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, they which are approved, are known by this; as one of their characters, they hate, avoid, and resist Heresies, and earnestly contend for the faith, they hold fast the truth of Christ without wavering. And those who broach, or adhere unto Heresies, are thereby known to be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, unapproved, and such as are like reprobat silver. Whosoever therefore si∣deth, or ingadgeth with Heresies, or Hereticks; yea, whoever stands not fast in the faith, doth ipso facto declare himself to be none of Pauls godly party. So contrary is the holy Ghosts lan∣guage to the tone of Sectaries in these day•…s. Neither is it in this Scripture alone, but in diverse other Scriptures, that the holy Ghost distinguisheth those that are approved of God, from Page 118 such as turne away from the truth after false doctrines, and be∣leeve seducing spirits, as well as from those who are of an un∣godly life. So Deut: 13. 3. when a false Prophet arose, and the signe or wonder came to passe, what was Gods meaning in permitting these things? The Lord your God proveth you to know whether ye love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and w•…th all your soule. They therefore that hearkened to the false Prophet, even when his signe or wonder came to passe, made themselves known thereby, that they had not been lovers of God with all their heart. Again Matth. 24▪ 24. those that are elect, are not deceived by false Christs, and the false Prophets: and by the rule of contraries, they who are deceived by them, and go in their errour to the end, are not elect, but reprobat, Gal: 5. 20. 21. Heresie is a work of the flesh, and is reckoned among these things which render a person uncapable of inheriting the Kingdome of God. They therefore who walk in the spirit, and not in the flesh, and are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the Saints in light, are not onely no Hereticks, but resist and oppose Heresie, as being a work of the flesh. Ioh. 8. 31. They who are Christs Discples indeed, continue in his word. They who continue not in his word, are not his Dis∣ciples indeed, 1 Ioh: 2. 24. with •…. Epist. of Iohn, vers: 9. They who have fellowship with the Father and the Son, abide in the Doctrine of Christ: They who abide not in the Doctrine of Christ, have no fellowship with the Father and the Son, the like in divers other Scriptures.
If therefore they must be Heresies even for this reason, to make more manifest who are approved, who not: Then let no thoughts arise in our hearts, toward the accusing of divine providence in this particular. Iustin Martyr. Quaest, & respons: ad orthod. quaest.
1. Answering this doubt: If God hath taken away the Idolatries, superstitious, and false religion of Heathens, and Page 119 hath also abolished the Jewish worship, why hath he suffered Heresies to enter into the Christian Church? Hee gives this solution, that although Heresies come into the Church through mens negligence, and flothfulnesse, (for while men slept, the enemy sowed the •…ares among the wheat, Mat: 13. 25:) Yet the providence of God was no way slothfull in the businesse, for he foresaw, and foretold that Heresies should come, and hath given plaine warning in his word concerning the same. He addeth that the s•…me God who did destroy the Heathenish and the Jewi•…h religion, will also destroy Heresies, after hee hath suffered them for a time. Although wee had no distinct knowledge, what God intends to work out of Heresies, yet we ought not to censure, but humbly, and reverently, to adore Gods most wise, and most holy, (though secret and un•…earchable) dispensations. If wee should see somewhat which is deadly poyson among some drugges, which a skilled and approved Physitian is making use of, wee must not rushly censure the Phisitian, for hee knowes how to disabuse that which is in it self poysonable, and to make it one of the ingredients in a most soveraigne medicine. Or if we should come into the shop of a curious Artificer, or I•…geneer, and there see some ugly and ill favoured instruments, which we think can serve for no good but for evill, yet it were foolishly done to censure the Artificer, who knowes to make an excellent good use of these things, though we know not. How much more foolish and sinfull is it, to suffer thoughts to rise in our hearts against the wisdome and providence of God, even alth•…ugh wee know not what he intends to work out of such things? We were most of all inexcusable to accuse his providence, now when he hath made known in his word to us, that by occasion of Heresies, he will make manifest who are approved, who not. Wherefore (saith Chryso•…ome, de divers▪ &c. tom: loc: Ser: 21.) that no man might say, why hath Christ permitted this, Paul saith, this permissionPage 120shall not hurt thee, if thou art one who are approved, for by this means thou shalt be made more manifest. Yet all this cannot ex∣cuse, either the Hereticks, or Sectaries themselves, or these who connive at them, for that which Christ saith in genere of scan∣dals, is true in specie of Heresies, it must needs be that Heresies come, but woe be to him by whom they come, I adde, and woe also to him who doth not according to his place and cal∣ling, endevour the extirpation of them. The Text which I now speak to, 1 Cor: 11. 17. hath not reference to the will of Gods commandement, which is the rule of our duty, but to the will of Gods decree, or the secret counsell of his will. 'Tis Gods purpose to permit Heresies, and to over rule them for this end; that his graces in his children may the more shine forth, and that even Heresies (contrarie to the intentions of Sathan and Hereticks) may make manifest who are approved, scilicet quos non potuerint depravare, saith Tertullian, opening this Scripture. De praescr: adv: haer: to wit (saith he) such as He∣resies could not pervert and deprave, no other are the approved ones.
But there are two things may be here objected: 1. May not one chosen and justified, and regenerat be drawn away, and infected with Heresie through the flight of men, and cunning craftinesse, whereby they lie in wait to deceave? If so, then Heresies, doe not make manifest who are approved. who not. 2▪ May not many who are not approved of God be preserved from the infections of Heresies; Yea, be forward in resisting and opposing them? If so, then preservation from, and resisting of Heresies cannot make manifest that one is ap∣proved of God. These objections are no more against mee, then against the Text of Scripture. To the first, I answere, a regenerat person may be tempted and drawn over to Here∣sie, as he may be tempted and drawen over to other great sins. Heresie doth no otherwise consist with the state of grace in any Page 121 person, then other works of the flesh, adultery, fornication, drunkennesse, or the like. Look upon an elect and justified person, while lying in some great sinne, for instance, Noah, Lot, David, Peter, even so must ye look upon an elect and justified person poysoned with Heresie. But then that person being ele∣cted, justified and regenerate, cannot be supposed to live & die in that sinfull estate, but God will certainely heal his backslidings, and rescue his soul out of the snare of the devill by repentance, for the elect cannot be deceived, so as to continue and die in a Heresie, Mat: 24. 24. And while he continueth in such a grosse sin or Heresie, you may truely say, that for that time he is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, unapproved, or like drosse and unrefined silver, in which sens the word is used by the Apostle, where he speaks of his bringing his body into subjection, lest he himself should be found 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, where the old English translation readeth, Lest I my self should be reprooved, which is too soft a word. The new Translation hath, Lest I my self should be a cast away. Beza, ne ipse rejectaneus fiam. In the same sense tis used, 2 Cor. 13. 5. Know you not your own selves, how that Iesus Christ is in you except ye be re∣probats. Beza, nisi rejectanei estis. H. Stephanus expones, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, minime probus non probandus: Item adulterinus non sincerus, and he cites Aristotle,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. In this sense even an e∣lect and regenerat person supposed to be a maintainer or fol∣lower of Here•…e (while such) is certainly, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, unapproved, greatly reproveable, to be rejected and cast away to the for∣nace like drossie and unrefined silver, and no marvel, for in that estate he doth not act his graces but his corruptions, and by his great sin doth extreamly grieve and dangerously quench the holy Spirit once given to him.
To the other objection I answer, First, Although the full and perfect discovery (who are approved, who not) is reserved to the great and last day, and there is no company, Assembly, nor visible Church in this world, without a mixture of Hypo∣crites, Page 122 yet surely the word of the Lord hath been and shall be so far fulfilled, that in a great measure and according to the knowledge which the church can have of her members in this life, there is in times of Heresies and Schismes a discovery made who are the approved Ones, who not. 2. We must re∣member tis not the scope of this Text to give us a note of di∣stinction between these who are approved, and all counterfits or unapproved Christians, but between these who are appro∣ved, and these who are the fomenters or followers of Heresies. Thus they who are indeed approved of God continue in the truth of Christ, grounded and setled, and stand fast in the faith and contend for it: and this is one of the characters, found in all such as are approved. And thus far, saith Augustine, are He∣reticks profitable to the Church, for by their meanes, those* who are approved of God and spiritual men, are stirred up to vindicat, open, and hold foorth the truth, whereby they be∣come more manifest then otherwise they could have been. Upon the other part, who ever turne away from the truth, and from the Doctrine of Christ, and turne aside after Here∣sies, do thereby infalliblely declare themselves to be unap∣proved, whatsoever profession or shew of holine •…e they have: Whatsoever become of the white mark of these who are ap∣proved (which also holds true as I have explained it) most certainly, this black mark cannot fail upon the other side, and he who supposeth any person who is of a Hereticall belief and faction, to be holy, spirituall, mortified, and approved, or one that walketh in the spirit, and not in the flesh, doth but sup∣pose that which is impossible. And I do not doubt, but God is (by the Heresies and Schismes of these times) making a disco∣very of many unapproved, unmortified Professors, who pre∣tended to Piety. So that I may transferre to our time what Chrysostome observed of his owne, lib. 1 ad eos qui scandali∣•…ati sunt. cap. 19. How many are there clothed with a shadow andPage 123shew of godlinesse, how many who have a counterfit meeknesse, how many who were thought to be some great Ones, and they were not so, have been in this time (when so many fall off and make defection) quickly manifested, and their Hypocrisie detected, they have appeared what they were, not what they feigned them∣selves; and most falsly pretend to be? Neither is this a small matter, but very much for the profite and edification of these that will observe it, even to know distinguishingly these who are clothed in sheeps clothing, & not to reckon promiscuously those Woolves (so hid) among the true sheep. For this time is become a fornace discovering the false Copper coyne, mel∣ting the lead, burning up the Chaffe, making more manifest the precious Mettals. This also Paul signified when he said: For there must be also Heresies, that they who are approved, may be made manifest among you.
Vincentius Lirinensis doth also record to this purpose, that* when almost the whole world was infected with the Arrian Heresie, some being compelled to it, others cheated into it, yet every true lover and worshipper of Christ was preserved pure from it.