صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Scripture? Now by Scripture, and the earlieft antiquity, our furelt guide, and purest precedent, we are not only willing, but wishful to be tried. It is true the bulk of Chrif tians are not equal to this trial; in a certain fenfe, they care for none of these things; they take matters upon truft; they are not able to give an answer to every man that asketh a reafon of the faith that is in them, except that they were born and bred in it, and fuppofe it to be unquestionable. It is with respect to this implicitnefs of affent, this tameness of acquiefcence, as it is opprobrioufly called, that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity has no lefs impiously than ludicrously been expofed to contempt under the defcription of the Trinity of the Mob! But this is very unfair representation. Surely no argument can be drawn from the incapacity, or the credulity of the many, to the disadvantage of a doctrine that, with refpect to the grounds on which we defend it, folicits, demands, defies the penetration of enquiry, and the inquifitive

[ocr errors]

* See p. 16, 36, 37. in Preface to Stilling fleet's Difcourfe in vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity. B 4


nefs of criticism. The fpiritual state of the common people all over the world falls nearly under the fame predicament; but at the fame time a proportionable degree of fatisfaction will always be derived to every man from every degree of rational affurance that he is in the right way; or belongs to a communion wherein the truth is held in purity approaching nearest to the standard of primitive Christianity.

[ocr errors]

What is truth? Say others. We are no ftrangers to the doctrines publicly established; to the faith afferted in your Articles, and expreffed in your Creeds; but to these Subfcription is much more univerfal than agreement. We can produce you names even among yourselves of perfons not a whit behind the very chiefeft Divines in point of rank, probity, or understanding, who nevertheless hold that God is to be worshipped after a way which you call herefy; who preach another Gofpel than that which ye have received from your fathers, conftantly affirming, or perpetually infinuating, that ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.

[ocr errors]


Too true indeed it is that the principal controverted points fubfifting among thofe "who profefs and call themselves Christians” are of the most serious nature. If the tenets of our gainfayers and adverfaries of many appellations are right and juft, the doctrines of the Trinity, and of the refurrection of the body, (which will be the objects of the enfuing difquifitions,) are herefies of the most abominable, or ridiculous tendency. However, thefe are circumftances which fhould not check, but ftimulate the spirit of investigation. It will be of infinite moment to inquire whether we or they are the mis taken party, and on which fide error really lies; whether our doctrines or theirs have the strongest foundation in fcripture and antiquity; are best supported by prefumptive argument, and corroborative evidence; or have leaft recourse to artifice, and the pitifulness of fubterfuge and evafion. We do not wish to have this matter determined either vulgarly by a majority of voices, or invidiously by the reputation of names.

[ocr errors]


But again, fay others, What is truth?→ What good purpose is answered, or what advantage gained by this extraordinary zeal for theory and establishment? What doth it but gender ftrifes, and feed the flame of contention? The practical doctrines of the gospel are fo forcibly, yet fo familiarly inculcated, as not to be liable to mifinterpretation. Concerning the faith thousands have erred, but, as one of our own poets hath faid,

"His can't be wrong, whofe life is in the right."

It is well for us there is nothing argumentative in the jingle of a couplet. I confefs myself to be one of those who are hurt by every effort that has a plain afpect towards refolving all religion into morality. I confider every attempt of this kind as an indirect attack upon the fundamentals of Chriftianity. According to the idea of these reafoners, the character of the Meffiah, and of the Son of God, will dwindle into that of a mere Legiflator, or moral philofopher, who teaches us to live foberly, righteously, and godly in this prefent world. This text, and texts + Tit. ii. 12.


[ocr errors]

congenerous with this, may plausibly be
urged in exaltation of good works to the ex-
clufion of faith: but let them be contrafted
with the following, he that believeth, and is
baptiz'd fhall be faved; he that believe thon
the Son bath everlasting life, &c. &c; and

where is boafting on the
on the part of moral honesty,
or evangelical righteousness? As speciously,
or as justly as men may harangue in demon-
stration of the excellence of piety and virtue,
or as loudly, or as reasonably as they may
exclaim against the violence, and much more
the virulence, which has actuated the spirit of
controverly in too many inftances; I pre-
fume, no intelligent perfon, if he is impar-
tial, will deny, that the faith which St. Jude
tells us was once delivered to the Saints, what-
ever we are precifely to understand by it, is
fomething entirely diftinct from mere mora-
lity; that it ought earnestly to be contended
for, agre ably to the fame Apoftle's exhorta-
tion; that it is very poffible to contend with
meekness; that errors, and fchifms, and here-
fies are represented in fcripture as things more
or less finful, dangerous, and damnable; and

* Mark xvi. 16.

+ John. vi. 47.


« السابقةمتابعة »