صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

the Epistles, as I have given one out of the Gospels and the Acts. If he cannot do that, it is plain, he hath here given a distinguishing mark of fundamentals, by which He himself cannot distinguish them. But yet I am the Muffler.

The argument in the next paragraph, p. 41, is this :

Necessary doctrines of faith, such as God absolutely « demands to be believed for justification, may be dis

tinguished from rules of holy living, with which they “ are mixed in the epistles; therefore doctrines of faith

necessary, and not necessary to be believed to make a " man a christian, may be distinguished, as they stand “ mixed in the epistles.” Which is as good sense as to say, lambs and kids may easily be distinguished in the same penn, where they are together, by their different natures: therefore the lambs I absolutely demand of you, as necessary to satisfy me, may be distinguished from others in the same penn, where they are mixed without any distinction. Doctrines of faith, and precepts of practice, are as distinguishable as doing and believing; and those as easily discernible one from another; as thinking and walking: but doctrinal propositions, all of them of divine revelation, are of the same authority, and of the same species, in respect of the necessity of believing them; and will be eternally undistinguishable into necessary, and not necessary to be believed, until there be some other way found to distinguish them, than that they are in a book, which is all of divine revelation. Though therefore doctrines of faith, and rules of practice, are very distinguishable in the epistles, yet it does not follow from thence, that fundamental and not fundamental doctrines, points necessary and not necessary to be believed to make men christians, are easily distinguishable in the epistles. Which, therefore, remains to be proved : and it remains incumbent

upon him,

XVIII. “ To set down the marks, whereby the doctrines, delivered in the epistles, may easily and

“ exactly

" exactly be distinguished into fundamental, and es

not fundamental articles of faith.”

[ocr errors]

All the rest of that paragraph, containing nothing against me, must be bound up with a great deal of the like stuff, which the unmasker has put into his book, to show the world he does not “ imitate me in imperti

nencies, incoherences, and trifling excursions," as he boasts in his first paragraph. Only I shall desire the reader to take the whole passage concerning this matter, as it stands in my “Reasonableness of Christianity, p. 154. “ I do not deny but the great doctrines of " the christian faith are dropt here and there, and scattered up and down in most of them. But it is not “ in the epistles we are to learn what are the funda

mental articles of faith, where they are promiscuously, " and without distinction, mixed with other truths and

discourses, which were (though for edification in“ deed, yet) only occasional. We shall find and discern " those great and neceffary points best, in the preach

ing of our Saviour and his apostles, to those who were

yet strangers and ignorant of the faith, to bring them « in, and convert them to it.” And then let him read these words, which the unmasker has quoted out of them: “ It is not in the cpistles, that we are to learn " what are the fundamental articles of faith; they were “ written for the resolving of doubts, and reforming of " mistakes;”? with his introduction of them in these words: “he commands the reader not to stir a jot fur" ther than the Acts.” If I should ask him where that command appears, he inust have recourse to his old shift, that he did not mean as he said, or else stand convicted of a malicious untruth. An orator is not bound to speak strict truth, though a disputant be. But this unmasker's writing against me will excuse him from being of the latter: and then why may not falfhoods pass for rhetorical flourishes, in one who hath been used to popular haranguing; to which men are not generally fo fevere as strictly to examine them, and expect that they should always be found to contain nothing but precise truth and strict reasoning? But yet I must not forget to put S3

upon

upon his score this other proposition of his, which he häs, p. 42, and ask him to show,

XIX. “ Where it is that I command my reader not

" to stir a jot farther than the Acts ?”

In the next two paragraphs, p. 42–46, the unmasker is at his natural play, of declaiming without proving. It is pity the Mishna, out of which he takes his good breeding, as it told him, that “a well-bred and well

taught man answers to the first, in the first place,” had not given him this rule too, about order, viz. That proving should go before condemning; else all the fierce exaggerations ill language can heap up, are but empty fcurrility. But it is no wonder that the Jewish doctors should not provide rules for a christian divine, turned unmasker. For where a cause is to be maintained, and a book to be writ, and arguments are not at hand, yet something must be found to fill it; railing in such cases is much easier than reasoning, especially where a man's parts lie that way.

The first of these paragraphs, p. 42, he begins thus : " But let us hear further what this vindicator faith to “ excuse his rejection of the doctrines contained in the “ epistles, and his putting us off with one article of “ faith.” And then he quotes these following words of mine : “ What if the author designed his treatise, as - the title shows, chiefly for those who were not yet “ thoroughly and firmly christians : purposing to work

upon those, who either wholly disbelieved, or doubted « of the truth of the christian religion?"

Answ. This, as he has put it, is a downright falshood. For the words he quotes were not used by me,“ to ex"cuse my rejection of the doctrines contained in the

epistles,” or to prove there was but one article ; but as a reason why I omitted the mention of satisfaction.

To demonstrate this, I shall set down the whole palsage, as it is, p. 163, 164, of my Vindication, where it

runs thus:

« But what will become of me that I have not mentioned satisfaction?

2

Possibly

rs Possibly this reverend gentleman would have had charity enough for a known writer of the brother

hood, to have found it by an innuendo.in those words " above quoted, of laying down his life for another. ** But every thing is to be strained here the other way. * For the author of the “ Reasonableness of Christiani" ty, &c.” is of necessity to be represented as a foci“ nian; or elfe his book may be read, and the truths

in it, which Mr. Edwards likes not, be received ; " and people put upon examining. Thus one, as full “ of happy conjectures and suspicions as this gentle

man, might be apt to argue. But what if the author

designed his treatise, as the title show's, chiefly for " those who were not yet thoroughly or firmly christians; « proposing to work on those, who either wholly disbe

lieved, or doubted of the truth of the chriftian re

ligion ?»

To this he tells me, p. 43, that my “title says no

thing for me,” i. e. fhows not that I designed my book for those that disbelieved, or doubted of the chriftian religion.

Answ. I thought that a title that professed the rcasonableness of any doctrine, showed it was intended for those that were not fully satisfied of the reasonableness of it; unless books are to be writ to convince those of any thing, who are convinced already. But possibly this may be the unmasker's way: and if one should judge by his manner of treating this subject, with declamation instead of argument, one would think, that he meant it for no body but those who were of his mind already. I thought, therefore, “the Reasonableness of Christiani

ty, as delivered in the Scripture," a proper'title to signify whom it was chiefly meant for: and, I thank God, I can with satisfaction say, it has not wanted its effect upon some of them.

some of them. But the unmasker proves for all that, that I could not design it chiefly for difbelievers or doubters, of the christian religion.

«

For, says he, p. 43, how those that wholly disregard and “ dilbelieve the scriptures of the New Testament, as

gentiles, jews, mahometans, and atheists do,” (I crave leave to put in theists, instead of atheists, for a

reason

S4

reason presently to be mentioned) " are like to attend “ to the Reasonableness of Christianity, as delivered in “the Scripture, is not to be conceived: and therefore “ we look upon this as all mere sham and sophistry.” Answ. Though the unmasker teaches good breeding out of the Mithna, yet I thought he had been a minifter of the gospel, and had taught christianity out of the scripture. Why! good sir, would you teach jews and mahometans christianity out of the talmud and alcoran; because they are thc books that at present they attend to, and believe? Or would you, laying by the authority of all books, preach religion to infidels, in your own name, and by your own authority, laying aside the scripture? “Is it not to be conceived,” no not by a christian divine, that the way to make unbelievers christians, is to show them the reasonableness of the religion contained in the scriptures? But it seems the unmasker has a peculiar way of preaching and propagating christianity without the scripture; as some men have a peculiar way of disputing without reason.

In the beginning of this paragraph, p. 43, the unmasker, that is always a fair interpreter of my meaning, and never fails to know it better than I do, tells me, That by those that wholly disbelieve, “I must mean

atheists, turks, jews, and pagans ; and by those that “ are not firmly christians, a few weak christians.” But did our unmasker never hear of unbelievers, under a denomination distinct from that of atheists, turks, jews, and pagans ? Whilst the pulpit and the press have so often had up the name of theists or deists, has that name wholly escaped him? It was these I chiefly designed, and I believe, nobody of all that read my Vindication, but the unmasker, mistook me, if he did. But there at least, p. 165, he might have found the name, as of a sort of unbelievers not unknown amongst us. But, whatever he thought, it was convenient, and a sort of prudence in him (when he would persuade others, that I had not a design, which I say I had) to lessen as much as he could, and cover the need of any such design; and so make it, that I could not intend my book to work upon those that disbelieved, or did not firmly believe;

« السابقةمتابعة »