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Socinian, because the unmasker thinks these the worst and most invidious he can give me: and labours to fix them on me for no other reason but because I will not take him for my master on earth, and his system for my Gospel : I shall leave him to recommend himself to the world by this skill, who, no doubt, will have reason to thank him for the rareness and subtilty of his discovery. For I think, I am the first man that ever was found to be at the same time a Socinian, and a factor for Rome. But what is too hard for such an unmasker? I must be what he thinks fit; when he pleases, a papist; and when he pleases, a Socinian; and when he pleases, a Mahometan : and probably, when he has considered a little better, an atheist; for I hardly escaped it, when ' he writ last. My book, he says, had a tendency to it; and if he can but go on, as he has done hitherto, from surmises to certainties, by that time he writes next, his discovery will be advanced, and he will certainly find me an atheist. Only one thing I dare assure him of, that he shall never find, that I treat the things of God or religion so, as if I made only a trade or a jest of them. But let us now see, how at present he proves me a Socinian.
His first argument is, my not answering for my leaving out Matth. xxviii. 19, and John i. 1, page 82 of his Socinianism unmasked. This he takes to be a confession, that I am a Socinian. I hope he means fairly, and that if it be so on my side, it must be taken for a standing rule between us, that where any thing is not answered, it must be taken for granted. And upon that score I must desire him to remember some passages of my. Vindication, which I have already, and others, which I shall mind him of hereafter, which he passed over in silence, and had nothing to say to; which therefore, by his own rule, I shall desire the reader to observe, that he has granted.
This being premised, I must tell the unmasker, that I perceive he reads my book with the same understanding that he writes his own. If he had done otherwise, he might have seen that I had given him a reason for my omission of those two, and other “plain and obvious
passages, and famous testimonies in the evangelists," as he calls them ; where I say, p. 166, “That if I have
I left out none of those passages or testimonies, which contain what our Saviour and his apostles preached and required assent to, to make men believers, I shall think my omissions (let them be what they will) no faults in the present case.
Whatever doctrines Mr. Edwards would have to be believed, to make a man a Christian, he will be sure to find them in those preachings and famous testimonies of our Saviour and his apostles, I have quoted. And if they are not there, he may rest satisfied, that they were not proposed, by our Saviour and his apostles, as necessary to be believed to make men Christ's disciples." From which words, any one, but an unmasker, could have understood my answer to be, that all that was necessary to be believed to make men Christians, might be found in what our Saviour and his apostles proposed to unbelievers for their conversion : but the two passages above-mentioned, as well as a great many others in the evangelists, being none of those, I had no reason to take notice of them. But the un. masker, having, out of his good pleasure, put it once upon me, as he does in his Thoughts of the Causes of Atheism,” p. 107, that I was an “ epitomizer of the evangelical writings,” though every one may see I make not that my business; yet it is no matter for that, I must be always accountable to that fancy of his. But when he has proved, XLVIII. That this is not as just a reason for my
omitting them, as several other obvious passages and famous testimonies in the evangelists, which I there mention, for whose oinission he does not
blame me ;
I will undertake to give him another reason, which I know not whether he were not better let alone.
The next proof of my being a Socinian is, that I take the Son of God to be an expression used to signify the Messiah. Slichtingius and Socinus understood it so; and therefore I am, the unmasker says, a Socinian. Just as good an argument, as that I believe Jesus to be a prophet, and so do the Mahometans; therefore I am a Mahometan: or thus, the unmasker holds, that the Apostles' Creed does not contain all things necessary to salvation; and so says Knot the Jesuit; therefore the unmasker is a papist. Let me turn the tables, and by the same argument I am orthodox again. For two orthodox, pious, and very eminent prelates of our church, whom, when I follow authorities, I shall prefer to Slichtingius and Socinus, understand it as I do, and therefore I am orthodox. Nay, it so falls out, that if it were of force either way, the argument would weigh most on this side; since I am not wholly a stranger to the writings of those two orthodox bishops; but I never read a page in either of those Socivians.
The never sufficiently admired and valued archbishop Tillotson's words, which I quoted, the unmasker says, “ do not necessarily import any such thing." I know no words
" that necessarily import any thing to a caviller. But he was known to have such clear thoughts, and so clear a style, so far from having any thing doubtful or fallacious in what he said, that I shall only set down his words as they are in his Sermon of Sincerity, p. 2, to show his meaning: “ Nathanael," says he, “ being satisfied, that he [our Saviour] was the Messiah, he presently owned him for such, calling him the Son of God, and the King of Israel.”
The words of the other eminent prelate, the bishop of Ely, whom our church is still happy in, are these: 46 To be the Son of God, and to be Christ, being but different expressions of the same thing:" witness
And p. 10, “ It is the very same thing to believe, that Jesus is the Christ,” and to believe, “that Jesus is the Son of God, express it how you please.” " This alone is the faith which can regenerate a man, and put a divine spirit into him, that it makes him a conqueror over the world, as Jesus was.' Of this the unmasker says, that this reverend author, “speaking only in a general way, represents these two as the same thing,” viz, that Jesus is the Christ, and that
Jesus is the Son of God, because these expressions are applied to the same person, and because they are both comprehended in one general name, viz. Jesus. Answ. The question is, Whether these two expressions, "the Son of God,” and “the Messiah," in the learned bishop's opinion, signify the same thing? If his opinion had been asked in the point, I know not how he could have declared it more clearly. For he says, they are “Expressions of the same thing;" and that it is the very same thing to believe, “that Jesus is the Messiah,” and to believe “that he is the Son of God;" which cannot be so, if Messiah and Son of God have different significations : for then they will make two distinct propositions in different senses, which it can be no more the same thing to believe, than it is the same thing to believe, that Mr. Edwards is a notable preacher, and a notable railer; or than it is to believe one truth, and all truths. For by the same reason, that it is the same thing to believe two distinct truths, it will be the same thing to believe two thousand distinct truths, and consequently all truths. The unmasker, that he might seem to say something, says, that “the reverend author represents these as the same thing." Answ. The unmasker never fails, like Midas, to turn every thing he touches into his own metal. The learned bishop says very directly and plainly, that “to be the Son of God, and to be the Messiah, are expressions of the same thing:" and the unmasker says, he “ represents these expressions as one thing :" for it is of expressions that both the bishop and he speak. Now, expressions can be one thing, but one of these two ways: either in sound, and so these two expressions are not one; or in signification, and so they are. And then the unmasker says, but in other words, what the bishop had said before, viz. That these two, “to be the Son of God, and to be the Messiah, are expressions of the same thing.” Only the unmasker has put in the word represents, to amuse his reader, as if he had said something; and so indeed he does, after his fashion, i. e. obscurely and fallaciously; which, when it comes to be examined, is but the same thing under show of a
difference; or else, if it has adifferent meaning, it is demonstratively false. But so it be obscure enough to deceive a willing reader, who will not be at the pains to examine what he says, it serves his turn.
But yet, as if he had said something of weight, he gives reasons for putting “represents these two expressions as one thing," instead of saying "these two are but different expressions of the same thing."
The first of his reasons is, Because the reverend author is here “speaking only in a general way.” Answ. What does the unmasker mean by a general way? The learned bishop speaks of two particular expressions applied to our Saviour. But was his discourse ever so general, how could that alter the plain signification of his words, viz, that those two are but "different expressions of the same thing ?”
Secondly, “ Because these expressions are applied to the same person.
Answ. A very demonstrative reason, is it not ? that therefore they cannot be different expressions of the same thing !
Thirdly, “ And because they are both comprehended in one general name, viz. Jesus.” Answ. It requires some skill to put so many falsehoods in so few words; for neither both nor either of these expressions are comprehended in the name, Jesus; and that Jesus, the name of a particular person, should be a general name, is a discovery reserved to be found out by this new logician. However, general is a learned word, which when a man of learning has used twice, as a reason of the same thing, he is covered with generals. He need not trouble himself any farther about sense; he may safely talk what stuff he pleases, without the least suspicion of his reader.
Having thus strongly proved just nothing, he proceeds; and tells us, p. 91, “ Yet it does not follow thenee, but that, if we will speak strictly and closely, we must be forced to confess, they are of different significations." By which words (if his words have any signification) he plainly allows, that the bishop meant as he says, that these two are but "different expressions of the same thing:” but withal tells him, that, if he will “speak closely and strictly,” he must