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But Mr. Edwards's supremacy is not yet so far established, that he will dare to say, that Christians are not obliged to endeavour to understand any other points revealed in the Scripture, but what are contained in his creed. He cannot yet well discard all the rest of the Scripture, because he has yet need of it for the completing of his creed, which is like to secure the Bible to us for some time yet. For I will be answerable for it, he will not be quickly able to resolve what texts of the Scripture do, and what do not, contain points necessary to be believed. So that I am apt to imagine, that the creed-maker, upon second thoughts, will allow that saying, that there is but one, or there are but twelve, or there are but as many as he shall set down, (when he has resolved which they shall be) necessary to the making a man a Christian; and the saying, there are other points besides, contained in the Scripture, which every sincere Christian is indispensably obliged to endeavour to understand, and must believe, when he knows them to be revealed by Jesus Christ, are two propositions that may consist together without a contradiction.
Every Christian is to partake of that bread, and that cup, which is the communion of the body and blood of Christ. And is not every sincere Christian indispensably obliged to endeavour to understand these words of our Saviour's institution, “ This is my body, and this is my blood ?” And if, upon his serious endeavour to do it, he understands them in a literal sense, that Christ meant, that that was really his body and blood, and nothing else; must he not necessarily believe that the bread and wine, in the Lord's supper, is changed really into his body and blood, though he doth not know how? Or, if having his mind set otherwise, he understands the bread and wine to be really the body and blood of Christ, without ceasing to be. the true bread and wine : or else, if he understands them, that the body and blood of Christ are verily and indeed given and received, in the sacrament, in a spiritual manner: or, lastly, if he understands our Saviour to mean, by those words, the bread and wine to be only a representation of his body and blood; in which way soever of these four, a Christian understands these words of our Saviour to be meant by him, is he not obliged in that sense to believe them to be true, and as. sent to them? Or can he be a Christian, and understand these words to be meant by our Saviour in one sense, and deny his assent to them as true, in that sense ? Would not this be to deny our Saviour's veracity, and consequently his being the Messiah, sent from God ? And yet this is put upon a Christian, where he understands the Scripture in one sense, and is required to believe it in another. From all which it is evident, that to say there is one, or any number of articles necessary to be known and believed to make a man a Christian, and that there are others contained in the Scripture, which a man is obliged to endeavour to understand, and obliged also to assent to, as he does understand them, is no contradiction.
To believe Jesus to be the Messiah, and to take him to be his Lord and King, let us suppose to be that only which is necessary to make a man a Christian : may it not yet be necessary for him, being a Christian, to study the doctrine and law of this his Lord and King, and believe that all that he delivered is true? Is there any contradiction in holding of this? But this creed-maker, to make sure work, and not to fail of a contradiction in Mr. Bold's words, mis-repeats them, p. 241, and quite contrary, both to what they are in the sermon, and what they are, as set down by the creed-maker himself, in the immediately preceding page. Mr. Bold says,
“There are other points that Jesus Christ hath taught and revealed, which every sincere Christian is indispensably obliged to understand; and which being known to be revealed by Christ, he must indispensably assent to.” From which the creed-maker argues thus, p. 240,: “Now if there be other points, and particular articles, and those many, which a sincere Christian is obliged, and that necessarily and indispensably, to understand, believe, and assent to; then this writer hath, in effect, yielded to that proposition I maintained, viz. that the belief of one article is not sufficient to
make a man a Christian ; and consequently he ruos counter to the proposition he had laid down.”
Is there no difference, I beseech you, between being
indispensably obliged to endeavour to understand, and being indispensably obliged to understand any point?” It is the first of these Mr. Bold says, and it is the latter of these you argue from, and so conclude nothing against him: nor can you to your purpose. For until Mr. Bold says (which he is far from saying) that every sincere Christian is necessarily and indispensably obliged to understand all those texts of Scripture, from whence you should have drawn your necessary articles, (when you have perfected your creed) in the same sense that you do; you can conclude nothing against what he had said, concerning that one article, or any thing that looks like running counter to it. For it may be enough to constitute a man a Christian, and one of Christ's subjects, to take Jesus to be the Messiah, his appointed King, and yet, without a contradiction, so that it may be his indispensable duty, as a subject of that kingdom, to endeavour to understand all the dictates of his sovereign, and to assent to the truth of them, as far as he understands them.
But that which the good creed-maker aims at, without which all his necessary articles fall, is, that it should be granted him, that every sincere Christian was necessarily and indispensably obliged to understand all those parts of divine revelation, from whence he pretends to draw his articles, in their true meaning, i. e. just as he does. But his infallibility is not yet so established, but that there will need some proof of that proposition. And when he has proved, that every sincere Christian is necessarily andindispensably obliged to understand those texts in their true meaning; and that his interpretation of them is that true meaning; I shall then ask him, Whether “every sincere Christian is not as necessarily and indispensably obliged” to understand other texts of Scripture in their true meaning, though they bave no place in his system?
For example, to make use of the instance abovementioned, is not every sincere Christian necessarily
and indispensably obliged to endeavour to understand these words of our Saviour, “ This is my body, and this is my blood,” that he may know what he receives in the sacrament? Does he cease to be a Christian, who happens not to understand them just as the creedmaker does? Or may not the old gentleman at Rome (who has somewhat the ancienter title to infallibility) make transubstantiation a fundamental article necessary to be believed there, as well as the creed-maker here make his sense of any disputed text of Scripture a fundamental article necessary to be believed ?
Let us suppose Mr. Bold had said, that instead of one point, the right knowledge of the creed-maker's one hundred points (when he has resolved on them) doth constitute and make a person a Christian; yet there are
; many other points Jesus Christ hath taught and revealed, which every sincere Christian is indispensably obliged to endeavour to understand, and to make a due use of; for this, I think, the creed-maker will not deny. From whence, in the creed-maker's words, I will thus argue : “Now if there be other points, and particular articles, and those many, which a sincere Christian is obliged, and that necessarily and indispensably, to understand, and believe, and assent to; then this writer doth, in effect, yield to that proposition which I maintained, viz. That the belief of those one hundred articles is not sufficient to make a man a Christian :" for this is that which I maintain, that upon this ground the belief of the articles, which he has set down in his list, are not sufficient to make a man a Christian ; and that upon Mr. Bold's reason, which the creed-maker insists on against one article, viz. because there are many other points Jesus Christ hath taught and revealed, which every sincere Christian is as necessarily and indispensably obliged to endeavour to understand, and make a due
: But this creed-maker is cautious, beyond any of his predecessors. He will not be so caught by his own argument; and therefore is very shy to give you the precise articles that every sincere Christian is necessarily and indispensably obliged to understand and give his assent, to. Something he is sure there is, that he is indispensably obliged to understand and assent to, to make him a Christian; but what that is he cannot yet tell. So that whether he be a Christian or no, he does not know; and what other people will think of him, from his treating of the serious things of Christianity in so trifling and scandalous a way, must be left to them. In the
next paragraph, p. 242, the creed-maker tells , us, Mr. Bold goes on to confute himself, in saying, “A true Christian must assent unto this, that Christ Jesus is God.” But this is just such another confutation of himself as the before-mentioned, i. e. as much as a falsehood, substituted by another man, can be a confutation of a man's self, who has spoken truth all of a piece. For the creed-maker, according to his sure way of baffling his opponents, so as to leave them nothing to answer, hath here, as he did before, changed Mr. Bold's words, which in the 35th page, quoted by the creedmaker, stand thus: “When a true Christian understands, that Christ Jesus hath taught that he is God, he must assent unto it:" which is true, and conformable to what he had said before, that every sincere Christian must endeavour to understand the points taught and revealed by Jesus Christ; which being known to be revealed by him, he must assent unto.
The like piece of honesty the creed-maker shows in the next paragraph, p. 243, where he charges Mr. Bold with saying, “That a true Christian is as much obliged to believe, that the Holy Spirit is God, as
, to believe that Jesus is the Christ,” p. 40. In which place, Mr. Bold's words are: “When a true Christian understands, that Christ Jesus hath given this account of the Holy Spirit, viz. that he is God; he is as much obliged to believe it, as he is to believe, that Jesus is the Christ :” which is an incontestable truth, but such an one as the creed-maker himself saw would do him no service, and therefore be mangles
; it, and leaves out half to serve his turn. But he that should give a testimony in the slight affairs of men, and their temporal concerns, before a court of judicature, as the creed-maker does here, and almost every where, in.