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To which we have his answer, “ Socinianism un“ masked,” p. 8, &c. From p. 8 to 20, he has quoted near forty texts of scripture, of which he saith, p. 21, “ Thus I have briefly set before the reader, those evan
gelical truths, those christian principles, which belong “ to the very essence of christianity: I have proved " them to be such, and I have reduced most of them “ to certain propositions, which is a thing the vindi56 cator called for.”
Answ. Yes : but that was not all the vindicator called for, and had reason to expect. For I asked, “Whe" ther those the unmasker gave us, in his Thoughts
concerning the causes of atheism,” were the fundamental articles, “ without an actual belief whereof, a
man could not be a christian ; just all, neither more
nor less ?” This I had reason to demand from him, or from any one, who questions that part of my book; and I shall insist upon it, until he does it, or confesses he cannot. For having set down the articles, which the scripture, upon a diligent search, seemed to me to require as necessary, and only necessary; I shall not lose my time in examining what another says against those fundamentals, which I have gathered out of the preach. ings of our Saviour and his apostles, until he gives me a list of his fundamentals, which he will abide by; that so, by comparing them together, I may see which is the true catalogue of necessaries. For after so serious and diligent a search, which has given me light and satisfaction in this great point, I shall not quit it, and set myself on float again, at the demand of any one, who would have me be of his faith, without telling me what it is. Those fundamentals the scripture has so plainly given, and so evidently determined, that it would be the greatest folly imaginable, to part with this rule for asking; and give up myself blindly to the conduct of one, who either knows not, or will not tell me, what are the points necessary to be believed to make me a christian. He that shall find fault with my collection of fundamentals, only to unsettle me, and not give me a better of his own, I shall not think worth minding, until, like a fair man, he puts himself upon equal terms, and makes
up the defects of mine, by a complete one of his own. For a deficiency, or errour, in one necessary, is as fatal, and as certainly excludes a man from being a christian, as in an hundred. When any one offers me a complete catalogue of his fundamentals, he does not unreasonably demand me to quit mine for nothing: I have then one, that being set by mine, I may compare them; and so be able to choose the true and perfect one, and relinquish the other.
He that does not do this, plainly declares, that, (without showing me the certain way to salvation) he expects, that I should depend on him with an implicit faith, whilst he reserves to himself the liberty to require of me to believe, what he shall think fit, as he sees occasion; and in effect says thus, “ Distrust those funda“ mentals, which the preachings of Our Saviour and his “ apostles have showed to be all that is necessary to be “ believed to make a man a christian ; and, though I
cannot tell you, what are those other articles which " are necessary and sufficient to make a man a christian,
yet take me for your guide, and that is as good as if " I made up, in a complete list, the defects of your fun6 damentals?” To which this is a sufficient answer, “ Si quid novisti rectiùs, imperti; si non, his utere 66 mecum.
The unmasker, of his own accord, p. 110 of his “ Thoughts concerning the causes of atheism," sets down several, which he calls “ fundamental doctrines.” I ask him, whether those be all ? For answer, he adds more to them in his “ Socinianism unmasked :" but in a great pet refuses to tell me, whether this second list of fundamentals be complete : and, instead of answering so reasonable a demand, pays me with ill language, in these words, p. 22, subjoined to those last quoted, • what I have said will not content him, I am sure I “ can do nothing that will; and therefore, if he should “ capriciously require any thing more, it would be as
great folly in me to comply with it, as it is in him to “ move it.” If I did ask a question, which troubles you, be not so angry; you yourself were the occasion of it. I proposed my collection of fundamentals, which I had,
with great care, sought; and thought I had found clear in the scripture; you tell me no, it is imperfect, and offer me one of your own.
I ask, whether that be perfect? Thereupon you grow into choler, and tell me it is a foolish question. Why! then I think it was not very wise in you so forwardly to offer one, unless you had one ready, not liable to the same exception. Would you have me so foolish, to take a list of fundamentals from you, who have not yet one for yourself; nor are yet resolved with yourself, what doctrines are to be put in, or left out of it ? Farther, pray tell me, if a settled collection of fundamentals, that you would stand to, why should I take them from you, upon your word, rather than from an anabaptist, or a quaker, or an arminian, or a socinian, or a lutheran, or a papist; who, I think, are not perfectly agreed with you, or one another in fundamentals ? And yet, there is none amongst them, that I have not as much reason to believe, upon his bare word, as an unmasker, who, to my certain knowledge, will make bold with truth. If you set up for infallibility, you may have some claim to have your bare word taken, before any other but the pope. But yet, if you demand to be an unquestionable proposer, of what is absolutely necessary to be believed to make a man a christian, you must perform it a little better, than hitherto you have done. For it is not enough, sometimes to give us texts of scripture; sometimes propositions of your own framing, and sometimes texts of scripture, out of which they are to be framed ; as p. 14, you say, “ These and the like places afford us “ such fundamental and necessary doctrines as these :" and again, p. 16, after the naming several other texts of scripture, you add, " which places yield us such pro
positions as these;" and then in both places set down what you think fit to draw out of them. And p.
15, you have these words : " and here, likewise, it were easy * to show, that adoption, justification, pardon of sins, “ &c. which are privileges and benefits bestowed upon
us by the Messiah, are necessary matters of our be56 lief.” By all which, as well as the whole frame, wherein
you make show of giving us your fundamental arti
cles, it is plain, that what you have given us there, is nothing less than a complete collection of fundamentals, even in your own opinion of it.
But, good sir, Why is it a foolish question in me? You have found fault with my summary for being short; the defect in my collection of necessary articles, has raised your zeal into so severe censures, and drawn upon me, from you, so heavy a condemnation, that, if half you have said of me be true, I am in a very ill case, for having so curtailed the fundamental doctrines of christianity. Is it folly, then, for me to ask from you a complete creed? If it be so dangerous (as certainly it is) to fail in any necessary article of faith, Why is it folly in me, to be instant with you, to give me them all ? Or why is it folly in you, to grant so reasonable a demand? A short faith, defective in necessaries, is no more tolerable in you, than in me; nay, much more inexcusable, if it were for no other reason but this, that you rest in it yourself, and would impose it on others; and yet do not yourself know, or believe it to be complete. For if you do, why dare you not say so, and give it us all entire, in plain propositions ; and not, as you have in a great measure done here, give only the texts of scripture, from whence, you say, necessary articles are to be drawn? Which is too great an uncertainty for doctrines absolutely necessary. For, possibly, all men do not understand those texts alike, and some may draw articles out of them quite different from your system; and so, though they agree in the same texts, may not agree in the same fundamentals; and till you have set down plainly and distinctly your articles, that you think contained in them, cannot tell whether you will allow them to be christians, or no. For you know, sir, several inferences are often drawn from the same text: and the different systems of dissenting (I was going to say christians, but that none must be so, but those who receive your collection of fundamentals, when you please to give it them) professors are all founded on the scripture.
Why, I beseech you, is mine a foolish question to ask, “ What are the necessary articles of faith?” It is of po less consequence than, nor much different from the
jailer's question in the sixteenth of the Acts, “What shall
I do to be saved ?" And that was not, that ever I heard, counted by any one a foolish question. You grant, there are articles necessary to be belived for salvation; Would it not then be wisdom to know them? Nay, is it not our duty to know and believe them? If not, why do you, with so much outcry, reprehend me, for not knowing them? Why do you fill your books with such variety of invectives, as if you could never say enough, nor bad enough against me, for having left out some of them? And, if it be so dangerous, so criminal to miss any of them, Why is it a folly in me, to move you to give me a complete list ?
If fundamentals are to be known, easy to be known, (as without doubt, they are,) then a catalogue may be given of them. But, if they are not, if it cannot certainly be determined, which are they; but the doubtful knowledge of them depends upon guesses; Why may not I be permitted to follow my guesses, as well as you yours? Or why, of all others, must you prescribe your guesses to me, when there are so many that are as ready to prescribe as you, and of as good authority? The pretence, indeed, and clamour is religion, and the saving of souls : but your business, it is plain, is nothing but to over-rule and prescribe, and be hearkened to as a dictator: and not to inform, teach, and instruct in the sure way to salvation. Why else do you so start and fling, when I desire to know of you, what is necessary to be believed to make a man a christian, when this is the only material thing in controversy between us; and my mistake in it has made you begin a quarrel with me, and let loose your pen against me in no ordinary way of reprehension ?
Besides, in this way which you take, you will be in no better a case than 1, For, another having as good a claim to have his guesses give the rule, as you yours ; or to have his system received, as well as you yours; he will complain of you as well, and upon as good grounds, as you do of me; and (if he have but as much zeal for his orthodoxy, as you show for yours) in as civil, well-bred, and christian-like language.