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should never think of it again as long as he lived, yet it iş literally true, he is not saved without an actual assent. You might therefore have spared your pains, in saying, " that none of the moral virtues, none of the evangelical
graces, are exerted Thus always," until you had met with somebody who said THUS. That I did so, I think, would have entered into no body's thoughts but yours, it being evident from p. 156, of my book, that by actual, I meant explicit. You should rather have given a direct answer to my question, which I here again seriously ask you, viz. Whether
IX. Those you called “ fundamental doctrines,” in
Thoughts concerning the causes of atheism,” or those christian principles, which be
long to the very essence of christianity," so many as you have given us of them in your “ So“ cinianism unmasked,” (for you may take which of your two creeds you please,) are just those, nei, ther more or less, that are every one of them re, quired to be believed to make a man a christian, and such as, without the actual, or (since that word displeases you) the explicit belief whereof, he cannot be saved ?
When you have answered this question, we shall then see which of us two is nearest the right: but if you shall forbear railing, which, I fear, you take for arguing, against that summary of faith, which our Saviour and his apostles taught, and which only they proposed to their hearers to be believed, to make them christians, until you have found another perfect creed, of only necessary articles, that you dare own for such ; you are like to have a large time of silence. Before I leave the passage above cited, I must desire the reader to take notice of what he says, concerning his list of fundamentals, viz. That “these his articles of faith," necessary to constitute a christian, are such as must, IN SOME MEASURE, be known and assented to by him: a very wary expres
sion concerning fundamentals! The question is about : articles necessary to be explicitly believed to make a
man a christian. These, in his list, the unmasker tells us, are “ necessary to constitute a christian, and must, “ IN SOME MEASURE, be known and assented to." I would now fain know of the reader, Whether he understands thereby, that the masker means, that these his necessary articles must be explicitly believed or not? If he means an explicit knowledge and belief, why does he puzzle his reader, by so improper a way of speaking? For what is as complete and perfect as it ought to be, cannot properly be said to be “ in some measure.' If his, “ in some measure,” falls short of explicitly knowing and believing his fundamentals, his necessary articles are such as a man may be a christian, without explicitly knowing and believing, i.e. are no fundamentals, no necessary articles at all. Thus men, uncertain what to say, betray themselves by their great caution.
Having pronounced it folly in himself to make up the defects of my short, and therefore so much blamed collection of fundamentals, by a full one of his own, though his attempt shows he would if he could; he goes on thus, p. 22, “ From what I [the unmasker] have
said, it is evident, that the vindicator is grossly miss taken, when he saith, Whatever doctrines the “ apostles required to be believed to make a man a “ christian, are to be found in those places of scripture “ which he has quoted in his book.'” And a little lower, “ I think I have sufficiently proved, that there “ are other doctrines besides that, which are required
to be believed to make a man a christian."
Answ. Whatever you have proved, or (as you never fail to do) boast you have proved, will signify nothing, until you have proved one of these propositions; and have shown either,
X. That what our Saviour and his apostles preached,
and admitted men into the church for believing, is not all that is absolutely required to make a man a
christian. Or, That the believing him to be the Messiah, was not the
only article they insisted on, to those who acknowledged one God; and, upon the belief whereof
they admitted converts into the church, in any one of those many places quoted by me out of the his. tory of the New Testament.
, any one: for though it be evident, throughout the whole gospel, and the Acts, that this was the one doctrine of faith, which, in all their preachings everywhere, they principally drive at: yet, if it were not so, but that in other places they taught other things, that would not prove that those other things were articles of faith, absolutely necessarily required to be believed to make a man a christian, unless it had been so said. Bee cause, if it appears that ever any one was admitted into the church, by our Saviour or his apostles, without having that article explicitly laid before him, and without his explicit assent to it, you must grant, that an explicit assent to that article is not necessary to make a man a christian: unless you will say, that our Saviour and his apostles admitted men into the church that were not qualified with such a faith as was absolutely necessary to make a man a christian ; which is as much as to say, that they allowed and pronounced men to be christians, who were not christians. For he that wants what is necessary to make a man a christian, can no more be a christian, than he that wants what is necessary to make him a man, can be a man. For what is necessary to the being of any thing, is essential to its being; and any thing may be as well without its essence, as without any thing that is necessary to its being: and so a man be a man, without being a man; and a christian a christian, without being a christian; and an unmasker may prove this, without proving it. You may, therefore, set up, by your unquestionable authority, what articles you please, as necessary to be believed to make a man a christian : if our Saviour and his apostles admitted converts into the church, without preaching those your articles to them, or requiring an explicit assent to what they did not preach and explicitly lay down, I shall prefer their authority to yours, and think it was rather by them, than by you, that God promulgated the law of faith, and manifested what
that faith was, upon which he would receive penitent converts.
And though, by his apostles, our Saviour taught a great many other truths, for the explaining this fundamental article of the law of faith, that Jesus is the Messiah; some whereof have a nearer, and some a more remote connexion with it, and so cannot be denied by any christian, who sees that connexion, or knows they are so taught: yet an explicit belief of any one of them, is no more necessarily required to make a man a christian, than an explicit belief of all those truths, which have a connexion with the being of a God, or are revealed by him, is necessarily required to make a man not to be an atheist : though none of them can be denied by any one who sees that connexion, or acknowledges that revelation, without his being an atheist, All these truths, taught us from God, either by reason or revelation, are of great use, to enlighten our minds, confirm our faith, stir up our affections, &c. And the more we see of them, the more we shall see, admire, and magnify the wisdom, goodness, mercy, and love of God, in the work of our redemption. This will oblige us to search and study the scripture, wherein it is contained and laid open to us.
All that we find in the revelation of the “ New Tes“ tament,” being the declared will and mind of our Lord and Master, the Messiah, whom we have taken to be our king, we are bound to receive as right and truth, or else we are not his subjects, we do not believe him to be the Messiah, our King, but cast him off, and with the jews say, “ We will not have this man reign over us. But it is still what we find in the scripture, not in this or that system; what we, sincerely seeking to know the will of our Lord, discover to be his mind. Where it is spoken plainly, we cannot miss it; and it is evident he requires our assent : where there is obscurity, either in the expressions themselves, or by reason of the seeming contrariety of other passages, there a fair endeavour, as much as our circumstances will permit, secures us from a guilty disobedience of his will, or a sinful errour in faith, which way soever our inquiry resolves the doubt,
or perhaps leaves it unresolved. If he had required more of us in those points, he would have declared his will plainer to us, and discovered the truth contained in those obscure, or seemingly contradictory places, as clearly, and as uniformly as he did that fundamental article, that we were to believe him to be the Messiah, our King.
As men, we have God for our King, and are under the law of reason : as christians, we have Jesus the Messiah for our King, and are under the law revealed by him in the gospel. And though every christian, both as a deist and a christian, be obliged to study both the law of nature and the revealed law, that in them he may know the will of God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent; yet, in neither of these laws, is there to be found a select set of fundamentals, distinct from the rest, which are to make him a deist, or a christian. But he that believes one eternal, invisible God, his Lord and King, ceases thereby to be an atheist; and he that believes Jesus to be the Messiah, his king, ordained by God, thereby becomes a christian, is delivered from the power of darkness, and is translated into the kingdom of the Son of God, is actually within the covenant of grace, and has that faith, which shall be imputed to him for righteousness; and, if he continues in his allegiance to this his King, shall receive the reward, eternal life.
He that considers this, will not be so hot as the un. masker, to contend for a number of fundamental articles, all necessary, every one of them, to be explicitly believed by every one for salvation, without knowing them himself, or being able to enumerate them to än. other. Can there be any thing more absurd than to say, there are several fundamental articles, each of which every man must explicitly believe, upon pain of damnation, and yet not be able to say, which they be? The unmasker has set down no small number; but yet dares not say, these are all. On the contrary, he has plainly confessed there are more; but will not, i. e. cannot tell what they are, that remain behind ; nay, has given a general description of his fundamental articles, by which it is not evident, but there may be ten times as many as