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there put together. But let the proposition be what it will, there is no more to be understood than is expressed in the terms of that proposition. If it be a proposition concerning a matter of fact, it is enough to conceive, and believe the matter of fact. If it be a proposition concerning the manner of the fact, the manner of the fact must also be believed, as it is intelligibly expressed in that proposition; v. g. should this proposition yexpoi šysípoutan be offered as an article of faith, to an illiterate countryman of England, he could not believe it: because, though a true proposition, yet it being proposed in words, whose meaning he understood not, he could not give any assent to it. Put it into English, he understands what is meant by the “ dead shall rise.” For he can conceiye, that the same man, who was dead and senseless, should be alive again; as well as he can, that the same man, who is now in a lethargy, should awake again ; or the same man that is now out of his sight, and he knows not whether he be alive or dead, should return and be with him again ; and so he is capable of believing it, though he conceives nothing of the manner, how a man revives, wakes or moves. But none of these manners of those actions being included in those propositions, the proposition concerning the matter of fact (if it imply no contradiction in it) may be believed ; and so all that is required may be done, whatever difficulty may be, as to the exact manner, how it is brought about.
But where the proposition is about the manner, the belief too must be of the manner, v.g. the article is, “ The dead shall be raised with spiritual bodies : ” and then the belief must be as well of this manner of the fact, as of the fact itself. So that what is said here, by the unmasker, about the manner, signifies nothing at all in the case. What is understood to be expressed in each proposition, whether it be of the manner, or not of the manner, is (by its being a revelation from God) to be believed, as far as it is understood : but no more is required to be believed concerning any article, than is contained in that article.
What the unmasker, for the removing of difficulties,
adds farther, in these words, " But there is no difficulty “ as to the reality and certainty of the truths of the
gospel ; because we know, they are revealed to us by “ God in the holy scripture;" is yet farther from signifying any thing to the purpose, than the former. The question is about understanding, and in what sense they are understood ; not believing several propositions, or articles of faith, which are to be found in the scripture. To this the unmasker says, there can be “ no difficulty
at all as to their reality and certainty ; because they
are revealed by God.” Which amounts to no more but this, that there is no difficulty at all in the understanding and believing this proposition," that whatever “ is revealed by God, is really and certainly true.” But is the understanding and believing this single proposition, the understanding and believing all the articles of faith necessary to be believed ? Is this all the explicit faith a christian need have ? If so, then a christian need explicitly believe no more, but this one proposition, viz. That all the propositions between the two covers of his bible, are certainly true. But I imagine the unmasker will not think the believing this one proposition, is a sufficient belief of all those fundamental articles, which he has given us, as necessary to be believed to make a man a christian. For, if that will serve the turn, I conclude he may make his set of fundamentals as large and express to his system as he pleases: calvinists, arminians, anabaptists, socinians, will all thus own the belief of them, viz. that all that God has revealed in the scripture, is really and certainly true.
But if believing this proposition, that all that is revealed by God in the scripture is true, be not all the faith which the unmasker requires, what he says about the reality and certainty of all truths revealed by God, removes nothing of the difficulty. A proposition of divine authority is found in the scripture : it is agreed presently between him and me, that it contains a real, certain truth: but the difficulty is, what is the truth it contains, to which he and I must assent; v.g. the profession of faith made by the eunuch, in these words, « Jesus Christ is the son of God,” upon which he was
admitted into the church, as a christian, I believe, contains a “ real and certain truth.” Is that enough? No, says the unmasker, p. 87, it "includes in it, that Christ “ was God;” and therefore it is not enough for me to believe, that these words contain a real certain truth: but I must believe, they contain this truth, that Jesus Christ is God; that the eunuch spoke them in that sense, and in that sense I must assent to them : whereas they appear to me to be spoken, and meant here, as well as in several other places of the “New Testament,” in this sense, viz. “ That Jesus Christ is the Messiah,” and in that sense, in this place, I assent to them. The meaning then of these words, as spoken by the eunuch, is the difficulty: and I desire the unmasker, by the application of what he has said here, to remove that difficulty. For granting all revelation from God to be really and certainly true, (as certainly it is,) how does the believing that general truth remove any difficulty about the sense and interpretation of any particular proposition, found in any passage of the holy scriptures? Or is it possible for any man to understand it in one sense, and believe it in another; because it is a divine revelation, that has reality and certainty in it? Thus much, as to what the unmasker says of the fundamentals, he has given us, p. 30, viz. That “ no true lover of God and truth “ need doubt of any of them : for there is no ambi
guity and doubtfulness in them.” If the distinction he has used, “ of difficulty as to the exact manner, and
no difficulty as to the reality and certainty of gospel“ truths,” will remove all ambiguity and doubtfulness from all those texts of scripture, from whence he and others deduce fundamental articles, so that they will be“ plain and intelligible” to every man, in the sense he understands them; he has done great service to christianity.
But he seems to distrust that himself, in the following words: “ They shine,” says he, “ with their own light, ' and to an unprejudiced eye, are plain, evident, and “ illustrious; and they would always continue so, if
some ill-minded men did not perplex and entangle “ them." I see the matter would go very smooth, if
the unmasker might be the sole, authentic interpreter of scripture. He is wisely of that judge's mind, who was against hearing the counsel on the other side, because they always perplexed the cause.
But if those who differ from the unmasker, shall in their turns call him the “ prejudiced and ill-minded
man,” who perplexes these matters (as they may, with as much authority as he), we are but where we were; each must understand for himself, the best he can, until the unmasker be received, as the only unprejudiced man, to whose dictates every one, without examination, is with an implicit faith to submit.
Here again, p. 32, the unmasker puts upon me, what I never said: and therefore I must desire him to show, where it is, that I pretend, XI. That this “ proposition,” that Jesus is the Mes
siah," is more intelligible, than any of those he
“ has named.” In his “ Thoughts concerning the causes of atheism," p. 120, he argues, that this proposition [Jesus is the Messiah] has more difficulty in it, than the article of the holy Trinity. And his proofs are worthy of an unmasker. “ For," says he, “ here is an Hebrew word “ first to be explained ;” or, (as he has this strong argument again, “ Socinianism unmasked,” p. 32.) 6 Here “ first the name Jesus, which is of Hebrew extraction,
though since grecized, must be expounded.”
Answ. Jesus being a proper name, only denoting a certain person, needs not to be expounded, of what extraction soever it be. Is this proposition, Jonathan, was the son of Saul, king of Israel, any thing the harder, because the three proper names in it, Jonathan, Saul, and Israel, are of Hebrew extraction ? And is it not as easy, and as “level to the understanding of the vulgar, as this, Arthur was the son of Henry, king of England; though neither of these names be of Hebrew extraction? Or cannot any vulgar capacity understand this proposition, John Edwards writ a book, intitled, “ Socinian“ ism unmasked;" until the name of John, which is of Hebrew extraction, be explained to him? If this be so, parents were best beware, how hereafter they give their
children scripture-names, if they cannot understand what they say to one another about them, until these names of Hebrew extraction are expounded to them; and every proposition, that is in writings and contracts, made concerning persons, that have names of Hebrew extraction, become thereby as hard to be understood, as the doctrine of the holy trinity.
His next argument is just of the same size. The word Messias must, he says, be explained too.
Of what extraction soever it be, there needs no more explication of it, than what our English bible gives of it, where it is plain to any vulgar capacity, that it was used to denote that King and Deliverer, whom God had promised. So that this proposition, “ Jesus is the Messiah,” has no more difficulty in it than this, Jesus is the promised King and Deliverer; or than this, Cyrus was king and deliverer of Persia ; which, I think, requires not much depth of Hebrew to be understood. He that understood this proposition, and took Cyrus for his king, was a subject, and a member of his kingdom; and he that understands the other, and takes Jesus to be his king, is his subject, and a member of his kingdom. But if this be as hard as it is to some men, to understand the doctrine of the trinity, I fear many of the kings in the world have but few true subjects. To believe Jesus to be the Messiah, is (as he has been told, over and over again) to take him for our King and Ruler, promised, and sent by God. This is that which will make any one from a jew, or heathen, to be a christian. In this sense it is very intelligible to vulgar capacities. Those who so understand and believe it, are so far from “ pronouncing these words
as a spell,” (as the unmasker ridiculously suggests, p. 33,) that they thereby become christians.
But what if I tell the unmasker, that there is one Mr. Edwards, who (when he speaks his mind without considering how it will make for, or against him) in another place, thinks this proposition, “ Jesus is the Mes“ sias,” very easy and intelligible ? To convince him of it, I shall desire him to turn to the 74th page of his “ Socinianism unmasked,” where he will find that Mr. Edwards, without any great search into Hebrew extractions, interprets “ Jesus the Messiah," to signify this,