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were not able to bear.” For much to the same purpose he speaks to the Corinthians, epist. 1. chap. iii. as in the above-cited places he did to the Hebrews : “ That “ he, as a wise master-builder, had laid the foundation : " and that foundation he himself tells us, is, “ Jesus the 6 Messiah;” and that there is no other foundation to be laid. And that in this he laid the foundation of christianity at Corinth, St. Luke records, Acts xviii. 4, in these words, “ Paul, at Corinth, reasoned in the sy
nagogue every sabbath-day, and testified to the jews, 66 that Jesus was the Messiah." Upon which foundation, he tells them, there might be a superstructure. But that, what is built on the foundation, is not the foundation, I think I need not prove.
He further tells them, that he had desired to build upon this foundation; but withal says, he had fed them until then“ with milk, “ and not with meat; because they were babes, and had “ not been able to bear it, neither were they yet able." And therefore this epistle, we see, is almost wholly spent in reproofs of their miscarriages, and in exhortations and instructions relating to practice; and very little said in it, for the explaining any part of the great mystery of salvation, contained in the gospel.
By these passages we may see (were it not evident to common sense itself, from the nature of things) that the design of these epistles was not to lay the foundations, or teach the principles of the christian religion; they being writ to those who received them, and were christians already. The same holds in all the other epistles; and therefore the epistles seemed not to me the properest parts of scripture to give us that foundation, distinct from all the superstructures built on it; because in the epistles, the latter was the thing proposed, rather than the former. For the main intention of the apostles, in writing their epistles, could not be to do what was done already ; to lay down barely the foundations of christianity, to those who were christians already: but to build upon it some farther explication of it, which either their particular circumstances, or a general evidencing of the truth, wisdom, excellencies, and privileges, &c. of the
gospel required. This was the reason that persuaded me to take the articles of faith, absolutely necessary to be received to make a man a christian, only from the preachings of our Saviour and his apostles to the unconverted world, as laid down in the historical part of the New Testament: and I thought it a good reason, it being past doubt, that they in their preachings proposed to the unconverted, all that was necessary to be believed, to make them christians; and also, that that faith, upon a profession whereof any one was admitted into the church, as a believer, had all that was necessary in it to make him a christian; because, if it wanted any thing necessary, he had necessarily not been admitted : unless we can suppose, that any one was admitted into the christian church by our Saviour and his apostles, who was not yet a christian ; or pronounced a believer, who yet wanted something necessary to make him a believer, i. e. was a believer and not a believer, at the same time. But what those articles were which had been preached to those, to whom the epistles were writ, and upon the belief whereof they had been admitted into the christian church, and became as they are called “ believers,
saints, faithful, elect," &c. could not be collected out of the epistles. This, though it were my reason, and must be a reason to every one, who would make this inquiry; and the unmasker quotes the place where I told him it was my reason; yet he, according to his nevererring illumination, flatly tells me, p. 38, that it was not; and adds, “Here then is want of sincerity,” &c. I must desire him, therefore, to prove what he says, p. 38, viz.
XV. That, “ by the same argument, that I would
“ persuade, that the fundamentals are not to be
are not to be sought for in the gospels and in
And next I desire him to prove, what he also says in the same page, viz.
XVI. That “ the epistles being writ to those that
believed, was not an argument that I did make
He tells us, p. 38, that it is the argument whereby I would persuade: and in the very same page, a few lines lower, says, “That it is not the argument I did make “ use of.” Who, but an errant unmasker, would contradict himself so flatly in the same breath ? And yet, upon that, he raises a complaint of my " want of sin“ cerity.”
For“ want of sincerity” in one of us, we need not go far for an instance. The next paragraph, p. 38—40, affords us a gross one of it: wherein the unmasker argues strongly, not against any thing I had said, but against an untruth of his own setting up. Towards the latter end of the paragraph, p. 40, he has these words : “ It is manifest, that the apostles in their epistles, taught “ fundamentals ; which is contrary to what this gentle“ man says, that such a thing could not be supposed.” And therefore the unmasker has taken a great deal of pains to show, that there are fundamental doctrines to be found in the epistles ; as if I had denied it. And to lead the reader into an opinion that I had said so, he set down these words, “ could not be supposed ; as if they were my words.
And so they are, but not to that purpose. And therefore he did well not to quote the page, lest the reader, by barely turning to the place, should have a clear sight of falsehood, instead of that sincerity, which he would make the reader believe is wanting in me. My words, p. 153, of “ The reasonableness of
christianity,” are, NOR CAN IT BE SUPPOSED, that " the sending of such fundamentals was the reason of “ the apostles writing to any of them.” And a little lower : “ The epistles therefore being all written to those “ that were already believers and christians, the occa“ sion and end of writing them could not be, to in“ struct them in that which was necessary to make 66 them christians.” The thing then, that I denied, was not, that there were any fundamentals in the epistles. For in the next page I have these express words:
“. I do not deny, but the great doctrines of the christian “ faith are dropt here and there, and scattered up and “ down in most of them.” And therefore he might have spared his endeavours, in the next paragraph, to prove, that there may be fundamentals found in the epistles, until he finds somebody that denies it. And here again, I must repeat my usual question, that with this sincere writer is so often necessary, viz.
XVII. Where it is that I say, “ That it cannot be
supposed, that there are fundamental articles in " the epistles ? ”
If he hopes to shift it off by the word Taught, which seems fallaciously put in; as if he meant, that there were some fundamental articles taught, necessary to be , believed to make them christians, in the epistles, which those whom they were writ to, knew not before : in this sense I do deny it: and then this will be the
XVIIIth proposition remaining upon him to prove,
“ That there are fundamental articles necessary to be “ believed to make a man a christian taught in the
epistles, which those, whom they were writ to, « knew not before."
The former part of his next paragraph, p. 40, runs thus : “ Hear another feigned ground of his omitting “ the epistles, viz. because the fundamental articles are “ here promiscuously, and without distinction, mixed “ with other truths,” p. 41. “ But who sees not, that - this is a mere elusion? For on the same account he
might have forborn to search for fundamental articles “ in the gospels ; for they do not lie there together, but “ are dispersed up and down. The doctrinal and histo“ rical parts are mixed with one another, but he pre“ tends to sever them. Why then did he not make a “ separation between the doctrines in the epistles, and " those other matters that are treated of there? He has
nothing to reply to this, and therefore we must again “ look upon what he has suggested, as a cast of his shuf
The argument contained in these words is this: A man cannot well distinguish fundamental from nonfundamental doctrines in the epistles, where they are promiscuously mixed with non-fundamental doctrines : therefore he cannot well distinguish fundamental doctrines from others in the gospels, and the Acts, where they are mixed with matters of fact. As if he should say, one cannot well distinguish a bachelor of divinity from other divines, where several of them stand together promiscuously in the same habit; therefore, one cannot distinguish a bachelor of divinity from a Bil. lingsgate orator, where they stand together in their dis tinct habits : or that it is as easy to distinguish fine gold from that of a little lower alloy, where several pieces of each are mixed together; as it is to distinguish pieces of fine gold from pieces of silver, which they are mixed amongst.
But it seems, the unmasker thinks it as easy to distinguish between fundamental and not fundamental doctrines, in a writing of the same author, where they are promiscuously mixt together, as it is to distinguish between a fundamental doctrine of faith, and a relation of a matter of fact, where they are intermixedly reported in the same history. When he has proved this, the unmasker will have more reason to tax me with elusion, shuffling, and feigning, in the reason I gave for not collecting fundamentals out of the epistles. Until then, all that noise must stand amongst those ridiculous airs of triumph and victory which he so often gives himself, without the least advantage to his cause, or edification of his reader, though he should a thousand times say, “ That I have nothing to reply.” In the latter part of his paragraph, he says,
66 That necessary truths, fundamental principles, may be distinguished from those that are not such, in the epis
tolary writings, by the nature and importance of “ them, by their immediate respect to the author and “ the means of our salvation.” Answ. If this be so, I