Page images
PDF
EPUB

thing, you know not what; as I shall have occasion to remark to you, when I come to your 91st page.

Further, I do not remember where it was, that I mentioned or undertook to' set down all the “ principal “ or main articles of christianity.” To change the terms of the question, from articles necessary to be believed to make a man a christian, into principal or main articles, looks a little jesuitical. But to pass by that: the apostles, when they “ went to preach the “ gospel to people," as much strangers to it as the Chinese were, when the Europeans came first amongst them, “ Did they hide from the people the main arti“ cles of the christian religion, disguise the faith of the

gospel, and betray christianity itself ?" If they did not, I am sure I have not: for I have not omitted

any of the main articles, which they preached to the unbelieving world. Those I have set down, with so much care, not to omit any of them, that you blame me for it more than once, and call it tedious.

However you are pleased to acquit or condemn the apostles in the case, by your supreme determination, I am very indifferent. If you think fit to condemn them for “disguising or

betraying the christian religion,” because they said no more of satisfaction, than I have done, in their preaching at first, to their unbelieving auditors, jews or heathens, to make them, as I think, christians, (for that I am now speaking of,) I shall not be sorry to be found in their company, under what censure soever. are pleased graciously to take off this your censure from them, for this omission, I shall claim a share in the same indulgence.

But to come to what, perhaps, you will think yourself a little more concerned not to censure, and what the apostles did so long since ; for you have given instances of being very apt to make bold with the dead: pray tell me, does the church of England admit people into the church of Christ at hap-hazard? Or without proposing and requiring a profession of all that is necessary to be believed to make a man a christian ? If she does not, I desire you to turn to the baptism of those of riper years in our liturgy: where the priest, asking the con,

If you

vert particularly, whether he believes the apostles creed, which he repeats to him; upon his profession that he does, and that he desires to be baptized into that faith, without one word of any other articles, baptizes him; and then declares him a christian in these words: “ We “ receive this person into the congregation of Christ's “ flock, and sign him with the sign of the cross, in to“ ken that he shall not be ashamed-to CONTINUE “ Christ's faithful soldier and servant." In all this there is not one word of satisfaction, no more than in my book, nor so much neither. And here I ask you, Whether for this omission you will pronounce that the church of England disguises the faith of the gospel ? However you think fit to treat me, yet methinks you should not let yourself loose so freely against our first reformers and the fathers of our church ever since, as to call them “ Betrayers of christianity itself;” because they think not so much necessary to be believed to make a man a christian, as you are pleased to put down in your articles ; but omit, as well as I, your “main 66 article of satisfaction.”

Having thus notably harangued upon the occasion of my saying, “Would any one blame my prudence ?” and thereby make me a “socinian, a jesuit, and a betrayer of “ christianity itself,” he has in that answered all that such a miscreant as I do, or can say; and so passes by all the reasons I gave for what I did ; without any other notice or answer, but only denying a matter of fact, which I only can know, and he cannot, viz. my design in printing my

“ Reasonableness of christianity." In the next paragraph, p. 45, in answer to the words of St. Paul, Rom. xiv. 1, " Him that is weak in the “ faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations ; which I brought as a reason why I mentioned not satisfaction amongst the benefits received by the coming of our Saviour ; because, as I tell him in my Vindication,

, my reasonableness of christianity,'' as the title shows, “ was designed chiefly for those who were “ not yet thoroughly or firmly christians.” He replies, and I desire him to prove it,

XX. “ That I pretend a design of my book, which

" was never so much as thought of, until I was “ solicited by my brethren to vindicate it.”

All the rest in this paragraph, being either nothing to this place of the Romans, or what I have answered elsewhere, needs no farther answer.

The next two paragraphs, p. 46-49, are meant for an answer to something I had said concerning the apostles creed, upon the occasion of his charging my book with socinianism. They begin thus :

This “ author of the new christianity” [Answ. This new christianity is as old as the preaching of our Saviour and his apostles, and a little older than the unmasker's system] “ wisely objects, that the apostles creed hath “ none of those articles which I mention," p. 591, &c. Answ. If that author wisely objects, the unmasker would have done well to have replied wisely. But for a man wisely to reply, it is in the first place requisite that the objection be truly and fairly set down in its full force, and not represented short, and as will best serve the answerer's turn to reply to. This is neither wise nor honest: and this first part of a wise reply the unmasker has failed in. This will appear from my words, and the occasion of them. The unmasker had accused my book of socinianism, for omitting some points, which he urged as necessary articles of faith. To which I answered, That he had done so only, “ to give it an ill

name, not because it was socinian; for he had no “ more reason to charge it with socinianism, for the “ omissions he mentions, than the apostles creed." These are my words, which he should have either set down out of p. 67, which he quotes, or at least given the objection, as I put it, if he had meant to have cleared it by a fair answer. But he, instead thereof, contents himself that “ I object that the apostles creed hath “ none of those articles and doctrines which the un“ masker mentioned.” Answ. This at best is but a part of my objection, and not to the purpose which I there meant, without the rest joined to it; which it has

pleased the unmasker, according to his laudable way, to conceal. My objection, therefore, stands thus :

That the same articles, for the omission whereof the

unmasker charges my book with socinianism, being also omitted in the apostles creed, he has no more reason to charge my book with socinianism, for the omissions mentioned, than he hath to charge the apostles creed with socinianism.

To this objection of mine, let us now see how he an

swers, p. 47.

“ Nor does any considerate man wonder at it," [i. e. that the apostles creed had none of those articles and doctrines which he had mentioned,] “ for the creed “ is a form of outward profession, which is chiefly to be “ made in the public assemblies, when prayers are put

up in the church, and the holy scriptures are read: “ then this abridgment of faith is properly used, or when “ there is not time or opportunity to make any enlarge“ ment. But we are not to think it expressly con“ tains in it all the necessary and weighty points, all “ the important doctrines of belief; it being only de“ signed to be an abstract."

Answ. Another indispensable requisite in a wise reply is, that it should be pertinent. Now what can there be more impertinent, than to confess the matter of fact upon which the objection is grounded; but instead of destroying the inference drawn from that matter of fact,

ly amuse the reader with wrong reasons, why that matter of fact was so ?

No considerate man, he says, doth wonder, that the articles and doctrines he mentioned, are omitted in the apostles creed: because “ that creed is a form of out“ ward profession.” Answ. A profession! of what, I beseech you? Is it a form to be used for form's sake? I thought it had been a profession of something, even of the christian faith: and if it be so, any considerate man may wonder necessary articles of the christian faith should be left out of it. For how it can be an outward VOL. VI.

T

profession of the christian faith, without containing the christian faith, I do not see; unless a man can outwardly profess the christian faith in words, that do not contain or express it, i. e. profess the christian faith, when he does not profess it. But he says, " It is a pro“ fession chiefly to be made use of in assemblies.” Answ. Do those solemn assemblies privilege it from containing the necessary articles of the christian religion? This proves not that it does not, or was not designed to contain all the articles necessary to be believed to make a man a christian; unless the unmasker can prove that a “ form of outward profession" of the christian faith, that contains all such necessary articles, cannot be made use of, in the public assemblies. “In the s public assemblies," says he, “when prayers are put

up by the church, and the holy scriptures are read, " then this abridgment of faith is properly used; or ” when there is not generally time or opportunity to make an enlargement.” Answ. But that which contains not what is absolutely necessary to be believed to make a man a christian, can no-where be properly used as a form of outward profession of the christian faith, and least of all, in the solemn public assemblies. All the sense I can make of this is, that this abridgment of the christian faith, i. e. imperfect collection (as the unmasker will have it) of some of the fundamental articles of christianity in the apostles creed, which omits the greatest part of them, is made use of as a form of outward profession of but part of the christian faith in the public assemblies; when, by reason of reading of the scripture and prayers, there is not time or opportunity for a full and perfect profession of it.

It is strange the christian church should not find time nor opportunity, in sixteen hundred years, to make, in any of her public assemblies, a profession of so much of her faith, as is necessary to make a man a christian. But pray tell me, has the church any such full and complete form of faith, that hath in it all those propositions, you have given us for necessary articles, (not to say any thing of those which you have reserved to yourself, in your own breast, and will not communicate, of which

« PreviousContinue »