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to depend upon me, and upon my choosing, and my interpretation, for the necessary points they are to be. lieve to make them christians: if I, the great unmasker, have not the sole power to decree what is, or is not fundamental, and people be not bound to receive it for such, faith and the gospel are given up; darkness and barbarism will be brought in upon us by this writer's contrivance. For " he is an underhand factor for that
communion, which cries up ignorance for the mo6 ther of devotion and religion:" i. e. in plain English, for popery. For to this, and nothing else, tends all that sputter he makes in the section before mentioned.
I do not think there was ever a more thorough-paced declaimer, than our unmasker. He leaves out nothing that he thinks will make an affrighting noise in the ears of his orthodox hearers, though all the blame and censure he pours out upon others light only on himself. For let me ask this zealous upholder of light and knowledge: does he think it reasonable, that any one, who is not a christian, should be suffered to be undisturbed in his parish? Nay, does he think fit that any such should live free from the lash of the magistrate, or from the persecution of the ecclesiastical power? He seems to talk with another air, p. 65. In the next place I ask, Whether any one is a christian, who has not the faith of a christian ? Thirdly, I ask, Whether he has the faith of a christian, who does not explicitly believe all the fundamental articles of christianity? And to conclude, I ask him, Whether all those that he has set down, are not fundamental necessary articles ? When the unmasker has fairly answered these questions, it will be seen who is for popery, and the ignorance and tyranny that accompany it.
The unmasker is for making and imposing articles of faith ; but he is for this power in himself. He likes not popery (which is nothing but the tyranny and imposing upon men's understandings, faith and consciences) in the hands of the old gentleman at Rome: but it would, he thinks, do admirably well in his own hands. And who can blame him for it? Would not
that be an excellent way to propagate light and knowledge, by tying up all men to a bundle of articles of his own culling ? Or rather, to the authority of Christ and his apostles residing in him ? For he does not, nor ever will, give us a full view of fundamentals of his christianity : but like the church of Rome, to secure our dependence, reserves to himself a power of declaring others, and defining what is matter of faith as he shall see occasion.
Now, therefore, veil your bonnets to the unmasker, all you
that have a mind to be christians : break not your heads about the scriptures, to examine what they require of you: submit your faith implicitly to the un. masker ; he will understand and find out the necessary points for you to believe. Take them, just so many as he thinks fit to deliver them to you; this is the way to be knowing christians. But be sure, ask not, Whether those he is pleased to deliver, be every one of them fundamental, and all the fundamental articles, necessary to be believed to make a man a christian ? Such a capricious question spoils all, overturns christianity, which is intrusted to the unmasker's sole keeping, to be dispensed out as he thinks fit. If you refuse an implicit faith to him, he will presently find you have it for the whore of Babylon; he will smell out popery in it immediately : for he has a very shrewd scent, and you will be discovered to be an underhand factor for the church of Rome.
But if the unmasker were such an enemy, as he pretends, to those factors, I wonder he should, in what he has said concerning the apostles creed, so exactly jump with Knot the jesuit. If any one doubt of this, I desire him to look into the fourth chapter of “ Knot's charity “ maintained," and there he will see how well our unmasker and that jesuit agree in argument; nay, and expressions too. But yet I do not think him so far guilty, as to be employed as an underhand factor for popery. Every body will, I suppose, be ready to pronounce him so far an innocent, as to clear him from that. The cunning of this design goes not beyond the laying out of his preaching oratory, for the setting up his own
system, and making that the sole christianity. To that end, he would be glad to have the power of interpreting scripture, of defining and declaring articles of faith, and imposing them. This, which makes the absolute power of the pope, he would not, I think, establish at Rome; but it is plain he would have it himself if he could get it, for the support of the christianity of his system. An implicit faith, if he might have the management of it, and the taking fundamentals upon trust from his authority, would be of excellent use. Such a power, in his hands, would spread truth and knowledge in the world, i. e. his own orthodoxy and set of opinions. But if a man differs, nay, questions any thing of that, whether it be absolutely necessary to make one a christian, it is immediately a contrivance to let in popery, and to bring “ darkness and barbarism “ into the christian world.” But I must tell the innocent unmasker, whether he designs or no, that if his calling his system the only christianity, can bring the world to receive from him articles of faith of his own choosing, as fundamentals necessary to be believed by all men to make them christians, which Christ and his apostles did not propose to all men to make them christians; he does only set up popery in another guise, and lay the foundations of ignorance, darkness, and barbarism, in the christian world; for all the ignorance and blindness, that popery introduced, was only upon this foundation. And if he does not see this, (as there is reason to excuse his innocence,) it would be no hard matter to demonstrate it, if that were at present the question between us. But there are a great many other propositions to be proved by him, before we come to that new matter of debate.
But before I quit these paragraphs, I must go on with our unmasker's account, and desire him to show where it is,
XXV. “ That I make it my business to beat men off
“ from taking notice of any divine truths ?”
Next, where it is,
XXVI. That “I cry down all articles of christian
“ faith but one?"
Next, how it appears,
XXVII. That “ I will not suffer mankind to look
“ into christianity ?”
Again, where it is,
XXVIII. That “ I labour industriously to keep peo
ple in ignorance ;” or tell them, that "there is
no necessity of knowing any other doctrines of 66 the bible?”
These, and several others of the like strain, particu-' larly concerning one article, and the epistles, (which are his common-places,) are to be found in his 59th and 60th pages. And all this out of a presumption, that his system is the only christianity; and that if men were not pressed and persuaded to receive that, just every article of it, upon pain of damnation, christianity would be lost: and not to do this, is to promote ignorance, and contemn the bible. But he fears where 110 fear is. If his orthodoxy be the truth, and conformable to the scriptures, the laying the foundation only where our Saviour and his Apostles have laid it, will not overturn it. And to show him, that it is so, I desire him again to consider what I said in my Vindication, p. 164, 165, which, because I do not remember he anywhere takes notice of, in his reply, I will here offer again to his consideration : “ Convince but men of the mis“sion of Jesus Christ; make them but see the truth,
simplicity and reasonableness of what he himself “ hath taught, and required to be believed by his fol“ lowers; and you need not doubt, but being once
fully persuaded of his doctrine, and the advantages " which, all christians agree, are received by him, such “ converts will not lay by the scriptures; but, by a con“ stant reading and study of them, will get all the light
they can from this divine revelation, and nourish
“ themselves up in the words of faith and good doc“ trine, as St. Paul speaks to Timothy.”
If the reading and study of the scripture were more pressed than it is, and men were fairly sent to the bible to find their religion; and not the bible put into their hands, only to find the opinions of their peculiar sect or party; Christendom would have more christians, and those that are, would be more knowing, and more in the right, than they now are. That which hinders this, is that select bundle of doctrines, which it has pleased every sect to draw out of the scriptures, or their own inventions, with an omission (and, as our unmasker would say, a contempt) of all the rest. These choice truths (as the unmasker calls his) are to be the standing orthodoxy of that party, from which none of that church must recede, without the forfeiture of their christianity, and the loss of eternal life. But, whilst the people keep firm to these, they are in the church, and the way to salvation : which, in effect, what is it but to encourage ignorance, laziness, and neglect of the scriptures ? For what need they be at the pains of constantly reading the bible, or perplex their heads with considering and weighing what is there delivered ; when believing as the church believes, or saying, after, or not contradicting their domine, or teacher, serves the turn ?
Further, I desire it may be considered, what name that mere mock-show, of recommending to men the study of the scripture, deserves ; if, when they read it, they must understand it just as he (that would be, and they are too apt, contrary to the command of Christ, to call, their master) tells them. If they find any thing in the word of God, that leads them into opinions he does not allow ; if any thing they meet with in holy writ, seems to them to thwart, or shake the received doctrines, the very proposing of their doubts renders them suspected. Reasoning about them, and not acquiescing in whatever is said to them, is interpreted want of due respect and deference to the authority of their spiritual guides ; disrepute and censures follow: and if, in pursuance of their own light, they persist in