« PreviousContinue »
my book was chiefly designed for deists: and therefore I mentioned only those advantages, which all christians must agree in; and, in omitting of that, complied with the apostle's rule, Rom. xiv. To this he tells me flatly, that was not the design of my book. Whether the unmasker knows with what design I published it better than myself, must be left to the reader to judge: for as for his veracity in what he knows, or knows not, he has given so many instances of it, that I may safely refer that to any body. One instance more of it may be found in this very chapter, where he says, “I pretend “ indeed, page 163, that in another place of my book, “ I mention Christ's restoring all mankind from the “ state of death, and restoring them to life: and his
laying down his life for another, as our Saviour pro6 fesses he did. These few words this vindicator has
picked up in his book since he wrote it. This is all, through his whole treatise, that he hath dropped con
cerning that advantage of Christ's incarnation ; i. e. 66 Christ's satisfaction.” Answ. But that this is not all that I have dropped through my whole treatise, concerning that advantage, may appear by those places above mentioned, p. 163, where I say, that the design of Christ's coming was to be offered up, and speak of the work of redemption; which are expressions taken to imply our Saviour's satisfaction. But the unmasker thinking I should have quoted them, if there had been any more, besides those mentioned in my vindication, upon that presumption sticks not boldly to affirm, that there were no more; and so goes on with the veracity of an unmasker. If affirming would do it, nothing could be wanting in his cause, that might be for his purpose. Whether he be as good at proving, this consequence (among other propositions, which remain upon him to be proved) will try, viz. L. That if the satisfaction of Christ be not mentioned
in the place where the advantages of Christ's coming are purposely treated of, then I am of opi
nion, that Christ came not to satisfy for us : Which is all the argument of his 7th chapter.
His last chapter, as his first, begins with a commendation of himself; particularly, it boasts his freedom from bigotism, dogmatizing, censoriousness, and uncharitableness. I think he hath drawn himself so well with his own pen, that I shall need refer the reader only to what he himself has wrote in this controversy, for his character.
In the next paragraph, p. 104, he tells me, “ I laugh “ at orthodoxy.” Answ. There is nothing that I think deserves a more serious esteem than right opinion, (as the word signifies,) if taken up with the sense and love of truth. But this way of becoming orthodox has always modesty accompanying it, and a fair acknowledgment of fallibility in ourselves, as well as a supposition of errour in others. On the other side there is nothing more ridiculous, than for any man, or company of men, to assume the title of orthodoxy to their own set of opinions, as if infallibility were annexed to their systems, and those were to be the standing measure of truth to all the world; from whence they erect to themselves a power to censure and condemn others, for differing at all from the tenets they have pitched upon.
The consideration of human frailty ought to check this vanity; but since it does not, but that, with a sort of allowance, it shows itself in almost all religious societies, the playing the trick round sufficiently turns it into ridicule. For each society having an equal right to a good opinion of themselves, a man by passing but a river, or a hill, loses that orthodoxy in one company, which puffed him up with such assurance and insolence in another; and is there, with equal justice, himself exposed to the like censures of errour and heresy, which he was so forward to lay on others at home.
When it shall appear, that infallibility is intailed upon one set of men of any denomination, or truth confined to any spot of ground, the name and use of orthodoxy, as now it is in fashion every-where, will in that one place be reasonable. Until then, this ridiculous cant will be a foundation too weak to sustain that usurpation that is raised upon it. It is not that I do not think every one should be per
suaded of the truth of those opinions he professes. It is that I contend for; and it is that which I fear the great sticklers for orthodoxy often fail in. For we see generally that numbers of them exactly jump in a whole large collection of doctrines, consisting of abundance of particulars; as if their notions were, by one common stamp, printed on their minds, even to the least lineament. This is very hard, if not impossible, to be conceived of those who take up their opinions only from conviction. But, how fully soever I am persuaded of the truth of what I hold, I am in common justice to allow the same sincerity to him that differs from me; and so we are upon equal terms. This persuasion of truth on each side, invests neither of us with a right to censure or condemn the other. I have no more reason to treat him ill for differing from me, than he has to treat me ill for the same cause. Pity him, I may; inform him fairly, I ought; but contemn, malign, revile, or any otherwise prejudice him for not thinking just as I do, that I ought not. My orthodoxy gives me no more authority over him, than his (for every one is orthodox to himself) gives him over me. When the word orthodoxy (which in effect signifies no more but the opinions of my party) is made use of as a pretence to domineer (as ordinarily it is,) it is, and always will be, ridiculous.
He says, “I hate, even with a deadly hatred, all cate
chisms and confessions, all systems and models." I do not remember, that I have once mentioned the word catechism, either in my Reasonableness of christianity, or Vindication; but he knows “ I hate them deadly," and I know I do not. And as for systems and models, all that I say of them, in the pages he quotes to prove my hatred of them, is only this, viz. in my Vindication, p. 164, 165, “ Some had rather you should write booty, “ and cross your own design of removing men's prejudices “ to christianity, than leave out one tittle of what they
put into their systems. —Some men will not bear it, " that any one should speak of religion, but according “ to the model that they themselves have made of it." In neither of which places do I speak against systems or models, but the ill use that some men make of them.
He tells me also in the same place, p. 104, that I deride mysteries. But for this he hath quoted neither words nor place: and where he does not do that, I have reason, from the frequent liberties he takes to impute to me what no-where appears in my books, to desire the reader to take what he says not to be true. For did he mean fairly, he might, by quoting my words, put all such matters of fact out of doubt; and not force me, so often as he does, to demand where it is: as I do now here again,
LI. Where it is that I deride mysteries?
His next words, p. 104, are very remarkable: they are, “O how he [the vindicator] grins at the spirit of “ creed-making ! p. 169, Vindic. The very thoughts of “ which do so haunt him, so plague and torment him, " that he cannot rest until it be conjured down. And
here, by the way, seeing I have mentioned his rancour against systematic books and writings, I might represent the misery that is coming upon all book
sellers, if this gentleman and his correspondence go " on successfully. Here is an effectual plot to under“ mine Stationers-hall; for all systems and bodies of
divinity, philosophy, &c. must be cashiered; what“ soever looks like system must not be bought or sold. Ć This will fall heavy on the gentlemen of St. Paul's “ church-yard and other places.” Here the politic unmasker seems to threaten me with the posse of Paul's church-yard, because my book might lessen their gain in the sale of theological systems. I remember that “ De" metrius the shrine-maker, which brought no small “ gain to the craftsinen, whom he called together, with “ the workmen of like occupation, and said to this
purpose : Sirs, ye know, that by this craft we have
our wealth : moreover ye see and hear, that this Paul “ hath persuaded, and turned away much people, saying, 6 that they be no gods that are made with hands; sô “ that this our craft is in danger to be set at nought. " And when they heard these sayings, they were full of “ wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the
Ephesians." Have you, sir, who are so good at speechmaking, as a worthy successor of the silver-smith, regulating your zeal for the truth, and your writing divinity by the profit it will bring, made a speech to this purpose to the craftsmen, and told them, that I say, articles of faith, and creeds, and systems in religion, cannot be made by men's hands or fancies; but must be just such, and no other, than what God hath given us in the scriptures ? And are they ready to cry out to your content, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians ?" If you have well warmed them with your oratory, it is to be hoped they will heartily join with you, and bestir themselves, and choose you for their champion, to prevent the misery, you tell them, is coming upon them, in the loss of the sale of systems and bodies of divinity: for, as for philosophy, which you name too, I think you went a little too far; nothing of that kind, as I remember, hath been so much as mentioned. But, however, some sort of orators, when their hands are in, omit nothing, true or false, that may move those they would work upon. Is not this a worthy employment, and becoming a preacher of the gospel, to be a solicitor for Stationers-hall ? And make the gain of the gentlemen of Paul's church-yard, a consideration for or against any book writ concerning religion? This, if it were ever thought on before, nobody but an unmasker, who lays all open, was ever so foolish as to publish. But here you have an account of his zeal : the views of gain are to measure the truths of divinity. Had his zeal, as he pretends in the next paragraph, no other aims, but the “ defence of the gospel;” it is probable this controversy would have been managed after another fashion.
Whether what he says in the next, p. 105, to excuse his so often pretending to“know my heart and thoughts,” will satisfy the reader, I shall not trouble myself. By his so often doing it again, in his Socinianism unmasked, I see he cannot write without it. And so I leave it to the judgment of the readers, whether he can be allowed to know other men's thoughts, who, on many occasions, seems not well to know his own. The railing in the remainder of this chapter I shall pass by, as I have done