« PreviousContinue »
“ mob,” as you are pleased to dignify them, p. 117, that the bulk of mankind, or, in your phrase, the “ rabble," are not concerned in religion, or ought to understand it, in order to their salvation. Nor are you, I hope, acquainted with any who are of that Muscovite divine's mind, who, to one that was talking to him about religion, and the other world, replied, That for the czar, indeed, and bojars, they might be permitted to raise their hopes to heaven; but that for such poor wretches as he, they were not to think of salvation.
I remember the pharisees treated the common people with contempt, and said, “ Have any of the rulers, or “ of the pharisees, believed in him? But this people, “ who knoweth not the law, are cursed.” But yet these, who in the censure of the pharisees, were cursed, were some of the poor; or, if you please to have it so, the mob, to whom the “ gospel was preached” by our Saviour, as he tells John's disciples, Matt. xi. 5.
Pardon ine, sir, that I have here laid these examples and considerations before you; a little to prevail with you not to let loose such a torrent of wit and eloquence against the “bulk of mankind," another time, and that for a mere fancy of your own : for I do not see how they here came in your way; but that you were resolved to set up something to have a fling at, and show your parts, in what you call your “ different strain," though
" the mob, What you must believe ?” And as for me, I suppose you will take my word for it, that I think no mob, no, not your « venerable mob,” is to be asked, what I am to believe; nor that “ Articles of faith” are to be “ received by the vote of club-men," or any other
In the following words, p. 115, you ask, “ Whether “ a man may not understand those articles of faith, " which you mentioned out of the gospels and epistles, “ if they be explained to him, as well as that one, I “ speak of?” It is as the articles are, and as they are explained. There are articles that have been some hundreds of years explaining; which there are many, and those not of the most illiterate, who profess they do
not yet understand. And to instance in no other, but “ He descended into hell,” the learned are not yet agreed in the sense of it, though great pains have been taken to explain it.
Next, I ask, Who are to explain your articles ? The papists will explain some of them one way, and the reformed another. The remonstrants, and anti-remonstrants, give them different senses. And probably, the trinitarians and unitarians will profess, that they understand not each others explications. And at last, I think it may be doubted, whether any articles, which need men's explications, can be so clearly and certainly understood, as one which is made so very plain by the scripture itself, as not to need any explication at all. Such is this, that Jesus is the Messiah. For though you learnedly tell us, that Messiah is a Hebrew word, and no better understood by the vulgar, than Arabic; yet I guess it is so fully explained in the New Testament, and in those places I have quoted out of it, that nobody, who can understand any ordinary sentence in the scripture, can be at a loss about it. And it is plain, it needs no other explication, than what our Saviour and the apostles gave it in their preaching; for, as they preached it, men received it, and that sufficed to make them believers.
To conclude, when I heard that this learned gentle. man, who had a name for his study of the scriptures, and writings on them, had done me the honour to consider my treatise, I promised myself, that his degree, calling, and fame in the world, would have secured to me something of weight in his remarks, which might have convinced me of my mistakes; and, if he had found any in it, justified my quitting of them. But having examined what, in his, concerns my book, I to my wonder find, that he has only taken pains to give it an ill name, without so much as attempting to refute any one position in it, how much soever he is pleased to make a noise against several propositions, which he might be free with, because they are his own: and I have no reason to take it amiss if he has shown his zeal and skill against them. He has been so favourable to what is
mine, as not to use any one argument against any passage in my book. This, which I take for a public testimony of his approbation, I shall return him my thanks
viction, or kindness. But if he writ only for his bookseller's sake, he alone ought to thank him.
AFTER the foregoing papers were sent to the press, the “ Witnesses to Christianity,” of the reverend and learned Dr. Patrick, now lord bishop of Ely, fell into my hands. I regretted the not having seen it, before I writ my treatise of the “ Reasonableness of Christianity, “ &c." I should then, possibly, by the light given me by so good a guide, and so great a man, with more confidence directly have fallen into the knowledge of christianity; which, in the way I sought it, in its source, required the comparing of texts with texts, and the more than once reading over the Evangelists and Acts, besides other parts of scripture. But I had the ill luck not to see that treatise, until so few hours since, that I have had time only to read as far as the end of the introduction or first chapter: and there Mr. Edwards may find, that this pious bishop (whose writings show he studies, as well as his life that he believes, the scriptures) owns what Mr. Edwards is pleased to call, “ a “ plausible conceit,” which, he says, “I give over and “ over again in these formal words, viz. That nothing “ is required to be believed by any christian man, but “ this, That Jesus is the Messiah.”
The liberty Mr. Edwards takes, in other places, deserves not it should be taken upon his word, “ That “ these formal words” are to be found " over and over
But I will set him down the “ formal words," which are to be found in this reverend prelate's book, p. 14, “ To be the Son of God, and to be Christ, being but
“ It is the very same thing to believe, that Jesus is the “ Christ, and to believe, that Jesus is the Son of God; “ express it how you please. This ALONE is the faith “ which can regenerate a man, and put a divine spirit “ into him ; that is, make him a conqueror over the 66 world, as Jesus was.” I have quoted only these few words; but Mr. Edwards, if he pleases, or any body else, may, in this first chapter, satisfy himself more fully, that the design of it is to show, that in our Saviour's time, “Son of God," was a known and received name and appellation of the Messiah, and so used in the holy writers. And that the faith that was to make men christians, was only the believing, “that Jesus is “ the Messiah.” It is to the truth of this proposition that he “ examines his witnesses," as he speaks, p. 21. And this, if I mistake not, in his epistle dedicatory, he calls “ christianity ;” fol. A 3, where he calls them “ witnesses to christianity." But these two propositions, viz. That “ SON OF GOD,” in the gospel, stands for Messiah; and that the faith, which alone makes men christians, is the believing“ Jesus to be the Mes“ siah," displeases Mr. Edwards so much in my book, that the things shimcoltohised from the that he thinks himself authorized from them, to charge me with socinianism, and want of sincerity. How he will be pleased to treat this reverend prelate, whilst he is alive (for the dead may, with good manners, be made bold with) must be left to his decisive authority. This, I am sure, which way soever he determine, he must, for the future, either afford me more good company, or fairer quarter.