« PreviousContinue »
each of Them distinAly; This is the great Foundation, and the main Oeconomy of the Christian Religion ; the Doctrine, into which we were baptized; and which every sincere Christian ought, according to the best of his Ability and the Means he has of informing himfelf, to endeavour thoroughly to understand. The Supremacy of God the Father over all, and our Reconciliatia on and Subjection to him as such our Supreme Governour ; the Redemption purchased by the Son ; and the Sanétification worked in us by the Holy Spirit ; are the Three great Articles of our Ereed: And in maintaining these rightly, fo as seriously to affe& mens Understandings, and influence their Lives accordingly, is the Honour of God, and the Interest of True Religion greatly concerned. Tritheism, Sabellianism, Arianism, and Socinianism, have, to the great disparagement of Christianity, pu: zled the plain and practical DoArine of Scripture, with endless speculative Disputes: And it has been no small injury to Religion, in the midst of those Disputes ; that as on the one hand, men by guarding unwarily against Tritheism, have often in the other extreme run C 2
into Socinianism, to the diminution of the Honour of the Son of God, and to the taking away the very Being of the Holy Spirit ; so on the contrary, incautious Writers in their zeal against Socinianism and Arianism, have no less frequently laid themselves open to Sabellianism or Tritheism, by neglecting to maintain the Honour and Supremacy of the Father. The Design of the following Papers, is to show how This Evil may be prevented, and in what manner Both Extremes may rationaliy be avoided.;
There are others who have thought, that we ought not at all to treat concerning any of these matters, because they are Mysterious. By which if they meant, that the Words of God were mysterious, and that therefore we ought not to be wise beyond what is written ; no man could say that herein they judged amiss. But if they mean, that the Words of Men are mysterious ; and that we must not reason concerning Them, nor inquire whether or no, and in what Sense, they are agreeable to the words of God: What is This, but substituting another mystery in the stead of the true one j and paying de
ference to the mystery of Mans making, instead of the mystery of God? The True Veneration of Mysteries confifts, not in making them our selves, and in receiving blindly the words of Men without understanding them ; but it confifts, either in taking care There to stop, where the Scripture it self has ftopped, without presuming to go further at all ; or else, in taking care to understand all words of humane institution in Such a sense, as that they be sure to signify neither more nor less than the words of Scripture necessarily and indisputably do. Whosoever puts any Meaning upon words of humane institution, which does not appear to Another (upon his fincerest and most careful Examination) to 'be the fame with the Sense of the words of Scripture ; must not complain that the Other opposes his own Reason to the Authority of God, when indeed he opposes it only to Those who would make Humane Authority the same with Divine. Affe&ing to speak unintelligibly, where the Scripture it self has not done so; is indeed promoting Scepficifm only, not True Religion : Nor
can there be any other so effectual a way of confuting all Heresies, as it would be to restrain men within the bounds of the uncontested Doctrine of Scripture ; and give them as few Advantages as possible, of raising Objections against humane and fallible Forms of speaking.
Lastly ; as to Those, who, in the Whole, are of Opinion that every man ought to study and consider these things according to his Ability ; and yet, in the Particulars of the Explication, have quite different Notions from those which I have thought reasonable and necefsary to set forth in the following Papers; I have, with regard to such Persons as These, endeavoured to express my self with all Modesty and due Submission. And if any Learned Person, who thinks me in an Error, shall in the Spirit of Meekness and Christianity, propose a different Interpretation of All the. Texts I have produced, and deduce Consequences therefrom different from those which seem to Me unavoidably to follow ; I shall think myself obliged, either to return him a clear and distinct Answer in the fame Spirit of Meekness
and Candour, or else fairly and publickly to retract whatsoever is not capable of being so defended. But if, on the contrary, any nameless and careless Writer shall, in the Spirit of Popery, contend only that men must never use their own Understandings, that is, must have no Religion of their own; but, without regarding what is right or wrong, must always plead for what Notions happen at any time to prevail ; I shall have no reason, in such case, to think my self under the same Obligation of answering him.