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constant reading and study of them get all the light they can from this divine revelation, and nourish themselves up in the words of faith, and of good doctrine, as St. Paul speaks to Timothy. But 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. Nay, though he proposes it upon the very terms, and in the very words which our Saviour and his apostles preached it in, yet he shall not escape censures and the severest insinuations. To deviate in the least, or to omit any thing contained in their articles, is heresy, under the most invidious names in fashion, and it is well if he escapes being a downright atheist. Whether this be the way for teachers to make themselves hearkened to, as men in earnest in religion, and really concerned for the salvation of men's souls, I leave them to consider. What success it has had, towards persuading men of the truth of Christianity, their own complaints of the prevalency of atheism, on the one hand, and the number of Deists on the other, sufficiently show.
Another thing laid to my charge, p. 105 and 107, is my “ forgetting, or rather wilful omitting, some plain and obvious passages,” and some “ famous testimonies in the evangelists," namely Matt. xxviii. 19, “Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” And John i. 1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And verse 14, “ And the Word was made flesh.” Mine, it seems, in this book, are all sins of omission. And yet, when it came out, the buzz, the flutter, and noise which was made, and the reports which were raised, would have persuaded the world, that it subverted all morality, and was designed against the Christian religion. Í must confess, discourses of this kind, which I met with, spread up and down, at first amazed me; knowing the sincerity of those thoughts, which persuaded me to publish it (not without some hope of doing some service to decaying piety, and mistaken and slandered Christianity. Isatisfied myself against those heats, with
this assurance, that, if there was any thing in my book against what any one called religion, it was not against the religion contained in the Gospel. And for that, I
I appeal to all mankind.
But to return to Mr. Edwards, in particular, I must take leave to tell him, that if “ omitting plain and obvious passages, the famous testimonies in the evangelists,” be a fault in me, I wonder why he, among so many of this kind that I am guilty of, mentions so few. For I must acknowledge I have omitted more, nay, many more, that are “plain and obvious passages, and famous testimonies in the evangelists,” than those he takes notice of. But if I have left out none of those
passages or testimonies,” which contain what our Saviour
and his apostles preached, and required assent to, to make men believers, I shall think my omissions (let them be what they will) no faults in the present
Whatever doctrines Mr. Edwards would have to be believed, if they are such as our Saviour and his apostles required to be believed, to make a man a Christian, he will be sure to find them in those preachings and“ famous testimonies,” of our Saviour and his apostles, that I have quoted. And if they are not there, he may rest satisfied, that they were not proposed by our Saviour and his apostles, as necessary to be believed, to make men Christ's disciples.
If the omission of other texts in the evangelists (which are all true also, and no one of them to be disbelieved) be a fault, it might have been expected that Mr. Ed
a wards should have accused me for leaving out Matt. i. 18-23, and Matt. xxvii. 24, 35, 50, 60, for these are
plain and obvious passages and famous testimonies in the evangelists;" and such, whereon these articles of the Apostles' Creed, viz. “ born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried,” are founded. These, being articles of the Apostles' Creed, are looked upon as "fundamental doctrines :" and one would wonder, why Mr. Edwards so quietly passes by their omission ; did it not appear, that he was so intent on fixing his imputation of So
cinianism upon me, that, rather than miss that, he was content to drop the other articles of his creed. For I must observe to him, that if he had blamed me for the omission of the places last quoted out of St. Matthew (as he had as much reason as for any other) it would plainly have appeared, how idle and ill-grounded his charging Socinianism on me was. But, at any rate, he was to give the book an ill name; not because it was Socinian ; for he has no more reason to charge it with Socinianism for the omissions he mentions, than the Apostles' Creed. It is therefore well for the compilers of that creed, that they lived not in Mr. Edwards's days : for he would, no doubt, have found them “ all over Socinianized,” for omitting the texts he quotes, and the doctrines he collects out of John i. and John xiv. p. 107, 108. Socinianism then is not the fault of the book, whatever else it be. For I repeat it again, there is not one word of Socinianism in it. I, that am not so
I good at conjectures as Mr. Edwards, shall leave it to him to say, or to those who can bear the plainness and simplicity of the Gospel, to guess, what its fault is.
Some men are shrewd guessers, and others would be thought to be so: but he must be carried far by his forward inclination who does not take notice, that the world is apt to think him a diviner, for any thing rather than for the sake of truth, who sets up his own suspicions against the direct evidence of things; and pretends to know other men's thoughts and reasons better than they themselves. I had said, that the epistles, being writ to those who were already believers, could not be supposed to be writ to them to teach them fundamentals, without which they could not be believers.
And the reason I gave, why I had not gone through the writings in the epistles, to collect the fundamental articles of faith, as I had through the preachings of our Saviour and the apostles, was, because those fundamental articles were in those epistles promiscuously, and without distinction, mixed with other truths. And, therefore, we shall find and discern those great and necessary points best in the preachings of our Saviour and the apostles, to those who were yet ignorant of the faith, and unconverted. This, as far as I know my own thoughts, was the reason why I did (as Mr. Edwards complains, p. 109) “ not proceed to the epistles, and not give an account of them, as I had done of the Gospels and Acts.” This, I imagined, I had in the close of my book so fully and clearly expressed (particularly p. 152, of this vol.) that I supposed nobody, how willing soever, could have mistaken me. But this gentleman is so much better acquainted with me than I am with' myself; sees so deeply into my heart, and knows so perfectly every thing that passes there; that he, with assurance, tells the world, p. 109, “ That I purposely omitted the epistolary writings of the apostles, because they are fraught with other fundamental doctrines, besides that one which I mention.” And then he goes to enumerate those fundamental articles, p. 110, 111,viz.“ The corruption and degeneracy of human nature, with the true original of it (the defection of our first parents) the propagation of sin and mortality, (our restoration and reconciliation by Christ's blood, the eminency and excellency of his priesthood, the efficacy of his death, the full satisfaction made, thereby, to divine justice, and his being made an all-sufficient sacrifice for sin. Christ's righteousness, our justification by it, election, adoption, sanctification, saving faith, the nature of the Gospel, the new covenant, the riches of God's mercy in the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, the certainty of the resurrection of human bodies, and of the future glory."
Give me leave now to ask you seriously, whether these, which you have here set down under the title of “ fundamental doctrines,” are such (when reduced to propositions) that every one of them is required to be believed to make a man a Christian, and such as, without
, the actual belief thereof, he cannot be saved. If they are not so, every one of them, you may call them “ fundamental doctrines” as much as you please, they are not of those doctrines of faith I was speaking of, which are only such as are required to be actually believed to make a man a Christian. If you say, some of them are such necessary points of faith, and others not, you, by this specious list of well-sounding, but unexplained terms, arbitrarily collected, only make good what I have said, viz. that the necessary articles of faith are, in the epistles, promiscuously delivered with other truths, and, therefore, they cannot be distinguished but by some other mark, than being barely found in the epistles. If you say, that they are all of them necessary articles of faith, I shall then desire you to reduce them to so many plain doctrines, and then prove them to be every one of them required to be believed by every Christian man, to make him a member of the Christian church. For, to begin with the first, it is not enough to tell us, as you do, that “the corruption and degeneracy of human nature, with the true original of it (the defection of our first parents) the propagation of sin and mortality, is one of the great heads of Christian divinity.” But you are to tell us, what are the propositions we are required to believe concerning this matter : for nothing can be an article of faith, but some proposition; and then it will remain to be proved, that these articles are necessary to be believed to salvation. The Apostles'Creed was taken, in the first ages of the church, to contain all things necessary to salvation; I mean, necessary to be believed: but you have now better thought on it, and are pleased to enlarge it, and we, no doubt, are bound to submit to your orthodoxy.
The list of materials for his creed (for the articles are not yet formed) Mr. Edwards closes, p. 111, with these words: “These are the matters of faith contained in the epistles, and they are essential and integral parts of the Gospel itself." What, just these? Neither more nor less? If you are sure of it, pray let us have them speedily, for the reconciling of differences in the Christian church, which has been so cruelly torn about the articles of the Christian faith, to the great reproach of Christian charity, and scandal of our true religion.
Mr. Edwards, having thus, with two learned terms of “ essential and integral parts,” sufficiently proved the