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The Reasonableness of Christianity, fc. their teachers to be more accurately instructed in matters of faith, and better to understand the Christian religion, than the vulgar conformists, who are charged with great ignorance; how truly, I will not here deter- : mine. But I ask them to tell me seriously, “ Whether half their people have leisure to study? Nay, Whether one in ten, of those who come to their meetings in the country, if they had time to study them, do or can understand the controversies at this time so warmly managed amongst them, about justification,' the subject of this present treatise ?” I have talked with some of their teachers, who confess themselves not to under. stand the difference in debate between them. And yet the points they stand on are reckoned of so great weight, so material, so fundamental in religion, that they divide communion, and separate upon them. Had God intended that none but the learned scribe, the disputer, or wise of this world, should be Christians, or be saved, thus religion should have been prepared for them, filled with speculations and niceties, obscure terms, and abstract notions. But men of that expectation, men furnished with such acquisitions, the apostle tells us, 1 Cor. i. are rather shut out from the simplicity of the Gospel ; to make way for those poor, ignorant, il. literate, who heard and believed promises of a Deliverer, and believed Jesus to be him who could conceive a man dead and made alive again; and believe that he should, at the end of the world, come again and pass sentence on all men, according to their deeds. That the poor had the Gospel preached to them; Christ makes a mark, as well as business of his mission, Matt. xi. 5. And if the poor had the Gospel preached to them, it was, without doubt, such a Gospel as the poor could understand; plain and intelligible: and so it was, as we have seen, in the preachings of Christ and his apostles,
REASONABLENESS OF CHRISTIANITY,
My Book had not been long out, before it fell under the correction of the author of a Treatise, entitled, “Some Thoughts concerning the several Causes and Occasions of Atheism, especially in the present Age.” No contemptible adversary, I will assure you; since, as it seems, he has got the faculty to heighten every thing that displeases him into the capital crime of atheism; and breathes against those, who come in his way,a pestilential air, whereby every the least distemper is turned into the plague, and becomes mortal. For whoever does not just say after Mr. Edwards, cannot, it is evident, escape being an atheist, or a promoter of atheism. I cannot but approve of any one's zeal, to guard and secure that great and fundamental article of all religion and morality, “ That there is a God:” but atheism being a crime, which, for its madness as well as guilt, ought to shut a man out of all sober and civil society, should be very warily charged on any one, by deductions and consequences, which he himself does not own, or, at least, do not manifestly and unavoidably flow from what he asserts. This caution, charity, I think,
obliges us to: and our author would possibly think himself hardly dealt with, if, for neglecting some of those rules he himself gives, p. 31 and 34, against atheism, he should be pronounced a promoter of it: as rational a charge I imagine, as some of those he makes; and as fitly put together, as the treatise of the Reasonableness of Christianity, &c. brought in among the causes of atheism. However I shall not much complain of him, since he joins me, p. 104, with no worse company than two eminently pious and learned * prelates of our church, whom he makes favourers of the same conceit, as he calls it. But what has that conceit to do with atheism ? Very much. That conceit is of kin to Socinianism, and Socinianism to atheism. Let us hear Mr. Edwards himself. He says, p. 113, I am “all over Socinianized :" and therefore, my book, fit to be placed among the causes of atheism. For in the 64th, and following pages, he endeavours to show, That “a Socinian is an atheist;' or, lest that should seem harsh, " one that favours the cause of atheism,” p. 75. For so he has been pleased to mollify, now it is published as a treatise, what was much more harsh, and much more confident in it, when it was preached as a sermon. In this abatement, he seems a little to comply with his own advice, against his fourth cause of atheism; which we have in these words, p. 34,“ Wherefore, that we may effectually prevent this folly in ourselves, let us banish presumption, confidence, and self-conceit; let us extir. pate all pride and arrogance ; let us not list ourselves in the number of capricious opiniators."
I shall leave the Socinians themselves to answer his charge against them, and shall examine his proof of my being a Socinian. It stands thus, page 112, "When he (the author of the Reasonableness of Christianity, &c.) proceeds to mention the advantages and benefits of Christ's coming into the world, and appearing in the flesh, he hath not one syllable of his satisfying for us; or, by his death, purchasing life or salvation, or any
* Bp. Taylor, and the author of “the Naked Truth.”