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the unmasker might be the sole, authentic interpreter of Scripture. He is wisely of that judge's mind, who was against hearing the counsel on the other side, because they always perplexed the cause.
But if those who differ from the unmasker shall in their turns call him the “ prejudiced and ill-minded man,” who perplexes these matters (as they may, with as much authority as he) we are but where we were ; each must understand for himself, the best he can, until the unmasker be received as the only unprejudiced man, to whose dictates every one, without examination, is with an implicit faith to submit.
Here again, p. 32, the unmasker puts upon me what I never said: and therefore I must desire him to show, where it is that I pretend, XI. That this “ proposition," that Jesus is the
Messiah, “ is more intelligible than any of those
he has named.” In his Thoughts concerning the Causes of Atheism, p. 120, he argues, that this proposition [Jesus is the Messiah] has more difficulty in it than the article of the holy Trinity. And his proofs are worthy of an unmasker. “ For,” says he, “ here is an Hebrew word first to be explained;" or (as he has this strong argument again, Socinianism unmasked, p. 32,) - Here first the name Jesus, which is of Hebrew extraction, though since Grecized, must be expounded.”
Answ. Jesus being a proper name, only denoting a certain person, needs not to be expounded, of what extraction soever it be. Is this proposition, Jonathan was the son of Saul, king of Israel, any thing the harder, because the three proper names in it, Jonathan, Saul, and Israel, are of Hebrew extraction? And is it not as easy, and as “level to the understanding of the vulgar,” as this, Arthur was the son of Henry, king of England; though neither of these names be of Hebrew extraction? Or cannot any vulgar capacity understand this proposition, “ John Edwards writ a book, entitled,” Socinianism unmasked ; until the name of John, which is of Hebrew extraction, be explained to him ? If this be so, parents were best beware, how hereafter they give their children Scripture-names, if they cannot understand what they say to one another about them, until these names of Hebrew extraction are expounded to them; and every proposition, that is in writings and contracts, made concerning persons, that have names of Hebrew extraction, become thereby as hard to be understood as the doctrine of the holy Trinity.
His next argument is just of the same size. The word Messias must, he says, be explained too. Of what extraction soever it be, there needs no more explication of it than what our English Bible gives of it, where it is plain to any vulgar capacity, that it was used to denote that King and Deliverer, whom God had promised. So that this proposition, “ Jesus is the Messiah,” has no more difficulty in it than this, Jesus is the promised King and Deliverer; or than this, Cyrus was king and deliverer of Persia; which, I think, requires not much depth of Hebrew to be understood. He that understood this proposition, and took Cyrus for his king, was a subject, and a member of his kingdom; and he that understands the other, and takes Jesus to be his King, is his subject, and a member of his kingdom. But if this be as hard as it is to some men to understand the doctrine of the Trinity, I fear many of the kings in the world have but few true subjects. To believe Jesus to be the Messiah, is (as he has been told, over and over again) to take him for our King and Ruler, promised, and sent by God. This is that which will make any one from a Jew or Heathen, to be a Christian. In this sense it is very intelligible to vulgar capacities. Those who so understand and believe it, are so far from“ pronouncing these words as a spell," (as the unmasker ridiculously suggests, p. 33,) that they thereby become Christians.
But what if I tell the unmasker, that there is one Mr. Edwards, who (when he speaks his mind without considering how it will make for or against him) in another place, thinks this proposition, « Jesus is the Messias,” very easy and intelligible? To convince him of it, I shall desire him to turn to the 74th page of his Socinianism unmasked, where he will find, that Mr. Edwards, without any great search into Hebrew extractions, interprets « Jesus the Messiah" to signify this, “ That Jesus of Nazareth was that eminent and extraordinary person prophesied of long before, and that he was sent and commissioned by God :" which, I think, is no very hard proposition to be understood. But it is no strange thing, that that which was very easy to an unmasker in one place, should be terribly hard in another, where want of something better requires to have it so.
Another argument that he uses to prove the articles he has given us to be necessary to salvation, p. 22, is, because they are doctrines which contain things that in their nature have an “ immediate respect to the occasion, author, way, end, means, and issue of men's redemption and salvation.” And here I desire him to prove,
XII. That every one of his articles contains things
so immediately relating to the “ occasion, author,
Page 23, he says of his fundamentals, “ Not without good reason, therefore, I called them essential and integral parts of our Christian and evangelical faith : and why the Vindicator fleers at these terms I know no reason, but that he cannot confute the application of them.”
Answ. One would think by the word therefore, which he uses here, that in the preceding paragraph he had produced some reason to justify his ridiculous use of those terms, in his Thoughts concerning Atheism, p. 111. But nothing therein will be found tending to it. Indeed, the foregoing paragraph begins with these words, “ Thus I have briefly set before the reader those evangelical truths, those Christian principles, which belong
to the very essence of Christianity." Amongst these, there is the word Essence: but that from thence, or any thing else in that paragraph, the unmasker could, with good sense, or any sense at all, infer, as he does, “ not without good reason, therefore I called them the essential and integral parts of our Christian and evangelical faith,” requires an extraordinary sort of logic to make out. What, I beseech you, is your good reason too, here, upon which you infer “ Therefore,” &c.? For it is impossible for any one but an unmasker to find one word justifying his use of the terms essential and integral. But it would be a great restraint to the running of the unmasker's pen, if you should not allow him the free use of illative particles, where there are no premises to support them: and if you should not take affirmations without proof for reasoning, you at once strike off above three quarters of his book; and he will often, for several pages together, have nothing to say. As, for example, from p. 28 to p. 35. • But to show that I did not without reason say, his use of the terms essential and integral, in the place before quoted, was ridiculous; I must mind my reader, that, p. 109 of his Thoughts concerning the Causes of Atheism, he having said, that “ the epistolary writings are fraught with other fundamentals, besides that one which I mention;" and then having set them down, he closes his catalogue of them thus : « These are matters of faith contained in the epistles, and they are essential and integral parts of the Gospel itself,' p. 111. Now what could be more ridiculous, than, where the question is about fundamental doctrines, which are essentials of the Christian religion, without an assent to which a man cannot be a Christian; and so he himself calls them, p. 21 of his Socinianism unmasked; that he should close the list he had made of fundamental doctrines, i. e. essential points of the Christian religion, with telling his reader, “ These are essential and integral parts of the Gospel itself? i. e. These, which I have given you for fundamental, for essential doctrines of the Gospel, are the fundamental and not fundamental, essential and not essential parts of the Gospel mixed together. For integral parts, in all the writers I have met with, besides the unmasker, are contradistinguished to essential; and signify such parts as the thing can be without, but without them will not be so complete and entire as with them. Just such an acuteness as our unmasker would any one show, who taking upon him to set down the parts es. sential to a man, without the having of which he could not be a man, should name the soul, the head, the heart, lungs, stomach, liver, spleen, eyes, ears, tongue, arms, legs, hair, and nails; and, to make all sure, should conclude with these words; “ These are parts contained" in a man, “and are essential and integral parts of a man himself;" i. e. They are parts, without some of which he cannot be a man; and others, which though they make the man entire, yet he may be a man without them; as a man ceases not to be a man, though he wants a nail, a finger, or an arm, which are integral parts of a man, Risum teneatis? If the unmasker can make any better sense of his “ essential and integral parts of the Gospel itself,” I will ask his pardon for my laughing: until then he must not be angry, if the reader and I laugh too. Besides, I must tell him, that those which he has set down, are not the “ integral parts of the Chri. stian faith,” any more than the head, the trunk, and the arms, hands, and thighs are the integral parts of a man: for a man is not entire without the legs and feet too. They are some of the integral parts indeed; but cannot be called the integral parts, where any, that go to make up the whole man, are left out; nor those the integral, but some of the integral parts of the Christian faith, out of which any of the doctrines, proposed in the New Testament, are omitted : for whatever is there proposed, is proposed to be believed, and so is a part of the Christian faith.
Before I leave his catalogue of the “ essential and integral parts” of the Gospel, which he has given us, instead of one, containing the articles necessary to be believed to make a man a Christian, I must take notice of what he says, whilst he is making it, p. 9. “ Why then is there a treatise published, to tell the world