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courses, and submitting itself to the rule of him, whom God hath sent to be our King, and promised to be our Saviour; yet it having relation to the race of mankind, from the first man Adam to the end of the world; it being a contrivance, wherein God has displayed so much of his wisdom and goodness to the corrupt and lost sons of men, and it being a design to which the Almighty had a peculiar regard in the whole constitution and economy of the Jews, as well as in the prophecies and history of the Old Testament; this was a foundation capable of large superstructures : 1. In explaining the occasion, necessity, use, and end of his coming. 2. Next in proving him to be the person promised, by a correspondence of his birth, life, sufferings, death, and resurrection to all those propheciesand types of him, which had given the expectation of such a Deliverer; and to those descriptions of him whereby he inight be known when he did come. 3, In the discovery of the sort, constitution, extent, and management of his kingdom. 4. In showing from what we are delivered by him, and how that deliverance is wrought out, and what are the consequences of it.,
These, and a great many more the like, afford great numbers of truths delivered both in the historical, epistolary, and prophetical writings of the New Testa, ment, wherein the mysteries of the Gospel hidden from former ages were discovered ; and that more fully, I grant, after the pouring out of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles. But could nobody take Christ for their promised King, and resolve to obey him, unless he understood all the truths that concerned his kingdom, or, as I may say, mysteries of state of it? The truth of the contrary is manifest out of the plain and uniform preaching of the apostles, after they had received the Holy Ghost, that was to guide them into all truth. Nay, after the writing of those epistles, wherein were contained the unmasker's sublimest truths; they every where proposed to unbelievers Jesus the Messiah, to be their King, ordained of God; and to this joined repentance: and this alone they preached for the conversion of their unbelieving hearers. As soon as any VOL. VII.
one assented to this, he was pronounced a believer; and these inspired rulers of the church, these infallible preachers of the Gospel, admitted into Christ's kingdom by baptism. And this after, long “ after our Saviour's ascension, when (as our unmasker expresses it) the Holy Ghost was to be sent in an especial manner to enlightenmen's minds, and to discover to them the great mysteries of Christianity,” even as long as the apostles lived : and what others were to do who afterwards were to preach the Gospel St. Paul tells us, 1 Cor. iii. 11. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, even Jesus the Messiah." Though upon this foundation men might build variously things that would or would not hold the touch, yet however as long as they kept firm to this foundation, they should be saved, as appears in the following verses.
And indeed, if all the doctrines of the Gospel, which are contained in the writings of the apostles and evangelists, were necessary to be understood, and explicitly believed in the true sense of those that delivered them, to make a man a Christian; I doubt whether ever any one, even to this day, was a true Christian; though I believe the unmasker will not deny but that, ere this, Christianity (as he expresses it) “ is by certain steps climbed to its height."
But for this the unmasker has found a convenient and wise remedy. It is but for him to have the power to declare which of the doctrines delivered in holy writ are, and which are not necessary to be believed, with an additional power to add others of his own that he cannot find there; and the business is done. For unless this be allowed him, his system cannot stand : unless his interpretations be received for authentic revelation, we cannot have all the doctrines necessary for our time'; in truth, we cannot be Christians. For to this only what he says concerning the “ gradual discovery of the doctrines of the Gospel” tends. “ We are not to think,” says he, " that all the necessary doctrines of the Christian religion were clearly published to the world in our Saviour's time: not but that all that were' necessary for that time were published; but some that were necessary for the succeed were not then discovered, or, at least, not fully.”
I must ask the unmasker a short question or two; as, first,
XLVI. Are not all the doctrines necessary for our
time contained in his system ?
time be proposed in the express words of the
When he has answered these two plain questions, (and an answer to them I shall expect) the world will then see what he designs by "doctrines necessary for our Saviour's time, and doctrines necessary for succeeding times ;'' whether he means any thing else by it, but the setting up his system as the exact standard of the Gospel, and the true and unalterable measure of Christianity, in which “ it has climbed to its height:”,'.:
Let not good and sincere Christians be deceived nor perplexed by this maker of another Christianity than what the infallible Spirit of God has left us in the Scrip. tures. It is evident from thence, that whoever takes Jesus the Messiah for his King, with a resolution to live by his laws, and does sincerely repent as often as he transgresses any of them, is his subject; all such are Christians. What they are to know or believe more concerning him and his kingdom, when they are his subjects, he has left upon record in the great and sacred code and constitutions of his kingdom; I mean in the holy Scriptures. All that is contained therein, as coming from the God of truth, they are to receive as truth, and embrace as such. But since it is impossible explicitly to believe any proposition of the Christian doctrine but what we understand, or in any other sense than we understand it to have been delivered in; an explicit belief is, or can be required in no man, of more than what he understands of that doctrine. And thus,
whatsoever upon fair endeavours he understands to be contained in that doctrine, is necessary to him to be believed: nor can he continue a subject of Christ upon other terms. • What he is persuaded is the meaning of Christ his King, in any expression he finds in the sacred code ; that by his allegiance he is bound to submit his mind to receive for true, or else he denies the authority of Christ, and refuses to believe him ; nor can be excused by calling any one on earth master. And hence it is evidently impossible for a Christian to understand any text in one sense, and believe it in another, by whomsoever dictated.
All that is contained in the inspired writings, is all of divine authority, must all be allowed for such, and received for divine and infallible truth, by every subject of Christ's kingdom, i. e. every Christian. How comes then the unmasker to distinguish these dictates of the Holy Spirit into necessary and not necessary truths ? I desire him to produce his commission, whereby he hath the power given him to tell which of the divine truths contained in the holy Scripture are of necessity to be believed, and which not. Who made him a judge or divider between them? Who gave him this power over the oracles of God, to set up one and debase another at his pleasure? Some, as he thinks fit, are the choicest truths: and what, I beseech him, are the other? Who made him a chooser, where nobody can pick and choose ? Every proposition there, as far as any Christian can understand it, is indispensably necessary to be believed: and farther than he does understand it, it is impossible for him to believe it. The laws of Christ's kingdom do not require impossibilities; for they are all reasonable and good. iii. i,
Some of the truths delivered in the holy writ are very plain: it is impossible, I think, to mistake their meaning; and those certainly are all necessary to be explicitly believed. Others have more difficulty in them, and are not easy to be understood. Is the unmasker appointed Christ's vicegerent here, or the Holy Ghost's interpreter, with authority to pronounce which of these are necessary to be believed, and in what sense, and which not? The obscurity, that is to be found in séveral passages of the Scripture, the difficulties that cover and perplex the meaning of several texts, demand of every Christian study, diligence, and attention, in reading and hearing the Scriptures; in comparing and examining them; and receiving what light he can from all manner of helps, to understand these books, wherein are contained the words of life. This the unmasker, and every one, is to do for himself; and thereby find out what is necessary for him to believe. But I do not know that the unmasker is to understand and interpret for me, more than I for him. If he has such a power, I desire him to produce it. Until then, I can acknowledge no other infallible, but that guide, which he directs me to himself, here in these words : “ according to our Saviour's promise, the Holy Ghost was to be sent in a special manner to enlighten men's ininds, and to discover to them the great mysteries of Christianity.” For whether by men, he here means those, on whom the Holy Ghost was so eminently poured out, Acts ii. or whether he means by these words, that special assistance of the Holy Ghost, whereby particular men, to the end of the world, are to be led into the truth, by opening their understandings, that they may understand the Scriptures, (for he always loves to speak doubtfully and indefinitely) I know no other infallible guide, but the Spirit of God in the Scriptures. Nor has God left it in my choice to take any man for such. If he had, I should think the unmasker the unlikeliest to be he, and the last man in the world to be chosen for that guide: and herein I appeal to any sober Christian, who hath read what the unmasker has, with so little truth and decency, (for it is not always men's fault, if they have not sense) writ upon this question, whether he would not be of the same mind ? · But yet, as very an unmasker as he is, he will be extremely apt to call you names, nay, to declare you no Christian ; and boldly affirm, you have no Christianity, if you will not swallow it just as it is of his cooking. You must take it just as he has been pleased to dose it;