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Scripture, and very variously explained by those that do use it, and very much stumbled at by those I was there speaking to, who were such, as I there say, “Who will not take a blessing, unless they be instructed what need they had of it, and why it was bestowed upon them ;" I left it, with the other disputed doctrines of Christianity, to be looked into (to see what it was Christ had taught concerning it) by those who were Christians, and believed Jesus to be the Saviour promised, and sent from God. And to those who yet doubted that he was so, and made this objection, “ What need was there of a Saviour ?" I thought it most reasonable to offer such particulars only as were agreed on by all Christians, and were capable of no dispute, but must be acknowledged by every body to be needful. This, though the words above-quoted out of the Reasonableness of Christianity, &c. p. 129, show to be my design; yet the creed-maker plainly gives me the lie, and tells me it was not my design. “ All the world are faithless, false, treacherous, hypocritical strainers upon their reason and conscience, dissemblers, journeymen, mercenary hirelings, except Mr. Edwards: I mean, all the world that opposes him. And must not one think he is mightily beholden to the excellency and readiness of his own nature, who is no sooner engaged in controversy, but he immediately finds out in his adversaries these arts of equivocation, lying, and effrontery, in managing of it? Reason and learning, and acquired improvements, might else have let him gone on with others, in the dull and ordinary way of fair arguing; wherein, possibly, he might have done no great feats. Must not a rich and fertile soil within, and a prompt genius, wherein a man may readily spy the propensities of base and corrupt nature, be acknowledged to be an excellent qualification for a disputant, to help him to the quick discovery and laying open of the faults of his opponents; which a mind otherwise disposed would not so much as suspect? But Mr. Bold, without this, could not have been so soon found out to be a journeyman, a dissembler, an hired mercenary, and stored with all those good qualities, wherein he hath his full share
But why would he then venture upon Mr. Edwards, who is so very quick-sighted in these matters, and knows so well what villanous man is capable of?
I should not here, in this my Vindication, have given the reader so much of Mr. Bold's reasoning, which, though clear and strong, yet has more beauty and force as it stands in the whole piece in his book; nor should I have so often repeated this remark upon each passage, viz, “ To this Mr. Edwards answers not;" had it not been the shortest and properest comment could be made on that triumphant paragraph of his, which begins in the 128th page of his Socinian creed; wherein, among a great deal of no small strutting, are these words : “By their profound silence they acknowledge they have nothing to reply.” He that desires to see more of the same noble strain, may have recourse to that eminent place. Besides, it was fit the reader should have this one taste more of the creed-maker's genius, who, passing by in silence all these clear and apposite replies of Mr. Bold, loudly complains of him, p. 259, « That where he [Mr. Bold] finds something that he dares not object against, he shifts it off.” And again, p. 260, “ That he does not make any offer at reason ; there is not the least shadow of an argument-As if he were only hired to say something against me (the creedmaker), though not at all to the purpose: and truly, any man may discern a mercenary stroke all along; with a great deal more to the same purpose. For such language as this, mixed with scurrility, neither fit to be spoken by, nor of, a minister of the gospel, make up the remainder of his postscript. But to prevent this for the future, I demand of him, that if in either of his treatises there be any thing against what I have said in my Reasonableness of Christianity, which he thinks not fully answered, he will set down the proposition in direct words, and note the page of his book where it is to be found : and I promise him to answer it. For as for his railing, and other stuff besides the matter, I shall hereafter no more trouble myself to take notice of it. And so much for Mr. Edwards.
THERE is another gentleman, and of another sort of make, parts, and breeding, who, (as it seems, ashamed of Mr. Edwards's way of handling controversies in religion) has had something to say of my Reasonableness of Christianity, &c. and so has made it necessary for me to say a word to him, before I let those papers go out of my hand. It is the author of the Occasional Paper, numb. 1. The second, third, and fourth pages of that paper gave me great hopes to meet with a man who would examine all the mistakes which came abroad in print, with that temper and indifferency, that might set an exact pattern for controversy to those who would approve themselves to be sincere contenders for truth and knowledge, and nothing else, in the disputes they engaged in. Making him allowance for the mistakes that self-indulgence is apt to impose upon human frailty, I am apt to believe he thought his performance had been such; but I crave leave to observe, that good and candid men are often misled, from a fair unbiassed pursuit of truth, by an over-great zeal for something, that they, upon wrong grounds, take to be so; and that it is not so easy to be a fair and unprejudiced champion for truth as some, who profess it, think
it to be. To acquaint him with the occasion of this remark, I must desire him to read and consider his nineteenth page; and then to
1. Whether he knows, that the doctrine proposed in the Reasonableness of Christianity, &c. was borrowed, as he says, from Hobbes's Leviathan ? For I tell him, I borrowed it only from the writers of the four Gospels and the Acts; and did not know those words, he quoted out of the Leviathan, were there, or any thing like them. Nor do I know yet, any farther than as I believe them to be there, from his quotation.
2. Whether affirming, as he does positively, this, which he could not know to be true, and is in itself perfectly false, were meant to increase or lessen the credit of the author of the Reasonableness of Christianity, &c. in the opinion of the world ? or is consonant with his own rule, p. 3, “of putting candid constructions on
what adversaries say?" or with what follows, in these words? “ The more divine the cause is, still the greater should be the caution. The very discoursing about Almighty God, or our holy religion, should compose our passions, and inspire us with candour and love. It is very indecent to handle such subjects in a manner that betrays rancour and spite. These are fiends that ought to vanish, and should never mix, either with a search after truth or the defence of religion.”
3. Whether the propositions which he has, out of my book, inserted into his nineteenth page, and says, "are consonant to the words of the Leviathan,” were those of all my book which were likeliest to give the reader a true and fair notion of the doctrine contained in it ? If they were not, I must desire him to remember and beware of his fiends. Not but that he will find those propositions there to be true. But that neither he nor others may mistake my book, this is that, in short, which it
says: 1. That there is a faith that makes men Christians.
2. That this faith is the believing “ Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah."
3. That the believing Jesus to be the Messiah includes in it a receiving him for our Lord and King, promised and sent from God: and so lays upon all his subjects an absolute and indispensable necessity of assenting to all that they can attain the knowledge that he taught; and of a sincere obedience to all that he commanded.
This, whether it be the doctrine of the Leviathan, I know not. This appears to me out of the New Testament, from whence (as I told him in the preface) I took it to be the doctrine of our Saviour and his apostles; and I would not willingly be mistaken in it. If therefore there be any other faith besides this absolutely requisite to make a man a Christian, I shall here again desire this gentleman to inform me what it is; i. e. to set down all those propositions which are so indispensably to be believed, (for it is of simple believing 1 perceive the controversy runs) that no man can be a believer, i. e. a Christian, without an actual knowledge
of, and an explicit assent to them. If he shall do this with that candour and fairness he declares to be necessary in such matters, I shall own myself obliged to him: for I am in earnest, and I would not be mistaken in it.
If he shall decline it, I, and the world too, must conclude, that upon a review of my doctrine he is convinced of the truth of it, and is satisfied that I am in the right. For it is impossible to think that a man of that fairness and candour, which he solemnly prefaces his discourse with, should continue to condemn the account I have given of the faith which I am persuaded makes a Christian; and yet he himself will not tell me (when I earnestly demand it of him, as desirous to be rid of my error, if it be one) what is that more which is absolutely required to be believed by every one before he can be a believer, i. e. what is indispensably necessary to be known, and explicitly believed, to make a man a Christian.
Another thing which I must desire this author to examine, by those his own rules, is, what he says of me, p. 30, where he makes me to have a prejudice against the ministry of the Gospel, and their office, from what I have said in my Reasonableness, &c. p. 135, 136, concerning the priests of the world, in our Saviour's time: which he calls bitter reflections.
If he will tell me what is so bitter, in any one of those passages which he has set down, that is not true, or ought not to be said there, and give me the reason why he is offended at it; I promise him to make what reparation he shall think fit to the memory of those priests, whom he, with so much good-nature, patronises, near seventeen hundred years after they have been out of the world; and is so tenderly concerned for their reputation, that he excepts against that, as said against them, which was not. For one of the three places he sets down was not spoken of priests. But his making my mentioning the faults of the priests of old, in our Saviour's time, to be an "exposing the office of the ministers of the Gospel now, and a villifying those who are employed in it," I must desire him to examine, by his own rules of love and candour, and to tell