Obrazy na stronie



SINCE the publication of my Second Defence in the cause of our blessed Lord's Divinity, I have been waiting to see what further attempts we were to have from the Arians. I perceive they are still resolute in their opposition to the faith of Christ, blaspheming his Godhead, impugning his worship, and despising every kind offer of instruction, or exhortation, to convince or reclaim them. I have the satisfaction however to observe, that they daily give ground more and more; that the defensive part, which they begun with, is, in a manner, yielded up; their main scheme appearing so gross, and so untenable, that they themselves are afraid or ashamed to own it. As to the offensive, which is now all that they are willing to abide by, they hold it on still as far as they are able: and yet even here one may observe, that, as to matter of argument, their attacks are as harmless as a man might wish; only there is a certain fierceness or bitterness of spirit still remaining, and which seems to increase, as their strength decreases; and which perhaps may grow upon them more and more to the last, as is natural and common in such But to come to the point.


Their first effort to renew the contest appeared under the title of Remarks, &c. by one Philalethes Cantabrigiensis, printed for J. Noon. Having no manner of acquaintance, that I know of, with the man under that conceited name; and finding little in the piece more than tedious repetition and studied confusion, I slighted it, as apprehending myself not at all obliged to take notice of it.

Waiting a while longer, there comes out another pamphlet, entitled, Observations, &c. and by the Author of the Reply to my First Defence, printed for James Knapton, &c. which when I saw, I immediately concluded as I had some leisure upon my hands, that here was a call to me to set pen to paper once more. For however low an opinion I might have of the performance, after reading it, yet the Author of the Reply, when he has any thing to say, and while our readers are not quite weary, may always command my more especial notice. Whether it be Dr. Clarke, or whether it be Mr. Jackson, (for though it be doubted which, all agree that it lies between them,) they are both men whom I must attend to: one, as he is the principal in the cause; the other, as he is second, and had the first hand in committing my Queries to the press, engaging me ever after in the public service. Let but either of those two gentlemen stand accountable in the opinion of the world, (I mean no more,) for any foul play on their side, as I by setting my name am answerable for any on mine, and then I shall think myself upon even terms with them in that respect: and as to any other, I humbly conceive, I have no reason to fear their gaining any advantage.

The author of the Observations begins with giving us his judgment of his own performance; assuring his reader, in the most solemn manner, that the Observations contain in them no argument, nor branch of any argument, but what, upon the most serious consideration and careful review, appears to him strictly and perfectly conclusive. Thus far perhaps may be true: for I know not how things may appear to him, nor how defective he

may be in judgment. But I wish he could have added, no representations but what, upon calm examination, he had found to be strictly just; no reports, but what he knew to be true; no charges upon his adversary,' but what he believed to be honest and upright; no personal reflections beyond what he had clear and sufficient grounds for. But I pass on to his book.

He has cast his work into fourteen observations; the weightiest, no doubt, that the whole compass of the controversy could afford. I shall consider what to say to them, after I have given the reader some brief hints of the past and present state of the dispute between us. It should be remembered, that this gentleman at his first setting out, and all along till now, undertook to answer queries, to satisfy objections, to assoil difficulties, to reconcile the new scheme to itself, to Scripture, to antiquity, and to reason; that so having first cleared his own doctrine in every part, beyond any thing that could be done for the faith received, he might then with a better face disturb the peace of the Church, and plead the more earnestly (but modestly withal) for a thorough change. This was what he undertook: and had he been as able to execute, as he was forward to project, I profess sincerely, he should not have wanted any encouragement, or even thanks of mine; so far should I have been from giving him further molestation. But it hath happened to him, (as it ordinarily must to every man, who undertakes a business before he has seen into it,) that he has met with many difficulties, more than he at first apprehended, and is by no means able to surmount them.

To mention a few particulars, out of a great number:

1. He has not been able to clear his scheme of the unsupportable charge of making two Gods, one supreme and another inferiora

2. He has not been able to get over the difficulty of supposing God the Son and God the Holy Ghost two creatures, in direct

a See my First and Second Defence, Query v. vol. i. and ii.
b See my First and Second Defence, Query xi. xii. vol. i. and ii.

opposition to Scripture and antiquity. He has indeed avoided giving them the name of creature, which yet can contribute but little satisfaction to as many as plainly see how the thing is otherwise fully and repeatedly owned under other namesc.

3. He has not been able to defend or excuse creature-worship, so fully condemned by Scripture, and by the ancient Jews and Christians, with one voiced.

4. Nor hath he been able to disprove or elude the proofs brought from Scripture and antiquity, of the divine worship due to Christe.

5. He hath not been able to salve, or so much as to colour over a notorious flaw in his scheme, relating to the foundation of the worship of Christ; taking up principles there which can suit only with the Socinian scheme, at other times espousing the Arian, though it be impossible for both to stand togetherf.

6. He has not been able to give any tolerable account of the divine titles, attributes, and honours being ascribed to a


7. He has given no satisfaction at all about Christ being Creator and creature too; not being able to elude the proofs of the former, nor to reconcile both parts together h.

8. Though he set out with pompous pretences to antiquity, he cannot make them good: but it is proved upon him, nor can he elude the proof, that in thirteen instances of doctrine, containing the main branches of his scheme, he runs directly counter to all Catholic antiquityi.

9. He has not been able to vindicate Dr. Clarke's quotations from the ancients: which have been proved, all of them, to be

c See my Supplement to the Case, &c. vol. ii. p. 324. Second Defence, vol. ii. p. 642, &c.

d First and Second Defence, Query xvi. xvii. vol. i. and ii.

e See my First and Second Defence, Query xvi. xviii. vol. i. and ii.

f First Defence, vol. i. p. 434, &c.

Second Defence, vol. ii. p. 676, &c.

g First and Second Defence, Query x. xi. vol. i. and ii. Sermons vii. viii. vol. ii.

h First and Second Defence, Query xii. vol. i. and ii.

i First Defence, vol. i. p. 497. Second, vol. ii. p. 729, &c.

« PoprzedniaDalej »