« السابقةمتابعة »
side of the question which we have espoused depends, as also an explanation and confutation of certain subtleties, whereby the opponents had embarrassed the minds of some inquirers after truth, became objects of general request. And, indeed, such were the circumstances of this controversy, that any one might easily perceive that a scholastic dissertation on the subject must take a very different turn, and could bear no farther resemblance, and owe nothing more to the former exercise than the having furnished an opportunity, or occasion, for its appearance in public.
Although then I was more than sufficiently full of employment already, yet, being excited by the encouragement of good men, and fully persuaded in my own mind, that the truth which we embrace, is so far from being of trivial consequence in our religion, that it is intimately connected with many, the most important articles of the Christian doctrine concerning the attributes of God, the satisfaction of Christ, and the nature of sin, and of our obedience; and that it strikes its roots deep through almost the whole of theology, or the acknowledging of the truth, which is according to godliness; fully persuaded, I say, of these facts, I prevailed with myself, rather than this. doctrine should remain any longer neglected or buried, and hardly even known by name; or be held captive by the reasonings of some enslaving the minds of mankind, 'through philosophy and vain conceits,' to exert my best abilities in its declaration and defence. Several things, however, which, with your good leave, reader, I shall now mention, almost de terred me from the task when begun: the first and chief was the great difficulty of the subject itself, which among the more abstruse points of truth, is by no means the least abstruse. For, as every divine
truth has a peculiar majesty and reverence belonging to it, which debars from the spiritual knowledge of it (as it is in Christ), the ignorant and unstable ; that is, those who are not taught of God, or become subject to the truth; so those points which dwell in more intimate recesses, and approach nearer its immense fountain, the 'Father of light,' darting brighter rays, by their excess of light, present a confounding darkness to the minds of the greatest men, and are as darkness to the eyes breaking forth amidst so great light. For what we call darkness in divine subjects, is nothing else than their celestial glory and splendour striking on the weak ball of our eyes, the rays of which we are not able, in this life, which is but a vapour, and which shineth but for a little,' to bear. Hence God himself, who is 'light, and in whom there is no darkness at all, who dwelleth in light inaccessible; and who clotheth himself with light as with a garment;' in respect of us, is said, 'to have made darkness his pavilion.'
Not, as the Roman Catholics say, that there is any reason that we should blasphemously accuse the Holy Scriptures of obscurity; for the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.' Nor is there reason to complain that any one part of the truth hath been too sparingly or obscurely revealed: for even the smallest portion of the divine word is, by the grace of the Holy Spirit assisting to dispose and frame the subject, or our hearts, so as to view the bright object of divine truth in its proper and spiritual light, sufficient to communicate the knowledge of truths of the last importance: for, it is owing to the nature of the doctrines them
selves, and their exceeding splendour, that there are some things hard to be conceived and interpreted, and which surpass our capacity and comprehension. Whether this article of divine truth, which we are now inquiring into, be not akin to those which we have now mentioned, let the learned judge and determine. I have, therefore, determined to place my chief dependance on his aid, 'who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth none.' For those unhappy gentlemen only lose their labour, and may not improperly be compared to the artists, who used more than common exertions in building Noah's" ark, and who, like bees, work for others, and not for themselves, in the search of truth, who, relying on their own abilities and industry, use every effort to ascertain and comprehend divine truths, while at the same time, they continue regardless, whether he who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath hitherto shone into their hearts, to give them the light of the knowledge of his glory, in the face of Jesus Christ:' for, after all, they can accomplish nothing more, by their utmost efforts, but to discover their technical or artificial ignorance.
Setting aside then the consideration of some phrases, and even of some arguments; yet, as to what relates to the principal point of the controversy, I hold myself bound in conscience and in honour, not even to imagine that I have attained a proper knowledge of any one article of truth, much less to publish it, unless through the Holy Spirit I have had such a taste of it, in its spiritual sense, as that I may be able, from the heart, to say, with the psalm
a Especially those, says the author, who shall reflect what a close connexion there is between it, and the whole doctrine concerning the nature of God, the satisfaction of Christ, the desert of sin, and every one of the dark and more abstruse heads of our religion.
Thereby hastening their own destruction.
ist, 'I have believed, and therefore have I spoken.' He, who in the investigation of truth, makes it his chief care to have his mind and will rendered subject to the faith, and obedient to the Father of lights, and who with attention waits upon him, whose throne is in the heavens; he alone attains to true wisdom, the others walk in a vain shew. It has then been my principal object, in tracing the depths and secret nature of the subject in question, while I a poor worm contemplated the majesty and glory of him, concerning whose perfections I was treating, to attend and obey with all humility and reverence, what the great God, the Lord hath spoken in his word: not at all doubting, but that whatever way he should incline my heart by the heart by the power of his Spirit and truth, I should be enabled, in a dependance on his aid, to bear the contradictions of a false knowledge, and all human and philosophical arguments.
And to say the truth, as I have adopted the opinion which I defend in this dissertation, from no regard to the arguments of either one or another learned man, and much less from any slavish attachment to authority, example, or traditionary prejudices, and from no confidence in the opinion, or abilities of others; but, as I hope, from a most humble contemplation of the holiness, purity, justice, right, dominion, wisdom, and mercy of God; so by the guidance of his Spirit alone, and power of his heartchanging grace, filling my mind with all the fulness of truth, and striking me with a deep awe and admiration of it, I have been enabled to surmount the difficulty of the research. Theology is the wisdom that is from above,' a habit of grace and spiritual gifts, the manifestation of the Spirit reporting what is conducive to happiness. It is not a science to be learned from the precepts of man, or from the rules of arts,
or method of other sciences, as those represent it, who also maintain that a natural man may attain all that artificial and methodical theology, even though in the matters of God, and mysteries of the gospel, he be blinder than a mole. What a distinguished theologian must he be, who receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God!'
But again, having sailed through this sea of troubles, and being ready to launch out upon the subject, that gigantic spectre, It is every where spoken against,' should have occasioned me no delay, had it not come forth inscribed with the mighty names of Augustine, Calvin, Musculus, Twiss, and Vossius. And although I could not but entertain for these divines that honour and respect which is due to such great names, yet, partly by considering myself as entitled to that freedom wherewith CHRIST hath made us free,' and partly by opposing to these, the names of other very learned theologians, viz. Pareus, Piscator, Molineus, Lubertus, Rivetus, Cameron, Maccovius, Junius, and others, who, after the spreading of the poison of Socinianism, have with great accuracy and caution investigated and cleared up this truth, I easily got rid of any uneasiness from that quarter.
Having thus surmounted these difficulties, and begun the undertaking by devoting to it a few leisure hours stolen from other engagements, the work prospered boyond all expectation; and by the favour of the 'Father of lights, who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure,' in a few days it was brought to a conclusion.
And now that the labour of composing was ended, I again entertained doubts, and continued for some time in suspense, whether, considering the manners of the times in which we live, it would not be more prudent