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Ufe of all Terms of Art, and all Latin and Greek Words. In drawing of them up, I have confulted fuch Commentators as my own or my Neighbours Studies would furnish me with; and, which I believe will not be unacceptable to the Reader, I have often fet down the (1) Interpretations of fome of our most eminent Divines, to whom I frequently refer. I have the rather done this, to bring thofe to whom they are not known acquainted with them. I have likewife made Use of an Effay for a new Tranflation of the Bible, which was tranflated from the French, and contains many useful and curious Obfervations, tho' it may have a few, which fome will be ready to ftyle, bold Conjectures.
In drawing up the Notes, I may poffibly have had too much Regard to Difficulties which occurr'd to me, when I firft began to read the Scriptures, which I did early; but this will be excufed, when it is confidered, how natural it is for any one to think, that what was a Difficulty to him, may be fo to others. Some Obfervations there are on Texts which relate to Practice, and have no Difficulty in them.
There are fome Notes on (2) Texts produced in the prefent unhappy Difpute, concerning the ever Bleffed and Adorab'e Trinity. My Defign here is not Controverfie, but to fettle the Minds of fincere and honest Chriftians, which I fear have been made uncafie by these Disputes; the Rife of which is, I am perfwaded, in a great Measure owing to Mens going further in their Divifions, Diftinctions, and Definitions concerning this Subject, than (3) Divine Revelation will
(1) My Lord Bacon, towards the End of his Second Book of the Advancement of Learning, expreffes himself to this Effect: That if the Choice and Beft of thofe Obfervations on Texts of Scripture, which had been made in Sermons for about Forty Years or more then paft, leaving out the Exhortations and Applications, were fet down according to the Order of Scripture, it would be the best Work in Divinity which had been written fince the Apostles Times. And one may venture to fay, that were fuch a Work to be undertaken now, it might be done with much greater Advantage. For my Lord Bacon's Book was Printed at Oxford 1633.
(2) See the Notes on Mar. 13. 33. Joh. 1. 3, 14. Joh. 3. 13. Joh. 8. 58. Rom. 8. 29. 1 Cor. 15. 51. 2 Cor. 13. 14. Phil. 2. 6. 1 Joh. 5.7. Rev.1.8. (3) The Difpute here can be only about the Senfe of Revelation for had not God been pleafed to discover this Doctrine in the holy Scriptures, we could not have had any Notion thereof from Principles of Reafon. And therefore to pretend to argue against this Myftery, from what we call rational Principles, is great Prefumption; for in fo doing
will bear them out. I have expreffed my Senfe in the Words of fome of our moft eminent Writers, to whom I refer. Those I have cited wrote before the prefent unhappy Controverfie began.
Did we confider how fcanty our Knowledge is, even of Things which are the Object of our Senfes, we fhould be more modest and humble in our Determinations about what is fo far out of our Reach. For how can a created and finite Understanding (1) comprehend or measure God, who is an infinite and unfearchable Being? Can any one pretend to know God fo perfectly, as to be able to demonftrate, that it is impoffible for him to be Three in one Refpect, and One in another? If God has thus revealed himself in the holy Scriptures, Reafen will oblige us to affent to it, even tho' we cannot comprehend it, or form in our Minds any Idea of the Manner thereof. For in this Cafe our Affent is not founded on Conclufions drawn from rational Principles, but on the Truth and Authority of God, whom the Chriftian Church believes to have thus revealed himfelf, tho' he has not thought fit to reveal the Manner thereof to us; and confequently has not made it our Duty to form any determinate Idea concerning it.
I will beg Leave humbly to offer one Thing to be confidered with Reference to this Subject, namely, whether such a (2) Profession of Faith in our Redeemer as was accepted of, and approved by, our Lord and his Apoftles, ought
we oppose our shallow Reason to Revelation, and fuffer it to pafs its due Bounds. I will fet down a Paffage from the ingenious Reflections on Learning, wherein is fhewn the Infufficiency thereof in its feveral Particulars, in order to evince the Usefulness and Neceffity of Revelation, Edition 4. p. 284. Our Reason is a proper Guide in our Enquiries, and is to be followed where it keeps within its Sphere; but fhining dimly, it muft borrow Rays from the Fountain of Light, and muft always act fubordinately to Revelation. Whenever it croffes that, it is out of its Sphere, and indeed contradicts its own Light; for nothing is more 'reasonable than to believe a Revelation, as being grounded on God's Veracity, without which even Reafon it felf will be often doubting. That whatever God (who is Truth it felf) reveals is true; is as fure and evident a Propofition, as any we can think of: It is certain in its Ground, and evident in its Connection, and needs no long Confequences to make
it out; whereas moft of our rational Deductions are often both weakly bottom'd, and depending upon a long Train of Confequences, which are to be fpun from one another, their Strength is often loft, and the Thread broken, before we come at the Conclufion. See the laft Note on the Preface.
(1) See Dr. Lucas's Sermon, of the Incomprehenfibleness of God, on Job 11.7. in which he difcourfes of the Nature of Mysteries.
(2) See the References on Matt. 16. 16,
ought not to be fufficient to clear any one from the Imputation of being an Heretick? It is here fuppofed that the Words are taken in the Sense which is obvious to every unprejudiced Mind. But if Men (1) mistake the Senfe of Scripture, I fee not what we can do better than pity and pray for them, and calmly in the Spirit of Meekness and Love debate the Matters in Difpute, illuftrating à doubtful Text by others which are more clear. For to give those who differ from us opprobrious Names, or to fix odious Confequences on their Opinions, which are by them difowned and difavowed, or to call Mens Sincerity into Question, because they do not think just as we do; whatever any may pretend, these are not the Effects of a (2) true Zeal for God and Religion, I would only defire thofe
(1) It is difficult for us to know, when Men wilfully miftake the Sente of Scripture, and wreft it to their own Deftruction; for we are ignorant of the Reafonings and Thoughts of each other, and therefore cannot judge of them any farther than they by Words and Actions difcover them to us. It is furprizing to obferve what plaufible Colours Men of Parts and Learning will put upon any Subject, if they will give themselves Leave to fay any Thing to advance their Caufe. The following Inftances, being the Effays of two of the Church of Rome, àrẹ not exceeded by any. Chriftopher Davenport a Francifcan, known in England by the Name of Francifcus a Santa Clara, wrote a Paraphraftical Expofition of the Thirty-nine Articles; and tho' feveral of them were directly levelled against the Doctrines of the Church of Rome, yet by a dextrous Management he makes them capable of a good Roman Catholick Senfe. The other Inftance, is the Attempt of one Ranaudus, who by a finifter, but poffible Interpretation, has made every Article of the Creed appear like Herefie and Blafphemy. So that the plainest Words and Writings in the World may be perverted to another, fometimes to a quite contrary Senfe. See the Preface to Mr. Bradly's impartial View of the Truth of Christianity.
(2) Let us take heed that we do not fometimes call that Zeal for God and his Gofpel, which is nothing elfe but our own tempeftuous and formy Paffion. True Zeal is a tweet, heavenly, and gentle Flame, which maketh us active for God, but always within the Sphear of Love: It never calls for Fire from Heaven, to confume thofe that differ a little from us in our Apprehenfions. It is like that kind of Lightning, which the Philofophers ipeak cf, that melts the Sword within, but fingeth not the Scabbard It ftrives to fave the Soul, but hurteth not the Body. True Zeal is a loving Thing, and makes us always active to Edification, and not to Deftruction. True Zeal is a foft and gentle Flame, that will not fcorch one's Hand; it is no predatory or voracious Thing: But carnal and fiefhly Zeal is like the Spirit of Gunpowder fet on Fire, that tears and blows up all that ftands before it We may learn what kind of Zeal it is that we fhould make Ufe of in promoting the Gofpel, by an Emblem of God's own, given us in the Scripture; thofe
those who are apt to fuffer themselves to be thus tranfported, but to fuppofe it poffible for them to be mistaken; and then to confider, whether fuch Treatment would be likely to convince them of their Miftakes and Errors? I fhall, I hope, be excufed, if I digrefs a little, and obferve the Weakneß and Partiality of Men, and the ftrange Influence which too many fuffer Power to have upon their Minds; for none are more ready to deny that Liberty to others, who are fubject to them, or who have a Dependance upon them,than many of those who exprefs great Zeal for the Liberties of Mankind, by whom, as their Actions too plainly demonftrate, they mean only themselves, For were they truly concern'd for the Liberties of Mankind, they would readily allow that to others, which they claim themselves. By Liberty, I do not mean Licentiousness, but a Liberty of judging and determining for our felves, believing that we are accountable to God, if through wilful Prejudice or Carelefhefs we run into dangerous Errors. We may diftrefs those who are under us in their Circumftances, or by outward Force, as Fines, Imprifonments, and bodily Punishments; we may make Men Hypocrites, but they are no way fuited to convince a reafonable Mind. Such Proceedings never yet wrought Conviction in any Man, nor did they ever ferve the Intereft of Religion and Truth.
I am not moved to this by any Doubts I have my self, but to express my Diflike of a Practice too too common among the too many Denominations of Chriftians, the impofing their own Gloffes and Interpretations of Scripture, as the undoubted, certain, and infallible Mind and Will of Chrift, Even the Proteftant Churches, tho' they have justly caft of the Romish Yoke, yet have they not fufficiently purged out this Remainder of Popery. It is undoubtedly more agree. able to the Temper of the Gospel, to bear with those we cannot convince, than it is to perfecute them. Our Duty is to speak the Truth to them in Love. As on the one Hand, we ought earneftly to contend for the Faith once delivered to the Saints; fo, on the other, we ought to have and maintain
Fiery Tongues, that upon the Day of Pentecoft fate upon the Apoftles, which fure were harmless Flames, for we cannot read that they did any Hurt, or that they did fo much as finge an Hair of their Heads. Dr. Cudworth's Sermon on 1 Job. 2. 3, 4. which contains more ufeful, folid, and neceffary Truth, than fome large Volumes.
a compaffionate Love for those who deviate from it. I am perfwaded, that this Way of proceeding would conduce more than any other, to the bringing in the (1) universal Practice of Holiness, Peace, and Love, which many wife and good Men think they are incouraged to hope for in the Scriptures of both Teftaments. No Eftablish'd Church in the World, that I know of, is fo free from Blame in this Refpect, as our Church; nor does any require lefs as Terms of Communion than fhe does. For we ought to diftinguish between what is required as a Term of Communion, and what is required of thofe who officiate as Minifters in a Church.
Our Bleffed Saviour could cafily have engaged all the Powers of this World on his Side, but he did not think fit to do it; No, he ufed no outward Violence to gain Men over to his Religion. And thofe who were converted by the Apoftles, were prevailed with to believe and obey the Gofpel without any worldly Force ufed towards them. For the Apoftles received no Inftructions to compel Men by any other Methods than Arguments drawn either from Scripture, or from the Reafon and Nature of Things; the Works they did, the good Example they fet before them, their patient Suffering for the Truth Sake, and the Fewards and Punishments of another Life. When therefore there was no Hope of their Converfion left, they were bid to shake off the Dust of their Feet, to depart from them, and leave them to the juft and righteous Judgment of God. Afterwards, in the Primitive Church, for fcan
(1) Care must be taken fo to understand the Nature, Perfection, and Completion of the Evangelical Difpenfation, that tho' the Revelation be compleat, fo that the Do&trines therein given us are Eternal Truths, and the Duties prefcrib'd us are Everlaftingly obligatory, and the Ordinances enjoined us are of perpetual Ufe and Neceffity; yet the Prevalency of this Difpenfation will be vaftly greater than now it is, there being fcarcely any. Thing of Futurity clearer in Scripture, than the coming in of the Fulness of the Gentiles, the general Converfion of the Jews, the total Destruction of Antichrift, and of the Dominion of Satan, and the Triumphant State of the Church thereupon, when the Kingdom of Truth, Righteoufnefs, and Peace, fhall univerfally prevail; when Idolatry fhall be totally abolished, and the Terms of Reconciliation, or the Covenant of Grace, will be made known, to, and complied with by all Men, all, both Jews and Gentiles, coming into the Church, and fubmitting unto the Meffiah. Dr. Bray's Bibliotheca Parochialis, Second Edition, p. 66. See Mr. Allen's State of the Church in future Ages; Dr. Henry More's three laft Dialogues, Dr. Clagett's Sermon on If. 11.9.