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Breasts *. Yea, the Scriptures themselves arc, according to his account of the matter, entirely needless. He opposes the inward Attestations of the Spirit, to mere manuscript Authorities, and Paper-Revelations, as. he calls the Scriptures by way of Contempt. Thole that are instructed by the Spirit, need not concern themselves about the Credit of ant lent Miracles, or the Genuineness of distant Records, nor will think any human 4Testimony (and this Writer always represents the Testimony by which the Gospel-Records are conveyed to us under that Idea) of consequence enough to engage a Moment's Attention upon this Subjects. So that according to his Representation of the matter, a Man that has the Spirit, will not regard the Accounts given us in the Gospel of the Life, Miracles, Resurrection, Ascension of our Saviour, and the other extraordinary Facts there recorded, as of any consequence at all, and will believe as well without them as with them.
He speaks as if all Believers were so far under the Influence of the Spirit, as to be rendered infallible. That the Holy Ghost, that great Dictator and infallible Guide i, has premised to abide with us to the End of the World, that <we might not be left liable one Moment to a Possibility of Error and Imposition ||. And he represents this Spirit as speaking the same thing to all, and bringing them to think ell alike **. So that, according to the Account this Gentleman is pleased to put upon us as the GospelAccount of Faith, and of the Spirit, all Believers are made to think all alike7 tho' we plainly fee
.f'P.fii. | P. 59,60. fP.s6. fp.60: •*P.;8.
they differ from one another in several things'? and tho' they hold contradictory Sentiments, yet they are all infallibly guided by the Holy Ghost, and not liable one Moment to be mistaken.
Thus he places the sole Foundation of the Christian Faith upon a thing that is evidently false in fact, and that is, the immediate infallible Inspiration of every particular Person. And at the fame time he utterly discards all moral Certainty and Evidence, as if Faith had nothing to do with it j that is, the Evidence whereby the Gospel-History, the sacred Records come down to us. He declares, that this is indeed the highest Degree of rational Evidence that the Nature of the SubjeSl can possibly admit of*; but yet that it is altogether uncertain, and not to be depended on. He often degradingly calls it human Testimony, in its Nature ever liable to Error and that it is nothing more than the precarious Conjcblure of a fallible fudge upon the traditional Testimony of a fallible Witne/s-f. That it is a Being left to the Courtesy of a few Reporters ||. And that it is to us no more than an uncertain Hearsay; the uncertain Assertions of fallible Men relating it after one another **.
Thus have I laid together in one view the Account this Writer gives us of Faith, and of the Spirit, and the Evidence on which Christianity is founded. This is what he calls the Revealed and Scriptural Account of the matter -f--J\ And he applauds himself for having pointed out what is really and positively the authorized Principle of Faith; and for having carried on bis Detection of a false
•P. 32. +P. 31. ||P; 51. *I»P-JM3- tfP.68»
Principle to a satisfactory Conclusion in the Discovery of a true one *. And he declares with an Air of Assurance, that the Account he gives depends not for its Support upon the bare Strength of any single Quotation whatever, but on the joint Tendency end Tenor of the whole -f.
I do not think there can be a more complete Scheme of Absurdity and Enthusiasm, than what this Gentleman here puts upon us for the true Scripture-Account of Faith, and of the Spirit, and of the Nature of Gospel-Evidence j which he undoubtedly intends for exposing the sacred Writings, but which, with all equal Judges of things, tends only to expose the Unfairness of this Writer, and the little Regard he hath to Truth and Candour. But this is the way of these Gentlemen, in writing against Christianity. They never can allow themselves to give fair and equal Representations of things, but throw them into false Lights, in order to make them appear ridiculous. In any other case but this, such a Conduct would scarce be thought consistent with common Honesty. And I know not how to account for it, but that it proceeds from a Consciousness that they cannot succeed against Religion by fair Representation and equal Argument.
The Account this Writer gives of the Nature and Grounds of the Christian Faith, is not more absurd in itself, than different from the Representations made to us of it in Scripture. According to him, Faith and Religion is a thing that can never be taught5 according to the Golpel, Faith
* P. 106, f P. Ioj,
ordinarily comes by hearing and teaching *. According to this Writer's Account of it Faith, is completed at once, made persect in an Instant, and is not a thing that requires Time to attain. But according to the Representation made of it in the Gospel, Faith may be sincere tho' weak, it admits of several Degrees, it is a thing capable of Growth, and which ordinarily takes time and pains for its Establishment and Improvement -f\ Upon his Scheme, all outward Teaching is perfectly needless, and Christians are not to receive the leaf Part of their Instructions from one another j according to the Gospel, outward Teaching is necessary j Christians are exhorted to teach and admomfo one another. And the Plan upon which the Christian Church was established was this, that they should be formed into sacred Assemblies, in which there fliould be Persons whose proper stated Office it should be to teach, and in order to this to give themselves to Reading, to Exhortation andDoctrine; and Provision was made for a Succession of such Persons in the Church, who should be able to teach others also ||. The Faith recommended in the Gospel is a Faith that is joined with Knowledge, and whereby the Understanding is enlightned **. But the Faith described by this Author is a Faith without Knowledge, and that has nothing to do with the Understanding. According to him, the Zeal for the Faith required of the Professors of Christianity, is a Zeal not according to Knowledge; but in the Golpel, a Zeal not according to Knowledge
* Rom. x. 14,17. Matt, xxviii; 19. 20. f Rom xiv. i. 2 Theff. i. 3. Jude 20. 9 2 Tim. ii. 2. •* Phil. i. g. Col. i. 9, isl.
ledge is. disapproved, and represented as not a Zeal of the right kind *. Faith, according to his Re+ presentation of it, is a thing for which no reason should or can be given, But the contrary is plainly supposed in the Gospel, where it is required of Christians as a Duty, that they be ready to give an Answer to those that ask them a Reason of the Hope that is in them -f\ And it is insisted upon as a proper Qualification in the Teachers of the Gospel, that they be able to convince the Gainsayers j[. As he represents it, all Examination and Enquiry is absolutely inconsistent with the Nature of Chri* stian Faith; whereas in the Gospel, we are commanded to search and. try; an eminent Instance of which we . have in the Beraans, who are highly commended for doing so; and their Believing is represented as the Result of their Examination and Enquiry **. According to his Account, the Christian Faith has no dependance at all upon the Miracles or external Attestations given to our Saviour, or any of the extraordinary Facts recorded in the Gospel; but according to the Account given us iq Scripture, our Saviour appealed to the Miracles he wrought, as illustrious Attestations to his divine Mission; and the very End for which these Things. •Were written, was, that we might by them he, brought to believe on the Name of the Son of God, and that believing iye might have Life in his Name J..
This may give a general Idea of this Gentleman's Performance; and perhaps such a .general View of it might be sufficient. But at your
* Rom x. 2. + i Pet. iii. 15. || Tit. i. 9. » Thcff
v. 21. Act. xvii. ii, 12. % Job" xx- 3J