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display of the act and testimony, &c. pu- for. Not only do we meet with frequenc blislied 1761, f. 18. has these words : "It and express injun&tions in the scripture is falfe and calumnious to the highest pitch, upon church-judicatories to exercise dif". That the church is corrupt in doctrine, cipline upon the teachers of gross error, discipline, worship, and government.” As but the churches who negle& this part of to do&trine, if the Confellion of Faith is their duty, are severely reprimanded and sound, the cannot be corrupt in it; for threatened by our Saviour upou that acall who are admitted members in it, are count, while such as perform it are, for that obliged, by acts of parliament and af- reason, approved and commended. Not Sembly, to sign it; and they do sign it ; to take up too much room in your Ma. and, further, are taken engaged to ad. gazine, I shall only refer to the following here to the doctrine contained in it : and passages among others that might be addunone are allowed to vent doctrines contrary ced, Rom. xvi. 17. 1 Tim. i. 20.&vi. 3.-5. thert unto, without being censured when Tit. i. 10. 11. 13. & iji. 10. Rev. ii. proven guilty.” If Mr Ferguson be the 2. 14. 15. 16. 20. If your correlpondauthor of the letter signed X. B. will he, ent PHILANTHROPOs did not attend to or any of his adherents, now pretend to these pallages, he ought to have searchwipe off the aspersion by the same argu- ed the scriptures better, before he venment? Or could the synod of Glasgow tured to publish his thoughts upon a sub. claim the benefit of this answer to the ject of this nature. If he did attend to accusation, if they had suffered such a let. hem, was it not worth while to let us ter to pass uncensured, and thereby ad. know how be can reconcile thein with his opted the plan of fubscription pleaded opinion, " That church-judicatories for by him, and some others of your cor- thould not, by the exercise of eccleTcfpondents?
tiastical discipline, deter the enemies of 4. To let such a letter pass uncensured, truth from speaking out all their objecwould be a plain and direct disobedience tions ; that even church-authority is the to the known and express laws of this weapon of error, and never can convince?" church. The general asembly 1696, [xxix. 533.] The Apostle Paul teenis to act 21. “ doch discharge all ministers and have had a quite different view of the other members of this church to publith matter. For lays he, rebuke them þarpor vent, either by speaking, writing, ly, THAT they may be found in the faith. printing, reaching, or preaching, any See also 1 Tini. i. 20. doctrine, tenet, or opinion, controir une 6. The last reason I Ihall give for the to, or inconsistent with the confetion of syriod's conduct is, that the offence which faith of this church, or any article, pari, they animadverted upon, is a flagrant imor proposition therein; and appoints that morality and scandalous (in, the censuring all such as contravene this act, or any of which became necessary, both for the part thereof, be censured by the church conviction and reformation of their of. according to their demerii.” See like. fending brother, by the means of Christ's wise to the fame purpose the annual in- inftitution, who knows the human heart Structions given to every commillion, also better than any man; and likewise to the form of process, chap. 6. $ 1. To prevent the spreading of tlie infe&ion, to which may be added, the Confellion of which the filent approbation of church- , Faithi, ch. 20. 4. & ch. 30. $ 3. In the judicatories muit bave greatly confirst of which passages, erroneous opi: tributed. The keenest opposers of pions are declared to be the proper ob- ecclesiastical disciplire, in the case of erject of church-censures; and in the last, ror or heresy, do not stick to own, (at these censures are pronounced necessary least when it makes for their purpose), for several inportant parpoles there mena ibat giofs and open immorality is a very tioned. And as the Confeffion of Faith proper object of it. About balf a score is now part of an act of parliament which years ago, a pamphlet was published at is made unalterable by the treaty of u. Evinburgh, inlilled, Observations on the . nion, the authority of boili church and Analysis, &c. where the author says, state is manisefly in terpuled in the nat- “ The proper oljects of censure and re
proof are, not freedom of thought, but 5. But an authority far superior to licentiousnels of allion ; not erroneous that of all human laws uijatever, would speculations, but crimes pernicious to fohave been disregarded, had the synod ciety. Against thele ought the clergy been guilty of the negligente contended to exert their utmost efforts." [xvii.233.).
From whence I concludes that the most part, after the affair of transubstantiazealous protector of erroneous specula. tion, it would not surprise me to find the tions, will not deny, that crimes perni. very acutest and most ingenious men led cious to society are the proper objects of by a train of circumstances into the real censure. And what can be imagined belief (for I have no doubt of your corremore pernicious to human society, than spondents being in earnest, as well as the destroying of faith and truth in the most of the Papists) of the grosseft absurmost folemn alleverations, and rendering dity that can be expressed in words. But the ftriatest bonds that men can invent, let us try the strength of the argument, entirely useless and insignificant ?
advanced in behalf of this one. In this argument I take it for granted, The substance of what is alledged, I that the teaching and vindicating of fin think, amounts to this : That there is a is, at least, as heincus in the light of manifest contradi&ion between the Con.' God, and as offensive among men, as the fellion and the terms in which the des real commision of a single act of it. It claration is made, and between the dif. is the inward dilposition that is chiefly ferent parts of that declaration itself. regarded by God; in whose sight a pro. And therefore — what? Is not the napensity to commit a crime is the same tural inference, Therefore I cannot, in thing with or without an opportunity, conscience, have any thing to do with it? And as to the offence it gives to others, Though we thould grant them all their surely one example of a Gngle person can: premisles, is there any thing therein that not be supposed of more influence in lead- leads to their conclusion ? viz. That they ing to the imitation of it, than a labour. who think it a contradiction, may ionoed argument in defence of the practice, cently swallow, and digert it the best induftriously spread to the utmost of one's way they can? This is not said, indeed, power. Nor will an erroneous conscience in the very words I have expressed it in, prore a sufficient absolution from the though it, obviously, is the very concluguilt or the scandal. The apostle Paul fion that is aimed at: for a palpable abverily thought with himself that he ought furdity must be a little disguised, before to do many things contrary to the name it can pass even with one's felf. So the of Jesus : yet he owns himself to be a way they chuse to express this is, That blasphemer, and a persecutor, and inju. they have a right to reconcile the contrarious. Our Saviour told his disciples, di&tion in their way, as well as others “ The tine cometh that whosoever kila [who see no contradiction] have to releth you will think that he doth God fer. concile it in tbeir way. Now, without vice yet we are not to imagine that infifting, that the actual admitting of a persecution is no crime.
real contradiction is a very new way of The practice vindicated by A. B. and reconciling any seeming inconsistency ;' some of your later correspondents, is, a and that we cannot have any way of refolemn profession and declaration made conciling a contradiction, that, in our before God, in a meeting for public wor. apprehension, does not exist; without inisip, by a minister at his ordination, and fisting on these things that are abundantsigned with his hand, That he believes all ly obvious, pray, where is this contrathe doctrines contained in the Confeflion di&tion alledged to lie ? Why, it is of Faith to be founded on and agreeable thought, it seems, to lie here : A mini. to the scriptures, or, the truths of God; ster, in answer to the first question put while it is owned, that he really believes 10 him at his ordination, professes to beDo such thing. - As the moral character lieve, that the scripture is the only rule of God himself is allowed to be the ftand- of faith ; and the Confellion itself affirms, and of right and wrong, and we are that all councils and synods since the ac fere that it is imposible for God to lie, postles time may err, and many have erit may be thought Irange, how it came red. Very well : is there any thing in eser to be made a quellion, Whether the contradi&tion to this? Yes, it seeing it folemo affertion of a known falsehood be is judged inconistent with this, to atkert, criminal, or not? This, however, is that the doctrines contained in the Conthe pradice that is avowedly defended. feliion are founded on, and agreeable to And iuft we really (to allude to Dr Til the word of God: whereby the Conlotion on transubstantiation) prove, that fession of Faith is said to be put on a level an egg is not an elephant, and that a with the scripture. This is really comemokes-boilet is not a pike? For my what strange; one would ihink, ministers
were obliged, by subscribing, to main words in which the assertion is conceived, tain, that the doctrines of the scripture make a plain distinction between the were founded on the Confession of Faith. one and the other ; honouring the one Is not the word of God represented as with the authority of a rule, and assertthe rule, and the only rule, in the very ing only a conformity to it of the other? words that are thought inconsistent there. A. B. goes further with respect to Dr with?
Taylor than any of us, I believe, would It must surely be a very useless rule venture to do with respect to any uninspithat cannot be applied to any thing, or red author ; and that not only as to any the application of which cannot enable particular tenets of his, but as to the one to judge whether something else be authority of the man in general; accuagreeable to it. How it ever entered fing his brother of culpable presumption into any body's head, that the mealuring for pretending to understand the scripof any thing by a rule, and finding it to tures better than he did ; and yet, as he be agreeable to that rule, is a deprading speaks of understanding the scriptures, I of the rule from its proper use, is cer- would be lothi to say that he put even Dr tainly not very obvious at first sight. Yet Taylor on a level with the apostles. But here it is where both your October cor- as your correspondent S. D. has disapprorespondents agree that the contradiction ved of this flight of his friend, let me on: Jies, in saying, on the one hand, that ly ask him, did he himself ever assert any the Bible is the rule, and the only rule ; religious truths in uninspired words? and on the other hand, that certain doc- such truths as he had a sure and certain trines are agreeable thereto. May it knowledge of? and of which he could not, therefore be wilhed, that they had venture to say, that he would allert and made use of some medium whereby the maintain them as long as he lived ? I contradi&ion might have been made to cannot believe that there are no truths appear? I will, at least, they would let in religion which he is sure of, till he says us know, if asserting the conformity of so. If there are any whereof he has a one proposition with the Bible is inconsilient full and undeubted persuasion, dares he with acknowledging it for the only rule. not venture to say of them, that they are Or if the contradiction lies in asserting founded on and agreeable to the word of this of many. If it is the number that God ? ay, and that he resolves always to makes the contradiction, how many pro- adhere to them too? Would this be conpositions may be said to be agreeable to strued by any one as an alcription of inthe word of God consistently with recei- fallıbility to bimself? Though we err in ving it for the only rule? Aud at what many things, can we therefore be sure of number does the contradi&ion begin ? nothing?
Suppose a paper was put in my hand, It is this promise of adherence that containing several propositions gathered feems chiefly to be made ute of by your from the fcriptures, though not expressed second correspondent PHILANTHROPOS in the very words of any inspired writer; as a proof of inconsistency : “ If,” says for example, " That Jolin the Baptist he, “ the Formula is an engagement nee did not pretend to be the Melliah, but only ver to depart from this belief, would not a messenger sent before him to pave the that be in the plainest manner imaginaway sor his appearance ; That neither ble to adopt it for a rule or standard ? in the apostles, Peter, James, John nor other words, 10 coutradict by our fub. Paul, did assume to then selves that cha: scription the very book we profess to lubracter, but all of them agreed in aslertScribe ?” By no manner of means. 1 ing, that Jesus the Son of Mary, who believe, that it has pleased God, in his was born at Bethlehem, and crucified at eternal purpose, lo chuse and ordain the Golgotha, was the true Mesliah frequent. Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be ly promised by the Old-Testament pro- the Mediator between God and man ;" phets :" might not I very safely affirm, and this I resolve to assert and maintain that all these propositions were founded while I live. Why? Not because I find on and agreeable to the word of God ?: it in the Confellion of Faith; but for the May not this be said without putting such very reason given by the subscribers, Bea paper on a level with the Bible ! or in- cause I clearly perceive it to be a truth curring the least fufpicion of imputing founded on and agreeable to the word of inspiration or infallibility to the writer of God. It is because I receive it not as the it ? On the contrary, do not the very word of men, but (as it is in iruth) the
IT TO MY
word of God. Where-ever I can say the that he will assert and maintain them as one, I ought to say the other. Nay, long as be lives. Suppose it consisted of there is nothing more ordinary than to none but such, and all that he either dir. express the one by asserting the other. believed, or doubted of, were quite eraWarrenfeis is a divine that does not lie led, would he have any scruple to say under the fulpicion of having adopted a. the same thing of the whole ?' And yet, ny human composition for a rule of faith: even in this case, might not his faith be yet he did not scruple to say of some founded allenarly upon the divine authotreths conceived in other words than rity of the scriptures, to which he perthose of the scripture, “ Docui semper, ceived fuch a composition to be conformdoceo etiamnum, & DOCEBO, per Dei able? If he shall say, there are no truths GRATIAM, DUM SPIRITUM DUCAM, leo in religion of which he durst venture to quentia dogmata inconcubize veritatis.” say so, I confess I would be afraid he had Opufc. p. 677. Instances of this might too flight a hold of them to do him any easily be multiplied : but I need go no service, 100 doubtful a confidence in further for another, than that very Ma- them to imbark his soul upon such a botgazine which contains the two letters tom, and too doubtful a persuasion of that lay so great a strels upon this argu. them to inculcate and in force them upon ment. Immediately after the first of others. them, you bave given us a speech in par- Scepticism, or doubting about the truths liament, wherein are these words:, “My of religion, seems to be the prevailing position is this — I repeat it - I WILL disposition of the present age, especially MAINTAIV
LAST HOUR.” among those who (very inconsistently) [xxix. 528.]. In short, it is what no body boat of the superior light whereby they will scruple to say of any thing which think it is distinguished; as if the fewer they have a full and undoubted persua- important truths there be that are known Gon of. And are they fit to inculcate the and believed, and the lower the degree truths of religion upon others, who have of mens persuasion of them, so much the not a full persuasion thereof themselves ? more extensive were the bounds of their
It is no wonder, that they who do not knowledge. But such a wavering uncerperceive the do&trine of our Confeflion to tain aflent to the doctrines of Christiani. be founded on and agreeable to the word ty as is contended for by our Pyrrhonists, of God, Thould scruple at a promise of would by no means come up to the duty constant adherence to it. But I cannot required of every Christian, that he bę say, it is no wonder that they are not FULLY persuaded, rimpopops.o6w, in his own more senGble where the stress of their ob- mind. Neither is it that faith that will jection really lies. It is at professing ever be able to purify the heart, and otheir belief of this doctrine at all, while vercome the temptations of the world. it appears to them to be false and errone- ,For a double-minded man is unstable in all ous, or while they are doubtful and un
He that wavereth is like a wave certain about it. For if once they clear of the sea, driven with the wind, and toled. ly saw it to be founded on the word of Even private Christians ought to be no God, they could have no scruple about a inore children tolled to and fro, and carried constant adherence to it. Now this mis- about with every wind of doctrine. They taking or misplacing the true stress of ought to receive the word, N. B. not as the their own objection has led PHILAN- word of men, but (as it is in truth) the THROPOS into a reasoning, which, espe- word of God, which effettually worketh in cially if it is to be applied as generally as them that believe. For it is certain, that it is expressed, is undoubtedly false. He in proportion to the degree of assent that argues, That “if the Formula is an en- is given to any thing, so will be its ingagement never to depart from this be- fluence on the practice : and indeed the lief, that would be, in the plainest man. low degree of assent that is given by ma. Der imaginable, to adopt it for a rule.” ny of the professors of Christianity to the Let him try this argument upon such parts truths of their religion, appears but too of the Confession as he has a clear and manifestly in the Night effe& it has upcertain persuasion of, and he will imme- on their lives. diately perceive (not withstanding his plain. I know, the greatest sceptics pretend a eft minner imaginable) how inconclusive it regard for truth, and their zealous prois. I hope there are several propositions tection of the erroneous is usually covered ibere, of which he has no scruple to say, with such a pretext. But there is this
obvious difference between them, and bave erred,” the difference between that the inspired writers. The last do fuppofe expression, and another used by him that always that there is such a thing as truth, founds somewhat like it, would have been which is attainable by men; and which, more visible. In applying the words of 'when attained, they ought to hold fast, the Confeffion to the synod of Westminas being of the utinost importance in oro Iter, which, he observés, is not excepted, der to their eternal salvation : whereas he substitutes a different phrase, “it may the others seem to look upon truth as a have erred.” Now, though this were to vague uncertain thing, which no body be admitted, it certainly is not inclucan ever be sure he is in poflellion of. ded in the words of the Confeflion, where They seem likewise to think it of little he was to find the contradiction. For by 'or no consequence whether it be truth or saying All may err, and MANY have er. falsehood that is embraced; error being, red, they plainly make a distinction, the in their opinion, as sure a road to salva- noticing of which was not for his pur'tion as truth. Which of these ways of pose. All are included in the firft, but thinking does most honour to, and implies all are not included in the second affer. the greatest regard for truth, let any one tion. So that there is no necessity of judge. And I may add, how little com. applying the second assertion to any parfort would true believers expect to find ticular affembly, Nay, I could say, ein such a faith? But this being the case, ven of the Westminster assembly, if I it is no wonder that the one do not lay saw any ground for it, not only that they the same stress as the others do upon A. may have erred, but that they actually BIDING in the doctrine of Christ, being have erred, in a perfect consistency with established in the truth; rooted and establish- approving the Confeflion of Faith; as ed in the faith ; continuing in the doctrine; that was only a part of their actings. holding for the form of sound words ; con- Where is the inconsistency in saying, tinuing in the things which we have learned, they have erred, but not in that part of and have been ajured of ; and that a cha. their procedure which is the objeæ of my racter which is inarked by the apostle with approbation? Again, how does he cona note of infamy seers not to be regard. nect other tuo steps in his demonstra. *ed by them in the same light, ever learn. tion? Is it the same thing, to say, that ing, and never able to come to the know. one, in some things that are particularly Ledge of the truth.
specified, has not erred; and to say, that If ihen the doctrines of this church, he is infallible? Yet this is what be as expressed in the Confeflion of Faith, takes for granted ; though it is the step have been maturely considered, as they upon which his conclusion chiefly depends. 'ought to be by every one who pretends Ought he not to have known, that po. to be a teacher of them; and if they ap. fitive terns, such as, unquestionable, plain. pear to him to be founded on and agree. eft manner imaginable
, éc. will not pass able to the word of God, (without which with every one instead of a proper me. he, surely, ought not to say, they do); if cium to connect the steps of an argument? this is the cale, why may he not promile For, surely, it may be said, that a person a constant adherence to them ? where is has spoken the truth in some particular there, in all this, the least shadow of instances, i. c. that therein he has not er. contradiction to the very book te profeff. red, without saying that he is infallibie, cs to fubscribe ?
Had the words of the Confeflion been, A sort of demonstration of this incon• “all must err, and all hare erred in evefistency seems, however, to be aimed at ry thing;”. it might have answered bis by S. D. by which he thinks he has ren- purpose : but as they stand, it is impor. dered it unquestionable. Let us follow able that the flyest arts of the most inge* the steps of his demonstration, and see nious disputant can ever be able to make whether, in order to make it out, he is appear the least shadow of a contradicnot put to the fhift of artfully shuffling tion. more into his premises and conclufion, Let us try the force of this demonstra. than what, by the laws of fair reasoning, tion, by applying it to any other ordinas can be allowed. The Confession, he ob- ry case of the same kind. Did this genserres, declares, That “all councils and tleman ever hear, or read, a sermon, of synods since the apostles time may err.” his own or of another's composition, so Why did he omnit what follows? If he conformable to his principles, (if he has had added their next words, “and many any fixed ones), that he could say, there