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doubt not but it will appear to every person whatsoever, in the process of this business, who hath his senses any thing exercised in the word to discern between good and evil, and whose eyes the god of this world hath not blinded, that the glorious light of the gospel of God should not shine into their hearts, that Mr B., as wise as he deems and reports himself to be, is indeed, like the foolish woman that pulls down her house with both her hands, labouring to destroy the house of God with all his strength, pretending that this and that part of it did not originally belong thereto (or like Ajax, in his madness, who killed sheep, and supposed they had been his enemies), upon the account of that enmity which he finds in his own mind unto them.
The close of Mr B.'s preface contains an exhortation to the study of the word, with an account of the success he himself hath obtained in the search thereof, both in the detection of errors and the discovery of sundry truths. Some things I shall remark upon that discourse, and shut up these considerations of his preface :
For his own success, he tells us " That being otherwise of no great abilities, yet searching the Scriptures impartially, he hath detected many errors, and hath presented the reader with a body of religion from the Scriptures; which whoso shall well ruminate and digest will be enabled," etc.
As for Mr B.'s abilities, I have not any thing to do to call them into question: whether small or great, he will one day find that he hath scarce used them to the end for which he is intrusted with them; and when the Lord of his talents shall call for an account, it will scarce be comfortable to him that he hath engaged them so much to his dishonour as it will undoubtedly appear he hath done. I have heard, by those of Mr B.'s time and acquaintance in the university, that what ability he had then obtained, were it more or less, he still delighted to be exercising of it in opposition to received truths in philosophy; and whether an itching desire of novelty, and of emerging thereby, lie not at the bottom of the course he hath since steered, he may do well to examine himself.
What errors he hath detected (though but pretended such, which honour in the next place he assumes to himself) I know not. The error of the deity of Christ was detected in the apostles' days by Ebion, Cerinthus, and others,'—not long after by Paulus Samosatenus, by Photinus, by Arius, and others; the error of the purity, simplicity, and spirituality of the essence of God, by Audæus and the Anthropomorphites; the error of the deity of the Holy Ghost was long since detected by Macedonius and his companions; the error of original sin, or the corruption of our nature, by Pelagius; the error of the satisfaction and merit of Christ, by Abelardus; all of them, by Socinus, Smalcius, Crellius, etc. What new discoveries Mr B. hath made I know not, nor is there any thing that he presents us with, in his whole body of religion, as stated in his questions, but what he hath found prepared, digested, and modelled to his hand by his masters, the Socinians, unless it be some few gross notions about the Deity; nor is so much as the language which here he useth of himself and his discoveries his own, but borrowed of Socinus, Ep. ad Squarcialupum.
We have not, then, the least reason in the world to suppose that Mr B. led into these glorious discoveries by reading of the Scriptures, much less by “impartial reading of them;" but that they are all the fruits of a deluded
1 Sophoc. in Ajace, partiy04, 1. 25, 43, etc. ? Euseb. Hist. lib.'iii. cap. xxi.; Iræn. ad Hær. lib. i. cap. xxvi. ; Epiphan. Ilær. i. tom. ii. lib. i.; Ruf. cap. xxvii.
3 Euseb. lib. vii. cap. xxii.-xxiv.; August. Hær. xliv.; Epiphan. Hær. i. lib. ii ; Socrat. Hist. lib. ii. cap. xxiv., etc.
heart, given up righteously of God to believe a lie, for the neglect of his word and contempt of reliance upon his Spirit and grace for a right understanding thereof, by the cunning sleights of the forementioned persons, in some of whose writings Satan lies in wait to deceive. And for the * body of religion” which he hath collected, which lies not in the answers, which are set down in the words of the Scripture, but in the interpretations and conclusions couched in his questions, I may safely say it is one of the most corrupt and abominable that ever issued from the endeavours of one who called himself a Christian ; for a proof of which assertion I refer the reader to the ensuing considerations of it. So that whatever promises of success Mr B. is pleased to make unto him who shall ruminate and digest in his mind this body of his composure (it being, indeed, stark poison, that will never be digested, but will fill and swell the heart with pride and venom until it utterly destroy the whole person), it may justly be feared that he hath given too great an advantage to a sort of men in the world, not behind Mr B. for abilities and reason (the only guide allowed by him in affairs of this nature), to decry the use and reading of the Scripture, which they see unstable and unlearned men fearfully to wrest to their own destruction. But let God be true, and all men liars. Let the
gospel run and prosper; and if it be hid to any, it is to them whom the god of this world hath blinded, that the glorious light thereof should not shine into their hearts.
What may farther be drawn forth of the same kind with what is in these Catechisms delivered, with an imposition of it upon the Scripture, as though any occasion were thence administered thereunto, I know not, but yet do suppose that Satan himself is scarce able to furnish the thoughts of men with many more abominations of the like length and breadth with those here endeavoured to be imposed on simple, unstable souls, unless he should engage them into downright atheism and professed contempt of God.
Of what tendency these doctrines of Mr B. are unto godliness, which he next mentioneth, will in its proper place fall under consideration. It is true, the gospel is a “doctrine according to godliness," and aims at the promotion of it in the hearts and lives of men, in order to the exaltation of the glory of God; and hence it is that so soon as any poor deluded soul falls into the snare of Satan, and is taken captive under the power of any error whatever, the first sleight he puts in practice for the promotion of it is to declaim about its excellency and usefulness for the furtherance of godliness, though himself in the meantime be under the power of darkness, and knows not in the least what belongs to the godliness which he professeth to promote. As to what Mr B. here draws forth to that purpose, I shall be bold to tell him that to the accomplishment of a godliness amongst men (since the fall of Adam) that hath not its rise and foundation in the effectual, powerful changing of the whole man from death to life, darkness to light, etc., in the washing off the pollutions of nature by the blood of Christ; that is not wrought in us and carried on by the efficacy of the Spirit of grace, taking away the heart of stone and giving a new heart circumcised to fear the Lord; that is not purchased and procured for us by the oblation and intercession of the Lord Jesus; a godliness that is not promoted by the consideration of the viciousness and corruption of our hearts by nature, and their alienation from God, and that doth not in a good part of it consist in the mortifying, killing, slaying of the sin of nature that dwelleth in us, and in an opposition to all the actings and workings of it; a godliness that is performed by
PREFACE OF, MR BIDDLE TO HIS CATECHISM EXAMINED.
our own strength in yielding obedience to the precepts of the word, that by that obedience we may be justified before God and for it accepted, etc., there is not one tittle, letter, nor iota, in the whole book of God tending.
Mr B. closeth his preface with a commendation of the Scriptures, their excellency and divinity, with the eminent success that they shall find who yield obedience to them, in that they shall be,“ even in this life, equal unto angels.” His expressions, at first view, seem to separate him from his companions in his body of divinity, which he pretends to collect from the Scriptures, whose low thoughts and bold expressions concerning the contradictions in them shall afterward be pointed unto; but I fear “latet anguis in herba:” and in this kiss of the Scriptures, with “hail” unto them, there is vile treachery intended, and the betraying of them into the hands of men, to be dealt withal at their pleasure. I desire not to entertain evil surmises of any (what just occasion soever be given on any other account) concerning things that have not their evidence and conviction in themselves. The bleating of that expression, “The Scriptures are the exactest rule of a holy life,” evidently allowing other rules of a holy life, though they be the exactest, and admitting other things or books into a copartnership with them in that their use and service, though the pre-eminence be given to them, sounds as much to their dishonour as any thing spoken of them by any who ever owned them to have proceeded from God. It is the glory of the Scriptures, not only to be the rule, but the only one, of walking with God. If you take any others into comparison with it, and allow them in the trial to be rules indeed, though not so exact as the Scripture, you do no less cast down the Scripture from its excellency than if you denied it to be any rule at all. It will not lie as one of the many, though you say never so often that it is the best. What issues there will be of the endeavour to give reason the absolute sovereignty in judging of rules of holiness, allowing others, but preferring the Scripture, and therein, without other assistance, determining of all the contents of it, in order to its utmost end, God in due time will manifest. We confess (to close with Mr B.) that true obedience to the Scriptures makes men, even in this life, equal in some sense unto angels; not upon the account of their performance of that obedience merely, as though there could be an equality between the obedience yielded by us whilst we are yet sinners, and continue so (for “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves”), and the exact obedience of them who never sinned, but abide in doing the will of God: but the principal and main work of God required in them, and which is the root of all other obedience whatever, being to "believe on him whom he hath sent,” to “ as many as so believe on him and so receive him power is given to become the sons of God;" who being so adopted into the great family of heaven and earth, which is called after God's name, and invested with all the privileges thereof, having fellowship with the Father and the Son, they are in that regard, even in this life, equal to angels.
Having thus, as briefly as I could, washed off the paint that was put upon the porch of Mr B.'s fabric, and discovered it to be a composure of rotten posts and dead men's bones,—whose pargeting being removed, their abomination lies naked to all,—I shall enter the building or heap itself, to consider what entertainment he hath provided therein for those whom, in the entrance, he doth so subtilely and earnestly invite to turn in and partake of his provisions.
Mr Biddle's first chapter examined—Of the Scriptures.
MR BIDDLE having imposed upon himself the task of insinuating his abominations by applying the express words of Scripture in way of answer to his captious and sophistical queries, was much straitened in the very entrance, in that he could not find any text or tittle in them that is capable of being wrested to give the least colour to those imperfections which the residue of men with whom he is, in the whole system of his doctrine, in compliance and communion, do charge them withal: as, that there are contradictions in them, though in things of less importance;' that many things are or may be changed and altered in them; that some of the books of the Old Testament are lost; and that those that remain are not of any necessity to Christians, although they may be read with profit. Their subjecting them, also, and all their assertions, to the last judgment of reason, is of the same nature with the other. But it not being my purpose to pursue his opinions through all the secret windings and turnings of them, so [as] to drive them to their proper issue, but only to discover the sophistry and falseness of those insinuations which grossly and palpably overthrow the foundations of Christianity, I shall not force him to speak to any thing beyond what he hath expressly delivered himself unto.
This first chapter, then, concerning the Scriptures, both in the Greater and Less Catechisms, without farther trouble I shall pass over, seeing that the stating of the questions and answers in them may be sound, and according to the common faith of the saints, in those who partake not with Mr B.'s companions in their low thoughts of them, which here he doth not profess; only, I dare not join with him in his last assertion, that such and such passages are the most affectionate in the book of God, seeing we know but in part, and are not enabled nor warranted to make such peremptory determinations concerning the several passages of Scripture, set in comparison and competition for affectionateness by ourselves.
* Socin. de Author. Sac. Scrip. cap. i. Racov. anno 1611, p. 13 ; Socin. Lect. Sacr. p. 18; Episcop. Disput. de Author. Scrip. thes. 3; Volkel. de Vera Relig. lib. v. cap. v. p. 375. “Socinus autem videtur rectius de SS. opinari.”—Ep. ad Radec. 3, p. 140. " Ego quidem sentio, nihil in Scriptis, quæ communiter ab iis, qui Christiani sunt dicti, recepta, et pro divinis habita sunt, constanter legi, quod non sit verissimum : hocque au divinam providentiam pertinere prorsus arbitror, ut ejusmodi scripta, nunquam depraventur aut corrumpantur, neque ex toto, neque ex parte.”
His second chapter, which is concerning God, his essence, nature, and properties, is second to none in his whole book for blasphemies and reproaches of God and his word.
The description of God which he labours to insinuate is, that he is “one person, of a visible shape and similitude, finite, limited to a certain place, mutable, comprehensible, and obnoxious to turbulent passions, not knowing the things that are future and which shall be done by the sons of men; whom none can love with all his heart, if he believe him to be one in three distinct persons.""
That this is punctually the apprehension and notion concerning God and his being which he labours to beget, by his suiting Scripture expressions to the blasphemous insinuations of his questions, will appear in the consideration of both questions and answers, as they lie in the second chapter of the Greater Catechism.
His first question is, “How many Gods of Christians are there ?" and his answer is, “One God,” Eph. iv. 6; whereunto he subjoins secondly, “ Who is this one God ?" and answers, “The Father, of whom are all things,” i Cor. viii. 6.
That the intendment of the connection of these queries, and the suiting of words of Scripture to them, is to insinuate some thoughts against the doctrine of the Trinity, is not questionable, especially being the work of him that makes it his business to oppose it and laugh it to scorn. With what success this attempt is managed, a little consideration of what is offered will evince. It is true, Paul says, “ To us there is one God,” treating of the vanity and nothingness of the idols of the heathen, whom God hath threatened to deprive of all worship and to starve out of the world. The question as here proposed, “How many Gods of Christians are there?” having no such occasion administered unto it as that expression of Paul, being no parcel of such a discourse as he insists upon, sounds pleasantly towards the allowance of many gods, though Christians have but one. Neither is Mr B. so averse to polytheism as not to give occasion, on other accounts, to this supposal. Jesus Christ he allows to be a god. All his companions, in the undertaking against