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Of the everlasting Council con. Of Christ as the Surety of the
Of the Law given to Adam, and Of Actual Sins and Transgres.
-n the Spirit has
The Pardon of Sin,
Of the Object of Worship,
The Knowledge of God,
448 Thankfulness to God,
154 Resignation to the will of God, 497
OF PRIVATE WORSHIP, OR, OF VARIOUS DUTIES,
PERSONAL, RELATIVE, DOMESTIC, AND CIVIL.
HAVING completed an exposition of the whole bible, the Books both of the Old and of the New Testament; I considered with myself what would be best next to engage in, for the further instruction of the people under my care ; and my thoughts led me to enter upon a scheme of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity, first the former and then the latter ; the one being the foundation of the other, and both having a close connexion with each other.
Systematical Divinity, I am sensible, is now become very unpopular. Formulas and articles of faith, creeds, confes, sions, catechisms, and summaries of divine truths, are greatly decried in our age ; and yet, what art or science soever but has been reduced to a system? physic, metaphysic, logic, rhetoric, &c. Philosophy, in general, has had its several systems; not to take notice of the various sects and systems of philosophy in ancient times; in the last age, the Cartesian system of philosophy greatly obtained, as the Newtonian system now does.
Medicine, jurisprudence, or law, and every art and science, are reduced to a system or body; which is no other than an assemblage or composition of the several doctrines or parts of a science; and why should divi. nity, the most noble science, be without a system? Evangelical truths are spread and scattered about in the sacred Scriptures; and to gather them together, and dispose of them in a regular, orderly method, surely cannot be disagreeable ; but must be useful, for the more clear and perspicuous understanding them, for the better retaining them in memory, and to shew the connection, harmony, and agreement of them. Accordingly we find that Christian writers, in ancient times, attempted something of this nature; as the several formulas of faith,
symbols or creeds, made in the first three or four centuries of Christianity. Since the reformation, we have had bodies or systems of divinity, and confessions of faith, better digested, and drawn up with greater accuracy and consistence; and which have been very serviceable to lead men into the knowledge of evangelical doctrine, and confirm them in it; as well as to shew the agreement and harmony of sound divines and churches, in the more principal parts of it: and even those who now cry out against systems, confessions, and creeds, their predecessors had those of their own. Arius had his crved; and the Socinians have their catechism. The Jews, in imitation of the Christians, have reduced their theology to certain heads or articles of faith.
The Scripture exhibits compendiums or systems of doctrine and duty. What a compendium or body of laws is the decalogue or ten commands, drawn up and calculated more especially for the use of the Jews, and suited to their circumstances ! a body of laws not to be equalled by the wisest legislators of Greece and Rome, Minos, Lycurgus, Zaleucus, and Numa; nor by the laws of the twelve Roman tables, for order and regularity, for clearness and perspicuity, for comprehensiveness and brevity. The Lord's prayer consists of petitions the most full, proper, and pertinent, and in the most regular order. And we have a creed made mention of in Heb. vi. 1, 2. consisting of six articles, repentance from dead works, faith towards God, the ductrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Mention is made in the New Testament of a form of doctrine delivereil, and a form of sound words that had been heard and was to be held fast, and of a proportion or analogy of faith, according to which ministers were to prophesy or preach. Rom. vi. 17. 2 Tim. i. 13. Rom. xii. 6.
It is strongly pleaded that articles and confessions of faith, in which men are to agree, should be expressed in the bare words of the sacred Scriptures; but without an explanation of their sense of them in other words, it might introduce into