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Nor does it enter into the Subtilties of perverse Disputers; dwindle-into any Speculations and metaphysical Schemes which conduce not to Edification, but, in stead of profiting, distract the People with Questions 'noways useful, but in many Respects ex* tremely prejudicial.
We have also always thought there was Reason to admire the Clearnefs and Perspicuity of the Weftminfter Confeßion, which, conddering the mysterious Nature and great Variety of the Truths conrained in it, the Sophistry of Adversaries, and the ambiguous variable Meanings whereby they confound Words and Things, was a Matter of no small Difficulty. And it is one excellent Quality of this Compofure, that all these intricate and scarce intelligible Terms of Art brought in by the Schoolmen, whereby they per plexed Divinity, and furnished continual Occafion of Strite and Wrangling, are so cautiously shunned, and scarce one of them used in our Confeffion. And, which is the chiet Excellency of all Works of this Kind, we hope the Scriptures fübjolied to every Article, with others to the laine Effeat; are convincing Evidences of its Contormity to the facred Oracles, and that it is bot tomed upon the sure and infallible Foundation of our Faith and Manners. All these Considerations and many more which might be added
, are a very Atrong Recommendation of the Westminster Courelion to the ferious and diligent Study of all Ranks. It is a fiupid Neglect of God and our own Souls, for any to continue in Ignorance of their Duty to him, and the mighty Things which their Saviour hath wrought for them: And as it heightens the Impięty, fo it will ag gravate the fearful Condemnation, of those who love Darknels; and remain in their Blindness in a Land of lo much Light, where the glorious Gospel chines with so bright a Lustre, and the Means of Knowledge are so easy and useful 'Tis fo universal a Negled of them, that makes Men wavering and unsettled in their Priu eiples, that exposes them to cunning Deceivers and every Wind of perverse Do&rine , and occasions that Coldness of Affection and Efteem for the noble Blessings of the Reformation, and thar molancholy
Indifference whether the Friends or Enemies of it be fuccessful. And hence it is, that people fee fo little of the divine Beauty and Harmony of Truth, are not animated by a vigorous Love and Zeal for it, nor are careful to improve its efficacy to the advancing of Holiness.
It is a shameful Abfurdity for those who value themelves upon all the parts of polite Education, and endeavour to excel in the Amusements of Learning, to be unacquainted with the
very. Spe çulation of Religion, and the fundamental Principles of Chrifianimy which they own with their Mouths. It must be surely a Reproach to any Member of the Church of Scotland, to be ignorant of her publick confeßion; and methinks 'tis not much less (candalous in those that
separate from her, to be unacquainted with her ceal Principles, fince without this they can never be able to give
ult Reason of their Practice, and it will be reasonably accounted
Schirm. What oath been hinted concerning the Excellency and Useful. ness of our Confeffion, will alfo hold good with respect to our Largir and Shorter Catechismus ; which are admirably fitted to cnlighten the People with fubftantial Gospel-Truths, and make them knowing and
dfcrious Chriftians: And therefore it can't be reflected upon without a iuft Mixture of Grief and Resentment, that any Meafures should be taken, which have the least Tendency to create a Difeftegia and Negleat of these compofures among the People; and particularly, that contrary co all good Order and Government, as well as to the Edification of Christians, Atrémpts should be made to introduce among Instructors of Youth other Catechisms, which belide the Errors and Obfcurities they may possibly be charged with, and their having no Claim to any publick Authority in the Church, are for no other valuable Quality any ways compapable to the Wilt minster Cate:bisms, fo often ratified by our Ailem. blies
figned to instruct the People in the Truth, but to be a Sateguard against the infe&ious Breath of Error, of which there is fo greit Hazard every Where. Voluimus igitur, says the Duke of
Wirtemberg in the Preface to the Wirtemberg Confeffion, boc fcriptum in cofpectum proferre, ut non tam alii cognoscerent quod doftrina genus hofra Ecclefia profiterentur ; quam ut nofter populus haberet, quod in hos
Sequeretur, so foirt a' quibus erroribus fibi cavendum effet.
con/Zituimus igitur hoc noftre confeffionis scriptum, quod paucis * fummam doctrine continet, proponere, vt fontem dere falutaris dottring,
parum atque integrum in Ecclefiis nefire regionis conferuaremus ; et nonetam, quá nobis in aginem coeleftis patris refert, a corruptione (quod in naThere is nothing that a Church should be more solicitously careful about, than to preserve her Members pure in the Faith, and file from those poisonous Errors that
abound in the World: This the Excellency of Truth, the fatal Effeas of Error and Division upon all the Parts of the Christian Life; and the many Deceivers who go about, and by various Arts endeavour to creep into Peoples Houses, and lead captive unwary Souls
, make exceeding necefSary. And for this End, there is nothing will prove more benefiow Religion, in whịch the Truths opposed to the prevailing. Er
attentive Confideration of the publick Summaries of Fors of the Time are clearly and forcibly represented by a right Erine which is according to Godliness, and armed against all the Machinations of Adverfaries.
Eis not pretended that a Man fhould reject a Doctrine as falfe and heretical, purely because it is not agrceable to our Confeffiong fince Christians
are to try the Spirits by the infallible Telt of the Holy Scripturės, and not by the Determination of humane Compo
, than an
fures. But as on other Accounts, fuch a Summary of the Chri Stian Religion framed and published by the Authority of the Church, may be very ufelul to preserve the Minds of the People from the Contagion of Error ; to it thould at least have this
Ef fect, to make them cautious of receiving an Opinion contrary to the publick Standard of a Church whereot they are Members, and which they think in general fo agreeable to the Word of God: This may crcate in them a Sufpicion, that the Perfons who would draw them over to those Opinions, are cunning Seducers who creep into Peoples Houses; and thereby make them juftly jealous of what they say and do, and put them upon examining, with the greater Diligence, the Pretentions of such Perfons, by the Holy Scriprures and a careful Ufe of all the Means for understanding them : And were our Confeffion duly improved for this purpose, we, who are perfwaded of its Purity and Excellency, cannot but think that it would be a very fuccefsful Inftrument, of maintaining the Șincerity and Uncorruptedrets of the Truth as it is in Fefur.
The People are exposed to a great many Snares, which ought Co engage them to a diligent Ufe of all Means whereby they may avoid thein. The Papifts and other Enemies of our holy Religion are skilful in all the Deceiveablenefs of Unrighteoufnefs, and em ploy very mischievous, and frequently imperceptible Methods of
corrupting the Faith of the Reformation: They can put on Sheeps Clothing, and even under the Mask of higher Pretensions than their Neighbours to a Zeal for Truth, and of elevating the Dom Eurine they teach to a greater Degree of Purity, impote upon
the Credulons, and pervert weak Minds. The natural Levity and Fickleness of Men, especially the morç ignorant Sort, expose them a ready Prey to Seducers: The Fondness that people have to distinguish themselves from others adds to the Temptation ; Pride Self-Conceit and a Love of popular Applause are fruitful of Errors, and put many upon forming Parties and leading the People astray the Lufts of our Hearts, and the extreme Inclination we have to Teconcile our literests and Pleasures with our Duty, and a DifeKeem of the Law of God with a pretended Regard to his Grace: make all loose Schemes, and particularly Antinomian Doctrines very infectious, and procure too favourable a Reception to Opinions, Books and Pamphlers which have a Tendency that Way and the superior Influence which a form of Gedliness hath with the Generality beyond the Power of it, will with fuch Perfons render Notions which have that Forin more popular, than the fubftantial
Truths of the Doctrine which is in Reality according to Godlinels. And all these Snares have become much more dangerous by that stupid Neglect of Christian Knowledge, and shameful Ignorance which are to be found with a great Number.
Were the Means of Knowledge, which God affords with fo diHinguishing Advantages to this Church, duly improved, and parti
: cularly by a diligent Ure of our Confeflion and Catechifms, the Minds
of People would be fortified and eftablished; those ignorant Schif Waticks, who rove about the Country,would not find lo many blind
enough to follow them, nor would new and unscriptural Notions of any kind meet with so favourable a Reception, and the lurking Poison, and dangerous Tendency of any Broks spread through the Country, would be sooner discovered, and easier shunned.
We are forry that there should be Occasion to mention one Performance of this Kind, which hath been lately réprinted and propa. gated with so much Industrý: Tho one would have thought that the many yaluable and approved pra&tical Pieces which
the Church colors, might have rendred it needless, as some Things contained therein seemed to make it noways expedient. The Reader will cally perceive that it is THE MARROW OF MODERN DI TINITY which is hinted at.
It would be wandring away from the Delign of this Compofure, igenter upon an Examination of any particular Book: And therefore we shall only observe in general. That beside the Inaccuracies in reasoning and the Obscurities and Ambiguities which render that Book very unfit for the common People, and are apt to perples and confound them, there are in it, at least, feverál Expref fipas extremely indecent, and which are enough to frike with Horror those who retain that Veneration and Honour for the Holy
, which its own incomparable Excellency, and the Au thonty and awe of the great Legislator give it a Claim to, and one would think should be enough to guard it against the rude, ! had almost laid profane, Treatment which it sometimes meets with. There are in that Book many Pallages, which if they don't difLolve the Obligation to Obedience, and openly allow to Christians a licentious Liberty ;, yet mightily weaken its Force and Efficacy, linels, and to give them mean and languishing Thoughts of it,
of no great importance or Neceflity in Chriftianity. There are Leveral Parts of it which the Corruptions of Mankind will make Grace of God too teaching us to deny all Ungodlines: And'to Glenice the Conviction of their consciences, they will thence take Occason to flatter themselves with the fond
Hopės that they may be multified, while they continue to produce little of the Fruits of Righcoubels, and in their Prašice negle&t of yilife the Works of the Law. The very Definition of Faith given by it, feems to fubtilize
t great Instrument of our Justification, and that noble Principle of a purified Heart and Life, into an airy and ineffe&ual
Speculation, which a presumptuous Sinner may perswade himself he hath Lead People into a Way of measuring their Stare with respect to Cod and Religion, by different Tests from those which the Scriptures afford us; and to divert them from trying the Sincerity of their Faith by the genuine
Marks of it, and the Characters we are least liable to be deceived by, the producing much Fruit, the sanctifying our Hearts , and purifying on Lives
, and govărning dúr Pasions. When Holinels is the most glorious and amiable Excellency of the Divige Nature, that is chiefly proposed to our Delight and
nur Imitacion; when
the Necessity, Beauty, and Perfection of it ace fo warmly urged home upon us in the Word of God, and it is the great Subject of all the Serinons pronounced by the unerring Prophet of the Church; when it is the distinguishing Character of the Meffiah's Şubjects that they are a hely Nation, and it is the neble Defign of all the mighty Acts of a Saviour's Love and the Powers of his Death, to fave us from our Sins and from a vain Conversation, he gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all Iniquity, and purifie to himself a peculiar People, zealous of goods Works (0) when it is the Apoftolical Definition of Religion."
. That pure Religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, To visit the - Fatberless and the Widowus in their fiiEtian, and to keep himself unspotted from the World (b); and that Holiness is the great End of all che Gospel-Ordinancçs and Graces even of Faith it felt; the Mystery whereof we must hold' in a pure Conscience (c); and which God makes use of to purifie our Hearts (d); when for this Purpose the Hope of the glorious Appearance of our Saviour is given us
, that we may purifie our felves even as he is püre fel's when, as might be proved, it is the Tendency of all the Doctrines of Grace and Salvation, of the Righteousness and Saristaction of the Son of God, and of
our Justification and Redemption by his Blood, to exakt and enforce Holinets; and when the Work and Influences of the Spirit of Christ are to advance it to Perfection, He loved his Church, and gave himself for it. That he might fanctific and cleanse it with the washing of Water, by the Word, That be might present it to bits self a glorious Church,' not having Spot or Wrinkle or any fuck Thing, But that it should be holy and without Blemish (f); and it is the Ho. nour of our çxalted Redeemer, that he is able to keep his People from falling, and to present them faultlefs before the Presençe of his Glory waith, exceeding Joy (g), that they may ever inhabite that place where, in playleth everlasting Righteoufiefs, in a word, when it is the Excellenc, and the Glory of the Grace of God and of justifying Eaith, that they are to admirably calculated to promote Holiness; when it is the higheft Injury and Affront to turn them into Licen; tiouliefs, the greatelt Service to the Enemies of the Grace et God, and the most plausible Handle that can be afforded to Pelea gians, to improve them that way ; 'ris a furprising and an affecting Confideration, that any Schemes and Pamphlets which have lat least Tome Appearances of thefe Evils, should be fondly entertained by fincere Christians, and that the very firft Beginnings of them do not meet with a juster Reception.
Nor will fome Distinctions that are made, which might perhaps be calıçrrehited if their Meaning were understood, juftify the Pallages hinted at, or remedy their mischievous Consequences ; they may, please the Men that make them, but will these subcilcies impress the Minds of the People? will they fecure their Corrup; tions from taking fo plausible
Occalion of gratifying them ? will .
E B they
(a) Iit. 2. 14. fb) Fam. T. 27. "T) I Tim. 3. 9. Ta) dets 18.9 1 Jol 3. 3. (f)Esk, s. 25, 269, 27. Jude V, 24,