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thé 238 Chapter of our Confelion concerning the Civil Magistraté, how falle a Bottom all the heavy Imputations laid on us by angry Adverfaries lean upon; as if we were Enemies to Order and Goa vernment, and our Principles were inconsistent with the Peace of Society, and the Regard due to lawful Superiors, so that no Man could favour us, and at the fame Time be a Friend unto Cesar : Since, from the Account there given of our Principles concerning Civil Government, it will appear, that no Church maintains Doa Erines which conduce more to its real Dignity and Stability, or gives less Encouragement to the Spirit of Faction, and the Claa mours of feditious and ungovernable Minds.
Our Church gives the noblest and most awful Original to the Magistrate's Power; the Authority of God himselt; who liath or dained them to be under him over the People, and atmed themi with the Power of the Sword; and thereby begets à becoming Fear and Veneration for the Rulers of a State. It represents this Institution as designed to promote the most glorious Ends, and the usefullest and loveliest Purposes, the Glory of God, and the publick Good: And under so amiable a View, our Church endears it to the Affections, and recommends it to the fincereft Elteem; and the cheerful Obedience of its Members; and fo fecures the Authority and Majesty of the Prince upon the Happiness of Mankind, and the truest Interest of those that obey, which is a firmer as well as a nobler Foundation, than the Doctrines of thofe who divest Government of every sweet and ainiable Character, while they render it at the fame Time formidable and hateful, by clothing it with Fears and Hortors; and thereby indeed fap its Foundations, and rob it of its Glory and Beauty; and in what they call the fus preme Governor, they draw the Image of a grim and frightful Idol, that may be fervilly bowed to and adored; but can never be esteemed or loved.
In a Word, that Chapter of our Confession will show; that our Church allows every Thing to a Monarch that is suitable to the Excellency of that God by whom he reigns, thac is worthy of his own Honour, or can enable him to accomplish the great and useful Ends of his Inftitution; and that our Principles are inconGftent with nothing but the Domination of an arbitrary Tyrant; and the inglorious pafsive Obedience of a Slave. And in one Thing, I am afraid, 'We exceed our most furious Accusers in their Zeal for the Honour of Princes, lince the 4th Paragraph of that same Chapa ter asserts, That Ecclesiastical Persons are not exempted from their Jurifi diftion.
If we pass from the Government of the State to that of the Church; a very odious Idea is given of us, as if, by being Oppofers of the Hierarchy; we overturned the facred Privileges of the Gospel-Ministry, or cut the Sinews of Ecclefiaftical Authority and because our Conflitution was not framed upon the fame Model with that of our neighbouring Church, we are pronounced at factious and licentious Sect; Enemies to Order, Promoters of Coné
fulon and an unrestrained Liberty, and zealous for levelling Pritzciples in the Church and the State.
There,together with the other Calumnies whereby we are blackned on this Occasion, will appear in many Respects falfe and injurious, and without any Colouring afforded them by our real Principles; since from a Consideration of the 25th, 30th, and 3ift Chapters of our Confeffion, with the Directory, &c. it will be evident, that, how little foever our Opinions footh and flatter the Pride and Vanity of earthly Minds, tho' they be not calculated for the aspiring Schemes of Ambition, and must lay their Account to be vilified and contemned by those who adore worldly Greatness, and chirst after a Power over the Consciences of Mankind, or grasp at a Dominion above their Brethren, such as the Lords of the Gentiles exercise, and in all other Respects they promife as little of the Pomp and Authority of earthly Rulers; yet our Church, far from patronizing Confusion and Diforder, maintains it as a fixed Principle, That the Lord Jesus, as King and Head of his Church, hath therein appointed a Government in the Hand of Church-officers, diftin&t from the Civil Magistrate, and attributes to these Church-officers all the Power that is necessary for the facred Ends of their appointment, or needs be wished for by such as have no fecret Design of being Lords over God's Heritage, but can content themselves with being Helpers of their Joy; such a Power as is sufficient to keep the Ministry pure and uncorrupted, by admitting none into that Number who appear unworthy of fo holy a Character, and turning out any who may have unawares crept in, and become, by their Ignorance, Laziness, or diffolute Lives, a Scandal to their Office, and of no Use to the Purposes of Christianity.
Nor does our Church in any Respect enervate the Vigour of Dif cipline, or the Force of Cenfures against profane and vicious Members, who usurp the Christian Name which they make themselves unworthy of; such she allows her Spiritual Rulers to exclude from the Society of visible Christians, or to admonish and rebuke with all Authority. And, however sensible we are of numerous Defects, and shall easily acknowledge that in many. Instances we stand in need of further Reformation, yet we believe we may with some Measure of Confidence be allowed to glory in it, that there is no Church, which in the Exercise of Discipline, comes nearer to the primitive Model, and the Example of those better Times, when all the Parts of Discipline were levelled at the reclaiming of Offenders, the discouraging of Vice, and the maintaining the Purity of the Christian Society, when no Censure, and much less the last and folemnest Act of Ecclesiastical Power, was prostituted to mean and unworthy Purposes, and thereby exposed to a general Contempt ; when the Strength and Force of Difcipline consisted in its Influence upon the Reafon and Consciences of Mankind, and Excommunication it felt had only a spiritual Efficacy, and was dreaded by Christians as the greatest Punishment, from the Terrors wherewith it filled guilty Minds, and the Power it gained in the Hearts and Brçafts of Sinners, and stood in no
need of temporal Penalties to enforce it, nor was attended by Fines and Imprisonments, Arguments entirely foreign to the spiritual Genius of that Ecclesiastical Government and Discipline, which was embrac'd by the purest Ages, and maintain’d by none now in a greater Degree than by the Church of Scotland.
An impartial Enquiry into our Confeffion, may have the same good Effects with Regard to the more refined and abstracted Controverfies of Religion. It is known to all who have any Acquaintance with Divinity, with what undue Heat and Jncharitableness the Disputes betwixt the Calvinifts and Arminians have been managed, and what odious Representations have been given of the Opinions of different Parties: The Church of Scotland, which hath everzealously espoused the Doctrines of the great Calvin, or rather of the inspired Apostle Paul, hath on that Account received her large Share of ill Usage ; and the harshest. Notions have been given of all sofe who came under the common Denomination of Calvinists, and that not only by pashonate little Writers, but by Men of distinguished Reputation, and acknowledged Temper and Abilities.
It is usual enough, because of our Doctrines concerning Faith, Juftification and Grace, to exclaim against us as Persons who wea ken the Authority of the Divine Law, and deny the Necessity of good Works, who encourage our Members to a lazy Recumbency upon the Righteousness of another, and tempt them to the Neglect of Holiness in their own Life; that our Principles are so many Pillows for slothful Souls to rest upon, and Opiats to lull them asleep in Șin and Security : And thus we are exposed as an hateful and abominable Sect, that have little Regard to Morality and Holinefs.
Now, would such have Recourse to our Confeffion, they'd foon be convinced how great an Injury is done to us, since, tho we own it as our Glory, that we entertain exalted Thoughts of the Grace of the Gospel, and abhor every Notion that encroaches upon its Sovereignty or lessens its Freedom; that we maintain Juftification by Faith and not by Works, and would not willingly rob God of any Part of the Glory and Honour of our Salvation, by afcribing a Share of it to our felves, and attributing to our unworthy Performances what is wholly owing to the Obedience and Satisfaction of our Saviour: Yet no Church, in more express Terms affirms the perpetual Obligation of the Moral Law which is no way dissolved by the Gospel,
the absolute Necessity of Holiness in order to Salvation, the Vanity of that Faith which is not accompany'd with all the other Graces of the Christian Life, and with good Works, which are its genuine Fruits and Evidences when true and lively; or is more fensible of the fatal Mistake of such who fancy that Christian Liberty gives the least Encouragement to the Indulgence of any Lust. All which is evident from the whole Strain of our Confeffiun.
It will appear as hard and unjust Treatment, when we are charged with representing the blessed God as a severe and cruel Being, the Object only of Fears ard Terrors, because of the Dob 22
&rine we maintain concerning Reprobation; or as a despotick and arbitrary Monarch, that is not governed by the Measures of Wifdom and Goodness, but punishes Sin, whereof we make himself the Author, because of our Opinions about the Absoluteness of his Decrees, the Freedom of his electing Love, and the Sovereignty of his Grace and Providence: Since, how little foever they may approve of our Sentiments in these Matters, they will perceive, that, in as plain and positive Terms, we own the infinite Purity of the Divine Nature, and the Justice of his Procedure; remove as far from him the smallest Postibility of Evil
, and attribute the Origin of Sin wholly to the Creature, and endeavour to give as lovely and amiable Notions of the Father of Mercies, and to celebrate with as loud and fervent Praises his unbounded Compassions, and incomprehensible Goodness and Patience, as our Adverfaries themselves do.
We know it may be alledged, That how positively foever we disclaim all these monstrous Errors, yet they are the necessary Consequences of the other Doctrines which we avowedly
, protefs; fo that were the onė certain, the other would naturally be establiIned: But were it true that such Blasphemies could be inferred from our Doctrine of absolute Decrees, or any other of the Opinions of Calvin; yet it would be contrary to the plainest Rules of Justice and Charity, to afcribe those absurd and impious Notions unto us; since we in the loudest Manner disavow them, and profels that we are not able to difcern that our Doctrines have the smallest Tendency towards those unworthy Thoughts of the infinitely Holy and Merciful God, which we abhor and detest as much as they themselves can do ; but believe all our Principles consistent with these amiable Excellencies of the Divine Nature.
They may according to their own Way of thinking accuse us of Weakness and Ignorance, and fancy that our Eyes are dim and Short-lighted, when we can difcern none of those abfurd Consequences which appear so clearly to thein; but as long as we re; main in this Condition, deny the supposed Confequences, and give no Reason to fufpe& the Sincerity of our Professions, it is
evidently injurious ftill to load us with them as if they were our - Teal Sentiments; which is indeed to charge upon People not what they truly think and perceive, but what we fancy they should see and judge concerning the Nature and Consequences of their Faith.
We know it is too common for Writers on every Side to blacken their Adverfaries; and after they have painted, in the ugliest and most hateful Form, all the Blasphemies and Abfurdities, which they fancy to be the necessary Consequences of their Opinions, to charge the whole upon such as differ from them, though as zealous as themselves against those false and impious Doctrines: Nor shall we deny but there are Authors of every Side who make a Merit of their Art and Dexterity in this Way of writing ; seem to think every Spot wherewith they befpatter their adversaries, an Ornament and Beauty of their Pertormance, and that the blacker
they make him, they promote more effectually the Interests of their own Party : But a prevailing Custom does not render Injustice and ill Nature less culpable, nor does their Rarity tarnish the Love liness of Moderation and Charity, or excuse a Neglect of them by an Author.
The treating of an Adversary with Fierceness, Anger or Dif dain, the representing his Opinions in the worst Light, and clpe cially the inveighing against the Blasphemies or Ablurdities
which we think flow from his Schemes, as if they were really a Part of them and adopted by him, with all the other angry Arts of Con troversie of this Kind; instead of doing any good, tend equally to the Disgrace of the Writer, and the Difadvantage of his Cause ; they argue a proud and imperious Spirit that is impatient of Contradi&ion, and expects an absolute Submission from the rest of the World to its Notions and Dietates; they How generally from a Narrowness and Contraction of Thought, that can allow no virtuous Quality, nor make any tavourable Concession to an Adyerfary : and they almost allways show that the Writer is of a Imall Extent of Learning and Reading, and hath confined his Enquiries to the Authors of his own Side ; and bounded his. Understanding by their Party-Limits, or darkned it by their Errors and Prejud, ces, and to is incapable of great and noble Advances in KnowJedge.
Such Disputers demonstrate that the prevailing Passions in their Breasts are Wrath and Hatred and Vanity, which have extinguiThed Charity and Justice and Humility, and which always make the Performance of no Effe& with an Adversary, and can never reclaim him from an Error; because they imbitter his Spirit and awaken his Refentment; make him consider the Author as his violent Enemy, and enervate the Force even of good Reasonings, by perswading him that they are as insignificant, as he knows the hideous Representations given of his own Principles and Party, by the famc Writer, are false and calumnious: And tho they may inflame the Zeal of those who are blindly devoted to them, and prepossess'd by the fame Prejudices; yet if ever fuch become bet ter acquainted with thote that differ from them, they'll be apter to defert altogether their former Party, and fancy the whole of their Doctrines as ill founded, as they see the Afperfions groundJels which were thrown upon Adverfaries by their own angry Guides.
Were the Devil a Writer of Controversies, fuch would be his Methods; Satyr would undoubtedly be his chiet Talent, and uir charitable Heats, and calumnious Reprefentations, and heavy Chargęs upon the contrary Side, would be Engines suitable enough to his hellish Temper and Delgns: But it is a strange Inconsilier cy in one that pretends to argue in Defence of any part of Chriftiai 1, fo mild and gentle and charitable an Institution, a Religion, the diftinguihing Beauties whereof are Love and Benevolence and Forbearance, to do it by Artifices which owe their Being to Impatience, Anger, Pride and Wrath, as it these could ever be useful to any