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He does not damn them, who differed from him, nor will say the Christian religion is subverted, and Christ but an impostor, and a broken reed to trust on, if he be not the very supreme God, (the ranting dialect of some in our age ;) no, but still he was sure he is the true Christ, whatever else he might be mistaken in. It is desperate wickedness in men to hazard the
reputation of the truth and holiness of the blessed Jesus upon a difficult and disputable opinion; to dare to say, that if they are mistaken in their opinion, which I verily believe they are, then Jesus Christ is a liar and a deceiver, a mock Saviour, and the like. What is this but to expose him to the scorn of infidels ?
So that I see with sorrow, that' to this very day, even among professed Christians themselves, Christ crucified is to some a stumblingblock, and to others foolishness. If he be not as good and great as the God who appointed him for a Saviour, though he be allowed to be a man approved of God, by signs and mighty wonders, which God did by him, and by whom God made the worlds, as the instrument; though he be granted to be one in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead, so as it never dwelt before in prophets or any other ; though he be one with the Father, by unity of consent and will, as Calvin interprets John x. 30, one in testimony with the Father and Spirit, as Beza and many others understand that in 1 John v. 7 ; though he be the most lively visible image of God that the world ever saw, so that he who sees him does, in great measure, see the Father, as in a bright mir
rour John xiv. 10; though he be owned and served, as one far above angels and archangels, and over all powers in heaven and earth, a God or Ruler, the great administrator of God's kingdom, both on earth and in the invisible hades, as having the keys, or ministerial power of death and hell, Rev. i. 18; yet, after all this, if he be not the very supreme God himself; nay, to complete the absurdity, if he be not the very same God, whose Son and Image he is, he shall be no mediator for them. They do, ex hypothesi, or on this supposition, openly disown him for their Saviour and Confidence; they are ashamed to trust in him, and seem rather to deride and reproach him, as insufficient and contemptible, than to believe on him.* These things are to me a very grievous offence, who think it a great pity that so excellent a constitution as the Gospel is, so amiable to contemplate, so proper to entertain our thankful admiration for the grace and wisdom it contains, should either be lost in the clouds of an affected obscurity, or exposed to the derision of ungodly scoffers.
It is yet a farther grief to think, what a fatal stop is hereby put to the progress of the Gospel ; whose rejection by Jews, Mahometans and Pagans, is undeniably occasioned by the common doctrine of the incarnation of God. One may read in Le Compte's history of China, how the heathens derided the christians' doctrine of a mortal God; and upon that account esteemed christianity as fabulous as their own religion. And Doctor Casaubon, in his book of Credulity and Incredulity, says, he could prove by many instances out of history, that this “ doctrine has kept more people from embracing the christian faith, than any other thing he knew of.” Now though I grant, that if it be the certain truth of God, this must be no argument against receiving it; yet surely it should make men very cautious and impartial in their inquiry about it, lest they bring on themselves the woe denounced against them by whom offences, that is, stumbling blocks in the way of the Gospel, do come.
* Dr Calamy's Sermons on the Trinity, p. 130, 360.
In the mean time, in the midst of these troubles, it is a great and sweet refreshment to wait and hope for a remove to the mount Moriah, the land of vision above, where all these shades of melancholy night shall vanish away, and an eternal day of clear light and peace shall shine on them, “who love our Lord Jesus in sincerity;" in whose glorious dignity I rejoice; nay, I desire to boast and glory in this exalted, enthroned Redeemer; for “worthy is the Lamb to receive glory," and honour, and blessing, and power. Amen. So be it! Now to him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and bath made us kings and priests to God, even the Father, to him be glory and dominion forever. “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way, which they call Heresy, so worship I the God of my Fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets.” Acts xxiv. 14.
DANGER OF RASHNESS
CENSURING OTHERS AS HERETICS.
FROM THE APPENDIX TO EMLYN'S NARRATIVE.
The plain truth is, if Christians would believe with a holy religious faith, and be content with a religious, rather than a philosophical creed, Christianity would better be preserved; for what is it but a scholastic philosophical faith, that runs upon metaphysical notions of essence, and persons, and emanations, and con
, substantiality, and the methods of divine decrees, and God's physical operation and concourse? The holy Christian faith regards God in a religious sense, not so much in his infinity, immensity, spirituality, and other natural and absolute excellencies, as in his relative excellencies and moral perfections, viz. as our maker, our owner, our ruler, disposer, judge, benefactor, and chief good; and it regards Jesus Christ as our sufficient Mediator, by whose intervention we are brought into God's favour, and are taught his will.
And as he is a good believer in God, who reveres his majesty, is moulded into his will, loves and trusts in him, and makes him the centre of his delightful rest, and satisfying joy; so is he a good believer in Jesus Christ, who owns him as his Lord; who receives and obeys his laws, credits his threats and promises, and confides in his mediation and intercession; without subtle philosophising upon his nature and generation, or without forensic political disquisitions, and logical quibbles about justification.
What if all Christians have not the same abstracted speculations of God and Christ, (for all have not the same knowledge,) is it therefore not the same God, and the same Lord? Yes, doubtless; if the Jews believed in Jesus Christ when on earth, though they believed not his miraculous conception, would any say it was not the same Christ that other disciples believed in ? Surely it was enough, that Jesus was he, John viii. 24. whatever different notions they had about his origin. And it is the same if an honest Christian believes him sufficient to bring him to salvation, without being able to give a philosophical or critical account how he has this sufficiency; so that here will still be one God, and one Lord, both theirs and ours, by which Christians may unite and agree in the doctrine which is according to godliness. And so Constantine the emperor seems to have meant, when he advised Alexander and Arius not to break communion for such things, comparatively small, since