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true Christian faith, and which are of no less import, you have entirely omitted, waved, or suppressed.
You acknowledge in your first article, there is a God, and you own his providence as to the other life. But that he made heaven and earth, that he is the Almighty, and at present, by his sovereign power, most wisely and holily governs, orders, and sustains all (by his mercies, as well as judgments, even in this world, not leaving himself without witness) you say not a word. Creation in the beginning, and providence as to this world at present, are not here acknowledged by you. We hope you believe both.
Your second article is wholly true; for it is express scripture, 1 John v. 7. But it is only what the apostle there had occasion to say, and what was to his purpose, touching the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; far from being the sum of what the holy scripture teaches of them; and therefore is not a sufficient confession of faith on that head.
In your third article, you acknowledge, indeed, the Son of God to have been made flesh, but neither conceived by the Holy Ghost, nor born of the virgin Mary; so that it does not appear, by this your confession, but that he was at first an ordinary, corrupt, sinful person : nay, you own him not so much as Jesus, or the Christ (the great Saviour, wbo delivereth from the wrath which is to come; or the great prophet, priest, lord, and king of his church): you acknow. ledge him, indeed, to have died for sin, but (not to mention the articles inferrable from, and relating to, the circumstances of his death) you have not one word of his resurrection from the dead, or of his ascension into heaven; which, it may be proved, some of you have expressly denied, saying, “He is not ascended into heaven; he is in us :' nor, again, of his sitting now on the right hand of the Majesty on high. And so you seem not to own any thing of his mediation, intercession, or appearing now in heaven for us. Nor, farther, have you said a word of his coming again to judgment, at the end of the world. Thus, indeed, you have here neither owned the creation, or dissolution, of the world; so that it does not appear, by this account of your faith, whether you do not judge it eternal, and so otherwise infinite. Yet again, not a word of one church, which it may be feared you strike out of your belief, because you are resolved never more to return into the unity of the church, but to make and maintain a schism, or party, for ever. Nor, farther, have you a word of the resurrection of the dead, which divers of you have been known to deny, and others of you only say, “ It may be so.' And lastly, though you acknowledge everlasting rewards for them that
fear God, yet nothing of the everlasting punishment of wicked men. You mention hell, indeed (in a very unnatural place, viz. in your first article of the being of God); but whether
you meau thereby the grave, as most commonly in scripture is meant; or, a place of temporal punishment after .this life, as some have done; or, a state of total destruction and annihilation, as many now a-days do, no one knows.
Upon the whole : as to the sun of the Christian faith, which you have been pleased to set down, there is not one article of our common twelve, that you have owned entirely; and eight at least, if not more of them, that you have here totally suppressed, or waved. And how influential to an holy life those which you have waved are, and therefore how necessary to salvation, I must require and conjure you, on your own eternal account, to consider. I will only mind you of two passages out of the scriptures of truth, 1 Cor. xv. 16, 17. " If the dead rise not, (that is, if there be no resurrection of the flesh,) then is not Christ raised. And if Christ is not raised, your faith is vain, you are yet in your sins.” Hence it appears all other points of faith are in vain, if this be not true. The other is, Rom. x. 9. “ If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” This article alone is of such force and influence on men's hearts, that if believed as it should be, such belief will save men. But both Christ's resurrection, and our own, are by you, in this paper, left out of your faith. I judge you not, but judge yourselves, lest you be condemned of the Lord.
Your fifth, sixth, and eighth articles, treat of what you call, . The light of Christ within man :' this you have never been able yet, that I could find, to make out what you mean by. For you will not allow it to be either the natural, rational faculty, or common innate notions, or natural conscience, or conscience illuminated, by the preaching of the gospel, and the operation of the Holy Ghost thereby: until you can make us understand your meaning, or indeed till you understand it yourselves, (that is, till you are less confused in this, the very fundamental principle or rule of what you profess) you must not think of declaring (or publishing) an account of your faith : see you understand it first. There are some men who have a faculty to speak things seemingly profound, but in the end, neither themselves, nor others, can make any distinct sense of what they have said : this we usually call banter. And I must acknowledge, as far as I can see, your discourse of this light within is perfectly such. Take notice, we, in our preaching, require
people to look within, as much as you do: we strictly charge all to walk according to the convictions and light they have received. We daily appeal unto conscience : but then we teach, that conscience (opened by the Holy Spirit, under the ministry of the word, Acts xvi. 14.) does, and must, take in its light from holy scripture; " The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes,” Psalm xix. 8. (viz, of the mind, Ephes. i. 18.) “ Thy word is as a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths,” Psalm cxix. cv. “ To the law and to the testimony; if they” (even men in their consciences) “ speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,' Isa. viii. 20. Now these things are intelligible. This rule is fixed and certain, nothing of which can be said of your light within.
In your eighth article you tell us, worship under the gospel is inward and spiritual.' If you mean hereby, that all outward and bodily worship ought to be accompanied with an inward and spiritual worship, it is what we daily preach and practise, and, even in private, press. But if, as it would seem, you mean all the worship God now requires is from the inward man, or from the Spirit, this is abominably false : for our bodies are God's handy-work, and Christ's purchase, as well as our souls : on which reason, God, by his apostle, commands, “ Glorify God in your body and in your spirit,“ [ärıra] which in the plural number, that is, both which) are God's” Not to tell you, that you yourselves, now-a-days, perform somewhat of bodily worship: And indeed, if there be not a worship of the body, as well as of the spirit, there can be no public worship. This article, therefore, must also be mended, to make it Christian.
In your ninth article, you tell us of your, denying all the vain customs and fashions of the world, as also excess in all things. I know no sort of Christians who teach otherwise ; I wish I could say, I knew none (even of your. selves) that practise otherwise. It is one part of the cate, chism we teach our children, to renounce all these. But there are many innocent and laudable customs which you call vain. Would it not almost make a man's stomach turn to hear one forbear, in point of conscience, saying you to a single person, because it is improper; and at the same time, while he is speaking to his superior, because, thou dost, sounds a little rudely, to soften the thou, and say, thee doest, which is commonly your people's practice, and much more improper. Will you ever be able to prove the primitive Christians used a dialect or dress different from others of their nation and qualities, and placed religion in it? Does nct Christ require saluting even those who salute not
us? And no doubt his and his apostles' salutations were in the common form. In a word, there is more vanity in singularity and affectation, than in a moderate following a common innocent phrase, garb, or custom.
In your tenth article you believe (you say). "a spiritual baptism, and a spiritual supper, and communion;' but acknowledge you disuse the outward signs,' by us, commonly called sacraments: now did not Christ command waterbaptism? “Go ye and baptize all nations," Mat. xxviii. 19, 20. The baptism here commanded, was water-baptism : for baptizing with the Spirit was God's work, not the apostles': and though the baptism of the Spirit commonly accompanied baptism with water, yet not always, as in the case of Simon Magus, and many others. Yet did not Christ promise " to be with them (preaching to all nations, and baptizing) to the end of the world ?" Farther, did not the apostles, in obedience to Christ's command, both constantly practise, and also require, water-baptism to all initiated Christians “ Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" And he [Peter] commanded they should be baptized: Acts X. 47, 48. Then as to the outward use of bread and wine for the Lord's supper, can any command be more express than, * This do in remembrance of me" four times repeated in the New (which you call the better) Testament? To which St. Paul adds, “It is a shewing forth the Lord's death until he come,” i Cor. xi. 26. Now if Christ and his apostles have commanded this, who hath authorized you to disuse it? Remember what St. Paul tells the Corinthians, he received from the Lord that which on this subject he delivered to them," 1 Cor. xi. 23. And it is a severe passage in another epistle of his, Gal. i, 8. “If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." That which lays aside so much of the gospel, and sets up a new and variable rule of faith, (we know not what light within) is another and new gospel.
To draw towards a conclusion: I have written this short paper in much and true compassion to you : it had been far easier to me to have said more, than thus to have confined myself: I look upon many of you as an harmless, well-meaning people, but under strong delusions.
This your deluded state proceeds from your making what you call the light within you (which is, in many cases, nothing but your own presumptive persuasion or fancy) a rule of faith and practice, co-ordinate, if not superior and ante. cedent, to the holy scriptures : these words in your paper [ which are the double and agreeing record of true religion'] intimate at least thus much, that you will not believe what scripture saith, except the light within you dictate the same, and so make a double record. Now, my friends, do not flatter yourselves, "God is not mocked;" you must answer at the dreadful day of judgment, amongst other points, to such as these; and therefore examine your consciences before-hand.
1. Is it not your main end and study, by pretended mortifications, and renouncing the world, (while there are no sort of men alive that more eagerly pursue it, nor have more effectual, wily, and secret ways of getting wealth than yourselves) is it not, I say, your main aim and end to make yourselves a party considerable ; and such to which, for reasons of state, peculiar privileges must be indulged?
2. Are not, to this purpose, many of your distinctive characters, such as your different garb; (for it is plain, not a few of your people's clothes, as to materials, are more costly than many of ours) your way of speaking, yea, even your looks and gestures, assumed rather to make yourselves remarkable, and at first sight known from other people, than out of any persuasion, sense of duty, or conscience of obligation ?
3. What reasonable or tolerable warrant can you plead for waving, suppressing, at least not con fessing, much the greater part of the Christian faith, and rejecting
all outward positive parts of worship (especially baptism and the Lord's supper) which have such plain and repeated evidences, in holy scripture. Your light within, (or sense and persuasion which you say you have, and are sure is from Christ) forasmuch as, in the present cases, it dictateth against holy scripture, can never be proved even to yourselves, much less to others, to be from Christ: but must rather, in all reason, be resolved to be one of the heights or depths of Satan transforming himself into an angel of light. And for any persons to yield to such conduct, (besides or against holy scripture) is plainly to abandon themselves to the delusions of the devil,
In a word, therefore, I again require you, as you will answer all your secret arts and high pretences at Christ's tribunal, that you either embrace and profess entire Christian faith, in the points wherein I have shown you to be defective; and that you receive the Christian seals or badges, baptism and the Lord's supper; or else that you desist to Jay claim to the name of Christians.
'It is not for me to judge you; but again I say unto you, (truly from God, as his minister) judge yourselves. This is