Vindiciæ Evangelicæ or, the Mystery of the Gospel Vindicated and Socinianism Examined

Table of Contents

Title Page

Prefatory note.
The epistle dedicatory.
The preface to the reader.
Mr Biddle’s preface to his catechism.
Mr Biddle’s preface briefly examined.
Chap I. Mr Biddle’s first chapter examined — Of the Scriptures.
Chap II. Of the nature of God.
Chap III. Of the shape and bodily visible figure of God.
Chap IV. Of the attribution of passions and affections, anger, fear, rep
Chap V. Of God’s prescience or foreknowledge.
Chap VI. Of the creation, and condition of man before and after the fall
Chap VII. Of the person of Jesus Christ, and on what account he is the S
Chap VIII. An entrance into the examination of the Racovian Catechism in
Chap IX. The pre-eternity of Christ farther evinced — Sundry texts of Sc
Chap X. Of the names of God given unto Christ.
Chap XI. Of the work of creation assigned to Jesus Christ, etc. — The co
Chap XII. All-ruling and disposing providence assigned unto Christ, and
Chap XIII. Of the incarnation of Christ, and his pre-existence thereunto
Chap XIV. Sundry other testimonies given to the deity of Christ vindicat
Chap XV. Of the Holy Ghost, his deity, graces, and operations.
Chap XVI. Of salvation by Christ.
Chap XVII. Of the mediation of Christ.
Chap XVIII. Of Christ’s prophetical office.
Chap XIX. Of the kingly office of Jesus Christ, and of the worship that
Chap XX. Of the priestly office of Christ — How he was a priest — When h
Chap XXI. Of the death of Christ, the causes, ends, and fruits thereof,
Chap XXII. The several considerations of the death of Christ as to the e
Chap XXIII. Of the death of Christ as it was a punishment, and the satis
Chap XXIV. Some particular testimonies evincing the death of Christ to b
Chap XXV. A digression concerning the 53d chapter of Isaiah, and the vin
Chap XXVI. Of the matter of the punishment that Christ underwent, or wha
Chap XXVII. Of the covenant between the Father and the Son, the ground a
Chap XXVIII. Of redemption by the death of Christ as it was a price or r
Chap XXIX. Of reconciliation by the death of Christ as it is a sacrifice
Chap XXX. The satisfaction of Christ on the consideration of his death b
Chap XXXI. Of election and universal grace — Of the resurrection of Chri
Chap XXXII. Of justification and faith.
Chap XXXIII. Of keeping the commandments of God, and of perfection of ob
Chap XXXIV. Of prayer; and whether Christ prescribed a form of prayer to
Chap XXXV. Of the resurrection of the dead and the state of the wicked a

Indexes

Index of Scripture References
Index of Citations
Index of Names
Greek Words and Phrases
Hebrew Words and Phrases
Latin Words and Phrases
Index of Pages of the Print Edition



Title Page

VINDICIÆ EVANGELICÆ;

OR,

THE MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL VINDICATED AND SOCINIANISM EXAMINED,

IN THE

CONSIDERATION AND CONFUTATION

OF

A CATECHISM CALLED “A SCRIPTURE CATECHISM,” WRITTEN BY J. BIDDLE, M.A., AND THE CATECHISM OF VALENTINUS SMALCIUS, COMMONLY CALLED “THE RACOVIAN CATECHISM;”

WITH

THE VINDICATION OF THE TESTIMONIES OF SCRIPTURE CONCERNING THE DEITY AND SATISFACTION OF JESUS CHRIST FROM THE PERVERSE EXPOSITIONS AND INTERPRETATIONS OF THEM BY HUGO GROTIUS, IN HIS ANNOTATIONS ON THE BIBLE.

ALSO, AN APPENDIX,

IN VINDICATION OF SOME THINGS FORMERLY WRITTEN ABOUT THE DEATH OF CHRIST AND THE FRUITS THEREOF FROM THE ANIMADVERSIONS OF MR. R. B.


BY JOHN OWEN, D.D.,

A SERVANT OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE WORK OF THE GOSPEL.


Μηδὲ ἑμοὶ τῷ ταῦτα λέγοντι ἁπλῶς πιστεύσης ἐὰν τὴν ἀπόδειξιν τῶν καταγγελλομένων ἀπὸ θείων μὴ λάβῃς γραφῶν — Cyril. Hieros., Catech. 4.


Oxford: 1655.

 

Prefatory note.

In 1654 the commands of the Council of State were laid upon Owen to undertake the refutation of Socinianism, which about that time was introduced into England, and in the following year the “Vindiciæ Evangelicæ” appeared; — a work of unequal merit, and in many parts obsolete under the new light shed on the subject by more recent discussions, but in the main so solid as never to have been answered; containing much that modern polemics have by no means superseded; full of information as to the early history of Socinianism, nowhere else to be gleaned in the theological literature of Britain; and altogether of such substantial excellence as to render its author’s name worthy of its place as historically the first among that splendid catena of divines, — BullWaterlandHorsleyMageeFullerPye Smith, and Wardlaw, — by whom the cardinal doctrines of Christ’s person, Godhead, and work, have been placed on a basis of unshaken demonstration from the Word of God.

In the execution of his task, our author resolved to meet three parties whose writings tended to unsettle the general belief of the Church of Christ respecting these doctrines; — Biddle, whose publications, devoted to the propagation of Unitarian sentiments, had drawn the attention and excited the fears of the Council; the Polish Socinians, as represented by the Racovian Catechism; and Hugo Grotius, whose Socinianizing comments on Scripture have left his orthodoxy on the vital truths of our Lord’s divinity and satisfaction under a cloud of suspicion.

John Biddle, the father of English Socinianism, was born in 1616, at Wotton-under-Edge. Having made considerable proficiency at the grammar school of his native town, he received from Lord Berkeley an exhibition of £10, was admitted a student of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and took his degree of A.M. in 1641. While occupied afterwards as a teacher in the city of Gloucester, he began to divulge his errors by the private circulation of a small tract, under the title, “Twelve Arguments drawn out of the Scriptures, wherein the commonly received opinion touching the Deity of the Holy Spirit is fully Refuted.” He was summoned from the county jail, to which the magistrates had committed him, to answer for his errors before Parliament; and, on the report of a committee respecting his case, he was left under the custody of an officer of the House for five years. During this period he published successively his “Twelve Arguments,” “A Confession of Faith concerning the Holy Trinity,” and “The Testimonies of Irenæus, etc., concerning one God and the Persons of the Holy Trinity.” By an atrocious act passed in 1648, in which it was made a capital offence to publish against the being and perfections of God, the deity of the Son and of the Spirit, and similar doctrines, Biddle had well-nigh fallen a martyr to his opinions. The act, however, never came into operation. He was even in more serious peril after the Long Parliament was dissolved and its opponents were in power; for he actually stood a trial for his life in 1655. Cromwell dexterously overruled these proceedings by the summary banishment of Biddle to Star Castle, in one of the Scilly Islands. He recovered his freedom only to be cast into prison anew on the Restoration; and having caught some distemper common in the jails of that time, he died a prisoner in 1662. He was a man of considerable attainments as a scholar. “Except his opinions,” says Anthony Wood, “there was little or nothing blameworthy in him;” and his admirer, Toulmin, pronounces him “a pious, holy, and humble man.” His piety must have been of a singular type, if we consider his views of the divine nature, — views replete with the most profane and revolting materialism, at that time without a parallel in our literature, and calculated to shock the best feelings and holiest convictions of his countrymen, while the knowledge of them inspired continental divines with alarm, as if England were fast lapsing into the most impious heresies. It can only be from a desire that their cause may have the honour of having stood, in one instance at least, the test of civil penalties under British rule, that Socinians, who pride themselves on their views of the spirituality of God, claim affinity with poor Biddle.

Nicolas Estwick replied to him, in an “Examination of his Confession of Faith;” Poole, in his “Plea for the Godhead of the Holy Ghost;” and Francis Cheynel, in his “Divine Trinunity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Biddle held to his errors, and produced in 1654 his “Twofold Catechism,” etc.; which the following work of Owen is designed to review and confute.

The Racovian Catechism derives its name from the Polish city of Rakau, the chief seat of the Polish Unitarians. According to Sandius (Bib. Antitrin. p. 44), the first Catechism of this name was the work of Gregory Paul; and when Faustus Socinus and Peter Statorius, junior, were prevented by death from completing their revision of it, according to an appointment laid upon them by their brethren of the same creed, the task was devolved on Valentine SmalciusJerome Moscorovius, and John Volkelius. The first part of this statement seems to want authentication, and the original of the Catechism has been traced to a confession of faith prepared by George Schomann. Remodelled by the committee mentioned above, it appeared in 1605, and was the first edition of the Racovian Catechism. It was translated into German in 1608. A reprint of the original work in London attracted the notice of Parliament, and on the 2d of April 1652, the Sheriffs of London and of Middlesex were ordered to seize and burn all the copies of it at the London Exchange and at Palace Yard, Westminster. An English translation of it, prepared most probably by Biddle, issued from the Amsterdam press in 1652. The most correct and valuable edition of the Catechism, supplying the latest views of the old Socinian theology in Poland, is the quarto edition of 1680, printed at Amsterdam by Christopher Pezold. Modern Socinianism has added nothing to the plausibility with which the system is invested in this Catechism; and the refutation of its insidious principles by Owen was a service to the cause of scriptural truth, from which Christianity is yet reaping, and for generations will continue to reap, the highest benefit.

Hugo Grotius is a name which reminds us of a sadly chequered history, diversified gifts of the highest order, and a strangely piebald and ambiguous creed. We need not allude to the well-known incidents of his eventful career, — the high offices he held in his native country, his connection with the disputes between the Gomarists and the Remonstrants, the retribution under which he became the victim of that appeal to arms and force which his own party beyond all question had begun, his escape from prison through the ingenious device of his wife, his residence at Paris, and death at Rostock in 1645. He had published a work, “De Satisfactione Christi,” designed to refute the errors of Socinianism, but towards the close of his life he prepared a series of annotations on Scripture, respecting which it was the charge of Owen that “he left but one place giving testimony clearly to the deity of Christ.” Dr Hammond took him to task for misrepresenting the Dutch statesman. Owen, both in the “Vindiciæ Evangelicæ” and in his “Review of the Annotations,” advances overwhelming evidence in support of his assertion. Whether we are to account it morbid candour or indifference to the great truths of the gospel, Grotius assuredly emitted a most uncertain sound respecting them. He is claimed alike by Socinians, Arminians, and Papists. The learned Jesuit Petavius said prayers for the repose of his soul; and Bossuet considered him so near the truth that “it was wonderful he did not take the last step,” — that is, connect himself with the Church of Rome, — while he affirms, at the same time, that “he stole from the Church her most powerful proofs of the divinity of Christ.” Menâge wrote a witty epigram, to the effect that as many sects claimed the religion of Grotius as towns contended for the honour of being the birth-place of Homer. Who would not wish to rank among the abettors of his own tenets a statesman of such vast attainments and versatile ability? It is enough, however, to make us sympathize with Owen, who only followed the example of all the Protestant divines of Charenton, in repudiating fellowship with Grotius, when we peruse the epistles of the latter to the Socinian Crellius. See page 638. Is the difference between those who hold and those who deny the Godhead of Christ to be made matter of contemptuous aposiopesis, and to be spoken of as “quantilla causa?” — Ed.

title page

TO THE

RIGHT HONOURABLE THE COUNCIL OF STATE,

[AND]

TO HIS HIGHNESS,

THE ENSUING VINDICATION OF THE GLORY AND DOCTRINE OF THE GREAT GOD AND OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST,

WRITTEN UPON THEIR COMMAND,

IS HUMBLY DEDICATED BY ITS UNWORTHY AUTHOR,

J. O.

 

The epistle dedicatory.

To the right worshipful, his reverend, learned, and worthy friends and brethren, the heads and governors of the colleges and halls, with all other students in divinity, or of the truth which is after godliness, in the famous University of Oxford.

Of this second address unto you in this kind, whereunto I am encouraged by your fair and candid reception of my former, I desire you would be pleased to take the ensuing account. It is now, as I remember, about a year ago since one Mr Biddle (formerly a master of arts of this university, by which title he still owns himself) published two little Catechisms, as he calls them, wherein, under sundry specious pleas and pretences, which you will find discussed in the ensuing treatise, he endeavours to insinuate subtilely into the minds of unstable and unlearned men the whole substance of the Socinian religion. The man is a person whom, to my knowledge, I never saw, nor have been at all curious to inquire after the place of his habitation or course of his life. His opposition some years since to the deity of the Holy Ghost, and now to that of the Father and Son also, is all that he is known to me by. It is not with his person that I have any contest; he stands or falls to his own master. His arguments against the deity of the Holy Ghost were some while since answered by Cloppenburgh, then professor of divinity at Franeker, in Friesland, since at rest in the Lord; and, as I have heard, by one in English. His Catechisms also are gone over the seas; whereof farther mention must afterward be made. At their first publishing, complaint being given in by some worthy persons to the Honourable Council against them, as abusive to the majesty and authority of the word of God, and destructive to many important truths of the gospel (which was done without any knowledge of mine), they were pleased to send for me, and to require of me the performance of that work which is here presented unto you. Being surprised with their request, I laboured to excuse myself to the utmost, on the account of my many employments in the university and elsewhere, with other reasons of the like nature, which to my thoughts did then occur. [Not prevailing with them, they persisting in their command, I looked on it as a call from God to plead for his violated truth; which, by his assistance, and according as I had opportunity, I was in general alway resolved to do. Having, indeed, but newly taken off my hand from the plough of a peculiar controversy about the perseverance of the saints, in the following whereof I was somewhat tired, the entrance into the work was irksome and burdensome unto me. After some progress made, finding the searching into and discussing of the important truths opposed of very good use to myself, I have been carried through the whole (according as I could break off my daily pressing occasions to attend unto it) with much cheerfulness and alacrity of mind. And this was the reason why, finding Mr Biddle came short of giving a fair occasion to the full vindication of many heads of religion by him oppugned, I have called in to his assistance and society one of his great masters, namely, Valentinus Smalcius, and his Catechism (commonly called the Racovian), with the expositions of the places of Scripture contended about by the learned Grotius, as also, on several occasions, the arguments and answers of most of the chief propugners of Mr Biddle’s religion. Now, besides your interest in the truths pleaded for, there are other considerations also inducing me to a persuasion that this endeavour of mine will not be unacceptable unto you. Mr Biddle’s Catechisms, as I said, being carried over and dispersed in sundry places of the United Provinces, the professors of their academies (who have all generally learned the English tongue, to enable them for the understanding of the treatises of divinity in all kinds written therein, which they begin to make use of to the purpose) cry out against them, and professedly undertake the refutation thereof. Now, certainly it cannot be for our advantage in point of repute amongst them, that they (who are yet glad of the occasion) should be enforced to undertake the confutation of a book written by one who styles himself a master of arts of this university (which they also take notice of), wherein they are so little concerned, the poison of it being shut up from their people under the safe custody of an unknown tongue. Nicolaus Arnoldus, the professor of divinity at Franeker, gives an account of this book, as the most subtile insinuation of the Socinian religion that ever was attempted, and promises a confutation of it.

Maresius, professor at Groningen, a man well known by his works published, goes farther, and, on the account of these Catechisms, charges the whole nation and the governors of it with Socinianism; and, according to the manner of the man, raises a fearful outcry, affirming that that heresy hath fixed its metropolitical seat here in England, and is here openly professed, as the head sect in the nation, displaying openly the banners of its iniquity: all which he confirms by instancing in this book of a master of arts of the university of Oxford.1 Of his rashness in censuring, and his extreme ignorance of the state of affairs here amongst us, which yet he undertakes to relate, judge, and condemn, I have given him an account, in a private letter to himself.

Certainly, though we deserved to have these reproaches cast upon us, yet of all men in the world those who live under the protection and upon the allowance of the United Provinces are most unmeet to manage them; their incompetency in sundry respects for this service is known to all. However, it cannot be denied but that, even on this account (that it may appear that we are, as free from the guilt of the calumnious insinuations of Maresius, so in no need of the assistance of Arnoldus for the confutation of any one arising among ourselves speaking perverse things to draw disciples after him), an answer from some in this place unto those Catechisms was sufficiently necessary. That it is by Providence fallen upon the hand of one more unmeet than many others in this place for the performance of this work and duty, I doubt not but you will be contented withal; and I am bold to hope that neither the truth nor your own esteem will too much suffer by my engagement herein. Yea (give me leave to speak it), I have assumed the confidence to aim at the handling of the whole body of the Socinian religion, in such a way and manner as that those who are most knowing and exercised in these controversies may find that which they will not altogether despise, and younger students that whereby they may profit. To this end I have added the Racovian Catechism, as I said before, to Mr Biddle’s; which as I was urged to do by many worthy persons in this university, so I was no way discouraged in the publishing of my answer thereunto by the view I took of Arnoldus’ discourse to the same purpose, and that for such reasons as I shall not express, but leave the whole to the judgment of the reader.

From thence whence in the thoughts of some I am most likely to suffer, as to my own resolves, I am most secure. It is in meddling with Grotius’ Annotations, and calling into question what hath been delivered by such a giant in all kinds of literature. Since my engagement in this business, and when I had well-nigh finished the vindication of the texts of Scripture commonly pleaded for the demonstration of the deity of Christ from the exceptions put in to their testimonies by the Racovian Catechism, I had the sight of Dr Hammond’s apology for him, in his vindication of his dissertations about episcopacy from my occasional animadversions, published in the preface of my book of the Perseverance of the Saints. Of that whole treatise I shall elsewhere give an account. My defensative, as to my dealing with Grotius’ Annotations, is suited to what the doctor pleads in his behalf, which occasions this mention thereof:—

“This very pious, learned, judicious man,” he tells us, “hath fallen under some harsh censures of late, especially upon the account of Socinianism and Popery.” That is, not as though he would reconcile these extremes, but being in doctrinals a Socinian, he yet closed in many things with the Roman interest; as I no way doubt but thousands of the same persuasion with the Socinians as to the person and offices of Christ do live in the outward communion of that church (as they call it) to this day; of which supposal I am not without considerable grounds and eminent instances for its confirmation. This, I say, is their charge upon him. For his being a Socinian, he tells us, “Three things are made use of to beget a jealousy in the minds of men of his inclinations that way:— 1. Some parcels of a letter of his to Crellius; 2. Some relations of what passed from him at his death; 3. Some passages in his Annotations.” It is this last alone wherein I am concerned; and what I have to speak to them, I desire may be measured and weighed by what I do premise. It is not that I do entertain in myself any hard thoughts, or that I would beget in others any evil surmises, of the eternal condition of that man that I speak what I do. What am I that I should judge another man’s servant? He is fallen to his own master. I am very slow to judge of men’s acceptation with God by the apprehension of their understandings. This only I know, that be men of what religion soever that is professed in the world, if they are drunkards, proud, boasters, etc., hypocrites, haters of good men, persecutors and revilers of them, yea, if they be not regenerate and born of God, united to the head, Christ Jesus, by the same Spirit that is in him, they shall never see God.

But for the passages in his Annotations, the substance of the doctor’s plea is, “That the passages intimated are in his posthuma; that he intended not to publish them; that they might be of things he observed, but thought farther to consider;” and an instance is given in that of Col. i. 16, which he interprets contrary to what he urged it for, John i. 1–3. But granting what is affirmed as to matter of fact about his Collections (though the preface to the last part of his Annotations will not allow it to be true2), I must needs abide in my dissatisfaction as to these Annotations, and of my resolves in these thoughts give the doctor this account. Of the Socinian religion there are two main parts; the first is Photinianism, the latter Pelagianism, — the first concerning the person, the other the grace of Christ. Let us take an eminent instance out of either of these heads: out of the first, their denying Christ to be God by nature; out of the latter, their denial of his satisfaction.

For the first, I must needs tell the apologist, that of all the texts of the New Testament, and Old, whereby the deity of Christ is usually confirmed, and where it is evidently testified unto, he hath not left any more than one, that I have observed, if one, speaking any thing clearly to that purpose. I say, if one, for that he speaks not home to the business in hand on John i. I shall elsewhere give an account; perhaps some one or two more may be interpreted according to the analogy of that. I speak not of his Annotations on the Epistles, but on the whole Bible throughout, wherein his expositions given do, for the most part, fall in with those of the Socinians, and oftentimes consist in the very words of Socinus and Smalcius, and alway do the same things with them, as to any notice of the deity of Christ in them. So that I marvel the learned doctor should fix upon one particular instance, as though that one place alone were corrupted by him, when there is not one (or but one) that is not wrested, perverted, and corrupted, to the same purpose. For the full conviction of the truth hereof, I refer the reader to the ensuing considerations of his interpretations of the places themselves. The condition of these famous Annotations as to the satisfaction of Christ is the same. Not one text of the whole Scripture, wherein testimony is given to that sacred truth, which is not wrested to another sense, or at least the doctrine in it concealed and obscured by them. I do not speak this with the least intention to cast upon him the reproach of a Socinian; I judge not his person. His books are published to be considered and judged. Erasmus, I know, made way for him in most of his expositions about the deity of Christ; but what repute he hath thereby obtained among all that honour the eternal Godhead of the Son of God, let Bellarmine, on the one hand, and Beza, on the other, evince. And as I will by no means maintain or urge against Grotius any of the miscarriages in religion which the answerer of my animadversions undertakes to vindicate him from, nor do I desire to fight with the dust and ashes of men; yet what I have said is, if not necessary to return to the apologist, yet of tendency, I hope, to the satisfaction of others, who may inquire after the reason of my calling the Annotations of the learned man to an account in this discourse. Shall any one take liberty to pluck down the pillars of our faith, and weaken the grounds of our assurance concerning the person and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and shall not we have the boldness to call him to an account for so sacrilegious an attempt? With those, then, who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, I expect no blame or reproach for what I have endeavoured in this kind; yea, that my good will shall find acceptance with them, especially if it shall occasion any of greater leisure and abilities farther and professedly to remark more of the corruptions of those Annotations, I have good ground of expectation. The truth is, notwithstanding their pompous show and appearance — few of his quotations (which was the manner of the man) being at all to his purpose3, — it will be found no difficult matter to discuss his assertions and dissipate his conjectures.

For his being a Papist, I have not much to say. Let his epistles (published by his friends) written to Dionysius Petavius the Jesuit be perused, and you will see the character which of himself he gives,4 as also what in sundry writings he ascribes to the pope.

What I have performed, through the good hand of God in the whole, is humbly submitted to your judgment. You know, all of you, with what weight of business and employment I am pressed, what is the constant work that in this place is incumbent on me, how many and how urgent my avocations are; the consideration whereof cannot but prevail for a pardon of that want of exactness which perhaps in sundry particulars will appear unto you. With those who are neither willing nor able to do any thing in this kind themselves, and yet make it their business to despise what is done by others, I shall very little trouble myself. That which seems, in relation hereunto, to call for an apology, is my engagement into this work, wherein I was not particularly concerned, suffering in the meantime some treatises against me to lie unanswered. Dr Hammond’s answer to my animadversions on his dissertations about episcopacy, Mr Baxter’s objections against somewhat written about the death of Christ, and a book of one Mr Horne against my treatise about universal redemption, are all the instances that I know of which in this kind may be given. To all that candidly take notice of these things, my defence is at hand. I do not know that I am more obliged to answer a treatise written against, myself than any other written against the truth, though I am not particularly named or opposed therein; nor do I intend to put any such law of disquietness upon my spirit as to think myself bound to reply to every thing that is written against me, whether the matter and subject of it be worth the public ventilation or no. It is neither name nor repute that I eye in these contests: so the truth be safe, I can be well content to suffer. Besides, this present task was not voluntarily undertaken by me; it was, as I have already given account, imposed on me by such an authority as I could not waive. For Mr Horne’s book, I suppose you are not acquainted with it; that alone was extant before my last engagement. Could I have met with any one uninterested person that would have said it deserved a reply, it had not have lain so long unanswered. In the meantime, I cannot but rejoice that some, like-minded with him, cannot impute my silence to the weakness of the cause I managed, but to my incompetency for the work of maintaining it. To Mr Baxter, as far as I am concerned, I have made a return in the close of this treatise; wherein I suppose I have put an end to that controversy. Dr Hammond’s defensative came forth much about the time that half this treatise was finished, and being about a matter of so mean concernment, in comparison of those weighty truths of the gospel which I was engaged in the defence of, I durst not desert my station to turn aside thereto. On the cursory view I have taken of it, I look upon what is of real difference between that learned person and myself to be a matter of easy despatch. His leaves are much more soft and gentle than those of SocinusSmalciusCrellius, and Schlichtingius. If the Lord in his goodness be pleased to give me a little respite and leisure, I shall give a farther account of the whole difference between the learned doctor and me, in such a way of process as may be expected from so slow and dull a person as I am. In the meantime, I wish him a better cause to manage than that wherein against me he is engaged, and better principles to manage a good cause on than some of those in his treatise of schism, and some others. Fail he not in these, his abilities and diligence will stand him in very good stead. I shall not trouble you with things which I have advantages other ways to impart my thoughts concerning; I only crave that you would be pleased candidly to accept of this testimony of my respects to you, and, seeing no other things are in the ensuing treatise pleaded for but such as are universally owned amongst you, that, according to your several degrees, you would take it into your patronage or use, affording him in his daily labours the benefit of your prayers at the throne of grace, who is your unworthy fellow-labourer,

John Owen

Oxon. Ch. Ch. Coll.,
April 1 [1655.]


The preface to the reader.

To those that labour in the word and doctrine in these nations of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with all that call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, John Owen wisheth grace and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

That so mean a person as I am should presume in this public manner to make address to all those comprised in the title of this epistle, I desire it may be ascribed to the business I come about and the message that I bring. It is about your great interest and concermnent, your whole portion and inheritance, your all, that I am to deal with you. If he who passes by his neighbour’s house, seeing a thief breaking up its foundations or setting fire to its chief materials, will be far from being censured as importune and impudent if he awake and call upon the inhabitants, though every way his betters (especially if all his own estate lie therein also), although he be not able to carry one vessel of water to the quenching of it, I hope that, finding persons endeavouring to put fire to the house of God, which house ye are, and labouring to steal away the whole treasure thereof, wherein also my own portion doth lie, I shall not be condemned of boldness or presumption if I at once cry out to all persons, however concerned, to take heed that we be not utterly despoiled of our treasure, though when I have so done, I be not able to give the least assistance to the defence of the house or quenching of the fire kindled about it. That of no less importance is this address unto you, a brief discovery of its occasion will evince.

The Holy Ghost tells us that we are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom we are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit,” Eph. ii. 20–22. And thus do all they become the house of Christ “who hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end,” Heb. iii. 6. In this house of God there are daily builders, according as new living stones are to be fitted to their places therein; and continual oppositions have there been made thereto, and will be, “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” Eph. iv. 13. In this work of building are some employed by Jesus Christ, and will be so to the end of the world, Matt. xxviii. 19, 20Eph. iv. 11, 12; and some employ themselves at least in a pretence thereof, but are indeed, to a man, every one like the foolish woman that pulls down her house with both her hands. Of the first sort, “other foundation can no man lay,” nor doth go about to lay, “than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor. iii. 11; but some of them build on this foundation “gold, silver, and precious stones,” keeping fast in the work to the form of “wholesome words,” and contending for “the faith that was once delivered unto the saints.”

Others, again, lay on “wood, hay, and stubble,” either contending about “foolish questions,” or “vain and unprofitable janglings,” or adding to what God hath commanded, or corrupting and perverting what he hath revealed and instituted, contrary to the proportion of faith, which should be the rule of all their prophecy, whereby they discharge their duty of building in this house. Those with whom I am at present to deal, and concerning whom I desire to tender you the ensuing account, are of the latter sort; such as, not content, with others, to attempt sundry parts of the building, to weaken its contexture, or deface its comeliness, do with all their might set themselves against the work [rock?] itself, the great foundation and corner-stone of the church, the Lord Jesus, who is” God blessed for ever.” They are those, I say, whom I would warn you of, in whom, of old and of late, the spirit of error hath set up itself with such an efficacy of pride and delusion, as, by all ways, means, [and] devices imaginable, to despoil our dear and blessed Redeemer, our Holy One, of his “eternal power and Godhead;” or to reject the eternal Son of God, and to substitute in his room a Christ of their own, one like themselves, and no more; to adulterate the church, and turn aside the saints to a thing of naught. If I may enjoy your patience whilst I give a brief account of them, their ways and endeavours for the compassing of their cursed ends; of our present concernment in their actings and seductions; of the fire kindled by them at our doors; of the sad diffusion of their poison throughout the world, beyond what enters into the hearts of the most of men to imagine, — I shall subjoin thereunto those cautions and directions which, with all humbleness, I have to tender to you, to guide some, and strengthen others, and stir up all to be watchful against this great, and I hope the last considerable attempt of Satan (by way of seduction and temptation) against the foundation of the gospel.

Those, then, who of old opposed the doctrine of the Trinity, especially of the deity of Christ, his person and natures, may be referred to three heads, and of them and their ways this is the sum:—

The first sort of them may be reckoned to be those who are commonly esteemed to be followers of Simon Magus, known chiefly by the names of Gnostics and Valentinians. These, with their abominable figments of æons, and their combinations, conjugations, genealogies, and unintelligible imaginations, wholly overthrowing the whole revelation of God concerning himself and his will, the Lord Jesus and the gospel, chiefly, with their leaders, MarcusBasilidesPtolemæusValentinus secundus (all following or imitating Simon Magus and Menander), of all others most perplexed and infected the primitive church: as Irenæuslib. i.TertullianPræscrip. ad Hæret. cap. xlix.Philastrius, in his catalogue of heretics; Epiphanius in Panario, lib. i. tom. ii.; and Augustine, in his book of Heresies,5 “ad quod vult deus manifeste.” To these may be added TatianusCerdoMarcion, and their companions (of whom see Tertullian at large, and Eusebius, in their respective places.) I shall not separate from them Montanus, with his enthusiastical formal associates; in whose abominations it was hoped that these latter days might have been unconcerned, until the present madness of some, commonly called Quakers, renewed their follies; but these may pass (with the Manichees), and those of the like fond imaginations, that ever and anon troubled the church with their madness and folly.

Of the second rank Cerinthus is the head, with Judaizing Ebion;6 both denying expressly the deity of Christ, and asserting him to be but a mere man; even in the entrance of the Gospel being confounded by John, as is affirmed by Epiphanius, Hær. 51. “Hieronymus de Seriptoribus Ecclesiasticis de Johanne.” The same abomination was again revived by Theodotus, called Coriarius (who, having once denied Christ, was resolved to do so always); excommunicated on that account by Victor, as Eusebius relates, Hist. Eccles. lib. 5 cap. ult., where he gives also an account of his associates in judgment, ArtemonAsclepiodotusNatalius, etc.; and the books written against him are there also mentioned. But the most notorious head and patron of this madness was Paulus Samosatenus, bishop of Antioch, anno 272; of whose pride and passion, folly, followers, assistants, opposition, and excommunication, the history is extant at large in Eusebius. This man’s pomp and folly, his compliance with the Jews and Zenobia, the queen of the Palmyrians, who then invaded the eastern parts of the Roman empire, made him so infamous to all Christians, that the Socinians do scarce plead for him, or own him as the author of their opinion. Of him who succeeded him in his opposition to Jesus Christ, some fifty or sixty years after, namely, Photinus, bishop of Sirmium, they constantly boast. Of Samosatenus and his heresy, see Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. 7 cap. 29, 30 and HilaryDe Synodis; of PhotinusSocrat. Eccles. Hist. lib. 2 cap. 24, 25. And with these do our present Socinians expressly agree in the matter of the person of Christ.7

To the third head I refer that deluge of Arianism, whose rise, conception, author, and promoters, advantages, success, and propagation; the persecutions, cruelty, and tyranny of the rulers, emperors, kings, and governors infected with it; its extent and continuance, — are known to all who have taken care in the least to inquire what was the state of the church of God in former days, that heresy being as it were the flood of water that pursued the church for some ages. Of MacedoniusNestorius, and Eutyches, — the first denying the deity of the Holy Ghost, the second the hypostatical union of the two natures of Christ, and the last confounding them in his person, — I shall not need to speak. These by the Socinians of our days are disclaimed.8

In the second sort chiefly we are at present concerned. Now, to give an account, from what is come down unto us, by testimonies of good report and esteem, concerning those named, TheodotusPaulusPhotinus, and the rest of the men who were the predecessors of them with whom we have to do, and undertook the same work in the infancy of the church which these are now engaged in when it is drawing, with the world, to its period, with what were their ways, lives, temptations, ends, agreements, differences among them, and in reference to the persons of our present contest (of whom a full account shall be given), is not my aim nor business. It hath been done by others; and to do it with any exactness, beyond what is commonly known, would take up more room than to this preface is allotted. Some things peculiarly seem of concernment for our observation, from the time wherein some of them acted their parts in the service of their master. What could possibly be more desired, for the safeguarding of any truth from the attempts of succeeding generations, and for giving it a security above all control, than that, upon public and owned opposition, it should receive a confirmation by men acted by the Holy Ghost, and giving out their sentence by inspiration from God? That, among other important heads of the gospel (as that of justification by faith and not by works, of Christian liberty, of the resurrection of the dead), this most glorious truth, of the eternal deity of the Son of God, underwent an open opposition from some of them above written, during the life of some of the apostles, before the writing of the Gospel by John, and was expressly vindicated by him in the beginning thereof, is acknowledged by all who have in any measure inquired into and impartially weighed the reports of those days. What could the heart of the most resolved unbeliever desire more for his satisfaction, than that God should speak from heaven for the conviction of his folly and ignorance? or what can our adversaries expect more from us, when we tell them that God himself immediately determined in the controversy wherein they are engaged? Perhaps they think that if he should now speak from heaven they would believe him. So said the Jews to Christ, if he would come down from the cross when they had nailed him to it, in the sight and under the contempt of many miracles greater than the delivery of himself could any way appear to be. The rich man in torments thought his brethren would repent if one came from the dead and preached to them. Abraham tells him, “If they will not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Doubtless, if what is already written be not sufficient to convince our adversaries, though God should speak from heaven they would not believe, nor indeed can, if they will abide by the fundamental principles of their religion. Under this great disadvantage did the persuasion of the Socinians set out in the world, that Christ is only ψιλὸς ἄνθρωπος, — by nature no more but a man; so that persons not deeply acquainted with the methods of Satan and the darkness of the minds of men could not but be ready to conclude it certainly bound up in silence for ever. But how speedily it revived, with what pride and passion it was once and again endeavoured to be propagated in the world, those who have read the stories of Paulus Samosatenus are fully acquainted, who γυμνῇ τῇ κεφαλῇ, blasphemed the Son of God as one no more than a man. In some space of time, these men being decried by the general consent of the residue of mankind professing the name of Jesus Christ, and their abomination destroyed by the sword of faith, managed in the hands of the saints of those days, Satan perceiving himself at a loss and under an impossibility of prevalency, whilst the grossness of the error he strove to diffuse terrified all sorts from having any thing to do therewith, he puts on it, by the help of Arius and his followers, another gloss and appearance, with a pretence of allowing Christ a deity, though a subordinate, created, made, divine nature, which in the fulness of time assumed flesh of the virgin; — this opinion being, indeed, no less really destructive to the true and eternal deity of the Son of God than that of theirs before mentioned, who expressly affirmed him to be a mere man, and to have had no existence before his nativity at Bethlehem; yet having got a new pretence and colour of ascribing something more excellent and sublime unto him than that whereof we are all in common partakers, it is incredible with what speedy progress, like the breaking out of a mighty flood, it overspread the face of the earth. It is true, it had in its very entrance all the advantages of craft, fraud, and 15subtilty, and in its carrying on, of violence, force, and cruelty, and from the beginning to its end, of ignorance, blindness, superstition, and profaneness, among the generality of them with whom it had to deal, that ever any corrupt folly of the mind of man met withal. The rise, progress, cruelty, and continuance of this sect, with the times and seasons that passed with it over the nations, its entertainment by the many barbarous nations which wasted, spoiled, and divided among themselves the Roman empire, with their parting with it upon almost as evil an account as at first they embraced it, are not, as I said, my business now to discover. God purposing to revenge the pride, ingratitude, ignorance, profaneness, and idolatry of the world, which was then in a great measure got in amongst the professors of Christianity, by another more spiritual, cruel, subtile, and lasting “mystery of iniquity,” caused this abomination of Arianism to give place to the power of the then growing Roman antichristian state, which, about the sixth or seventh century of years since the incarnation of the Son of God, having lost all church order and communion of the institution of Jesus Christ, fell into an earthly, political, carnal combination, authorized and animated by the spirit of Satan, for the ends of superstition, idolatry, persecution, pride, and atheism; which thereby ever since [have been] vigorously pursued.

With these Arians,9 as was said, do our Socinians refuse communion, and will not be called after their name: not that their profession is better than theirs, or that they have much to blame in what they divulge, though they agree not with them in allowing a pre-existing nature to Christ before his incarnation; but that generation of men having made themselves infamous to posterity by their wickedness, perjuries, crafts, and bloody cruelties, and having been pursued by eminent and extraordinary judgments from God, they are not willing to partake of the prejudices which they justly lie under.

From the year 600, for divers ages, we have little noise of these men’s abominations, as to the person of Christ, in the world. Satan had something else to busy himself about.

A design he had in hand that was like to do him more service than any of his former attempts. Having, therefore, tried his utmost in open opposition to the person of Christ (the dregs of the poison thus shed abroad infecting in some measure a great part of the east to this day), by a way never before heard of, and which Christians were not exercised with nor in any measure aware of, he subtilely ruins and overthrows all his offices and the whole benefit of his mediation, and introduceth secretly a new worship from that which he appointed, by the means and endeavours of men pretending to act and do all that they did for the advancement of his kingdom and glory. And therefore, whilst the fatal apostasy of the western world, under the Roman antichrist, was contriving, carrying on, and heightening, till it came to its discovery and ruin, he stirs not at all with his old engines, which had brought in a revenue of obedience to his kingdom in no measure proportionable to this, which by this new device he found accruing to him. But when the appointed time of mercy was come, that God would visit his people with light from above, and begin to unravel the mystery of iniquity, whose abominations had destroyed the souls of them that embraced it, and whose cruelty had cut off the lives of thousands who had opposed it, by the Reformation, eminently and successfully begun and carried on from the year 1517, Satan perceiving that even this his great masterpiece of deceit and subtilty was like to fail him, and not to do him that service which formerly it had done, he again sets on foot his first design, of oppugning the eternal deity of the Son of God, still remembering that the ruin of his kingdom arose from the Godhead of his person and the efficacy of his mediation. So, then, as for the first three hundred years of the profession of the name of Christ in the world, he had variously opposed the Godhead of our blessed Saviour, by Simon MagusEbionCerinthusPaulus SamosatenusMarcusBasilidesValentinusCalarbasusMarcionPhotinusTheodotus, and others; and from their dissipation and scattering, having gathered them all to a head in Arius and his abomination, — which sometimes with a mighty prevalency of force and violence, sometimes more subtilely (putting out by the way the several branches of Macedonianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, all looking the same way in their tendency therewith), — he managed almost for the space of the next three hundred years ensuing; and losing at length that hold, he had spent more than double that space of time in carrying on his design of the great anti-christian papal apostasy; being about the times before mentioned most clearly and eminently discovered in his wicked design, and being in danger to lose his kingdom, which he had been so long in possession of, intending if it were possible to retrieve his advantage again, he sets on those men who had been instrumental to reduce the Christian religion into its primitive state and condition with those very errors and abominations wherewith he opposed and assailed the primitive professors thereof, — if they will have the apostles’ doctrine, they shall have the opposition that was made unto it in the apostles’ times: his hopes being possibly the same that formerly they were (but assuredly Christ will prevent him); — for as whilst the professors of the religion of Jesus Christ were spiritual, and full of the power of that religion they did profess, they defended the truth thereof, either by suffering, as under ConstantiusValens, and the Goths and Vandals, or by spiritual means and weapons; so when they were carnal, and lost the life of the gospel, yet endeavouring to retain the truth of the letter thereof, falling on carnal, politic ways for the supportment of it, and the suppressing of what opposed it, Satan quickly closed in with them, and accomplished all his ends by them, causing them to walk in all those ways of law, policy, blood, cruelty, and violence, for the destruction of the truth, which they first engaged in for the rooting out of errors and heresies. “Haud ignota loquor.” Those who have considered the occasions and advantages of the bishop of Rome’s rise and progress know these things to be so. Perhaps, I say, he might have thoughts to manage the same Or the like design at the beginning of the Reformation, when, with great craft and subtilty, he set on foot again his opposition to the person of Christ; which being the business chiefly under consideration, I shall give some brief account thereof.

Those who have formerly communicated their thoughts and observations to us on this subject have commonly given rise to their discourses from Servetus, with the transactions about him in Helvetia, and the ending of his tragedy at Geneva. The things of him being commonly known, and my design being to deal with them in their chief seat and residence, where, after they had a while hovered about most nations of Europe, they settled themselves, I shall forbear to pursue them up and down in their flight, and meet with them only at their nest in Poland and the regions adjoining. The leaders of them had most of them separated themselves from the Papacy on pretence of embracing the reformed religion; and under that covert were a long time sheltered from violence, and got many advantages of insinuating their abominations (which they were thoroughly drenched withal before they left the Papacy) into the minds of many who professed the gospel.

The first open breach they made in Poland was in the year (something having been attempted before), most of the leaders being Italians, men of subtile and serpentine wits. The chief leaders of them were Georgius BlandrataPetrus StatoriusFranciscus Lismaninus; all which had been eminent in promoting the Reformation.10

Upon their first tumultuating, Statorius, to whom afterwards Socinus wrote sundry epistles, and lived with him in great intimacy, was summoned to a meeting of ministers, upon an accusation that he denied that the Holy Spirit was to be invocated. Things being not yet ripe, the man knowing that if he were cast out by them he should not know where to obtain shelter, he secured himself by dissimulation, and subscribed this confession: “I receive and reverence the prophetical and apostolical doctrine, containing the true knowledge of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and freely profess that God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, ought to be worshipped with the same religion or worship, distinctly or respectively, and to be invocated, according to the truth of the holy Scripture. And, lastly, I do plainly detest every heretical blasphemy concerning God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, whether it be Arian, Servetian, Eunomian, or Stancarian.11”And this confession is to be seen in the acts of that convention, under his own hand, to this day; which notwithstanding, he was a fierce opposer of the doctrine here professed all his days afterward.

And I the rather mention this, because I am not without too much ground of persuasion that thousands of the same judgment with this man do at this day, by the like dissimulation, live and enjoy many advantages both in the Papacy and among the reformed churches, spreading the poison of their abominations as they can. This Statorius I find, by the frequent mention made of him by Socinus, to have lived many years in Poland, with what end and issue of his life I know not, nor more of him but what is contained in Beza’s two epistles to him, whose scholar he had been, when he seemed to have had other opinions about the essence of God than those he afterward settled in by the instruction of Socinus.

And this man was one of the first heads of that multitude of men commonly known by the name of Anabaptists among the Papists (who took notice of little but their outward worship), who, having entertained strange, wild, and blasphemous thoughts concerning the essence of God, were afterward brought to a kind of settlement by Socinus, in that religion he had prepared to serve them all; and into his word at last consented the whole droves of Essentiators, Tritheists, Arians, and Sabellians, that swarmed in those days in Silesia, Moravia, and some other parts of Germany.

For Blandrata, his story is so well known, from the epistles of Calvin and Beza, and others, that I shall not insist much upon it. The sum of what is commonly known of him is collected by Hornbeck.

The records of the synods in Poland of the reformed churches give us somewhat farther of him; as doth Socinus also against Weik. Being an excellent physician, he was entertained, at his first coming into Poland, by Prince Radzivil, the then great patron of the reformed religion in those parts of the world, — one of the same family with this captain-general of the Polonian forces for the great dukedom of Lithuania, a man of great success in many fights and battles against the Muscovites, continuing the same office to this day. To him Calvin instantly wrote, that he should take care of Blandrata, as a man not only inclinable to, but wholly infected with, Servetianism.12 In that, as in many other things he admonished men of by his epistles, that wise and diligent person had the fate to tell the truth and not be believed. See Calvin’s epistles, about the year 1561. But the man on this occasion being sent to the meeting at Pinckzow (as Statorius), he subscribes this confession:—

“I profess myself to believe in one God the Father, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, his Son, and in one Holy Ghost, whereof each is essentially God. I detest the plurality of Gods, seeing to us there is one only God, indivisible in essence. I confess three distinct persons, the eternal deity and generation of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, true and eternal God, proceeding from them both.”13

This did the wretched man think meet to do, that he might preserve the good esteem of his patron and reserve himself for a fitter opportunity of doing mischief; which also he did, obtaining a testimonial from the whole meeting of his soundness in the faith, with letters to Prince Radzivil and to Calvin signifying the same.

Not long after this, by the great repute of his skill in physic, he became known and physician to Stephen, king of Poland; by whose favour, having no small liberty indulged him, he became the patron of all the Antitrinitarians of all sorts throughout Poland and Transylvania. What books he wrote, and what pains he took in propagating their cause, hath been declared by others. The last epistle of Socinus, in order as they are printed (it being without date, yet evidently written many years before most of them that went before it), is to this Blandrata, whose inscription is, “Amplissimo clarissimoque viro Georgio Blandratæ Stephani invictissimi regis Poloniæ, etc., archiatro et conciliario intimo, domino, æ patrono suo perpetua observantia colendo; et subscribitur, Tibi in Domino Jesu deditissimus cliens tuus F. S.” To that esteem was he grown amongst them, because of his advantages to insinuate them into the knowledge of great men, which they mostly aimed at; so that afterward, when Socinus wrote his answer about magistrates to Palæologus, in defence of the Racovians,14Marcellus Squarcialupus, his countryman, a man of the same persuasion with him, falls foully on him, that he would venture to do it without the knowledge and consent of this great patron of theirs.

But though this man by his dissimulation and falsehood thus escaped censure, and by his art and cunning insinuation obtained high promotions and heaped up great riches in the world, yet even in this life he escaped not the revenging hand of God. He was found at length with his neck broke in his bed; by what hand none knoweth. Wherefore Socinus, observing that this judgment of God upon him, as that on Franciscus David (of which mention shall be made afterward), would be fixed on in the thoughts of men to the prejudice of the cause which he favoured, considering more what was for his interest than what was decent or convenient, decries him for an apostate to the Jesuits before he was so destroyed, and intimates that he was strangled in his bed by a kinsman whom he had made his heir, for haste to take possession of his great wealth.15

The story I have adjoined at large, that the man’s ingenuity and thankfulness to his friend and patron may be seen. He tells us, that before the death of Stephen, king of Poland, he was turned from their profession by the Jesuits. Stephen, king of Poland, died in the year 1588, according to Helvicus. That very year did Socinus write his answer to Volanus, the second part whereof he inscribed with all the magnifical titles before mentioned to Blandrata, professing himself his devoted client, and him the great patron of their religion! So that though I can easily believe what he reports of his covetousness and treachery, and the manner of his death, yet as to his apostasy (though possibly he might fall more and more under the power of his atheism), I suppose the great reason of imputing that to him was to avoid the scandal of the fearful judgment of God on him in his death.

For Lismaninus, the third person mentioned, he was accused of Arianism at a convention at Morden, anno 1553, and there acquitted with a testimonial.16 But in the year 1561, at another meeting at Whodrislave, he was convicted of double dealing, and after that wholly fell off to the Antitrinitarians, and in the issue drowned himself in a well.17

And these were the chief settled troublers at the first of the Polonian reformed churches. The stories of Paulus AlciatusValentinus GentilisBernardus Ochinus, and some others, are so well known, out of the epistles of CalvinBezaBullingerZanchius, with what hath of late from them been collected by CloppenburgiusHornbeckMaresiusBecmannus, etc., that it cannot but be needless labour for me to go over them again.

That which I aim at is, from their own writings, and what remains on record concerning them, to give a brief account of the first breaking in of Anti-trinitarianism into the reformed churches of Poland, and their confused condition before headed by Socinus, into whose name they have since been all baptized. This, then, was the state of the churches in those days: The reformed religion spreading in great abundance, and churches being multiplied every day in Poland, Lithuania, and the parts adjoining; some tumults having been raised, and stirs made by Osiander and Stancarus about the essential righteousness and mediation of Christ (concerning which the reader may consult Calvin at large); many wild and foolish opinions being scattered up and down, about the nature of God, the Trinity, and Anabaptism, by many foreigners, sundry being thereby defiled, the opinions of Servetus having wholly infected sundry Italians: the persons before spoken of, then living at Geneva and about the towns of the Switzers, that embraced the gospel, being forced to flee for fear of being dealt withal as Servetus was (the judgment of most Christian rulers in whose days leading them to such a procedure, how rightly I do not now determine), scarce any one of them escaping without imprisonment and abjuration (an ill foundation of their after profession), they went most of them into Poland, looked on by them as a place of liberty, and joined themselves to the reformed churches in those places, and continuing many years in their communion, took the opportunity to entice and seduce many ministers with others, and to strengthen them who were fallen into the abominations mentioned before their coming to them.

After many tergiversations, many examinations of them, many false subscriptions, in the year 1562, they fell into open division and separation from the reformed churches.18 The ministers that fell off with them, besides Lismaninus and his companions (of whom before), were Gregorius PauliStanislaus LutoniusMartinus CroviciusStanislaus PaclesiusGeorgius Schomanus, and others, most of whom before had taken good pains in preaching the gospel. The chief patrons and promoters were Johannes MiemoljeviusHieronymus PhiloponiusJohannes Cazaccovius, the one a judge, the other a captain, the third a gentleman, — all men of great esteem.

The year that this breach was made, Lælius Socinus, then of the age of thirty-seven years, who laid the foundations that his nephew after built upon, died in Switzerland, as the author of the life of Faustus Socinus informs us.19 The man’s life is known: he was full of Servetianism, and had attempted to draw sundry men of note to his abominations; a man of great subtilty and cunning, as Beza says of him,20 incredibly furnished for contradiction and sophism; which the author of the life of Socinus phrases, he was “suggerendæ veritatis mirus artifex.” He made, as I said, many private attempts on sundry persons to entice them to Photinianism; on some with success, on others without. Of his dealing with him, and the advantage he had so to do, Zanchius gives an account in his preface to his book “De Tribus Elohim.”21

He was, as the author of the life of Faustus Socinus relates, in a readiness to have published his notions and conceptions, when God, by his merciful providence, to prevent a little the pouring out of the poison by so skillful a hand, took him off by sudden death; and Faustus himself gives the same account of the season of his death in an epistle to Dudithius.22

At his death, Faustus Socinus, being then about the age of twenty-three years, seizing upon all his uncle’s books, after a while returned into Italy, and there spent in courtship and idleness in Florence twelve years; which he afterward grievously lamented, as shall be declared. Leaving him a while to his pleasure in the court of the great duke, we may make back again into Poland, and consider the progress of the persons who made way for his coming amongst them. Having made their separation, and drawn many after them, they at length brought their business to that height that they came to a disputation with the reformed ministers at Petricove23 (where the parliament of the kingdom then was) by the permission of Sigismund the king, in the year 1565, whereof the ensuing account is given by Antonius Possevine the Jesuit, in Atheis, sui sæculi, cap. xiii. fol. 15.

The assembly of states was called against the Muscovians. The nobility desiring a conference between the ministers of the reformed churches and the Antitrinitarians, it was allowed by Sigismund the king. On the part of the reformed churches there were four ministers; as many of the other side came also prepared for the encounter. Being met, after some discourse the chief marshal of the kingdom, then a Protestant, used these words, “Seeing the proposition to be debated is agreed on, begin, in the name of the one God and the Trinity.”24 Whereupon one of the opposite party instantly cried out, “We cannot here say Amen, nor do we know that God, the Trinity.”25 ”Whereunto the ministers subjoined, “We have no need of any other proposition, seeing this hath offered itself; for, God assisting, we will, and are ready to demonstrate that the Holy Ghost doth not teach us any other God in the Scripture, but him only who is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that is, one God in trinity.”26

This colloquy continued three days. In the first, the ministers who were the opponents (the other always choosing to answer), by express texts of Scripture in abundance, confirmed the truth. In the beginning of their testimonies they appealed to the beginning of the Old and New Testament;27 and upon both places confounded their adversaries. The second day the testimonies of the ancient writers of the church were produced, with no less success. And on the third, the stories of Arius and some other heretics of old. The issue of the disputation was to the great advantage of the truth; which Possevine himself cannot deny, though he affirms a little after that the Calvinists could not confute the Trinitarians, as he calls them, though they used the same arguments that the Catholics did, cap. xiv. p. 366.

Possevine confesses that the ministers (as they called themselves) of Sarmatia and Transylvania, in their book of the False and True Knowledge of God, took advantage of the images of the Catholics;28 for whose satisfaction, it seems, he subjoins the theses of Thyreus, wherein he labours to prove the use of those abominable idols to be lawful: of which in the close of this address.

And this was the first great obstacle that was laid in the way of the progress of the reformed religion in Poland; which, by Satan’s taking the advantage of this horrible scandal, is at this day, in those parts of the world, weak and oppressed. With what power the gospel did come upon the inhabitants of those countries at the first, and what number of persons it prevailed upon to forsake their dumb idols, which in Egyptian darkness they had long worshipped, is evident from the complaint of Cichovius the priest, who tells us that “about those times, in the whole parliament of the dukedom of Lithuania, there were not above one or two Catholics,” as he calls them, “besides the bishops.”29 Yea, among the bishops themselves, some were come off to the reformed churches; amongst whom Georgius Petrovicius, bishop of Sarmogitia, is reckoned by DiaterieusChron. p. 49. Yea, and so far had the gospel influenced those nations, that in the year 1542, upon the death of King Sigismund II., during the interregnum, a decree was made in parliament, with general consent, that no prejudice should arise to any for the protestant religion, but that a firm union should be between the persons of both religions, popish and protestant; and that whosoever was chosen king should take an oath to preserve this union and the liberty of the protestant religion. — SarriciusAnnal. Pol. lib. viii. p. 403.

And when Henry, duke of Anjou, brother to Charles IX., king of France, was elected king of Poland30 (being then a man of great esteem in the world, for the wars which in France he had managed for the Papists against the Prince of Conde and the never-enough-magnified Gasper Coligni,31 being also consenting at least to the barbarous massacre of the Protestants in that nation), and coming to the church where he was to be crowned, by the advice of the clergy, would have avoided the oath of preserving the Protestants and keeping peace between the dissenters in religion, John Shirli, palatine of Cracovia, took up the crown, and making ready to go away with it out of the convention, cried out, “Si non jurabis, non regnabis,” — “If you will not swear, you shall not reign;” and thereby compelled him to take the oath agreed upon.

This progress, I say, had the doctrine of the gospel made in those nations, so considerable a portion of the body of the people were won over to the belief of it, when, through the craft and subtilty of the old enemy of the propagation thereof, by this apostasy of some to Tritheism, as Gregorius Pauli, of some to Arianism, as Erasmus Johannes, of some to Photinianism, as Statorius and Blandrata, some to Judaism, as Seidelius (of whom afterward), the foundation of the whole building was loosened, and, instead of a progress, the religion has gone backwards almost constantly to this day. When this difference first fell out, the Papists32 not once moved a mouth or pen for a long time against the broachers of all the blasphemies mentioned, hoping that by the breaches made by them on the reformed churches they should at length be able to triumph over both; for which end, in their disputes since with Protestants, they have striven to take advantage of the apostasy of many of those who had pretended to plead against the Papacy in behalf of the reformed churches and afterward turned Antitrinitarians, as I remember it is particularly insisted on in an English treatise which I saw many years ago, called “Micheus, the Converted Jew.” And indeed it is supposed that both Paulus Alciatus and Ochinus turned Mohammedans.33

Having thus, then, disturbed the carrying on of the Reformation, many ministers and churches falling off to Tritheism and Samosatenianism, they laid the foundation of their meeting at Racovia; from which place they have been most known since and taken notice of in the world. The first foundation of what they call the “church” in that place was made by a confluence of strangers out of Bohemia and Moravia, with some Polonians,34 known only by the name of Anabaptists, but professing a community of goods and a setting up of the kingdom of Christ, calling Racovia, where they met, the New Jerusalem, or at least professing that there they intended to build and establish the New Jerusalem, with other fanatical follies; which Satan hath revived in persons not unlike them, and caused to be acted over again, in the days wherein we live, though, for the most part, with less appearance of holiness and integrity of conversation than in them who went before.

The leaders of these men, who called themselves their “ministers,” were Gregorius Pauli and Daniel Bielenscius: of whom Bielenscius afterward recanted; and Gregorius Pauli, being utterly wearied, ran away from them as from a hard service,35 and, as Faustus Socinus tells us, in his preface to his answer to Palæologus, in his old age left off all study, and betook himself to other employments. Such were the persons by whom this stir began.

This Gregorius PauliSchlusselburgius very ignorantly affirms to have been the head of the Antitrinitarians and their captain,36 when he was a mere common trooper amongst them, and followed after others, running away betimes, — an enthusiastical, antimagistratical heretic, pleading for community of goods. But this Gregory had said that Luther did but the least part of the work for the destruction of antichrist; and hence is the anger of Doctor Conradus, who everywhere shows himself as zealous of the honour of Luther as of Jesus Christ. So was the man, who had some divinity, but scarce any Latin at all.

Be pleased now to take a brief view of the state of these men before the coming of Faustus Socinus into Poland and Transylvania, both these nations, after the death of Sigismund II., being in the power of the same family of the Bathori. Of those who professed the reformed religion and were fallen from the Papacy, there were three sorts, — Lutherans, and Calvinists, and the United Brethren; which last were originally Bohemian exiles, but, professing and practising a more strict way of church order and fellowship than the other, had very many of the nobility of Poland and the people joined to their communion. The two latter agreed in all points of doctrine, and at length came, in sundry meetings and synods, to a fair agreement and correspondency, forbearing one another wherein they could not concur in judgment. Now, as these grew up to union amongst themselves, the mixed multitude of several nations that had joined themselves unto them in their departure out of Egypt fell a lusting after the abominations mentioned, and either withdrew themselves or were thrown out from their communion.

At first there were almost as many minds as men amongst them, the tessera of their agreement among themselves being purely opposition to the Trinity, upon what principle soever. Had a man learned to blaspheme the holy Trinity, were it on Photinian, Arian, Sabellian, yea, Mohammedan or Judaical principles, he was a companion and brother amongst them! To this the most of them added Anabaptism, with the necessity of it, and among the Papists were known by no other name. That they opposed the Trinity, that they consented not to the reformed churches, was their religion. For Pelagianism, afterward introduced by Socinus, there was little or no mention [of it] among them. In this estate, divided amongst themselves, notwithstanding some attempts in their synods (for synods they had) to keep a kind of peace in all their diversities of opinions, spending their time in disputes and quarrellings, were they when Faustus Socinus came into Poland; who at length brought them into the condition wherein they are, by the means and ways that shall be farther insisted on.

And this state of things, considering how not unlike the condition of multitudes of men is thereunto in these nations wherein we live, hath oftentimes made me fear that if Satan should put it into the heart of any person of learning and ability to serve his lust and ambition with craft, wisdom, and diligence, it were not impossible for him to gather the dispersed and divided opinionatists of our days to a consent in some such body of religion as that which Socinus framed for the Polonians. But of him, his person, and labours, by what ways and means he attained his end, it may not be unacceptable, from his own and friends’ writings, to give some farther account.

That Faustus Socinus, of Sienna, was born of a good and ancient family, famous for their skill in the law, in the month of December in the year 1539; that he lived in his own country until he was about the age of twenty years; that then leaving his country after his uncle Lælius, he went to Leyden, and lived there three years; that then, upon the death of his uncle, having got his books, he returned into Italy, and lived in the court of the great Duke of Tuscany twelve years, about the close of which time he wrote his book in Italian, “De Authoritate Sacræ Scripturæ;” that leaving his country he came to Basil in Switzerland, and abode there three years and somewhat more, — are things commonly known, and so little to our purpose that I shall not insist upon them.

All the while he was at Basil and about Germany he kept his opinions much to himself, being intent upon the study of his uncle Lælius’ notes, as the Polonian gentleman who wrote his life confesseth;37 whereunto he added the Dialogues of Bernardus Ochinus, as himself acknowledgeth, which about that time were turned into Latin by Castalio,38 as he professed, to get money by his labour to live upon (though he pleads that he read Ochinus’ Dialogues in Poland,39 and as it seems not before), and from thence he was esteemed to have taken his doctrine of the mediation of Christ.

The papers of his uncle Lælius, of which himself often makes mention, were principally his comment upon the first chapter of St John, and some notes upon sundry texts of Scripture giving testimony to the deity of Christ; among which Faustus extols that abominable corruption of John viii. 58, of which afterward I shall speak at large, Socin. Respon. ad Eras. Johan. His comment on the first of John,40Beza tells us, is the most depraved and corrupt that ever was put forth, its author having outgone all that went before him in depraving that portion of Scripture.

The comment itself is published by Junius, “in defensione sanctæ Trinitatis,” and confuted by him; and Zanchius, at large, “De Tribus Elohim, lib. vi. cap. ii., et deinceps;” Faustus varying something from his uncle in the carrying on of the same design.

His book, “De Jesu Christo Servatore,” he wrote, as the author of his life assures us, whilst he was in and about Basil, as also many passages in his epistles and other writings manifest.

About the year 1575 he began it, which he finished about the year 1578, although the book was not printed till the year 1594;41 for upon the divulging of it (he then living at Cracovia), a tumult was raised against him by the unruly and disorderly students, wherein he was dragged up and down and beaten, and hardly escaped with his life; [against] which inhumane precedence he expostulates at large in an epistle to Martin Vaidovita, a professor of the university, by whose means he was delivered from being murdered. But this fell out in the year 1598, as is evident from the date of that epistle, four years after the book was printed.

The book is written against one Covet, whom I know by nothing else but what of his disputes with Socinus is by him published. Socinus confesseth that he was a learned man, and in repute for learning;42 and, indeed, if we may take an estimate of the man from the little that is there delivered of him, he was a godly, honest, and very learned man, and spake as much in the cause as might be expected or was needful, before farther opposition was made to the truth he did defend. Of all the books of him concerning whom we speak, this his disputation, “De Jesu Christo Servatore,” is written with the greatest strength, subtilty, and plausibility, neither is any thing said afterward by himself or the rest of his followers that is not comprised in it. Of this book he was wont afterward to boast, as Crellius informs us, and to say, “That if he might have some excellent adversary to deal withal upon the point, he then would show what could farther be spoken of the subject.”43

This book, at its first coming out, was confuted by Gregorius Zarnovecius (as Socinus testifies in his epistle to Vaidovita) in the Polonian language: which was afterward translated into Latin by Conradus Huberus, and printed at Franeker, anno 1618; also by one Otho Casmannus; and thirdly, at large, by Sibrandus Lubbertus, anno 1611, who, together with his refutation, printed the whole book itself, I hope to no disadvantage of the truth, though a late apostate to Rome, whom we called here Hugh Cressey, but is lately commenced B. Serenus Cressey, a priest of the order of Benedict, and who would have been even a Carthusian (such high honour did the man aim at), tells us that some of his scholars procured him to do it, that so they might get the book itself in their hands.44 But the book will speak for itself with indifferent readers, and for its clearness is extolled by Vossius.45 Generally, all that have since written of that subject, in theses, common-places, lectures, comments, professed controversies, have made that book the ground of their procedure.

One is not to be omitted, which is in the hands of all those who inquire into these things, or think that they are concerned in the knowledge of them; this is Grotius’ “Defensio Fidei Catholicæ de Satisfactione Christi, adversus Faustum Socinum Senensem.” Immediately upon the coming out of that book, animadversions were put forth against it by Harmanus Ravenspergerus, approved, as it seems, by our Doctor Prideaux.46

The truth is, those animadversions of Ravenspergerus are many of them slight, and in sundry things he was mistaken; whereby his endeavours were easily eluded by the learned Vossius,47 in his vindication of Grotius against him. Not that the dissertation of Grotius is free from being liable to many and just exceptions, partly in things wherein he was mistaken, partly wherein he failed in what he undertook (whereby many young students are deluded, as ere long may be manifested), but that his antagonist had not well laid his action, nor did pursue it with any skill.

However, the interpretations of Scripture given therein by that learned man will rise up in judgment against many of the annotations which in his after-comments on the Scripture he hath divulged. His book was at length answered by Crellius, the successor of Valentinus Smalcius, in the school and society of Racovia, after which Grotius lived about twenty years, and never attempted any reply. Hereupon it has been generally concluded that the man was wrought over to drink in that which he had before published to be the most destructive poison of the church;48 the belief whereof was exceedingly increased and cherished by an epistle of his to Crellius, who had subtilely managed the man, according to his desire of honour and regard, and by his annotations, of which we shall have causer to speak afterward. That book of Crellius has since been at large confuted by Essenius,49 and enervated by a learned and ingenious author in his “Specimen Refutationis Crellii de Satisfactione Christi,” published about the same time with the well-deserving labour of Essenius, in the year 1648.

Most of the arguments and sophisms of Socinus about this business are refuted and dissolved by David Paræus, in his comment on the Romans, not mentioning the name of him whose objections they were.

About the year 1608, Michael Gitichius gathered together the sum of what is argumentative in that book of Socinus against the satisfaction of Christ; which was answered by Ludovicus Lucius,50 then professor at Hamburg, and the reply of Gitichius confuted and removed out of the way by the same hand. In that brief rescript of Lucius there is a clear attempt to the enervating of the whole book of Socinus, and that with good success, by way of a logical and scholastical procedure. Only, I cannot but profess my sorrow that, having in his first answer laid that solid foundation of the necessity of the satisfaction of Christ, from the eternal nature and justice of God, whereby it is absolutely impossible that, upon the consideration and supposition of sin committed, it should be pardoned without a due compensation, in his rejoinder to the reply of Gitichius, he closes with a commonly known expression of Augustine, “That God could, if he would, have delivered us without satisfaction, but he would not;”51 so casting down the most stable and unmovable pillar of that doctrine which he so dexterously built up in spite of its adversaries.

I dare boldly acquaint the younger students in these weighty points of the religion of Jesus Christ, that the truth of this one particular, concerning the eternal justice of God indispensably requiring the punishment of sin, being well established (for which end they have not only the consent but the arguments of almost all who have handled these controversies with skill and success), will securely carry them through all the sophisms of the adversaries, and cut all the knots which, with so much subtilty, they endeavour to tie and cast upon the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ; as I have in part elsewhere demonstrated.52 From this book also did Smalcius take the whole of what he has delivered about the death of Christ in his Racovian Catechism, not adding any thing at all of his own; which Catechism, as it was heretofore confuted by Frederick Bauldwinus, by order of the university of Wittenburgh, and is by several parcels by many removed out of the way, especially by Altingius and Maccovius, so of late it is wholly answered by Nicolaus Arnoldus,53 now professor at Franeker; which coming lately to my hands prevented me from proceeding to a just, orderly refutation of the whole, as I was intended to do, although I hope the reader will not find any thing of importance therein omitted.

To close the story of this book of Socinus, and the progress it hath made in the world: this I dare assure them who are less exercised in these studies, that though the whole of the treatise hath at first view a very plausible pretence and appearance, yet there is a line of sophistry running through it, which being once discovered (as, indeed, it may be easily felt, with the help of some few principles), the whole fabric of it will fall to the ground, and appear as weak and contemptible a piece as any we have to deal withal in that warfare which is to be undertaken for the truths of the gospel. This also I cannot omit, as to the rise of this abomination of denying the satisfaction of Christ, that as it seems to hay been first invented by the Pelagians, so in after ages it was vented Petrus Abelardus, professor of philosophy at Paris; of whom Bernard, who wrote against him, saith, “Habemus in Francia novum de vetere magtheologum, qui ab ineunte ætate sua in arte dialectica lusit, et nunc in Scripturis sanctis insanit:” and in his epistle (which is to Pope Innocent) about him,54 he strongly confutes his imaginations about this very business; whereupon he was condemned in a council at Rome, held by the same Innocent.55

This part of our faith being of so great weight and importance, the great basis and foundation of the church, you will find it at large insisted on and vindicated in the ensuing treatise.

The author of the life of Socinus tells us (as he himself also gives in the information) that whilst he abode about Switzerland, at Basil and Tigurum [Zurich], he had a dispute with Puccius; which also is since published. This was before his going into Poland in the year 1578.56

The story of this Puccius, because it may be of some use as to the present estate of the minds of many in the things of God, I shall briefly give from Socinus himself (Ep. 3, ad Matt. Radec.), and that as a tremendous example of the righteous judgment of God, giving up a person of a light, unstable spirit to fearful delusions, with a desperate issue. Originally he was a merchant of a good and noble family, but leaving his profession he betook himself to study,57 and for his advantage therein came hither to Oxford.58 After he had stayed here until he began to vent some paradoxes in religion, about the year 1565 (being not able here to prevail with any to close with him), he went to Basil, where there was a dispute between him and Socinus, before mentioned; in the issue whereof they both professed that they could agree in nothing in religion but that there was a God that made the world. At Basil he maintained universal redemption and a natural faith, as they then termed it, or an innate power of believing without the efficacy of the grace of God, for which he was compelled thence to depart; which doing he returned again into England, where, upon the same account, he was cast into prison for a season; thence being released, he went into Holland, from whence by letters he challenged Socinus to dispute, and went one thousand miles (namely, to Cracovia in Poland) afterward to make it good. After some disputes there (both parties condescending to them on very ridiculous conditions), Socinus seeming to prevail, by having most friends among the judges, as the other professed, he stayed there a while, and wrote a book, which he styled “The Shut Bible, and of Elias,” wherein he laboured to deny all ordinances, ministry, and preaching, until Elias should come and restore all things. His reason was taken from the defection and apostasy of the church; wherein, said he, all truth and order was lost, the state of the church being not again to be recovered, unless some with apostolical authority and power of working miracles were immediately sent of God for that purpose. How far this persuasion hath prevailed with some in our days, we all know and lament. Puccius at length begins to fancy that he shall himself be employed in this great restoration that is to be made of the church, by immediate mission from God! Whilst he was in expectation of his call hereunto, there come two Englishmen into Poland, men pretending discourse with angels and revelations from God: one of them was the chief at revelations (their names I cannot learn), the other gave out what he received, in his daily converse with angels, and the words he heard from God, about the destruction of all the present frame of the worship of God. To these men Puccius joined himself, and followed them to Prague in Bohemia, though his friends dealt with him to the contrary, assuring him that one of his companions was a mountebank and the other a magician; but being full of his former persuasion of the ceasing of all ordinances and institutions, with the necessity of their restitution by immediate revelation from God, having got companions fit to harden him in his folly and presumption, he scorned all advice, and away he went to Prague. No sooner came he thither but his prophet had a revelation by an angel that Puccius must become Papist, his cheating companion having never been otherwise. Accordingly he turns Papist; begs pardon publicly for his deserting the Roman church, is reconciled by a priest, in whose society after he had a while continued, and laboured to pervert others to the same superstition with himself, he died a desperate magician. Have none in our days been led into the like maze? hath not Satan led some in the same circle, setting out from superstition to profaneness, passing through some zeal and earnestness in religion, rising to a contempt of ministry and ordinances, with an expectation of revelations and communion with angels? And how many have again sunk down into Popery, atheism, and horrible abominations, is known to all in this nation who think it their duty to inquire into the things of God. I have given this instance only to manifest that the old enemy of our salvation is not playing any new game of deceit and temptation, but such as he hath successfully acted in former generations. Let not us be ignorant of his deceits.

By the way, a little farther to take in the consideration of men like-minded with him last mentioned: of those who denied all ordinances, and maintained such an utter loss and defection of all church state and order that it was impossible it should be restored without new apostles, evidencing their ministry by miracles, this was commonly the issue, that being pressed with this, that there was nothing needful to constitute a church of Christ but that there were a company of men believing in Jesus Christ, receiving the word of God, and taking it for their rule, they denied that indeed now there was or could be any faith in Jesus Christ, the ministers that should beget it being utterly ceased, and therefore it was advisable for men to serve God, to live justly and honestly, according to the dictates of the law of nature, and to omit all thoughts of Christ beyond an expectation of his sending persons hereafter to acquaint the world again with his worship.

That this was the judgment of Matt. Radecius, his honoured friend, Socinus informs us;59 though he mollifies his expression, p. 123, ascribing it to others. Whether many in our days are not insensibly fallen into the same abominations, a little time will discover. The main of the plea of the men of this persuasion in those days was taken from the example of the Israelites under that idolatrous apostasy wherein they were engaged by Jeroboam. “In the days of Elijah there were,” said they, “seven thousand who joined not with the residue in their false worship and idolatry, but yet they never went about to gather, constitute, and set up a new church or churches, but remained in their scattered condition, keeping themselves as they could from the abominations of their brethren;” — not considering that there is not the same reason of the Judaical and Christian churches, in that the carrying on of the worship of God among them was annexed to one tribe, yea, to one family in that tribe, and chiefly tied to one certain place, no public instituted worship, such as was to be the bond of communion for the church, being acceptable that was not performed by those persons in that place: so that it was utterly impossible for the godly in Israel then, or the ten tribes, to set up a new church-state, seeing they neither had the persons nor were possessed of the place, without which no such constitution was acceptable to God, as not being of his appointment. Under the gospel it is not so, either as to the one or other. All places being now alike, and all persons who are enabled thereunto having liberty to preach the word in the order by Christ appointed, the erecting of churches and the celebration of ordinances is recoverable, according to the mind of God, out of the greatest defection imaginable, whilst unto any persons there is a continuance of the word and Spirit.

But to proceed with SocinusBlandrata having got a great interest with the king of Poland and prince of Transylvania, as hath been declared, and making it his business to promote the Antitrinitarians, of what sort soever, being in Transylvania, where the men of his own abomination were exceedingly divided about the invocation and adoration of Jesus Christ, Franciscus David carrying all before him in an opposition thereunto (of which whole business I shall give a farther account afterward), he sends for Socinus,60 who was known to them, and, from his dealing with Puccius, began to be famed for a disputant, to come to him into Transylvania, to dispute with and confute Franciscus David, in the end of the year 1578; where what success his dispute had, in the imprisonment and death of David, shall be afterward related.

Being now fallen upon this controversy, which fell out before Faustus’ going into Poland, before I proceed to his work and business there, I shall give a brief account of this business which I have now mentioned, and on which occasion he was sent for by Blandrata into Poland, referring the most considerable disputes he had about that difference to that place in the ensuing treatise where I shall treat of the invocation and worship of Christ.

After way was once made in the minds of men for the farther work of Satan, by denying the deity of our blessed Lord Jesus, very many quickly grew to have more contemptible thoughts of him than those seemed to be willing they should from whose principles they professed, and indeed righteously, that their mean esteem of him did arise. Hence Franciscus DavidGeorgius EnjedinusChristianus Franken, and sundry others, denied that Christ was to be worshipped with religious worship, or that he might be invocated and called upon. Against these Socinus, indeed, contended with all his might, professing that he would not account such as Christians who would not allow that Christ might be invocated and was to be worshipped; which that he was to be, he proved by undeniable testimonies of Scripture. But yet when himself came to answer their arguments, whereby they endeavoured to prove that a mere man (such as on both sides they acknowledged Christ to be) might not be worshipped with religious worship or divine adoration, the man, with all his craft and subtilty, was entangled, utterly confounded, silenced, slain with his own weapons, and triumphed over, as I shall afterward manifest in the account which I shall give of the disputation between him and Christianus Franken about this business: God in his righteous judgment so ordering things, that he who would not embrace the truth which he ought to have received should not be able to maintain and defend that truth which he did receive; for having, what in him lay, digged up the only foundation of the religious worship and adoration of Christ, he was altogether unable to keep the building upright. Nor did this fall out for want of ability in the man, no man under heaven being able on his false hypothesis to maintain the worship of Christ, but, as was said, merely by the just hand of God, giving him up to be punished by his own errors and darkness.

Being hardened in the contempt of Christ by the success they had against Socinus and his followers, with whom they conversed and disputed, some of the men before mentioned stayed not with him at the affirming of him to be a mere man, nor yet where they began, building on that supposition that he was not to be worshipped, but proceeded yet farther, and affirmed that he was indeed a good man and sent of God, but yet he spake not by the spirit of prophecy, but so as that whatever was spoken by him and written by his apostles was to be examined by Moses and the prophets, whereto if it did not agree it was to be rejected: which was the sum of the first and second theses of Franciscus David,61 in opposition to which Socinus gave in his judgment in certain antitheses to Christopher Barthoræus, prince of Transylvania, who had then cast David into prison for his blasphemy.62

To give a little account, by the way, of the end of this man, with his contempt of the Lord Jesus:—

In the year 1579, in the beginning of the month of June, he was cast into prison by the prince of Transylvania, and lived until the end of November.63 That he was cast into prison by the instigation of Socinus himself and Blandrata, the testimonies are beyond exception; for this is not only recorded by Bellarmine and others of the Papists (to whose assertions, concerning any adversary with whom they have to do, I confess much credit is not to be given), but by others also of unquestionable authority.64 This, indeed, Socinus denies, and would willingly impose the odium of it upon others;65 but the truth is, considering the keenness and wrath of the man’s spirit, and the thoughts he had of this miserable wretch,66 it is more than probable that he was instrumental towards his death. The like apology does Smalcius make in his answer to Franzius about the carriage of the Samosatenians in that business of Franciscus David; where they accused one another of craft, treachery, bloody cruelty, treason.67 Being cast into prison, the miserable creature fell into a frenetical distemper, through the revenging hand of God upon him, as Socinus confesseth himself.68 In this miserable condition the devils (saith the historian) appeared unto him; whereupon he cried out, “Behold who expect me their companion in my journey,”69 whether really, or in his vexed, distempered imagination, disordered by his despairing mind, I determine not; but most certain it is that in that condition he expired, not in the year 1580, as BellarmineWeikRæmundus, and some of ours from them, inform us, but one year sooner, as he assures us who best knew.70 And the consideration of this man’s desperate apostasy and his companions’ might be one cause that about this time sundry of the Antitrinitarians were converted, amongst whom was Daniel Bielenscius, a man afterward of good esteem.71

But neither yet did Satan stop here, but improved the advantage given him by these men to the utter denying of Jesus Christ: for unto the principle of Christ’s being not God, adding another of the same nature, that the prophecies of the Old Testament were all concerning temporal things, some amongst them at length concluded that there was no promise of any such person as Jesus Christ in the whole Old Testament; that the Messiah or king promised was only a king promised to the Jews, that they should have after the captivity, in case they did not offend but walk with God. “The kingdom,” say they, “promised in the Old Testament, is a kingdom of this world only; but the kingdom which you assert to belong to Jesus of Nazareth was a kingdom not of this world, a heavenly kingdom, and so, consequently, not promised of God or from God;”72 and therefore with him they would not have aught to do. This was the argument of Martin Seidelius, in his epistle to Socinus and his companions.

What advantage is given to the like blasphemous imaginations with this, by such Judaizing annotations on the Old Testament as those of Grotius, time will evidence. Now, because this man’s creed is such as is not to be paralleled, perhaps some may be contented to take it in his own words, which are as follow:—

Cæterum ut sciatis cujus sim religionis, quamvis id scripto meo quod habetis ostenderim, tamen hic breviter repetam. Et primum quidem doctrina de Messia, seu rege illo promisso, ad meam religionem nihil pertinet: ham rex ille tantum Judæis promissus erat, sicut et bona ilia Canaan. Sic etiam circumcisio, sacrificia, et reliquæ ceremoniæ Mosis ad me non pertinent, sed tantum populo Judaico promissa, data, et mandata sunt. Neque ista fuerunt cultus Dei apud Judæos, sed inserviebant cultui divino, et ad cultum divinum deducebant Judæos. Verus autem cultus Dei quem meam religionem appello, est decalogus, qui est æterna, et immutabilis voluntas Dei; qui decalogus ideo ad me pertinet, quia etiam mihi a Deo datus est, non quidem per vocem sonantem de cœlo, sicut populo Judaico, at per creationem insita est menti meæ; quia autem insitus decalogus, per corruptionem naturæ humanæ et pravis consuetudinibus, aliqua ex parte obscuratus est, ideo ad illustrandum eum, adhibeo vocalem decalogum, qui vocalis decalogus, ideo etiam ad me, et ad omnes populos pertinet, quia cum insito nobis decalogo consentit, imo idem ille decalogus est. Hæc est mea sententia de Messia, seu rege illo promisso, et hæc est mea religio, quam coram vobis ingenue profiteor.” — Martin. Seidelius Olaviensis Silesius.

To this issue did Satan drive the Socinian principles in this man and sundry others, even to a full and peremptory denial of the Lord that bought them. In answering this man, it fell out with Socinus much as it did with him in his disputation with Franken about the adoration and invocation of Jesus Christ: for granting Franken that Christ was but a mere man, he could no way evade his inference thence, that he was not to be invocated; so, granting Seidelius that the promises of the Old Testament were all temporal, he could not maintain against him that Jesus Christ, whose kingdom is heavenly, was the king and Messiah therein promised; for Faustus hath nothing to reply but that “God gives more than he promised, of which no man ought to complain.”73 Not observing that the question being not about the faithfulness of God in his promises, but about the thing promised, he gave away the whole cause, and yielded that Christ was not indeed the king and Messiah promised in the Old Testament.

Of an alike opinion to this of Seidelius was he of whom we spake before, Franciscus David; who as to the kingdom of Christ delivered himself to this purpose: “That he was appointed to be a king of the Jews, and that God sent him into the world to receive his kingdom, which was to be earthly and civil, as the kingdoms of other kings; but the Jews rejected him and slew him, contrary to the purpose of God, who therefore took him from them and placed him in a quiet place, where he is not at all concerned in any of the things of the church, but is there in God’s design a king, and he will one day send him again to Jerusalem, there to take upon him a kingdom, and to rule as the kings of this world do or have done.” — Thes. Francisei David de Adorat. Jes. Christi.

The reminding of these abominations gives occasion, by the way, to complain of the carnal apprehensions of a kingdom of Christ, which too many amongst ourselves have filled their thoughts and expectations withal. For my part, I am persuaded that, before the end of the world, the Lord Jesus, by his word and Spirit, will multiply the seed of Abraham as the stars of heaven, bringing into one fold the remnant of Israel and the multitude of the Gentiles; and that his church shall have peace, after he hath judged and broken the stubborn adversaries thereof, and laid the kingdoms of the nations in a useful subserviency to his interest in this world; and that himself will reign most gloriously, by a spirit of light, truth, love, and holiness, in the midst of them: but that he hath a kingdom of another nature and kind to set up in the world than that heavenly kingdom which he hath peculiarly exercised ever since he was exalted and made a ruler and a saviour, that he should set up a dominion over men as men, and rule, either himself present or by his substitutes, as in a kingdom of this world, which is a kingdom neither of grace nor glory, I know it cannot be asserted without either the denial of his kingdom for the present, or that he is or hitherto hath been a king (which was the blasphemy of Franciscus David before mentioned), or the affirming that he hath, or is to have, upon the promise of God, two kingdoms of several sorts; of which in the whole word of God there is not the least tittle.

To return: about the end of the year 1579, Faustus Socinus left Transylvania and went into Poland, which he chose for the stage whereon to act his design.74 In what estate and condition the persons in Poland and Lithuania were who had fallen off from the faith of the holy Trinity was before declared. True it is, that before the coming of SocinusBlandrata, by the help of Franciscus David, had brought over many of them from Sabellianism, and Tritheism, and Arianism, unto Samosatenianism, and a full, plain denial of the deity of Christ.75

But yet with that Pelagian doctrine that Socinus came furnished withal unto them, they were utterly unacquainted, and were at no small difference, many of them, about the Deity. The condition of the first man to be mortal and obnoxious to death, that there was no original sin, that Christ was not a high-priest on the earth, that he made no satisfaction for sin, that we are not justified by his righteousness but our own, that the wicked shall be utterly confined and annihilated at the last day, with the rest of his opinions, which afterward he divulged, they were utterly strangers unto; as is evident from the contests he had about these things with some of them in their synods, and by writing, especially with Niemojevius, one of the chief patrons of their sect.

In this condition of affairs, the man, being wise and subtile, obtained his purpose by the ensuing course of procedure:—

1. He joined himself to none of their societies, because, being divided amongst themselves, he knew that by adhering to any one professedly, he should engage all the rest against him. That which he pretended most to favour, and for whose sake he underwent some contests, was the assembly at Racovia, which at first was collected by Gregorius Paulus, as hath been declared.

From these his pretence for abstaining was, their rigid injunction of all to be rebaptized that entered into their fellowship and communion. But he who made it his design to gather the scattered Antitrinitarians into a body and a consistency in a religion among themselves saw plainly that the rigid insisting upon Anabaptism, which was the first principle of some of them, would certainly keep them at an unreconcilable distance. Wherefore he falls upon an opinion much better suited to his design, and maintained that baptism was only instituted for the initiation of them who from any other false religion were turned to the religion of Christ; but that it belonged not to Christian societies, nor to them that were born of Christian parents, and had never been of any other profession or religion, though they might use it, if they pleased, as an indifferent thing. And therefore he refused to join himself with the Racovians, unless upon this principle, that they would desist for the time to come from requiring any to be baptized that should join with them. In a short time he divided that meeting by this opinion, and at length utterly dissolved them, as to their old principles they first consented unto, and built the remainder of them, by the hand of Valentinus Smalcius, into his own mould and frame.

The author of his life sets it forth as a great trial of his prudence, piety, and patience, that he was repulsed from the society at Racovia, and that with ignominy;76 when the truth is, he absolutely refused to join with them, unless they would at once renounce their own principles and subscribe to his; which is as hard a condition as can be put upon any perfectly conquered enemy. This himself delivers at large on sundry occasions, especially insisting on and debating that business in his epistles to Simon Ronembergius and to Sophia Siemichovia. On this score did he write his disputation “De Baptismo Aquæ,” with the vindication of it from the animadversions of A. D. (whom I suppose to be Andrew Dudithius), and of M. C., endeavouring with all his strength to prove that baptism is not an ordinance appointed for the use of Christians or their children, but only for such as were converted from Paganism or Mohammedanism; and this he did in the year 1580, two years after his coming into Poland, as he declares by the date of the disputation from Cracovia, at the close thereof. And in this persuasion he was so fixed, and laid such weight upon it, that after he had once before broken the assembly at Racovia, in his old days he encourages Valentinus Smalcius,77 then their teacher, to break them again, because some of them tenaciously held their opinion; and for those who, as Smalcius informed him, would thereupon fall off to the reformed churches, he bids them go, and a good riddance of them. By this means, I say, he utterly broke up, and divided, and dissolved the meeting at Racovia, which was collected upon the principles before mentioned, that there remained none abiding to their first engagement but a few old women, as Squarcialupus78 tells him, and as himself confesses in his answer for them to Palæologus.79 By this course of behaviour, the man had these two advantages:— (1.) He kept fair with all parties amongst them, and provoked not any by joining with them with whom they could not agree; so that all parties looked on him as their own, and were ready to make him the umpire of all their differences, by which he had no small advantage of working them all to his own principles. (2.) He was less exposed to the fury of the Papists, which he greatly feared (loving well the things of this world), than he would have been had he joined himself to any visible church profession; and, indeed, his privacy of living was a great means of his security.

2. His second great advantage was that he was a scholar, and was able to defend and countenance them against their opposers, the most of them being miserably weak and unlearned. One of their best defensatives, before his joining with them, was a clamour against logic and learning, as himself confesseth in some of his epistles. Now, this is not only evident by experience, but the nature of the thing itself makes it manifest that so it will be: whereas men of low and weak abilities fall into by-persuasions in religion, as they generally at first prevail by clamours and all sorts of reproaches cast on learning and learned men, yet if God in his providence at any time, to heighten the temptation, suffer any person of learning and ability to fall in amongst and with them, he is presently their head and ruler without control. Some testimony hereof our own days have afforded, and I wish we may not have more examples given us. Now, how far he availed himself of this advantage, the consideration of them with whom he had to do, of the esteem they had of his abilities, and the service he did them thereby, will acquaint us.

[As] for the leaders of them, they were for the most part unlearned, and so unable to defend their opinions in any measure against a skillful adversary. Blandrata, their great patron, was not able to express himself in Latin, but by the help of Statorius, who had some learning, but no judgment;80 and therefore, upon his difference with Franciscus David in Transylvania, he was forced to send for Socinus out of Helvetia to manage the disputation with him. And what kind of cattle those were with whom he had to do at Cracovia as well as Racovia, is manifest from the epistle of Simon Ronembergius, one of the leaders and elders of that which they called their “church,” which is printed, with Socinus’ answer unto it. I do not know that ever in my life I saw, for matter and form, sense and language, any thing so simple and foolish, so ridiculously senseless and incoherent, unless it were one or two in our own days, which with this deserve an eminent place “inter epistolas obscurorum virorum.” And therefore Socinus justly feared that his party would have the worst in disputes, as he acknowledges it befell Licinius in his conference with Smiglecius at Novograde,81 and could not believe Ostorodius that he had such success as he boasted in Germany with Fabritius;82 and tells us himself a story of some pastors of their churches in Lithuania, who were so ignorant and simple that they knew not that Christ was to be worshipped.83 What a facile thing it was for a man of his parts, abilities, and learning, to obtain a kingdom amongst such as these is easily guessed. He complains, indeed, of his own lost time in his young days, by the instigation of the devil, and says that it made him weary of his life to think of it, when he had once set up his thoughts in seeking honour and glory by being the head and master of a sect, as Ignatius the father of the Jesuits did84 (with whom, as to this purpose, he is compared all along by the gentleman that wrote his life); yet it is evident that his learning and abilities were such as easily promoted him to the dictatorship among them with whom he had to do.

It may, then, be easily imagined what kind of esteem such men as those would have of so great an ornament and glory of their religion, who at least was with them in that wherein they dissented from the rest of Christians.

Not only after his death, when they set him forth as the most incomparable man of his time, but in his own life and to himself, as I know not what excellent person,85 — that he had a mind suited for the investigation of truth, was a philosopher, an excellent orator, an eminent divine, that for the Latin tongue especially he might contend with any of the great wits of Europe, they told him to his face; such thoughts had they generally of him. It is, then, no wonder they gave themselves up to his guidance. Hence Smalcius wrote unto him to consult about the propriety of the Latin tongue, and in his answer to him he excuses it as a great crime that he had used a reciprocal relative where there was no occasion for it.86

And to make it more evident how they depended on him, on this account of his ability for instructions, when he had told Ostorodius an answer to an objection of the Papists, the man having afterward forgot it, sends to him again to have his lesson over once more, that he might remember it.87

And therefore, as if he had been to deal with school-boys, he would tell his chief companions that he had found out and discovered such or such a thing in religion, but would not tell them until they had tried themselves, and therefore was afraid lest he should through unawares have told it to any of them;88 upon one of which adventures, Ostorodius making bold to give in his conception, he does little better than tell him he is a blockhead.89 Being in this repute amongst them, and exercising such a dominion in point of abilities and learning, to prevail the more upon them, he was perpetually ready to undertake their quarrels, which themselves were not able with any colour to maintain. Hence most of his books were written, and his disputations engaged in, upon the desire of one assembly, synod, or company of them or other, as I could easily manifest by particular instances. And by this means got he no small advantage to insinuate his own principles; for whereas the men greedily looked after and freely entertained the things which were professedly written in their defence, he always wrought in together therewith something of his own peculiar heresy, that poison might be taken down with that which was most pleasing. Some of the wisest of them, indeed, as Niemojevius, discovered the fraud, who, upon his answer to Andræus Volanus, commending what he had written against the deity of Christ, which they employed him in, falls foul upon him for his delivering in the same treatise that Christ was not a priest whilst he was upon the earth;90which one abominable figment lies at the bottom of his whole doctrine of the justification of a sinner. The case is the same about his judgment concerning the invocation of Christ, which was, “That we might do it, but it was not necessary from any precept or otherwise that so we should do.”

And this was nine years after his coming into Poland, as appears from the date of that epistle; so long was he in getting his opinions to be entertained among his friends. But though this man were a little wary, and held out some opposition unto him, yet multitudes of them were taken with this snare, and freely drank down the poison they loathed, being tempered with that which they had a better liking to. But this being discovered, he let the rest of them know that though he was entreated to write that book by the Racovians, and did it in their name,91 yet, because he had published somewhat of his own private opinions therein, they might if they pleased deny, yea, and forswear, that they were written by their appointment.

And this was with respect to his doctrine about the satisfaction of Christ, which, as he says, he heard they were coming over unto; and it is evident from what he writes elsewhere to Balcerovicius that he begged this employment of writing against Volanus, it being agreed by them that he should write nothing but by public consent, because of the novelties which he broached every day. By this readiness to appear and write in their defence, and so commending his writing to them on that account, it is incredible how he got ground upon them, and won them over daily to the residue of his abominations, which they had not received.

3. To these add, as another advantage to win upon that people, the course he had fixed on in reference to others; which was, to own as his, and of his party of the church, all persons whatever that, on any pretence whateveropposed the doctrine of the Trinity and forsook the reformed church. Hence he dealt with men as his brethren, friends, and companions, who scarcely retained any thing of Christians, some nothing at all; as Martin Seidelius, who denied Christ; with Philip Buccel, who denied all difference of good and evil in the actions of men; with Erasmus Johannes, an Arian; with Matthias Radecius, who denied that any could believe in Christ without new apostles; — indeed, with all or any sorts of men whatever that would but join with him, or did consent unto the opposition of the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was the principal work which he engaged in.

4. Unto these and the like advantages the man added all the arts and subtilties, all the diligence and industry, that were any way tending to his end. Some of his artifices and insinuations, indeed, were admirable, though to them who now review them in cold blood, without recalling to mind the then state of things, they may seem of another complexion.92

By these and the like means, though he once despaired of ever getting his opinions received amongst them, as he professeth, yet in the long continuance of twenty-four years (so long he lived in Poland), with the help of Valentinus SmalciusVolkelius, and some few others, who wholly fell in with him, he at length brought them all into subjection to himself, and got all his opinions enthroned, and his practice taken almost for a rule; so that whereas in former days they accused him for a covetous wretch, one that did nothing but give his mind to scrape up money, and were professedly offended with his putting money to usury,93 for his full justification, Ostorodius and Voidovius, in the close of the compendium of their religion which they brought into Holland, profess that their “churches did not condemn usury, so that it were exercised with moderation and without oppression.”94

I thought to have added a farther account, in particular, of the man’s craft and subtilty; of his several ways for the instilling of his principles and opinions; of his personal temper, wrath, and anger, and multiplying of words in disputes; of the foils he received in sundry disputations with men of his own antitrinitarian infidelity; of his aim at glory and renown, expressed by the Polonian gentleman who wrote his life; his losses and troubles, which were not many, — with all which, and the like concernments of the man and his business in that generation, by the perusal of all that he wrote, and of much that hath been written against him, with what is extant of the conferences and disputations, synods and assemblies of those days, I have some little acquaintance; — but being not convinced of much usefulness in my so doing, I shall willingly spare my labour. Thus much was necessary, that we might know the men and their conversation who have caused so much trouble to the Christian world; in which work, having the assistance of that atheism and those corrupted principles which are in the hearts of all by nature, without the infinite rich mercy of God sparing a sinful world as to this judgment, for his elect’s sake, they will undoubtedly proceed.

Leaving him, then, in the possession of his conquest, Tritheists, Sabellians, Arians, Eunomians, with the followers of Francis David, being all lost and sunk, and Socinians standing up in the room of them all, looking a little upon what ensued, I shall draw from the consideration of the persons to their doctrines, as at first proposed.

After the death of Socinus, his cause was strongly carried on by those whom in his life he had formed to his own mind and judgment; among whom Valentinus SmalciusHieronymus MoscoroviusJohannes VolkeliusChristopherus Ostorodius, were the chief. To Smalcius he wrote eleven epistles, that are extant, professing his great expectations of him, extolling his learning and prudence. He afterward wrote the Racovian Catechism, compiling it out of Socinus’ works; many answers and replies to and with Smiglecius the Jesuit, and Franzius the Lutheran; a book of the divinity of Christ, with sundry others; and was a kind of professor among them at Racovia. The writings of the rest of them are also extant. To him succeeded Crellius, a man of more learning and modesty than Smalcius, and of great industry for the defence of his heresy. His defence of Socinus against Grotius’ treatise, “De Causis Mortis Christi, de Effectu SS.,” his comments and ethics, declare his abilities and industry in his way. After him arose Jonas Schlichtingius, a man no whit behind any of the rest for learning and diligence, as in his comments and disputations against Meisnerus is evident. As the report is, he was burned by the procurement of the Jesuits, some four years ago, that they might be sure to have the blood of all sorts of men found upon them. What advantage they have obtained thereby time will show. I know that generation of men retort upon us the death of Servetus at Geneva; but the case was far different. Schlichtingius lived in his own country, and conversed with men of his own persuasion, who in a succession had been so before he was born: Servetus came out of Spain on purpose to disturb and seduce them who knew nothing of his abominations. Schlichtingius disputed his heresy without reproaching or blaspheming God willingly, under pretence of denying the way and worship of his adversaries: Servetus stuffed all his discourses with horrid blasphemies. Beza tells us that he called the Trinity tricipitem Cerberum, and wrote that Moses was a ridiculous impostor, BezaEp. i.; and there are passages cited out of his book of the Trinity (which I have not seen) that seem to have as much of the devil in them as any thing that ever yet was written or spoken by any of the sons of men. If, saith he, Christ be the Son of God, “debuissent ergo dicere, quod Deus habebat uxorem quandam spiritualem, vel quod solus ipse masculus femineus aut hermaphroditus, simul erat pater et mater, nam ratio vocabuli non patitur, ut quis dicatur sine matre pater: et si Logos filius erat, natus ex patre sine matre; dic mihi quomodo peporit eum, per ventrem an per latus.”

To this height of atheism and blasphemy had Satan wrought up the spirit of the man; so that I must say he is the only person in the world, that I ever read or heard of, that ever died upon the account of religion, in reference to whom the zeal of them that put him to death may be acquitted. But of these things God will judge. Socinus says he died calling on Christ; those that were present say quite the contrary, and that in horror he roared out misericordia to the magistrates, but nothing else. But arcana Deo.

Of these men last named, their writings and endeavours for the propagation of their opinions, others having written already, I shall forbear. Some of note amongst them have publicly recanted and renounced their heresy, as Vogelius and Peuschelius; whose retractations are answered by Smalcius. Neither shall I add much as to their present condition. They have as yet many churches in Poland and Transylvania; and have their superintendents, after the manner of Germany. Regenvolscius tells us that all the others are sunk and lost, only the Socinians remain;95 the Arians, Sabellians, David Georgians, with the followers of Franciscus David, being all gone over to the confession of Socinus: which makes me somewhat wonder at that of Johannes Lætus, who affirms that about the year 1619, in a convention of the states in Poland, those who denied that Christ ought to be invocated (which were the followers of Franciscus DavidChristianus Franken, and Palæologus) pleaded that the liberty that was granted to Antitrinitarians was intended for them, and not for the Socinians; and the truth is, they had footing in Poland before ever the name of Socinus was there known, though he afterward insults upon them, and says that they most impudently will have themselves called Christians when they are not so.96

But what numbers they are in those parts of the world, how the poison is drunk in by thousands in the Papacy, by what advantages it hath [insinuated], and continues to insinuate itself into multitudes living in the outward profession of the reformed churches, what progress it makes and what ground it gets in our native country every day, I had rather bewail than relate. This I am compelled to say, that unless the Lord, in his infinite mercy, lay an awe upon the hearts of men, to keep them in some captivity to the simplicity and mystery of the gospel who now strive every day to exceed one another in novel opinions and philosophical apprehensions of the things of God, I cannot but fear that this soul-destroying abomination will one day break in as a flood upon us.

I shall only add something of the occasions and advantages that these men took and had for the renewing and propagation of their heresy, and draw to a close of this discourse.

Not to speak of the general and more remote causes of these and all other soul-destroying errors, or the darkness, pride, corruption, and wilfullness of men; the craft, subtilty, envy, and malice of Satan; the just revenging hand of God, giving men up to a spirit of delusion, that they might believe lies, because they delighted not in the truth, — I shall only remark one considerable occasion or stumbling-block at which they fell and drank in the poison, and one considerable advantage that they had for the propagation of what they had so fallen into.

Their great stumbling-block I look upon to be the horrible corruption and abuse of the doctrine of the Trinity in the writings of the schoolmen, and the practice of the devotionists among the Papists. With what desperate boldness, atheistical curiosity, wretched inquiries and babbling, the schoolmen have polluted the doctrine of the Trinity, and gone off from the simplicity of the gospel in this great mystery, is so notoriously known that I shall not need to trouble you with instances for the confirmation of the observation. This the men spoken of (being the most, if not all of them, brought up in the Papacy) stumbled at. They saw the doctrine concerning that God whom they were to worship rendered unintelligible, curious, intricate,:involved in terms and expressions not only barbarous in themselves, and not used in Scripture, but insignificant, horrid, and remote from the reason of men: which, after some struggling, set them at liberty from under the bondage of those notions; and when they should have gone to “the law and to the testimony” for their information, Satan turned them aside to their own reasonings and imaginations, where they stumbled and fell. And yet of the forms and expressions of their schoolmen are the Papists so zealous, as that whoever departs from them in any kind is presently an antitrinitarian heretic. The dealings of BellarmineGenebrardPossevine, and others, with Calvin, are known. One instance may be taken of their ingenuity: Bellarmine, in his book, “De Christo,” lays it to the charge of Bullinger, that in his book, “De Scripturæ et Ecclesiæ Authoritate,” he wrote that there were three persons in the Deity, “non statu, sed gradu, non subsistentia, sod forma, non potestate, sod specie differentes;” on which he exclaims that the Arians themselves never spake more wickedly: and yet these are the very words of Tertullian against Praxeas; which, I confess, are warily to be interpreted. But by this their measuring of truth by the forms received by tradition from their fathers, neglecting and forsaking the simplicity of the gospel, that many stumbled and fell is most evident.

Schlusselburgius, in his wonted respect and favour unto the Calvinists, tells us that from them and their doctrine was the occasion administered unto this new abomination; also, that never any turned Arian but he was first a Calvinist: which he seems to make good by a letter of Adam Neuserus, who, as he saith, from a Sacramentarian turned Arian, and afterward a Mohammedan, and was circumcised at Constantinople. “This man,” says he, “in a letter from Constantinople to Doctor Gerlachius, tells him that none turned Arians but those that were Calvinists first; and therefore he that would take heed of Arianism had best beware of Calvinism.”97 I am very unwilling to call any man’s credit into question who relates a matter of fact, unless undeniable evidence enforce me, because it cannot be done without an imputation of the foulest crime; I shall therefore take leave to ask, —

1. What credit is to be given to the testimony of this man, who, upon Conradus’ own report, was circumcised, turned Mohammedan, and had wholly renounced the truth which he once professed? For my part, I should expect from such a person nothing but what was maliciously contrived for the prejudice of the truth; and therefore suppose he might raise this on purpose to strengthen and harden the Lutherans against the Calvinists, whom he hated most, because that they professed the truth which he had renounced, and that true knowledge of Christ and his will which now he hated; and this lie of his he looked on as an expedient for the hardening of the Lutherans in their error, and helping them with a stone to cast at the Calvinists.

2. Out of what kindness was it that this man bare to Gerlachius and his companions, that he gives them this courteous admonition to beware of Calvinism? Is it any honour to GerlachiusConradus himself, or any other Lutheran, that an apostate, an abjurer of Christian religion, loved them better than he did the Calvinists? What person this Adam Neuserus was, and what the end of him was, we have an account given by Maresius from a manuscript history of Altingius. From Heidelberg, being suspected of a conspiracy with one Sylvanus, who for it was put to death, he fled into Poland, thence to Constantinople, where he turned Mohammedan, and was circumcised, and after a while fell into such miserable horror and despair, that with dreadful yellings and clamours he died; so that the Turks themselves confess that they never heard of a more horrid, detestable, and tragical end of any man; whereupon they commonly called him Satan Ogli, or the son of the devil. And so, much good may it do Conradus, with his witness.

3. But what occasion, I pray, does Calvinism give to Arianism, that the one should be taken heed of if we intend to avoid the other? What offence does it give to men inquiring after the truth, to make them stumble on their abominations? What doctrine doth it maintain that should prepare them for it? But no man is bound to burden himself with more than he can carry, and therefore all such inquiries Schlusselburgius took no notice of.

The truth is, many of the persons usually instanced in as apostates from Calvinism to Arianism were such as, leaving Italy and other parts of the pope’s dominion, came to shelter themselves where they expected liberty and opportunity of venting their abomination among the reformed churches, and joined themselves with them in outward profession, most of them, as afterward appeared, being thoroughly infected with the errors against the Trinity and about the Godhead before they left the Papacy, where they stumbled and fell.

In the practice of the “church,” as it is called, wherein they were bred, they nextly saw the horrible idolatry that was countenanced in abominable pictures of the Trinity, and the worship yielded to them; which strengthened and fortified their minds against such gross conceptions of the nature of God as by those pictures were exhibited.

Hence, when they had left the Papacy and set up their opposition to the blessed Trinity, in all their books they still made mention of those idols and pictures, speaking of them as the gods of those that worshipped the Trinity. This instance makes up a good part of their book, “De Falsa et Vera Cognitione Unius Dei, Patris, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti,” written in the name of the ministers of the churches in Sarmatia and Transylvania; a book full of reproach and blasphemies. But this, I say, was another occasion of stumbling to those miserable wretches. They knew what thoughts the men of their communication had of God, by the pictures made of him, and the worship they yielded to them, — they knew how abhorrent to the very principles of reason it was that God should be such as by them represented; and therefore set themselves at liberty (or rather gave up themselves to the service of Satan) to find out another god whom they might worship.

Neither are they a little confirmed to this day in their errors by sundry principles which, under the Roman apostasy, got footing in the minds of men professing the name of Jesus Christ; particularly, they sheltered themselves from the sword of the word of God, evidencing the deity of Christ by ascribing to him divine adoration, by the shield of the Papists’ doctrine, that those who are not gods by nature may be adored, worshipped, and invocated.

Now, that to this day the Papists continue in the same idolatry (to touch that by the way), I shall give you, for your refreshment, a copy of a verse or two, whose poetry does much outgo the old,

O crux spes unica!

Auge piis constantiam,

Hoc passionis tempore,

Reisque dona veniam;

and whose blasphemy comes not at all short of it. The first is of Clarus Bonarus the Jesuit, lib. iii. Amphitrial. Honor. lib. iii. cap. ult. ad Divinam Hallensem et Puerum Jesum, as followeth:—

Hæreo lac inter meditans, interque cruorem;

Inter delicias uberis et lateris.

Et dico (si forte oculus super ubera tendo),

Diva parens mammæ gaudia posco tuæ.

Sed dico (si deinde oculos in vulnera verto),

O Jesu lateris gaudia male tui.

Rem scio, prensabo si fas erit ubera dextra,

Læva prensabo vulnera si dabitur.

Lac matris miscere vole cum sanguine nati;

Non possem antidote nobiliore frui.

Vulnera restituant turpem uleeribus mendicum,

Testa cui saniem radere sola potest.

Ubera reficient Ismaelem sitientem,

Quem Sara non patitur, quem neque nutrit Agar.

Ista mihi, ad pestem procul et procul expungendam;

Ista mini ad longas evalitura febres.

Ira vomit flammas, fumatque libidinis Ætna;

Suffocare queo sanguine, lacte queo.

Livor inexpleta rubigine sævit in artus;

Detergere queo lacte, cruore queo:

Vanus honos me perpetua prurigine tentat:

Exsaturare queo sanguine, lacte queo.

Ergo parens et nate, meis advertite votis

Lac peto, depereo sanguinem, utrumque volo.

O sitio tamen! O vocem sitis intercludit!

Nate cruore, sitim comprime lacte parens.

Dic matri, meus hic frater sitit, optima mater,

Vise fonte tuo promere, deque meo.

Dic nato, tuus hie frater mi mellee fili

Captivus monstrat vincula, lytron habes.

Ergo Redemptorem monstra to jure vocari,

Nobilior reliquis si tibi sanguis inest.

Tuque parens monstra, matrem to jure vocari,

Ubera si reliquis divitiora geris.

O quando lactabor ab ubere, vulnere pascar?

Deliciisque fruar, mamma latusque tuis.

The other is of Franciscus de Mendoza, in Viridario Utriusque Eruditionis, lib. ii. prob. 2, as ensueth:—

Ubera me matris, nati me vulnera pascunt

Scilicet hæc animi sunt medicina mei,

Nam mihi dum lachrymas amor elicit ubera sugo

Rideat ut dulci mœstus amore dolor.

At me pertentant dum gaudia, vulnera lambo

Ut me læta pio mista dolore juvent.

Vulnera sic nati, sic ubera sugo parentis

Securæ ut variæ sint mihi forte vices.

Quis sine lacte precor, vel quis sine sanguine vivat?

Lacte tuo genetrix, sanguine hate tuo.

Sit lac pro ambrosia, suavi pro hectare sanguis

Sic me perpetuum vulnus et uber alit.

And this their idolatry is objected to them by Socinus,98 who marvels at the impudence of Bellarmine closing his books of controversies (as is the manner of the men of that Society) with “Laus Deo, virginique matri Mariæ,” wherein, as he says (and he says it truly), divine honour with God is ascribed to the blessed Virgin.

The truth is, I see not any difference between that dedication of himself and his work, by Redemptus Baranzano the priest, in these words, “Deo, Virglnique Matri, Sancto Paulo, Bruno, Alberto, Redempto, Francisco, Clarke, Joannæ, Catharinæ Senensi, divisque omnibus, quos peculiari cultu honorare desidero, omnis meus labour consecratus sit” (Baranzan. Nov. Opin. Physic. Diglad.), and that of the Athenians, by the advice of Epimenides Θεοῖς Ἀσίας καὶ Ἐυρώπης καὶ Λιβύης, Θεῷ ἀγνώστῳ καὶ Ξένῳ both of them being suitable to the counsel of Pythagoras:—

Ἀθανάτους μὲν πρῶτα θεοὺς νόμῳ ὡς διάκειται

Τίμα καὶ σέβου ὅρκον ἔπειθ ἥρωας ἀγανούς

Τούς τε καταχθονίους οέβε δαίμονας ἕννομα ῥέζων

Let them be sure to worship all sorts, that they may not miss. And by these means, amongst others, hath an occasion of stumbling and hardening been given to these poor souls.

As to the propagation of their conceptions, they had the advantage not only of an unsettled time, as to the civil government of the nations of the world, most kingdoms and commonweals in Europe undergoing in that age considerable mutations and changes (a season wherein commonly the envious man hath taken opportunity to sow his tares); but also, men being set at liberty from the bondage under which they were kept in the Papacy, and from making the tradition of their fathers the rule of their worship and walking, were found indeed to have, upon abiding grounds, no principles of religion at all, and therefore were earnest in the inquiry after something that they might fix upon. What to avoid they knew, but what to close withal they knew not; and therefore it is no wonder if, among so many (I may say) millions of persons as in those days there were that fell off from the Papacy, some thousands perhaps (much more scores) might, in their inquirings, from an extreme of superstition run into another almost of atheism.

Such was the estate of things and men in those days wherein Socinianism, or the opposition to Christ of this latter edition, set forth in the world. Among the many that were convinced of the abominations of Popery before they were well fixed in the truth, some were deceived by the cunning sleight of some few men that lay in wait to deceive. What event and issue an alike state and condition of things and persons hath gone forth unto in the places and days wherein we live is known to all; and that the saints of God may be warned by these things is this addressed to them. To what hath been spoken I had thought, for a close of this discourse, to have given an account of the learning that these men profess, and the course of their studies, of their way of disputing, and the advantages they have therein; to have instanced in some of their considerable sophisms, and subtile depravations of Scripture, as also to have given a specimen of distinctions and answers, which may be improved to the discovering and slighting of their fallacies in the most important heads of religion: but being diverted by new and unexpected avocations, I shall refer these and other considerations unto a prodromus for the use of younger students who intend to look into these controversies.

And these are the persons with whom we have to deal, these their ways and progress in the world. I shall now briefly subjoin some advantages they have had, something of the way and method wherein they have proceeded, for the diffusing of their poison, with some general preservatives against the infection, and draw to a close of this discourse.

1. At the first entrance upon their undertaking, some of them made no small advantage, in dealing with weak and unwary men, by crying out that the terms of trinity, person, essence, hypostatical union, communication of properties, and the like, were not found in the Scripture, and therefore were to be abandoned.

With the colour of this plea, they once prevailed so far on the churches in Transylvania as that they resolved and determined to abstain from the use of those words; but they quickly perceived that though the words were not of absolute necessity to express the things themselves to the minds of believers, yet they were so to defend the truth from the opposition and craft of seducers, and at length recovered themselves, by the advice of Beza:99 yea, and Socinus himself doth not only grant but prove that in general this is not to be imposed on men, that the doctrine they assert is contained in Scripture in so many words, seeing it sufficeth that the thing itself pleaded for be contained therein.100 To which purpose I desire the learned reader to peruse his words, seeing he gives an instance of what he speaks somewhat opposite to a grand notion of his disciple, with whom I have chiefly to do; yea, and the same person rejects the plea of his companions, of the not express usage of the terms wherein the doctrine of the Trinity is delivered in the Scripture, as weak and frivolous.101 And this hath made me a little marvel at the precipitate, undigested conceptions of some, who, in the midst of the flames of Socinianism kindling upon us on every side, would (contrary to the wisdom and practice of all antiquity, no one assembly in the world excepted) tie us up to a form of confession composed of the bare words of the Scripture, in the order wherein they are placed. If we profess to believe that Christ is God blessed for ever, and the Socinians tell us, “True, but he is a God by office, not by nature,” is it not lawful for us to say, “Nay, but he is God, of the same nature, substance, and essence with his Father?” If we shall say that Christ is God, one with the Father, and the Sabellians shall tell us, “True, they are every way one, and in all respects, so that the whole Deity was incarnate,” is it not lawful for us to tell them, that though he be one in nature and essence with his Father, yet he is distinct from him in person? And the like instances may be given for all the expressions wherein the doctrine of the blessed Trinity is delivered. The truth is, we have sufficient ground for these expressions in the Scripture as to the words, and not only the things signified by them: the nature of God we have, Gal. iv. 8; the person of the Father, and the Son distinct from it, Heb. i. 3; the essence of God, Exod. iii. 14Rev. i. 4; the Trinity1 John v. 7; the DeityCol. ii. 9.

2. Their whole business, in all their books and disputations, is to take upon themselves the part of answerers, so cavilling and making exception, not caring at all what becomes of any thing in religion, so they may with any colour avoid the arguments wherewith they are pressed. Hence almost all their books, unless it be some few short catechisms and confessions, are only answers and exceptions to other men’s writings. Beside the fragments of a catechism or two, Socinus himself wrote very little but of this kind; so do the rest. How heavy and dull they are in asserting may be seen in Volkelius’ Institutions; and here, whilst they escape their adversaries, they are desperately bold in their interpretations of Scripture, though, for the most part, it suffices [them to say] that what is urged against them is not the sense of the place, though they themselves can assign no sense at all to it. I could easily give instances in abundance to make good this observation concerning them, but I shall not mention what must necessarily be insisted on in the ensuing discourse. Their answers are, “This may otherwise be expounded;” “It may otherwise be understood;” “The word may have another signification in another place.”

3. The greatest triumphs which they set up in their own conceits are, when by any ways they possess themselves of any usual maxim that passes current amongst men, being applied to finite, limited, created things, or any acknowledged notion in philosophy, and apply it to the infinite, uncreated, essence of God; than which course of proceeding nothing, indeed, can be more absurd, foolish, and contrary to sound reason. That God and man, the Creator and creature, that which is absolutely infinite and independent, and that which is finite, limited, and dependent, should be measured by the same rules, notions, and conceptions, unless it be by way of eminent analogy, which will not further their design at all, is most fond and senseless. And this one observation is sufficient to arm us against all their profound disputes about “essence,” “personality,” and the like.

4. Generally, as we said, in the pursuit of their design and carrying it on, they begin in exclaiming against the usual words wherein the doctrines they oppose are taught and delivered. “They are not Scripture expressions,” etc.; “For the things themselves, they do not oppose them, but they think them not so necessary as some suppose,” etc. Having got some ground by this on the minds of men, great stress is immediately laid on this, “That a man may be saved though he believe not the doctrine of the Trinity, the satisfaction of Christ, etc., so that he live holily, and yield obedience to the precepts of Christ; so that it is mere madness and folly to break love and communion about such differences.” By this engine I knew, not long since, a choice society of Christians, through the cunning sleight of one lying in wait to deceive, disturbed, divided, broken, and in no small part of it infected. If they once get this advantage, and have thereby weakened the love and valuation of the truth with any, they generally, through the righteous judgment of God in giving up men of light and vain spirits to the imaginations of their own hearts, overthrow their faith, and lead them captive at their pleasure.

5. I thought to have insisted, in particular, on their particular ways of insinuating their abominations, of the baits they lay, the devices they have, their high pretences to reason, and holiness in their lives, or honesty; as also, to have evinced, by undeniable evidences, that there are thousands in the Papacy and among the Reformed Churches that are wholly baptized into their vile opinions and infidelity, though, for the love of their temporal enjoyments, which are better to them than their religion, they profess it not; as also, how this persuasion of theirs hath been the great door whereby the flood of atheism which is broken in upon the world, and which is almost always professed by them who would be accounted the wits of the times, is come in upon the nations; farther, to have given general answers and distinctions applicable to the most if not all of the considerable arguments and objections wherewith they impugn the truth: but referring all these to my general considerations for the study of controversies in divinity, with some observations that may be preservatives against their poison, I shall speedily acquit you from the trouble of this address. Give me leave, then, in the last place (though unfit and unworthy), to give some general cautions to my fellow-labourers and students in divinity for the freeing our souls from being tainted with these abominations, and I have done:—

1. Hold fast the form of wholesome words and sound doctrine: know that there are other ways of peace and accommodation with dissenters than by letting go the least particle of truth. When men would accommodate their own hearts to love and peace, they must not double with their souls, and accommodate the truth of the gospel to other men’s imaginations. Perhaps some will suggest great things of going a middle way in divinity, between dissenters; but what is the issue, for the most part, of such proposals? After they have, by their middle way, raised no less contentions than was before between the extremes (yea, when things before were in some good measure allayed), the accommodators themselves, through an ambitious desire to make good and defend their own expedients, are insensibly carried over to the party and extreme to whom they thought to make a condescension unto; and, by endeavouring to blanch their opinions, to make them seem probable, they are engaged to the defence of their consequences before they are aware. Amyraldus (whom I look upon as one of the greatest wits of these days) will at present go a middle way between the churches of France and the Arminians. What hath been the issue? Among the churches, divisions, tumult, disorder; among the professors and ministers, revilings, evil surmisings; to the whole body of the people, scandals and offences; and in respect of himself, evidence of daily approaching nearer to the Arminian party, until, as one of them saith of him, he is not far from their kingdom of heaven. But is this all? Nay, but GrotiusEpiscopiusCurcellæus,102 etc. (quanta nomina!) with others, must go a middle way to accommodate with the Socinians; and all that will not follow are rigid men, that by any means will defend the opinions they are fallen upon. The same plea is made by others for accommodation with the Papists; and still “moderation,” “the middle way,” “condescension,” are cried up. I can freely say, that I know not that man in England who is willing to go farther in forbearance, love, and communion with all that fear God and hold the foundation, than I am; but that this is to be done upon other grounds, principles, and ways, by other means and expedients, than by a condescension from the exactness of the least apex of gospel truth, or by an accommodation of doctrines by loose and general terms, I have elsewhere sufficiently declared. Let no man deceive you with vain pretences; hold fast the truth as it is in Jesus, part not with one iota, and contend for it when called thereunto.

2. Take heed of the snare of Satan in affecting eminency by singularity. It is good to strive to excel and to go before one another in knowledge and in light, as in holiness and obedience. To do this in the road is difficult. Ahimaaz had not outrun Cushi but that he took a by-path. Many finding it impossible to emerge unto any consideration by walking in the beaten path of truth (all parts of divinity, all ways of handling it, being carried already to such a height and excellency, that to make any considerable improvement requires great pains, study, and an insight into all kinds of learning), and yet not able to conquer the itch of being accounted τίνες μεγάλοι, turn aside into by-ways, and turn the eyes of all men to them by scrambling over hedge and ditch, when the sober traveller is not at all regarded.

The Roman historian, giving an account of the degeneracy of eloquence after it once came to its height in the time of Cicero, fixeth on this as the most probable reason: “Difficilis in perfecto mora est; naturaliterque, quod procedere non potest, recedit; et ut primo ad consequendos, quos priores ducimus, accendimur: ita, ubi aut præteriri, aut æquari cos posse desperavimus, studium cum spe senescit; et quod adsequi non potest, sequi desinit; et, velut occupatam relinquens materiam, quærit novam: præteritoque eo in quo eminere non possumus, aliquid in quo nitamur conquirimus; sequiturque, ut frequens ac mobilis transitus maximum perfecti operis impedimentum sit.” — Paterc. Hist. Rom. lib. i. cap. xvii.

I wish some such things may not be said of the doctrine of the reformed churches. It was not long since raised to a great height of purity in itself, and perspicuity in the way of its delivery; but athletic constitutions are seldom permanent.103 Men would not be content to walk after others, and finding they could not excel what was done, they have given over to imitate it or to do any thing in the like kind; and therefore, neglecting that wherein they could not be eminent, they have taken a course to have something peculiar wherein to put forth their endeavours. Let us, then, watch against this temptation, and know that a man may be higher than his brethren, and yet be but a Saul.

3. Let not any one attempt dealing with these men that is not in some good measure furnished with those kinds of literature and those common arts wherein they excel; as, first, the knowledge of the tongues wherein the Scripture is written, namely, the Hebrew and Greek. He that is not in some measure acquainted with these will scarcely make thorough work in dealing with them. There is not a word, nor scarce a letter in a word (if I may so speak), which they do not search and toss up and down; not an expression which they pursue not through the whole Scripture, to see if any place will give countenance to the interpretation of it which they embrace. The curious use of the Greek articles, which, as Scaliger calls them, are “loquacissimæ gentis flabellum,” is their great covert against the arguments for the deity of Christ. Their disputes about the Hebrew words wherein the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ is delivered in the Old Testament, the ensuing treatise will in part manifest. Unless a man can debate the use of words with them in the Scripture, and by instances from other approved authors, it will be hard so to enclose or shut them up but that they will make way to evade and escape. Press them with any testimony of Scripture, if of any one word of the testimony, whereon the sense of the whole in any measure depends, they can except that in another place that word in the original hath another signification, and therefore it is not necessary that it should here signify as you urge it, unless you are able to debate the true meaning and import of the word with them, they suppose they have done enough to evade your testimony. And no less [necessary], nextly, are the common arts of logic and rhetoric, wherein they exercise themselves. Among all Socinus’ works, there is none more pernicious than the little treatise he wrote about sophisms; wherein he labours to give instances of all manner of sophistical arguments in those which are produced for the confirmation of the doctrine of the blessed Trinity.

He that would re-enforce those arguments, and vindicate them from his exceptions and the entanglements cast upon them, without some considerable acquaintance with the principles of logic and artificial rules of argumentation, will find himself at a loss. Besides, of all men in the world, in their argumentations they are most sophistical. It is seldom that they urge any reason or give any exception wherein they conclude not “a particulari ad universale,” or “ab indefinito ad universale, exclusive,” or “ab aliqno statu Christi ad omnem,” or “ab œconomia Trinitatis ad theologiam Deitatis,” or “ab usu vocis alicubi” to “ubique:” as, “Christ is a man, therefore not God; he is the servant of the Father, therefore not of the same nature.” And the like instances may be given in abundance; from which kind of arguing he will hardly extricate himself who is ignorant of the rudiments of logic. The frequency of figurative expressions in the Scripture, which they make use of to their advantage, requires the knowledge of rhetoric also in him that will deal with them to any good purpose. A good assistance (in the former of these especially) is given to students by Keslerus, “in examine Logicæ, Metaphysicæ, et Physicæ Photinianæ.” The pretended maxims, also, which they insist on from the civil law, in the business of the satisfaction of Christ, which are especially urged by Socinus, and by Crellius in his defence against Grotius, will make him who shall engage with them see it necessary in some measure to be acquainted with the principles of that faculty and learning also.

With those who are destitute of these, the great Spirit of truth is an abundantly sufficient preserver from all the cunning sleights of men that lie in wait to deceive. He can give them to believe and suffer for the truth. But that they should at any time look upon themselves as called to read the books or dispute with the men of these abominations, I can see no ground.

4. Always bear in mind the gross figments, that they seek to assert and establish in the room of that which they cunningly and subtilely oppose. Remember that the aim of their arguments against the deity of Christ and the blessed Trinity is, to set up two true Gods, the one so by nature, the other made so, rather one God in his own essence, the other a God from him by office, that was a man, is a spirit, and shall cease to be a God. And some farther account hereof you will meet with in the close of the ensuing treatise.

5. Diligent, constant, serious reading, studying, meditating on the Scriptures, with the assistance and direction of all the rules and advantages for the right understanding of them which, by the observation and diligence of many worthies, we are furnished withal, accompanied with continual attendance on the throne of grace for the presence of the Spirit of truth with us, to lead us into all truth, and to increase his anointing of us day by day, “shining into our hearts to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” is, as for all other things in the course of our pilgrimage and walking with God, so for our preservation against these abominations, and the enabling of us to discover their madness and answer their objections, of indispensable necessity. Apollos, who was “mighty in the Scriptures,” Acts xviii. 24, “mightily convinced the” gainsaying “Jews,” verse 28. Neither, in dealing with these men, is there any better course in the world than, in a good order and method, to multiply testimonies against them to the same purpose; for whereas they have shifts in readiness to every particular, and hope to darken a single star, when they are gathered into a constellation they send out a glory and brightness which they cannot stand before. Being engaged myself once in a public dispute about the satisfaction of Christ, I took this course, in a clear and evident coherence, producing very many testimonies to the confirmation of it; which together gave such an evidence to the truth, that one who stood by instantly affirmed that “there was enough spoken to stop the mouth of the devil himself.” And this course in the business of the deity and satisfaction of Christ will certainly be triumphant. Let us, then, labour to have our senses abundantly exercised in the word, that we may be able to discern between good and evil; and that not by studying the places themselves [only] that are controverted, but by a diligent search into the whole mind and will of God as revealed in the word; wherein the sense is given in to humble souls with more life, power, and evidence of truth, and is more effectual for the begetting of faith and love to the truth, than in a curious search after the annotations of men upon particular places. And truly I must needs say that I know not a more deplorable mistake in the studies of divines, both preachers and others, than their diversion from an immediate, direct study of the Scriptures themselves unto the studying of commentators, critics, scholiasts, annotators, and the like helps, which God in his good providence, making use of the abilities, and sometimes the ambition and ends of men, hath furnished us withal. Not that I condemn the use and study of them, which I wish men were more diligent in, but desire pardon if I mistake, and do only surmise, by the experience of my own folly for many years, that many which seriously study the things of God do yet rather make it their business to inquire after the sense of other men on the Scriptures than to search studiously into them themselves.

6. That direction, in this kind, which with me is instar omnium, is for a diligent endeavour to have the power of the truths professed and contended for abiding upon our hearts, that we may not contend for notions, but what we have a practical acquaintance with in our own souls. When the heart is cast indeed into the mould of the doctrine that the mind embraceth; when the evidence and necessity of the truth abides in us; when not the sense of the words only is in our heads, but the sense of the things abides in our hearts; when we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for, — then shall we be garrisoned, by the grace of God, against all the assaults of men. And without this all our contending is, as to ourselves, of no value. What am I the better if I can dispute that Christ is God, but have no sense or sweetness in my heart from hence that he is a God in covenant with my soul? What will it avail me to evince, by testimonies and arguments, that he hath made satisfaction for sin, if, through my unbelief, the wrath of God abideth on me, and I have no experience of my own being made the righteousness of God in him, — if I find not, in my standing before God, the excellency of having my sins imputed to him and his righteousness imputed to me? Will it be any advantage to me, in the issue, to profess and dispute that God works the conversion of a sinner by the irresistible grace of his Spirit, if I was never acquainted experimentally with the deadness and utter impotency to good, that opposition to the law of God, which is in my own soul by nature, with the efficacy of the exceeding greatness of the power of God in quickening, enlightening, and bringing forth the fruits of obedience in me? It is the power of truth in the heart alone that will make us cleave unto it indeed in an hour of temptation. Let us, then, not think that we are any thing the better for our conviction of the truths of the great doctrines of the gospel, for which we contend with these men, unless we find the power of the truths abiding in our own hearts, and have a continual experience of their necessity and excellency in our standing before God and our communion with him.

7. Do not look upon these things as things afar off, wherein you are little concerned. The evil is at the door; there is not a city, a town, scarce a village, in England, wherein some of this poison is not poured forth. Are not the doctrines of free will, universal redemption, apostasy from grace, mutability of God, of denying the resurrection of the dead, with all the foolish conceits of many about God and Christ, in this nation, ready to gather to this head?

Let us not deceive ourselves; Satan is a crafty enemy. He yet hovers up and down in the lubricous, vain imaginations of a confused multitude, whose tongues are so divided that they understand not one the other. I dare boldly say, that if ever he settle to a stated opposition to the gospel, it will be in Socinianism. The Lord rebuke him; he is busy in and by many, where little notice is taken of him. But of these things thus far.

A particular account of the cause and reasons of my engagement in this business, with what I have aimed at in the ensuing discourse, you will find given in my epistle to the university, so that the same things need not here also be delivered. The confutation of Mr Biddle’s Catechism, and Smalcius’ Catechism, commonly called the “Racovian;” with the vindication of all the texts of Scripture giving testimony to the deity of Christ throughout the Old and New Testament from the perverse glosses and interpretations put upon them by Hugo Grotius in his Annotations on the Bible, with those also which concern his satisfaction; and, on the occasion hereof, the confirmation of the most important truths of the Scripture, about the nature of God, the person of Christ and the Holy Ghost, the offices of Christ, etc., — have been in my design. With what mind and intention, with what love to the truth, with what dependence on God for his presence and assistance, with what earnestness of supplication to enjoy the fruit of the promise of our dear Lord Jesus, to lead me into all truth by his blessed Spirit, I have gone through this work, the Lord knows. I only know that in every particular I have come short of my duty therein, and that a review of my paths and pains would yield me very little refreshment, but that “I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that even concerning this also he will remember me for good, and spare me, according to the greatness of his mercy.” And whatever becomes of this weak endeavour before the Lord, yet “he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, and this is all my salvation and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.” What is performed is submitted humbly to the judgment of them to whom this address is made. About the thoughts of others, or any such as by envy, interest, curiosity, or faction, may be swayed or biassed, I am not solicitous. If any benefit redound to the saints of the Most High, or any that belong to the purpose of God’s love be advantaged, enlightened, or built up in their most holy faith in the least, by what is here delivered, I have my reward.


Mr Biddle’s preface to his catechism.

I have often wondered and complained that there was no catechism yet extant (that I could ever see or hear of) from whence one might learn the true grounds of the Christian religion, as the same is delivered in the holy Scripture, all catechisms generally being so stuffed with the supposals and traditions of men that the least part of them is derived from the word of God: for when councils, convocations, and assemblies of divines, justling the sacred writers out of their place in the church, had once framed articles and confessions of faith according to their own fancies and interests, and the civil magistrate had by his authority ratified the same, all catechisms were afterward fitted to those articles and confessions, and the Scripture either wholly omitted or brought in only for a show, not one quotation amongst many being a whit to the purpose, as will soon appear to any man of judgment, who, taking into his hand the said catechisms, shall examine the texts alleged in them; for if he do this diligently and impartially, he will find the Scripture and those catechisms to be at so wide a distance one from another, that he will begin to question whether the catechists gave any heed at all to what they wrote, and did not only themselves refuse to make use of their reason, but presume that their readers also would do the same. In how miserable a condition, then, as to spiritual things, must Christians generally needs be, when thus trained up, not, as the apostle adviseth, “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” but in the supposals and traditions of men, having little or no assurance touching the reality of their religion! which some observing, and not having the happiness to light upon the truth, have quite abandoned all piety whatsoever, thinking there is no firm ground whereon to build the same. To prevent which mischief in time to come, by bringing men to a certainty (I mean such men as own the divine authority of the Scripture), and withal to satisfy the just and pious desires of many who would fain understand the truth of our religion, to the end they might not only be built up themselves, but also instruct their children and families in the same, I have here (according to the understanding I have gotten by continual meditation on the word of God) compiled a Scripture Catechism; wherein I bring the reader to a sure and certain knowledge of the chiefest things pertaining both to belief and practice, whilst I myself assert nothing (as others have done before me), but only introduce the Scripture faithfully uttering its own assertions, which all Christians confess to be of undoubted truth. Take heed, therefore, whosoever thou art that lightest on this book, and there readest things quite contrary to the doctrines that pass current amongst the generality of Christians (for I confess most of the things here displayed have such a tendency), that thou fall not foul upon them; for thou canst not do so without falllng foul upon the holy Scripture itself, inasmuch as all the answers throughout the whole Catechism are faithfully transcribed out of it and rightly applied to the questions, as thou thyself mayst perceive if thou make a diligent inspection into the several texts, with all their circumstances. Thou wilt perhaps here reply, that the texts which I have cited do indeed in the letter hold forth such things as are contrary to the doctrines commonly received amongst Christians, but they ought to have a mystical or figurative interpretation put upon them, and then both the doctrines and the texts of Scripture will suit well enough. To which I answer, that if we once take this liberty to impose our mystical or figurative interpretations on the Scripture, without express warrant of the Scripture itself, we shall have no settled belief, but be liable continually to be turned aside by any one that can invent a new mystical meaning of the Scripture, there being no certain rule to judge of such meanings as there is of the literal ones, nor is there any error, how absurd and impious soever, but may on such terms be accorded with the Scripture. All the abominable idolatries of the Papists, all the superstitious fopperies of the Turks, all the licentious opinions and practices of the Ranters, may by this means be not only palliated but defended by the word of God. Certainly, might we of our own heads figuratively interpret the Scripture, when the letter is neither repugnant to our senses nor to the scope of the respective texts, nor to a greater number of plain texts to the contrary (for in such cases we must of necessity admit figures in the sacred volume as well as we do in profane ones, otherwise both they and it will clash with themselves or with our senses, which the Scripture itself intimates to be of infallible certainty; see 1 John i. 1–3); — might we, I say, at our pleasure impose our figures and allegories on the plain words of God, the Scripture would in very deed be, what some blasphemously affirm it to be, “a nose of wax.” For instance, it is frequently asserted in the Scripture that God hath a similitude or shape, hath his place in the heavens, hath also affections or passions, ‘as love, hatred, mercy, anger, and the like; neither is any thing to the contrary delivered there unless seemingly in certain places, which neither for number nor clearness are comparable unto those of the other side. Why now should I depart from the letter of the Scripture in these particulars, and boldly affirm, with the generality of Christians (or rather with the generality of such Christians only as, being conversant with the false philosophy that reigneth in the schools, have their understandings perverted with wrong notions), that God is without a shape, in no certain place, and incapable of affections? Would not this be to use the Scripture like a nose of wax, and when of itself it looketh any way, to turn it aside at our pleasure? And would not God be so far from speaking to our capacity in his word (which is the usual refuge of the adversaries when in these and the like matters concerning God they are pressed with the plain words of the Scripture), as that he would by so doing render us altogether incapable of finding out his meaning, whilst he spake one thing and understood the clean contrary? Yea, would he not have taken the direct course to make men substitute an idol in his stead (for the adversaries hold that to conceive of God as having a shape, or affections, or being in a certain place, is idolatry), if he described himself in the Scripture otherwise than indeed he is, without telling us so much in plain terms, that we might not conceive amiss of him? Thus we see that when sleep, which plainly argueth weakness and imperfection, had been ascribed to God, Ps. xliv. 23, the contrary is said of him, Ps. cxxi. 4. Again, when weariness had been attributed to him, Isa. i. 14, the same is expressly denied of him, Isa. xl. 28. And would not God, think ye, have done the like in those forementioned things, were the case the same in them as in the others? This consideration is so pressing, that a certain author (otherwise a very learned and intelligent man) perceiving the weight thereof, and not knowing how to avoid the same, took up (though very unluckily) one erroneous tenet to maintain another, telling us in a late book of his, entitled Conjectura Cabalistica, “That for Moses, by occasion of his writings, to let the Jews entertain a conceit of God as in human shape, was not any more a way to bring them into idolatry than by acknowledging man to be God, as,” saith he, “our religion does in Christ.” How can this consist even with consonancy to his own principles, whilst he holds it to be false that God hath any shape, but true that Christ is God; for will a false opinion of God not sooner lead men into idolatry than a true opinion of Christ? But it is no marvel that this author, and other learned men with him, entertain such conceits of God and Christ as are repugnant to the current of the Scripture, whilst they set so high a rate on the sublime, indeed, but uncertain notions of the Platonists, and in the meantime slight the plain but certain letter of the sacred writers, as being far below the Divine Majesty, and written only to comply with the rude apprehensions of the vulgar, unless by a mystical interpretation they be screwed up to Platonism. This is the stone at which the pride of learned men hath caused them continually to stumble, — namely, to think that they can speak more wisely and worthily of God than he hath spoken of himself in his word. This hath brought that more than Babylonish confusion of language into the Christian religion, whilst men have framed those horrid and intricate expressions, under the colour of detecting and excluding heresies, but in truth to put a baffle on the simplicity of the Scripture and usher in heresies, that so they might the more easily carry on their worldly designs, which could not be effected but through the ignorance of the people, nor the people brought into ignorance but by wrapping up religion in such monstrous terms as neither the people nor they themselves that invented them (or at least took them from the invention of others) did understand. Wherefore, there is no possibility to reduce the Christian religion to its primitive integrity, — a thing, though much pretended, yea, boasted of in reformed churches, yet never hitherto sincerely endeavoured, much less effected (in that men have, by severe penalties, been hindered to reform religion beyond such a stint as that of Luther, or at most that of Calvin), — but by cashiering those many intricate terms and devised forms of speaking imposed on our religion, and by wholly betaking ourselves to the plainness of the Scripture: for I have long since observed (and find my observation to be true and certain), that when, to express matters of religion, men make use of words and phrases unheard of in the Scripture, they slily under them couch false doctrines and obtrude them on us; for without question the doctrines of the Scripture can be so aptly explained in no language as that of the Scripture itself. Examine, therefore, the expressions of God’s being “infinite and incomprehensible, of his being a simple act, of his subsisting in three persons or after a threefold manner, of a divine circumincession, of an eternal generation, of an eternal procession, of an incarnation, of an hypostatical union, of a communication of properties, of the mother of God, of God dying, of God made man, of transubstantiation, of consubstantiation, of original sin, of Christ’s taking our nature on him, of Christ’s making satisfaction to God for our sins, both past, present, and to come, of Christ’s fulfilling the law for us, of Christ’s being punished by God for us, of Christ’s merits or his meritorious obedience, both active and passive, of Christ’s purchasing the kingdom of heaven for us, of Christ’s enduring the wrath of God, yea, the pains of a damned man, of Christ’s rising from the dead by his own power, of the ubiquity of Christ’s body, of apprehending and applying Christrighteousness to ourselves by faith, of Christ’s being our surety, of Christ’s paying our debts, of our sins imputed to Christ, of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, of Christ’s dying to appease the wrath of God and reconcile him to us, of infused grace, of free grace, of the world of the elect, of irresistible workings of the Spirit in bringing men to believe, of carnal reason, of spiritual desertions, of spiritual incomes, of the outgoings of God, of taking up the ordinance,” etc., and thou shalt find that as these forms of speech are not owned by the Scripture, so neither the things contained in them. How excellent, therefore, was that advice of Paul to Timothy in his second epistle to him, 2 Tim. i. 13, “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus”! for if we once let go those forms of sound words learned from the apostles, and take up such as have been coined by others in succeeding ages, we shall together [with them] part with the apostles’ doctrine, as woful experience hath taught us; for after Constantine the Great, together with the council of Nice, had once deviated from the language of the Scripture in the business touching the Son of God, calling him” co-essential with the Father,” this opened a gap for others afterward, under a pretence of guarding the truth from heretics, to devise new terms at pleasure; which did, by degrees, so vitiate the chastity and simplicity of our faith, delivered in the Scripture, that there hardly remained so much as one point thereof sound and entire. So that as it was wont to be disputed in the schools, whether the old ship of Theseus (which had in a manner been wholly altered at sundry times, by the accession of new pieces of timber upon the decay of the old) were the same ship it had been at first, and not rather another by degrees substituted in the stead thereof: in like manner there was so much of the primitive truth worn away, by the corruption that did, by little and little, overspread the generality of Christians, and so many errors in stead thereof tacked to our religion, at several times, that one might justly question whether it were the same religion with that which Christ and his apostles taught, and not another since devised by men and put in the room thereof. But thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, who, amidst the universal corruption of our religion, hath preserved his written word entire (for had men corrupted it, they would have made it speak more favourably in behalf of their lusts and worldly interests than it doth); which word, if we with diligence and sincerity pry into, resolving to embrace the doctrine that is there plainly delivered, though all the world should set itself against us for so doing, we shall easily discern the truth, and so be enabled to reduce our religion to its first principles. For thus much I perceive by mine own experience, who, being otherwise of no great abilities, yet setting myself, with the aforesaid resolution, for sundry years together upon an impartial search of the Scripture, have not only detected many errors, but here presented the reader with a body of religion exactly transcribed out of the word of God: which body whosoever shall well ruminate and digest in his mind, may, by the same method wherein! have gone before him, make a farther inquiry into the oracles of God, and draw forth whatsoever yet lies hid; and being brought to light, [it] will tend to the accomplishment of godliness amongst us, for at this only all the Scripture aimeth; — the Scripture, which all men who have thoroughly studied the same must of necessity be enamoured with, as breathing out the mere wisdom of God, and being the exactest rule of a holy life (which all religions whatsoever confess to be the way unto happiness) that can be imagined, and whose divinity will never, even to the world’s end, be questioned by any but such as are unwilling to deny their worldly lusts and obey the pure and perfect precepts thereof; which obedience whosoever shall perform, he shall, not only in the life to come, but even in this life, be equal unto angels.

John Biddle.

Mr Biddle’s preface briefly examined.

In the entrance of Mr Biddle’s preface he tells the reader very modestly “That he could never yet see or hear of a catechism” (although, I presume, he had seen, or heard at least, of one or two written by Faustus Socinus, though not completed; of one by Valentinus Smalcius, commonly called “The Racovian Catechism,” from whence many of his questions and answers are taken; and of an “Exposition of the Articles of Faith, in the Creed called the Apostles’, in way of catechism, by Jonas Schlichtingius,” published in French, anno 1646, in Latin, anno 1651) “from whence the true grounds of Christian religion might be learned, as it is delivered in Scripture;” and therefore, doubtless, all Christians have cause to rejoice at the happy product of Mr B.’s pains, wherewith he now acquaints them, ushered in with this modest account, whereby at length they may know their own religion, wherein as yet they have not been instructed to any purpose. And the reason of this is, because “all other catechisms are stuffed with many supposals and traditions, the least part of them being derived from the word of God,” Mr B. being judge. And this is the common language of his companions, comparing themselves and their own writings with those of other men.104 The common language they delight in is, “Though Christians have hitherto thought otherwise.”

Whether we have reason to stand to this determination, and acquiesce in this censure and sentence, the ensuing considerations of what Mr B. substitutes in the room of those catechisms which he here rejects will evince and manifest. But to give countenance to this humble entrance into his work, he tells his reader “That councils, convocations, and assemblies of divines, have justled out the Scripture, and framed confessions of faith according to their own fancies and interests, getting them confirmed by the civil magistrate; according unto which confessions all catechisms are and have been framed, without any regard to the Scripture.” What “councils” Mr B. intends he informs us not, nor what it is that in them he chiefly complains of. If he intend some only, such as the apostatizing times of the church saw, he knows he is not opposed by them with whom he hath to de, nor vet if he charge them all for some miscarriages in them or about them. If all, as that of the apostles themselves, Acts xv., together with the rest that for some ages followed after, and that as to the doctrine by them delivered, fall under his censure, we have nothing but the testimony of Mr B. to induce us to a belief of this insinuation.105 His testimony in things of this nature will be received only by them who receive his doctrine.

What I have to offer on this account I have spoken otherwhere. That the confessions of faith which the first general councils, as they are called, during the space of four hundred years and upward, composed and put forth, were “framed according to the fancies and interests of men,” beside the word, is Mr B.’s fancy, and his interest to have it so esteemed. The faith he professeth, or rather the infidelity he has fallen into, was condemned in them all, and that upon the occasion of its then first coming into the world; “Hinc illæ lacrimæ:” if they stand, he must fall. “That the catechisms of latter days” (I suppose he intends those in use amongst the reformed churches) “did wholly omit the Scripture, or brought it in only for a show, not one quotation amongst many being a whit to the purpose,” you have the same testimony for as for the assertions foregoing.106 He that will say this, had need some other way evince that he makes conscience of what he says, or that he dare not say any thing, so it serve his turn. Only Mr B. hath quoted Scripture to the purpose! To prove God to be “finite, limited, included in heaven, of a visible shape, ignorant of things future, obnoxious to turbulent passions and affections,” are some of his quotations produced; for the like end and purpose are the most of the rest alleged. Never, it seems, was the Scripture alleged to any purpose before! And these things, through the righteous hand of God taking vengeance on an unthankful generation, not delighting in the light and truth which he hath sent forth, do we hear and read. Of those who have made bold ἀκίνητα κινεῖν, and to shake the fundamentals of gospel truths or the mystery of grace, we have daily many examples. The number is far more scarce of them who have attempted to blot out those κοιναὶ ἔννοιαι, or ingrafted notions of mankind, concerning the perfections of God, which Mr B. opposeth. “Fabulas vulgaris nequitia non invenit.” An opposition ‘to the first principles of rational beings must needs be talked of. Other catechists, besides himself, Mr B. tells you, “have written with so much oscitancy and contempt of the Scripture, that a considering man will question whether they gave any heed to what they wrote themselves, or refused to make use of their reason, and presumed others would do so also.” And so you have the sum of his judgment concerning all other catechisms, besides his own, that he hath either seen or heard of. “They are all fitted to confessions of faith, composed according to the fancies and interests of men, written without attending to the Scripture or quoting it to any purpose, their authors, like madmen, not knowing what they wrote, and refusing to make use of their reason that they might so do.” And this is the modest, humble entrance of Mr B.’s preface.

All that have gone before him were knaves, fools, idiots, madmen. The proof of these assertions you are to expect. When a philosopher pressed Diogenes with this sophism, “What I am, thou art not; I am a man, therefore thou art not,” he gave him no other answer but, “Begin with me, and the conclusion will be true.” Mr B. is a Master of Arts, and knew, doubtless, that such assertions as might be easily turned upon himself are of no use to any but those who have not aught else to say. Perhaps Mr B. speaks only to them of the same mind with himself; and then, 61indeed, as Socrates said, it was no hard thing to commend the Athenians before the Athenians, but to commend them before the Lacedæmonians was difficult.107 No more is it any great undertaking to condemn men sound in the faith unto Socinians; before others it will not prove so easy.

It is not incumbent on me to defend any, much less all the catechisms that have been written by learned men of the reformed religion. That there are errors in some, mistakes in others; that some are more clear, plain, and scriptural than others, I grant. All of them may have, have had, their use in their kind. That in any of them there is any thing taught inconsistent with communion with God, or inevitably tending to the impairing of faith and love, Mr B. is not, I presume, such a φιλόπονος as to undertake to demonstrate. I shall only add, that notwithstanding the vain plea of having given all his answers in the express words of Scripture (whereby, with the foolish bird, he hides his head from the fowler, but leaves his whole monstrous body visible, the teaching part of his Catechism being solely in the insinuating, ensnaring, captious questions thereof, leading the understanding of the reader to a misapprehension and misapplication of the words of the Scripture, it being very easy to make up the grossest blasphemy imaginable out of the words of the Scripture itself), I never found, saw, read, or heard of any so grossly perverting the doctrine of the Scripture concerning God and all his ways as those of Mr B.’s do; for in sundry particulars they exceed those mentioned before of SocinusSmalciusSchlichtingius, which had justly gotten the repute of the worst in the world. And for an account of my reason of this persuasion I refer the reader to the ensuing considerations of them.

This, then, being the sad estate of Christians, so misinformed by such vile varlets as have so foully deceived them and misled them, as above mentioned, what is to be done and what course to be taken to bring in light into the world, and to deliver men from the sorrowful condition whereinto they have been catechised? For this end, he tells the reader, doth he show himself to the world (Θεὸς ἀπὸ μηχανῆς), to undeceive them, and to bring them out of all their wanderings unto some certainty of religion.108 This he discourses, pp. 4, 5. The reasons he gives you of this undertaking are two:— 1. “To bring men to a certainty;” 2. “To satisfy the pious desire of some who would fain know the truth of our religion.” The way he fixes on for the compassing of the end proposed is:— 1. “By asserting nothing;” 2. “By introducing the plain texts of Scripture to speak for themselves.” Each briefly may be considered.

1. What fluctuating persons are they, not yet come to any certainty in religion, whom Mr B. intends to deal withal? Those, for the most part, of them who seem to be intended in such undertakings, are fully persuaded from the Scripture of the truth of those things wherein they have been instructed. Of these, some, I have heard, have been unsettled by Mr B., but that he shall ever settle any (there being no consistency in error or falsehood) is impossible. Mr B. knows there is no one of the catechists he so decries but directs them whom he so instructs to the Scriptures, and settles their faith on the word of God alone, though they labour to help their faith and understanding by opening of it; whereunto also they are called. I fear Mr B.’s certainty will at length appear to be scepticism, and his settling of men to be the unsettling; that his conversions are from the faith; and that in this very book he aims more to acquaint men with his questions than the Scripture answers.109 But he says, —

2. Those whom he aims to bring to this certainty are “such as would fain understand the truth of our religion.” If by “our religion” he means the religion of himself and his followers (or rather masters), the Socinians, I am sorry to hear that any are so greedy of its acquaintance.110 Happily this is but a pretence, such as his predecessors in this work have commonly used. [As] for understanding the truth of it, they will find in the issue what an endless work they have undertaken. “Who can make that straight which is crooked, or number that which is wanting?” If by “our religion” he means the Christian religion, it may well be inquired who they are, with their “just and pious desires,” who yet understand not the truth of Christian religion? that is, that it is the only true religion. When we know these Turks, Jews, Pagans, which Mr B. hath to deal withal, we shall be able to judge of what reason he had to labour to satisfy their “just and pious desires.” I would also willingly be informed how they came to so high an advancement in our religion as to desire to be brought up in it, and to be able to instruct others, when as yet they do not understand the truth of it, or are not satisfied therein. And, —

3. As these are admirable men, so the way he takes for their satisfaction is admirable also; that is, by “asserting nothing!’ He that asserts nothing proves nothing; for that which any one proves, that he asserts. Intending, then, to bring men to a certainty who yet understand not the truth of our religion, he asserts nothing, proves nothing (as is the manner of some), but leaves them to themselves; — a most compendious way of teaching (for whose attainment Mr B. needed not to have been Master of Arts), if it proves effectual! But by not asserting, it is evident Mr B. intends not silence. He hath said too much to be so interpreted. Only what he hath spoken, he hath done it in a sceptical way of inquiry; wherein, though the intendment of his mind be evident, and all his queries may be easily resolved into so many propositions or assertions, yet as his words lie, he supposes he may speak truly that he asserts nothing. Of the truth, then, of this assertion, that he doth not assert any thing, the reader will judge. And this is the path to atheism which, of all others, is most trod and beaten in the days wherein we live. A liberty of judgment is pretended, and queries are proposed, until nothing certain be left, nothing unshaken. But, —

4. He “introduces the Scripture faithfully uttering its own assertions.” If his own testimony concerning his faithful dealing may be taken, this must pass. The express words of the Scripture, I confess, are produced, but as to Mr B.’s faithfulness in their production, I have sundry exceptions to make; as, —

(1.) That by his leading questions, and application of the Scripture to them, he hath utterly perverted the scope and intendment of the places urged. Whereas he pretends not to assert or explain the Scripture, he most undoubtedly restrains the signification of the places by him alleged unto the precise scope which in his sophistical queries he hath included. And in such a way of procedure, what may not the serpentine wits of men pretend to a confirmation of from Scripture, or any other book that hath been written about such things as the inquiries are made after? It were easy to give innumerable instances of this kind, but we fear God, and dare not to make bold with him or his word.

(2.) Mr B. pretending to give an account of the” chiefest things pertaining to belief and practice,” doth yet propose no question at all concerning many of the most important heads of our religion, and whereunto the Scripture speaks fully and expressly, or proposes his thoughts in the negative, leading on the scriptures from whence he makes his objections to the grand truths he opposeth, concealing, as was said, the delivery of them in the Scripture in other places innumerable; so insinuating to the men of “just and pious desires” with whom he hath to do that the Scripture is silent of them. That this is the man’s way of procedure, in reference to the deity of Christ and of the Holy Ghost, the satisfaction and merit of Christ, the corruption of nature, and efficacy of grace, with many other most important heads of Christian religion, will be fully manifest in our consideration, of the several particulars as they shall occur in the method wherein by him they are handled.

(3.) What can be concluded of the mind of God in the Scripture, by cutting off any place or places of it from their dependence, connection, and tendency, catching at those words which seem to confirm what we would have them so to do (whether, in the proper order wherein of God they are set and fixed, they do in the least east an eye towards the thesis which they are produced to confirm or no), might easily be manifested by innumerable instances, were not the vanity of such a course evident to all.

On the consideration of these few exceptions to Mr B.’s way of procedure, it will easily appear what little advantage he hath given him thereby, and how unjust his pretence is, which by this course he aims to prevail upon men withal. This he opens, page 6: “None,” saith he, “can fall foul upon the things contained in this Catechism” (which he confesseth to be “quite contrary to the doctrine that passeth current among the generality of Christians”), “as they are here displayed, because the answers are transcribed out of the Scriptures.” But Mr B. may be pleased to take notice that the “displaying,” as he calls it, of his doctrines is the work of his questions, and not of the words of Scripture produced to confirm them, which have a sense cunningly and subtilely imposed on them by his queries, or are pointed and restrained to the things which in the place of their delivery they look not towards in any measure. We shall undoubtedly find, in the process of this business, that Mr B.’s questions, being found guilty of treason against God, will not be allowed sanctuary in the answers which they labour to creep into; and that, they disclaiming their protection, they may be pursued, taken, and given up to the justice and severity of truth, without the least profanation of their holiness. A murderer may be plucked from the horns of the altar.

Nor is that the only answer insisted on for the removal of Mr B.’s sophistry, which he mentions, p. 7, and pursues it for three or four leaves onward of his preface, namely, “That the scriptures which he urgeth do in the letter hold out such things as he allegeth them to prove, but yet they must be figuratively interpreted.” For Mr B.’s “mystical sense,” I know not what he intends by it, or by whom it is urged. This is applicable solely to the places he produceth for the description of God and his attributes, concerning whom that some expressions of Scripture are to be so interpreted himself confesseth, p. 13; and we desire to take leave to inquire whether some others, beside what Mr B. allows, may not be of the same consideration. In other things, for the most part, we have nothing at all to do with so much as the interpretation of the places he mentions, but only to remove the grossly sophistical insinuations of his queries. For instance, when Mr B. asks, “Whether Christ Jesus was a man or no?” and allegeth express Scripture affirming that he was, we say not that the Scripture must have a figurative interpretation, but that Mr B. is grossly sophistical, concluding from the assertion of Christ’s human nature to the denial of his divine, and desperately injurious to the persons with whom he pretends he hath to do, who as yet “understand not the truth of our religion,” in undertaking to declare to them the special “chief things of belief and practice,” and hiding from them the things of the greatest moment to their salvation, and which the Scripture speaks most plentifully unto, by not stating any question or making any such inquiry as their affirmation might be suited unto. The like instance may be given in all the particulars wherein Mr B. is departed from “the faith once delivered to the saints.” His whole following discourse, then, to the end of p. 13, wherein he decries the answer to his way of procedure, which himself had framed, he might have spared. It is true, we do affirm that there are figurative expressions in the Scripture (and Mr B. dares not say the contrary), and that they are accordingly to be interpreted; not that they are to have a mystical sense put upon them, but that the literal sense is to be received, according to the direction of the figure which is in the words. That these words of our Saviour, “This is my body,” are figurative, I suppose Mr B. will not deny. Interpret them according to the figurative import of them, and that interpretation gives you the literal, and not a mystical sense, if such figures belong to speech and not to sense. That sense, I confess, may be spiritually understood (then it is saving) or otherwise; but this doth not constitute different senses in the words, but only denote a difference in the understandings of men. But all this, in hypothesiMr B. fully grants, p. 9; so that there is no danger, by asserting it, to cast the least thought of uncertainty on the word of God. But, p. 10, he gives you an instance wherein this kind of interpretation must by no means be allowed, namely, in the Scripture attributions of a shape and similitude (that is, of eyes, ears, hands, feet) unto God, with passions and affections like unto us; which that they are not proper, but figuratively to be interpreted, he tells you, p. 10–12, “those affirm who are perverted by false philosophy, and make a nose of wax of the Scripture, which plainly affirms such things of God.” In what sense the expressions of Scripture intimated concerning God are necessarily to be received and understood, the ensuing considerations will inform the reader. For the present, I shall only say that I do not know scarce a more unhappy instance in his whole book that he could have produced than this, wherein he hath been blasphemously injurious unto God and his holy word. And herein we shall deal with him from Scripture itself, right reason,111 and the common consent of mankind. How remote our interpretations of the places by him quoted for his purpose are from wresting the Scriptures, or turning them aside from their purpose, scope, and intendment, will also in due time be made manifest.

We say, indeed, as Mr B. observes, that in those kinds of expressions God “condescendeth to accommodate his ways and proceedings” (not his essence and being) “to our apprehensions;” wherein we are very far from saying that “he speaks one thing and intends the clean contrary,” but only that the things that he ascribes to himself, for our understanding and the accommodation of his proceedings to the manner of men, are to be understood in him and of them in that which they denote of perfection, and not in respect of that which is imperfect and weak.112 For instance, when God says, “his eyes run to and fro, to behold the sons of men,” we do not say that he speaks one’ thing and understands another; but only because we have our knowledge and acquaintance with things by our eyes looking up and down, therefore doth he who hath not eyes of flesh as we have, nor hath any need to look up and down to acquaint himself with them, all whose ways are in his own hand, nor can without blasphemy be supposed to look from one thing to another, choose to express his knowledge of and intimate acquaintance with all things here below, in and by his own infinite understanding, in the way so suited to our apprehension. Neither are these kinds of expressions in the least an occasion of idolatry, or do give advantage to any of creating any shape of God in their imaginations, God having plainly and clearly, in the same word of his wherein these expressions are used, discovered that of himself, his nature, being, and properties, which will necessarily determine in what sense these expressions are to be understood; as, in the consideration of the several particulars in the ensuing discourse, the reader will find evinced. And we are yet of the mind, that to conceive of God as a great man, with mouth, eyes, hands, legs, etc., in a proper sense, sitting in heaven, shut up there, troubled, vexed, moved up and down with sundry passions, perplexed about the things that are to come to pass, which he knows not, — which is the notion of God that Mr B. labours to deliver the world from their darkness withal, — is gross idolatry, whereunto the scriptural attributions unto God mentioned give not the least countenance; as will in the progress of our discourse more fully appear. And if it be true, which Mr B. intimates, that “things implying imperfection” (speaking of sleep and being weary) “are not properly attributed to God,” I doubt not but I shall easily evince that the same line of refusal is to pass over the visible shape and turbulent affections which are by him ascribed to him. But of these more particularly in their respective places.

But he adds, pp. 13, 14, “That this consideration is so pressing, that a certain learned author, in his book entitled ‘Conjectura Cabalistica,’ affirms that for Moses, by occasion of his writings, to let the Jews entertain a conceit of God as in human shape was not any more a way to bring them into idolatry than by acknowledging man to be God, as our religion doth in Christ;” which plea of his Mr B. exagitates in the pages following. That learned gentleman is of age and ability to speak for himself: for mine own part, I am not so clear in what he affirms as to undertake it for him, though otherwise very ready to serve him upon the account which I have of his worth and abilities; though I may freely say I suppose they might be better exercised than in such cabalistical conjectures as the book of his pointed unto is full of. But who am I, that judge another? We must every one give an account of himself and his labours to God; and the fire shall try our works of what sort they are. I shall not desire to make too much work for the fire. For the present, I deny that Moses in his writings doth give any occasion to entertain a conceit of God as one of a human shape; neither did the Jews ever stumble into idolatry on that account. They sometimes, indeed, changed their glory for that which was not God; but whilst they worshipped that God that revealed himself by Moses, Jehovah, Ehejeh, it doth not appear that ever they entertained in their thoughts any thing but purum numen, a most simple, spiritual, eternal Being, as I shall give a farther account afterward. Though they intended to worship Jehovah both in the calf in the wilderness and in those at Bethel, yet that they ever entertained any thoughts that God had such a shape as that which they framed to worship him by is madness to imagine. For though Moses sometimes speaks of God in the condescension before mentioned, expressing his power by his arm, and bow, and sword, his knowledge and understanding by his eye, yet he doth in so many places caution them with whom he had to do of entertaining any thoughts of any bodily similitude of God, that by any thing delivered by him there is not the least occasion administered for the entertaining of such a conceit as is intimated. Neither am I clear in the theological predication which that learned person hath chosen to parallel with the Mosaical expressions of God’s shape and similitude, concerning man being God. Though we acknowledge him who is man to be God, yet we do not acknowledge man to be God. Christ under this reduplication, as man, is not a person, and so not God. To say that man is God, is to say that the humanity and Deity are the same. Whatever he is as man, he is upon the account of his being man. Now, that he who is man is also God, though he be not God upon the account of his being man, can give no more occasion to idolatry than to say that God is infinite, omnipotent. For the expression itself, it being in the concrete, it may be salved by the communication of properties; but as it lies, it may possibly be taken in the abstract, and so is simply false. Neither do I judge it safe to use such expressions, unless it be when the grounds and reasons of them are assigned. But that Mr B. should be offended with this assertion I see no reason. Both he and his associates affirm that Jesus Christ as man (being in essence and nature nothing but man) is made a God; and is the object of divine worship or religious adoration on that account. I may therefore let pass Mr B.’s following harangue against “men’s philosophical speculations, deserting the Scripture in their contemplations of the nature of God, as though they could speak more worthily of God than he hath done of himself;” for though it may easily be made appear that never any of the Platonical philosophers spoke so unworthily of God or vented such gross, carnal conceptions of him as Mr B. hath done, and the gentleman of whom he speaks be well able to judge of what he reads, and to free himself from being entangled in any of their notions, discrepant from the revelation that God hath made of himself in his word, yet we, being resolved to try out the whole matter, and to put all the differences we have with Mr B. to the trial and issue upon the express testimony of God himself in his word, are not concerned in this discourse.

Neither have I any necessity to divert to the consideration of his complaint concerning the bringing in of new expressions into religion, if he intends such as whose substance or matter, which they do express, is not evidently and expressly found in the Scripture. What is the “Babylonish language,” what are “the horrid and intricate expressions,” which he affirms to be “introduced under a colour of detecting and confuting heresies, but indeed to put a baffle upon the simplicity of the Scripture,” he gives us an account of, p. 19, where we shall consider it and them. In general, words are but the figures of things. It is not words and terms, nor expressions, but doctrines and things, we inquire after.113 Mr B., I suppose, allows expositions of Scripture, or else I am sure he condemns himself in what he practises. His book is, in his own thoughts, an exposition of Scripture. That this cannot be done without varying the words and literal expressions thereof, I suppose will not be questioned. To express the same thing that is contained in any place of Scripture with such other words as may give light unto it in our understandings, is to expound it. This are we called to, and the course of it is to continue whilst Christ continues a church upon the earth. Paul spake nothing, for the substance of the things he delivered, but what was written in the prophets; that he did not use new expressions, not to be found in any of the prophets, will not be proved. But there is a twofold evil in these expressions: “That they are invented to detect and exclude heresies, as is pretended.” If heretics begin first to wrest Scripture expressions to a sense never received nor contained in them, it is surely lawful for them who are willing to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” to clear the mind of God in his word by expressions and terms suitable thereunto;114 neither have heretics carried on their cause without the invention of new words and phrases.

If any shall make use of any words, terms, phrases, and expressions, in and about religious things, requiring the embracing and receiving of those words, etc., by others, without examining either the truth of what by those words, phrases, etc., they intend to signify and express, or the propriety of those expressions themselves, as to their accommodation for the signifying of those things, I plead not for them. It is not in the power of man to make any word or expression, not ῥητῶς found in the Scripture, to be canonical, and for its own sake to be embraced and received.115 But yet if any word or phrase do expressly signify any doctrine or matter contained in the Scripture, though the word or phrase itself be not in so many letters found in the Scripture, that such word or phrase may not be used for the explication of the mind of God I suppose will not easily be proved. And this we farther grant, that if any one shall scruple the receiving and owning of such expressions, so as to make them the way of professing that which is signified by them, and yet do receive the thing or doctrine which is by them delivered, for my part I shall have no contest with him. For instance, the word ὀμοούσιος was made use of by the first Nicene council to express the unity of essence and being that is in the Father and Son, the better to obviate Arius and his followers, with their ἧν ὅταν οὐκ ἦν, and the like forms of speech, nowhere found in Scripture, and invented on set purpose to destroy the true and eternal deity of the Son of God. If, now, any man should scruple the receiving of that word, but withal should profess that he believes Jesus Christ to be God, equal to the Father, one with him from the beginning, and doth not explain himself by other terms not found in the Scripture, namely, that he was “made a God,” and is “one with the Father as to will, not essence,” and the like, he is like to undergo neither trouble nor opposition from me. We know what troubles arose between the eastern and western churches about the words “hypostasis” and “persona,” until they understood on each side that by these different words the same thing was intended, and that ὑπόστασις with the Greeks was not the same as “substantia” with the Latins, nor “persona” with the Latins the same with πρόσωπον among the Greeks, as to their application to the thing the one and the other expressed by these terms. That such “monstrous terms are brought into our religion as neither they that invented them nor they that use them do understand,” Mr B. may be allowed to aver, from the measure he hath taken of all men’s understandings, weighing them in his own, and saying, “Thus far can they go and no farther,” “This they can understand, that they cannot;” — a prerogative, as we shall see in the process of this business, that he will scarcely allow to God himself without his taking much pains and labour about it. I profess, for ray part, I have not as yet the least conviction fallen upon me that Mr B. is furnished with so large an understanding, whatever he insinuates of his own abilities, as to be allowed a dictator of what any man can or cannot understand. If his principle, or rather conclusion, upon which he limits the understandings of men be this, “What I cannot understand, that no man else can,” he would be desired to consider that he is as yet but a young man, who hath not had so many advantages and helps for the improving of his understanding as some others have had; and, besides, that there are some whose eyes are blinded by the god of this world, that they shall never see or understand the things of God, yea, and that God himself doth thus oftentimes execute his vengeance on them, for detaining his truth in unrighteousness.

But yet, upon this acquaintance which he hath with the measure of all men’s understandings, he informs his reader that “the only way to carry on the reformation of the church, beyond what yet hath been done by Luther or Calvin, is by cashiering those many intricate terms and devised forms of speaking,” which he hath observed slily to couch false doctrines, and to obtrude them on us; and, by the way, that “this carrying on of reformation beyond the stint of Luther or Calvin was never yet so much as sincerely endeavoured.” In the former passage, having given out himself as a competent judge of the understandings of all men, in this he proceeds to their hearts. “The reformation of the church,” saith he, “was never sincerely attempted, beyond the stint of Luther and Calvin.” Attempted it hath been, but he knows all the men and their hearts full well who made those attempts, and that they never did it sincerely, but with guile and hypocrisy! Mr B. knows who those are that say, “With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own.” To know the hearts of men and their frame towards himself, Mr B. instructs us, in his Catechism, that God himself is forced to make trial and experiments; but for his own part, without any great trouble, he can easily pronounce of their sincerity or hypocrisy in any undertaking! Low and vile thoughts of God will quickly usher in light, proud, and foolish thoughts concerning ourselves. Luther and Calvin were men whom God honoured above many in their generation; and on that account we dare not but do so also. That all church reformation is to be measured by their line, — that is, that no farther discovery of truth, in, or about, or concerning the ways or works of God, may be made, but what hath been made to them and by them, — was not, that I know of, ever yet affirmed by any in or of any reformed church in the world. The truth is, such attempts as this of Mr B.’s to overthrow all the foundations of Christian religion, to accommodate the Gospel to the Alcoran, and subject all divine mysteries to the judgment of that wisdom which is carnal and sensual, under the fair pretence of carrying 69on the work of reformation and of discovering truth from the Scripture, have perhaps fixed some men to the measure they have received beyond what Christian ingenuity and the love of the truth requireth of them. A noble and free inquiry into the word of God, with attendance to all ways by him appointed or allowed for the revelation of his mind, with reliance on his gracious promise of “leading us into all truth” by his holy and blessed Spirit, without whose aid, guidance, direction, light, and assistance, we can neither know, understand, nor receive the things that are of God; neither captivated to the traditions of our fathers, for whose labour and pains in the work of the gospel, and for his presence with them, we daily bless the name of our God; neither yet “carried about with every wind of doctrine,” breathed or insinuated by the “cunning sleight of men who lie in wait to deceive,” — is that which we profess. What the Lord will be pleased to do with us by or in this frame, upon these principles; how, wherein, we shall serve our generation, in the revelation of his mind and will, — is in his hand and disposal. About using or casting off words and phrases, formerly used to express any truth or doctrine of the Scripture, we will not contend with any, provided the things themselves signified by them be retained. This alone makes me indeed put any value on any word or expression not ῥητῶς found in the Scripture, namely, my observation that they are questioned and rejected by none but such as, by their rejection, intend and aim at the removal of the truth itself which by them is expressed, and plentifully revealed in the word. The same care also was among them of old, having the same occasion administered. Hence when Valens,116 the Arian emperor, sent Modestus, his prætorian præfect, to persuade Basil to be an Arian, the man entreated him not to be so rigid as to displease the emperor and trouble the church, δι’ ὀλίγην δογμάτων ἀκρίβειαν, for an over-strict observance of opinions, it being but one word, indeed one syllable, that made the difference, and he thought it not prudent to stand so much upon so small a business. The holy man replied, Τοῖς θείοις λόγοις ἐντεθραμμένοι πρόεσθαι μὲν τῶν θείων δογμάτων οὐδὲ μίαν ἀνέχονται συλλαβήν — “However children might be so dealt withal, those who are bred up in the Scriptures or nourished with the word will not suffer one syllable of divine truth to be betrayed.” The like attempt to this of Valens and Modestus upon Basil was made by the Arian bishops at the council of Ariminum,117 who pleaded earnestly for the rejection of one or two words not found in the Scripture, laying on that plea much weight, when it was the eversion of the deity of Christ which they intended and attempted. And by none is there more strength and evidence given to this observation than by him with whom I have now to do, who, exclaiming against words and expressions, intends really the subversion of all the most fundamental and substantial truths of the gospel; and therefore, having, pp. 19–21, reckoned up many expressions which he dislikes, condemns, and would have rejected, most of them relating to the chiefest heads of our religion (though, to his advantage, he cast in by the way two or three gross figments), he concludes “that as the forms of speech by him recounted are not used in the Scripture, no more are the things signified by them contained therein.” In the issue, then, all the quarrel is fixed upon the things themselves, which, if they were found in Scripture, the expressions insisted on might be granted to suit them well enough. What need, then, all this long discourse about words and expressions, when it is the things themselves signified by them that are the abominations decried? Now, though most of the things here pointed unto will fall under our ensuing considerations, yet because Mr B. hath here cast into one heap many of the doctrines which in the Christian religion he opposeth and would have renounced, it may not be amiss to take a short view of the most considerable instances in our passage.

His first is of God’s being infinite and incomprehensible. This he condemns, name and thing, — that is, he says “he is finite, limited, of us to be comprehended;” for those who say he is infinite and incomprehensible do say only that he is not finite nor of us to be comprehended. What advance is made towards the farther reformation of the church118 by this new notion of Mr B.’s is fully discovered in the consideration of the second chapter of his Catechism; and in this, as in sundry other things, Mr B. excels his masters.119 The Scripture tells us expressly that “he filleth heaven and earth;” that the “heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain him;” that his presence is in heaven and hell, and that “his understanding is infinite” (which how the understanding of one that is finite may be, an infinite understanding cannot comprehend); that he “dwelleth in that light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (which to us is the description of one incomprehensible); that he is “eternal,” which we cannot comprehend. The like expressions are used of him in great abundance. Besides, if God be not incomprehensible, we may search out his power, wisdom, and understanding to the utmost; for if we cannot, if it be not possible so to do, he is incomprehensible. But “canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?” “There is no searching of his understanding.” If by our lines we suppose we can fathom the depth of the essence, omnipotency, wisdom, and understanding of God, I doubt not but we shall find ourselves mistaken. Were ever any, since the world began, before quarrelled withal for asserting the essence and being of God to be incomprehensible? The heathen who affirmed that the more he inquired, the more he admired and the less he understood,120 had a more noble reverence of the eternal Being121 which in his mind he conceived, than Mr B. will allow us to entertain of God. Farther; if God be not infinite, he is circumscribed in some certain place; if he be, is he there fixed to that place, or doth he move from it? If he be fixed there, how can he work at a distance, especially such things as necessarily require divine power to their production? If he move up and down, and journey as his occasions require, what a blessed enjoyment of himself in his own glory hath he! But that this blasphemous figment of God’s being limited and confined to a certain place is really destructive to all the divine perfections of the nature and being of God is afterward demonstrated. And this is the first instance given by Mr B. of the corruption of our doctrine, which he rejects name and thing, namely, “that God is infinite and incomprehensible.” And now, whether this man be a “mere Christian” or a mere Lucian, let the reader judge.

That God is a simple act is the next thing excepted against and decried, name and thing; in the room whereof, that he is compounded of matter and form,” or the like, must be asserted. Those who affirm God to be a simple act do only deny him to be compounded of divers principles, and assert him to be always actually in being, existence, and intent operation.122 God says of himself that his name is Ehejeh, and he is I am, — that is, a simple being, existing in and of itself; and this is that which is intended by the simplicity of the nature of God, and his being a simple act. The Scripture tells us he is eternal, I am, always the same, and so never what he was not ever. This is decried, and in opposition to it his being compounded, and so obnoxious to dissolution, and his being in potentia, in a disposition and passive capacity to be what he is not, is asserted; for it is only to deny these things that the term “simple” is used, which he condemns and rejects. And this is the second instance that Mr B. gives in the description of his God, by his rejecting the received expressions concerning him who is so: “He is limited, and of us to be comprehended; his essence and being consisting of several principles, whereby he is in a capacity of being what he is not.” Mr B.solus habeto; I will not be your rival in the favour of this God.

And this may suffice to this exception of Mr B., by the way, against the simplicity of the being of God; yet, because he doth not directly oppose it afterward, and the asserting of it doth clearly evert all his following fond imaginations of the shape, corporeity, and limitedness of the essence of God (to which end also I shall, in the consideration of his several depravations of the truth concerning the nature of God, insist upon it), I shall a little here divert to the explication of what we intend by the simplicity of the essence of God, and confirm the truth of what we so intend thereby.

As was, then, intimated before, though simplicity seems to be a positive term, or to denote something positively, yet indeed it is a pure negation,123 and formally, immediately, and properly, denies multiplication, composition, and the like. And though this only it immediately denotes, yet there is a most eminent perfection of the nature of God thereby signified to us; which is negatively proposed, because it is in the use of things that are proper to us, in which case we can only conceive what is not to be ascribed to God. Now, not to insist on the metaphysical notions and distinctions of simplicity, by the ascribing of it to God we do not only deny that he is compounded of divers principles really distinct, but also of such as are improper, and not of such a real distance, or that he is compounded of any thing, or can be compounded with any thing whatever.

First, then, that this is a property of God’s essence or being is manifest from his absolute independence and firstness in being and operation, which God often insists upon in the revelation of himself: Isa. xliv. 6, “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” Rev. i. 8, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is,” etc.: so chap. xxi. 6, xxii. 13. Which also is fully asserted, Rom. xi. 35, 36, “Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever.” Now, if God were of any causes, internal or external, any principles antecedent or superior to him, he could not be so absolutely first and independent. Were he composed of parts, accidents, manner of being, he could not be first; for all these are before that which is of them, and therefore his essence is absolutely simple.

Secondly, God is absolutely and perfectly one and the same, and nothing differs from his essence in it: “The Lord our God is one Lord,” Deut. vi. 4; “Thou art the same,” Ps. cii. 27. And where there is an absolute oneness and sameness in the whole, there is no composition by an union of extremes. Thus is it with God: his name is, “I am; I am that I am,” Exod. iii. 14, 15; “Which is,” Rev. i. 8. He, then, who is what he is, and whose all that is in him is, himself, hath neither parts, accidents, principles, nor any thing else, whereof his essence should be compounded.

Thirdly, The attributes of God, which alone seem to be distinct things in the essence of God, are all of them essentially the same with one another, and every one the same with the essence of God itself. For, first, they are spoken one of another as well as of God; as there is his “eternal power” as well as his “Godhead.” And, secondly, they are either infinite and infinitely perfect, or they are not. If they are, then if they are not the same with God, there are more things infinite than one, and consequently more Gods; for that which is absolutely infinite is absolutely perfect, and consequently God. If they are not infinite, then God knows not himself, for a finite wisdom cannot know perfectly an infinite being. And this might be farther confirmed by the particular consideration of all kinds of composition, with a manifestation of the impossibility of their attribution unto God; arguments to which purpose the learned reader knows where to find in abundance.

Fourthly, Yea, that God is, and must needs be, a simple act (which expression Mr B. fixes on for the rejection of it) is evident from this one consideration, which was mentioned before: If he be not so, there must be some potentiality in God. Whatever is, and is not a simple act, hath a possibility to be perfected by act; if this be in God, he is not perfect, nor all-sufficient. Every composition whatever is of power and act; which if it be, or might have been in God, he could not be said to be immutable, which the Scripture plentifully witnesseth that he is.

These are some few of the grounds of this affirmation of ours concerning the simplicity of the essence of God; which when Mr B. removes and answers, he may have more of them, which at present there is no necessity to produce.

From his being he proceeds to his subsistence, and expressly rejects his subsisting in three persons, name and thing. That this is no new attempt, no undertaking whose glory Mr B. may arrogate to himself, is known. Hitherto God hath taken thought for his own glory, and eminently confounded the opposers of the subsistence of his essence in three distinct persons. Inquire of them that went before, and of the dealings of God with them of old. What is become of EbionCerinthusPaulus SamosatenusTheodotus ByzantinusPhotinusAriusMacedonius, etc.? Hath not God made their memory to rot, and their names to be an abomination to all generations? How they once attempted to have taken possession of the churches of God, making slaughter and havoc of all that opposed them, hath been declared; but their place long since knows them no more. By the subsisting of God in any person, no more is intended than that person’s being God. If that person be God, God subsists in that person. If you grant the Father to be a person (as the Holy Ghost expressly affirms him to be, Heb. i. 3) and to be God, you grant God to subsist in that person: that is all which by that expression is intended. The Son is God, or is not. To say he is not God, is to beg that which cannot be proved. If he be God, he is the Father, or he is another person. If he be the Father, he is not the Son. That he is the Son and not the Son is sufficiently contradictory. If he be not the Father, as was said, and yet be God, he may have the same nature and substance with the Father (for of our God there is but one essence, nature, or being), and yet be distinct from him. That distinction from him is his personality, — that property whereby and from whence he is the Son. The like is to be said of the Holy Ghost. The thing, then, here denied is, that the Son is God, or that the Holy Ghost is God: for if they are so, God must subsist in three persons; of which more afterward. Now, is this not to be found in the Scriptures? Is there no text affirming Christ to be God, to be one with the Father, or that the Holy Ghost is so? no text saying, “There are three that bear record in heaven; and these three are one?” none ascribing divine perfections, divine worship distinctly to either Son or Spirit, and yet jointly to one God? Are none of these things found in the Scripture, that Mr B. thinks with one blast to demolish all these ancient foundations, and by his bare authority to deny the common faith of the present saints, and that wherein their predecessors in the worship of God are fallen asleep in peace? The proper place for the consideration of these things will farther manifest the abomination of this bold attempt against the Son of God and the Eternal Spirit.

For the divine circumincession, mentioned in the next place, I shall only say that it is not at all in my intention to defend all the expressions that any men have used (who are yet sound in the main) in the unfolding of this great, tremendous mystery of the blessed Trinity, and I could heartily wish that they had some of them been less curious in their inquiries and less bold in their expressions. It is the thing itself alone whose faith I desire to own and profess; and therefore I shall not in the least labour to retain and hold those things or words which may be left or lost without any prejudice thereunto.

Briefly; by the barbarous term of “mutual circumincession,” the schoolmen understand that which the Greek fathers called ἐμπεριχώρησις, whereby they expressed that mystery, which Christ himself teaches us, of “his being in the Father, and the Father in him,” John x. 38, and of the Father’s dwelling in him, and doing the works he did, chap. xiv. 10, — the distinction of these persons being not hereby taken away, but the disjunction of them as to their nature and being.

The eternal generation of the Son is in the next place rejected, that he may be sure to cast down every thing that looks towards the assertion of his deity, whom yet the apostle affirms to be” God blessed for ever,” Rom. ix. 5. That the Word, which “in the beginning was” (and therefore is) “God,” is “the only begotten of the Father,” the apostle affirms, John i. 14. That he is also” the only begotten Son of God” we have other plentiful testimonies, Ps. ii. 7John iii. 16Acts xiii. 33Heb. i. 4–6; — a Son so as, in comparison of his sonship, the best of sons by adoption are servants, Heb. iii. 5, 6; and so begotten as to be an only Son, John i. 14; though, begotten by grace, God hath many sons, James i. 18. Christ, then, being begotten of the Father, hath his generation of the Father; for these are the very same things in words of a diverse sound. The only question here is, whether the Son have the generation so often spoken of from eternity or in time, — whether it be an eternal or a temporal generation from whence he is so said to be “begotten.” As Christ is a Son, so by him the “worlds were made,” Heb. i. 2, so that surely he had his sonship before he took flesh in the fulness of time; and when he had his sonship he had his generation. He is such a Son as, by being partaker of that name, he is exalted above angels, Heb. i. 5; and he is the “first begotten” before he is brought into the world, verse 6: and therefore his “goings forth” are said to be “from the days of eternity,” Mic. v. 2; and he had “glory with the Father” (as the Son) “before the world was,” John xvii. 5. Neither is he said to be “begotten of the Father” in respect of his incarnation, but conceived by the Holy Ghost, or formed in the womb by him, of the substance of his mother; nor is he thence called the “Son of God.” In brief, if Christ be the eternal Son of God, Mr B. will not deny him to have had an eternal generation: if he be not, a generation must be found out for him suitable to the sonship which he hath; of which abomination in its proper place.

This progress have we made in Mr B.’s creed: He believes God to be finite, to be by us comprehended, compounded; he believes there is no trinity of persons in the Godhead, — that Christ is not the eternal Son of God. The following parts of it are of the same kind:—

The eternal procession of the Holy Ghost is nextly rejected. The Holy Ghost being constantly termed the “Spirit of God,” the “Spirit of the Father,” and the “Spirit of the Son” (being also” God,” as shall afterward be evinced), and so partaking of the same nature with Father and Son (the apostle granting that God hath a nature, in his rejecting of them who” by nature are no gods”), is yet distinguished from them, and that eternally (as nothing is in the Deity that is not eternal), and being, moreover, said ἐκπορεύεσθαι or to “proceed” and “go forth” from the Father and Son, this expression of his “eternal procession” hath been fixed on, manifesting the property whereby he is distinguished from Father and Son. The thing intended hereby is, that the Holy Ghost, who is God, and is said to be of the Father and the Son, is by that name, of his being of them, distinguished from them; and the denial hereof gives you one article more of Mr B.’s creed, namely, that the Holy Ghost is not God. To what that expression of “proceeding” is to be accommodated will afterward be considered.

The incarnation of Christ (the Deity and Trinity being despatched) is called into question, and rejected. By “incarnation” is meant, as the word imports, a taking of flesh (this is variously by the ancients expressed, but the same thing still intended124), or being made so. The Scripture affirming that “the Word was made flesh,” John i. 14; that “God was manifest in the flesh,” 1 Tim. iii. 16; that “Christ took part of flesh and blood,” Heb. ii. 14; that “he took on him the seed of Abraham,” chap. ii. 16; that he was “made of a woman,” Gal. iv. 4, 5; sent forth “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” Rom. viii. 3; “in all things made like unto his brethren,” Heb. ii. 17, — we thought we might have been allowed to say so also, and that this expression might have escaped with a less censure than an utter rejection out of Christian religion. The Son of God taking flesh, and so being made like to us, that he might be the “captain of our salvation,” is that which by this word (and that according to the Scripture) is affirmed, and which, to increase the heap of former abominations (or to “carry on the work of reformation beyond the stint of Luther or Calvin”), is here by Mr B. decried.

Of the hypostatical union there is the same reason. Christ, who as “concerning the flesh” was of the Jews, and is God to be blessed for ever, over all, Rom. ix. 5, is one person. Being God to be blessed over all, that is, God by nature (for such as are not so, and yet take upon them to be gods, God will destroy), and having “flesh and blood as the children” have, Heb. ii. 14, that is, the same nature of man with believers, yet being but one person, one mediator, one Christ, the Son of God, we say both these natures of God and man are united in that one person, namely, the person of the Son of God. This is that which Mr B. rejects (now his hand is in), both name and thing. The truth is, all these things are but colourable advantages wherewith he laboureth to amuse poor souls. Grant the deity of Christ, and he knows all these particulars will necessarily ensue; and whilst he denies the foundation, it is to no purpose to contend about any consequences or inferences whatever. And whether we have ground for the expression under present consideration, John i. 14, 18, xx. 28Acts xx. 28Rom. i. 3, 4, ix. 5Gal. iv. 4Phil. ii. 5–81 Tim. iii. 16, i.John i. 1, 2Rev. v. 12–14, with innumerable other testimonies of Scripture, may be considered. If “the Word, the Son of God, was made flesh, made of a woman, took our nature,” wherein he was pierced and wounded, and shed his blood, and yet continues” our Lord and our God, God blessed for ever,” esteeming it “no robbery to be equal with his Father,” yet being a person distinct from him, being the “brightness of his person,” we fear not to say that the two natures of God and man are united in one person; which is the hypostatical union here rejected.

The communication of properties, on which depend two or three of the following instances mentioned by Mr B., is a necessary consequent of the union before asserted; and the thing intended by it is no less clearly delivered in Scripture than the truths before mentioned.125 It is affirmed of “the man Christ Jesus” that he “knew what was in the heart of man,” that he “would be with his unto the end of the world,” and Thomas, putting his hand into his side, cried out to him, “My Lord and my God,” etc., when Christ neither did nor was so, as he was man.126 Again, it is said that “God redeemed his church with his own blood,” that the “Son of God was made of a woman,” that “the Word was made flesh,” none of which can properly be spoken of God, his Son, or eternal Word,127 in respect of that nature whereby he is so; and therefore we say, that look what properties are peculiar to either of his natures (as, to be omniscient, omnipotent, to be the object of divine worship, to the Deity;128 to be born, to bleed, and die, to the humanity), are spoken of in reference to his person, wherein both those natures are united. So that whereas the Scriptures say that “God redeemed his church with his own blood,” or that he was “made flesh;” or whereas, in a consonancy thereunto, and to obviate the folly of Nestorius, who made two persons of Christ, the ancients called the blessed Virgin the Mother of God, — the intendment of the one and other is no more but that he was truly God, who in his manhood was a son, had a mother, did bleed and die. And such Scripture expressions we affirm to be founded in this “communication of properties,” or the assignment of that unto the person of Christ, however expressly spoken of as God or man, which is proper to him in regard of either of these natures, the one or other, God on this account being said to do what is proper to man, and man what is proper alone to God, because he who is both God and man doth both the one and the other.129 By what expressions and with what diligence the ancients warded the doctrine of Christ’s personal union against both Nestorius and Eutyches,130 the one of them dividing his person into two, the other confounding his natures by an absurd confusion and mixture of their respective essential properties (Mr B. not giving occasion), I shall not farther mention.

And this is all Mr B. instances in of what he rejects as to our doctrine about the nature of God, the Trinity, person of Christ, and the Holy Ghost; of all which he hath left us no more than what the Turks and other Mohammedans will freely acknowledge.131 And whether this be to be a “mere Christian,” or none at all, the pious reader will judge.

Having dealt thus with the person of Christ, he adds the names of two abominable figments, to give countenance to his undertaking, wherein he knows those with whom he hath to do have no communion, casting the deity of Christ and the Holy Ghost into the same bundle with transubstantiation and consubstantiation; to which he adds the ubiquity of the body of Christ, after mentioned, — self-contradicting fictions. With what sincerity, candour, and Christian ingenuity, Mr B. hath proceeded, in rolling up together such abominations as these with the most weighty and glorious truths of the gospel, that together he might trample them under his feet in the mire, God will certainly in due time reveal to himself and all the world.

The next thing he decries is original sin (I will suppose Mr B. knows what those whom he professeth to oppose intend thereby); and this he condemns, name and thing. That the guilt of our first father’s sin is imputed to his posterity; that they are made obnoxious to death thereby, that we are “by nature children of wrath, dead in trespasses and sins, conceived in sin; that our understandings are darkness, so that we cannot receive the things that are of God; that we are able to do no good of ourselves, so that unless we are born again we cannot enter into the kingdom of God; that we are alienated, enemies, have carnal minds, that are enmity against God, and cannot be subject to him;”132 — all this and the like is at once blown away by Mr B.; there is no such thing. “Una litura potest.” That Christ by nature is not God, that we by nature have no sin, are the two great principles of this “mere Christian’s” belief.

Of Christ’s taking our nature upon him, which is again mentioned, we have spoken before. If he was “made flesh, made of a woman, made under the law; if he partook of flesh and blood because the children partake of the same; if he took on him the seed of Abraham, and was made like to us in all things, sin only excepted; if, being in the form of God and equal to him, he took on him the form of a servant, and became like to us, — he took our nature on him;133 for these, and these only, are the things which by that expression are intended.

The most of what follows is about the grace of Christ, which, having destroyed what in him lies his person, he doth also openly reject; and in the first place begins with the foundation, his making satisfaction to God for our sins, all our sins, past, present, and to come, which also, under sundry other expressions, he doth afterward condemn. God is a God of “purer eyes than to behold evil,” and it is “his judgment that they which commit sin are worthy of death;” yea, “it is a righteous thing with him to render tribulation” to offenders;134 and seeing we have “all sinned and come short of the glory of God,” doubtless it will be a righteous thing with him to leave them to answer for their own sins who so proudly and contemptuously reject the satisfaction which he himself hath appointed and the ransom he hath found out.135 But Mr B. is not the first who hath “erred, not knowing the Scriptures” nor the justice of God. The Holy Ghost acquainting us that “the Lord made to meet upon him the iniquity of us all; that he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and that the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed; that he gave his life a ransom for us, and was made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him; that he was for us made under the law and underwent the curse of it; that he bare our sins in his body on the tree; and that by his blood we are redeemed, washed, and saved,”136 — we doubt not to speak as we believe, namely, that Christ underwent the punishment due to our sins, and made satisfaction to the justice of God for them; and Mr B., who it seems is otherwise persuaded, we leave to stand or fall to his own account.

Most of the following instances of the doctrines he rejects belong to and may be reduced to the head last mentioned, and therefore I shall but touch upon them. Seeing that “he that will enter into life must keep the commandments, and this of ourselves we cannot do, for in many things we offend all, and he that breaks one commandment is guilty of the breach of the whole law,137 God having sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children; and that which was impossible to us by the law, through the weakness of the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us; and so we are saved by his life, being justified by his blood, he being made unto us of God righteousness, and we are by faith found in him, having on not our own righteousness, which is by the law, but that which is by Jesus Christ, the righteousness of God by faith;”138 — we do affirm that Christ fulfilled the law for us, not only undergoing the penalty of it, but for us submitting to the obedience of it, and performing all that righteousness which of us it requires, that we might have a complete righteousness wherewith to appear before God. And this is that which is intended by the active and passive righteousness of Christ, after mentioned; all which is rejected, name and thing.

Of Christ’s being punished by God, which he rejects in the next place, and, to multiply his instances of our false doctrines, insists on it again under the terms of Christ’s enduring the wrath of God and the pains of a damned man, the same account is to be given as before of his satisfaction. That God “bruised him, put him to grief, laid the chastisement of our peace on him;139 that for us he underwent death, the curse of the law, which inwrapped the whole punishment due to sin, and that by the will of God, who so made him to be sin who knew no sin, and in the undergoing whereof he prayed and cried, and sweat blood, and was full of heaviness and perplexity,”140 the Scripture is abundantly evident; and what we assert amounts not one tittle beyond what is by and in it affirmed.

The false doctrine of the merit of Christ, and his purchasing for us the kingdom of heaven, is the next stone which this master-builder disallows and rejects. That “Christ hath bought us with a price; that he hath redeemed us from our sins, the world, and curse, to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works, so making us kings and priests to God for ever; that he hath obtained for us eternal redemption, procuring the Spirit for us, to make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, God blessing us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in him, upon the account of his making his soul an offering for sin,” performing that obedience to the law which of us is required,141 — is that which by this expression of the “merit of Christ” we intend, the fruit of it being all the accomplishment of the promise made to him by the Father, upon his undertaking the great work of saving his people from their sins. In the bundle of doctrines by Mr B. at once condemned, this also hath its place.

That Christ rose from the dead by his own power seems to us to be true, not only because he affirmed that he “had power so to do, even to lay down his life and to take it again,” John x. 18, but also because he said he would do so when be bade them “destroy the temple,” and told them that “in three days he would raise it again.” It is true that this work of raising Christ from the dead is also ascribed to the Father and to the Spirit (as in the work of his oblation, his Father “made his soul an offering for sin,” and he “offered up himself through the eternal Spirit”), yet this hinders not but that he was raised by his own power, his Father and he being one, and what work his Father doth he doing the same.

And this is the account which this “mere Christian” giveth us concerning his faith in Christ, his person, and his grace: He is a mere man, that neither satisfied for our sins nor procured grace or heaven for us; and how much this tends to the honour of Christ and the good of souls, all that love him in sincerity will judge and determine.

His next attempt is upon the way whereby the Scripture affirms that we come to be made partakers of the good things which Christ hath done and wrought for us; and in the first place he falls foul upon that of apprehending and applying Christ’s righteousness to ourselves by faith, that so there may no weighty point of the doctrine of the cross remain not condemned (by this wise man) of folly. This, then, goes also, name and thing: Christ is “of God made unto us righteousness” (that is, “to them that believe on him,” or “receive” or “apprehend” him, John i. 12), God “having set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the forgiveness of sins,” and declaring that every one who “believeth in him is justified from all things from which he could not be justified by the law,” God imputing righteousness to them that so believe; those who are so justified by faith having peace with God. It being the great thing we have to aim at, namely, that “we may know Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and the power of his resurrection, and be found in him, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but the righteousness which is by the faith of Christ, Christ being the end of the law to every one that believeth,”142 we say it is the duty of every one who is called, to apprehend Christ by faith, and apply his righteousness to him; that is, to believe on him as “made the righteousness of God to him,” unto justification and peace. And if Mr B. reject this doctrine, name and thing, I pray God give him repentance before it be too late, to the acknowledgment of the truth.

Of Christ’s being our surety, of Christ’s paying our debt, of our sins imputed to Christ, of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, of Christ dying to appease the wrath of God and reconcile him to us, enough hath been spoken already to clear the meaning of them who use these expressions, and to manifest the truth of that which they intend by them, so that I shall not need again to consider them as they lie in this disorderly, confused heap which we have here gathered together.

Our justification by Christ being cashiered, he falls upon our sanctification in the next place, that he may leave us as little of Christians as he hath done our Saviour of the true Messiah. Infused grace is first assaulted. The various acceptations of the word “grace” in the Scripture this is no place to insist upon. By “grace infused” we mean grace really bestowed upon us, and abiding in us, from the Spirit of God. That a new spiritual life or principle, enabling men to live to God, — that new, gracious, heavenly qualities and endowments, as light, love, joy, faith, etc., bestowed on men, — are called “grace” and “graces of the Spirit,”143 I suppose will not be denied. These we call “infused grace” and “graces;” that is, we say God works these things in us by his Spirit, giving us a “new heart and a new spirit, putting his law into our hearts, quickening us who were dead in trespasses and sins, making us light who were darkness, filling us with the fruits of the Spirit in joy, meekness, faith, which are not of ourselves but the gifts of God.”144 Mr B. having before disclaimed all original sin, or the depravation of our nature by sin, in deadness, darkness, obstinacy, etc., thought it also incumbent on him to disown and disallow all reparation of it by grace; and all this under the name of a “mere Christian,” not knowing that he discovereth a frame of spirit utterly unacquainted with the main things of Christianity.

Free grace is next doomed to rejection. That all the grace, mercy, goodness of God, in our election, redemption, calling, sanctification, pardon, and salvation, is free, not deserved, not merited, nor by us any way procured, — that God doth all that he doth for us bountifully, fully, freely, of his own love and grace, — is affirmed in this expression, and intended thereby. And is this found neither name nor thing in the Scriptures? Is there no mention of “God’s loving us freely; of his blotting out our sins for his own sake, for his name’s sake; of his giving his Son for us from his own love; of faith being not of ourselves, being the gift of God; of his saving us, not according to the works of righteousness which we have done, but of his own mercy; of his justifying us by his grace, begetting us of his own will, having mercy on whom he will have mercy; of a covenant not like the old, wherein he hath promised to be merciful to our unrighteousness,” etc.?145 or is it possible that a man assuming to himself the name of a Christian should be ignorant of the doctrine of the free grace of God, or oppose it and yet profess not to reject the gospel as a fable? But this was, and ever will be, the condemnation of some, that “light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light.”

About the next expression, of the world of the elect, I shall not contend. That by the name of “the world” (which term is used in the Scriptures in great variety of significations), the elect, as being in and of this visible world, and by nature no better than the rest of the inhabitants thereof, are sometimes peculiarly intended, is proved elsewhere,146 beyond whatever Mr B. is able to oppose thereunto.

Of the irresistible working of the Spirit, in bringing men to believe, the condition is otherwise. About the term “irresistible” I know none that care much to strive. That “faith is the gift of God, not of ourselves, that it is wrought in us by the exceeding greatness of the power of God; that in bestowing it upon us by his Spirit (that is, in our conversion), God effectually creates a new heart in us, makes us new creatures, quickens us, raises us from the dead, working in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure; as he commanded light to shine out of darkness, so shining into our hearts, to give us the knowledge of his glory;147 begetting us anew of his own will,” so irresistibly causing us to believe, because he effectually works faith in us, — is the sum of what Mr B. here rejecteth, that he might be sure, as before, to leave nothing of weight in Christian religion uncondemned. But these trifles and falsities being renounced, he complains of the abuse of his darling, that it is called carnal reason; which being the only interpreter of Scripture which he allows of, he cannot but take it amiss that it should be so grossly slandered as to be called “carnal.” The Scripture, indeed, tells us of a “natural man, that cannot discern the things which are of God, and that they are foolishness to him; of a carnal mind, that is enmity to God, and not like to have any reasons or reasonings but what are carnal; of a wisdom that is carnal, sensual, and devilish;148 of a wisdom that God will destroy and confound;” and that such is the best of the wisdom and reason of all unregenerate persons; — but why the reason of a man in such a state, with such a mind about the things of God, should be called “carnal,” Mr B. can see no reason; and some men, perhaps, will be apt to think that it is because all his reason is still carnal. When a man is “renewed after the image of him that created him” he is made “spiritual, light in the Lord,” every thought and imagination that sets up itself in his heart in opposition to God being led captive to the obedience of the gospel. We acknowledge a sanctified reason in such an one of that use in the dijudication of the things of God as shall afterward be declared.

Spiritual desertions are nextly decried. Some poor souls would thank him to make good this discovery. They find mention in the Scripture of “God’s hiding his face, withdrawing himself, forsaking, though but for a moment,” and of them that on this account “walk in darkness and see no light, that seek him and find him not, but are filled with troubles, terrors, arrows from him,” etc.149 And this, in some measure, they find to be the condition of their own souls. They have not the life, light, power, joy, consolation, sense of God’s love, as formerly; and therefore they think there are spiritual desertions, and that in respect of their souls these dispensations of God are signally and significantly so termed; and they fear that those who deny all desertions never had any enjoyments from or of God.

Of spiritual incomes there is the same reason. It is not the phrase of speech, but the thing itself, we contend about. That God who is the Father of mercy and God of all consolation gives mercy, grace, joy, peace, consolation, as to whom, so in what manner or in what degree he pleaseth. The receiving of these from God is by some (and that, perhaps, not inaptly) termed “spiritual incomes,” with regard to God’s gracious distributions of his kindness, love, good-will and the receiving of them. So that it be acknowledged that we do receive grace, mercy, joy, consolation, and peace from God, variously as he pleaseth, we shall not much labour about the significancy of that or any other expression of the like kind. The Scriptures mentioning the “goings forth of God,” Mic. v. 2, leave no just cause to Mr B. of condemning them who sometimes call any of his works or dispensations his outgoings.

His rehearsal of all these particular instances, in doctrines that are found neither name nor thing in Scripture, Mr B. closeth with an “etc.;” which might be interpreted to comprise as many more, but that there remain not as many more important heads in Christian religion. The nature of God being abased, the deity and grace of Christ denied, the sin of our natures and their renovation by grace in Christ rejected, Mr B.’s remaining religion will be found scarce worth the inquiry after by those whom he undertakes to instruct, there being scarcely any thing left by him from whence we are peculiarly denominated Christians, nor any thing that should support the weight of a sinful soul which approacheth to God for life and salvation.

To prevent the entertainment of such doctrines as these, Mr B. commends the advice of Paul, 2 Tim. i. 13, “Hold fast the form of sound words,” etc.; than which we know none more wholesome nor more useful for the safeguarding and defence of those holy and heavenly principles of our religion which Mr B. rejects and tramples on. Nor are we at all concerned in his following discourse of leaving Scripture terms, and using phrases and expressions coined by men; for if we use any word or phrase in the things of God and his worship, and cannot make good the thing signified thereby to be founded on and found in the Scriptures, we will instantly renounce it. But if indeed the words and expressions used by any of the ancients for the explication and confirmation of the faith of the gospel, especially of the doctrine concerning the person of Christ, in the vindication of it from the heretics which in sundry ages bestirred themselves (as Mr B. now doth) in opposition thereunto, be found/ consonant to Scripture, and to signify nothing but what is written therein with the beams of the sun, perhaps we see more cause to retain them, from the opposition here made to them by Mr B., than formerly we did, considering that his opposition to words and phrases is not for their own sake, but of the things intended by them.

The similitude of “the ship that lost its first matter and substance by the addition of new pieces, in way of supplement to the old decays,” having been used by some of our divines to illustrate the Roman apostasy and traditional additionals to the doctrines of the gospel, will not stand Mr B. in the least stead, unless he be able to prove that we have lost, in the religion we profess, any one material part of what it was when given over to the churches by Christ and his apostles, or have added any one particular to what they have provided and furnished us withal in the Scriptures; which until he hath done, by these and the like insinuations he doth but beg the thing in question; which, being a matter of so great consequence and importance as it is, will scarce be granted him on any such terms. I doubt not but it will appear to every person whatsoever, in the process of this business, who hath his senses any thing exercised in the word to discern between good and evil, and whose eyes the god of this world hath not blinded, that the glorious light of the gospel of God should not shine into their hearts, that Mr B., as wise as he deems and reports himself to be, is indeed, like the foolish woman that pulls down her house with both her hands, labouring to destroy the house of God with all his strength, pretending that this and that part of it did not originally belong thereto (or like Ajax, in his madness, who killed sheep, and supposed they had been his enemies150), upon the account of that enmity which he finds in his own mind unto them.

The close of Mr B.’s preface contains an exhortation to the study of the word, with an account of the success he himself hath obtained in the search thereof, both in the detection of errors and the discovery of sundry truths. Some things I shall remark upon that discourse, and shut up these considerations of his preface:—

For his own success, he tells us “That being otherwise of no great abilities, yet searching the Scriptures impartially, he hath detected many errors, and hath presented the reader with a body of religion from the Scriptures; which whoso shall well ruminate and digest will be enabled,” etc.

As for Mr B.’s abilities, I have not any thing to do to call them into question: whether small or great, he will one day find that he hath scarce used them to the end for which he is intrusted with them; and when the Lord of his talents shall call for an account, it will scarce be comfortable to him that he hath engaged them so much to his dishonour as it will undoubtedly appear he hath done. I have heard, by those of Mr B.’s time and acquaintance in the university, that what ability he had then obtained, were it more or less, he still delighted to be exercising of it in opposition to received truths in philosophy; and whether an itching desire of novelty, and of emerging thereby, lie not at the bottom of the course he hath since steered, he may do well to examine himself.

What errors he hath detected (though but pretended such, which honour in the next place he assumes to himself) I know not. The error of the deity of Christ was detected in the apostles’ days by Ebion Cerinthus, and others,151 — not long after by Paulus Samosatenus, by Photinus, by Arius, and others;152 the error of the purity, simplicity, and spirituality of the essence of God, by Audseus and the Anthropomorphites; the error of the deity of the Holy Ghost was long since detected by Macedonius and his companions; the error of original sin, or the corruption of our nature, by Pelagius; the error of the satisfaction and merit of Christ, by Abelardus; all of them, by SocinusSmalciusCrellius, etc. What new discoveries Mr B. hath made I know not, nor is there any thing that he presents us with, in his whole body of religion, as stated in his questions, but what he hath found prepared, digested, and modelled to his hand by his masters, the Socinians, unless it be some few gross notions about the Deity; nor is so much as the language which here he useth of himself and his discoveries his own, but borrowed of SocinusEp. ad Squarcialupum.

We have not, then, the least reason in the world to suppose that Mr B. was led into these glorious discoveries by reading of the Scriptures, much less by “impartial reading of them;” but that they are all the fruits of a deluded heart, given up righteously of God to believe a lie, for the neglect of his word and contempt of reliance upon his Spirit and grace for a right understanding thereof, by the cunning sleights of the forementioned persons, in some of whose writings Satan lies in wait to deceive. And for the “body of religion” which he hath collected, which lies not in the answers, which are set down in the words of the Scripture, but in the interpretations and conclusions couched in his questions, I may safely say it is one of the most corrupt and abominable that ever issued from the endeavours of one who called himself a Christian; for a proof of which assertion I refer the reader to the ensuing considerations of it. So that whatever promises of success Mr B. is pleased to make unto him who shall ruminate and digest in his mind this body of his composure (it being, indeed, stark poison, that will never be digested, but will fill and swell the heart with pride and venom until it utterly destroy the whole person), it may justly be feared that he hath given too great an advantage to a sort of men in the world, not behind Mr B. for abilities and reason (the only guide allowed by him in affairs of this nature), to decry the use and reading of the Scripture, which they see unstable and unlearned men fearfully to wrest to their own destruction. But let God be true, and all men liars. Let the gospel run and prosper; and if it be hid to any, it is to them whom the god of this world hath blinded, that the glorious light thereof should not shine into their hearts.

What may farther be drawn forth of the same kind with what is in these Catechisms delivered, with an imposition of it upon the Scripture, as though any occasion were thence administered thereunto, I know not, but yet do suppose that Satan himself is scarce able to furnish the thoughts of men with many more abominations of the like length and breadth with those here endeavoured to be imposed on simple, unstable souls, unless he should engage them into downright atheism and professed contempt of God.

Of what tendency these doctrines of Mr B. are unto godliness, which he next mentioneth, will in its proper place fall under consideration. It is true, the gospel is a “doctrine according to godliness,” and aims at the promotion of it in the hearts and lives of men, in order to the exaltation of the glory of God; and hence it is that so soon as any poor deluded soul falls into the snare of Satan, and is taken captive under the power of any error whatever, the first sleight he puts in practice for the promotion of it is to declaim about its excellency and usefulness for the furtherance of godliness, though himself in the meantime be under the power of darkness, and knows not in the least what belongs to the godliness which he professeth to promote. As to what Mr B. here draws forth to that purpose, I shall be bold to tell him that to the accomplishment of a godliness amongst men (since the fall of Adam) that hath not its rise and foundation in the effectual, powerful changing of the whole man from death to life, darkness to light, etc., in the washing off the pollutions of nature by the blood of Christ; that is not wrought in us and carried on by the efficacy of the Spirit of grace, taking away the heart of stone and giving a new heart circumcised to fear the Lord; that is not purchased and procured for us by the oblation and intercession of the Lord Jesus; a godliness that is not promoted by the consideration of the viciousness and corruption of our hearts by nature, and their alienation from God, and that doth not in a good part of it consist in the mortifying, killing, slaying of the sin of nature that dwelleth in us, and in an opposition to all the actings and workings of it; a godliness that is performed by our own strength in yielding obedience to the precepts of the word, that by that obedience we may be justified before God and for it accepted, etc., — there is not one tittle, letter, nor iota, in the whole book of God tending.

Mr B. closeth his preface with a commendation of the Scriptures, their excellency and divinity, with the eminent success that they shall find who yield obedience to them, in that they shall be, “even in this life, equal unto angels.” His expressions, at first view, seem to separate him from his companions in his body of divinity, which he pretends to collect from the Scriptures, whose low thoughts and bold expressions concerning the contradictions in them shall afterward be pointed unto; but I fear “latet anguis in herba:” and in this kiss of the Scriptures, with “hail” unto them, there is vile treachery intended, and the betraying of them into the hands of men, to be dealt withal at their pleasure. I desire not to entertain evil surmises of any (what just occasion soever be given on any other account) concerning things that have not their evidence and conviction in themselves. The bleating of that expression, “The Scriptures are the exactest rule of a holy life, evidently allowing other rules of a holy life, though they be the exactest, and admitting other things or books into a copartnership with them in that their use and service, though the preeminence be given to them, sounds as much to their dishonour as any thing spoken of them by any who ever owned them to have proceeded from God. It is the glory of the Scriptures, not only to be the rule, but the only one, of walking with God. If you take any others into comparison with it, and allow them in the trial to be rules indeed, though not so exact as the Scripture, you do no less cast down the Scripture from its excellency than if you denied it to be any rule at all. It will not lie as one of the many, though you say never so often that it is the best. What issues there will be of the endeavour to give reason the absolute sovereignty in judging of rules of holiness, allowing others, but preferring the Scripture, and therein, without other assistance, determining of all the contents of it, in order to its utmost end, God in due time will manifest. We confess (to close with Mr B.) that true obedience to the Scriptures makes men, even in this life, equal in some sense unto angels; not upon the account of their performance of that obedience merely, as though there could be an equality between the obedience yielded by us whilst we are yet sinners, and continue so (for “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves”), and the exact obedience of them who never sinned, but abide in doing the will of God: but the principal and main work of God required in them, and which is the root of all other obedience whatever, being to “believe on him whom he hath sent,” to “as many as so believe on him and so receive him power is given to become the sons of God;” who being so adopted into the great family of heaven and earth, which is called after God’s name, and invested with all the privileges thereof, having fellowship with the Father and the Son, they are in that regard, even in this life, equal to angels.

Having thus, as briefly as I could, washed off the paint that was put upon the porch of Mr B.’s fabric, and discovered it to be a composure of rotten posts and dead men’s bones, — whose pargeting being removed, their abomination lies naked to all, — I shall enter the building or heap itself, to consider what entertainment he hath provided therein for those whom, in the entrance, he doth so subtilely and earnestly invite to turn in and partake of his provisions.


Chapter 1.

Mr Biddle’s first chapter examined — Of the Scriptures.

Mr Biddle having imposed upon himself the task of insinuating his abominations by applying the express words of Scripture in way of answer to his captious and sophistical queries, was much straitened in the very entrance, in that he could not find any text or tittle in them that is capable of being wrested to give the least colour to those imperfections which the residue of men with whom he is, in the whole system of his doctrine, in compliance and communion, do charge them withal: as, that there are contradictions in them, though in things of less importance;153 that many things are or may be changed and altered in them; that some of the books of the Old Testament are lost; and that those that remain are not of any necessity to Christians, although they may be read with profit. Their subjecting them, also, and all their assertions, to the last judgment of reason, is of the same nature with the other. But it not being my purpose to pursue his opinions through all the secret windings and turnings of them, so [as] to drive them to their proper issue, but only to discover the sophistry and falseness of those insinuations which grossly and palpably overthrow the foundations of Christianity, I shall not force him to speak to any thing beyond what he hath expressly delivered himself unto.

This first chapter then, concerning the Scriptures, both in the Greater and Less Catechisms, without farther trouble I shall pass over, seeing that the stating of the questions and answers in them may be sound, and according to the common faith of the saints, in those who partake not with Mr B.’s companions in their low thoughts of them, which here he doth not profess; only, I dare not join with him in his last assertion, that such and such passages are the most affectionate in the book of God, seeing we know but in part, and are not enabled nor warranted to make such peremptory determinations concerning the several passages of Scripture, set in comparison and competition for affectionateness by ourselves.

Chapter 2.

Of the nature of God.

His second chapter, which is concerning God, his essence, nature, and properties, is second to none in his whole book for blasphemies and reproaches of God and his word.

The description of God which he labours to insinuate is, that he is “one person, of a visible shape and similitude, finite, limited to a certain place, mutable, comprehensible, and obnoxious to turbulent passions, not knowing the things that are future and which shall be done by the sons of men; whom none can love with all his heart, if he believe him to be ‘one in three distinct persons.’ ”

That this is punctually the apprehension and notion concerning God and his being which he labours to beget, by his suiting Scripture expressions to the blasphemous insinuations of his questions, will appear in the consideration of both questions and answers, as they lie in the second chapter of the Greater Catechism.

His first question is, “How many Gods of Christians are there?” and his answer is, “One God,” Eph. iv. 6; whereunto he subjoins secondly, “Who is this one God?” and answers, “The Father, of whom are all things,” 1 Cor. viii. 6.

That the intendment of the connection of these queries, and the suiting of words of Scripture to them, is to insinuate some thoughts against the doctrine of the Trinity, is not questionable, especially being the work of him that makes it his business to oppose it and laugh it to scorn. With what success this attempt is managed, a little consideration of what is offered will evince. It is true, Paul says, “To us there is one God,” treating of the vanity and nothingness of the idols of the heathen, whom God hath threatened to deprive of all worship and to starve out of the world. The question as here proposed, “How many Gods of Christians are there?” having no such occasion administered unto it as that expression of Paul, being no parcel of such a discourse as he insists upon, sounds pleasantly towards the allowance of many gods, though Christians have but one. Neither is Mr B. so averse to polytheism as not to give occasion, on other accounts, to this supposal. Jesus Christ he allows to be a god. All his companions, in the undertaking against his truly eternal divine nature, still affirm him to be “Homo Deificatus” and “Deus Factus,”154 and plead “pro vera deitate Jesu Christi,” denying yet, with him, that by nature he is God, of the same essence with the Father; so, indeed, grossly and palpably falling into and closing with that abomination which they pretend above all men to avoid, in their opposition to the thrice holy and blessed Trinity. Of those monstrous figments in Christian religion which on this occasion they have introduced, of making a man to be an eternal God, of worshipping a mere creature with the worship due only to the infinitely blessed God, we shall speak afterward.

We confess that to us there is one God, but one God, and let all others be accursed. “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth,” let them be destroyed, according to the word of the Lord, “from under these heavens,” Jer. x. 11. Yet we say, moreover, that “there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one,” 1 John v. 7. And in that very place whence Mr B. cuts off his first answer, as it is asserted that there is “one God,” so “one Lord” and “one Spirit,” the fountain of all spiritual distributions, are mentioned; which whether they are not also that one God, we shall have farther occasion to consider.

To the next query concerning this one God, who he is, the words are, “The Father, from whom are all things;” in themselves most true. The Father is the one God whom we worship in spirit and in truth; and yet the Son also is “our Lord and our God,” John xx. 28, even “God over all, blessed for ever,” Rom. ix. 5. The Spirit also is the God “which worketh all in all,” 1 Cor. xii. 6, 11. And in the name of that one God, who is the “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” are we baptized, whom we serve, who to us is the one God over all, Matt. xxviii. 19. Neither is that assertion of the Father’s being the one and only true God any more prejudicial to the Son’s being so also, than that testimony given to the everlasting deity of the Son is to that of the Father, notwithstanding that to us there is but one God. The intendment of our author in these questions is to answer what he found in the great exemplar of his Catechism, the Racovian, two of whose questions are comprehensive of all that is here delivered and intended by Mr B.155 But of these things more afterward.

His next inquiry is after the nature of this one God, which he answers with that of our Saviour in John iv. 24, “God is a spirit.” In this he is somewhat more modest, though not so wary as his great master, Faustus Socinus, and his disciple (as to his notions about the nature of God) Vorstius. His acknowledgment of God to be a spirit frees him from sharing in impudence in this particular with his master, who will not allow any such thing to be asserted in these words of our Saviour. His words are (Fragment. Disput. de Adorat. Christi cum Christiano Franken, p. 60), “Non est fortasse eorum verborum ea sententia, quam plerique omnes arbitrantur: Deum scilicet esse spiritum, neque enim subaudiendum esse dicit aliquis verbum ἐστὶquasi vox πνεῦμαrecto casu accipienda sit, sed ἀπὸ κοινοῦ repetendum verbum ζητεῖ quod paulo ante præcessit, et πνεῦμα quarto casu accipiendum, ita ut sententia sit, Deum quærere et postulare spiritum.” Vorstius also follows him, Not. ad Disput. 3, p. 200. Because the verb substantive “is” is not in the original expressed (than the omission whereof nothing being more frequent, though I have heard of one who, from the like omission, 2 Cor. v. 17, thought to have proved Christ to be the “new creature” there intended), contrary to the context and coherence of the words, design of the argument in hand insisted on by our Saviour (as he was a bold man), and emphaticalness of significancy in the expression as it lies, he will needs thrust in the word “seeketh,” and render the intention of Christ to be, that God seeks a spirit, that is, the spirit of men, to worship him. Herein, I say, is Mr B. more modest than his master (as, it seems, following Crellius,156 who in the exposition of that place of Scripture is of another mind), though in craft and foresight he be outgone by him; for if God be a spirit indeed, one of a pure spiritual essence and substance, the image, shape, and similitude, which he afterwards ascribes to him, his corporeal posture, which he asserts (ques. 4), will scarcely be found suitable unto him. It is incumbent on some kind of men to be very wary in what they say, and mindful of what they have said; falsehood hath no consistency in itself, no more than with the truth. Smalcius in the Racovian Catechism is utterly silent as to this question and answer. But the consideration of this also will in its due place succeed.

To his fourth query, about a farther description of God by some of his attributes, I shall not need to subjoin any thing in way of animadversion; for however the texts he cites come short of delivering that of God which the import of the question to which they are annexed doth require, yet being not wrested to give countenance to any perverse apprehension of his nature, I shall not need to insist upon the consideration of them.

Ques. 5, he falls closely to his work, in these words, “Is not God, according to the current of the Scriptures, in a certain place, namely, in heaven?” whereunto he answers by many places of Scripture that make mention of God in heaven.

That we may not mistake his mind and intention in this query, some light may be taken from some other passages in his book. In the preface he tells you “That God hath a similitude and shape” (of which afterward), “and hath his place in the heavens” (that “God is in no certain place,” he reckons amongst those errors he opposes, in the same preface; of the same kind he asserteth the belief to be of God’s “being infinite and incomprehensible);” and, Cat. Less. p. 6, “That God glisteneth with glory, and is resident in a certain place of the heavens, so that one may distinguish between his right and left hand by bodily sight.” This is the doctrine of the man with whom we have to do concerning the presence of God. “He is,” saith he, “in heaven, as in a certain place.” That which is in a certain place is finite and limited, as, from the nature of a place and the manner of any thing’s being in a place, shall be instantly evinced. God, then, is finite and limited; be it so (that he is infinite and incomprehensible is yet a Scripture expression): yea, he is so limited as not to be extended to the whole compass and limit of the heavens, but he is in a certain place of the heavens, yea, so circumscribed as that a man may see from his right hand to his left; — wherein Mr B. comes short of Mohammed, who affirms that when he was taken into heaven to the sight of God, he found three days’ journey between his eye-brows; which if so, it will be somewhat hard for any one to see from his right hand to his left, being supposed at an answerable distance to that of his eye-brows. Let us see, then, on what testimony, by what authority, Mr B. doth here limit the Almighty and confine him to a certain place, shutting up his essence and being in some certain part of the heavens, cutting him thereby short, as we shall see in the issue, in all those eternal perfections whereby hitherto he hath been known to the sons of men.

The proof of that lies in the places of Scripture which, making mention of God, say, “he is in heaven,” and that “he looketh down from heaven,” etc.; of which, out of some concordance, some twenty or thirty are by him repeated. Not to make long work of a short business, the Scriptures say, “God is in heaven.” Who ever denied it? But do the Scriptures say he is nowhere else? Do the Scriptures say he is confined to heaven, so that he is so there as not to be in all other places? If Mr B. thinks this any argument, “God is in heaven, therefore his essence is not infinite 90and immense, therefore he is not everywhere,” we are not of his mind. He tells you, in his preface, that he “asserts nothing himself.” I presume his reason was, lest any should call upon him for a proof of his assertions. What he intends to insinuate, and what conceptions of God he labours to ensnare the minds of unlearned and unstable souls withal, in this question under consideration, hath been, from the evidence of his intendment therein, and the concurrent testimony of other expressions of his to the same purpose, demonstrated. To propose any thing directly in way of proof of the truth of that which he labours insensibly to draw the minds of men unto, he was doubtless conscious to himself of so much disability for its performance as to waive that kind of procedure; and therefore his whole endeavour is, having filled, animated, and spirited the understandings of men with the notion couched in his question, to cast in some Scripture expressions, that, as they lie, may seem fitted to the fixing of the notion before begotten in them. As to any attempt of direct proof of what he would hare confirmed, the man of reason is utterly silent.

None of those texts of Scripture where mention is made of God’s being in heaven are, in the coherence and dependence of speech wherein they lie, suited or intended at all to give answer to this question, or any like it, concerning the presence of God or his actual existence in any place, but only in respect of some dispensations of God and works of his, whose fountain and original he would have us to consider in himself, and to come forth from him there where in an eminent manner he manifests his glory. God is, I say, in none of the places by him urged said to be in heaven in respect of his essence or being, nor is it the intention of the Holy Ghost in any of them to declare the manner of God’s essential presence and existence in reference to all or any place; but only by the way of eminency, in respect of manifestations of himself and operations from his glorious presence, doth he so speak of him. And, indeed, in those expressions, heaven doth not so much signify a place as a thing, or at least a place in reference to the things there done, or the peculiar manifestations of the glory of God there; so that if these places should be made use of as to the proof of the figment insinuated, the argument from them would be a non causa pro causa. The reason why God is said to be in heaven is, not because his essence is included in a certain place so called, but because of the more eminent manifestations of his glory there, and the regard which he requires to be had of him manifesting his glory as the first cause and author of all the works which outwardly are of him.

3. God is said to be in heaven in an especial manner, because he hath assigned that as the place of the saints’ expectation of that enjoyment and eternal fruition of himself which he hath promised to bless them withal; but for the limiting of his essence to a certain place in heaven, the Scriptures, as we shall see, know nothing, yea, expressly and positively affirm the contrary.

Let us all, then, supply our catechumens, in the room of Mr B.’s, with this question, expressly leading to the things inquired after:— What says the Scripture concerning the essence and presence of God? is it confined and limited to a certain place, or is he infinitely and equally present everywhere?

Ans. “The Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath,” Josh. ii. 11. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” 1 Kings viii. 27. “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there,” etc., Ps. cxxxix. 7–10. “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool,” Isa. lxvi. 1Acts vii. 47, 48. “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord,” Jer. xxiii. 23, 24.

It is of the ubiquity and omnipresence of God that these places expressly treat; and whereas it was manifested before that the expression of God being in heaven doth not at all speak to the abomination which Mr B. would insinuate thereby, the naked rehearsal of those testimonies, so directly asserting and ascribing to the Almighty an infinite, unlimited presence, and that in direct opposition to the gross apprehension of his being confined to a certain place in heaven, is abundantly sufficient to deliver the thoughts and minds of men from any entanglements that Mr B.’s questions and answers (for though it be the word of the Scripture he insists upon, yet male dum recitas incipit esse tuum) might lead them into. On that account no more need be added; but yet this occasion being administered, that truth itself, concerning the omnipresence or ubiquity of God, may be farther cleared and confirmed.

Through the prejudices and ignorance of men, it is inquired whether God be so present in any certain place as not to be also equally elsewhere, everywhere?

Place has been commonly defined to be “superficies corporis ambientis.” Because of sundry inextricable difficulties and the impossibility of suiting it to every place, this definition is now generally decried. That now commonly received is more natural, suited to the natures of things, and obvious to the understanding. A place is “spatium corporis susceptivum,” — any space wherein a body may be received and contained. The first consideration of it is as to its fitness and aptness so to receive any body: so it is in the imagination only. The second, as to its actual existence, being filled with that body which it is apt to receive: so may we imagine innumerable spaces in heaven which are apt and able to receive the bodies of the saints, and which actually shall be filled with them when they shall be translated thereunto by the power of God.

Presence in a place is the actual existence of a person in his place, or, as logicians speak, in his ubi, that is, answering the inquiry after him where he is. Though all bodies are in certain places, yet per sons only are said to be present in them. Other things have not properly a presence to be ascribed to them; they are in their proper places, but we do not say they are present in or to their places.

This being the general description of a place and the presence of any therein, it is evident that properly it cannot be spoken at all of God that he is in one place or other, for he is not a body that should fill up the space of its receipt, nor yet in all places, taking the word properly, for so one essence can be but in one place; and if the word should properly be ascribed to God in any sense, it would deprive him of all his infinite perfections.

It is farther said that there be three ways of the presence of any in reference to a place or places. Some are so in a place as to be circumscribed therein in respect of their parts and dimensions, such are their length, breadth, and depth: so doth one part of them fit one part of the place wherein they are, and the whole the whole; so are all solid bodies in a place; so is a man, his whole body in his whole place, his head in one part of it, his arms in another. Some are so conceived to be in a place as that, in relation to it, it may be said of them that they are there in it so as not to be anywhere else, though they have not parts and dimensions filling the place wherein they are, nor are punctually circumscribed with a local space: such is the presence of angels and spirits to the places wherein they are, being not infinite or immense. These are so in some certain place as not to be at the same time, wherein they are so, without it, or elsewhere, or in any other place. And this is proper to all finite, immaterial substances, that are so in a place as not to occupy and fill up that space wherein they are. In respect of place, God is immense, and indistant to all things and places, absent from nothing, no place, contained in none; present to all by and in his infinite essence and being, exerting his power variously, in any or all places, as he pleaseth, revealing and manifesting his glory more or less, as it seemeth good to him.

Of this omnipresence of God, two things are usually inquired after: 1. The thing itself, or the demonstration that he is so omnipresent; 2. The manner of it, or the manifestation and declaring how he is so present. Of this latter, perhaps, sundry things have been over curiously and nicely by some disputed, though, upon a thorough search, their disputes may not appear altogether useless. The schoolmen’s distinctions of God’s being in a place repletivè, immensivè, impletivè, superexcedenter, conservativè, attinctive, manifestative, etc. have, some of them at least, foundation in the Scriptures and right reason. That which seems most obnoxious to exception is their assertion of God to be everywhere present, instar puncti; but the sense of that and its intendment is, to express how God is not in a place, rather than how he is. He is not in a place as quantitive bodies, that have the dimensions attending them. Neither could his presence in heaven, by those who shut him up there, be any otherwise conceived, until they were relieved by the rare notions of Mr B. concerning the distinct places of his right hand and left. But it is not at all about the manner of God’s presence that I am occasioned to speak, but only of the thing itself. They who say he is in heaven only speak as to the thing, and not as to the manner of it. When we say he is everywhere, our assertion is also to be interpreted as to that only; the manner of his presence being purely of a philosophical consideration, his presence itself divinely revealed, and necessarily attending his divine perfections; yea, it is an essential property of God. The properties of God are either absolute or relative. The absolute properties of God are such as may be considered without the supposition of any thing else whatever, towards which their energy and efficacy should be exerted. His relative are such as, in their egress and exercise, respect some things in the creatures, though they naturally and eternally reside in God. Of the first sort is God’s immensity; it is an absolute property of his nature and being. For God to be immense, infinite, unbounded, unlimited, is as necessary to him as to be God; that is, it is of his essential perfection so to be. The ubiquity of God, or his presence to all things and persons, is a relative property of God; for to say that God is present in and to all things supposes those things to be. Indeed, the ubiquity of God is the habitude of his immensity to the creation. Supposing the creatures, the world that is, God is by reason of his immensity in-distant to them all; or if more worlds be supposed (as all things possible to the power of God without any absurdity may be supposed), on the same account as he is omnipresent in reference to the present world, he would be so to them and all that is in them.

Of that which we affirm in this matter this is the sum: God, who in his own being and essence is infinite and immense, is, by reason thereof, present in and to the whole creation equally, — not by a diffusion of his substance, or mixture with other things, heaven or earth, in or upon them, but by an inconceivable indistancy of essence to all things, — though he exert his power and manifest his glory in one place more than another; as in heaven, in Zion, at the ark, etc.

That this is the doctrine of the Scriptures in the places before mentioned needs no great pains to evince. In that, 1 Kings viii. 27, the design of Solomon in the words gives light to the substance of what he asserted. He had newly, with labour, cost, charge, and wisdom, none of them to be paralleled in the world, built a temple for the worship of God. The house being large and exceedingly glorious, the apprehensions of all the nations round about (that looked on, and considered the work he had in hand) concerning the nature and being of God being gross, carnal, and superstitious, themselves answerably worshipping those who by nature were not God, and his own people of Israel exceedingly prone to the same abomination, lest any should suppose that he had thoughts of including the essence of God in the house that he had built, he clears himself in this confession of his faith from all such imaginations, affirming that though indeed God would dwell on the earth, yet he was so far from being limited unto or circumscribed in the house that he had built, that “the heaven and the heaven of heavens,” any space whatever that could be imagined, the highest heaven, could not, “cannot contain him;” so far is he from having a certain place in heaven where he should reside, in distinction from other places where he is not. “He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath,” Josh. ii. 11. That which the temple of God was built unto, that “the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain.” Now, the temple was built to the being of God, to God as God: so Acts vii. 47, “But Solomon built him an house;” him, — that is, the Most High, — “who dwelleth not,” is not circumscribed, “in temples made with hands,” verse 48.

That of Ps. cxxxix. 7–10 is no less evident; the presence or face of God is expressly affirmed to be everywhere: “Whither shall I go from thy face? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I go into hell, behold, thou art there” As God is affirmed to be in heaven, so everywhere else; now that he is in heaven, in respect of his essence and being, is not questioned.

Neither can that of the prophet Isaiah, chap. lxvi. 1, be otherwise understood but as an ascribing of an ubiquity to God, and a presence in heaven and earth: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” The words are metaphorical, and in that way expressive of the presence of a person; and so God is present in heaven and earth. That the earth should be his footstool, and yet himself be so inconceivably distant from it as the heaven is from the earth (an expression chosen by himself to set out the greatest distance imaginable), is not readily to be apprehended. “He is not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts xvii. 27, 28.

The testimony which God gives to this his perfection in Jer. xxiii. 23, 24, is not to be avoided; more than what is here spoken by God himself as to his omnipresence we cannot, we desire not to speak: “Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” Still where mention is made of the presence of God, there heaven and earth (which two are comprehensive of, and usually put for the whole creation) are mentioned: and herein he is neither to be thought afar off nor near, being equally present everywhere, in the hidden places as in heaven; that is, he is not distant from any thing or place, though he take up no place, but is nigh all things, by the infiniteness and existence of his being.

From what is also known of the nature of God, his attributes and perfections, the truth delivered may be farther argued and confirmed; as, —

1. God is absolutely perfect; whatever is of perfection is to be ascribed to him: otherwise he could neither be absolutely self-sufficient, all-sufficient, nor eternally blessed in himself. He is absolutely perfect, inasmuch as no perfection is wanting to him, and comparatively above all that we can conceive or apprehend of perfection. If, then, ubiquity or omnipresence be a perfection, it no less necessarily belongs to God than it does to be perfectly good and blessed. That this is a perfection is evident from its contrary. To be limited, to be circumscribed, is an imperfection, and argues weakness We commonly say, we would do such a thing in such a place could we be present unto it, and are grieved and troubled that we cannot be so. That it should be so is an imperfection attending the limitedness of our natures. Unless we will ascribe the like to God, his omnipresence is to be acknowledged. If every perfection, then, be in God (and if every perfection be not in any, he is not God), this is not to be denied to him.

2. Again; if God be now “in a certain place in heaven,” I ask where he was before these heavens were made? These heavens have not always been. God was then where there was nothing but God, — no heaven, no earth, no place. In what place was God when there was no place? When the heavens were made, did he cease this manner of being in himself, existing in his own infinite essence, and remove into the new place made for him? Or is not God’s removal out of his existence in himself into a certain place a blasphemous imagination? “Ante omnia Deus erat solus ipse sibi, et locus, et mundus, et omnia,” Tertul. Is this change of place and posture to be ascribed to God Moreover, if God be now only in a certain place of the heavens, if he should destroy the heavens and that place, where would he then be in what place? Should he cease to be in the place wherein he is, and begin to be in, to take up, and possess another? And are such apprehensions suited to the infinite perfections of God? Yea, may we not suppose that he may create another heaven? can he not do its. How should he be present there? or must it stand empty? or must he move himself thither? or make himself bigger than he was, to fill that heaven also?

3. The omnipresence of God is grounded on the infiniteness of his essence. If God be infinite, he is omnipresent. Suppose him infinite, and then suppose there is any thing besides himself, and his presence with that thing, wherever it be, doth necessarily follow; for if he be so bounded as to be in his essence distant from any thing, he is not infinite. To say God is not infinite in his essence denies him to be infinite or unlimited in any of his perfections or properties; and therefore, indeed, upon the matter Socinus denies God’s power to be infinite, because he will not grant his essence to be, Cat. chap. xi. part 1. That which is absolutely infinite cannot have its residence in that which is finite and limited, so that if the essence of God be not immense and infinite, his power, goodness, etc., are also bounded and limited; so that there are, or may be, many things which in their own natures are capable of existence, which yet God cannot do for want of power. How suitable to the Scriptures and common notions of mankind concerning the nature of God this is will be easily known. It is yet the common faith of Christians that God is ἀπερίγραπτος καὶ ἄπειρος.

4. Let reason (which the author of these Catechisms pretends to advance and honour, as some think, above its due, and therefore cannot decline its dictates) judge of the consequences of this gross apprehension concerning the confinement of God to the heavens, yea, “a certain place in the heavens,” though he “glister” never so much “in glory” there where he is. For, (1.) He must be extended as a body is, that so he may fill the place, and have parts as we have, if he be circumscribed in a certain place; which though our author thinks no absurdity, yet, as we shall afterward manifest, it is as bold an attempt to make an idol of the living God as ever any of the sons of men engaged into. (2.) Then God’s greatness and ours, as to essence and substance, differ only gradually, but are still of the same kind. God is bigger than a man, it is true, but yet with the same kind of greatness, differing from us as one man differs from another. A man is in a certain place of the earth, which he fills and takes up; and God is in a certain place of the heavens, which he fills and takes up. Only some gradual difference there is, but how great or little that difference is, as yet we are not taught. (3.) I desire to know of Mr B. what the throne is made of that God sits on in the heavens, and how far the glistering of his glory doth extend, and whether that glistering of glory doth naturally attend his person as beams do the sun, or shining doth fire, or can he make it more or less as he pleaseth? (4.) Doth God fill the whole heavens, or only some part of them? If the whole, being of such substance as is imagined, what room will there be in heaven for any body else? Can a lesser place hold him 1 or could he fill a greater? If not, how came the heavens [to be] so fit for him? Or could he not have made them of other dimensions, less or greater? If he be only in a part of heaven, as is more than insinuated in the expression that he is “in a certain place in the heavens,” I ask why he dwells in one part of the heavens rather than another?157 or whether he ever removes or takes a journey, as Elijah speaks of Baal, 1 Kings xviii. 27, or is eternally, as limited in, so confined unto, the certain place wherein he is? Again; how doth he work out those effects of almighty power which are at so great a distance from him as the earth is from the heavens, which cannot be effected by the intervenience of any created power, as the resurrection of the dead, etc. The power of God doubtless follows his essence, and what this extends not to that cannot reach. But of that which might be spoken to vindicate the infinitely glorious being of God from the reproach which his own word is wrested to cast upon him, this that hath been spoken is somewhat that to my present thoughts doth occur.

I suppose that Mr B. knows that in this his circumscription of God to a certain place, he transgresses against the common consent of mankind; if not, a few instances of several sorts may, I hope, suffice for his conviction. I shall promiscuously propose them, as they lie at hand or occur to my remembrance. For the Jews, Philo gives their judgment. “Hear,” saith he, “of the wise God that which is most true, that God is in no place, for he is not contained, but containeth all. That which is made is in a place, for it must be contained and not contain.”158 And it is the observation of another of them, that so often as מָקוֹם‎, a place, is said of God, the exaltation of his immense and incomparable essence (as to its manifestation) is to be understood.159 And the learned Buxtorf tells us that when that word is used of God, it is by an antiphrasis, to signify that he is infinite, illocal, received in no place, giving place to all.160 That known saying of Empedocles passed among the heathen, “Deus est circulus, cujus centrum ubique, circumferentia nusquam;” and of Seneca, “Turn which way thou wilt, thou shalt see God meeting thee. Nothing is empty of him: he fills his own work.”161 “All things are full of God,” says the poet;162 and another of them:—

Estque Dei sedes nisi terræ, et pontus, et ær,

Est cœlum, et versus superos, quid quærimus ultra:

Jupiter est quodcunque vides, quocunque moveris.163

Of this presence of God, I say, with and unto all things, of the infinity of his essence, the very heathens themselves, by the light of nature (which Mr B. herein opposes), had a knowledge. Hence did some of them term him κοσμοποιὸς νοῦς, “a mind framing the universe,” and affirmed him to be infinite. “Primus omnium rerum desoriptionem et modum, mentis infinitæ vi et ratione designari, et confici voluit,” says Cicero of AnaxagorasTull. de Nat. Deor. lib. i. 11; — “All things are disposed of by the virtue of one infinite mind.” And Plutarch, expressing the same thing, says he is νοῦς καθαρὸς καὶ ἄρκρατος ἐμμεμιγμένος πᾶσι, — “a pure and sincere mind, mixing itself, and mixed” (so they expressed the presence of the infinite mind) “with all things.” So Virgil, “Jovis omnia plena,” — “All things are full of God,” (for God they intended by that name, Acts xvii. 25, 28, 29; and says Lactantius, “Convicti de uno Deo, cum id negare non possunt, ipsum se colere, afrmant, verum hoc sibi placere, ut Jupiter nominetur,” lib. i. cap. 2.); which, as Servius on the place observes, he had taken from Aratus, whose words are:—

Ἐκ διὸς ἀρχώμεσθα τὸν οὐδὲ ποτ ἄνδρες ἐῶμεν

Ἄῤῥητον μεσταὶ δὲ διὸς πᾶσαι μὲν ἁγυιαὶ

Πᾶσαι δ ἀνθρώπων ἀγοραὶ μεστὴ δὲ θάλασσα

Καὶ λιμένες πάντη δὲ διὸς κεχρήμεθα πάντες

— giving a full description, in his way, of the omnipresence and ubiquity of God. The same Virgil, from the Platonics, tells us in another place:—

Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus

Mens agitat molem.

Æn. vi. 726.

And much more of this kind might easily be added. The learned know where to find more for their satisfaction; and for those that are otherwise, the clear texts of Scripture cited before may suffice.

Of those, on the other hand, who have, no less grossly and carnally than he of whom we speak, imagined a diffusion of the substance of God through the whole creation, and a mixture of it with the creatures,164 so as to animate and enliven them in their several forms, making God an essential part of each creature,165 or dream of an assumption of creatures into an unity of essence with God, I am not now to speak.


Chapter 3.

Of the shape and bodily visible figure of God.

Mr Biddle’s question:—

Is God in the Scripture said to have any likeness, similitude, person, shape?

The proposition which he would have to be the conclusion of the answers to these questions is this, That, according to the doctrine of the Scriptures, God is a person shaped like a man; — a conclusion so grossly absurd that it is refused as ridiculous by Tully, a heathen, in the person of Cotta (De Nat. Deor. lib. i. 6), against Velleius the Epicurean, the Epicureans only amongst the philosophers being so sottish as to admit that conceit. And Mr B., charging that upon the Scripture which hath been renounced by all the heathens who set themselves studiously to follow the light of nature, and, by a strict inquiry, to search out the nature and attributes of God, principally attending to that safe rule of ascribing nothing to him that eminently included imperfection,166 hath manifested his pretext of mere Christianity to be little better than a cover for downright atheism, or at best of most vile and unworthy thoughts of the Divine Being. And here also doth Mr B. forsake his masters.167 Some of them have had more reverence of the Deity, and express themselves accordingly, in express opposition to this gross figment.

According to the method I proceeded in, in consideration of the precedent questions, shall I deal with this, and first consider briefly the scriptures produced to make good this monstrous, horrid assertion. The places urged and insisted on of old by the Anthropomorphites168 were such as partly ascribed a shape in general to God, partly such as mention the parts and members of God in that shape, his eyes, his arms, his hands, etc.; from all which they looked on him as an old man sitting in heaven on a throne, — a conception that Mr B. is no stranger to. The places of the first sort are here only insisted on by Mr B., and the attribution of a “likeness, image, similitude, person, and shape” unto God, is his warrant to conclude that he hath a visible, corporeal image and shape like that of a man; which is the plain intendment of his question. Now, if the image, likeness, or similitude, attributed to God as above, do no way, neither in the sum of the words themselves nor by the intendment of the places where they are used, in the least ascribe or intimate that there is any such corporeal, visible shape in God as he would insinuate, but are properly expressive of some other thing that properly belongs to him, I suppose it will not be questioned but that a little matter will prevail with a person desiring to emerge in the world by novelties, and on that account casting off that reverence of God which the first and most common notions of mankind would instruct him into, to make bold with God and the Scripture for his own ends and purposes.

1. I say then, first, in general, if the Scripture may be allowed to expound itself, it gives us a fair and clear account of its own intendment in mentioning the image and shape of God, which man was created in, and owns it to be his righteousness and holiness; in a state whereof, agreeable to the condition of such a creature, man ing created is said to be created in the image and likeness of God, — in a kind of resemblance unto that holiness and righteousness which are in him, Eph. iv. 23, 24, etc. What can hence be concluded for a corporeal image or shape to be ascribed unto God is too easily discernible. From a likeness in some virtue or property to conclude to a likeness in a bodily shape, may well befit a man that cares not what he says, so he may speak to the derogation of the glory of God.

2. For the particular places by Mr B. insisted on, and the words used in them, which he lays the stress of this proposition upon: the first two words are דְּמוּת‎ and צֶלֶם‎; both of which are used in Gen. i. 26. The word דְּמוּת‎ is used Gen. v. 1, and צֶלֶם‎, Gen. ix. 6; but neither of these words doth, in its genuine signification, imply any corporeity or figure. The most learned of all the rabbins, and most critically skillful in their language, hath observed and proved that the proper Hebrew word for that kind of outward form or similitude is תֹּאַר‎; and if these be ever so used, it is in a metaphorical and borrowed sense, or at]east there is an amphiboly in the words, the Scripture sometimes using them in such subjects where this gross, corporeal sense cannot possibly be admitted: כִּדְמוּת חֲמַת־נָחָשׁ‎, — “Like the poison of a serpent,” Ps. lviii. 4. There is, indeed, some imaginable, or rather rational, resemblance in the properties there mentioned, but no corporeal similitude. Vide Ezek. i. 28, xxiii. 14 (to which may be added many more places), where if דְּמוּת‎ shall be interpreted of a bodily similitude, it will afford no tolerable sense. ‘The same likewise may be said ofצֶלֶם‎. It is used in the Hebrew for the essential form rather than the figure or shape; and being spoken of men, signifies rather their souls than bodies. So it is used, Ps. lxxiii. 20; which is better translated, “Thou shalt despise their soul,” than their “image.” So where it is said, Ps. xxxix. 6, “Every man walketh in a vain show” (the same word again), however it ought to be interpreted, it cannot be understood of a corporeal similitude. So that these testimonies are not at all to his purpose. What, indeed, is the image of God, or that likeness to him wherein man was made, I have partly mentioned already, and shall farther manifest, chap. vi.; and if this be not a bodily shape, it will be confessed that nothing can here be concluded for the attribution of a shape to God; and hereof an account will be given in its proper place.

The sum of Mr B.’s reasoning from these places is: “God, in the creation of the lower world and the inhabitancy thereof, making man, enduing him with a mind and soul capable of knowing him, serving him, yielding him voluntary and rational obedience; creating him in a condition of holiness and righteousness, in a resemblance to those blessed perfections in himself, requiring still of him to be holy as he is holy, to continue and abide in that likeness of his; giving him in that estate dominion over the rest of his works here below, — is said to create him in his own image and likeness, he being the sovereign lord over all his creatures, infinitely wise, knowing, just, and holy: therefore he hath a bodily shape and image, and is therein like unto a man.” “Quod erat demonstrandum.”

His next quotation is from Num. xii. 7, 8, where it is said of Moses that he shall behold the “similitude of the Lord.” The word is תְּמוּנָה‎; which, as it is sometimes taken for a corporeal similitude, so it is at other times for that idea whereby things are intellectually represented. In the former sense is it frequently denied of God; as Deut. iv. 15, “Ye saw no manner of similitude,” etc. But it is frequently taken, in the other sense, for that object, or rather impression, whereby our intellectual apprehension is made; as in Job iv. 16, “An image was before mine eyes,” namely, in his dream; which is not any corporeal shape, but that idea or objective representation whereby the mind of man understands its object, — that which is in the schools commonly called phantasm, or else an intellectual species, about the notion of which it is here improper to contend. It is manifest that, in the place here alleged, it is put to signify the clear manifestation of God’s presence to Moses, with some such glorious appearance thereof as he was pleased to represent unto him; therefore, doubtless, God hath a bodily shape.

His next quotation is taken from James iii. 9, “Made after the similitude of God,” — Τοὺς καθ ὁμοίωσιν Θεοῦ γεγονότας. Certainly Mr B. cannot be so ignorant as to think the word ὁμοίωσις to include in its signification a corporeal similitude. The word is of as large an extent as “similitude” in Latin, and takes in as well those abstracted analogies which the understanding of man finds out, in comparing several objects together, as those other outward conformities of figure and shape which are the objects of our carnal eyes. It is the word by which the LXX. use to render the word דְּמוּת‎; of which we have spoken before. And the examples are innumerable in the Septuagint translation, and in authors of all sorts written in the Greek language, where that word is taken at large, and cannot signify a corporeal similitude; so that it is vain to insist upon particulars. And this also belongs to the same head of inquiry with the former, — namely, what likeness of God it was that man was created in, whether of eyes, ears, nose, etc., or of holiness, etc.

His next allegation is from Job xiii. 7, 8, “Will ye accept his person?”הֲפָנָיו‎, πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ, — an allegation so frivolous that to stand to answer it studiously would be ridiculous, 1. It is an interrogation, and doth not assert any thing. 2. The thing spoken against is προσωποληψία, which hath in it no regard to shape or corporeal personality, but to the partiality which is used in preferring one before another in justice. 3. The word mentioned, with its derivatives, is used in as great or greater variety of metaphorical translations than any other Hebrew word, and is by no means determined to be a signification of that bulky substance which, with the soul, concurs to make up the person of mare It is so used, Gen. xxxiii. 18אֶת־פְנֵי‎, — “Jacob pitched his tent before” (or “in the face of”) “the city.” It is confessed that it is very frequently translated πρόσωπον by the LXX., as it is very variously translated by them; sometimes ὁ ὀφθαλμός. See Jer. xxxviii. 26Neh. ii. 13Job xvi. 16Deut. ii. 36Prov. xxvii. 23. Besides that, it is used in many other places for ἀντί ἔναντι ἀπέναντι ἐπάνω ἐνώπιον, and in many more senses. So that to draw an argument concerning the nature of God from a word so amphibological, or of such frequent translation in metaphorical speech, is very unreasonable.

Of what may be hence deduced this is the sum: “In every plea or contest about the ways, dispensations, and judgments of God, that which is right, exact, and according to the thing itself, is to be spoken, his glory not standing in the least need of our flattery or lying; therefore God is such a person as hath a bodily shape and similitude, for there is no other person but what hath so.”

His last argument is from John v. 37, “Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape,” — Οὔτε εἶδος αὐτοῦ ἑωράκατε. But it argues a very great ignorance in all philosophical and accurate writings, to appropriate εἶδος to a corporeal shape, it being very seldom used, either in Scripture or elsewhere, in that notion; — the Scripture having used it where that sense cannot be fastened on it, as in 1 Thess. v. 22Ἀπὸ παντὸς εἴδους πονηροῦ ἀπέχεσθε which may be rendered, “Abstain from every kind,” or “every appearance,” but not from every shape “of evil;” and all other Greek authors, who have spoken accurately and not figuratively of things, use it perpetually almost in one of these two senses, and very seldom if at all in the other.

How improperly, and with what little reason, these places are interpreted of a corporeal similitude or shape, hath been showed. Wherein the image of God consists the apostle shows, as was declared, determining it to be in the intellectual part, not in the bodily,169Col. iii. 10Ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν νέον (ἄνρθωπον) τὸν ἀνακαινούμενον εἰς επίγνωσιν κατ εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν. The word here used, εἰκών, is of a grosser signification than εἶδος, which hath its original from the intellectual operation of the mind; yet this the apostle determines to relate to the mind and spiritual excellencies, so that it cannot, from the places he hath mentioned, with the least colour of reason, be concluded that God hath a corporeal similitude, likeness, person, or shape.170

What hath already been delivered concerning the nature of God, and is yet necessarily to be added, will not permit that much be peculiarly spoken to this head, for the removal of those imperfections from him which necessarily attend that assignation of a bodily shape to him which is here aimed at. That the Ancient of Days is not really one in the shape of an old man, sitting in heaven on a throne, glistering with a corporeal glory, his hair being white and his raiment beautiful, is sufficiently evinced from every property and perfection which in the Scripture is assigned to him.

The Holy Ghost, speaking in the Scripture concerning God, doth not without indignation suppose any thing to be likened or compared to him. Maimonides hath observed that these words, AphIra, etc., are never attributed to God but in the case of idolatry; that never any idolater was so silly as to think that an idol of wood, stone, or metal, was a god that made the heavens and earth; but that through them all idolaters intend to worship God. Now, to fancy a corporeity in God, or that he is like a creature, is greater and more irrational dishonour to him than idolatry. “To whom will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” Isa. xl. 18. “Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he that sitteth,” etc. “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One,” verses 21–23, 25. Because the Scripture speaks of the eyes and ears, nostrils and arms of the Lord, and of man being made afar his likeness, if any one shall conclude that he sees, hears, smells, and hath the shape of a man, he must, upon the same reason, conclude that he hath the shape of a lion, of an eagle, and is like a drunken man, because in Scripture he is compared to them, and so of necessity make a monster of him, and worship a chimera.171

Nay, the Scripture plainly interprets itself as to these attribution 104unto God. His arm is not an arm of flesh, 2 Chron. xxxii. 8. Neither are his eyes of flesh, neither seeth he as man seeth, Job x. 4. Nay, the highest we can pretend to (which is our way of understanding), though it hath some resemblance of him, yet falls it infinitely short of a likeness or equality with him. And the Holy Ghost himself gives a plain interpretation of his own intendment in such expressions: for whereas, Luke xi. 20, our Saviour says that he “with the finger of God cast out devils;” Matt. xii. 28, he affirms that he did it “by the Spirit of God,” intending the same thing. It neither is nor can righteously be required that we should produce any place of Scripture expressly affirming that God hath no shape, nor hands, nor eyes, as we have, no more than it is that he is no lion or eagle. It is enough that there is that delivered of him abundantly which is altogether inconsistent with any such shape as by Mr B. is fancied, and that so eminent a difference as that now mentioned is put between his arms and eyes and ours, as manifests them to agree in some analogy of the thing signified by them, and not in an answerableness in the same kind. Wherefore I say, that the Scripture speaking of God, though it condescends to the nature and capacities of men, and speaks for the most part to the imagination (farther than which few among the sons of men were ever able to raise their cogitations), yet hath it clearly delivered to us such attributes of God as will not consist with that gross notion which this man would put upon the Godhead. The infinity and immutability of God do manifestly overthrow the conceit of a shape and form of God.172 Were it not a contradiction that a body should be actually infinite, yet such a body could not have a shape, such a one as he imagines. The shape of any thing is the figuration of it; the figuration is the determination of its extension towards several parts, consisting in a determined proportion of them to each other; that determination is a bounding and limiting of them: so that if it have a shape, that will be limited which was supposed to be infinite, which is a manifest contradiction. But the Scripture doth plainly show that God is infinite and immense, not in magnitude (that were a contradiction, as will appear anon) but in essence. Speaking to our fancy, it saith that “he is higher than heaven, deeper than hell,” Job xi. 8; that “he fills heaven and earth,” Jer. xxiii. 24; that “the heaven of heavens cannot contain him,” 1 Kings viii. 27; and it hath many [such] expressions to shadow out the immensity of God, as was manifest in our consideration of the last query. But not content to have yielded thus to our infirmity, it delivers likewise, in plain and literal terms, the infiniteness of God: “His understanding is infinite,” Ps. cxlvii. 5; and therefore his essence is necessarily so. This is a consequence that none can deny who will consider it till he understands the terms of it, as hath Been declared. Yet, lest any should hastily apprehend that the essence of God were not therefore necessarily infinite, the Holy Ghost saith, Ps. cxlv. 3, that “his greatness hath no end,” or is “inconceivable,” which is infinite; for seeing we can carry on our thoughts, by calculation, potentially in infinitum, — that is, whatever measure be assigned, we can continually multiply it by greater and greater numbers, as they say, in infinitum, — it is evident that there is no greatness, either of magnitude or essence, which is unsearchable or inconceivable besides that which is actually infinite. Such, therefore, is the greatness of God, in the strict and literal meaning of the Scripture; and therefore, that he should have a shape implies a contradiction. But of this so much Before as I presume we may now take it for granted.

Now, this attribute of infinity doth immediately and demonstratively overthrow that gross conception of a human shape we are in the consideration of; and so it doth, by consequence, overthrow the conceit of any other, though a spherical shape. Again, —

Whatever is incorporeal is destitute of shape; whatever is infinite is incorporeal: therefore, whatever is infinite is destitute of shape.

All the question is of the minor proposition. Let us therefore suppose an infinite body or line, and let it be bisected; either then, each half is equal to the whole, or less. If equal, the whole is equal to the part; if less, then that half is limited within certain bounds, and consequently is finite, and so is the other half also: therefore, two things which are finite shall make up an infinite; which is a contradiction.

Having, therefore, proved out of Scripture that God is infinite, it follows also that he is incorporeal, and that he is without shape.

The former argument proved him to be without such a shape as this catechist would insinuate; this, that he is without any shape at all. The same will be proved from the immutability or impassibility of God’s essence, which the Scripture assigns to him: Mal. iii. 6, “I am the Lord; I change not” “The heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou endurest: they shall Be changed: but thou art the same,” Ps. cii. 25, 26.

If he be immutable, then he is also incorporeal, and consequently without shape.

The former consequence is manifest, for every body is extended, and consequently is capable of division, which is mutation; wherefore, Being immutable, he hath no shape.

Mr B.’s great plea for the considering of his Catechism, and insisting upon the same way of inquiry with himself, is from the success which himself hath found in the discovery of sundry truths, of which he gives an account in his book to the reader. That, among the glorious discoveries made by him, the particular now 106insisted on is not to be reckoned, I presume Mr B. knoweth. For this discovery the world is beholding to one Audæus, a monk, of whom you have a large account in Epiphanius, tom. i. lib. 3, Hær. 70; as also in Theodoret, lib. iv. Eccles. Hist., cap. x., who also gives us an account of the man and his conversation, with those that followed him. Austin also acquaints us with this worthy predecessor of our author, De Hær. cap. l. He that thinks it worth while to know that we are not beholding to Mr B., but to this Audæus, for all the arguments, whether taken from the creation of man in the image of God or the attribution of the parts and members of a man unto God in the Scripture, to prove him to have a visible shape, may at his leisure consult the authors above mentioned, who will not suffer him to ascribe the praise of this discovery to Mr B.’s ingenious inquiries. How the same figment was also entertained by a company of stupid monks in Egypt, who, in pursuit of their opinion, came in a great drove to Alexandria, to knock Theophilus the bishop on the head, who had spoken against them, and how that crafty companion deluded them with an ambiguity of expression, with what learned stirs ensued thereon, we have a full relation in Socrat. Eccles. Hist. lib. vi. cap. vii.173

As this madness of brain-sick men was always rejected by all persons of sobriety professing the religion of Jesus Christ, so was it never embraced by the Jews, or the wiser sort of heathens, who retained any impression of those common notions of God which remain in the hearts of men.174 The Jews to this day do solemnly confess, in their public worship, that God is not corporeal, that he hath no corporeal propriety, and therefore can nothing be compared with him. So one of the most learned of them of old: Οὔτε γὰρ ἀνθρωπόμορφος ὁ Θεὸς οὔτε θεοειδὲς ἀνθρώπινον σῶμαPhil. de Opificio Mundi “Neither hath God a human form, nor does a human body resemble him.” And in Sacrifi. AbelΟὐδὲ τὰ ὅσα ἀνθρώποις ἐπὶ Θεοῦ κυριολογεῖται κατάχρησις δὲ ὀνομάτων ἐστὶ παρηγοροῦσα τὴν ἡμετέραν ἀσθένειαν — “Neither are those things which are in us spoken properly of God, but there is an abuse of names therein, relieving our weakness.”

Likewise the heathens, who termed God νοῦν, and ψύχωσιν and πνεῦμα, and δυναμοποιόν or δύναμιν, had the same apprehensions of him. Thus discourses Mercurius ad Tatium, in Stobæus, serm. 78Θεὸν μὲν νοῆσαι χαλεπὸν φράσαι δὲ ἀδύνατον· τὸ γὰρ ἀσώματον σώματι σημῆναι ἀδύνατον καὶ τὸ τέλειον τῷ ἀτελεῖ καταλαβέσθαι οὐ δυνατόν καὶ τὸ ἀΐδιον τῷ ὀλιγοχρονίῳ συγγενέσθαι δύσκολον ὁ μὲν γὰρ ἀεί ἐστι τὸ δὲ παρέρχεται καὶ τὸ μὲν ἀλήθειά ἐστι τὸ δὲ ὑπὸ φαντασίας σκιάζεται τὸ δὲ ἀσθενέστερον τοῦ ἰσχυροτέρου καὶ τὸ ἔλαττον τοῦ κρείττονος δίεστηκε τοσοῦτον ὅσον τὸ 107θνητὸν τοῦ θεὶου ἡδὲ μέση τούτων διάστασις ἀμαυροῖ τὴν τοῦ καλοῦ θέαν ὀφθαλμοῖς μὲν γὰρ τὰ σώματα θεατὰ γλώττῃ δὲ τὰ ὁρατὰ λεκτὰ τὸ δὲ ἀσώματον καὶ ἀφανὲς καὶ ἀσχημάτιστον καὶ μήτε ἐξ ὕλης ὑποκείμενον ὑπὸ τῶν ἡμετέρων αἰσθήσεων καταληφθῆναι οὐ δύναται. Ἐννοοῦμαις ᾧ τάτ ἐννοοῦμαι ο` ἐξειπεῖν οὐ δυνατὸν τοῦτο ἐστιν ὁ Θεός. And Calicratides apud Stob., Serm. 83Τὸ δὲ ἕν ἐστιν ἄριστον αὐτὸς ὅπερ ἐστὶ καττὰν ἔννοιαν ζῶον οὐράνιον ἄφθαρτον ἀρχά τε καὶ αἰτία τᾶς τῶν ὅλων διακοσμάσιος

Of the like import is that distich of Xenophanes in Clemens Alexan., Strom. 5:—

Εἰς Θεὸς ἔν τε θεοῖσι καὶ ἀνθρώποισι μέγιστος

Θὔτε δέμας θνητοῖσιν ὁμοίϊος οὐδὲ νόημα.

“There is one great God among gods and men,

Who is like to mortals neither as to body nor mind.”

Whereunto answers that in Cato:—

Si Deus est animus nobis ut carmina dicunt,” etc.

And Æschylus, in the same place of Clemens, Strom. 5:—

Χωρεῖτε θνητῶν τὸν Θεὸν καὶ μὴ δόκει

Ὅμοιον αὐτῷ σαρκικὸν καθεστάναι.

“Separate God from mortals, and think not thyself, of flesh, like him.”

And Posidonius plainly in Stobæus as above: Ὁ Θεὸς ἐστι πνεῦμα νοερὸν καὶ πυρῶδες οὐκ ἔχον μορφήν — “God is an intelligent fiery spirit, not having any shape.” And the same apprehension is evident in that of Seneca, “Quid est Deus? Mens universi. Quid est Deus? Quod vides totum, et quod non vides totum. Sic demure magnitude sua illi redditur, qua nihil majus excogitari potest, si solus est omnia, opus suum et extra et intra tenet. Quid ergo interest inter naturam Dei et nostram? Nostri melior pars animus est, in illo nulla pars extra animum.” Natural. Quæst. lib. 1. Præfat. It would be burdensome, if not endless, to insist on the testimonies that to this purpose might be produced out of PlatoAristotleCiceroEpictetusJulius Firmicus, and others of the same order. I shall close with one of Alcinousde Doctrina Platon. cap. x.Ἄτοπον δὲ τὸν Θεὸν ἑξ ὕλης εἶναι καὶ εἴδους οὐ γὰρ ἔσται ἁπλοῦς οὐδὲ ἀρχικός — “It is absurd to say that God is of matter and form; for if so, he could neither be simple, nor the principal cause.”

The thing is so clear, and the contrary, even by the heathen philosophers, accounted so absurd, that I shall not stand to pursue the arguments flowing from the other attributes of God, but proceed to what follows.


 

Chapter 4.

Of the attribution of passions and affections, anger, fear, repentance, unto God — In what sense it is done in the Scripture.

His next inquiry about the nature of God respects the attribution of several affections and passions unto him in the Scriptures, of whose sense and meaning he thus expresseth his apprehension:—

Ques. Are there not, according to the perpetual tenor of the Scriptures, affections and passions in God, as anger, fury, zeal, wrath, love, hatred, mercy, grace, jealousy, repentance, grief, joy, fear?

Concerning which he labours to make the Scriptures determine in the affirmative.

1. The main of Mr Biddle’s design, in his questions about the nature of God, being to deprive the Deity of its distinct persons, its omnipresence, prescience, and therein all other infinite perfections, he endeavours to make him some recompense for all that loss by ascribing to him in the foregoing query a human visible shape, and in this, human, turbulent affections and passions. Commonly, where men will not ascribe to the Lord that which is his due, he gives them up to assign that unto him which he doth abhor, Jer. xliv. 15–17. Neither is it easily determinable whether be the greater abomination. By the first, the dependence of men upon the true God is taken off; by the latter, their hope is fixed on a false. This, on both sides, at present is Mr B.’s sad employment. The Lord lay it not to his charge, but deliver him from the snare of Satan, wherein he is “taken alive at his pleasure”! 2 Tim. ii. 26.

2. The things here assigned to God are ill associated, if to be understood after the same manner. Mercy and grace we acknowledge to be attributes of God; the rest mentioned are by none of Mr B.’s companions esteemed any other than acts of his will, and those metaphorically assigned to him.175

3. To the whole I ask, whether these things are in the Scriptures ascribed properly unto God, denoting such affections and passions in him as those in us are which are so termed? or whether they are assigned to him and spoken of him metaphorically only, in reference to his outward works and dispensations, correspondent and answering to the actings of men in whom such affections are, and under the power whereof they are in those actings? If the latter be affirmed, then as such an attribution of them unto God is eminently consistent with all his infinite perfections and blessedness, so there can be no difference about this question and the answers given thereunto, all men readily acknowledging that in this sense the Scripture doth ascribe all the affections mentioned unto God, of which we say as he of old, Ταῦτα ἀνθρωποπαθῶς μὲν λέγονται θεοπρεπῶς δὲ νοοῦνται. But this, I fear, will not serve Mr B.’s turn. The very phrase and manner of expression used in this question, the plain intimation that is in the forehead thereof of its author’s going off from the common received interpretation of these attributions unto God, do abundantly manifest that it is their proper significancy which he contends to fasten on God, and that the affections mentioned are really and properly in him as they are in us. This being evident to be his mind and intendment, as we think his anthropopathism in this query not to come short in folly and madness of his anthropomorphitism in that foregoing, so I shall proceed to the removal of this insinuation in the way and method formerly insisted on.

Mr B.’s masters tell us “That these affections are vehement commotions of the will of God, whereby he is carried out earnestly to the object of his desires, or earnestly declines and abhors what falls not out gratefully or acceptably to him.”176 I shall first speak of them in general, and then to the particulars (some or all) mentioned by Mr B.:—

First, In general, that God is perfect and perfectly blessed, I suppose will not be denied; it cannot be but by denying that he is God.177 He that is not perfect in himself and perfectly blessed is not God. To that which is perfect in any kind nothing is wanting in that kind. To that which is absolutely perfect nothing is wanting at all. He who is blessed is perfectly satisfied and filled, and hath no farther desire for supply. He who is blessed in himself is all-sufficient for himself. If God want or desire any thing for himself, he is neither perfect nor blessed. To ascribe, then, affections to God properly (such as before mentioned), is to deprive him of his perfection and blessedness. The consideration of the nature of these and the like affections will make this evident.

1. Affections, considered in themselves, have always an incomplete, imperfect act of the will or volition joined with them. They are something that lies between the firm purpose of the soul and the execution of that purpose.178 The proper actings of affections lie between these two; that is, in an incomplete, tumultuary volition. That God is not obnoxious to such volitions and incomplete actings of the will, besides the general consideration of his perfections and blessedness premised, is evident from that manner of procedure which is ascribed to him. His purposes and his works comprise all his actings. As the Lord hath purposed, so hath he done. “He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” “Who hath known his 110mind? or who hath been his counsellor? Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things.”179

2. They have their dependence on that wherewith he in whom they are is affected; that is, they owe their rise and continuance to something without him in whom they are. A man’s fear ariseth from that or them of whom he is afraid; by them it is occasioned, on them it depends Whatever affects any man (that is, the stirring of a suitable affection), in all that frame of mind and soul, in all the volitions and commotions of will which so arise from thence, he depends on something without him. Yea, our being affected with something without lies at the bottom of most of our purposes and resolves Is it thus with God, with him who is I amExod. iii. 14. Is he in dependence upon any thing without him? Is it not a most eminent contradiction to speak of God in dependence on any other thing? Must not that thing either be God or be reduced to some other without and besides him, who is God, as the causes of all our affections are? “God is in one mind, and who can turn him? what his soul desireth, that he doeth,” Job xxiii. 13.

3. Affections are necessarily accompanied with change and mutability; yea, he who is affected properly is really changed; yea, there is no more unworthy change or alteration than that which is accompanied with passion,180 as is the change that is wrought by the affections ascribed to God. A sedate, quiet, considerate alteration is far less inglorious and unworthy than that which is done in and with passion. Hitherto we have taken God upon his testimony, that he is the “Lord, and he changeth not,” Mal. iii. 6; that “with him there is neither change nor shadow of turning;” — it seems, like the worms of the earth, he varieth every day.

4. Many of the affections here ascribed to God do eminently denote impotence; which, indeed, on this account, both by Socinians and Arminians, is directly ascribed to the Almighty. They make him affectionately and with commotion of will to desire many things in their own nature not impossible, which yet he cannot accomplish or bring about (of which I have elsewhere spoken); yea, it will appear that the most of the affections ascribed to God by Mr B., taken in a proper sense, are such as are actually ineffectual, or commotions through disappointments, upon the account of impotency or defect of power.

Corol. To ascribe affections properly to God is to make him weak, imperfect, dependent, changeable, and impotent.

Secondly, Let a short view be taken of the particulars, some or all of them, that Mr B. chooseth to instance in. “Anger, fury, wrath, zeal” (the same in kind, only differing in degree and circumstances), are the first he instances in; and the places produced to make good this attribution to God are, Num. xxv. 3, 4Ezek. v. 13Exod. xxxii. 11, 12Rom. i. 18.

1. That mention is made of the auger, wrath, and fury of God in the Scripture is not questioned. Num. xxv. 4Deut. xiii. 17Josh. vii. 26Ps. lxxviii. 31Isa. xiii. 9Deut. xxix. 24Judges ii. 14Ps. lxxiv. 1, lxix. 24Isa. xxx. 30Lam. ii. 6Ezek. v. 15Ps. lxxviii. 49Isa. xxxiv. 22 Chron. xxviii. 11Ezra x. 14Hab. iii. 8, 12, are farther testimonies thereof. The words also in the original, in all the places mentioned, express or intimate perturbation of mind, commotion of spirit, corporeal mutation of the parts of the body, and the like distempers of men acting under the power of that passion. The whole difference is about the intendment of the Holy Ghost in these attributions, and whether they are properly spoken of God, asserting this passion to be in him in the proper significancy of the words, or whether these things be not taken ἀνθρωποπαθῶς, and to be understood θεοπρεπῶς, in such a sense as may answer the meaning of the figurative expression, assigning them their truth to the utmost, and yet to be interpreted in a suitableness to divine perfection and blessedness.

2. The anger, then, which in the Scripture is assigned to God, we say denotes two things:—

(1.) His vindictive justice, or constant and immutable will of rendering vengeance for sin.181 So God’s purpose of the demonstration of his justice is called his being “willing to show his wrath” or anger, Rom. ix. 22; so God’s anger and his judgments are placed together, Ps. vii. 6; and in that anger he judgeth, verse 8, And in this sense is the “wrath of God” said to be “revealed from heaven,” Rom. i. 18; that is, the vindictive justice of God against sin to be manifested in the effects of it, or the judgments sent and punishments inflicted on and throughout the world.

(2.) By anger, wrath, zeal, fury, the effects of anger are denoted: Rom. iii. 5, “Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance?” The words are, ὁ ἐπιφέρων τὴν ὀργήν, — “who inflicteth or bringeth anger on man;” that is, sore punishments, such as proceed from anger; that God’s vindictive justice. And Eph. v. 6, “For these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” Is it the passion or affection of auger in God that Mr B. talks of, that comes upon the children of disobedience? or is it indeed the effect of his justice for this sin?182 Thus the day of judgment is called the “day of wrath” and of “anger,” because it is the day of the “revelation of the righteous judgment of God:” Rom. ii. 5, “After thy hardness,” etc. In the place of Ezekiel (chap. v. 13) mentioned by Mr B., the Lord tells them he will,” cause his fury to rest upon them,” and “accomplish it upon them. I ask whether he intends this of any passion in him (and if so, how a passion in God can rest upon a man), or the judgments which for their iniquities he did inflict? We say, then, anger is not properly ascribed to God, but metaphorically, denoting partly his vindictive justice, whence all punishments flow, partly the effects of it in the punishments themselves, either threatened or inflicted, in their terror and bitterness, upon the account of what is analogous therein to our proceeding under the power of that passion; and so is to be taken in all the places mentioned by Mr B. For, —

3. Properly, in the sense by him pointed to, anger, wrath, etc., are not in God. Anger is defined by the philosopher to be, ὄρεξις μετὰ λύπης τιμωρίας φαινομένης διὰ φαινομένην ὀλιγωρίαν— “desire joined with grief of that which appears to be revenge, for an appearing neglect or contempt.” To this grief, he tells you, there is a kind of pleasure annexed, arising from the vehement fancy which an angry person hath of the revenge he apprehends as future,183 — which, saith he, “is like the fancy of them that dream,”184 — and he ascribes this passion mostly to weak, impotent persona Ascribe this to God, and you leave him nothing else. There is not one property of his nature wherewith it is consistent. If he be properly and literally angry, and furious, and wrathful, he is moved, troubled, perplexed, desires revenge, and is neither blessed nor perfect. But of these things in our general reasons against the propriety of these attributions afterward.

4. Mr B. hath given us a rule in his preface, that when any thing is ascribed to God in one place which is denied of him in another, then it is not properly ascribed to him. Now, God says expressly that “fury” or anger “is not in him,” Isa. xxvii. 4; and therefore it is not properly ascribed to him.

5. Of all the places where mention is made of God’s repentings, or his repentance, there is the same reason. Exod. xxxii. 14Gen. vi. 6, 7Judges x. 16Deut. xxx. 9, are produced by Mr B. That one place of 1 Sam. xv. 29, where God affirms that he “knoweth no repentance,” casts all the rest under a necessity of an interpretation suitable unto it. Of all the affections or passions which we are obnoxious to, there is none that more eminently proclaims imperfection, weakness, and want in sundry kinds, than this of repentance. If not sins, mistakes, and miscarriages (as for the most part they are), yet disappointment, grief, and trouble, are always included in it. So is it in that expression, Gen. vi. 6, “It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”185 What but his mistake and great disappointment, by a failing of wisdom, foresight, and power, can give propriety to these attributions unto God? The change God was going then to work in his providence on the earth was such or like that which men do when they repent of a thing, being “grieved at the heart” for what they had formerly done. So are these things spoken of God to denote the kind of the things which he doth, not the nature of God himself; otherwise such expressions as these would suit him, whose frame of spirit and heart is so described: “Had I seen what would have been the issue of making man, I would never have done it. Would I had never been so overseen as to have engaged in such a business! What have I now got by my rashness? nothing but sorrow and grief of heart redounds to me.” And do these become the infinitely blessed God.

6. Fear is added, from Deut. xxxii. 26, 27. “Fear,” saith the wise man, “is a betraying of those succours which reason offereth;”186 — nature’s avoidance of an impendent evil; its contrivance to flee and prevent what it abhors, being in a probability of coming upon it; a turbulent weakness. This God forbids in us, upon the account of his being our God, Isa. xxxv. 4; “Fear not, O worm Jacob,” etc., chap. xli. 14. Everywhere he asserts fear to be unfit for them who depend on him and his help, who is able in a moment to dissipate, scatter, and reduce to nothing, all the causes of their fear. And if there ought to be no fear where such succour is ready at hand, sure there is none in Him who gives it. Doubtless, it were much better to exclude the providence of God out of the world than to assert him afraid properly and directly of future events. The schools say truly, “Quod res sunt futuræ, a voluntate Dei est (effectiva vel permissiva).” How, then, can God be afraid of what he knows will, and purposeth shall, come to pass? He doth, he will do, things in some likeness to what we do for the prevention of what we are afraid of. He will not scatter his people, that their adversaries may not have advantage to trample over them. When we so act as to prevent any thing that, unless we did so act, would befall us, it is because we are afraid of the coming of that thing upon us: hence is the reason of that attribution unto God. That properly He should be afraid of what comes to pass who knows from eternity what will so do, who can with the breath of his mouth destroy all the objects of his dislike, who is infinitely wise, blessed, all-sufficient, and the sovereign disposer of the lives, breath, and ways of all the sons of men, is fit for Mr B. and no man else to affirm. “All the nations are before him as the drop of the bucket, and the dust of the balance, as vanity, as nothing; he upholdeth them by the word of his power; in him all men live, and move, and have their being,” and can neither live, nor act, nor be without him; their life, and breath, and all their ways, are in his hands; he brings them to destruction, and says, “Return, ye children of men;”187 and must he needs be properly afraid of what they will do to him and against him.

7. Of God’s jealousy and hatred, mentioned from Ps. v. 4, 5Exod. xx. 5Deut. xxxii. 21, there is the same reason. Such effects as these things in us produce shall they meet withal who provoke him by their blasphemies and abominations. Of love, mercy, and grace, the condition is something otherwise: principally they denote God’s essential goodness and kindness, which is eminent amongst his infinite perfections; and secondarily the effects thereof, in and through Jesus Christ, are denoted by these expressions. To manifest that neither they nor any thing else, as they properly intend any affections or passions of the mind, any commotions of will, are properly attributed to God, unto what hath been spoken already these ensuing considerations may be subjoined:—

(1.) Where no cause of stirring up affections or passions can have place or be admitted, there no affections are to be admitted; for to what end should we suppose that whereof there can be no use to eternity? If it be impossible any affection in God should be stirred up or acted, is it not impossible any such should be in him? The causes stirring up all affections are the access of some good desired, whence joy, hope, desire, etc., have their spring; or the approach of some evil to be avoided, which occasions fear, sorrow, anger, repentance, and the like. Now, if no good can be added to God, whence should joy and desire be stirred up in him? if no evil can befall him, in himself or any of his concernments, whence should he have fear, sorrow, or repentance? Our goodness extends not to him; he hath no need of us or our sacrifices, Ps. xvi. 2, l. 8–10Job xxxv. 6–8. “Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable to himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?” chap. xxii. 2, 3.

(2.) The apostle tells us that God is “blessed for ever,” Rom. ix. 5; “He is the blessed and only Potentate,” 1 Tim. vi. 15; “God all-sufficient,” Gen. xvii. 1. That which is inconsistent with absolute blessedness and all-sufficiency is not to be ascribed to God; to do so casts him down from his excellency. But can he be blessed, is he all-sufficient, who is tossed up and down with hope, joy, fear, sorrow, repentance, anger, and the like? Doth not fear take off from absolute blessedness? Grant that God’s fear doth not long abide yet whilst it doth so, he is less blessed than he was before and than he is after his fear ceaseth. When he hopes, is he not short in happiness of that condition which he attains in the enjoyment of what he hoped for? and is he not lower when he is disappointed and falls short of his expectation? Did ever the heathens speak with more contempt of what they worshipped? Formerly the pride of some men heightened them to fancy themselves to be like God, without passions or affections, Ps. l. 21; being not able to abide in their attempt against their own sense and experience, it is now endeavoured to make God like to us, in having such passions and affections. My aim is brevity, having many heads to speak unto. Those who have written on the attributes of God, — his self-sufficiency and blessedness, simplicity, immutability, etc., — are ready to tender farther satisfaction to them who shall desire it.


Chapter 5.

Of God’s prescience or foreknowledge.

His next attempt is to overthrow and remove the prescience or foreknowledge of God, with what success the farther consideration of the way whereby he endeavours it will manifest. His question (the engine whereby he works) is thus framed:—

As for our free actions which are neither past nor present, but may afterward either be or not be, what are the chief passages of Scripture from whence it is wont to be gathered that God knoweth not such actions until they come to pass, yea, that there are such actions?

That we might have had a clearer acquaintance with the intendment of this interrogation, it is desirable Mr Biddle had given us his sense on some particulars, which at first view present themselves to the trouble of every ordinary reader; as, —

1. How we may reconcile the words of Scripture given in answer to his preceding query with the design of this. There it is asserted that God “understandeth our thoughts” (which certainly are of our free actions, if any such there are) “afar off;” here, that he knows not our free actions that are future, and not yet wrought or performed.

2. By whom is it “wont to be gathered” from the following scriptures that “God knoweth not our free actions until they come to pass.” Why doth not this “mere Christian,” that is of no sect, name his companions and associates in these learned collections from Scripture? Would not his so doing discover him to be so far from a mere Christian, engaged in none of the sects that are now amongst Christians, as to be of that sect which the residue of men so called will scarce allow the name of a Christian unto?188

3. What he intends by the close of his query, “Yea, that there are such actions.” An advance is evident in the words towards a farther negation of the knowledge of God than what was before expressed. Before, he says, God knows not our actions that are future contingent; here, he knows not that there are such actions. The sense of this must be, either that God knows not that there are any such actions as may or may not be, — which would render him less knowing than Mr B., who hath already told us that such there be, — or else that he knows not such actions when they are, at least without farther inquiring after them, and knowledge obtained beyond what from his own infinite perfections and eternal purpose he is furnished withal. In Mr B.’s next book or catechism, I desire he would answer these questions also.

Now in this endeavour of his Mr B. doth but follow his leaders. Socinus in his Prelections, where the main of his design is to vindicate man’s free-will into that latitude and absoluteness as none before him had once aimed at, in his eighth chapter objects to himself this foreknowledge of God as that which seems to abridge and cut short the liberty contended for.189 He answers that he grants not the foreknowledge pretended, and proceeds in that and the two following chapters, labouring to answer all the testimonies and arguments which are insisted on for the proof and demonstration of it, giving his own arguments against it, chap. xi. Crellius is something more candid, as he pretends, but indeed infected with the same venom with the other; for after he hath disputed for sundry pages to prove the foreknowledge of God, he concludes at last that for those things that are future contingent, he knows only that they are so, and that possibly they may come to pass, possibly they may not.190 Of the rest of their associates few have spoken expressly to this thing. Smalcius once and again manifests himself to consent with his masters in his disputations against Franzius, expressly consenting to what Socinus had written in his Prelections, and affirming the same thing himself, yea, disputing eagerly for the same opinion with him.191

For the vindication of God’s foreknowledge, I shall proceed in the same order as before in reference to the other attributes of God insisted on, namely:— 1. What Mr B. hath done, how he hath disposed of sundry places of Scripture for the proof of his assertion, with the sense of the places by him so produced, is to be considered; 2. Another question and answer are to be supplied in the room of his; 3. The truth vindicated to be farther confirmed.

For the first:—

In the proof of the assertion proposed Mr B. finds himself entangled more than ordinarily, though I confess his task in general be such as no man not made desperate by the loss of all in a shipwreck of faith would once have undertaken. To have made good his proceeding according to his engagement, he ought at least to have given us texts of Scripture express in the letter, as by him cut off from the state, condition, and coherence, wherein by the Holy Ghost they are placed, for the countenancing of his assertion: but here, being not able to make any work in his method, proposed and boasted in as signal and uncontrollable, no apex or tittle in the Scripture being pointed towards the denial of God’s knowing any thing or all things, past, present, and to come, he moulds his question into a peculiar fashion, and asks, whence or from what place of Scripture may such a thing as he there avers be gathered; at once plainly declining the trial he had put himself upon of insisting upon express texts of Scripture only, not one of the many quoted by him speaking one word expressly to the business in hand, and laying himself naked to all consequences rightly deduced from the Scripture, and expositions given to the letter of some places suitable to “the proportion of faith,” Rom. xii. 6. That, then, which he would have, he tells you is gathered from the places of Scripture subjoined, but how, by whom, by what consequence, with what evidence of reason, it is so gathered, he tells you not. An understanding, indeed, informed with such gross conceptions of the nature of the Deity as Mr B. hath laboured to insinuate into the minds of men, might gather, from his collection of places of Scripture for his purpose in hand, that God is afraid, troubled, grieved, that he repenteth, altereth and changeth his mind to and fro; but of his knowledge or foreknowledge of things, whether he have any such thing or not, there is not the least intimation, unless it be in this, that if he had any such foreknowledge, he need not put himself to so much trouble and vexation, nor so change and alter his mind, as he doth. And with such figments as these (through the infinite, wise, and good providence of God, punishing the wantonness of the minds and lives of men, by giving them up to strong delusions and vain imaginations, in the darkness of their foolish hearts, 2 Thess. ii. 10–12, so far as to change the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of a corruptible, weak, ignorant, sinful man, Rom. i. 23), are we now to deal.

But let the places themselves be considered. To these heads they may be referred:— 1. Such as ascribe unto God fear and being afraid. Deut. xxxii. 26, 27Exod. xiii. 17Gen. iii. 22, 23, are of this sort. 2. Repentance, 1 Sam. xv. 10, 11, ult. 3. Change, or alteration of mind, Num. xiv. 27, 301 Sam. ii. 30. 4. Expectation whether a thing will answer his desire or no, Isa. v. 4. Conjecturing, Jer. xxxvi. 1–3Ezek. xii. 1–3. 5. Trying of experiments, Judges iii. 1, 4Dan. xii. 102 Chron. xxxii. 31. From all which and the like it may, by Mr B.’s direction and help, be thus gathered: “If God be afraid of what is to come to pass, and repenteth him of what he hath done when he finds it not to answer his expectation; if he sits divining and conjecturing at events, being often deceived therein, and therefore tries and makes experiments that he may be informed of the true state of things: then certainly he knows not the free actions of men, that are not yet come to pass.” The antecedent Mr B. hath proved undeniably from ten texts of Scripture, and doubtless the consequent is easily to be gathered by any of his disciples. Doubtless it is high time that the old, musty catechisms of prejudicate persons, who scarce so much as once consulted with the Scriptures in their composures, as being more engaged into factions, were removed out of the way and burned, that this “mere Christian” may have liberty to bless the growing generation with such notions of God as the idolatrous Pagans of old would have scorned to have received.

But do not the Scriptures ascribe all the particulars mentioned unto God? Can you blame Mr B. without reflection on them? If only what the Scripture affirms in the letter, and not the sense wherein and the manner how it affirms it (which considerations are allowed to all the writings and speakings of the sons of men) is to be considered, the end seeming to be aimed at in such undertakings as this of Mr B., namely, to induce the atheistical spirits of the sons of men to a contempt and scorn of them and their authority, will probably be sooner attained than by the efficacy of any one engine raised against them in the world besides.

As to the matter under consideration, I have some few things in general to propose to Mr B., and then I shall descend to the particulars insisted on:—

First, then, I desire to know whether the things mentioned, as fear, grief, repentance, trouble, conjecturings, making trials of men for his own information, are ascribed properly to God as they are unto men, or tropically and figuratively, with a condescension to us, to express the things spoken of, and not to describe the nature of God.192 If the first be said, namely, that these things are ascribed properly to God, and really signify of him the things in us intended in them, then to what hath been spoken in the consideration taken of the foregoing query, I shall freely add, for mine own part, I will not own nor worship him for my God who is truly and properly afraid of what all the men in the world either will or can do; who doth, can do, or hath done any thing, or suffered any thing to be done, of which he doth or can truly and properly repent himself, with sorrow and grief for his mistake; or that sits in heaven divining and conjecturing at what men will do here below: and do know that he whom I serve in my spirit will famish and starve all such gods out of the world. But of this before. If these things are ascribed to God figuratively and improperly, discovering the kind of his works and dispensations, not his own nature or property, I would fain know what inference can be made or conclusion drawn from such expressions, directly calling for a figurative interpretation? For instance, if God be said to repent that he had done such a thing, because such and such things are come to pass thereupon, if this repentance in God be not properly ascribed to him (as by Mr B.’s own rule it is not), but denotes only an alteration and change in the works that outwardly are of him, in an orderly subserviency to the immutable purpose of his will, what can thence be gathered to prove that God foreseeth not the free actions of men? And this is the issue of Mr B.’s confirmation of the thesis couched in his query insisted on from the Scriptures.

2. I must crave leave once more to mind him of the rule he hath given us in his preface, namely, “That where a thing is improperly ascribed to God, in some other place it is denied of him,” as he instances in that of his being weary; so that whatever is denied of him in any one place is not properly ascribed to him in any other. Now, though God be said, in some of the places by him produced, to repent, yet it is in another expressly said that he doth not so, and that upon such a general ground and reason as is equally exclusive of all those other passions and affections, upon whose assignment unto God the whole strength of Mr B.’s plea against the prescience of God doth depend: 1 Sam. xv. 29, “Also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.” The immutability of his nature, and unlikeness to men in obnoxiousness to alterations, are asserted as the reason of his not repenting; which will equally extend its force and efficacy to the removal from him of all the other human affections mentioned. And this second general consideration of the foundation of Mr B.’s plea is sufficient for the removal of the whole.

3. I desire to know whether indeed it is only the free actions of men that are not yet done that Mr B. denies to be known of God, or whether he excludes him not also from the knowledge of the present state, frame, and actings of the hearts of men, and how they stand affected towards him, being therein like other rulers among men, who may judge of the good and evil actions of men so far as they are manifest and evident, but how men in their hearts stand affected to them, their rule, government, and authority, they know not? To make this inquiry, I have not only the observation premised from the words of the close of Mr B.’s query being of a negative importance (“Yea, that there are such actions”), but also from some of the proofs by him produced of his former assertion being interpreted according to the literal significancy of the words, as exclusive of any figure, which he insisteth on. Of this sort is that of Gen. xxii. 1, 2, 10–12, where God is said to tempt Abraham,193 and upon the issue of that trial says to him (which words Mr B., by putting them in a different character, points to as comprehensive of what he intends to gather and conclude from them), “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.” The conclusion which Mr B. guides unto from hence is, that God knew not that which he inquired after, and therefore tempted Abraham that he might so do, and upon the issue of that trial says, “Now I know.” But what was it that God affirms that now he knew? Not any thing future, not any free action that was not as yet done, but something of the present condition and frame of his heart towards God, — namely, his fear of God; not whether he would fear him, but whether he did fear him then. If this, then, be properly spoken of God, and really as to the nature of the thing itself, then is he ignorant no less of things present than of those that are for to come. He knows not who fears him nor who hates him, unless he have opportunity to try them in some such way as he did Abraham. And then what a God hath this man delineated to us! How like the dunghill deities of the heathen, who speak after this rate!194 Doubtless the description that Elijah gave of Baal would better suit him than any of those divine perfections which the living, all-seeing God hath described himself by. But now, if Mr B. will confess that God knows all the things that are present, and that this inquiry after the present frame of the heart and spirit of a man is improperly ascribed to him, from the analogy of his proceedings, in his dealing with him, to that which we insist upon when we would really find out what we do not know, then I would only ask of him why those other expressions which he mentions, looking to what is to come, being of the same nature and kind with this, do not admit of, yea call for, the same kind of exposition and interpretation.

Neither is this the only place insisted on by Mr B. where the inquiry ascribed unto God, and the trial that he makes, is not in reference to things to come, but punctually to what is present: Deut. viii. 2, xiii. 3, “The Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and With all your soul;” 2 Chron. xxxii. 31, “God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart;” and Phil. iv. 6, “In every thing let your requests be made known unto God.” Let Mr B. tell us now plainly whether he supposes all these things to be spoken properly of God, and that indeed God knows not our hearts, the frame of them, nor what in them we desire and aim at, without some eminent trial and inquiry, or until we ourselves do make known what is in them unto him. If this be the man’s mind (as it must be, if he be at any agreement with himself in his principles concerning these scriptural attributions unto God), for my part I shall be so far from esteeming him eminent as a mere Christian, that I shall scarcely judge him comparable, as to his apprehensions of God, unto many that lived and died mere Pagans. To this sense also is applied that property of God, that he “trieth the hearts,” as it is urged by Mr B. from 1 Thess. ii. 4; — that is, he maketh inquiry after what is in them; which, but upon search and trial, he knoweth not! By what ways and means God accomplisheth this search, and whether hereupon he comes to a perfect understanding of our hearts or no, is not expressed. John tells us that “God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things;” and we have thought on that account (with that of such farther discoveries as he hath made of himself and his perfections unto us) that he had been said to search our hearts; not that himself, for his own information, needs any such formal process by way of trial and inquiry, but because really and indeed he doth that in himself which men aim at in the accomplishment of their most diligent searches and exactest trials.

And we may, by the way, see a little of this man’s consistency with himself. Christ he denies to be God, — a great part of his religion consists in that negative, — yet of Christ it is said that “he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man,” John ii. 24, 25: and this is spoken in reference to that very thing in the hearts of men which he would persuade us that God knows not without inquiry; that is, upon the account of his not committing himself to those as true believers whom yet, upon the account of the profession they made, the Scripture calls so, and says they “believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did,” verse 23. Though they had such a veil of profession upon them that the Holy Ghost would have us esteem them as believers, yet Christ could look through it into their hearts, and discover and know their frame, and whether in sincerity they loved him and believed in his name or no; but this God cannot do without inquiry I And yet Christ (if we believe Mr B.) was but a mere man, as he is a “mere Christian.” Farther; it seems, by this gentleman, that unless “we make known our requests to God,” he knows not what we will ask. Yet we ask nothing but what is in our thoughts; and in the last query he instructs us that God knows our thoughts, — and doubtless he knows Mr B.’s to be but folly. Farther yet; if God must be concluded ignorant of our desires, because we are bid to make our requests known unto him, he may be as well concluded forgetful of what himself hath spoken, because he bids us put him in remembrance, and appoints some to be his remembrancers. But to return:—

This is the aspect of almost one-half of the places produced by Mr B. towards the business in hand. If they are properly spoken of God, in the same sense as they are of man, they conclude him not to know things present, the frame of the heart of any man in the world towards himself and his fear, nay, the outward, open, notorious actions of men. So it is in that place of Gen. xviii. 21, insisted on by Crellius, one of Mr B.’s great masters, “I will go down now, and see” (or know) “whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me.”195 Yea, the places which, in their letter and outward appearance, seem to ascribe that ignorance of things present unto God are far more express and numerous than those that in the least look forward to what is yet for to come, or was so at their delivery. This progress, then, have we made under our catechist, if we may believe him, as he insinuates his notions concerning God: “God sits in heaven (glistering on a throne), whereunto he is limited, yea, to a certain place therein, so as not to be elsewhere; being grieved, troubled, and perplexed at the affairs done below which he doth know, making inquiry after what he doth not know, and many things (things future) he knoweth not at all.”

Before I proceed to the farther consideration of that which is eminently and expressly denied by Mr B., namely, “God’s foreknowledge of our free actions that are future,” because many of his proofs, in the sense by him urged, seem to exclude him from an acquaintance with many things present, — as, in particular, the frame and condition of the hearts of men towards himself, as was observed, — it may not be amiss a little to confirm that perfection of the knowledge of God as to those things from the Scripture; which will abundantly also manifest that the expressions insisted on by our catechist are metaphorical and improperly ascribed to God. Of the eminent predictions in the Scripture, which relate unto things future, I shall speak afterward. He knew, for he foretold the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the famine in Egypt, the selling and exaltation of Joseph, the reign of David, the division of his kingdom, the Babylonish captivity, the kingdom of Cyrus, the return of his people, the state and ruin of the four great empires of the world, the wars, plagues, famines, earthquakes, divisions, which he manifestly foretold. But farther, he knows the frame of the hearts of men; he knew that the Keilites would deliver up David to Saul if he stayed amongst them, — which probably they knew not themselves, 1 Sam. xxiii. 12; he knew that Hazael would murder women and infants, which he knew not himself, 2 Kings viii. 12, 13; he knew that the Egyptians would afflict his people, though at first they entertained them with honour, Gen. xv. 13; he knew Abraham, that he would instruct his household, chap. xviii. 19; he knew that some were obstinate, their neck an iron sinew, and their brow brass, Isa. xlviii. 4; he knew the imagination or figment of the heart of his people, Deut. xxxi. 21; that the church of Laodicea, notwithstanding her profession, was lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, Rev. iii. 15. “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart,” 1 Sam. xvi. 7. “He only knoweth the hearts of all the children of men,” 1 Kings viii. 39. “Hell and destruction are before the Lord: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?” Prov. xv. 11. So also Prov. xxiv. 12Jer. xvii. 9, 10Ezek. xi. 5Ps. xxxviii. 9, xciv. 11Job xxxi. 4Matt. vi. 4, 6, 8Luke xvi. 15Acts i. 24, etc. Innumerable other places to this purpose may be insisted on, though it is a surprisal to be put to prove that God knows the hearts of the sons of men. But to proceed to that which is more directly under consideration:—

The sole foundation of Mr B.’s insinuation, that God knows not our free actions that are future, being laid, as was observed, on the assignation of fear, repentance, expectation, and conjecturing, unto God, the consideration which hath already been had of those attributions in the Scripture and the causes of them is abundantly sufficient to remove it out of the way, and to let his inference sink thither whence it came. Doubtless never was painter so injurious to the Deity (who limned out the shape of an old man on a cloth or board, and, after some disputes with himself whether he should sell it for an emblem of winter, set it out as a representation of God the Father) as this man is in snatching God’s own pencil out of his hand, and by it presenting him to the world in a gross, carnal, deformed shape. Plato would not suffer Homer in his Commonwealth, for intrenching upon the imaginary blessedness of their dunghill deities, making Jupiter to grieve for the death of Sarpedon,196 Mars to be wounded by Diomedes, and to roar thereupon with disputes and conjectures in heaven among themselves about the issue of the Trojan war,197 though he endeavours to salve all his heavenly solecisms by many noble expressions concerning purposes not unmeet for a deity, telling us, in the close and issue of a most contingent after, Διὸς δὲ τελείετο βολή.198 Let that man think of how much sorer punishment he shall be thought worthy (I speak of the great account he is one day to make) who shall persist in wresting the Scripture to his own destruction, to represent the living and incomprehensible God unto the world trembling with fear, pale with anger, sordid with grief and repentance, perplexed with conjectures and various expectations of events, and making a diligent inquiry after the things he knows not; that is, altogether such an one as himself: let all who have the least reverence of and acquaintance with that Majesty with whom we have to do judge and determine. But of these things before.

The proposure of a question to succeed in the room of that removed, with a scriptural resolution thereof, in order to a discovery of what God himself hath revealed concerning his knowledge of all things, is the next part of our employment. Thus, then, it may be framed:—

Ques. Doth not God know all things, whether past, present, or to come, all the ways and actions of men, even before their accomplishment, or is any thing hid from him? What says the Scripture properly and directly hereunto?

Ans. “God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things,” 1 John iii. 20. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do,” Heb. iv. 13. “The Lord is a God of knowledge,” 1 Sam. ii. 3. “Thou knowest my down-sitting and mine up-rising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether,” Ps. cxxxix. 2–4. “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite,” Ps. cxlvii. 5. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?” Isa. xl. 13, 14. “There is no searching of his understanding,” verse 28Rom. xi. 36, “Of him are all things;” and, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts xv. 18, etc.

Of the undeniable evidence and conviction of God’s prescience or foreknowledge of future contingents, from his prediction of their coming to pass, with other demonstrations of the truth under consideration, attended with their several testimonies from Scripture, the close of this discourse will give a farther account.

It remains only that, according to the way and method formerly insisted on, I give some farther account of the perfection of God pleaded for, with the arguments wherewith it is farther evidenced to us, and so to proceed to what followeth:—

1. That knowledge is proper to God, the testimony of the Scripture unto the excellency and perfection of the thing itself doth sufficiently evince.199 “I cannot tell,” says the apostle: “God knoweth,” 2 Cor. xii. 2, 3. It is the general voice of nature, upon relation of any thing that to us is hid and unknown, that the apostle there makes mention of: “God knoweth.” That he knoweth the things that are past, Mr B. doth not question. That at least also some things that are present, yea some thoughts of our hearts, are known to him, he doth not deny. It is not my intendment to engage in any curious scholastical discourse about the understanding, science, knowledge, or wisdom of God, nor of the way of God’s knowing things in and by his own essence, through simple intuition. That which directly is opposed is his knowledge of our free actions, which, in respect of their second and mediate causes, may or may not be. This, therefore, I shall briefly explain, and confirm the truth of it by Scripture testimonies and arguments from right reason, not to be evaded without making head against all God’s infinite perfections, having already demonstrated that all that which is insisted on by Mr B. to oppose it is spoken metaphorically and improperly of God.

That God doth foresee all future things was amongst mere Pagans so acknowledged as to be looked on as a common notion of mankind.200 So Xenophon tells us, “That both Grecians and barbarians consented in this, that the gods knew all things, present and to come.”201 And it may be worth our observation, that whereas Crellius, one of the most learned of this gentleman’s masters, distinguisheth between ἐσόμενα and μέλλοντα, affirming that God knows τὰ ἐσόμενα, which, though future, are necessarily so, yet he knows not τὰ μέλλοντα, which are only, says he, likely so to be.202 Xenophon plainly affirms that all nations consent that he knows τὰ μέλλοντα. “And this knowledge of his,” saith that great philosopher, “is the foundation of the prayers and supplications of men for the obtaining of good or the avoiding of evil.” Now, that one calling himself a “mere Christian” should oppose a perfection of God that a mere Pagan affirms all the world to acknowledge to be in him would seem somewhat strange, but that we know all things do not answer or make good the names whereby they are called.

For the clearer handling of the matter under consideration, the terms wherein it is proposed are a little to be explained:—

1. That prescience or foreknowledge is attributed to God, the Scripture testifieth. Acts ii. 23Rom. viii. 29, xi. 21 Pet. i. 2, are proofs hereof. The term, indeed (foreknowing), rather relates to the things known, and the order wherein they stand one to another and among themselves, than is properly expressive of God’s knowledge. God knows all things as they are, and in that order wherein they stand. Things that are past, as to the order of the creatures which he hath appointed to them, and the works of providence which outwardly are of him, he knows as past; not by remembrance, as we do, but by the same act of knowledge wherewith he knew them from all eternity, even before they were.203 Their existence in time and being, cast by the successive motion of things into the number of the things that are past, denotes an alteration in them, but not at all in the knowledge of God. So it is also in respect of things future. God knows them in that esse intelligibile which they have, as they may be known and understood; and how that is shall afterward be declared. He sees and knows them as they are, when they have that respect upon them of being future; when they lose this respect, by their actual existence, he knows them still as before. They are altered; his knowledge, his understanding is infinite, and changeth not.

2. God’s knowledge of things is either of simple intelligence (as usually it is phrased) or of vision.204 The first is his knowledge of all possible things; that is, of all that he himself can do. That God knows himself I suppose will not be denied. An infinite understanding knows throughly all infinite perfections. God, then, knows his own power or omnipotency, and thereby knows all that he can do. Infinite science must know, as I said, what infinite power can extend unto. Now, whatever God can do is possible to be done; that is, whatever hath not in itself a repugnancy to being. Now, that many things may be done by the power of God that yet are not, nor ever shall be done, I suppose is not denied. Might he not make a new world? Hence ariseth the attribution of the knowledge of simple intelligence before mentioned unto God. In his own infinite understanding he sees and knows all things that are possible to be done by his power, would his good pleasure concur to their production.

Of the world of things possible which God can do, some things, even all that he pleaseth, are future.205 The creation itself, and all things that have had a being since, were so future before their creation. Had they not some time been future, they had never been. Whatever is, was to be before it wan All things that shall be to the end of the world are now future. How things which were only possible, in relation to the power of God, come to be future, and in what respect, shall be briefly mentioned. These things God knoweth also. His science of them is called of vision. He sees them as things which, in their proper order, shall exist. In a word, “scientia visionis,” and “simplicis intelligentise,” may be considered in a threefold relation; that is, “in ordine ad objectum, mensuram, modum:” — (1.) “Scientia visionis” hath for its object things past, present, and to come, — whatsoever had, hath, or will have, actual being. The measure of this knowledge is his will; because the will and decree of God only make those things future which were but possible before: therefore we say, “Scientia visionis fundatur in voluntate.” For the manner of it, it is called “Scientia libera, quia fundatur in voluntate,” as necessarily presupposing a free act of the divine will, which makes things future, and so objects of this kind of knowledge. (2.) As for that “scientia” which we call “simplicis intelligentiæ,” the object of it is possible; the measure of it omnipotency, for by it he knows all he can do; and for the manner of it, it is “scientia necessaria, quia non fundatur in voluntate, sed potestate” (say the schoolmen), seeing by it he knows not what he will, but what he can do. Of that late figment of a middle science in God, arising neither from the infinite perfection of his own being, as that of simple intelligence, nor yet attending his free purpose and decree, as that of vision, but from a consideration of the second causes that are to produce the things foreknown, in their kind, order, and dependence, I am not now to treat. And with the former kind of knowledge it is, or rather in the former way (the knowledge of God being simply one and the same) is it, that we affirm him to know the things that are future, of what sort soever, or all things before they come to pass.

3. The things inquired after are commonly called contingent. Contingencies are of two sorts:— (1.) Such as are only so; (2.) Such as are also free.

(1.) Such as are only so are contingent only in their effects: such is the falling of a stone from a house, and the killing of a man thereby. The effect itself was contingent, nothing more; the cause necessary, the stone, being loosed from what detained it upon the house, by its own weight necessarily falling to the ground. (2.) That which is so contingent as to be also free, is contingent both in respect of the effect and of its causes also. Such was the soldier’s piercing of the side of Christ. The effect was contingent, — such a thing might have been done or not; and the cause also, for they chose to do it who did it, and in respect of their own elective faculty might not have chosen it. That a man shall write, or ride, or speak to another person to-morrow, the agent being free, is contingent both as to the cause and to the effect. About these is our principal inquiry; and to the knowledge of God which he is said to have of them is the opposition most expressly made by Mr B. Let this, then, be our conclusion:—

God perfectly knows all the free actions of men before they are wrought by them.206 All things that will be done or shall be to all eternity, though in their own natures contingent and wrought by agents free in their working, are known to him from eternity.

Some previous observations will make way for the clear proof and demonstration of this truth. Then, —

1. God certainly knows everything that is to be known; that is, everything that is scibile. If there be in the nature of things an impossibility to be known, they cannot be known by the divine understanding. If any thing be scibile, or may be known, the not knowing of it is his imperfection who knows it not. To God this cannot be ascribed (namely, that he should not know what is to be known) without the destruction of his perfection. He shall not be my God who is not infinitely perfect. He who wants any thing to make him blessed in himself can never make the fruition of himself the blessedness of others.

2. Every thing that hath a determinate cause is scibile, may be known, though future, by him that perfectly knows that cause which doth so determine the thing to be known unto existence. Now, contingent things, the free actions of men that yet are not, but in respect of themselves may or may not be, have such a determinate cause of their existence as that mentioned. It is true, in respect of their immediate causes, as the wills of men, they are contingent, and may be or not be; but that they have such a cause as before spoken of is evident from the light of this consideration: in their own time and order they are. Now, whatever is at any time was future; before it was, it was to be. If it had not been future, it had not now been. Its present performance is sufficient demonstration of the futurition it had Before. I ask, then, whence it came to be future, — that that action was rather to be than a thousand others that were as possible as it? for instance, that the side of Christ should be pierced with a spear, when it was as possible, in the nature of the thing itself and of all secondary causes, that his head should be cut off. That, then, which gives any action a futurition is that determinate cause wherein it may be known, whereof we speak. Thus it may be said of the same thing that it is contingent and determined, without the least appearance of contradiction, because it is not spoken with respect to the same things or causes.

3. The determinate cause of continent things, that is, things that are future (for every thing when it is, and as it is, is necessary),207 is the will of God himself concerning their existence and being; either by his efficiency and working, as all good things in every kind (that is, that are either morally or physically so, in which latter sense all the actions of men, as actions, are so); or by his permission, which is the condition of things morally evil, or of the irregularity and obliquity attending those actions, upon the account of their relation to a law, which in themselves are entitative and physically good, as the things were which God at first created.208 Whether any thing come to pass beside the will of God and contrary to his purpose will not be disputed with any advantage of glory to God or honour to them that shall assert it.209 That in all events the will of God is fulfilled is a common notion of all rational creatures. So the accomplishment of his “determinate counsel” is affirmed by the apostle in the issue of that mysterious dispensation of the crucifying of his Son. That of James iv. 15Ἐὰν ὁ Κύριος θελήσῃ, intimates God’s will to be extended to all actions, as actions, whatever. Thus God knew before the world was made, or any thing that is in it, that there would be such a world and such things in it; yet than the making of the world nothing was more free or contingent.210 God is not a necessary agent as to any of the works that outwardly are of him. Whence, then, did God know this? Was it not from his own decree and eternal purpose that such a world there should be? And if the knowledge of one contingent thing be from hence, why not of all? In brief, these future contingencies depend on something for their existence, or they come forth into the world in their own strength and upon their own account, not depending on any other. If the latter, they are God; if the former, the will of God or old Fortune must be the principle on which they do depend.

4. God can work with contingent causes for the accomplishment of his own will and purposes, without the least prejudice to them, either as causes or as free and contingent. God moves not, works not, in or with any second causes, to the producing of any effect contrary or not agreeable to their own natures. Notwithstanding any predetermination or operation of God, the wills of men, in the production of every one of their actions, are at as perfect liberty as a cause in dependence of another is capable of. To say it is not in dependence is atheism. The purpose of God, the counsel of his will, concerning any thing as to its existence, gives a necessity of infallibility to the event, but changes not the manner of the second cause’s operation, be [it] what it will.211 That God cannot accomplish and bring about his own purposes by free and contingent agents, without the destruction of the natures he hath endued them withal, is a figment unworthy the thoughts of any who indeed acknowledge his sovereignty and power.

5. The reason why Mr B.’s companions in his undertaking, as others that went before him of the same mind, do deny this foreknowledge of God, they express on all occasions to be that the granting of it is prejudicial to that absolutely independent liberty of will which God assigns to men: so Socinus pleads, Prælect. Theol. cap. viii.; thus far, I confess, more accurately than the Arminians.212 These pretend (some of them, at least) to grant the prescience of God, but yet deny his determinate decrees and purposes, on the same pretence that the others do his prescience, namely, of their prejudicialness to the free-will of man. Socinus discourses (which was no difficult task) that the foreknowledge of God is as inconsistent with that independent liberty of will and contingency which he and they had fancied as the predetermination of his will; and therefore rejects the former as well as the latter. It was Augustine’s complaint of old concerning Cicero, that “ita fecit homines liberos, ut fecit etiam sacrilegos.”213 Cicero was a mere Pagan, and surely our complaint against any that shall close with him in this attempt, under the name of a “mere Christian,” will not be less just than that of Augustine. For mine own part, I am fully resolved that all the liberty and freedom that, as creatures, we are capable of is eminently consistent with God’s absolute decrees and infallible foreknowledge; and if I should hesitate in the apprehension thereof, I had rather ten thousand times deny our wills to be free than God to be omniscient, the sovereign disposer of all men, their actions, and concernments, or say that any thing comes to pass without, against, or contrary to the counsel of his will. But we know, through the goodness of God, that these things have their consistency, and that God may have preserved to him the glory of his infinite perfection, and the will of man not at all be abridged of its due and proper liberty.

These things being premised, the proof and demonstration of the truth proposed lies ready at hand in the ensuing particulars:—

1. He who knows all things knows the things that are future, though contingent.214 In saying they are things future and contingent, you grant them to be among the number of things, as you do those which you call things past; but that God knows all things hath already been abundantly confirmed out of Scripture. Let the reader look back on some of the many texts and places by which I gave answer to the query about the foreknowledge of God, and he will find abundantly enough for his satisfaction, if he be of those that would be satisfied, and dares not carelessly make bold to trample upon the perfections of God. Take some few of them to a review: 1 John iii. 20, “God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Even we know things past and present. If God knows only things of the same kind, his knowledge may be greater than ours by many degrees, but you cannot say his understanding is infinite; there is not, on that supposition, an infinite distance between his knowledge and ours, but they stand in some measurable proportion. Heb. iv. 13, “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” “Not that which is to come, not the free actions of men that are future,” saith Mr B. But to distinguish thus when the Scripture doth not distinguish, and that to the great dishonour of God, is not to interpret the word, but to deny it, Acts xv. 8, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” I ask, whether God hath any thing to do in the free actions of men? For instance, had he any thing to do in the sending of Joseph into Egypt, his exaltation there, and the entertainment of his father’s household afterward by him in his greatness and power? all which were brought about by innumerable contingencies and free actions of men. If he had not, why should we any longer depend on him, or regard him in the several transactions and concernments of our lives?

Nullum numen abest,215 si sit prudentia: nos te,

Nos facimus, Fortuna, Deam.

If he had to do with it, as Joseph thought he had, when he affirmed plainly that” God sent him thither, and made him a father to Pharaoh and his house.,” Gen. xlv. 5–8, then the whole was known to God before, for “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” And if God may know any one free action beforehand, he may know all, for there is the same reason of them all. Their contingency is given as the only cause why they may not be known, Now, every action that is contingent is equally interested therein. “A quatenus ad omne valet argumentum.” That place of the psalm before recited, Ps. cxxxix. 2–6, is express as to the knowledge of God concerning our free actions that are yet future. If any thing in the world may be reckoned amongst our free actions, surely our thoughts may; and such a close reserved treasure are they that Mr B. doth more than insinuate, in the application of the texts of Scripture which he mentioneth, that God knoweth them not when present without search and inquiry. But these, saith the psalmist, “God knoweth afar off,” — before we think them, before they enter into our hearts. And truly I marvel that any man, not wholly given up to a spirit of giddiness, after he had produced this text of Scripture to prove that God knows our thoughts, should instantly subjoin a question leading men to a persuasion that God knows not our free actions that are future; unless it was with a Julian design, to impair the credit of the word of God, by pretending it liable to self-contradiction, or, with Lucian, to deride God as bearing contrary testimonies concerning himself.

2. God hath, by himself and his holy prophets, which have been from the foundation of the world, foretold many of the free actions of men, what they would do, what they should do, long before they were born who were to do them.216 To give a little light to this argument, which of itself will easily overwhelm all that stands before it, I shall handle it under these propositions:— (1.) That God hath so foretold the free actions of men. (2.) That so he could not do unless he knew them, and that they would be, then when he foretold them. (3.) That he proves himself to be God by these his predictions. (4.) That he foretells them as the means of executing many of his judgments which he hath purposed and threatened, and the accomplishment of many mercies which he hath promised, so that the denial of his foresight of them so exempts them from under his providence as to infer that he rules not in the world by punishments and rewards.

For the first:— (1.) There needs no great search or inquiry after witnesses to confirm the truth of it; the Scripture is full of such predictions from one end to the other. Some few instances shall suffice: Gen. xviii. 18, 19, “Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him; for I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” Scarce a word but is expressive of some future contingent thing, if the free actions of men be so before they are wrought. That “Abraham should become a mighty nation,” that “all the nations of the earth should be blessed in him,” that he would “command his children and his household after him to keep the ways of the Lord,” it was all to be brought about by the free actions of Abraham and of others; and all this “I know,” saith the Lord, and accordingly declares it. By the way, if the Lord knew all this before, his following trial of Abraham was not to satisfy himself whether he feared him or no, as is pretended.

So also Gen. xv. 13, 14, “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.” The Egyptians’ affliction on the Israelites was by their free actions, if any be free. It was their sin to do it; they sinned in all that they did for the effecting of it. And, doubtless, if any men’s sinful actions are free, yet doth God here foretell “They shall afflict them.”

Deut. xxxi. 16–18, you have an instance beyond all possible exception: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?” etc. The sum of a good part of what is recorded in the Book of Judges is here foretold by God. The people’s going a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, their forsaking of God, their breaking his covenant, the thoughts of their hearts and their expressions upon the consideration of the evils and afflictions that should befall them, were of their free actions; but now all these doth God here foretell, and thereby engages the honour of his truth unto the certainty of their coming to pass.

1 Kings xiii. 2 is signal to the same purpose: “O altar, altar, behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that bum incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon then” This prediction is given out three hundred years before the birth of Josiah. The accomplishment of it you have in the story, 2 Kings xxiii. 17. Did Josiah act freely? was his proceeding at Bethel by free actions, or no? If not, how shall we know what actions of men are free, what not? If it was, his free actions are here foretold, and therefore, I think, foreseen.

1 Kings xxii. 28, the prophet Micaiah, in the name of the Lord, having foretold a thing that was contingent, and which was accomplished by a man acting at a venture, lays the credit of his prophecy (and therein his life, for if he had proved false as to the event he was to have suffered death by the law) at stake, before all the people, upon the certainty of the issue foretold: “And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you.”

Of these predictions the Scripture is full. The prophecies of Cyrus in Isaiah, of the issue of the Babylonish war and kingdom of Judah in Jeremiah, of the several great alterations and changes in the empires of the world in Daniel, of the kingdom of Christ in them all, are too long to be insisted on. The reader may also consult Matt. xxiv. 5Mark xiii. 6, xiv. 30Acts xx. 292 Thess. ii. 3, 4, etc.; 1 Tim. iv. 12 Tim. iii. 12 Pet. ii. 1; and the Revelation almost throughout. Our first proposition, then, is undeniably evident, That God, by himself and by his prophets, hath foretold things future, even the free actions of men.

(2.) The second proposition mentioned is manifest and evident in its own light: What God foretelleth, that he perfectly foreknows. The honour and repute of his veracity and truth, yea, of his being, depend on the certain accomplishment of what he absolutely foretells. If his predictions of things future are not bottomed on his certain prescience of them, they are all but like Satan’s oracles, conjectures and guesses of what may be accomplished or not, — a supposition whereof is as high a pitch of blasphemy as any creature in this world can possibly arrive unto.

(3.) By this prerogative of certain predictions in reference to things to come, God vindicates his own deity; and from the want of it evinces the vanity of the idols of the Gentiles, and the falseness of the prophets that pretend to speak in his name: Isa. xli. 21–24, “Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things, what they be; or declare us things for to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods. Behold, ye are of nothing.” The Lord calling forth the idols of the Gentiles, devils, stocks, and stones, to plead for themselves, before the denunciation of the solemn sentence ensuing, verse 24, he puts them to the plea of foreknowledge for the proof of their deity. If they can foretell things to come certainly and infallibly, on the account of their own κνοὤεδγε of them, gods they are, and gods they shall be esteemed. If not, saith he, “Ye are nothing, worse than nothing, and your work of nought; an abomination is he that chooseth you.” And it may particularly be remarked, that the idols of whom he speaketh are in especial those of the Chaldeans, whose worshippers pretended above all men in the world to divination and predictions. Now, this issue doth the Lord drive things to betwixt himself and the idols of the world: If they can foretell things to come, that is, not this or that thing (for so, by conjecture, upon consideration of second causes and the general dispositions of things, they may do, and the devil hath done), but any thing or every thing, they shall go free; that is, “Is there nothing hid from you that is yet for to be?” Being not able to stand before this interrogation, they perish before the judgment mentioned. But now, if it may be replied to the living God himself that this is a most unequal way of proceeding, to lay that burden upon the shoulders of others which himself will not bear, bring others to that trial which himself cannot undergo, for he himself cannot foretell the free actions of men, because he doth not foreknow them, would not his plea render him like to the idols whom he adjudgeth to shame and confusion? God himself there, concluding that they are “vanity and nothing” who are pretended to be gods but are not able to foretell the things that are for to come, asserts his own deity, upon the account of his infinite understanding and knowledge of all things, on the account whereof he can foreshow all things whatever that are as yet future. In like manner doth he proceed to evince what is from himself, what not, in the predictions of any, from the certainty of the event: Deut. xviii. 21, 22, “If thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

(4.) The fourth proposition, That God by the free actions of men (some whereof he foretelleth) doth fulfil his own counsel as to judgments and mercies, rewards and punishments, needs no farther proof or confirmation but what will arise from a mere review of the things before mentioned, by God so foretold, as was to be proved. They were things of the greatest import in the world, as to the good or evil of the inhabitants thereof, and in whose accomplishment as much of the wisdom, power, righteousness, and mercy of God was manifest, as in any of the works of his providence whatever. Those things which he hath [so] disposed of as to be subservient to so great ends, certainly he knew that they would be. The selling of Joseph, the crucifying of his Son, the destruction of antichrist, are things of greater concernment than that God should only conjecture at their event. And, indeed, the taking away of God’s foreknowledge of things contingent renders his providence useless as to the government of the world. To what end should any rely upon him, seek unto him, commit themselves to his care through the course of their lives, when he knows not what will or may befall them the next day? How shall he judge or rule the world who every moment is surprised with new emergencies which he foresaw not, which must necessitate him to new counsels and determinations? On the consideration of this argument doth Episcopius conclude for the prescience of God, Ep. ii., “ad Beverovicium de termino vitæ,”217 which he had allowed to be questioned in his private Theological Disputations,218 though in his public afterward he pleads for it. The sum of the argument insisted on amounts to this:—

Those things which God foretells that they shall certainly and infallibly come to pass before they so do, those he certainly and infallibly knoweth whilst they are future, and that they will come to pass; but God foretells, and hath foretold, all manner of future contingencies and free actions of men, good and evil, duties and sins: therefore he certainly and infallibly knows them whilst they are yet future.

The proposition stands or falls unto the honour of God’s truth, veracity, and power.

The assumption is proved by the former and sundry other instances that may be given.

He foretold that the Egyptians should afflict his people four hundred years, that in so doing they would sin, and that for it he would punish them, Gen. xv. 13, 14; and surely the Egyptians’ sinning therein was their own free action. The incredulity of the Jews, treachery of Judas, calling of the Gentiles, all that happened to Christ in the days of his flesh, the coming of antichrist, the rise of false teachers, were all foretold, and did all of them purely depend on the free actions of men; which was to be demonstrated.

3. To omit many other arguments, and to close this discourse: all perfections are to be ascribed to God; they are all in him. To know is an excellency; he that knows any thing is therein better than he that knows it not. The more any one knows, the more excellent is he. To know all things is an absolute perfection in the good of knowledge; to know them in and by himself who so knows them, and not from any discourses made to him from without, is an absolute perfection in itself, and is required where there is infinite wisdom and understanding. This we ascribe to God, as worthy of him, and as by himself ascribed to himself. To affirm, on the other side, — (1.) That God hath his knowledge from things without him, and so is taught wisdom and understanding, as we are, from the event of things, for the more any one knows the wiser he is; (2.) That he hath, as we have, a successive knowledge of things, knowing that one day which he knew not another, and that thereupon there is, — (3.) A daily and hourly change and alteration in him, as, from the increasing of his knowledge there must actually and formally be; and, (4.) That he sits conjecturing at events; — to assert, I say, these and the like monstrous figments concerning God and his knowledge, is, as much as in them lieth who so assert them, to shut his providence out of the world, and to divest him of all his blessedness, self-sufficiency, and infinite perfections. And, indeed, if Mr B. believe his own principles, and would speak out, he must assert these things, how desperate soever; for having granted the premises, it is stupidity to stick at the conclusion. And therefore some of those whom Mr B. is pleased to follow in these wild vagaries speak out, and say (though with as much blasphemy as confidence) that God doth only conjecture and guess at future contingents; for when this argument is brought, Gen. xviii. 19, “ ‘I know,’ saith God, ‘Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him,’ etc., therefore future contingents may be certainly known of him,” they deny the consequence; or, granting that he may be said to know them, yet say it is only by guess and conjecture, as we do.219 And for the present vindication of the attributes of God this may suffice.

Before I close this discourse, it may not be impertinent to divert a little to that which alone seems to be of any difficulty lying in our way in the assertion of this prescience of God, though no occasion of its consideration be administered to us by him with whom we have to do.

That future contingents have not in themselves a determinate truth, and therefore cannot be determinately known,” is the great plea of those who oppose God’s certain foreknowledge of them; “and therefore,” say they, “doth the philosopher affirm that propositions concerning them are neither true nor false.”220 But, —

1. That there is, or may be, that there hath been, a certain prediction of future contingents hath been demonstrated; and therefore they must on some account or other (and what that account is hath been declared) have a determinate truth. And I had much rather conclude that there are certain predictions of future contingents in the Scripture, and therefore they have a determinate truth, than, on the contrary, they have no determinate truth, therefore there are no certain predictions of them. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”

2. As to the falsity of that pretended axiom, this proposition, “Such a soldier shall pierce the side of Christ with a spear, or he shall not pierce him,” is determinately true and necessary on the one side or the other, the parts of it being contradictory, which cannot lie together. Therefore, if a man before the flood had used this proposition in the affirmative, it had been certainly and determinately true; for that proposition which was once not true cannot be true afterward upon the same account.

3. If no affirmative proposition about future contingents be determinately true, then every such affirmative proposition is determinately false; for from hence, that a thing is or is not, is a proposition determinately true or false.221 And therefore if any one shall say that that is determinately future which is absolutely indifferent, his affirmation is false; which is contrary to Aristotle, whom in this they rely upon, who affirms that such propositions are neither true nor false. The truth is, of propositions that they are true or false is certain. Truth or falseness are their proper and necessary affections, as even and odd of numbers; nor can any proposition be given wherein there is a contradiction, whereof one part is true and the other false.

4. This proposition, “Petrus orat,” is determinately true de præsenti, when Peter doth actually pray (for “quicquid est, dum est, determinate est”); therefore this proposition de future, “Petrus orabit,” is determinately true. The former is the measure and rule by which we judge of the latter. So that because it is true de presenti, “Petrus orat;” ergo this, de futuro, “Petrus orabit,” was ab æterno true (ex parte rei). And then (ex parte modi) because this proposition, “Petrus orat,” is determinately true de præsentiergo this, “Petrus orabit,” was determinately true from all eternity.222 But enough of this.

Mr B. having made a sad complaint of the ignorance and darkness that men were bred up in by being led from the Scripture, and imposing himself upon them for “a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, and a teacher of babes,” doth, in pursuit of his great undertaking, in this chapter instruct them what the Scripture speaks concerning the being, nature, and properties of God. Of his goodness, wisdom, power, truth, righteousness, faithfulness, mercy, independency, sovereignty, infiniteness, men had before been informed by books, tracts, and catechisms, “composed according to the fancies and interests of men, the Scripture being utterly justled out of the way.” Alas! of these things the Scripture speaks not at all; but the description wherein that abounds of God, and which is necessary that men should know (whatever become of those other inconsiderable things wherewith other poor catechisms are stuffed), is, that he is finite, limited, and obnoxious to passions, etc. “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”


Chapter 6. Of the creation, and condition of man before and after the fall.

Mr Biddle’s third chapter.

Ques. Were the heaven and earth from all eternity, or created at a certain time? and by whom?

Ans. Gen. i. 1.

Q. How long was God a making them?

A. Exod. xx. 11.

Q. How did God create man?

A. Gen. ii. 7.

Q. How did he create woman?

A. Gen. ii. 21, 22.

Q. Why was she called woman?

A. Gen. ii.23.

Q. What doth Moses infer from her being made a woman, and brought unto the man?

A. Gen. ii. 24.

Q. Where did God put man after he was created?

A. Gen. ii. 8.

Q. What commandment gave he to the man when he put him into the garden?

A. Gen. ii. 16, 17.

Q. Was the man deceived to eat of the forbidden fruit?

A. 1 Tim. ii. 14.

Q. By whom was the woman deceived?

A. 2 Cor. xi. 9.

Q. How was the woman induced to eat of the forbidden fruit? and how the man?

A. Gen. iii. 6.

Q. What effect followed upon their eating?

A. Gen. iii. 7.

Q. Did the sin of our first parents in eating of the forbidden fruit bring both upon them and their posterity the guilt of hell-fire, deface the image of God in them, darken their understanding, enslave their will, deprive them of power to do good, and cause mortality? If not, what are the true penalties that God denounced against them for the said offence?

A. Gen. iii. 16–19.

 

 

Examination.

Having delivered his thoughts concerning God himself, his nature and properties, in the foregoing chapters, in this our catechist proceeds to the consideration of his works, ascribing to God the creation of all things, especially insisting on the making of man. Now, although many questions might be proposed from which Mr B. would, I suppose, be scarcely able to extricate himself, relating to the impossibility of the proceeding of such a work as the creation of all things from such an agent as he hath described God to be, so limited both in his essence and properties, yet it being no part of my business to dispute or perplex any thing that is simply in itself true and unquestionable, with the attendancies of it from other corrupt notions of him or them by whom it is received and proposed, I shall wholly omit all considerations of that nature, and apply myself merely to what is by him expressed. That he who is limited and finite in essence, and consequently in properties, should by his power, without the help of any intervening instrument, out of nothing, produce, at such a vast distance from him as his hands can by no means reach unto, such mighty effects as the earth itself and the fulness thereof, is not of an easy proof or resolution. But on these things at present I shall not insist. Certain it is that, on this apprehension of God, the Epicureans disputed for the impassibility of the creation of the world.223

His first question, then, is, “Were the heaven and earth from all eternity, or created at a certain time? and by whom?” To which he answers with Gen. i. 1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Right. Only in the exposition of this verse, as it discovers the principal efficient cause of the creation of all things, or the author of this great work, Mr B. afterward expounds himself to differ from us and the word of God in other places. By “God” he intends the Father only and exclusively, the Scripture plentifully ascribing this work also to the Son and Holy Ghost, manifesting their concurrence in the indivisible Deity unto this great work, though, by way of eminency, this work be attributed to the Father, as that of redemption is to the Son, and that of regeneration to the Holy Ghost, from neither of which notwithstanding is the Father excluded.

Perhaps the using of the name of God in the plural number, where mention is made of the creation, in conjunction with a verb singular, Gen. i. 1, and the express calling of God our Creators and Makers, Eccles. xii. 1Ps. cxlix. 2Job xxxv. 10, wants not a significancy to this thing.224 And indeed he that shall consider the miserable evasions that the adversaries have invented to escape the argument thence commonly insisted on must needs be confirmed in the persuasion of the force of it.225 Mr B. may haply close with Plato in this business, who, in his “Timæus,” brings in his δημιουργός speaking to his genii about the making of man, telling them that they were mortal, but encouraging them to obey him in the making of other creatures, upon the promise of immortality. “Turn you,” saith he, “according to the law of nature, to the making of living creatures, and imitate my power which I used in your generation or birth;”226 — a speech fit enough for Mr B.’s god, “who is shut up in heaven,” and not able of himself to attend his whole business. But what a sad success this demiurgus had, by his want of prescience, or foresight of what his demons would do (wherein also Mr B. likens God unto him), is farther declared; for they imprudently causing a conflux of too much matter and humour, no small tumult followed thereon in heaven, as at large you may see in the same author. However, it is said expressly the Son or Word created all things, John i. 3; and, “By him are all things,” 1 Cor. viii. 6Rev. iv. 11. Of the Holy Ghost the same is alarmed, Gen. i. 2Job xxvi. 13Ps. xxxiii. 6. Nor can the Word and Spirit be degraded from the place of principal efficient cause in this work to a condition of instrumentality only, which is urged (especially in reference to the Spirit), unless we shall suppose them to have been created before say creation, sad to have been instrumental of their own production. But of these things in their proper place.

His second question is, “How long was God in making them?” and he answers from Exod. xx. 11, “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.”

The rule I formerly prescribed to myself of dealing with Mr B. causes me to pass this question also without farther inquiry; although, having already considered what his notions are concerning the nature and properties of God, I can scarce avoid conjecturing that by this crude proposal of the time wherein the work of God’s creation was finished, there is an intendment to insinuate such a gross conception of the working of God as will By no means be suited to his omnipotent production of all things. But speaking of things no farther than enforced, I shall not insist on this query.

His third is, “How did God create man?” and the answer is, Gen. ii. 7. To which he adds a fourth, “How did he create woman?” which he resolves from Gen. ii. 21, 22.

Mr B., undertaking to give all the grounds of religion in his Catechisms, teacheth as well by his silence as his expressions. What he mentions not, in the known doctrine he opposeth, he may well be interpreted to reject. As to the matter whereof man sad woman were made, Mr B.’s answers do express it; but as to the condition and state wherein they were made, of that he is silent, though he knows the Scripture doth much more abound in delivering the one than the other. Neither can his silence in this thing be imputed to oversight or forgetfulness, considering how subservient it is to his intendment in his last two questions, for the subverting of the doctrine of original sin, and the denial of all those effects and consequences of the first breach of covenant whereof he speaks. He can, upon another account, take notice that man was made in the imago of God: but whereas hitherto Christians have supposed that that denoted some spiritual perfection bestowed on man, wherein he resembles God, Mr B. hath discovered that it is only an expression of some imperfection of God, wherein he resembles man; which yet he will as hardly persuade us of as that a man hath seven eyes or two wings, which are ascribed unto God also. That man was created in a resemblance and likeness unto God in that immortal substance breathed into his nostrils, Gen. ii. 7, in the excellent rational faculties thereof, in the dominion he was intrusted withal over a great part of God’s creation, but especially in the integrity and uprightness of his person, Eccles. vii. 29, wherein he stood before God, in reference to the obedience required at his hands, — which condition, by the implanting of new qualities in our soul, we are, through Christ, in some measure renewed unto, Col. iii. 10, 12Eph. iv. 24, — the Scripture is clear, evident, and full in the discovery of; but hereof Mr B. conceive, not himself bound to take notice. But what is farther needful to be spoken as to the state of man before the fall will fall under the consideration of the last question of this chapter.

Mr B.’s process in the following questions is, to express the story of man’s outward condition, unto the eighth, where he inquires after the commandment given of God to man when he put him into the garden, in these words:— “Q. What commandment gave he to the man when he put him into the garden?” This he resolves from Gen. ii. 16, 17. That God gave our first parents the command expressed is undeniable. That the matter chiefly expressed in that command was all or the principal part of what he required of them, Mr B. doth not go about to prove. I shall only desire to know of him whether God did not in that estate require of them that they should love him, fear him, believe him, acknowledge their dependence on him, in universal obedience to his will? and whether a suitableness unto all this duty were not wrought within them by God? If he shall say No, and that God required no more of them but only not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, I desire to know whether they might have hated God, abhorred him, believed Satan, and yet been free from the threatening here mentioned, if they had only forbore the outward eating of the fruit? If this shall be granted, I hope I need not insist to manifest what will easily be inferred, nor to show how impossible this is, God continuing God, and man a rational creature.227 If he shall say that certainly God did require that they should own him for God, — that is, believe him, love him, fear him, and worship him, according to all that he should reveal to them and require of them, — I desire to know whether this particular command could be any other than sacramental and symbolical as to the matter of it, being a thing of so small importance in its own nature, in comparison of those moral acknowledgments of God before mentioned; and to that question I shall not need to add more.

Although it may justly be supposed that Mr B. is not without some thoughts of deviation from the truth in the following questions, yet the last being of most importance, and he being express therein in denying all the effects of the first sin, but only the curse that came upon the outward, visible world, I shall insist only on that, and close our consideration of this chapter. His question is thus proposed: “Q. Did the sin of our first parents in eating of the forbidden fruit bring both upon them and their posterity the guilt of hell-fire, deface the image of God in them, darken their understandings, enslave their wills, deprive them of power to do good, and cause mortality? If not, what are the true penalties denounced against them for that offence?” To this he answers from Gen. iii. 16–19.

What the sin of our first parents was may easily be discovered from what was said before concerning the commandment given to them. If universal obedience was required of them unto God, according to the tenor of the law of their creation, their sin was an universal rebellion against and apostasy from him; which though it expressed itself in the peculiar transgression of that command mentioned, yet it is far from being reducible to any one kind of sin, whose whole nature is comprised in that expression. Of the effects of this sin commonly assigned, Mr B. annumerates and rejects six, sundry whereof are coincident with, and all but one reducible to, that general head of loss of the image of God; but for the exclusion of them all at once from being any effects of the first sin, Mr B. thus argues: “If there were no effects or consequences of the first sin but what are expressly mentioned, Gen. iii. 16–19, then those now mentioned are no effects of it; but there are no effects or consequences of that first sin but what are mentioned in that place:” therefore those recounted in his query, and commonly esteemed such, are to be cashiered from any such place in the thoughts of men.

Ans. The words insisted on by Mr B. being expressive of the curse of God for sin on man, and on the whole creation here below for his sake, it will not be easy for him to evince that none of the things he rejects are not eminently inwrapped in them. Would God have denounced and actually inflicted such a curse on the whole creation, which he had put in subjection to man, as well as upon man himself, and actually have inflicted it with so much dread and severity as he hath done, if the transgression upon the account whereof he did it had not been as universal a rebellion against him as could be fallen into? Man fell in his whole dependence from God, and is cursed universally, in all his concernments, spiritual and temporal.

But is this indeed the only place of Scripture where the effects of our apostasy from God, in the sin of our first parents, are described Mr B. may as well tell us that Gen. iii. 15 is the only place where mention is made of Jesus Christ, for there he is mentioned. But a little to clear this whole matter in our passage, though what hath been spoken may suffice to make naked Mr B.’s sophistry:—

1. By the effects of the first sin, we understand every thing of evil that, either within or without, in respect of a present or future condition, in reference to God and the fruition of him whereto man was created, or the enjoyment of any goodness from God, is come upon mankind, by the just ordination and appointment of God, whereunto man was not obnoxious in his primitive state and condition. I am not at present at all engaged to speak de modo, of what is privative, what positive, in original sin, of the way of the traduction or propagation of it, of the imputation of the guilt of the first sin, and adhesion of the pollution of our nature defiled thereby, or any other questions that are coincident with these in the usual inquest made into and after the sin of Adam and the fruits of it; but only as to the things themselves, which are here wholly denied. Now, —

2. That whatsoever is evil in man by nature, whatever he is obnoxious and liable unto that is hurtful and destructive to him and all men in common, in reference to the end whereto they were created, or any title wherewith they were at first intrusted, is all wholly the effect of the first sin, and is in solidum to be ascribed thereunto, is easily demonstrated; for, —

(1.) That which is common to all things in any kind, and is proper to them only of that kind, must needs have some common cause equally respecting the whole kind: but now of the evils that are common to all mankind, and peculiar or proper to them and every one of them, there can be no cause but that which equally concerns them all; which, by the testimony of God himself, was this fall of Adam, Rom. v. 12, 15–19.

(2.) The evils that are now incumbent upon men in their natural condition (which what they are shall be afterward considered) were either incumbent on them at their first creation, before the sin and fall of our first parents, or they are come upon them since, through some interposing cause or occasion. That they were not in them or on them, that they were not liable or obnoxious to those evils which are now incumbent on them, in their first creation, as they came forth from the hand of God (besides what was said before of the state and condition wherein man was created, even “upright” in the Sight of God, in his favour and acceptation, no way obnoxious to his anger and wrath), is evident by the light of this one consideration, namely, that there was nothing in man nor belonging to him, no respect, no regard or relation, but what was purely and immediately of the holy God’s creation and institution. Now, it is contrary to all that he hath revealed or made known to us of himself, that he should be the immediate author of so much evil as is now, by his own testimony, in man by nature, and, without any occasion, of so much vanity and misery as he is subject unto; and, besides, directly thwarting the testimony which he gave of all the works of his hands, that they were exceeding good, it being evident that man, in the condition whereof we speak, is exceeding evil.

3. If all the evil mentioned hath since befallen mankind, then it hath done so either by some chance and accident whereof God was not aware, or by his righteous judgment and appointment, in reference to some procuring and justly-deserving cause of such a punishment. To affirm the first, is upon the matter to deny him to be God; and I doubt not but that men at as easy and cheap a rate of sin may deny that there is a God, as, confessing his divine essence, to turn it into an idol, and by making thick clouds, as Job speaks, to interpose between him and the affairs of the world, to exclude his energetical providence in the disposal of all the works of his hands. If the latter be affirmed, I ask, as before, what other common cause, wherein all and every one of mankind is equally concerned, can be assigned of the evils mentioned, as the procurement of the wrath and vengeance of God, from whence they are, but only the fall of Adam, the sin of our first parents, especially considering that the Holy Ghost doth so expressly point out this fountain and source of the evils insisted on, Rom. v. 12, 15–19?

4. These things, then, being premised, it will quickly appear that every one of the particulars rejected by Mr B. from being fruits or effects of the first sin are indeed the proper issues of it; and though Mr B. cut the roll of the abominations and corruptions of the nature of man by sin, and cast it into the fire, yet we may easily write it again, and add many more words of the like importance.

The first effect or fruit of the first sin rejected by Mr B. is, “its rendering men guilty of hell-fire;” but the Scripture seems to be of another mind, Rom. v. 12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” That all men sinned in Adam, that they contracted the guilt of the same death with him, that death entered by sin, the Holy Ghost is express in. The death here mentioned is that which God threatened to Adam if he did transgress, Gen. ii. 17; which that it was not death temporal only, yea not at all, Mr B. contends by denying mortality to be a fruit of this sin, as also excluding in this very query all room for death spiritual, which consists in the defacing of the image of God in us, which he with this rejects: and what death remains but that which hath hell following after it we shall afterward consider.

Besides, that death which Christ died to deliver us from was that which we were obnoxious to upon the account of the first sin; for he came to “save that which was lost,” and tasted death to deliver us from death, dying to “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage,” Heb. ii. 15. But that this was such a death as hath hell-fire attending it, he manifests by affirming that he “delivers us from the wrath to come.” By “hell-fire” we understand nothing but the “wrath of God” for sin; into whose hands it is a fearful thing to fall, our God being a consuming fire. That the guilt of every sin is this death whereof we speak, that hath both curse and wrath attending it, and that it is the proper “wages of sin,” the testimony of God is evident, Rom. vi. 23. What other death men are obnoxious to on the account of the first sin, that hath not these concomitants, Mr B. hath not as yet revealed. “By nature,” also, we are “children of wrath,” Eph. ii. 3. And on what foot of account our obnoxiousness now by nature unto wrath is to be stated, is sufficiently evident by the light of the preceding considerations.

The “defacing of the image of God in us” by this sin, as it is usually asserted, is in the next place denied. That man was created in the image of God, and wherein that image of God doth consist, were before declared. That we are now born with that character upon us, as it was at first enstamped upon us, must be affirmed, or some common cause of the defect that is in us, wherein all and every one of the posterity of Adam are equally concerned, besides that of the first sin, is to be assigned. That this latter cannot be done hath been already declared. He that shall undertake to make good the former must engage in a more difficult work than Mr B., in the midst of his other employments, is willing to undertake. To insist on all particulars relating to the image of God in man, how far it is defaced, whether any thing properly and directly thereunto belonging be yet left remaining in us; to declare how far our souls, in respect of their immortal substance, faculties, and consciences, and our persons, in respect of that dominion over the creatures which yet, by God’s gracious and merciful providence, we retain, may be said to bear the image of God, — is a work of another nature than what I am now engaged in. For the asserting of what is here denied by Mr B., concerning the defacing of the image of God in us by sin, no more is required but only the tender of some demonstrations to the main of our intendment in the assertion touching the loss by the first sin, and our present want, in the state of nature, of that righteousness and holiness wherein man at his first creation stood before God (in reference unto the end whereunto he was created), in uprightness and ability of walking unto all well-pleasing. And as this will be fully manifested in the consideration of the ensuing particulars instanced in by Mr B., so it is sufficiently clear and evident from the renovation of that image which we have by Jesus Christ; and that is expressed both in general and in all the particulars wherein we affirm that image to be defaced. “The new man,” which we put on in Jesus Christ, which “is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him,” Col. iii. 10, is that which we want, by sin’s defacing (suo more) of that image of God in us which we had in knowledge. So Eph. iv. 23, 24, that new man is said to consist in the “renewing of our mind, whereby after God we are created in righteousness and holiness.” So, then, whereas we were created in the image of God, in righteousness and holiness, and are to be renewed again by Christ into the same condition of his image in righteousness and holiness, we doubt not to affirm that by the first sin (the only interposition of general concernment to all the sons of men) the image of God in us was exceedingly defaced. In sum, that which made us sinners brought sin and death upon us; that which made us liable to condemnation, that defaced the image of God in us; and that all this was done by the first sin the apostle plainly asserts, Rom. v. 12, 15, 17–19, etc.

To the next particular effect of sin by Mr B. rejected, “the darkening of our understandings,” I shall only inquire of him whether God made us at first with our understandings dark and ignorant as to those things which are of absolute necessity that we should be acquainted withal, for the attainment of the end whereunto he made us? For once I will suppose he will not affirm it; and shall therefore proceed one step farther, and ask him whether there be not such a darkness now upon us by nature, opposed unto that light, that spiritual and saving knowledge, which is of absolute necessity for every one to have and be furnished withal that will again attain that image of God which we are born short of. Now, because this is that which will most probably be denied, I shall, by the way, only desire him, —

1. To cast aside all the places of Scripture where it is positively and punctually asserted that we are so dark and blind, and darkness itself, in the things of God; and then,

2. All those where it is no less punctually and positively asserted that Christ gives us light, knowledge, understanding, which of ourselves we have not. And if he be not able to do so, then,

3. To tell me whether the darkness mentioned in the former places and innumerable others, and [of which mention is made], as to the manner and cause of its removal and taking away, in the latter, be part of that death which passed on all men “by the offence of one,” or by what other chance it is come upon us.

Of the “enslaving of our wills, and the depriving us of power to do good,” there is the same reason as of that next before. It is not my purpose to handle the common-place of the corruption of nature by sin: nor can I say that it is well for Mr B. that he finds none of those effects of sin in himself, nothing of darkness, bondage, or disability, or if he do, that he knows where to charge it, and not on himself and the depravedness of his own nature; and that because I know none who are more desperately sick than those who, by a fever of pride, have lost the sense of their own miserable condition. Only to stop him in his haste from rejecting the evils mentioned from being effects or consequences of the first sin, I desire him to peruse a little the ensuing scriptures; and I take them as they come to mind: Eph. ii. 1–3, 5John v. 25Matt. viii. 22Eph. v. 8Luke iv. 182 Tim. ii. 25, 26John viii. 34Rom. vi. 16Gen. vi. 5Rom. vii. 5John iii. 61 Cor. ii. 14Rom. iii. 12Acts viii. 31John v. 40Rom. viii. 7Jer. xiii. 23, etc.

The last thing denied is its “causing mortality.” God threatening man with death if he sinned, Gen. ii. 17, seems to instruct us that if he had not sinned he should not have died; and upon his sin, affirming that on that account he should be dissolved and return to his dust, Gen. iii. 19, no less evidently convinces us that his sin caused mortality actually and in the event. The apostle, also, affirming that “death entered by sin, and passed upon all, inasmuch as all have sinned,” seems to be of our mind. Neither can any other sufficient cause be assigned on the account whereof innocent man should have been actually mortal or eventually have died. Mr B., it seems, is of another persuasion, and, for the confirmation of his judgment, gives you the words of the curse of God to man upon his sinning, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return;” the strength of his reason therein lying in this, that if God denounced the sentence of mortality on man after sinning, and for his sin, then mortality was not an effect of sin, but man was mortal before in the state of innocency. Who doubts but that at this rate he may be able to prove what he pleases.

A brief declaration of our sense in ascribing immortality to the first man in the state of innocency, that none may be mistaken in the expressions used, may put a close to our consideration of this chapter. In respect of his own essence and being, as also of all outward and extrinsical causes, God alone is eminently and perfectly immortal; he only in that sense hath “life and immortality.”228 Angels and souls of men, immaterial substances, are immortal as to their intrinsic essence, free from principles of corruption and mortality; but yet are obnoxious to it in respect of that outward cause (or the power of God), which can at any time reduce them into nothing. The immortality we ascribe to man in innocency is only an assured preservation by the power of God from actual dying, notwithstanding the possibility thereof which he was in upon the account of the constitution of his person, and the principles thereunto concurring. So that though from his own nature he had a possibility of dying, and in that sense was mortal, yet God’s institution assigning him life in the way of obedience, he had a possibility of not dying, and was in that sense immortal, as hath been declared.229 If any one desire farther satisfaction herein, let him consult Johannes Junius’ answer to Socinus’ Prelections, in the first chapter whereof he pretends to answer in proof the assertion in title, “Primus homo ante lapsum natura mortalis fuit;” wherein he partly mistakes the thing in question, which respects not the constitution of man’s nature, but the event of the condition wherein he was created,230 and himself in another place states it better.231

The sum of the whole may be reduced to what follows:— Simply and absolutely immortal is God only: “He only hath immortality,” 1 Tim. vi. 16. Immortal in respect of its whole substance or essence is that which is separate from all matter, which is the principle of corruption, as angels, or is not educed from the power of it, whither of its own accord it should again resolve, as the souls of men. The bodies also of the saints in heaven, yea, and of the wicked in hell, shall be immortal, though in their own natures corruptible, being changed and preserved by the power of God. Adam was mortal as to the constitution of his body, which was apt to die; immortal in respect of his soul in its own substance; immortal in their union by God’s appointment, and from his preservation upon his continuance in obedience. By the composition of his body before his fall, he had a posse mori; by the appointment of God, a posse non mori; by his fall, a non posse non mori.

In this estate, on his disobedience, he was threatened with death; and therefore was obedience the tenure whereby he held his grant of immortality, which on his neglect he was penally to be deprived of. In that estate he had, — (1.) The immortality mentioned, or a power of not dying, from the appointment of God; (2.) An uprightness and integrity of his person before God, with an ability to walk with him in all the obedience he required, being made in the image of God and upright; (3.) A right, upon his abode in that condition, to an eternally blessed life; which he should (4.) actually have enjoyed, for he had a pledge of it in the” tree of life” He lost it for himself and us; which if he never had it he could not do. The death wherewith he was threatened stood in opposition to all these, it being most ridiculous to suppose that any thing penal in the Scripture comes under the name of “death” that was not here threatened to Adam; — death of the body, in a deprivation of his immortality spoken of; of the soul spiritually, in sin, by the loss of his righteousness and integrity; of both, in their obnoxiousness to death eternal; actually to be undergone, without deliverance by Christ, in opposition to the right to a better, a blessed condition, which he had. That all these are penal, and called in the Scriptures by the name of “death,” is evident to all that take care to know what is contained in them.

For a close, then, of this chapter and discourse, let us also propose a few questions as to the matter under consideration, and see what answer the Scripture will positively give in to our inquiries:—

First, then, —

Ques. 1. In what state and condition was man at first created?

Ans. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them,” Gen. i. 27. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good,” verse 31. “In the image of God made he man,” chap. ix. 6. “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright,” Eccles. vii. 29. “Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” Eph. iv. 24. “Put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him,” Col. iii. 10.

Q. 2. Should our first parents have died had they not sinned, or were they obnoxious to death in the state of innocency?

A. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” Gen. ii. 16, 17. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” Rom. v. 12. “For the wages of sin is death,” Rom. vi. 23.

Q. 3. Are we now, since the fall, born with the image of God so enstamped on us as at our first creation in Adam?

A. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” Rom. iii. 23. “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man uptight; but they have sought out many inventions,” Eccles. vii. 29. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God,” Rom. viii. 8. “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph. ii. 1. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another,” Tit. iii. 3. “The old man is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” Eph. iv. 22.

Q. 4. Are we now born approved of God and accepted with him, as when we were first created, or what is our condition now by nature? what say the Scriptures hereunto?

A. “We were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” Eph. ii. 3. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” John iii. 3. “He that believeth not the Son, the wrath of God abideth on him,” verse 36. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” John iii. 6.

Q. 5. Are our understandings by nature able to discern the things of God, or are they darkened and blind?

A. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” 1 Cor. ii. 14. “The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not,” John i. 5. “To preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind,” Luke iv. 18. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart,” Eph. iv. 18. “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord,” chap. v. 8. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Cor. iv. 6. “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true,” 1 John v. 20.

Q. 6. Are we able to do those things now, in the state of nature, which are spiritually good and acceptable to God?

A. “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be,” Rom. viii. 7. “You were dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph. ii. 1. “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth,” Gen. viii. 21. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil,” Jer. xiii. 23. “For without me ye can do nothing,” John xv. 5. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” 2 Cor. iii. 5. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing,” Rom. vii. 18.

Q. 7. How came we into this miserable state and condition?

A. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Ps. li. 5. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one,” Job xiv. 4. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” John iii. 6. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” Rom. v. 12.

Q. 8. Is, then, the guilt of the first sin of our first parents reckoned unto us?

A. “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift, For through the offence of one many be dead,” Rom. v. 15. “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation,” verse 16. “For by one man’s offence death reigned,” verse 17. “Therefore by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation,” verse 18. “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” verse 19.

Thus, and much more fully, doth the Scripture set out and declare the condition of man both before and after the fall; concerning which, although the most evident demonstration of the latter lies in the revelation made of the exceeding efficacy of that power and grace which God in Christ puts forth for our conversion and delivery from that state and condition before described, yet so much is spoken of this dark side of it as will render vain the attempts of any who shall endeavour to plead the cause of corrupted nature, or alleviate the guilt of the first sin.

It may not be amiss, in the winding up of the whole, to give the reader a brief account of what slight thoughts this gentleman and his companions have concerning this whole matter of the state and condition of the first man, his fall or sin, and the interest of all his posterity therein, which confessedly lie at the bottom of that whole dispensation of grace in Jesus Christ which is revealed in the gospel.

First. [As] for Adam himself, they are so remote from assigning to him any eminency of knowledge, righteousness, or holiness, in the state, wherein he was created, that, —

1. For his knowledge, they say, “He was a mere great baby, that knew not that he was naked;”232 so also taking away the difference between the simple knowledge of nakedness in innocency, and the knowledge joined with shame that followed sin. “Of his wife he knew no more but what occurred to his senses;”233 though the expressions which he used at first view and sight of her do plainly argue another manner of apprehension, Gen. ii. 23. For “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he knew not the virtue of it;”234 which yet I know not how it well agrees with another place of the same author, where he concludes that in the state of innocency there was in Adam a real predominancy of the natural appetite, which conquered or prevailed to the eating of the fruit of that tree.235 Also, that being mortal, he knew not himself to be so.236 The sum is, he was even a very beast, that knew neither himself, his duty, nor the will of God concerning him.

2. [As] for his righteousness and holiness, which, as was said before, because he was made upright, in the image of God, we ascribe unto him, Socinus contends in one whole chapter in his Prelections, “that he was neither just nor holy, nor ought to be so esteemed nor called.”237

And Smalcius, in his confutation of Franzius’ “Theses de Peccato Originali,” all along derides and laughs to scorn the apprehension or persuasion that Adam was created in righteousness and holiness, or that ever he lost any thing of the image of God, or that ever he had any thing of the image of God beyond or besides that dominion over the creatures which God gave him.238

Most of the residue of the herd, describing the estate and condition of man in his creation, do wholly omit any mention of any moral uprightness in him.239

And this is the account these gentlemen give us concerning the condition and state wherein the first man was of God created: A heavy burden of the earth it seems he was, that had neither righteousness nor holiness whereby he might be enabled to walk before God in reference to that great end whereunto he was created, nor any knowledge of God, himself, or his duty.

Secondly. [As] for his sin, the great master of their family disputes that it was a bare transgression of that precept of “not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” and that his nature was not vitiated or corrupted thereby:240 wherein he is punctually followed by the Racovian Catechism, which also giveth this reason why his nature was not depraved by it, namely, because it was but one act; — so light are their thoughts and expressions of that great transgression!241

Thirdly. [As] for his state and condition, they all, with open mouth, cry out that he was mortal and obnoxious to death, which should in a natural way have come upon him though he had not sinned.242 But of this before.

Fourthly. Farther; that the posterity of Adam were no way concerned, as to their spiritual prejudice, in that sin of his, as though they should either partake of the guilt of it or have their nature vitiated or corrupted thereby; but that the whole doctrine of original sin is a figment of Austin and the schoolmen that followed him, is the constant clamour of them all.243 And indeed this is the great foundation of all or the greatest part of their religion. Hence are the necessity of the satisfaction and merit of Christ, the efficacy of grace, and the power of the Spirit in conversion, decried. On this account is salvation granted, by them, without Christ, a power of keeping all the commandments asserted, and justification upon our obedience. Of which in the process of our discourse.

Such are the thoughts, such are the expressions, of Mr B.’s masters concerning this whole matter. Such was Adam in their esteem, such was his fall, and such our concernment therein.244 He had no righteousness, no holiness (yea, Socinus at length confesses that he did not believe his soul was immortal245); we contracted no guilt in him, derive no pollution from him. Whether these men are in any measure acquainted with the plague of their own hearts, the severity and spirituality of the law of God, with that redemption which is in the blood of Jesus, the Lord will one day manifest; but into their secret let not my soul descend.

Lest the weakest or meanest reader should be startled with the mention of these things, not finding himself ready furnished with arguments from Scripture to disprove the boldness and folly of these men in their assertions, I shall add some few arguments whereby the severals by them denied and opposed are confirmed from the Scriptures, the places before mentioned being in them cast into that form and method wherein they are readily subservient to the purpose in hand:—

First. That man was created in the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, is evident on the ensuing considerations:—

1. He who was made “very good” and “upright,” in a moral consideration, had the original righteousness pleaded for; for moral goodness, integrity, and uprightness, is equivalent unto righteousness. So are the words used in the description of Job, chap. i. 1; and “righteous” and “upright” are terms equivalent, Ps. xxxiii. 1. Now, that man was made thus good and upright was manifested in the scriptures cited in answer to the question before proposed, concerning the condition wherein our first parents were created. And, indeed, this uprightness of man, this moral rectitude, was his formal aptitude and fitness for and unto that obedience which God required of him, and which was necessary for the end whereunto he was created.

2. He who was created perfect in his kind was created with the original righteousness pleaded for. This is evident from hence, because righteousness and holiness is a perfection of a rational being made for the service of God. This in angels is called “the truth,” or that original holiness and rectitude which “the devil abode not in,” John viii. 44. Now, as before, man was created “very good” and “upright,” therefore perfect as to his state and condition; and whatever is in him of imperfection flows from the corruption and depravation of nature.

3. He that was created in the image of God was created in a state of righteousness, holiness, and knowledge. That Adam was created in the image of God is plainly affirmed in Scripture, and is not denied. That by the “image of God” is especially intended the qualities mentioned, is manifest from that farther description of the image of God which we have given us in the scriptures before produced in answer to our first question. And what is recorded of the first man in his primitive condition will not suffer us to esteem him such a baby in knowledge as the Socinians would make him. His imposing of names on all creatures, his knowing of his wife on first view, etc., exempt him from that imputation. Yea, the very heathens could conclude that he was very wise indeed who first gave names to things.246

Secondly. For the disproving of that mortality which they ascribe to man in innocency the ensuing arguments may suffice:—

1. He that was created in the image of God, in righteousness and holiness, whilst he continued in that state and condition, was immortal. That man was so created lies under the demonstration of the foregoing arguments and testimonies. The assertion thereupon, or the inference of immortality from the image of God, appears on this double consideration:— (1.) In our renovation by Christ into the image of God, we are renewed to a blessed immortality; and our likeness to God consisted no less in that than in any other communicable property of his nature. (2.) Wherever is naturally perfect righteousness, there is naturally perfect life; that is, immortality. This is included in the very tenor of the promise of the law: “If man keep my statutes, he shall live in them,” Lev. xviii. 5.

2. That which the first man contracted and drew upon himself by sin was not natural to him before he sinned: but that man contracted and drew death upon himself, or made himself liable and obnoxious unto it by sin, is proved by all the texts of Scripture that were produced above in answer to our second question; as Gen. ii. 17, iii. 19Rom. v. 12, 15, 17–19, vi. 23, etc.

3. That which is beside and contrary to nature was not natural to the first man; but death is beside and contrary to nature, as the voice of nature abundantly testifieth: therefore, to man in his primitive condition it was not natural.

Unto these may sundry other arguments be added, from the promise of the law, the end of man’s obedience, his constitution and state, denying all proximate causes of death, etc; but these may suffice.

Thirdly. That the sin of Adam is not to be confined to the mere eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but had its rise in infidelity, and comprised universal apostasy from God, in disobedience to the law of his creation and dependence on God, I have elsewhere demonstrated, and shall not need here again to insist upon it.247 That it began in infidelity is evident from the beginning of the temptation wherewith he was overcome. It was to doubt of the truth or veracity of God to which the woman was at first solicited by Satan: Gen. iii. 1,” Hath God said so?” pressing that it should be otherwise than they seemed to have cause to apprehend from what God said; and their acquiescence in that reply of Satan, without revolving to the truth and faithfulness of God, was plain unbelief. Now, as faith is the root of all righteousness and obedience, so is infidelity of all disobedience. Being overtaken, conquered, deceived into infidelity, man gave up himself to act contrary to God and his will, shook off his sovereignty, rose up against his law, and manifested the frame of his heart in the pledge of his disobedience, eating the fruit that was sacramentally forbidden him.

Fourthly. That all men sinned in Adam, and that his sin is imputed to all his posterity, is by them denied, but is easily evinced; for, —

1. By whom sin entered into the world, so that all sinned in him, and are made sinners thereby, so that also his sin is called the “sin of the world,” in him all mankind sinned, and his sin is imputed to them: but that this was the condition and state of the first sin of Adam the scriptures before mentioned, in answer to our seventh question, do abundantly manifest; and thence also is his sin called “the sin of the world,” John i. 29.

2. In whom all are dead, and in whom they have contracted the guilt of death and condemnation, in him they have all sinned, and have his sin imputed to them: but in Adam all are dead, 1 Cor. xv. 22, as also Rom. v. 12, 15, 17–19; and death is the wages of sin only, chap. vi. 23.

3. As by the obedience of Christ we are made righteous, so by the disobedience of Adam we are made sinners: so the apostle expressly, Romans 5: but we are made righteous by the obedience of Christ, by the imputation of it to us, as if we had performed it, 1 Cor. i. 30Phil. iii. 9; therefore we are sinners by the imputation of the sin of Adam to us, as though we had committed it, which the apostle also affirms. To what hath been spoken from the consideration of that state and condition wherein, by God’s appointment, in reference to all mankind, Adam was placed, namely, of a natural and political or federal head (of which the apostle treats, 1 Cor. xv.), and from the loss of that image wherein he was created, whereunto by Christ we are renewed, many more words like these might be added.

To what hath been spoken there is no need that much should be added, for the removal of any thing insisted on to the same purpose with Mr B.’s intimations in the Racovian Catechism; but yet seeing that that task also is undertaken, that which may seem necessary for the discharging of what may thence be expected shall briefly be submitted to the reader. To this head they speak in the first chapter, of the way to salvation, the first question whereof is of the import ensuing:—

Q. Seeing thou saidst in the beginning that this life which leadeth to immortality is divinely revealed, I would know of thee why thou saidst so?

A. Because as man by nature hath nothing to do with immortality (or hath no interest in it), so by himself he could by no means know the way which leadeth to immortality.248

Both question and answer being sophistical and ambiguous, the sense and intendment of them, as to their application to the matter in hand, and by them aimed at, is first to be rectified by some few distinctions, and then the whole will cost us very little farther trouble:—

1. There is, or hath been, a twofold way to a blessed immortality:— (1.) The way of perfect obedience to the law; for he that did it 160was to live therein. (2.) The way of faith in the blood of the Son of God; for he that believeth shall be saved.

2. Man by nature may be considered two ways:— (1.) As he was in his created condition, not tainted, corrupted, weakened, nor lost by sin; (2.) As fallen, dead, polluted, and guilty.

3. Immortality is taken either, (1.) Nakedly and purely in itself for an eternal abiding of that which is said to be immortal; or, (2.) For a blessed condition and state in that abiding and continuance.

4. That expression, “By nature,” referring to man in his created condition, not fallen by sin, may be taken two ways, either, — (1.) Strictly, for the consequences of the natural principles whereof man was constituted; or, (2.) More largely, it comprises God’s constitution and appointment concerning man in that estate.

On these considerations it will be easy to take off this head of our catechists’ discourse, whereby also the remaining trunk will fall to the ground.

I say, then, man by nature, in his primitive condition, was, by the appointment and constitution of God, immortal as to the continuance of his life, and knew the way of perfect legal obedience, tending to a blessed immortality, and that by himself, or by virtue of the law of his creation, which was concreated with him; but fallen man, in his natural condition, being dead spiritually, obnoxious to death temporal and eternal, doth by no means know himself, nor can know, the way of faith in Jesus Christ, leading to a blessed immortality and glory, Rom. ii. 7–10.

It is not, then, our want of interest in immortality upon the account whereof we know not of ourselves the way to immortality by the blood of Christ. But there are two other reasons that enforce the truth of it:—

1. Because it is a way of mere grace and mercy, hidden from all eternity in the treasures of God’s infinite wisdom and sovereign will, which he neither prepared for man in his created condition nor had man any need of; nor is it in the least discovered by any of the works of God, nor by the law written in the heart, but is solely revealed from the bosom of the Father by the only-begotten Son, neither angels nor men being able to discover the least glimpse of that majesty without that revelation, John i. 181 Cor. ii. 7Eph. iii. 8–11Col. ii. 2, 31 Tim. iii. 16.

2. Because man in his fallen condition, though there be retained in his heart some weak and faint impressions of good and evil, reward and punishment, Rom. ii. 14, 15, yet is spiritually dead, blind, alienated from God, ignorant, dark, stubborn; so far from being able of himself to find out the way of grace unto a blessed immortality, that he is not able, upon the revelation of it, savingly, and to the great end of its proposal, to receive, apprehend, believe, and walk in it, without a new spiritual creation, resurrection from the dead, or new birth, wrought by the exceeding greatness of the power of God.249 And on these two doth depend our disability to discover and know the way of grace leading to life and glory. And by this brief removal of the covering is the weakness and nakedness of their whole ensuing discourse so discovered as that I shall speedily take it with its offence out of the way. They proceed:—

Q. But why hath man nothing to do with (or no interest in) immortality?

A. Therefore, because from the beginning he was formed of the ground, and so was created mortal; and then because he transgressed the command given him of God, and so by the decree of God, expressed in his command, was necessarily subject to eternal death.250

1. It is true, man was created of the dust of the earth as to his bodily substance; yet it is as true that moreover God breathed into him the breath of life, whereby he became “a living soul,” and in that immediate constitution and framing from the hand of God was free from all nextly disposing causes unto dissolution. But his immortality we place on another account, as hath been declared, which is no way prejudiced by his being made of the ground.

2. The second reason belongs unto man only as having sinned, and being fallen out of that condition and covenant wherein he was created. So that I shall need only to let the reader know that the eternal death, in the judgment of our catechists, whereunto man was subjected by sin, was only an eternal dissolution or annihilation (or rather an abode under dissolution, dissolution itself being not penal), and not any abiding punishment, as will afterward be farther manifest, They go on:—

Q. But how doth this agree with those places of Scripture wherein it is written that man was created in the image of God, and created unto immortality, and that death entered into the world by sin, Gen. i. 26Wisd. ii. 23Rom. v. 12?

A. As to the testimony which declareth that man was created in the image of God, it is to be known that the image of God doth not signify immortality (which is evident from hence, because at that time when man was subject to eternal death the Scripture acknowledgeth in him that image, Gen. ix. 6James iii. 9), but it denoteth the power and dominion over all things made of God on the earth, as the same place where this image is treated of clearly showeth, Gen. i. 26.251

The argument for that state and condition wherein we affirm man to have been created from the consideration of the image of God wherein he was made, and whereunto in part we are renewed, was formerly insisted on. Let the reader look back unto it, and he will quickly discern how little is here offered to enervate it in the least; for, —

1. They cannot prove that man, in the condition and state of sin, doth retain any thing of the image of God. The places mentioned, as Gen. ix. 6, and James iii. 9, testify only that he was made in the image of God at first, but that he doth still retain the image they intimate not; nor is the inference used in the places taken from what man is, but what he was created.

2. That the image of God did not consist in any one excellency hath been above declared; so that the argument to prove that it did not consist in immortality, because it did consist in the dominion over the creatures, is no better than that would be which should conclude that the sun did not give light because it gives heat, So that, —

3. Though the image of God, as to the main of it, in reference to the end of everlasting communion with God whereunto we were created, was utterly lost by sin (or else we could not be renewed unto it again by Jesus Christ), yet as to some footsteps of it, in reference to our fellow-creatures, so much might be and was retained as to be a reason one towards another for our preservation from wrong and violence.

4. That place of Gen. i. 26, “Let us make man in our image, and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea,” etc., is so far from proving that the image of God wherein man was created did consist only in the dominion mentioned, that it doth not prove that dominion to have been any part of or to belong unto that image. It is rather a grant made to them who were made in the image of God than a description of that image wherein they were made.

It is evident, then, notwithstanding any thing here excepted to the contrary, that the immortality pleaded for belonged to the image of God, and from man’s being created therein is rightly inferred; as above was made more evident.

Upon the testimony of the Book of Wisdom, it being confessedly apocryphal, I shall not insist. Neither do I think that in the original any new argument to that before mentioned of the image of God is added; but that is evidently pressed, and the nature of the image of God somewhat explained. The words are, Ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ἔκτισε τὸν ἄνθρωτον ἐπ ἀφθαρσίᾳ καὶ εἰκόνα τῆς ἰδίας ἰδιότητος ἐποίησεν αὐτόν Φθόνῳ δὲ διαβόλου θάνατος εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον περιάζουσι δὲ αὐτὸν οἱ τῆς ἐκείνου μερίδος ὄντες. The opposition that is put between the creation of man in integrity and the image of God in one verse, and the entrance of sin by the envy of the devil in the next, plainly evinces that the mind of the author of that book was, that man, by reason of his being created in the image of God, was immortal in his primitive condition. That which follows is of another nature, concerning which they thus inquire and answer:—

Q. What, moreover, wilt thou answer to the third testimony?

A. The apostle in that place treateth not of immortality [mortality], but of death itself. But mortality differeth much from death, for a man may be mortal and yet never die.252

But, — 1. The apostle eminently treats of man’s becoming obnoxious to death, which until he was, he was immortal; for he says that death entered the world by sin, and passed on all men, not actually, but in the guilt of it and obnoxiousness to it. By what means death entered into the world, or had a right so to do, by that means man lost the immortality which before he had.

2. It is true, a man may be mortal as to state and condition, and yet by almighty power be preserved and delivered from actual dying, as it was with Enoch and Elijah; but in an ordinary course he that is mortal must die, and is directly obnoxious to death. But that which we plead for from those words of the apostle is, that man, by God’s constitution and appointment, was so immortal as not to be liable or obnoxious to death until he sinned. But they will prove their assertion in their progress.

Q. What, therefore, is the sense of these words, “that death entered into the world by sin?”

A. This, that Adam for sin, by the decree and sentence of God, was subject to eternal death; and therefore all men, because (or inasmuch as) they are bern of him, are subject to the same eternal death. And that this is so, the comparison of Christ with Adam, which the apostle instituteth from verse 12 to the end of the chapter, doth declare.253

1. Be it so that this is the meaning of those words; yet hence it inevitably follows that man was no way liable or obnoxious to death but upon the account of the commination of God annexed to the law he gave him. And this is the whole of what we affirm, — namely, that by God’s appointment man was immortal, and the tenure of his immortality was his obedience, and thereupon his right thereunto he lost by his transgression.

2. This is farther evident from the comparison between Christ and Adam, instituted by the apostle; for as we are all dead without Christ and his righteousness, and have not the least right to life or a blessed immortality, so antecedently to the consideration of Adam and his disobedience, we were not in the least obnoxious unto death, or any way liable to it in our primitive condition.

And this is all that our catechists have to plead for themselves, or to except against our arguments and testimonies to the cause in hand; which how weak it is in itself, and how short it comes of reaching to the strength we insist on, a little comparison of it with what went before will satisfy the pious reader.

What remains of that chapter, consisting in the depravation of two or three texts of Scripture to another purpose than that in hand, I shall not divert to the consideration of, seeing it will more orderly fall under debate in another place.

What our catechists add elsewhere about original sin, or their attempt to disprove it, being considered, shall give a close to this discourse.

Their 10th chapter is, “De liboro arbitrio;” where, after, in answer to the first question proposed, they have asserted that it is in our power to yield obedience unto God, as having free will in our creation so to do, and having by no way or means lost that liberty or power, their second question is, —

Q. Is not this free will corrupted by original sin?

A. There is no such thing as original sin, wherefore that cannot vitiate free will, nor can that original sin be proved out of the Scripture; and the fall of Adam, being but one act, could not have that force as to corrupt his own nature, much less that of his posterity. And that it was inflicted on him as a punishment neither doth the Scripture teach, and it is incredible that God, who is the fountain of all goodness, would so do.254

1. This is yet plain dealing; and it is well that men who know neither God nor themselves have yet so much honesty left as to speak downright what they intend. Quickly despatched! — “There is no such thing as original sin.” To us, the denying of it is one argument to prove it. Were not men blind and dead in sin, they could not but be sensible of it; but men swimming with the water feel not the strength of the stream.

2. But doth the Scripture teach no such thing? Doth it nowhere teach that we, who were “created upright, in the image of God, are now dead in trespasses and sins, by nature children of wrath, having the wrath of God upon us, being blind in our understandings, and alienated from the life of God, not able to receive the things that are of God, which are spiritually discerned, our carnal minds being enmity to God, not subject to his law, nor can be; that our hearts are stony, our affections sensual; that we are wholly come short of the glory of God; that every figment of our heart is evil, so that we can neither think, nor speak, nor do that which is spiritually good or acceptable to God; that being born of the flesh, we are flesh, and unless we are born again, can by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven; that all this is come upon us by the sin of one man, whence also judgment passed on all men to condemnation?” Can nothing of all this be proved from the Scripture? These gentlemen know that we contend not about words or expressions. Let them grant this hereditary corruption of our nature, alienation from God, impotency to good, deadness and obstinacy in sin, want of the Spirit, image, and grace of God, with obnoxiousness thereon to eternal condemnation, and give us a fitter expression to declare this state and condition by in respect of every one’s personal interest therein, and we will, so it may please them, call it “original sin” no more.

3. It is not impossible that one act should be so high and intense in its kind as to induce a habit into the subject, and so Adam’s nature be vitiated by it; and he begot a son in his own likeness. The devils upon one sin became obstinate in all the wickedness that their nature is capable of. (2.) This one act was a breach of covenant with God, upon the tenor and observation whereof depended the enjoyment of all that strength and rectitude with God wherewith, by the law of his creation, man was endued. (3.) All man’s covenant good, for that eternal end to which he was created, depended upon his conformity to God, his subjection to him, and dependence on him; all which, by that one sin, he wilfully cast away for himself and posterity (whose common, natural, and federal head he was), and righteously fell into that condition which we have described. (4.) The apostle is much of a different mind from our catechists, Rom. v. 15, 16, etc., as hath been declared.

4. What is credible concerning God and his goodness with these gentlemen I know not. To me, that is not only in itself credible which he hath revealed concerning himself, but of necessity to be believed. That he gave man a law, threatening him, and all his posterity in him and with him, with eternal death upon the breach of it; that upon that sin he cast all mankind judicially out of covenant, imputing that sin unto them all unto the guilt of condemnation, seeing it is “his judgment that they who commit sin are worthy of death;” and that “he is of purer eyes than to behold evil,” — is to us credible, yea, as was said, of necessity to be believed. But they will answer the proofs that are produced from Scripture in the asserting of this original sin.

Q. But that there is original sin these testimonies seem to prove: Gen. vi. 5, “Every cogitation of the heart of man is only evil every day;” and Gen. viii. 21, “The cogitation of man’s heart is evil from his youth?”

A. These testimonies deal concerning voluntary sin; from them, therefore, original sin cannot be proved. As for the first, Moses showeth it to be such a sin for whose sake God repented him that he had made man, and decreed to destroy him with a flood; which certainly can by no means be affirmed concerning a sin which should be in man by nature, such as they think original sin to be. In the other, he showeth that the sin of man shall not have that efficacy that God should punish the world for it with a flood; which by no means agreeth to original sin.255

That this attempt of our catechists is most vain and frivolous will quickly appear; for, — 1. Suppose original sin be not asserted in those places, doth it follow there is no original sin? Do they not know that we affirm it to be revealed in the way of salvation, and proved by a hundred places besides? And do they think to overthrow it by their exception against two or three of them, when if it be taught in any one of them it suffices? 2. The words, as by them rendered, lose much of the efficacy for the confirmation of what they oppose which in the original they have. In the first place, it is not, “Every thought of man’s heart,” but, “Every imagination or figment of the thoughts of his heart.” The “motus primo primi,” the very natural frame and temper of the heart of man, as to its first motions towards good or evil, are doubtless expressed in these words. So also is it in the latter place.

We say, then, that original sin is taught and proved in these places; not singly or exclusively to actual sins, not a parte ante, or from the causes of it, but from its effects. That such a frame of heart is so universally by nature in all mankind, and in every individual of them, as that it is ever, always, or continually, casting, coining, and devising evil, and that only, without the intermixture of any thing of another kind that is truly and spiritually good, is taught in these places; and this is original sin. Nor is this disproved by our catechists; for, —

1. “Because the sin spoken of is voluntary, therefore it is not original,” will not be granted. (1.) Original sin, as it is taken peccatum originans, was voluntary in Adam; and as it is originatum in us is in our wills habitually, and not against them, in any actings of it or them. (2.) The effects of it, in the coining of sin and in the thoughts of men’s hearts, are all voluntary; which are here mentioned to demonstrate and manifest that root from whence they spring, that prevailing principle and predominant habit from whence they so uniformly proceed.

2. Why it doth not agree to original sin that the account [is] mentioned, verse 6, of God’s repenting that he had made man, and his resolution to destroy him, these gentlemen offer not one word of reason to manifest. We say, — (1.) That it can agree to no other but this original sin, with its infallible effects, wherein all mankind were equally concerned, and so became equally liable to the last judgment of God; though some, from the same principle, had acted much more boldly against his holy Majesty than others. (2.) Its being in men by nature doth not at all lessen its guilt. It is not in their nature as created, nor in them so by nature, but is by the fall of Adam come upon the nature of all men, dwelling in the person of every one; which lesseneth not its guilt, but manifests its advantage for provocation.

3. Why the latter testimony is not applicable to original sin they inform us not. The words joined with it are an expression of that patience and forbearance which God resolved and promised to exercise towards the world, with a non obstante for sin. Now, what sin should this be but that which is “the sin of the world”? That actual sins are excluded we say not; but that original sin is expressed and aggravated by the effects of it our catechists cannot disprove. There are many considerations of these texts, from whence the argument from them for the proof of that corruption of nature which we call original sin might be much improved; but that is not my present business, our catechists administering no occasion to such a discourse. But they take some other texts into consideration:—

Q. What thinkest thou of that which David speaks, Ps. li. 7, “Behold, I shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me?”

A. It is to be observed that David doth not here speak of any men but himself alone, nor that simply, but with respect to his fall, and uses that form of speaking which you have in him again, Ps. lviii. 3. Wherefore original sin cannot be evinced by this testimony.256

But, — 1. Though David speaks of himself, yet he speaks of himself in respect of that which was common to himself with all mankind, being a child of wrath as well as others; nor can these gentlemen intimate any thing of sin and iniquity, in the conception and birth of David, that was not common to all others with him. Any man’s confession for himself of a particular guilt in a common sin doth not free others from it; yea, it proves all others to be partakers in it who share in that condition wherein he contracted the guilt.

2. Though David mentions this by occasion of his fall, as having his conscience made tender and awakened to search into the root of his sin and transgression thereby, yet it was no part of his fall, nor Was he the less conceived in sin and forth in brought ever more or iniquity for that fall; which were ridiculous to imagine. He here acknowledges it upon the occasion of his fall, which was a fruit of the sin wherewith he was born, James i. 14, 15, but was equally guilty of it before his fall and after.

3. The expression here used, and that of Ps. lviii. 3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies,” exceedingly differ. Here, David expresses what was his infection in the womb; there, what is wicked men’s constant practice from the womb. In himself, he mentions the root of all actual sin; in them, the constant fruit that springs from that root in unregenerate men. So that, by the favour of these catechists, I yet say that David doth here acknowledge a sin of nature, a sin wherewith he was defiled from his conception, and polluted when he was warmed, and so fomented in his mother’s womb; and therefore this place doth prove original sin.

One place more they call to an account, in these words:—

Q. But Paul saith that “in Adam all sinned,” Rom. v. 12.

A. It is not in that place, “In Adam all sinned;” but in the Greek the words are ἐφ ᾧ, which interpreters do frequently render in Latin in quo, “in whom,” which yet may be rendered by the particles quoniam or quatenus, “because,” or “inasmuch,” as in like places, Rom. viii. 3Phil. iii. 12Heb. ii. 182 Cor. v. 4. It appeareth, therefore, that neither can original sin be built up out of this place.257

1. Stop these men from this shifting hole, and you may with much ease entangle and catch them twenty times a day: “This word may be rendered otherwise, for it is so in another place,” — a course of procedure that leaves nothing certain in the book of God. 2. In two of the places cited, the words are not ἐφ’ ᾧ, but ἐν ᾧRom. viii. 3Heb. ii. 18. 3. The places are none of them parallel to this; for here, the apostle speaks of persons or a person in an immediate precedency; in them, of things. 4. But render ἐφ’ ᾧ by quoniam, “because,” or “for that,” as our English translation doth, the argument is no less evident for original sin than if they were rendered by “in whom.” In the beginning of the verse the apostle tells us that death entered the world by the sin of one man, — that one man of whom he is speaking, namely, Adam, — and passed upon all men: of which dispensation, that death passed on all men, he gives you the reason in these words, “For that all have sinned;” that is, in that sin of that one man whereby death entered on the world and passed on them all. I wonder how our catechists could once imagine that this exception against the translation of those words should enervate the argument from the text for the proof of all men’s guilt of the first sin, seeing the conviction of it is no less evident from the words if rendered according to their desire.

And this is the sum of what they have to offer for the acquitment of themselves from the guilt and stain of original sin, and for answer to the three testimonies on its behalf which themselves chose to call forth; upon the strength whereof they so confidently reject it at the entrance of their discourse, and in the following question triumph upon it, as a thing utterly discarded from the thoughts of their catechumens. What reason or ground they have for their confidence the reader will judge. In the meantime, it is sufficiently known that they have touched very little of the strength of our cause, nor once mentioned the testimonies and arguments on whose evidence and strength in this business we rely. And for themselves who write and teach these things, I should much admire their happiness, did I not so much as I do pity them in their pride and distemper, keeping them from an acquaintance with their own miserable condition.


Chapter 7. Of the person of Jesus Christ, and on what account he is the Son of God.

Mr Biddle’s fourth chapter.

Ques. How many Lords of Christians are there, by way of distinction from that one God?

Ans. Eph. iv. 5.

Q. Who is that one Lord?

A. 1 Cor. viii. 6.

Q. How was Jesus Christ born?

A. Matt. i. 18Luke i. 30–35.

Q. How came Jesus Christ to be Lord, according to the opinion of the apostle Paul?

A. Rom. xiv. 9.

Q. What saith the apostle Peter also concerning the time and manner of his being made Lord?

A. Acts ii. 32, 33, 36.

Q. Did not Jesus Christ approve himself to be God by his miracles; and did he not those miracles by a divine nature of his own, and because he was God himself? What is the determination of the apostle Peter in this behalf?

A. Acts ii. 22, x. 38.

Q. Could not Christ do all things of himself; and was it not an eternal Son of God that took flesh upon him., and to whom the human nature of Christ was personally united, that wrought all his works? Answer me to these things in the words of the Son himself.

A. John v. 19, 20, 30, xiv. 10.

Q. What reason doth the Son render why the Father did not forsake him and cast him out of favour? Was it because he was of the same essence with him, so that it was impossible for the Father to forsake him or cease to love him?

A. John viii. 28, 29, xv. 9, 10.

Q. Doth the Scripture account Christ to be the Son of God because he was eternally begotten out of the divine essence, or for other reasons agreeing to him only as a man? Rehearse the passages to this purpose.

A. Luke i. 30, 32, 34, 35John x. 36Acts xiii. 32, 33Rev. i. 5Col. i. 18Heb. i. 4, 5, v. 5Rom. viii. 29.

Q. What saith the Son himself concerning the prerogative of God the Father above him?

A. John xiv. 28Mark xiii. 32Matt. xxiv. 36.

Q. What saith the apostle Paul?

A. 1 Cor. xv. 25, 28, xi. 3, iii. 22, 23.

Q. Howbeit, is not Christ dignified as with the title of Lord, so also with that of God, in the Scripture?

A. John xx. 28.

Q. Was he so the God of Thomas as that he himself in the meantime did not acknowledge another to be his God?

A. John xx. 17Rev. iii. 12.

Q. Have you any passage of the Scripture where Christ, at the same time that he hath the appellation of God given to him, is said to have a God?

A. Heb. i. 8, 9.

 

 

Examination.

The aim and design of our catechist in this chapter being to despoil our blessed Lord Jesus Christ of his eternal deity, and to substitute an imaginary Godhead, made and feigned in the vain hearts of himself and his masters, into the room thereof, I hope the discovery of the wickedness and vanity of his attempt will not be unacceptable to them who love him in sincerity. I must still desire the reader not to expect the handling of the doctrine of the deity of Christ at large, with the confirmation of it and vindication from the vain sophisms wherewith by others, as well as by Mr B., it hath been opposed. This is done abundantly by other hands. In the next chapter that also will have its proper place, in the vindication of many texts of Scripture from the exceptions of the Racovians. The removal of Mr B.’s sophistry, and the disentangling of weaker souls, who may in any thing be intricated by his queries, are my present intendment. To make our way dear and plain, that every one that runs may read the vanity of Mr B.’s undertaking against the Lord Jesus, and his kicking against the pricks therein, I desire to premise these few observations:—

1. Distinction of persons (it being an infinite substance) doth no way prove difference of essence between the Father and the Son. Where Christ, as mediator, is said to be another from the Father or God, spoken personally of the Father, it argues not in the least that he is not partaker of the same nature with him. That in one essence there can be but one person may be true where the substance is finite and limited, but hath no place in that which is infinite.

2. Distinction and inequality in respect of office in Christ doth not in the least take away equality and sameness with the Father in respect of nature and essence.258 A son of the same nature with his father, and therein equal to him, may in office be his inferior, his subject.

3. The advancement and exaltation of Christ as mediator to any dignity whatever, upon or in reference to the work of our redemption and salvation, is not at all inconsistent with that essential ἀξία, honour, dignity, and worth, which he hath in himself as “God blessed for ever.” Though he humbled himself and was exalted, yet in nature he was one and the same, he changed not.

4. The Scripture’s asserting the humanity of Christ with the concernments thereof, as his birth, life, and death, doth no more thereby deny his deity, than, by asserting his deity, with the essential properties thereof, eternity, omniscience, and the like, it denies his humanity.

5. God’s working any thing in and by Christ, as he was mediator, denotes the Father’s sovereign appointment of the things mentioned to be done, not his immediate efficiency in the doing of the things themselves.

The consideration of these few things, being added to what I have said before in general about the way of dealing with our adversaries in these great and weighty things of the knowledge of God, will easily deliver us from any great trouble in the examination of Mr B.’s arguments and insinuations against the deity of Christ; which is the business of the present chapter.

His first question is, “How many Lords of Christians are there, by way of distinction from that one God?” and he answers, Eph. iv. 5, “One Lord.”

That of these two words there is not one that looks towards the confirmation of what Mr B. chiefly aims at in the question proposed, is, I presume, sufficiently clear in the light of the thing itself inquired after. Christ, it is true, is the one Lord of Christians; and therefore God, equal with the Father. He is also one Lord in distinction from his Father, as his Father, in respect of his personality, in which regard them are three that bear record in heaven, of which he is one; but in respect of essence and nature “he and his Father are one.” Farther; unless he were one God with his Father, it is utterly impossible he should be the one Lord of Christians. That he cannot be our Lord in the sense intended, whom we ought to invocate and worship, unless also he were our God, shall be afterward declared. And although he be our Lord in distinction from his Father, as he is also our mediator, yet he is “the same God” with him “which worketh all in all,” 1 Cor. xii. 6. His being Lord, then, distinctly in respect of his mediation hinders not his being God in respect of his participation in the same nature with his Father. And though here he be not spoken of in respect of his absolute, sovereign lordship, but of his lordship over the church, to whom the whole church is spiritually subject (as he is elsewhere also so called on the same account, as John xiii. 13Acts vii. 59Rev. xxii. 20), yet were he not Lord in that sense also, he could not be so in this. The Lord our God only is to be worshipped. “My Lord and my God,” says Thomas. And the mention of “one God” is here, as in other places, partly to deprive all false gods of their pretended deity, partly to witness against the impossibility of polytheism, and partly to manifest the oneness of them who are worshipped as God the Father, Word, and Spirit: all which things are also severally testified unto.

His second question is an inquiry after this Lord, who he is, in these words, “Who is that one Lord?” and the answer is from 1 Cor. viii. 6, “Jesus Christ, by whom are all things.” The close of this second answer might have caused Mr B. a little to recoil upon his insinuation in the first, concerning the distinction of this “one Lord” from that “one God,” in the sense by him insisted on. Who is he “by whom are all things” (in the same sense as they are said to be “of” the Father)? who is that but God? “He that made all things is God,” Heb. iii. 4. And it is manifest that he himself was not made by whom all things were made: for he made not himself, nor could so do, unless he were both before and aider himself; nor was he made without his own concurrence by another, for by himself are all things. Thus Mr B. hath no sooner opened his mouth to speak against the Lord Jesus Christ, but, by the just judgment of God, he stops it himself with a testimony of God against himself, which he shall never be able to rise up against unto eternity.

And it is a manifest perverting and corrupting of the text which we have in Grotius’ gloss upon the place, who interprets the τὰ πάντα referred to the Father of all things simply, but the τὰ πάντα referred to Christ of the things only of the new creation,259 there being not the least colour for any such variation, the frame and structure of the words requiring them to be expounded uniformly throughout: “But to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” “The last expression, ‘And we by him,’ relates to the new creation; ‘All things,’ to the first.” But Grotius follows Enjedinus in this as well as other things.260

His inquiry in the next place is after the birth of Jesus Christ; in answer whereunto the story is reported from Matthew and Luke: which relating to his human nature, and no otherwise to the person of the Son of God but as he was therein “made flesh,” or assumed the “holy thing” so born of the Virgin, Luke i. 35, into personal subsistence with himself, I shall let pass with annexing unto it the observation before mentioned, namely, that what is affirmed of the human nature of Christ doth not at all prejudice that nature of his in respect whereof he is said to be “in the beginning with God,” and to be “God,” and with reference whereunto himself said, “Before Abraham was I am,” John i. 1, 2, viii. 58Prov. viii. 22, etc. God “possessed him in the beginning of his way,” being then his “only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth.” Mr B. indeed hath small hopes of despoiling Christ of his eternal glory by his queries, if they spend themselves in such fruitless sophistry as this:— “Q. 4. How came Jesus Christ to be Lord according to the opinion of the apostle Paul?” The answer is, Rom. xiv. 9. “Q. 5. What saith the apostle Peter also concerning the time and manner of his being made Lord? — A. Acts ii. 32, 33, 36.”

Ans. 1. That Jesus Christ as mediator, and in respect of the work of redemption and salvation of the church to him committed, was made Lord by the appointment, authority, and designation of his Father, we do not say was the opinion of Paul, but is such a divine truth as we have the plentiful testimony of the Holy Ghost unto. He was no less made a Lord than a Priest and Prophet, of his Father. But that the eternal lordship of Christ, as he is one with his Father, “God blessed for ever,” Rom. ix. 5, is any way denied by the asserting of this lordship given him of his Father as mediator, Mr B. wholly begs of men to apprehend and grant, but doth not once attempt from the Scripture to manifest or prove. The sum of what Mr B. intends to argue hence is: Christ “submitting himself to the form and work of a servant unto the Father, was exalted by him, and had ‘a name given him above every name;’ therefore he was not the Son of God and equal to him.” That his condescension unto office is inconsistent with his divine essence is yet to be proved. But may we not beg of our catechist, at his leisure, to look a little farther into the chapter from whence he takes his first testimony concerning the exaltation of Christ to be Lord? perhaps it may be worth his while. As another argument to that of the dominion and lordship of Christ, to persuade believers to a mutual forbearance as to judging of one another, he adds, verse 10, “We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.” And this, verse 11, the apostle proves from that testimony of the prophet Isaiah, chap. xlv. 23, as he renders the sense of the Holy Ghost, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue sh