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"Use of all Terms of Art., and all Latin and Greek WordsIn drawing of them up, 1 have consulted such Commentators as my own or my Neighbours Studies would furnish me with ^ and, which I believe will not be unacceptable to the Reader, I have often let down the (i) Interpretations of some of our most eminent Divines, to whom I frequently refer. I have the rather done this, to bring thole to whom they are not known acquainted with them. I have likewise made Use of an Essay for a new Translation of the Bible, which was-; translated from the trench, and contains many useful and curious Observations, tho' it may have a few, which some will be ready to style, bold Conjectures. - In drawing up the Notes, I may possibly have had too much Regard to Difficulties which occurr'd to me, when I first began to read the Scriptures, which 1 did early •, but this will be excused, when it is considered, how natural it is for any one to think, that what was a Difficulty to him, maybe so to others. Some Observations there are on Texts which relate to Practice, and have no Difficulty in them.
There are some Notes on (2.) Texts produced in the present unhappy Dispute, concerning the ever Blessed and Adorab'e Trinity. My Design here is not Controversie, but to settle the Minds of sincere and honest Christians, which I fear have been made uneafie by these Disputes the Rise of which is, I am peri waded, in a great Measure owing to Mens going further in their Divisions, Distinctions, and Definitions concerning this Subject, than (3) Divine Revelation
(1) My Lord Bactn, towards the End of his Second Book of the Advancement of Learning, expresses himself to this Effect: That if the Choice and Best of those Observations on Texts of Scripture, which had been made in Sermons for about Forty Years or more then past, leaving our the Exhortations and Applications, were set down according to the Order cf Scripture, it would be the best Work in Divinity which had been written since the Apostles Times. And one may venture to fay, that were such a Work to be undertaken now, it might be done with much greater Advantage. For my Lord Bactns Book was Printed
at Oxford 163 J.
(2) See the Notes on Mar. 13.33. Joh. r. 3, 14. Joh. 3,13. Joh. 8. 58. Rom. B.29. 1 Cor. 15 51. 2 Cor. 13. 14. Phil. 1. 6. 1 Jt>fr. 5. j. Rev.i.S.
(3) The Dispute here can be only about rhe Sense of Revelation; for had not God been pleased to discover this Doctrine in the holyScrU ufures, we could not have had any Notion thereof from Principles of Reason. And therefore to pretend to argue against this Mystery, from what we call rational Principles, is great Presumption ; for in so doing
will bear them out. I have expressed my Sense in the Words of some of our most eminent Writers, to whom I refer. Those I have cited wrote before the present unhappy Controversie began.
Did we consider how scanty our Knowledge is, even of Things
wiich are the Object of our Senses, we should be more modest and humble in our Determinations about what is so far out of fitr Reach. For how can a created and finite Underflmding (i) comprehend or measure God, who is an infinite and unj ear Chile Being? Can any one pretend to know God ib perfectly, as to be able to demonstrate, that it is impossible for him to be 'Three in one Respect, and One in another? If God has thus revealed himself in the holy Scriptures, Reason will oblige us to assent to it, even tho' we cannot comprehend it, or form in our Minds any Idea of the Manner thereof. For in this Case our Assent is not founded on Conclusions drawn from rational Principles, but on the Truth and Authority of God, whom the Chrifiian Church believes to have thus revealed himself, tho'he has not thought fit to reveal the Manner thereof to us and consequently has not made it our Duty to form any determinate Idea concerning it.
I will beg Leave humbly to offer one Thing to bz considered with Reference to this Subject, namely, whether such a (2) Profession of Faith in our Redeemer as was accessed of9 and affroved by, our Lord and his jostles,
a 3 ought
we oppose our shallow Reason to Revelation, and suffer it to pass its due Sounds. I will set down a Passage from the ingenious Reflections on Learning, wherein is fliewn the Insufficiency thereof in its several Particulars, in order to evince the Usefulness and Necessity of Revelation, Edition 4. p. 284. ' Our Reason is a proper Guide in our Enquiries, and 'is to be followed where it keeps within its Sphere; but sliming dimly, 'it mnst borrow Rays from the Fountain of Light, and must always act 'subordinately to Revelation. Whenever it crosses that, it is out of its 'Sphere, and'indeed contradicts its own Light; for nothing is more 'reasonable than to believe a Revelation, as being grounded on God's 'Veracity, without which even Reason it self will be often doubting. 'That whateyer God (who is Truth it self) revels is true ; is as sure and 1 evident a Proposition, as any we can think of: It is certain in its Ground, 'and evident in its Connection, and needs no long Consequencesto make 'it out; whereas most of our rational Deductions are often both weakly 'bottom'd, and depending upon a long Train of Consequences, which 'are to be spun from one another, their Strength is often lost, and the 'Thread broken, before we come at the Conclusion. See the last Note on the Preface.
(1) See Dr. L,ueius Sermon, of the Incomprehensibleness of Qod, on Job 11. 7. in which he discourses of the Nature of Mysteries. (?) See the References on Matt, fS. 16,
. ought not to he sufficient to clear any one from the Imputation of being an Heretick? It is here supposed that the Words are taken in the Sense which is obvious to every unprejudiced Mind. But if Men (i) mistake the Sense of Scripture, I ice not what we can do better than pity and pray for them, and calmly in the Spirit of Meekness and Love debate the Matters in Dispute, illustrating a doubtful Text by others which are more clear. For to give thole who differ from us opprobrious Names, or to fix odious Consequences on their Opinions, which are by them disowned and disavowed, ortocallMens Sincerity into Question, because they do not think just as we do-, whatever any may pretend, these are not the Effects of a (2) true Zeal for God and Religion, I would only desire
(i) It is difficult for us to know, when Men wilfully mistake the Senle of Scripture, and wrest it to their own Destruction; for we are ignoiant of the Reasonings and Thoughts of each other, and therefore cannet judge of them any farther than they by Words and Actions discover them to us. It is surprizing to observe what plausible Coiouts Men of Parts and Learning will put upon any Subject, if they will give themselves Leave to fay any Thing to advance their Cause. The following Instances, being the Essays of two of the Church of Kopte, are not exceeded by any. Christopher Davenport a Franciscan, known in Eriglapd by the Name of Francifcus zSanEfa Clara, wrote a Paraphrastical Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles; and tho' several of them were directly levelled against the Doctrines of the Church of Rofoe, yet by a dextrous Management he makes them capable of a good Roman Catho]ick Sense. The other Instance, is the Attempt of one Ra»attilu.', who by a sinister, but possible Interpretation, has made every Article of the Creed appear like Heresie and Blasphemy. So that the plainest Words and Writings in the World rhay be perverted to Another, sometimes to a quite contrary Sense. See the Preface to Mr. Bradtys impartial View pf the Truth or Christianity.
(2) Let us take heed that we do not sometimes call that Zeal for God and his Gospel, which is nothing else but our own tempestuous and stormy Passion. True Zeal is a sweet, heavenly, and gentle Flame, which maketh us active for God, but always within the Sphear of Love. It never calls for Fire from Heaven, to consume those that differ a little frem usip our Apprehensions. It is like that kind of Lightning, which the Philosophers speak cf, that melts the Sword within, but fingeth not she Scabbaid: It strives to save the Soul, but hurteth Mot the Body. Tiue Zeal is a loving Thing, and makes us always active to Edification,
and not to Deduction. True Zeal is a soft and gentle Flame, that
will not scorch one's Hand; it is no predatory or Voracious Thing: But carnal and fleshly Zeal is like the Spirit of Gunpowder set on Fire, ihat ttars and blows up all that stands before it r~-' We irlay learn what kind of Zeal it is that we should make Use of in promoting the Gospel, by an Emblem of God's^own, given us in the Scripture; those
. Fi*rj those who are apt to suffer themselves to be thus transported, but to suppose it possible for them to be mistaken; and then to consider, whether such Treatment would be likely to convince them of their Mistake: and Errors? I shall, I hope, be excused, if I digress a little, and observe the Wcaknesi and htidity of Men, and the strange Influence which too many ifer sower to have upon their Minds ; for none are more ready toity that Liberty to others, who are subject to them, or who haveaDependance upon them,thanmany of those who express Jittf Zeal for the Liberties of Mankind, by whom, as their Actions too plainly demonstrate, they mean only themselves, For were they truly concern'd for the Liberties of Mankind, they would readily allow that toothers, which they claim themselves. By Liberty, I do not mean Licentiousness, but a Lihty of judging and determining for our selves, believing that we are accountable to God, if through wilful Prejudice orCarelefness we run into dangerous Errors. We may digress those who are under us in their Circumstances, or by outward Force, as Fines, Imprisonments, and bodily Punifh■fnts; we may make Men Hypocrites, but they are no way suited to convince a reasonable Mind. Such Proceedings never )'et wrought Conviction in any Man, nor did they ever serve the Interest of Religion and Truth.
I am not moved to this by any Doubts I have my self, hut to express my Dislike of a Practice too too common among the too many Denominations of Christians, the imposing their own Glosses and Interpretations of Scripture, as the undoubted, certain, and infallible Mind and Will of Christ, Eren the Protestant Churches, tho' they have justly cast oif the Romisti Yoke, yet have they not sufficiently purged out this Remainder of Popery. It is undoubtedly' more agreer able to the Temper of the Gojpel, to bear with those we cannot convince, than it is to persecute them. Our Duty is fo speak the Truth to them in Sove, As on the one Hand, we ought earnestly to contend for the Faith once delivered to t'ntSaintj; so, on the other, we ought to have and maintain
a 4 a
Fiery Tongues, that upon the Day pf Pentecost fate upon the Apostles, *!uch sure were harmless Flames, for we cannot read that they did any Hurt, or that they did so much as singe an, Hair of their Heads. Dr. Cmburth's Sermon on i Jth. a. 3, 4.. which contains m°fe useful, s9 '4» udnecessary Truth, than spme Urge Volumes.
a compassionate Love for those who deviate from it. I am. perswaded, that this Way of proceeding would conduce more than any other, to the bringing in the (i) universal Practice of Holiness, Peace, and Love, which many wife and. good Men think they are incouraged to hope for in th^ Scriptures of both Testaments. No Establiih'd Church, in the World, that 1 know of, is so free from Blame in this Respect, as pur Church; nor does any require less asTcrms of Communion than she does. For we ought to distinguish between what is required as a Jerm of Communion, and what is re-? quired of those who officiate as Ministers in a Church.
Our Blessed Saviour could easily have engaged all the Powers of this World on his Side, but he did not think fit to do it; No; he ufed.no outward Violence to gain Men over to his Religion. And those who were converted by the Apostles, were prevailed with to believe and obey the Gojfpsl without any worldly Force used towards them. For the Apr sties received no Instructions to compel Men by any other Methods than Arguments drawn, either from Scripture, or from the Reason and Nature of Things; the Works tiiey did, the (rood Example they let before them, their patient Suffering for the Truth Sake, and the Fewards and fimistments of another Life. When therefore there was no Bope of their Conversion left, they were bid to fliahe off the DusTr of their Feet, to depart from them, and leave them to the just and righteous judgment of God. Afterwards, in the Primitive Church, for
(i) Care must be taken so to understand the Nature, Perfection, and Completion of the Evangelical Dispensation, that tho' the Revelation be com pleat, so that the Doctrines therein given us are Eternal Truths, and she Duties prescrib'd us are Everlastingly obligatory, and the Ordinances enjoined us are of perpetual Use and Necessity; yec the Prevalency of this Dispensation will be vastly greater than now it is, there being scarcely any. Thing of Futurity clearer in Scripture, than the coming in of the Fulness of the Gentiles, the general Conversion of the Jews, tfys total Destiuction of Antichrist, and of the Dominion of Satan, and the Triumphant State os the Church thereupon, when the Kingdom of Truth, Righteousness., and Peace, shall universally prevail ; when Idolatry shall be totally abolished, and the Terms of Reconciliation, or the Covenanted Grace, will be made known, to, and complied with by all Men, all, both Jews and Genri'es, coming into the Church, and submitting unto the Melliah. Dr. Brays Bibliotheca Parochialis, Second Edition, p 6&. See Mr. 4'hrisState of the Church in future Ages; Dr. Hcwy Moris three last Dialogues, Dr. CUgetss Sermon pn \f.\\.<).