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CHA P. are as much agreed in, as in the Truth of our
own Existence. The saving edifying Part of
Such is the Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ, and on that account as well as others, has God abounded towards us in all Wisdom and Prudence: mean time the speculative Part subject to Disputation and intricate Distinctions, is still bid from the Wise and Prudent, as to Harinony and Agreement about it. The Abstract Intelligence of the Divine Being is exalced far above our Capacity, whilst that which is derivable from his Government over, his Love and Mercy towards us, certain in their Effects, and therefore plain in their Causes, is very nigh to us, and we collect them from the Works of his Hands, from continual Benefits, from the falutary Concerns that have been negotiated, and are still negotiating between God and us: What the Father hath done, what the Son, what the Holy Ghost have done, and still do for us, all co-operating in the Restoration and Salvation of Mankind; to honour the Father for what he has done; to honour the Son likewise for what he has done, and is to do in the Day of Judgment; and to do no despite to the Spirit of Grace; is exceeding plain. And it is no less plain, that it ought to be consider'd by us chiefly in that Aspect and Relation; what Returns of Duty are becoming, what Behaviour is required of 'us, as we are peculiarly initiated into a lively Faith in their Names, Charac-CH A P. ters and Offices, by that holy Baptism which XVIII. diftinguishes the Christian from the rest of the World.
THOSE external Relations to us of Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, more import us, than the internal Relations among themselves. That good Knowledge does certainly concern us as a Duty, as it is evidently foodful in its Ideas to the Christian Life, fully fatisfies the Understanding, mightily ingraciates and obliges the Will, highly raises the Affections of the Soul, and actuates the religious Powers of the whole Man to an universal Obedience. The unmanifested part of the Mystery is the hypothetical and schematical part of believing; take you the Shell, give me the Kernel !-- whilst the manifested part of it is God with us, to all
Purposes of Godliness and Holiness, Wisdom and Goodness, Peace and Joy in believing, the very Propriety and End of Mystery, and the true Institution of its Doctrine ; declared to be manifested to take away our Sins— to destroy the Works of the Devil -- to expect Reconciliation with God; Resurrection to eternal Life; to look for Remission of Sins ; Answer to our Prayers; and Affistance of his Spirit ; in the NAME of Jesus Christ our Mediator and Redeemer. Keeping to these undoubted great Benefits, easy Practice, and plainly declared Purpose of this Mystery, it deserves the Name great; worthy in itself and of its great Author: This is setting forward the Salvation of all Men; this is obvious to the meanest Capacities. The Laws relating to these saving Uses, are therefore binding to all, because they are so plain to all; and the Trans gression must be Sin.
С НА Р.
As the Knowledge of Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Son of Man, the One Mediator between God and Man, is the Consummation of divine Wisdom, Power, Righteousness, and Godliness for the Redemption of the World, full of the best Influence for Reconciliation and Goodness, Peace and good Works, and is positively, plainly, and abundantly revealed ; how happy had it been, if Christians had always kept to the plain Words of Revelation, without diminishing what is written, or abounding in vain Imaginations above what is written, thro' luxuriant Conjectures and Philosophical Speculations never once able to convert the World to Righteousness? The Churches of God had never known so much Distraction and Violence, nor the History of it been ftain'd with the Names of so many Heresies, Sects and Divisions, severally setting up to makė Christ their Saviour, after their own conceited Manner, different from what God has made and presented him, who would therefore have the Gift (a most reasonable thing) accepted just as he gives it, without Alteration or Amendment.
THE Carpocratians, Cerinthians, Ebionites, and Gnostics made him the Son of Joseph and Mary, like all other Men: That Christ descended upon Jesus in the Shape of a Dove after his Baptism, and in the End flew away again from Jesus, who suffer'd and rose again, but Christ continued impassible, as being of a spiritual Na
From them the Docelæ set up the Appa. rition, to the Denial of the Reality of his Human Nature, as the Valentinians, &c. The Followers of Paulus Samosetanus, with the Socinians, wholly
reject his Divine, as Son of God, and constitute CHÁP. him entirely of an Human Nature. The Sabel. XVII. lians or Patripasians incarnate God the Father, instead of God the Son. . The Arians, whilft they allow, diminish both the Natures of Christ ; his Divine, by asserting there was a Time when he was not; his Human, by substituting the abyon in lieu of the rational Soul. The Apollinarians deny'd his rational, whilst they allow'd him a sensitive Soul. The Nestorians held a nender, extrinsick, imperfect Union of the Divine and Human Nature, or Substance ; whilst the Eutychians maintained in Opposition, that before the Union there were two, but after it no more than one Nature.
The two last quarreld bitterly about the Manner of the Union, which neither of them understood; and the less they understood, the more they were enraged against one another ; and as there was no Hopes of converting, they call'd in Blows and the Secular Arm to devour one another ; which finish'd the Catastrophe of the Eastern Churches : Bụt, that they might each be equally punish’d, the Secular Arm of Mabomet ensiav'd them both without Distinction, and imposed the heavy Yoke of oppressive Tribute, ever since upon all their poor shatter'd Churches. So miserably have Hereticks in all Ages mangled and divided Christ Jesus into. Parts and Parcels, Bits and Pieces; in direct Contradiction to the fundamental Truth of his being perfeet God, and perfe&t Mange and fo a perfect Mediator between both. What, alas! can be a greater Crime or worse Sense of Heresy, than for the wanton Wit of Man to go about to put asunder that, for the Confusion and Devastation of Mankind, N 4
CHA P. which God has join'd together for their general XVIII. Salvation ?
Far be it from God, who does Right to all his sincere Worshippers and the Faculties of all his Servants, to expect us to believe, i. e, understand, the Part that is abstruse, to which our Mind has very difficult, if any Access, with the fame Affection, Zeal, and fruitful Improvement, as what we do apprehend, perceiving our Relation to it, and its Influence over us: To bid us see what he has cover'd with a Veil, that be far from God. - If it is in a Manner morally impossible for the Generality either to know the several Schemes and Hypotheses of Disputers, or make any Judgment of those abstruse Points when known that sort of Knowledge could never be intended as generally fundamental, nor required of God as necessary to Salvation ; not by him certainly, who never commands any thing impossible ; not by that Divine Wisdom, which is no Respecter of Parts or Persons, and never wanted condescending Goodness, or intelligible Expressions to discover every thing neceffary so clearly, or rather so much the more plainly to all, as it was necessary and fundamental for all to know; the better to work in every Soul the subsequent End, Practice, the ultimate Issue for which we shall all be judged. And to keep our Understandings to their proper, profiting Measure of Faith, the Apostle encourages us to enlarge, range, and satiate our Minds, not in the abstract Theory of God, or Christ, not in the Abyss of his Nature, but of his Love: That is infinite, and no Comprehenfion required of it; this is likewise infinite, yet we are bid to comprehend it; because it is so