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fures. But as on other Accounts, fuch a Summary of the Chris ftian Religion framed and published by the Authority of the Church, may be very ufeful to preferve the Minds of the People from the Contagion of Error; fo it fhould at least have this Ef fect, to make them cautious of receiving an Opinion contrary to the publick Standard of a Church whereof they are Members, and which they think in general fo agreeable to the Word of God: This may create in them a Sufpicion, that the Perfons who would draw them over to thofe Opinions, are cunning Seducers who creep into Peoples Houfes; and thereby make them juftly jealous of what they fay and do, and put them upon examining, with the greater Diligence, the Pretenfions of fuch Perfons, by the Holy Scriptures and a careful Ufe of all the Means for understanding them: And were our Confeffion duly improved for this Purpofe, we, who are perfwaded of its Purity and Excellency, cannot but think that it would be a very fuccefsful Inftrument, of maintaining the Sincerity and Uncorruptedness of the Truth as it is in Jefus.
The People are expofed to a great many Snares, which ought to engage them to a diligent Ufe of all Means whereby they may avoid them, The Papifts and other Enemies of our holy Religion are skilful in all the Deceiveableness of Unrighteoufnefs, and employ very mischievous, and frequently imperceptible Methods of corrupting the Faith of the Reformation: They can put on Sheeps Clothing, and even under the Mask of higher Pretenfions than their Neighbours to a Zeal for Truth, and of elevating the Doftrine they teach to a greater Degree of Purity, impofe upon the Credulous, and pervert weak Minds. The natural Levity and Ficklenefs of Men, especially the more ignorant Sort, expofe them a ready Prey to Seducers: The Fondnefs that People have to diftinguith themfelves from others adds to the Temptation; Pride, Self-Conceit and a Love of popular Applaufe are fruitful of Errors, and put many upon forming Parties and leading the People aftray the Lufts of our Hearts, and the extreme Inclination we have to reconcile our Interefts and Pleafures with our Duty, and a Difefteem of the Law of God with a pretended Regard to his Grace, make all loofe Schemes, and particularly Antinomian Doctrines very infectious, and procure too favourable a Reception to Opinions, Books and Pamphlets which have a Tendency that Way; and the fuperior Influence which a Form of Godliness hath with the Generality beyond the Power of it, will with fuch Perfons render Notions which have that Form more popular, than the fubftantial Truths of the Doctrine which is in Reality according to Godlinefs. And all thefe Snares have become much more dangerous by that ftupid Neglect of Chriftian Knowledge, and fhameful Igno rance which are to be found with a great Number.
Were the Means of Knowledge, which God affords with fo diftingui hing Advantages to this Church, duly improved, and particularly by a diligent Ufe of our Confeffion and Catechisms, the Minds of People would be fortified and established; thofe ignorant Schif maticks, who rove about the Country,would not find fo many blind
enough to follow them, nor would new and unfcriptural Notions of any Kind meet with fo favourable a Reception; and the lurking Poifon, and dangerous Tendency of any Books fpread through the Country, would be fooner difcovered, and eafier fhunned.
We are forry that there thould be Occafion to mention one Performance of this Kind, which hath been lately reprinted and propagated with fo much Induftry: Tho' one would have thought,that the many valuable and approved practical Pieces which the Church enjoys, might have rendred it needlefs; as fome Things contained therein feemed to make it noways expedient. The Reader will eafily perceive that it is THE MARROW OF MODERN DI VINITY which is hinted at.
It would be wandring away from the Defign of this Compofure, to enter upon an Examination of any particular Book: And there fore we fhall only obferve in general. That befide the Inaccuracies in reafoning, and the Obfcurities and Ambiguities which render that Book very unfit for the common People, and are apt to perplex and confound them; there are in it, at leaft, feveral Expreffions extremely indecent, and which are enough to ftrike with Horror those who retain that Veneration and Honour for the Holy Law of God, which its own incomparable Excellency, and the Authority and Awe of the great Legislator give it a Claim to, and one would think fhould be enough to guard it against the rude, I had almoft faid profane, Treatment which it fometimes meets with. There are in that Book many Paffages, which if they don't diffolve the Obligation to Obedience, and openly allow to Chriftians a licentious Liberty; yet mightily weaken its Force and Efficacy, tend to cool the Zeal and Vigour of Chriftians in the Study of Holinefs, and to give them mean and languishing Thoughts of it, as of no great Importance or Neceffity in Chriftianity. There are feveral Parts of it which the Corruptions of Mankind will make an Engine of, to ftifle the Voice of the divine Law, and of the Grace of God too teaching us to deny all Ungodliness: And to filence the Conviction of their Confciences, they will thence take Occafion to flatter themfelves with the fond Hopes that they may be juftified,while they continue to produce little of the Fruits of Righteoufnefs, and in their Practice neglect or vilifie the Works of the Law. The very Definition of Faith given by it, feems to fubtilize that great Inftrument of our Juftification, and that noble Principle of a purified Heart and Life, into an airy and ineffectual Speculation, which a prefumptuous Sinner may perfwade himself he hath attained to, and fo lull his Soul into a fatal Security: It feems to lead People into a Way of meafuring their State with respect to God and Religion, by different Tefts from thofe which the Scriptures afford us; and to divert them from trying the Sincerity of their Faith by the genuine Marks of it, and the Characters we are leaft liable to be deceived by, the producing much Fruit, the fanctifying our Hearts, and purifying our Lives, and governing our Paffions.
When Holinefs is the moft glorious and amiable Excellency of the Divine Nature, that is chiefly propofed to our Delight and
our Imitation; when the Neceffity, Beauty, and Perfection of it ate fo warmly urged home upon us in the Word of God, and it is the great Subject of all the Sermons pronounced by the unerring Prophet of the Church; when it is the diftinguishing Character of the Mediah's Subjects that they are a holy Nation, and it is the noble Defign of all the mighty Acts of a Saviour's Love and the Powers of his Death, to fave us from our Sins and from a vain Converfation, he gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all Iniquity, and purifie to himself peculiar People, zealous of good Works (a) when it is the Apoftolical Definition of Religion, That pure Religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, To vifit the Fatherless and the Widows in their Affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the World (b); and that Holiness is the great End of all the Gofpel-Ordinances and Graces even of Faith it felf, the Mystery whereof we must hold in a pure Confcience (c), and which God makes ufe of to purifie our Hearts (d), when for this Purpose the Hope of the glorious Appearance of our Saviour is given us, that we may purifie our felves even as he is pure (e); when, as might be proved, it is the Tendency of all the Doctrines of Grace and Salvation, of the Righteoufnefs and Satisfaction of the Son of God, and of our Juftification and Redemption by his Blood, to exalt and enforce Holinefs; and when the Work and Influences of the Spirit of Chrift are to advance it to Perfection, He loved his Church, and have himself for it: That he might fanctifie and cleanse it with the washing of Water, by the Word', That he might present it to him" felf a glorious Church, not having Spot or Wrinkle or any fuch Thing, but that it should be holy and without Blemish (f); and it is the Honour r of our exalted Redeemer, that he is able to keep his People from falling, and to present them faultless before the Prefence of his Glory with exceeding Joy (g), that they may ever inhabite that Place wherein dwelleth everlasting Righteousness; in a word, when it is the Excellenc and the Glory of the Grace of God and of juftifying Faith, that they are fo admirably calculated to promote Holiness; when it is the higheft Injury and Affront to turn them into Licenfioufhefs, the greatest Service to the Enemies of the Grace of God, and the moft plaufible Handle that can be afforded to Pelagians to improve them that way; 'tis a furprising and an affecting Confideration, that any Schemes and Pamphlets which have at leaft fome Appearances of thefe Evils, fhould be fondly entertained by fincere Chriftians, and that the very firft Beginnings of them do not meet with a jufter Reception.
Li Nor will fome Diftinctions that are made, which might perhaps be eafier refuted if their Meaning were understood, justify the Paffages hinted at, or remedy their mischievous Confequences; they may pleafe the Men that make them, but will thefe Subtilties imprefs the Minds of the People? will they fecure their Corrup tions from taking fo plaufible Occafion of gratifying them? will they
(a) Tit. 2. 14. (b) Fam. 1. 27. (c) 1 Tim. 3. 9. (d) Afts 15. 9. 1 John 3.3, (f)Eph. 5. 25, 26, 27. (8) Fude v. 24.
they prevent Self-love, and Self-conceit, the natural Inclination we have to flatter our felves, and that woful Averfion to true Holi refs which poffeffes the Minds of Men, from making ufe of thefe Doctrines to lull their Souls into a fecure Dependence upon a speculative Religion, and a dead Faith that is without Works? No, Practical Errors are of all others the most contagious, they have a fteady Friend in every Man's Breaft, his Heart is upon their Side; and the Wounds given by any Notions that may have a Tendency that way, are too deep and poifonous to be cured by Metaphyficks.
The good things that may be found in that or other fuch Writings, the Piety of their Authors, or the Worth of the Perfons who recommend them, only render fuch Compofures more dangerous;" and whatever Value or Efteem we may ftill preferve for thefe lear ned and worthy Minifters, their Judgment is not to be a Rule to Chriftians, nor will their Authority make a Thing good that is in it felf hurtful: It is a great Advantage to all Errors when Mens Perfons are held in Admiration; it has often been the Practice of fuch as promote them, to pretend an extraordinary Zeal for fome Truths, and particularly the Grace of God, as the groffeft Antinomians do, and as no doubt thofe did mentioned by Jude, who turned it into Lafcivioufnefs (a); I beseech you, Brethren, mark them which caufe Divifions and Offences, contrary to the Doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. For they that are fucb, ferve not our Lord Jefus Chrift, but their oron Belly, and BT GOOD WORDS AND FAIR SPEECHES deceive the Hearts of the Simple (b). Tho' we are more charitable to the Authors of fuch Writings as we are now fpeaking of, han to defign an Application of thefe Scriptures to them.
To conclude, We are forry that the Contents of the Book fhould give occafion to make an Obfervation on the Title of it, which would not otherwife have been worth noticing, That it is indeed MODERN DIVINITY, more modern than the Doctrine of Chrift and his Apoftles, and than that Grace of God which bringeth Salvation, and bath appeared to all Men; teaching us that denying Ungodliness and wordly Luffs, we should live foberly, righteously, and godly in this present World (c).
In ftead of fome Books of this Sort, were our Confeffion of Faith and Catechifms, particularly the Larger Catechifm, recommended to the People, and diligently perused by them, and compared with the Holy Scriptures, it would be an excellent Mean of preferving them ftedfaft in the Truth, that they might hold the Mystery of Faith in a pure Confcience, and go afide neither to the right Hand nor to the left: And we might be helped to conform our felves to that remarkable Inftruction of Paul to Titus, and to avoid fuch Queftions as are there fpoken of, This is a faithful Saying, and thefe Things I will that thou affirm conftantly, that they which have believed on God, might be careful to maintain good Wars: Thefe things are good and profitable unto Men. But avoid foolish Questions, and
(a) Fude 4. (b) Rem, 16. 17, 18. (6) Tit. 2. 11, 12.
Genealogies, and Contentions, and frivings about the LAW for they are unprofitable -and vain (a).
Third Defign of Confeffions belonging to this Clafs, was, That
A the Churches might fandimit their Teftimony to the Truth
unto their latest Pofterity; and furnish their Children with an Argument to perfevere in the fame Doctrine, and an Encouragement to animate them amidst the greatest Dangers and Difficulties. To this purpofe the Elector Palatine expreffeth himself in a very pious and affecting Strain. For this End, he fays, he left behind him that Confeffion of his Faith, "Ut chariffimi mei liberi tanto redderentur alacriores & animofiores, ad conftanter quoque perfeve"randum in hac mea Chriftiana Fide; nec fe ullis infultibus, & turbu lentis periculorum procellis ac tempeftatibus, quarum ego, DEO fit gratia, hactenus plurimas graviffimafque, toto mea gubernationis curricule, auxiliante DEO fuftinui ac fuperavi, ab hac Fide abduci paterentur, aut in fua vocationis officio, & vera hujus, Chriftianaque Religionis propagatione, remiffiores, timidiores, aut negligen"tiores efficerentur: quemadmodum ipfe quoque, quod ad me priva. "tim attinet, nihilo fecius nec fegnius quam hactenus feci, in bac ipfa, quam agnofco & profiteor veritate, fretus gratia & auxilio "DEI omnipotentis, ad extremum ufque vita mea halitum perfiftere ac perdurare certo decrevi.
Our Confeffions of Faith are in a peculiar manner ufeful for this end; and may be in an uncommon Degree improved by the Members of the Church of Scotland, for engaging them to a vigorous Zeal for thofe Bleflings tranfmitted to us by our Fathers, and a stedfaft Adherence to the Purity of the Chriftian Doctrine. Let us call to Mind, that what we now profefs is the Faith of the Reformation, which our Fathers embraced when their Hearts were warmeft with the Love of God and of Truth, and the Spirit of that bleffed Change exerted it felf with the most unconstrained and difintereffed Efficacy: May that Light which then broke out from amidft the Clouds and Darknefs of Popery, ftill irradiate our Souls, and be received with the fame Impartiality and Cheerfulness which it then met with: Let us remember their Labours for the Truth, their unwearied Conftancy and unfhaken Fortitude in maintaining and propagating it; let us follow fo noble an Example, and blush at the Thoughts of ever deferting thefe Truths, looking upon their Ruins or their Hazards with Indifferency or an inglorious Neutrality, and fuffering them through our Faults to be loft to Pofterity.
What mighty Things hath God done to preferve our Reforma tion to us in its primitive Extent and Vigour! and what a delightful Mixture of Love and Power hath adorned the Working.of his uncontrouled Providence in our Behalf! how many Schemes of Politicians hath he blown up! what Contrivances of ambitious
(a) Tit. 3. 8,9%