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these words of his to be true, or confess that he cannot; viz.
III. “That I contend for one article of faith, with
the exclusion and defiance of all the rest."
Two other instances of this sort of arguments I gave in the 175th page of my Vindication, out of the 115th and 119th pages of his Thoughts concerning the Causes of Atheism; and I here demand of him again to show, since he has not thought fit hitherto to give any answer to it,
IV.“Where I urge, that there must be nothing in
Christianity that is not plain, and exactly levelled to all men's mother-wit, and every common
apprehension." Or, where he finds, in my Reasonableness of Christianity, this other proposition:
V. “That the very manner of every thing in Chri
stianity must be clear and intelligible; every thing must immediately be comprehended by the weakest noddle; or else it is no part of reli
gion, especially of Christianity.” These things he must prove that I have said: I put it again upon him to show where I said them, or else to confess the forgery: for till he does one or the other, he shall be sure to have these, with a large catalogue of other falsehoods, laid before him.
Page 26 of his Socinianism unmasked, he endeavours to make good his saying, that “I set up one article, with defiance to all the rest,” in these words: “for what is excluding them wholly, but defying them ? Wherefore, seeing he utterly excludes all the rest, by representing them as useless to the making a man a Christian, which is the design of his whole undertaking, it is manifest that he defies them."
Answ. This at least is manifest from hence, that the unmasker knows not or cares not what he says. For whoever, but he, thought, that a bare exclusion, or passing by, was defiance? If he understands so, I would advise him not to seek preferment. For exclusions will happen; and if every exclusion be defiance, a man had need be well assured of his own good temper, who shall not think his peace and charity in danger, amongst so many enemies that are at defiance with him ? Defiance, if, with any propriety, it can be spoken of an article of faith, must signify a professed enmity to it. For, in its proper use, which is to persons, it signifies an open and declared enmity, raised to that height, that he, in whom it is, challenges the party defied to battle, that he may there wreak his hatred on his enemy, in his destruction. So that, “ my
defiance of all the rest" remains still to be proved.
But, secondly, there is another thing manifest from these words of his, viz. that notwithstanding his great brags in his first paragraph, his main skill lies in fancying what would be for his turn, and then confidently fathering it upon me. It never entered into my thoughts, nor, I think, into any body's else, (I must always except the acute unmasker, who makes no difference between useful and necessary) that all but the fundamental articles of the Christian faith were useless to make a man a Christian; though if it be true, that the belief of the fundamentals alone (be they few or many) is all that is necessary to his being made a Christian, all that may any way persuade him to believe them, may certainly be useful towards the making him a Christian: and therefore here again I must propose to him, and leave it with him to be showed where it is,
VI. “I have represented all the rest as useless to
the making a man a Christian ?” And how it appears, that “this is the design of my
In his Thoughts concerning the Causes of Atheism he says, page 115, “What makes him contend for one single article, with the exclusion of all the rest? He pretends it is this, that all men ought to understand their religion.” This reasoning I disowned, p. 174 of my Vindication, and intimated, that he should have quoted the page where I so pretended.
To this, p. 26, he tells me with great confidence, and in abundance of words, as we shall see by and by, that I had done so; as if repetition were a proof. He had done better to have quoted one place where I so pretend. Indeed, p. 27, for want of something better, he quotes these words of mine out of p. 157 of the Reasonableness of Christianity: “The all-merciful God seems herein to have consulted the poor of this world, and the bulk of mankind. These are articles that the labouring and illiterate man may comprehend.” I ask, whether it be possible for one to bring any thing more direct against himself ? The thing he was to prove was, that “I contended for one single article, with the exclusion of all the rest,” because I pretended, that all men ought to understand their religion;" i. e. the reason I gave, why there was to be “but one single article in religion, with the exclusion of all the rest,” was, because men ought to understand their religion. And the place he brings, to prove my contending upon that ground, "for one single article, with the exclusion of all the rest,” is a passage wherein I speak of more than one article, and say, “these articles. Whether I said, “these articles": properly or improperly, it matters not, in the present case; (and that we have examined in another place) it is plain I meant more than one article, when I said, “these articles ;” and did not think, that the labouring and illiterate man could not understand them, if they were more than one: and therefore I pretended not, that there must be but one, because by illiterate men more than one could not be understood. The rest of this paragraph is nothing but a repetition of the same assertion, without proof, which, with the unmasker, often passes for a way of proving, but with nobody else.
But, that I may keep that distance, which he boasts there is betwixt his and my way of writing, I shall not say this without proof. One instance of his repetition, of which there is such plenty in his book, pray take here. His business, p. 26, is to prove, that “I pretended that I contended for one single article, with the exclusion of all the rest, because all men ought to understand their religion ;” p. 174 of my Vindication I denied that I had so pretended. To convince me that I had, thus he proceeds:
Unmasker. “ He founds his conceit” of one article “partly upon this, that a multitude of doctrines is obscure and hard to be understood.”
Answer. You say it, and had said it before: but I ask you, as I did before, Where I did so ?”
Unm. “And therefore he trusses all up in one article, that the poor people and bulk of mankind may bear it."
Answ. I desire again to know where I made that inference, and argued so, for “one article ?”
Unm. “This is the scope of a great part of his book.
Answ. This is saying again : show it once.
Unm. “ But his memory does not keep pace with his invention, and thence he says, he remembers nothing of this in his book," Vind. p. 174.
Answ. This is to say that it is in my book. You have said it more than once already; I demand of show me where.
Unm. “This worthy writer does not know his own reasoning, that he uses.”
Answ. I ask, Where does he use that reasoning ?
Unm. “ As particularly thus, that he troubles Christian men with no more, but one article: because that is intelligible, and all people, high and low, may comprehend it.”
Answ. We have heard it affirmed by you, over and over again, but the question still is, “Where is that way of arguing to be found in my book ?”
Unm. “For he has chosen out, as he thinks, a plain and easy article. Whereas the others, which are commonly propounded, are not generally agreed on (he saith) and are dubious and uncertain. But the believing that Jesus is the Messiah has nothing of doubtfulness or obscurity in it."
Answ. The word “For," in the beginning of this sentence, makes it stand for one of your reasons; though it be but a repetition of the same thing in other words.
you to Unm. “ This the reader will find to be the drift and design of several of his pages.
Answ. This must signify “ that I trouble men with no more but one article, because only one is intelligible,” and then it is but a repetition. If any thing else be meant by the word This, it is nothing to the purpose. For that I said, that all things necessary to be believed are plain in Scripture, and easy to be understood, I never denied; and should be very sorry, and recant it, if I had.
Unm. “ And the reason why I did not quote any single one of them was, because he insists on it so long together: and spins it out after his way, in p. 156 of his Reasonableness of Christianity, where he sets down the short, plain, easy, and intelligible summary (as he calls it) of religion, couched in a single article: he immediately adds: “the all-merciful God seems herein to have consulted the poor of this world, and the bulk of mankind : these are articles' (whereas he had set down but one) that the labouring and illiterate man may comprehend.' Answ. If «
my insisting on it so long together” was the cause why, in your thoughts of the causes of atheism,” you did not quote any single passage; methinks here, in your Socinianism unmasked, where you knew it was expected of you, my “insisting on it," as you say, “ so long together," "might have afforded, at least, one quotation to your purpose.
Unm. He assigns this as a ground, why it was God's pleasure, that there should be but one point of faith, because thereby religion may be understood the better; the generality of people may comprehend it.”
Answ. I hear you say it again, but want a proof still, and ask, " where I assign that ground ?”
Unm. “ This he represents as a great kindness done by God to man; whereas the variety of articles would be hard to be understood."
Answ. Again the same cabbage ; an affirmation, but no proof.
Unm. “ This he enlarges upon, and flourishes it