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the 238 Chapter of our Confesion concerning the Civil Magiftraté, how falfe a Bottom all the heavy Imputations laid on us by angry Adverfaries lean upon, as if we were Enemies to Order and Goa vernment, and our Principles were inconsiltent with the Peace of Society, and the Regard due to lawful Superiors, so that no Man could favour us, and at the same Time be a Friend unto Cesar Since, from the Account there given of our Principles concerning Civil Government, it will appear, that no Church maintains Dom &rines which conduce more to its real Dignity and Stability, or gives less Encouragement to the Spirit of Faction, and the Clamours of feditious and ungovernable Minds.
Our Church gives the noblest and most awful Original to the Magistrate's Power, the Authority of God himself, who hath or: dained them to be under him over the People, and armed them with the Power of the Sword; and thereby begets a becoming Fear and Veneration for the Rulers of a State. It represents this Institution as designed to promote the most glorious Ends, and the usea fullest and loveliest Purposes, the Glory of God, and the publick Good : And under fo ainiable a View, our Church endears ic to the Affections, and recommends it to the sincerest Efteem, and the cheerful Obedience of its Members, and fo secures the Authority and Majesty of the Prince upon the Happiness of Mankind, and the trueft Interest of those that obey, which is a firmer as well as a nobler Foundation, than the Doctrines of those who divest Government of every sweet and amiable Character, while they render it at the same Time formidable and hateful, by clothing it with Fears and Horrors, and thereby indeed lap its Foundations, and rob it of its Glory and Beauty, and in what they call the supreme Governor, they draw the Image of a grim and frightful Idol, that may be fervilly bowed to and adored, but can never be esteemed or loved.
In a Word, that Chapter of our Confession will show, that our Church allows every Thing to a Monarch that is suitable to the Excellency of that God by whom he reigns, thac is worthy of his own Honour, or can enable him to accomplish the great and usefiul Ends of his Institution, and that our Principles are inconsistent with nothing but the Domination of an arbitrary Tyrant, and the inglorious passive Obedience of a Slave. And in one Thine, I am afraid, we exceed our most furious Accusers in their Zeal for the Honour of Princes, since the 4th Paragraph of that same Chapa ter asserts, That Ecclefiaftical Persons are not exempted from their Juris diction.
If we pafs from the Government of the State to that of the Church, a very odious Idea is given of us, as if, by being Oppos fers of the Hierarchy, we overturned the facred Privileges of the Gospel-Ministry, or cut the Sinews of Ecclefiaftical Authority ; and because our Constitution was not framed upon the fame Model with that of our neighbouring Church, we are pronounced a factious and licentious Sect, Enemies to Order, Promoters of Con
fusion and an unrestrained Liberty, and zealous for levelling Prin-
These, together with the other Calumnies whereby we are black-
Nor does our Church in any Respect enervate the Vigour of Dif cipline, or the Force of Cenfures against profane and vicious Members, who usurp the Christian Name which they make themselves unworthy of; such she allows her Spiritual Rulers to exclude from the Society of visible Christians, or to admonish and rebuke with all Authority. And, however sensible we are of numerous Defects, and shall easily acknowledge that in many Instances we stand in need of further Reformation ; yet we believe we may with some Measure of Confidence be allowed to glory in it, that there is no Church, which in the Exercise of Difcipline, comes nearer to the primitive Model, and the Example of thofe better Times, when all the Parts of Discipline were levelled at the reclaiming of Offenders, the discouraging of Vice, and the maintaining the Purity of the Christian Society; when no Censure, and much less the last and folemnest Act of Ecclesiastical Power, was prostituted to mean and unworthy Purposes, and thereby exposed to a general Contempt ; when the Strength and Force of Difcipline consisted in its Influence upon the Reason and Consciences of Mankind, and Excommunication it self had only a fpiritual Efficacy, and was dreaded by Christians as the greatest Punishment, from the Terrors wherewith it filled guilty Minds, and the Power gained in the Hearts and Breasts of Sinners, and stood in no
need of temporal Penalties to enforce itznor was attended by Fines and Imprisonments, Arguments entirely foreign to the fpiritual Genius of that Ecclesiastical Government and Discipline, which was embrac'd by the purest Ages, and maintain'd by none now in a greater Degree than by the Church of Scotland.
An impartial Enquiry into our Confelion, may have the same good Effects with Regard to the more refined and abstracted Controverfies of Religion. It is known to all who have any Acquaintance with Divinity, with what undue Heat and Uncharicableness the Disputes betwixt the Calvinists and Arminians have been managed, and what odious Representations have been given of the Opinions of different Parties:The Church of Scotland, which hath everzealously espoused the Doctrines of the great Calvin, or rather of the inspired Apostle Paul, hath on that Account received her large Share of ill Ulage ; and the harshest Notions have been given of all those who came under the common Denomination of Calvinists, and that not only by passionate little Writers, but by. Men of distinguished Reputation, and acknowledged Temper and Abilities.
It is usual enough, because of our Doctrines concerning Faith, Justification and Grace, to exclaim against us as Persons who weaken the Authority of the Divine Law, and deny the Necessity of good Works, who encourage our Members to a lazy Recumbency upon the Righteousness of another, and tempt them to the Neglect of Holinefs in their own Life ; that our Principles are fo many Pillows for flothful Souls to rest upon, and Opiats to lull them asleep in Sin and Security : And thus we are exposed as an hateful and abominable Sect, that have little Regard to Morality and Holiness.
Now, would fuch have Recourse to our Confefion, they'd foon be convinced how great an Injury is done to us, since, tho we own it as our Glory, that we entertain exalted Thoughts of the Grace of the Gospel; and abhor every Notion that encroaches upon its Sovereignty or lessens its Freedom; that we maintain Juftification by Faith and not by Works, and would not willingly rob God of any Part of the Glory and Honour of our Salvation; by afcribing a Share of it to our selves, and attributing to our unworo thy Performances what is wholly owing to the Obedience and Satisfaction of our Saviour: Yet no Church, in more express, Terms affirms the perpetual Obligation of the Moral Law which is no way dissolved by the Gospel, the abfolute Necessity of Holiness in order to Salvation, the Vanity of that Faith which is not accompany'd with all the other Graces of the Christian Life, and with good Works, which are its genuine Fruits and Evidences when true and lively; or is more fensible of the fatal Mistake of fuchi who fancy that Christian Liberty gives the least Encouragement to the Indulgence of any Luft. All which is evident from the whole Strain of our Confession
It will appear as hard and unjust Treatment, when we are charged with representing the blessed God as a severe and cruel Being, the Object only of Fears and Terrors, because of the Doba
&rine wé maintain concerning Reprobation; or as a defpotick and arbitrary Monarch, that is not governed by the Measures of Wif dom and Goodness, but punishes Sin, whereof we make himself the Author, because of our Opinions about the Abfoluteness of his Decrees, the Freedom of his electing Love, and the Sovereignty of his Grace and Providence: Since, how little foever they may approve of our Sentiments in these Matters, they will perceive, that, in as plain and positive Terms, we own the infinite Purity of the Divine Nature, and the Justice of his Procedure; remove as far from him the smallest Possibility of Evil
, and attribute the Origin of Sin wholly to the Creature ; and endeavour to give as lovely and amiable Notions of the Father of Mercies, and to celebrate with as loud and fervent Praises his unbounded Compassions, and incomprehensible Goodness and Patience, as our Adverfaries themselves do.
We know it inay be alledged, That how positively foever we disclaim all these monstrous Errors, yet they are the necessary Consequences of the other Doctrines which we avowedly profess; fo that were the one certain, the other would naturally be establiThed: But were it true that such Blasphemies could be inferred from our Doctrine of absolute Decrees, or any other of the Opinions of Calvin; yet it would be contrary to the plainest Rules of Juftice and Charity, to afcribe thofe abfurd and impious Notions unto us; since we in the loudest Manner disavow them, and profefs that we are not able to discern that our Doctrines have the smallest Tendency towards those unworthy Thoughts of the infinitely Holy and Merciful God, which we abhor and detest as much as they themselves can do ; but believe all our Principles consistent with these amiable Excellencies of the Divine Nature.
They may according to their own Way of thinking accuse us of Weakness and Ignorance, and fancy that our Eyes aré dim and short-sighted, when we can discern none of those abfurd Confequences which appear to clearly to thein; but as long as we remain in this Condition, deny the supposed Consequences, and give no Reason to fufpect the Sincerity of our Professions, it is evidently injurious ftill to load us with them as if they were our real Sentiments, which is indeed to charge upon People not what they truly think and perceive, but what we fancy they should fee and judge concerning the Nature and Consequences of their Faith.
We know it is too common for Writers on every Side to blacken their adverfàries, and after they have painted, in the ugliest and most hateful Form, all the Blasphemies and Absurdities, which they fancy to be the necessary Consequences of their Opinions, to charge the whole upon such as differ from them, though as zealous as themselves against those false and impious Doctrines: Nor shall we deny but there are Authors of every Side who make a Merit of their Art and Dexterity in this Way of writing ; seem to think every Spot wherewith they be patter their adversaries, an Ornament and Beauty of their Pertormance, and that the blacker
they make him, they promote more effcctually the Interests of their own Party : But a prevailing Custom does not render Injustice and ill Nature less culpable: nor does their Rarity tarnish the Loveliness of Moderation and Charity, or excuse a Neglect of them by an Author.
The creating of an Adversary with Fierceness, Anger or Dirdain, the representing his Opinions in the worst Light, and elpecially the inveighing against the blafphemies or Ablurdities which we think flow from his Schemes, as if they were really a Part of them and adopted by him, with all the other angry Arts of Controverlie of this kind, instead of doing any good, tend equally to the Disgrace of the Writer, and the Disadvantage of his Caule; they argue a proud and imperious Spirit that is impatient of Con tradiction, and expects an absolute Submission from the relt of the World to its Notions and Dictates; they fiow generally from a Narrowness and Contraction of Thought, that can allow no virtuous Quality, nor make any favourable Concession to an Adverfary: and they alınost allways how that the Writer is of a small Extent of Learning and Reading, and hath confiacd his Enquiries to the Authors of his own Side; and bounded his Understanding by their Party-Limits, or darkned it by their Errors and Prejudices, and to is incapable of great and noble Advances in Knowledge.
Such Disputers demonstrate that the prevailing Paffions in their Breasts are Wrath and Hatred and Vanity, which have extinguished Charity and Justice and Humility; and which always make ihe Performance of no Effect with an Adversary, and can never re
claim him from an Error; because they im sitter his Spirit and awaken his Refentment; make him consider the Author as his violent Enemy, and enervate the Force even of good Reafonings, by perswading him that they are as insignificant, as he knows the hideous Representations given of his own Principles and Party, by the same Writer, are false and calumnious: And tho they may inflamę thę Zeal of those who are blindly devoted to them, and prepoflets'd by the fame Prejudices; yet if ever fuch become better acquainted with those that differ from th:m, they'll be apter to defert altogether their former Party, and fancy the whole of their Doctrines as ill founded, as they see the Aspersions groundless which were thrown upon Adverfaries by their own angry Guides,
Were the Devil a Writer of Controversies, fuch would be his Methods; Satyr would undoubtedly be his chiet Talent, and uncharitable Heats, and calumnious Representations, and heavy Charges upon
thc contrary Side, would be Engines fuitable enough to his hellish Temper and Designs: But it is a frange Inconsiliency in one that pretends to argue in Desence of any part of Chrifiia: i:, so mild and gentle and charitable an Institution, a Religion, the diLinguishing Beauties whereof are Love and Benevolence and Forbearance, to do it by Artifices which owe their Being to Impatience, Anger, Pride and Wrath, as it these could ever be uletul to any