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nion of the angels, from the fear of temporary death, and the curse which an exact observance of the ceremonial law carried with it, and at length to enjoy true and lasting blessings, the circumcision of the heart, the law written there, the full and true remission of sins, the spirit of adoption, and such like things; this observation, I say, does not seem to me worthy of being insisted on in so many academical lectures, so many sermons, and such a number of books, as have been published in the Latin and our own languages, as though the whole of theological learning consisted in these. For, in the following work I have shown that, however those doctrines are explained, they are horrible to be mentioned, and are not to be defended without wresting the Scriptures.
But I esteem as much more dangerous, the opinions of some men, in other respects very learned, who deny that a covenant of works was made with Adam; and will scarce allow that by the death with which he was threatened in case he sinned, a corporeal death is to be understood ; and deny that spiritual and heavenly blessings, such as we now obtain through Christ, were promised to Adam on condition of perfect obedience: and by an antiquated distinction, dividing the sufferings of Christ into painful and judiciary, affirm that the latter only, or, as they sometimes soften the expression, chiefly, were satisfactory; excluding by this means his sorrows in the garden, the sentence passed on him both by the Jewish council and the Roman governor, the stripes with which his body was wounded, his being nailed to the cursed cross, and last of all his death itself. On these subjects I have given my mind freely and candidly, as became a defender of the truth and an opposer of falsehood : : which laudable character was given of the emperor Constantine the fourth, by the sixth Ecumenical Synod at Constantinople; and which is what all of our order ought to endeavour to de
I have also made remarks on some things of less moment, which did not seem to have a solid scriptural interpretation, or are less accurately conceived of than they ought to be. Nor has my labour been without profit. Amphilochius is justly commended by Basilius, because he thought that “no word which was used concerning God should be passed over without the most careful inquiry into its meaning." But I have done this without rancour or raillery : “not with a view of reproving the authors, but that the studious reader might be benefited by having their errors shown him," as I remember Polybius somewhere expresses himself. And J hope it will not be taken ill by the learned and ingenuous, to whom I grant the same liberty I myself take, if (to use nearly the same words which Augustine uses, when he declares his dissent from Cyprian), whilst “ I cannot arrive at their degree of merit, acknowledge my writings inferior to many of theirs, love their ingenuity, am delighted with what they say, and admire their virtues; yet I cannot in all things agree with them, but make use of the liberty wherewith our Lord has called us." Especially when they see that I have willingly adopted their own ingenious inventions, what they have happily found out by searching into the original languages, have learnedly recovered from the reliques of hitherto unknown antiquity, have judiciously confirmed or clearly explained ; and have highly recommended them to the reader.
They will also find that, wherever I think them right, however they may be censured by others, I have cordially defended them, and have wiped off the stamp of absurdity and novelty. And this I have done so frequently and solicitously that, without doubt, some will say, I have done it too much. But I cannot yet allow myself to be sorry for having dealt so ingenuously with them. For how could any one have done otherwise, who is not attached to a faction, or is not a slave to his own or another's affections; but has dedicated himself to truth alone, and regards not what any particular person says, but what is said. He who loves the peace of Jerusalem, had rather see controversies lessened than increased ; and will with pleasure hear that several things are innocent, or even useful, which had sometimes been made the matter of controversy.
All good men are, indeed, justly offended with that wantonness of wit, which, in the present day, rashly aims to overturn wise opinions; and, after having attacked the dogmas of religion, then insolently offers a bold, and often ludicrous, interpretation of prophecy, ridiculously including that under the name of prophecy which contains nothing but the doctrine of our common faith and holiness; by which the public and our sacred functions are not a little abused : and it is not to be wondered at, if the warmer zeal of some has painted this wantonness as it deserves, or perhaps, in too strong colours. But yet, a medium is to be regarded in all things; and I do not approve the pains of some, who, whilst they discourse on our differences, not only make them amount to decades, but even centuries; and frequently with bitter eloquence are very violent on some innocent subjects. Whether this method of disputing greatly conduces to the promoting of saving knowledge, or the edification of souls, I will not now say; but I am certain of this: the enemies of our church are hereby greatly delighted, and secretly rejoice, that there are as many and as warm disputes amongst ourselves, as against them. And this not very secretly either : for they do not, nor will ever, cease to cast this reproach upon us; which, I grieve to say, is not so easily wiped away.
O! how much better would it be to use our utmost endeavours, to lessen, make up, and, if it could be, put an end to all controversy!
Make this, reverend and learned Sirs, your great concern. This all the godly who mourn for the breaches in Joseph; this the churches who are committed to your care ; this Jesus himself, the King of truth and peace, require and expect
you; in the most earnest manner they entreat it
“ If, therefore, there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy,” fulfil ye the joy of all saints, fulfil ye the joy of our Lord Jesus himself, “that ye may be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." There have been already more than enough quarrels, slanders, and suspicions; more than enough of contentions amongst brethren, which, I engage for it, will afford no just cause of triumph; more than enough intestine divisions, by which we destroy one another; and more than enough of passion. Let the love of divisions, a thirst after pre-eminence and schismatical names, be henceforward banished from amongst us. Let all litigious, satirical, and virulent writings be blotted out; “ as they only serve to revive the fires of strife-engendering questions.” But if we must write on those controversies, let us lay aside all evil dispositions, which are hinderances to us in our inquiries, and mislead our readers. Let us fight with arguments, not railings, bearing in our minds this saying of Aristophanes, " It is dishonourable, and by no means becoming poets, to rail at each other." How much less does it become Christians to do so! The streams of divinity are pure: they rise only from the fountain of sacred learning, and should be defiled with none of the impure waters of the ancient or modern philosophy. Let us abstain from harsh and unusual expressions, and from crude and rash assertions ; from whence arise “envy, strife, railings, and evil surmisings.” The writings of both testaments should be handled diligently by all, but with sacred fear and trembling. Let none please himself Nor let any
with his commentaries, because they contain something new and unknown by our predecessors. Let him who thinks he has found out something preferable to the received opinion, offer it to the public with modesty, without vilifying the brethren ; not asserting or determining rashly, but submitting his thoughts to the censure of the learned, and the judgment of the church not forcing them on the common people to the distraction of their minds; nor hastily offering them to incautious youth, who are improper judges of such weighty matters. reject, on account of its novelty, what is agreeable to the meaning of the words, to Scripture phrases, to the analogy of faith, or to the relation the text bears to others. Cajetan, who is commended by our Chamier, has not badly expressed himself on this head : “ If a new sense of the text offers itself, though it be different from that of divines in general, let the reader judge of it for himself.” Aud in another place he says, none refuse assenting to a new sense of sacred writ, because it differs from that given by the ancients ; for God has not bound himself to the truth of their expositions of the Scriptures.” Let the depths of prophecy be also diligently searched into; but reverently, without wresting the Scriptures, without violating those bounds wherewith it has pleased God to keep them from human intuition; lest he who attempts to search into the majesty should be overwhelmed by the glory.
Let no one, of however great name, by his authority bind the free consciences of the faithful; but, as Clemens Romanus once said, “ Let the truth be taken from the Scriptures themselves :” by these alone it should stand or fall in religious affairs ; by these are all controversies to be settled. And it was by the sacred and undefiled Gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the ancient councils were influenced. Nevertheless, let not any one inconsiderately on this pretence, withhold his assent to those