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On the whole, I obserye, There are some other Things, besides Arguments, in Dr. Tg's Book, which are calculated to influence the Minds, and bias the Judgments of some Sorts of Readers. Here, not to infift' on the taking Profession he makes, in many Places, of Sincerity, Humility, Meekness, Modesty, Charity, &c. in his searching after Truth; and freely proposing his Thoughts, with the Reasons of them, to others *; nor on his magisterial Assurance, appearing on many Occafions, and the high Contempt he sometimes ex, presses of the Opinions and Arguments of very excellent Divines and Fathers in the Church of God, who have thought differently from him t: Both of which Things, it is not unlikely, may have a Degree of Influence on some of his Readers : (However, that they may have only their juft InAuence, these Things might properly be compared together, and set in Contrast, one with the other) I say, not to dwell on these Matters, I would take some Notice of another Thing, observable in the Writings of Dr. T. and many of the late Opposers of the more peculiar Doctrines of Christianity, tending (especially with juvenile and unwary Readers) not a little to abate the Force, and prevent the due Effect, of the clearest Scripture-Evidences, in Favour of those important Doctrines; and particularly to make void the Arguments taken from the Writings of the Apostle Paul, in which those Doctrines are more plainly and fully revealed, than in any other Part of the Bible. What I mean, is this : These Gentlemen express a high Opinion of
* See his Preface, and p. 6, 237, 265, 267, 175. S. † Page 110, 125, 150, 151, 159, 161, 183, 188.77. S.
this Apostle, and that very justly, for his eminene Genius, his admirable Sagacity, strong
Powers of Reasoning, acquired Learning, &c. They speak of him as a Writer -of masterly Address, of extensive Reach, and deep Design, every where in his Epistles, almost in every Word he says. This looks exceeding Specious : it carries a plausible Appearance of Christian Zeal, and Attachment to the holy Scriptures, in fuch a Testimony of high Veneration for that great Apostle, who was not only the principal Instrument of propagating Christianity, but with his own Hand wrote fo considerable a Part of the New Testament. And I am far from determining, with respect at least to some of these Writers, that they are not sincere in their Declarations, or that all is mere Artifice, only to make Way for the Reception of their own peculiar Sentiments. However, it tends greatly to subserve such a Purpose ; as much as if it were desi nedly contrived, with the utmost Subtilty, for that End. Hereby their incautious Readers are prepared the more easily to be drawn into a Belief, that they, . and others in their way of thinking, have not "rightly understood many of thofe Things in this Apostle's Writings, which before seemed very plain to them; and they are also prepared, by a Preporsession in Favour of these new Writers, to entertain a favourable Thought of the Interpretations put by them upon the Words and Phrases of this Apostle'; and to admit in many Paffages a Meaning which before lay entirely out of Sight; quite foreign to all that in the View of a common Reader seems to be their obvious Sense; and most remote from the Expositions agreed in, by those which used to be esteemed the greatest Divines, and best Commen
For they must know, that this Apostle being a Man of no vulgar Understanding, it is nothing
strange if his Meaning lies very deep; and no Wonder then, if the superficial Discerning and Observation of vulgar Christians, or indeed of the Herd of common Divines, such as the Westminster- Affembly, &c. falls vastly short of the Apostle's Reach, and frequently does not enter into the true Spirit and Design of Paul's Epistles. They must understand, that the first Reformers, and Preachers and Expositors in general, both before and since the Reformation, for fifteen or sixteen Hundred Years past, were too unlearned and mort-sighted, to be capable of penetrating into the Sense, or fit to undertake the making Comments on the Writings of so great a Man as this Apoftle; or else had dwelt in a Cave of Bigotry and Superstition, too gloomy to allow them to use their own Understandings with Freedom, in reading the Scripture. But at the same Time, it must be understood, that there is risen up, now at length in this happy Age of Light and Liberty, a Set of Men, of a more free and generous Turn of Mind, a more inquisitive Genius, and better Discernment. By such Insinuations, they seek Advantage to their Cause; and thus the most unreasonable and extravagant Interpretations of Scripture are palliated and recommended : So that, if the simple Reader is not very much on his Guard, if he does not clearly fee with his own Eyes, or has too much Indolence, or too little Leisure, thoroughly to examine for himself (as few, alas, are willing to be at the Pains of acquainting themselves thoroughly with the Apostle's Writings, and of comparing one Part of them with another, so as to be fully able to judge of these Gentlemen's Glosses and Pretences) in this Cafe, he is in Danger of being imposed on with delusive Appearances; as he is prepared by this fair Pretext of exalting the Sagacity of the Apostle,
and by a Parade of Learning; Criticism, exact Version, Penetration into the true Scope, and Dircerning of wonderful Connections, together with the Airs these Writers affüme of dictatorial Peremptoriness, and Contempt of old Opinions and old Expositions; I say, such an one is by thefe
Things prepared to swallow strange Doctrine, ás trusting to the superiour Abilities of these modern Interpreters.
But I humbly conceive, their Interpretations, particularly of the Apostle Paul's Writings, though in some Things ingenious, yet in many Things concerning these great Articles of Religion, are extremely absurd, and demonstrably disagreeable, in the highest Degree, to his real Design, to the Language he commonly uses, and to the Doctrines currently taught in his Epistles. Their Criticisins, when examined, appear far more subtile, than solid; and it seems as if Nothing can possibly be strong enough, Nothing perspicuous enough, in any Composure whatever, to stand before luch Liberties as these Writers indulge: The plainest and most nervous Discourse is analysed and criticized, till it diffolves into Nothing, or till it becomes a Thing of little Significance : The holy Scripture is fubtilized into a mere Mift; or made to evaporate into a thin Cloud, that easily puts on any Shape, and is moved in any Direction, with a Puff of Wind, just as the Manager pleases. It is not in the Nature and Power of Language, to afford sufficient Defence against such an Art, fo abused; as, I imagine, a due Consideration of fome Things I have had Occasion in the preceding Discourse to observe, may abundantly convince us.
But this, with the rest of what I have offered on this Subject of Original Sin, must be left to every candid Reader to judge of, for himself; and the Success of the whole must now be left with GOD, who knows what is agreeable to his own Mind, and is able to make his own Truths prevail; however mysterious they may seem to the poor, partial, narrow, and extremely imperfect Views of Mortals, while looking through a cloudy and delusory Medium; and however disagreeable they may be to the innumerable Prejudices of Men's Hearts:And who has promised, that the Gospel of CHRIST, such as is really bis, shall finally be victorious; and has assured us, that the Word which goeth out of his Mouth, shall not return to kim void, but mall accomplish that which be pleaseth, and Mall prosper in the Thing whereto be sends it.-Let GOD arise, and plead his own Cause, and glorify his own great Name. AMEN.
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