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FIA, Some Ends of Creeds and Confeßions were of a general and

extensive Nature, being intended to reach not only the whole Christian Church, but to make an Impression on the World round about it, which maintain'd a different Religion; and of this Sort there were several considerable Designs in View. That which feems to have been most dire&ly intended by the several Churches who have framed Confeffions, was to publish a fair and authentick Account of the Doctrine which they maintain’d, whereby a juft Idea of their Religion might be given to the World, who lo frequently mistake or mifrepresent the Opinions of one another, and the Alperhons and Calumnies that were thrown upon it by Adverfaries might be wiped off : This was one main End of the Creeds compos'd by the primitive Church, and by our Fathers at the Reformation ; and 'tis a Purpose that our Confefion is very necessary to:

There are too frequent Occasions to observe, that all Seas and Parties are byassed by undue Prejudices against one another; Selflove (which'is so deeply interwoven with our Natures in this degenerate State of Things, and shows its Power in the whole Train of our Thoughts and Actions) infensibly determines us to entertain a fond Opinion of any Scheme or Party which we are engaged in, and to look at it in a flattering, tho'it should be a falfe Light; and at the same time, to take up with us mistaken Notions of our Adverfaries, impute abfurd_Opinions to them which they never entertained, and paint the Errors they may have been really led a. fray by to the Disadvantage, and more crooked and deformed than the Life. And as this inhumane and uncharitable Treatment of one another, is owing rather to the Temper of our Minds, than ang particular Principles of the Doctrine which we embrace; it may be equally charged upon Persons of every Side, who have not learned to fubdue their own Spirit, nor endeavoured to govern their Passions by Reason, and sweetned their Tempers by Humility, and Meekness, and Charity ; Virtues which have become as admirable for their Rareness, as for their Excellency.

It is this, which, amongst the numberless Crowd of Authors, makes it fo very difficult to find one that does Justice to an Adverfary, or treats his Person with Gentleness, or even good Manners, and his Opinions with an open and candid Impartiality: And those who have been at all acquainted with Controversy, will find it the hardest Thing for two warm Disputants, when struggling hard for Vi&ory, not to throw about that Dirt whereby, if they can't overthrow, they are sure to blacken and bespatter each other.

But as Truth of every Kind hath moft Reason to complain of this inhumane Ufage;. The Christian Religion, during its tender Years, was in a peculiar Measure expos'd co all its Fury and Barbarity. Its blessed Author was assaulted both by the Tongues and the Hands of his implacable Enemies, they reviled him by Calum. ny while they perfecuted him by Force;, and when they crucified and tormented his Body, they infilted him with the most bitter Reproaches, and endeavoured to blacken his Memory and Doctrine by the falfest Aspersions. Thus the Apostles and primitive Chri{tians were expoled to Contempt as the Off-scourings of all Things and to popular Hatred and Anger, as Movers of Sedition, and Enemies to the publick Peace : Belides all which, their Religion as well as their persons was in like Manner defamed.

The Do&rines and Precepts of the Holy Jefus were founded on so many convincing Reasons, and supported by fuch amazing Mitacles; they were fo admirably fuíted to the Dignity of the humane Nature, the Peace and Happiness of Mankind, and to all the great Interests and the moft enlarged Desires of an immortal Spirity and at the same Time in every Respect worthy of the supreme Being; that they could scarce have inifled to make their way into the Elteem and Love of Mankind, and be profess'd at least, if not practis’d, by the World, if they had been fairly represented and fet in a just Light;, there needed nothing to gain this End but. what the Apologist inentions, Unum gestit ne ignorata damnetur, Christianity desires no Favour of its Judges, but that they be careful to understand it. Upon this account, amongst all the Arts of Hell, none seemed more effectual to stop its Progress, or maintain the Kingdom of Darkness and the Idolatry of the blinded Nations, than Fallhood and Misrepresentation, by which not only the Glory of Christianity might be obscured, and Men keeped from seeing the Beauties and Excellencies of that Religion in their native Light and Purity; but it would likewise be exposed to publick View disguised with a false Face, which was rendred as deform'd and monstrous as Calumny and Reproach could make it: That fo. the World might be determined in their Opinion thereof, not by what it was really in it felf; but by the quite contrary Idea, that the lying Malice of Hell; and the impetuous Passions of its Votaries gave of the Doctrine and Disciples of the Messiah. So that the least Acquaintance with the History of the Church, will convince us, that tho the Power of the Roman Empire, the Learning. and Sophiftry of Philosophers, and the perswalive Allurements of Wir and Eloquence, were all imployed in fighting with the greatest Fury against the Kingdom of our Messiah ; yet Galumny was still the inolt successful Engine used by the Devil in this infernal War, from this Quarter the most violent Affaults were made; and the Father of Lies was the Character he acted under with the greatest Malice and Dexterity, and whereby he gave Force and Vigour to his other Instruments. It is indeed surprizing to think how far he prevailed, and what Notions the People generally were impressed with they not only despised the Profefiors of Christianity as mean and ignorant, persecuted them as Enemies to the Laws and Disturbers of Order and Government: But fancied them to be the most impious and flagitious Sect that had ever appeared in the World, without the least Remains of Honour and Virtue; no Crime fo black, but it was charged on them; nor any Lusts and Pleasures in unnatural and filthy, but they were thought guilty of them; their Asemblies for Divine Worihip, were traduced as Rendevou

zes

zes of Villany and Debauchery; and the Celebration of the Holy Sacrament it self, was held forth as a more horrid and frightful

Ceremony,than any of the Mysteries of Bacchus or Venus, and as a Rite designed to initiate Men into the diffolute Practice of every Impurity and Abomination. And all this was represented as the tendency and design of their Religion, as we are at large informed by the Writers of the first Ages, and particluarly by that beauciful and elegant Work of Minutius Felix, the admirable Oétavius, where these Diabolical Calumnies are fully explain'd and refuted : So that confi. dering the scandalous notion the People had got of Chriftians, it was not so much the Thing as the Name which they perfecuted ; when their Character was fo blackned and defaced, no wonder that it became odious and contemptible ; and when they were clo thed with the Skin of a ravenous Tyger, the Devil easily prevailed on the blinded World to rid themselves of them, and Chriftianosad Leones was the natural Consequence of the Idea which had been received of them.

In such circumstances it was necessary to the Honour of their Religion, and that Justice which every Man owes to his Good Name, for the Christians to give a fair Representation of the Nature and Tendency of that Religion which they had made choice of, whereby the fallhood of all those hellish Calumnies would be come evident ; and the World must be convinced, that a Religion calculated to promote Vertue and Purity, and advance the Glory and Happinels of our Natures, to reconcile Men to God, and unite their minds by the most disinterested Love and extensive Charity, could never give the smallest Countenance to any of these Abominations which were charged upon its Professors. And this was the more necessary, because those odious Colours which had been put upon Christianity, appeard the more plausible from the Condua of the Gnofticks and the other Monsters which infelted those Times; who tho they scarce retain’d one Principle of our Religion, and had formed the most impious and absurd Schemes of Doctrine which were in all refpects contradictory to it, yet they ufurped the Name of Christians, and the Heathens, who knew little more of it but the Name, confounded all together who bore it, and attributed to the whole the Excesses of Debauch and Impurity, which they saw these Hereticks abandon themselves to: It was therefore ofthe last Consequence to the Church, to distinguish betwixt the Gnosticks and themselves, and show that their Princi. ples and Prađice had nothing common with these filthy brutish Sects.

le was for this Purpose then, amongst others, that Creeds and Core fefions were at the beginning framed, which gave a short Summary of the principal Articles of the Christian Faith, and afforded every Perfon the easiest Access to form fome Notion of a Christian : And, 'tis hop d, in so far they sprung neither from luft of Power and spiritual Pride, nor from a tyrannical Dominion ufurped over the Consciences of Men (which have been given out in this Age as their

only

only Rife ) but that their Original was both just and necessary. It was for the fame purpose that Justin Martyr, Tertullian, &c. publithed their Apologies for Chriftianity, which in fo far were of the fame Nature and Tendency with Confessions, tho' the Condiţion of the Church at that time, made it impracticable to frame fuch large Accounts of their Faith by common Consent.

At the Reformation from the Apostacy of the Antichristian Church, the Papists used the fame Èngines to obfcure the Light of the Gospel

, and put a stop to its Progress, as the Heathens had done formerly; the fame irreconcilable Enmity to the Glory of the Messiah's Kingdom equally animating them both, and inspiring them with Rage and Falthood. As the Pagans dealt by the Chriftians, fo did they by the Reformers, abus'd their Persons, ar traduc'd the Doctrines which they taught, and not content to-fault them with Argument and Violence, they defamed them by noisy Calumnies, and however unjust and aboininable any Imputation was, they never fcrupled to charge it upon them, if thereby they could either incite the Wrath of thofe in Power, or stir up the furious Zeal of the unthinking Populace against them: Hence all the Measures taken by our Heroick Forefathers, who threw off the Romish Yoke, were represented as proceeding wholly from a contempt of all Authority, and a Difregard of the Laws and Orders either of Church or State, and from a tond Inclination to Novelty and to a diffolute Life that thould have nothing to curb its Extravagancies; they were exclaim'd against as the Persons who turned the World upside down.

There was so much care taken to spread these Falfhoods, and the Matter was of so great Importance, that it seems to have been the chief Delign of the several Confessions composed by the Reformed Churches, to provide a remedy against this Evil, which they endeavoured to do, by publishing to the World a plain and genuine Account of the Do&rines which they maintain' dand of the Springs whence the Reformation flowed, and of the Purposes it aimed at, that it might appear they were entirely different from the invidious Representation their Adverfaries made of them, and that such were extremely impos'd upon, who credited their Ślanders.

For this end, as the Prefaces to many of the Protestant Confeffions inform us, they design'd thole Compofures, that the Emperor and other Princes, under whom they lived, might discover how little Ground there was for perfecuting them as Disturbers of the Publick Peace, and Enemies to Magiftracy; when in the strongest manner they taught its Divine Original, and its absolute Neceffity to the Happiness or even Being of any Society : And tho' they exposed the Tyranny of the Papacy, and strove to beget in their People fuch a Value for the Liberties of a Christian, as might make them abhor that unfufferable Bondage which the Roman Pontiff had enslaved the World into, they at the fame time recommended Obedience to those Powers which are ordained of God, and embraced no Principle that had the smallef Tendency to Licence and Disorder.

They

They intended to show by their Confeffionis, that when they disclaim'd the Authority of the Antichristian Church, undervalued itsCenfures, and stood unshaken by the Thunders of the Vatisan, they were not moved by a hatred to Discipline, a Spirit of Sedition, nor a Love ofunrestrained Pleasures,

but by a juft Regard to the Honour of God, and the genuine Delgns of Ecclegastical Government, and by a noble Abhorrence of an Usurpation upon the Dominion of Christ in his own Kingdom, and the Liberties of his Subjects; and in a word, that it might become evident that the Corruptions of Popery were grown to luch anexorbitant Height and had fo universally polluted the Do&rine and Worship of that Church, that the Grounds of their Separation from that Communion were of the utmost Importance, and laid thein under an absolute necessity openly to renounce it.

One thing also was directly aimed at by our Fathers, that the World might see how different their Doctrine was from the Dreams and Ravings of the Anabaptists, and other monstrous Hereticks who a&ed so extravagant a part in Germany, about the time of the Reformation.

We have spoken at greater length upon this End, which both the Primitive Christians and the Reformed Churches proposed in framing of their Creeds, because it is of very considerable Impor tance with respect to the Do&trine of our Church, and one thing that,'tis hoped, may be gain'd by a tolerable Acquaintance with our Confession : Never was there a Church whose Principles were more unjustly misrepresented, and loaded with Calumnies more distinguish'd for their Blackness and their Variety; and consequent, ly this Use of a Confession, whereby a genuine Account may begiven of what we maintain, is become of the greatest Necessity to us; for, besides those Slanders and Reproaches, which we share with all the Protestant Churches from our common Enemies, there are many peculiar Circumstances with relation to the State of religious Matters in Britain, which gave rise to Divisions of several Kunds. put an Edge upon the Spirits of Parties violently animated against one another, and occasioned the more calumnious Mifrepresentations of Persons and Doctrines,

Every body knows in what unhappy distracted Times, the West, minster Assembly met and compos'd that Confeffion of Faith, which hath since been received and own’d by the Church of Scotland, as containing the pure and uncorrupted Doctrine of Christianity: The Flames of a Civil War raged at that time thro' the whole Nation, and there were few Brealts which had not been heated and dit ordered thereby ; Contention, Revenge, Hatred, and the other angry uncharitable Passions, had with most people got the Mastery over the tweeter and gentler Fruits of the Christian Life, and univerfally prevaild: When things had come to fo melancholy an Extremity, that the Sword was un heathed, and the contending Parties not only disputed but fought it, there was little place, an she Noise of Arms and the Horrors of Blood and Violence, for

Meek

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