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Union Court, 18 Dec. 1710. HIS comes to give our Society, for promot
absenting myself from their Meetings now I am come to reside in Town; whereas I so seldom used to fail them, when I was but occasionally there. I confess, I am not able to enter into this Matter, nor to absent myself from the Society without some Concern and Uneasiness. I have the same Designs for advancing true genuine Christian Knowledge and Practice that the rest of the Society have. My Heart is entirely with them, in their brave and religious, and charitable and Christian Undertakings. I am still as willing and as ready as ever to assist and encourage, and advise in any of their Affairs. I own myself to receive no small Benefit, Comfort, and Edification myself from their Society; and I. cannot, without Unwillingness and Regret, bare to be excluded or banished from them. Yet do I by no Means think it prudent in me, considering the Circumstances I am at present under, any lopger to frequent their Meetings, since there may such Inconveniences thence arise as may hinder, not only myself, but the rest from doing that Good which otherwise might be expected. Insomuch, that the very fame Design of Doing Good, which prompted the Society to chuse me at first, and me to accept the same, and to frequent their Affemblies, seems now to require my absenting myself from them: So long I mean, as the Reasons for such Absenting Thåll stand good; and till those important Things, 'I have to propose to the Christian World, be fo
throughly examined, that I may stand justified be : fore all good Men, and they may see it necessary to jein my Designs with those which they are already engaged in, in order to a through Reformation of the Christian Church, and the haftening the coming of our Saviour's Kingdom of Peace and Holinefs. This I verily believe will be found necessary in no very long Time. But since it is not in that State at present, and Suspicions and Jealoufies may easily rise in the mean Time, I do hereby take my Leave of the Society; begging of God to bless them in all their Religious Undertakings, and to: open the Eyes of the Christian World, to see, believe and practice exactly according to the Revelation by his Son. And offering my hearty Service to the Society, and every Member of it, in any such; Designs as in my present Circumitances I may be assisting in, in a more private Manners; and hoping: that Almighty God will, in this Matter, accept of my hearty good Will for the Deed, and not exclude me from all Rewards of those pious Undertakings, which I have hitherto been ready to promote more openly, and which I shall still be ready to promote by my own private Endeavours, good Wishes, and Prayers for their Success, and Advancement in the World.
Sir, the Society's, and
Having just now mentioned fo excellent a Person as Mr. Nelson, who wrote against Dr. Clarke, and transmitted the folemn Thanks of the Clergy of the Gallican Church to Bishop Bull, for his Vindication of the Council of Nice, and moderate Athanafianism, when her two most learned Men, Petavius and Huetius had in effect given it up; I shall here insert a Letter of mine to him, never beføre printed, upon the fame Subject.
Much bonour'd Sir,
Camb. July 31, 1710, Heartily thank you
Prayers for me; as fupposing me running into a dangerous Heresy; and nothing can be more Charitable or more Christian than what you do upon that Supposition. But sure, good Sir, the Opinions I have entertain'd, after most frequent and sincere Prayers to God for his Direction ; after an unbiass'd and through Examination of all the sacred and authentick Writers of the first Times ; after the Hazzard of all my Hopes and Preferment, of my Family, nay, of my Life itself in this World ; after not only the Attainment of full and clear Satisfaction in my own Mind, but the affording the fame Satisfaction to fome others who came with Dread and Caution every Step, yet were not able to deny the Evidence that I produc'd; after not only offering, but earnestly presling the Examination of my Papers upon the Archbishops and Bishops, and the University; after having plainly filenc'd the truly Learned, so far that not one of them appears willing to answer what I have to fay. After all this, N
certainly you ought not to write as if I were evidently in the Wrong; and that instead of
Examination, whether it be so or not, you only would have Endeavours us’d for my Conviction. I am so well assured that the Doctrine, which that Body of the Christian Church, which their Adversaries would call Arian, is no other than the plain Doctrine of the New Testament, of the Apoftolical Constitutions of Ignatius, and all the Ancients ;. that it is with me a Branch of my common Chriftianity: And as to the Main, not to be disbelivd by me while I am a Christian. And the Evidence I have for what I say is undeniable : As I am ready to shew at what Time, and before what Company you shall please to hear it debated. And, good Sir, give me Leave to fay, that such Doctrines as you and Bishop Beveridge do support in these Matters, are no better than the heretical Notions which Tertullian and fome of the Montanils took from elder Hereticks; and which were afterward propagated by those ignorant and pernicious Hereticks, Marcellus and Athanasius, contrary to the Senfe of the Body of the Christian Church in their Times: And which, as improv'd by the later ignorant Ages, have come down to our Days; but begins to be seen and rejected by all the most learned and most impartial Enquirers. Sure, Sir, we are not to believe Mysteries farther than they are a Part of the Revelation of Christ, and so far I fully believe any that are laid before me. But to believe any on the Credit of such ignorant Forgers as Athanafius, or Vigilius, Thaphtanus, you must excuse me. We are to call
no Man Master upon Earth; since one is our Master, even Christ. Even an Apostle would not pretend to have Dominion over the Faith of Christians ; but exactly kept to that which Christ had deliver'd. Neither they, nor an Angel from Heaven could preach any other' Doctrines of the Gospel than had been committed to them by Christ himself, and which now appear in the Apostles Constitutions. And as I am fully satisfy'd that those Constitutions are of equal Authority with the four Gospels themselves, and contain no other than that Faith I contend for, fo do I think you greatly guilty of the Neglect of those Cautions before-mentioned, when
declare so firm a Belief of, and eager Concern for such Doctrines as have plainly no Foundation in all the original Books of our Religion. I run no Hazzard as to another World, because I keep close to that Faith and Practice which was once delivered to the Şaints, : without suffering any Synod or humane Authority to turn me at all out of the Way: Whereas you venture in the most sacred Concerns to believe and practice as the Country and Church, wherein you were educated, happen'd to instruct you, and seem to think it a Piece of Impiety to do otherwise. I muft confess, I cannot but wonder at the Learned, and especially at the Clergy ; that when Things of that mighty Consequence are so solemnly propos'd to their Consideration, they generally satisfy themselves to go on Year after Year, without troubling themselves about them: Nay, they still venture to use the most heretical Creed that is now extant in the World, I mean N 2