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And thus that great mystery constitutes the sum and essence
How absurd do many of the doctrines of mathematicians and astronomers appear to ignorant men, when they cannot see the reason of those doctrines, although they are most true and evident, so that not the least doubt concerning them can remain in the mind of a thorough mathematician? Ibid. tom. iii. p. 560.
Since, in religion, there are some primary truths, and oth
Joh, Chr. Kirchmejerus, in his Dissert. concerning funda-
the truths thus contained. Therefore, the holy scripture often sums up all fundamental articles in one, as in John xvii. 3. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Sometimes it distinguishes them into several; as in 1 Tim. i. 5. "Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." Ibid. tom. i. p. 528.
On account of the various degrees of men's capacities, and the various circumstances of the times in which they live, one man may know truths which another cannot know. Whence it follows that the very same articles are not fundamental to all men; but accordingly as revelation hath been more or less complete, according to the several dispensations under which men have lived, their various natural abilities, and their various modes and circumstances of living, different articles are, and have been, fundamental to different men. This is very plain from the different degrees of knowledge before and since the coming of Christ; for before his coming, many truths lay hid, which are now set in the most clear light : And the instance of the apostles, abundantly shows the truth of what I have now advanced; who, although they were already in a state of grace, and their salvation was secured, yet for some time were ignorant of the necessity of the sufferings and death of Christ, and of the true nature of his kingdom. Whereas, he who now does not acknowledge, or perhaps denies, the necessity of Christ's death, is by all means to be considered as in a fundamental error. Therefore, as a man hath received of God greater or less natural abilities, so let the number of articles to which he shall give his assent be greater or smaller; and as revelation hath been made, or information hath been given, to a man, more clearly or obscurely, in the same proportion is more or less required of him. Therefore, in our own case, we ought to be cautious of even the smallest errors, and to aim at the highest degree of knowledge in divine truths. In the case of others, we ought to judge concerning them with the greatest prudence, mildness, and benevolence. Hence we see, that a certain precise num
ber of articles, which shall be necessary and fundamental to every man, cannot be determined. Ibid. p. 531.
If one single article of faith be so comprehensive, that in it are involved all things necessary to salvation, a man is not to be condemned as a latitudinarian, or as indifferent to all other doctrines, because he says that one article only is fundamental. For instance, That by the grace of the Triune God, Jesus, the true and eternal God, having assumed the human nature, became, through his satisfaction for sin, by his sufferings and death, the only and most perfect cause of our salvation; who, therefore, together with the whole sacred Trinity, is, in the way of self denial, to be sought, loved and worshipped. Ibid. p. 532.