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arbitrary Impositions, ° calculated for the Exerciie of our Credulity, or the Gratification of our idle Curiosity, but have an immediate Relation to Practice. They are indeed the genuine Principles and Foundations of all humane and divine Virtues; and,? taken all together, make a far more rational and consistent Scheme of Belief, than what the wisest antient Philosopher ever thought of, or the most opiniative Modern Unbeliever ever yet contrived.
But besides these Doctrines, there are The Reatwo Ordinances, peculiar to the Christi-/°^W' an Religion, which have an equal Ten- christian dency to Practice, and are so far from Sacrabeing 1 vain or superstitious, that they ments' carry their own Plea and Justification along with them. For what reasonable Man can pretend to fay, that it is any way superstitious, for every Member of the Society to be solemnly admitted into his Profession, by a plain and significant Rice, intitling him to all the Privileges, and charging him with all the Obligations, which belong to the Mem* bers of that Society, as such? which is the Design of one of the Sacraments: Or that it is unreasonable or superstitious, for Men frequently to commemorate,
0 Archbishop Sharp's Serm. p Clarke's Evidence. 1 Vid. Christianity as Old, &c c. II.
rate, with all Thankfulness, the love of their greatest Benefactor, and humbly and solemnly to renew their Obligations, and Promises of Obedience to him? which is the Design of the other. "Vis a known Practice among Men, r that Covenants arc not entered into without the Formality of Witnesses, of Hands, Seals, and Delivery, in solemn and express Words: And if Men know themselves too well, to trust one another without this Solemnity, it may reasona; bly be expected, that when God is plea
» sod to permit them to enter into Cove
nant with him, he lhould not receive them under less Obligations of Caution and Security for their Integrity, than they are wont to use among one another; since every Breach of Covenant with him is infinitely more affronting and sinful, than any Breach of Covenant with Man can possibly be. And as these outward Signs do serve to raise; our Attention, to fix our Minds, and put us in Remembrance, that Heaven and Earth, Angels and Men are Witnesses against us, if we prove treacherous and unfaithful in this Covenant j ib are they tokens and Pledges to us of God's Love and Favour, and give us sensible and visible Assurances
r Jenkins Reasonableness of Christianity.
of that Grace, which is invisible and spiritual.
'Tis not a little in the Nature and Temper of Man, to be better pleased and contented with something present, and in Hand (though of small Value in it lelf) as a Token and Pledge of what is made over to him j than with the greatest Promises and Protestations, without anyThing,as an earnest, to confirm them. Now what is inward and invisible is absent as to Sen/e, and what is future stands in need of something present to represent it to us: And therefore God, in Compliance to our Infirmities, and in Assistance to our Faith, has been pleased, for our farther Comfort and Trust in him, to appoint visible Signs and Pledges of that, which is invisible, and to give to our very Senses such Assurance, as they are capable of, that all the Promises of his spiritual Blessings shall as certainly be fulfilled to us, as the outward Signs and Pledges, which he hath appointed, are duly received by us.
It may be suggested perhaps, " That \„ Oj/« "these s Things making so deep an">«* "Impression upon the common People ^aInst "is a just Reason against their use in "Religion, because the vulgar, who "generally look no farther than Exter
iYtd. Christianity as Old, gpo [. 173.
H h « naht
"ttals, conceive in them I know not "what internal Holiness, and think such "Jymbolical Representations as necefla"ry, as the Things represented by them; "nay, by Degrees forgetting the Rea"son of their Institution, come to Ido"lize them, as the Israelites did the "brazen Serpent.
iD(w'-d But if il sllould be gran£ed that some ing that have erroneous Notions concerning these they are positive Institutions, so as to lay an eeahist se- nua^ Strels upon them, as upon Moralist-y?;*^ ty it self; nay, that some have resolved Abuse. the whole of Religion into such Observances, and, instead of making it consist in the necessary Duties of Piety, Justice, and Charity, have placed it, not only in the instituted Means appointed by God, but in trifling Ceremonies, and incomprehensible Mysteries of Man's inventing and imposing; yet what availeth all this? The Question is not, whether the most excellent Things in the World may not, by one means or other, be corrupted', but whether the Scriptures give Countenance to any such Corruption; not whether Men have been mistaken in their Apprehensions of these Things, but whether Revelation has not laid down very plain Rules, to prevent such Mistakes; by declaring, that instituted Rites have no Sanctity in them,
and are no better than any the most . useless and trifling Ceremonies, if they do not promote moral Goodnels: And, consequently, whether the common People (if they would use their Reason) might not easily avoid such groundsels and superstitious Conceits. n Bring no * more vain Oblations ; Incense is an Abo* mination unto me $ the New Moons and Sabbaths, the Calling of AJpmblies, leannot away with j it is Iniquity even the solemn Meeting. He that killeth an Ox, is, as if he flew a Man; he that sacrifices h a Lamb, as if he cut off a Dog's Neck j he that bur net h Incense'; as if he blefpd an Idol; and the Reason is, because they have chosen their own ways, and their Soul de* Ughteth in their Abomination. Such was God's Rejection of the Ordinances of his own Institution under th&Law: And, in like manner, we are told in the Gofpel, that w He, who eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh Damna-* tion to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body; and that it is not the x pitting a* way the Filth of the Flesh, i. e. the external Part of Baptism, for which we are1 considered as good Christians, but the answer of a good Conscience towards God, H h 2 These
■ Foflr's rjrefnlfle!s and Truth of the Christian Revelation. Isa. i JJ. Isa. lxvi. 3* w 1 Cor, xi