« AnteriorContinuar »
1 Pet. v. 12.
-Exhorting and testifying that this is the true
Grace of God wherein ye stand.
T HE Happiness of all Creatures depends
intirely on their Obedience to his Will
whose fovereign Power created and rules the World. Now the Will of God is made known to us in Part by natural Reason : and they who have no other Law shall be judged by that alone. But as Reason was unable to teach Mankind a great Number of Things very important to be known, and in Fact, did teach most of them but a small Part of what it might have done ; God was mercifully pleased to superadd the Light of Revelation to it, and place us under the Conduct of both jointly. Such . . U 3.
an additional Provision, it might have been hoped, had cleared up all Doubts; but partly the Weakness, partly the Wickedness of Men, hath turned even this Light into Darkness, and made it multiply Disputes instead of ending them. Still we have no Reason to be discouraged; for every upright and confiderate Person may after all, with due Care, very easily see his Way before him, clearly enough to walk in in it. But we have great Reafon to use this Care, and make such Enquiry amidt the different Paths, which different Persons point out to us, as will give us Caufe to be satisfied we chuse the right. Now of all the different Opinions which have risen concerning the Christian Religion, there have been few fo remarkable as that which divides this Part of the World into Popish and Protestant. Those of the former Communion, it feems, think us of the latter quite out of the Way to Salvation, and accordingly are unweațied in persuading, as they have Opportunity, the Members of our Church, efpecially the lower and more ignorant Part of them, to quit it for theirs. The Necessity of doing this, they'infift upon some Times with so much Plausibility, and always with so much Confidence, that I hope you will not think a.
few Discourses ill employed on a Subject of such very great Importance both to our private Satisfaction and public Security, in refuting the Arguments they usually bring against us, and testifying that this is the true Grace of God, wherein ye stand. To proceed regularly in this Matter, I shall
I. Enquire what is the Rule of Christian Faith and Life: and
II. Examine by this Rule the peculiar Doctrines and Practices of the Romish Church.
I. I shall enquire what is the Rule of Christian Faith and Life: from whence we are to learn what Things our Religion requires as necessary, and what it forbids as unlawful: for, if we do the one and avoid the other, we are undoubtedly safe. Now as Jefus Christ is the sole Author of our Faith, those Things, and those alone, which he taught himself, and commissioned his Disciples to teach, are Parts of our Faith. What his Doctrine was we find in no less than four Accounts of his Life and Preaching given in the Gospels. To what Bea lief his Disciples converted Men, we find in the Acts. What they taught Men after their Conversion, we read in the Epistles. These several · Heb. xii. 2o i
Books, which make up the New Testament, all * Christians allow to contain an original and undoubtedly true Account of our Religion. The only possible Question is, whether they contain a full and clear Account. Now such a one they without Question intended to give, for what could induce them designedly to give any other ? Besides, St. Luke, in the very Beginning of his Gospel, tells us, that baving a perfe&t Understanding of those Things which were believed amongst Christians, be had taken in Hand to set forth a Declaration of them, that those he wrote to might know the Certainty of what they had been inftru£ted in. And St. John, in the Conclusion of his, tells us, that though our Saviour did, and doubtless said also, many Things that were not written in that Book, yet these, says he, are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have Life through his Name ", This being then their Intention, can we possibly think they failed of it?. Two of the Evangelists at least were constantly present at our Saviour's Ditcourses, the other two heard them either from him, or his immediate Followers, and they had the Promise of his Spirit to bring all Things to ? John XX, 30, 3!!
their Remembrance whatsoever be had said unto theme. Could they after all forget any Part of this that was material and necessary? That any of them mould do fo is very strange: much more that they all should. That St. Luke, the Companion of the Apostles, and the Writer of their Acts, that he too, in relating what they taught their Converts, should unhappily omit any Thing essential, still adds to the Wonder: and that no one of the many Epistles written to instruct the Churches in their Faith and Duty, should supply this Defect, is beyond all Belief.
But supposing the Scripture ever so perfect in itself, yet the Church of Rome objects that it is not clear to us : even to the Learned many Things are hard to be understood; which therefore to the Unlearned must be impossible. Nay sometimes they tell us not one Sentence of it hath a Meaning, which by our own private Judgement we can be ceriain of. But surely the Apostles were not worse Writers with a divine Aflistance, than others commonly are without it. What they spoke and preached was. plain ; else they spoke to no Purpose: and why Thould not the same Things be as plain when they were written down ? Some Passages indeed * John xiv. 26: