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i' Pet. v. ia.
Exhorting and testifying that this is the true
Grace of God wherein ye jiand.
THE Happiness of all Creatures depends intirely on their Obedience to his Will whose sovereign 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 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 considerate 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 Reason to use this Care, and make such Enquiry amidst the different Paths, which different Persons point out to us, as will give us Cause to be satisfied we chuse the right. Now of all the different Opinions which have 'risen concerning the Christian Religion, there have been few so remarkable as. that which divides this Part of the World into Popish and Protestant. Those of the former Communion, it seems, think us of the latter quite out of the Way to Salvation, and accordingly are unwearied in persuading, as they have Opportunity, the Members of our Church, especially the lower and more ignorant Part of them, to quit it for theirs. The Necessity of doing this, thdy insist 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 Goa\ wherein ye Jiand. To proceed regularly in this Matter, I shall
I. Enquire what is the Rule of Christian t*aith and Life; and
II. Examine by this Rule the peculiar Doctrines and Practices of the Romifo 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 Jesus 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 Belief his Disciples converted Men, we find in the Acts. What they taught Men after their Converfion, we read in the Epistles. These several
» jjeb.jcii. .1.
U 4 Books 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 givg, for what could induce them designedly to give any other? Besides, St. Luke, in the very Beginning of his Gospel, tells us, that having a perfefl Understanding os those Things which were believed amongst Christians, he had taken in Hand to set forth a Declaration os them, that those he wrote to might know the Certainty os what they had been instructed in. And St. John, in the Con,, elusion of his, tells us, that though our Saviour fid, 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 fhen their Intention, can we possibly think they failed of it? Two of the Evangelists at least were constantly present at our Saviour's Dfscourses, the other two heard them either from him, or his immediate Followers, and they had she Promise of his Spirit to bring all Things to ? Jeljpjpct 30,3?.
fbeis Remembrance whatsoever he had said unto them c. Could they after all forget any Part of this that was material and necessary? That any pf them should do so 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 certain of. But surely the Apostles were not worse Writers with a divine Assistance, than others commonly are without it. What they spoke and preached was plain; else they spoke to no Purpose: and why mould not the same Things be as plain when. |hey were written down? Some Passages indeed 1 Jolpi*iv. ?6}