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Commanded, they say; to obey them that bave the Rule over them in the Lord". And it is true, the teaching of the Ministers of the Gofpel ought to be attended upon : their Doctrine followed in all clear Cafes, and their Judgement respected even in doubtful ones. But till we are no more bound to follow our fpiritual Guides into Opinions plainly falfe, or Practices plainly finful, than to follow a common Guide down a Precipice, or into the Sea, let our own Knowledge of the Way be ever fo little, or the other's Pretences to infallible Skill in it ever fo great. The Rule therefore for the anlearned and ignorant in Religion is this. Let each Man improve his own Judgement and increase his own Knowledge as much as he can : and be fully afsured that God will expect no more. In Matters, for which he must rely on Authority, let him rely on the Authority of that Church which God's Providence hath placed him under, rather than another which he hath nothing to do with; and trust those, who, by encouraging free Inquiry, appear to love Truth, rather than such as, by requiring all their Doctrines to be implicitly obeyed, seem conscious that they will not bear to be fairly tried. But never let * Heb. xiii. 17.
him prefer any Authority before that which is the highest of all Authority, the written Word of God. This therefore let us all carefully ftudy, and not doubt but that whatever Things in it are neceffary to be believed, are easy to be understood. This let us firmly rely on, and trust to its Truth, when it declares itself able to make us wise unto Salvation, perfect, and thoroughly furnished unto all good Works *. Let others build on Fathers and Popes, on Traditions and Councils, what they will: let us continue firm, as we are, on the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets; Jesus Christ being the chief Corner Stone'.
* 2 Tim. iii. 13-17,
: * Eph. ii. 20.
i Per. v. 12. Exhorting and testifying that this is the true Grace of God wherein ye stand.
T HE general Rule of Conduct for Men
to go by is Reason : contrary to what
this plainly teaches, we neither can nor ought to believe; but beyond what it teaches, on sufficient Authority, we justly may. Pere suasion founded on Authority is called Faith : and that which is founded on the Authority of our blessed Lord, Christian Faith.
Now the Rule of this Faith, the only Means by which we, who live so many Ages after him, can learn with Certainty what Things he hath required as necessary, and what he hath forbidden as unlawful, I have proved to be the holy Scriptures. For these, which confessedly give us a true Account of Christianity, do also, Vol. VI.
as I have shown to you, give us a full and fufficiently clear Account of it: and there is none whatever besides that can be equally depended on. Other Antiquity compared with that of Scripture is modern: Tradition in its own Nature foon grows uncertain : and Infallibility is no where to be found upon Earth. The only Thing then we have to rely on in Christianity, is the written Word of God. Whatever this forbids is finful; whatever it requires as a Condition of Salvation is necessary : whatever it does not se require, is not neceffary. By these Rules therefore of Reafon and Scripture, let us now proceed, as was proposed in the second Place, to try the chief of those Doctrines which distinguish the Church of Rome from ours.
To begin with that which is naturally first, the Object of Worship. We worship God, and pray to him through the Mediation of Jesus Christ. This they acknowledge to be right. The Saints in Heaven we love and honour as Members of the same mystical Body with ourfelves. The holy Angels we reverence as the Ministers of the Divine Will. But as for praying to either, there being no Argument for it. in Reason, nor Precept in Scripture, nor indeed Example in Antiquity for at least 300 Years