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“ Errors in the Countries around us. And “ where Truth happens to be received for “ the Sake of Authority, there is just so much “ diminish'd from the Love of Truth, and “the Glory of Reason, and the Acceptable“ness of Men to God, as there is attributed s to Authority”.
“It was Authority, which crush'd the noble “ Sentiments of SOCRATES, and others, in “ the heathen World ; and prevented the Re“ception of them among Men. It was Au“thority, which hinder'd the Voice of the “ Son of God himself from being heard; and “ which alone stood in Opposition to his pow“ erful Arguments, and his divine Doctrine ; “ whilst it was a more moving Question, a“mong the People, to ask, do any of the “ Pharisees, or Doctors of the Mofaick Law, “ believe in him?: than to ask, whether ever “ Man spake or lived, or work'd Wonders like “ him? and whilst Excommunication, or being “put out of the Synagogue, was the Mark “ set upon those, who should embrace his Re“ ligion. It was Authority among Heathens, “which afterwards put all the Stop to Christ's “ Profession, which this World could put.
“And when Chriftians were increased into a “ Majority; and came to think the same Me “thod to be the only proper one, for the “ Advantage of their Cause, which had been “ the Enemy and Destroyer of it; then, it “ was the Authority of Christians, which, by “ Degrees, not only laid waste the Honour “ of Christianity, but well nigh extinguish'd “ it from amongst Men. It was Authority, “ which brought in all that mèrciless Heap of « useless and burthensome Fopperies ; Prayers “ in an unknown Tongue; Prayers tó Mul“titudes of Beings; and the whole Load of “ Abfurdities and Depravations of true Reli“gion, under which the Christian People “ were in Captivity, till they became gross “ and weighty' enough at last to break the "Props that supported them. It was Autho“rity, which would have prevented all “ Reformation, where it is; and which has 5 put a Barrier against it, wherever it is not. “ It was human Authority in Religion, which “ alone set up itself against the Beginnings of “this Church of England itself; and which " alone now contests with it the Foundation,
upon which it stands. This Authority was
" at first exercised in little by those, who “ were so far from pretending to such Enor“ mities, as it afterwards arrived at, that they “ would have detested and abhor'd the “ Thought of them. And so it will be for “ ever, and every where. The calling in " the Assistance of mere Authority, even a" gainst Errors, or Trifles, in religious Matse ters, at first, will by insensible Degrees come “ to the very fame Issue, that it has been hi" thertoo seen to end in. And how, indeed, “can it be expected, that the same Thing, " which has in all Ages, and in all Countries, “ been hurtful to Truth and true Religion, “ among Men, should in any Age, or in any “ Country, become a Friend and Guardian
of them ; unless it can be shewn that the “ Nature of mere Aüthority, or the Nature “ of Man, or, both, are entirely alter’d from '? what they have hitherto been? For it is not “ in Religion, as it is in the civil Concerns of « human Life. The End of human Society is “ answer'd by outward Behaviour, and A&tions; “ which therefore ought to be restrain’d and " and govern’d by civil Authority. But the “ End of Religion, and of the Christian
“ Religion, in particular, is destroy'd, just in “ Proportion to the Influence of great Names; “and to the Effect of worldly Motives, and “ mere Authority of Men, separated from the “ Arguments of Reason, and the Motives and * Maxims of the Gospel itself.
II. That the Apostles ground and prove Christianity
from the Old Teftament