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it is in vain to apologize for Christianity, till we shew what Christianity is, and have made it evident, that we have a common Christianity. If the new Jerusalem continues as much embroiled within itself, as the old, it is easy to foresee the success of its besiegers. The candid part of mankind now plainly perceive, the Deists can no longer, either maintain their own principles, nor any otherwise materially wound Christianity, than through the dissensions of its adherents. The Scriptures, they say, and we own it, command us to stand fast in the faith,' and tell us, 'the faith is one;' but this, they farther urge, cannot be the command of God, since the same Scriptures, from which we extract our various systems of faith, are found, in fact, and by experience, to be either too dark or too undeterminate, to give mankind any one system. Hence they insist, that 'the unity of faith,' spoken of in Scripture is unattainable; and consequently, the command, that all should stand fast in one faith impracticable and unreasonable. To prove that the Scripture is sufficiently decisive on the great articles of the religion it reveals, and therefore that the command is reasonable, and worthy of God, is the chief purport of the following discourses. How far the author hath succeeded in his attempt, you, gentlemen, will be the best able to judge. If by his poor endeavours it shall appear, to the satisfaction of a reader content to follow him through a work so short and summary, that the Scriptures are sufficiently clear and determinate on the great points of faith, though controverted among the professors of Christianity; the world will then know where to look for the source of its own disputes; and will be forced to find it in the violence of its own passions, which it will not subdue; in the blindness of its own prejudices, which it will not suspect ; and in the imbecility of its own reason, which, though men may idolize to the full extent of their vanity, hath suffered them to differ as widely in all other branches of knowledge, wherewith interest or inclination hath had any opportunity of interfering. As to the command enforcing unanimity in the faith, the disobedience, in that respect, of persons professing Christianity, ought no more to derogate from the reasonableness of the injunction, than their disobedience to the decalogue is allowed to do from the goodness and

utility of its precepts. Indeed experience hath made it but too manifest, that the different degrees of latitude, taken by the professors of our religion, either in thinking or acting, proceed from the different degrees of indulgence, wherewith they treat their constitutional tempers, their own natural inclinations and aversions; and that they call that freedom of thinking, whatsoever it is, which licenses their liberty of acting as they please. If variety of interpretations, more or less remote from the simple interpretation of the words, are put on the doctrinal part of revelation; variety of interpretations, more or less deviating from the strictness of the expressions, are also put on its moral precepts. But whereas there is no receiving the doctrines of Christianity in their genuine purity, without, at the same time, receiving its injunctions in their utmost severity; a latitude of interpretation must therefore be found out, which may bend the former to our own reason, and the latter to our own inclination; and then, but not till then, we are our own teachers and lawgivers, our own masters and governors.

Whether the world, according to the fastidious maxim of some men, is really overstocked with sermons, &c. or not, the clergy, nevertheless, go on making new ones every day, and preaching them, on a supposition, it seems, that they are not absolutely unnecessary. If the neglect of them only is considered, all that are already in being may be burnt, without a very sensible loss, at least to the objectors, who would disrelish even a novel, were it entitled a sermon. But if the expediency of such compositions, as means of instruction and reformation, is to be estimated by the ignorance, the errors, and vices, of mankind, it may be modestly enough presumed, we are not, to this day, sufficiently furnished. Are the clergy, because one part only in four of the seed falls on good ground, and the other three on bad, to sow no more? or, in case the methods, whereby conviction and persuasion were effected in one age, do not succeed in another, of a quite different turn and genius, are our teachers to shut up their mouths, and lay aside their pens, rather than attempt the great work they are intrusted with, in a method more suitable to the present times ? Epictetus tells us, every thing hath two handles; one,

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whereby it may be easily seized and managed; and another, of which the contrary is true. The same may be said of every man; nay, of every age of men. Two centuries ago, there was no convincing any man, although on points that now seem too obvious to need a demonstration, but by mode and figure; whereas, at present, an argument in that form would be taken for a spell by some, and for a nonsensical piece of affectation by others. We, who are old, can remember the time, when it was customary with the clergy successfully' to persuade men by the terrors of the Lord;' but the ears of this age are too delicate, or our consciences too raw, to endure with patience an application so caustic; and therefore we say to our teachers, as the Israelites did to Isaiah and the other prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things; speak unto us smooth things; prophesy deceits.' But what saith God to that prophet, in reference to this very people? Cry aloud, spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.' How exactly parallel is our case to that of the Israelites! We call for smooth things, and deceits, as they did; but where is the trumpet loud enough to rouse us, unless that which shall raise the dead? For some time past, not only the controversy about morality, but the disputes also between Christian and Deist, and between the Orthodox and Ariaus, have been shamefully abandoned to the futilities of a feebler philosophy, than even the false wisdom exploded by Christianity of old. The dictates of God himself have been preposterously submitted to the weak reasonings, and even to the vicious prejudices of men, pretending to believe the Scriptures, although they suffer the contents of the sacred volumes to interfere, at best, but as seconds to their own opinions. In the mean time, every one, having dressed out religion in a garb of his own fancying, hath given his opposites an occasion to tear it in pieces, while they pretended to tear away the disguise only. Out of this confusion have arisen, first, doubts and diffidence; from thence infidelity, and a contempt of all things sacred; and from thence again, such a universal scene of pollution and wickedness, as shocks the eyes of one, who is but moderately criminal, to survey: for what is to be seen in it, but kingdoms given

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up to faction and ambition; estates, to gaming and sharping; oaths, to bribery and corruption; and the consciences and persons of both sexes, to prostitutions too flagitious to be named? Shall not God visit for these things?' or, till he does, shall not his ministers cry aloud against them, as well in the principle as the practice, if, speaking in a lower voice, they have not been heard? Shall they not 'set their faces like a flint,' and whet their words to daggers, when an age like this is to be reproved? Will splitting of hairs, or going half the way, with heretics, a method too long tried, resettle us all in the truth? Or will feebly moralizing on the beauty of virtue, and the deformity of vice, in pursuit of the present affected practice, reform a generation so hardened in wickedness?

No, Gentlemen; such expedients, you are sensible, can never answer the ends proposed. Success is not to be hoped for on all occasions, from the pursuit of any one method. If there is any good to be done by preaching, although the principles are not to be changed, yet surely the manner must be diversified, according as the genius and disposition of mankind vary. The errors and vices of one age differ so widely, either in substance or circumstance, from those of another, that to reason always on the same points, and from the same topics; or to attempt persuasion, on all occasions, in the same strain; is to talk wide of those we address to; is to speak to them in a language they either do not understand, or feel. Is there a possibility, I mean with any prospect of success, of accommodating the same species of admonition to those who tremble, and to those who presume? Or, is a debate, especially on a religious subject, to be managed in the same manner with a modest and candid inquirer after truth, and with a still impudent, though detected, sophister? We should, I humbly conceive, neither presumptuously dictate to the former, nor meanly waste our arguments on the latter. The first merits all our affection, be his present opinions never so detestable in our eyes. But it is our duty to drag out the last from the coverture of his impious arts, and to scourge him with scorpions in the sight of his deluded admirers, that, if they did not choose him for a guide, because they previously knew him to be a deceiver, they may learn to

abhor and fly from him, as they would do from a person infected with the plague.

As to men of but moderate talents for controversy, who, although unhappily entangled in the new opinions, do nevertheless still retain an honest regard for the truth, ought they not to hear and read, as well on the one side as the other? Since their modesty makes them the disciples of others, it ought, one should think, to convince them, they may possibly have made a wrong choice of teachers, Such men as, for want of sufficient literature, are unable to go through with a work so very difficult, even to the learned, and therefore must, in some measure, depend on others, ought undoubtedly to listen with the one ear as well as with the other, and to try all things,' that they may, in the end, 'hold fast that which is good.'

They may easily judge, whom they ought to follow, by the fruits of their instructions. Is not virtue banished, wherever piety hath been extinguished? And what remains of piety are to be found, where the new opinions have taken place? It is evident to every common observer, that respect for the holy Scriptures, for the sacraments, for the sabbath, and for the sanctions of religion, hath retired from the minds of mankind, in proportion as the novel doctrines have advanced; and that dissolution of manners hath followed the dissipated faith, and licentious principles, of our new apostles. Their disciples need be referred no farther than to their own breasts, for an experimental proof of this. Why then will men, still retaining some tincture of a good meaning, give up their minds to leaders so long accustomed to treat their own understandings with pernicious novelties, that it is manifestly become unsafe to be within the obnoxious air of their conversation, which infects as fast as it is breathed? Avicenna makes mention of a girl, who, having been fed, from her infancy, on certain species of nutritive poison, came at length to have a constitution incapable of bearing any other kind of food, extremely distempered in itself, and contagious to all who approached her. He does not tell us, however, that she, like the intellectual plagues above-mentioned, was fond of a crowd, or shewed any industry to infect others, In this particular, our new teachers rather resemble the Talus of

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