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folly; and to neglect doing this, when the question is concerning religious truth, would be folly and wickedness combined together. Finally, we cheerfully leave you to follow what course you please, and to whatever extent you please, provided only that you give us such satisfaction as you are capable of affording on the subjects which I mentioned in my former letter.
I am, Rev. Sir, &c.
TO JAMES BROWN, Esq. fc.
DISPOSITIONS FOR RELIGIOUS INQUIRY.
The dispositions which you profess, on the part of your friends as well as yourself, I own, please me, and animate me to undertake the task you impose upon me.
Nevertheless, availing myself of the liberty of speech which you and your friends allow me, I am compelled to observe, that there is nothing in which men are more apt to labour under a delusion, than by imagining themselves to be free from religious prejudices, sincere in seeking after, and resolved to embrace the truth of religion, in opposition to their preconceived opinions and worldly interests. How many imitate Pilate, who, when he had asked our Saviour the question; What is truth? presently went out of his
company, before he could receive an answer to it! John, xviii. 38. How many others resemble the rich young man, who, having interrogated Christ; What good things shall I do that I may have eternal life? when this Divine Master answered him : If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast and give to the poor ;-went away sorrowful! Matt. xix. 22. Finally, how many more act like certain presumptuous disciples of our Lord, who, when he had propounded to them a mystery beyond their conception, that of the Real presence, in these words: My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed ;-said, this is a hard saying; who can hear it ?-and went back and walked no more with him! John, vi. 56. O! if all Christians, of the different sects and opinions, were but possessed of the sincerity, disinterestedness, and earnestness to serve their God and save their souls, which a Francis Walsingham, kinsman to the great statesman of that name, a Hugh Paulin Cressey, Dean of Leighlin and Prebendary of Windsor, and an Antony Ulric, Duke of Brunswick and Lunenburgh, prove themselves to have been possessed of, the first in his Search into Matters of Religion, the second in his Exomologesis, or Motives of Conversion, &c. and the last in his Fifty Reasons ; how soon would all and every one of our controversies cease, and all of us be united in one faith, hope, and charity! I will here transcribe, from the Preface to the Fifty Reasons, what the illustrious relative of his Majesty says, concerning the dispositions with which he set about inquiring into the grounds and differences of the several systems of Christianity, when he began to entertain doubts concerning the truth of that iu
which he had been educated, namely, Lutheranism. He says— First, I earnestly implored the aid and grace of the Holy Ghost, and with all my power begged the light of true faith, from God, the Father of lights,' &c.— Secondly, I made a strong resolution, by the grace of God, to avoid sin, well knowing that Wisdom will not enter into a corrupt mind, nor dwell in a body subject to sin,' Wisd. i. 4. • and I am convinced, and was so then, that the reason why so many are ignorant of the true faith, and do not embrace it, is, because they are plunged in several vices, and particularly carnal sins.'• Thirdly, I renounced all sorts of prejudices, whatever they were, which incline men to one Religion more than another, and which, unhappily, I might have formerly espoused; and I brought myself to a perfect indifference, so as to be ready to embrace whichsoever the grace of the Holy Ghost and the light of reason should point out to me, without any regard to the advantages and inconveniences that might attend it in this world.'— Lastly, I entered upon this deliberation and this choice, in the manner I should have wished to have done it at the hour
of my death, and in a full conviction that, at the * day of judgment, I must give an account to God
why I followed this Religion in preference to all the rest.”—The princely inquirer finishes this account of himself with the following awful reflec. tions : • Man has but one soul, which will be eternally either damned or saved. What doth it avail a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? Matt. xvi. 26.—Eternity knows no end.
The course of it is perpetual. It is a series of 1
unlimited duration. There is no comparison between things infinite and those which are not so. O! the happiness of the eternity of the Saints ! 0! the wretchedness of the eternity of the damned. One of these two eternities awaits us !' I remain, Sir, your's, &c.
TO JAMES BROWN, Esq.
METHOD OF FINDING OUT THE TEUE RELIGION.
It is obvious to common sense, that in order to find out any hidden thing, or to do any difficult thing, we must first discover, and then follow the proper method for such purpose. If we do not take the right road to any distant place, it cannot be expected that we should arrive at it. If we get hold of a wrong clue, we shall never extricate ourselves from a labyrinth. Some persons choose their religion as they do their clothes, by fancy. They are pleased, for example, with the talents of a preacher, when presently they adopt his Creed. Many adhere to their religious system, merely because they were educated in it, and because it was that of their parents and family'; which, if it were a reasonable motive for their resolution, would equally excuse Jews, Turks, and Pagans, in adhering to their respective impieties, and would
impeach the preaching of Christ and his Apostles. Others glory in their religion, because it is the one established in this their country, so renowned for science, literature, and arms; not reflecting that the polished and conquering nations of antiquity, the Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, were left, by the inscrutable judgments of God, in darkness and the shadow of death, whilst poor oppressed and despised people, on the banks of the Jordan, were the only depository of divine truth, and the sole truly enlightened nation. But, far the greater part even of Christians, of every denomination, make the business of eternity subservient to that of time, and profess the religion s which suits best with their interest, their reputation, and their convenience. I trust that none of your respectable society fall under any of these descriptions. They all have, or fancy that they have, a rational method of discovering religious truth; in other words, an adequate Rule of Faith. Before I enter into any disquisition on this all-important controversy concerning the Right Rule of Faith, on which the determination of every other depends, I will lay down three foundamental maxims, the truth of which, I apprehend, no rational Christian will dispute.
First, Our Divine Master, Christ, in establishing a Religion here on earth, to which all the nations of Åt were invited, Matt. xviii. 19., left some RULE ør Method, by which those persons who sincerely seek for it, may with certainty find it.
Secondly, This Rule or Method must be SECURE and never failing ; so as not to be ever liable to lead