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teputation upon the Gospel itself. This is so s ERM; true, that, if


their little Stories of Persons, and Things, many Years after Jesus Chrift; their Harangues about Absurdities, and Contradictions, of some weak and pasfionate Men, which are not in the Gospel ; their long and jocose Accounts of Modern Miracles, and Tricks, played to support Designs, which the Gospel doth, not only not own, but, condemn: I say, that, if these be all taken away; together with a Word or two of mysterious Reasoning, (of which the Bulk of Mankind are not Judges ;) nothing of Importa ance will be found to remain against the Gospel itself, or those Evidences which support it. And this must be ever accounted a vast Adyantage to Christianity; as it was delivered, by Christ, to the World:

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Concerning impartial Enquiry in Religion : and

the two Extremes of implicit Subjection and Infidelity.


Preached at St. Peter's Poor, in Jan. 1712-13

I THESS. v. 21.

Prove all Things : bold fajt that which is good.




N my Former Discourses upon these Words,

I. I have, under the first General Head, shewn you the Duty, and Nature, of a Just Examination into our Religion.

II. Under the second, I have considered, on one side the Conduct of those profeffed Christians, who would impose their own Additions to the Gospel, as of equal Importance with it; and this by way of such Authority, and Infallibility, as to demand an Implicit Subjection, without any Enquiries: And, on the other hand, the Conduct of some others, in the contrary Extreme, who seem to have rejected the whole of Christianity, under the


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Shew, but without the Reality, of Impartials ERM. and Just Examination.

III. I propose now, to draw some useful Inferences, or Lessons, from what hath been already said.

1. The first that offers itself, is this, That it is but too probable, that many, and especially the Chief, of Those who are in the former of the Two Extremes, which I have treated of, have no more real Belief of the Truth of the Gospel; than Those who professedly reject it. I would not be understood to mean, that there may not be many simple, and otherwise honest Men, acting, under These, for the bringing all the World to Implicit Subjection; who may think that they truly believe the Gospel, and are doing God Service: Or that there may not be many sincere Persons amongst those who profess this Implicit Subjection. But, if you examine into the great Worldly Interest; the Riches, the Power, the Grandeur, that are supported meerly by these Additions ; as well as into the Cunning and Understanding of Those, who enjoy the greatest Share of these Advantages; and consider how plain a Contradiction, their whole Scheme is, to Christianity itself: You cannot forbear suspecting, that all their Zeal against others; all their Persecution

SE R M. of those they call Heretics ; all their Madnes

ses, and Extravagancies; their Inquisitions, and Tortures; are founded upon Infidelity : and that nothing could induce them to be guilty of such Proceedings, but an Opinion that thiş World is their all; and that there is no Account to be given in another.

That Truth is not their Concern, is very plain : Because Truth neither wants such Advocates, as outward Torments; nor is ever helped by them. An outward Profession may be obtained and forced by them. But then this will be only Hypocrisy: For the inward Persuasion will be rather diverted another way, than towards any thing that is to be worked into Men by such Methods. Fire and Faggot; Imprisonment, and Confiscation of Goods ; Hardship and Pressure ; Hunger and Thirst; Cold and Nakedness; may make Human Nature yield; and extort a Confession from the Lips : But the Heart will be farther from going along with it, then it would be, were the Methods of Gentleness, and Goodness, applied to it. The only thing, therefore, aimed at, by the great Patrons of Implicit Submision, is an outward, uniform, Profession of the same things; that is, an Agreement in Sounds : Which is no more to Truth itself, than the most distant thing in the



World. Were the Belief of the Truth of the SERM. Gospel, the Matter aimed at; or Faith in Jesus Christ, the great Design ; nothing of all this m could be seen in the World. But because so much of this is seen; that whoever will profess the same Things, and utter the same Sounds in Public, is safe, and well received by those who gain most by Implicit Subjection: Therefore, I say, is there little Reason to judge that any sincere Belief of the Gospel itself is either embraced, or aimed at, by Them.

This is so apparent in all those Countries, where Implicit Subjection is at it's Heighth, and yet Polite Learning flourishes in any Degree; that it is a very common and professed, as well as profane, Notion amongst themselves, that Faith and Folly go together. The true Account of which, is this, That they think of no other Faith, but that which is conversant about the monstrous Opinions, and ridiculous or absurd Tenets, which support the Power and Riches of their Eccleßastical Governors : And have lost all Regard to the Gofpel, in it's Simplicity; and all Desire to enquire into it. For,

2. As there is little Reason to suspect any true Faith amongst those, who, either gain so much of worldly good things, or, avoid so many worldly Evils, by implicit Subjection :

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