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II.

SER M. self; and the indispensable Obligation of the

Practice of all the Duties commanded in it; much of this fatal Consequence of it might have been hindred; and very much of the Scandal redounding from it, have been prevented. But there hath ever been an Itch, in some or other of Power and Authority, to alter the Terms of Love and Concord settled by Christ ; by framing some new Character, and some fresh Note of Distinction, among Christians : And

his hath ever begot Opposition ; and Controversies managed (on all sides) with Aggravations and Provocations; and this hath brought forth Variances, and Passion, and Hatred, in the Breasts of those who are sure to be condemned by their own Law, for want of Love and Charity. And it ever so happens, as it hath been manifested by constant Experience, that more Violence, (which hath now. for many Ages passed for Zeal, That more Violence, I say,) is shewn for these Additions, and for these lesser, and undetermined Matters, in which the Difference lies, than for the niost fundament tal Points of Faith, or the most necessary Points of Practise. In the Practical Duties, especially, Men seem easy enough: and would fain have it thought that the vilest, and most enormous Crimes are more tolerable in themselves; and more inoffensive and harmless to

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public Society; than a Difference in the least 8 ERM. of their Additions.

The greatest (I would to God I could say the only) Instances of this, are to be seen where the Romijl Religion is spread. Alk one of that Religion, why so much Barbarity and Inhumanity is exercised; and an eternal War sworn against some sort of Christians ? Why are they hated, tormented, banished, imprisoned, and put to Death ? Do they not believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ? Do they not profess it to be their Faith, that there is but one God; that this God sent his Son Jesus Christ into the World to save Sinners; that He lived and died, and arose again and afcended up into Heaven to this Purpose ? And that He will come again to judge the World; and that there is a future State of Rewards and Punishments ? Or, are they wicked and debauched, immoral and vicious to that degree, that you fear the Vengeance of Heaven will fall on you, if you do not shew your

Deteftation of them? What Answer will you receive from him? There are few of them that would blush to tell you: (and yet who could do it without blushing ?) “ These

are not the Things we so much concern our« felves about. These Persons you speak of, " believe all this and more; and their Conversa" tions may perhaps be regular and exact. But

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SERM." this is not enough. They do not believe the

Change of the Elements into Christ's natuural Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

They do not hold themselves obliged to be" lieve whatever the Church shall recommend « to them. They do not believe the Pope, or General Councils, infallible. They hold

not the State of Purgatory. They will not « invoke Saints and Angels: Or pray for the « Dead. : And therefore they are thus used.” Now these, and the like, are their own Inventions, and Additions to the Law of Christ : and yet these Articles are the Standard of their Love, or Hatred; and always determine their

Behaviour to other Christians, : whether it shall be human or inhuman, ciyil or barbarous.

But we must not be so partial to ourselves, as to confine this Observation to that Church; or to such Additions, or Points not essential, as have been determined by it. I fear, it will be found, that too many who profess to have reformed from that Church, still retain too much of the Spirit of it; and too often make their own Systems and Notions the Measure of their

Affections; and confine their cordial Love, and Christian Charity, within the Bounds of

their own Creed, or Manner of Worship. It is certainly true, that there have not been

greater Hatreds, or more unchristian Malice, amongst Christians, than what have sprung

from

from this Root: And therefore, this unhappy SER M. Consequence of Christianity must be charged, JI. in

great Part, upon those Christians, who, m not being content with the Simplicity of Chriftianity, as they found it in the Gospel, have been perpetually making Additions to it, according to their own various Opinions, or Designs.

5. Fifthly, Another Consideration near akin to this, is, that this Unhappiness amongst Christians hath chiefly proceded from Men's mistaking the Nature, and main Design, of

Christianity. Did Men but understand and : consider that it was not the great Design of

the Christian Religion to make all the World

of one Opinion, in Things of little Moment : ; but that it was reveled from Heaven, chiefly

to restore the Worship of the one Supreme God, in Spirit and in Truth; and to teach Men to deny Ungodliness and worldly Lufts, and to live. Sobera ly, righteously, and godly, in this World, they could not act the Part, they so often do. Did Men but consider, that the great Branch of Christian Duty, is Love, and Good-nature, and Humanity; and the distinguishing Marks of a Christian, an universal Charity; they could not but own that Jefus Christ came to plant and propagate these in the World. And then, they would abhor the Thoughts of making any thing in his Institution an En

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S ERM. gine of Strife, and Malice, and Inhumanity.

Then, they would not think all Things lawvim ful against those that differ from them; nor

themselves obliged to crush and ruine them.
Then, the Contention between Men of vari-
ous Minds would not be, who should have
the Power of oppressing their Brethren: But
the Contest would be, who should Love
most; and who should give the most expressive,
Demonstrations of an unconfined Good-nature,
and an unbounded Charity. But there, I fear,
are but Dreams and Wishes !

It would sound something strange to say
that the chief Design of Christianity is too
plain to be understood, and too evident to be
seen: And yet it is true, that the
of this makes it the less attended to. Such a Love
there is in Men to something not so eafy to be
understood ; nor of such Importance : and such a
readiness to find out other Designs of Christianity,
more agreeable to their own worldly Projects !

Can any of all the fiery Zealots in the
World fhew us any Design more worthy of
the Son of God's descending from Heaven,
than the planting of Love, and Peace, on Earth?
more beneficial to the whole Race of Man-
kind; more for the Ease and internal Quiet of
our own Breafts; or a better Preparative for
the calm and serene Joys of Heaven; for the
Fruition of that God who is Love, and of the

Company

very Plainness

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