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Chap. 1. both by the Scripture, and by common
First, the Scripture tells us, (1) There is a Way, which feems right to a Man, but the End of it are the Ways of Death.
Secondly. We cannot doubt, but those wicked Men, who fought the Blood of Christ, and of his Apostles (tho' they had feal'd their Do&trine and Innocence with uncontested Miracles) finn'd grievously by it. But these Wretches acted according to their Confcience: For (2) the Time comes, that whoever kills you, will think, that he does God Service. Therefore a Man's Confcience it felf may be, and is oft, a damnable and damning Sin. The fame may be faid of those, who put the Martyrs to Death, either in the primitive, or in latter Ages.
And from hence it is also plain, that Ignorance is oft a damnable and damning Sin. As it was both (3) in the People, and their Rulers, who put Chrift to Death: As well as in thofe, who imbrued their hands in the innocent Blood of the Apoftles, and of the Martyrs.
Thirdly, a Man's Confcience is nothing else, but the Judgment, or Opinion, which he has concerning his Duty. And how often is this Judgment, this Opinion, both rash, and criminal?
Fourthly, it is manifeft to common Senfe, that a Perfon's Ignorance, and his Confcience is a grievous Șin in all thefe Cafes:
(1) Prov. xvi. v. 25. (2) S. John xvi. v. 2. (3) Acts iii. v. 14, 15, 17.
ift. If it proceed from unreasonable and Chap. 1. unjuft Prejudices. Quest.7. 2dly, If it be joyn'd either with Obftinacy, or with a great Neglect, in Matters of Religion.
3dly, If it proceed from any wicked Paffion, as from Malice, Hatred, Envy, Rafhnefs, Pride, or a perverse Will.
And because wicked Men, who have not a due Regard to God, as Pagans, Jews, Turks, and Hereticks, fall under one or other of these Cafes; hence their Confcience is generally their greatest Crime.
A wicked Pagan thinks it is a Sin, not to worship the Gods of his Country. Will he then be fav'd by Idolatry? Or rather is not his Confcience a wicked and damnable Sin ?
A wicked few thinks it is a Sin, not to blafpheme Jefus. Will Blafphemy then fave him? Or is not his Confcience erroneous, obftinate, perverfe and wicked?
A wicked Turk thinks it is a Sin, to believe the Bible, and not bêlieve the Alcoran; to believe in Jefus Christ, and not to believe Mahomet. Will Impiety then fave him? Or is not his Confcience corrupted and diabolical?
A wicked Heretick thinks it is a Sin, to believe, as the Catholick Church does, Will he then be fav'd by being obftinate and malicious? Or rather is not his Confcience a Crime?
No Rule therefore can be more deceitful, and false, than that every one is fav'd, who lives according to his Confcience.
Eighth QUEST IO N.
Is not every one fav'd who lives well?
Iving well may be understood two different Ways. ift. In regard only to moral Honesty, betwixt Man and Man. 2dly, in regard to moral Honesty, and to all other Chriftian Duties neceffary to Salvation, of what kind foever they be, whether they have an immediate Relation to God, to our Neighbour, or to ourselves.
In this latter Sense of the Word, whoever lives well, is fav'd. Nay, tho' a Perfon has liv'd ill, if he repents as he ought, and afterwards obferves, till his Death, all Duties neceffary to Salvation; he is undoubtedly fav'd. For one of thefe Duties is to love God above all things. And how can this Love and Damnation be confiftent?
H. But moral Honesty, altho' it be neceffary, is not fufficient to Salvation. It is a neceffary Duty; but not the only Duty, which is neceffary. For he is morally boneft, who wishes the temporal Good of his Neighbour: Who neither injures him in Fact, nor in Defire: who pays his Debts: Who restores ill-gotten Goods, and injur'd Fame: Who is careful in the Obfervance of all Duties betwixt Man and Man. But more than this is neceffary to Salvation.
For (1) without Faith it is impoffible to please Chap.1. God. But moral Honefty may be without Queft. 8 Faith. It may be in any Communion of Jews, of Turks, of Infidels, and of Atheists. For he, who does not believe a God, may, by a Principle of Natural Honesty, be fo modeft, kind, and reasonable in his Behaviour, as neither to injure any one, nor to defire to do it. It is not therefore plainer, that two and two make four; than it is, that, fuppofing the Truth of the Holy Scripture, moral Honesty is not fufficient to Salvation.
III. But, if joyn'd with a Belief in Christ, is it not fufficient? Tis certain, it is not. FIRST, Because many other Duties are neceffary to Salvation:
As ift. Repentance, after the committing of any great Sin, S. Luke xiii. v. 3. 5.
2dly, The avoiding of Herefy and Schifm, Gal. v. v. 20.
3dly, The Receiving of Baptism, S. Mat. xxviii. v. 19. S. John_iii. v 5.
4thly, the being a Member of that Church, which is (2) the Pillar and the Support of Truth, and to which (3) the Lord added daily fuch as Should be fav'd.
SECONDLY, Because it is impoffible for Men to please God, without these Conditions:
The firft, and Fountain of all the reft, is that they love God (4) above all things; more than (5) Father, or Mother, or Wife, or Chil dren, or Brothers, or Sifters, or even their own Lives.
(1) Heb. xi. v. 6. (2) 1 Tim. iii. v. 15. (3) Acts ii.v. 47. (4) S. Mat. xxii. v. 37. 38. (5) S. Luke xiv. v. 26.
Chap. 1. The Second is, that they feek in the (6) fi Queft.8. place the Salvation of their Souls, and give the Preference before all other Concerns; th they should disoblige their neareft and be Friends by it, and should forfeit whatever dear to them in the World.
The third is, that they use their best endea vours, to know all neceffary Duties towards God, towards their Neighbour, and towards themselves, and that they faithfully comply with thefe Duties when known, S. Mat. vii. v. 27.
The fourth is, that they defire, and in effect procure, as far as their Circumftances permit, the Spiritual Good of their Neighbour; and that they promote his Salvation, as they ought to do their own. S. Mat. xxii v.39.
Has he not then a large fhare of Stupidity, who can perfwade himself, that every one is fav'd, who in general believes in Christ, and is morally boneft?
IV. But is not every one fav'd, who believes in Chrift, if he is morally honeft, and lives according to his Confcience? It is certain again, that he is not. Because his Confcience, in regard to many other Duties neceffary to Salvation, may be it felf a grievous Sin, as was fully prov'd in the Anfwer to the Seventh Question.
And if his Ignorance be criminal, in relation to any one Duty neceffary to Salvation; it is not plainer to a Christian, that two and two make four, than it is, that he is not in a State
(6) S. Mat: vi. v. 33.