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DISCOURSE LIII.

1 THESSALONIANS I. 9, 10.

For they themselves Shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

IN the verse before the text the Apostle tells the Thessalonians, that not only the word of the Lord had founded out from them in Macedonia and Achaia, but their faith also towards God was spread abroad in every place; so that there is no occasion, adds the Apostle, for me to say any thing of the doctrines delivered by me, and received by you : the thing is well known, and notorious to all the world : They themselves thew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you.

It is evident from hence what notion the world entertained of the Christian religion, and the principal doctrines of it, in the earliest days. All whọ had heard of our Apostle's teaching knew his business to be to turn men from idols to serve the living God, to give evidence of the resurrection of

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Christ Jesus from the dead, and to establish a certain expectation of his coming again with power and glory to judge the world. This common report St. Paul allows to be so juft and adequate an account of his doctrine, as to leave no room to enlarge or correct it: In every place your faith to God-ward is Spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

If we consider this early account of the Christian religion, so universally received, and so well approved by the Apostle, we shall find it to consift of two principal parts: the first relating to the service owing to the living God; the second to our faith in Christ, and our hope and expectation grounded on that faith.

Religion, considered under the notion of a service we owe to God, can be no other than natural religion, or true uncorrupted deism. This was the old original religion of mankind, but had been so corrupted and abused, that there was hardly any sign of it left when our Saviour appeared in the world. However rightly some few might think, yet they found themselves obliged to follow the world, and practise with the vulgar. Not many attempted, and none succeeded in a reformation of the public religion. No antiquity affords an instance of any people, great or small, who served God upon the prin. ciples of natural religion. The only general and effectual reformation of the world was brought about by the preaching of the Gospel ; which revived and introduced the true ancient religion of nature, and prepared men for the reception of it; and has, by the additional supports of revelation, maintained it

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