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the more imposing. The more any man's religion is his own, the more he is concerned for it, but cool and indifferent enough for that which is God's.
I will give you a few instances to thew you the truth of this : that the more false any man's religion is, the more furious he will be in maintaining it, Aets xxiii. 12. We read of fome men, that out of their great zeal for the mosaical law, banded together and bound themselves with an oath, that they would neither eat nor drink, till they had killed Paul. And i Kings xviii. we read of Baal’s priests, how that they cut themselves after their manner, with knives and lances, till the blood gushed out upon them, and cryed from morning to evening, O Baal, hear us, &c.
In like manner, we read of the worshippers of Diana, Aets xix. that they were full of wrath and confufion, crying out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. Also, we read of Balaam, the false prophet, Numb. xxiii, how he built altars, and offered facrifice from one place to another, thinking by these to bribe God ; and at laft, built seven altars, and prepared feven bullocks and seven rams, hoping, by these to effect his design : fo likewise we read of those that burnt incense to the queen of heaven, Jer. xliv. 17. They confess this practice of burning incense to the queen of heaven, and serving other gods, whom neither they, nor their fathers had known : and these furious zealots do such things in pursuit of their devotion, that the reason of mankind condemned. They made a religion to themselves, and then did fuch things in pursuance of
their wild and bloody devotion, as the very reason of mankind startled at ; as you may see, Jer. xxxii. 35. They made their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech ; a thing which God commanded them not, neither came it into his mind, Ezek. viii. 13, 14. You read of feveral a. bominations committed by the children of Israel, which were' represented to the prophet, in the dark. These men even spoiled the good nature they were born with, by cruel practice, and they became the worse for their religion.
I do conclude, that far better is nature alone, take it as it is, than that religion which is infincere and false. I say it again, better nature alone, though debased, abused and neglected, the very refuse of God's creation, than that' religion, which is false and infinçere. For, Aristotle, who is credible in matters of nature and reason, he hath observed, that man, by his nature and constitution, is a mild and gentle creature, fitted for converse, and delighting in it. Certainly, were I'to take an eftimate of christianity, either from popery, or any of the grois fuperftitions of the world, and the affected modes of persons, I would return to philofophy agaiil, and Jet christianity alone. For philosophy, so far as it goes, is fincere and true, and attains, good.effects : it mollifies mens spirits, and rids them of all barbarity. True indeed, it is fort of fupernatural reve. lation, and these things the princes of the world did not know ; (as we read, 1 Cor. ii. 14.) because they are spiritually difcerned, that is, (according to the sense of the text) they are known only by reve
Jation from God. For he there doth give an account, that as no man knows the things of a man, but the spirit of a man which is in him ; so no man knows the things of God, but the Spirit of God : that is, the results of the divine will are not known, unless they be revealed by the Spirit of God. This is the true meaning of this text; and it is ill brought, to prove that a man in the use of reason and natural light, cannot understand ought that belongs to his falvation, or the sense of any text of scripture. I am very confident, the apostle never fays, nor means any such thing. But as the secrets of a man are known only to the man himself, till he doth reveal them; so the secrets of God are known only to God, till God reveal them, and till then we are not charged with them; for negative infidelity damns no man. But those that are acted by the spirit of popery, do corrupt the word of God, as the apostle says, 2 Cor. ii. 17. They make the word of God to serve ends and purposes, as the apostle faith, 2 Pet. ii. 3. They make merchandife of the word of God, and make gain their godliness : that is, they gain power and wealth, and live in pomp; these are the ingredients that make up their religion. But since they do usurp upon us, we will put in these few material exceptions against them, and will shew wherein the popish and reformed church differ,
First, They impofe upon our belief, things contrary to reason ; self-inconsistent and incongruous.
Secondly, What of truth they acknowledge, they make void and elude, by qualifications, explications, limitations and distinctions,
Thirdly, They superadd to religion, things unlikely to be true, dishonourable to human nature, and without all warrant from God.
Fourthly, and lastly, they frustrate the effects of real religion, by their pretence of power and privilege.
First, They confound the reason of our minds, by absurdities, incongruities, and impofing upon our belief things impoflible and inconsistent. strange things to be said of any religion : yet I will make it evidently to appear, and go no farther than the monstrous doctrine of transubstantiation, which if we do admit, we must bid farewel to all our natural sentiments. Reafon must then be laid aside, and fhall be no judge hereafter. We must then give the lie to the report of our senses. And if we do this, how shall we think that God made our facul. ties true? But if God did not make
faculties true, I am absolutely discharged from all duty to God, and regard to his commands, because I have no faculty that can resolve me that this is of God. Now if I may not believe the reason of my mind, in conjunction with three or four of my fenfes, how fhall I know any thing to be this or that? And if I do not know any thing to be true or good, I am not obliged, as to practice. And if God do require duty of me, he useth power against right, and calls me to give an account, when it was not possible for me to know his mind in any thing. Therefore, I fay, tranfubftantiation doth confound the reason of our mind, by absurdities, and imposing upon our beliefs, things that are impossible, and repugnant to our senses.
Secondly, They make void, what they themseves acknowledge to be true, by distinctions, evafions, limitations, glosses, comments, explications. And to make this out, I will instance in fix things.
ift. Their doctrine of probability. If a man can find any doctor among them that held such an opinion, it makes that doctrine probable.
2dly. The point of mental reservation. You cannot know their minds by what they say, because you do not know what they reserve in their minds. So that what they say may be but half what they
3dly. The trick of directing the intention. By this they may murder a man, so they do not intend to murder him, but to rid themselves of an enemy. They may declare that which is false, and deny that which is true, because they intend the credit of their church and religion : and this intention shall excuse them from downright falfhood.
4thly. The practice of equivocation is too well known among them.
5thly. Their way of evasion, by having a double sense. Whereas, no man ought to use wit or parts to impose upon another, or to make a man believe that which they do not mean.
In treating, one with another, we ought to take care that there be a right understanding between both parties, and that each do understand one another's meaning ; and in case there be a mistake herein, we ought to release one another , for the agreement is only in what we meant and intended, not in that wherein they did not consent and agree.