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ments of the Church, or by a confident Re- Serm. fiance upon the Merits of Christ, elude the Threatnings of the Almighty, and artfully escape the Wrath of the Just and Righteous Judge of the Whole Earth j does not This plainly give him encouragement to defer his Repentance, to think Virtue and Goodness really needless, and to continue in Sin, that Grace may abound? Again: If a Man can fancy that the most important and fundamental point of Religion, is the adhering fiercely to lbme one particular Seel, Party, or Denomination of Men; and the contending violently for or against certain peculiar Forms or Ceremonies of Worship; has not This ap evident Tendency to make him believe, that, by a great Zeal for these external Forms, he may commute or compenfate for the Want of those Moral Virtues, which Alone are of Real and Essential Goodness? But if, beyond All This, a Man's very Mind and Conscience be so far defiled, as that he can imagine Religion to% lay a direct Obligation upon him to commit some of the greatest of Wickednesses, to make use of the vilest Frauds and the most open Violences, to I 3 break
Ss Rm. break Faith against the most Solemn En- gagemcnts, and even with the greatest Cruelty to destroy Men's Lives in order to do God good Service j as Those of the Church of Rome have frequently done: Whenever This (I fay) is the Case, so that Men can fatisfy their very worst Passions, of Ambition, Pride, Cruelty and Tyranny, not only without the Reproach, but even with the highest Applause, of their own Consciences; What Hope, what Possibility is there, for Virtue and Goodness here to take Any place? Take heed, that the Light which is in, thee, be hot Darkness,
The Lights which God originally implanted in Men, is Reason, or their Natural Sense and Discernment of the Difference of Good and Evil. The Light of Revelation, is a Confirmation and Improvement of the Natural Light of Reason. And they are Both of them extinguished, by the Darkness of Irreirgior?, and (which is still of worse consequence) by the False Lights of Superstition
The Inferences from what has beer^ said, are briefly as follows.
ifl. From this exhortation of ourSx-SErMviour given to all Christians, Take heed, V' that the Light which is in thee, be not darkness; 'tis evident that persons even of the meanest capacities, may and must have a char Understanding of their Christian Duty, so far as 'tis at any time to Them a Duty. To live soberly, righteously and godly, with a constant Sense of God upon their Minds, and under a perpetual Expectation of the Future Judgment; is what the Lowest Capacities may see clearly and diflinSlly to be their Duty. This is Fundamental in Religion. Things of greater Difficulty, they cannot be obliged to understand or regard, any further than they meet with particular Light to direct them. If at any time they run on implicitly x and stop not at the things they certainly know; they run an apparent hazard either of walking in Darkness, or (which is still more dangerous) of following a False and Deceitful Light.
2. Whoever at anytime speaks against Reason, in matters of Religion; knows not, or considers not, whereof be affirms. All Reason and Truth is from God; And God does as truly reveal himself by the Nature I 4 and
S E R M*0d Reason of Things, as by Inspiration os V- Words. Reason, is the Light of God's
*SY\) Qreation. And though Men, if they be not very careful and very sincere, may mistake their own Fancies and Imaginations for Reason; yet the Nature and Truth of Things, is still really what it is; and Light is always di/cernible, if Men would honestly attend to it. The Experience of all Ages and of all Nations hath shown, that No Errors have been of such wide Extent, and of such lasting Continuance, and so destructive of all Moral Virtue and Goodness; as those which Men have been led into, by departing from the most evident and rational Fundamentals of Religion, to follow the blind and folse Lights of Superstition.
3. From what has been iaid; 'tis evident it never was our Lord's intention, that there mould be among Men (what the Church of Rome pretends to be) an Infallible Guide. Had any such thing been appointed of God, our Saviour's Caution in the Text, and in, numberless other places of his Gospel, had been needless and absurd. Teachers of Religion, are, in the nature of the thing, ne1 ceslaryj ceslary; and, in fact, expresily appointed Ser M. of Christ. But all Teaching, supposes that persons are capable of being taught .v>^>s,, and that, when they Are taught, they can Then see and know the thing to be right. In the way to eternal life, a man may very well be supposed to want the direction of a Guide: Yet in the whole Course of That Way, he may by Many very certain Marks and Tokens, laid down beforehand in Reason and Scripture, distinguisti clearly whether his Guide directs him right or no: And if his Guide leads him to a Precipice, he may easily enough discern it. Take heed, that the Light which is in thee, be net Darkness.