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understand, that it was a matter of indifference, whether he believed in One God, agreeably to the First, or in Many, whether he worshipped God as an invisible spiritual
' Being, agreeably to the Second, or became an Idolater, and whether he reyerenced the Name of God, agreeably tọ the Third, or idly and contemptuously prophaned it;--better might he contend all this from Jesus's answer, than that our believing, or not believing, whatever we find declared in the New Testament, is 'a inatter of no concern.' Our Author's cause is so very desperate, as to be utterly overthrown by almost every passage he alleges in its support, His fundamental position is, That Jésus taught nothing but the duties of mere Natural Religion. Yet in this very answer of Jesus to the young Ruter; which the Author admits, and argues from, we find Jesus saying to him, after having understood that he had kept all the commandments," One thing thou lackest : go thy way, sell whatsoever thou bast, and give to the poor; and thou Malt have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.-Was this a duty of Natural Religion? Does That require us to sell all that we have, and give it away? Or would it require any one to take up the cross, and follow Jesus; that is, to endure persecution for the sake of preaching that he was the promised Messiah?
The truth is, that nothing was farther from the thoughts of the Jews, than making enquiries of Jesus about points of Belief, when they asked, What they should do to inherit eternal life ? And Jesus's answers to these enquiries were accordingly most frequently pointed at the practical duties. When indeed Jesus had accomplished the task he came to perform, and the Christian Dispensation was actually to take place; then, as the Gospel Terms of Salvation were to be explicitly preached,
we immediately find the Apostles informing the Jews, in answer to the same enquiry, That they must repent, and be baptized every one of them, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the rémission of fins *.
But to support his objections against the Nerd Testament the Author has recourse even to the great Orator of Rome. He quotes a passage from Cicero, in which the eternal obligation of the Law of Nature is finely enforced, and then observes; “ How excellent a proof, that the “ practice of virtue, not believing or disbeliev
ing, will determine our present and future hap
piness 7." —And he might just as well have faid-How excellent a proof, that because we are bound to act reasonably, or virtuously, in all particulars; therefore we are not bound to act reasonably, or virtuously, in adopting our religious belief. Or, in words more immediately to his purpose,--How excellent a proof, that it is acting reasonably, or virtuousy, to believe that every passage of the New Testament may be rejected, in which no moral duty is enjoined; hotwithstanding we have all the evidence which the nature of such a fact can possibly admit, to prove them the genuine declarations of Jesus himself, and those whom he commnissioned to preach his doctrines to the world.
In reality, the eternal immutable Law of Reason, or Nature, is so far from proving, that our conduct with respect to the belief of any points, which we have sufficient evidence to prove to be revealed, will not influence our salvation; as our conduct in every particular must; that its influence on our salvation is founded wholly on that very Law: since the regulating our religious belief by the fincere love of truth is a morally good,
* A&ts ii. 38. and xvi. 30.
+ P. 257
or virtuous practice ; and the suffering our belief knowingly to be influenced by vice, prejudice, or passion, or taking it up without any thought or concern, proportionably vicious and blame-worthy.
Still the Author defends the principle he contends for by an observation of Mr. Locke's : who, after repeating several defcriptions our Saviour has given of the method he will proceed in at the last day, obferves, -" It is remarkable, " that every where the sentence follows doing, “ or not doing ; without any mention of believing, " or not believing." This the Author pronounces a very rational remark, and would have it considered as a fufficient authority for rejecting every fupernatural declaration in the Gospels.
Whoever has any sincere regard for truth, or for the scriptures, will necessarily entertain the highest reverence for Mr. Locke ; and. I could wish therefore, that the Author, in referring to Mr.
to Mr. Locke, had given us this testimony of his own sincere regard for either. Throughout the work, from which this quotation is made, Mr. Locke has taught, that believing, Jesus to be the Christ, is a point of the highest importance; as, our Author very well knows though here he has quoted this passage from him, as it Thould seem, with a view to impose on his reader, and make him-imagine the reverse. When Mr. Locke speaks of the lentence to be passed at the day of judgment, in this passage, he has his thoughts upon the sentence which shall be passed on Thole, only, who believe Jesus to be the Mefliah : and it being the fundamental principle of his Book, that affenting to this one proposition, is fufficient to denominate a man a true christian, so far as belief alone is concerned; his , meaning in this observation is, that no enquiry will be made into Their belief or
disbelief of any other points. This observation of Mr. Locke's therefore is so far from containing, as our Author would insinuate, any virtual approbation of the principle for which he contends, which is, that all belief of CHRIST's being the Meffiah is both unnecessary, and ill
grounded; that in reality it wholly condemns it. But since the Author has chosen, though so very weakly, to shelter himself under it, it will be neceffary for us to consider whether the obser*vation itself be really well grounded, or not.
Mr. Locke, after having cited, John v. 28, 29.
Matth. vii. 22, 23.-xiii. 41, 49.xvi. 27% Luke xin. 26. and Matth. xxv. 31–46. says, *** These, I think, are all the places where our
“ Saviour mentions the last Judgment, or describes “ his way of proceeding on that great day : “ wherein, as we have obferved, it is remarkable, " that every where the fentence follows doing. “ or not doing ; without any mention of believ
ing, or not believing t;
Now were it true, that the paffages Mr. Locke has here selected, are the only ones in which our Saviour has mentioned, what particulars will be the objects of confideration at the last day, yet the inference he has drawn from them would be groundless and untrue.< For, as to the last of those paffages I, That cannot posibly be considered as a complete account of our Saviour's future proceedings in the day of Judginent ; since he makes mention of nothing there, but works of mere mercy and charity alone : whereas nothing can be more certain, from the whole tenour of the Gospel doctrines, and a multiplicity of passages which it would be tedious to refer to; than that our piety, justice, temperance, chastity, + Reasonableness of Christianity, Vol. II. p. 571. Fol. I Matth. xxv, 31-46.
veracity, humility, and in a word, all our virtues and vices, will then be enquired into. And as to All the rest of the passages Mr. Locke has selected, they only declare in general ; as must be seen upon turning to them; that the wicked shall be punished, and the righteous rewarded, according to their works, without specifying particulars; but which works must necessarily be understood to include, agreeably to all the doctrines of our Lord, their whole conduct in every relation of life ; and confequently, their ingenuousness and care, or thoughtleffness and disingenuity, in receiving or rejecting our Lord himself, and all his declarations, as well as every other. When the Gospel is propofed to us as a Divine Revelation, with the evidence on which it depends, believing in Christ, or rejecting him; that is, believing him to be the Divine Person he asserted himself to be, or the contrary; and, if we receive him, the paying a religious regard to all his declarations, or omitting to do so are truly and properly moral actions ; for which as rational creatures we must unavoidably be accountable, and which our Saviour will therefore enquire into at the Last Day: If we have believed, according to our feveral abilities and advantages, in consequence of a sincere and honest attention to his words and actions, we shall be rewarded for that Belief; if we have not been honestly and sincerely disposed to learn the truth, and by this means have rejected our Lord; Or, having received him, if we have paid no regard to his declarations, or disbelieved them ; we shall for this faulty disposition receive our due con demnation. This is unquestionable, both from the plain reason of the thing, and all the moral doctrines of the Gospel.
But further, the passages Mr. Locke has selected, are not in fact, as he imagined they were, all the