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OF OUR

RELIGIOUS OPINIONS.

BEING THE FIRST TEN SECTIONS OF LE CLERC'S TREATISE

SUBJOINED TO HIS EDITION OF GROTICS'S " TRUTH OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION."

SECTION I.

We must inquire, amongst what Christians the true

Doctrine of Christ flourisheth must at this Time.

Whoever reads over the Books of the New Testament, with a desire to come at the knowledge of the truth, and does not want judgment, will not be able to deny, but that every one of the marks of truth, alleged by Hugo Grotius, in his second and third Books, are to be found there. Wherefore, if he has any concern for. a blessed immortality, he will apprehend it to be his duty, to embrace what is proposed to him in those books as matter of belief; to do what is commanded, and to expect what he is there taught to hope for. Otherwise, if any one should deny that he doubts of the truth of the Christian religion, and at the same time thinks the doctrines, precepts, and promises of it are not fit to be believed or obeyed in every particular; such an one would be inconsistent with himself, and manifestly shew that he is not a sincere Christian. Now this is one of the precepts of Christ and his Apostles, that we should profess ourselves the disciples of Christ before men, if we would have him own us for his, when he shall pass sentence on the quick and dead at the last day; and if we do not, as we have denied him to be our master before men, so he also, in that last assembly of mankind, will deny us to be bis disciples before God. For Christ would not have those that believe on him to be his disciples privately; as if they were ashamed of his doctrine, or as if they valued the kindnesses, threats, or punishments of men, more than his precepts, and the promises of eternal life; but be Christians openly and before all the world, that they may invite other men to embrace the true religion, and render back to God that life, which they received from him, in the most exquisite torments, if it so seem good to him; whilst they openly profess that they prefer his precepts above all things. And thus St Paul teaches us, that if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in our heart that God hath raised him from the dead, we shall be saved ; For, says he, with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with thy mouth confession is made unto salvation ; for the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Which being thus, it is his duty, who thinks the Christian religion to be true, to discover and profess boldly and without fear, this his sincere opinion, upon all occasions that offer themselves.

And it is further necessary for him to inquire, if there be any of the same opinion with himself, and to maintain a particular peace and friendship with them; for Christ tells us, this is one mark his disciples are to be known by, if they love one another, and perform all acts of love and kindness towards each other. Moreover, he exhorts them to have congregations in his name, that is, such as should be called Christian ; and promises that he would be present there, where two or three are met together upon that account; by this means, besides the mutual love, and strict friendship of Christians united into one society, there is also a provision made for preserving their doctrines; which can hardly continue, if every one has a private opinion to himself, and does not declare the sense of his mind to another, unless for bis own advantage; for those things that are concealed, are by degrees forgotten, and come in time to be quite extinguished; but Christ would have his doctrine, and the churches which profess it, be perpetual, that it may not cease to be beneficial to mankind.

Wherefore, whoever derives his knowledge of the Christian religion from the New Testament, and thinks it true; such an one ought to make profession of it, and to join himself with those of the like profession. But because there is not at this time, neither was there formerly, one sort of men only, or one congregation of such as are gathered together in the name of Christ; we are not therefore presently to believe that he is a true Christian, who desires to be called by that holy name ; neither ought we to join ourselves, without examination, to any assembly who style themselves Christians. We must consider, above all things, whether their doctrines agree with that form of sound words, which we have entertained in our mind, from an attentive reading of the New Testament; otherwise it may happen that we may esteem that a Christian congregation, which is no further Christian than in name. It is therefore the part of a prudent man, not to enter himself into any congregation, at least for a continuance ; unless it be such, in which he perceives that doctrine established, which he truly thinks to be the Christian doctrine ; lest he should put himself under a necessity of saying or doing something contrary, to what he thinks delivered and commanded by Christ.

SECTION II.

We are to join ourselves with those, who are most

worthy the Name of Christians. Amongst Christians that differ from each other, and not only differ, but to their .shame!) condemn one another, and with cruel hatred banish them their society ; to agree to any of them without examination, or, according to their order, to condemn others without consideration; shews a man not only to be imprudent, but very rash and unjust. That congregation which rejects, though but in part, the true religion, (a representation of which he has formed in his mind,) and

such an one, a tra Crta por can it pret which that er in der and cast out of the Fe 1 wise and bodes i in these dissessies 20 which best deserts, and to adhere is we are reqpirsis II ing there were 1 345 sa rezor wbom the true corre II and amongst E235; 723 of condemcing 903 LE TRI 3 = " + lý true. In this case II, Iris 4:29, segons ought to entearoah VIII Time: L doing of which, le BISET EI. Or ed with the higes Prior 2:24 offend men witbordare a 232742. * ESE hopes of bringing the road site too suddenly cast of. In te reo ime, je to speak modestly and prudesty, what we trips to be me truth ; nor should any one be condemred by the judga ment of another, as infected with error, who seems to think right. God has never forsaken, nor never will forsake the Christian name, so far, as that there shall remain no true Christians; or at least none such as cannot be brought back into the true way; with whom we may maintain a stricter society, if others will not

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