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preached to them, or dishonour their Profession after they have embraced it, by a wicked unholy Life; neither of which can be faid of those we are now speaking of. We ought therefore, as I said, to determine nothing about them either way, but to leave them to the uncovenanted Mercies of God, if I may so speak. For what have we to do to judge another Man's Servant, as St. Paul expresseth it. They are God's Servants, and to him their Mafter they stand or fall; and if it pleaseth him, he is able to make them stand. This we are certain of, that the Judge of all the World will do right. Nor will lie demand the Tale of Bricks where he hath allow'd no Straw to make them. And this we are likewise certain of, that when the great Day of Retribution shall come, the Day when all Accounts shall be cast up, and Rewards and Punishments distributed to every one according to their Works, God Almighty will then vindicate 11ot only his Justice and his Truth, but his Goodness and his Mercy also, to the Satisfaction of all the World ; and a thousand Ways he may have of adjusting those Matters, and such like intricate Points, which we now cannot conceive.
But in the Seventh Place: The last Refledion I make upon these Words, is this ; That what is here promised to all Christians in my Text, and what is here denounced
against all Unbelievers, was design’d by our Saviour to extend to all Ages of the World: As those that then believed and were baptized upon the Apoftles preaching were put into a Condition of Salvation, fo are all People put into the fame Condition that at this Day among us do enter themselves into the Christian Covenant. And as those that continued Infidels' and Unbelievers when the Gospel was preached to them then, were doom'd to Damnation ; fo fall it fare likewise with all those that now-adays deny or reject that Gospel that is taught among us.
There is the same Necessity of believing in Christ now that there was then'; and there is the same Guilt and Punishment of refusing him; for there is no other Name under Heaven given unto Man, either then or now, by which we can be saved. There is indeed this Difference between the Persons that were preach'd to then, and those that are preach'd to now; that in those Days · People first believed, and afterwards were baptized; but now (as it must be in Countries where Christianity is the National Religion) People are first baptized, and afterwards they believe'; or, to speak a fad Truth, fome of them afterwards do not believe.
But let not any think that their Baptism without Faith in Christ, and ownling their Relation to hinr in all the Instances that he hath commanded, will fignify any thing: Notwithstanding their Baptism,
we still declare, and we have Authority fo to do, that whosoever believeth not the Gospel shall be damned.
I would to God all Men, that go by the Name of Christians among us, but yet in their Hearts do not own Christ for their Lord and Master, would seriously consider this. They have put on Christ's Livery, as I may speak, for they are baptized, and they call themselves by his Name, and they do not refuse to be present where his Worship is celebrated, and sometimes where his Sacraments are adminiftred, especially when they have a Turn to serve; but yet, if there bę any Regard to be given to what passes in their Conversation, and that in such Humours too, when one would be apt to think they must speak their Minds, they have no more true Belief of Christianity, nor real Veneration for Jesus Christ and his Gospel, than they have for Mahomet and his Alcoran. It is a melancholy Confideration that there should be any such Men in a Christian Country, especially in such a Country as ours, where the Gospel is taught in its natiye Truth and Simplicity, without those Mixtures of Foppery which in other Countries might alienate the Minds of fagacious Persons from it. But it is the Pleasure of God that his Religion and his Church should always be exercised by Enemies from one Quarter or other. When Supertition on one hand, and Enthusiasm
on the oiher, could not, after their utmost Efforts, do us any Mischief, Lo! Atheism and Infidelity start up
and seem to threaten us with Ruin. But this is our Comfort; that as the Principles that lead to those Things are impious and hated of God, fo we are sure they can never serve any Interests of Man; but, on the contrary, are the most deftructive to human Society of any thing in the World: And therefore we cannot doubt but the Government will do all that is possible for the discouraging and putting out of Countenance all this fort of Principles. And that very Thing alone, with this kind of People, will do more toward the effectual suppressing of them, than all the Arguments in the World.
But in the mean time they call for Arguments from us; and God forbid we should refuse them. They plead that it is against all Reason and Justice, that a Man should be damned for that which he cannot help: Our Text here faith, that Whosoever believeth not the Gospel fall be damned. They answer to this, " That they would believe “ the Gospel if they could, but they can“ not;” and they urge that a Man cannot believe more than he hath Evidence for; for it is no more in our power to believe what we have a mind to, than it is to add a Cubit to our Stature, if we have a mind to be caller ; and therefore, say they, what Sense is there in faying that a Man shall
be damned for not believing the Gospel, when it is not in his power to believe it if he would ?
This is the greatest Objection that is made against our Text. I beg therefore your Leave to give an Answer to it, and then I have done. And here we do readily allow them all that they ask. that a Man cannot believe what he will, any more than he can love or hate what he knows nothing of. When any thing is proposed to a Man's Belief, his Understanding must first be convinced of the Truth of it before he can believe it. The Thing must either be plain to him at the first fight, or it must be proved by Deduction from plain Principles that he doth already acknowledge ; or lastly, he must believe it upon the Credit or Authority of the Person that proposeth it to him, who is such a one as he hath Reason to think cannot, or will not impofe upon him: In a word, every one who believes a thing, must have some Reason, or at least must think he hath some Reason, for the Belief of it.
But then, after we have granted all this, it must likewise be acknowledged on the other hand, that there a great many Things which a Man cannot, or doth not believe, tho' there be Reason and Evidence enough to be given for the Truth of themi : As for Instance; I dare say you will all allow, that there is Reason and Evidence enough