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to be given that there is but one Eternal God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, and that the Sun, and Moon, and Stars are no Gods, but only the Creatures of God; and yet
it is certain that there hath been and are People in the World that worship these Creatures as Eternal Gods. Again, I say, you think there is Proof enough to be given that the Bread and Wine in the Sacrament do continue in their Natures, and are truly Bread and Wine even after the Words of Confecration have been pronounced upon them; and yet you know there are a great many Christians in the World that are fo far from being of this Belief, as to take them for the very real Body and Blood of Christ. You see then, that as a Man cannot believe without Reason, so he may still continue an Unbeliever, tho' there be all the Reason in the World that he should believe.
Well, what do we gather from hence ? Why, we gather from hence a plain Solution of this Difficulty that is before us; and that is this:
We do not pretend that a Man shall be called to an account by God for not believing a Thing when there was no Reason to believe it; nay, neither do we say that a Man shall be called to account for not believing every thing, tho' yet he had the greatest Reafon in the World to believe it, For it may so happen (as it doth every Day in a thousand Calis) that a Thing
may be true, and a Man, if he will enquire, may have Proof beyond all Contradiction for the Truth of it, and yet it shall be of no ill Consequence to him, whether he believes it or no, because it was not his Business, nor his Interest, nor his Duty, to take pains to inform himself right about it. But this is that which we say : In a Matter where it is a Man's greatest Business, and greatest Interest, and greatest Duty co inform himself aright, and to believe aright, and in a Matter likewise where there are sufficient Means and Opportunities afforded to every one for the gaining a right Information, and having a right Belief; and laftly, in a Matter where there is so much Evidence and Proof of the Thing, that every one would believe if he did all that either an honest or a wife Man would think himself obliged to in these Circumstances : I say, where-ever this is the Case (as we fay this is the Case among us) it is Nonfense and Madness for any Man to plead that it is not in his power to believe, and therefore he thinks it unjust he should be called to account by God for not believing. Here therefore is the issue we put the Point upon : We do not pretend that any Man shall be damned for not believing what it was not in his power to believe; but we say, if it is thro' your own Fault that
you do not believe, or if the Case be such that if you had been sincere, honest,
virtuous Men, you would have believed ; then your
Unbelief is the Effect of Vice and Wickedness, and is a plain Piece of Immorality, and you are accountable for it, as you are for Adultery or Murder, or any such wilful Crimes.
And therefore, to conclude: I do here, by way of Application, earnestly address myself to all those among us, that are in their Hearts Unbelievers, however they do outwardly profess the Christian Religion, and frequent our Assemblies. I beg of you, in the Name of God, to examine your selves seriously concerning the Grounds of your Unbelief, and see whether you can satisfy your own Consciences that you have done all that serious, prudent, unbiass’d Men would do in a Matter of such Importance as this is, wherein no less than your everlasting Salvation or Damnation is con-' cerned. If your own Consciences can testify to you, that you have dealt honestly and impartially in this Matter, and that yet, after all your Endeavours, you cannot find Reason enough to persuade you heartily to believe in Jesus Christ, I have nothing further to say to you; let God judge this Matter between him and you, as he certainly one Day will. Charity will oblige us to believe the best of
And therefore, if this be your Cafe, we cannot rank you otherwike than in the Number of those
Heathens that do not believe the Gospel, because it was never fairly proposed to them.
But then, in the mean time that you make this Enquiry into your own State, be not too forward to deceive your selves, nor to entertain a good Opinion of
your selves, upon a general and Night View of your own Condition, but put such Questions honestly and home to your Consciences, , as any
sincere Man would do in such a Matter as this.
As for Instance : Have you seriously and deliberately confider'd the Christian Religion in all the Parts of it? Have you acquainted your felves with all the Doctrines of it, how suitable they are to the natural Notions that Man has of God and Religion, and how extremely they tend to the making Mankind both wile and happy?
Have you examined the Precepts of the Gospel, and taken Notice how much they excel the Morality of the best Philosophers, and how wonderfully they are contrived and accommodated to the Uses and India gencies of all sorts of Men, in whatever State and Condition they be; and in a word, how happy the World would be, if all Men were hearty Believers of these Doctrines, and serious Practicers of these Precepts ?
Have you seriously taken into your Consideration the rich and invaluable Promises that are in this Religion made over to Mankind, which no other Religion can pretend to; such as the Forgiveness of all our Sins upon Repentance, and Assistance of God's Grace to enable us to live holy and pure Lives, and lastly an eternal, immortal Life of Glory and Happiness in another World? Why, natural Reason will teach us that all these Things are worthy of God to promise, and that we wan!, extremely want, the Assurance of these Things in order to the making us good. And yet no other Religion in the World hath assured us of them, but the Religion of our Lord Jesus.
Have you likewise impartially examin'd the Evidence and Proof that our Lord Jesus Christ gave for the Truth of his being fent by God to teach all these Things to the World, and the little or no Objections that are to be made against it? Have you looked into the Prophecies of the Old Testament, which for two thousand Years together spoke of a Saviour to be sent to Mankind, and taken Notice how exactly they were fulfilled by our Saviour? Have you confidered the Person of our Lord Jesus, and his Way of Living, how innocent, how sincere, how pious, how charitable, how entirely devoted to God's Service, how free from all Sufpicion of being a designing Man,