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SER MON 1.
What Heresy is. Wly permitted by
God. And the great Usefulness and Advantages of it to the Church. Preached before the Prince of ORANGE,
Jan. 27, 1688.
1 Cor. xi. 19. For there muft be also Heresies among yout,
that they which are approved may be made manifest among yoito
T is a great Stumbling-block to
some among us, and almost I
tempts them to doubt of the Truth of our Religion, to see
how many Sects and Divisions there are at this Day among Christians. The removing this Stumbling-block is the Thing I design at this Time; and my Text lays a very good Foundation towards it ; St. Pull having several Ages ago told us, that there must be Herefies, and withal given us a good VOL. VI,
Reason why there must be, viz. that they which are approved may be made manifeft.
The Method I shall observe in treating on these Words, shall be as follows:
I. To give some Account of what is here
meant by Heresies.
II. To fhew how it comes to pass that
there always muft be Here fies.
III. To shew for what Reasons God
permits Heresies, and what Purposes they ferve.
IV. To make an Application of the
I. I begin with the first Point, What is meant by Heresies. Now as to this, it is to be observed, that the Word Heresy is often to be met with in Scripture ; and sometimes in that Sense in which it is commonly used by profane Authors, when it imports no more than some considerable Difference in Opinion, or such a Distinction of Men as to their Judgment, as makes them of a different Sect from the rest they con
verse with. And thus Christianity itself is Ver. 22. styled a Heresy in the 28th of the Aits. But it is so in my Text; and befides the bare Difference of Opinion, or being of a different Sect from others, denotes some great Fault in the Man that holds that Opinion, or that is of that Sećt. Were it not thus, we cannot imagine that St. Paul, when he is reckoning up the Works of the Flesh, such as Murder and Adultery, and the like, should put in Herefy among them, as he doth in the 5th of Galatians. Well, now Ver. 20. the Question is, What is meant by Heresy; when it is taken in a bad Sense, when it is made one of the Works of the Flesh ? Now, in answer to this, I say there are two Notions of Herefy in the New Testamient, when that Word is taken in an ill Sense: For sometimes it is used with respect to the Christian Faith ; and sometimes with respect to Christian Peace and Communion. Of both these I shall now give an Account.
then it cannot be denied that the Word is often taken in a bad Sense, and undoubtedly
1. Heresy is sometimes used with respect to the Christian Faith, and then the Notion of it is this : It is a Departure from, or a Renouncing of fome necessary Article of the Christian Religion ; and that not fo much thro’ Ignorance or Mistake, as from a vicious Principle, and for the serving some sensual Desires or Interests. This, I say, is the Notion of Heresy with reference to Faith, as far as we can judge from those Texts of Scripture which Tpeak of it in this Sense. St. Peter thus describes Hereticks. 2 Pet. 2.1. He tells us, that as there were false Pro