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apoftolical times, when the divine grace gave the true knowledge of God, and was the guide of Christians.
F. XIV. Well, but what has been the success of those ages that followed the apostolical? Any whit better than that of the Jewish times? Not one jot. They have exceeded them; as with their pretences to greater knowledge, so in their degeneracy from the true Christian life: for though they had a more excellent pattern than the Jews; to whom God spoke by Moses his servant, he speaking to them by his beloved Son, the express image of his substance, the perfection of all meekness and humility; and though they seemed addicted to nothing more than an adoration of his name, and a veneration of the memory of his blessed disciples and apoftles; yet fo great was their defection, from the inward power and life of Christianity in the soul, that their respect was little more than formal and ceremonious. For notwithstanding they, like the Jews, were mighty zealous in garnishing their sepulchres, and curious in carving of their images; not only keeping with any pretence what might be the relics of their persons, but recommending a thousand things as relics, which are purely fabulous, and very often ridiculous, and to be furę altogether unchristian; yet as to the great and weighty things of the Christian law, viz. love; meekness, and self-denial, they were degenerated. They grew high-minded, proud, boasters, without natural affection, curious, and controversial, ever perplexing the church with doubtful and dubious questions ; filling the people with difputations, strife, and wrangling, drawing them into parties, till at last they fell into blood: as if they had been the worse for being once Christians.
O the miserable state of these pretended Christians! that instead of Christ's and his apostles doctrine, of loving enemies, and blesfing them that curse them, they should teach the people, under the notion of Christian zeal, most inhumanly to butcher one another; and instead of suffering their own blood to be shed for the testimony of Jesus, they should shed the blood of the witnesses of Jesus for hereticks. Thus that fubtil ferpent, or crafty, evil fpirit, that tempted Adam out of innocency, and the Jews from the law of God, has beguiled the Christians, by lying vanities to depart from the Christian law of holiness, and fo they are become flaves to him: for he rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience.
$. XV. And it is observable, that as pride which is ever followed by superstition and obstinacy, put Adam upon seeking an higher station than God placed hiin in; and as the Jews, out of the same pride, to out-do their pattern, given them of God by Moses mount, set their post by God's post, and taught for doctrines their own traditions, infomuch that those that refused conformity to them, ran the hazard of Crucify, crucify: fo the nominal Christians, from the same sin of pride, with great superstition and arrogance, have
upon the introduced, instead of a spiritual worship and discipline, that which is evidently ceremonious and worldly; with such innovations and traditions of inen, as are the fruit of the wisdom that is from below: witness their numerous and perplexed councils and creeds, with, Con. form or burn, at the end of them.
§. XVI. And as this unwarrantable pride set them first at work, to pervert the spirituality of the Christian worship, making it rather to resemble the shadowy religion of the Jews, and the gaudy worship of the Egyptians, than the great plainness and simplicity of the Chriftian institution, which is neither to resemble that of the mountain, nor the other of Jeru. falem ; so has the same pride and arrogancy spurred them on, by all imaginable cruelties, to maintain this great Diana of theirs. No meek fupplications, nor humble : remonftrances, of those that kept close to primitive purity in worship and doctrine, could prevail with these nominal Christians to dispense with the imposition of their un-apostolical traditions ; but as the ministers and bishops of these degenerate Christians, left their painful visitation and care over Christ's flock, and grew ambitious, covetous, and luxurious, resembling rather worldly potentates, than the humblespirited and mortified followers of the blessed Jesus; so almost every history tells us, with what pride and cruelty, blood and butchery, and that with unusual and exquisite tortures, they have persecuted the holy members of Christ out of the world, and that upon such
anathemas, that, as far as they could, they have disappointed them of the blessings of heaven too. These, true Christians, call martyrs; but the clergy, like the persecuting Jews, have filed them blafphemers and heretics : in which they have fulfilled the prophecy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who did not say, that they should think they do the gods good service to kill the Christians, his dear followers, which might refer to the perfecutions of the idolatrous Gentiles; but that they should think they do God good service to kill them: which shews, that they should be such as professedly owned the true God, as the apostate Christians have all: along pretended to do. So that they must be those wolves, that the apoftle foretold; Thould arise out of themselves, and worry the flock of Christ," after the great falling away should. commence, that was foretold by him, and: made necessary, in order to the proving of the faithful, and the revelation of the great mystery of iniquity.
I shall conclude this head with this affertion, that it is too undeniable a truth, where the clergy. have been most in power and authority, and have had the greatest influence upon princes and states, there has been most con. fusions, wrangles, bloodshed, fequestrations, imprisonments, and exiles: to the justifying of which, I call the testimony of the records of all times. How it is in our age, I. leave to the experience of the living; yer there is one demonstration that can hardly fail us; the - John xvi. 2.
* AAs XX. 29.
people are not converted, but debauched, to a degree, that time will not allow us an example. The worship of Christendom is visible, ceremonious, and gaudy; the clergy ambitious of worldly preferments, under the pretence of spiritual promotions; making the earthly revenues of churchmen, much the reafon of their function; being almost ever sure to leave the present fmaller livings, to solicit and obtain benefices of larger title and income. So that with their pride and avarice, which good old Peter foresaw would be their fnares, they have drawn after them ignorance, mifery, and irreligion upon Christendom.
S. XVII. The way of recovery from this miserable defection, is to come to a saving knowledge of religion; that is an experience of the divine work of God in the foul: to obtain which, be diligent to obey the grace that appears in thy own soul, O man! that brings falvation; it turns thee out of the broad way, into the narrow way; from thy lufts, to thy duty; from fin to holiness; from fatan to God. Thou must fee and abhor felf: thou must watch, and thou must pray, and thou must faft; thou must not look at thy tempter, but at thy preserver; avoid ill company, retire to thy folitudes, and be a chaste pilgrim in this evil world: and thus thou wilt arrive at the knowledge of God and Christ, thať brings eternal life to the foul: a well-grounded affurance from what a man feels and knows within himself : such shall not be moved with evil tidings.
• Tit. ii. , , 12, 14: