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lity of salvation in it ought to encourage any man to the embracing of it. Never did any Christian church build so much hay and stubble upon the foundation of Christianity, and therefore those that are saved in it must be saved, as it were, out of the fire. And though purgatory be not meant in the text, yet it is a doctrine very well suited to their manner of building; for there is need of an ignis purgatorius, of a fire to try their work what it is, and to burn up their hay and stubble. And I have so much churity (and I desire always to have it) as to hope, that a great many among them who lived piously, and have been almost inevitably detained in that church, by the prejudice of education and an invincible ignorance, will, upon a general repentance, find mercy with God; and though their works suffer loss and be burnt, yet they themselves may escape, as out of the fire. But as for those who had the opportunities of coming to the knowledge of the truth, if they continue in the errors of that church, or apostatize from the truth, I think their condition so far from being safe, that there must be extraordinary favourable circumstances in their case, to give a man hopes of their salvation.
I have now done with the two things I propounded to speak to; and I am sorry that the necessary defence of our religion, against the restless importunities and attempts of our adversaries, upon all sorts of persons, hath engaged me to spend so much time in matters of dispute, which I had much rather have employed in another way. Many of you can be my witnesses, that I have constantly made it my business, in this great presence and assembly, to plead against the impieties and wickedness of men, and have endeavoured, by the best arguments I could think of, to gain men over to a firm belief and serious practice of the main things of religion. And I do assure you, I had much rather persuade any one to be a good man, than to be of any party or denomination of Christians whatsoever. For I doubt not, but the belief of the ancient creed, provided we entertain nothing that is destructive of it, together with a good life, will certainly save a man; and without this no man can have reasonable hopes of salvation, no not in an infallible church, if there were any such thing to be found in the world.
I have been, according to my opportunities, not a negligent
observer of the genius and humour of the several sects and professions in religion; and upon the whole matter, I do in my conscience believe the church of England to be the best constituted church this day in the world; and that as to the main, the doctrine and government and worship of it are excellently framed to make men soberly religious; securing men on the one hand from the wild freaks of enthusiasm; and on the other, from the gross follies of superstition. And our church hath this peculiar advantage above several professions that we know in the world, that it acknowledgeth a due and just subordination to the civil authority, and hath always been untainted in its loyalty.
And now shall every trifling consideration be sufficient to move a man to relinquish such a church? There is no greater disparagement to a man's understanding, no greater argument of a light and ungenerous mind, than rashly to change one's religion. Religion is our greatest concernment of all other, and it is not every little argument, no, nor a great noise about infallibility, nothing but very plain and convincing evidence, that should sway a man in this case. But they are utterly inexcusable, who make a change of such concernment upon the insinuations of one side only, without ever hearing what can be said for the church they were baptized and brought up in, before they leave it. They that can yield thus easily to the impressions of every one that hath a design and interest to make proselytes, may at this rate of discretion change their religion twice a day, and instead of morning and evening prayer, they may have a morning and evening religion. Therefore, for God's sake, and for our own souls' sake, and for the sake of our reputation, let us consider, and shew ourselves men; let us not suffer ourselves to be shaken and carried away with every wind. Let us not run ourselves into danger when we may be safe. Let us stick to the foundation of religion, the articles of our common belief, and build upon them gold, and silver, and precious stones, I mean, the virtues and actions of a good life; and if we would do this, we should not be apt to set such a value upon hay and stubble. If we would sincerely endeavour to live holy and virtuous lives, we should not need to cast about for a religion which may furnish us with easy and indirect ways to get to heaven.
I will conclude all with the apostle's exhortation: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
THE PROTESTANT RESOLVED:
UNREASONABLENESS OF HIS TURNING ROMAN CATHOLIC FOR SALVATION.
WE are all, I hope, thus far agreed, that sincere Christianity
is the sure way to salvation; that to be saved, we must have the hearts, and not content ourselves with the bare name and naked profession of Christians; that the authority of God and Divine truth, and no worldly or carnal concern, must sway and govern our whole conversation. If we be not religious in good earnest, resolving and endeavouring to honour God in heart and life, according to the holy gospel of our blessed Jesus, it is no matter to us what religion we profess, or to what church we join ourselves. Wickedness and hypocrisy, through what church soever our way lieth, lead assuredly to hell. A wicked protestant and a wicked papist will in hell be of the same communion.
True Christianity is none other but that which was taught at first by Christ and his apostles, and all they who believe and live according to their doctrine shall be saved. Herein again we are all, I suppose, agreed. And if so, I think it very reasonable we should agree as well in that which I now add. It is not material to inquire, whether a man be of the church of Rome or of the church of England, to find whether or no he may be saved; but he that would satisfy himself of the possibility of salvation in the way wherein he now is, ought to inquire whether he believe and live according to the doctrine taught by Christ and his apostles; seeing they who do this are good Christians, what other names soever men may
bestow upon them, and all that are such shall be saved. If therefore I may be able to satisfy myself that I believe and live according to the doctrine delivered by Christ and his apostles, I have no reason to doubt of the possibility of my salvation in the way wherein I now am, though it were so that I had never heard to this day of any such thing as a church, headed by a pope or bishop of Rome. And I am yet somewhat confident, that a man may believe and live according to the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, and never hear of a bishop of Rome; because once men certainly did so, and yet were saved.
The next thing therefore that I have to do, is to inquire by what means I may certainly know what was the doctrine of Christ and his apostles; for by the same means whereby this may be known, I may also know the certain way to salvation. If there be no such means left us, we are all fools in professing a religion, the certain doctrine whereof can by no means be known. If such means there be, there must be some certain records safely conveyed down from their time to ours; for by what other means we at this distance of so many hundred years should be certainly informed what they taught, is by me inconceivable. These records then are to be diligently searched into, and impartially examined; and whosoever is found to believe and practise according to the doctrine in those records contained, may be concluded to be in the way to salvation.
Such certain records we have, even the books of the holy evangelists and apostles, which, together with the books of the Old Testament, we call the Holy Scriptures. In this we are all again unanimous; both papists and protestants agree, that the doctrine in these books contained, is the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, and Divine truth. Whence it certainly follows, that whatsoever doctrine is contrary to the doctrine contained in these books, whether it be taught by papists or protestants, is to be rejected, as none of the doctrine of Christ and his apostles. It ought not therefore to satisfy me, that this or that doctrine is taught by the church of Rome, or by the church of England; for by which of them soever it be taught, if it be found contrary to the doctrine of the holy scripture, it is by the consent of both churches to be rejected. Now seeing we protestants take this holy scripture, and it only, for the