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followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. (1 Cor. xi. 1.) By this also we shall be inabled to give a satisfactory Reason of all our Actions, and put to silence the Gainfaying of foolish Men without the Assistance of any profound Knowledge, or deep Speculation. If they deride our Christian Vertues, and scoff at the Duties of Humility, Self-denial, and Mortification; it will be sufficient to answer, That in practising them, we imitate the Example of the Son of God, the eternal Wisdom of the Fatlier. Let them please themselves with their Mirth, and false supposal of a more refined Knowledge. We follow an infallible Guide and Pattern; who if he hath not placed the Wisdom of his Precepts in so clear a Light, as the Sun in Heaven, hath at least recommended them by his Practice, and can assert them by his Power.
Such are the Obligations of all Christians, to imitate the Example of their Saviour; and such are the Benefits which result from it. Let us by an earnest endeavour to follow this most excellent Example, fulfil the Obligations, and obtain the Benefits, that as we have been on Earth made like unto him in Vertue and Holiness; so we may hereafter in Heaven be made yet more like unto him in Glory and Immortality.
1 Pet. III. 15. Be ready always to give an answer
to every man, that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. .
HE most Wife God hath fo contrived T
that most holy and excellent Religion, which he intended as the most perfect, and ultimate Revelation of his Will to the World; that it tendeth equally to manifest his own infinite Wisdom and Goodness, and to procure the Salvation of Mankind. His Wisdom appeareth in the Excellency and Simplicity of those Rules which it proposeth; in its immediate tendency to beget and establish due Notions and Apprehensions of the Deity; in the reasonableness of its Constitution, and admirable Congruity to the Nature of Mankind. His Goodness is conspicuous, not only in those infinite Rewards, which he hath affixed to the performance of it; in the free Pardon of rebellious Sinners, and liberal distribution of G 2
his Graces; but, which more directly comes under our present Consideration, in adapting that Religion, which he intended for the Benefit of all, to the Capacity of all; and thereby rendring it no less easie than advantageous.
And in this the Christian Religion infinitely exceeds all other Systems of Religion, whether true or false. Among the Heathens many great and learned Persons had imployed their Wits in refining the Superstitions of their Country, and alligning Reasons for that way of Worship, which obtained among them. But their Notions were abstruse and mystical, their Conceptions dark and unaccountable, above the Understanding and Capacity of the common People, fitted only for the Contemplation of Philosophers; and after all, no other than the products of a volatile Fancy: So little adapted to the understanding of the vulgar, or indeed intended for their benefit; that they were studioufly concealed under the venerable Name of Mysteries, and imparted only to Confidents.
Among the Jews all imaginable Care was taken to instruct the People in all necessary Duties relating to God, themselves, and their Neighbours: But even the more Learned of them knew not the Reasons of those many Ceremonies and Legal Observations imposed on them. They knew in general, that many of them typified the coming of a future Mellias, who should institute a more excellent Religion, and be the Author of signal Benefits to their Nation. But alas, this know
ledge ledge was lame and imperfect in its own Nature; and infinitely unsatisfactory to them; who desired to know somewhat more certain, yet still continued to wander in the dark without any certain Guide,
This appears from the Writings of those Learned Jews, who lived about the time of our Saviour's coming. These employed their Labours in finding out the hidden meaning of the Mosaick Law, and discovering the Reasons of all those Ceremonial Institutions; but so unsuccessfully, that they plainly mistook the design of their Divine Lawgiver, and by turning all his Ritual Precepts into Allegories and obscure Mysteries, defeated their Institution and corrupted the Truth of their Religion, with false Notions and Interpretations. And no wonder indeed: For the veil was not yet taken from them, nor to be removed, but by the coming of the Messias, who was to be the Sun of righteousness, dispersing the dark Clouds of Ignorance, and giving Light unto the World. He alone hath made a full Discovery of the Will of God, rendred the knowledge of it easie to all, and thereby made the Ignorance of necessary Truths to be inexcusable: Herein compleating the Covenant, which God made with the House of Ifrael in the Prophet
Jeremy, xxxi. 33, 34. After those days faith the Lord, I will put my Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts. And they mali teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord. For they
shall all know me froin the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.
Yet must we not imagine, that in proposing this plain and easie Religion, God intended to supercede all Labours of Mankind, and imprint the knowledge of it even violently upon Our Minds. He hath dealt with us as rational Creatures, proposed the Truth clearly to us, enforced it with the most perswalive Arguments, fitted it to our Capacity, and afforded us easie means of obtaining a perfect knowledge of it. After such abundant provision for the free entertainment of it in our Minds, he leaves it to the Liberty of our Will, whether we will embrace or reject it. To deal otherwise with us were to suppose us meer Brutes and Machines, not capable of entertaining any Religion, and unfit to receive either Rewards or Punishments.
It was not only the Precept of our Saviour, but the Wisdom of all Ages, Not to cast holy things before Digs, nor Pearls before Swine; to create a knowledge of Divine Truths in Perfons insensible of the Benefit conferred upon Mankind in the Revelation of them, and who make no advancement towards their Reception. The Divine Wisdom hath chosen to propose those eternal Truths in such a method, as that a perfect acquisition of the knowledge of them might exercise the diligence and obedience of Mankind. We muit bring Minds freed from all Prejudices and Pations, ule due Attention, search the Scriptures, weigh the Reasons and Arguments which perswade