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~ tion of doctrines, and reformation of manners in the “ church.” And, no doubt, all men do fee very plainJy to what purpose this foundation is laid of lo large a rule of faith. And this being admitted, how easy is it for them to confirm and prove whatever doctrines and practices they have a mind to establish?
But if this be a new, and another foundation, than that which the great author and founder of our religion hath laid and built his church upon, viz. the foundation of the prophets and apostles, it is no matter what they build upon it. And if they go about to prove any thing by the new parts of this rule, by the apocryphal books, which they have added to the ancient canon of the scriptures, brought down to us by the general tradition of the ChriItian church, and by their pretended unwritten traditions; we do with reason reject this kind of proof, and desire them first to prove their rule, before they pretend to prove any thing by it: for we protest against this rule, as never declared and owned by the Christian church, nor proceeded upon by the ancient fathers of the church, nor by any council whatsoever before the council of Trent.
In vain then doth the church of Rome vaunt itself of the antiquity of their faith and religion, when the very foundation and rule of it is but of yesterday ; a new thing never before known or heard of in the Christian world: whereas the foundation and rule of our religion is the word of God, contained in the holy scriptures; to which Christians in all ages have appealed, as the only rule of faith and life.
-3. I proceed now to the third thing I proposed, viz, that we are to hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, against all the temptations and terrors of the world. And this seems more especially and principally to be here intended by the Apostle in this exhortation.
I shall first speak of the temptations of the world. And they are chiefly these two; the temptation of fashion and example, and of worldly interelt and advantage.
ill, of fashion and example. This, in truth and reality, is no strong argument; and yet, in experience and effect, it is often found to be very powerful. It is frequently seen, that this hath many times too great an influence upon weak and foolish minds. Men are apt
to be carried down with the stream, and to follow å multitude in that which is evil: but more especially men are prone to be swayed by great examples, and to bend themselves to such an obsequiousness to their fuperiors and betters, that, in compliance with them, they are ready not only to change their affection to persons and things, as they do, but even their judgment also ; and that in the greatest and weightiest matters, even in matters of religion, and the great concernments of another world. But this surely is an argument of a poor and mean spirit, and of a weak understanding, which leans upon the judgment of another; and is in truth the lowest degree of servility that a reasonable creature can stoop to; and even beneath that of a slave, who, in the midst of his chains and fetters, doth still retain the freedom of his mind and judgment.
But I need not to urge this upon considerate persons, who know better how to value their duty and obligation to God, than to be tempted to do any thing contrary thereto, merely in compliance with fashion and example. There are some things in religion so very plain, that a wise and good man would stand alone in the belief and practice of them, and not be moved in the least by the contrary example of the whole world. It was a brave resolution of Joshua, though all men should forsake the God of Israel, and run aside to other gods, yet he would not do it, Josh. xxiv. 15. If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, chuse you this day whom je will ferve: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. It was well resolved of Peter, if he had not been too confident of his own strength, when he said to our Saviour, Though all men forsake thee, yet will not I.
2dly, Another sort of temptation, and which is commonly more powerful than example, is worldly interest and advantage. This is a mighty bait to a great part of mankind, and apt to work very strongly upon the necessities of fome, and upon the covetousness and ambition of others. Some men are tempted by necessity; which many times makes them do ugly and reproachful things, and, like Esau, for a morsel of meat, io sell their birth-right and blessing. Covetousness tempts others to be of that religion which gives them the prospect of the
greatest earthly advantage, either for the increasing or fecuring of their estates. When they find, that they cannot serve God and mammon, they will forsake the one, and cleave to the other. This was one of the great temptations to many in the primitive times, and a frequent cause of apoftály from the faith; an eager desire of riches, and too great a value for them; as St. Paul observes, I Tim. vi. 9. 10. But they that will be rich, fall into temptation, and a fnare, and into many foolish and hurtful lufts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil : which while some coveted after, they have erre:l (or been seduced) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many for
This was the temptation which drew off Demas from his religion ; as St. Paul tells us, 2 Tim. iv. 10. Demas hath for faken nie, having loved this present world,
Ambition is likewise a great temptation to proud and aspiring minds, and makes many men false to their religion, when they find it a hinderance to their preferment: and they are easily persuaded, that that is the best religion which is attended with the greatest worldly advantages, and will raise them to the highest dignity. The devil understood very well the force of this temptation when he set upon our Saviour, and therefore reserved it for the last assault. He sicwed him all the kingdoms of the earth, and the glory of them; and said to him, All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. And when he saw this would not prevail, he gave
him over in despair, and left him. But though this be a very dazzling temptation; yet there are considerations of that wcight to be set over-against it, from the nature of religion, and the infinite concernment of it to our immortal souls, as is fufficient to gi.ench this fiery dart of the devil, and to put all the temptations of this world out of countenance, and to render all the riches and glory of it, in comparifon of the eternal happiness and misery of the other world, but as the very /mall dust upon the balance. What temptation of this world can stand against that argument of our Saviour, if it be seriously weighed and considered, What is a mon profited, if le gain the whole world, and lose
his cwn soul? or what all a man gire in exchange for his foil ? If we would consider things impartially, and weigh them in a just and equal balance; the things which concern our bodies, and this present life, are of no confideration, in comparison of the great and vast concernments of our immortal souls, and the happy or miserable condition of our bodies and souls to all eternity.
and religion is a matter of this vast concernment; and therefore not to be bargained away, and parted with by us, for the greatest things this world can offer. There is no greater lign of a sordid spirit, than to put a high value upon things of little worth; and no greater mark of folly, than to make an equal bargain, to part with things of greatest price, for a slender and trifling confideration : as if a man of great fortune and estate, should fell the inheritance of it for a picture, which, when he hath it, will not perhaps yield lo much as will maintain him for one year. The folly is so much the greater in things of infinitely greater value; as for a man to quit God and religion, to fell the truth, and his soul, and to part with his everlasting inheritance, for a convenient service, for a good customer, and some present advantage in his trade and profession, or indeed for any condition which the foolish language of this world calls a high place, or a great preferment. The things which these men part with upon these cheap terms, God, and his truth, and religion, are, to those who understand themselves, and the just value of their immortal fouls, things of inestimable worth, and not to be parted with by a considerate man, for any price this world can bid. And those who are to be bought out of their religion up on such low terms, and so casily parted from it, it is much to be feared, that they have little or no religion to
Secondly, As we are to hold fast the profession of our faith without w.vering, against the temptations and allurements of this world , so likewise against the terrors of it.
Fear is a passion of great force; and, if men be not very resolute and constant, will be apt to stagger them, and to move i hem from their stedfastness: and therefore, when the case of suffering and perfecution for the truth happens, we had need to hold fall the profession of our faith. Our Saviour, in the parablc of the lower, tells H 3
us, that there were many that heard the word, and with joy received it; but when perfecution and tribulation arose because of the word, presently they were offended.
And though, blessed be God, this be not now our case; yet there was a time when it was the general case of Christians, in the first beginning of Christianity, and for several ages after, though with some intermission and intervals of eafe. It was then a general rule, and the common expectation of Christians, That through many tribulations they must enter into the kingdom of God; and that if any man will live godly in Christ Jefus, he must suffer persecution. And in several ages since those primitive times, the sincere professors of religion have, in divers places, been exposed to most grievous sufferings and persecutions for the truth. And even, at this day, in several places, the faithful servants of God are exercised with the sharpest and forest trials that perhaps were ever heard of in any age; and for the sake of God, and the conItant profession of his true religion, are tormented and killed all the day long, and are accounted as sheep for the Naughter. It is their hard lot to be called to these cruel and bitter sufferings, and our happy opportunity to be called upon for their relief; those of them, I mean, that have escaped that terrible storm and tempeft, and have taken refuge and fanctuary here among us, and, out of his Majesty's great humanity and goodness, are, by his publick letters, recommended to the charity of the whole nation, by the name of distressed Protestants.
Let us consider, how much easier our lot and our duty is, than theirs; as much as it is easier to compassionate the sufferings, and to relieve the distresses of others, than to be such sufferers, and in such distress ourselves. Let us make their case our own, and then we ourselves will be the best judges how it is fit for us to demean ourselves towards them, and to what degree we ought to exterd our charity and compassion to them. Let us put on their case and circumstances, and suppose that we were the sufferers, and had fled to them for resuge: the same pity and commiseration, the fame tender regard and conLideration of our fad case, the same liberal and effectual relief that we should desire and expect, and be glad to have shewn and afforded to ourselves, let us give to