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some, who, to support a favourite, sentiment, foment heats, animofia ties, and divisions, and discourage men of probity and learning. You allow your ministers to read the Bible, and to speak what they find there. You profess universal charity and good-will to all your brethren in Christ, and to all mankind. These are noble principles; and I hope you will never relinquish them. Give your Catholicism its proper worth, by iinproving in sound knowledge ; and guard it with resolution. Reject all slavish, narrow principles with disdain. Neither list yourselves, nor be prest into the service of any fect or party whatsoever.' Be only Chriftians; and follow only God and truth. . . . .
You know, your congregation stands upon no other ground, but that Catholic one,' which the apostle, in his epistle to the Ro. mans, asserts, and demonstrates, to be the only, and the sufficient foundation of a right to a place in the church and kingdom of God, Faith in Jesus Christ. You may rest fully satisfied that you are a true church, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, whereof Christ Jesus is the chief corner stone, And you have, therefore, the best reason in the world for adhering steadily to the cause you have espoused, the cause of Christian Liberty, which at once fettles your profession upon an infallible bottom, rejects all human impositions, and at the same time comprehends, and cordially receives, all who are of the faith of the Son of God,
I hope I need not warn you againit Popery, that monstrous and mot audacious corruption of the purest and brightest dispensation of Religion. Romish agents are busy amongst us, deluding, with all des ceivableness of unrighteousness, the weak and ignorant, who do not fee the fallhood of their aftertions, presunptuoully backed with the ter'tor of eternal damnation. This astonishing apoftacy is 'plainly fore. told, 2 Thef. ii. 1-12. I Tim. iv, 1.-5. also in the prophet Daniel, and at large in the Revelation. And this idolatrous church, the mother of harlots, we know, shall be “ confined by the spirit of the mouth of the Lord, and destroyed by the brightness of his coming." And his 'voice to us, in the mean time, is, " Come out of her, imy people, that ye be not partakers of her fins, and that ye receive not of her plagues," Rev. xviii. 4.
But you are not without danger from another quarter. Some, and not a few in our land, with unnatural eagernels and pleasure, set themselves openly to disparage and disprove the Christian Revelation. But where thall we find eternal life, but in that revelation ? Will it be said, that the light of nature discovers it? That light doth discover, indeed, to thole that attend to it, a future world : But doth it dilcover imınortality, or eternal life? By no means. Dorh it shew how we shall reach immortality? It may be said, in the practice of virtue. But who can say, he hath performed a virtue, that, in the estimate of his own reason, will entitle him to it? Who can pretend to have so behaved, as to deserve any one blessing from God's hands ? Js it not evident, that the best virtue, any man performs, needs the relief of grace and mercy? And where is that grace and mercy revealed, but
in the gospel ? The gospel alone discovers and inlores immortality; or reveals the grace which expressly gives it, the ground upon which this grace stands, the end for which it is given, and the means by which we may obtain it. And can the full persuasion and view of immortal honour and glory be esteemed a trifle ? A little light duft, to be blown away with every blast of ignorant and prophane breath? The gospel is good news from Heaven; pardon and eternal life promised to a finful world. And can any be fo infatuated as to with its heavenly light and hopes at once extinguished, and the darkncís of Paganilin restored among the nations? Doch not nature itself teach us to be thankful for superior blessings, and to turn our eyes to the brightest views and clearest prospects of happiness? If the Univer. fal Father is pleased to beitow upon us singular favours, is it not molt unnatural and wicked to despise and reject them? Such is the glory and excellence, such the delightful prospects of the gospel, that, instead of cavilling and opposing, methinks the proper and only concern of every mind 1hould be to seek out evidence, and all possible means to establish its truth.
Value the Word of God as your richest treasure, and the only fund of true and perfect religious knowledge, comfort, and joy. Read it over diligently, and treature it up in your minds, as a rule of life ; then you will experience its power and excellency. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together ; with readiness of mind embrace any opportunity of joining a society which worships God in spirit and truth, as part of his family, as the heirs of the grace of life, in hope of being joined in a litile time to the blessed society of the angels above. Live in love and goodness to all men, and especially to one another. Be instant, and fervent in prayer ; make conscience of family and closet devotion. Keep your hearts and views above this world, daily looki, and prepare for, the coming of our Lord. And that your love may abound yet more and more, in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve those things which are excellent ; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousnes, which are by Jesus Chrift, unto the glory and praise of God, is the unfeigned wish of your faithful servant fof the sake of Jesus,
Live in land fervent in prayer and views above and that your
ESSAY to explain the Gospel SCHËMÉ, and the
Principal Words and Phrases the Apofiles have used in describing it.
The Original and Nature of the Jewish Gonflitution of Religion.
1. OD, the Father of the universe, who has exercised his bound.
G less wisdom, power and goodness in producing various beings of different capacities; who created the earth, and appointed divers climates, soils and situations in its hath from the beginning of the world introduced feveral schemes and dispensations, for promoting the virtue and happiness of his rational creatures, for čuring their Corruption, and preserving among them the knowledge and worship of himself, the true God, the poffeffor of all being, and the fountain of all good (*).
2. In (*) We do not know how God can exercile his perfections towards his · Creatures, when he lias brought them into being, otherwise, than in placing
2. Io pursuance of this grand and gracious design, when, about four hundred years after the flood, (which seems in a good measure to have removed the violence and rapine that had raged among the antedilu. vians,) the generality of mankind were fallen into idolatry, (a vice which in those tirnes made its first appearance in the world,) and serve ed other gods, thereby renouncing allegiance to the one God, the maker and governor of heaven and earth, he, to counttract this new and prevailing corruption, was pleased, in his infinite wildom, to select one family of the earth, to be a repolitory of true knowledge, and ihe pattern of obedience and reward among the nations. That as mankind were propagated, and idolatry took its rise, and was dispersed from one part of the world into various countries, so also the knowledge, worship, and obedience of the true God might be propagated and spread from nearly the saine quarter ; or however from those parts, which then were most famous and distinguished. To this family he particularly revealed hinaself, visited them with several public and remarkable dispensations of providence; and at last formed them into a nation, under his special protection, and governed them by laws delivered from him'elf, placing them in the open view of the world, first in Egypt, and afterwards in the land of Canaan.
3. The head, or root of this family, was Abraham, the son of Terah; who lived in Ur of the Chaldecs, beyond Euphrates. His family was in• fected with the common contagion of idolatry; as appears from Jothua
xxiv. 2, 3. " And Joshua said unto all the people, thus faith the Lord God of Israel, your fathers dwelt on the other side of the Aood for river Euphrates] in old time, even Terah the father of Abrahain, and the father of Nachor : and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, &c.” Here Maimonides, the learned Jew (*), owns it is implied, that Abraham the son of an idola. trous father was bred up in idolatry. For having occasion to mention these words of Joshua, he makes this pathetic rene&tion upon them. “ How great is the benefit we receive from these precepts, which have '« freed us from such a grand error, in which our father was educated; “ and converted us to the true belief of God; by teaching us that he « created all things; and that he is to be worshipped, and loved, and " feared, and he only, &c.” , And the apostie Paul intimates as much, Rom. iy. 3, 4, 5. “For what faith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh, is the reward nor reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieih the ung ells, his faith is counted for righteouinefs.” Abraham is the person he is discoursing about, and he plainly hints, ihough he did not care to Speak out, that even Abraham was chargcable with not paying due
them in various relations and subordinations to each other, in devising and conducting proper dispensations, according to different and changing ciri cumstances, in order to excite and increase the virtue of moral agents, and in providing suitable happiness for the worthy, and puniflıments for the wicked. .
(*) Patrick's Commentary upon Joshi, xxiv. 3.
reverence and worship to God; as the word AEEBHE, which we render ungodly, properly imports.
4. But, though Abraham had been an idolater, God was pleased, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, to single himn out to be the head, or root of that family and nation, which he intended to separate to himself from the rest of mankind, for the forementioned purposes. Accordingly he appeared to him in his native country, and ordered him to leave it, and his idolatrous kindred, and to remove into a distant land, to which he would direct and conduct him, declaring at the same time his cove-, nant, or grant of mercy, to him, in these words, Gen. xii. 1, 2, 3,. " I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great ; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: And in thee shall allo families of the earth be blessed.” So certainly did God make himself known to Abraham, that he was satisfied this was a revelation from the one true God, and that it was his duty to pay an implicit obedience to it. Accordingly, upon the foot of this faith, he went out, though he did not know whither he was to go. The same covenant, or promise of blessings, God afterwards at sundry times repeated : Particularly, Gen. xv. 5. " And the Lord brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now towards heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them : And he said unto him, So shall thy: seed be.” Here again, he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Alla Gen. xvij. 18, he repeats and establisheth the same covenant “ for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto him and his feed after him ;" promising them “ the land of Canaan for an everlasting poffeffion;" and appointing circumcision, as a perpetual token of the certainty and perpetuity of this covenant. Thus Abraham was taken into God's covenant, and became intitled to the blessings it conveyed ; not because he was not chargeable before God with impiety, irreligion, and idolatry ; but because God, on his part, freely forgave his prior transgressings, and because Abraham, on bis part, believed in the power and goodness of God: without which belief, or persuasion, that God was both true, and able to perforın what he had promised, he could have paid no regard to the divine manifestations; and consequently, muft have been reječied, as a person altogether improper to be the head of that family, which God intended to set apart to himself.
5. And as Abraham, so likewise his seed, or posterity, were at the same time, and before they had a being, taken into God's covenant, and intitled to the blessings of it. (Gen. xvii. 7, “ I will establish my cove. nant between me and thee, and thy feed after thee, &c.”) Not all his posterity, but only those whom God intended in the promise ; namely, first the nation of the Jews, who hereby became particularly related to God, and invested in lundry.invaluable privileges; and after them the helieving Gentiles, who were reckoned the children of Abraham, as they Tould believe in God as Abraham did. But more of this hereafter.
6. For about 215 years, from the time God ordered Abraham to leave his native country, he and his fon [saac, and grand-son Jacob, sojourned in the land of Canaan, under the special protection of Heaven, till infinite Wisdom thought fit to send the family into Egypt, the