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It is apparent from the Nature of this Evil, ser M. That no Cure for it can be hoped for, till the Kingdom of Christ shall be established amongst n Christians ; and his own Subjects acknowledge Him, by their Practice, to be their King. And, When Christ's Authority is once suffered to settle the Faith and Worship of Christians ; when Obedience to His Commands, under the Conduct of that Faith, is suffered to pass for Religion; when the Rule of every Christian Man's Conduct is universally allowed to be his fincere Attention to the Directions of Christ; and Christians are so upright as to take That for their Religion, which they find recommended by their Lord, and his immediate Followers: Then, and Then only, the Faith, and Worship, and Practice, of Christians, will justly be said to be all restored, and redeemed from the Follies of Superstition. But till this happy Time
comes, How great and deplorable an Unhappiness must it be thought, that the very Believing in Jesus Christ, which was proposed to put a stop to all the Superstition in the World, should, by the crafty Designs of some, and the Weakness of others, be itself made the Inlet and Occasion to that same Evil, amongst Any that are called by that Holy Name; and to fo Thameful a Degree, as We see it to be, in many Nations round about us
Nothing, I am persuaded, is wanting, but
to uncover the Face of our most Holy Religion: m ,
and then, there can be little Doubt, but that
Of contending for the FAITH.
Preached before the KING, March 13,
Epistle of JUDE, Verse 3. latter Part.
exhort You, that re should earnestly contend for
N order to find out the Nature of what is SERM. very strongly recommended to Christians in these Words, I propose, 1. To explain the Words themselves.
II. To observe from thence by what Methods we can most effectually answer the real first Design of them. And, III. From the Whole, to draw such Ob
SER M. servations, as may convince Us of the Iniqui
ty, and Folly, of pretending to answer their m Design by other and contrary Methods.
I. The Words ought to be explained. And this Explanation ought to be taken from the plain Purport of the whole short Epistle, in which they are; from the Time when it was written; and from the Circumstances of Christianity, and of Christians, at that Time. The Duty, here recommended to Christians, is to contend earnestly for the Faith once delivered to the Saints; that is, in the Language of the Apostles, to all who professed themselves Christians : the Title of Saints not being, at that Time, appropriated to particular Persons; but, in common, given to All Christians, to put them in mind of their Profeffion, and what Obligations to Holiness it carried along with it. This Faith, here to be contended for, was the Faith taught and delivered, before this Epistle was written; being spoken of here, as already known and settled. The Expression of contending earnestly, Encywilestar, is taken from the Contests, Games, and Races, then in Use in the Heathen World; in which the Contenders for imaginary Glory strove, with all their Might, against their Adversaries. But, as amongst these Contenders, there were certain Rules and Orders,
by which They were all to be governed in serm. their Contests; upon pain of forfeiting all Pretense to Victory or Reward, if they transgres-mu sed one of those Rules, which were the fixed Laws of those Contests: So, the earnest Contention of Christians, for the Faith once delivered, must be governed by those Rules, and kept within those Bounds, and directed by those Laws, which their Great Master, the Judge of the Contest, has declared and established.
If any one, who entered into the Contests, or Games, then common in the Heathen World, pretended to get the better, i. e. to overcome, hurt, or destroy, his Adversary, by any Method, contrary to the Laws fixed by the Governours or Judges of those Contests; He was not adjudged to have the Glory of Conquest, but the Shame of Injustice. And so, in the Christian Conteft, if Christian Methods are not uniformly and constantly made use of; the Earnestness of the Contention is only a so much greater Deviation from the Duty of a Christian. One Christian may crush or oppress the Person of Another, against whom He contends, on Account of tome Differences in Religion: But he cannot contend for the Faith once delivered, so as to reap any Fruit of such Contest, without con