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to be given that there is but one Eternal God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, and that the Sun, and Moon, and Stars are no Gods, but only the Creatures of God; and yet it is certain that there hath been and are People in the World that worship these Creatures as Eternal Gods. Again, I fay, you think there is Proof enough to be given that the Bread and Wine in the Sacrament do continue in their Natures, and are truly Bread and Wine even after the Words of Confecration have been pronounced upon them; and yet you know there are a great many Chriftians in the World that are fo far from being of this Belief, as to take them for the very real Body and Blood of Christ. You fee then, that as a Man cannot believe without Reafon, fo he may ftill continue an Unbeliever, tho' there be all the Reafon in the World that he fhould believe.
Well, what do we gather from hence? Why, we gather from hence a plain Solution of this Difficulty that is before us; and that is this:
We do not pretend that a Man fhall be called to an account by God for not believing a Thing when there was no Reason to believe it; nay, neither do we say that a Man fhall be called to account for not believing every thing, tho' yet he had the greatest Reafon in the World to believe it. For it may fo happen (as it doth every Day in a thoufand Cafes) that a Thing may
may be true, and a Man, if he will enquire, may have Proof beyond all Contradiction for the Truth of it, and yet it fhall be of no ill Confequence to him, whether he believes it or no, because it was not his Business, nor his Intereft, nor his Duty, to take pains to inform himself right about it. But this is that which we fay: In a Matter where it is a Man's greatest Business, and greatest Intereft, and greatest Duty to inform himself aright, and to believe aright, and in a Matter likewife where there are fufficient Means and Opportunities afforded to every one for the gaining a right Information, and having a right Belief; and laftly, in a Matter where there is fo much Evidence and Proof of the Thing, that every one would believe if he did all that either an honeft or a wife Man would think himself obliged to in thefe Circumstances: I fay, where-ever this is the Cafe (as we fay this is the Cafe among us) it is Nonfenfe and Madness for any Man to plead that it is not in his Power to believe, and therefore he thinks it unjust he should be called to account by God for not believing. Here therefore is the Iffue we put the Point upon: We do not pretend that any Man fhall be damned for not believing what it was not in his Power to believe ; but we fay, if it is thro' your own Fault that you do not believe, or if the Cafe be fuch that if you had been fincere, honeft,
virtuous Men, you would have believed; then your Unbelief is the Effect of Vice and Wickedness, and is a plain Piece of Immorality, and you are accountable for it, as you are for Adultery or Murder, or any fuch wilful Crimes.
And therefore, to conclude: I do here, by way of Application, earnestly addrefs myself to all thofe among us, that are in their Hearts Unbelievers, however they do outwardly profefs the Chriftian Religion, and frequent our Affemblies. I beg of you, in the Name of God, to examine your felves feriously concerning the Grounds of your Unbelief, and fee whether you can fatisfy your own Confciences that you have done all that ferious, prudent, unbiafs'd Men would do in a Matter of fuch Importance as this is, wherein no less than your everlasting Salvation or Damnation is concerned. If your own Confciences can teftify to you, that you have dealt honeftly and impartially in this Matter, and that yet, after all your Endeavours, you cannot find Reafon enough to perfuade you heartily to believe in Jefus Chrift, I have nothing further to fay to you; let God judge this Matter between him and you, as he certainly one Day will. Charity will oblige us to believe the beft of you. And therefore, if this be your Cafe, we cannot rank you otherwife than in the Number of thofe Heathens
eved: ce and
Heathens that do not believe the Gospel, because it was never fairly proposed to them.
But then, in the mean time that you make this Enquiry into your own State, be not too forward to deceive your felves, nor to entertain a good Opinion of your felves, upon a general and flight View of your own Condition, but put fuch Queftions honestly and home to your Confciences, as any fincere Man would do in fuch a Matter as this.
As for Inftance:
Have you feriously and deliberately confider'd the Christian Religion in all the Parts of it? Have you acquainted your felves with all the Doctrines of it, how fuitable they are to the natural Notions that Man has of God and Religion, and how extremely they tend to the making Mankind both wife and happy?
Have you examined the Precepts of the Gospel, and taken Notice how much they excel the Morality of the best Philofophers, and how wonderfully they are contrived and accommodated to the Ufes and Indigencies of all forts of Men, in whatever State and Condition they be; and in a word, how happy the World would be, if all Men were hearty Believers of these Doctrines, and serious Practicers of thefe Precepts?
Have you feriously taken into your Confideration the rich and invaluable Promifes that are in this Religion made over to Mankind, which no other Religion can pretend to; fuch as the Forgiveness of all our Sins upon Repentance, and Affiftance of God's Grace to enable us to live holy and pure Lives, and laftly an eternal, immortal Life of Glory and Happiness in another World Why, natural Reafon will teach us that all thefe Things are worthy of God to promife, and that we want, extremely want, the Affurance of thefe Things in order to the making us good. And yet no other Religion in the World hath affured us of them, but the Religion of our Lord Jefus.
Have you likewife impartially examin'd the Evidence and Proof that our Lord Jefus Chrift gave for the Truth of his being fent by God to teach all these Things to the World, and the little or no Objections that are to be made against it? Have you looked into the Prophecies of the Old Teftament, which for two thoufand Years together spoke of a Saviour to be fent to Mankind, and taken Notice how exactly they were fulfilled by our Saviour? Have you confidered the Perfon of our Lord Jefus, and his Way of Living, how innocent, how fincere, how pious, how charitable, how entirely devoted to God's Service, how free from all Sufpicion of being a defigning Man, and