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saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. ii. 4), then we may conclude, that there is certainly evidence sufficient on the side of the true religion, to convince every humble and sincere person who searches after it with candour; though not such evidence as to force the understanding of every obstinate and self-willed man: Providence having so ordered it, that the true religion should be revealed to the humble and sincere; at the same time that those who are proud and wise in their own opinion, do, by their pride and obstinacy, conceal it from themselves. Matt. xi. 25.
I wish all who are out of the true Church would seriously consider what were formerly the reasons and causes of the infidelity of the Jews, when our Saviour preached the Gospel among them, as clearly set down in Scripture, from our Saviour's own mouth; and, perhaps, upon a strict inquiry, it will be found, that the very same motives do at this day influence heretics to disbelieve the true religion. He that is of God (says our Saviour to them,) heareth the words of God, ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God. John viii. 47. If any man will do the will of God he shall know of my doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. John vii. 17. How can ye believe who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only. John v. 44. Remarkable words! which do not impute the infidelity of these people to any defect of their understanding; but, to the perverseness of their wills, to the wickedness of their lives, to a bad heart.
First cause of the infidelity of the Jews: He that is of God heareth the words of God, ye there
fore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Whenever the true faith is proposed to infidels, accompanied with such evidence in the proofs of it as God in His wisdom knows to be sufficient for the conviction of all who are sincere, the reason of the infidelity of those who believe it not is here plainly told, because they are not of God. Now in another part of Scripture we are told, that every one who is not just or righteous is not of God, but of the devil. 1 John iï. 10.—v. 8. What wonder, then, if such as these, who are neither just in act nor desire, do not hearken to the true religion, which, being from God, teaches nothing but sanctity and the purest morals ?
Second cause of the infidelity of the Jews: If any man will do his will (the will of God), he shall know of my doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. When men are reprobates in grain, and neither desire to do the will of God nor to know it ; if two religions are proposed to their choice, one requiring strict virtue, continual devotion, confession of sins to a priest, satisfaction for sin by the punishment of the sinner's own person, mortification of the flesh, and abnegation of the will, with all the restraints that curb the corrupt nature of man from sin ; and the other, taking off all these restraints, never doubt, they will not long remain in suspense between the two, but without hesitation, and even with zeal, will declare for that religion, and call it a holy religion too, which allows them the liberty both of believing and practising no religion at all.
Third cause of the infidelity of the Jews : How ye
believe who receive honour one of another, and eek not the honour that cometh from God only,
When men are ambitious, and it is their lot to live in a nation where all worldly honours are on the side of a false religion, it is no rash judgment to say, that they will be apt to take a strong bias against the true one. And although many of them may be so far disciples of truth as to believe it in their hearts, few will become martyrs for it ; like those unhappy princes of the Jews, who believed in Christ but did not confess him for fear of the Pharisees, that they might not lose their places in the synagogue, because they love the praise of men more than the glory of God. John xii. 42, 43.
Whatever then is pretended, if truth may be spoken, these are the true reasons at the bottom of all infidelity. The hopes of having a greater share of those things which are the objects of the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, is what has determined many in this kingdom to forsake the religion of their ancestors, because a greater portion of these objects of their desires might be enjoyed in another communion. “These,” as a certain Catholic writer long ago observed,“ are the syrens which invite and stop many in their
and divert them from all farther inquiry after truth, the riches, the honours and pleasures of the world; and, the contraries of these, poverty, disgrace, and sufferings, are the giants, the sons of Enac, which have frightened many from entering into the land of promise.” Num). xiii. 28.
If any are yet remaining among Protestants (and I hope many such there are) who are engaged in error merely through mistake, whom we hope will one day be converted to the Church of Christ on earth, and be for ever in the Church triumphant, let them know this truth: That, though there are many religions professed among us under the general denomination of Christianity, yet it is a matter of the greatest consequence which of these they make choice of for themselves to live and die in ; since their eternal salvation will certainly depend upon the choice they make of a good or bad religion. For to imagine that they may be saved alike in all these religions, and that every religion is good to him that believes it good, and right to him that believes it right, is an error so plain, so palpable, so unreasonable, so impious, abominable, injurious to religion, and so incredible in itself, that it never entered into the thoughts of any, either Catholics or heretics, before Protestants. And though it may be a reigning error in this country, one would think it impossible to be believed by any other than those who, having thrown off the belief of all revealed religion, conclude that all religions are indifferent, because there is none true. In reality, to think that you may be saved alike in any of these religions, is setting the right and the wrong, truth and falsehood, upon the same level, as if there were no difference between one and the other; no more intrinsic worth and goodness in the true religion, which all sides who call themselves Christians must confess to be from the God of truth, than in false ones, which all must own to be from the father of lies.
When the true faith, of which we now dispute, was taught by our Saviour Christ, it consisted of those articles of revealed truth which were necessary for the world to know in order to eternal bliss: the sacraments also, which were institutea by him, were then believed to be necessary for the
salvation of mankind; this one true faith the apostles, fully instructed by Christ, were manded to carry by their preaching into all nations, teaching them to believe all things whatsoever he had taught, with this terrible threat: That they who believe not shall be damned. Go
into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. Mark xvi. 15. Teach all nations, baptizing them, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Matt. xxviii. 19. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. Now, it being evident there was but one true faith, taught by Christ and his apostles, it follows, that all sects that have made their appearance in the world since are false religions, and corruptions of that one true one. And though they call themselves Christians, yet because they do not observe all things which Christ commanded, but only some things, with exclusion of others which were also by him commanded; nor believe all that he taught, but only some things, with exclusion of others which were also by him taught; they cannot but fall under his anathema, he that believeth not shall be damned. And inasmuch as every one of them opposes the truth and faith which Christ taught, in some article or other, • they cannot but be false and impious ; and inasmuch as they are false, and oppose that which God has taught, they ought not to be excused by the soft name of unavoidable mistakes and pardonable errors, that proceed from the mere weakness of human understanding ; they are rather pernicious and damnable errors, which can only come from the father of lies, from the spirits of error, from