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what is the issue of all this? Are the Profeflors of Christianity more united in their Persuasions, or improv'd in their Manners ? No, the Increase of Differences and the Growth of Immorality are the Complaint of all. Are Unbelievers convinced : No. We are surprised at the Boldness, and Progress of Infidelicy. And thus it must be where there is neither a proper Capacity for teaching or hearing the Truth. The end of the Commandment, says St. Paul, is Charity or Love, out of a pure Heart and of a good Conscience, and of Faith unfeigned, from which fome having fwerv’d, have turn'd aside unto vain fangling, defiring to be Teachers of the Law, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they afsirm. The Christian Church has been for a long Time a School of Controversy rather than of moral Discipline; we abound in that Knowledge which puffeth up; which is the Mother of
Pride; by which comech Contention ; which serves only to heighten and aggravate the Irregularity of our own and other Men's Affections. As for that Love which edifierh, 'cis almost unknown in the World; if it be to be found any where, it resides chiefly, as heretofore, amongst the mean, the base and despised things of the World. It is indeed the greatest Folly to expect that primitive Unity, or any other ancient Fruits of Christianity should revive and flourish, unless we return to our first Love, and preserve this Unity of the Spirit, as the Bond of Peace, as a Disposition to all further Improvements in Truth and Virtue.
HE Account here given
us of the Unbelief of the bro Fews must, at the first
hearing, strike every Man with Surprise. Truth is the natural Object of our Understandings, the Discovery of it is the common Labour and Concern of all rational Beings, neither is their Industry and
Emulation so great in any other Particular. And now that this same Truth should become the Aversion of the Intellect, a Cause of Unbelief, nay, so powerful à Cause, as to prompt the Jews to murder the Man that told them the Truth, seems to carry with it the Air of a Paradox at least, if not of a palpable Contradiction. But the Reason which our Lord gives of this strange Behaviour of theirs, will remove the Difficulty. He tells them they were Children of their Father the Devil, and the Lusts of their Father they would do; he was a Murderer from the Beginning, and abode not in the Truth, because there is no Truch in him, for he is a Lyar and the Father of it; and because I tell you the Truth, says he, ye believe me not.
It was confess’d they had one Father, even God; that they particularly descended from the Line of Abraham;
but they had contracted such Dispositions and Habits of Mind, as made them love a Lye, relish Fallicies, and hate the Truth; a monstrous Depravity, a manifest Inversion of human Nature !
From hence this melancholy Obfervation will arise (viz.) That Mankind may so far corrupt their Natures as to believe and love a Lye, or become Enemies to the Truth.
Upon this I shall,
First, Somewhat enlarge more particularly, Secondly
, I shall more fully enquire into the Reason which our Lord here afligns for it; and
Thirdly, Into the proper Methods of preventing and correcting it.
First then, I shall somewhat enlarge upon this Observation, that Mankind may so far debase and corupt their