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AND

PRIESTLY CLAIMS

FREELY EXAMINED :

IN A DIALOGUE

BETWIXT A

COUNTRY GENTLEMAN

AND A

COUNTRY VICAR:

WHEREIN CHURCH AUTHORITY, CONFIRMATION, ABSO

LUTION; THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD, THE POWER OF BISHOPS TO GIVE THE HOLY GHOST, AND OF PRIESTS TO FORGIVE SINS; THE CONSECRATION OF CHURCHES AND CHURCHYARDS, AND BOWING TOWARD THB ALTAR AND THE EAST; ARE PARTICULARLY CON

SIDERED.

TO WHICH IS PREFIXED

A SERIOUS ADMONITION TO THOSE WHO ARE

PRESSED TO COME TO CONFIRMATION:

AND SOME REMARKS ON A BOOK LATELY PUBLISHED, INTITLED, SHORT INSTRUCTIONS FOR THEM THAT

ARE PREPARING FOR CONFIRMATION, &c.

(FIRST PRINTED, 1737.

TO THOSE WHO ARE PRESSED TO COME

TO CONFIRMATION.

Dear Brethren and Friends,

It is of infinite importance both to your comfort in this world, and to your happiness in the other, that you have right notions of RELIGION. You will take therefore in good part this sincere attempt to assist you herein. The devil hath been ever busy to take off men's attention from real and true RELIGION; and to amuse them with rites and forms, and things of a ceremonial nature, which have really nothing of religion in them. He first deceives, and then destroys.

If we look into the Pagan world, we see men dancing round ugly idols; howling, weeping, cutting themselves with lances ; committing the most filthy and abominable acts; sacrificing one another, yea, throwing their own struggling and sbrieking babes into the arms of a burning image, to be there tortured and consumed.--And this with them is religion : it is done for their soul's bealth; and to expiate their sins, and reconcile them to their gods.

If we look into the Jewish world, there we see them devoutly busy in washing garments, bands and cups; they dare not touch this thing, nor eat that, for fear of being defiled; and are scrupulously exact in tithing even pot-herbs, mint; annise and cummin. This with them is religion : and thus they hope to reconcile themselves to God, and secure the divine favour,

If we look further into Popish countries, we see religion disguised under other monstrous and odd forms. Be punctual to your beads; come often to confession and mass; be strict in your penances, liberal to the priest, zealous against hereticks; hate, kill, damn, as far as it is in your power, all who are not of your church:- And this will prove you to be religious ; this is for your soul's health ; this is what fits you for the presence of God, the company of angels, for that state of perfect wisdom, love, and peace, prepared in hea. ven by Jesus Christ.

To come nearer home. What is it to be religious with multitudes amongst ourselves ? Why, to have been baptised into this true and established church of England; to have had godfathers and godmothers, and the sign of the cross; to have been confirmed by the bishop, and solemnly declared regenerated and forgiven by this ambassador of Christ; to keep constantly one's church; to come often to the sacrament, never to a conventicle, to take the eucharist in our last sickness ; and in the name of the Holy Trinity to be absolved by the priest; to have a burial form read over us, and to lie interred and rotting in holy ground. -These seem to be the chief things which multitudes among us mean by religion : these they count highly profitable, if not necessary to their soul's health; and a defect in such things shall often-times give greater uneasiness and offence than defects of a moral kind.

The discourses and conduct of many of our clergy too manifestly cherish this dangerous mistake. What a stress do they lay upon rites, forms, habits, places of worship, and various other things, of which the scriptures say not a word; infusing into mens' minds a superstitious veneration for them, and treating those who dislike

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