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SERM. God and man, man's free choice in serving God, XIV. God's free disposal of rewards suitable to men's ac
tions,) they probably borrowed from the Manichees, a sect that much obtained in those eastern parts. The Jew contributed his ceremonies of circumcision and frequent purgations by washing, his abstinence from swine's flesh, his allowance of polygamy and divorce: I might add, that perhaps from him they filched that proud, inhuman, and uncivil humour of monopolizing divine favour and good will to themselves; so of restraining their own kindness and respect to persons of their profession, or sect; condemning, despising, and hating all the world beside themselves ; calling all others dogs, and adjudging all to certain damnation; and, which is more, affirming that all of their belief, how wicked soever their lives have been, shall at length assuredly partake of salvation : so partial do they make Almighty God, so addicted to a mere name and outward show, feigning him, as in shape so in passions, human and like themselves. Indeed in this main part of religion, a true notion of God, his nature, his attributes, his method of providence, their doctrine is very peccant, representing him, in his nature and actions, very unworthily. Their descriptions concerning the state of men after death, (that main and principal part of religion, which gives life and vigour to the rest,) whence can we better deduce its original, than from the pagan notions or stories of Elysium and Hades? what better pattern can we find, whence that paradise of corporeal delight, or rather of brutish sensuality, should be transcribed, which any man sees how poor an encouragement it is, how unworthy a reward, to virtue ; yea, how much it is apt to de
tract from, to discourage all performances of reason SERM. and honesty? The like we might say of the punish-XIV. ments (which in due correspondence to the rewards they propound) they only or chiefly inflict upon the body; the main part, it seems, of which a Mahometan man consists. And must he not be very stupid, who can suffer himself to be persuaded, that such conceits (conceits favourable indeed to pleasure, and indulgent to the flesh, but contrary to virtue, prejudicial to the spirit and reason of man) should come from the God of wisdom and holiness? Further, how Mahomet was inspired, his stories alone will evince; stories patched up out of old histories corrupted, mangled, and transplaced; interlarded with fabulous legends, contrary to all probable records of history, (the names, places, times, and all the circumstances whereof he most unskilfully changes and confounds,) yea repugnant to the nature and possibility of things; so that in a manner every tale he tells is an evident argument of an ignorant and an impudent impostor; and he that so blunders and falsifies about matters of fact, who will trust him in matters of right and reason? which things, if it were worth the while, might by various instances be shewed; and you may every where receive satisfaction therein. The like might be said concerning its multitude of silly ceremonies, grounded on no reasonable design, nor subservient to any purpose of virtue; the institution whereof no man therefore, without injury to the divine wisdom, can impute thereto. But I shall only add two further considerations upon this matter : one, that whatever is good or plausible in this religion, (such as are some precepts of justice and charity, although these con
SERM. fined among themselves,) may reasonably be supXIV.
posed taken from Christianity, which being senior in standing, may (in points wherein both agree) well go for the mistress; and however, that, upon the score of such doctrines or laws, we have no reason to think this religion came from God; for why should he reveal that again, which in a larger extent, upon better grounds, with more advantage, he had declared before; which also then was commonly embraced and acknowledged ? I also observe, that this religion, by its own free concessions, doth evidently destroy itself; for it admits Christianity once to have been a true doctrine, proceeding from and attested to by God: but Christianity did ever declare itself to be a general, perpetual, perfect, and immutable rule of faith and practice; that never any accessions thereto, any alterations thereof, ought to be made or admitted; that whatever spirit, coming after it, should offer to innovate, or pretend to new discoveries contrary to, or different from it, must be suspected of delusion, foretelling and forewarning against such endeavours that should appear, as fallacious and mischievous : this, it appears, (by the writings of those who first planted Christianity, writings which no man in his wits can question to be theirs; being through a continual uninterrupted course of times, from the beginning, by general consent of both friends and adversaries, acknowledged and attested to as so; all characters within them imaginably proper for that purpose, confirming the same; as also by the current tradition of their disciples, immediate and mediate, extant in records unquestionable, and by all other means conceivable,) this, I say, it most plainly appears, was one grand
doctrine and pretence of Christianity at first, which SERM. the Mahometans acknowledging originally true and
XIV. divine in the gross, must consequently grant itself to be an imposture.
And thus much seems sufficient to demonstrate that religion not to be of a divine extraction. I shall next proceed to consider the pretences of Judaism, and to shew that neither it was such a perfect revelation as we proved it probable God would vouchsafe to make. But that shall be the subject of another Discourse.
and in Jesus Christ, &c.
SER MON XV.
OF THE IMPERFECTION OF THE JEWISH
Eph. i. 13.
the gospel of your salvation. serM. THAT it is probable God should vouchsafe to man
kind a full and clear declaration of his mind and will concerning their duty and their welfare, I did shew : that Paganism and Mahometanism, without reason and truth, did or does pretend thereto, I also briefly discoursed : I now proceed to examine the plea which Judaism puts in, and to make good that neither it is well grounded, (which, as the cause deserves, I shall do somewhat more largely.) The Jewish religion we acknowledge had its birth from
the revelation and appointment of God; its truth Heb. vii. and its goodness we do not call in question : but
yet looking into it, we shall find it in many respects defective, and wanting the conditions due to such a revelation as we require. For it was not universal, (neither being directed to, nor fitted for, the nature and needs of mankind ;) it was not full and complete, it was not designed to be of perpetual obligation or use.