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S E R M O N I.
LUKE XII. 57.
YEA, AND WHY EVEN OF YOURSELVES
JUDGE YE NOT WHAT IS RIGHT.
E may consider this severe remon
strance of our Saviour as addressed to unbelievers of every age, we may consider it as an urgent call to exercise their understanding with diligence and impartiality upon all religious subjects. No blind deference to authority and established opinions is required, no fervour of imagination is to be substituted in the place of cool reflection and sound judgment. *To prove all things and to hold fast to that which is good, to temper zeal with knowledge, to place the will and affections under the guidance of reason is the uniform admonition of our divine Master and his Apostles.
a i Thef. v. 21.
How severe was the reproof which he administered to the Jews ? Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, and of the earth, ye discover in the common incidents and events of things sufficient penetration and discernment, how is it that ye cannot use the same degree of attention in examining the proofs of my divine miflion?
We live in an age of which credulity is not the leading imperfection. In defence of our religion no pious frauds can be practised, no specious arguments will be admitted. And while it is our duty to stand forth as those who have not followed cunningly devised fables, we are surrounded by fo numerous an host of adversaries, that we must be cautious how we put on our spiritual armour, and left we expose to danger the walls of our defenced city. All our vigilance will be scarce sufficient for the conflict. May He, who teacheth man knowledge, and giveth strength for the battle, support and affist us; may he give a blessing to the weakest and most imperfect endeavours, and may zeal and sincerity compensate for the weakness of our performances.
b Luke xii. 56.
The general design of the discourses to be delivered to this audience is a Vindication of the Church of England against the objections of the principal Sects.—And this vindication will begin with an attempt to state the use and the abuse of our own faculties, the true notion of inspiration with the objections brought against it, and the authority of the ancient Fathers.
After which, the natural progress of disquisition will lead us to investigate the principles of the Reformation and the general conduct of the Reformers.
An enquiry will next be made into the reafonableness of separation from a discussion of the specifick doctrines which are the subject of controversy between us and our diffenting brethren. The whole will be concluded with some observations upon the present state of religion, and some conjectural remarks
upon prophecies which yet remain to be fulfilled.
The subject of the present discourse, in conformity to the words of the text, is the use and abuse of reason in matters of religion.