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vil in this world, and this principle is likely to infpire men with the greatest courage ; for what need he fear any thing in this world, who fears not death, after which there is nothing in this world to be feara, ed? And this the Christian religion does, by giving men the assurance of another life, and a happiness infinitely greater than any is to be enjoyed in this world. And in order to the securing of this happiness, it teacheth men to be holy, and just, and to exercise a good conscience both towards God and man, which is the only way to free a man from all inward and tormenting fears of what may happen to him after death. This makes the righteous man to be ( as Solomon says ) bold as a lion. Nothing, renders a man more undaunted as to death, and the consequences of it, than the peace of his own mind; for a man not to be conscious to himself of having wilfully displeased him, who alone can make us happy or mi. serable in the other world. So that a good man, being secure of the favour of God, may, upon that ac. count, reasonably hope for a greater happiness after death than other men: whereas a bad man, if he be fober, and have his senses awakened to a serious consideration of things, cannot but be afraid to dy; and be extremely anxious and solicitous what will become of him in another world. And surely it would make the stoutest man breathing, afraid to venture upon death, when he sees hell beyond it. Possibly there may be some monsters of men, who may have so far suppressed the sense of religion, and ftupified their consciences, as in a good measure to have conquered the fears of death, and of the confequences of it. But this happens but to very few, as the Poet tells us in the person of an Epicurean :

Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas,
Atque metus omnes er inexorabile fatum
Subjecit pedibus, ftrepitumque Acherontis avari.

There are very few that attain to this temper, but at some times. So that if vice and wickedness do generally break the firmness of mens Spirits ; it re

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mains, that nothing but religion can generally give men courage againft death. And this the Christian religion does eminently to thofe who live according to it; our blessed Saviour having delivered us from the fear of death, by conquering death for us, and giving us assurance of the glorious rewards of ano. ther life.

(2.) Meekness, and patience, and humility, and modesty, and such virtues of Christianity, do not in reason tend to dispirit' men, and break their true courage, but only to regulate it, and take away the fierceness and brutishness of it. This we fee in ex perience, that men of the trueft courage have many times least of pride and infolence, of passion and fierceness. Those who are better bred are common. ly of more gentle and civil difpofitions : but yet they do not therefore want true courage, though they have not the roughness and fool-bardiness of men of ruder breeding. So in a true Christian, courage

and greatness of mind is very consistent with meekness, and patience, and humility. Not that all good men are very couragious; there is much of this in the natural temper of men, which religion does not quite alter. But that which I am concerned to maintain is, that Christianity is no hinderance to mens courage, and that ceteris paribus, fuppofing men of equal tempers, no man bath so much reason to be valiant, as he that hath a good conscience; I do not mean a blustering, and boisterous, and rash courage ; but a fober, and calm, and fixt valour,

2. I appeal to experience for the truth of this. Did ever greater courage and contempt of death appear in all ages and sexes, and conditions of men, ihan in the primitive martyrs ? were any of the heathen soldiers comparable to the Christian legion, for resolution and courage, even the Heathen themselves being judges : The religion of Mahomet seems to. be contrived to inspire men with fierceness and de. fperateness of resolution, and yet I do not find but that generally where there hath been any equality for numbers, the Christians bave been superior to them in valour, and bave given greater instances of

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resolution and courage than the Turks have done. So that I wonder upon what grounds this objectio on hath been taken up against Christianity, when there is nothing either in the nature of this religion, or from the experience of the world, to give any tolerable countenance to it. And surely the best way to know what effect any religion is likely to have upon the minds of men, is to consider what effects it hath had in the constant experience of mankind. There remains the other two objections, which I mentioned; but I must reserve them to another op portunity.

S E R M O N CXIX.

The prejudices against Jesus and his reli

gion considered

MATTH. xi. 6. and bleffed is he whosoever fhall not be offended in

me.

The second fermon on this text.

F

IROM thefe words I proposed to consider these two things :

1. The prejudices and obje&ions which the world at first had, and many still have, against our blessed Saviour and his religion.

II. That it is a great happiness to escape the coma mon prejudices which men are apt to entertain a. gainst religion.

I have considered those objections which the Jews and heathen Philosophers made against our Saviour and bis religion: And,

II. Those which at this day are infifted upon by the fecret and open enemies of our religion. And I men. tioned seven; the two last of which I Thall now. fpeak

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sixthly, It is objected, that there are many divifions and factions among Christians. This I confess is a great reproach and scandal to our religion : but no fufficient argument against it. And,

1. To lessen and abate the force of this objection, it is to be considered, that a very great part of the divisions that are among those that are called Chri. tians, are about things that do not concern the essen. tials of Christianity, and therefore they are no argument that Christianity is not true, because they bring no suspicion of doubt and uncertainty upon the fundamentals of Christianity, which all agree in, though they differ in other things. 'Tis true indeed they are very undecent, and contrary to the nature and precepts of the Christian religion, which, above any religion in the world, does ftri&tly require love and unity. They take off much from the strength and beauty of religion, but do by no means destroy the truth of it.

2. How many and great foever they may be, yet they can with no colour of reason be imputed to the Christian religion, as giving any cause or encouragement to them, however by accident it may be the occasion of them. For no man doubts but that the best things in the world may be perverted by bad men, and made an occasion of a great deal of mischief in the world, and yet be very innocent of all that mischief. No man can deny but that Christianity does ftri&ly enjoin love, and peace, and unity among all the members of that profession; and so far as Christians are factious and unpeaceable, so far they are no Christians. So that a man may as well except against Philosophy, because of the differences that were among the Philosophers, and say there was no truth among them, because they were not all agreed in all things, as call the truth of Christianity in question, for the differences that are among Christians. Nay, a man might every whit as well except against laws and government; because notwithịtanding them, there are frequent feditions, and rebellions, infinite suits and controversies occasioned even by the very laws : but no man was ever so un

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reasonable as to think this a good reason against laws and government.

3. The divisions of Christians are so far from be. ing an argument against Christianity, that, on the contrary, they are an argument that men should embrace Christianity more heartily, and make more cona science of obeying the precepts of it. And if they did this, the greatest part of those contentions and uncharitable animofities which are among them would presently cease. If the Christian religion were truly entertained, and men did seriously mind the precepts of it, and give up themselves to the obedience of its laws, differences would not be easily commenced, nor so vehemently profecuted, nor só pertinacious ly continued in, as they are. Men would not, upon every night reason, and little doubt and scruple, rend and tear the body of Christ in pieces, and rea parate themselves from the communion of the church they live in, and in which they were baptized and received their Chriftianity.

If men seriously considered, and truly understood what they do, when they divide the church of Christ upon little fcruples and pretences, they would hardly be able to think themselves Christians, whilst they continued in these unchristian and uncharitable pra. etices.

If men would but be, or do what Christianity res quires, there would be no occafion for this objectia on; and if men will not, Christian religion is not to be blamed for it, but those that act so contrary to the plain precepts and directions of it. I proceed

Seventh and last objection, the vicious and wicked lives of a great part of the professors of Christianity. This is a heavy objection indeed, and such an one, that though we may juftly be ashamed to own the truth of it, yet can we not have the face to de ny it. It is so sad a truth, that it is enough to con found us, and to fill all our faces with Thame and blushing; but yet it is an objection not so strong against Christianity, as it is shameful to Chriftians.

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