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St. JAMES's Chapel.
The wicked Lives of Chriftians no Argument against the Truth of Christianity.
1 Tim. vi. I.
That the Name of God, and his Doctrine be not Blafphemed.
HE Purity and Perfection of the SER M. Chriftian Morality, confidering II. the Meanness of the Persons who published that Doctrine, is a fure Argument
SERM. of its divine Original and Authority. II. But then the Lives of many Christians, led in a way fo little answerable to the Precepts of Christ, are a mighty Dishonour to our Religion, and give Occafion to those who feek Occafion, to reproach and blafpheme it.
What fignifies it, fays the Libertine, or indeed how can one be satisfied, that the Gofpel is of heavenly Extra&tion; when we fee, it hath no more Efficacy and Influence on the Hearts and Lives of those who profess it, than other Religions that are of mere Human Contrivance; when there is as much Impiety, and Vice of all forts among those that name the Name of Chrift, as among the Mahometans and Heathens?
This popular Objection St. Paul appears to have had much upon his Thoughts, and doth therefore frequently prefs his new Converts in this and other Epiftles, to diftinguifh themfelves by a becoming Sanctity of Life and Manners; for this Reafon among
others, That the Name of God and his SERM. Doctrine be not blafphemed.
If there were great Occafion for fuch Exhortations then, there is much great
when the Manners of Chriftians are degenerated fo far, not only from the Precepts of Chrift, but even from the Pattern fet by those first Believers; and when there are even among those, who call themselves Chriftians, fome, as ready to lay hold of this Objection, and to urge it in Prejudice of our Religion, as any of the most determined Heathens, even Porphyry, Celfus or Julian himself were.
From the Words therefore, a proper Occafion will be given me to enquire,
I. What Ground there is for a Complaint of the extreme Wickedness of Men now under the Evangelical Difpenfation.
II. Allowing the Complaint to be juft, how little Reason there yet would be for turning it to the