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Occafioned by the Publication of
Dr STEBBING's Visitation Charge, that had been delivered to the Clergy of the Archdeaconry of Wilts.
FTER I had finished the foregoing
Enquiry, the Reverend Dr Stebbing
published the Vihtation Chargè, that
- he had before delivered to the Clergy of the Archdeaconry of Wilts, in answer, (as common fame will have it) to my book entitled The true Gospel of Yesus Christ asserted; the amount of which answer is this, viz. that what I have represented to be the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is Heathenism, mere Heathenism. To which I reply, let it be so. I am not contending for words, or names, but things; and therefore, if what I have advanced be the truth, which I think it is, then, that is sufficient for my purpose, and Dr Stebbing is at liberty to call it, or stigmatize it, by what name he please. However, if my principles or scheme of Christianity be mere Heathenism, ás Dr Stebbing hath maintained; then, as the doctrine of a future judgment and retribution is a part of that scheme; so consequently, that doctrine, according to Dr Stebbing, is a part of Heathenism, or it is an Heathenish Doctrine ; and then, according to the Doctor, the Heathens were not distitute of that encouragement
to virtue, and diffwahve from vice, which arises from the consideration of future rewards and punishments, as some of our Divines have too hastily maintained that they were.
By the term Heathenism, I think, Dr Stebbing must mean natural Religion; and by mere Heathenism, I think, he must mean púre uncorrupted natural Religion without any mixture or addition ; this, I say, I think, must be his meaning, if he has any fixed ideas to his words. And forasmuch as the Christian Religion is, (aš it must needs be, if it be of God) the pure uncorrupted religion of nature, or as Dr Sherlocke the present Bishop of Salisbury has very justly and truly expressed it, The • Religion of the Gospel is the true original • Religion of reason and nature ;' so, in this view of the case, mere Heathenism is the uncorrupted religion of Christ, or it is that religion which Christ published to the world without any mixture or addition. But then, this is putting the case into such a light as no doubt Dr Stebbing never intended it should appear in. True religion is not a precarious thing, founded only on sovereign and arbitrary will; but is grounded on eternal reason and truth; and as such it must be the fame both yesterday, to day, and for ever. And therefore, if the Christian Religion be of God, (which surely Dr Stebbing will not deny) then, of necessity, it must be neither more, nor less, nor otherwise, than the true original Religion of reason and nature. And,