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B. THE Reasons you have given do not fully fatisfy me, but that fome Things may be requir'd by God as Governor of the Universe, which are meerly pofitive; nay, that Rites, and Ceremonies, Signs, or Symbols might be arbitrarily enjoin'd, and so intermix'd with Matters of Morality, as to bind the Confciences of all Men at all Times; and therefore, if you please, we will review this Point.

A. WITH all my Heart; for this alone is the Point that must decide this Question, Whether Natural and Reveal'd Religion do really differ? As for Natural Religion, that, as you well know, takes in all thofe Duties which flow from the Reason and Nature of Things, and the Relations we stand in to God and our Fellow-Creatures; and confequently was there an instituted Religion which differs from That of Nature, its Precepts must be arbitrary, as not founded on the Nature and Reason of Things, but depending on meer Will and Pleasure; otherwise it wou'd be the fame with Natural Religion: And tho' 'tis difficult to prove a Negative, yet, I think, I can fully fhew you, by adding other Reasons to those already mention'd, that God, the great Governor of the Universe, can't give Mankind any fuch Precepts; and confequently, that Natural and Reveal'd Religion only differ in the Manner of their being deliver'd.


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God does not act arbitrarily, or interpofe unnecefarily; but leaves thofe Things, that can only be con fider'd as Means (and as fuch are in their own Nature mutable) to human Difcretion, to determine as it thinks most conducing to thofe Things, which are in their own Nature obligatory.


N Order to settle this Point, 'tis neceffary to fee how far this Natural Law extends; it not only commands that Evil Doers should be punish'd, but that Men, according to the different Circumstances they are under, fhou'd take the most proper Methods for doing it, and vary as Exigences require; so it not only requires that Juftice fhou'd be done Men as to their several Claims, but that the readiest, and most effectual Way of doing it shou'd be taken; and the same may be faid of all other Instances of this Nature. If God interpofes further, and prescribes a particular Way of doing these Things, from which Men at no Time, or upon no Account ought to vary; he not only interposes unnceffarily, but to the Prejudice of the End for which he thus interposes. And as to Matters rela


relating to the Worship of God, it is the Voice of Nature that God fhou'd be publickly worshipp'd; and that Men fhou'd do this in the moft convenient Way, by appointing amongst themselves Time, Place, Perfons, and all other Things which require fpecial Determination: And, certainly, there's as much Reason that Things of this Nature. fhou'd be left to human Difcretion, as any other whatever ;. confidering the different Conditions and Circumftances which Christians may be under, and the Handle defigning Men might otherwise take, to impose upon weak Perfons what they please, on Pretence of divine Right.

THIS being premis'd, the fole Question is, Whether God, who, for many Ages, did not command, or forbid any Thing, but what was moral or immoral; nor yet does fo to the greatest Part of Mankind, has, in fome Places and. in fome Cafes, broke into the Rule of his own Conduct, and iffu'd out certain Commands which have no Foundation in Reason; by obliging Men to obferve fuch Things as wou'd not oblige were they not impos'd; or if the Impofition was taken off, wou'd immediately return to their primitive Indifference ?

To fuppofe then, fuch Commands, is it not to fuppose God acts arbitrarily, and commands for commanding-fake; and that too under the feverest Penalties? Can fuch Commands be the Effects of infinite Wifdom and Goodnefs? Or, if there be no Reason, why a Thing fhou'd be done at all; or if to be done, why it fhou'd be done rather this Way than that Way; or why Men fhou'd not vary Means, as they judge most conducive to the End, for whofe fake alone they were defign'd? Can there be any Caufe, why a Being, which never acts unneceffarily, and whofe Commands are all the Effects of infinite Wifdom, fhou'd interpofe? 'Tis fo far


from being neceffary for God to interpofe in fuch Cafes as these, that it only serves for a Handle to human Impofition; for there's nothing fo indifferent, but may, if believ'd to have Divinity stamp'd upon it, be perverted by defigning Men to the vileft Purposes; and in Truth, there's nothing of this Nature introduc'd into Religion; but what, I am afraid, has been fome Time or other fo perverted.

ONE wou'd think it a Thing wholly indifferent, who fprinkl'd an Infant, or from whofe Hands we receiv'd the Sacramental Bread and Wine, as long as the Rules of Decen cy and Order were obferv'd; yet has there not been a Set of Men, who, on Pretence of a divine Right to do those Things, have made the Chriftian World believe, they have a difcretionary Power to beftow, or with-hold the Means of Salvation; and, by Virtue of this Claim, have over-aw'd them into flavish Obedience, and a blind Submiffion.

THERE'S no Good or Hurt in drawing two Lines cross one another, and yet what have not Priefts made the poor People believe they cou'd do by Virtue of it; as Curing Difeafes, Driving away Devils, and doing an Infinity of other Miracles? And in fhort, they have made it one of the chief Engines of their Craft, for the better carrying on of which, they perfuaded the People to adore the Cross, miraculously found after it had been bury'd about three hundred Years; and the Wood of it has fince fo wonderfully encreas'd, as to be able to make innumerable Croffes, whereof each Bit contain'd the Virtue of the whole..

CONFESSION of Sins to honeft and judicious Perfons, might be of Service, by the prudent Advice they gave how to avoid the like Sins for the future; but the Popish Priest's claiming a Power by divine Right to abfolve People upon Confeffion, have been let into the Secrets of all Perfons, and

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by Virtue of it have govern'd all Things; and have made the Sins of the People, not to be pardon'd but on their Terms, the Harvest of the Priests.

AMONG the Jews, the Anointing with Oil was look'd on as very medicinal, and generally us'd in Sicknefs; they pray'd, and anointed the Sick in Hopes of a Recovery: But tho' the Anointing in these colder Climates is thought of no Use in Sickness, yet the Papifts have built a most superstitious Practice on it, which, for the greater Reverence, they call the Sacrament of Extreme Unction; and which their Priests are not to administer as long as there's Hopes of Recovery.

WHAT can be more indifferent, or harmless, confider'd in themselves, than the Ceremonies of Oiling the Heads of Kings, and Laying Hands on the Heads of Elders or Presbyters; and yet what abfurd Pretences have not Priests, who have the Art of turning the most indifferent Things to a fuperftitious Ufe, drawn from thence to the Prejudice of both Church and State.

It was an ancient Custom among the Hebrews, when they pray'd for a Bleffing on any Perfon, to lay Hands on him: Thus Jacob laid his Hands on the Sons of Joseph, and Mofes on Joshua. And among the primitive Chriftians, when any Congregation chose their Minister, they pray'd that he might duly execute that Office, to which they had ordain'd him; and in praying, he that was the Mouth of the Congregation (the whole Affembly not being able conveniently to do it) laid his Hands on him.

THIS gave a Rife to the Clergy to pretend, that their Laying on of Hands upon a Man, was neceffary to qualify him for the Ministry; they by that Act having given him the Holy Ghost, and an indelible Character with certain spiritual


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