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CHRISTIANITY as old as the CREATION :
That God, at all Times, has given Mankind fufficient Means of knowing whatever he requires of them ; and what thofe Means are.
THIS early Vifit, Sir, gives me Hopes it
will not be a fhort One.
B. I come to talk with You on a Subject, which may, perhaps, keep me longer with You than You defire.
A. YOUR uncommon Temper and Candor, in debating even the most important Points, will always make your Converfation agreeable, tho' ever fo long; but pray, what is to be the Subject of our Morning's Discourse?
B. I was Yesterday in Company with a great many Clergymen, it being our Bishop's primary Vifitation; where the Com
Complaint was general, of the Coldness and Indifference, with which People receiv'd the fpeculative Points of Chri stianity, and all its holy Rites; for which formerly they had fhewn fo great a Zeal. This Coldness they chiefly imputed to those Low Church-men, who lay the main Stress on Natural Religion; and withal fò magnify the Doctrine of Sincerity, as in Effect to place all Religions on a Level, where the Profeffors are alike fincere. The Promoters of thefe Notions, as well as the Notions themselves, were expos'd with Warmth; how justly I will not determine, till we have talk'd the Matter over with our ufual Freedom: For which Reafon, I have made You this early Vifit, and wou'd be glad to know the Sentiments of fo good a Judge, on these Two important Points; viz. Sincerity, and Natural Religion.
A. I thank You for this Favour, and fhall freely tell You, I fo little agree with thofe Gentlemen in relation to Sincerity, that I think a fincere Examination into religious Matters can't be too much prefs'd; this being the Only Way to difeover True Christianity: The Apoftles thought themfelves oblig'd, in making Profelites, to recommend an impartial Search; they both defir'd, and requir'd Men to judge for themselves, to prove all Things, &c. this they thought neceffary, in Order to renounce a Religion, which the Force of Education had imprefs'd on their Minds; and embrace another directly contrary to the Notions, and Prejudices, they had imbib'd. Nay, even thofe very Men, who most ridicule the Doctrine of Sincerity, never fail on other Occafions to affert, that Infidelity is owing to the Want of a fincere Examination; and that whofoever impartially confiders Christianity, must be convinc'd of its Truth. And I might add, That cou'd we fuppofe, a fincere Examination wou'd
not always produce this Effect, yet muft it always make Men acceptable to God; fince that is all God can require; all that it is in their Power to do for the Discovery of his Will. These, in short, are my Sentiments as to This Point; and as to the Other, I think, too great a Strefs can't be laid on Natural Religion; which, as I take it, differs not from Reveal'd, but in the Manner of its being communicated: The One being the Internal, as the Other the External Revelation of the fame Unchangeable Will of a Being, who is alike at all Times infinitely Wife and Good.
B. SURELY, Sir, this must be extremely heterodox. Can you believe, that Natural and Reveal'd Religion differ in nothing, but the Manner of their being convey'd to us?
A. As heterodox as I may feem at present, I doubt not, but by asking you a few Questions, to let you fee, I advance nothing in either of these Points without Reason; and in Order to it, I defire to be inform'd, Whether God has not, from the Beginning, given Mankind some Rule, or Law, for their Conduct? And whether the observing That did not make 'em acceptable to him?
B. THERE can be, no Doubt, but the observing such a Law, must have answer'd the End for which it was giv'n; and made Men acceptable to God.
A. WHAT more can any external Revelation do, than render Men acceptable to God? Again,
IF God, then, from the Beginning, gave Men a Religion, I ask, was That Religion imperfect, or perfect?
B. Most perfect, without Doubt; fince no Religion can come from a Being of infinite Wisdom and Perfection, but what is abfolutely perfect.
A. CAN, therefore, a Religion abfolutely perfect, admit of any Alteration; or be capable of Addition, or DiminųB 2