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“ of your doings from before mine eyes. Cease to SERM.
CCVIII. “ do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve “ the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the « widow. Come now, and let us reason together, « faith the LORD. Though your sins be as scarlet, “ &tę." Upon these terms God declares himself ready to be reconciled to them, and to have mercy on them. But all their external services and facrifi-, ces, separated from real goodness and righteousness, were so far from appealing God's wrath, that they did but increase the provocation. And to the same purpofe, chap. Ixvi. 2, 3.. " To this man will I e look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite « spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that kill" eth an ox, is as if he flew a man: he that facrifi-, « ceth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck : he 4 that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swinęs « blood: he that burneth incense, as if he blessed « an idol, Yea, they have chosen their own ways, « and their soul delighted in their abomination.”. Jer. vi, 19, 20. “ Hear, O earth : behold, I will o bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of o their thoughts, because they have not hearkened s unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it. • To what purpose cometh there to me incenfe 5 from Sheba ? and the sweet cane from a far coun“ try? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor f your facrifices sweet unto me.” They thought to please God with costly incense and sacrifices, whilft they rejected his law. And chap. vii .4, 5, 6. “ Trust ye not in lying words, saying, the temple “ of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the tem. u ple of the LORD are these. For if ye thoroughly “ amend your ways, and your doings : if ye tho“ roughly execute judgment between a man and
SER M,“ his neighbour , if ye oppress not the stranger,
j" the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not in-
And in the time of our blessed SAVIOUR, those who pretended to be inost devout among the Jews, were wholly busied about their pretended traditions of washing of hands, and the outsides of their cups
and dishes, and about the external and leffer things SER M.
CCVIII. of the law, the tything of mint, and anise, and cummin and all manner of herbs, omitting in the mean time the weightier matters of the law, “ judgment, « mercy, and faith, and the love of God,” as our SAVIOUR describes their religion, Matth. xxiii. 23.
And after the clear revelation of the gospel, the best and most perfect institution that ever was, in the very beginning of christianity, what licentious doc. trines did their creep in, " turning the grace of God “ into lasciviousness," and releasing men from all moral duties, and the virtues of a good life?" by « reason whereof the way of truth was evil spoken « of,” as St. Peter, and St. Jude expresly tell us, concerning the sect of the Gnofticks. And St. John likewise describes the same feet by their arrogant pretences to extraordinary knowledge and illumination, whilst they walked in darkness, and allowed themselves in all manner of wickedness of life; they pretended to perfection and righteousness, without keeping the commandments of God. · And in the next following age of christianity, how was it pestered with a triding controverfy about the time of the observation of Easter, and with endless disputes and niceties about the doctrine of the Trinity, and the two natures and wills of CHRIST! by which means the practice of christianity was greatly neglected, and the main end and design of that excellent religion almoft quite defeated and lost.
After this, when the mystery of iniquity began to Thew itself, in the degeneracy of the Roman church from her primitive fanctity and purity, and in the affectation of an undue and boundless power over other churches, the christian religion began to be over-run with superstition, and the primitive fervour
SER M. of piety and devotion was turned into a fierce zeal CCVIII.
*s and contention about matters of no moment and im-,
portance; of whichwe have a most remarkable instance here in our own nation, when Austin the monk arrived here to convert the nation, and preach the Gospel amongst us, as the church of Rome pretend. ed; but against all faith and truth of history, which assures us that christianity was planted here among the Britains several ages before, and perhaps sooner than even at Rome itself; and not only so, but had got considerable footing among the Saxons before Austin the monk ever set foot amongst us ; I say, when Austin the monk arrived here, the two great points of his christianity, were to bring the Bricains to a conformity with the church of Rome in the time of Easter, and in the tonsure and shaving of the priests, after the manner of St. Peter, as they pretended, upon the crown of the head, and not of St, Paul, which was by shaving or cutting close the hair of the whole head, as from some vain and foolith tradition he pretended to have learned: the promoting of these two customs was his great errand and business, and the zeal of his preaching was spent up: on these two fundamental points ; in which after ve, ry barbarous and bloody doings, he at last prevailed. And this is the conversion of England, so much boasted of by the church of Rome, and for which this Austin is magnified for so great a faint; when it is very evident from the history of those times, that he was a proud, ignorant, turbulent, and cruel man, who instead of first converting the nation to the faith of Christ, confounded the purity and sinplicity of the christian religion, which had been planted and established anong us long before.
In latter ages, when the man of sin was grown up
to his full stature, the great business of religion was SERM.
CCVILI. the pope's absolute and universal authority over all Christians, even kings and princes, in order to fpiricual matters ; ecclesiastical liberties and immunities; and the exemption of the clergy, and all matters belonging to them, from the cognizance of the secular power ; the great points which Tho. a Becket contended fo earnestly for, calling it the cause of CHRIST, and in the maintenance whereof he perfifted to the death, and was canonized as a faint and a martyr. And among the people, their piety confifted in the promoting of monkery, and founding and endowing monasteries ; in infinite superstitions, foolish doctrines, and more abfurd miracles to confirm them; in purchasing indulgencies with money, and hearing of masses for the redemption of souls out of purgatory; in the idolatrous worship of faints and their relicks and images, and especially of the blessed virgin, which at last grew to that height, as to make up the greatest part of their worship and devotion both publick and private. And indeed they have brought matters to that absurd pass, that one may truly say, that the whole business of their devotion is to teach men to worship images, and images to worship God. For to be present at divine service and prayer celebrated in an unknown tongue, is not the worship of men and reasonable creatures, but of statues and images, who though they be present in the place where this service is performed, yet they bear no part in it, being void of all sense and understanding of what is done. And indeed in their whole religion, such as it is, they drive so strict a bargain with God, and treat him in fo arrogant a' manner, by their insolent doctrine of the merit of good works, as if God were as much beholden to them for their