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permission from his spiritual superiors to do so, even though with the design of confuting them. If he reads them without such leave, he runs the risk of being hurt by them, notwithstanding all his learning, in punishment of his disobedience to what the laws of God require of him. But, if he has such permission, and reads with an intention of confuting them, he may then do it lawfully, and has every reason to hope that God will preserve him from danger. In like manner, if a learned person, by permission of his lawful superiors, should should go the meetings of those of a false religion, precisely to learn their ways and doctrine, that he may be able the better to confute it, this will take away the sin as to this one point of exposing himself to the danger; but then, even this will not excuse the other evils of his doing so; namely, its being an apparent communication with a false religion, a seeming approbation of it, and a source of offence and scandal to the faithful, the bulk of whom hearing of his doing so, and not knowing either the permission he has got, or the intention with which he goes, cannot fail to be greatly offended and scandalized by it. So that, except in such circumstances where all these evils could also be prevented, such permission could not be granted; and though granted, would not, I fear, give him full security before the tribunal of God; especially when it is considered that there seldom or ever can be a necessity for granting such permission, since the tenets and doctrines of all false religions can easily be known from their books, or from the relation of others without doing a thing so detrimental to the honour of the true religion, and so obnoxious in the eyes of all pious members of the Church of Christ.


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