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"of your doings from before mine eyes. Ceafe to SER M. "do evil, learn to do well, feek judgment, relieve "the oppreffed, judge the fatherless, plead for the "widow. Come now, and let us reason together, "faith the LORD. Though your fins be as scarlet, "&c." Upon these terms GoD declares himself ready to be reconciled to them, and to have mercy on them. But all their external fervices and facrifices, separated from real goodness and righteousness,, were fo far from appealing God's wrath, that they did but increase the provocation. And to the fame purpose, chap. Ixvi. 2, 3. "To this man will I "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 "that offereth an oblation, as if he offered fwines.
blood: he that burneth incenfe, as if he bleffed "an idol, Yea, they have chofen their own ways, " and their foul delighted in their abomination.". Jer. vi. 19, 20. "Hear, O earth: behold, I will "bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of "their thoughts, because they have not hearkened "unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it. "To what purpose cometh there to me incenfe from Sheba ? and the sweet cane from a far coun"try? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your facrifices fweet unto me." They thought
to please GOD with coftly incenfe and facrifices, whilst they rejected his law. And chap. vii .4, 5, 6. "Trust ye not in lying words, faying, the temple "of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are thefe. For if ye thoroughly "amend your ways, and your doings: if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and
SERM. his neighbour; if ye opprefs not the ftranger, CCVIII. "the fatherlefs, and the widow, and fhed not in
"nocent blood in this place, neither walk after other "gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell "in this place." And ver. 8, 9, 10. "Behold, ye truft in lying words that cannot profit. Will "ye fteal, murder, and commit adultery, and fwear
falfly, and burn incenfe unto Baal, and walk af"ter other gods, whom ye know not and come "and stand before me in this houfe, which is call"ed by my name, and fay, we are delivered to do "all these abominations ?" This was to add impudence to all their other impieties, to think that the worship of GOD, and his holy temple did excufe these grofs crimes and immoralities. Micah. vi. 6, 7, 8. There GOD reprefents the Jews, as defirous to please GoD at any rate, provided their lufts and vices might be spared, and they might not be obliged to amend and reform their lives. "Wherewith "fhall I come before the LORD, and bow my self "before the high GOD? Shall I come before him " with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? "Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, "and with ten thousands of rivers of oyl? Shall F "give my first-born for my tranfgreffions, the fruit "of my body for the fin of my foul?" All this they would willingly do: but all this will not do without real virtue and goodnefs, " he hath fhewed "thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the "LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to "love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
And in the time of our bleffed SAVIOUR, those who pretended to be moft devout among the Jews, were wholly bufied about their pretended traditions of washing of hands, and the outfides of their cups
and dishes, and about the external and leffer things SERM. of the law, the tything of mint, and anife, 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 inftitution that ever was, in the very beginning of christianity, what licentious doctrines did their creep in, " turning the grace of GoD "into lasciviousness," and releafing men from all moral duties, and the virtues of a good life?" by "reafon whereof the way of truth was evil spoken "of," as St. Peter, and St. Jude exprefly tell us, concerning the fect of the Gnofticks. And St. John likewise describes the fame fect by their arrogant pretences to extraordinary knowledge and illumination, whilft they walked in darkness, and allowed themfelves in all manner of wickedness of life; they pretended to perfection and righteoufnefs, without keeping the commandments of GOD.
And in the next following age of christianity, how was it pestered with a trifling controversy about the time of the obfervation of Eafter, and with endlefs difputes and niceties about the doctrine of the Trinity, and the two natures and wills of CHRIST! by which means the practice of chriftianity was greatly neglected, and the main end and defign of that excellent religion almoft quite defeated and lost.
After this, when the mystery of iniquity began to shew 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 chriftian religion began to be over-run with fuperftition, and the primitive fervour
SER M. of piety and devotion was turned into a fierce zeal. CCVIII. and contention about matters of no moment and im-.
portance; of whichwe have a most remarkable inftance 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 pretended; but against all faith and truth of history, which affures us that christianity was planted here among the Britains several ages before, and perhaps fooner than even at Rome itself, and not only fo, but had got confiderable footing among the Saxons before Austin the monk ever fet foot amongst us; I fay, when Austin the monk arrived here, the two great points of his chriftianity, were to bring the Britains to a conformity with the church of Rome in the time of Eafter, and in the tonfure and fhaving 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 fhaving or cutting clofe the hair of the whole head, as from fome vain and foolifh tradition he pretended to have learned: the promoting of these two cuftoms was his great errand and bufinefs, and the zeal of his preaching was spent up on these two fundamental points; in which after very barbarous and bloody doings, he at last prevailed. And this is the converfion of England, fo much boafted of by the church of Rome, and for which this Auftin is magnified for fo great a faint; when it is very evident from the hiftory of thofe times, that he was a proud, ignorant, turbulent, and cruel man, who instead of firft converting the nation to the faith of CHRIST, confounded the purity and fimplicity of the christian religion, which had been planted and established among us long before.
In latter ages, when the man of fin was grown up
to his full ftature, the great bufinefs of religion was SERM.. the pope's abfolute and univerfal authority over all, Christians, even kings and princes, in order to fpiritual matters; ecclefiaftical liberties and immunities; and the exemption of the clergy, and all matters belonging to them, from the cognizance of the fecular power; the great points which Tho. a Becket contended so earneftly 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 monafteries; in infinite fuperftitions, foolish doctrines, and more abfurd miracles to confirm them; in purchafing indulgencies with money, and hearing of maffes for the redemption of fouls out of purgatory; in the idolatrous worship of faints and their relicks and images, and efpecially of the bleffed virgin, which at laft 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 abfurd pafs, that one may truly fay, that the whole business of their devotion is to teach men to worship images, and images to worship GOD. For to be prefent at divine service and prayer celebrated in an unknown tongue, is not the worship of men and reasonable creatures, but of ftatues and images, who though they be prefent in the place where this fervice is performed, yet they bear no part in it, being void of all fenfe and understanding of what is done. And indeed in their whole religion, fuch as it is, they drive so strict a bargain with GOD, and treat him in fo arrogant a manner, by their infolent doctrine of the merit of good works, as if GOD were as much beholden to them for their