Imatges de pÓgina



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printed, within two months after they are preached, and one copy shall be given to the “ Chancellor of the University, and one copy to " the Head of every College, and one copy to “ the Mayor of the city of Oxford, and one

copy to be put into the Bodleian Library; and " the expence of printing them shall be paid " out of the revenue of the Land or Estates “ given for establishing the Divinity Lecture “ Sermons; and the Preacher shall not be paid, “nor be entitled to the revenue, before they " are printed.

“ Also I direct and appoint, that no person “ shall be qualified to preach the Divinity Lec“ ture Sermons, unless he hath taken the degree

of Master of Arts at least, in one of the “ two Universities of Oxford or Cambridge ; « and that the same person shall never preach “ the Divinity Lecture Sermons twice.”

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1 JOHN-iv. I.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spi

rits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. THE multiplied divisions of the Christian Church, and the diversified expositions of the Christian Scriptures, have afforded an occasion of perplexity to them that are weak in faith, and of premature triumph and exultation to the rash and inconsiderate unbeliever.' The one denies that the truth can be found in the assumed variableness of divine revelation, and the other is without hope of discovering that settled standard of doctrine, by which he is anxious to regulate the profession of his faith. Both agree in an opinion which seems to result


naturally from a cursory and superficial view of the question, that a religion, which issued from God, and is designed for the present instruction and the final salvation of mankind, would have been received with holy deference, and not have been altered by men to whom it came, and would have been preserved from all material error by God, from whom it proceeded. They both overlook the weakness and corruption of the vessels to which the heavenly treasure has been committed; they reflect not upon the state of the world, upon the interests, the passions, the pride, and the prejudices, which this religion was intended to counteract and oppose; they examine not the prophecies which from the beginning have spoken of the infirmities which this religion should exhibit, and of the trials which it should encounter in the appointed theatre of its probation.

If it were possible to have no experience of the vanity of human reason, and no sense of the imbecility and inconstancy of human virtue; if the truths of the Christian revelation, and its distinguishing precept of mu

tual love could be proclaimed to men in a state of moral perfection; if they should be informed that the duty is illustrated by frequent allusions to the divine benevolence, that the doctrine flows from the source of infinite wisdom, and that both are sanctioned and recommended by the most powerful and affecting obligations; if, at the same time, the intimations of prophecy should be suppressed, and they should be left to form their own conclusions of the success or the failure of this religion from an abstract view of its intrinsic merit;-jf hearers possessing these qualifications, or placed under these circumstances, could be found, they would have no hesitation in declaring, that the Christian religion would be received by all men, that it would be practised by all men, and render their dwellings a sanctuary of truth, and love, and peace. But when we reflect

what passes within our own hearts and before our eyes, when we unfold the vision and the prophecy which represent the corruption of truth, the distractions of charity, and : the oppositions of worldly interest,


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