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Shewing what RELIGION is, and how the KNOWLEDGE of it is to be obtained.
Nder the Name of Religion is comprehended all that Worship and Service, which is due from Men to God: Whatever we ought or are bound to do in Obedience to him: Whatever he will reward us for Doing, or punish us for not Doing.
a In order therefore, to worship and ferve God. as we ought to do; we muft, first, Believe that he is; That he hath given us Laws and Commandments to keep; That he is a Rewarder of them that diligently feek him, and of fuch as do according to all that he hath commanded them; And, That he taketh Vengeance on them that obey him not.
b And, for the better understanding the nature and extent of our Duty, in all respects, together with the Grounds and Reafons of our Obligation, it behoves us, in the next place, to inform our felves, as truly and particularly as we can, who the Lord is whom we are to ferve; what Attributes and Perfections belong to him, and what Works he hath wrought: As also, what manner of Beings we our felves are, who are commanded to ferve him; what Capacities and Inclinations we have; what State and Condition we are in, and in what Relation we stand to God.
After which, it will be neceffary for us to enquire, how and in what manner God is to be WorShipped, and what thofe Laws and Ordinances are, which he hath commanded us to observe.
c And then, for our greater Encouragement to Serve God, in all fuch things as we shall find to be enjoined us, and to perfevere in our Obedience to him. It is requisite for us to know what Happinefs God hath prepared for them that love and. obey him, and what Mifery he hath provided for fuch as tranfgrefs his Commandments: How great, bow certain, and of what continuance both the Joy, and the Terror of the Lord are?
*Heb. 11. 6. Ex. 24. 12. Joh. 13. 34. Ex. 16. 28. Heb. Ex. 5. 2. Joh. 9. 11. 6. 1 Kings. 9. 4. 2 Theff. 1. §. 36. Joh. 24. 15. 8. 10. 2 Cor. s. II.
1 Cor. 2. 9. 2 Chr. 24. 20. Neh.
The Neceffity of Searching the SCRIPTURES.
a These are the things which every Man is concerned to be well inftructed in; and the truest and ~fhortest way of attaining fuch Knowledge as this, is, by Searching the Scriptures.
b For They are they, which teftify of God; which fhew us, what is good, and what the Lord doth require of us; which fet before us the way of Life, and the way of Death; and which teach us what we must do, to be faved, from the Wrath to come, and to inherit eternal Life.
The way of Man is not now in himself; It is not in Man that walketh to direct his Steps. Tho' we can by Nature, do many things contained in the Law of God; and tho' we can in many cafes, even of our felves, judge what is right, our Confcience bearing witness, to what is Good or Evil, either, by excufing, or else, accufing us accordingly; yet we are not a fufficient Law unto our felves. Notwithstanding therefore, the Law written in our Hearts, we shall never come to the full Knowledge of that good and acceptable, and perfect Will of God, which is to direct us in this Life, but by his Word, which he hath in due times manifefted to us: from whence we may be fully inftructed in all things which belong unto our Peace, and Salvation, even the Salvation of our Souls.
a Joh. s. 39.
Jer. 21. 8 Jer. 10. 23. Rom. 12. 2,
a And if any Man fin, (as in many things we offend all) there is no other way of being affur'd that we shall not all likewife perish, but from the Scriptures; which acquaint us that we have an Advocate with the Father; and give us an account in what manner, and upon what terms God is pleafed to reconcile us to himself.
b All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God, and is profitable for Doctrine, for Reproof, for Correction, for Inftruction in Righteoufpefs; that fuch as defire to ferve God truly may be Perfect, throughly furnished unto all good Works.
c Whatsoever things were written aforetime by Holy Men of God, who fpake as they were moved by the Holy Ghoft, were written for our Learning, that we, through Patience and Comfort of the Scriptures, might have Hope.
d Unto the Jews first were committed the Oracles of God; for God fpake with them from Heaven, and gave them right Judgments, and true Laws, good Statutes and Commandments, by the Hand of Mofes his Servant, who fhewed them the way wherein they were to walk, and the Work that they were to do.
e And the fame God, who, at fundry times, and in divers manners, fpake in times paft unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last Days spoken unto us by his Son; and that which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.
1 John 2. 1. Jam. 3. 2. Luke 13. 3. 1 John 2. 1. 2 Cor. 5. 18. 2 Tim. 3. 16, 17. Rom. 15. 4. 15.4. Rom. 3. 2. Neh. 9. 13, 14. Heb. 1. 1, 2. Heb. 2. 3.)
2 Pet. 1, 21. Rom. Ex. 18. 20.
a This is the glorious Gospel of the Bleffed God, which is not after Man, neither was it received of Man, neither was any Man taught it but by the Revelation of Chrift; who taught the way of God truly, and enabled his Apostles and Minifters to declare unto us all the Counsel of God.
b And, that we might know the Certainty of those things wherein they were inftructed, to whom the Gospel was first preached, there is fet forth, in order to us, a Declaration of those things which were moft furely believed among them, even as they were delivered by thofe which from the beginning were Eye-witneffes, and Minifters of the Word, and had perfect Understanding of all things: who kept back nothing that was profitable unto us.
We ought therefore to receive with Meekness, and all readiness of Mind, the ingrafted Word, which is able to fave our Souls; believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets; and more especially holding faft that form of found Words, and that Faith which was once deliver'd unto the Saints, in the Writings of the New Teftament.
And that we may not err concerning the Faith, Let us take care that we do not think of Men above that which is written; That we are not Curious about the Times and Seafons, which we have no need to know; That we avoid foolish and unlearned Questions, profane and vain
a 1 Tim. I. 11. Gal. I. 11, 12. Luke 20. 21. I Tim. 1. 12. A&s 20. 27. b Luke 1. 4, 1. Luke 1. 1, 2, 3. Acts 20. 20.
Jam. 1. 21. A&s 17. 11. A&s 24. 14. 2 Tim. 1. 13. Jude 3. d1 Tim. 6. 21. I Cor. 4. 6. I Theff. s. I. 2 Tim. 2. 23. 1 Tim. 6. 20.