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designed to engage Christians to mutual love, it was fit that all such provisions should be made, as might advance and maintain it, and all such libertios be taken away, as are apt to enkindle and foment strife. This might, in some instances, produce situations which would be uneasy and hard enough ; but laws consider vhat falls out most commonly, and cannot proside for all particular cases.
The best laws are in some instances very great grievances. But the advantages being balanced with the inconveniences, ineasures are to be taken accordingly. 12
Upon this whole matter I said, tbat pleasure stood in opposition to other considerations of greater weight, and so the decision was easy. And since our Saviour offers us so great rewards, it is but reasonable that he has a privilege of loading these promises with such conditions, as are not in themselves giateful to our natural inclinations : for all that propose high rewards, have thereby a right to exact difficult performances.
To this he said, We are sure the terms, are difficult, but are not so sure of the rewards. Upon this I told him, that we have the same assurance of the rewards that we have of the other parts of the Christian religion. We have the promises of God made to us by Christ, confirmed by many miracles. We have the oarnests of these in the quiet and peace which follow a good conscience;, and in the resur,
Section of Jesus Chrise froni the dead, wlio hath promised to raise us up. So that the reward is sofficiently assured lo us: and there is no reason it should be given to us, before the conditions are performed, on which the promises are made. It is but reasonable we should trust God, and do our duty, in hopes of that eternal lifc, which God, who cannot lie, hath promised.
T'he difficulties are not so greaty as those which sometimes the most common concerns of life bring upon us.
The learning of some trades or sciences, the governing of our health or affairs, bring us often under as great straits. So that it ought to be no just prejudice, that there are some things in religion that are uneasy, since this is rather the effect of our corrupt natures, which are farther depraved by vicious habits, and can hardly turn to any new Gourse of life, without some pain, than of the dictates of Christianity, which are in themselves just and reasonable, and will be easy to us when renewed, and in a good measure restored to our priinitive integrity.
As for the exceptions he had to the maintenance of the clergy, and the authority to which they pretended; if they stretched their designs too far, the gospel did plainly reprove them for it ; so that it was very suitable to that cliurch, which was so grossly faulty this way, us to take the Scriptures out of the hands of the people, since the Scriptores so man
ifestly disclaim all such practices. The priests of the true Christian religion have no secrets among then, which the world must not know, but are only an order of men dedicated to God to attend on sacred things, who ought to be holy in a more peculiar manner, since they are to handle the things of God. It was necessary that such persons should have a due esteem paid them, and fit maintenance appointed for them, that so they might be preserved from the contempt that follows poverty, and the distractions which the providing against it might otherwise involve them in. And as in the order of the worid, it was necessary for the support of magistracy and government, and for preserving its esteem, that some state he used (though it is a happiness when great men have philosophical minds to despise the pageantry of it;) so the plentiful supply of the clergy, if well used and applied by them, will certainly turn to the advantage of religion. And if some men, either through ambition or covetousness, used indirect means or servile compliances to aspire to such dignities, and being possessed of them, applied their wealth either to luxury or vain pomp, or made great fortunes out of it for their families; these were personal failings, in which the doctrines of Christ was not concerned.
He upon that told me plainly, there was nothing that gave him, and many others, a
more secret encouragement in their ill ways, than that those who pretended to believe, lived so that they could not be thought to be in earnest, when they said it. For he was sure religion was either a mere contrivance, or the most important thing that could be ; so that if be once believed, he would set himself in great earnest to live suitably to it. The aspirings that he had observed at court, of some of the clergy, with the servile ways they took to attain to preferment, and the animosities ainong those of several parties, about trifles, made him often think they suspected the things were not true, which in their sermons and discourses they so earnestly recommended.
Of this he had gathered many instances. I knew some of them were mistakes and calumnies; yet I could not deny but something of them might be too true. And I publish this the more freely, to put all that pretend to reJigion, chicfly those that are dedicated to holy functions, in mind of the great obligation that Jies on them to live suitably to their profession; since otherwise a great deal of the irreligion and atheism that is among us may too jastly be charged on them : for wicked men are delighted out of measure when they discover ill things in them, and conclude from thence, not only that they are hypocrites, but that religion itself is a cheat.
But I said to him on this head, that though no good man could continue in the practice
of any known sin, yet such might, by the vio* lence or surprise of temptation, to which they are liable as much as others, be of a sudden overcome to do an ill thing, to their great grief all their life after. And then it was a very unjust inference, upon some few failings, to conclude that such men do not believe themselves. But how bad soever many are, it cannot be denied but that there are, also many, both of the clergy and laity, who give great and real demonstrations of the power which religion has over them; in their contempt of the world, the strictness of their lives, their readiness to forgive injuries, to relieve the poor, and to do good on all occasions. And yet even these may have their failings wherein their constitutions are weak, or their temptations strong and sudden. And in all such cases we are to judge of men, rather by the
course of their lives, than by the errors that they, through infirmity or surprise, may have slipt into.
These were the chief heads we discoursed on; and as far as I can remember, I havęfaithfulx ly repeated the substance of our arguments. I have not concealed the strongest things besar to me ; but tho I have not enlarged on all the excursions of his wit in setting them off, yet I have given them their full strength, as he expressed them; and, as far as I could recollect have used his own words. So that I am ab