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SECT. XIII. An exhortation to all Christians who differ from each other, not to require of one another any points of doctrine, but such as every one finds in the New Testament, and have always been believed.

SEEING these things are so, we cannot but earnestly exhort all Christians who differ in opinions, to remember that that only is the true sum and substance of the Christian religion, the truth of which can be proved by the arguments Grotius has alleged; and not those controverted points which each side deny, and which have been the cause of so many evils: further no one that reads over the New Testament with a religious mind, and meditates upon it, can be 275persuaded that there is any other lawgiver but Christ, upon whose law eternal life depends;900900   The words of James, chap. iv. 12. quoted in sect. i. are very express in this matter; where more is said relating hereto. Besides the thing itself speaks here; because amongst the different sects of Christians, none of them believe their adversaries’ authority. nor that any one who is so disposed, can or ought to persuade himself to admit of any thing as necessary to salvation, beside what is the doctrine of Christ and his apostles; or to believe that to be true, which he thinks is contrary to it: wherefore, there is none more certain and present remedy of their differences than this; that nothing be imposed upon Christians, but those things which every one is fully satisfied in his own mind are revealed; nor need we fear any inconvenience from hence, since it is evident, from the experience of all ages past from Christ to this time, that the sum of the Christian religion before laid down was never rejected by any. If this one thing only were at this time required of all Christians as necessary, all their differences would immediately cease;901901   It This was the opinion of James I. king of Great Britain, if we may give credit to Isaac Casaubon, who has these words in his answer to cardinal Perron’s epistle, on the third observation, pag. 30. edit. Loud. 1612. “It is most truly written, in the explication of those things which are absolutely necessary, that it is the king’s opinion that the number of those things which are absolutely necessary to salvation is not great. Wherefore, his majesty thinks, that there is no shorter way to enter in an agreement, than by carefully separating those things that are necessary from those that are not; and that their whole care be employed in agreeing about the necessary things; and that in those things that are not necessary, there be an allowance made for Christian liberty,” &c. and whatever disagreement remained in opinions, it would not belong to the body of the church, but to private persons; every one of which must render an account of their conscience to God. If they did but once understand that they were agreed in the principal matters, as they really are agreed, and would bear with one another in other things, and would not endeavour to bring over 276others in their opinion or rites, by force, or other wicked arts, this would be the only agreement that can be expected on earth. In this ignorance and want of knowledge in mankind,902902   It was very well said by Hilary, concerning the trinity. b. x. ch. 70. “that God does not invite us to happiness through difficult questions, confound us with various sorts of eloquence. Eternity is plain and easy to us, to believe that God raised up Jesus from the dead, and to confess him to be Lord.” hindered by so many passions, no prudent person can expect that all can be brought, either by force or reason, to think and do the same thing. The more generous and understanding minds can never approve of force, which is the attendant of lies, and not of truth; nor do they who are less learned, or who are blinded by passion, or the prejudices of education, or any other thing, as the far greatest part will always be, fully understand the force of reason; nor in the mean time are they to be compelled to do or speak contrary to what they think. Let them who preside in the government of the church think it sufficient. that men, through the help of the immortal God, believe the Gospel; that that faith alone is to be preached as necessary; that the precepts of it are alone to be obeyed, and salvation to be expected from the observation of its laws; and all things will go well. Whilst human things are made equal with divine, and doubtful things, to say no worse of them, equalled with those that are certain, there can be no end of contention, no hopes of peace; which all pious men ought with their most earnest wishes, to desire of the great God, and to endeavour to promote as far as in their power.

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