« PreviousContinue »
a pure heart, and of a good confcience, and of faith unfeigned. St. James fays; Pure Jam. i. religion and undefiled before God and the 27. Father, is this; To vifit the fatherless and widows, in their affliction, and to keep one's felf unspotted from the world. St. Peter expreffes himself thus; Seeing ye have purified your fouls in obeying the truth, through the fpirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren; fee that ye love one another, with a pure heart fervently. For, this is the word which, by the gospel, is preached unto you. And St. John affirms the fame; This is, Joh. iż. the message that ye heard from the beginning, That we should love one another.
Who are the best Chriftians.
It is to be hop'd the foregoing Enquiry will not be thought useless; fince it furnishes us with a Rule, by which we may judge infallibly what fort of Chriftians are the best, and come up, the nearest, to the original Pattern. And we fee plainly, They are Thofe among whom Charity prevails most, and the leaft Stress is laid upon mere Ceremonies.
I Pet. i.
It would be endless, as it is unneceffary, to enter upon an Enquiry how far every particular Church can juftly lay claim to these two diftinguishing Characters; but, without difparaging or cenfuring any other, Those of the Church of England cannot but have the Satisfaction of knowing, that they stand in a very fair Light, as to both thefe Particulars: fince their Charity prevails with them fo far, as to allow Liberty of Confcience to those who, out of Scruple, cannot fafely conform with them; and that they lay no Stress upon any Ceremonies contrary to God's Word written; nor admit of any but what Apoftolic Ufage and Decency recommend: Hoping, at the fame time, that it is no Breach of Charity, to rebuke thofe openly, who willingly and purposely violate fuch ceremonies of their Church, as are not repugnant to the word of God, and are ordain'd and approv'd by common authority.
+ Article XX. of the Church of England.
Of Sacred GIF T S. U But to return from whence we digrefs'd; next to the Sacrifices of the Ifraelites, we may confider their facred Donations, or holy Prefents, made upon a religious Account: which were of three Sorts. Either firft, fuch as the Law pre7 fcrib'd; or fecondly, fuch as had been vow'd by a Vow; or thirdly, fuch as were offer'd up freely and voluntarily, without the Perfon's being under any particular Obligation.
Where the feveral Kinds of Sacrifices are enumerated, which they were to of fer up, on each Day during one of their great Festivals, in the Conclufion, it is faid; These things ye shall do unto the Numb. LORD, in your fet feafts, befides your vows, xxix. 39. and your free-will offerings. Of the first Sort, were First-fruits and Tythes, and a certain Sum, which every one was bound to pay into the Treasury of the Tabernacle or Temple. Unto the Place which the LORD your God shall 5,6. P 2
choofe out of all your Tribes, thither thou
For the First-fruits, the Precept is this: Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy xxii. 30. ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firftborn of thy fons fhalt thou give unto me. Likewife fhalt thou do with thine oxen, and ib. xxiii. with thy sheep. Again, The first of the fruits of thy land, thou shalt bring into the boufe of the LORD thy God.
Thefe Firft-fruits were to be the PorNumb. tion of the Priests and Levites. All the xviii. 12. beft of the oyl, and all the best of the wine,
and of the wheat; the firft-fruits of them, which they shall offer unto the LORD; them have I given thee. Nevertheless, the firft-born of a man, and the firflings of unclean beafts fhalt thou redeem.
of TY THE S.
Of Tythes, the Law fpeaks thus; All Lev, the tythe of the land, whether of the feed 30, &c. of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's; it is holy unto the LORD: of the herd or of the flock, even of whatfoever paffeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD. These likewise were to be the Portion of the Priests and Levites. The Tythes of the children of Ifrael, which they offer as an heave-offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have faid unto them, among the children of Ifrael they fhall have no (other) inheritance.
Numb. xviii. 24.
But the Payment of Tythes, in general, was fourfold. First, that just now mention'd, which the Priests and Levites had for their Inheritance, and might difpose of as they pleas'd, either fell or confume where they thought fit. Secondly, that which the Levites themselves were to pay out of their Tythes, to the HighPrieft. Thus fpeak unto the Levites, and Say unto them, When ye take of the chil- ib. 26,28,