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Edward Goldney.

A friendly epistle to the Deists; and a rational prayer recommended to them, in order for their conversion to the Christian religion online

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was the grand embafiy of the blefifed Jefus's coming
into the world, as very evidently appears by all his
divine dodrines. Therefore every unprejudiced ratio-
nal mind muft acknowledge that there is fuch an intrin«
fie value in them, which, if they were engraven on
mens hearts, and praftis'd in their lives, they would
refemble God in all his imitable perfedlions. And
from hence it is exceeding clear and apparent, that the

blefled



[ 37 }

blefTed Jefus fought the honour and glory of God^
and not his own : for " he came down from hea-
*' ven not to do his own will, but the will of him
*' that fent him ; therefore the fame is true, John vi. 38.
*^ and no unrighteoufnefs is in him," John vii. 18..

When he told the Jews that the dodlrine he delivered
was not his own, (he muft be underflood to fpeak as a
man -, for thofe he was fpeaking to looked on him na
more than to be a mere man) his dodrine was not of his
own inventing and devifmg, as a man : it was no con-
trivance merely of his own, becaufe he was commif-
fioned by God, whofe ambaffador and great prophet
he was. Therefore he prefcribed to mankind an infalli-
ble rule, whereby they might be certainly afTured whe-
ther the do(5lrine he preached was from God or not ;
which was, that if any perfon endeavoured to do the will
of God in the bell manner they were capable of, ac^
cording to their knowledge, they Ihould be convinc-
ed of the dodtrine, and its truth. The bleffed Jefus's
feeking the glory of God, and not his own, defir-
ing no applaufe of mankind, is an undoubted evi-
dence and proof to every unprejudiced mind, that his
dodrine was from heaven. He therefore mull be
true, and " no unrighteoufnefs in him," John vii. 18..
Therefore be not faithlefs but believing.

Let me earneflly befeech you, with an honeil up-
right mind, ferioufly to refledl on the whole tenor and
defign of his life and dodlrines, and you will find them
one continued feries of holinefs and goodnefs : travelling
up and down the world, not in a pompous ilation of
life, but on the contrary, in a humble low condition,

E 3 very



[ 38 ]

very defplcable in the fight of the greatefl part of man-
kind : always doing good, either to the bodies or fouls
of men, without refped of perfons, rich and poor,
good and bad, of any profellion or religion, v/ithout
diftindion.

If you will flriflly examine the moral or meaning of
every parable and faying he uttered, you will find fome
one thing or other in each greatly conducing to inftil
holinefs and goodnefs into all whom he ever fpoke
to, readily and chearfully embracing every opportu-
nity thereunto ; even turning their v/icked thoughts,
their ill defigned fpeeches, for their edification and im-
provement, their profit and advantage.

Witnefs, when fome of them interrupted him in
his preacliing, by telling him that his mother and
brethren v/anted to ipeak to him, he anfwered and faid
unto them, " Who is my mother, and who are my
" brethren ? and he ftretched forth his hand tov/ards
'- his dilciples, and faid. Behold my mother, and my
" brethren : for whoibever lliall do the will of my
*' father Vv'hich is in heaven, the fame is my brother,
" and fifcer, and m.other," Matth. xii. 47 to ^o, which
moft gracioufly dilcovers to us, how exceeding dear to
him obedient chrifiians are •, and that he prefers his.
fpiritual kindred before his natural.

Alliance by faith is much more valued by him than
alliance by blood; confequently fpiritual regeneration
bringeth mankind into a more honourable relation to
Chrift, than natural generation,

^^'itI e!i



[ 39 ]

Witnefs alfo, when his difciples had been difputing
one with another, who of them fhould be greateft in
the kingdom of heaven, inftead of upbraiding them
for their needlefs ambitious enquiries about precedency
and preheminence, which of them fliould come to the
higheii dignity and honour, he makes ufe of this oc-
cafion to inculcate the neceflity of humiUty on them,
and becoming children, and as free from ambition as
thofe who afteded nothing of precedency or fuperiority.

From whence we may learn, that thofe who are dig-
nified with church preferments, who have the greateft
titles of honour and profit, ought to be adorned with
the loweft degree of humility, and be fenfible they are
laid under the greateft obligations to be the moft emi-
nently ufeful and ferviceable in the promoting and en«
couraging of real vital religion.

The blefied Jefus aflures his difciples, that " whofo-
" ever ftiould receive a child in his name, receiveth
*' him •, and whofoever Ihould receive him, receiveth
" him that fent him ; for he that was leaft among them,.
« the famefliall be great,'* Luke ix. 48. That is, thofe
who have the moft humbling thoughts of themfelves,
and who difcover it by their adtions, in doing the moft
mortifying felf-denying deeds of kindnefs and goodnefs,
in the fmalleft degree, to any of their fellow creatures,
in the name and for the fake of the bleffed Jefus, ftiall
be valued by him and his father, as if it was done to
them, Markix. 37. Luke ix. 48.

E 4 Whea



[ 40 ]

When a woman, out of a great zeal, lifted up her
voice and faid unto him, '' BlefTed is the womb that
" bare thee, and the paps which thou haft lucked,"
Luke xi. 27 ^ he moft gracioufly inftrudled her and
the audience in the great privileges and blelTings of
thofe who were favoured with divine revelation, which
were much fuperior to any other extern^ advantages
whatever •, " Yea rather, (fays our Lord) bleffed are
" they that hear the word of God, and keep it," ver.
28. that is, much more bleffed are thofe that bare him
in their hearts by faith, who live his commandments.

The blelTednefs of an obedient beUever is fuperior to

any advantages v/hatfoever.

"When Martha interrupted him with a frivolous com-
plaint with refped to her fifter, about the trifling con-
cerns of thi^ life, he very cordially reproved her for
her over folicitude about worldly affairs, which were of
little or no confequence, reminding her of the abfolute
necefHty of caring for her precious and imm.ortal foul,
'•' the one thing needful," v/hich her fifter had fecured
invincible, impregnable ; " Martha, Martha, thou art
" careful and troubled about many things, but one
" thing is needful, and Mary hath chofe that good
^* part which fliall not be taken from her," Luke x.
41^ 42.

This teaches mankind that they fhould be neither
afraid or afhamed of the difpleafure of any of their
frknds or acquaintance, to reprove their failings in the

ipirit



[ 41 1

fpirk of meeknefs, for their fpiritual benefit and ad^
vantage.

No doubt Martha was an honell, well meaning,
friendly woman, yea, a pious good woman, beloved
of the blefled Jefus, notwithftanding ihe is reproved by
him.

He does not find fault with her for her good nature
and generofity, but for her over anxioufnefs and
carking care, her perplexity : that her aifedlions were
too much fet on earthly enjoyments, infinitely in-
ferior to her fpiritual intereil, to the negled of the one
thing needful, her foul.

When the fuperftidous pharifees made a great woft-
der at our Lord's not walhing before dinner, he took an
occafion to reprimand them for their moll abominable
hypocritical outfide righteoufnefs, to their fliameful neg-
le(fl of m.oral re6litude and fubilantial goodnefs, which
was of abfolute neceffity -, who told them, " They made
" clean the outfide of the cup and the platters, but
" their inward part was full of ravening and wicked-
" nefs : they tythe mint and rue, and all manner of
" herbs : the lefler things, neglefling the eflentials ;
" pafiing over judgment and the love of God. Thefe
" ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other
" undone," Matth. xxiii. 23.

Again, when one of his audience defired him to fpeak
to his brother, to divide his temporal eftate with him, he
took the opportunity to dilcourfe againft the prevailing

fin



[ 42 ]

fin of covetoufnefs, diflwading him from fetting his heart
on earthly riches, alTuring him, the happinefs of man's
life confillcd not in the abundance which he pofTefTed,
but in the rational enjoyment of them, fubfervient to
Ipiritual purpofes •, they being of a very uncertain con-
tinuance, at the befl of a perifhing nature : therefore
he takes occafion to difcover to him the ill confequence
of placing any expectations of enjoyment and happi-
nefs in them. The lofs of one fingle breath fruflrating
all future expedations from them •, therefore he counfels
mankind principally to regard their grand interell,
*' Seek ye firft the kingdom of God and his righteouf-
*' nefs, and all thefe things fhall be added unto you,**
Matt. vi. 33.

' But the common way of the world is to be anxious
and feek for the things of an earthly duration. They
would be very eafy and contented to feek worldly enjoy-
ment, and to have heaven without feeking. But the
religion of the blefTed Jefus gives mankind not the leaft
expedation of it, on thofe conditions, but difcounte-
nances it. He inflrucls them to afk, feek, and flrive with
thegreatcfl afliduity, afluringthem fuccefs,Matt.vii. 7, 8.

And if mankind would be but in as good earnefl to
get and fecure heavenly riches, as they are temporary,
by making religion and the falvation of their fouls their
lirll and chief care, they would be abfolutely certain of
receiving " *' riches and honour ^ durable riches and
*' righteoufnefs," Prov. viii. 18. "A crown of glory,
*' that fadeth not away," i Peter v. 4. And in this
world every necelTary enjoyment v/ould be added, as

much



[ 43 ]

much as the wifdom of God (who only knows) in whac
degree they are fit and convenient for them, Luke
xii. 31.

When fome who were in company with him ha4
made fome remarks on the dreadful and terrible cala-
mity that befel the Galileans, he takes occafion to pre-
caution them againfl rafh judgment, and to intereft
them in the abfolute neceflity and importance of re-
pentance, warning them of the horrible confequence
which would attend the negled of it, Luke xiii. i, 2, 3.

When the blefled Jefus honoured one of the phari-
fees to dine with him on the Sabbath, they who were
his chief enemies, contrary to the rules of upright be-
haviour and converfation, and real goodnefs, narrowly
watched him, in order to make the entertainment
become a fnare, hoping that he might do, or fay,
fomething whereby they might accufe him. The bleffed
Jefus knew their ill defign : however, it had not any
influence on him, to prevent his good intentions to op-
pofe their fuperflitious fentiments of religion, for when-
ever he had an opportunity of undeceiving mankind,
he had no regard to the difapprobation of fuperftitious
bigots, either with refped to time or place : therefore,
agreeable to his wonted goodnefs and tender com-
pafTion, he took pity on one of their company, who la-
boured under a dropfical diforder. After fpeaking to the
lawyers and pharifees, relating to the legality of per-
forming cures on the Sabbath day, (who became ful-
lenly fpeechlefs) he worked a miracle, and immedi-
ately healed him, negleding no opportunity of doing

good.



[ 44 ]

'good, however difagreeable to hypocrites ; expoftu-
lating with them on the reafonablenefs of it, propofing
queftions to them of a fimilar nature, parabolical re-
prefentations, whofe arguments were fo exceeding clear
and convincing, that they had nothing to reply, but
continued fullen and filent, which learns mankind that
it muft be well pleafing to God, to do real ads of
kindnefs, benevolence, and all pofTible good on the
Sabbath, as well as on all other days.

The blelTed Jefus obferving the generality of their
company (at this entertainment of the pharifees) to be
tinftured with pride by affedting precedency, he meekly
inlh'uded them in the amiable virtue of humility, mak-
ing it very evidently appear that the confequence of it
would redound to thcmfelves, and be its own reward ;
and that emulation and pride would be their own down-
fall, Luke xiv. I to 12.

The excellent method which the blefled Jefus pre-
icribes in order for mankind to attain real honour, both
from God and man, is to have low, humble, felf-diffi-
dent thoughts of themfelves ; to be fenfible that all their
iinderftandings and knowledge •, all their fuperior abili-
ties, are but wliat they have received, for which reafon
Su Paul direfts chriflians " in lowlinefs of mind, each
to efleem others better than themfelves," Philip, ii. 3.
The wifeft of all mankind has afierted, '' A man's pride
*' fhall bring him low, but honour fhall uphold the
" humble in fpirit," Prov. xxix. 23. and the blefled Je-
fus told the pharifees, *' Whofoever exalteth himfelf
" fhall be abafed j and he that humbleth himfelf fnall

" be



[ 45 ]

*^ be exalted," Luke xiv. ii. He alfo direded the
chief pharifees, that when they made an entertain-
ment for their fellow creatures, in what manner to do
it, fo as it would be well-pleafing to God, which
was to invite poor hearts that fcarcely knew what it was
to fare fumptuoufly all their life-time, viz. the poor,
the maimed, the lame, and the blind, who were real
obje6ls of fympathy and compalTion ; which would be
real goodnefs and godlikenefs, becaufe the bleffed Jefus
juftly obferves, it is not in their power to recompence
again. Confining of feafts to friends, brethren, kinf-
men and rich neighbours, has no intrinfic goodnels
in it, for they are fejifible they will invite again, and
lo return the obligation and feeming friendfhip. But
as to the other poor fouls, in their diftrefled circum-
flances, it is out of their power to do it in this world ;
but their blefling will accompany their benefactors •, for
almighty God, their heavenly Father, who created all
his good creatures for the ufe and benefit of mankind,
will, at the grand and awful day of retribution, abun-
dantly reward them for it, Luke xiv. 12 to 15.

Natural religion is very deficient in thefe refined
moral do6lrines, therefore we are infinitely obliged to
the blelTed Jefus for them. For if all mankind, unbe-
lievers and Ipeculative believers, would become real
chriftians, both high and low, rich and poor, kings on
the throne to coblers in the ftall, each one adling ac-
cording to their different ftations and fituations in
life, as prefcribed in the gofpel ^ this world would
become (comparatively fpeaking) a paradife, inflead of
a cage of unclean birds, as 'tis now. Peace and

plenty



[ 46 ] ■

plenty, unity and concord, friendfnip and good Neigh-
bourhood, and univerfal happinefs would reign on the
whole earth, in a degree as it does in heaven.

Then the potentates of the earth would caufe " their
*' fwords to be turned into plowihares, their fpears into
*' pruning hooks.'* Nation would not then lift up
iword againfl nation, neither have occafion to learn war
any more ; agreeable to the court prophet's predicflion,
Ifa. ii. 4. " Every man then would fit under his vine,
'' and under his fig-tree, none making of him afraid,"
Mich. iv. 4. Then " judgment would run down as
*' waters, and righteoufnefs as a mighty ftream," Amos
V. 24. Then " there would be no more hurling or
" deftroying in all God's holy mountain : for the earth
" would be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the
*' waters cover the fea,'' Ifa. xi. 9. Then " the earth
*' would yield her increafe; and God, even our own
*' God, would blefs us," Pf. Ixvii. 6.

If all mankind would imitate the behaviour of the
bleffed Jefus, they would be blelTmgs to each other,
which was the original defign of their great and good
Creator, Preferver and Redeemer.

O how fweet and engaging, lovely and inviting was
the temper, difpofition and behaviour of our blelTed
Lord when on earth ! enough to foften and cliarm
the moft obdurate rugged heart.

He was one of eafy accefs, of the greateft freedom
and affability j of a mofl delightful excellent difpofition,
quite oppofite to morofenefs, churliihnefs, and ill nature,

always



f 47 1

always unaffededly grave and ferious ; calm and fedatej
fociable and converfible, benevolent and compafTio-
nate, merciful and good, to the higheft degree of
perfedion.

Thofe perfons who were frowned on by his difciples,
and looked upon as troublefome and rude by them, were
not fo by him 5 but were moft kindly liftened to, and
very affeddonately received. Little children, as unwel-
come as they were to them, were very tenderly embrace
ed, and even blefled by him, Mark x. 13 to 17,

He was quite the oppofite to a proud, haughty, dil^
dainful Ipirit ; for when he was either invited to the
houfes of the poor or the rich, the good or the bad, he
very readily accepted their invitations ; neither did he
efleem it as unbecoming his gravity and ferioufnefs, to
make one at a marriage entertainment ; but was fo ex-
ceeding good-natured and obliging as to perform a mi-
racle, by converting water into wine for them after
their own was exhauiled, and had well drunken, by way
of a chearful glafs, John ii. i to 1 1. From whence every
ingenuous mind may learn, that the religion of the blefled
Jefus is neither fevere nor auftere : that it does not deny
mankind to enjoy the bountiful produ6lions of the
earth, the good creatures of God, with delight and
pleafure, to gratify their fenfes, fo as they keep within
bounds of moderation.

Therefore it is impoflible that a rational mind
fhould figure out a more complete religion, to make

man-



[ 48 ]

mankind con:ifortable in this world, and happy in the
other, than Chrift's j the fubhme rehgion of the bleffed
Jefus.

All the creatures of God are to be enjoyed by man-
kind, and nothing to be refufed, if received with
thankful, grateful hearts, " they being fanftilied by
" the word of God and prayer, i Tim. iv. 4, 5. All
*' Wifdom's ways are ways of pleafantnefs, and all
*' her paths are peace 5 fhe is a tree of life to thole
'' that lay hold of her, and happy is every One that re-
*' taineth her," Prov, iii. 17, 18. which can only be
learnt but by divine revelation.

When James and John, two of the bleffed Jefus's
difciples, with great rage defired him to call for fire
from heaven to confume the Samaritans for their bru-
tifh behaviour in refufing him entertainment, with
what mildnefs and gentlenefs did he rebuke them for
their re'vengful difpofition, faying thus, " Ye know not
" what manner of fpirits ye are of, for the Son of man
" is not come to deflroy mens lives, but to fave them,'*
Luke ix. ^^^ ^6,

The c?iidour and difpofition of the bleffed Jefus to-
wards Peter, James and John, when they difcovered by
their behaviour fuch great unconcernednefs and in-
difference to him, when he was approaching the very
blackefl and m.ofl horrible of all hours (his crucifixion) ;
and when he defired them only to watch with him for a
little fpace of time, (while he retired to pray) yet could
not prevail with them from fleeping, though entreated
by repeated folli citations.

Never-



[ 49 j

Neverthelefs, (fo exceeding humane was he, as
not to entertain any ill opinion of them) he only
faid to them, " What, could ye not watch with me
*' one hour ?" apologifing for them, attributing it to
their infirmity, and not to their wills ; faying, " their
*' fpirit was wilhng, but the flefh was weak," Matth,
xxvi. 40, 41. and notwithilanding his threefold com-
mand to them to watch with him, they difobeyed and
fell aOeep, which, to every confiderate mind, muft ap-
pear very aggravating, under fuch terrible circum-
fiances as the bleffed Jefus was then in. However, he
did not in the lead reflet on them, but told them to
fleep on, and take their reft, for his hour was at hand ;
that the Son of man would be betrayed into the hands
of fmners, Matth, xxvi. 45.

This admirable lenity and behaviour of the bleifed
Jefus's to his difciples inftru6ls mankind always to put
the very beft conftru6lions upon thofe actions of their
fellow-creatures, which are capable of other interpre-
tations ; yea, even if by outward Appearance their con-
dud and behaviour almoft evidence the truth of it.

When that defpicable monfter, that villainous tray-^
tor Judas, (his hypocritical difciple) had the unpara-
lelled audacioufnefs to accoft him at the head of an
armed multitude of mifcreant ruffians, one might have
thought that that was aggravation fufficlent to have
provoked Deity : but with what amazing mildnefs
did he receive that ungrateful, diabolical miffionary,
who only faid to him, " Judas, betrayeft thou the Son
*^ of man with a kifs?" Lul^ xxii. 48. And when

F his



[ so ]

nis difciple Peter was fo exafperated as to draw his fword,
and cut off one of the ruffian's cars, who came to take
him by force, he rebuked Peter, and commanded
him to iheath his fword i, and was fo humane, com-
paffionate and good, as to perform a miracle to reftore
the ruffian's ear, Luke xxii. 51.

With what inhuman villainous mockings, buffet-
ings, fpittings, did his blood-thirfly enemies afflid and
torment him, by arraying him with a mock robe, a
thorny crown, a reed fcepter, and gave him to drink
one of the moit nauleous of all draughts, gall diffolved
in vinegar, Matth. xxvii. 34. and foon after murdered
him between two thieves, nailing his precious hands
and feet to the crofs, lancing his dear fide with a fpear,
fpilling his invaluable blood ; yet in the midft of all this
helhfli popifh cruelties, he fupplicated pardon for them,
laying, " Father, forgive them, for they know not what
'' they do," Luke xxiii. 34. Be aftonillied, O heavens \
and tremble, O eardi ! when thou doll refled: on the bar-
barity and cruelty that was executed on the only begot-
ten Son of God at his crucifixion ; who never was, or
ever could be (with truth) charged with fin or folly,
diffimulation or hypocrify, i Peter ii. 22.

What adorabk patience and long-fuffering did he
difcover even to the vileft of mankind •, what incompar-
able goodnefs has he manifeiled to the children of men 1
Athiscrucihxion he fealcd the truth of his dodrines with
his moft precious invaluable blood, and bleffed thofc
that curfed him, doing good to them that hated him,
and with his lail: breath prayed for thofe who mur-
dered him. Therefore, to the laft moment of his life,
he prac1:ifed, in the moft complete manner, v/hat he

preached



r 51 ]

J^rcached to others, Matt. v. 44. " leaving us an exam-
" pie, that we fhould follow his fleps," i Peter ii. 21.

His refurrecfbion from the dead undoubtedly proved
him to be the Son of God with power ; therefore v/e
find the apoftles frequently attefling the truth of it^
they themfelves being eye-witnefles of it. " This
" Jefus (faith Peter) hath God raifed up, whereof we
" are all witnefTes," A6i:s ii. 32. He plainly and pub-
lickly told the Jews they preferred a murderer to him,
and killed the " Prince of Life, whom God hath raifed
" from the dead, whereof they were witnelTes,*' Ads iii.
14, 15. And when Peter and John were commanded by
the grand council atjerufalem not to fpeak at all, or teach
in the name of Jefus, they did not hefitate a moment, but
as chrillian heroes courteoufly anfwered them, faying^
" Whether it be right in the fight of God to hearken
" unto you more than unto God, judge ye ^ for v/e cai>
" .not but fpeak the things which v/e have feen and heard,"
Ads iv. 19, 20. And when they reafoned with the high-
prieft and others, (the grand fanhedrim) perfifting intlieir
duty, obeying God rather than man, declai-ed unto them,
" The God of their fathers raifed up Jefus, whom they
" flew, and hanged on a tree •, whom God had ex-
" alted to be a prince and Saviour, for to give
'* repentance unto Ifrael, and forgivenefs of fins •, and
" that they were witnefTes of thefe things, as alfo the
." Holy Ghoft, whom God hath given to them that
•*' obey him,'' A(5ls v. 30, 31, 32. In which declara-
tion is contained a two- fold evidence, which mani-
fefted the truth of what they fpake to every unpre-
judiced mind ; for they delivered nothing but v/hat they
ihemfelves were eye and ear-witneiTes to, and withal

F 2 artellvvi



I 52 ]

attcilicd it to be true by the power of the Holy Ghofi i^
the miracles which were wrought by Chrift and his
apodles. Their preaching was rational and convinc-
ing to every unprejudiced mind ; and the method they
made vSt^ of tended to perfuade mankind of the truth
of their gofpel, referring them to their underftandings
and confcience. " Yea, and why even of yourfelves
/' judge ye not what is right ?" Luke xii. ^y,

■ Part of the conference which St. Peter had with Cor-
nelius the centurion was, " That God anointed Jefus


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Online LibraryEdward GoldneyA friendly epistle to the Deists; and a rational prayer recommended to them, in order for their conversion to the Christian religion → online text (page 4 of 11)